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Highlights from the latest alumni news columns. Log into the Alumni & Friends Web Community using your CNetID and password to browse all alumni news by class year.

Coast to classroom

John R. Finnerty, PhD’94, received a Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching at Boston University’s commencement ceremony this May. Established in 1973, the Metcalf Award is BU’s highest faculty honor. Finnerty, an associate biology professor, investigates biodiversity questions by studying coastal marine invertebrates including sea anemones, corals, and jellyfish. He also directs BU’s Marine Program, which stresses interdisciplinary research across marine biology, biogeochemistry, physical oceanography, and marine geology.

Dissertation digging

In April Hannah Barker, AB’05, and Allison Youatt Schnable, AM’07, were named 2013 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellows. A PhD student in history at Columbia University, Barker is writing her dissertation on the role of religion in the 14th- and 15th-century Italian and Egyptian slave trades. Schnable, a student in Princeton University’s sociology program, is researching the growth of the 10,000 international aid organizations started by Americans in the past 20 years. The Newcombe, a  fellowship for PhD candidates in the humanities and social sciences whose dissertations address questions of ethical or religious values, was awarded to 22 scholars this year. Barker and Schnable will receive 12-month research awards of $25,000.

Energy player

Dominic C. Boyer, U-High’88, AM’94, PhD’00, will serve as founding director of Rice University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences. The world’s first research center focused on understanding the relationship among humans, energy, and the environment, the center is part of Rice’s Energy and Environment Initiative (E2I), which brings Rice faculty together with Houston’s energy industry on sustainability issues. Boyer, a Rice anthropology professor, has described the center’s purpose as twofold: “to help investigate the causes and consequences of the impact of human life on this planet and to discover ways of making the footprint of human society less heavy.”

Humanitarian honored

In June Eric Rosenthal, AB’85, was named the 2013 recipient of the Charles Bronfman Prize, awarded annually to “a young humanitarian whose work is informed by Jewish values and has global impact that changes lives and inspires others.” Rosenthal is the founder and executive director of Disability Rights International (DRI), an advocacy organization working to end the segregation and abuse of children and adults with disabilities. Rosenthal has documented human rights conditions in more than two dozen countries, helping to gain United Nations support for adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, now ratified by 130 countries. An article about his efforts on behalf of mentally disabled children in Romania appeared in the Dec/05 issue of the Magazine.

Second in command

In June President Obama appointed Avril D. Haines, AB’92, as CIA deputy director, replacing Michael J. Morell, who is retiring in August after 33 years at the agency. Haines, a physics major at UChicago, is the first woman to hold the deputy director post. Since 2010 she has worked as the White House deputy counsel for national security issues and as legal adviser to the National Security Council. In April Obama nominated Haines, a Georgetown University Law Center graduate, to be legal adviser at the State Department, a nomination he withdrew to appoint her to the CIA post.

Books and mortar

On April 11 Barbara Miller Lane, AB’53, was named a fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians. Lane, Bryn Mawr College’s Andrew W. Mellon professor emeritus of humanities and history, is author of the influential book Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918–1945 (Harvard University Press, 1968), which traces the complex historical factors that informed Nazi views on architecture. 

Captured on film

Jeffrey C. Laurence, MD’76, appears as an interview subject in the 2013 documentary The Battle of amfAR. The film chronicles the development of the Foundation for AIDS Research. Laurence, who has served as the foundation’s senior scientific consultant for programs since its founding in 1985, is a professor of medicine in Cornell’s hematology-oncology division; an attending physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital; and director of the Laboratory for AIDS Virus Research at both institutions. The film was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and will air on HBO in December.