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Editor: Philip Tang, A&S '95
Contributing Writer: Lew Diuguid, SAIS '63

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April's Alumni Notes

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Angelin Chang, Peab '98 (DMA): A Pyrotechnic Performance
Jacob Beser, Eng '48: After "Fat Man" and "Little Boy": A Lifetime of No Regrets
Shelf Life
Susan Ice, A&S '69, Med '72: Models of Healthy Living — On the Runway and Off
Della Aubrey-Miller, Bus '85 (MAS): An Animal Acupuncturist Who Makes House Calls
SOBA Professorship: New Professorship will Expand Students' Horizons
Chandler Burr, SAIS '90: A Nose That Knows
In the News...
First Annual Admissions Advisory Workshop Available for Legacy Families

Angelin Chang, Peab '98 (DMA): A Pyrotechnic Performance

Angelin Chang left the 49th annual Grammy Awards in February happily weighed down with a Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra. Had there been a Most Outwardly Excited Award Winner category, she would have won that one as well, or so noted a Washington Post reporter, who wrote of her exuberant reaction to winning.

Angelin Chang took home a Grammy for her piano solo performance of Olivier Messlaen's Oiseaux Exotiques. "I was just ecstatic, and a bit numb," she says. Chang, an internationally acclaimed concert pianist and an assistant professor of piano at Cleveland State University, recalls the moment when her category was announced. She only had to hear part of the introduction, she says, to know that it was her performance the presenter was talking about. "I didn't hear anything else after that," says Chang. "I was just ecstatic, and a bit numb."

Chang won for her piano solo performance of Oiseaux Exotiques (Exotic Birds) with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, conducted by John McLaughlin Williams. Her performance of the intricate piece, which garnered widespread critical acclaim ("dazzlingly pyrotechnic," wrote one critic), was a tribute to the music's composer, Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), whom Chang studied with during her time at the Paris Conservatoire. While earning her doctor of musical arts from Peabody, she also wrote her dissertation on Messiaen, a virtuoso who could reportedly see music in colors and in essence painted vibrant landscapes with some of his compositions.

Oiseaux Exotiques, which he composed in 1955, incorporates the songs of 47 individual birds and the environments they dwell in. "He was very interested in nature, and musically in lots of layering," Chang says of her former mentor. "This particular composition is very dense, and pretty wild."

To illustrate how closely the notes mimic nature, Chang tells the story of the time she was practicing the piece at home. Her neighbors, who happened to be bird enthusiasts, recognized several of the bird songs. "They would come up to me and ask, 'Was that a wood thrush?'" In fact, it was.

Recognized for her sense of poetry and technical brilliance, Chang has performed all over the world in some of the most celebrated venues — from New York's Lincoln Center to London's St. Martin-in-the-Fields to China's Beijing Concert Hall. An active chamber musician, she performs regularly with acclaimed violist Joseph de Pasquale, the de Pasquale String Quartet, and with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra.

Chang has been head of keyboard studies and a faculty member at Cleveland State since 2001. Previously, she was on the piano faculty at Rutgers.

In her acceptance speech, Chang praised all her teachers, a list that included Peabody's own Yoheved Kaplinsky. She also stressed the importance of supporting music education, something she has championed throughout her career. As the first artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Chang participated in developing the Arts for Everyone initiative, which offers free arts programming in an effort to attract new audiences to the center.

"This is such an honor," says Chang. "It was great to be able to pay tribute to my teachers and say thanks."
— Greg Rienzi

Jacob Beser, Eng '48: After "Fat Man" and "Little Boy": A Lifetime of No Regrets

In 1942, Jacob Beser left his studies at Johns Hopkins just before his senior year to join the U.S. Air Force and the war effort in the Pacific Theater. The mechanical engineering major returned to Hopkins six years later to finish his engineering degree, but by then the world had irrevocably changed. World War II had ended, and the atomic age was ushered in, for which Beser literally had a front- row seat.

Jacob Beser, who died in 1992, served as radar counter- measures officer on both the Enola Gay and Bock's Car.
Photo courtesy Jerry Beser
Beser served as radar countermeasures officer on both the Enola Gay and Bock's Car, the B-29 bombing missions that dropped atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively.

Prior to the bombing missions, the Baltimore native worked on the Manhattan Project and helped design the proximity fuse that served to detonate "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" before they hit the ground. Needless to say, Beser had a story to tell, and he wanted to tell it. However, cancer took his life in 1992. He was unable to complete a book project that he thought would set the story straight on both missions and on how he and the crew felt about their role in history. They had no regrets.

Fifteen years later, thanks to his youngest son, Jerry, and best friend, Jack Spangler, Beser has gotten his wish.

Using Beser's book outline, unfinished manuscript, and extensive personal archives of notes, letters, film footage, and recorded conversations, Jerry Beser and Spangler have woven together The Rising Sun Sets: The Complete Story of the Bombing of Nagasaki, to be published early this year through the Beser Foundation for Archival Research and Preservation. The book offers extensive details on both bombing missions, the aftermath, and some of Beser's post-war experiences.

To this day, the bombings remain a polarizing event. Some believe the attacks were a necessary evil, ending the war and saving millions of lives. Others point to what they feel were unnecessary mass casualties of Japan-ese civilians and the atomic terror that ensued. The two bombings killed an estimated 110,000 people instantly, and within five years another quarter of a million died from injuries or radiation.

According to the book and family members, Beser felt no guilt or remorse, however, and proudly defended his military service to those who called him a mass murderer or worse.

"My father felt that war in itself was criminal and immoral, but it was academic how you got killed," Jerry Beser says. "He thought the use of the bombs was necessary and justified; they ended the war, and he often said he would do it over again if the same conditions existed. This book is an opportunity for him to say these things in his own words."
— GR

Shelf Life

Conquering Gotham. A Gilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels, by Jill Jonnes, A&S '92(PhD), Viking (2007)
Railroads achieved their zenith in 1910, when the Pennsylvania burrowed under the Hudson River into an immense Manhattan stone station that evoked Rome. The conqueror was Alexander Cassatt, a rarity among captains of industry in that principles underpinned his tunnel vision. Tammany Hall couldn't deter him, nor would shifting silt and deaths, by the bends, of sandhogs. But as epochal as all this is, the thunderbolt comes in the coda: Only 53 years after the opening of the Penn as a symbol of empire, it fell to the wrecker's ball.

The Flown Sky, by Matthew Olshan, A&S '96 (PhD), Chacmool Press (2006)
Olshan told this tale of pelicans and voluble earwigs to his daughter when she was 6. She read it at 8. "One shouldn't 'write down' to children," he says. Chacmool labels the book "a novel for smart young readers," and much of its challenge is word play. The title, for instance, takes on dimension when the reader learns about scramble pox. A character thus afflicted jumbles "man overboard" into "veranda broom." The moral of the book? That comes clear to those who can unscramble the title. No hints here.
— Lew Diuguid, SAIS '63

Susan Ice, A&S '69, Med '72:
Models of Healthy Living — On the Runway and Off

Couture is capricious. One year gold brocade and gabardine rule, the next year it's minimalism and micro-minis. But, since the 1960s, one trait has stuck: The women designers use to show off their latest creations are remarkably skinny.

Susan Ice Concern that models are maintaining their lean looks by starving themselves or purging prompted the Council of Fashion Designers of America to seek input from Susan Ice, a psychiatrist with more than 20 years of experience working with eating disorders. Over the past year, Ice — along with a nutritionist, a trainer, and fashion representatives — worked to create guidelines that fashion designers can use to keep their models healthy.

Many of the women on the catwalk are naturally thin, but Ice worries that others try to force their bodies to be "the square peg in the round hole." These same young women may be genetically predisposed to anorexia or bulimia, says Ice, putting them at higher risk. She emphasizes, however, that eating disorders aren't confined to the fashion industry. "We hear about eating disorders among models because it's a high-profile industry," says Ice. "They're on pages of magazines and in fashion shows."

The council released the guidelines in mid-January, just a few weeks before the kick-off of New York City's Fashion Week. Only a couple of recommendations specifically address eating disorders. Others — such as providing healthy snacks backstage and prohibiting smoking and alcohol — are more holistic.

Critics have publicly challenged the group for not going far enough, but Ice welcomes even the negative media attention. "I think it's good for the health industry and good for eating disorders awareness that this is coming to light," says Ice. She sees the guidelines as a first step in heightening health consciousness within the fashion industry. "There's good energy," says Ice. "They want to take care of their own, and in so doing, they are sending out a powerful message."

Ice began her career working with adolescents at a Philadelphia psychiatric hospital. Her patients were a mix of teenage girls with anorexia or bulimia, and delinquent inner-city boys. Eventually the Philadelphia Psychiatric Center opened a special eating disorders unit and put Ice in charge. "I was at the right place at the right time, and I had the right background," she says. After running the hospital eating disorders unit for 15 years, she made the jump to Philadelphia's Renfrew Center in 1999, where today she serves as vice president and medical director.

The Renfrew Center, the first U.S. treatment facility specifically dedicated to eating disorders, was launched in 1985. Although more resources are available for people with eating disorders today (Renfrew itself has opened another residential facility in Florida and six outpatient facilities across the country), recovery is no easier than when the center first opened its doors, Ice says. Eating disorders affect about 10 million women and 1 million men annually, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

A model at New York's Rosa Cha spring 2007 fashion show, September 2006. In January, the Council of Fashion Designers of America released recommendations as part of a new health initiative to help models be healthy.
Photo courtesy AP Photo / Diane Bondareff
"It's been a tricky field in which to find effective treatments," says Ice, who also operates a private outpatient practice for patients with eating disorders. "It's not like an infectious disease where you can find an agent that causes an illness. We're dealing with the mind — nature and nurture and the interplay between the two." Because so many factors contribute to the development of eating disorders, full recovery is often a lengthy and difficult process, she says.

Ice explains that, in many cases, women with eating disorders feel powerless. Many suffer from low self-esteem. All have an unhealthy relationship with food. They use their illness to express their emotions or gain control in their lives. At Renfrew, nutritionists help patients form healthy eating habits during communal meals, while a host of therapists (psychologists, psychotherapists, counselors) address the underlying roots of the disorder. "We look at recovery as the process of building newer and healthier relationships with oneself and with others," says Ice. To date, more than 45,000 women — most younger than 25 — have received care through Renfrew.

"There are plenty of recovery stories out there," says Ice. "I think that's what keeps us going."
— Cassandra Willyard, A&S '07 (MA)

GUIDELINES for the Council of Fashion Designers of America

Those in the fashion industry should be educated to identify the early warning signs of eating disorders.

Models identified as having an eating disorder should be prohibited from modeling until they seek help and obtain permission to work from a professional.

Models, their families, and others in the fashion industry should attend workshops to learn about eating disorders — how they arise, how to identify and treat them, and potential complications.

The industry should not hire models under 16 for runway shows, and models under 18 should not be allowed to work past midnight.

Designers should promote a healthy backstage environment by supplying healthy meals, snacks, and water and prohibiting smoking and alcohol.

Della Aubrey-Miller, Bus '85 (MAS): An Animal Acupuncturist Who Makes House Calls

When acupuncturist Della Aubrey-Miller gets calls from pet owners, it's often their last resort. Traditional veterinary treatment hasn't worked, and they're desperate to bring some relief, she says.

Aubrey-Miller, who originally opened a private practice in Columbia, Maryland, to perform acupuncture on people (which she still does), expanded her client base to include animals six years ago. Since then, she has successfully performed the therapeutic procedure on dozens of four- legged friends — including a dog with hip and back issues, a box turtle who wouldn't eat, and a horse with extensive leg muscle damage. All three, to the delight of their owners, showed marked improvement after their acupuncture treatments, she says.

When Aubrey-Miller isn't treating people and their pets, she stays busy with her full-time position as a management analyst for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. How does someone who routinely deals with massive budgets and planning get into acupuncture? They look for something completely different.

"I liked the philosophy behind it: the nature of life and healing, and how all things are interconnected. It really speaks to quantum physics," says Aubrey-Miller, who has served as treasurer of the Maryland Acupuncture Society since 2002 and is licensed to work on both humans and animals.

Acupuncture originated in China more than 2,000 years ago and refers to an array of procedures involving stimulation, typically by needles, of anatomical points on the body. The procedure, which is said to balance body energy, is used to treat digestive disorders, muscular disorders, pain, stress, and various other ailments.

Aubrey-Miller likens the needle insertion, which has been FDA-approved since 1996, to gentle reminders that the body can heal itself. "We are all energetic beings," she says. "If you look at it that way it makes sense to dip a needle into someone and stir the opportunity for change."

Aubrey-Miller says that she wanted to be a veterinarian since age 13, so applying her skills to animals was a natural. While she has worked with many kinds of creatures, she says she prefers dogs, cats, and horses, for which she is willing to make house calls.

Surprisingly, the animals don't seem to mind the needles.

"They often settle right in," she says. "Animals have a very keen intuition. They sort of know it can benefit them."
— GR

SOBA Professorship: New Professorship will Expand Students' Horizons

Raised by Jamaican parents in New York neighborhoods alongside African-Americans and immigrants of Puerto Rican, Cuban, Jewish, Irish, and Italian descent, Michael Hanchard lived "multiculturalism."

Michael Hanchard is the first Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor.
Photo by Will Kirk
"I did not realize then how the deceptively simple act of living among so many different types of people would condition me to move through the world and identify boun- daries, but not necessarily respect or abide by them," says Hanchard, now a scholar of comparative politics, focusing on the phenomena of nationalism, social movements, racial hierarchy, and citizenship.

Hanchard joined the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences last fall and is the first to hold the Society of Black Alumni (SOBA) Presidential Professorship. The new chair — championed by an alumni group that raised $2 million to endow it — was created in concert with a university effort to recruit outstanding and nationally prominent professors.

"By establishing this professorship, we are providing an avenue to expand the horizons of Hopkins' students, by which they will be exposed to perspectives with which they may be unfamiliar," says SOBA president Robert B. Clayton, A&S '84. "In the spirit of true scholarship, our black alumni and Johns Hopkins recognize the richness and value of diverse areas of study and viewpoints."

University trustee Loren R. Douglass, Engr '86, SAIS '95, a past SOBA president who made a gift toward the professorship, says Hanchard is an excellent choice for the inaugural chairholder.

"Dr. Hanchard is a world-class scholar, a thoughtful individual, and he understands the unique responsibilities of the SOBA professor," Douglass says. "He is being entrusted with responsibility over and above providing scholarship — he will also provide leadership as the first scholar to hold this chair."

Hanchard came from Northwestern University, where he was a professor of political science and African-American studies and director of the school's Institute for Diasporic Studies. In 1994 he published Orpheus and Power: Afro- Brazilian Social Movements in Rio de Janeiro and Sõo Paulo, Brazil, 1945-1988, a book based on the dissertation research he conducted at Princeton University and recently listed as one of the top 10 books by foreign researchers on a topic pertaining to Brazil. Last year, he published Party/Politics: Horizons in Black Political Thought.

In the Krieger School, Hanchard co-directs the Racism, Immigration and Citizenship Program with Erin Chung, the Charles D. Miller Professor of East Asian Studies. For Hanchard, leading the program will expand his interests in racism and nationalism into the arena of immigration. He is studying how rise in population flows across national and regional boundaries, prompted by the intense integration of national economies into this most recent era of globalization, has been accompanied by the rise in racism and xenophobia in various parts of the world. He and Chung have formed an international working group with scholars who specialize in immigration, racism, and citizenship in countries including Austria, Brazil, Japan, France, and the United States. They also launched a Homewood lecture series featuring speakers who specialize in diversity and citizenship issues in societies such as Nicaragua, France, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.

Hanchard, whose appointment is in the Department of Political Science, will hold the SOBA Presidential Professorship for five years. At the end of that term, he will retain the title of Presidential Professor, and the SOBA title will be awarded to another scholar, who may specialize in any subject in any one of Johns Hopkins' nine schools.

"Hopefully, this partnership be-tween the institution and far-sighted administrators, concerned black alumni, and myself can lead to programmatic initiatives to attract and recruit the best graduate students and faculty with research interests in African-American and Africana studies, racial politics in comparative perspective, and black political thought," Hanchard says. "While I am honored to be the first SOBA professor, I am grateful that I will not be the last. I hope this can be a catalyst for the expansion and deepening of the presence of black faculty at Hopkins."

Hanchard says he sees opportunities to create synergy among academic departments, train new scholars, and build an area of scholarship within political science that he believes is often overlooked.

"Given this institution's history as a leader in the area of higher education and cutting-edge research in the social and natural sciences as well as the humanities, I believe Johns Hopkins, as an institution and community of scholars, students, alumni, and administrators, can become a leader in the study of the black world in all of its manifestations."
— Nora Koch

Chandler Burr, SAIS '90: A Nose That Knows

"Iris! It's iris," blurts out Chandler Burr, in a perfume critic's eureka moment. The New York Times' perfume critic is working on a column, wearing five fragrances at once — one on each forearm, two more in the crooks of his elbows, and one on his shoulder, in the spot his nose can easily reach if he turns his head and hunches his back.

Some artists work in paint, some in tonal values with notes and music, some in steel or clay like sculptors, and these artists work in chemicals."
—Chandler Burr
At a newspaper renowned for its critics, Burr is, perhaps, the only American journalist whose job is to judge a product by — among a host of other technical aspects — how its fragrance evolves on skin and its sillage (the French word to describe the trail of scent left in one's wake). In his "Scent Strip" column, which began appearing in T: The New York Times Style Magazine in August 2006, he assigns ratings ranging from zero to five stars, and deconstructs each scent with poetic descriptions, such as a September 2006 evaluation of a men's scent that he said has "the grace of a Japanese maple and the careful, muscular cool of a leopard."

Burr never intended to write about perfume. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., where he developed a fascination with complex political systems, he studied international economics and Japanese at Johns Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and then worked as a journalist for The Christian Science Monitor, Atlantic, and U.S. News & World Report, among other publications.

Then, in 1998, as he waited to board a train from Paris to London to report a piece on British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Burr struck up a conversation with another passenger. That passenger happened to be Luca Turin, a colorful, Italian-French scientist who is an international expert on the sense of smell and the art of the perfume industry.

By the time the train reached Waterloo more than three hours later, Burr was captivated — by the sillage of his fellow passenger's enthusiasm. That conversation eventually led to Burr's 2003 book, The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession and the Last Mystery of the Senses. The book, a witty and insightful chronicle of Turin's attempt to unravel the mystery of smell and to publish his theory in the journal Nature, was reprinted in paperback in 2004. Burr is now working on another book, this one parallel stories of the making of two perfumes, which Burr followed behind the scenes over a period of two years: Hermes' creation of its fragrance "Un Jardin sur le Nil" and Sarah Jessica Parker's creation of her scent "Lovely."

In nearly a decade of studying the science of smell and deconstructing the art that is based on that sense, Burr has developed a deep appreciation for the fragrance industry.

"Perfumery is an art, to be critiqued like other art forms. Some artists work in paint, some in tonal values with notes and music, some in steel or clay like sculptors, and these artists," Burr says of perfumers, "work in chemicals."
— NK

In the News...

Jeffrey Blitz, A&S '90, '91 (MA), premiered his latest movie, Rocket Science, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in January. Blitz's 2002 documentary, Spellbound, was nominated for an Oscar. His new movie, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film, tells the story of a stuttering teenager who joins his high school speech team. Rocket Science was one of 122 films — out of 3,286 entries — shown at Sundance this year.

Pam Flaherty, SAIS '68, was appointed president and CEO of Citigroup Foundation in January. Flaherty, a 39-year veteran of Citigroup, most recently served as senior vice president of corporate citizenship. The foundation gave more than $92 million in 2006, including $37 million in 84 foreign countries and territories.

In March, Dennis P. Lockhart, SAIS '71, became president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Lockhart is currently a faculty member of Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service and adjunct professor in economics at Johns Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. As president of the Atlanta Fed, he will lead one of the 12 regional Reserve Banks, which, with the Board of Governors, make up the Federal Reserve System, the nation's central bank.

Charles Noss, SPH '84 (ScD), has been named national program director for water quality for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development. Prior to joining the EPA, Noss was deputy executive director and director for research at the Water Environmental Research Foundation.

First Annual Admissions Advisory Workshop Available for Legacy Families

This summer, the Office of Alumni Relations and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions are co-hosting the first annual Admissions Advisory Workshop on the Homewood campus in Baltimore. Modeled on similar efforts offered at peer institutions, this daylong program seeks to provide Hopkins families information on how to navigate the complex world of highly selective college and university admission.

Photo by Will Kirk

Slated for Friday, June 29, this program is available to all rising high school seniors who are children and/or siblings of Johns Hopkins alumni from any division. Participants will join admissions staff members for targeted discussions on topics ranging from essay writing and interviewing to the nuances of a college visit and that inexplicable "feel of a campus." These conversations will be expansive in scope, addressing the admissions process in a more general, broadly based fashion. For those families who wish to learn about admissions at Johns Hopkins University more specifically, an Admissions Open House will take place the next day, Saturday, June 30. Limited space in Homewood residential facilities will be available on Friday evening for those visiting from outside the area.

"There are multiple benefits of this program," notes John Latting, director of undergraduate admissions. "Though the workshop will certainly provide an important service to the families of our alumni, I'm particularly excited about the forum it supplies for admissions staff to share their collective wisdom and to think more broadly about issues afoot in the field. During the academic year, we're almost exclusively focused on representing just Johns Hopkins — time isn't always readily available for this kind of larger, educational mission."

Who is eligible?
Rising high school seniors who are children and/or siblings of Johns Hopkins alumni from any division are eligible to attend the workshop. If space allows, children of university employees and/or rising high school juniors may be included. Parents of this population are also welcome.

When is the program?
The Admissions Advisory Workshop is a daylong program offered on Friday, June 29. An Admissions Open House follows the workshop on Saturday, June 30.

How do I register?
To register for the program, please call the Office of Alumni Relations at 410-516-0363 or 1-800-JHU-JHU1. For more information, call Amy Brokl, associate director for admissions and alumni relations, at 410-516-4882 or e-mail her at

Is there a charge for the program?
There is a charge of $60 for each workshop attendee. For those who wish to stay in the residence halls on campus, there will be an additional charge of $42 per person for full bed, bath, and linens.

Return to April 2007 Table of Contents

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