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Vital Signs
Forever Altered
Up and Comer
Here and Abroad

Bottom Line

40,000: Dollars Charles Carroll Jr. spent building and furnishing Homewood House from 1802 to 1806. In today's market, the price would be "about a million dollars, plus or minus 50 percent," says Hopkins economics professor Carl Christ. "There is no single price index covering the period from then to now and dealing with the precise mixture of construction and furnishings that the Carrolls used," he explains. So the closest estimate is somewhere between $400,000 and $1,600,000.

At the time, Charles' father was none too pleased. "What an improvident waste of money," Charles Carroll wrote to his son. "The time will come when you will severely feel and deeply regret so much money thrown away on such baubles."

But it was Jr.'s extravagance that enabled the house to survive to become a museum on the Homewood campus today, explain Catherine Rogers Arthur and Cindy Kelly in their book, Homewood House (JHU Press, 2004). "Through two centuries," they write, "Homewood has endured — at least partly by virtue of its architectural integrity and beauty and the use of quality materials and craftsmanship in its original construction."

Charles Jr. and his wife, Harriet Chew, were beautiful, gregarious, and very rich, and they turned what was originally conceived as a country getaway into one of the most lovely homes in Maryland. Homewood House, in its 174 pages and more than 100 color photographs, details the building, furnishing, and eventual restoration of the Federal-period home. The large-format book is a scholarly account of the house's history, but with enough lush detail — from what color they painted the hallway and what marble was used in the fireplaces to where they purchased their Madeira — to give voyeurs plenty to feast their eyes on. — Catherine Pierre


Some people might tell you that the annual Spaghetti Bridge contest at Johns Hopkins is all about engineering. Freshman teams are charged with constructing a bridge from pasta and glue that will carry the heaviest load while meeting a series of set specifications. Never seen it in person? That's okay. Because if you catch the film on this site about last fall's contest, you'll see that it's really all about destruction. Sure the crowd murmurs in appreciation and snaps photos when they see the towering bridges being loaded onto their platforms. They hold their breath as weights are attached to the structures. And when the bridges collapse into a tumble of percatelli, bucatini, and thin spaghetti, well, that's when you realize that engineering is merely a supporting player in all of this. It's the awwwwww emanating from the crowd that clinches it. These people sound happy. — Maria Blackburn


January's Hopkins Intersession included a course on military strategy, taught by Chris Hickey, A&S '93, a U.S. Army infantry officer who has served in Haiti, South Korea, and Iraq and now teaches at West Point. The course covered principles of strategy, game theory, and how military power interacts with diplomatic and economic power. The military is renowned for employing its own specialized vocabulary, and Hickey provided some examples of the current GI lexicon:

Purple: The color, more or less, that would result from blending the uniforms of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Slang for any idea or action that involves a combination of those forces.

Asymmetric warfare: The creative strategy of using forces or techniques in unexpected ways, to exploit an enemy's weaknesses and nullify his strengths. Early example: David's sling nullified Goliath's size and strength.

Out there flapping: A paratrooper whose chute has failed to open. Often used to describe the actions of a briefer whose presentation is not going well.

Hamburger Patty with Bread: What in civilian life would be known simply as a hamburger. Among the field rations designated Meals Ready to Eat (MRE), the most popular.

Country Captain Chicken: Opposite of the above. The most unpalatable MRE.

Camel spider: Large biting spider found in Iraq and Kuwait, renowned among coalition troops for its size, aggression, and powerful bite.

Demonstration: Open movement of military forces, meant to be observed by the enemy to deceive him as to one's actual intent.

Johns Hopkins: Says Hickey, "A university that, when found on a military officer's record, results in that officer's assignment to highly complex, sleep-depriving planning jobs."


Course: The Natural and the Artificial: The Concept of the Man-Made Man

Instructor: Robert Kargon, Willis K. Shepard Professor in the History of Science.

Course description: Offered through the Department of the History of Science and Technology, the course attempts to illustrate society's changing understanding of science by examining the concept of the artificial human being. It begins with the Renaissance's Golem legend and proceeds through the Scientific Revolution/Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the 20th century. The course is an appealing mix of thought-provoking lecture, discussion, and movie-watching. Lecture and discussion topics range from the role of science and magic in the Renaissance to views of man and machines during the Industrial Revolution to artificial intelligence and the Internet.

Required reading:
R.U.R., Karel Capek (1921, English version 1923).
The Fourth Discontinuity: The Co-Evolution of Humans and Machines, Bruce Mazlish (1993).
He, She and It, Marge Piercy (1993).
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1818).
Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells (1896).

Suggested reading:
Science and Change 1500-1700, Hugh F. Kearney (1962).
The Golem, Chayim Bloch (1925).
Man a Machine, J.O. de la Mettrie (1748).
"The Sandman," E.T.A. Hoffmann (1885).

Films viewed in class:
The Golem
Island of Lost Souls
Colossus: The Forbin Project
The Stepford WivesM
(original version)


Undergrads on the Trail to Discovery

Founded in 1999, the Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program offers students in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences up to $10,000 over several years to research topics of their choosing. Here are two current projects:

Truly Tyler '06, public health major, "Women After Abortions: Post-Traumatic Stress"
"When someone undergoes a major medical procedure, usually the patient is warned of and prepared for the effects following their surgery or treatment," says Tyler, who wants to attend law school, get a master's in public health, and pursue a career in public policy after graduation. "However, little is discussed about the consequences of an abortion, biologically, psychologically, and emotionally." By studying testimonials from women who have undergone what Tyler terms "post-abortion trauma," she hopes to raise awareness about the effects abortions can have on women. "There needs to be more of a support network for women after they undergo this procedure and more counseling before," she says.

Maha Zehra Jafri '05, English major, "Film Based on Her Own Fictional Short Story"
Jafri chose to come to Johns Hopkins primarily because she was interested in the Woodrow Wilson fellowship program. Though she has little filmmaking experience, Jafri is a fan of Michael Moore's documentary Roger and Me. She originally planned to do a Moore-style documentary on gun culture in America but gave up that idea when she heard about Moore's Bowling for Columbine. So instead, she is making a 10-minute film out of a short story she wrote during her freshman year, called "Ellie." "It's a love story, but that's a somewhat deceptive characterization," says Jafri, who is interested in a writing career. "It's about an obese American teenage girl and the Pakistani corner store owner who's in love with her. I know it sounds strange and probably terrible. But it's a very visual piece, so it's hard to describe." —MB


When Dag Hammarskjöld, the first United Nations Secretary-General, died in a plane crash in 1961, Baltimore industrialist, statesman, and philanthropist Jacob Blaustein wanted to honor his friend. So he commissioned an abstract work of art by contemporary British artist Barbara Hepworth.

Photo by Kaveh Sardari Hepworth created two copies of her sculpture. Last year, the Blaustein family donated its half-size copy to Johns Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. (The other copy resides in London's Battersea Park.) The sculpture now sits in the courtyard in front of the Nitze Building, across from a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Single Form, the original piece that Hepworth unveiled in 1964, still sits atop a fountain outside the Secretariat Building at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Hepworth — who was closely identified with her better-known contemporary, sculptor Henry Moore — was known for her use of the "pierced form." Single Form became a signature piece in that style.

The large-scale bronze sculpture also became a signature of the U.N.'s mission, says Blaustein family member Frank Rosenberg. "The original Hepworth sculpture has been a symbol of peace, hope, and optimism within the international diplomatic community for more than 40 years," he says.

Because Single Form commemorates Dag Hammarskjöld's ideals, it is a particularly fitting work for SAIS, says Dean Jessica Einhorn. "The sculpture is a memorial to a great world leader, who died in the early years of the school's own existence — a time when no one knew how the challenges of the 20th century would be met. Hammarskjöld was someone who believed that the efforts of human beings to make a better world would prove worthwhile, and we believe the same as we educate generations of future leaders at SAIS." — CP

Vital Signs

Exercise helps what aging hurts
Regular moderate exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke in older people subject to metabolic syndrome, according to a new Hopkins study. Metabolic syndrome is a potentially deadly clustering of risk factors that include abnormally high cholesterol levels, excess abdominal fat, and high blood pressure. Kerry Stewart, professor of
medicine, led the research team that found that exercise resulted in a 23 percent reduction in the syndrome among test subjects. The study appeared last December in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Stress strikes again! This time, skin cancer
Laboratory mice exposed to ultraviolet light develop skin cancer faster when subjected to chronic stress, says Hopkins' Francisco Tausk. A study he directed, published last December in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, repeatedly subjected 40 mice to UV rays plus a stressor: the scent of fox urine. A control group of 40 mice was exposed only to the light. Stressed mice began developing tumors after eight weeks; the first tumors did not appear in the control group until after 21 weeks. Based on their findings, the investigators say stress reduction may be important for people at high risk for skin cancer.

Race matters in doctor-patient relations
Researchers from Medicine and Public Health have found that race affects doctor-patient communication. Lisa A. Cooper, an associate professor in public health and senior author of the study (published last December in the American Journal of Public Health), says that physicians, including African-American physicians, were less likely to engage black patients than white patients in conversation. Researchers analyzed audio tapes and questionnaire data and found the ratio of doctor's comments to patient's was much higher if the patient was black. Says Cooper, "Our findings indicate that doctors may be talking 'at' their black patients and 'with' their white patients." — Dale Keiger

Forever Altered

Mentor, hero, inspiration: Hopkins teachers who have left their mark

Photos by Kaveh Sardari "Attending the very first class Riordan Roett taught at the School of Advanced International Studies, I saw an impatient man stride into the room with an urgency to teach. He made me feel important because what he had to say about Latin American politics was so important to him. Professor Roett had grand plans. He developed and taught his courses meticulously, exposing us to his research, publications, and the experiences from his constant travel. He stressed economics, history, and languages as well as politics, and later organized hundreds of internships for his students to know Latin America directly. We flocked to his department, making it the largest regional studies major in the school, decade after decade. He built it and we came.

"Professor Roett refused to be dull. One day he threatened to walk out of class if we didn't spark up and participate. Another day he ran to the window at the jingle of a Good Humor truck, sweeping up the blinds and waxing nostalgic for his youth. He was a demanding scholar and a good guy.

"Again and again throughout my career, I came back to Professor Roett. Due in part to his influence, I never left Latin America, experiencing it as an IMF economist in Central America and resident representative in Bolivia, as a Latin debt trader at Citibank and Drexel Burnham Lambert, and finally through the business of my own firm, International Bank Services in Boston. Along the way Professor Roett advised me, wrote recommendations for me, sent me a bookshelf full of his most recent writings, and became my friend."

Robert Hildreth, SAIS '75, was a member of Roett's first class of students. Last October, Hildreth committed $2 million through the Hildreth-Steward Foundation to establish the Riordan Roett Professorship in Latin American Studies at SAIS.

Up & Comer

Name: Tama Leventhal
Age: 35

Position: Hopkins associate research scientist in the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and assistant professor in the Department of Population and Family Health Sciences in the Bloomberg School of Public Health

Stats: BA '91 in psychology from Colgate University, PhD '99 in developmental psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University

Scouting report: Says Sandra J. Newman, director of IPS, "Tama has done pathbreaking work in using rigorous statistical methods and modeling techniques to try to examine some of the core questions about how the home and the neighborhood affect outcomes for children and youth. The research questions she asks haven't really been asked before."

Research: Leventhal explores how a neighborhood influences children's education, mental health, and sexual activity. She asks questions such as, Do the neighborhoods where children live affect their relationships with their parents? and, Are there specific developmental points at which children are particularly vulnerable to neighbor-hood influences? "The field is relatively new, so a lot remains to be learned," she says. "I like that [my work] has the ability to improve the lives of children."

Mentor: Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, the first director of the National Center for Children and Families, was Leventhal's graduate adviser, then her supervisor at the center. Now they are frequent collaborators. Says Leventhal, "She is a leader in the field of developmental psychology and social policy and in trying to understand the effect of poverty and its cofactors on child and family well-being."

Alternative career: Archaeologist. "I'm fascinated with being a treasure hunter, and like the idea of being able to discover new things and unearth the unknown."


Forest fires burn there, pollute here
Blame Canadian smoke for polluting Baltimore's air a few years ago. In a study published in a December online issue of Environmental Science & Technology, researchers at the
Bloomberg School of Public Health, led by associate professor Timothy Buckley, tracked smoke from forest fires burning in July 2002 in Quebec. They correlated it to measurements of air quality at the same time in Baltimore, 700 miles to the south, and found an eightfold increase in airborne particulate matter from the fires. Such particulates are harmful to people suffering from respiratory ailments. Staying indoors offered little protection; the study reports that indoor pollution from the smoke closely tracked outdoor levels.

Coral's disappearing act
Scientists have long been puzzled by the disappearance of coral reefs from the fossil record during the Cretaceous Period (120 million to 35 million years ago). Now a Hopkins doctoral candidate can explain that absence. Justin Ries, a graduate student in the Krieger School's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, has discovered that the seawater chemistry during that period, which had a low magnesium-to-calcium ratio, was responsible. He re-created that water in a Hopkins lab and discovered that its chemical composition inhibited marine polyps from growing the aragonite skeletons that over time create coral reefs. Ries describes his finding, which he presented at the Geological Society's annual meeting last November, as "groundbreaking": "It was previously believed that organisms do not generally change their skeletal mineralogy over time," says Ries. "Now we know that they do." — DK

Here and Abroad

Johns Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies has announced its Spring 2005 International Reporting Project (IRP) Fellows. Eight U.S. journalists have been selected for the four-month fellowship, which aims to improve the quality of international news in U.S. media. This year's group will report on Colombia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Thailand, and, for the first time since the program started in 1998, Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique, and Pakistan.

This January, an international team of 27 geologists led by Bruce Marsh, a Johns Hopkins Earth and Planetary Sciences professor, headed off to Antarctica. Their mission: to collect and analyze thousands of pounds of rocks that will help scientists learn more about the systems that transport magma to the Earth's outer layer. "Nowhere else on Earth that we know of is the plumbing system exposed in quite this way," says postdoctoral student Adam Simon, the program administrator for Marsh's National Science Foundation grant.

The Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute in January opened a new institute in Macha, Zambia, with partners including the Macha Mission Hospital, Zambia's Central Board of Health, and the Macha Malaria Research Institute. Researchers there will conduct trials on new malaria drugs, study mosquito behavior, and host an NIH-funded immunology study aimed at finding out why some children develop severe malaria and die, while others do not.

Jun-ichi Igusa, professor emeritus in Hopkins' math department, has been awarded Japan's second highest civilian honor for his contributions to the development of mathematics and his role in cultivating scientific exchange between Japan and the United States. Masaaki Tanino, the consul of the Consulate-General of Japan in New York, bestowed the Order of the Sacred Treasure in a private ceremony at Igusa's Baltimore home because Igusa was unable to travel to Tokyo for the ceremony. Igusa was one of 10 to be so honored.

Return to February 2005 Table of Contents

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