Dean's Newsletter

A quarterly newslettter from Dean Katherine S. Newman

From the Dean: Arts & Sciences Faculty in the Spotlight

As I near the end of my time as Dean of the Krieger School, it seems only fitting to invent a few traditions! My favorite is the annual roundup of faculty awards and prizes, because it represents the high aspirations and accomplishments of the people who make the School of Arts and Sciences the distinguished institution that it is. All of us—colleagues, students, administrators, and support staff—benefit from the reflected glory of our accomplished professors. And we remember that while these external signs of accomplishment are visible badges, in many ways it is the internal, day-to-day, intellectual work in the classroom that matters the most. Still, bragging rights are just that!

Carol Greider

Among our biggest news is that the Krieger School has four Bloomberg Distinguished Professors. Funded a year ago by Michael Bloomberg, these extraordinary professors conduct interdisciplinary research and are aligned with the university’s signature initiatives. One of the new BDPs is Carol Greider, famous for her discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that protects the end of a chromosome and thereby safeguards the genetic data that make us who we are. This work has formed the basis for clinical applications that combat diseases such as cancer, and it led to Carol’s recognition as co-recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Currently the Daniel Nathans Professor and Director of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics in the School of Medicine, Carol will henceforth hold a joint appointment in our Department of Biology, where our undergraduates and doctoral students will have the opportunity to learn from a real star in the field.

Patricia Janak

The second new Bloomberg Distinguished Professor is Patricia Janak, joining the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the Krieger School and the Department of Neuroscience in the School of Medicine. She comes to us from the University of California, San Francisco, where she was the Howard J. Weinberger, MD, Endowed Chair in Addiction Research. Patricia’s area of expertise focuses on the fundamental mechanisms of learning and motivation in the brain. One of the aspects she examines in her research is the contribution of neural activity patterns within the brain’s reward circuitry to alcohol and drug-seeking behavior. Patricia will play a key role in the Science of Learning Institute, which supports research and application that seeks to understand learning at all levels of scientific inquiry.

Stephen Morgan

The most recently named Bloomberg Professor is Stephen Morgan, who hails from Cornell University, where he was the Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 Professor in the Social Sciences. Steve will be “housed” in our Department of Sociology and hold a joint appointment with the School of Education. His areas of research include education, inequality, demography, and methodology. His leadership roles in Cornell’s Population Center and its Center for the Study of Inequality make him well-suited to be involved with the university’s Institute for the American City, a new initiative designed to tackle the world’s most pressing urban problems.

Kathryn Edin

Also involved with the Institute for the American City is Kathryn Edin, a world-renowned sociologist and one of the country’s leading poverty researchers. She is our fourth Bloomberg Professor and is a member of the Department of Sociology. Kathy comes to the Krieger School from Harvard, and she holds a joint appointment at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focuses on how single mothers make ends meet, why poor women prioritize motherhood before marriage, and how economic and cultural changes have altered the role of fathers among the inner-city poor. Kathy also is one of two Krieger School professors recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Joseph Silk

The other one is Joseph Silk, the Homewood Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Joe’s contributions have helped transform cosmology into a high-precision science.

Marc Kamionkowski

Speaking of physics and astronomy, professors in that department have been raking in awards faster than we can keep track of them. First and foremost, we have recently learned that theoretical physicist Marc Kamionkowski has been named a recipient of the prestigious Simons Foundation Investigators Award. Marc is one of the preeminent cosmologists of his generation. He has been establishing a vibrant theoretical research program to parallel our strong tradition in observational cosmology. Marc’s dedication as a mentor should also be noted, especially given that funds awarded to the Simons Investigator will go mainly to student/post-doc support. Of the 38 students/post-docs Marc has supervised, all but five have continued in science, working now in particle and nuclear physics, physical and early-Universe cosmology, and in stellar, high-energy, and gravitational-wave astrophysics.

Alex Szalay

Alex Szalay, the Alumni Centennial Professor of Astronomy, is the lead investigator of a $9.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Cyber-infrastructure division to create a “virtual telescope.” The grant will be used to develop, build, and maintain large-scale data sets that will allow for greater access and better usability of the information for the science community.

Stephen Murray

Physicist Stephen Murray was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Stephen conducts research in high-energy astrophysics and X-ray astronomy and was elected for contributions to high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy and for founding the NASA Astrophysics Data System that has transformed the way we access information. The data system, used by virtually all astronomers and astrophysicists worldwide, has provided free access to the published literature in their field.

Nadia Zakamska

Nadia Zakamska, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was awarded the 2014 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize for outstanding achievement in observational astronomical research. Most of Nadia’s research is in extragalactic astronomy. Awarded by the American Astronomical Society, the Pierce Prize is given annually to astronomers for excellence over the past five years in observational astronomical research based on measurements of radiation from an astronomical object.

Tyrel McQueen (left) and Jared Kaplan

Earlier this year, Jared Kaplan, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Tyrel McQueen, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, were selected for Sloan Research Fellowships. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awards fellowships each year to young researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and unique potential to make substantial contributions to their fields. Jared’s research involves everything from effective field theory, particle physics, and cosmology to the formal aspects of scattering amplitudes, conformal field theory, and holography. Tyrel was also the recipient of the Cottrell Scholar Award, given by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement to synthesize and test new high-temperature superconducting materials.

Chris Falzone

We are particularly proud that Chris Falzone, an invaluable teaching professor in the Department of Chemistry, won the Krieger School’s 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award. Chosen by the thousands of students who pass through the department’s Introductory Organic Chemistry sequence, he was awarded this honor at Commencement and cheered by the graduates who conquered this demanding field with his help.

Veena Das

Not to be outdone by the natural science departments, our social sciences and humanities faculty have also been in the spotlight recently. Veena Das, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in Anthropology and director of the department’s graduate studies, received the Nessim Habif World Prize 2014, awarded annually by the University of Geneva in recognition of important contributions to the field of anthropology. Earlier in the year, Veena was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Edinburgh in recognition of her distinguished contributions to the study of violence, social suffering, and subjectivity, as well as a study of the burden of disease and health-seeking behavior among the urban poor in Delhi.

Margaret Keck

From the Department of Political Science, Professor Margaret Keck, co-author of Practical Authority: Agency and Institutional Change in Brazilian Water Politics, had her book receive the top prize of the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association. The book was also given the Giovanni Sartori Book Award—honorable mention—from the Qualitative and Multi-Method Research Section of the American Political Science Association. The book—co-authored with Rebecca Abers from the University of Brasília—examines three decades of national and state law-making along with experimentation in establishing new kinds of participatory water management organizations.

Elisabeth Strowick (left) and Deborah McGee Mifflin

In the humanities, the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures is also brimming with lauded scholars and teachers. Department chair and professor of German, Elisabeth Strowick, was awarded a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to pursue research on “Atmospheric poetics: Goethe–Stifter–Fontane” at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies, Free University Berlin, this summer. Also in the German subdivision, Deborah McGee Mifflin, an associate teaching professor and the German Language program director, was elected to the Executive Council of the American Association of Teachers of German. As a member of the council, Deborah will represent all chapters of the AATG in Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Nadia Altschul (left) and Neta Stahl

Neta Stahl, an assistant professor of Hebrew, was awarded a summer stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She will use the grant to work on her book project, God at the End of Days: Perceptions of the Divine in 20th Century Modern Jewish Literature. Meanwhile, Geographies of Philological Knowledge: Postcoloniality and the Transatlantic National Epic, a book by Nadia Altschul, assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies in Spanish, received an honorable mention from the Modern Language Association’s annual Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize, which recognizes outstanding books published in English or Spanish literatures and cultures. The committee praised Nadia’s book as “an original, informative, and sophisticated work of scholarship [that] reveals the many contradictions that subtend the practice of medieval studies in the postcolonial context and underwrite the racial ideologies of transatlantic philology–Spanish and Spanish American philology in particular.”

Mary Jo Salter

I am also pleased to share that Mary Jo Salter, an accomplished poet and the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in the Writing Seminars, is one of 204 new members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Since its founding in 1780, the Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Margaret Meade, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Mary Jo is the 52nd academy fellow currently on the Johns Hopkins faculty. She is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Nothing by Design (Knopf) in 2013.

Elizabeth Rodini

Elizabeth Rodini, a teaching professor in the History of Art and director of the Program in Museums and Society, has also been acknowledged for her scholarship and publications. In April, her article, “The Politics of Marriage in Carpaccio’s St. Ursula Cycle,” was awarded the Best Article Prize for 2013 by Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Marina Rustow

Marina Rustow, Charlotte Bloomberg Associate Professor in the Humanities in the Department of History, has much to be proud of. This past spring, Marina was included as one of 178 scholars, artists, and scientists who make up the 2014 class of Guggenheim Fellows. Often characterized as “midcareer” awards, Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. Earlier in the year, Marina’s work was recognized in the form of a Collaborative Research Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. She will partner with Eve Krakowski of Yale University for the two-year project, “Documents and Institutions in the Medieval Middle East.”

From left, MSG Jelani Edwards, COL Lawrence Anyanwu, Vice Dean Steven David, LTC Paul Carroll, and CSM Darrin Kinder

Finally, I want to acknowledge the tremendous honor given to our Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. Johns Hopkins’ unit, which represents the 4th Brigade, was one of eight winners of a MacArthur Award. The award, presented by Cadet Command and the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation, reflects the ideals of “duty, honor, and country” as advocated by MacArthur as well as recognizes eight schools selected from among 275 senior ROTC units nationwide.

Beverly Wendland and Katherine Newman

It has been my singular honor to serve the faculty and students of the Krieger School as Dean. As I transit to my new position as Provost at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, I am pleased and proud to introduce to you my interim successor, Dr. Beverly Wendland. Dean Wendland is the chair of the Department of Biology and one of the leading lights of our school. She is a distinguished scientist, and she and her team study yeast cells to find out what they can teach us about human diseases, including some forms of cancer. Her work includes seeking new targets for treatment, such as enhanced delivery of gene therapies. Beverly’s leadership in the life sciences has been extraordinary. During my time at the Krieger School, she was instrumental in the configuration of the new Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories, the development of the Gateway Sciences Initiative, and the search for two new deans—one for the School of Medicine and one for the School of Nursing. With her help, we are moving forward to link the biology department to medicine, especially in the field of genomics. I cannot think of anyone better suited to taking the helm of the School of Arts and Sciences.

I wish all of our students, faculty, parents, alumni, and donors the very best for the future and thank you most sincerely for everything you have done to make my time at Johns Hopkins so fruitful. A final shout out to the deanery, my hard working and devoted colleagues, who have done everything possible to strengthen the Krieger School.

Sincerely,

Katherine S. Newman
James B. Knapp Dean