A new center where humanities and social sciences intersect, Freakonomics inspires a TV drama, and an acclaimed physicist comes to UChicago.
In June the University established the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society, a center for research in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Named in honor of Joseph Neubauer, MBA’65, and Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer, whose $26.5 million gift establishes the collegium, it will focus on questions that transcend fields and methodologies. David Nirenberg, the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta professor of medieval history and social thought, has been named the the Neubauer Collegium’s founding faculty director.
After 22 years as athletic director and chair of the physical education department, Tom Weingartner began a newly created position July 15 to develop a fundraising and alumni-engagement program for athletics. Rosalie Resch and Brian Baldea, associate chairs, will lead the physical education department on an acting basis while Karen Warren Coleman, vice president for campus life and student services, conducts a national search for Weingartner’s successor.
The Institute for Translational Medicine has received a $23 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue bringing medical-research breakthroughs into practice. Formed in 2007, the institute works to apply laboratory research to health-care practice and community-health initiatives, such as improved drug treatments for victims of staph infections or those at risk, including ER patients.
In August, NBC bought the rights to Pariah, a television drama based on ideas in economics professor Steven D. Levitt’s book Freakonomics. Levitt and coauthor Stephen J. Dubner were among a group, led by Kelsey Grammar’s production company, Grammnet, that pitched network executives on the series, which focuses on a rogue academic hired by the San Diego police department to help fight crime.
Pier Oddone will retire July 1, 2013, after eight years as director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. During his tenure, Fermilab’s Tevatron experiments helped uncover the Higgs boson, and researchers discovered a suite of exotic particles and developed new findings on the relationship between matter and antimatter.
A team of University of Chicago Law School students beat out 14 other teams from UChicago, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale in a Supreme Court prediction contest. The competition, held by SCOTUSblog and Bloomberg Law, asked participants to predict five Supreme Court decisions and four petitions for certiorari (whether or not the court will hear a case). The team, named “Put Up Your Wal-Mart v. Dukes,” consisted of five 2012 Law School graduates: Marci Haarburger, Lily Becker, Mark Geiger, Josh Parker, and John Wasserman. They won $5,000 for beating the other university teams and the SCOTUSblog experts.
Mildred S. Dresselhaus, PhD’58, an MIT professor of physics and electrical engineering, received the 2012 Kavli Prize in nanoscience. Dresselhaus, the 2008 Alumni Medalist, received the $1 million prize for “pioneering contributions to the study of phonons, electron-phonon interactions, and thermal transport in nanostructures.”
Chemical engineers Juan de Pablo and Paul Nealey, previously of the University of Wisconsin, joined the Institute for Molecular Engineering on September 1, marking Pritzker director Matt Tirrell’s first faculty appointments. Physicist-engineer David Awschalom of the University of California, Santa Barbara, also will join the institute’s faculty in early 2013.
Stephan Meyer, professor in astronomy and astrophysics and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, has received a share of the Gruber Cosmology Prize for the second time. Meyer was honored this year as a member of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP). The $500,000 prize went to the 26-member team for building the WMAP satellite, which observes the cosmic microwave background radiation, otherwise known as the “echo of the big bang,” to determine information about the universe including its age, content, geometry, and origin.
Son Thanh Dam’s appointment as University Professor of physics coincided with the launch of the new Center for Physical Inquiry, designed to support theoretical-physics research. Dam, a native of Vietnam, spent the past ten years at the University of Washington where his work spanned atomic, condensed matter, and particle physics. Dam becomes the 19th University Professor, a designation that represents the University’s highest academic aspirations, and the seventh on the current faculty.
In July UChicago mathematics professor Kevin Corlette became director of the University’s financial mathematics program. Corlette, who joined the math faculty in 1987, specializes in differential and algebraic geometry. He served as department chair from 2001 to 2007. Founded in 1996, the one-year financial mathematics program consists of approximately 100 graduate students. Corlette succeeds Henri Berestycki, director for the past two years who will continue to serve on the program’s advisory board.