2011 Archived News and Features
college and graduate school of arts and sciences
The 'group mind'
Who gets the blame when a an individual working for a group—be it a corporation, sports team, goverment entity or political party—does something wrong, the individual or the group? The answer may depend on how cohesive the group is perceived to be, according to Psychology Assistant Professor Liane Young, co-author of a study published by the journal Psychological Science. | LiveScience via MSNBC | Business News Daily | Yahoo! Canada | Science Daily | PsychCentral | Scientific American
Senses of sophistication
Fruit flies and disease-spreading mosquitoes share similar receptors that allow them to distinguish among thousands of sensory cues as they search for food or try to avoid danger, according to a report co-authored by Biology Professor Marc A.T. Muskavitch in the journal Nature. Public Affairs announcement
A Semester in Nepal
James O'Hara A&S '13 discusses his experience at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute, also known as the Centre for Buddhist Studies, at Kathmandu University in Nepal, in a Q&A with the Boston Globe.
O'Connor Stepping Down
College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program Director Mark O'Connor will step down at the end of the academic year following a tenure of 'profound commitment to students, steadfast belief in the transformative power of the liberal arts, and visionary leadership'. BC Chronicle
Condemnation to conversion
More than two million men and women are housed in prisons throughout the United States, and three out of every 100 American adults are either on probation, in prison or on parole. Theology Professor Stephen Pope writes on the need for restorative justice in the prison system in an essay for America.
A case for Lebanon
A review of Language, Memory, and Identity in the Middle East: The Case for Lebanon by Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Arabic and Hebrew Franck Salameh in the latest issue of the Journal of the Middle East and Africa calls it 'a valuable, well-documented and rich contribution to the topic of nationalism in the Middle East.' Preview
Challenges for charities
With fewer donations coming in due to the economic downturn, how are Bay State charities coping with the demand this holiday season? Sociology Professor Paul Schervish, director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, discussed the subject as a guest on the 'Callie Crossley Show.' WGBH-FM
Improving a catalyst
Research by Vanderslice Millennium Professor of Chemistry Amir Hoveyda, with scientists at MIT and the University of Oxford, has led to the development of an efficient and highly selective catalyst for ring-closing olefin metathesis, one of the most widely used reactions in chemical synthesis, the team reports in Nature. Public Affairs announcement | Science Codex | Chemical & Engineering News | PhysOrg
Science and the Liberal Arts
Rattigan Professor of English Mary Crane, director of the Institute for the Liberal Arts, and Professor Thomas Chiles, chair of the Biology Department, examine why the liberal arts need the sciences—and vice versa—as co-authors of a commentary for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The politics of evil
Political Science Professor Alan Wolfe was a guest on WBUR-FM's Radio Boston to discus his latest work, Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It. The New York Times review called the book 'timely, valuable and refreshingly adult,’ while America magazine said it “should be required reading for anyone concerned with politics and religion.”
Into the Woods
In celebration of its 30th anniversary season, the Robsham Theater Arts Center is presenting Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony Award winning production Into the Woods, from now until October 30. Putting a modern twist on the Brothers Grimm’s well-known fairy tales, this year’s musical is directed by Paul Daigneault, a guest artistic director from Boston's SpeakEasy Stage Company, and Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J., Boston College Professor of Theater Arts. Public Affairs announcement
The fate of Arabic
The jury is out on the fate of the Arabic language, according to an article in Middle East Quarterly by Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Arabic and Hebrew Franck Salameh, with contributions by his research assistant, Iulia Padeanu A&S '12. MEQ
Must Read Nonfiction
History Professor Heather Cox Richardson's book, Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre, was named the Must Read Nonfiction book of 2011 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.
Evildoers and us
To ask questions about the nature of evil is to understand how difficult it is to answer them. One way to start the discussion is to narrow the focus, according to Political Evil, the latest book by Political Science Professor Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. An essay adapted from the book is featured by the Chronicle of Higher Education Review.
Carbon nanotube growth
Physics Professor Zhifeng Ren and Research Associate Hengzhi Wang report in the journal Nanotechnology the discovery of two early stages of carbon nanotube growth that could lend themselves to thermal management and other applications. Public Affairs announcement | Science Daily | PhysOrg | AZoano | R&D
Play's the thing
In his latest column for the Boston Globe, English Professor and American Studies Director Carlo Rotella advocates unstructured play for children, citing a report on the subject by Psychology Research Professor Peter Gray. | Gray discusses his study in an interview with Fox News Boston.
Kenya: Passing the Baton
Professor of Fine Arts John Michalczyk's documentary 'Kenya: Passing the Baton' premiered at the MFA, Boston. The film sheds light on Kenya’s struggle to create a united, civil society from one currently split by disturbing tribal tensions, corruption, land distribution, and social issues. News release | GateHouse News | AOL Wayland Patch | Boston Herald
What the brain sees
Psychology Assistant Professor Sean MacEvoy co-authored a study published in Nature Neuroscience that helps to explain how people quickly and accurately recognize complicated scenes, such as a kitchen or traffic intersections, by the objects within them. News release | Science News
Reflections on 9/11
College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Quigley, who had spent much of the summer preceding the attacks conducting research in and on New York City, reflects on the tragedy and its aftermath. BC Chronicle
Gilder Lehrman Scholar
Jooyeon Koo A&S '12 is one of only ten students in the nation selected for the prestigious Gilder Lehrman History Scholars Program, which identifies and supports the top undergraduate majors in American history. Public Affairs announcement
'Socks for Servicemen'
College of Arts and Sciences freshman Taylor Laffey of Brighton, whose brother is a U.S. Marine, has launched a campaign to collect socks for military members serving overseas. Boston.com
The new retirement
Retirement is no longer a one-time, permanent event. A retirement that continues for the rest of your life is now the exception, rather than the rule, according to a series of studies by McIntyre Professor of Economics Joseph Quinn and alumni Kevin Cahill, Ph.D. '00 and Michael Giandrea, MA '97, Ph.D. '03 featured in US News & World Report.
'Blackbody' of energy
A designer metamaterial has shown it can engineer emitted 'blackbody' radiation with an efficiency beyond the natural limits imposed by the material's temperature, a team of researchers led by physicist Willie Padilla report in Physical Review Letters. Nanowerk News | AZoNano | Science Daily | Space Daily | PhysOrg.com
East Coast earthquake
Earth and Environmental Sciences' Weston Observatory, including Director John Ebel (left) and NE Seismic Network Operations Manager Mike Hagerty, were interviewed by dozens of media outlets about Tuesday's 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia and felt up and down the east coast. New England Seismic Network News | WCVB-TV | WBZ-TV | NECN | Boston Globe | Boston Herald | Boston Herald 2 | Forbes | International Business Times | WBUR
'Affairs of a French Afternoon' is the third musical written by College of Arts and Sciences junior Patrick Lazour and his younger brother to be staged in the past several years. Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Boston and the Civil War
As the nation considers the advantages and disadvantages of involving itself in wars around the world, it might do well to study the Civil War, writes History Professor Emeritus and University Historian Thomas O'Connor, taking the conflict's effect on Boston as a case in point. Boston Globe Magazine
A darker shade of green
Boston-based British investor Jeremy Grantham is a rare species - an environmental activist in the Wall Street jungle - but he intends to make money whether the world heeds his apocalyptic warnings or not, according to a profile by English Professor and American Studies Director Carlo Rotella in the New York Times Magazine.
Service and leadership
Angela Donkor A&S '12 has been honored for her commitment to community service and peer leadership at the 2011 Leadership Conference of the Magic Johnson Foundation.
Focus on low-income youth
Sociology Research Professor Lisa Dodson, in collaboration with the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts, has been awarded a grant from the Ford and Annie E. Casey foundations for a project examining the well-being of youth growing up in low-income families.
Fewer working hours can work
In time-affluent countries like Germany and the Netherlands, reduced working hours mean lower carbon emissions, much lower unemployment and a better quality of life, Sociology Professor Juliet Schor explains in the 'Leading Thinkers' series presented by the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Game of high fantasy
George R.R. Martin's mega-bestselling A Dance with Dragons - the latest installment in the series that inspired the popular television dramatization 'Game of Thrones' - may bring fresh readers to the genre, English Professor and American Studies Director Carlo Rotella writes in his latest column for the Boston Globe.
'Most downloaded' article
An article by Sociology Professor Sharlene Hesse-Biber - a newly appointed associate editor of the Journal of Mixed Methods Research and member of the editorial board of the American Sociological Association's flagship journal Sociological Methodology—was the most downloaded article published in 2009 and 2010 by Qualitative Inquiry, according to the journal's publisher.
A new edition of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics co-translated by Behrakis Professor of Hellenic Political Studies Robert Bartlett, which includes an array of aids to understanding the work, 'brings the original text within the compass of every intelligent reader,' according to a review in the Sunday New York Times.
The Physics of Pollock
Jackson Pollock’s paintings often clashed with the rules of the art world. But they couldn’t defy the laws of physics, according to a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Boston College and Harvard who give quantitative form to Pollock’s methods and genius in the journal Physics Today. News release | Wired Magazine | Science Magazine | MSNBC | New York Magazine | Live Science | Science Daily
The Norway attacks
The attacks in Norway have exposed the danger of the Europe's right-wing extremists. Political Science Associate Professor Jonathan Laurence discussed the subject on 'The Takeaway,' a co-production of WNYC Radio, PRI and the BBC, on NPR-affiliate WHYY in Philadelphia, and with the Christian Science Monitor.
Economics of gambling
Proposals to expand gambling are on the table in states across the nation. BC economist Richard McGowan, S.J., discussed the potential effects of increased gaming on NPR's All Things Considered, as well as NPR affiliates WBUR in Boston and WOSU in Ohio, and Chicago Public Media's WBEZ.
The debt divide
As the clock ticks down to the debt deadline in Washington, DC, Law Professor Kent Greenfield and Economics Associate Professor Robert Murphy discussed the potential fallout in two news segments on NECN. Greenfield | Murphy | Greenfield also writes on the topic for the Huffington Post.
Justice for Magdalenes
The advocacy group seeking justice for survivors of Ireland's Magdalen laundries, represented by English Associate Professor James Smith, has filed a report alleging widespread state involvement with the notorious workhouses. He discussed the case with the Irish Examiner, as well as the Irish Times, Belfast Telegraph and Time Magazine.
Listening to God's whispers
In his latest book, Soundings in the Christian Mystical Tradition, Theology Professor Emeritus Harvey Egan, S.J., 'first attracts and then guides...to Jesus Christ, the mystic paradigm, but in a way that draws along the full potential of the reader.' America
Professor of Sociology Juliet Schor has been awarded the 2011 Herman Daly Award of the US Society for Ecological Economics. Schor’s research on work, leisure, and consumption has been noted for raising thought provoking questions and challenging long-held assumptions within the field of ecological economics. She kicks off a 'Living Sustainably' series in The Guardian (UK), with an essay on how reducing working hours can benefit the economy and the environment.
BC mourns rising senior Kristine Topel
Kristine D. Topel, a member of the Boston College Class of A&S 2012, died June 14 in her home state of Illinois. Kristine Topel obituary
The soul of Syria
The current upheaval in Syria seems intent on 'redeeming this ancient land to its true self,' writes Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Arabic and Hebrew Franck Salameh, who recently gave a Congressional briefing on sectarianism in Syria, Lebanon, and beyond. The National Interest
Anyone who has ever plowed through the puns and prose of James Joyce's Ulysses can now explore the novel's setting of 1904 Dublin thanks to a 'digital humanities' project undertaken by BC students, English Assistant Professor Joseph Nugent, and the Office of Instructional Design and eTeaching Services. Chronicle of Higher Education.
Physics Professor Zhifeng Ren and colleagues from MIT have used nanotech materials to obtain seven to eight times higher efficiency than previous flat-panel solar thermoelectric generators, opening up solar-thermal electric power conversion to residential and industrial use. Solar Novus Today | Discovery News | EcoSeed | Smart Planet | Science Daily | RD Magazine | First Science | LifeSciences World
NCAA scholarship recipient
John Maloy A&S '11, a multiply-honored member of the Eagles Men's Swim Team, has been awarded a 2011 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship.
Mass. 'Future leaders' nominee
Harvey Simmons A&S '11, a national marketing associate at career networking startup BranchOut, has been nominated for the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange's 2011 Future Leaders Group.
Above and Beyond
London McWilliams A&S '11 has won the 2011 St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Award, in recognition to the student employee who goes far beyond his or her paid responsibilities. London is the A&S Service Center's student Web Services Assistant. After graduation she has been selected to be a corps member of City Year in Boston.
Aditya Ashok ’12, a Presidential Scholar and student in the A&S Honors Program, who earlier this semester was named a recipient of a 2011 Harry S. Truman Scholarship, is featured by the Boston Globe.
With Goldwater and NSF fellowships already under her belt, chemistry major Anne Kornahrens A&S '11 is the first BC student to win a prestigious Skaggs-Oxford award for post-graduate study at Scripps Research Institute and the University of Oxford.
A passion for teaching
An interview with Nathan Kono A&S '11, one of only 25 recipients nationwide to receive a Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color. Education Portal
Local media highlighted actor James Franco's appearance at BC to screen for students his new film 'The Broken Tower' - inspired by and based on University Professor of English Paul Mariani's biography of poet Hart Crane. Boston Herald | Boston Globe | Mariani writes about the book-to-screen process in America.
Presidential Scholar Christopher Sheridan '12, a biochemistry and philosophy major in the A&S Honors Program, has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, considered the premier undergraduate fellowship in the sciences.
A new catalytic chemical method for the synthesis of a large and important class of carbon-carbon double bonds has been developed by Vanderslice Millennium Professor of Chemistry Amir Hoveyda and colleagues from BC and MIT, they report in the journal Nature. News release | R&D Magazine | Science Daily | Medical News Today | PhysOrg
Irish Studies prize
Irish Studies historian Robert Savage has been honored by the American Conference for Irish Studies for his new book A Loss of Innocence?: Television and Irish Society, 1960-72. Boston.com
Hockey Humanitarian Award
Brooks Dyroff A&S '13 has received the 2011 Hockey Humanitarian Award, for his efforts as co-founder of CEO 4 Teens - a non-profit that helps provide educational opportunities for teenagers in developing countries - and other service.
'The Broken Tower'
Actor James Franco's new film 'The Broken Tower' was inspired by and based on a biography of American poet Hart Crane written by poet and University Professor of English Paul Mariani. Chronicle of Higher Education 1 | Chronicle of Higher Ed 2 | Boston Herald 1 | Boston Herald 2 | Boston Globe | Mariani Q&A | BC Chronicle
In the sandstone cliffs of the Scottish Highlands, Earth and Environmental Science’s Paul Strother and colleagues discovered fossils that show early life forms might have emerged 500 million years earlier than previously established, they report in the journal Nature. U.S. News & World Report | Science Daily | UPI | LiveScience | MSNBC | Science News | The Scientist | Discovery News | New Scientist
Impact of a Shutdown
As the clock ticks toward a government shutdown, which will begin at 12:01 Saturday morning if no deal is reached, Political Science Professor Marc Landy discussed the president's approach to the situation and the impact of a shutdown with Fox News Boston and the Christian Science Monitor.
Studying the super-rich
An advance look at findings from an ambitious study of how wealthy Americans think, live and give - conducted by the Center for Wealth and Philanthropy - is featured in the April issue of The Atlantic | CWP Director Paul Schervish - author of the new book Wealth and the Will of God - also was interviewed about the study by NPR 'On Point' and WGN-Chicago.
Who's Really Upset?
In response to opposition by GOP lawmakers on the institution of new standards for light bulbs and the phase-out of incandescent bulbs, the NYTimes asked a few experts to weigh in on the controversy. BC sociology department member Juliet Schor led off the debate on March 18, 2011. NYTimes Blog
Is it art?
Even the untrained human eye can distinguish the work of abstract expressionists from that of children or animals, through discernment - whether consciously or not - of the thought and planning behind the art, according to a study published in Psychological Science by doctoral candidate Angelina Hawley-Dolan and Professor Ellen Winner. Psychology Today | New York Times | Toronto Star | Miller-McCune | BCM
Meeting the president
Kristoffer Munden A&S '11 participated in a White House roundtable with other local college students during President Barack Obama's recent visit to Boston.
Vanderslice Millennium Professor of Chemistry Amir Hoveyda and Professor of Physics Zhifeng Ren have been named among the Top 100 experts in their respective fields, according to rankings based on the influence of their research and scholarship.
Portrait of the artist
No fiddler has won more solo championships than Sullivan Family Irish Artist-in-Residence Séamus Connolly, but an undergraduate's praise is among his favorite honors. Wall Street Journal
Walking Down a Long Road
Angela Donkor A&S '12 recently added the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Award to a lengthy list of achievements. BC Chronicle
Visiting Scholar award
Sociologist Natasha Sarkisian has been awarded a Visiting Scholar residential fellowship by Russell Sage Foundation, a ten-month program to pursue her research and writing.
Physicist earns presidential award
Associate Professor of Physics Willie J. Padilla has been named by President Obama as a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. BC Chronicle
Catholicism and literature
University Professor of English Paul Mariani discusses Catholicism and literature in a Q&A with The Fine Delight (scroll to Feb. 24 entry). Also, production continues on 'The Broken Tower' – a film project of actor James Franco inspired by Mariani's 1999 biography of poet Hart Crane. MassLive
Hellenic Legacy Scholar
Melanie Graf '11 is one of two students nationwide named Hellenic Legacy Scholars for study abroad by the Greek America Foundation.
New Voices 2011
'New Voices 2011' - original plays by Meghan Crosby A&S '12 and Riley Madincea A&S '11, directed by Theater Associate Professor Scott Cummings - will be presented at Robsham Theater Arts Center Feb. 23-27. The premiere is highlighted by Broadway World, the Watertown Tab and AOL-Newton Patch. | News release
'Rebirth' of Arabism
Countering close to a century of Arabic intellectual output tolling the death knell of Arab nationalism, Western 'Arabist' romantics still cling to this ideology’s obsolete models, writes Franck Salameh, assistant professor of Slavic & Eastern Languages and Literatures. The National Interest
A semester in Russia
John Casper A&S '12, majoring in political science with a minor in Russian, chose a study-abroad program at St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University. He writes about his experience in the Boston Globe.
Clean energy boost
Chemist Dunwei Wang reports that a nanonets structure developed in his lab enhances efforts to extract hydrogen from water for clean fuel. The findings are published by the online Journal of the American Chemical Society. News release | R&D Magazine | Science Daily | Nanotechwire | Nanowerk
Nathan Kono A&S '11 has received a prestigious Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for aspiring teachers of color, which will support his graduate study in the Lynch School of Education.
Book of the Year prize
Calderwood University Professors of Islamic and Asian Art Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom have been awarded the World Prize for Book of the Year in the field of Islamic Studies by the Ministry of Culture of the Islamic Republic of Iran - for their Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture. The award presentation is held in Tehran.
An approach used by the research group of Physics Professor Zhifeng Ren and colleagues dramatically enhances the performance of thermoelectric materials. Research Associate Xiao Yan is lead author of a paper on the work, recently published by the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters. News release | Physics World | R&D Magazine | Nanowerk News
Middle East Christians
The Middle East is not a monolithic 'Arab world,' but a diverse human and cultural space that includes tens of millions of Christians, who possess their own cultural cognomens, writes Franck Salameh, assistant professor of Slavic & Eastern Languages and Literatures, in The National Interest.
The art of war
'Civil War Drawings from the Becker Collection,' the exhibition curated by Fine Arts faculty Sheila Gallagher and Judith Bookbinder that premiered at the McMullen Museum in 2009, is now on tour. Its stop in Virginia is highlighted by the New York Times (second item) and Richmond Times-Dispatch.