Lauren Berlant

Lauren Berlant received the Modern Language Association’s 2019 Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in January. (Photography by Nathan Keay)

UChicago news highlights

A selection of the latest headlines from across campus.

Distinguished career

At the Modern Language Association conference in January, Lauren Berlant received the 2019 Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement. The medal is presented annually by the MLA’s American Literature Section to a scholar whose work has significantly advanced the field. Berlant, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor in English, is also known for her contributions to the studies of gender and sexuality, affect, and trauma.

A historic challenge

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spring Quarter classes are being taught remotely and milestone events including Convocation have been shifted to a virtual format. In an April 5 message to the campus community, President Robert J. Zimmer wrote, “I am confident that we will not only preserve what is so distinctive about the University of Chicago, but also find new ways in which our enduring values and meaning can be realized.” For more on UChicago’s response to the pandemic, see “Together in Spirit.”

Legal leader

Thomas J. Miles, AM’96, PhD’00, has been appointed to a second term as dean of the Law School, beginning July 1. In his first term Miles launched a three-year JD/MBA program and a fellowship for aspiring academics and policy makers interested in applying behavioral economics to corporate governance and finance. The Law School also set up two new clinics—one, a partnership with the firm Jenner & Block, pairs students with litigators to work on US Supreme Court and federal appellate cases, and another focuses on immigration rights. Miles, the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics and Walter Mander Research Scholar, studies criminal justice and judicial behavior.

Transition at Graham

Emily Lynn Osborn, associate professor in history, will serve as interim dean of the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, the center of lifelong learning at UChicago. She succeeds Stuart Flack, who left the University in April. Osborn, a codirector of the Committee on African Studies and a 2016 recipient of the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, chairs Graham’s faculty board.

STEM scholarships

College third-years Spencer DembnerVennela Mannava, and Thomas Propson are among 396 students nationally to receive 2020 Barry Goldwater Scholarships, a top honor for undergraduates in mathematics, engineering, and the natural sciences. The scholarships of up to $7,500 fund students during their final year of undergraduate study. Dembner is majoring in mathematics, Mannava in chemistry, and Propson in physics and computer science. All plan to pursue graduate degrees.

Service learning

College third-years Kristen Busch and Rodrigo Estrada received Harry S. Truman Scholarships, which provide up to $30,000 for students embarking on careers in public service. Busch plans to pursue a joint JD/MPP and study economic, technology, and disability policy; Estrada will seek a JD/PhD and hopes to become an advocate for underserved communities along the US-Mexico border. Both are joint BA/MA students in economics and international relations.

Early contributions

Three UChicago assistant professors have earned Sloan Research Fellowships, which recognize early-career scientists’ potential to make substantial contributions to their fields: A. Murat Eren (medicine) studies microbial lifestyles in habitats from oceans to the human gut; Raymond Moellering (chemistry) develops chemical tools and technologies to understand how molecular information is communicated by proteins within and between cells, with an eye toward intervening in human disease; and Sebastian Hurtado-Salazar (mathematics) works in the area of topology, the study of shapes and spaces. They are among the 126 recipients of the two-year research fellowships in 2020.

Guggenheim fellows

Five UChicago scholars received 2020 Guggenheim Fellowships: Mark Philip Bradley, the Bernadotte E. Schmitt Distinguished Service Professor of International History; Diane Brentari, PhD’90, the Mary K. Werkman Professor of Linguistics; Patrick Jagoda, professor of English; Tahera Qutbuddin, professor of Arabic literature; and Catherine Sullivan, associate professor of visual arts. They were selected “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise,” the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation said in its April 8 announcement, and are among 175 fellows this year.

Writerly honor

Ben Hoffman, lecturer in creative writing, and Ling Ma, AB’05, assistant professor of practice in the arts, received creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Hoffman, whose short stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, Granta, the Missouri Review, and Zoetrope, is at work on a novel centered on the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. Ma is the author of the Kirkus Prize–winning novel Severance (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), about a fictional pandemic, for which she also received the Whiting Award for fiction (see Notes).

Common purpose

The Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC) is one of four centers of race and ethnicity that will share a $4 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The four-year grant will support collaborative work between CSRPC and counterparts at Yale, Brown, and Stanford Universities. It will allow CSRPC to create new programming; expand grants for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students; and offer fellowships for visiting scholars. The grant will also fund new public engagement partnerships and annual meetings and conferences among the four recipient campuses.