A selection of UChicago alumni whose names are in the news.
The first of five issues of young adult novelist Samira A. Ahmed’s (AB’93, MAT’93) Ms. Marvel: Beyond the Limit will be released in December. Ahmed is the first South Asian woman to write for the character Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, who debuted in 2014 and is the first Muslim superhero to headline her own Marvel comic. The Ms. Marvel miniseries is Ahmed’s introduction to comic writing. Her previous books include Love, Hate, and Other Filters (Penguin Random House, 2018) and Internment (Little, Brown, 2019). Ahmed notes that her stories often feature a “revolutionary girl,” and Kamala Khan is the latest.
UChicago Medicine clinical research coordinator Aviva Klein, AB’19, is among 300 young people worldwide named to the 2021 Diana Award’s Roll of Honour, for her work creating the University Blood Initiative (UBI). The British award recognized Klein, who includes her volunteer staff in the honor, for mobilizing her generation toward community service and global change. UBI—a grassroots organization aimed at providing a sustainable and equitable blood supply to everyone—partners with independent community blood centers to encourage college students to give blood and to set up drives. Since its 2019 launch, UBI has grown to 24 chapters in 11 states, with more than 600 members.
Film scholar, archivist, and curator Jacqueline Stewart, AM’93, PhD’99, and computational virologist Trevor Bedford, AB’02—two of this year’s 25 recipients of a MacArthur Fellowship—will each receive a five-year grant of $625,000. Stewart, professor in Cinema and Media Studies, is currently on leave to serve as the chief artistic and programming officer at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. She is known for her scholarship of cinema produced by and for African Americans, including what she calls “orphan” media histories—moving images outside the realm of commercial filmmaking. She has worked to unite African American studies and film studies, in part by engaging community members on Chicago’s South Side, where she grew up.
Bedford, a professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, developed tools for tracking virus evolution and the spread of infectious diseases in real time, particularly influenza, Ebola, and, most recently, COVID-19. He codeveloped Nextstrain, an open-source platform that provides continually updated genomic data and visualization tools to examine pathogen “family trees.” The database serves as a clearinghouse of SARS-CoV-2 genetic information to researchers worldwide.
Santa Ono, AB’84, president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia, was selected to lead the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), a network of 22 North American research universities working toward local and regional climate action. UC3 members have hosted forums to explore goals such as the development of net-zero housing and biofuels derived from waste. In his new role, Ono will coordinate university leader participation, guide strategic projects, and continue building UC3’s partnerships.
Rae Gray, AB’14—a professional actor since the age of four—appears in Amazon’s A League of Their Own, now filming its first season. The series reimagines Penny Marshall’s 1992 film about the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Gray’s character, Terri, is a pitcher for the Rockford Peaches, one of the league’s first four teams. Gray has appeared on Amazon’s Sea Oak, AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.