Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ayad Akhtar, a 1993 Brown graduate, will deliver the 10th Annual Don Wilmeth Endowed Lectureship in American Theatre on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, at 7 p.m. in Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Martinos Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Akhtar is a well-known author, playwright, and screenwriter whose book American Dervish was voted one of the best books of the year in 2012 by numerous publications. His play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Akhtar has degrees from Brown and Columbia University in theater and film directing. He was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee. In a recent Brown Alumni Magazine piece, Akhtar described his writing style: “I think of myself as a dramatic storyteller. Giving literary form, dramatic form, to the lives that I am in contact with, metaphorically and actually, is really the best artistic endowment.”
On Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 88 students took part in the 24th annual Midyear Completion Celebration. Held at Salomon Center for Teaching, the students each received a pin and letter from President Christina Paxson to mark the completion of their degree requirements. Student orators Ayane Ezaki and Daniel Sherrell, both 2013.5 graduates, addressed their fellow graduates, and Katherine Bergeron, dean of the College and professor of music, also spoke. Since 1989, the Office of the Dean of the College has sponsored this annual event to recognize those seniors who anticipate completing their degree requirements in December. This is not an alternative to the University’s Commencement ceremonies held in May as required by the Corporation. Many midyear completion students participated in the 2013 Commencement ceremonies, while some will return for the 2014 Commencement, when their actual diplomas will be awarded and presented.
A slavery-focused exhibition previously on display at Brown University has traveled to South Africa for exhibition. “Ships of Bondage and the Fight for Freedom” examines the global networks involved in the slave trade during the period of European colonial empires. Curated by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University, this exhibition tells the story of slave insurrections on three vessels — the Amistad, the Meermin, and the Sally — and explores the struggle of the enslaved to resist captivity, gain freedom, and return to their homelands. The exhibit opened Dec. 3, 2013, with a lecture by Anthony Bogues, professor of Africana studies and director of the center. It will be on display until Feb. 28, 2014, at the Slave Lodge in Cape Town, one of the Iziko Museums of South Africa.
Tricia Rose, professor of Africana studies and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, has been named 2014 Lund-Gill Chair at Dominican University. As chair, Rose will teach an undergraduate honors seminar next spring on “African American Popular Culture.” During her residency, she will also deliver a public lecture on March 17 and serve as the keynote speaker for the Blues and the Spirit Symposium on May 31. Past Lund-Gill Chairs include Christopher Kennedy, chairman of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises; Eboo Patel, founder and the executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core; and Chia-Feng Chang, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence and expert in Chinese science and medicine.
For the second year in a row, Brown University is supporting the City of Providence’s Buy Providence/Buy Art initiative with its own “Brown Shops Local.” On Thursday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., faculty, staff, and students who visit the Brown Shops Local table at the Brown Bookstore will receive a Brown tote bag, a ticket for a beverage at the College Hill Cafe, offers from the Bookstore, and offers from local retail hubs: Hope Street, South Main Street, Wayland Square, and Downcity. Launched last year, Brown Shops Local invites members of the Brown community to sample the quality and variety of retail offerings available in Providence. There are special holiday events in store: Hope Street’s annual holiday stroll (Thursday evening, Dec. 5), South Main Street’s holiday stroll (Saturday, Dec. 7), Santa at Grant's Block in Downcity (Saturdays through Dec. 21), and festivities at Wayland Square throughout December. For more information about Brown Shops Local and special holiday events, visit brown.edu/web/providence.
On Nov. 21 pain medicine specialist Dr. Pradeep Chopra, clinical assistant professor of medicine in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, was honored for his lifelong dedication to caring for patients with chronic pain. He received the Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award at the center’s dinner in Boston, attended by about 2,000 people. “To heal someone of their suffering is a combination of science and compassionate care,” said Chopra, who directs the Interventional Pain Management Center of Rhode Island in Pawtucket. “Compassionate care is much more than the science of medicine. It is giving hope, care, and love.” Chopra, who grew up in Calcutta and worked with Mother Teresa, sees patients from all over the world whose pain has been especially hard to relieve. One patient wrote to the Schwartz Center that Chopra listened when other physicians did not: “Patients with rare disorders get dismissed so easily by the medical profession. Doctors and other caregivers often make us feel like we are burdens or mentally ill. As patients, we then get nervous and afraid every time we have to see someone new. He gave me faith in the medical community again.”
A special report published Nov. 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine describes a major U.S.-Rwanda partnership for medical education. The partnership, known as the Human Resources for Health Program, includes Alpert Medical School professors Dr. Michael Koster, Dr. Adam Levine, and Dr. Brian Montague. As part of the $150-million, 25-school effort organized by the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Rwandan Ministry of Health, the Brown faculty members are helping to advance medical teaching, research, and curriculum development at the National University of Rwanda. Referring to the physicans’ practice groups and hospital affiliations as well as their Brown affiliation, HRH program director Tej Nuthulagati said, “UMF, UEMF, Rhode Island Hospital, and Brown Medical School are playing an essential role in the program by providing immense support in increasing the quality of medical education in Rwanda.” Levine said medical training provides benefits that donating materials, equipment, and medicine alone cannot: “One of the wonderful things about knowledge and training is that they are inherently renewable resources. Unlike drugs and equipment, knowledge never has a stock-out, never breaks down, and never stops working when the power goes out. In my experience, improving medical provider training also has the effect of improving other components of the healthcare system, since trained doctors and nurses feel empowered to demand the medications, equipment, and efficient systems that they know they need in order to save patients’ lives.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, in Washington, D.C., President Christina Paxson and members of the Brown Department of Physics celebrated the role U.S. scientists played in the 40-year quest to find the Higgs boson. The existence of the particle was predicted by several physicists in 1963, but it wasn’t until July 2012 that the particle was finally detected at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Nearly 2,000 physicists from the United States worked at the LHC during the Higgs search. Faculty joining Paxson at the celebration, hosted by the House Science and National Labs Caucus, included James Valles, chair of physics; David Cutts, who works with the LHC; and Gerald Guralnik, one of the original theorists who predicted the particle; and graduate student Juliette Alimena. Professors Ulrich Heintz, Greg Landsberg and Meenakshi Narain also played key roles in the search. Landsberg serves as physics coordinator for the CMS experiment, one of the two large detectors used in the search. This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics went to Francois Englert and Peter Higgs for their theoretical work. The Higgs Boson is the manifestation of an invisible field that breaks the symmetry between the electromagnetic force and the weak nuclear force. That field explains why leptons and quarks — the building blocks of matter — have mass while photons (particles of light) do not.
Some marijuana users develop problems associated with use of the drug — neglecting important work responsibilities or family relationships — while others do not. Researchers have reported associations that suggest potential links among certain measures of impulsive personality, variants in certain genes, and greater likelihood of problems among marijuana users. In a study this month in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Cinnamon Bidwell, assistant professor (research) of psychiatry and human behavior, and co-authors measured these potential predictors in combination in 151 young adult marijuana users. What they found was that the highest likelihood of marijuana-related problems arose in people who scored high on a standardized questionnaire of “trait-level” impulsivity (a long-standing impulsive personality characteristic but not necessarily more transient impulsive behavior) and who had a particular variation of the gene CNR1. “Our findings support a role for trait impulsivity and endocannabinoid system genes in predicting risk for marijuana-related problems among regular users,” wrote the authors, many of whom are affiliated with Brown's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.
Roberto Serrano, the Harrison S. Kravis University Professor of Economics and chair of the Department of Economics, has been named a fellow of the Econometric Society. The organization is an international society for the advancement of economic theory in its relation to statistics and mathematics. The society publishes the journals Econometrica, Quantitative Economics, and Theoretical Economics, as well as a research monograph series. The organization brings together researchers for regular meetings in six regions around the world.