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Bottom Line
Here and Abroad
Vital Signs
Forever Altered
Up and Comer

Bottom Line

110: The number of women who have achieved the rank of full professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. By way of comparison, 789 men have become full professors at the SoM since it opened in 1893.

An informal survey of Hopkins Medicine's peer institutions found that many haven't tracked promotion by gender, says Janice Clements, vice dean for faculty at the School of Medicine. One notable exception: Harvard School of Medicine, which has a faculty body more than twice that of Hopkins, has promoted 106 women to full professor.

At Hopkins, much of the momentum for women has occurred since 1990, when Clements became the 24th female faculty member at the SoM to earn full professor status. Clements credits Catherine DeAngelis, former vice dean for academic affairs and faculty and now editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, for turning the tide. DeAngelis established the Women's Leadership Council in 1993, which (together with other groups including the University Committee on the Status of Women) has promoted mentoring opportunities for women, enhanced recruitment and retention efforts, and advocated for women to be placed in positions of leadership.

"Despite our progress, and even with the 100 milestone being reached, we are still not where we should be," Clements says. "Since 1994, nearly half of the School of Medicine's graduating class has been women, and we simply don't recruit enough from this pool. What these committees are doing is trying to uncover some of the impediments to being recruited, retained, and succeeding in medicine. It hasn't been the case that women have reached the moment in their careers where they should have been promoted and have been denied. It's been more the case that we need a greater number to put in positions where they can succeed." —Greg Rienzi

Here and Abroad

Each year, 4 million newborn babies die worldwide. According to a new study by researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, 72 percent of those deaths could be prevented through 16 cost-effective interventions. The measures include providing tetanus vaccinations for pregnant women, delivering babies in a clean environment, exclusively breastfeeding infants, providing extra care for low-birth-weight babies, and giving antibiotics for neonatal infection. "Early success in preventing neonatal deaths is possible, even in settings with high mortality and weak health systems," says SPH associate professor Gary Darmstadt, lead author of the study, published in The Lancet's March 11 issue.

Bologna Center professor Horst Siebert was named to the Group of Economic Policy Analysis in January. As part of the 12-member panel, Siebert will advise European Union President José Manuel Barroso on European Union policies. Siebert is an expert in the international division of labor, the labor market and employment, environmental economics, and economic policy. He previously served on the German Council of Economic Advisors and has been a visiting scholar at universities throughout the world.

In March, Campus Ministries and the JHU Interfaith Council held "Our Big Fat Everything Wedding" at the Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center. Set up like a bridal fair, with tables devoted to Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish traditions, the event offered Homewood students the chance to learn about matrimonial traditions from across world religions. They even had a kosher wedding cake decorated with yellow and orange flowers, says chaplain Sharon Kugler. "Some Hindus eat marigolds at their weddings," she explains, adding with a laugh, "We couldn't find edible marigolds, so we had our Jewish baker make orange and yellow flowers!" —Catherine Pierre

When they step onstage in their khakis, vests, and neckties, the Johns Hopkins AllNighters look like they might sing barbershop or do-wop or some other style of safe, parent-pleasing music. But once the 16 members of the award-winning a cappella group open their mouths, it takes but a few moments to realize this: These guys rock. Listen to the student group sing "What I Got" by Sublime on their Web site, and you'll see what we mean. The site also allows fans of the AllNighters to order CDs, book the boys for a gig, or just revel in the ridiculous nicknames they've created for one another. Rooti Tooti Fresh N' Fruity? Indeed. —MB
In the U.S., no more than seven out of 10 students who enter high school will make it to graduation. Among minorities, the rate is five in 10. These grim statistics lead to what Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters, researchers at Johns Hopkins' Center for Social Organization of Schools, call the "graduation gap"-the difference between graduation rates now and those needed to meet the economic and social challenges of the 21st century. According to their new Graduation Gap Web site, only about 20 percent of high school students are likely to attend high schools with graduation rates of 90 percent or higher, and minorities are four times more likely than non-minorities to attend a school with very low graduation. "Once these facts are understood," Balfanz and Legters write, "federal, state, and local decision-makers will be in a stronger position to estimate the level and type of resources needed to provide every community with a high school that is equipped and able to educate and graduate all its students." —CP

Vital Signs

Sin tax (and other) successes
Bloomberg School researchers have found a correlation between state government alcohol and cigarette policies and teenage smoking and drinking. Published in February's Preventive Medicine, the study found that adolescents were 1.9 percent less likely to smoke and drink when state tobacco and alcohol taxes were higher. Doubling the number of communities with laws prohibiting teen use of cigarette vending machines would lower teen smoking by 9 percent. The study also found that a 10 percent increase in family planning clinics in a community would lead to a 1.3 percent reduction in unsafe sex among teens. Lead author on the study was Bloomberg associate professor David M. Bishai.

It's only a blip
Sudden, temporary spikes in the viral load of HIV-positive patients do not mean their viruses have mutated into drug-resistant strains. Hopkins researchers, led by professor of medicine Robert Siliciano, found that the so-called "blips" in viral load are actually mathematical variations that arise from the test that measures the virus in a patient's body. Unless the blips exceed 200 copies per milliliter of blood or persist upon repeated testing, patients do not need to make difficult changes in their anti-retroviral drug therapy. The study appeared in February's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Assessing the risk of femicide
To help women better understand their potential risk from lethal domestic violence, School of Nursing associate dean Jacquelyn C. Campbell has revised her danger-assessment instrument and put it online. Campbell notes that only 47 percent of domestic-abuse murder victims and 53 percent of attempted-murder victims had accurately understood their danger. Professionals can visit www.dangerassess to download the form. Women concerned about their safety can also download the form and take it to their next health care appointment. —DK


Course: Cities-For Example, Baltimore

Instructor: Neil Hertz, professor of English and former director of the Humanities Center at Hopkins, started this course in the mid-1980s as a way to get to know the city better. For years he capped enrollment at 20 students so that he could herd his class out the door and into the city for a walking tour. Now the class numbers 60, but with the help of two teaching assistants, Hertz still takes students through the city.

Course description: This course serves as an introduction to Charm City by way of what's been said about other cities, in America and elsewhere, contemporary and long gone. Hertz views the course as a way to give undergraduates an "unfrightened" sense of the city by getting them off campus and into neighborhoods like Hampden, Waverly, and Sandtown-Winchester.

Suggested readings:

The Baltimore Book: New Views of Local History, Elizabeth Fee et al. (eds.) (1991).

The Seduction of Place: The History and Future of the City, Joseph Rykwert (2000).

Landscapes of Power: From Detroit to Disney World, Sharon Zukin (1991).

Baltimore: The Building of an American City, Sherry H. Olson (1980).

A Victorian Village: Reminiscences of Other Days, Lizette Woodworth Reese (1929).

Selections from:

Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community, Harold A. McDougall (1993).

Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization, Richard Sennett (1994).

The New American Ghetto, Camilo J. Vergara (1995).

Forever Altered

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

"I first met Marie Diener-West as a public health master's student in 1994. I was in her biostatistics class, a subject I had struggled with as an undergraduate, and was apprehensive about how the term would go. From the very beginning, it was obvious that Marie was a masterful teacher. Her organized and forward-thinking approach revealed a high degree of understanding of what students need to know and when they need to know it. Equally important was the demonstrated and genuine care she extended to students as they grappled with new concepts and stretched themselves to apply them. She truly listened to students as they explained what they knew, and was therefore able to offer the insight needed for the student to figure out the next level. In this way, she maintained learning as the student's privilege and responsibility, and yet was a steady presence and guide along the way.

"My dissertation, which looked at the use of health services by the children of migrant farm workers, focused on a population that was very difficult to sample. Throughout the experience, Marie continued her edifying and supportive approach. As a result of her perseverance and support, along with those of an amazing committee, we were able to be successful at the first random sampling of a mobile population of vulnerable immigrant children in the U.S.

"As I develop in my own academic career, a part of Marie Diener-West is always present. I hope for this to always be so. For me, her legacy is the union of excellence and compassion in teaching and research."

Andrea C. Weathers, MD, SPH '95 (MPH), '01 (DrPH), is assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health.


Gregory F. Ball's Web site notes that he's interested in "the interrelation of hormones, brain, and behavior." Who isn't? In his case, the Hopkins professor of psychological and brain sciences studies that interrelation in birds. He provided a sample of his field's arcane lexicon:

Oscine: Species in this suborder are generally considered to be "true" songbirds because they have the ability to learn complex vocalizations. They are different from, for example, suboscines, which are born with the ability to sing. "Suboscines were nature's first attempt at a songbird. If you take mourning dove eggs, incubate them, and raise the squabs so they never see another dove, they will still give that coo beautifully."

Altricial: Refers to hatchling chicks or nestlings that are very dependent (i.e., usually blind and naked) and require extensive parental care. For example? "The robin. Actually, we humans are semi-altricial. We are born dependent but with our eyes open and our ears hooked up."

Photoinducible phase: A stage in the circadian rhythm of birds. If light is coincident with this phase, it will result in the photoinduction of gonadal growth. "Birds are able to tell what time of year it is by how long a day is." And the part about gonadal growth? "Most animals in the temperate zone breed seasonally. So they go through the equivalent of puberty every year. Imagine that. They actually have things happen, like their voices crack as they come back into song."

Lek: A Swedish term that refers to a communal display ground where, in the breeding season, males will display and compete with one another to mate with the maximal number of females. Sort of like a campus mixer. —DK


Undergrads on the Trail to Discovery

The Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards program was founded in 1993 as a way to encourage Hopkins undergraduates to engage in research activity. In the last decade, some 528 students have been granted awards to study a wide variety of topics. Here's a brief look at the projects of two recent recipients:

Christina Terpeluk '05, civil engineering, "The Qualifications of 19th-Century American Truss Bridges as Structural Art"
Structural art is engineering design that combines elegance, efficiency, and economy. "It's more than just a structure, it's a symbol," explains Terpeluk, who offers the Brooklyn Bridge and the Eiffel Tower as examples. Terpeluk examined 19th-century railroad truss bridges as structural art. She focused on Whipple, Fink, and Bollman trusses, visiting examples in New Jersey and Maryland. She built a computer model and did a complete structural analysis of each bridge, then examined what the bridges meant historically to their communities. Terpeluk says the project gave her a greater appreciation for these bridges both as feats of engineering and as structural art.

Katarina Juhaszova '05, international relations and Earth and planetary sciences, "Invasive Isopods and Soil Nutrient Cycling"
Terrestrial isopods, also known as pill bugs, are the only crustaceans that have adapted to life on land. Juhaszova looked at how isopods facilitate the work of the bacteria that convert organic nitrogen (the kind of material found in leaves) into inorganic nitrogen (the kind found in soil). She fed six different species of isopods three different kinds of leaf litter and measured how the isopods affected nitrogen mineralization of the soil. She was surprised to discover there was less inorganic nitrogen in the soil after feeding the isopods than prior to feeding. "There must be another microbe that's using up the nitrogen being produced," she explains. —MB


Justin Halberda sits at a kid-sized table, telling a toddler about his stuffed animals. "Tiger likes cookies! Monkey likes cake!" he tells the child. Moments later, Halberda asks, "What does Tiger like?" Eventually, he will introduce six animals with six different favorite foods to determine how much new information the toddler can recall after just one exposure.

Though simple in its execution, the game helps Halberda and other child development researchers understand how young children learn and how much they can retain in a short period of time.

Halberda, 30, and his wife, Lisa Feigenson, 29, are the new co-directors of the Krieger School's Laboratory for Child Development, as well as assistant professors of psychological and brain sciences. Feigenson primarily studies memory in infants. Halberda focuses on language development and reasoning in children 18 months to 5 years. Parents volunteer their children for the studies, and the kids get to take a stuffed animal like this tiger home with them.

Though the studies take the form of simple games, they are helping researchers tackle complex questions. Among them are how the human brain structures knowledge and how what Feigenson calls "a big blob of brain tissue" can ever contain the complexities of information that babies and small children deal with every day.

Feigenson and Halberda met in graduate school at New York University, became visiting fellows in Harvard's Department of Psychology, and married in 2003. They were postdoctoral fellows at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris when they were hired to direct the lab.

They are clearly enjoying the work. "Kids are so fascinating," Feigenson says. "You can't help but crack up when they say the things they do. What are they thinking? We're very excited to be able to ask those kinds of questions." —Christine A. Rowett

Up & Comer

Name: Pravin Krishna
Age: 35

Position: Joint appointments in economics at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Stats: Bachelor of Technology '90 from Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay; MA '93, MPhil '93, and PhD '95 in international economics, macroeconomics, and applied econometrics from Columbia University

Scouting report: It's not just that Krishna is "on the forefront in his field in international trade theory and policy," says John Harrington, associate dean for academic affairs at SAIS. Or that he was one of the youngest full professors in economics ever at Brown before SAIS hired him. It's also that he is a wonderful teacher and a great colleague. "He made an excellent impression on his students during his first semester at SAIS," says Harrington, "and he is a delight to work with."

Research: Krishna works on diverse issues in the areas of international trade and the political economy of international trade policy. In recent projects, he has explored how globalization may affect the risk to income faced by individuals and, separately, the economic and political determinants of trade policies. His new book, Trade Blocs: Economics and Politics, due out later this year from Cambridge University Press, is a collection of his research on preferential trade blocs (such as NAFTA).

Mentor: Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati. Says Krishna, "He has brought scholarly integrity and insights and has engaged deeply with the world of policy-making without being intellectually corrupted by it. In that sense, he was a role-model [when I was at Columbia] and he remains one today."

Creative outlet: D.J.'s electronic music at parties and "the occasional gig."

Does he balance his checkbook? "I certainly do not," says Krishna.


Building better tsunami protection
Civil engineering professor Robert A. Dalrymple and colleagues toured Thai villages and ports in February, in hope of uncovering engineering lessons that could better preserve life and property in a future tsunami. The nine-member team was funded by the American Society of Civil Engineers to assess the damage from the December 26 tsunami that struck Asia and Africa. Among the team's findings: Elevated structures fared better than did those with solid first-floor walls. Buildings made from reinforced concrete survived better than brick and wooden structures. Buildings are best oriented in the direction of the wave's flow. And seawalls were effective in minimizing wave damage (provided there were no gaps for pedestrian crossing). The engineers noted that many victims were killed by heavy debris pushed along by the powerful waves and recommended that people park vehicles and store heavy items on the inland side of buildings.

Saturn's clues to space weather
An innovative camera built by researchers at Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory has enabled scientists to "visualize the invisible" in the rings around Saturn, according to Stamatios Krimigis, principal investigator for the Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument (MIMI), which is flying aboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Now in the midst of a four-year study of Saturn, the MIMI has allowed scientists to "see" the plasma and radiation belts in the planet's environment and offered the clearest picture yet of its magnetosphere. A better understanding of Saturn's magnetosphere will help scientists better monitor space weather, says Krimigis. "In the case of Earth, [this] may lead to space weather forecasts that will give advance warning of electromagnetic storms, which in the past have disrupted communications and crippled electrical power grids." He and his colleagues reported their findings in a midyear report on Cassini, published in the February 25 issue of Science. —Sue De Pasquale

Return to April 2005 Table of Contents

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