Johns Hopkins Magazine -- February 1998
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High-tech solutions to scholarly problems... P.J.'s Pub honors... Ironwomen hit Hawaii... menu selections on E-level... space for faith... celebrating 35 years of "cerebral awakenings"... home, at last!

1860's music: now available digitally
Creating a new scholarly resource
A windowless room at the
Milton S. Eisenhower (MSE) Library is propelling Hopkins into space. Cyberspace,that is.

The Digital Knowledge Center is a research-and-development type operation created to bring technology to the library and other university offices.

"We are not just digitizing things," says Sayeed Choudhury, center manager. "We are trying to create a scholarly resource. Once someone identifies a problem, it's our job to say there's software that can do that, or we need to tweak this to do it, or to just develop something new."

For example, the MSE keeps running out of room as new books come in. So, librarians shift the less-used books into storage, primarily a warehouse in Moravia Park, Maryland, that now holds about 450,000 volumes. With an average of 40,000 books being warehoused annually, off-site holdings could near a million within 10 years. That would lengthen researchers' waiting times (now between two and 24 hours) for requested books or articles. With corporate funding being sought, the center plans to invent a robot that could retrieve books and scan pages. A library user could then read a scientific article via computer--within minutes--and from home, even.

The university has applied for a patent on the concept, and Choudhury says the center may well market the technology to other libraries.

Created in mid-1996, the Digital Knowledge Center was fully set up last October. It is staffed by engineers, computer whizzes, and grad students, and taps expertise from the humanities and other departments.

Among the center's other projects: creating online versions of print journals housed at the library, and offering access to electronically published periodicals, such as the Journal of High Energy Physics. There are also online exhibits from the library's Special Collections. And one of the latest endeavors is a prototype Web-based course that's interactive--meaning students and instructors could customize "class sessions" by clicking on links to other resources.

Information about the center can be found on the Web at: -- JPC

P.J.'s earns Playboy honors
Long favored by Hopkins students for its draft beer specials and cheap eats, P.J.'s Pub in Charles Village was recently named among the nation's 100 Top College Bars by Playboy magazine. Owner Jerry Smith was nonplussed by the honor: "We do cater to the students," he says, "but we don't put up with people throwing pitchers of beer at each other, and your feet are not sticking to the floor."

Joanna Zeiger (yellow shirt) finished the Hawaii Ironman first in her age group.
Photo by Joanna Keiger
Iron resolve or lunacy?
An injury made Joanna Zeiger an Ironman.

Now a doctoral candidate at Hopkins's School of Public Health, Zeiger hurt her shoulder while swimming competitively in college. The Brown University senior wanted to stay in shape. So she took up running. Then she took up biking. "After college I thought about doing triathlons. I did it and liked it, and it took off from there," says Zeiger, 27.

That was 1992. Since then, she's done 23 triathlons. At October's Hawaii Ironman World Championship, a race known as one of the world's toughest endurance tests (Sports Illustrated has described it as "lunatic"), Zeiger won first in her age group of 25- to 29-year-olds. The slight, 5-foot, 5-inch Zeiger finished in 10 hours and 17 minutes. Before crossing the finish line she first had to complete a grueling 2.4 mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and finally a 26.2 mile run.

"While everybody else is sleeping, I'm out there training," Zeiger says of her regimen, which usually starts at 5:30 a.m. "I usually do two workouts a day: one in the morning, one in the afternoon. It varies day to day: could be one hour, could be six hours. Some days I rest and do nothing at all."

Not too many days like that before the Hawaii Ironman, her second go at the mega marathon. Weekly in the fall, Zeiger swam about 12,000 meters, biked 200 miles and ran 45 miles. But all the preparation couldn't account for some factors.

"The area is known for high winds. And headwinds that day were 30 mph, gusting to 60 mph," she says. "It was unrelenting. You just fight through it because you are anxious to finish it." Last year, she felt sick during the race. This year, she says she ended feeling "exhilarated." And she jumped from 33rd female overall in 1996 to 10th in 1997. In all, 1,478 athletes competed, and a record 1,365 finished.

When not training, Zeiger is a research assistant in the Department of Epidemiology working on her dissertation on the role of genetics in birth defects.

Another Hopkins athlete, cross-country coach Hollie Hollis, finished the Ironman seventh among females in the 18- to 24-year-old age group. "I went in with the attitude that I would just finish the race since I had never raced that distance before. If I go back, I'll go with the attitude that I'll see how well I can do," says Hollis, who turned 25 two days after the race. "We celebrated in Hawaii, though I couldn't walk very well." --JPC

Course selections
On the bar menu at the E-level pub in Levering Hall: The Bill Brody: Lots of ham, swiss cheese, lettuce, and tomato topped with mustard and served on an honor roll. The Susan Boswell: Same sandwich, but substitute turkey breast.

Space for faith
Over the years, students who prayed together on the Homewood campus have scrambled for space: Hindus met in a dorm multipurpose room. Catholics held Mass in the Glass Pavilion. Muslims shared space with campus ROTC.

Now, a 1920s era Methodist church bought by Hopkins for $950,000 will become an interfaith center, bringing a cross-cultural religious presence to the secular school for the first time.

The former Wilson Memorial Methodist Church, located just off campus at Charles Street and University Parkway, will offer rooms for religious services, daily prayers, and community service projects. University donor funds are slated to cover purchasing and renovation costs for the center, which is expected to open later this year.

Sharon Kugler, Hopkins chaplain, says the number of religious groups on campus has grown from eight to 20 in just five years. "Students here are very focused, but in a healthy way they are seeking out other outlets to make them whole." --JPC

An intellectual oasis
For 35 years, Hopkins's Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) program has been an intellectual oasis for the working person. It's a 30-credit degree that doesn't promise financial rewards or a giant hoist up the corporate ladder. Instead, say its students, it awakens that cerebral curiosity that can sometimes get dimmed from years of work, family demands, TV, and day-to-day life in an increasingly specialized world.

Last month, when the School of Continuing Studies program marked its 35th anniversary, its director, Nancy Norris, organized a celebration in true MLA style--a faculty panel discussion of man as an "embodied freedom." Hundreds of past and present students listened as four Hopkins professors from different disciplines offered their views on the subject. And when the scholars were finished, the students kept the discussion going well after, with their thoughts, questions, and lively exchange.

The MLA's core is its History of Ideas program, which examines the great ideas of past and present Western and Eastern civilizations. Students can take courses like Milton to McLuhan: Ideas and the American Press, and The Tragic Vision from Ancient Greece to Modern America.

Those who enroll are a diverse group, representing a vast range of ages, backgrounds, and professions. Yet, says Norris, most are one of two types: those who have reached a successful professional or personal plateau and have begun to feel a little intellectually flat, or those who are at a personal crossroad, facing a divorce, for example.

When filmmaker Chiara Andres enrolled in the MLA, she was not thinking about switching careers. But she recently left her job as a producer at C-SPAN to launch a freelance documentary company.

"Even though at C-SPAN the topics were always changing, the skills weren't," she explains. "After three and half years, I could do my work with my hands tied behind my back. What I found with the MLA was that these classes filled me with ideas. It played a big role in making the decision to spin off on my own."

Andres particularly enjoys the camaraderie with her fellow classmates. "In a typical class there will be someone who works on the Hill, a lawyer, a housewife, a psychiatrist, and someone from one of the zillion associations in D.C.," she says. "They bring into class completely new perspectives. You walk out feeling energized, inspired." --LR

Home, at last:
In January, the
School of Nursing moved from six different locations to its first permanent home, in the newly-constructed Anne M. Pinkard Building, directly across the street from the Hopkins Hospital entrance.

Written by Joanne P. Cavanaugh and Leslie Rice.