News and Events

The 246th Commencement

Nine Brown alumni to receive honorary degrees

Brown University continues the 250th anniversary celebration of its founding by awarding honorary degrees to nine University alumni. The degrees, to be conferred at the 246th Commencement on Sunday, May 25, 2014, will honor the achievements of music educator Lee Berk ’64; teacher Beatrice E. Coleman ’25 (awarded posthumously); author Jeffrey Eugenides ’82; physician Arthur Horwich ’72, M.D.’75; electrical engineer Mary Lou Jepsen ’87, Ph.D. ’97; entertainment executive Debra Lee ’76; author Lois Lowry ’58; ecologist Nalini Nadkarni ’76; and Thomas Perez ’83, U.S. secretary of labor. (Distributed April 17, 2014)   Read the story
Commentary by Julio Ortega

García Márquez: ‘He is alive in our reading’

Julio Ortega and Gabriel García Márquez:  García Márquez was fascinated by stories about students’ interpretations of his books.
Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez died Thursday, April 17, 2014, in Mexico City at age 87. Julio Ortega, professor of Hispanic studies, reflects on student encounters with “Gabo’s” works of literature and the larger world of Macondo, his fictional town. “In fact,” Ortega said, “he has been an old friend of hundreds of students at Brown.” (Distributed April 18, 2014)

Cicilline explores Brown’s robotics lab

Technologies that open possibilities:  Chad Jenkins, left, explains how a robotic quadcopter can be controlled from an ordinary laptop. Congressman David Cicilline later took it for a spin and, below, met students via a robotic telepresence device.
Robots assemble cars and search the floor of the Indian Ocean miles below the surface. But they can also help elderly or disabled people with more routine tasks of daily living. U.S. Rep. David Cicilline visited the CIT for a look at how robotic assistive technologies are becoming more useful and can be more conveniently controlled. (Distributed April 18, 2014)
It could also work for Mars

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

A snapshot of ancient environmental conditions:  The scorching heat produced by asteroid or comet impacts can melt tons of soil and rock, some of which forms glass as it cools. Some of that glass preserves bits of ancient plant material.
Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists exploring large fields of impact glass in Argentina suggest that what happened on Earth might well have happened on Mars millions of years ago. Martian impact glass could hold traces of organic compounds. (Distributed April 18, 2014)

Women’s rugby is Brown’s 38th varsity sport

Welcome women’s rugby, Brown’s 38th varsity team:  The Brown Women’s Rugby Football Club rises to full intercollegiate varsity status for the 2014-15 academic year. Brown and Harvard, each with 21 teams for women, lead the NCAA in opportunities for female athletes.
Brown University announced today that it will elevate women’s rugby from the club level to full intercollegiate varsity status for the 2014-15 academic year. Women’s rugby will become Brown’s 38th varsity team and the 21st varsity team for female athletes. (Distributed April 14, 2014)
Casey Shearer Memorial Lecture

James Fallows to deliver Shearer Lecture

The Casey Shearer Memorial Lecture:  James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, will deliver the 2014 Shearer Lecture on Monday, April 28, 2014, at 7 p.m. in the Salomon Center.
James Fallows, award-winning writer and national correspondent for The Atlantic, will deliver the 14th annual Casey Shearer Memorial Lecture at Brown University on Monday, April 28, 2014. His talk begins at 7 p.m. in the Salomon Center for Teaching, De Ciccio Family Auditorium. (Distributed April 17, 2014)

HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

HPV vaccine also helps immunosuppressed people:  Although the World Health Organization recommends that women with HIV be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, there was a question whether the HPV vaccine would be helpful. A new study answers the question: Yes.
A three-nation clinical trial found that a vaccine can safely help the vast majority of HIV-positive women produce antibodies against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, even if their immune system is weak and even if they’ve had some prior HPV exposure. (Distributed April 16, 2014)

Brown to launch new environmental institute

Institute for the Study of Environment and Society (ISES):  ISES director Amanda Lynch, left, and colleagues Kim Boekelheide, Jack Mustard, and Leah Van Wey. The broadly interdisciplinary institute will address environmental questions spanning scales from the molecular to the global.
The Board of Fellows has approved creation of an Institute for the Study of Environment and Society (ISES) in the coming academic year. Environmental questions range in scale from molecular to planetary and demand research collaboration from many disciplines. The new center will draw on Brown’s strengths in environmental teaching and research to address those questions in a holistic way. (Distributed April 14, 2014)

Early neural wiring for smell persists

A window of plasticity:  Native neurons (green) that express the odorant receptor MOR28 attach to known glomeruli (above). Neurons expressing engineered MOR28 (red) may attach to other glomeruli. Growing side-by-side, the red neurons could redirect some of the green, but only in the perinatal period. Neuron wiring established early remained stable in adults.
A new study in Science reveals that the fundamental wiring of the olfactory system in mice sets up shortly after birth and then remains stable but adaptable. The research highlights how important early development can be throughout life and provides insights that may be important in devising regenerative medical therapies in the nervous system. (Distributed April 10, 2014)

HIV battle must focus on hard-hit streets

“Do One Thing” – get tested:  Knowing one’s HIV and hepatitis C status is a significant step toward treatment and controlling the spread of disease. Door-to-door efforts like Philadelphia’s “Do One Thing” help, but more resources for testing and treatment need to target communities that need them most.
When it comes to HIV, geography can be destiny, argue authors of a new article in the American Journal of Public Health. The epidemic has become heavily concentrated in poor urban neighborhoods where people are less likely to be tested and treated, creating more risk that the virus will spread. New prevention efforts should focus on neighborhoods. (Distributed April 10, 2014)
Taubman Center for Public Policy

Poll: Taveras and Raimondo in statistical tie

A new statewide public opinion survey conducted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University finds that State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras are currently in a statistical tie for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. However, one-third of likely Democratic voters are undecided five months before the Democratic primary. The survey shows that Taveras has a lead among voters with union membership but finds no significant preference among women voters between the two top Democratic candidates. (Distributed April 10, 2014)

A new twist for better steel

Greater strength without loss of ductility:  A steel cylinder that has been deformed by twisting preserves ductility at the core (a). Parallel lines indicate more “deformation twins" closer to the surface (b, then c), a measure of greater strength.
In steel making, two desirable qualities — strength and ductility — tend to be at odds: Stronger steel is less ductile, and more ductile steel is not as strong. Engineers at Brown University, three Chinese universities, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have shown that when cylinders of steel are twisted, their strength is improved without sacrificing ductility. (Distributed April 8, 2014)

New model combines multiple genomic data

Data about DNA differences, gene expression, or methylation can each tell epidemiologists something about the link between genomics and disease. A new statistical model that can integrate all those sources provides a markedly improved analysis, according to two new papers. (Distributed April 8, 2014)
Robot block party

Robots meet next-generation roboticists

Good morning and welcome to the future:  President Christina Paxson, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse meet PR2, a hugging, high-fiving member of Chad Jenkins’ robotics lab at Brown.
Students from elementary grades through high school — and their parents, the public, and elected officials — met working robots and roboticists on the basketball floor at Brown University on Saturday, April 5. They high-fived PR2, checked out Baxter, looked over robotic kayaks, and considered robotics as both a career and an eventual source of help for a variety of tasks. (Distributed April 7, 2014)

Brown launches Brazil Initiative

Brown’s “Opening Archives Project”:  Armed forces occupied the governor’s palace in Rio de Janeiro, April 1, 1964. Documents about the U.S. response and foreign policy development are now online and accessible.
Brown University’s “Opening the Archives Project” has made available to the public more than 10,000 declassified U.S. State Department documents on Brazil created between 1963 and 1973 during the country’s military dictatorship. The project is part of Brown’s newly launched Brazil Initiative, which aims to make Brown a leading center for the study of Brazil in the United States through research collaborations and events. On April 10-12, 2014, Brown will host a conference titled "Brazil: From Dictatorship to Democracy." (Distributed April 7, 2014)

Doctor’s specialty predicts feeding tube use

Feeding tube: Who makes the decision?:  Many physicians and organizations that provide palliative care advise feeding frail, terminal patients by hand. The chances of a such a patient receiving a feeding tube increase when decisions are made by medical subspecialists.
Subspecialists are much more likely than hospitalists or generalists to insert a feeding tube in hospitalized elderly patients with advanced dementia, according to a new study in Health Affairs. The study helps to explain why the practice persists, in such frail, terminal patients. (Distributed April 7, 2014)
Media Advisory

Barnes Lecture: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

On Public Health Research Day at Brown University, April 14, 2014, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse will deliver the Barnes Lecture on connections between the environment and human health. His talk will follow a reception and display of research posters from the School of Public Health. (Distributed April 7, 2014)