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Johns Hopkins S p r i n g



The Buck Goes Here Limited resources. Massive need. Where should public health dollars go?

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Johns Hopkins S p r i n g 2010

v o l. 62 n o. 1


Features 26

Gravity on the Brane By Michael Anft As experiments get under way at the Large Hadron Collider, Johns Hopkins professor Raman Sundrum will be watching for evidence of a fifth dimension.


The Buck Goes Here By Dale Keiger With limited resources and seemingly unlimited public health challenges, Johns Hopkins researchers suggest eight places to put money now.


Will This Be on the Test? By Rich Shea On the eve of No Child Left Behind reauthorization, three School of Education experts argue that schools best educate kids when they teach beyond the test.


The Lions’ Share By Susan Frith A century after a pair of man-eaters terrorized workers in East Africa, Nathaniel J. Dominy, A&S ’98, uses isotope analysis to solve a mystery: What, exactly, did those lions eat?

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Cover illustration by Michael Gibbs

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 1

Departments 3

Contributors: Of Names, Manes, and Mysteries


The Big Question: In Haiti, Where to Start?


The Big Picture: Pile It On!


Editor’s Note: Priorities in Order


Letters: It’s All Good


Essay: What’s in a Name?


Golomb’s Gambits: Anagrams



Wholly Hopkins: Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins 14 Research: This is your brain on art 16 Bioethics: A life worth living? 17 Books: Some stories just stick with you 19 Health: Why are we so fat? Well, it’s complicated. . .

20 Medical engineering: Making a better test for melanoma

21 International studies: Things are heating up in the Arctic

23 Medicine: Relief at last for sinusitis sufferers

24 Community service: Turning leftovers into meals


Alumni News & Notes


Golomb’s Solutions


How To: Improvise Jazz at the Keyboard





53 2 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

C o n t r i b u to r s Vol. 62 No. 1 Spring 2010

Editor: Catherine Pierre Associate Editor: Dale Keiger Senior Writer: Michael Anft Art Director: Shaul Tsemach Design Assistance: Pamela Li Alumni Notes & News: Lisa Belman, Julie Blanker, Nora Koch, Kirsten Lavin Business Manager: Dianne MacLeod

Johns Hopkins Magazine (publication number 276-260; ISSN 0021-7255) is published four times a year (Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer) by The Johns Hopkins University, 901 S. Bond Street, Suite 540, Baltimore, MD 21231. Produced in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins Publishing Group. Periodicals postage paid at Baltimore, Maryland, and additional entry offices. Address correspondence to Johns Hopkins Magazine, Johns Hopkins University, 901 S. Bond Street, Suite 540, Baltimore, MD 21231. Via e-mail: Web site: Telephone: 443-287-9900 Subscriptions: $20 yearly, $25 foreign Diverse views are presented and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official policies of the university. Advertisers: Representative for local advertising: The Gazelle Group, 410-343-3362, POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Johns Hopkins Magazine, 201 N. Charles St., Suite 2500, Baltimore, MD 21201. Copyright ©2009, The Johns Hopkins University.

Of Names, Manes, and Mysteries Terms of art A son in a family of professional photographers, Gilbert Ford decided to forgo the congenital trade and tramp down his own path. The Brooklyn-based artist has won several awards for a style he calls “classic with a twist,” and his work has graced pages in the Atlantic Monthly, Forbes, and The New York Times, among others. For the drawing that accompanies pseudonymic essayist Guido Veloce’s take on odd names (“Essay”), Ford tapped into one of his wellsprings: a quirky sense of humor. “I love it when names of people are given to animals or inanimate objects,” he says, “like bags or furniture.” Stalking history Nate Dominy, A&S ’98, contacted writer Susan Frith after reading her story about the “Hottentot Venus” in our June 2009 issue. He thought a pair of human-devouring lions from another chapter of colonial Africa’s history would make for a fine tale as well. “Dominy’s work introduced me to the harrowing accounts of J.H. Patterson, the British civil engineer who witnessed the lions’ attacks on his work camp,” says Frith, who adds that she had nightmares after reading Patterson’s tales. Her current story, “The Lions’ Share,” explains how Dominy used stable isotope analysis to shed light on a century-old tragedy. A writing tutor, Frith has also penned articles for Air & Space and University of Chicago Magazine. —MA



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The Big Question


In Haiti, where to start?

Anne Pfitzer


“Nothing’s going to stick in terms of the massive relief effort unless we really put the Haitians front and center and build their capacity in the process. We know that 63,000 women were likely pregnant in the quake-affected zones. Of those, you’ve got 7,000 who would give birth in the first month after the quake, and 15 percent of those are going to have life-threatening complications. Part of what changes, in the aftermath, is this stark light that pregnant women and newborns are in—women giving birth in the street, the lack of skilled birth attendants, the lack of knowledge about what to do for birth complications. “Before the quake, Jhpiego was focused on helping to complete policies and guidelines essential for bringing services closer to women. Now it allows us to do that in a reactivation-ofservices mode. We can put into practice some of the low-cost, high-impact interventions we know reduce mortality. “It would be demoralizing to go back to the status quo because Haiti has the worst health indicators in the hemisphere. With the influx of resources and assistance, you can set a tone of, ‘You know what, let’s do things in a way where we’re not going to have as many failures, we’re going to be more effective.’ The attention on Haiti can serve as a motivating factor. Haitians are a proud people. They have a spirit of survival. It gives the Haitians an opportunity to show what they can do.”

Rich Lamporte led a Jhpiego team to Haiti in the aftermath of January’s devastating earthquake. He is shown here with Edeline, who is recovering from her injuries in a Croix des Bouquets public clinic. For more of their story, visit Jhpiego is a Johns Hopkins affiliate working to improve the health of women and children in limited-resources settings.

4 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

—Interview by Catherine Pierre

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 5

Will Kirk

T h e B i g P i c t u re

6 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

Pile It On!

Locals were inventing terms like “Snowpocalypse” and “Snowmageddon” to describe the twin blizzards that pounded Baltimore with a historic amount of snow and shut the city down for several days in February.The two storms together dumped 51.7 inches of flakes on the Homewood campus, doing their part to make this winter the snowiest on record. Classes were canceled for a full week, an unprecedented event that Johns Hopkins’ serious-minded students managed to endure. (Maybe they liked it a little.) —Catherine Pierre

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 7

E d i to r ’s N o te

Priorities in Order


n January, associate editor Dale Keiger was working on our cover story, “The Buck Goes Here” (p. 36), about cost-effective public health interventions that, if funded, could save many, many lives. As he filled me in on his reporting, he and I talked about the fact that there’s actually plenty of cash out there, but not the political will to direct enough of it to those efforts. (You’ll see in his story that we have expensive tastes when it comes to cigarettes and stadiums.) This led to the expected shaking of heads and disappointed commentary about how our priorities are out of whack. If we felt frustrated, imagine how the public health experts who devote their careers to such work must feel. And then an earthquake hit Haiti, destroying the city of Port-au-Prince. It took 35 seconds to create a massive public health emergency—and seemingly not much longer for the world to act. A number of faculty, staff, and students from Johns Hopkins were already working in Haiti; thankfully none were injured in the quake. Many of them responded immediately, including master’s students from the Bloomberg School of Public Health who traveled from the villages of Anse Rouge and Pont Sonde to Port-au-Prince to volunteer in a school and in a makeshift hospital. Back at home, the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response organized its first Johns Hopkins Go Team mis-

sion, and soon more medical personnel—including people from Nursing, Medicine, and Public Health—were on the ground in Haiti. Several other teams have followed since. For our “Big Question” (p. 4), I talked to Rich Lamporte, who led a team from Jhpiego to Croix des Bouquets, where they focused on the needs of pregnant women and newborns affected by the quake. Johns Hopkins students and staff raised money through happy hours and bake sales. Pediatric residents from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center collected much-needed crutches for Haiti. They hoped to get a few hundred pairs—they got more than 3,000. It’s impossible in this small space to list all of the efforts or do justice to the hard work and sacrifice of the people involved. But if you want to know more, visit the university’s Web site,, where much of this work is documented. There you’ll also find links to blogs written by Johns Hopkins faculty and staff recounting their personal experiences in Haiti. I can tell you that the suffering they describe is devastating. Their joy at saving lives and sadness at losing them, overwhelming. And their determination to continue that work and help rebuild the area—to “build back better” as Rich Lamporte puts it—inspiring. No need to reorder those priorities.

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L e t te r s It’s All Good Spoiled by nostalgia Regarding “Now What?” [Winter 2009]: How old were these people? Did they actually experience the 1960s? The “heady days of the 1960s,” indeed; filled with optimistic visions of “progress,” to be sure. In the movies, we enjoyed that sanguine future in Dr. Strangelove (1964). In books, we read the cheerful fictional visions of Fail-Safe (1962) and Stand on Zanzibar (1968). For readers of nonfiction, there was the equally uplifting Unsafe at Any Speed (1965), followed by Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb (1968). And was there ever a more optimistic view of the environment than Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962)? Musically, we were treated to the happy-future lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War,” in which he noted that “you’ve thrown the worst fear that can ever be hurled, fear to bring children into the world”; two years later Barry McGuire engaged the country with P.F.

Sloan’s “Eve of Destruction” (1965). And let’s not forget the uplifting reality of the daily news: the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK. And who can forget the confidence-inspiring actions of Robert McNamara, LBJ, J. Edgar Hoover, and Richard Nixon, who set in motion the distrust of government that still exists today? Your rose-colored nostalgic assessment of the 1960s (using the Jetsons as your primary example) was incomprehensibly biased in an ill-advised attempt to contrast that decade with the books, movies, and music of the current decade. In fact, the vision of the future in the ’60s was probably far more pessimistic than it is today. You spoiled a perfectly good interview by creating a false premise about our past that only a limited number of your readers might notice. Stan Katz, A&S ’66 Silverthorne, Colorado

Ham cooked in Coke I read the cover title of the story on Hopkins professors predicting the future and laughed [“Now What?”]. This from the institution whose School of Advanced International Studies brought us the Bush wars? Please fawn somewhere else— where is the article “Ooops! SAIS geniuses’ strategy now even repudiated by U.S.”? Or, if it was such a brilliant strategy, where is the article fawning over it? Your journalistic silence is deafening and does not reflect well on the magazine. Is there any journalism, or only articles praising the emperor’s new clothes? Perhaps in your next issue you would like to publish my recipe for ham cooked in Coke? It would fit in nicely. Henry Kerfoot, A&S ’75 Huntington Beach, California

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Green, but good for us? Thank you for sharing [George] Dimopoulos’ eco-friendly principle [Wholly Hopkins: “The Paperless Professor’s Crusade to Save Trees and Time,” Winter 2009]. What disturbs me in the ongoing process of digitizing anything and everything is that no one has addressed the health effects. Not long ago, children were encouraged to protect their eyesight by minimizing their exposure to LCD screens. Not only have video games and computer screens become ubiquitous, it is now known that carpel tunnel results from excess use of the keyboards. While there may be legitimate economic or environmental benefits, I really wonder if anyone has tried to incorporate vision loss and chronic wrist irritation as a result of overreliance on modern technology. Shin Shoji, A&S ’04, SAIS ’08 Baltimore, Maryland Israel’s “balance” of terror Ray Gordon’s letter must not go unanswered [“Terrorist Nation,” Winter 2009]. In it he regurgitates numerous fictions while denying Israel the right to defend itself. If Israel is guilty of anything it is that its governments, past and present, have opted for a policy of appeasement and “land for peace” at the expense of its security. Israel has supported, through irrational policies, the growth of extremist nationalism and jihadism. Unlike any other nation faced with existential challenges, Israel has refused to destroy its enemies on the battlefield, accepting a “balance” of terror. In every military confrontation since the founding of the State of Israel its military has not been permitted to complete its objectives. As a direct result of this policy the conflict continues, progressively worsening, with otherwise avoidable losses of life on both sides. In contrast, Iran denies basic rights to its citizens, actively supports antiWestern terrorism throughout the world, and threatens to annihilate Israel—as only a first stage in the establishment of a global caliphate. Chaim Forer, A&S ’70 Thornhill, Ontario

Hopelessly naive about Iran Is [Ray Gordon] so blind that he really believes Iran poses no threat and has no nuclear weapons program? This is the same government whose president frequently talks of wiping Israel off the map and who refuses to submit to any program to limit its nuclear ambitions. Israel is a democracy that endures not only the ceaseless criticism of the rest of the world but also of its citizens, yet they have full right to criticize the government without persecution. Can the writer honestly believe this of Iran? They brutally put down election protests by their own people, murdering the young heroine Neda, amongst unknown numbers of others. The writer is hopelessly naive if he truly believes that America abandoning Israel will cause the relentless violence of radical Muslims to cease. These people do not believe in tolerance for even a relatively minor disagreement in interpretation of Islam, let alone tolerance for infidels. Now more than ever is the time for America and other democracies to band with Israel against hatred and totalitarianism. Now is the time to take the Iranian threat seriously and do something to avert their nuclear ambitions, not just ridiculously believe that those ambitions do not exist. Michelle Kravitz, MD, A&S ’87 Dallas, Texas

Corrections: Johns Hopkins Magazine readers pointed out two items in “Now What?” [Winter 2009] that require correction or clarification. Nathan Connolly incorrectly stated that General Motors has long been working on a car that runs on water. GM is, in fact, developing an automobile that uses hydrogen cells for fuel and emits water. Also, Michael Vlahos used the phrase “negative feedback loops” to describe the effects of climate change. Although the direction of the loop would, as a letter writer pointed out, actually be positive, Vlahos says he used the term to explain the harmful effects such loops would have on the environment.

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What’s in a Name


hy do expensive hobbies inspire silly names? Prompting that question was a midwinter professional trip to a warm place with a stay in a hotel next to a marina. Never having spent time next to a marina, I was fascinated by the yachts—by their price (entry level seemed to be $750,000); by the fact that none of them ever left the harbor; and especially by their names. They ran the gamut. There were risqué ones (Miss Behavin’ and Wet Dreams). There were unfortunate juxtapositions—The Broker of Venice was docked next to Paramour; Therapy was next to Outlaw and near Psycho Ward. A few didn’t sound especially good if you thought about them too closely. A Quiet Heart, for instance, can be a symptom of death, and the person who named Waterloo probably knew more British history than British slang. (Try separating the syllables “water” and “loo.”) Other yacht names suggested potential legal problems— would you want to pass the harbor patrol in Bacchus? Lady L is problematic if your spouse is Lady G. Finally, some yacht names were just plain baffling—was Tycoon, one of the smallest in the marina, named in a fit of post-modern irony or just downsized? At first, I thought this might be an aberration. It was, after all, California. A little research on yacht names put that idea to rest. Surfing the Internet for the international used-yacht market turned up Global Warming (steer clear of ships named Greenpeace); Séance (why go to sea to talk to dead people?); and Moon Sand (say what?). One name sounded less like a yacht than a cry for help: Protect Me from What I Want. Among the most prosaically named yachts was the U.S.S. Williamsburg, an exception that may prove the rule. It was once Harry Truman’s floating White House. Now at $2,500,000, it awaits major repairs and rechristening, perhaps as, to paraphrase Truman’s famous aphorism, The Bucks Stopped Here.

12 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

Once I quit perseverating about yachts, I realized that it isn’t just boats but rather expensive hobbies that inspire silly names. Consider racehorses and dog-show winners. Cats probably also belong on the list—a good thing about the passing of the 1960s is a sharp reduction in kitties called Chairman Meow. For now, however, I will stick to thoroughbred horses, with a quick glance at show dogs. Looking at winners of the most famous horse races, you will find the occasional properly descriptive name. Foolish Pleasure, Genuine Risk, and Spend a Buck, for example. But you will also find bizarre literary allusions: Macbeth II (wouldn’t trust him) and Aristides (a wild and wacky ancient Athenian), along with Editor’s Note and Caveat, neither of which implies speed or excitement. Nor, for that matter, do horses named Birdstone, Deputed Testimony, or Grindstone, winners all. Then there are the unfathomable names, most recently Mine That Bird. Maybe the point is that horses’ names bear little relation to their performance or much else. I can empathize with another winner, Go for Gin, but wouldn’t bet on anything more likely to stagger than run. It’s similarly hard to imagine Pensive winning a Kentucky Derby (he did). In a nautically rational universe a Seabiscuit—nasty food for sailors—wouldn’t outrank a War Admiral. Thanks to a bestseller and Hollywood, we know how that turned out. Then there is the Westminster Dog Show. In the interest of space, I will simply note that it is the only conceivable competition, athletic or otherwise, in which an older guy called Stump can beat a younger, larger rival named Tiger Woods. Case closed. We will know that the final days are near when the owner of the good ship Money Pit wins the Kentucky Derby with a horse named Kevin. Guido Veloce is a Johns Hopkins University professor.

Gilbert Ford

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5. Least colorful 6. Thin metal sheets F. A set of five letters 1. Fresh-water ducks 2. No longer fresh 3. Pertaining to bristles* 4. Rob 5. Smallest 6. Stories G. A set of five letters 1. Big 2. Bright shine 3. British composer 4. Fit for a king 5. Rags-to-riches author 6. Type of beef H. A set of five letters 1. Brava or Rica 2. English racetrack 3. Layers of paint 4. Mexican dish 5. Puccini opera 6. Seaside (Solutions on page 67)

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Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 13

Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins

Photo Courtesy of Adler & Conkright Fine Art, New York

Wholly Hopkins

Jean Arp’s The Woman of Delos could help scientists discover how and why our brains respond to works of art.

R e s e a rch

This is your brain on art


eauty is in the brain of the beholder. Sure, the eye may appreciate lush colors and graceful lines, but the chain of command goes like this: The optic nerve delivers hues and shapes to the mind. Specific clusters of neurons fire off. And we experience pleasure, or some other sensation that satisfies our understanding of the hazy term “aesthetic.” We know beauty when we see it. Scientists want to know when we see it too. A partnership between the Johns Hopkins Krieger Mind/Brain Institute and Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum will let scientists peer inside the brains of arts patrons to see what makes them tick. Among the questions researchers plan to explore: Where in the 14 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

brain do certain shapes, such as smooth curves, register? Do we perceive them as “pleasurable” or not? And do our eyes seek out those shapes (or colors or lines) because our brains link them with the resonance and joy we associate with art? As part of “Beauty and the Brain,” what the Walters is calling an exhibition and an experiment, museumgoers are asked to judge the aesthetic value of 10 sets of 25 images, many of them borrowed from aspects of The Woman of Delos, a sculpture by Franco-German artist Jean Arp. Viewers don cheap 3-D glasses, examine the images, then choose which images they find “most pleasing” and “least pleasing.” Each image is only slightly different from those surrounding it. On the day of the exhibition’s January opening (it runs through April 11), reactions from a steady stream of the curious ranged from surprise at the prospect of taking part in an experi-

ment to glee. A 4-year-old girl balks at putting on the glasses, while a middle-aged woman, talking to a friend, compares one of the Arp likenesses to a sculpture she made years ago. “I’ve been a docent at museums, but I’ve never seen anything like this before,” says another experimental subject, Heidi Price, a lawyer from Baltimore. “I thought I’d do this because it was new.” Although the differences in shapes often aren’t enough to make meaningful aesthetic judgments, she says, Price found objects with large, open curves caught her eye. Like hundreds of others who passed through the museum’s space on opening day, she folded her answer sheet in half and slipped it into a slot in a clear square bin at the exhibit’s end. The task for the Mind/Brain Institute is to collate the responses, then match them with a second phase of the experiment, in which another set of human subjects will be shown images, including of the Arp sculpture, while in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. In essence, the Walters part of the study allows researchers to narrow the possibilities for what might excite neurons in the brain. “We’ll show them shapes and see which cubes of tens of thousands of neurons fire up,” says Ed Connor, director of the Mind/Brain Institute and lead investigator of the study-in-progress. Not that neuro-researchers expect to find all of the answers. To a large extent, aesthetics is a function of nurture, not nature. There are learned behaviors, memories, and cultural issues that help us form aesthetic judgments—above and beyond how our neurons respond to art. “But some facets are subject to inquiry, like abstract sculpture,” Connor says. “Pure shape is what we’re after, to see how the brain deals with it.” The work of Connor and others involves a nascent field called neuroaesthetics. Thirty or so years ago, scientists thought that computers might do their work for them by figuring out how we compute what we see. “But it’s a power beyond the power of computers,” says Connor, who has been studying how the brain processes images for 14 years. “Our ability to look at an infinity of objects and know instantly what each is is astounding.” Previous studies at the institute involving MRI scans of rhesus monkeys identified regions of their brains that responded to the long, smooth curves of the Henry Moore sculpture Sheep Piece. That research found uniformity in the monkeys’ responses to bits and pieces of Moore’s work. The Mind/Brain Institute’s current project came to the attention of the Walters three years ago when

Richard Huganir, a professor of neuroscience at Hopkins and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute—a separate entity from the Mind/Brain Institute, and one that finances much of Connor’s work—introduced Connor to Gary Vikan, the museum’s director. Vikan, who has long been interested in finding new ways to structure exhibits to enhance a museum patron’s experience, later heard Connor speak about the rhesus monkey experiments. Since To a large extent, aesthetics is a then, his interest in exploring the connecfunction of nurture, not nature. tion between art and There are learned behaviors, the brain has grown. memories, and cultural issues “Artists are intuithat help us form aesthetic tively neuroscientists,” judgments—above and beyond Vikan says. “They’re constantly trying to find how our neurons respond to art. shapes that have an “But some facets are subject to effect on viewers. Our inquiry, like abstract sculpture,” goal is to see if there’s Ed Connor says. “Pure shape is some norm out there— something similar to what we’re after, to see how the what the English art brain deals with it.” critic Clive Bell called ‘significant form.’ Are there certain shapes that are universal, maybe eternal, that artists are trying to tap? We all think we know them when we see them, but maybe scientists can find a neural basis for it all.” Some artists have so far supported the idea of the research, Vikan reports. “I don’t think there’s ever any problem with knowing more about the world or how we humans perceive it,” says D.S. Bakker, a Baltimore artist and an instructor at the Homewood Art Workshops at Johns Hopkins. “Should artists learn what the most pleasing form is, many will go out of their way to disprove it. I seriously doubt that truly creative people would stop thinking outside the box just because someone found a new box.” Regardless of how the Arp experiment works out, Hopkins is committed in the longer term to fleshing out the mostly blank canvas of neuroaesthetics. The Brain Science Institute will hold a symposium at Hopkins in the fall that will link artists with scientists to explore how your brain works on art. “There are a quadrillion synapses in the brain,” says Huganir. “The system itself is so beautiful that studying it doesn’t take away from the beauty and richness we experience while living it. The question we’re asking is a valid one: How do we derive such pleasure from using this very complex machine?” —Michael Anft Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010


Wholly Hopkins

S y ll a bus Course: Introduction to Sustainability Instructor: Cindy Parker, an instructor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences Course description: This course will introduce students to human-global environment interactions, highlighting how human agency can jeopardize the environment. It will also demonstrate how humans can take actions to reverse environmental harm and improve sustainability. Instructor will review the current state of the global environment, basic ecology, and the meaning of sustainability. Students will spend much of the semester exploring the various aspects of sustainability, such as energy use, industrial processes, waste generation and disposal, and the built environment. As part of the focus on solutions, the class will introduce students to tools humans can use to attain sustainability such as policy, law, communication, marketing, research advocacy, and international treaties. Reading list: Sustaining the Earth: An Integrated Approach, by G. Tyler Miller and Scott E. Spoolman Climate Chaos: Your Health at Risk, by Cindy L. Parker and Steven M. Shapiro (recommended but not required) Background: This course is one of 12 required core courses in Johns Hopkins’ new interdisciplinary major in global environmental change and sustainability, offered through the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. The program also includes classes in the Bloomberg School and the Whiting School of Engineering. —MA


A life worth living?


ohn Freeman wants Americans to think differently about death. It is not a discussion that most people will like because what the Johns Hopkins clinical bioethicist and professor emeritus of neurology and pediatrics wants is for Americans to think about death not as a failure but as an answer. “I want to foster a discussion about end-of-life care,” says Freeman, Med ’58. “I want people to think about what sort of life is worth living.” In a recent opinion piece in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Freeman suggested that if Americans want a health care system that works, they need to more readily consider the ethical nature of death as a humane release for a terminally ill patient. Furthermore, they need to agree to limits on the amount of phenomenally expensive end-of-life care provided by the nation’s medical 16 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

community. “I want people to think about what is good for society, and what may or may not be good for the individual,” he says. “It is something I’ve thought about for a long time. My thoughts antedate health care reform.” Freeman argues that the ethical and emotional basis for both topics needs to be reexamined. It’s a conclusion he says he has reached because of his 52-year medical career. In 1969, Freeman returned to Johns Hopkins Hospital to head up the Division of Pediatric Neurology and the Pediatric Epilepsy Center (which was named for him in 2002). “I started as a child neurologist,” he says. “I worked in the birth defects clinic. Those experiences affected my decision-making process.” He worked with hundreds of children with severe epilepsies and malformations of the brain; in later years, Freeman and his team worked with Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson to revive and improve the effective (and drastic) hemispherectomy procedure to reduce seizures in severely epileptic children. He and his colleagues have saved many children’s lives—but they’ve also seen many children without a reasonable chance of survival die after months of expensive and ultimately fruitless treatment. What happens when patients and families insist on preserving existence—but not necessarily “life”— beyond hope of recovery? The health care system must consider its own economic preservation and develop guidelines that limit such care, Freeman says: “‘Rationing’ is a dirty word, but we’re going to need it. I think the American way of life does not accept rationing—of anything. Americans don’t think health care should cost anything. But it does.” (He cites a study by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice that found a national average cost of more than $46,000 per year per patient in the last two years of life, with a high figure of $105,000 at New York University Medical Center.) U.S. society needs to consider the death of terminally ill patients as a sound ethical decision, he believes. “There must be few situations more undignified, more dehumanizing, or more humiliating than lying in bed, incontinent, tube fed, with or without a respirator, unable to speak or to relate to individuals or the environment,” he wrote in his journal article. In the abstract, he says, this is an easy decision. But imagine it’s your prematurely born infant with grave medical issues and no chance of survival, or your mother suffering from terminal cancer: “The good of society is much harder to weigh given a more personal crisis.”

Freeman’s experiences with patients, families, and the health care system have taught him that the medical answer for the individual may not be the best decision for the whole of health care. He understands the difficulty and emotional weight of his proposals, and he knows his ideas aren’t necessarily the perfect solution. “I don’t have the answers to end-of-life care,” Freeman says. “I just have the worries.” —Geoff Brown, A&S ’91


Some stories just stick with you


or young Bianca Paradiso—the protagonist of Brad Leithauser’s newest novel, The Art Student’s War (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)—the first crucial decision of her adult life must be made while standing in the aisle of a crowded Detroit streetcar. In the book’s opening scene, it is 1943, and a wounded soldier (on crutches, no less!) offers Paradiso the car’s sole open seat. The choice she faces—to take it will seem cruel, she thinks; to refuse it could be emasculating—marks the first of many pivotal moments and challenges she will face throughout the book’s 496 pages. The scene was inspired by a true incident involving Leithauser’s father, a wounded World War II veteran, “after he got on a Detroit streetcar with my mother and he refused to take a seat offered to him. I loved that anecdote,” he says. “That whole incident continued to haunt me.” First it inspired Leithauser, a professor in the Writing Seminars, to write a poem in his mother’s voice, titled “Purple Heart.” Though he carried other family anecdotes and memories of his 1950s Detroit childhood with him for decades, the idea to tie them together into a novel didn’t take root until about 2003, when he suddenly realized “Purple Heart” was a perfect beginning to a novel. “When I got started, I wondered, ‘Why did it take me 20 years to see this?’ I don’t know. It was such a good idea staring me in the face.” Autobiographical details and inspiration from family stories form the core of Leithauser’s dense and emotional work, which follows Bianca, a young art school student based on Leithauser’s mother-in-law, as she matures in a city that is changing in unexpected ways. She takes her first lover; mingles with Detroit’s high society; endures acidic familial grudges; withstands several crises; and tries to discover

who she wants to be at the same time she is becoming that person. The characters are familiar but not caricatures, and Leithauser’s vibrant re-creation of his hometown makes the city an omnipresent character in the story. Leithauser’s career has carried him across the globe, from Harvard Law to drama critic for Time magazine to a 21-year stint teaching at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, with stops in Japan and Europe. (He’s also an Icelandophile, and a 2005 member of the Order of the Falcon, that nation’s majestically titled literary award.) He arrived at Johns Hopkins in 2008, one year after his wife, Mary Jo Salter, who is professor of poetry and director of graduate studies in the Writing Seminars. Leithauser has published four books of poetry and six novels, including this one. One of the novels is written in verse. To reawaken the city of his parents that he learned about as a youth, Leithauser acquired a variety of period ephemera. “When I was writing, I picked up—on eBay, for five or 10 dollars— official bus and streetcar maps of Detroit from 1942, or menus from restaurants,” he says. “I put them up on the wall of my office. I spent a lot of time going through back issues of The Detroit News. If you stare long enough at ads for hats, it will permeate your writing in ways you can’t describe. If you do it long enough, the world will begin to seem real.” Of his decision to revisit

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010


Wholly Hopkins

Now we know …From 2004 to 2007, more soldiers required medical evacuation from Iraq and Afghanistan for fractures and tendonitis than for gunshot wounds. Researchers led by Steven P. Cohen, associate professor of anesthesiology at the School of Medicine (and a U.S. Army Reserve colonel) recently found that musculoskeletal injuries, connective tissue problems, and neurological disorders accounted for 34 percent of evacuations during the period studied, versus 14 percent for combat injuries. The study appeared in the January 22 issue of The Lancet. …Toxin produced by a predatory algal microbe is known to be a culprit in Chesapeake Bay fish kills. A new study has discovered that the algae puts the toxin into the water not only for defense, as previously supposed, but as a weapon to immobilize its microscopic prey. Whiting School professor of mechanical engineering Joseph Katz was a co-author on the paper, which appeared online in the January 19 early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. …Ying Zhang, professor of molecular microbiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified a strain of tuberculosis in a Chinese patient that actually grows better when exposed to the antibiotic rifampin, a front-line drug in the battle against the disease. Zhang, lead author of the study published in January in The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, says that rifampin-dependent TB may be a bigger problem than previously realized. …Williams syndrome occurs in people who lack a small amount of genetic material. Now a study by Hopkins cognitive scientist Barbara Landau has found that people with the disorder also lack a basic human ability to spatially orient themselves. Landau, a professor in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, says this is the first evidence that genes play a role in everyday human navigation. The study appeared in February in the online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. …Research published in the January edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that the costintensive practices of a minority of physicians could be a significant driver of health care costs. Principal investigator Edward J. Bernacki of the School of Medicine studied five years of claim data assembled by the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation, a nonprofit insurance company, and found that 3.7 percent of doctors accounted for 72 percent of workers’ comp medical costs. …Texting, the bane of exasperated parents, teachers, and highway safety experts, has a medical use. Johns Hopkins Children’s Center pediatrician Delphine Robotham says a survey of recent studies demonstrates the benefits of using text messages to remind patients, especially adolescents who frequently text on their cell phones, to take their medication, test their glucose levels if they are diabetic, or keep a doctor’s appointment. —Dale Keiger

18 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

the city of his youth, he says, “Childhood roots run deep. [The book] is a tribute to my parents, and the people of Detroit in the 1940s.” The novel comes out in paperback in November. For his next work, he’s going to try to go a bit shorter. “I didn’t think the book would be 500 pages,” he says with a small laugh. “When I’m teaching this spring, I’m teaching novellas, so I’m going to try to write my next novel a lot shorter.” Two other faculty in the Krieger School also have recent books. Writing Seminars senior lecturer Glenn Blake published Return Fire ( Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), a collection of seven short stories. The stories share a common setting—Blake’s native Southeast Texas, a land of low marshland and waterways—and portray the people who reside there. Blake describes his upbringing as being “in a land of bayous, raised between rivers.” The characters are often damaged souls, fueled by desperate circumstance and broken promises. Sometimes they are trying to make things better; other times, they are simply trying to survive. Through all the stories, Blake’s writing carries the wet, lonesome feel of the Southeast Texas landscape, and the tightness and tension of his protagonists. Return Fire is his second collection. Franklin Moses, the 75th governor of South Carolina, is the subject of Benjamin Ginsberg’s Moses of South Carolina: A Jewish Scalawag during Radical Reconstruction ( Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010). Ginsberg, professor of political science, describes Moses as in many ways the worst nightmare for white, segregationist South Carolinians in the late 1800s. Son of a Jewish father, Moses was a Republican governor from 1872 to 1874 who used a militia of freed African Americans to maintain power, quash opposition, and even avoid arrest after indictment for financial improprieties. Ginsberg’s book presents a complex picture of the man known as “The Robber Governor.” “By today’s standards, he was quite a visionary and progressive,” explains Ginsberg. “He’s a fascinating, forgotten figure. He socialized with blacks, invited them over to his house, and played pool and danced with them. He integrated the state university. So Moses was hated for flouting South Carolina’s racial code.” After more than 230 years, Moses’ image remains tarnished. “He’s still a hated figure in South Carolina. I was in Charleston, giving a speech to a Hopkins alumni group and speaking positively about Moses, and I got yelled at.” —GB

Why are we so fat? Well, it’s complicated...


n the last several decades, prosperous nations have experienced a nutrition transition, where the food concern has moved from malnutrition to obesity. Globally, more than 1.6 billion adults and 20 million children under the age of 5 are overweight. In the United States, 66 percent of adults and 16 percent of American children weigh too much, and by 2015, that figure could reach 75 percent of all Americans. Youfa Wang, associate professor at the Center for Human Nutrition in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, studies the reasons behind this global weight gain. In several groundbreaking studies, he has concluded that the factors leading to obesity are far more complex than mere diet and exercise. “The general public wants one single message, but there is not one single message. It’s complicated,” Wang says. Take exercise. In a study published in the journal Obesity Reviews last fall, Wang and his colleagues countered the assumption that increased inactivity is the cause of weight gain in American teenagers. Using government survey data from 1991 and 2007, Wang confirmed that while teenagers are not as active as they should be, there was no increase in sedentary activities even though obesity tripled. Time spent watching television actually declined while physical activity in school went up, leading Wang to conclude that other factors, such as increased caloric consumption, could be the root cause. Three years ago, he and co-author May Beydoun, a Bloomberg School postdoc, published a paper on the obesity epidemic in the United States for Epidemiologic Reviews. The paper has since become one of the most cited on the topic, in part because the authors asked important questions about how gender, age, ethnicity, and socioeconomics affect weight. They analyzed data from the 1960s through 2004 and found that the percentage of obese adults had risen by nearly 20 percent. When they broke those numbers down by race and gender, key differences emerged. Among African American women, for example, 80 percent were overweight or obese, while that number shrank to just 30 percent of Caucasian women. If gender alone contributed to obesity, Wang observes, those numbers should be the same. So maybe it’s culture? Not so, Wang argues. Compare African

American and Caucasian males and the disparity does not exist. “They are the same,” Wang says. Why? “This is what we’re trying to figure out. It’s a multidimensional issue,” influenced by a host of things from culture and heredity to race, gender, geography, and economics. Wang works to understand the disparities in obesity by first mining data compiled by other studies. For example, he now is in the midst of a four-year grant to analyze the influence of economic and social factors on people’s lifestyles and obesity using survey material gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also collects his own primary data and creates intervention-based programs aimed at changing behavior. In an ongoing NIH-funded study, Wang has been assessing the efficacy of a comprehensive, school-based intervention program targeting low-income African American students in Chicago public schools. Not only did the researchers improve the school cafeteria food, they made Leo Acadia


Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010


Wholly Hopkins

Medical engineering

Making a better test for melanoma


elanoma is relatively rare, accounting for only 3 percent of skin cancer cases nationwide. But it leads to 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths. Each year 70,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease, and though curable if found early, it kills one in eight patients, many within six to nine months of diagnosis. Physicians and researchers agree that nabbing the disease in its infancy, when it presents as “The idea behind it is to detect a simple freckle or mole, is small changes in heat generation paramount in saving lives. in the skin to diagnose cancer,” But they have lacked techthat would enhance Cila Herman says. “Our device nology the current method of will provide useful objective data detection: the trained eye to complement the subjective of the dermatologist, foljudgments of doctors.” The lowed by a biopsy of susscanner could also lessen the picious skin spots. A device invented by cost and pain that come with a researcher at the Whiting the more than 3 million skin School of Engineering may biopsies performed each year fill the gap between what a physician can and can’t in the United States. see. An infrared scanning camera outfitted with specially designed software can help doctors determine whether pigmented skin lesions exhibit the warmer temperatures that accompany malignancies. By measuring the levels of metabolic activity in those lesions, physicians will have better information with which to guide treatments and, potentially, save lives. “We’ve found a way to measure differences in temperature between these tumors and normal tissue by using infrared technology,” explains Cila Herman, professor of mechanical engineering. Along with Rhoda Alani, a dermatologist formerly with the School 20 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

of Medicine, and Muge Pirtini, an engineering doctoral candidate at Whiting, she has been honing the instrument for the past three years. “The idea behind it is to detect small changes in heat generation in the skin to diagnose cancer early enough—before it spreads,” Herman adds. “Our device will provide useful objective data to complement the subjective judgments of doctors.” The scanner could also lessen the cost and pain that come with the more than 3 million skin biopsies dermatologists perform each year in the United States by making many of them unnecessary. The technology—called high-resolution infrared scanning, or HRIS—works by taking images of suspicious spots that dermatologists find during skin examinations. Most of them would normally be subject to biopsy. After cooling the spot and the area around it to 59 degrees Fahrenheit with a blast of cold air or a patch saturated with cold water, Herman and Pirtini take an infrared “movie” of the area, concentrating on the heat content of the lesion or mole for a set time, often the first 30 to 180 seconds, as the skin begins to warm back up. They measure the “thermal recovery” of a spot by looking at color codes that correspond to temperature. Cancerous lesions tend Will Kirk

improvements to the school environment and got parents and teachers more involved. “Compared to the control school, we see obesity is lowered, children’s body mass index is lower,” he says. It is this last area—changing behavior— where Wang believes efforts should focus. “This country was very effective in controlling the use of tobacco. Obesity is an epidemic, and public policy can be an important factor.” —Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson

Cila Herman’s device scans for melanoma.

to be warmer, the result of a higher-than-normal amount of cell division and a greater blood supply. Benign moles recover from the cold at the same rate as regular tissue; cancers stay warmer. “When you see cancer, the lesion reheats differently than moles and the surrounding tissue,” says Herman. “That makes it suspicious.” When fully developed, the scanner will be the first of its kind to aid dermatologists. There are no other FDA-approved instruments for detecting skin cancers. Herman and her team have already received a patent for their method of analyzing tumors using the HRIS and have applied for a patent on the scanner as well. “As technology and computers have developed, it has become more feasible to make an instrument like this,” says Herman. The method won’t answer every question about a cancer, Herman concedes. For example, HRIS likely won’t distinguish between types, so biopsies will still be necessary when cancer is diagnosed. But the emerging technology could eliminate the need for many invasive procedures by determining which suspicious spots aren’t malignancies. Dermatologists she has talked to have become intrigued with the device’s possibilities,

Herman reports. Medical instrument companies have begun to bite as well. “We’ve gotten some interest, but mostly from small companies,” she says. “Everybody wants a finished device. We’re at a stage now where we need more money to get it to that point.” —MA

I n te r n a t i o n a l s t u d i e s

Things are heating up in the Arctic


s the Arctic warms meteorologically, it has begun to warm politically. Norway and Russia have sparred over claims to the Barents Sea and economic exploitation of Svalbard. Canada and United States disagree over the Beaufort Sea. Canada and Denmark have traded barbs over a disputed speck of land off the Greenland coast called Hans Island. It’s easy No one knows how much fossil to smile bemusedly fuel might reside under the onceat some of this—you can shop online for inaccessible Arctic seabed, but spoof merchandise the U.S. Geologic Survey turned from the Hans Island heads with a 2009 estimate Liberation Front—but of 40 billion to 160 billion if the northern polar barrels of oil, and 30 percent ice pack continues to melt, and most data of all remaining undiscovered indicate it will, disnatural gas. There are also putes over territorial deposits of iron ore, nickel, zinc, and economic rights in and gold. the Arctic will cease to be sources of humor. Kurt D. Volker, managing director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, cogently lists the issues that loom as the ice pack thins: “You have fishing. You have shipping and transportation. You have the environment. You have coastal security. You have indigenous populations. You have strategic security. You have energy exploitation. You have science, mineral rights, any number of things in which the Arctic Sea states have interests and overlapping claims.” Volker believes the United States has gone too long without asserting its own interests, “partly because we have more non-Arctic things to worry about. The Arctic for the U.S. is faraway northern Alaska. For Canada and Norway it’s much more integral to their sense of nationhood and identity.” Most observers put oil and natural gas at the top of the list of potential disputes. No one Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010


Wholly Hopkins

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

knows how much fossil fuel might reside under the once-inaccessible Arctic seabed, but the U.S. Geologic Survey turned heads with a 2009 estimate of 40 billion to 160 billion barrels of oil, and 30 percent of all remaining undiscovered natural gas. (How anyone estimates a percentage of what’s undiscovered is a bit murky, nevertheless . . .) There are also deposits of iron ore, nickel, zinc, and gold. Merchant shippers covet a northern passage through polar waters because Yokohama, Japan, to Rotterdam, Holland, is 12,854 miles around Asia and through the Suez Canal; across an ice-free Arctic, it would be about 8,500 miles. Five nations lay claim to territory in the Arctic: Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway,

and Denmark (by way of Greenland, which is a self-governing administrative division of the country). Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (which the United States has never ratified because of opposition by a few U.S. senators) established a procedure for advancing claims on Arctic territory. One dispute concerns a 1,200-mile-long submarine structure called the Lomonosov Ridge, which Russia asserts is an extension of its continental shelf, and thus the basis for its claim to vast undersea territory. 22 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

Not so fast, say the Danes—the Lomonosov is equally an extension of Greenland’s shelf. Russia has been the most assertive of the Arctic claimants. In 2007, two Russian mini-submarines planted a titanium replica of the Russian flag on the seabed at the North Pole. Artur Chilingarov, a Russian presidential envoy, was quoted in the London newspaper The Telegraph: “Look at the map. All our northern regions are in or come out into the Arctic. All that is in our northern, Arctic regions. It is our Russia.” Observes Volker, “They have been dramatic, they’ve made extravagant claims, they are bold. It’s not worrisome per se. In some ways it’s natural. But it is an illustration of why we need to get our act together, and all the other Arctic states need to do the same.” Volker estimates the Arctic states have about three to five years in which to negotiate agreements, before that starts to get significantly more difficult. “The longer you take, the more likely it is that energy companies and shipping companies and mining companies and militaries will be staking out their interests directly,” he says. “Then you have to negotiate from a position in which vested interests are in play.” SAIS’ Center for Transatlantic Relations has launched an Arctic policy project, to bring together U.S. government and nongovernment stakeholders and provide an impetus for policy development. Volker says that initiative will occupy his next two years. His immediate recommendation is appointment of a U.S. special envoy to begin working on integrating American interests, what Volker calls “a huge sprawling mess” spanning the departments of Commerce, Energy, Transportation, Defense, and State, as well as federal agencies such as NASA and NOAA, and the U.S. military. Second, he would begin bilateral discussions with Canada to resolve some nettlesome issues over fishing rights and disputed waterways. Once that’s done, he says, the United States will be in a much better position to participate in a forum of the Arctic states. On the other end of the globe, Antarctica was a frozen landmass that had never been colonized, didn’t border any nation, and had nothing in the way of extractable resources. An international agreement to preserve the continent as neutral territory for scientific research was not that difficult to negotiate. Regarding the Arctic, Volker says, “All this was theoretical as long as things remained frozen. Now that it’s melting, it all becomes more real and a source of competition.” —DK

Relief at last for sinusitis sufferers

DaVID March



eople who suffer from the repeated headaches, facial swelling, and blocked breathing passages of chronic rhino­sinusitis know that the pain isn’t limited to the physical. Adding to their suffering is the knowledge that there are no treatments that could forestall the endless cycle of symptoms. Many who fall victim to the most extreme type of sinusitis benefit only temporarily from surgery, while steroids such as prednisone can help with symptoms but carry serious side effects. Scientists have searched in vain for decades for ways to provide long-lasting relief to sinusitis patients, who spend more than $1 billion per year on a drugstore-aisle’s worth of remedies that may quiet their symptoms for a scant few hours. Now, a group of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Allergy and Asthma Center led by Jean Kim, assistant professor of otolaryngology and allergy and clinical immunology at the School of Medicine, believes it may have identified the culprit behind the most severe form of the disease. The discovery of the protein responsible for triggering unwanted growths inside sinuses may lead, they hope, to drug treatments that could halt their development. Since 1996, Kim and her team have gathered tissue and other samples from their patients at the Allergy Center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. There has been no shortage of subjects, there or elsewhere across the country. One in six people in the United States experiences sinusitis—the most common respiratory complaint—a condition that is more debilitating than the common cold, is often accompanied by infections, and regularly recurs. About one-third of sinusitis sufferers will also develop a form of the disease that causes polyps—overgrowths of tissue that block airways and increase the risk of infection. The polyps can be removed during surgery, but almost always grow back. The Hopkins team studied cells taken from inside the noses of patients with polyps, and then tested them to see how they grew. They noticed those cells grew two and a half times faster than ones taken from a control group of people who were free of sinus disease. As part

Jean Kim and her team may have identified the protein that triggers the most severe cases of sinusitus. of their search for why this was so, researchers had patients rinse their sinus passages with a solution, and then tested the resulting rinse mix for various growth factors. They discovered that a protein called vascular endolethial growth factor, or VEGF, which is important for normal blood vessel development, was found in much higher quantities in samples taken from patients

B ot t om L in e

753: Average number of aviation-related deaths each

year in the United States. Susan P. Baker, a professor at the Bloomberg School’s Center for Injury Research and Policy, recently published the first-ever study of U.S. aviation injuries and mortality in Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. Her research also found an average of 1,013 injuries requiring hospital admission. The most injuries happened to occupants of civilian, noncommercial powered aircraft— they accounted for 87 percent of deaths and 32 percent of injuries, versus just 7 and 11 percent, respectively, for commercial aircraft occupants. The most common cause of death was head injury; the most common injury was leg fractures. Says Baker, “Because many injuries can be prevented through changes in the structure of aircraft, these data should be used to recognize needed improvements in aircraft design.” —DK Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010


24 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

Ariel Gold

with polyps. Researchers also found elevated levels of VEGF in the sinus polyp tissue taken from patients during surgery. Tests in Petri dishes confirmed the findings. The more VEGF that was found in a culture, the faster cells grew. To see if they could slow down growth, they introduced anti-VEGF antibodies to the cultures. Such agents are already being used in remedies for certain types of breast, kidney, and prostate cancers, and as a treatment for cell overgrowth in the eye that accompanies macular degeneration. The antiVEGF antibodies slowed the rate of growth of cells to that of non-sinus patients’ cells. The results were published in the December 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. “We’ve found that our theory works in a model of a human system,” says Kim. “Next, we have to show that the idea will One in six people in the United work in a human States experiences sinusitis— being.” Besides offera condition that is more debilitating than the common ing hope for a treatment, cold. About one-third of sinusitis possible the Hopkins study sufferers will also develop a could also lead to form of the disease that causes a new way to diagpolyps—overgrowths of tissue nose and track the that block airways and increase disease. Instead of putting patients the risk of infection. through repeated CT scans that bombard the head with radiation, physicians might one day use sinus “stains” that detect levels of VEGF to monitor a patient’s degree of disease, or to find polyps early on that might evade detection during a physical examination, Kim says. “We need to do more research to see whether anti-VEGF could work as a preventive, or to shrink polyps,” she adds. Her group is now seeking out collaborations with industry to develop a treatment based on the findings. Kim hopes that clinical trials on those agents will be rolled out in the next five years. “It would be great if we could figure several ways to tailor treatments using the anti-VEGFs that could help patients who may have varying levels of disease,” Kim says. Such a remedy would be a boon—and not merely for sinus sufferers. “The cost in negative impact is amazing,” adds Kim. “This disease is very expensive for the health care industry to deal with.” —MA

Students gather apples from a Maryland farm. C o m mu n i t y s e r v i c e

Campus Kitchen turns leftovers into meals


nce a week, Anna Helena Denis helps turn an abundance of bagels—not three or four but dozens—into an abundance of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Denis, who goes by Lena, is a junior dual major in anthropology and art history at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. She is also the student coordinator for The Campus Kitchen at Johns Hopkins University, a volunteer organization that collects unused food from campus dining halls, neighboring restaurants, and area farms, turns it into full, healthful meals, then delivers those meals to social service partners in neighborhoods around Hopkins’ Homewood campus. (For more on Hopkins volunteerism, see the special edition of Alumni News and Notes, beginning on page 53.) The peanut-butter-andjelly sandwiches go to the Franciscan Center of Charles Village. The Campus Kitchens Project is the brainchild of Robert L. E. Egger, a Washington, D.C., social activist and founder of D.C. Central Kitchen, a community kitchen that since 1989 has trained unemployed men and women in

food service skills by recycling unused food and, according to its own estimate, turning that food into 4,000 nutritious meals each day for hungry D.C. residents. In October 2001, D.C. Central Kitchen tried its food-recycling model on the campus of Saint Louis University, using student volunteers for staff. It worked, and since then 23 more colleges and universities and one high school (Gonzaga High in D.C.) have started their own kitchens. Johns Hopkins was number 20. In the summer of 2008, Jerome Brown, A&S ’09, attended a social networking seminar and met Egger. Brown had become fascinated with the idea of social entrepreneurship, and in course work at the Bloomberg School of Public Health he had studied food justice issues and community food mapping, analyzing the availability and distribution of food in Charles Village. After talking to Egger about Campus Kitchens, Brown thought, “This would work at Hopkins.” He attended a “boot camp” to learn how the campus programs operate. Then along with Denis and about a half-dozen other undergraduates, he founded the Hopkins chapter in the spring of 2009. The group operates under the auspices of Hopkins’ Center for Social Concern, a student life office on the Homewood campus dedicated to community service; its current coordinator, Jessica Zha, A&S ’09, is an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer performing a year of national service at Hopkins. Brown says most Campus Kitchens chapters take about two years to become fully operational. At Hopkins, the students managed to create a functioning organization in about seven months, reaching out to collect excess produce and meat from campus dining halls, pastries from the Charles Village restaurant Donna’s, and greens and fruit left in local farmers’ fields after mechanized harvesters had done their work. The students took the raw materials and, working in the kitchen of the neighboring University Baptist Church, began turning out full meals for distribution by Baltimore organizations like the Franciscan Center, the Church of the Guardian Angel in Remington, and the B-SPIRIT-A2Y after-school program in the Park Heights neighborhood. The Hopkins program says that during fall semester ’09 it recovered 1,285 pounds of food from restaurants and dining halls, gleaned 2,500 pounds of produce from farms, and prepared 687 meals in thrice-weekly kitchen shifts. The spring 2010 semester has gotten off to a bit of a rough start because of the massive February snowstorms that buried Baltimore and locked down the campus. But Denis says about 20 stu-

dent volunteers are back and gearing up to produce more meals. She says they have to be flexible because they never know from day to day what sort of leftover victuals will come in. One batch of croissants ended up in bread pudding. Brown, who now works on the staff of the U.S. under secretary of energy, recalls a two-day period last year when the students turned a sudden bounty of meat into about 100 pounds of meatballs. The day of service during university President Ron Daniels’ installation weekend produced a bounty of apples gathered by students at a local farm. Money from grants and fund-raising events are used to purchase staple items like pasta and canned goods. “People don’t donate five-course meals,” Denis says. “They donate bread, or they donate collard greens. It can be tricky deciding what to do before the food goes bad to produce something that will be healthy. Sometimes that means something creative. Sometimes it just means soup poured over rice.” —DK

Q u ot e , u n q u ot e Under Mr. Obama, we have pulled back from the foreign world. We’re smaller for accepting that false choice between burdens at home and burdens abroad, and the world beyond our shores is more hazardous and cynical for our retrenchment and our selfflagellation. —Fouad Ajami, writing in The Wall Street Journal, 12.30.09 [Patients] die from opioids, I see it all the time. They are probably inherently more dangerous than cannabinoids and they are used all the time for chronic pain. So why wouldn’t you use cannabinoids? —Steven P. Cohen, pain specialist and associate professor of anesthesiology at the School of Medicine, from testimony before a Maryland government committee on the use of medical marijuana, quoted in The Baltimore Sun, 01.31.10 Television viewing used to be sitting in the living room with one TV in a household where you actually had to get up and change the channels. Now, it’s dramatically different. It’s in the home, it’s carried in the back pocket, it’s carried on the computer, it’s everywhere, and you can take it anywhere. It’s something that in the busy lives of most people these days, not much time or thought is put into the hours that are spent with the screen. —Darcy Thompson, assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, commenting in The Baltimore Sun, 02.17.10, on a Kaiser Family Foundation finding that children spend more than seven hours each day consuming media We’ll be right back . . . —Johns Hopkins University Web site, announcing cancellation of classes for the week of February 8 due to a pair of blizzards

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010


Gravity on the Brane

Inside the semiconductor tracker barrel of ATLAS, an experiment being conducted at the Large Hadron Collider.

26 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

As physicists huddled underneath the Alps attempt to unlock the universe’s secrets by smashing together wee bits of matter, Johns Hopkins professor Raman Sundrum will be on watch for evidence of a fifth dimension—an infinite, if undiscovered, wrinkle that could explain a lot about what we don’t know about the cosmos.

B y Mi c h ae l A n f t

Courtesy of CERN


he Universe works. It has to. And yet humanity remains humbled: Mysteries endure about how, exactly, the wheels on The Big Machine turn. Our knowledge is sketchy, a dark picture punctuated only by bits of theoretical light. So, physicists ask Big Questions: What makes up the force that pushes the Machine outward faster and faster? Why are the tiniest subatomic particles so light, when calculations say they should be much heavier? And one that particularly frustrates physicists and sets them in motion: Why does it take whole fields of gravity to hold us to Earth and keep the planets apart, when the other three forces of nature invariably announce themselves with much more bravado? Scientists, like nature, abhor a vacuum. They gleefully jump into the breach, furrowing their brows, cursing the darkness, and creating their own mathematical explanations of how the whole shebang—the size of particles, how they interact, how they formed the universe—fits together. They’ve extrapolated, postulated, and triangulated—a handful of brainy verbs that have yet to yield some solid nouns with clear definitions. A querulous bunch, they are so enamored of their own intellects—despite their lack of answers—that they make it a point to challenge Albert Einstein, the god of modern physics. They’d like nothing better than to prove the old genius wrong. Einstein, of course, got the ball rolling in the modern era of highbrow positing when, in 1915, his general theory of relativity explained how gravity worked to curve space, a finding that changed the rules about gravity and raised exciting new questions about the masses of particles and the nature of space. But even Einstein knew that his thinking fell short. He would work the last 35 years of his life on a Theory of Everything, one that JJohns 27 ohns H Hopkins opkins M Magazine agazine • • SSpring pring 2010 2010 27

with string theory but envisions endless loops instead of strings. Proponents of “supersymmetry” see the universe filled with tiny particles, each coupled to an as-yet-undiscovered companion particle, and with collectively enough mass to square the calculations of physicists. Even among those working hypotheses, one that envisions an extra, infinite dimension in nature stands out for its sheer audacity. Concocted by Raman Sundrum, a professor of physics at Johns Hopkins, and Lisa Randall, who holds the same title at Harvard, this version of the universe could go a long way toward explaining why particles appear to be so lightweight, and why gravity is so puny. If proven right, the Randall-Sundrum models (or RS models, as they’re known in the trade) could go a long way toward augmenting the working standard model. “In particle physics, you get a sense that there’s something going on, some trick you’re missing, something that’s not in existing theory,” says Sundrum, 45, a forthright man with a strong face framed by oversized ears. “Like many physicists, I’m working on the idea that Einstein was right—he just wasn’t complete. To get there, we have these tricks we develop to fill the gaps in his theories. And in some sense, the Randall-Sundrum models are yet one more trick.” Dreamed up a dozen years ago during a meeting of minds at an ice

as 11 dimensions (seven more than the observable ones: the three of space— depth, length, and width—and one of time). Sundrum’s major contribution to the models is paring those extra dimensions, which string theorists believe are almost impossibly small, unobservable, and folded around one another, down to one that is tiny yet infinite—a concept that turned the tightly knit world of physicists on its ear, and caused observers to dub Randall and Sundrum’s thinking bold and counterintuitive. Randall-Sundrum models are partly inspired by the matching, countervailing particles envisioned in supersymmetry, but they don’t need that theory to support them. In fact, the models rank as a ballsy alternative to supersymmetry, which among physicists might be the most popular schema out there. The series of papers Sundrum and Randall have published since their Cambridge confabs have regularly been among the most cited in physics. They answer, at least theoretically, why gravity acts so weakly upon us, while other forces—like electricity, which can be created very easily with a comb and some hair—have a much more immediate presence. In the first major paper the duo put together—called Randall-Sundrum model one, or RS-1—they outlined their initial concept: a finite fifth dimension, warped by the effects of gravity and unseen by humans, and equipped with multidimensional “branes” (short for membranes) on either end. To picture it requires some imagination. Although it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to do so, envision the extra dimension as long and horizontal. Place the branes vertically (or perpendicular) at its far ends. Elementary particles—electrons, quarks, and the like— are centered on a brane at one end of the model, while gravity is everywhere, including the extra dimension, and is as strong as the other forces. RS-1 showed that gravity in the extra dimension pulls on the gravity of the other dimensions in space, drawing it into

“Like many physicists, I’m working on the idea that Einstein was right—he just wasn’t complete. To get there, we have these tricks we develop to fill the gaps in his theories. The Randall-Sundrum models are one more trick.” String theorists propose that the universe is not made up of particles but of infinitesimal strings that may be billions of light-years long, and are part of an endless string of universes, collectively called “the multiverse.” Quantum loop theorists favor an idea that rhymes a bit 28 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

cream shop on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, RandallSundrum’s “trick” was to marry some of the concepts of supersymmetry and general relativity with a notion borrowed from string theorists, who believe the universe may have as many

Mike Ciesielski

accurately delivered a formula explaining how the four forces work together with particles, and fail. In the decades since Einstein’s death in 1955, particle physicists described how the three natural forces other than gravity—electromagnetism, a “strong force” that holds nuclei together inside atoms, and the “weak force”—interact with each other and with elementary particles that make up matter. Those interactions are together known as the “the standard model” of particle physics, the best attempt to date to Explain How It All Works. But as standards go, the model sets the bar pretty low. Physical experimentation has exposed its flaws. The model breaks down when exposed to high energies, meaning it doesn’t meet a major criterion for a viable physical law: Will it hold up under all conditions? And most vitally, it can’t get at the crux of what ails it: Why doesn’t gravity behave like the other forces? Could there be something unique about the interactions between gravity and the elementary particles that accounts for why it is the 98-pound weakling of the cosmos? Is there a previously unseen detail that could complete the whole picture? Or a new angle or wrinkle—a new way of looking at the problem— that could lead us to an answer? Particle physicists continue to take shots in the cosmic dark. Scattershots.

the vicinity of the brane opposite from where elementary particles reside. Matter is separated in the extra dimension away from the component of gravity that pulls on the other dimensions. If this separation were perfect, we would see no effects of gravity in ordinary life. But the duo’s calculations showed a tiny leakage across the extra dimension, which allows us to experience a weakened version of gravity. Later, in a second model (RS-2), the pair envisioned a universe in which standard matter and gravity could be localized on a single brane, which is placed amid an infinitely large extra dimension. In short, Sundrum and Randall posit that extra-dimensional gravity is strong enough to steal away some of the mass of particles. If proven true, RS could be the black hole that swallows up a big chunk of the standard model problem by demonstrating how gravity is weak and why particles lack a surprising amount of mass. RS involves one other key ingredient: a particle called the Higgs boson

that mediates the force of gravity. That’s the bit of matter, theorized to have existed moments after the Big Bang, that physicists are trying to create at the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, the subterranean, several-billion-dollar mega-machine that straddles the border of France and Switzerland. The Higgs boson is so central to the work of Sundrum and those who espouse competing theories, and has filled such a huge niche in the theoretical framework, that it is called “the God particle.” Its “godliness” also comes from its role as the so-called mother of mass—it gives mass to all the other particles. Not many of Sundrum’s colleagues buy what he calls “the RS solution.” There’s little concord among the explain-the-universe-in-one-theoryor-less crowd, a band of outliers that (including physicists who design experiments) might not exceed 10,000 people worldwide. “I think the RandallSundrum models are well-based and thought-through speculation, motivated by key issues in particle physics and

Raman Sundrum: “I’m 1 percent sure I’m right, which is better than thinking I’m .0001 percent right.” carried through well,” says Lee Smolin, a researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Toronto, and a well-regarded theorist who champions variations of loop quantum gravity theory. “I would, however, bet against them being right.” But if testing at the LHC yields a Higgs boson that gives clues to an extra dimension in nature, Sundrum can cash in, scientifically speaking. After years of flailing in the dark, experimentalists have figured out some ways for attaining the holy grail of science—quantification. They believe they’ve concocted methods for measuring how particles react when smashed together at speeds similar to those during the Big Bang—a necessary element to see how they were formed billions of years ago, as the universe was being made. If they’re successful, they’ll produce a Higgs boson out of whole, Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 29

cosmic cloth for a billionth of a second or so. “We can finally measure this stuff, smash things together, and see what comes out of it,” says Sundrum. “We’ll see if anybody’s right.” Or not. You could call it the Sundrum Conundrum. He and Randall have built a workable mathematical model that could explain The Nature of Everything. But it could all be hopelessly wrong. “We’re all dealing in long shots here,” Sundrum says. “I’m 1 percent sure I’m right, which is better than thinking I’m .0001 percent right. I prefer my long shot to the others’ long shots. I’m certainly not going to say I’m 100 percent sure of anything.”


undrum’s office looks like he just moved in, even though he’s held down a spot in the Bloomberg Physics building since 2000. There’s a blackboard for drawing crude-but-useful explanatory pictures for students and other inquiring (if not quite as developed) minds, along with a computer and a desk that doesn’t look all that busy. He’s a big one for holding a lot of stuff in his head, so the lack of clutter or personal effects makes sense. (Not that Sundrum, a confident, pleasant fellow, doesn’t have a bit of the absent-minded professor in him. On the outside of his right hand is scrawled HOME WATER, a reminder from his wife to turn off the patio hose before that night’s earlywinter freeze.) Newly hatched ideas— even ones with a 1 percent probability of being right—need big room to play in. And mucking around in theoretical space is where Sundrum, a rangy, energetic sort, gains a sense of comfort. It took him a while to carve it out. As a teen growing up in Australia, Sundrum thought he’d follow in the footsteps of his forebears and get into medicine. But the field lacked the profundity he intuited was part of his nature, a need for solemn, if spirited rumination that led him to mull over the concepts of free will and artificial intelligence, or to develop algorithms he tried out on his homely and primitive PC. “I’d worry about things like, what makes a machine think?” he recalls. “My psychol30 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

ogy at the time was to see things and say, ‘Man, that’s really deep,’ whereas other things might seem interesting or important but not necessarily as deep. When I was making plans as to what I wanted to do with my life, something popped into my head at the last minute: Don’t go to medical school!” Sundrum was a math prodigy, but claims he was never good at math. (He might be exercising some modesty: He twice won top honors in Australia for his talent with numbers.) “I always wanted to be good at math because I thought I’d be more popular—and yes, I know that’s a ridiculous thing to say,” he says. “But I wasn’t one of those people who loved math. I wanted something with some creativity to it. At the tail end of high school, I decided to go into the deep end. I was succumbing to my romance with Newton and Einstein.”

curved, similar to that posited by the theory of relativity. “I thought the definition of them in mathematical terms was fascinating,” says Sundrum. “It was just a beautiful subject. What blew me away was that there was a branch of physics where fiber bundles mattered. I thought, ‘Wow!’ Here I was doing electro charges on plates, about which I could not care less, and yet here is this whole other branch of physics that deals with this.” A professor told him this was called particle physics. In it, he found his niche, earning a PhD from Yale after leaving home for the United States. Thus began a long exile in the academic wilderness. Unable to snag a teaching job and too reluctant to publish because he had fragments of ideas and no definitive, Einstein-correcting answers, he spent nearly a decade

“In physics, someone says something in plain English, and you’re supposed to come up with a question from that, then form a mathematical equation to solve it. Most people aren’t born with that gift.” As an undergrad in Australia, the profundity of Newton and Einstein became difficult—Sundrum flailed in the deep end. “I really felt like a complete mediocrity. I was good at the math, but I struggled with the physics. In physics, someone says something in plain English—like, ‘gravity is surprisingly weak’—and you’re supposed to come up with a question from that, figure out what is relevant, and then form a mathematical equation to solve it. That’s incredibly hard. Most people aren’t born with that gift,” he says. What helped turn him around was an essay assignment he received as an upperclassman. An instructor asked each member of his class to write a report on an article in Scientific American magazine about physics. Sundrum uncovered one about fiber bundles, a branch of geometric space that was

doing postdoctoral jobs, traveling from the University of California at Berkeley to Harvard to Boston University to Stanford. He stoked his curiosity, taking on some of the big issues in physics, studying some of the forces, including strong nuclear interactions, as well as emerging ideas about extra dimensions and dark energy, the force that causes the universe to expand at an ever-faster clip. But he couldn’t find a tenure-track post. “I was kind of oblivious to the fact that you had to make a career,” Sundrum says. “I turned down a couple of invitations to apply for jobs, then regretted it. The question became: What else could I do?” He got a shot at a position with McKinsey & Co., the business-consulting outfit—like many financially oriented companies, McKinsey covets sharp formula guys from the world of

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 31



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Catherine Pierre

32 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

Inside the Large Hadron Collider, physicists look for the God particle.

Courtesy of CERN

physics—acing the first pair of interviews in 1998. “I was told that the third round would be plain sailing, but I didn’t make it,” he recalls. “I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have.” It seems that during his plane trip to the interview, he thought about nothing but physics. “I wasn’t in the right mindset.” Around the same time, he had made a breakthrough or two on the “career” that hadn’t yet taken flight. After reading a paper on the possibility of extra dimensions written by three of the world’s most prominent particle physicists, Sundrum was inspired to jot down some of his own observations on the topic. He had been using the concept of extra dimensions to deepen his explorations of dark energy, how the universe expands, and whether Einstein’s thinking on the subject—a concept called the cosmological constant—was correct, when the paper in question crossed his desk. The authors “made perfectly reasonable statements about extra dimensions and things that had nothing to do with the cosmological constant,” he says, his voice rising as he remembers the surprise the paper evoked in him. For him, such a paper, to be truly significant, needed to discuss the constant. “I realized that people publish with a much lower threshold than I had led myself to believe was necessary—they publish when they don’t have all the answers. I was being too pure.” Those who know Sundrum and his style agree that the paper in question emboldened him. “He was worried that those theorists had solved the cosmological constant—‘Oh, my God, they’ve done it!’—then read the paper and figured out they hadn’t solved anything,” says David Kaplan, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at

Johns Hopkins, and a favorite sounding board of Sundrum’s. “He realized at that moment you could have much lower standards in what you actually put into print. It liberated him.” Sundrum quickly published two papers on extra dimensions. Besides breaking a logjam of long-repressed deep thought, the publications caught the eye of Lisa Randall, like Sundrum a former math prodigy who had decided to take on the universe’s biggest questions. Then hovering between appointments at MIT and Princeton, Randall rang up Sundrum, then at Boston U., to discuss how his vision of extra dimensions might fit in with her leading-edge theories on supersymmetry. The two brought similar appetites for calculus, coffee, and long speculative talks. But they came at questions from totally different places—something that made the partnership particularly effective, Randall, now at Harvard, says. “Raman was the type who would go off and do his own thing, but he had thought about branes and extra dimensions before I had. Our styles are different, but we agree on what things are important enough to look into. If you have a good idea in science, you have to be both exuberant and skeptical about it. We both had that,” she says. Sundrum thought that extra dimensions could lead him to an explanation for what makes up dark energy, which accounts for as much as 70 percent of

the universe and is causing its expansion to accelerate. But his research needed tweaking. He worried that “a sign mistake” would create a “catastrophic instability” in his adaptations of the higher-dimensional Einstein equations he was using. He and Randall worked it out during one of several 90-minute sessions spent amid the bustle of an ice cream shop. “We would gossip, tell jokes, work on ideas—it was all mixed in there,” Sundrum says. “The brain has to be loose—you can’t come up with ideas if it’s all tensed up. We shared this playfulness, this willingness to make guesses and see where they’d lead us.” To test their estimations, they’d travel to Sundrum’s office nearby, or stalk down the halls of MIT in search of an empty, darkened classroom with a blackboard. There, the concepts would be turned into the language of numbers. After talking about extra dimensions for several sessions, the two began to work out the math. “We found some kind of magic,” Sundrum recalls. “We worked out this problem of an infinite extra dimension in the presence of supersymmetry. It kind of fell into our laps. As we continued mapping out this formula, we thought we’d be proven wrong in five minutes. But the longer we kept at it, the better it looked.” The discovery was part inspiration and part happenstance: “We found that my love affair with dark energy and extra dimensions wasn’t going to pan out, but other things would.” Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 33

Subatomic Cinema


A Hopkins physicist documents the search for the key to the universe.

avid Kaplan builds theoretical models to explain how elementary forces and particles might work. He researches “dark matter,” the mysterious stuff that makes up as much as 25 percent of the universe, though no one understands why. He has a lengthy and deep list of publications that spans 13 years. Nowhere on it will you find the term auteur. But Kaplan, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins, has aspirations of becoming a kind of Scorsese of science, a film director driven to tell a story that peers into the rich, sometimes-dark recesses of human nature. Kaplan’s opus—working title: “Particle Fever”— focuses on a handful of the thousands of scientists who have gathered at a huge supercollider deep below the FrenchSwiss Alps, where they hope to answer the most fundamental questions of nature. There’s more at stake at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) facility than science. Reputations built on intensive speculation of how the universe runs will undoubtedly crumble. After data from LHC experiments are boiled down, years of research will, for many, be swallowed up by a (metaphorical) black hole of findings. The field of particle physics, at least as it’s been practiced until now, and many of the far-flung theories that have sustained it might reach a cosmic dead-end. “There’s a drama unfolding at the LHC, one that I think needs to be captured,” says Kaplan, 41, a wiry neutrino of a man whose brown hair brings to mind the tangled consistency of Einstein’s. “One of the things that’s exciting about the field right now is that we have all of these exceptional people in it. But if the LHC raises questions that are unanswerable, then we might not have those people anymore. People who give me money for the film want to know whether there will be a happy ending. But the most dramatic thing is if there’s not.” Kaplan decided to document the anticipation surrounding the LHC in 2006, before the collider even opened, train-

Randall and Sundrum would actually produce four papers together in 1998 and 1999, but the ones involving RS models are those most read by other theoretical physicists. So far, they’ve stood the test of time—people still cite them because they remain theoretically viable and, some physicists say, downright vibrant, even to those who refuse to buy into the whole idea. The math adds up. As physics gained a new way to look at an old problem, Sundrum’s exile from the academy was about to end. Johns Hopkins hired him as an associate professor in 2000 and named him a full professor a year later. A shaky decade of daring thinking on a variety 34 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

ing his amateur’s camera eye on prominent physicists who have invested a lifetime’s worth of thought to the nature of the universe. Quickly made aware of his cinematic limitations, he hired an additional director and a pair of cinematographers from New York, and then added a second crew based in Geneva to document events once the LHC restarted operations late last year after a few early-on glitches. Now that the multi-billion-dollar device is back up and running, Kaplan devotes almost all of his time to his film, suspending his teaching and research this spring to focus his lens on the human story behind the science. He spends part of it flying from city to city in search of cash to sustain the project, trotting out a six-minute trailer of “Particle Fever” to sell the idea. “I spend a lot of time in people’s living rooms,” he says, adding that the extensive time up in the air has so far landed him $300,000. Eventually, Kaplan and crews will narrow the focus of the film to two scientists with competing ideas, so people can identify with one or the other of them. “I want the viewer to get the experience of being a scientist,” he says. “I really want to show that what is about to happen is going to have such an impact on all the players involved, and in a way we can’t predict. It’s like when you have your first child.You can’t predict what your life will become, or even what you’ll be like. I see the same thing whenever there’s a rumor or something [at the LHC].You can see the shock in people’s faces. There’s a lot of anxiety.” Capturing a moment of utter clarity, such as when the LHC provides an answer as to why particles are so light—or when scientists become crestfallen—should be recorded for posterity, Kaplan adds. “I can’t find an analogy for this,” he says. “There’s a real possibility that particle physics could be all over. That’s the real reason I’m making the film. In the history of science, this might become the most important thing that has ever happened.” —MA

of Big Questions—and a measure of self-doubt—had come to a fruitful end. “Running into Lisa Randall, who has a killer instinct and who likes to work on only big things, helped Raman,” says Kaplan. “It actually woke him up.”


o talk about experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, one must use the language of Carl Sagan. And not just words like quarks and leptons and bosons, but others that hint at the immense quantities of things—billions and billions of this, trillions of that—responsible for outfitting the world’s poshest techno-pit 50 stories below the French-Swiss Alps. The

place is a surreal complex of cosmic numbers. Thousands of scientists from 77 countries have devised experiments that will play out amid the $10 billion or so it took to hammer together a machine that sends as much as 7 trillion electric volts through trillions of protons. That level of energy gets the particles up to speeds that cause them to tear through a 17-mile-long loop and smash into each other. The idea is to re-create the conditions of the Big Bang, or at least onemillionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second after it, so scientists can come to some common understanding as to why elementary particles are perceived as being so light, or why gravity refuses

to play by the rules associated with the other three forces of nature. Some secrets of dark matter, the shadowy stuff that makes up 25 percent of the universe, might be gleaned as well. Finding the Higgs boson could lead physicists to other new particles, as well as to discoveries about how the ones we know about—the relics of the Higgs, theoretically—attain mass, and generally how the whole stew pulls together. The Higgs figures mightily in Randall-Sundrum’s extra-dimensional schema, along with several other theories. “The whole raison d’être of RS-1’s fifth dimension is to resolve a puzzle of the Higgs,” Sundrum explains. “The force that separates ordinary discernible gravity from the Higgs boson is actually higher-dimensional gravity that pulls in the extra dimension. Discovering the Higgs might make the case for extra dimensions in nature.” In short, the search for the Higgs particle will decide who’s right and who’s wrong on How It All Works—if they find anything at all. Most scientists say there will be many more losers than winners—if there are any winners. Experimental physicists, under the eyes of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (known by its French acronym, CERN), have designed ways to possibly create the Higgs. The LHC, delayed for much of the past few years by construction glitches, electrical problems, and a pigeon that gummed up the works by dropping a bit of baguette into a vent, reopened its inquiry into the Higgs in earnest in November. Since then, Hopkins professors, postdocs, and students have been on hand to observe or perform experiments. “My guess is we see data in the next two or three years,” says Sundrum. What signs of the God particle will theorists be looking to see? “It’s possible we’ll discover the Higgs boson and nothing else, which would mean there are no deeper questions that would lead us on,” says Kaplan, who is making a documentary film on scientists taking part in LHC experiments (see “Subatomic Cinema,” p. 34). “Mathematically, it’s possible that

the Orioles will be in the Super Bowl, and that the parameters of the universe we live in have been tuned so carefully that the standard model is squared by the Higgs. That could mean we’ve reached the end of the study of fundamental physics. Or without the Higgs, we could find any other result, which would be mind-blowing, which is what the Raman types would expect.” Others predict that the universe will continue to lob curves at theoretical physicists. “The most likely outcome of the LHC is something completely surprising,” says Jonathan Bagger, a Hopkins vice provost and a professor of physics who favors the ideas underpinning supersymmetry. “We theorists have our hubris, but there’s never any guarantee that nature will do anything we say.” For Sundrum, LHC data will be parsed for deviations in the patterns energy particles carry off after protons kamikaze into one another. One particle might come out in our dimension, with the other heading into another dimension, as measured by the energy associated with its decay. In another scenario, the energy of an extra-dimensional particle would pull energy away from the particle in our dimension, creating an energy imbalance in the LHC’s detectors. One can measure this, although experimentalists have their work cut out for them when it comes to measurement. Competing theories also foresee some energy imbalances, so separating it all out might take some time. But Sundrum is optimistic that the experiments will amount to something. “If there are extra dimensions, there will be certain frequencies on top of the usual boring ones we see,” he says. “You look for echoes when particles at high energies get dislodged from their resting places in the extra dimension. It’s like acoustics. We’ll hit different notes.” In essence, scientists working at CERN will use an exotic kind of quark to measure the levels of energy, record them, and analyze them. Sundrum might join them. He’s familiar with the place, having traveled to CERN 10 times or so to give talks, check on progress, or simply soak up

the atmosphere that only thousands of others who understand the way things work as deeply as he does can provide. The gang might be quarrelsome, but like a family, they understand where each other is coming from. He might not get the results he’s looking for, but he’s not likely to lose his balance. “It’s high-risk, high-reward work that Raman does,” says Kaplan. “Chances are he won’t get there. But he’s relentless—he’s been working on this for 15 years. There’s a part of him that will not give up the fight, and it’s an honest fight.” Sundrum’s self-description is a bit less martial. He likes to think a certain way. He usually starts with a guess on some arcane matter, uses his intuition to try things on and feel them out for a while. Only after a good bit of time marinating in his own guesswork does he switch on the physicist’s vicious critical faculties. If he can think his way to an answer before he actually writes down formulas, he’ll do it. “I love that—it’s a very physical thing,” Kaplan says. “He has that intuition beyond anyone else I’ve met who could do the math.” As he awaits word from the LHC, he works on his forthcoming book, “Journey to the Fifth Dimension,” and moves the Randall-Sundrum models around in his head. He wonders what nuances he might be missing, what trick he hasn’t found, or what critical tweak he could make to shore up his and Randall’s original thinking. “The last paper I wrote in September had a good bit of RS in it,” he says. “There is a lot in RS that is elegant, valuable. But when you compare it to nature, how does it stand up? The last 10 years have been spent reworking particle physics to check whether we have a harmonious story or not. There are things in the margins that still worry me.” With that, he’s off to steep in them amid the quiet of his office, where the calm and the emptiness mirror the vastness of a universe that resists facile explication. Michael Anft is senior writer for Johns Hopkins Magazine. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 35

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Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 37


f you had a million dollars for health, what would be the best way to spend it?” That question, posed by the Disease Control Priorities Project (DCPP) in August 2008, is poignant, in a way. How could anything be accomplished with only a million dollars? There seems no end to global public health problems. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, pneumonia, influenza. Poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water. Malnutrition and parasites. Industrial air pollution and cigarettes and coal-fired power plants and automobile exhaust. Diseases that will not go away (malaria), diseases that threaten to break out and wreak havoc (avian flu), and diseases that we think have gone away but still lurk (polio). Viruses, bacteria, and simple misfortune seem to have unlimited resources; governments, aid organizations, and public health specialists do not. That situation imposes a dispassionate calculus at the heart of DCPP’s question: If not every possible public health intervention can be done, what should be done first? Johns Hopkins Magazine posed that question to more than 100 researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health. As anticipated, we received more suggestions than we could use. So our second step was to crossreference those suggestions with the second edition of the DCPP study Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, known in public health circles by the shorthand DCP2. What emerged was a set of interventions of demonstrated effectiveness that already have been implemented to varying degrees, but given the political will and the resources could be implemented on a wider and deeper scale and so save millions of lives. As Johns Hopkins medical historian Randall Packard points out, nothing on this list gets at the foundation of most human misery—poverty and war—but each intervention has a proven capacity to enhance survival and vastly improve life for many, many people. Think of the list as a good place to start.


children are vulnerable to deadly diseases . So vaccinate them. International health

authorities estimate that every year, 10 million to 13 million children die (including stillbirths). That is more than 30,000 per day, every day. The Global Health Council estimates that 1 million of them could be saved by vaccinations against just six diseases: measles, tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, polio, and tuberculosis. The Disease Control Priorities Project has put forward childhood vaccinations as the single most costeffective public health intervention in its study. To make meaningful comparisons among interventions, DCPP used a calculation called disability-adjusted life years, or DALYs. Developed in the 1990s, DALYs combine years lived with illness and disability and years lost to premature death in a single metric that can be used with cost data to 38 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

create a dollars-per-DALY estimate of cost-effectiveness. The method has limitations (for example, the data used to calculate it have to be reliable, which can be a problem in poor countries), and figures for different regions can vary widely, making something that’s cost-effective in a major South African city much less so in a remote section of Congo. But it’s one of the best available tools, and the basis for this list. In the DCP2 study, the cost of interventions is expressed in DALYs averted; if an intervention costs $10 per DALY averted, that means for every $10 spent you have bought a year of healthy life for someone. In the case of childhood basic immunizations, DCP2 estimates that a year of healthy life could be bought in South Asia for $8, in sub-Saharan Africa for $1–5. Neal Halsey, Bloomberg School professor of international health, was co-author of the DCP2 chapter on vaccine-preventable diseases. He notes that in 2001 the estimated pertussis deaths averted by vaccines totaled more than 1 million worldwide, for all ages; the comparable figure for measles was 1.2 million deaths averted.

A nd

while you ’re keeping an eye on kids , monitor them for prevention or treatment of three killers: pneumonia , diarrhea , and malaria . Robert Black, Bloomberg professor of inter-

national health, chaired a WHO group that determined pneumonia accounts for 19 percent of deaths among children age 5 and younger, killing an estimated 2 million. Diarrhea kills another 17 percent, and in developing countries ranks in the top five among diseases from which children die. DCPP estimates that 1 million kids die from malaria each year. Malaria and pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, if someone with minimal training is on hand to spot the diseases early and administer treatment. The Global Health Council estimates that the cost per child of antibiotic treatment for pneumonia comes to about 30 cents. Diarrhea can be treated by oral rehydration therapy, using special packets of sugar and salts, at an assumed cost per child (according to DCPP) of 70 cents.


a way to get essential micronutrients into mothers and newborns. Data published by

DCPP researchers in The Lancet in 2006 showed that undernutrition and nutrient deficiencies account for about a third of the disease burden in low- and middleincome countries. Analysis by Robert Black has found that 19 percent of all child deaths could be attributed to deficiencies in just four substances: vitamin A, zinc, iron, and iodine. Insufficient intake of these micronutrients has been linked to blindness, severe infection, poor growth, mental retardation, decreased work capac-

ity in adulthood, and childhood death. In the developed world, many foods, including milk and infant formula, are fortified with all these nutrients, and women who breastfeed supply their babies with what they need. But fortified foods often are unavailable in the developing world, and many mothers do not breastfeed long term; even when they do, available weaning foods, such as rice, are low in essential nutrients. Alfred Sommer, professor of epidemiology and the former dean of the Bloomberg School, who in the 1980s (along with Bloomberg professor Keith West) discovered the dramatic benefits of giving vitamin A to kids age 6 months to 5 years, now believes the evidence is conclusive for administering the vitamin to newborns within the first 48 hours. Says Joanne Katz, Bloomberg School professor of international health, “You get a lot of early deaths of kids who never get vitamin A because they

hospital or clinic but in a rural home or field. But DCPP determined that simple, low-tech interventions could avert 40 percent of those early deaths: Keep newborns warm and clean; breastfeed early and exclusively; and protect against infection by using a sterile blade to cut the umbilical cord and dabbing the stump with chlorhexidine. Bloomberg School researchers advocate wide distribution of simple birthing kits that contain a sterile ground sheet, sterile blade and string for cutting and tying off the umbilical cord, and a bar of soap. (Sommer and Katz would add vitamin A.) The central difficulty, says Katz, is finding expectant mothers in isolated rural areas so you can get the kits into their hands about a month before their due dates. Plus the kits must be used properly. For example, Katz studied their application in Nepal. “[Mothers and birth attendants] used them, pretty much,” she

The Global Health Council estimates that the cost per child of antibiotic treatment for pneumonia comes to 30 cents. Diarrhea can be treated by oral rehydration therapy at an assumed cost per child of 70 cents. don’t make it to 6 months of age.” Sommer says three separate studies done by his research group in Indonesia, India, and Nepal have shown a dramatic decrease in infant mortality, including one led by Bloomberg School professor James Tielsch that managed to get vitamin A to 80 percent of newborns in an area of southern India (more than 13,000 babies) with a resultant 22 percent reduction in mortality. Other studies have not produced the same results, but Sommer argues that they are not relevant because the study subjects were not sufficiently deficient in vitamin A to begin with. He anticipates that Nepal and Bangladesh will soon begin programs for administering the vitamin to newborns, and is confident additional studies will bear out what he and his colleagues have found so far.


up and swaddle those newborns. In a

DCPP document titled “Using Evidence About ‘Best Buys’ to Advance Global Health,” there is a striking statement: “The problem of newborn deaths has been on policymakers’ back burner for decades, in spite of the fact that 38 percent of all deaths of children under age 5 occur in the first month of life.” That back-burner status, the authors explain, was partly because health officials assumed that intervention would require high technology which they could neither afford nor get to newborns who, in poor nations, frequently enter the world not in a

says. “But what we found out is that the birth attendants used the soap to wash their hands after they’d delivered the infant, not before, which made sense to them—their hands were messy. But what you really want is for them to use the soap before they deliver the infant.”

Get people to stop smoking—or never start— by raising tobacco taxes. More than 1.1 billion people in the world smoke, and 83 percent of them are in developing nations. Cigarette smoking is especially prevalent in Asia. One method for reducing tobacco use is nicotine replacement therapy, but that’s expensive, by DCP2 estimates $55 to $751 per DALY averted, depending on the country. Much cheaper is a simple alternative measure: raising taxes on tobacco products by 33 percent. That, DCPP maintains, costs only $5 to $42 per DALY averted. (The costs result from decreased tax revenue as smoking rates decline and cigarette sales drop.) Sommer observes that increased taxes are especially efficient at discouraging teenagers from taking up smoking. A nicotine-addicted adult will find the additional dollar or two needed to buy cigarettes. But adolescents often can’t do that. Local laws banning smoking in public buildings, workplaces, and restaurants also work, as New York has demonstrated. (Sommer notes with approval but a bit of disbelief that Ireland has banned smoking in pubs, and even the French have made a stab at curbing Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 39

smoking in cafes.) Complicating the situation is that some countries with large populations of smokers, like China and Japan, stand to lose a great deal of money in taxes and trade if millions of their citizens cease smoking. Says Sommer, “You have the minister of health [in these countries] wanting to be vigorous in trying to reduce the dramatic uptake of tobacco. But the minister of health has no money or power. The minister of trade, on the other hand, has all the money and all the power, and knows his country makes a fortune off of tobacco.” Some governments actually own stakes in tobacco companies; for example, about 50 percent of Japan Tobacco Inc., which controls 70 percent of that country’s market for cigarettes, is owned by the Japanese Finance Ministry.


the brakes on the world’s biggest pandemic: HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS remains a huge public

health menace, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, and former Soviet republics like Kazakhstan. Measures to slow the spread of the disease include campaigns to encourage use of condoms, especially among at-risk populations, and expanded testing so that more people know their HIV status. David Holtgrave, chairman of the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health, Behavior, and

behavioral interventions, “three major trials reported out in the last two years, all of which have shown no effect.” Celentano says there have been two modest successes. The first is male circumcision. Three large trials have produced strong evidence that circumcision can prevent HIV acquisition. The other success has been in preventing mother-to-child transmission. Researchers have used two drugs, AZT and Nevirapine, to cut the transmission from HIV-positive mothers to their newborns from 25 percent of live births to about 2 percent. Celentano suspects that in the case of HIV/AIDS interventions, randomized clinical trials may not produce meaningful data. He points out that the people in control groups end up getting counseling and health care, too, and that may be enough to improve their health to the point that they are no longer valid as members of control groups. He wonders if, as a result, some interventions have worked better than the trials would indicate. Nevertheless, he points out that HIV/ AIDS is particularly tough to deal with as a public health issue. “The major problem with most of the prevention programs we’ve seen is that you’re asking people to do something [like use a condom] all the time,” he says. “Virtually none of us can do something all the time.

Just because there are trillions of dollars circulating in the global economy does not mean the Central African Republic or rural India is going to get sufficient sums to vaccinate their children. Society, notes that even in the United States, which has a sophisticated health information system, only 79 percent of people who are HIV-positive know it. Holtgrave cites data that indicate the effectiveness of efforts in the United States to halt the transmission of HIV—including a 2006 transmission rate of under 5.0, which means that more than 95 percent of HIV-positive people in the States are not transmitting the virus. He also notes that the United States has nearly eliminated perinatal infection, made its blood supply safe, and reduced transmission among injection-drug users. But globally, the search for effective HIV prevention has been less encouraging. David Celentano, professor of epidemiology, is skeptical of the effectiveness of most interventions, despite DCPP’s enthusiasm. He runs down a list of interventions that randomized clinical trials indicate are not doing the job: HIV prophylactic vaccines, “not working”; female-controlled microbicides that do not require male participation, “so far, nothing’s working”; prophylaxis by female diaphragm, “a complete failure”; 40 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

How many times a week do you not floss? How many women taking oral contraceptives realize, ‘I forgot to take my pill.’ As humans, we constantly fail.”

Repel malaria-carrying mosquitoes with bed nets. In a typical year, about 1 million children die of malaria-related anemia, brain damage, and other complications. When the Kenyan government six years ago initiated a campaign that increased tenfold the number of children sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets, mortality from malaria among those children was 44 percent lower than among unprotected children. The Global Health Council estimates the cost at about five bucks per kid, though Matthew Lynch of the Bloomberg School’s Center for Communication Programs pegs the cost, after the expense of transport, campaigns to support effective use, and distribution, at more like $10. Treated nets work but can be problematic. They’re easily torn, which allows mosquitoes to get inside, and the insecticide’s effectiveness wears off in a few years,

so the nets have to be replaced regularly. Sustained distribution of fresh nets is a constant challenge, and with malaria, if you back off, the disease comes right back. “The classic example is Sri Lanka,” Lynch says. “In the 1930s, more than 20,000 people died in an epidemic. The Sri Lankan government did this huge indoor residual spray campaign [using DDT] and got the deaths down to 18 in 1963. But within a year or two, the government said, ‘Why are we spending all this money on a disease that kills only 18 people?’ and stopped. By 1969, there were 520,000 malaria cases and 220 people died. We’ve seen this cycle before.” For now, at least, Lynch, who is project director for a USAID-funded intervention in Africa called NetWorks, can point to major successes. “In Zanzibar we’ve got a crop of kids who are 4 years old and have never had malaria,” he says. “It’s been a long time since that’s been true.”


drivers in developing countries to slow down. Worldwide, the single leading cause of serious

injuries is traffic accidents. Especially on the roads and highways of developing nations, vehicular crashes have become a major public health issue. “I think the problem is huge,” says Adnan Hyder, director of the Bloomberg School’s International Injury Research Unit in the Department of International Health. “There are 1.2 million people who die annually from this. And that is only the deaths. If you count morbidity or visits to the emergency room, that’s estimated at 20 million to 50 million around the world. Many of these deaths are occurring in the poorest countries in the world.” Michael Bloomberg, Engr ’63, mayor of New York and former chairman of the Johns Hopkins board of trustees, has committed $125 million to creation of the Global Road Safety Program in 10 countries; Hyder directs Hopkins’ participation in the six-partner consortium. Many factors contribute to the toll. Roads in the developing world often are clogged with pedestrians, bicyclists, people riding mopeds and oxcarts, livestock. Many cars are not equipped with seat belts or child restraints, and many riders on motorcycles or mopeds do not wear helmets. Roads lack safety features like breakdown lanes, and often fall into disrepair. But the biggest problems, says Hyder, are alcohol and speed, especially the latter. Both endure as hazards because enforcement of traffic laws is spotty or virtually nonexistent. Police often do not have cars, or breathalyzers. They are poorly paid and cannot count on backing from the rest of the legal system, so they have little incentive to enforce the laws. If there’s no penalty for doing so, Hyder says, people will drive too fast. What sort of interventions work? Speed bumps, for one. They are not expensive—less than $10 per DALY

averted—and they do not require an upgrading of the law enforcement system. Hyder also supports more random testing for alcohol, and enforcement to get the riders of two-wheeled vehicles to wear helmets.


constant refrain in public health discussions is “there just isn’t money for all that needs to be done.” Actually, if you think of the money in evidence around the world, there is enough for all of these interventions, and more. Even in the midst of global recession, the world possesses immense wealth. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis says it would require $15 billion a year to effectively fight those three diseases worldwide. Not an inconsiderable amount of money, and more than the Global Fund has at its disposal. But a United States Department of Agriculture study estimated that in 2005 Americans spent $88.8 billion on just tobacco products. The National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys recently built a new stadium for $1.2 billion, and a new facility for the New York Giants and Jets will probably cost $1.6 billion. The National Priorities Project, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that since 2001 the United States has spent nearly $1 trillion on fighting wars. Of course, just because there are trillions of dollars circulating in the global economy does not mean the Central African Republic or rural India is going to get sufficient sums to vaccinate their children. That requires the political will to channel more resources to improving global public health, and even if available funds were tripled, public health professionals would face immense difficulties. Almost all of the interventions discussed here require some level of public health infrastructure to deliver them, and too many countries have no meaningful civil infrastructure at all. Packard, the Hopkins professor of the history of medicine, for decades has studied tropical diseases and the political economy of health. “You only really solve these problems when people are able to protect themselves and governments are able to provide their own support and not depend on international aid,” he says. That entails mobilizing resources for the interventions now in hand, but also investing in broad-based development to help nations like Zambia eventually provide for their own health needs; that’s how to create longterm sustained improvements. “At what point do you keep rolling these [interventions] out, and at what point do you say we need to do something more fundamental?” That said, Packard understands the immense effort put forth by the aid and public health communities. “You do something because you can do it. People are dying, and you can’t allow that to happen.” Dale Keiger is associate editor of Johns Hopkins Magazine. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 41

42 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010


This Be on the


On the eve of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, three School of Education professors argue that to truly educate kids, schools need to teach beyond the test.


B y R i c h Sh e a

even thousand teens dropped out today.” That was the bomb that U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter dropped in the middle of a lengthy appraisal of No Child Left Behind last December. She, along with five other panelists, had been invited by the Johns Hopkins School of Education to discuss, before an audience of more than 300 people, the future of NCLB, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002 and is up for reauthorization this year. As complex and controversial as the law is, Kanter’s citation of that one statistic—the equivalent of a 27 percent dropout rate nationwide— helped clarify just how high the stakes are in the discussion. No one on the panel, which included three SOE professors, blamed NCLB specifically for all of those dropouts. But all agreed the law has done little to prevent them. What’s more, the speakers concluded, NCLB’s laserlike focus on reading and math standards actually hinders schools from adequately covering other subjects—science, social studies, the arts—that help prepare high school graduates for college and beyond. One problem, said Robert Slavin, a panelist and director of SOE’s Center for Research and Reform in Education, is that NCLB is too punitive. Praised for holding public schools accountable by demanding that all students pass standardized tests, the law is also derided for unfairly punishing needy schools and forcing educators to “teach to the test”— thus leaving no room for innovation. Compare education to the medical field, Slavin said: “We wouldn’t say, ‘Let’s close down all the research labs at Johns Hopkins and, Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 43

instead, let’s beat up on the doctors who aren’t getting good results. Nobody would think of such a thing. What [the medical field does] is have a balance and say, ‘Let’s constantly be getting better and better and learning how to solve problems that we couldn’t solve before.’” Mariale Hardiman, SOE’s interim dean and another panelist, proposed something she deemed “a little radical”: redefine the concept of “school.” Traditionally, it includes principals, teachers, and students—easy targets when critiquing a school’s performance. But Hardiman suggested adding parents and the surrounding community to the mix. “Think about this for a minute,” she said. “If we held entire communities— from businesses to institutions—accountable, would that accelerate the pace of school reform?” Johns Hopkins Magazine followed up with the three SOE panelists—Slavin, Hardiman, and James McPartland—who in subsequent interviews shared their visions for what real school reform would look like.

Adequate Yearly Progress. Schools that fail to make AYP three years in a row are subject to remediation options, including state takeover. “I’ve never heard any principal or teacher say that they should not be held accountable, or don’t want to know where kids are in reading and math,” says Hardiman, chair of SOE’s Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education. She spent 13 of her 34 years in Baltimore public schools as principal of the highly acclaimed Roland Park Elementary/Middle

olds worldwide every three years, measuring “literacy”—which includes critical-thinking and strategic skills— in reading, math, and science. In 2006, when the test’s focus was science, U.S. students scored just below the overall average, which put them behind 22 of the 56 participating countries. If such tests serve as a barometer for how American students will eventually perform in the global marketplace, then NCLB—with its focus on math and reading standards—is a “mismatch,” says Hardiman.

“We have to look broader than school failure,” says Mariale Hardiman, “because it’s really the community’s—it’s really our society’s—failure that we have such disparities in how children are achieving and learning.”


o Child Left Behind is the latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, which was signed into law 45 years ago by President Lyndon Johnson and has been reauthorized every several years since. For the first time, ESEA provided federal funding to the country’s neediest schools with the intent of leveling the educational playing field. But not until the enactment of NCLB was that funding linked to accountability. The law demands that, in grades 3 through 8 and at least once in grades 10 to 12, a majority of each school’s students score “proficient” or above on standardized math and reading tests. A science assessment must also be administered at least once in the elementary, middle, and high school grades. Each year, the percentage of students who pass the tests must increase, so that a school can make 44 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

School. What many educators find unacceptable, she adds, is “the highstakes accountability part.” By “high stakes,” she means that schools dedicate almost three-quarters of their year to preparing students for multiplechoice, or “bubble,” tests that measure mastery of a narrow set of skills. After eight years, NCLB’s gains have been questionable, says Slavin. Tens of thousands of schools still fall short of making AYP each year, and varying “pass” rates among the states—which are free to create their own standards and tests—often produce dubious results. Texas, for example, reported in 2008 that 95 percent of its eighth-graders had passed its most recent reading test. Yet the latest results for the NAEP, or National Assessment of Educational Progress, exams—administered every other year to select schools nationwide—show that only 28 percent of Texas’ eighthgraders are reading-proficient. International comparisons do not make anyone feel better. The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, is administered to 15-year-

The problem with NCLB is that “it seems to focus, more than anything else, on the idea that teachers and school principals aren’t doing their jobs well enough,” she explains. But schools, including those in the low-income areas targeted for federal funding, are part of a community that includes parents, businesses, the local residents and government, and, in some cases, nearby universities. Because children are products of their upbringing and environment, Hardiman says these aspects of their lives should be included in the language used to define schools. “We have to look broader than school failure,” Hardiman says, “because it’s really the community’s—it’s really our society’s—failure that we have such disparities in how children are achieving and learning.” The resources at a child’s disposal should also be considered. Before entering kindergarten, it’s likely that a child in a middle- or upper-middleclass neighborhood will attend a pre-K program that offers the kinds of instruction and stimulation that recent brain

research has shown to be integral to early-childhood development. The same, Hardiman says, goes for being a child in a house where at least one parent is well-educated. Most kids from low-income neighborhoods don’t have these advantages when starting elementary school. And during the school-age years, they suffer from what’s known as the “summer slide,” the absence of intellectual stimulation when they’re not attending classes. While better-off students have opportunities to keep up with their studies—via social, travel, and work opportunities—most lowincome kids don’t, making it harder to catch up when school resumes. “So by the time they get to high school, there’s a huge gap,” explains Hardiman. Ideally, a school “community” would provide students with the resources they need and help determine which skills should be mastered for entry into college and the work force. As an example of the latter, Hardiman points to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an advocacy organization made up of businesses, education leaders, and policymakers nationwide. The Partnership has put together a K–12 “framework” that includes skills in “learning and innovation,” “life and career,” and “information, media, and technology.” It also suggests core subjects, including foreign languages, arts, economics, science, geography, and civics. Hardiman, who is not a member of the Partnership, doesn’t suggest that all of these subjects be tested, only that schools show evidence of an expanded core curriculum. With that in mind, she would eliminate the “high-stakes” impact of standardized tests by broadening the scope of each school’s annual report card, which currently focuses on math and reading scores. Among other measures, she would include student attendance; results of surveys on how teachers, students, and parents feel about the school; evidence of student participation in multiple subjects; and statistics on teachers’ performance based on classroom observations.


ames McPartland, director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins who also participated in the NCLB panel, would go a step further, including graduation rates in high school report cards as a way to address the dropout crisis. He says that the biggest reason students, especially those in low-income schools, drop out is that they’re frustrated by seldom, if ever, meeting standards. Part of the problem, he adds, is that many schools “game the system,” or focus their energies on helping only the “bubble students,” those scoring just below proficient, to increase their standardized test scores—so as to meet minimum AYP requirements. Such schools, he says, “gain in terms of test averages if the lower-achieving kids aren’t there. If they’re absent, if they’re left back, if they drop out—that, in a way, helps the district look better on the average. But of course that’s self-defeating; the kids who need the education most are disregarded.” Setting a specific graduation-rate standard would hold entire districts—including those schools preparing students for high school—accountable. As a way to boost graduation rates, McPartland wouldn’t let low-achieving students off the hook. “We want to keep the standards high,” he says, “but we want to give those students extra time and extra help so they can live up to the expectations.” Rather than stick with what he considers simplistic proficiency ratings—“basic,” “proficient,” and “advanced,” for example—he would establish as many as 10 ratings, or “cut points,” without labeling them. They’d start at “level 1,” then go to “level 2,” and so on. That way, the stakes for each test wouldn’t be so high, and teachers could concentrate on tailoring instruction to individual students. “We want to encourage schools serving the poorest kids to also teach to their minds, to help them grow as thinkers,” McPartland says. “Right now, we’re too narrow in our cut points.” NCLB is narrow in so many ways, argues Slavin, that it stifles innovation. Just as the medical field invests heavily in curing diseases and improving

health care, ESEA should offer incentives using federal-level resources that already exist. Citing one subject as an example, he asks, “What if we had, coming from the [U.S.] Department of Education and the National Science Foundation, dynamite science programs known to be effective and evaluated on the most stringent designs to establish their effectiveness? We could say to schools, ‘If you want to use one of these, we’ve got the funds available for you to do so—to pay for materials, professional development, and so on.’” The same, he says, could be done for other subjects as well. As it turns out, President Barack Obama’s administration is already moving in this direction. As part of its stimulus package, roughly $4 billion is dedicated to the Race to the Top Fund, which rewards states showing proof that, among other things, they’re working to improve teacher quality and develop college- and workplace-appropriate standards. While the president is expected to demand the same in a reauthorized ESEA, the three SOE professors concur that, during the design process, students themselves need to be taken into consideration. “We should be able to ask those putting the bill together, ‘So, where did your kids go to school? And what did you like about that school? What made you send them there?’” says Hardiman. Then, once a list has been compiled, those favorable practices should be included in the bill, so that they are “happening everywhere,” she adds. The long-term result of any education law, Slavin believes, should be schools focused not only on tests but on effective teaching practices that make classrooms engaging for students and teachers alike. He adds: “If the thing that you’re trying to work toward is not a situation in which kids are actively engaged and highly motivated, seeing school as something valuable to them, then the system cannot move forward.” Rich Shea, a former executive editor of Teacher Magazine, is a writer who lives with his family in Columbia, Maryland. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 45

46 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010


Lions’ Share

More than a century after a pair of man-eaters terrorized workers in colonial East Africa, a Johns Hopkins alumnus uses stable isotope analysis to solve a mystery: What, exactly, did those lions eat?

B y S usan F rith I llustration


S tephanie D alton C owan


savo, Colonial East Africa, 1898. It was another long night for Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson, a British civil engineer. Clutching his rifle, he crouched inside a deserted railwaycamp hospital, waiting for the lions to return. A pair of them had been prowling around the camp together, killing the workers who were building a railroad through the region. The night before, one lion had burst through the old hospital tent, injuring two patients and dragging another to his death. Patterson ordered his workers to build a new infirmary, which they surrounded with a thick thorn-bush fence called a boma. He then camped at

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 47

the old place, hoping to bag a lion. Shrieks from the new hospital broke his vigil. He later wrote, “Our dreaded foes had once more eluded me.” During the night, one lion “managed to get its head in below the canvas, seized [a worker] by the foot and pulled him out. In desperation the unfortunate watercarrier clutched hold of a heavy box in a vain attempt to prevent himself being carried off, and dragged it with him until he was forced to let go. . . . [The lion] sprang at his throat and after a few vicious shakes the poor bhisti’s agonized cries were silenced forever. The brute then took him in his mouth, and, like a huge cat with a mouse, ran up and down the boma, looking for a weak spot to break through.” Patterson eventually slew both lions, but not before they had killed as many as 135 people over a nine-month period, according to his account. The railway company would acknowledge only 28 deaths. Flash forward a century to a movie theater near Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus. Nathaniel J. Dominy, A&S ’98, then a junior anthropology and English major, was on a date, watching a couple of huge cats spring across the screen. Val Kilmer played Colonel Patterson and Michael Douglas played a fictitious big-game hunter who took on the notorious Tsavo lions in The Ghost and the Darkness, directed by Stephen Hopkins. For his role, Kilmer won a Razzie Award for worst supporting actor, and the film was every bit as factual as it was well acted, though it did win an Oscar for sound effects editing. “It was perhaps not the best choice for a date movie,” Dominy admits. But the story never left his memory. Now an associate professor of anthropology at University of California, Santa Cruz, Dominy studies the ecology and evolution of the human diet. In 2007, he received a prestigious David & Lucile Packard Foundation grant totaling $825,000 over five years (and in 2009 was named one of Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10” scientists under 40) for his research. Last year, he veered a bit from his usual course of inquiry to collaborate with a UCSC doctoral candidate, Justin D. Yeakel, on a study of the Tsavo lions. The lions’ taxidermied remains still exist, and Dominy and Yeakel used a technique called stable isotope analysis to determine what they’d actually eaten more than a century ago. In the process, they rewrote a bit of history.


he official name of the African construction project was the Uganda Railway—hundreds of miles of track that would link the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, in what is modern-day Kenya, to Kampala, Uganda. Detractors had a more colorful name for it—the “Lunatic Express.” In the late 19th century, Europe was rushing to carve up the African continent. Germany had just annexed Tanganyika as German East Africa, and Britain wanted to prevent a similar takeover of Uganda. Building a railroad was one way to secure a stake in East Africa and its plentiful riches—ivory, tea, and salt, along with convertible souls for Christian missionaries. A railway would also make it possible to move goods into and out of the region without using slave labor, which Britain had outlawed earlier in the century. Queen Victoria, who supported Christian missionary work, was on board with the project. Abolitionists supported it, too. Many members of Parliament, however, balked at the price tag of 3 million pounds sterling. By its completion, the railway would prove even more costly— in pounds and in human lives. John Henry Patterson arrived in 1898 to oversee construction of a rail bridge over Kenya’s Tsavo River. Punjabi Indians had been brought over to lay tracks, and native Taita people—agropastoralists who were suffering the effects of a drought on their corn crops and disease on their livestock—had been hired as porters. Patterson soon faced an extraordinary problem: His workers were getting eaten. In 1925, he wrote a pamphlet titled “The ManEating Lions of Tsavo”: “When I landed at Mombasa, I fully expected to encounter many trials and hardships while engaged in building the railway through an inhospitable and savage territory. I anticipated engineering difficulties, perils from sunstroke and fevers, a possible scarcity of food and water—but never for a moment did I realize that the African wilderness held in its mysterious recesses two prowling demons who looked upon myself and my workmen as a sort of manna sent down from Heaven for their special delectation.” To ward them off, Patterson and his men built thick thorn bomas, burned fires, and rattled oil tins. The lions kept coming back. One night they took their supper close to Patterson’s tent. “I could plainly hear them crunching the bones,” he wrote, “and the sound of their dreadful purring filled the air and rang in my ears for days afterwards.” Hundreds of workers eventually fled. Those who

“I could plainly hear them crunching the bones, and the sound of their dreadful purring filled the air and rang in my ears.”

48 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

stayed behind slept on top of water tanks and in treetops, according to Patterson. During one lion attack, the workers clambered up a tree in such great numbers that it fell over. “The lions took on sort of a mythical status to the point that people thought they were invincible,” Dominy says. After nine months of terror, Patterson finally shot and killed one of the pair. “I examined my trophy and found that it was indeed one to be proud of,” he wrote. “His length from tip of nose to tip of tail was 9 feet 8 inches; he stood 3 feet, 9 inches high, and it took eight men to carry him back to camp.” Three weeks later, Patterson killed its companion, setting off “wild rejoicings” in the camp and allowing the rail project to resume. He made the lions’ hides into trophy rugs for his flat in England. Patterson went on to fight in the Boer War and the First World War and write a 1907 bestselling book, The Man-Eaters of Tsavo. By 1924, however, he was broke and had to sell the rugs for $5,000 apiece to Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. Today the lions’ skins and heads are mounted over wire forms and displayed in the museum’s extensive mammals collection.


ominy’s interest in the evolution of the human diet dates back to his time at Johns Hopkins, which he entered as an English major. After taking a biological anthropology class with Mark Teaford, a professor of functional anatomy and evolution at the School of Medicine, and doing fieldwork on howler monkeys in Costa Rica, he created a double major for himself. After graduating from Hopkins, earning his PhD at University of Hong Kong, and landing a postdoc at the University of Chicago, Dominy joined the faculty at Cal Santa Cruz. The university has a stable isotope laboratory, and Dominy knew that stable isotope analysis can be used to reconstruct the diets of living creatures from analyzing their teeth and bones. What might the technique reveal about the Tsavo lions? Isotopes are atoms of the same element but with different masses because they have different numbers of

Courtesy of The Field Museum, Chicago, IL.

Patterson and his first kill, a lion measuring 9 feet, 8 inches from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.

neutrons. A carbon atom always has six protons in its nucleus, but carbon-12 has six neutrons, while the isotope carbon-13 has seven. These isotopes exist in various foods in different ratios, creating a sort of signature. For example, plants like corn have a higher ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12, while legumes contain more carbon-12 than carbon-13. In a similar fashion, various plants have identifying ratios of nitrogen-14 to nitrogen-15. Critical to scientific analysis is that these ratios are passed up the food chain. When a buffalo eats grass, for example, and then a lion eats the buffalo, the isotopes from the grass become part of the lion’s tissues. If Dominy could obtain samples of the Tsavo lions, he and his research collaborators could remove contaminating residues through a series of chemical baths, then combust the samples in a mass spectrometer. This would produce a gas that they would then propel down a tube. The tube has a sharp bend, and when the gas encountered this bend, its constituent atoms would separate by mass, with the heavier isotopes hitting the detector of the curved tube first. By measuring the impacts, the scientists could estimate the mass of each atom in the sample, which would reveal the isotope signatures. But Dominy’s team would need samples of the Field Museum’s lions, and as Dominy says, “museum curators hate to destroy things.” During his postdoctoral fellowship at the Field, he forged relationships with museum staff that helped convince them to provide a few hairs, about 3 centimeters long, from each lion’s tail tuft. Isotope analysis of the hair samples would indicate what the lions had Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 49

Dominy first looked to Cambridge, where Leakey had been a student during his early excavations. The Taita skulls weren’t at the university’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, nor were they listed among the thousands of skeletal remains at its Duckworth Laboratory. Knowing that Leakey had later experienced a falling-out with Cambridge, Dominy wondered if the scientist could have given the skulls to another Fractured teeth and major abscesses institution. E-mails to other Britmay have contributed to this lion’s ish museums turned up nothing. preference for soft human flesh. air-protein analysis of the “I thought they were more or less two man-eaters suggested lost to history,” he says. But a curator they were quite different from one another in what at the Duckworth Laboratory eventually sent him a list they ate at the end of their lives. “We didn’t know what to of every item in its vast collection. On the list was matemake of it,” Dominy says. So they went back to the Field rial indexed as “Teita.” Dominy had found the Leakey Museum and asked for bone samples. Bone grows more skulls. Referring to Leakey’s field notes, he requested slowly than hair and thus reveals more about an animal’s skull samples from Cave E, where the anthropologist long-term diet. In the case of the lions, which were 7 to 8 had found specimens that appeared to date back to the years old at the time of their deaths, bone samples would 1890s. The lab eventually agreed to provide fragments reveal their typical eating habits over their lifetimes. from 12 skulls, and Dominy’s team ran them through the The Field staff came through again. “In this case the isotope analysis. scientific potential and the minimal amount of damage Now it was time to put together the puzzle. By applyjustified the procedure,” Dominy says. MacArthur Curator ing what is called an isotopic mixing model, scientists can of Mammals (and study co-author) Bruce Patterson (no estimate the probability of specific food contributing to relation to the hunter John Henry) drilled out a pea-sized an animal’s diet. “Isotopes mix together to produce a dispiece of bone from each skull. Now Dominy’s team would tinctive signature in the same way that pigments of paint have a better idea of the lions’ diets during the time leading can mix to produce a unique color,” Dominy explains. up to their predation on humans (from the bone samples) “Using stable isotopes to estimate the dietary behavior of compared to their diets during their last few months (from an animal is like going to Home Depot to find the perfect the hair samples). They also had isotopic signatures from combination of paints to match a swatch of fabric.” the diets of the five modern Tsavo lions that had never In their “color” matching, Dominy’s team plotted isoeaten people, and from the sort of herbivores that lions topic ratios from all the human and animal samples on normally prey on. What they did not have were samples a graph, with the X-axis representing carbon values and of the Taita who worked on the railroad. For that, Dominy the Y-axis representing nitrogen values. The Taita ate a hoped to rely on what he calls “a fluke of history.” combination of foods—corn, a pea-like porridge called In 1929, anthropologist Louis Leakey and his first wife, mbaazi, and the milk and blood of goats—that placed Frida, were honeymooning in Kenya when a missionary them on a distinctive spot on the graph. Dominy had alerted him to a cave full of skulls. The skulls belonged to what he needed to estimate how much of the lions’ diet ancestors of the local Taita population. According to their had been human. What he found was the diets of the two custom, the Taita buried their dead vertically, in a squatpredators had diverged in their last months. ting position, with their heads remaining above ground. The second lion to be shot by Patterson appears After scavenging animals picked the skulls clean, the to have shifted from the traditional lion’s prey of grassfamilies of the dead would put the skulls in rock-shelter grazing animals, such as zebras and wildebeest, toward shrines, where they could be consulted about anything leaf-munching browsers, such as gazelles, at the end of from village disputes to failing crops. After talking with its life. In contrast, the first lion shot appears to have local leaders to find out which remains were no longer eaten browsers for most of its life, until it shifted its diet “in use,” Leakey took 138 skulls back to England. Where toward the Taita. During its final three months, humans were they now? comprised approximately 30 percent of that lion’s diet,


50 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

Courtesy of The Field Museum, Chicago, IL.

eaten over the last three months of their lives. “The tissues of your body are like chemical mirrors—they incorporate or reflect the chemicals in food and water that you ingest for the purpose of nourishing and maintaining your tissues,” Dominy explains. For comparative purposes, Dominy’s co-authors also obtained skin and muscle tissue from five modern Tsavo lions, as well as bone samples from 25 Tsavo herbivores, grazers and browsers that had died between 1970 and 2000.

compared to just 13 percent for the other lion. “The lions would attack the camp simultaneously, but one would go after humans and the other would focus on the goats and donkeys,” Dominy says. “They formed a coalition, but they didn’t share.” To translate those percentages to numbers of people eaten, the scientists factored in the average dietary requirements of the Tsavo lions (6 kilograms of food per day) and the amount of human tissues consumed in a typical lion attack on a 150-pound man (25 percent, or 20 kg.). They then extrapolated each lion’s intake over a nine-month period. Dominy and his team published their findings in November 2009 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They estimate that the lions could have eaten as few as four or as many as 72 people, but they believe the most likely toll was 35—slightly more than acknowledged by the railway company, but far fewer than John Henry Patterson had claimed. Dominy thinks that in 1898, a sequence of events helped turn the two lions into man-eaters. First, ivory hunters had killed off most of the region’s elephants, changing the landscape. “We call elephants ecosystem engineers because they push over trees to eat their leaves,” stimulating the growth of grassy savannas, Dominy explains. “When elephants are exterminated, animals that eat grass do poorly,” and that’s what lions typically hunt. Drought and disease had further reduced the population of potential prey. Into this situation came a large population of unfortunate railroad workers. The lion that ate the most people was the one with the most significant dental problems; broken teeth and major abscesses on its jaw likely contributed to its dependency on softer, human prey. “I think it was a unique set of circumstances that drove the Tsavo lions,” Dominy says.


Dan Bolnick, an associate professor in the integrative biology section at the University of Texas at Austin and a leading expert in the field. “On the one hand, [Dominy’s research] shows one example of this pattern,” Bolnick says. But what makes it so intriguing, he adds, is that it connects to such a “fascinating human-interest story.” Far from being “noise in the data set,” idiosyncratic feeding behaviors can be “a mechanism for new species to emerge,” Dominy adds. “Traditionally we think new species evolve when animals are isolated from each other. But individual dietary specialization lays a foundation for evolution to occur in sympatry, when animals live together.” Dominy’s findings also prompt questions about the evolutionary basis of cooperation. Lions are among the few social carnivores, but when they hunt together, they typically share the proceeds, he says. Cooperation itself can be risky because the more animals that are involved in a hunt, the more likely they are to be noticed by potential prey. “What our research shows is that cooperation isn’t simply related to food sharing,” he says. “There must be benefits to cooperation that transcend the benefits of sharing foods. As an ecologist I could reduce it to something like territorial defense. But as an anthropologist, I think maybe they just liked each other. Even if they were not sharing food, it was better to be together than not to be. We can’t be sure, but it’s tempting to say [the Tsavo lions] were related. A band of brothers, if you like.” Because the lions in Tsavo are very closely related to each other, Dominy doesn’t know if the relationship of this pair can ever be determined from the DNA of the specimens. But no one knew a few years ago that so much information could be gleaned from two tufts of hair and a couple of pieces of bone. In 2004, Bruce Patterson of the Field Museum wrote his own book, The Lions of Tsavo: Exploring the Legacy of Africa’s Notorious Man-Eaters. In it he wrote that “an accurate tally of the lions’ depredations is impossible because detailed records were not kept.” Dominy’s isotope analysis has now largely resolved that question, Patterson says. “It’s amazing that something as incomplete as a trophy rug . . . can tell such a remarkably detailed story a century after an animal’s death.”

“Even if they were not sharing food, it was better to be together than not to be. It’s tempting to say the Tsavo lions were related.”

he nature of the apparent cooperation between the lions contributes to a growing field of ecology known as individual dietary specialization. Dominy says, “No one has ever shown that [members of] a cooperative carnivore species would simultaneously cooperate but eat different things.” Ecologists have known about individual dietary specialization for a few decades, but the field has gained momentum in recent years as dozens of new examples have been identified. “Individuals who to us look pretty much identical as a species nevertheless show pretty different personalities when going about the daily routine of feeding,” explains

Freelancer Susan Frith wrote about Sara Baartman, the “Hottentot Venus,” in June. She lives in Orlando, Florida. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 51


News & Notes from our graduates and friends greetings on behalf of all graduates (pictured here).This special issue celebrates the spirit of volunteerism within the Johns Hopkins community, taking a look at the many ways alumni are helping improve the lives of others, both on campus and off. Be sure to check out our guide to volunteer opportunities on page 58 and see how you can step up!

Will Kirk

We want you! As president of the Alumni Association, Gerry Peterson, Nurs ’64, is one of our top volunteers, building stronger connections between graduates and her alma mater. Among her many duties is to represent alumni in an official capacity, such as at Ron Daniels’ presidential installation in September, when she donned formal academic regalia to bring

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 53


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

Time, Talent, and Treasure A note from the editors: The spirit of service is at the heart of the Johns Hopkins community, established by our founding president in his inaugural address. In 1876, Daniel Coit Gilman spoke of preparing students for “the service of society”—now a tangible notion seen in work being done every day by graduates around the world. As we planned this section, colleagues shared countless stories of alumni who are pursuing this kind of work off hours, fueled by passion and hope. We would be remiss not to say that selecting just a few was challenging, as we faced an embarrassment of riches sifting through scores of potential story ideas. (We made space for six profiles instead of the usual four, only a slight consolation to us.) Thanks go out to all alumni who, through their community service, are furthering Gilman’s vision and inspiring us today.

NYC Civic Corps

Corps Values

T Office of the Mayor

oo many organizations find themselves in a catch-22: They desperately need volunteers but lack the resources necessary to recruit them and put them to work. Last spring, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Engr ’64, launched the NYC Civic Corps to tackle that problem. The Corps dispatches trained AmeriCorps members to a nonprofit organization or city agency for a one-year term. Each is tasked with developing organizational capacity and a sustainable volunteer program within his or her organization.

“The program is the centerpiece initiative of the mayor’s NYC Service Program, which aims to increase the number of volunteers in the city and target them toward our greatest challenges,” says Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor. Eight of this year’s Civic Corps members are recent Johns Hopkins graduates. Each assigned to a different organization, they are working with a range of groups, including Planned Parenthood, Catholic Charities, and MillionTreesNYC, a tree-planting project. Alessandra Szulc, A&S ’09, was matched with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, where she is piloting a running program for high school kids who don’t have enough gym credits to graduate. Szulc hopes to create a model that will live on after she’s gone off to medical school next year. “It sounded like an amazing opportunity, the kind to grab when you are young and idealistic and feel you can change the world,” she says.

Anne Marie McKenzie-Brown, Med ’87

Investing by Proxy

F Michael Bloomberg, with Johns Hopkins graduates now working with NYC Civic Corps

54 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

or Anne Marie McKenzie-Brown it is all about the vicarious satisfaction of helping others help others. As chair of the Alumni Council’s Student Grants and Programs Committee, McKenzie-Brown supports the enterprising efforts of students who pitch projects that aim either to serve others through community-based work or to enhance the campus experience through cultural programming. Every year, McKenzie-Brown and her team sift through a thick pile of applications, identifying student projects that are worthy of funding and deciding how much money to allot. “This committee allows me, by proxy, to invest in the lives of others,” says McKenzie-Brown, who began serving on the Alumni Council

Will Kirk

Anne Marie McKenzie-Brown six years ago for the same reason she became an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist: to help people. In 2009, she and her fellow committee members gave their blessing to 65 diverse proposals that were awarded a total of $50,000 in grant monies, including a service trip by nursing students to Haiti after January’s earthquake, an off-road vehicle design-and-construction project by engineering students, and an exhibition of capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art. Recently, the committee has started funding more international student projects, which are especially meaningful to McKenzie-Brown. “I’m Jamaican, originally from a Third World country,” she says, “and I think it’s wonderful that students are taking the Johns Hopkins name abroad and using their knowledge to help people overseas.”

recently started an extracurricular course in public speaking for high school students, through the service club Rotary International. “It’s a pleasure to see these kids come out of their shells,” he says. “The first week they get up and giggle and stutter. By the sixth week, they look like mini-lawyers.” Naron first joined Rotary nearly a decade ago because he liked the idea of public service in general, but he eventually realized that, through the club, he could develop new service goals that played off his own experiences and talents. For example, he is also developing an organization to train nonprofits in running large projects, a skill he knows well as a former IBM consultant. Naron serves Rotary itself by overseeing the international graduate students who come to the Baltimore-D.C. area through the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. (This year, four of the area’s six scholars will be attending Johns Hopkins.) Each student is paired with a local counselor who hosts them during holidays, introduces them to Americans, and generally helps them become acclimated. Naron is himself a counselor, but he is also in charge of pairing counselors with students. And should any larger problems arise, he is there to solve them. “The scholars tend to be fun, interesting, altruistic people, the ones who will change the world,” Naron says. “Who wouldn’t want to spend time with them?”

Steve Naron, Engr ’70

Speaking Out


few years after graduation, Steve Naron landed a job as a high-level consultant with the Center for Naval Analyses, thanks in part to his Johns Hopkins education. But when the center shipped him off to Toastmasters International, the public-speaking organization, he realized one thing he hadn’t learned in school was how to present effectively in front of a crowd. Today, after years of training, he gives speeches regularly and with ease. To pass that skill along, he

Steve Naron

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 55


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

Adam Segal, A&S ’03 (MA)

And Justice for All


SAm Kittner

decade ago, Adam Segal heard a moving speech by the leader of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA). The speaker, who was in the midst of an ultimately unsuccessful bid for a congressional seat, told of thousands of black farmers discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s local farm bureaus, which were responsible for processing federal grants and loans. (A large class action lawsuit was settled in 1999, but many farmers weren’t included and didn’t receive compensation.) It was just the kind of injustice that spurs Segal to act. “I’ve always been interested in the role government and the legal system can play in social justice for minorities,” says Segal, who runs a boutique public relations firm, teaches in the Johns Hopkins communication program, and heads a research project in the Krieger School studying how candidates and political parties reach out to Hispanic voters. Over the past 10 years, Segal has dedicated more than 1,000 pro bono hours to the NBFA as a communications consultant. He helps the group by developing message strategy; crafting press releases, speeches, and congressional testimony; and contacting national media organizations. He’s gotten coverage for the farmers in most of the country’s major

Adam Segal 56 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

news outlets, including ABC News, CNN, and The New York Times. Though President Barack Obama has indicated that he supports settling the outstanding cases, the way forward is frustratingly slow, and much work remains to be done. But Segal is undaunted. “There’s something unique about what you gain personally from doing pro bono work and being able to leave your mark,” he says.

Nancy Glass, Nurs ’94, Nurs/SPH ’96 (MSN/MPH)

Pork Project


ancy Glass, associate director of the Center for Global Health and associate professor in the School of Nursing’s Department of Community Public Health, believes economic empowerment is often the key to helping victims of violence reclaim their lives. Yet in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Glass was once a Peace Corps volunteer, there are few legitimate ways to earn a living, particularly for the many women who carry a stigma as survivors of rape. Glass and her Congolese colleague, Mitima Remy, have come up with a simple, inexpensive way to help. Last year they launched Pigs for Peace, a volunteer-run microfinance organization that provides pigs, along with breeding assistance and veterinary support, to Congolese women. In exchange for their free pig, recipients

agree to give the organization two piglets from the first few litters. (These are then given to other women, so the program grows exponentially.) Each litter consists of six to 12 piglets; they can be kept for breeding or sold, for as much as $40 each. “In an economy where people are making less than $100 a year, a pig can really make a difference,” says Glass. With the money generated from the sale of piglets, women have been able to start businesses, get access to health care, and send their children to school. Pigs for Peace is run entirely by volunteers, so there is little overhead. Each $50 donation covers a pig ($40) and its transportation ($10). In its first year, the group provided pigs to 110 families. Another 700 families are on the waiting list, and Glass—whose efforts will be honored with a 2010 Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Knowledge for the World Award—hopes to generate enough interest in the program to help them all. “I really believe a pig can save a family,” she says.

Will Kirk

Mitima Remy, PAIDEK

Nancy Glass

certain Charm City traditions remain popular among Colorado expats. Two favorites have been the recent crab feast, featuring a bushel shipped straight from Maryland—Old Bay and all—and a meet-and-greet with the Denver Outlaws, a professional lacrosse team for which several Homewood graduates play. Besides fostering community among Colorado alumni, Duncan arranges a send-off party each year in the home of a Colorado alum for locals heading to Johns Hopkins. Parents and incoming students get the chance to grill graduates about everything from favorite professors to laundry facilities. “It’s a bit more of a challenge going to a school in the East when you’re from the West,” says Duncan. The send-off, he hopes, eases some fears. Duncan, who’s been at the chapter’s helm for more than a decade now, says he continues to devote time and energy to the university and its alumni because he enjoys meeting new people. But he also feels a sense of duty. “Hopkins was very good to me,” he says. “And as you get older, you think a little more about the concept of giving back.” —Andrea Appleton

Robert Duncan, A&S ’71

A Bit of Baltimore


awyer Robert Duncan has cultivated a Johns Hopkins community far from his alma mater, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Every year the longtime president of the Alumni Association’s Denver chapter leads a corps of volunteers in planning at least three events for that region’s 1,000 (and counting) Johns Hopkins graduates. These events are held almost 1,700 miles from Baltimore, but Duncan has found that

Robert Duncan Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 57


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

We Want You! The Quick Guide to Alumni Volunteer Opportunities at Johns Hopkins

Brucie Rosch (ALL)

From recruiting top students to planning events, every year, thousands of alumni around the world donate their time and talent to Johns Hopkins. As volunteers serving the university community, their work builds alumni ties and supports students—and plays a critical role in sustaining and strengthening the Johns Hopkins mission. And volunteers get more than a warm, fuzzy feeling from their good deeds. According to a recent study led by researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, volunteer service improves cognitive ability and enhances quality of life. This at-a-glance guide highlights many (but certainly not all) volunteer opportunities for alumni and friends. Match your skills and interests with the perfect opportunity and get involved!

Connect your class What: Pull off your class’s next Reunion or Homecoming celebration by helping plan events and rallying classmates to show up. (Opportunities vary based on your school, degree, and graduation year.)

Why: Facebook is good for keeping in touch, but virtual connections can’t beat face-to-face interaction. You can help your class relive memories where they were made.

How: Contact Pat Conklin in the Office of Alumni Relations at 410-516-5185 or

Strengthen professional bonds What: Connect with alumni in your field by joining a group dedicated to your interests, such as the Public Safety Leadership Association within the School of Education or the Society of Engineering Alumni at the Whiting School.

Why: Alumni know as well as anyone what kind of [insert your job title] comes out of Johns Hopkins. Network with the best!

How: Contact the alumni relations officer at your school of graduation through

ple, referring qualified students to the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies or speaking with prospective students at information sessions for the Carey Business School.

Why: You can help Johns Hopkins recruit top students,

Recruit the brightest What: Assist admissions counselors as they build incoming classes made up of the world’s top students. Volunteers conduct interviews and represent Johns Hopkins at college fairs with the National Alumni Schools Committee, the group of Krieger and Whiting school graduates who assist the Undergraduate Office of Admissions. For graduate admissions, volunteers are needed on a school-by-school basis—for exam58 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

helping retain the university’s high academic standards.

How: Contact Amy Brokl at 410-516-4882 or

Link up locally What: Help your local Alumni Association chapter or club plan events that bring together Johns Hopkins people in your area.

Why: Johns Hopkins alumni are smart, interesting people who are thirsty for knowledge—and they’re fun to hang out with. (We never claimed to be modest.)

How: Contact your chapter president through alumni

Hang out with a student What: Invite a future alum out for dinner, to a ballgame, or to join you for most any activity in the Baltimore area. The Alumni Association’s TASTE program (short for “Take A Student To an Event”) will pair you and a student for a one-time outing of your choosing, allowing you the freedom to connect through an activity that is convenient and interesting to you.

Why: As a graduate, you have wisdom to share with a current student deep in the books. (And the student just might have something to teach you, too!)

How: Find out more at Sign up by contacting Justin Fincher at 410-516-0363 or

Mentor in your field What: Work with the Career Center or a school’s programming office to help launch students into the job market by sharing knowledge about your profession. Opportunities exist across the institution, such as participating in the School of Medicine’s “Connect the Docs” program; speaking to future nurses at an educational workshop sponsored by the School of Nursing;

or networking with students and young alumni from the Bloomberg School of Public Health as a member of an “Access to Experts” panel.

Why: Your experience can help a student choose and prepare for a career. And you might meet a future star in your field, with a trusted educational pedigree.

How: Contact your divisional career center at alumni

Be a leader What: Across the university, about 1,300 of our most passionate alumni, friends, parents, and students serve on advisory councils and governing boards charged with ensuring the institutions’ vitality.

Why: From consulting with deans and directors on strategic direction, to leading fundraising efforts, to electing the university president (a task recently completed by the university board of trustees), the work of these boards began at the university’s founding and continues today.

How: Members are selected for their expertise in a particular industry or field, as well as their demonstrated commitment to Johns Hopkins. Anyone can nominate a graduate to serve on the Alumni Council—visit

If you have an interest or a skill that doesn’t match up with these opportunities, visit to let us know how you’d like to help out. We’ll connect you with the best volunteering opportunity. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 59


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

1947 Walter A. Lyon, Engr ’47, ’48 (MS), has helped to bring Johns Hopkins’ Engineering Innovation Program to Harrisburg Science Tech High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.



Robert A. Erlandson, A&S ’53, former Baltimore Sun correspondent, presented on his life and career at an event sponsored by the Historical Society of Baltimore County in October. Mathew H. M. Lee, A&S ’53, the Howard A. Rusk Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, gave the keynote address at the annual Chinese Medical Doctor Association and Chinese Psychiatrist Association meeting held in Hangzhou, China, in August. At the event, he received a special award for contributions to the training of Chinese doctors. Richard Rose, A&S ’53, received the Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies from the Political Studies Association of the UK in November and the Mattei Dogan Prize for lifetime achievement in European Political Sociology from the European Consortium for Political Research in September.

Ellen Laipson, SAIS ’78, was appointed to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board in December. Laipson has a 25-year career in the U.S. government and most recently served as president and CEO of the Stimson Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution devoted to enhancing international peace and security.


1968 W. Bruce Fye, A&S ’68, Med ’72, was awarded the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Osler Society. He was president of the society from 1988 to 1989.

1970 John Tyrell, A&S ’70, plans to retire (again) in 2010 after a 20-year Army JAG career, followed by several years working for an insurance company and 11 years with the Postal Service. He is looking forward to spending even more time with his 10 grandchildren.

Mary Jean Scott, A&S ’58 (PhD), writes: “My husband, E.C.H. Silk, died in July. I am in the process of moving into smaller accommodations. We donated our physics books to the Department of Physics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.”




Arnold B. Silverman, A&S ’59, an attorney with Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer 2009.

1960 Edward Dudley, A&S ’60, currently holds a seat on the boards of directors of five national and international nonprofit organizations and serves on the audit committee of one board. He also produces a summer puppet program for children. Eugene Harvey, Engr ’60, who retired April 1, as a consultant to Harms and Associates, currently serves as a member of the Maryland State Board for Professional Engineers.

1961 Carmine Gorga, SAIS ’61, Bologna ’62 (Cert.), writes: “An expanded edition of my book, The Economic Process is being published by the University Press of America.” Mary Ellen Graybill, Peab ’61, is enjoying teaching piano, writing articles, and working on a book.

1963 Fred Kahn, SAIS ’63 (MA), was cited in an article on The Huffington Post. The article credits him for laying the roots for the l960 presidential debate between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. He writes: “I still have the personal letters from, among others, the widow of President Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, endorsing my proposal for presidential debates.”

1964 Bob Ulanowicz, Engr ’64, ’68 (PhD), announces the publication of his third book, A Third Window: Natural Life beyond Newton and Darwin. He retired from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Solomons, Maryland, and has moved with his wife to Gainesville, Florida, where he continues writing with the Department of Botany and Zoology at the University of Florida.

1965 Alan “Lanny” Berman, A&S ’65, was elected to a two-year term as president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. He has

60 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

served as executive director of the American Association of Suicidology since 1991. Richard Kaufman, A&S ’65, is enjoying his “third career, boating and shooting, teaching at the police academy, and spending time on the Chesapeake Bay with Marilynn, my wife, and Chief and Jazzy, my dogs.” Robert F. Vandenplas, SAIS ’65 (MA), is the managing director of Belgoprocess NV, a company that specializes in the treatment of nuclear waste at the end of the nuclear production cycle and in the decommissioning of nuclear plants.

Richard L. Symonds, A&S ’71, SAIS ’70 (Dipl), ’71, recently retired as senior counsel with the World Bank Legal Department. He has started a consulting business, GeoMarkets Consulting, which builds on his experience and focuses on financial markets projects in emerging markets. He is also an adjunct professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law.

Marian Osterweis, SPH ’72 (PhD), an expert on health education, health care delivery, and public policy, has been selected to serve on the governing body of the Medical Representatives Certification Commission.

1973 Michael Rosen, A&S ’73, has three daughters. He writes: “Our daughter, Hili Rosen, A&S ’08, is attending medical school in New Jersey at the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine. I am currently practicing gastroenterology in Millburn, New Jersey.” Herbert C. Smith, A&S ’73 (PhD), professor of political science at Johns Hopkins, received the Distinguished Teaching Award in May 2009 at McDaniel College’s Honors Convocation.

1975 Gail Anderson, A&S ’75, writes that she tries to travel as much as possible while also maintaining a private medical practice in Maryland. Steven Bers, A&S ’75, is chair of the employment law section of Whiteford Taylor Preston, a Baltimore-based law firm. He has also been general counsel for the National Association of Passenger Vessels since 1988. Louis Brendan Curran, A&S ’75, writes: “I am currently organizing fundraising pro bono for Baltimore’s Research Associates Foundation, which sold its Progressive Action Center and is morphing into a local progressive grantmaker foundation. Some grants will be in honor/ memory of the late Johns Hopkins Chaplain Chester L. Wickwire, a RAF Board member for over 20 years. When not ‘public defendering’ here in MobTown, I am an Orioles fan, play softball, and keep interested in planetary life and human politics—and how to change things for the better!” Dana Dafnis, A&S ’75, lives in Honolulu, where she works in the hospital emergency department and part time as a physician for a cruise line. She has an 11-acre farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. Mark Horning, A&S ’75, has moved back to Baltimore after 18 years in Northern Virginia. He is enjoying rediscovering the city and old friends. He writes: “It is nice to have all three kids graduated and on their own.” John Roberts, A&S ’75, Engr ’88 (MS), has family members in Charles Village and he is looking forward to visiting the old neighborhood more often. Larry Sullivan, A&S ’75 (PhD), associate dean and chief librarian at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and professor of criminal justice at the Graduate School of the City University

of New York, is editor-in-chief of the recently published Sage Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Sage Publications, August 2009). His most recent journal article appeared in PMLA, the journal of the Modern Language Association, in 2008. In March 2008, he presented a four-day seminar on white collar crime to government officials in Belize.

1976 Robert M. Hirsch, Engr ’76 (PhD), recently received the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2009 Eugene M. Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Communications. Cecilia Lenk, Engr ’76, was elected to the Watertown, Massachusetts, Town Council in November. Lenk serves as the treasurer of the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Council. India Lowres, A&S ’76, meets regularly for dinner with fellow alumnae Jane Sumergrade Webster, A&S ’94, Lisa Bisers Kushner, A&S ’05, and Claire Koehler, A&S ’06. They write: “After a 30-year stint at Hopkins, India retired in July. Lisa recently bought a home in the D.C. area and is celebrating her second wedding anniversary. Claire graduated from Boston University School of Law in May with a concentration in Trusts and Estates. She moved back to Baltimore in August. Jane recently became a member of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Family Advisory Council. We can’t wait for our friends to return to Charm City for Homecoming 2010.”

1977 John Perrotta, A&S ’77, is in his second year as chair of the World Languages Department at High Point High School in Beltsville, Maryland.

1978 David E. Lilienfeld, A&S ’78, Engr ’80 (MS), Bus ’01 (MBA), and his family are now into their seventh year of living in Foster City, California. His wife, Karen, has established a contract medical writing company (Write for the Pharm, LLC), and he has begun explorations into building a winery. Anyone interested in contacting him may reach him at

1980 John R. Scully, Engr ’80, ’83 (MS), ’87 (PhD), is the Charles Henderson Professor in the Department of Materials Science in the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. He is the elected fellow of three technical societies and has briefed Congress on two occasions. Gerald Spada, A&S ’80, is busy keeping up with his active family. One son works for GE Asset Management, another son will be playing football for Navy, and his third son plays lacrosse. His wife, Pam, is pursuing her doctorate. Barbara Squires, A&S ’80, left the Baltimore City Health Department in 2007, where she had worked for almost 22 years, to join the Annie E. Casey Foundation as a senior associate in the leadership development unit.

1984 C. L. Levy, A&S ’84, a neurological surgeon in Chesapeake, Virginia, has published El Volcan, a fictional novel set in Central America during a Communist insurgency. Levy began his career as an intelligence officer specializing in Latin America and counterinsurgency operations, and he served as a military adviser to the Armed Forces of El Salvador during their civil war.

1985 Roseann Avolio, A&S ’85, works as an attending physician and has been married for almost 20 years. She has been on The Price Is Right and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? She writes that she misses her classmates and hopes to see everyone soon. David Biderman, A&S ’85, writes: “I continue to be the most senior member of the Hopkins co-ed softball team in Washington, D.C. Most of my teammates weren’t born when I was going to the Rat and frat parties!” Amy Fogelstrom Chai, A&S ’85, teaches home school, coaches speech and debate, writes books, and volunteers within her church community. She is also officially a member of the “sandwich” generation, caring for her in-laws in her home.

Tracie Butler Giles, A&S ’85, has joined Inglis Foundation as vice president and chief integrity officer. Giles comes to Inglis from CIGNA Corporation, where she had served as deputy chief compliance officer since 2007. Nancy Grossman, A&S ’85, is married to David Grossman, A&S ’84, and they have three children. Debra Devor Jeandron, A&S ’85, is a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. She has been married since 2003, and she and her husband have two children, ages 1 and 3. Stephen Levine, A&S ’85, resumed performing magic about five years ago, after a 25-year hiatus. He performs at charity and community events while maintaining his career as a trial lawyer who hopes “to make my clients’ legal problems disappear.” Helane Blumenthal Moskovich, A&S ’85, writes: “I am keeping very busy (and happy!) as the mother of a teenager, a consulting actuary with Mercer calculating pensions, and helping my husband with Newsmakers his used car dealership, Destiny Motors. I would love to reconnect with old friends. Please email me at yakiscars@ William S. Greenberg,” A&S ’64, has been named a Andy Patrick, A&S ’85, obtained his SANS GIAC Security Essentials partner in the Newark office Certification (GSEC) in September and of McCarter & English and is now mentoring SANS GSEC Inforappointed chairman of the mation Security Classes in the greater Chicago area. Reserve Forces Policy Board. Colin Phoon, A&S ’85, Med ’92 The appointment comes on the recommen(PGF), HS ’93, has lived in Scarsdale, New York, for the past 13 years. He is dation of the White House and with the the director of NYU’s Pediatric and Fetal approval of the secretary of defense. Echocardiology Lab and runs a small research lab. Patricia Prasada-Rao A&S ’85, loves Amy Meyer, Bus ’93 (MS), living in Baltimore. She just helped has received the Service to to open a new coffee shop in her neighborhood (Sandtown in West BaltiAmerica Medal from the Partmore) and recently finished rehabbing nership for Public Service. her first home. Sharon Sirota Rubin, A&S ’85, practices law in a growing boutique practice at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. She also has a second career, which she says, “consists of coordinating and providing transportation for her three kids’ social and academic lives!” Susan Wilson, A&S ’85, began a nurse-consulting firm this year and enjoys being a self-employed consultant and health educator.

1987 Andrew J. Rubs, A&S ’87, is living in downtown Philadelphia with his wife and their two sons. He works for the Department of Defense, supporting the Marines, and also serves as a deacon in the orthodox churches. Bob Stephan, SAIS ’87, a retired U.S. Army colonel, has joined the Virginia Tech Center for Technology, Security, and Policy as an affiliate and instructor.

1989 Laura Beard, A&S ’89,’95 (PhD), is an associate professor in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures at Texas Tech University. In September, she published a book titled Acts of Narrative Resistance: Women’s Autobiographical Writings in the Americas (University of Virginia Press). The book focuses on three specific genres: testimonial, metafiction, and the family saga as the story of a nation.

1990 Karen Rappaport Estrin, A&S ’90, lives in Scarsdale, New York, with her husband, Noah Estrin, Engr ’91, and their three daughters. She will be celebrating her daughter’s bat mitzvah during reunion weekend and is sorry to miss it. Michael Falk, A&S ’90, Engr ’91 (MS, PhD), has come full circle and is back on campus as a professor in the Whiting School of Engineering. Deane (Geraldine) Ilukowicz, A&S ’90, has a new position as vice

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 61



News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

president of human resources for Hypotherm Inc. in New Hampshire. Her first son was born in December 2007. Carolyn Kahn-Hall, A&S ’90, has been a stay-at-home mom since July, which is a big change from her position at MCI/Worldcom/Verizon Business. After 16 years with the company she volunteered for a layoff to be home with her family. Elyse Komitzsky, Ed ’90, has been named reading improvement specialist at West Point Elementary School in New York. Linda Ogden-Wolgemuth, A&S ’90 (PhD), is enjoying being an elementary school teacher at a Waldorf School in New York City. This is her fourth year teaching children and she is having a lot of fun. Gemaine Owen, Engr ’90, has returned home to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. She has opened up a practice with her sister, who is a psychologist, and is enjoying working among family and friends. Kimberly Perikles, A&S ’90, is going back to graduate school to be a special education teacher. Joseph Shiber, A&S ’90, has returned to Baltimore to do a trauma-critical care fellowship at R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Grayling Grant Williams, Ed ’06 (MS), was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December to be director of the Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security. Nabiha Syed, A&S ’07, who is currently attending Yale Law School, was named a Marshall Scholar for 2010. Marshall Scholarships are selectively awarded to young Americans of high ability to study for a degree in the United Kingdom.

1991 Zhu Min, A&S ’91 (MA), ’96 (PhD), was promoted to deputy governor of the Peoples Bank of China (PBOC) in October. The PBOC is the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. He most recently served as executive vice president of the Bank of China, Ltd.


Ron Barrett, Nurs ’92, has joined the Macalester College Anthropology Department as a tenure-track assistant professor in St. Paul, Minnesota. Barrett, who previously taught at both Stanford and Emory universities, is author of a book titled Aghor Medicine: Pollution, Death, and Healing in Northern India, published by the University of California Press. Troy Rohrbaugh, A&S ’92, is the head of global foreign exchange trading for J.P. Morgan. He is based in London and is married to Amy Grosskopf Rohrbaugh, Ed ’98. She is the founder of the Fannie Foundation, named for her mother, who passed away from cardiovascular-related diseases.They have two young sons. Jennifer Sussal Canter, A&S ’92, SPH ’93, is mom of two sets of twins (6-year-old girls and 3-year-old boys) and a child-abuse pediatrician in Westchester County, New York. She and her husband, Wade, invented a new educational language development toy called the U-Play Mat. Meki Toalepai, Engr ’92, is director of Meki’s Tamure Polynesian Dance Group. He writes: “This dance group was started by my parents in the 1960s and is currently under my directorship. I do have a full-time job as an electrical engineer with the government.”

1993 Jami Attenberg, A&S ’93, announces that her third book of fiction, The Melting Season, was published by Riverhead Books in January. The Brooklyn, New York, resident is also the author of Instant Love and The Kept Man.

1994 Daniel Organek, A&S ’94,’03 (MS), in November received the Phi Gamma Delta Durrance Award, presented to the most outstanding chapter adviser (Purple Legionnaire) in the country.

1995 Evan Crook Barrett, A&S ’95, has purchased a home in Lake Balboa, California. He has also changed his name from Evan B. Crook to Evan C. Barrett. Greg Drozdek, A&S ’95, is the educational outreach coordinator at the Scalabrini Community Center in New York’s Chinatown, where they offer a free ESL class to the community. 62 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

Nelson Lee, A&S ’95, has returned to the Northeast with his wife and two sons after living in Texas for eight years. Ilsa Rucosky Shulman, A&S ’95, is busy with family, work, and building a home. She and her family enjoy living in Maine.

1997 James N. Applebaum, A&S ’97 (MA), was recipient of the Ammerman Distinguished Teaching Award at Mercersburg Academy, where he has taught English and advised the weekly newspaper and the literary-arts journal since 1998.

1998 Henry Nicholas Baker Jr., A&S ’98, SAIS ’07, married Samuela Elarti on August 1, in the Duomo of Rovigo. Damir Marusic, A&S ’98, SAIS ’05, was the groom’s witness. Also present were Carter Atlamazoglou, SAIS ’07, Reza Haidari, SAIS ’07, and Camillo von Mueller, SAIS ’07. Luna Chiu, Engr ’98 (MS), an integrated product team manager for radio frequency (RF) antenna system products at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Baltimore, has received Women of Color Technology’s Special Recognition award for her contributions in materials science research.

1999 Katie Goatley Brisson, A&S ’99, has been appointed senior program officer for the New Economy Initiative. She joined the staff of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan as a program officer in June 1999 and has been a consultant to the foundation since 2005. Benedicto Cortez, A&S ’99, and wife Suejin Kim, A&S ’99, are happy to announce the birth of their son, Cruz Young Cortez, born September 1. Shelley Fairweather-Vega, SAIS Bol ’99 (Dipl), A&S ’00, is a certified Russian-English translator and enjoys working as a freelancer.

2000 Jeremy Barnes, Engr ’00, is currently serving as worshipful master of Potomac Lodge No. 5, Free and Accepted Masons, Washington, D.C. Theodore Chao, Engr ’00, and his wife, Anna Michelle Wang, just had a baby girl, Liberty Madison Chao. Adam Edmunds, A&S ’00, is attending James Madison University to obtain a doctorate in clinical and school psychology. Nicola Gammon, A&S ’00, is working for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania as a judicial law clerk. Amelia Kasper, A&S ’00, SPH ’02, married Jose Hagan in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2004. They currently live in St. Louis. Jose just finished an internal medicine residency at Barnes-Jewish, and started his infectious disease fellowship in July. Amelia is in her second year of internal medicine residency. Tajanay Noble Ki, Engr ’00, was a science/math teacher in Burkina Faso from 2001 to 2003 for the Peace Corps. Serena Leung, A&S ’00, married her husband, Isaac, in 2004. They welcomed their first child, Adah Liwan Weingrod, on April 23. Meghna Antani Lipcon, A&S ’00, Ed ’06 (Cert), and her husband, Scott Lipcon, Engr ’00, welcomed Sonia Antani Lipcon on July 6, 2008. Antoinette St. Clair, Bus ’00, is a member of Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She is currently on detail to the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Office. John Stinson, A&S ’00 (MA), has recently joined the law offices of Hangley Aronchick Segal and Pudlin as an associate in the litigation practice. Ishaq Syed, Engr ’00, completed his orthopedic residency at Rush University in July and is currently a fellow at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He has been married for two years.

2001 Christine (Giap) Stern, A&S ’01, and Toby Stern, A&S ’01, became parents to Tyler Giap Stern on March 30, 2009. Christine recently finished a residency in pediatrics, and Toby continues to practice law in New York City.

2002 Jarrod Bernstein, A&S ’02, joined the United States Department of Homeland Security as the director of local affairs in April.

Tina Johnson Hughes, A&S ’02, and Jason Hughes, Engr ’02, welcomed their first child, Nathan Edward Johnson Hughes, on June 16. Jeffery A. Norris, A&S ’02, has been appointed to the Dean’s Advisory Council at the American University, Washington College of Law. He practices law at Apatoff Peters, LLC, focusing on business and corporate law. John Dermot Woods, A&S ’02 (MA), announces that his first novel, The Complete Collection of People, Places & Things, was published by BlazeVOX books this summer.

1932: John T. Rettaliata, Engr ’32, ’36 (PhD), passed away August 8. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Johns Hopkins in 2007.


1941: Sidney George Piness, A&S ’41, who had a private practice in internal medicine, died October 17. He served as president of the Plainfield Area Medical Association, a member of the American Heart Association, president of the Union County Heart Association, and a member of the Plainfield Human Relations Committee.

William J. Bliss, A&S ’03, graduated in May from Montclair State University with an MA in applied linguistics. He has recently taken a position teaching ESL at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Azim Chowdhury, Engr ’03, received the 2009 Pro Bono Award from the Baltimore office of the Duane Morris law firm in November. Chowdhury, an associate in the firm’s Baltimore office, was recognized for helping a 13-year-old victim of gang violence from El Salvador acquire asylum in the United States.

2005 Justine Banish, A&S ’05, is enjoying her work as a special events planner for Autism Speaks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and a cure for autism. Daniel Raposa, A&S ’05, has been named an associate attorney with the law firm of Tully Rinckey, PLLC. Aula Turnquist, A&S ’05, is halfway through veterinary school and is on her way to becoming an equine veterinarian.

2006 Kathleen C. Oktavec, A&S ’06, received a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine predoctoral clinical research fellowship from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Research Resources. Trita Parsi, SAIS ’06 (PhD), has been awarded the 2010 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order for his controversial 2007 book, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the U.S. Parsi, co-founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, was selected from among 54 nominees worldwide. Mia Pomerantz, Peab ’06, is part of a classical guitar duo known as Duo Amaral. They performed at the University of Pennsylvania and at the White House for a holiday reception in December. They also performed at the Renwick Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in February.

2007 Erica N. Brown, Engr ’07, is a staff engineer at Merck & Co. Eli C. Fendelman, A&S ’07, is a classics teacher at Saddle River Day School.

2008 Jessica Brociek, A&S ’08, is a marketing associate at Tully Rinckey PLLC. She is responsible for the coordination and support of public relations initiatives. Cassidy W. Claassen, SPH ’08, graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in May and is now in his first year of residency at Yale–New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. Mauktik Kulkarni, Med ’08 (MS), director of research and development at Neuronetrix, Inc., writes: “After graduating from JHU, I spent six weeks traveling through South America on a motorcycle. I have recently published a book about my 5,000-mile motorcycle ride. The book is titled A Ghost of Che, and it’s available online. The book was awarded Editor’s Choice by the publisher, iUniverse, and it was in the top 100 on Amazon’s Adventurers and Explorers list for the first three weeks. It has also received positive reviews on Amazon.”

In memoriam: 1931: Charles J. Cohen, A&S ’31 (PhD), one of the pioneers in establishing the Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Center as an internationally recognized center of national defense research, died October 14. He helped confirm the Earth’s pear-shaped gravitational field, which led to the development of the global positioning system.

1935: John Burling DeHoff, A&S ’35, Med ’39, SPH ’67, who was Baltimore City’s health commissioner for almost 10 years, died October 26 at the age of 96. 1937: Virginia Mason, Nurs ’37, a retired registered nurse and member of the Church of Epiphany, died August 25.

1942: J. David Hartman Jr., A&S ’42, died September 21 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He was past president of the National Book Manufacturing Institute. 1942: Gilbert Vernon Rubin, A&S ’42, former longtime executive director of Baltimore’s Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals, died October 13 at his Baltimore home. 1942:Townley R.Wolfe III, Engr ’42, ’49, died in Virginia Beach July 18. Wolfe served in the South Pacific during World War II and retired with the rank of captain from the U.S. Naval Reserve.


Brian Linden, SAIS Nanj ’88, has been featured in an Atlantic Monthly article by renowned columnist James Fallows. It traces the evolution of the Lindens’ unprecedented project based in China’s southeast Himalayas.

1943: James K. Shafer, SPH ’43, a doctor who held several high-ranking positions with the U.S. Public Health Service and was a top health adviser at the White House and the State Department, died July 29 in Bethesda, Maryland. 1944: Edwin M. Talbott Jr., Engr ’44, died in Towson on October 11. He was an engineer, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service, an attorney, an entrepreneur, and an investment banker. 1945:Vivian Pauline Landis Babin, Nurs ’45, a beloved mother and grandmother, died October 8. 1945: John Hull, Med ’45, died at his home in Houston, on November 11. Hull served as a captain in the U. S. Army Medical Corps during World War II and then returned home to teach medicine for 48 years. 1948: Arthur C. Hollister Jr., SPH ’48 (MD, MPH), died October 3 in Pleasant Hill, California. 1948: Clarence W. Little Jr., Engr ’48, died September 21 at his home in Wisconsin. 1948: John A. Unumb, SAIS ’48, who retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 1975 as the agency’s deputy assistant for public relations, died of cancer September 28. 1949: Robert Thompson Frost, A&S ’49, ’53 (PhD), died February 8. He was a physicist in the aerospace industry. His 22 scientific publications include an account of the experiment he developed to melt metal aboard a space shuttle. 1949: Richard W. Sonnenfeldt, Engr ’49, died October 9. He served as the chief interpreter for the American prosecution at the Nuremberg War Trials in 1945. A past senior vice president at RCA and executive vice president at NBC, he was one of the principal developers of color TV at RCA and computer technology for NASA, as well as the inventor of the video disc, a precursor to the DVD. 1950: Richard “Wick” Heard, A&S ’50, died August 12 in San Antonio. He had a distinguished extended military service that included time in Korea and Vietnam. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and broke two world speed records over a closed circuit course in a

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 63


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

U.S. Army OH 6A helicopter. He was a member of both the U.S. Army ski and tennis teams.

1965: Louis Beck, A&S ’65 (MLA), a retired career Army intelligence officer who served in three wars, died August 2.

1950: Otto Kosciusko LeBron, A&S ’50, who retired in 1988 as sales manager for the Eastern United States with the Chevrolet Motor Division, died on August 21.

1971: Lawrence H. Will, Engr ’71, a retired civil engineer with Baltimore County and member of the Merchant Marines, died April 23 in Cockeysville, Maryland.

1950: Raymond S. Tompkins Jr., A&S ’50, died October 15, in Lewes, Delaware. Tompkins was retired from Verizon, where he had spent 35 years as a division commercial manager for the state of Maryland.

1976: Jack Yates, Ed ’76 (MS), Bus ’82 (MAS), was a Baltimore community activist and cyclist. He died in a bicycle accident in August.

1951: Dana Kimball Ball, SAIS ’51, died August 2, in Concord, New Hampshire. He was employed as a senior analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency until his retirement in 1973.


1951: Victoria Smith Friedman, SPH ’51, a psychiatrist who retired from private practice in 1994, died June 25, in Chestertown, Maryland.

George Fenwick, SPH ’84 (PhD), is one of 29 animal conservationists nominated to receive the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation. He has been nominated for his significant contribution to the conservation of native wild birds and their habitats. As president of the American Bird Conservancy, Fenwick creates and sustains biodiversity reserves, tackling policy-based threats to birds and generating funding resources for the bio­ diversity community.

1952: L. Willis Allen, Med ’52, a surgeon who worked on health care issues for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush, died in Millville, New Jersey, on October 27, after a lengthy illness. 1952: Edith Bierstein, SPH ’52, of McLean, Virginia, who was a volunteer nurse throughout her life, died on March 25, 2009. 1952: Norman W. Lavy, A&S ’52, of Westfield, New Jersey, died on October 7. He was vice president and director of drug regulatory affairs at E. R. Squibb & Sons. He was also a professor of medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

1953: Octavius M. Covington, Bus ’53, a senior account executive with the Horace Mann Insurance Co. from 1955 until his retirement in 1995, died September 17 in Silver Spring, Maryland.

1983: Marion A. Hecht, Bus ’83 (MS), a former teacher and community activist, died October 7 in Baltimore. 1983: Carroll B. Leevy, Med ’83, associate professor of medicine and associate director of the Liver Center at New Jersey Medical School, died October 8. 1983: Jeffrey Weinstein, Med ’83, who lived in Edison, New Jersey, died September 30. He was a neuro-anesthesiologist for JFK Medical Center for 20 years. 1988: Avinash Khatter, A&S ’88, died August 13. He was recently named one of Phoenix Magazine’s “Top Doctors” and chosen as one of “America’s Top Physicians” by Neurology Neurophysiology, Stroke. 1988: David T. Runner, Bus ’88 (MS), director of satellite programs for NASA’s acquisition and grants office, died October 29 at Howard County General Hospital. 1997: Michael Guy “Mike” Dennis, A&S ’97 (MS), died August 26 at Johns Hopkins Hospital after a brief battle with stomach cancer. 1997: Robert C. Susil, Engr ’97, Med ’05 (MD/PhD), who swam on the Blue Jays’ varsity swim team as an undergraduate and was a resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, died February 5 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. 2007: Charles R. Mock, Med ’07, a medical administrator and retired Navy captain, died October 19 at his home in Bowie, Maryland. Correction: In the Winter 2009 issue, we incorrectly listed Ralph C. Benson Jr. Med ’67, in the obituary section. We should have listed his father, Ralph M. Benson Sr., who was a 1936 graduate of the School of Medicine.

1953: Richard Henry, Med ’53, who lived in Inglis, Florida, died September 7. 1954: Walter George Kersey, SAIS ’54, a 30-year career officer with the U.S. Army, died October 25. He was honored with a Distinguished Service Award and was fluent in German and French. 1955: Richard T. Antoun, SAIS ’55, who taught Middle Eastern Studies at several universities, died December 4 in Binghamton, New York. 1955: Jack Sugar, A&S ’55, ’60 (PhD), a retired atomic physicist for what became the National Institute of Standards and Technology, died August 15 in Rockville, Maryland, of complications from Parkinson’s disease. 1956: George Bluestone, A&S ’56 (PhD), a cinema expert who was at the forefront of film studies, died August 3. 1957: M. Kenton King, Med ’57, dean of the Washington University School of Medicine for nearly 25 years, died October 15 at his home in University City, Missouri. 1962: Neil R. Luebke, A&S ’62 (MA), ’68 (PhD), an Oklahoma State University Regents Service Professor emeritus who was head of the philosophy department for 16 years, passed away June 18 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 1963: William F. Logan Sr., Engr ’63, a retired Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. electrical engineer who was active in his church, died October 5 at his Loch Raven Village home in Baltimore.

64 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

Alumni News & Notes Alumni Association President: Gerry Peterson, Nurs ’64 Executive Director of Alumni Relations: Sandra Gray, A&S ’76 ( Editors: Nora Koch (, Kirsten Lavin ( Class Notes Editor: Lisa Belman, Julie Blanker ( Contributing Writer: Lew Diuguid, SAIS ’63 Contact us at: The JHU Office of Alumni Relations San Martin Center, Second Floor 3400 N. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21218-2696 410-516-0363/1-800-JHU-JHU1 (5481) We look forward to hearing from you soon. Please send class notes to By submitting a class note, you give Johns Hopkins University permission to publish your information in Johns Hopkins Magazine and in online publications. The Alumni News & Notes section of Johns Hopkins Magazine is made possible by your annual Alumni Association Membership dues. Annual dues are $50, $25 for classes 2005–2009. Lifetime membership dues are $1,000 or four annual installments of $250 each. For more information, visit

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Professional Services Baltimore Real Estate: Diligently serving the real estate needs of the Hopkins community since 1987—from the Inner Harbor to Monkton. Vicki Sindler, MS ’78, Realtor, EHO Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. 410-453-0500, cell: 410-215-5234, email: Embrace a career in shopping and dining out: Evaluate and comment on customer service in wide variety of shops, malls, stores, restaurants, and services in your area. For further details contact: ianaspiraconsult@ In need of a mortgage: Purchase or refinance, please contact Bruce Kane, BA ’81, MBA ’95. 443-722-2845, Timberly Masonry: Custom stone and brick work, including all types of masonr y repair. 40 years’ experience. MHIC 20032. Joe Warczynski, 410-960-4314. Tidewater Remodeling: Custom remodeling—full service to handyman. Prompt, professional, courteous. MHIC#12152, since 1980. 410-592-9993,

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Golomb’s Answers

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Johns Hopkins Magazine

Paper or pixels? The new digital edition of Johns Hopkins Magazine is now available. Saves paper, saves fossil fuel, saves postage, and all the cool kids will have one. For details, please go to Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010 67

H o w To :


Improvise Jazz at the Keyboard

usical improvisation looks so straightforward: Simply take your instrument and make something up. Timothy Murphy, Peab ’84 (MMA), says it’s not quite that simple. A keyboardist and Peabody Conservatory faculty member, Murphy also tours


and records as a jazz musician who has practiced improvisation for years. He prefers to do so in a band. “Playing solo can be like talking to yourself in a grocery store,” he says. “I can do it, but I’d rather have the energy of other people to bounce off of.” —Dale Keiger


First, clear your mind. Get rid of all the words coursing through your head. Sit quietly about 30 seconds before putting your hands on the keyboard.


Improv is a conversation. Watch the facial expressions of the other players, listen to them, try to respond to what they do with the least predictable thing that’s still musical.

If you suddenly go blank, just smile and keep pressing the keys until something good happens. Now and then, the best thing to “play” is silence.

68 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Spring 2010

A good solo should have a shape. Pay attention to the inner voice that’s telling you that you’ve reached a high point and it’s time to wind it down and get out elegantly.

Wesley Bedrosian


Los Angeles Saturday, March 13

Road Trip, Johns Hopkins Style

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

Share your ideas.

New York Saturday, April 17

Rising to the Challenge events give participants—alumni, parents

The Plaza Hotel

and friends—the opportunity to:


• Meet our 14th president as he looks ahead

Saturday, May 8

• Hear from faculty and alumni offering their unique insight into

Philadelphia Marriott

new developments that will shape the future of the sciences and


health care, geopolitics and humanities • Connect over cocktails and conversations with Johns Hopkins

To register and for

leaders, panel speakers, alumni, parents and friends

more information: Call toll free 877-388-1876 E-mail Visit


Meet the President dates:

Exclusive for alumni Meet the President


Monday, March 1

Johns Hopkins University alumni are invited to join Ron Daniels in a series of informal

Washington, DC

Wednesday, March 3

discussions across the country over the coming months. For registration information,


Monday, March 15

please visit or call the Alumni Relations


Tuesday, March 16

office at 800-JHU-JHU1 (800-548-5481) or e-mail

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