Highlights from the latest alumni news columns.
White House hopeful
In April Bernie Sanders, AB’64, the junior senator from Vermont, announced that he is running for president. An independent, he caucuses with Democrats and is seeking the Democratic nomination. His agenda includes more financial regulation, higher taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, and free tuition at public colleges and universities. “People should not underestimate me,” Sanders told the AP. “I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country.” (For more, see “A Political Education,” Jan–Feb/15.)
Members of the Academy
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ newest class includes seven alumni: legal scholar Jane C. Ginsburg, AB’76 (Class of 1977), AM’77; Richard Kurin, AM’74, PhD’81, the undersecretary of history, art, and culture at the Smithsonian Institution; philanthropist and chair of the University’s board of trustees Joseph Neubauer, MBA’65; Teresa A. Sullivan, AM’72, PhD’75, the president of the University of Virginia; US district court of appeals judge David S. Tatel, JD’66; marine biologist Peter C. Wainwright, PhD’88; and economist Iván Werning, AM’99, PhD’02.
In May science fiction author John Scalzi, AB’91, signed a $3.4 million, 10-year, 13-book deal with his longtime publisher, Tor Books. The books, 10 adult novels and three for young adults, will include sequels to Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series and his recent Lock In (Tor Books, 2014), as well as a new “space opera” series set in the far future.
A gaggle of Guggenheims
In 2015 seven alumni were named Guggenheim Fellows, including art historian Matthew P. Canepa, AM’98, AM’99, PhD’04; religious historian Anthony Cerulli, PhD’07; American studies scholar Steven D. Lubar, AM’77, PhD’83; sociologist Monica Prasad, AM’95, PhD’00; architect Michael Sorkin, AB’69; religions scholar John S. Strong, PhD’77; and historian Michael Willrich, AM’92, PhD’97. Since 1925 the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has annually awarded fellowships to artists and scholars to help them pursue projects “under the freest possible conditions.”
Memoir to the small screen
Paramount Television and Anonymous Content are creating a pilot episode for a potential TV series based on mortician Caitlin Doughty’s (AB’12 [Class of 2006]) memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory (W. W. Norton, 2014). The darkly humorous memoir chronicles Doughty’s first job, in a San Francisco crematorium, and advocates for greater acceptance of death in Western culture.(For more, see “Decomposure,” Mar–Apr/13.)
Three alumni are in the inaugural class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows, begun by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to support the social sciences and humanities. The fellows, including City University of New York anthropologist Leith Mullings, AM’70, PhD’75; Harvard anthropologist Laurence Ralph, AM’06, PhD’10; and political scientist Keir A. Lieber, AM’96, PhD’00, will each receive up to $200,000 so they can devote one to two years to researching and writing.
The World Economic Forum named Andrea Armani, AB’01, a 2015 Young Global Leader. The award recognizes under-40 pioneers in all fields who are “bold, brave, action-oriented, and entrepreneurial.” A chemical engineer at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, she is known for developing new optical devices and sensors and for mentoring the next generation of scientists.
Spencer Bledsoe, AB’14, has a fresh shot at winning the reality show Survivor. After finishing fourth in last year’s Survivor: Cagayan, he was selected by fans to be a contestant on this fall’s Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance and take on other fan-picked former contestants.
The American Foreign Service Association has recognized Samuel Kotis, AB’85, with its William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent, given each year to foreign service employees who have challenged the system from within to enact positive change. Kotis, the deputy minister counselor for economic, environment, science, and technology affairs at the US embassy in New Delhi, was recognized for his commitment to raising awareness about air pollution in India and making the issue part of US diplomacy in the region despite resistance from his superiors.