University of Chicago president Robert J. Zimmer and Marine Biological Laboratory president and director Joan V. Ruderman sign an agreement to begin a new affiliation between the two institutions. (Photography by Bruce Gilbert/University of Chicago News Office)
University news
Water research and resources, new life for an old magazine, connecting politics and policy, and Fermilab’s new leader.

Biological imperative

In June the University established an affiliation with the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, reviving historic ties between the institutions— the laboratory’s first two directors between 1888 and 1925 were University faculty members—and opening collaborative possibilities in marine biology and ocean sciences. Providing faculty leadership for the new affiliation, UChicago evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin has been appointed senior adviser to the president and vice president for research and national laboratories. A competitive grant program, in honor of the laboratory’s 125th anniversary, will be one of the first collaborative efforts.

An old magazine’s new life

Nearly every issue of the Chicagoan, a Jazz Age magazine conceived as a Midwestern alternative to the New Yorker, is now available online through the University of Chicago Library. Digitized copies of the magazine, published from 1926 to 1935, are available free through an agreement with Quigley Publishing. In the late 1980s Neil Harris, the Preston and Sterling Morton professor emeritus of history and art history, discovered the almost complete run of the forgotten magazine in the Regenstein Library and later published The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age (University of Chicago Press, 2008). The new website will help facilitate the research Harris hoped to spark with his book.

A new center of the universe

An anonymous $3.5 million gift will support a new theoretical physics center named for Leo Kadanoff, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur distinguished service professor emeritus in physics and mathematics. About ten physics faculty members, both theorists and experimentalists, will be affiliated with the center, which is designed to bring together physicists in different specialties to address issues of common interest.

Feat of engineering

The University will offer an engineering PhD for the first time, emphasizing research that solves technological problems with molecular-level science. In May the Council of the University Senate approved the degree, allowing the Institute for Molecular Engineering to begin accepting applications this fall. The first class will enroll in the 2014 fall quarter. The institute, which opened in 2011, has four faculty members and plans to expand to 25 over the next decade, a number that would support 180 to 240 PhD students.

Where politics meets policy

The Center on Policy Entrepreneurship, a new Harris School of Public Policy Studies initiative, will focus on the politics of policy making. “It’s not enough just to have a good policy idea,” says Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, AB’96, deputy dean of Chicago Harris and the center’s academic director. “If you are really going to change things, you need to understand which ideas can gain political traction, how to develop support when a window of political opportunity is open, and how to deal with stakeholders and interest groups.” Three coordinated courses—one taught by a scholar, another by a practitioner, and a real-world practicum—will be the center’s first offering in the fall. A guest speaker series, a visiting fellows program, and funding for full-time policy making internships are also planned.

On the water front

The University of Chicago will collaborate with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to fund nanotechnology research focused on making clean drinking water cheaper and more abundant. University President Robert J. Zimmer and Ben-Gurion’s Rivka Carmi signed the agreement June 23 after a meeting in Jerusalem with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Israeli President Shimon Peres. UChicago, Ben-Gurion, and Argonne National Laboratory together committed more than $1 million in seed money for the inaugural projects over the next two years, including proposals to fabricate less costly materials to remove contaminants, bacteria, viruses, and salt from drinking water.

Fermilab names new director

Nigel Lockyer, director of Canada’s TRIUMF laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, has been named director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, effective September 3. Lockyer succeeds Pier Oddone, who directed Fermilab since 2005. Jack Anderson, Fermilab’s chief operating officer, is serving as interim director until Lockyer’s arrival. An experimental particle physicist, Lockyer’s six-year tenure at TRIUMF included the development of a $100 million laboratory built around an electron accelerator using next-generation superconducting radio frequency technology.

New trustees elected

The Board of Trustees elected three new members at its June 6 meeting: Rachel D. Kohler, MBA’89, group president for the interiors group, Kohler Co., since 2000; Nassef O. Sawiris, AB’82, CEO of OCI NV and its predecessor Orascom Construction Industries since 1998; and Donald R. Wilson Jr., AB’88, founder and CEO of the DRW Trading Group since 1992.