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The Interrogator After weeks of questioning, Glenn Carle concluded that the man in front of him was not the al-Qaida terrorist the CIA accused him of being. Press harder, they said.


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Johns Hopkins FALL


v o l. 63 n o. 3


Features 30

The Wrong Man By Margaret Guroff After weeks of interrogation, Glenn Carle, SAIS ’85, concluded that the man in front of him was not the al-Qaida terrorist the CIA accused him of being.


The Great Unknowns By Michael Anft Even our biggest brains can’t crack nature’s knottiest mysteries—some seemingly simple phenomena still lie beyond the veil of human knowledge.


Saving Hart Crane By David Dudley Forty years ago, professor John Irwin embarked on a mission: to rescue one of America’s most polarizing poets from his own excesses.


The Greatest Veneration By Bret McCabe There’s more to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions’ portrait collection than the esteemed men and women hanging on the walls.


Cover photo by Sam Kittner Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 3

Departments 7

Contributors: Scholars and the Things They Love


The Big Question: Will the European Union Survive?


The Big Picture: Kids These Days


Editor’s Note: The Short and Long Haul


Letters: God and Guns


Essay: iWeird


Golomb’s Gambits: Spelling the States



Wholly Hopkins: Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins 18 Engineering: Tweet went the data 19 Political Science: Looking back for the way forward 21 Students: With due respect to James Madison 22 Writing Seminars: Wielding a pen and an analyst’s arsenal

23 Books: Taxes, sex, and hip-hop

24 University: Changes at the top

25 Neurology: Defining Alzheimer’s as a longer disease

26 Applied Physics Laboratory: The orbital junkyard 27 Computer Modeling: Dr. Sim models disaster



29 Hospital Safety: Eliminating preventable harm


Alumni News & Notes


Golomb’s Solutions


How To: Harvest Stem Cells from Cord Blood


72 57

4 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


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Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 3

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Contributors Vol. 63 No. 3 Fall 2011

Editor: Catherine Pierre Associate Editor: Dale Keiger, A&S ’11 (MLA) Senior Writers: Michael Anft and Bret McCabe, A&S ’94 Assistant Editor: Kristen Intlekofer Art Director: Shaul Tsemach Designer: Pamela Li Alumni News & Notes Editors: Lisa Belman and Mike Field, A&S ’97 (MA) 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 University Magazine 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: Website: 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.

Scholars and the Things They Love Restoring faith in Hart Crane “I’m definitely a Hart Crane partisan now,� says David Dudley, A&S ’90, after interviewing Writing Seminars professor John Irwin about his latest book, Hart Crane’s Poetry, for this issue’s “Saving Hart Crane.� “This is the kind of poetry that I’d never in a million years try to wade through on my own. But that’s what good scholars do, I think. They can make the argument that this writer and this work will reward your time, even if it’s not necessarily to your taste.� A graduate of the Writing Seminars, Dudley has had articles appear in the New York Times, AARP The Magazine, and Urbanite magazine in Baltimore, where he is currently an editor-at-large. A Johns Hopkins grad returns The magazine welcomes senior writer Bret McCabe, A&S ’94, to the staff. Bret, who wrote this issue’s “The Greatest Veneration� about some of the portraits in the Alan M. Chesney Medical Archives, will cover arts, humanities, international studies, and student life. He’s no stranger to the local arts scene, which he’s been covering for the past 10 years at Baltimore’s City Paper, most recently in the capacity of arts editor. About his return to Johns Hopkins, he says, “I have to steal what our colleague Michael Anft said about this place: You spend your days talking to really smart people about the things they’re excited about. It’s extremely refreshing.� And, he adds, “I’m very, very pleased that Johns Hopkins University is now able to help me pay off the final less-than-$9,000 that I owe on my college loans.� —KI




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The Big Question

Q: A:

Will the European Union survive?

Sam Kittner

“Of course it will survive. Europe is a fairly small geographic area with a large number of diverse cultures and countries. In the past, that has created everything from military conflict to virulent ideologies to trade competition with tariffs. The European Union is an emblem of getting over that, and I don’t think Europeans are going to walk away from it. But what it’s going to take for the EU to survive, that’s what’s being hashed out in practice. “The EU created a single currency, which means one monetary policy for the entire eurozone, the 17 EU–member nations that have officially adopted the euro. But within that there are still 17 individual national fiscal policies, sound and unsound, and in the end those countries that are solvent, such as Germany, are going to be tired of bailing out those that are not solvent, such as Greece. So either you impose more central control over fiscal policies as well, or you loosen up and find ways to allow countries to be different. “If I had to predict, there is going to be a writing down of debt in the weakest economies—for example, creditors to Greece might get a fraction of a dollar back rather than a whole dollar—and a Europeanization of that debt, so it’s no longer to be paid back only by Greece but by the EU as a whole. In exchange for that commitment to absorb the debts of others, you might see some countries stay in the EU but go back to their national currencies, or even the creation of two euros—one for the weaker economies and one for the stronger.”

Kurt Volker, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, is managing director and senior fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. —Interview by Dale Keiger

8 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 9

The Big Picture Kids These Days

MaRyum Shadeed

Teen photographer Maryum Shadeed captured these two smiling guys during her participation in a recent Photovoice project organized by the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Adolescent Health. Though the idea is simple—“Put a camera in the hands of the person you want to work with and ask them to document their environment and the issues they want to see,” says Beth Marshall, the center’s assistant director—the goal is more ruminative. For this weeklong Photovoice project in July, photographer André Chung worked with 11 East Baltimore students ages 15–19 and asked them to explore well-being, what that means and looks like as a person, and where they live. Shadeed captioned the photo, “Baltimore youth at Patterson Park enjoying recreational activity with each other.” This project is part of a larger study involving the Center for Adolescent Health, the Urban Health Institute, and AstraZeneca; the study explores adolescent well-being in vulnerable environments and is taking place in Baltimore; Delhi, India; Ibadan, Nigeria; Johannesburg, South Africa; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Shanghai, China. —Bret McCabe, A&S ’94

10 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 11

Editor’s Note

The Short and Long Haul


he life cycle of a quarterly magazine writer goes something like this: You spend a great amount of time consuming, on a fairly superficial level, as much news and information as possible. Then something, for whatever reason, grabs you by the throat (or the brain, or the heart) and you spend the next month or two fully devoted to the study of that topic—reading about it, dreaming about it, talking endlessly to your spouse at the dinner table about it. Then you write your story, turn it in, and put it behind you. On to the next great topic. I was aware while editing this issue just how often those great topics revolve around people with a very different life cycle: academics. More specifically, academics who spend entire lifetimes devoted to their subjects. Take Writing Seminars professor John Irwin, subject of “Saving Hart Crane,” by David Dudley, A&S ’90 (page 44). Irwin has spent the last 41 years working on a book about an American poet whose reputation is mixed at best. Even if Irwin did write other books and teach other classes during that time, that’s an amazing attention span. Or what about the scientists in senior writer Michael Anft’s story, “The Great Unknowns” (page 36)? Many of them devote their careers to chipping away at questions that may never be fully answered in their lifetimes. But they

maintain the same level of intensity, interest, and passion that we bring to our two-month-long reporting projects. Which is why we like to write about them so much. They are a fascinating—and admirable—species, and magazine writers are always on the lookout for the most compelling stories to tell. As Bret McCabe, A&S ’94, the newest member of the magazine staff, puts it: “I’m a sucker for the person behind the pursuit. I love that, say, there’s somebody out there who is dedicating his/her life to exploring the infectious diseases associated with one specific fly found only in Botswana. But I’m more fascinated by the human drive to choose those things. And through reporting/interviewing, I get to see what that is, up close and personal, multiple times a year.” I’m happy to announce that such storytelling earned the magazine three medals in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s annual Circle of Excellence awards: Individual honors went to Michael Anft for “The Disease Chaser” and Dale Keiger for “Immortal Cells, Enduring Issues” (both published Summer 2010). As a team, Mike and Dale also took a bronze medal in the staff writing category. Congratulations, gentlemen!

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Letters God and Guns Circular logic Regarding the religious controversy described in “Man in the Middle” [Summer], it seems to me that there is one overarching fact that is always ignored: It is absolutely impossible to prove that God does or does not exist. Therefore, even if it is assumed that He does exist, He is completely mysterious and His influence on daily life, if any, cannot be detected or measured. Creation is a mystery, existence is a mystery, and using a mystery to explain a mystery is circular logic. Countless myths have been suggested as answers in all of these areas, but none of them can be proved to even the slightest degree. Robert E. Leihy, A&S ’68 (MLA) Santa Rosa, California Another point of view I found myself wondering why an article about a philosopher who says that

both atheists and religious fundamentalists are wrong and that there is a mushy moderate ground in the middle that is more useful gave so much attention to the disagreement with the atheist side and so little attention to disagreement with fundamentalist believers [“Man in the Middle”]. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett are mentioned as advocates for atheism, and readers were given their book titles if they wanted to dig deeper into the atheist point of view. The opinions of Dennett and Gregory Paul are quoted. Couldn’t the writer have at least pointed out some of the more thoughtful Christian apologists or gotten at least one quote from a believer on Egginton’s proposal for moderation? I may be in a tiny minority among the readership of this magazine, but I would like to point readers who would like to explore the other side to some of

my favorites: Timothy Keller, author of The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, and Norman Geisler, author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Ravi Zacharias is very articulate also. Philip Hartman, Engr ’84 (MS) Goodlettsville, Tennessee Can devotion be moderate? William Egginton pleads for the moderate uses of religion [“Man in the Middle”]. The dictionary defines moderate as within reasonable limits, not excessive or intense but mediocre and mild. In our Judeo-Christian religion we worship God. Should we worship God in a limited way, with less intensity? The God we meet in the Old Testament and the Christ we meet in the New Testament do not elicit mediocrity. The saints’ fervor and love for our Christ, our God, gave us a battling Joan of Arc,

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a weeping Peter, a cradling Mother Teresa, a nursing Father Damien, a leading Pope John Paul II, a scolding Moses, and a praising David. Encouraging mediocrity of religion is unacceptable, just as fanaticism of religion is unacceptable. Carol Ann (Ruch) Breeden, Ed ’80 (MS) Comus, Maryland The matter of capital Christopher Nealon has confused criticism of capitalism, which it so richly deserves, with subversion [Wholly Hopkins, “The Poetic Subversion of Capitalism,” Summer]. Any sentient human being, seeing the ill effects of capitalism, would write their poem to it, as did Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Charles Bukowski, et al. Nealon, I suspect, is doing this to hedge his bets between being a truthtalking poet and keeping his day job at Hopkins. In effect, when he grows up and decides who he is, he may either be a good teacher and a lousy poet, or a good poet and a lousy teacher. It’s difficult to do both. Ask a teacher. Ask a poet. Jerry Mazza New York, New York Transforming character “In Alchemy’s Defense” [Wholly Hopkins, Summer] leaves out one major, oftcited benefit of the ancient art. Briefly stated, alchemy succeeds far better in refining and transmuting the character of the alchemist than the lead that he tries to refine and transmute into gold. Alchemy is (or was) much like studying the Talmud. On the surface of it, one wonders what benefit there can be in debating exactly when dusk passes into night (or how many angels can dance on a pin!). When you dig deeper and observe more closely, however, you see how the study hones the mind and strengthens the character of the student. Max Amichai Heppner Baltimore, Maryland

Gun control In his letter commenting on gun control, Michael M. Stroup, A&S ’66, wondered why we can’t treat guns the same as automobiles [Letters, “Americans and Guns: Mass Insanity,” Summer]. The answer involves a simple legal concept: Gun ownership is a right under the Constitution. Driving an automobile is legally considered a privilege in all 50 states. Privileges may (more easily) be regulated, whereas rights are absolute and come without legal encumbrances. Perhaps, if the colonials had driven horseless carriages, the right to drive may have made it into the Constitution, but the abuses there would have opened up another whole series of debates. Time and circumstances do change. John J. Strumsky Jr., Bus ’69 Catonsville, Maryland Correction: In the Summer issue, we misspelled alumnus and freelance writer Niv Elis’s name [Wholly Hopkins, “Preserving Research Universities’ ‘Vital Triad’”]. We regret the error.

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Send Us Your Letters! We want to hear from you! Send email to editor Catherine Pierre at cpierre@jhu .edu, or through the mail: Letters, Johns Hopkins Magazine, Suite 540, 901 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231. We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style, clarity, and civility. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 15



B y “ G u i d o Ve l o c e ”

16 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

nifty feature: “Should you choose to transcribe oneironautical experiences or other entoptic phenomena, The Dream Log includes the Antiketherian Signaling Timepiece.” If that makes sense, be careful about sharing your dreams. Games account for many of the 90,000 apps, including violent ones, but some are sweet in a nutty way. I was touched by Bok Choy Boy, whose international career breakthrough came as vending machine toys. They have since branched out with a game featuring Little Orphan Susan, a candidate for The Dream Log. She is in peril because her “dreams have been invaded by meanie Numbskullz. . . . You and Susan’s dream guardians, the Bok Choy Boys, must defend her dreams and reunite her with her lost family before it’s too late!” Its creators call it a “beautifully rendered, epic battle between good and evil.” In a lower circle of app hell were ones satisfying a primal human urge to be obnoxious. Hence, Mosquito Ringer HD. It enables your electronic device to emit “tons of tones that are extremely annoying.” It provides a wide range of frequencies to ensure that no one escapes, including family pets and men. Lest you doubt its scientific credentials, Mosquito Ringer HD emits “the same frequencies that are used by police for riot control.” (This weapon must not fall into the hands of adolescent boys.) Research transforms the researcher. I emerged from app world wanting a shower, but not empty-handed. Thanks to extraordinary restraint, I only downloaded 33 new apps—a paltry fraction of 90,000—and they are uniformly sensible, useful, and, above all, cool. They include none of the above. (Mosquito Ringer HD remains under consideration as a meeting-shortener.) My research yielded three conclusions. First, app world is a weird place. Second, for designers of some apps, therapy is indicated. And third, the most valuable app for many of us (including me) would deny entry to app stores. Gilbert Ford


reen pigs steal eggs from a bunch of birds. These are birds with an attitude—and a taste for revenge. The birds’ mission, and yours, is to trash the pigs’ castles. Such “challenging physics-based castle demolition” is no simple matter. It “requires logic, skill, and brute force to crush the enemy.” Some of you may be thinking, “I’ve had nights like that.” The story, however, is no figment of a fevered imagination—at least not mine. It’s a game, Angry Birds, a best-seller for portable electronic devices in the United States and over 60 other countries, including ones like Israel and Saudi Arabia that don’t agree on much else. That tidbit of information emerged after the recent purchase of a touch-screen tablet computer dragged me into the strange world of apps—little programs you download to turn your portable device into an electronic Swiss Army knife. Some apps are helpful, like ones showing where you are and why you shouldn’t be there. Others are great for pretending to be doing something useful. (Check out Nauru on Google Earth.) Many just transform a pricey piece of hardware into the virtual version of a yappy little dog with a vast repertoire of dumb tricks. My survey of apps wasn’t exhaustive. The online store for my device claims 90,000 of them, although it’s hard to imagine 90,000 things worth doing. Faced with that daunting number, I did random sampling, dropped usefulness as a criterion, and went for the darker side. Read on if you are considering buying anything with a name beginning with a lowercase i or e. If you are not considering such a purchase, what follows may confirm your prejudices. Some apps were curiously defective. Horrible London, for example, features “gory stories, haunted houses, unsolved crimes, and creepy crypts.” But no catalog of London’s horrors has credibility without Heathrow on the list. The descriptions of other apps were in an alternative form of English. The title, The Dream Log, is straightforward. It logs dreams. After that, though, the going gets rough. It has “six Cimmerian vistas” and “chimes to help you gently transition out of hypnogogia. . . .” Another

Guido Veloce is a Johns Hopkins University professor.

Golomb’s Gambits TM

Spelling the States By Solomon Golomb ’51

The names of the 50 United States contain 25 different letters of the alphabet, a ratio of 2-to-1. (You could get the missing letter q by including the Canadian province of Quebec, but we aren’t going there.) Here is a challenge to see how many state names you can spell using only a limited number of letters of the alphabet. 1. Which state name uses only three different letters? 2. Adjoin two more letters to those three, and spell two more state names— a total of three states using only five different letters. 3. Adjoin two more letters (a total of seven letters) to spell two more states (a total of five states). 4. Adjoin three more letters to add three more states (a total of eight states using 10 letters). 5. Adjoin three more letters for four more states (naming 12 states with 13 different letters).

7. Adjoin only one more letter to add four more states (for a total of 19 states using 15 letters).



8. Adjoin two more letters to name seven more states (for a total of 26 states using 17 different letters). 9. Adjoin the 18th letter to add seven more states (for a total of 33 states). 10. Adjoin the 19th letter to name four more states (for 37 states in all). 11. Adjoin one more letter to add four more states. (If you have managed to complete each step successfully, you now have 41 states using 20 different letters, a ratio of better than 2-to-1.) 12. What five letters (besides q) have you not yet used, and which nine states have not yet been spelled?

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6. Adjoin one more letter to name three more states. (You now have more states than letters: 15 states using 14 letters.)

(Solutions on page 71)

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Wholly Hopkins

Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins

Brucie Rosch


Tweet went the data “I feel like I’m walking around with drunk goggles on my face. Meh, allergies.” “I officially have the flu … spent all last night puking my brains out, and I’ve gotta find the energy to go to work in the am!” —Twitter messages


he art of the overshare in 140 characters or less. Thanks to public Twitter accounts, people can hypothetically reach millions of users by each tweet. With an average of 200 million tweets every day, that’s a lot of information, ranging from the vital to the banal. To put things in perspective, it would take more than 31 years for one person to read 200 million tweets— the equivalent of a 10 million–page book. But for Johns Hopkins computer scientists Mark Dredze and Michael Paul, those messages represent a vast collection of data waiting to be put to use. 18 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

Last October, Dredze and Paul began pursuing the idea of mining Twitter for public health information. They knew the popular social media site had amassed what amounted to a very large public data set, and that researchers from various disciplines had begun to explore its uses, says Dredze, a research scientist at the university’s Human Language Technology Center of Excellence and an assistant research professor of computer science at the Whiting School of Engineering. Although analysts are increasingly turning to social media to gauge public opinion and study a variety of other phenomena, researchers are just beginning to look at status updates and tweets as a source of public health data. “Health hasn’t really been explored,” says Paul, “and since we’re at Hopkins, the hope is that if we start going in this direction with public health, then we can start collaborating” with public health researchers and medical professionals at the university.

A few initial studies have analyzed Twitter for influenza information, but the Hopkins researchers wanted to go beyond the current research to see if they could track more than just flu data. They adapted a model that can quickly and inexpensively comb millions of public Twitter messages to identify upto-the-minute trends. Dredze and Paul tracked flu patterns over time, revealed geographic correlations for things like tobacco use and cancer rates, and identified trends in self-medication for illnesses that don’t typically require a doctor’s visit. For example, Twitter users reported taking Tylenol or Advil for pain relief and Claritin or Zyrtec for allergies. The key was to look at aggregate information—not individual tweets—to determine trends, says Paul. Starting with more than 2 billion tweets collected during 2009 and 2010, they whittled them down to 1.63 million messages after sorting for health-related content. In total, they could distinguish 15 different ailments using clustering—a statistical model that groups certain keywords together. (For example, the words allergies, sneezing, and Claritin might be grouped based on patterns the computer thinks are meaningful.) Not only were they able to track flu data, they could automatically identify additional ailments such as allergies, depression, and obesity, making their study the first of its kind. Their paper, “You Are What You Tweet: Analyzing Twitter for Public Health,” was published by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence earlier this year, and Paul presented their work at the AAAI’s International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media in Barcelona, Spain, over the summer. Their concept is similar to Google Flu Trends, a website that maps flu activity around the world based on data from Google searches, with the idea that if a large number of users in a geographic area are Googling the word flu, chances are there will be a corresponding spike in influenza cases in that region. Google Flu Trends has proven accurate when compared with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and Google’s method of collecting information is cheaper and faster than the CDC’s. If the merits of Google data have already been proven, why turn to Twitter? “The reason is that only Google has Google’s data,” explains Paul. “For good reason, that data is private.” He cites an incident five years ago when AOL released more than 650,000 users’ private search histories without their permission, a stunt that

prompted a class-action lawsuit. Twitter’s information is public. Another advantage to looking at Twitter, Dredze adds, is that tweets can provide more information than Google search history. “When few initial studies have you do a search on A Google, you’re looking analyzed Twitter for influenza for information. So you information, but Johns Hopkins might say, ‘flu medi- researchers wanted to go beyond cine.’ On Twitter, you’re current research. expressing information, so you might say, ‘Taking Tylenol for the flu.’ And so that gives us a lot more information than what people are putting into Google.” The next step, Dredze says, will be to work with experts in medicine and public health to determine what questions they should be asking, such as whether people are promoting health information correctly or if their tweets reflect widespread misperceptions about health—for example, using antibiotics to treat the common cold or the flu. As Twitter expands its reach to other countries, Paul says, the model might also be useful as a first-alert system to detect new epidemics. —Kristen Intlekofer Po l i t i c a l S c i e n c e

Looking back for the way forward


ichael Mandelbaum and Thomas Friedman know that America is in trouble. There’s the ongoing war on terror that has cost more than $1 trillion and thousands of casualties. There’s the steady reliance on foreign oil that has curbed alternative energy innovation. And there’s an enduring recession that has produced a rising national debt and unemployment rates not seen since Ronald Reagan’s first term. Mandelbaum, director of the American Foreign Policy Program at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and Friedman, the foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times (and a speaker at the forthcoming 2011– 2012 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium), explore how all of this came to be in their new book, That Used to Be Us (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). A polemic written in a breezy tone that’s equal parts policy wonk and a football coach’s tough-love halftime speech, the book specifies Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


Wholly Hopkins

Janusz Kapusta / Stock Illustration Source

four umbrella challenges facing the country: globalization, with its emerging markets and cheaper manufacturing options; steadily evolving information technology that demands a better educated and more flexible work force; large and soaring budget deficits; and rising energy consumption and climate threats. But they take the book’s subtitle, “How America Fell Behind

in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back,” seriously and offer a rebound strategy: Return to the spirit that made the country great in the first place. As they write in the book: “Our problem is us—what we are doing and not doing, how our political system is functioning and not functioning. . . . And our solution is us—the people, the society, and the government that we used to be.” How we used to be, for the authors, is less of an idealized past than a set of values that built the country, especially during its postwar boom. They believe the achievements of those years resulted from a collective push by the country’s citizens and government. “What we are invoking is a spirit, an attitude,” Mandel­baum says. “And that is something that we experienced in our childhood, but it’s been part of American society and the American ethos for a very long time. It wasn’t just a moment in the 1950s and 1960s.”

“Our solution is us— the people, the society, and the government that we used to be.”

20 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

Their approach in That Used to Be Us mixes logical cause and effect with a nimble bit of opportune hindsight. For each hot topic, the authors identify the current situation and then wind through the strands of popular culture, economic policy, historical events, scientific research, etc., that were braided together to get here. It’s a history of the present told through the news stories and policy decisions of the recent past. One of their more persuasive arguments is that 1979 was a pivotal year in the country’s energy future. That was the year a popular movie (The China Syndrome) eerily anticipated an actual scare (the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station incident). That was the year oil prices spiked following the religious unrest percolating through the Middle East. That was the year China issued its first-ever business license. That was the year an MIT scientist chaired a study group that determined that the continued burning of fossil fuels would lead to a warmer Earth. Mandelbaum and Friedman argue that these events rippled out to inform and shape the country economically and politically—on its nuclear energy policy, on what the United States is willing to do financially and militarily in pursuit of oil, on its competition with China for global energy resources and the development of sustainable energy technology, on how the country has and hasn’t responded to climate change or pursued alternative energy resources. The authors don’t believe that the nation can’t recover. “We are suggesting that, in order to meet the challenges of the future, the United States has to go back to its roots,” Mandelbaum says. Those roots—public education, adequate infrastructure, immigration, government-supported research and development, regulating public economic activity—created the political and economic superpower that they say contributed to the fall of communism and the rise of global democracies and free markets. “We believe that this approach is really an integral part of the American character,” Mandelbaum says. “And although it hasn’t been enough in evidence in recent years, we think it still exists, it’s still part of our political DNA.” —Bret McCabe, A&S ’94

With due respect to James Madison


important political thinker. As a nation, we often believe that our power lies in might and economic influence when, in fact, it is our Constitution that has paved the way for who we are and how we’ve been emulated around the world.” The lack of a monument seems especially glaring—to Nagel, at least—when one considers that 15 other presidents have been memorialized in stone or bronze. The formative stars of U.S. history—Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington—have the showiest palaces in prime Washington locations. The capital also sports less decorous monuments to Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Jackson, and both Roosevelts. John F. Kennedy is memorialized in Dallas, where he was killed, and William McKinley’s monument was erected in Canton, Ohio, his hometown. At the base of the Capitol sits a statue of James Garfield, who served all of 200 days as president before being assassinated in 1881. But Madison remains a ghost, a no-show in the land of the righteously remembered. Nagel’s first stab four years ago at a federal bill to change that fell apart when its author, Democratic Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana, lost an election to a Tea Party candidate in 2010. So she crossed the aisle to work with Republican Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader. Her hope is that Cantor, who holds the same congressional seat Madison held from 1789 to 1797 when he formulated the

adley Nagel’s brush with history rubbed her the wrong way. Four years ago as a high school sophomore, Nagel visited Montpelier, the restored home of the nation’s fourth president, James Madison, in Orange, Virginia. Enthralled by the story the mansion told—of Madison crafting the Bill of Rights and other parts of the Constitution and shepherding the country through the War of 1812—Nagel was shocked to learn that there was no national monument to him. When her Manhattan high school sent her to a women’s leadership conference later that year, “I decided that honoring James Madison’s legacy and working toward gaining him his long-overdue memorial would be my action project,” she says. Since then, Nagel, now 20, has immersed herself in all things Madisonian—part of her mission to give Madison what she sees as his historical due. A member of the Johns Hopkins Class of 2013 and a Hodson Trust Scholar, Nagel has lobbied Congress to authorize and build a federal monument to Madison on the mall in Washington, D.C. Last year, she organized a panel of historians to discuss the seminal role Madison played in setting the tone for the nation and its laws. She spent a summer at the University of Virginia poring over the papers of Madison’s wife, Dolley, and wrote her Hopkins sophomore history thesis on the relationship between Madison and Napoleon during the War of 1812. And she helped edit a booklet, James Madison & the Birth of the U.S. Constitution (published last year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History), to teach schoolkids about Madison in conjunction with Constitution Day, September 17. “Today, we’d call Madison a nerd,” Nagel says. “But Madison was our most Hadley Nagel with Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Photo Courtesy of Hadley Nagel


Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


Wholly Hopkins Bill of Rights, will resurrect the monument legislation. Nagel, who keeps mum about her own political leanings, says she hasn’t gotten the bill reintroduced yet, but she has received enough encouragement from Cantor and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. to keep fighting. If Madison were here today, Nagel’s campaign might resonate with him. Before he died, he despaired that his fellow citizens never understood him. “Madison is our most underrecognized and underappreciated president, perhaps because he was a quiet genius,” says Nagel. “We study political philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, and Marx while James Madison has been totally ignored. In many ways, he is really the father of most democracies that exist today.” —Michael Anft

Wr i t i n g S e m i n a r s

Wielding a pen and an analyst’s arsenal


Christopher Myers

ovelist Jean McGarry sits at a table in the Gilman atrium on the Homewood campus on a sunny June afternoon, looking like what she has been since 1988—a creative

writing professor in the Writing Seminars at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. She’s clad in casual slacks and a lightweight shirt, and a copy of her 2010 short-story collection Ocean State sits nearby on the table. But the way she jots notes to herself onto a yellow legal pad makes her look a bit like a psychoanalyst, perhaps because she recently completed five years of psychoanalytic training. In 2006, McGarry entered the Baltimore Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, an institute devoted to training clinicians in what McGarry calls “classical, and rather conservative, Freudian analysis.” She enrolled as an academic candidate—a student who will not be a practicing clinician—of which the center has only admitted a few, ever. There, she did everything the psychology MDs and PhDs and psychiatric social workers did, except see patients as part of a clinical practice. The five years of study equipped her with an analyst’s arsenal. “I can now tell people who would be good in analysis,” she says as casually as she’d order a soda. “I can tell when people need it, and I can tell when someone would benefit from it.” She believes the experience has influenced her as a reader, teacher, and writer as well. “Freud teaches his readers to look for the things that were left out—to look for the blind spots, to look at texts not in a formalistic way

Novelist Jean McGarry recently completed five years of intensive psychoanalytic study. 22 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


Taxes, sex, and hip-hop

It’s expensive being poor, especially in the South. Consider: $100 worth of groceries in wealthy Connecticut will set you back as much as $112 in parts of Alabama, one of the poorest states in the country. That’s because Alabama is one of only two states with a full sales tax on basic foodstuffs, a tax that disproportionately hits the poor because they spend more of their income on food. The other state is Mississippi. Southern states’ high poverty rates and their tax policies are not unrelated, argue Katherine S. Newman and Rourke L. O’Brien in Taxing the Poor: Doing Damage to the Truly Disadvantaged (University of California Press, 2011). In fact, they say, the South’s history of squeezing revenue from its poorest citizens explains the higher poverty, infant mortality, property crime, low educational attainment, and out-of-wedlock births that plague the former Confederate states. “This is a history with teeth,” write Newman, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and O’Brien, a Princeton University sociology graduate student. “The reliance on sales taxes took money from the hands of those who had the least and pushed them deeper into poverty.” In a slim volume that humanizes its statistical argument with vivid journalistic portraits of the rural Southern poor, Newman and O’Brien shine a harsh spotlight on regressive tax policies that sow “an endless vortex of taxation, social problems, poverty, and more taxation.” The reader is taken to forgotten hamlets such as Vrendenburgh, Alabama, where “diseases afflicting the overweight are rampant,” and introduced to women like unemployed Bea Coleman, whose “careful, almost surgical” budgeting to stretch overtaxed food dollars “is leading straight to a diet that creates obesity.” After controlling for other variables that distinguish the South, such as racial composition of states, Newman and O’Brien find in their statistical analysis that high taxes on low-income households contribute to lower life expectancy, higher crime rates, and more high school dropouts. Indeed, if the South from the 1980s to current

times taxed its poor at Northeast rates, mortality and property crime rates would have come down by significant amounts, their analysis finds. Taxing the Poor is long on diagnosis and short on prescription, but its call for a national campaign to end sales taxes on basic foods, medicine, and clothing deserves greater amplification. The book also contains a pungent warning to Western states that are following the South and “increasingly . . . funding the public sector through sales taxes that hit the poor harder than anyone else.” Listen up, California. The next time you pray for the recovery of an alcoholic or drug-addicted relative, consider that you may be stimulating the same part of your brain that is overactive in your kin. That’s the central insight in The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good (Viking, 2011), the second brain book from David J. Linden, a professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine. Readers of this romp through the medial forebrain will be rewarded for slogging through some hard-core neurobiology with mind-blowing stories of the latest lab experiments that have brought us into “the golden age of brain research.” Also, there’s lots of sex. Rap and hip-hop are conventionally associated with protest music, songs of the black inner city that call attention to America’s ghettos. In fact, hip-hop has been “colonized to an extent by neoliberal imperatives,” argues Lester K. Spence, a Johns Hopkins political science professor, in Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2011). Through an analysis of nearly 500 rap lyrics produced from 1989 to 2004, Spence shows how hip-hop’s glorification of the entrepreneurial “hustler,” who rises above his station by dint of individual enterprise, may actually reinforce the instincts of elites to blame the downtrodden for their troubles. It’s a provocative thesis, persuasively argued, that expands our understanding of how politics are embedded in popular culture. —Gadi Dechter, A&S ’03 (MA) Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


Wholly Hopkins but to look at them and think of them almost as opportunities to see something else,” she says. The author sees a parallel relationship between analyst and patient and teacher and student. “How you tell your stories is a very personal and a very troubled process, and sometimes a teacher can be helpful in exactly the kinds of ways an analyst can be helpful.” She tells of a graduate writing student who wrote a story about attending a prestigious university and feeling very insecure around her well-educated, affluent peers. After graduation, the character still hung out with these friends, and her feelings of inferiority “Psychoanalysis is an persisted. “It was a story of hurt entirely verbal process, and injury,” McGarry says. “And was shapeless, except that which is, of course, itit had the shape of, ‘Oh, look fascinating to me.” at poor me.’” There were “so many ways in which the character is criticizing these people. But the writer doesn’t see that that’s there, too. And yet the dynamic of the story lies there, in the difference between what these snobs and elitists thought they were and what she saw.” At the center, learning involved “students reading classical essays on psychoanalysis and process notes and groping toward understanding,” McGarry says. The training was tripartite: Candidates—the center calls its students candidates—all had to undergo analysis, observe clinicians seeing patients, and participate in lectures and discussions. The discussions started with the ethics of analysis, addressing the need to protect patient identity and potential conflicts of interest, which was followed up by a class on analyzability, a semester-long course on what qualities make a person appropriate for analysis. A good portion of that class discussed whether patients were presenting with problems treatable by long-term analysis. But it also brought up the issue of whether the patient would be able to cope with how analysis works, which involves talking for extended periods of time. “Psychoanalysis is an entirely verbal process, which is, of course, fascinating to me,” McGarry says. A number of classes were case conferences, where a teaching analyst would read from his or her clinical notes, which reproduced verbatim what the patient said. The candidates would then examine and discuss the patient based on how the patient presented a problem. This keen focus on language—on metaphors and symbolism, word choices, passages of time—isn’t that different from writing workshop discussions. And the center’s conversational teaching style influenced McGarry 24 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

in her classrooms, too. “I think that learning is probably a little bit like an analysis, and [students] do a lot of the work themselves and they have to be ready for it,” McGarry says. “So my teaching has become a little bit more like a conversation as opposed to a lecture. I think it’s important to listen—to hear what their understanding is and not immediately correct it.” The entire experience has left her feeling that she has a richer understanding of storytelling’s capacity. “I really believe that psychoanalysis teaches you that you have to live with the past. It hasn’t gone away—and I think for a writer that’s a fantastic thing. Because that means you really do remember what happened even if you think you don’t. And when you think about what the potential is for human fictions, the idea that we contain that much is a great thing.” —BM

U n i ve r s i t y

Changes at the top


nter two vice presidents, exit two deans. In July, Glenn M. Bieler assumed Johns Hopkins’ newest senior administrative post, vice president for communications and public affairs. He will oversee the new Department of Communications and Public Affairs, which includes Johns Hopkins Magazine. Bieler comes to Johns Hopkins from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland where he was associate vice president for university marketing and communications. In the same month, Clarence D. Armbrister became senior vice president and chief of staff. He succeeds Jerry Schnydman, executive assistant to President Ron Daniels. Armbrister previously served as chief of staff to Philadelphia mayor Michael A. Nutter. At the conclusion of the academic year, Yash Gupta announced that he was stepping down as first dean of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Executive vice dean Phillip Phan will serve as interim dean until a successor to Gupta can be found. Finally, Jessica P. Einhorn, SAIS ’70 (MA), dean of the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, announced she will retire from that post on June 30, 2012. Einhorn became dean in 2002. —Dale Keiger, A&S ’11 (MLA)

Defining Alzheimer’s as a longer disease


s he helped write the first diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease in 1984, Johns Hopkins neurologist Guy McKhann remembers feeling a sense of urgency. The number of people who would be devastated by the disease—which ravages its victims’ memory and other cognitive functions as it weaves plaques and tangles around the brain’s nerve cells—was likely to mushroom due to an aging population. Doctors at the time couldn’t offer a treatment or cure, and they still can’t, but correctly identifying the disease might at least point researchers in the right direction. He recalls, “Back then, we knew so little about neurodegenerative diseases. We were just focused on making sure we were talking about the same disease and not other forms of dementia.” This past year, McKhann, a professor in Johns Hopkins’ Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute and the School of Medicine, co-chaired a panel that wrote the first update to those diagnostic guidelines in 27 years. Most significantly, he says, researchers now understand that Alzheimer’s builds up slowly over many years, even before memory issues appear. Advances in diagnostic technology have helped identify biomarkers of the disease—from certain proteins in the spinal fluid to specific changes seen in improved brain imaging—leading scientists to identify an early, presymptomatic period and a second, moderately symptomatic phase, termed mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. The new diagnostic guidelines change little of what general practitioners can do, McKhann notes, until biomarker measures become standardized enough for widespread use; someone diagnosed with the disease at any stage still faces the cruel reality that no cure or treatments exist. But the new classifications could increase the number of early-stage patients available to participate in clinical trials. Such research includes a

recent study showing that an existing antiseizure drug improves memory and brain function in adults with amnestic MCI. Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Michela Gallagher has found that a pattern of abnormally high brain activity in early Alzheimer’s patients is similar to brain hyperactivity in epilepsy. She hopes that with more study, the epilepsy drug levetiracetam will prove to be safe and effective in slowing the loss of brain function that precedes severe Alzheimer’s dementia. Nine drugs are in Phase III clinical trials for Alzheimer’s. Many more are in earlier stages of development. All aim to prevent the disease or slow its progression. Meanwhile, the urgency that McKhann sensed in the 1980s has only increased.

Kim Rosen

N e u ro l o g y

Projections show the number of people living with the disease is expected to grow from the current 5 million to 7.7 million by 2030, and as many as 16 million by 2050. Having watched scientists’ understanding of this disease evolve over the course of a generation, McKhann says the current focus on early detection and slowing its progression signals progress for the next generation. “Once the dementia of Alzheimer’s is apparent, the disease has already reached the end stages,” he says. “The damage has been done.” —Lisa Watts Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


Wholly Hopkins A p p l i e d P hy s i c s L a b o ra to r y

The orbital junkyard

I NASA Orbital Debris Program Office

t’s a mess up there. A half-century of launching satellites has turned the skies above Earth’s atmosphere decidedly unfriendly. The problem: Of the 5,000 or so satellites launched by the United States

There may be more than 100,000 pieces of space junk now orbiting Earth.

and a dozen other countries, only 1,000 still work. A few of the nonoperational craft have “de-orbited,” burning or breaking up as gravity pulled them back through the atmosphere. But the vast majority—and the rockets used to launch them—still circle the globe, joined by the 100 or so additional satellites sent up each year. In all, they make near-Earth space a chaos of clutter. It’s not simply an issue of overcrowding. As more spacecraft become reduced to orbiting

26 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

rubble, the pieces are more likely to smash into other things, creating even more junk that endangers working equipment vital to communications, militaries around the world, the security of several nations, and the lives of humans working on a space station. Even at best, the space junk dilemma limits the number of altitudes where scientists can place satellites safely. In the past four years, events have reminded space scientists of the need to envision nearEarth space as a floating junkyard. In 2007, the explosion from a Chinese antisatellite test bashed an old Chinese craft into bits, greatly increasing the amount of space trash and upping the likelihood of future smashups. Two years later, an active American satellite collided with a spent Russian one, destroying both. Two pieces of junk turned into thousands in an instant, making attentive scientists downright nervous. “If we don’t do anything to deal with this, we’ll see another major collision within the next 10 to 15 years,” warns Marshall Kaplan, a senior researcher in the Space Department at the Applied Physics Laboratory. Kaplan is no idle observer or latent alarmist. With the help of other APL scientists, he draws on 40-plus years of space research experience and his imagination to come up with ways to deal with space junk. “The amount of debris is building exponentially. If we continue to launch [satellites] without making plans for dealing with space junk, we’ll see a chain reaction of collisions. We’ve been lucky in the last few years,” he says. The low-Earth orbit region (somewhere between 400 and 800 miles) is the cosmic equivalent of a hoarding cat lady’s house—full of used-up appliances (or, in this case, satellites), broken-off furniture pieces (parts of early-stage launch rockets and nuts and bolts shed by satellites), and litter boxes (such as the garbage bags tossed from the space station Mir). There could conceivably be more than 100,000 pieces of stuff, much of which we can’t see because some of the pieces are as small as one-half a centimeter—

tiny bits that nevertheless can tear through the wall of a space station, causing the pressure in residential cabins to plunge and leading to the deaths of those living there. “All decaying debris passes through the space station’s orbiting altitude,” Kaplan says. “If one larger piece hits that baby, it’s all over.” To deal with the problem, Kaplan, aided by Pentagon financing, has written several papers in the past four years laying out various methods for getting rid of space junk—or at least getting around it. He says governments of the world have three main options. One, they could increase observance of existing international treaties that encourage spacefaring countries to put better shielding on their satellites, limit the number of bolts and other pieces that could become loose and dislodge, and ensure that satellites have enough propellant to end their orbits and return to the atmosphere when they are no longer needed. The second option would be to devise ways of sweeping up the mess. But a lack of workable technology, worries about international cooperation, and high costs—it might take hundreds of billions of dollars—make this the least likely of the three options. (“It’ll never happen,” Kaplan says.) A third solution, one that Kaplan advocates, would take advantage of advances in computing to create and launch smaller satellites that make a smaller “footprint” in space and can be placed in lower orbits. By setting them in relatively uncluttered areas below 400 miles above Earth, nations would minimize the risk of collision and creating more junk. “Rather than attacking debris, we should concentrate on reinventing space,” Kaplan says. He adds that satellite-borne computers are much more useful and powerful now than when most existing satellites were created. Linked in new, more efficient ways, these smaller craft could provide more information to scientists and the military than the much larger satellites of years past. “There are advantages to doing things this way,” Kaplan says. “We’d be able to see any spot on Earth at any time. Right now, we don’t have that capability.” Creating a plan before an emergency strikes is the latest space-junk challenge Kaplan has taken on in his long career. While teaching at Penn State more than 40 years ago, he earned a grant from NASA to investigate ways to recover Sputnik, the benchmark Soviet satellite launched in 1957. (The craft went out of orbit before he could implement a plan.) In 1979, Kaplan was NASA’s point man in devising a safe re-entry scenario for the declining orbit of Skylab, the massive data-gathering space station that threatened

to crash onto land. His ideas helped to plunge it safely into the Indian Ocean—and made him a national celebrity, albeit briefly—though western Australia was hit with some pieces of the disintegrating station. The Skylab era featured only about 1,000 pieces of space junk. Now, he says, with debris out of control, we’re facing a much larger problem than a satellite crashing to Earth. He’s not holding his breath waiting for the world to deal with it. “A new vision of space won’t happen until it has to,” he says. “It may take a major collision or two for us to change the way we deal with this.” —MA

C o m p u te r M o d e l i n g

Dr. Sim models disaster


itting at his desk, Joshua Epstein readies a computer disaster simulation, benignly christened the “toy playground, agentbased model.” Graphically speaking, this particular computer scenario is pure Commodore 64. The playground is a green box. Inside, mostly blue dots (healthy kids) and a couple of red ones (sick kids) swirl around. Then, with the click of a mouse, Epstein unleashes a merciless flu epidemic. Soon, the kids begin to His job is to conjure bump into each other. Blues nightmare scenarios turn red and then get placed and play them out in in another square, representing the cyber realm. an infirmary or morgue. The playground empties in seconds and all that’s left is red dots. Well, almost. “We are rooting for this one blue kid to stay healthy,” says Epstein, pointing at his monitor. “But he never makes it.” Epstein, a former Brookings Institution senior fellow dubbed “Dr. Sim” by Forbes magazine, employs a dry brand of humor that serves the School of Medicine professor well in his chosen profession. His job is to conjure nightmare scenarios and play them out in the cyber realm— man-made and natural disasters such as a flu pandemic, earthquake, massive chemical spill, radioactive explosion, airborne toxin release, or tsunami. Virtually speaking, Epstein regularly sees people die—or be saved—by the millions. Summer 2010, he launched the Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Modeling in Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


Keith weller

Wholly Hopkins

Joshua Epstein, a New Yorker, sometimes wreaks simulated havoc the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, or CAM, located on the university’s Mount Washington campus. The interdisciplinary center has already attracted a wealth of renowned experts to its team, including Nobel laureates Thomas Schelling and George Akerlof, in the fields of infectious disease modeling, computer science, economics, civil engineering, epidemiology, emergency medicine, and other disciplines. The key, he says, is the center’s use of agent-based simulation modeling, which creates realistic virtual worlds populated by “agents” programmed to act like real people— they show fear, bias, competence levels, you name it. They go about their routine business until Epstein and his team inject a real or imagined threat. The agents then simulate individual human actions and multiple interactions. Say the local news reports an anthrax scare. Does one stay home from work? Flee? Ignore it? The agents will make such choices. “They do the natural or weird things human do,” says Epstein, the center’s director. “They imitate. They have bad information. They interpret things with predispositions. They change their itinerary in plausible ways.” To demonstrate the full breadth of the center’s capability, Epstein runs another scenario, one of his favorites: an airborne toxin release 28 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

over Los Angeles. (The native New Yorker playfully uses L.A. in several disaster scenarios.) In this case, a nifty 3-D simulation depicts a slow-moving red plume that drifts across the city based on known wind patterns, fluid dynamics, atmospheric chemistry, and other factors. Highway traffic, modeling up-todate transportation and population data, drives across a landscape replicated right down to the spires on top of skyscrapers. Color-coded by speed, the traffic patterns show that as more people evacuate the city, traffic throughout the metro area becomes gridlocked. Instead of complying with on Los Angeles. public emergency instructions to take shelter, Epstein says, the agents risk exposure in droves. “They go, ‘No way, I’m going to get my kids at school across town,’” he says. “You don’t want them to drive through the plume, but they are not likely to comply [with public safety instructions] if they don’t think their kids are taken care of.” CAM plays what-if games to see what costeffective and practical strategies and interventions could be used to save lives. What if more shelters were in place? What if air traffic were restricted? What if there were more or different evacuation routes? What if medical surge capacity were increased? These simulations can be applied to events on any scale, from a chemical release at a hospital to a global disease outbreak. The center’s planetary-scale agent model—a first-of-its-kind project led by Jon Parker, CAM’s senior software engineer—simulates 6.5 billion distinct individuals on a planetary map. This model was used by the National Institutes of Health to plan for emerging pathogens, including last year’s H1N1 pandemic, and has been featured in Nature. The next generation of scenarios developed by the center will feature even more sophisticated modeling, with real-time streaming and biomechanically realistic software individuals to better simulate injuries, as in the event of a stampede at a sports stadium. —Greg Rienzi

H o s p i ta l S a fe t y

Eliminating preventable harm


n November 2010, Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, issued an estimate of how many Medicare recipients came to harm while they were patients in U.S. hospitals. Levinson’s office had surveyed a sample of the 1 million Medicare patients discharged by hos­ pitals in October 2008, and deter“For every dollar mined that 27 perthe U.S. government cent, more than one spends on research… in four, had expeonly two pennies rienced “adverse or “tempogo to safety and events” rary harm events”— quality initiatives.” additional illness or complications caused by medical errors, hospital-acquired infections, substandard care, and lack of patient monitoring and assessment. Such events had also contributed to the deaths of an estimated 15,000 people in this one month and cost Medicare an estimated $324 million. Physician reviewers who participated in the study concluded that 44 percent of these events had been preventable. A new Johns Hopkins center, the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, aims to eliminate preventable harm to patients throughout the Johns Hopkins system and provide a learning laboratory to rigorously test patient safety measures for all health care facilities. The new institute is funded by a $10 million gift from C. Michael Armstrong, chairman of the board of Johns Hopkins Medicine. A previous $20 million gift from Armstrong funded construction of the Anne and Mike Armstrong Medical Education Building on the Hopkins medical campus. In a Johns Hopkins news release, Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO Edward D. Miller noted, “For every dollar the U.S. government spends on research, 98 cents are spent on finding new genes and new drugs, while only two pennies go to safety and quality initiatives.” Peter J. Pronovost, professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the School of Medicine, has been appointed the institute’s first director. —DK

Now we k n ow …Biomedical engineers led by School of Medicine professor Jennifer Elisseeff report promising results from experiments with a new composite material that helps restore soft tissue. The material begins as a liquid injected under the skin, which then hardens into a more solid structure that might have use in facial reconstruction. The researchers’ report appeared in the July 27 issue of Science Translational Medicine. …The July 20 issue of the same journal published news of a genebased test to distinguish harmless cysts from precancerous pancreatic cysts. The test—developed by 16 researchers, including several from Johns Hopkins—could help avoid unnecessary surgery to remove benign cysts. Lead author was School of Medicine research fellow Jian Wu. …Consent forms provided to volunteers for HIV/AIDS research are too long and laden with overly complicated language. Meanwhile, frequently misunderstood concepts like randomization and placebos are given insufficient explanation. Those were the findings of a detailed review of consent forms led by Nancy Kass, deputy director of public health at the Berman Institute of Bioethics.The Journal of General Internal Medicine published the study in its August issue. …School of Nursing assistant professor Sarah L. Szanton was corresponding author on a study that found education level to be a good predictor of preclinical mobility disability (PCD) in older women. Someone diagnosed with PCD has begun to compensate for mobility problems—leaning on a grocery cart, for example—without acknowledging any difficulties. PCD predicts future disabilities that might be prevented by timely intervention, and the study found that women with fewer than nine years of education were more likely to have it. …Johns Hopkins scientists studying a brain stem cell in adult mice found something unexpected: Not only can the stem cell produce specialized neurons and glial cells, it also can generate two additional stem cells. Co-author Hongjun Song, director of the Stem Cell Biology Program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering, noted in a press release that researchers might be able to exploit the unexpected property to increase brain stem cells.The study appeared in the June 24 issue of Cell. …Mathematical skill in young children correlates to an inborn primitive number sense, according to new research led by Melissa Libertus, a postdoctoral fellow in the Krieger School’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. A study of 200 4-year-olds found that the better they were at estimating the number of objects flashed on a computer monitor—a gauge of their innate feel for numbers—the higher their scores on a standardized test of rudimentary mathematics. The study appeared in the August online edition of Developmental Science. —DK Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


The Wrong Wrong Man By Margaret Guroff Photo


Sam Kittner

After weeks of interrogation, Glenn Carle concluded that the man in front of him was not the al-Qaida terrorist the CIA accused him of being. In a candid new book, he asks what happens when a government allows its fears to compromise its values.

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Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 31


he interrogation room was bare except for a few metal chairs, and its tan walls looked as if they hadn’t been painted in decades. A single transom window stood cracked open slightly, but it couldn’t relieve the room’s stuffy air. Outside, beyond view, lay the hot, dusty streets of North Africa. The prisoner—identified by the CIA as a top al-Qaida official—sat motionless, his salmon jumpsuit stretched across a middle-aged paunch. Glenn Carle, SAIS ’85, a career CIA spy, knelt before him. “We do not have much time,” Carle told the prisoner, whom he refers to by the code name CAPTUS. “The situation is changing.” It was autumn of 2002, and Carle had been interrogating the man for weeks. During that time he’d gained the prisoner’s trust, using the same skills he’d honed as a case officer when he manipulated foreign nationals into revealing their countries’ secrets. Carle schmoozed, he chastised, he cajoled . . . whatever it took to ingratiate himself. By now, CAPTUS answered most of Carle’s questions freely—and, as far as Carle could tell, honestly. But there were a few key matters the prisoner wouldn’t discuss. And Carle’s superiors at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, were running out of patience. Carle urged CAPTUS to come clean. The man had already been kidnapped by American agents off a Middle Eastern street and rendered, in the parlance, to this foreign jail, his whereabouts known only to his captors. He was being held in solitary confinement, without charge or explanation. And unless he revealed everything he knew about al-Qaida, Carle told him, his situation would get even worse: “You will be taken to a much, much nastier place.” CAPTUS clenched his hands together so hard that his fingers turned white. He tried to object, but Carle wouldn’t listen. Carle needed CAPTUS to change his mind. If he didn’t, Carle knew, they’d both soon be transferred to a so-called black site, part of a secret network of CIA-run prisons where the most dangerous terrorist suspects were held. Carle had two reasons for hoping to prevent the transfer. For one thing, he had serious doubts about the legality of the interrogation techniques then in use at the black sites. But his other reason was darker still. During their daily conversations, Carle had come to believe that CAPTUS was not the top terrorist the CIA accused him of being. Yes, he had done business with al-Qaida but only because he’d had no choice. CAPTUS was like “a small shop owner who is doing business with the mob,” Carle says. And now, the man feared admitting any contact with the terror network, lest he provide the grounds for his own execution. In nightly cables back to headquarters, Carle conveyed his mounting concerns about the case. But his orders kept coming back the same: Press him harder. 32 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

Carle believes that, after years of painstaking surveillance—and in the heightened emotions of the post-9/11 world—the CIA bureaucracy simply wouldn’t consider the possibility that they’d gotten the wrong man.


oday, Glenn Carle is a recognized expert on antiterrorism. Retired from the CIA since 2007, he writes essays and appears on panels organized by think tanks such as the New America Foundation on the nature and reach of al-Qaida. In May, when headlines trumpeted Osama bin Laden’s killing, the New York Times was among the news outlets that turned to Carle for comment. Then in July, Carle made headlines of his own, publishing The Interrogator: An Education (Nation Books), a damning memoir of his involvement in the CAPTUS case. Unusually candid in its portrayal of the CIA’s internal workings—and the toll the agency’s moral gray zones take on its operatives—Carle’s book sparked a new discussion on the excesses of the global war on terror. Though the agency has made no formal response to the charges raised in the book, some loyalists have mounted a whispering campaign claiming that Carle is misinformed about the CAPTUS case—or, worse, that he’s lying. Then, too, Carle also faces criticism from opponents of the CIA’s actions: that his confessional memoir is too little, too late. As an agent, Carle was sworn to secrecy about whom he met and what he did. Everything he ever writes about the CIA must pass through an agency board of censors, who slashed about 40 percent of his original manuscript for The Interrogator, excising whole chapters and leaving scenes largely blacked out. To a lay reader, the book is baffling in places; one reviewer called it “by far one of the most frustrating books I have attempted to read in years.” But despite the challenges and criticism, Carle says, he felt he had to come forward. “I worked in, and know about, significant issues of national concern,” he says. “The public should know what we are doing—and most particularly, what we have done to ourselves.” Since 9/11, the CIA has rendered at least 150 terror suspects, capturing them on foreign streets and spiriting them off for imprisonment in other foreign countries. (Because these operations are covert, their exact number is unknown.) Empowered by the so-called torture memos of 2002—secret White House documents that authorized severe “enhanced interrogation techniques” for these prisoners—CIA agents subjected many to treatment widely considered torture, including sleep deprivation, cramped confinement (with or without an insect), and even, in a few cases, waterboarding. The root of this policy, some experts now say, was an outsized fear of al-Qaida as a coordinated, worldwide

army of terrorists. “In the post-9/11 hysteria, we assumed the worst,” says counterterrorism expert Marc Sageman, principal of Sageman Consulting. “We thought these guys were 10 feet tall, and that they knew far more than they did know.” In fact, he adds, though al-Qaida was and remains a virulent threat, its reach was always limited, with few ties to the patchwork of regional terrorist entities worldwide with which it was once conflated. Fear caused Americans to betray their own ideals, Sageman argues. By implementing punishments considered too cruel for convicted U.S. criminals, “we did engage in collective hysteria, to the point that we are threatening American values.”


APTUS wouldn’t budge, despite Carle’s pleadings. And so, as Carle recounts in The Interrogator, the CIA airlifted both men to a rocky, desolate moonscape of a country. (Carle won’t name it, but clues in the book point to Afghanistan.) There, CAPTUS was held in a U.S.–run prison Carle calls “Hotel California”—a dank, freezing warren of pitchblack passageways, where heavy metal music blared round the clock to agitate and disorient the inmates.

actually been involved in. During one heated exchange, Carle asked CAPTUS about an issue that was “not fundamental” to his mission, he says. Even though the stakes were low, CAPTUS belligerently refused to answer. “What are you doing to me? This is horrible,” CAPTUS spat. “I’ll never tell you. You can kill me.” Carle never saw CAPTUS physically tortured. But as he watched his human connection with the man deteriorate during the prisoner’s psychologically brutal confinement at Hotel California, Carle became convinced that such techniques were “not just cruel and futile but counterproductive,” he says. Though he didn’t know it at the time, FBI interrogators had already come to the same conclusion. That agency had been questioning suspects for decades, and its traditional strategy is to build rapport with the suspect and seek common ground, not to alienate him with threats or abuse. As top FBI interrogator Ali Soufan has revealed, traditional interrogation techniques led to crucial early al-Qaida revelations such as the identity of the 9/11 attack’s mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. “There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques [during that interrogation] that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained

CAPTUS’ face bore marks of mistreatment. “He looked awful,” Glenn Carle recalls now. “He was a complete mess. I was horrified.” When Carle next saw CAPTUS, the prisoner lay chained on the floor of a windowless, 10-by-6 cell with a heavy steel door. He had one small blanket to protect him from the bone-chilling cold. Instead of a salmon jumpsuit, CAPTUS now wore faded, ratty pajamas that were much too small for him—clothing purposely chosen by his captors to humiliate him, Carle says. And CAPTUS’ face bore marks of mistreatment, though CIA censors won’t allow Carle to describe or explain them. “He looked awful,” Carle recalls now. “He was a complete mess. I was horrified.” The change in CAPTUS’ attitude, Carle says, “was instantaneous, dramatic, clear, and as I had forewarned. He was miserable and terrified and furious.” Carle tried to make things easier on the prisoner—for example, by arranging for a second blanket—but there was little of substance he could do. Over the following two weeks, CAPTUS grew less and less cooperative. He denied knowing people Carle knew that he knew. He claimed ignorance of events he’d

from regular tactics,” he wrote in a 2009 New York Times op-ed. “In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions.”


itting at a wooden table in the Bethesda, Maryland, Barnes & Noble where he does all his writing, Carle is explaining how he first got into the spy business. At 55, his easy bearing marks him as a lifelong athlete—Carle’s hockey and football exploits earned him a spot in his high school’s athletic hall of fame—and he has the down-tilted eyes and unlined cheeks of a world-weary imp, part Paul McCartney, part Regis Philbin. After graduating from Harvard and studying international relations in France, Carle took a job with an international bank—“the standard path for a Harvard graduate,” he says wryly. Feeling stifled, he soon quit the bank’s training program without a plan and moved Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 33

back into the 14-room Victorian house in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he’d grown up. “I’m at home, waiting on tables, thinking, holy shit, I’m 25 years old. What am I going to do?” he recalls. Casting about for a profession that would challenge him “intellectually and morally, and maybe even physically,” Carle hit on diplomacy, then espionage: “I thought, being a spy— that must be wild. Why don’t I try that?” Carle enrolled at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and majored in European studies, with the goal of joining either the Foreign Service or the CIA. In the end, he got both jobs, doing diplomatic work at U.S. embassies as a cover for his clandestine work. It was as a “diplomat” in Paris in the late 1980s that he met his wife, Sally, a Brit. When, four years later, Sally accepted Carle’s marriage proposal and he confided his true profession, she laughed. “You, a spy?” she asked. To Sally, Carle was an absentminded professor. “If he can’t remember three things at the supermarket,” she asks now, “how could he possibly be a spy?” Carle admits to a certain distraction about some of life’s details. Along with being a certified jock—he still works out daily—Carle is a compulsive reader who favors the classics and science fiction. (He has read the Lord of the Rings trilogy nine times so far.) “I will forget appointments because I’ll be reading Plato,” he says. Moreover, Carle suffers from another constitutional handicap: According to those who know him best, he doesn’t like to lie. “Glenn’s the all-American boy,” says one college friend. “He’s honest to the point of being impolitic.” The duplicity required to talk foreigners out of their secrets came hard to Carle. “It was a bit against the grain of my personality,” he says. With practice, though, he learned the seductive art of asset recruitment—befriending useful foreign nationals and manipulating them to his country’s ends. “I exploited people’s deepest hopes, won their deepest trust, so that they provided me what my government wanted,” he writes in his memoir. Carle wasn’t trained as an interrogator—at the time, no CIA case officer was. Before 9/11, holding and questioning prisoners wasn’t part of the agency’s portfolio. But Carle was a skilled case officer with superior language skills. What’s more, he spent years working on counterterrorism before 9/11. So when CAPTUS was rendered, Carle got the call.


evelations about brutal questioning techniques were made in press reports in 2005, and public pressure forced the Bush administration to put a stop to enhanced interrogation. When President Barack Obama took office, he repudiated the methods as illegal. But some architects of the Bush war on terror con-

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A self-portrait, taken at midnight. “My camel and I cast a gray shadow against the sand in the moonlight,” Glenn Carle writes in The Interrogator, “my body swaying with each step he took.”

tinue to argue for their efficacy—a fact that drives Carle batty. Shortly after bin Laden’s death, he recalls, “keepers of the Bush administration flame” took to the airwaves to claim that the success was due to intelligence gathered during enhanced interrogations—a claim for which there’s no basis, many experts say. “They’re just utterly shameless,” sputters Carle. “But I shouldn’t be surprised at that. It’s all malarkey. The facts as I understand them are that the critical piece of information was obtained a year after enhanced interrogation ceased.” According to journalist Jeff Stein, a former Army intelligence officer who writes a blog called SpyTalk, the persistence of a faith in torture makes The Interrogator a welcome addition to the literature. “A lot of people really still believe that torturing people is the best way to get valuable evidence,” he says. “If another book comes out that offers a firsthand rebuttal of that view, that’s good. That’s valuable.” (It was Stein who first reported that John Kiriakou, an ex-CIA case officer who in 2007 broadly asserted the quick efficacy of waterboarding in the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, had recanted his claims.) But Carle says that renouncing enhanced interrogation is not the only goal of the book. Even if the worst excesses have ended, the CIA still holds an unknown number of prisoners in foreign jails without charge, along with other uncharged prisoners held by the U.S. military. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, many there since 2001, had a right to file habeas corpus petitions: lawsuits requiring the U.S. government to present valid reasons for their detention. Since then, 200 such petitions have been filed, and at least 38 prisoners have been released. But prisoners at other foreign sites—including an estimated 1,700 men, mostly Afghan fighters, held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan—have no right to habeas corpus, the courts have ruled.


fter 10 weeks with CAPTUS, Carle was replaced by a colleague ordered to keep the case going at all costs, Carle writes. He says he can’t remember his last meeting with CAPTUS, but he knows that when he left, he didn’t say goodbye. Carle spent his last night crafting two final, blistering cables to headquarters pleading for CAPTUS’ release, but he never heard a word about them. Carle has had no further contact with CAPTUS. He followed the prisoner’s case, though, when it emerged in the press. In the mid-2000s, a human rights group filed a writ of habeas corpus on CAPTUS’ behalf, but it was denied because he was not a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. Then, sometime last year, “he was let go, with an apology from the U.S. government,” Carle says with a snort of contempt. “It corroborates every point I made when I was handling the case. It’s a sorry tale from beginning to end.” Though the erstwhile interrogator is barred by CIA oath from revealing the name of his prisoner—“I’ve never said his name, even to my lawyer,” Carle claims—journalists have identified him as Haji Pacha Wazir, an Afghan moneylender captured in Dubai in 2002 and released in February 2010. Carle argues that each terror suspect still held should be allowed to petition for his freedom—both for humanitarian reasons and for the preservation of American ideals. “The foundation of Western civilization is habeas corpus,” Carle says. “It’s a big deal to keep someone chained to a wall in the dark for eight years, uncharged.” An assault on the rights of anyone, even our enemies, threatens us all, he argues. “Americans assume we are in some way intrinsically above state failure,” he says. “But Hobbes wrote that the mantle of civilization is very thin. It’s easily torn off, so that one is left a shivering, feeble soul, exposed to the harsh elements.” The government’s justification for holding these prisoners is that they are enemy combatants who can be detained until the end of the war on terror—whenever that may be. Although President Obama has improved the process allowing prisoners to petition for release, he has also reaffirmed the country’s right to hold some prisoners indefinitely without charge.


arle served five more years in the CIA, retiring as deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats. He now lives with Sally and their two teenagers in a handsome gray clapboard house near downtown Bethesda. Since his book appeared, he says, the one question everyone asks him is why he didn’t leave the CIA after his wrenching experience with CAPTUS. It’s something that could be asked of any case officer at any time, he responds coolly: “The work of a case officer

is often murky and morally ambivalent. One has to accept that operations will frequently run counter to one’s personal wishes.” But when he retired and was able to speak out more publicly, his mind returned to CAPTUS. He knew that by writing a book about the case, he was opening himself up to criticism for not speaking sooner, for failing to free the prisoner. He also knew he faced a backlash from the agency, potentially harming his chances of finding consulting work in the field, a common second career. But he felt that the story needed to be told. “At some point, one has to say, ‘No, enough,’” says Carle. The CIA’s press office did not respond to requests for comment on The Interrogator. But it did comment on an accusation Carle made in the New York Times in July. In that story, Carle charged that the Bush White House asked the CIA to provide personally damaging information about one of its critics, a University of Michigan professor. Carle objected to the request and believes he shut it down. CIA officials admitted to the Times that the White House had inquired about the professor but denied that it sought sensitive personal information. “I was surprised that they acknowledged anything,” says Carle, who adamantly stands by his account. Carle is not the first former spy to write about his time in the clandestine service. But his book is unusual in its attempt to depict the agency’s internal workings so directly, says David Ignatius, a columnist for the Washington Post: “It’s rare to see a book this honest about what’s under the skin.” Valerie Plame Wilson, the former CIA operative whose cover was blown by the Bush White House after her husband, Joe Wilson, challenged the administration’s justification for going to war with Iraq, says Carle’s book surprised even her. “Joe and I had seen the lengths to which the administration was prepared to go to twist facts to fit preconceived conclusions,” she says. “But I had not understood how pervasive that attitude was within the bowels of the bureaucracy. It really is the banality of evil.” In a blurb for the book, she and Wilson jointly write, “This is a damning story, and a nation of laws would demand an investigation into whether crimes were committed.” But Carle is not calling for a criminal investigation. What he’s calling for, he says, is the truth. “Vengeance doesn’t strengthen justice,” he says. “The only way you guard against individuals in power wrapping themselves in the flag and subverting institutions that are supposed to embody the flag is to cast light on the dangers, because human nature will not change.” Margaret Guroff, A&S ’89 (MA), is a magazine editor in Washington, D.C. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 35




We’d like to think our biggest brains could crack nature’s knottiest mysteries. But some seemingly simple phenomena still lie beyond the veil of human knowledge.

By Michael Anft Illustrations



Stephanie Dalton Cowan

e laugh. We blush. We kiss. But why? What, evolutionarily speaking, are the advantages of swapping germs with someone when a sloppy smackeroo is hardly integral to propagating the species? We travel on a smallish stone that orbits a yellow dwarf of a star on the edge of one of billions of galaxies in the universe. Where did all these galaxies come from? Our bodies and minds respond to the fake-out that happens when sugar pills are substituted for medicine. What makes the so-called placebo effect work? Never mind the enduring mysteries surrounding cancer and other incurable diseases, or the enigma of the disappearing contents of your sock drawer. Scientists remain daunted by some of the most basic questions regarding human behavior, the cosmos, and the building blocks of life. The list of what science doesn’t know is voluminous. Unraveling 14 billion years of natural history—the machinations of the universe, of cells, molecules, atoms, quarks, of why animals and humans do what they do—in the few short centuries that humanity has hashed out and honed the scientific method is a task that slogs along at its own cautious pace. Despite endless questioning, layer upon layer of observations, and long lab hours, science continues to be mocked by nature—or at least made to toss and turn at night. Here are six “problems” that have science stumped.

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Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 37

What makes up 95 percent of the universe? The answer to the most basic of questions—what’s out there?—has been undergoing constant revision for millennia. Aristotle thought all could be explained by the quartet of earth, air, fire, and water. During the past century or two, various discoverers of the smallest of things—atoms, electrons, quarks, and other subatomic particles—posited that these tiny bits of matter made up each iota of the Great Beyond, and Earth, too. It turns out that atoms and other particles we know and understand only make up about 5 percent of the whole shebang. Decades ago, astrophysicists who had attempted to “weigh” all the matter and energy in the universe knew that their calculations added up to an impossibly large figure, given that most of space is, well, space. How to explain it? In 1998, an international team of researchers, including Harvard postdoc Adam Riess, now a Johns Hopkins professor of physics and astronomy, investigated the light emanating from exploding stars billions of years old. Riess found that those stars were racing away—a sign not only that the universe is expanding, as Edwin Hubble had posited in 1929, but that it is moving outward faster and faster all the time. The underlying cause impelling everything in the universe to accelerate apart is now called dark energy, a kind of antigravity that weightlessly takes up space. “Dark energy could be nothing more than how much nothing weighs,” says Chuck Bennett, a professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins. It could also be the “cosmological constant,” a quantity put forth by Albert Einstein to serve as a counterweight to gravity. We now know that Einstein’s reasoning for introducing this alleged constant was wrong, but the cosmological constant, with a different value than Einstein’s, is the current favorite candidate for dark energy. We also know that dark energy accounts for about 74 percent of the universe. Subsequent telescope studies led by Bennett that focused on cosmic microwave background radiation, remnants of light that date from the Big Bang, con38 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

firmed the existence of another “dark” entity that coyly suffuses the universe with strange bits of stuff. Called dark matter, it is unresponsive to light and radiation and not made of atoms. It accounts for about 21 percent of the universe’s energy density. Dark matter contains mass, which will lead to its being detected, measured more accurately, and characterized. Thousands of scientists, including a few dozen from Johns Hopkins, are smashing specks of matter together at unprecedented energies in a subterranean supercollider in Switzerland to see if they can create and detect dark matter. Others are trying to detect it as it passes through old mine shafts in Minnesota. “We’ll see some amazing developments that help us explain dark matter, possibly in three to five years,” predicts Jonathan Bagger, vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral programs at Johns Hopkins and a professor of physics and astronomy. “The roof will blow off of science as we discover dark matter on Earth underground.” But there’s still the infinite issue of what’s going on outside that roof. “We really don’t have much of a handle on dark energy,” concedes Bagger. Which means we still won’t know what constitutes about three-quarters of everything we “know.”

Why do we need to sleep?

A sk anybody who has worked a double shift or spent the night cramming for an exam—a night without sleep is like a day without air. Humans crumble without eight or so hours of nightly shut-eye. When our sleep is regularly disrupted, we become much more sensitive to pain. Our organs and central nervous system become much less efficient. If we’re limited to four hours of sleep, our white blood cells create high levels of inflammation that lead to disease. If we log four hours of snooze time for each of six consecutive nights, we’ll develop insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to weight gain and, eventually, diabetes. Our mood suffers; only clinically depressed people improve their condition by sleeping less. It’s even worse for an insomniac rat, whose inability to maintain its immune system, metabolism, and body temperature proves fatal.

It’s nearly universal throughout zoology—all critters, save shrews and a few plants, need to sleep, hibernate, or otherwise shut down. But why? Two prevailing theories argue that sleep either restores the energy we need to thrive, or it helps us adapt to threats. Both concepts turn on the idea that evolution made us sleep for a reason, which seems like a convenient fact to relay to your boss on the days you show up late. “Sleep leaves us vulnerable to predators in the wild. It’s a potentially dangerous state,” says Michael Smith, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Johns Hopkins. “So, evolutionarily, it had to serve important functions.”

Smith, who studies the link between sleep deprivation and pain, sees value in both theories. “It may be a fine-tuning system for the organism. It’s restorative,” he says. Some researchers testing that hypothesis search for a vital chemical or substance in the body that is either fully synthesized or broken down only during sleep. Others are looking for evidence that pathways in the brain could conceivably get the rest and recharging they need to fully function during the energy-consuming hours of the day. But there’s evidence to counter that—and that’s where the adaptive theory comes into play. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, neurons in the brain fire as if we’re awake. The brain is far from

rest, churning out the detailed dreams we tend to remember. Certain types of memories are stored and consolidated during REM sleep—it’s not for nothing, apparently, that we’re told we’ll make a better decision after sleeping on it. “REM might have something to do with wiring our nervous system when we’re very young, including when we’re fetuses,” adds Smith. All of which would help an emerging intelligent species adapt and survive better. An adaptive mechanism aided by sleep could help make our brains better at learning and retaining things. But not everyone buys all of that. Having enough juice in the tank to make it through the next day might have more to do with it. “It may all come down to energy,” says Samer Hattar, an associate professor of biology at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Hattar has studied sleep and circadian rhythms in various species for 18 years. “Whenever there is a limit on energy—the sun to make it and oxygen to fuel functions—animals tend to shut down. That fits with our ideas about circadian rhythms and why we developed them. It’s important to maximize the time when you can gather energy.” Bats, for example, sleep more than 20 hours a day, saving energy for the few hours of the day when the insects they feed on are out and about. Hattar doesn’t believe the sleep-is-dangerous hype, either. Animals that aren’t moving are less likely to draw the attention of predators, he says. Sleep can be a form of hiding. “Sleep can be advantageous because when you don’t need to get energy, you can shut down and conserve what you have,” he says. In addition to debating reasons for why we sleep, scientists still kick around how we regulate the amount of sleep we get and how the lack of it ties into the development of diseases. But science has only investigated sleep intensively for about 60 years—nowhere near long enough to figure out exactly why we spend one-third of our lives dead to the world. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 39

How do we come to make decisions? We’ve basically been programmed by evolution to make decisions that lead us to eat, drink, have sex, and seek other pleasures. The question is, how do we make decisions that require higher thinking? Like all matters relating to gray matter, the answers aren’t clear. “We probably don’t know 99 percent about how the brain does what it does,” says Charles “Ed” Connor, a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute. Still, researchers are making great inroads in understanding things at the cellular and molecular levels, he adds. They understand that the brain collects information delivered by the senses, and when that data reaches a critical mass, parts of the prefrontal cortex act as judge and jury, leading us to come to a conclusion. “We know from human behavioral experiments that context in decision making is very important,” says Veit Stuphorn, an assistant professor at the Brain Science Institute. “That implies that there is a computational process, and that decision making isn’t something preordained or deterministic.” A highly developed—and largely not understood— system that assigns levels of value to each option we mull

over might explain it all. The brain calls up and computes stimuli based on what it values, and then pulls the situational trigger, thousands of times a day. But how does it get there? Which basic brain cells (called neurons) fire when? Chemically speaking, how does the brain assign a value to something? And how does it work to decide which value among many is more valuable at a given moment? Stuphorn and his ilk are in the dark, feeling around with the help of experimental rhesus monkeys, hoping they grab onto some clues. They use a monkey’s thirst, computer images, and electrodes to see how he makes a choice between competing visual stimuli. “When we make a monkey thirsty, we increase the value of water to him, and that affects what decision he’ll make,” Stuphorn explains. His staff denies the monkey water for most of the previous day. If on the next day the monkey looks intently at a correctly colored light among two shown on a video screen, as he has been trained to do, he receives water through a tube. With the help of imaging technology, Stuphorn can identify the individual neurons the monkey uses to make simple choices as he makes them.

The Miracle of Science?

replanting it with hardy rubber trees, the availability of rubber would skyrocket. He called the venture “Fordlandia.” By 1936, Ford got more than a hint that his faith in science would not be rewarded. Although Edison found that goldenrod had some potential as a rubber source, Ford and Firestone, disappointed in the Wizard of Menlo Park’s results, backed out of the lab. A decade or so later, Fordlandia shut down after Ford’s botanists learned too late that South American rubber trees remained healthy only if scattered throughout copses of other native trees. The lesson? Even piles of money, the drive of one of the 20th century’s “great men,” and the best scientific minds couldn’t produce progress on demand. And yet in our age, when scientific discovery is often conflated with economic development and the march of technology, that lesson is often forgotten. “The wheel was invented in ancient Babylon, an axle was added a while later, and up till the steam engine, we really didn’t add anything new,” says Maria Portuondo, assistant professor of the history of science and technology at the Krieger School. “Science and technology sometimes seem to produce these explosions, these bolts out of the blue, followed by quiet periods.Then they might begin to make more astounding discoveries.”

Knowledge produced from research has cured diseases, fueled technological revolutions, and explained much of the explainable. But do we put too much faith in scientific progress? During the Roaring ’20s, car sales boomed and fortunes grew, and yet Henry Ford was hardly happy. The tire rubber he needed to keep his assembly lines rolling came exclusively from foreign sources and cost a ransom. So in 1927, Ford called on a friend, celebrity inventor and scientist Thomas Alva Edison, to discover a domestic source of natural rubber. Ford and tire magnate Harvey Firestone set Edison up in Florida, where he explored 17,000 plants, looking for one that could be used to make rubber. A year later, Ford shipped a notable delegation of his Michigan brain trust and several million dollars on boats through the Amazon jungle, opening up what he hoped would be the Western Hemisphere’s answer to the British monopoly on bulk rubber in the East. Ford reasoned that by tearing down the jungle and 40 JJohns ohns H Hopkins opkins M Magazine agazine • • FFall all 2011 2011 40

But a good monkey can only take research so far. Stuphorn says he needs to measure 10 to 20 neurons at a time to answer basic questions about variability in decision making—and the technology to do that is just now being honed. “We are only at the beginning,” says Stuphorn, speaking for neuroscientific research as a whole. “We can see that certain neurons represent certain variables, like the action values. But why do they show this activity pattern? We don’t understand the connections between neurons, so we need to record from multiple neurons simultaneously to find some answers. We’re just starting to establish how to do that.”

In February 1974, a devastating earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale roiled Haicheng, a city in northeastern China that was home to 1 million people. Seismic disasters were nothing new to China, and in fact had become more than a bit of a specter during the 1960s, when hundreds of thousands of people in several Chinese cities had been killed. But the Haicheng event was different. Thousands of peasants and scores of their

local leaders had been trained by Chairman Mao’s central government to monitor events in and around northeastern China for harbingers of earthquakes. In the months before the quake, peasant reporters noted changing water levels in wells, new geysers, snakes that abandoned hibernation and then died on frozen ground, and a scurrying horde of rats. When a foreshock hit Haicheng, authorities ordered it evacuated. When the ground started rolling in earnest five hours later, most of the city’s residents were too far away to watch 90 percent of the city crumble into dust. Only 2,000 people died—many fewer than the 150,000 that ordinarily would have died had there been no evacuation. The success of the Chinese government awakened the seismic community. Had humanity finally figured out a way to predict the date and place of an earthquake? Federal officials in the United States began to push for more studies on how to do that in California, where the San Andreas Fault looms as a promise of calamity. And then, two years later, an earthquake that neglected to offer a foreshock as a warning flattened the Chinese city of Tangshan, killing 250,000. The work of Mao’s minions there had gone for naught. The California studies, predictably enough in hindsight, didn’t yield much either. Using patterns of earthquakes to predict when and where the Next Big One might strike, the U.S. Geological Survey’s estimates were off—not just by years but decades. “We learned an awful lot about California’s geology but not much about predicting earthquakes,” says Peter Olson, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at the Krieger School.

Those “bolts” are often produced not by lone geniuses, Portuondo adds, but by thinkers who, as Isaac Newton put it, stand on the shoulders of giants. And it takes time. A century after Copernicus published his argument for a heliocentric solar system, Newton developed the math that fully explained it. “The modern notion of progress doesn’t understand the pace of science,” Portuondo says. President Richard Nixon promised a cure for cancer in five to 10 years—40 years ago. More recently, when scientists pushed for billions of dollars in federal government support to complete the mapping of the entire human genome, they pledged that genomic discoveries would create a new generation of diseasefighting drugs. Yet, eight years after the entire human genome was sequenced, drug companies and disease sufferers are still waiting for the payoff. “In general, scientists need to stop making unrealistic promises,” Portuondo says. “We used to see that with the space program, which was sold as a program of scientific discovery but was, in fact, a Cold War technology program with science as a secondary, though important, component.” Researchers who investigate disease say it’s too much to expect them to instantly unravel the molecular biochem-

istry and genetics of illnesses, in the wake of genome mapping. “The Human Genome Project remains a beacon of faith for many researchers,” says Andrew Feinberg, professor of molecular medicine at the School of Medicine. He says that science has and will continue to rise to certain needs. “Look at HIV. Twenty years ago, it was a death sentence. Now, it’s a live-with-the-disease sentence” because of a concerted effort to identify it and isolate drugs that could slow down the virus that causes AIDS. “The public has gotten an incredible payout for the money it’s spent. Overwhelmingly, what we’ve learned from the Human Genome Project is a huge positive for public health and for new knowledge. Everyone will benefit from it.” Eventually, science finds ways to get where it wants to go. Soon after Henry Ford’s failures 75 years ago, the world would be overrun with rubber. During World War II, American scientists created large amounts of synthetic rubber. Even though development of “new” rubber was aided by need—the bulk of the world’s rubber trees were in enemy territory at the time— the incident at least hints that scientific discovery moves at a productive, if unpredictable, pace. —MA

When will an earthquake strike?

ohns H Hopkins opkins M Magazine agazine • • FFall all 2011 2011 41 41 JJohns

Even though Haicheng offered hope for researchers during the 1970s and 1980s, the faith of seismologists in making predictions is much more shaky these days. They can say with some degree of probability where earthquakes will strike and how strong they might be. But matching the coordinates of time and place is still impossible. “For insurance purposes, we can statistically predict them, but not with any certainty regarding time,” says Olson. Science still lacks the basic understanding of how the Earth’s crust churns and maneuvers. “With plate tectonics, we understand the geometry but not the dynamics,” says Olson. “We don’t understand the pressures and forces and how they play into seismic activity. We need to learn about the physical properties of the Earth’s crust 100 kilometers deep, and we’re not there yet.” About the animals-know-first theory that the Chinese used as part of their prediction method—there is some evidence for it. One recent study says that the common toad could serve as the earthquake’s canary in a coal mine. Somehow, though, it’s hard to imagine that scientists would call for the evacuation of thousands of people because of some jumpy amphibians.

How many people on the planet is too many?

In 1798, an Anglican clergyman and scholar named Thomas Robert Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population, a dim prediction of population growth. The world’s skein of humanity was approaching 1 billion then, and educated people were starting to wonder how many needy, greedy humans Earth could hold before food and other resources ran out—what demographers and public health scientists now term carrying capacity. Malthus’ formulation was dour: The world’s food supply grows mathematically, or by addition, while human populations boom with the fecundity of geometry, by multiplication. In the absence of famine and disease, a booming population would exceed the world’s capacity to provide. Since then, the world has added 6 billion people, with the prospect of 2 billion more by 2050. For most of the past century, Malthus has been derided as the

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Grim Reaper of demography, an exemplar of cynicism and limited thinking. Humanity, after all, has overrun its big blue marble of a planet, and yet, notable numbers of people live in the lap of luxury, free from worries about food and, largely, premature death from diseases. Human ingenuity has circumvented Malthus. Or has it? One billion people, one-seventh of the global count, don’t get enough to eat each day. “If you think 1 billion underfed people is OK, then I guess we can support the number of people we have now,” says Robert Lawrence, a professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future. “But if the term carrying capacity truly means feeding all the world’s people, then we’re not there at all.” Such observations throw a monkey wrench into attempts to calculate a reasonable estimate of how many people Earth can hold. Complicating matters further is that another 1 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, with many of them living in areas where agriculture supports a huge herd of livestock—hardly the most efficient users of food, Lawrence adds. If the Western diet were different, could the Earth take care of those who don’t get enough to eat, and maybe more of those to come? Trends are running counter to that thinking. Much of the rest of the developing world, including China and India, is beginning to mimic our eating habits, seeking out more meat and dairy foods. Lawrence estimates that if everyone ate like we do, the world could support about 4 billion people—that’s 3 billion people ago. Phenomena relating to climate change and peak oil, the point at which total fossil fuel supplies begin to diminish, make coming up with a firm maximum number of well-supported earthlings impossible. (“They’re wild cards,” says Lawrence.) Environmental degradation

wrought from digging for dwindling energy supplies, metals, and minerals limits the amount of habitat humanity can use for farming or grazing. And the increasing use of water threatens food supplies, too. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s water is currently used for agriculture. But with growing development and prosperity, much of that supply will be threatened. Will limiting agricultural growth act as a brake on population, as Malthus theorized? How might the future look, if population continues to rise and humanity doesn’t get a handle on its pressing climate and resources problems? Lawrence says that depleted, environmentally tenuous countries like Haiti and Niger, where a majority live in squalor, offer clues. “Their populations have outstripped the country’s ability to support them,” says Lawrence. “They exist because of the assistance of the rest of the world. These are examples of the Malthusian dilemma, at the country level.” Although some demographers believe that aging populations in the West and in China and Japan will slow worldwide growth sometime around 2035 to 2050, Lawrence says we’re more likely to see decaying and empty landscapes surrounded by larger, more populous ones, not an overall drop in the rate of human propagation. What happens after that is anybody’s guess—as is how long we’ll be able to support a planet teeming with folks. Two centuries’ worth of history have proved Malthus wrong—though in the long run, the old man may end up having the last wicked laugh.

Are we alone?

As scientists, starting in earnest in the 1960s, awakened to the possibility of an Earth overrun, they began plotting a way out. Way, way out. Astrophysicists turned their imaginations toward looking into space for celestial bodies that would be kind to human habitation. After 50 years of space travel, they have begun to alight, figuratively speaking, on exoplanets—bodies like Earth that circle stars elsewhere in our galaxy. Within the past year and a half, NASA’s Kepler telescope mission has transmitted images and information that show that millions of exoplanets exist. “Kepler has found that there are lots of ‘Earths’ out there in terms of mass,” says Richard Conn Henry, a professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins. “The question is, do any have an oxygen atmosphere like ours does?” Such an atmosphere would create the possibility that humans could one day relocate to a new planet with

resources of its own. But the possible existence of Earthlike exoplanets raises another question: What if there are planets or moons out there that are already inhabited? What if we’re not alone? Already we know that Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, features a liquid subsurface ocean that could, conceivably, support life. And Titan, a methane-enshrouded moon of Saturn, offers the kind of disequilibrium between planet and atmosphere that excites scientists searching for extraterrestrial life. Along with other scientists around the world, Henry searches for intelligent life. He is one of several investigators around the globe who will use the Allen Telescope Array, financed by a wealthy Microsoft executive, in a search for radio waves from extraterrestrial civilizations. He says he has little doubt that life is Out There Somewhere, though the circumstances of Earth, a planet on the edge of a galaxy and away from central black holes and bombarding radiation, might mean that our kind of life is relatively rare. “I doubt very seriously that the universe is Manhattan,” says Henry. Still, many astrobiologists and cosmologists believe that Earth may be the universe’s New York, New York; if we can make it here, life can make it anywhere. Is any of it hyperintelligent enough to broadcast its knowledge throughout the cosmos? Henry is hopeful that beings more intelligent than we are—perhaps the products of a planet with a 10-billionyear history of evolving life, as opposed to Earth’s 4 billion years—will send us a message, possibly after watching from their planet as the Earth and moon travel across the light of the sun. If they did contact us, “we’d be receiving an Encyclopaedia Galactica from beings that likely have been around for perhaps 100 million years,” says Henry. “The analogy I make is if Socrates had a phone on his desk, and one of our experts now who knows ancient Greek magically called him, what would Greek civilization end up with? McDonald’s. We’d basically wreck their civilization.” We’d be the Greeks this time around. Emulating an advanced culture would ruin ours. Despite that glum prospect, Henry says he’d welcome a communiqué from the other side of the galaxy with open ears—a stance that epitomizes the spirit of scientific inquiry. “I’d have mixed feelings about it all,” he says. “But I’d listen.” Michael Anft is a senior writer for Johns Hopkins Magazine. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 43

Saving Hart Crane Forty years ago, John Irwin embarked on a mission: to rescue one of America’s most polarizing poets from his own excesses.

By David Dudley Illustration


n our second meeting, I tell John Irwin that I’ve been busy reading his favorite poet, Hart Crane. Like most civilians in the provinces outside university literature programs, I’d had scant experience with Crane, an American poet of huge ambition and unsteady temperament who died in 1932 at the age of 32. He left behind a small, knotty body of work that is invariably described as “difficult.” That’s enough to scare off most casual readers. Some people passionately love Hart Crane. Others consider his work either grandly flawed or completely terrible. And a great many in-betweens vaguely recognize the man’s name, wonder if he’s related to Stephen Crane (he’s not), but have never actually read his poems. That’s where I was, but now I’d just spent a week with Crane’s verse. It’s, well, it’s something—ornate, overstuffed, as rich and dense as a flourless chocolate cake. “Did you like it?” Irwin asks. There’s eagerness in his voice. Hart Crane is John Irwin’s enduring literary love. In the late 1960s, he wrote his dissertation at Rice University

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by Joe


on Crane’s “logic of metaphor,” the poet’s own term for his screwball technique of rendering lines such as these: While Cetus-like, O thou Dirigible, enormous Lounger Of pendulous auroral beaches,—satellited wide By convoy planes, moonferrets that rejoin thee On fleeing balconies as thou dost glide . . . Since 1970, when he arrived at Johns Hopkins as an assistant professor in the Department of English, Irwin has taught a graduate seminar on the poetry of Crane, T.S. Eliot, and Wallace Stevens. And this fall, he’ll publish a book of criticism, Hart Crane’s Poetry ( Johns Hopkins University Press), that focuses largely on Crane’s maybe-masterwork, The Bridge. By Irwin’s reckoning, it’s the first new book of criticism on Crane’s poetry to be published in decades. Irwin has been working on it, off and on, for 41 years. Its central argument is straightforward enough: The Bridge, a 1,254-line ode to the Brooklyn Bridge that took Crane more than seven years to write and was received with mixed to hostile reviews, is the best 20th-century

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 45

long poem written in the English language—“and not by a little,” Irwin declares. “By a lot.” That’s a claim bold enough to stir the hearts of Hart Crane aficionados worldwide, even as it bucks a critical consensus that has long consigned The Bridge to the close-but-no-cigar shelf. At stake is Crane’s literary reputation, and maybe a chunk of Irwin’s, too. But its author seems like he would be happy just to rally a few more readers to Hart Crane’s side. I quickly assure Irwin that I did indeed like The Bridge. And I wasn’t lying, exactly. But the full truth, as it often is with Hart Crane, is a little more complicated.


ow do you take 41 years to write a book? “I write very slowly,” says Irwin. “And I got sidetracked.” The longer answer is that Irwin established himself with dual appointments in the Department of English and the Writing Seminars, where he has alternated between writing and teaching literary criticism and producing his own poetry under his pen name/alter ego John Bricuth. For 19 years Irwin served as chairman of the Writing Seminars, stepping down in 1996 to return to full-time teaching. His literary criticism has covered William Faulkner, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jorge Luis Borges. But through it all has been Hart Crane. Irwin first found Crane as an undergraduate in the early 1960s. “I was under the thrall of T.S. Eliot then—he was the arbiter of all things good in poetry,” he says. “But he wasn’t quite American enough. Like Pound, he was a faux European.” Irwin, Texas-raised and still disarmingly plainspoken (a favorite expression: “Golly!”), heard something familiar in Crane’s words. “I thought, ‘This is what American poetry sounds like.’ You fall in love with the sound of his language.” That’s often how it is with Crane fans. Harold Bloom, the Yale critic who is among Crane’s most outspoken defenders, has long said that his life as a reader of poetry began with the preadolescent discovery of these (mystifying) words in the Bronx library: O Thou steeled Cognizance whose leap commits The agile precincts of the lark’s return . . . In a Paris Review interview, Bloom enthused that “[Crane] writes each lyric in such a way that you literally feel he’s going to die if he can’t bring it off.” Which, of course, is more or less what happened. Crane’s short life was a train wreck—a teenage suicide attempt, followed by bitter estrangements from his mother, a Christian Scientist, and his father, a well-to-do Cleveland candy maker who disapproved of his son’s

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habits. Living as a semi-closeted gay man on the fringes of the cultural limelight in New York and Europe, Crane had affairs with sailors, drank too much, got in fights, and couldn’t hold a job. “Crane thought that if he couldn’t live exclusively as a poet, then he didn’t want to live,” Irwin says. “He was given to it completely, wanting almost to maintain an ancient sense of the role of the poet—that it was the highest calling in a culture, and if the culture couldn’t support somebody like that, then they didn’t deserve to have poets.” Armed with a high school education and a fevered sense of his own abilities, Crane stormed the literary world with his first collection of poems, White Buildings, which was hailed as a promising, if somewhat undisciplined, exercise in Whitmanesque lyrical abandon. For its follow-up, he doubled down on the lyricism and added an epic theme. He conceived The Bridge in sweeping terms—a response to Eliot’s The Waste Land that would meet that poet’s doomy modernity with all-American pluck. He chose as its central image the heroic structure outside his apartment window, and he invested it with a heavy symbolic burden. The bridge of The Bridge was to span time and space—Crane celebrated the technological achievements of the 20th century, marveling at elevators and zeppelins and subways, while simultaneously invoking a vanished pre-European world. Jostling for attention amid the book’s 15 component poems is a cast of characters that includes Christopher Columbus, Pocahontas, and the Wright brothers. Crane promised in a 1923 letter that this yet-unwritten work would be nothing less than a “mystical synthesis of ‘America.’” He then wrapped this enormous collection of ideas in a purplish mash-up of Elizabethan and Jazz Age language. . . . Onward and up the crystal-flooded aisle White tempest nets file upward, upward ring With silver terraces the humming spars, The loft of vision, palladium helm of stars. By most accounts, he failed—spectacularly. Crane’s friend and literary supporter, the poet and critic Yvor Winters, called The Bridge “a public catastrophe” in a prominent magazine review. “Fragmentary, ejaculatory, and overexcited.” Winters dismissed one short poem in the book, “Indiana,” as “probably one of the worst poems in modern literature.” His confidence shattered, two years later Crane jumped off a ship. In Irwin’s view, the suicide served only to validate those critics’ view of Crane’s life and work—as a “magnificent failure” by an overmatched writer. Langdon Hammer, a Yale scholar who edited the Library of America’s recent collection of Crane’s complete work, hears echoes

of that judgment today when critics debate the bona fides of The Bridge. In 2007, poet William Logan reviewed the collected Crane in the New York Times, a rollicking hatchet job (“Reading The Bridge is like being stuck in a mawkish medley from Show Boat and Oklahoma!—you’d buy the Brooklyn Bridge to make it stop”) that infuriated Crane partisans. “That view that Logan repeats has been around since the 1930s: ‘He’s a great lyric poet, but he made a huge mistake in trying to write an epic,’” Hammer says. To Hammer, the mere fact that people are still having this argument, 80 years later, means that the guy was onto something: “Crane still provokes people in important ways.” And, as much as some fans might balk at the notion, Crane’s ability to make poetry will forever be judged by the ways he failed to conduct his life. “It’s poetry bound up in a life that was dedicated to poetry in a way that very few lives have been,” Hammer says. “Crane’s life and the legend of his life are part of the work. You can’t view him in this disinterested light. That’s why he goes on haunting people. There’s a great deal at stake in his poetry. It resists ordinary critical analysis.”


It also shows a new side of the artist; instead of an unhinged wild man, Irwin’s Crane is a fastidious builder. “Crane is simply not credited with being a deep and systematic thinker. That’s what John’s done,” says Hammer. “He’s written a book from Crane’s point of view that supports the view Crane himself had. It’s the counterargument that Crane would have made.” Placing the reader inside the poet’s head does more than just shed light on some of his more impenetrable passages. It makes you a party to his cause. You see how the bad reviews must have stung the poor guy. Some of the critics who turned their knives on Crane once raved about his gift. Where’d it go? What happened? And what writer hasn’t known the secret terror that one day no one will like, or get, what you’re trying to do?

“Crane thought that if he couldn’t live exclusively as a poet, then he didn’t want to live,” John Irwin says. “He was given to it completely.”

o Irwin, the problem was simple: The critics didn’t get it. Sometimes he didn’t get it, either. “There are poems that I love, but I can’t tell you what they mean,”

he admits. But, over the years—and then decades—he applied himself to the task of seeing the world from Hart Crane’s eyes. He not only read the writer’s correspondence, he tracked down books Crane mentions in his letters, from sailing histories to Greek mythology. The aim was to study the world as Crane, a first-order autodidact, studied it. One of Irwin’s key arguments, for example, is that Crane borrowed heavily from art and architecture, modeling the poem’s structure on paintings by El Greco and Michelangelo’s frescoes for the Sistine Chapel. Poring through letters, he detects the influence on The Bridge of historian Oswald Spengler’s account of the development of Renaissance painting in the 1918 book The Decline of the West, then much discussed in cultural circles, and speculates that Crane was further inspired by a 1925 story in the New York Times about the discovery of Michelangelo’s self-portrait amid the tortured figures in The Last Judgment. In short, Irwin reassembles the emotional universe that created The Bridge, putting the pieces of Crane’s unruly life back together and showing us how this person created that poem. Hammer calls it “a work of imaginative scholarship.”

And that’s when Hart Crane becomes less an insufferable gasbag and more a tragic hero, the kind of mythic personality that filled his poetry. And the poetry itself sounds better, too. Once-overripe lines sing with purpose; logic emerges from the verbiage. Crane isn’t always more readable after one absorbs Irwin’s book, but he seems more important, more human. Making the case that a willfully difficult artist is worth reading, says Hammer, can do more than just burnish one obscure poet’s faded star. “Hart Crane’s career raises all kinds of questions about what poetry can do, and about what poetry is,” he says. “Is poetry an experience, or a reflection of an experience? Does it deal with the future or the past? Can private perception become public communication? Is poetry something to be lived? Can it make a world, or does it just mirror one?” Somewhere amid all those existential mysteries lie far simpler questions: Is it any good? Did you like it? Irwin hopes so. And all the lit crit tools he deploys in his renovation of The Bridge shouldn’t distract from that goal. “I gauge a work of art,” he says, “by its ability to break my heart.” David Dudley, A&S ’90, a graduate of the Writing Seminars, is a writer and editor based in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 47

The Greatest

Veneration There’s more to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions’ portrait collection than the esteemed men and women hanging on the walls.

Images courtesy of The Alan Mason Chesney Medic al Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medic al Institutions

By Bret McCabe


ohn Singer Sargent’s Four Doctors looms over the West Reading Room of the William H. Welch Medical Library at the School of Medicine like a daunting challenge. The mammoth 1907 painting depicts Howard Atwood Kelly, William Stewart Halsted, William Osler, and William H. Welch, the school’s founding clinical faculty. They were considered the best of their day, and they were recruited to help the school become great. Sargent painted these men in a way that not only captured the school’s ambition but exalted the men themselves. They’re rarefied—a national anthem high note that few mere mortals can hit. The portrait also kicked off the tradition of the Medical Institutions honoring their own. The collection contains 325 portraits at last count—mostly paintings but some photography and sculpture, too—and features faculty from Johns Hopkins Hospital and the School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and Bloomberg School of Public Health. It includes works by notable American artists—

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To see more portraits and their stories, visit

Above: The Four Doctors Left: Mary Elizabeth Garrett Both by John Singer Sargent

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Vivien Thomas By Bob Gee Arguably no single portrait in the collection more succinctly captures its subject than this modest, dignified likeness of Vivien Thomas. The nondegreed but surgically skilled Thomas had been surgeon Alfred Blalock’s lab assistant for roughly a decade when Johns Hopkins recruited Blalock to be its chief surgeon in 1941. When Blalock teamed up with pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig to discover a way to treat blue-baby syndrome,Thomas was given the daunting task of recreating the condition in canine test subjects and experimenting with the surgical strategy for treatment. Thomas performed the procedure on dogs so many times that when Blalock first used it on a human in 1944, he had Thomas talk him through it. Thomas remained the expert in the background for the next three decades, working as the supervisor of one of Johns Hopkins’ surgical research laboratories. He retired in 1979, and during that last decade at the hospital the recognition that eluded him most of his life finally arrived. He was awarded an honorary degree by the university, appointed to the surgical faculty, and in 1968 this portrait was commissioned by a coterie of his former students. In the portrait, a bespectacled Thomas sits with his hands gently clasped in front of him, the picture of the polite Southerner he was. Nothing in the portrait telegraphs his achievements—the surgical techniques and instruments he developed, the countless heart surgeons who gained their confidence watching his deft hands. Even the portrait’s artist, Bob Gee, remains inscrutable, as the Medical Archives hasn’t been able to locate him. There’s just the dapper Thomas looking ahead with a sphinxlike calm.

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Sargent, Cecilia Beaux, William Merritt Chase, William Draper, Jamie Wyeth— as well as regional artists like Thomas Corner, Ann Didusch Schuler, and Raoul Middleman. This collection is loosely overseen by Nancy McCall, director of the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, and her staff. She has been the director since 1987 and with the Medical Archives since it was created in 1978 to document and preserve the Medical Institutions’ history, which includes the portraits. Early on, McCall says the Medical Archives staff conducted a room-by-room, closet-bycloset inventory to determine just what the hospital and the schools had. It was a meticulous task that revealed a few conservation headaches—such as radiator paint touching up some old gilt frames—but in that process, they were able to suss out the individual stories behind the history. In those background anecdotes the subjects of the collection become more approachable. These stories illustrate that before these men and women were part of the esteemed few—the pioneers of a surgical technique, the basic scientists who figured out something previously unknown—they were doctors tackling problems that had eluded their expertise and knowledge. The portraits are commissioned, and funding remains a mercurial process. Every year, on average, anywhere from two to four new portraits are being worked on and added to the collection. The Medical Archives doesn’t oversee this process, although it can certainly offer assistance. But who gets chosen for a portrait and how it gets paid for are questions that are up to individual departments and, sometimes, private individuals, who may decide to commission a portrait for a doctor who treated a friend, relative, or loved one. A revered university donor and her friends commissioned the two Sargent portraits that started the collection, and their back stories touch on the egos, politics, and fussiness behind the pigments.


ondon’s Tite Street extends but a few blocks through the Chelsea borough and practically runs directly into the Thames from the north. Today it’s a narrow lane lined with brick buildings. Shortly after it was created in 1877, though, some of its more colorful residents gave the street an unconventional air. It was Oscar Wilde’s preferred neighborhood when he resided in London on and off in the 1880s and 1890s. Expatriate American painter James McNeill Whistler occupied a flat at No. 33 Tite Street, which Sargent moved into in 1885. The year before, Sargent became a succès de scandale when he exhibited his Portrait of Madame X in Paris, and his reputation blossomed in London. Henry James would come to visit. Sargent was commissioned to paint President Theodore Roosevelt. And his studio became the destination for society ladies, countesses, and duchesses who wanted to be immortalized on canvas. It was into this somewhat bohemian setting that the School of Medicine’s 50-something chief benefactor entered when she came to sit for her portrait in the early part of the 20th century. Mary Elizabeth Garrett was the only daughter of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad president John Work Garrett. Proving she had a head for business, she worked with her father for a spell. She befriended other affluent and educated Baltimore women—proto-feminist Martha Carey Thomas, English professor Mary Gwinn, activist Elizabeth King, and the self-educated Julia Rogers— who co-organized the Women’s Medical Fund Committee in 1890 to raise the money to form the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine on the condition that it admit women on an equal basis as men. Two years of financial and political negotiations with the university’s board of trustees ensued, resulting in the board requesting a $500,000 endowment to start the school. Garrett contributed a big chunk—$306,977— that came with the caveats that there must be coeducation and strict admission guidelines. The School of Medicine officially opened in October 1893 with

Helen Taussig By Jamie Wyeth According to Nancy McCall, Helen Taussig didn’t appreciate this portrait by now revered painter Jamie Wyeth—perhaps because it reminded her of a difficult moment in her life.Taussig spent nearly four decades working in pediatric cardiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and more than 50 years teaching in the School of Medicine, where, in 1959, she was only the second woman to be named a full professor. When she retired from the hospital in 1963, the pediatric cardiology faculty and fellows commissioned her portrait. They wanted Andrew Wyeth, whom Taussig knew through a colleague. He wasn’t available, but he recommended his teenage son, Jamie. “Pediatric cardiology was not a wealthy department,” McCall says. “And [Andrew Wyeth] said that Jamie was coming along very well. And, of course, Jamie’s price was right, so the fellows commissioned Jamie.” The sitting was to take place over a summer weekend on Cape Cod, where the Wyeths and Taussig’s family had vacation homes. The week before, though, had been difficult for Taussig. Her department was closing the fiscal year with deficits. One of her former patients, a teenager whom she had treated since infancy, was hospitalized and died. “So having to contend with all that, she then drove, late into the night, by herself, clear up to Cape Cod, and was sitting in front of this teenager in the morning,” McCall says. “It’s an extraordinary portrait, very stark, and I think there’s probably a great deal of verisimilitude to what she looked like after that week.” To see more portraits and their stories, visit

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Barton Childs By Judy Taylor

The most striking thing about Judy Taylor’s portrait of Barton Childs, a pediatrician and geneticist who died in 2010, isn’t just how dramatically different it is from other portraits in the collection but how unique it appears even in the context of Taylor’s work. A talented if conventional painter of colorful landscapes, still lifes, and portraits,Taylor turned for this painting to an almost Lucian Freudian palette of matte grays, black, and white, with a subtle, peachy pink animating her subject’s face and hands. Childs sits in a chair with his legs crossed, his entire frame encased in black pants and turtleneck. He holds his eyeglasses in his left hand, as if he just took them off to give somebody a measured glance. Behind him are images of photographs that Taylor included to tell a story of his life, including one of three young girls in a waiting room of the Johns Hopkins Harriet Lane Clinic, where Childs worked, and another of a mother bear with her cub, one of many photos of animals and their young he had clipped from magazines to decorate his office walls. “He was an extremely modest man, and really declined to have this portrait done until, finally, in the very last years of his life, he agreed,” McCall says. “And when it was first delivered here we were stunned because here is this large portrait and in the center is Barton Childs with a beard—and we had never seen him with a beard. It was unveiled and presented at the biennial this year, and it was just amazingly striking.”

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an inaugural class that included 15 men and three women. People close to Garrett worried that her largesse would be overlooked. “I guess a number of people among her friends were concerned that nothing had been done to honor her,” McCall says. “There wasn’t a plaque, there wasn’t anything.” Some of Garrett’s friends, chiefly Thomas, commissioned Sargent to paint Garrett’s portrait. The 58-by-38-inch painting, which cost $5,000 (more than $100,000 today, as estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator), features a seated Garrett wearing a black dress with her gray hair pulled back, resting her left arm on a table. Sargent often favored the dark colors of Dutch masters, and were it not for the white shawl accented with red flowers draped over Garrett’s shoulders and white gloves on her lap, the portrait’s dominant hues would bring to mind a Flemish pub’s ceiling. The splash of color and the shawl’s gentle flourish were Garrett’s requests. She and Thomas were in London to view the portrait and felt it made her look too harsh. So they went shopping—returning to Sargent’s studio with the shawl, gloves, and flowers and asking him to brighten the picture up. It worked—the shawl and flowers counterbalance the portrait’s seriousness, softening Garrett without diminishing her status as one of the pre-eminent philanthropists of her day. The portrait was unveiled in the rotunda of the Johns Hopkins Hospital October 4, 1904. “She was so touched, she commissioned Sargent to do this large group portrait of these four physicians,” McCall says. In many ways Sargent’s Four Doctors reinforces our vision of doctors today. Clad in academic gowns, three of the four sit at a table in a dignified room. A few books, symbols of learning, rest on the table. The men look dignified, competent, well educated, and capable. They also look like refined gentlemen of a certain caliber. That stature wasn’t always the norm, and it certainly wasn’t the cus-

tomary context when Sargent painted The Four Doctors. Although medicine was certainly a skilled practice in the 19th century, it hadn’t yet evolved into the highly expert profession it is today. As journalist and professional skeptic H.L. Mencken noted, Halsted was “one of the first surgeons to employ courtesy in surgery, to show any consideration for the insides of a man he was operating on. The old method was to slit a man from the chin down, take out his bowels, and spread them on a towel while you sorted them out. Halsted held that if you touched an intestine with your finger you injured it and the patient suffered the effects of the injury.” Sargent turns these four doctors into great men by subtly tweaking Grand Manner portrait traditions—particularly the attitudes of Rembrandt’s Syndics and Frans Hals’ Regents of the Old Men’s Almshouse—to represent men of knowledge. Unlike Thomas Eakins’ famed medical portraits, The Agnew Clinic and The Gross Clinic, Sargent’s painting doesn’t capture the doctors at work in a surgical gallery. Instead, it emphasizes their intellectual prowess. He paints them in their robes. The seated Welch rests his hand on a 1515 copy of Petrarch (which now resides in the Garrett Library at Evergreen Museum and Library), while Osler stands behind him with one hand magisterially on his hip. All wear calm and confident expressions. Sargent included an immense Venetian globe in the background, which suggests not only the global reach of their knowledge but reinforces its magnitude through the globe’s size. Not all of the doctors were pleased with it. Letters from Osler’s wife to her mother from this time report that Osler appreciated his likeness, Halsted and Kelly less so. Infamously, Sargent permitted Welch to wear his Yale robe but wouldn’t let Osler wear his Oxford red sash on color grounds alone. Nevertheless, the finicky Sargent knew he was work-for-hire. In a letter to Welch dated June 10, 1926, Sargent wrote: “I am glad you have had good reports of the picture, which certainly has found great favor. Miss Garrett her-

Denton Arthur Cooley By Bernard Fuchs Looking back, advertisement and magazine illustrator Bernie Fuchs was the ideal choice to capture overachieving cardiac surgeon Denton Cooley. Cooley, a student of Alfred Blalock, successfully implanted an artificial heart into a patient, was the first surgeon to remove pulmonary embolisms, developed artificial heart valves, started the Texas Heart Institute in his native Houston, and in 1968 made the cover of Life magazine for being part of the first U.S. surgical team to transplant a human heart. Fuchs spent the 1960s creating eye-grabbing illustrations for mainstream magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Esquire, and Look, and his approach was to wed a traditional sensitivity to light with a graphical immediacy and loose sense of color that were slightly informed by then ascending pop art. Fuchs brought those tools to his portraiture, where they added a psychological spark to people, like Cooley, whose personalities and accomplishments border on pop-culture legend: Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, and presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. Fuchs’ Cooley portrait depicts a doctor in the traditional dark-wood setting of an office, and yet the subject looks like he has no interest in being so conventionally defined. He stands casually confident in his teal-green surgical scrubs, arms akimbo, as if he can’t wait to get out of this staid room and back into an operating suite. ohns H Hopkins opkins M Magazine agazine • • FFall all 2011 2011 53 53 JJohns

self, before whom I always feel like a rabbit in the presence of a boa constrictor, has seen it and is pleased.”


Richard T. Johnson By Raoul Middleman The Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurological Infections is dedicated in honor of Richard Johnson, but the pioneering neurologist also owns another distinction: His portrait is one of the few painted by a Johns Hopkins alumnus. Raoul Middleman, A&S ’55, who earned his bachelor’s degree and then promptly set out to work as a Montana ranch hand, picked up drawing when he entered the Army in 1957. After completing his service, he started studying painting in Philadelphia before moving to New York in the early 1960s, just in time to watch pop art gain steam while he opted to pursue a more traditional approach. Ever since, he’s put his own idiosyncratic fingerprint on naturalistic portraiture. As evidenced in this portrait, Middleman is a bit of an eccentric realist—his vocabulary a combination of thick, gestural brushwork; a nostalgic predilection for old masters’ fusty palette; and a rather impish approach to composition, cropping the top of Johnson’s head and his left arm out of the frame.The result is an almost irreverent version of the stately portraits that fill the collection, and yet it delivers a different kind of seriousness. Middleman’s rough-hewn canvas can initially feel like it’s only implying a person, anxious layers and strips of paint coalescing into a hand, pigment smudges knotting into a furrowed brow. It’s only after acclimating oneself to how Middleman articulates his subject that the image of a man of exceptional competence comes into sharp focus—a disarmingly poetic and sympathetic portrait of a doctor who spent his career exploring diseases of the nervous system.

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he process hasn’t changed much in 100 years. The Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, for instance, maintains its portraits in an ornate room in the Wilmer Building at the institute. Lining the walls are the past chairs of Ophthalmology, starting with Frank Salisbury’s portrait of William Holland Wilmer, who retired in 1934, followed by Edward Longley, Alan Churchill Woods, Arnall Patz, and Morton Goldberg. The current chairman, Peter J. McDonnell, will be painted when he prepares to step down. This custom is one of the ways portraits are added to the collection. It started with a few major figureheads, and it became tradition that department heads would be painted when they stepped down. And then certain notable figures and personalities started to be added to the collection, too. “In the early decades,” McCall explains, “as certain figures gained special prominence, their portraits were painted, but it was because money had been raised for it.” Funds get raised “every possible way. They’re anonymous. It comes out of some kind of departmental funds or special endowment and so forth. It just happens.” Once funding is secured, the actual process is fairly straightforward. The department or doctor chooses an artist, a fee is determined, sitting sessions are planned out, and a deadline is given. Every portrait gets sent to the archives to be photographed, measured, appraised, and cataloged. Each portrait typically gets presented to the public twice—once by the department and once at the School of Medicine’s biennial alumni celebration. This process often permits the artist to get to know the person being honored, not merely spend time studying his or her likeness. For the portrait of pediatrician and geneticist Barton Childs, Maine artist Judy Taylor says she read some of his articles before coming down to visit him in his office.

Bret McCabe, A&S ’94, is a senior writer for Johns Hopkins Magazine.

© Estate of Yousuf Karsh

“We had a very lovely conversation for a couple of hours, just the two of us,” Taylor says. “I like to talk to my sitters, just to get a sense of their personality, not really to talk about the painting, just to talk about what they do. We talked a little bit about art because he had traveled quite extensively. He liked to go visit historical churches all over the world.” During this meeting Taylor noticed a number of photos and pictures on the walls of his office. She had recently completed a mural about labor history for Maine’s Department of Labor building, in which she used a black-andwhite montage sequence in the background to tell a story, and she decided to use a similar approach to give a sense of Childs’ personality throughout his life and career. “One of the black and whites [photos] in the background is him as a younger man leaning back in his chair with his feet up on a drawer that opened from his desk,” Taylor says. And he still sat that way when she met him, when he was in his early 90s. “His feet were up on that desk drawer just like in that picture, and you could see on that drawer where his feet had been. He had worn it down.” Taylor painted his portrait in her Maine studio, but she returned to Baltimore to show Childs the portrait, and again to attend its unveiling, which also served as a memorial; he died February 18, 2010, at the age of 93. Department or biennial unveilings provide an opportunity for the greater Johns Hopkins community to socially celebrate and honor their colleagues, and Childs’ memorial provided Taylor with a greater appreciation of just how influential her sitter had been—proof of why people suggest one of their own for the portrait treatment. “I came down for the memorial service, which was also part of the unveiling,” Taylor says. “And I heard all the tributes of his students—one was in her 70s, one was in her late 20s. So, to me, I felt like he was this giant in medicine.”

Owsei Temkin By Yousuf Karsh

When Owsei Temkin died in 2002 a few months shy of his 100th birthday, Johns Hopkins didn’t just lose the man who helped build its Institute of the History of Medicine; the medical history field lost one of the scholars who helped shape it into a discipline. “He was one of my mentors,” McCall says. “I am deeply fond of him.” McCall used to visit him during his final years when he lived in a retirement community, and though he had the body of a nonagenarian, his mind remained as sharp and nimble as ever. He even worked on and published a book during the last year of his life, “On Second Thought” and Other Essays in the History of Medicine and Science, which he assembled with the help of his daughter, Judith Temkin Irvine, a University of Michigan professor of anthropology. By then, Temkin was unable to write or type, so he would dictate to his daughter. After Temkin’s death, McCall met up with Irvine, and they talked about her late father and working on the book. “She said he just drove her nearly nuts,” McCall laughs. “And that was because his corrections were always spot-on.” A sense of that fastidious industriousness comes through in this photograph by Yousuf Karsh. Temkin sits at a desk inspecting an oversized medical text, the pure joy of this intellectual pursuit witnessed in the spark in his eye. The Armenian-Canadian photographer Karsh specialized in illuminating his subjects’ personalities in supple black-and-white portraits, and his lens captured decades’ worth of 20th-century history-makers, from W.H. Auden and Fidel Castro to Grace Kelly and Andy Warhol. JJohns ohns H Hopkins opkins M Magazine agazine • • FFall all 2011 2011 55 55

Dear Readers, Did you know that a significant portion of the revenue necessary to produce Johns Hopkins Magazine comes from you? The fact is, we rely on our readers’ generosity to keep up with ever-increasing production costs. Your support allows us to better inform you about and connect you to the fascinating people and groundbreaking research that are so important to the Johns Hopkins community and to the world beyond. Are you interested in reading in-depth stories about how Johns Hopkins University is tackling today’s complex issues? Do you want an eclectic mix of articles about science, medicine, the humanities, education, international affairs, and fine arts? Do you value the conversations Johns Hopkins Magazine makes you part of, issue after issue? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please consider making a contribution to the magazine today! Sincerely,

Catherine Pierre Editor

Make your donation today! Please send your check to: Johns Hopkins Magazine Gifts PO Box 64759 Baltimore, MD 21264-4759 Or visit to make a donation online. Questions? Contact the editor, Catherine Pierre, at 443-287-9900 or


News & Notes from our graduates and friends

Will Kirk /

They rocked the house—Peabody-style. Trio Appassionata stirred a packed house of fellow graduates and family members with their spirited version of “Otoño Porteño” from Estaciones Porteñas by Astor Piazzolla at Peabody’s 2011 commencement exercises. The accomplished trio of Lydia Chernicoff, Peab ’10, violin; Ronaldo Rolim, Peab ’10, ’11 (MM), piano; and

Andrea Casarrubios, Peab ’11, cello, has been performing together since 2007 and traveled to Spain in June to play concerts in Arenas de San Pedro and Madrid. Trio Appassionata was one of only two groups selected from the 228 new graduates to perform at Peabody’s May 27 commencement, which was held in the Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall.

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The Historian Push for Parks An App for That!

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Kids’ Lit Kudos Puzzles and Promises Alumni Notes

ohns H Hopkins opkins M Magazine agazine • • FFall all 2011 2011 57 57 JJohns


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

Margaret “Peg” Huff Leiendecker, Nurs ’65

The Accidental Historian


n a city that draws tens of thousands of visitors every year to historical sites such as Monticello and Montpelier, a singular collection of wartime memorabilia resides in a little-known museum. Displayed on mannequins are military nursing uniforms—complete with accessories such as overcoats, handbags, and hats—and one of the very first bomb disposal suits. U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps posters and “Sons in Service” flags adorn the walls. Glass display cases house British cap and collar badges, and an antique typeset cabinet showcases World War I– and World War II–era jewelry, pendants, and pins. Ask collector Peg Leiendecker what she and her husband call their museum, however, and she’ll answer, “Our basement.” The couple didn’t set out to create a private museum in the basement of their Charlottesville, Virginia, home. “It’s like putting on pounds,” Leiendecker says. “It just happened.” Her husband, Bob, a retired U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer and military historian, had been collecting bomb disposal items for years. Leiendecker, a retired nurse, frequently tagged along on visits to antique shops and trade shows. On one pivotal occasion, she says, “I met this one fellow at an antique show who had a World War II nursing uniform on display. I got to talking with him and before I knew it, I had purchased this uniform for $125 and 58 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

Peg Leiendecker didn’t set out to create a museum in the basement of her home—­it just happened.

that was it.” Leiendecker began doing some additional research to find related items and the collection “just mushroomed,” she says. Today, more than 20 years later, the Leiendeckers’ 1,800-square-foot basement (about two-thirds the size of a high school basketball court) is filled with roughly 6,000 pieces of nursing and bomb disposal militaria, carefully assembled from combing flea markets, antique malls, and the Web. Leiendecker says she and her husband are collectors by nature. “[Collecting] is something that you can learn to do, but you still need to have that love, that desire, that wanting to,” she says. Among her favorite items are the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps uniforms, including a gray felt winter uniform with a matching overcoat and a lightweight summer uniform accessorized with a straw hat with a red band. The Cadet Nurse program, created by the government to recruit nurses during World War II, was short-lived but vital, Leiendecker says. “This was a period in time when there were very few nurses in the Army, and they were desperately needed.” Leiendecker’s own nursing career began in 1965, shortly after she finished her degree at the School of Nursing. She started out in the pediatrics unit of Lynchburg General Hospital, where she worked for the pediatrician who took care of her as a child. She took a break from nursing while raising her family and living at

film makes you glad that Olmsted’s hands, and mind, came along when they did.” How Messner became a budding auteur is a story unto itself. It starts with her father, Michael, a hedge fund manager and champion of a national plan to repurpose the estimated 200,000 acres of vacant retail, office, and industrial space idled by America’s real estate crisis. The Messner family’s Speedwell Foundation funded the film to draw attention to Red Fields to Green Fields, an organization that advocates purchasing financially distressed commercial properties in U.S. urban areas and converting them to green space—public parks and adjacent land reserved for future development. Olmsted and the U.S. urban parks movement of the 19th century serve as the effort’s role model. “We want to get people back to the longsighted way of building and developing cities,” says Messner of the family focus. “How do you positively affect people 150 years in the future?” Building parks, it turns out, can be a surefire winner, improving the quality of urban living while increasing property values—Olmsted found that the value of real estate surrounding Central Park (which cost New York $13 million to create starting in 1857) increased $209 million by the time of the park’s completion in 1873. As Messner’s film makes clear, however, Olmsted worked tirelessly to reshape America’s urban landscapes but left himself little time for recreation in the way he advocated for his fellow citizens. “The ironic thing I kept coming back to,” Messner says, “is that Olmsted devoted his life to making these spaces, but he worked so hard you have to wonder how much time he actually spent in parks.” —Mike Field, A&S ’97 (MA)

Courtesy of Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks

Jeff Mankie

various posts during her husband’s career in the Army. In the mid-1980s she went back to nursing, working in the operating room at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. She retired in 2004, freeing up more time to focus on collecting and her other hobbies: reading, knitting, tai chi, and cooking. Now that their basement is nearly full—the only open spot left is the ceiling—the Leiendeckers have stopped collecting large pieces, such as uniforms and posters. Their focus now is on smaller items, including EOD patches and badges from around the world, books, and military “sweetheart jewelry.” The tradition of sweetheart jewelry, with designs representing the soldier’s branch of service, began during World War I as servicemen sent home necklaces, bracelets, and pins to their loved ones. Although the bulk of Leiendecker’s collection focuses on nursing, she has also devoted some floor and wall space to the Women Airforce Service Pilots and their predecessors, the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. These were civilian pilots who flew military airplanes from where they were built to where they were needed, under the direction of the U.S. Army Air Force. They were an underappreciated group, Leiendecker says, who never received a military pension and were not recognized for their service until decades after the end of the war, even though many of them were killed while operating experimental aircraft. Leiendecker’s collection (which is invitation-only and not open to the public) is an education in women’s contributions to the great world wars. She views it as a tribute to all of those women who “have done so much and have not always been recognized for their participation and what they have given during the wars, after the wars, and before.” —Lisa Belman

Rebecca Messner, A&S ’08

Push for Parks


lthough she’d never made a film before, Rebecca Messner has the filmmaker’s gift. “I know about telling a story,” says Messner, a Writing Seminars graduate and assistant editor at Urbanite magazine in Baltimore. It’s a lucky thing. Brought on two years ago as a research assistant for a major film documentary about the life and legacy of Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, by the time the film premiered in August 2010, Messner had—by attrition—become its co-director and writer. And with no small success. Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks has been broadcast nationally through American Public Television, and New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger wrote, “Ms. Messner’s

Parks power growth: New York’s Central Park fueled a real estate boom. Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 59


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

Bruce E. Blausen, Med ’87 (MA)

There’s an App for That!


esides updating your Twitter status or slicing digital pomegranates with Fruit Ninja, your smartphone can also help you learn about gestational diabetes, mitral valve stenosis, and a host of other medical conditions, thanks to Bruce Blausen. His Human Atlas app—available for the Web, smartphones, tablet computers, and bedside LCD monitors—uses 3-D video animations to explain over 300 common medical conditions and treatments. A graduate of the Art as Applied to Medicine program and a tech enthusiast, Blausen was among the first to recognize how new digital technology could transform patient education. Fifteen years ago, when his mother, Dolores, was experiencing heart trouble and asked him to explain “this stuff” to her, he created and sent her VHS tapes of stock medical animations. He later learned that she was sharing them with other seniors in her retirement home who wanted a better understanding of their own medical conditions. Recognizing an unmet market, Blausen began to form an idea for what would eventually become the Human Atlas app. Later, with the surging popularity of smartphones, he saw a way to

The Human Atlas app uses 3-D animations to teach patients about common medical conditions. have educational animations in the palm of your hand, right at the point of care. “Within one or two minutes, a physician could explain and show video animation of atrial fibrillation,” Blausen says. “The patient gets a better grasp of what’s being done to him, thereby alleviating many of his fears and concerns.” To date, Blausen reports over 125,000 downloads of the Human Atlas app worldwide in more than a dozen

Shelf Life

Sight and Sound Second Sight: Views from an Eye Doctor’s Odyssey, by David Paton, Med ’56, HS ’62 (CreateSpace) The son of a prominent ophthalmologist, David Paton survived the perils of a privileged upbringing, and of dyslexia, to become chief resident at the Wilmer Eye Institute, where East Baltimore’s ills focused him on the failings of medicine in the developing world. In 1982, he founded ORBIS International, a nonprofit flying eye clinic staffed with doctors willing to teach modern methods of sight saving to physicians in developing nations. ORBIS (so named because “the word stood for ‘world’ and also for ‘eyeball,’” Paton writes) continues to operate today via its Flying Eye Hospital and a number of permanent offices. Paton’s odyssey illustrates his propensity for surviving setbacks and stretching the limits of how far a Hopkins doc can travel. 60 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New Music in Buffalo, by Renee Levine-Packer, A&S ’01 (MLA) (Oxford University Press) From 1964 to 1980, SUNY Buffalo’s Center of the Creative and Performing Arts upstaged Manhattan as a crucible of New Music—largely classical in origin yet often chaotic, rudely iconoclastic, and provocative. The works of John Cage loomed throughout, as did the whiff of marijuana. Administrator Renee Levine-Packer herded these “musical outlaws” and has chronicled the experience nonjudgmentally. Her descriptions can run to farce, such as one performance that interspersed lights and video to create what the lead performer termed the “refrigerator syndrome— when the refrigerator turns off, you suddenly are aware it was there.” State spending priorities contributed to the center’s demise, but its annual festival lives on. Not April in Paris but June in Buffalo. —Lew Diuguid, SAIS ’63

languages. Along with plans for further international expansion, Blausen and his partners are working on a method of creating rich media for electronic medical records. Their new product will scan a patient’s records, searching for key words and delivering media, such as video animations, wherever one of those words appears. “With the convergence of new technology and the consumer’s appetite for rich media and animations,” Blausen muses, “I think this market will continue to grow and transform the field of patient education worldwide.” —LB

Elissa Brent Weissman, A&S ’05

Kudos for Kids’ Lit


on’t let the boy wizard fool you. There may be surefire paths to riches out there, but writing for kids certainly isn’t one of them. “It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme,” says Elissa Weissman, a 27-year-old Writing Seminars alumna, dryly. With three published children’s books to her name and a fourth in progress, Weissman is in a good position to know. She and her husband, Grant Roch, Engr ’04, live in a simple Baltimore row house with their baby daughter, Karina. Still, Weissman says the life of a kid lit writer offers distinct advantages. Roch works for Constellation Energy as a qualitative analyst; while not working on her next book, Weissman teaches aspiring authors how to write children’s literature through the Johns Hopkins Odyssey program and at the University of Baltimore. For four summers in a row, she has also worked at the Center for Talented Youth, instructing precocious fourth- and fifth-graders in a writing and reading workshop. It was through that program that she got the idea for her third book, Nerd Camp, published by Simon & Schuster earlier this year. “It was the first day and during break all these 10-year-olds who had never met were sitting around not knowing what to say until suddenly someone asks, ‘How many digits of pi do you know?’ and then they all started talking,” recalls Weissman. She discreetly moved the conversation on to another topic lest she be given a similar grilling— she’s pretty sure she knows four—but made a writer’s decision to store the moment away for future use. She subsequently employed it in Nerd Camp, whose hero, Gabe, is both thrilled and slightly mortified to have the opportunity to attend a six-week sleepaway camp known as “Smart Camp for Geeks and Eggheads.” Weissman’s second book, The Trouble with Mark Hopper, was called “frothy and fun” by Booklist magazine. She wrote her first book, Standing for Socks, to fulfill the requirements of a two-semester Long Works class taught by Stephen Dixon and Tristan Davies

in the Writing Seminars program. Though her classmates were all writing adult literature, they were immensely supportive of her work, says Weissman, recalling how Davies in particular moved from being skeptical to supportive and eventually even put her in touch with the literary agent who took her on as a client. But she has found that not all readers share her respect for the children’s genre. “I do get asked a lot, ‘Do you plan to write for adults?’ as if this is a steppingstone.” But children’s lit seems to be the thing that she just naturally tends toward. “In the Writing Seminars program, even when I “Children’s lit is thought would write a story that of as junior varsity,” says I thought was for adults, author Elissa Weissman, the other students “but I think it’s the best would read it and say, thing out there.” ‘Kids would love that.’” In the end she decided to play to her talents. “The age I write for is 8 to 12, which is the golden age of reading,” she says. “This is when kids can get really hooked on books and are building their reading stamina.” Weissman says that at a similar age she read every single book in the Baby-Sitters Club series, “and there must be hundreds of them.” Which leads to those distinct advantages of writing for preteens. Weissman explains that those include “long shelf life” (parents love to read books to their kids that they loved as a child) and especially, for her, the chance to visit schools and classrooms. “What’s cool is unlike adult book signings where you read your work and then answer maybe three questions, with kids every single hand goes up—and they ask really great questions.” Not long ago she paid a surprise visit to Baltimore City’s Pitts Ashburton Elementary School, whose fourthgraders had been reading her book. “When I walked in the room there was screaming and kids were literally falling out of their chairs they were so excited to meet the author of a book they’d read.” For some of the kids, it was the first book they’d ever read. And that brings a special meaning to her work. “Children’s lit is thought of as junior varsity,” says Weissman, “but I think it’s the best thing out there.” —MF Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 61


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

Johns Hopkins Volunteer Summit

Puzzles and Promises: How Reading Our Genes May Transform Health Care


aving mapped all of the 3 billion characters in the human genome, including 20,000-plus human genes, a consortium of international researchers declared the Human Genome Project a success in 2003. But for researchers pursuing genomic medicine—the science of predicting disease risk and tailoring treatments based on an individual’s genetic makeup—the work had just begun. For all its potential, genomic medicine, or as Johns Hopkins researchers have taken to calling the field, individualized health, is still in its infancy. As that research moves forward, the promise of this new, genome-based approach to medical therapy becomes easier to grasp. With a simple swab DNA test, for example, a woman already can learn whether or not she’s at higher risk for breast cancer. That knowledge might prompt her to seek more aggressive treatment at an earlier stage of detection. Two people with colon cancer may soon receive vastly different drug treatments depending on the pattern of changes in their tumor cells, allowing the correct allocation of treatments that will optimize efficacy while minimizing side effects. And a man with genetic indicators for heart disease might be advised earlier about lifestyle changes to prevent complications. Perhaps most importantly—and this is fast becoming the holy grail of health care reform—individualized health could significantly reduce health care costs as doctors eliminate expensive treatments that can be shown through genetic profiling to be unhelpful or unnecessary. Public health experts say that billions of dollars are spent annually on medical treatments that are either uncalled for or that ultimately prove ineffective. But current medical understanding makes it extremely difficult to know in advance if a specific treatment will work well, or at all, for a specific individual. “Right now as physicians we treat an aggregate. We tell people, ‘An aspirin a day is good for you,’” explains Lloyd Minor, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and an otolaryngologist. “But does everyone really benefit from that?” Although individualized health has its advantages, all the information that comes with genetic screening presents weighty ethical questions. Emory University

anesthesiologist Anne Marie McKenzie-Brown, Med ’87, came to understand some of those complications during the Johns Hopkins Volunteer Summit in October 2010, a gathering of over 350 Johns Hopkins leaders examining challenges facing the university. As the panel session on individualized health began, McKenzie-Brown believed that she would want to learn as much as she could from her own gene sequencing, even if it revealed risks of diseases for which no treatments or cures are known. “I thought I’d want to know everything; I’m a physician, I believe in knowledge and information,” McKenzie-Brown remembers. “But we had such an honest, lively discussion. People shared their experiences with cancer, their different perspectives on the treatability of certain diseases. I was surprised by how much it changed my perspective.” McKenzie-Brown and other participants at the individualized health discussion heard from Ruth Faden,

“Right now as physicians we treat an aggregate. We tell people, ‘An aspirin a day is good for you,’” says Minor. “But does everyone really benefit from that?”

62 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

director of the university’s Berman Institute of Bioethics, about how the internationally renowned institute is researching the difficult ethical dilemmas that the new science will present to patients and providers alike. “Say you had a high chance of contracting a debilitating disease for which there is no known cure,” explains McKenzie-Brown. “How does that affect your decisions on how to live your life, whether to marry, whether or not to have children—all in the face of a disease that you may or may not actually get? How would such knowledge affect your quality of life? You’re young— does this information affect your ability to get insurance? It raises all these questions. On the other hand, there’s the tremendous potential for advances in medical science. The possibility that we could achieve greater efficacy in treating disease and lower the risk of side effects is incredibly appealing.” To reach that potential, dozens of Johns Hopkins researchers are working across disciplines on the individualized health puzzle. Ultimately, individualized health is more than genomic medicine. Its real power comes from combining genomic information with other clinical information such as blood pressure, weight, findings on imaging studies, and other observed data to select the best treatment—and even more importantly, the best disease prevention strategies—for each individual. Notes Minor, “This effort is broader

Wesley Bedrosian

than just the field of medicine because it addresses overall health, and advances will lead to strategies for preventing disease and improving health.” One researcher leading the charge is Vasan Yegnasubramanian, Med ’06, who has a primary appointment in Oncology and a joint appointment in Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins. At the Next Generation Sequencing Center, he directs research that harnesses powerful advances in sequencing— enabled by a confluence of advances in engineering, imaging, molecular biology, biochemistry, and computational biology—in order to study the mechanisms linking environmental exposure, inflammation, and genetic/epigenetic alterations to cancer risk. “The ultimate goal is to harness new genomics technologies to craft rational strategies to target an individual’s tumor effectively,” Yegnasubramanian says. “It’s a major shift in how we treat cancer. Currently, we essentially use the same therapeutic strategy for all individuals presenting with a specific cancer type, despite knowing that only a fraction of those individuals may receive benefit from this one-size-fits-all approach. The new paradigm would allow us to rationally allocate medical therapies based on the genetic makeup of an individual’s disease, thereby allowing maximal efficacy while avoiding unnecessary side effects.” The greatest hurdle facing researchers is how to collect and analyze vast amounts of data on genomic sequencing, disease progression, and treatment. The price of sequencing genes is falling quickly to the range of a simple blood test, making such tests increasingly accessible. Yet one individual’s complete genetic information comprises millions of bytes of data, posing challenges for computing power and storage capacity. Even Johns Hopkins astronomy faculty members have

been drawn into the individualized health work, Minor says, because by hosting the Hubble telescope, those researchers have pioneered the handling and storing of enormous quantities of data. Johns Hopkins is well-positioned to lead this medical transformation, Yegnasubramanian believes, because the work requires the convergence of highlevel technology, cutting-edge biomedical research, and elite medical expertise. “Other universities are doing similar genome work, but they are often not tied closely to a hospital. At Hopkins we have a long history of clinicians working side by side with researchers and can really tackle this challenge from a multidisciplinary perspective.” Last year’s Volunteer Summit highlighted not only the exciting potential of individualized health but, equally, the transformative nature of new research relationships evolving across university divisions. Says Minor, “The structure of academic institutions, with their individual schools and departments, was created 100 years ago. Some of that still makes sense. But our society looks to universities for guidance on increasingly complex problems that don’t fit in neat silos. If we’re going to continue to meet society’s needs, we have to look at new ways to bring our greatest resource—our faculty—together.” For Yegnasubramanian and others involved in charting the new course of 21st-century medicine, the possibilities are enormous—and the payoff potentially immense. “We’re at the very early days, just at the envisioning stage,” he says, yet the advances energize him. “We have to be very cautious. We don’t want to hype up expectations and underdeliver. At the same time, I can’t contain my excitement at the prospects ahead.” —Lisa Watts Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 63

Alumni Weekend 2011

Were You There?


ore than 5,000 alumni and friends returned to the Homewood campus April 29–May 1 for a memorable weekend of reconnecting with old friends, engaging activities, and great food. Were you there? Maybe you enjoyed a picnic lunch under the magnolias in the Decker Garden, listened to student a cappella groups battle it out Glee-style, or participated in the first-ever Alumni Authors Book Fair. And let’s not forget Saturday’s traditional crab cake lunch followed by a nail-biting 8-to-7 Blue Jay win over the Loyola Greyhounds! If you missed it, plans for Alumni Weekend 2012 are already in the works, so mark your calendar now for the weekend of May 4–5 when the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays take on the Army Black Knights.

Photos by Stuart Watson

Friday’s bull and oyster roast drew a crowd of roughly 350 alumni—including Samantha Marks, A&S ’96, with her daughter Sophie (top) and Tom Hoffman, A&S ’71 (above, center). Ranjit Bagga, A&S ’89, and his family (above, right) enjoyed their share of the 2,400 crab cakes served at the pregame crab cake lunch, and alumni from the Class of ’76 gathered for a photo with the Hopkins Blue Jay at the President’s Breakfast (left). Close to 1,000 young alumni and their guests enjoyed a night of music and dancing at the Young Alumni Tent Party (below, left), and two members of the Class of ’96 (below, right) enjoyed a laugh at their 25th Reunion Party. To view more photos, check out the Johns Hopkins Alumni Weekend page on Facebook or visit

64 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


News & Notes


Robert “Bob” Resnick, A&S ’43, ’49 (PhD), is honored to have the American Association of Physics Teachers rename their undergraduate teaching award the Robert Resnick and David Halliday Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Physics Teaching. The naming commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1960 publication of their pioneering introductory physics textbook—still used worldwide today.


Mary C. Kattus, Nurs ’45, has 16 grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren. She spends her time walking, reading, and visiting with friends and family.


James E. McDonnell II, A&S ’49, was planning to retire when he moved to Florida but got into real estate and growing citrus instead.


Alan Hofmann, A&S ’52, Med ’55, received the Herbert Falk Medal from the Falk Foundation, a German foundation that promotes educational activities for physicians. Bernard J. Paris, A&S ’52, ’59 (PhD), has published Heaven and Its Discontents: Milton’s Characters in Paradise Lost (Transaction, 2010). Stewart M. Wolff, Med ’52, HS ’53, is retired and devotes himself to extracurricular activities.


Joan W. Gardner, Nurs ’56, has moved to Mexico Beach, Florida. H. Thomas Hall, Engr ’56, formerly with Martin Marietta, began a second career as a certified tax professional. He and his wife live in Colorado and celebrated their 51st anniversary last year. Dale D. Stewart, A&S ’56, an emergency room doctor in Bakersfield, California, has published 135 Life Principles: Life in America from a Different Point of View (Xlibris Corporation, 2010).


Anthony Boccuti, A&S ’57, a retired U.S. Army colonel and professor, is living in Towson, Maryland. George O. Gey Jr., A&S ’57, is becoming a great-grandfather. Nancy Fidler Parr, Nurs ’57 (Dipl), is sad to announce the death of her husband, Duane Parr, on January 3.


Richard “Dick” O. King, A&S ’61, a commercial real estate broker and appraiser, is president of Richard O. King & Associates, located in Columbia, Maryland. He and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year.


Carl Hammerstrom, Med ’62, enjoyed the food, wine, and museums of Paris with his wife, Linda, and their friends in February. Alumni News & Notes Alumni Association President: Ray Snow, A&S ’70 Executive Director of Alumni Relations: Mo Baldwin Editors: Mike Field, A&S ’97 (MA), Lisa Belman 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) Please send class notes to By submitting a class note, you give Johns Hopkins University permission to edit and 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 Alumni Association membership. There are various levels of annual support and we encourage you to participate. Or you could select Lifetime Membership, which is $1,000 or four annual installments of $250 each. For more information, visit

from our graduates and friends


Stuart H. Lessans, A&S ’63, is home full time with his twins, who are in fourth grade in Rockville, Maryland. Ronald P. Spark, A&S ’63, is the medical director of New Pueblo Medicine Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona.



Julee Garman Huss, Nurs ’66 (Dipl), works in geriatrics and infection control in Pennsylvania.


Donald L. Trump, A&S ’67, Med ’70, ’74 (PGF), HS ’75, is president and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. Marc A. Whaley, A&S ’67, was named a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

Wes Craven, A&S ’64 (MA), the iconic horror film director, released Scream 4 in April. The original Scream, which was released on December 20, 1996, is currently the highest-grossing horror/ slasher film in the United States.


Betty N. Bonas, Nurs ’69 (Cert), works in utilization management and enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren. You can email her at


David Lance Clark, A&S ’71, is director of the Civil Affairs Division of the United Nations Mission in Sudan. Clark writes that his team’s primary job is to help prevent and mitigate violent conflicts and to help manage the separation of the south. His wife, Nancy, is also in Sudan, working for the United Nations. John Eckstein, SAIS Bol ’71 (Dipl), SAIS ’73, an attorney, is corporate finance director and shareholder of Fairfield and Woods P.C. in Denver. Harry Quigley, Med ’71, HS ’75, of the Wilmer Eye Institute, received the Lesley Dana Gold Medal, awarded by the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, for his work in the field of glaucoma in April. J. Ronald Rowes, A&S ’71, a medical director at the North Shore Long Island Jewish Healthcare System, was appointed assistant professor of population health at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. Harry Singleton, A&S ’71, remarried a few years ago and is planning his retirement, which will include six months in the United States and six months in Brazil. Lauren J. Walters, A&S ’71, is CEO of Two Degrees (www, a food company with a mission to make a meaningful dent in severe malnutrition. Philip Wiehe, A&S ’71, is temporarily serving as the interim rector at Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis.


Francesca Northrup, Nurs ’72, Ed ’74 (MEd), will be vice chair of the 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show. Liam O. Purdon, A&S ’72, an English professor at Doane College, edited Conversations with Tom Robbins (University Press of Mississippi, 2011). Warren W. Schultz, SPH ’72 (PhD), is the associate superintendent of the chemistry division at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington.


Gérard Dubois, SPH ’73, writes that he was elected a full member of the National Medical Academy in March.


Vicki Porter, A&S ’74 (MA), ’77 (PhD), lives in London and is head of discovery and engagement at the Wellcome Trust, a biomedical research organization.


Michael J. Kelly, A&S ’75 (PhD), president and CEO of On Call International, was appointed president of the U.S. Travel Insurance Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 65


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends

Association in June. Kelly previously served as vice president and is a founding board member. Bernard Welt, A&S ’75, a professor at Corcoran College of Art and Design, published Dreaming in the Classroom: Practices, Methods, and Resources in Dream Education (SUNY Press, 2011).

Newsmaker Steven B. Oppenheimer, A&S ’69 (PhD), a biology professor at California State University, Northridge, received the 2009 U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from the White House and the National Science Foundation. Oppenheimer received this honor for the work presented in his essay on improving science education worldwide, particularly for underprivileged youth.


George J. Grabowski Jr., A&S ’76 (MA), received the 2010 Peter R. Vail Award from ExxonMobil Exploration Company in recognition of his technical accomplishments in geosciences over his career. Jonathan Krant, A&S ’76, SPH ’83, a former clinical rheumatologist, is vice president of clinical research for a microcap biotech firm in Cambridge. Call him if you are visiting Boston. Patricia (Stawovy) Miller, A&S ’76, a pediatrician in Pittsburgh, has three children in college and one in high school. Robert J. Moses, A&S ’76, lives in New Hampshire and has two children attending Brown University. You can get in touch with him at Marta Vielhaber, A&S ’76, chief of allergy and immunology for Kaiser-Permanente in Ohio, is married with a daughter in high school.


Shana J. Heppner, Ed ’77 (MA), and her husband are happily retired in Florida. Alan F. Peterson, A&S ’77, retired in January after working for Uncle Sam for 34 years. He is moving on to a second career in the private sector. Wayne Shandera, Med ’77, received the 2011 Saint Martin de Porres Award from the Southern Dominican Friars of Houston on May 5 for his ongoing work at health clinics in Guatemala. Elizabeth A. Shapiro, Nurs ’77 (Cert), is involved in her practice, health education, and research projects, as well as enjoying her 2-yearold granddaughter. Maryrita Burgan Wittstadt, Nurs ’77, is a school nurse in Baltimore County and became a grandmother in June.


Angela Aleiss, A&S ’78, recently appeared in the PBS documentary Reel Injun about the history of Native Americans in Hollywood. She’s also featured on The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season. Deborah Spratt, A&S ’78 (MA), ’88 (PhD), received the L.C. Charlesworth Professional Service Award from the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta in April.


Stuart W. Davidson, A&S ’79, a partner with Willig, Williams & Davidson, was reappointed vice chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners in April and was named a 2011 Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters. Helen Hooper, A&S ’79, was named a 2011–2012 Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford University. Shahzad Rizvi, SAIS ’79, a former government analyst, has published Behind the Veil (Wordclay, 2011), The Last Resident (Smashwords, 2010), and A Window in the Wall (Smashwords, 2011).


Steven R. Chicurel, Peab ’80, a professor of theater at the University of Central Florida, was awarded a competitive sabbatical for fall 2011. Donald W. Koran, A&S ’80 (MA), ’82 (PhD), a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, was nominated to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda in April.


Adrian Roe, A&S ’81, an attorney, lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, who is also an attorney, and their three children.

66 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


John Thomas Dodson, Peab ’83, conducted a recording in Russia with the Omsk Philharmonic Orchestra, which was released in May. His website is Mark S. Schlissel, Med ’83, ’86 (PhD), was named provost of Brown University in April.


Kevin Smith, Peab ’84 (MA), ’05 (PhD), teaches at the Lawrenceville School in Princeton, New Jersey, and married Xiaochun Zhang on August 10, 2010, in Urumqi, China.


Sharon Sirota Rubin, A&S ’85, has joined the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as special counsel for the Division of Recoveries and Financial Services.


Matt Borsch, A&S ’86, covers the health care services industries for Goldman Sachs and lives in Bronxville, New York, with his wife and son. Andrew Jay Goldberg, A&S ’86, is the co-founder of Pain Management Physicians of South Florida in Coral Springs, Florida. William C. Jones, SAIS ’86, is a resident senior fellow at the Joint Special Operations University, which is a part of the United States Special Operations Command.


Pierre Englebert, SAIS Bol ’87 (Dipl), ’88, a Pomona College professor, received the 2011 Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching in May. Brenda Greenberg, A&S ’87, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Department of State, “encourages other Hopkins grads to consider public service as a career.” Roderick K. King, Engr ’87, has been selected as one of the Fulbright NEXUS Scholars 2011–2012. King will participate in a yearlong program centering on “Advancing Health in the Caribbean through Leadership Development.” Doug McLeod, A&S ’87, was appointed the energy commissioner of Maui County, Hawaii, in December 2010. McLeod, a former environmental lawyer, continues to work on renewable energy systems.


Regina “Ginny” Lee Fite, A&S ’88 (MLA), has published I Should Be Dead by Now (, 2010). Robert Lee Gould, A&S ’88 (MLA), recently retired from the U.S. Air Force and Maryland Air National Guard after 27 years of service and was recognized with the Legion of Merit award. Kenneth Harvey Homer Jr., Bus ’88, a senior analyst at BRTRC Inc., a technology resource organization, is assigned to U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command. Maurice Linbergh Jones Jr., Engr ’88, is the owner of Jones Farm, located in Harford County, Maryland. Amy Marshall Lambrecht, A&S ’88, is the associate vice president for resource development at Women in Cable Telecommunications.


Louis Harold Joseph, SAIS ’89, has served as Haiti’s ambassador to the United States since September 14, 2010. Lisa (Weisbord) Rosenberg, A&S ’89, was appointed president, North America, for Euro RSCG Worldwide, a public relations agency headquartered in New York.


James Dire, A&S ’90 (MA), A&S ’98 (PhD), was recently appointed vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Hawaii-Kauai Community College.


Kelly Mansfield Brown, A&S ’91, returned to Johns Hopkins in April as the associate dean for external affairs at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.


Dorothy Jean Dustmann, Ed ’92 (MA), is an early intervention teacher at the Baltimore Infants and Toddlers Program.


Charles T. Gibson, A&S ’93, is doing development and teaching for More Than Carpentry Christian Ministries, a job-training program for St. Louis–area underprivileged residents. Eddie Tuvin, Bus ’93 (MBA), vice president of Capital Bank, received the 2011 SBA DC Financial Services Champion award on May 11 in Arlington, Virginia.


Angela Foehl, SPH ’94, is director of public policy for the American Art Therapy Association. Jenny Lin, A&S ’94, Peab ’98 (AD), released Musica Callada (Silent Music), a collection of 28 aphoristic piano works composed by Federico Mompou.


Simon E. Fraser, A&S ’95, a member of the business law department of Cozen O’Connor and resident in the Wilmington, Delaware, office, concentrates his practice within the bankruptcy, insolvency, and restructuring group. Kirstin Bruner Leighton-Lucas, A&S, ’95, lives in Washington with her husband and their new son, Tamerlane James Leighton-Lucas. Anita Samarth, Engr ’95, co-authored Electronic Health Records for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, 2011). Anthony Spearman-Leach, A&S ’95, is development and communications director for Montgomery Community Media in Rockville, Maryland.


Craig Enger, Bus ’99, has released his fourth music album, Coastline. Profits from the album, which can be found on iTunes, go to charity. Thomas A. Foster, A&S ’99 (MA), A&S ’02 (PhD), published New Men: Manliness in Early America (NYU Press, 2011). Randolph Joalahliae, SAIS ’99, published The Indian As an Enemy: An Analysis of the Indian Question in East Africa (AuthorHouse, 2010). Holly (Thesieres) Monteith, A&S ’99, ’10 (MA), and her husband, Ian, are proud to announce the birth of their daughter, Morgan Kyle. Amy Mason Saharia, A&S ’99, is completing a clerkship with the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor on the U.S. Supreme Court and is married to Kapil Saharia, A&S ’99, a fellow at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health. They live in Silver Spring, Maryland.  

2000 William R. Davis Jr., Engr ’00, recently joined RETTEW, an engineering design firm in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Captain Joshua Mitchell, Engr ’00, a third-year medical resident at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, went to the final round in the highly spirited Doctor’s Dilemma medical jeopardy game at the American College of Physicians’ internal medicine meeting.

Newsmakers Andrew “Andy” Enfield, A&S ’91, a former assistant coach for the Florida State University Seminoles, was named head coach at Florida Gulf Coast University in March. Enfield was the all-time leading scorer in men’s basketball history at Johns Hopkins and a 2001 inductee to the JHU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Lynlee Altman, Engr ’96, president of Pinnacle Construction, and 25 other small business owners participated in a session with President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to discuss the status of access to capital in April. Douglas Backhous, Med ’96 (PGF), a former Johns Hopkins Fellow, has joined the neurology program at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. Backhous oversees the center for hearing and skull-based surgery. Jeff Booth, A&S ’96, is manager of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Astronomy and Physics Competed Missions and Technology Office. Booth and his family have also purchased an old hunting cabin in California. C. Noelle Flaherty, Nurs ’96, completed her master of science degree in 2010. Chris Guest, Engr ’96, and Rae Lynn Prengaman Guest, Engr ’96, of Arlington, Virgina, are pleased to announce the birth of their son, Riordan James Guest, on December 31, 2010. Chris is a solo attorney, and Rae Lynn is a patent attorney at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Samantha Marks, A&S ’96, is working on her doctoral dissertation in clinical psychology and is mom to 2-year-old Sophie.

2001 Noelia Cantu, Bus ’01, ’04 (Cert), ’06 (MBA), is director of clinical research administration at the Center for Surgical Mary Beth Albright, A&S Trials and Outcomes Research at the ’94, an attorney and food Johns Hopkins University School of writer based in Washington, Medicine. D.C., was a finalist in season Simone (Leslie Strothers) Jack, seven of Food Network A&S ’01, is a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps. Her Star, a competition to husband, Jason Jack, A&S ’03, is a first win a show on the Food lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps Network. You can follow Albright’s for the U.S. Army and returned from his deployment to Iraq in June 2010. They are stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, with their first child, Asa Nathaniel. Brian Josias, A&S ’01, lives in Chicago with his wife, Risa, and works at a boutique litigation firm, Cotsirilos, Tighe & Streicker Ltd., where his practice focuses on white-collar criminal defense and complex commercial litigation. Julie B. Mallinger, A&S ’01, lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband, Arvind Bakhru, Engr ’99, and their two young daughters. Lauren Rothkopf, A&S ’01, is completing her master of public health degree at Temple University and is married with a son. Paul Staehle, A&S ’01, SPH ’03, and Mary McDonald Staehle, Engr ’04, were married on July 31, 2010, in New Jersey. Many Hopkins alumni attended the wedding, including former members of the Johns Hopkins University band and swim team.




Janet Hammond, Med ’97 (PGF), SPH ’99, is a vice president at Roche, a New Jersey biotech company.


Jake Boritt, A&S ’98, a filmmaker living in New York, wrote and produced The Gettysburg Story, an audio tour and guide. Constance Hays Matsumoto, Bus ’98 (MS), owner of Pabríque, a custom interior design company, is now associated with Girls Quest, a nonprofit that provides enrichment programs to low-income families and disadvantaged girls in New York. For more information, visit www Eric Newan, Engr ’98, and his firm, TFS Capital, were featured in a May 13 article in USA Today as a manager of an “All-Star Mutual Fund.” Seema (Menon) Shah, A&S ’98, lives in New York and is proud to announce the birth of her third child, Arya.

blog at

Stephen Eisele, A&S ’02, SAIS Bol ’02 (Dipl), SAIS ’03, ran for Congress in the 2011 special election for California’s 36th Congressional District. Both Matthew Sullivan, A&S ’02, and Shawn Shaffie, A&S ’03, took part in his campaign. Michael Little, A&S ’02, is a senior investment adviser for Grant/ GrossMendelsohn LLC, headquartered in Baltimore.


Lauren M. Pettiford-Maragh, A&S ’03, and Kevin D. Maragh, A&S ’04, were married on May 30, 2009. Linda Brown Rivelis, Bus ’03, and her husband, Steven Rivelis, are the founders of Eye Byte Solutions—a Baltimore-based Web, design, and new media studio. The company was recently named an American Design Awards winner for its corporate identity work. Christopher E. Wong, Engr ’03, ’05 (MS), and his wife, Anna Barrueco Wong, are the owners of Green Spring Diapers, a cloth diaper service in Baltimore.

Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 67


News & Notes

from our graduates and friends


Marina Koestler Ruben, A&S ’04, ’08 (MA), and Adam Ruben, A&S ’08 (PhD), welcomed their daughter, Maya Kamari Ruben, on April 20. Adam is a molecular biologist and Marina has published How to Tutor Your Own Child (Ten Speed Press, 2011).


Jonathan Grover, Engr ’05, has launched a social enterprise called iN4P, which partners with nonprofits, charities, and NGOs to provide them with mobile technology to help them increase their constituency. You can view their website at Michael Kong, Engr ’05, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a site reliability operations engineer for Facebook.


Bettina Chiu, A&S ’06, lives in Boston and works in acquisitions for a private equity real estate fund. Alia Hdeib, Med ’06, a neurosurgery resident at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, received the 2011 Society of Neurological Surgeons Resident Award in May.

Command and is charged with providing trained and ready Army Reserve soldiers to support mission requirements. Kevin Byrnes, Engr ’07 (MSE), ’09 (PhD), and his firm, TFS Capital, were featured in a May 13 article in USA Today as a manager of an “All-Star Mutual Fund.” Elizabeth Grice, Med ’07 (PhD), a medical science researcher and postdoctoral fellow at the National Human Genome Research Institute, has been named the recipient of the Luther College Young Alumni Award for 2011. Grice hopes that the results of her research and studies will eventually reveal more to medical scientists and practitioners about the dividing line between healthy and diseased skin.


Stephen Kampa, A&S ’08 (MFA), recently published Cracks in the Invisible: Poems (Ohio University Press, 2011). Yasmene Mumby, A&S ’08, Ed ’10 (MAT), teaches seventh and eighth grade social studies at the KIPP Ujima Village Academy, a charter school in Baltimore City. Mumby is actively working to keep the KIPP charter schools open in Baltimore.

Wendi Brown, Bus ’07, was awarded the Bronze Star for her service in Afghanistan. Brown has been deployed under the Army Sustainment

Correction: In the Summer 2011 issue, the class note for Dale D. Stewart, A&S ’56, was incorrect. The correct submission from Stewart appears on page 65. We regret the error.

In memoriam

Lionel Warren, SPH ’57 (ScD), January 29, St. Louis, Missouri.

Louise Specht, A&S ’34 (MA), April 22, Sykesville, Maryland.

Muriel K. Jacoby, Nurs ’58 (Dipl), March 6, South Hero, Vermont.

William S. Grauer, A&S ’36, June 24, Bettendorf, Iowa.

Sydney Wynne Porter Jr., Engr ’58, April 23, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania.

Margaret W. Schwartz, A&S ’37 (PhD), April 3, Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Deborah Aronson Stern, A&S ’60 (MA), September 14, 2010, Rochester, Michigan.


Lois E. Hart, Nurs ’40 (Dipl), May 2, El Paso, Texas. Thomas “Ted” E. Smith, A&S ’40, April 12, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Samuel Bojar, Med ’41, April 21, Dedham, Massachusetts. Charles B. Boenning, Engr ’43, ’48 (MA), February 25, Wyoming, Ohio. Anne M. Fuller, Nurs ’43 (Dipl), February 21, Beaumont, Texas. Charles D. Sherman Jr., Med ’45, February 8, Pittsford, New York. Mary “Jean” Dormont, Nurs ’46 (Cert), June 3, Edmonds, Washington. John W. Kearns, Med ’47, ’52 (PGF), HS ’55, March 27, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Perry J. Powers, A&S ’47 (PhD), March 7, Eugene, Oregon. Benjamin K. Silverman, A&S ’47, May 17, Princeton, New Jersey. George W. Holdefer, Engr ’48, March 10, Towson, Maryland. Robert J. Jeffries, Engr ’48 (PhD), April 10, Sun City Center, Florida. Joseph Harris, Med ’49 (MA), ’52 (PhD), April 14, Chandler, Arizona. Edward T. Kusterer, Engr ’49, ’54 (MS), April 4, Timonium, Maryland. John Tingle Coady Sr., A&S ’50, April 29, Easton, Maryland. Stanley H. Broder, A&S ’51, May 1, Watchung, New Jersey. Robert C. Hall, A&S ’51, April 13, Irvington, Virginia. John “Jack” H. Sullivan, A&S ’51 (MA), May 7, Moscow, Idaho. Carl Kupfer, Med ’52, ’58 (PGF), HS ’54, April 7, Rockville, Maryland. Robert E. McChesney, A&S ’52, April 20, Staunton, Virginia. Bernard Carter Boykin, Engr ’54, May 12, Baltimore, Maryland. Jack Lewis Connelly, SPH ’54, March 28, Rochester, New York. Jane G. Fausey, Ed ’55 (MEd), April 21, Gibsonburg, Ohio. Charles E. Johnson, Engr ’55, January 23, Palm Coast, Florida. Daniel J. Knighton III, Engr ’56, June 22, 2010, Baltimore, Maryland. Trevor F. Watson, Med ’56, March 10, Columbia, Maryland.

68 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

Kathleen W. Koschmann, Nurs ’61 (Dipl), April 17, Escondido, California. James J. Whalen, Engr ’62, ’69 (PhD), May 26, Clarence, New York. Franco Erculei, HS ’63, Med ’63 (PGF), March 11, Las Vegas, Nevada. Virginia L. Dalesandro, Nurs ’64 (Dipl), March 20, Pitman, New Jersey. Virginia Layfield, Nurs ’64, March 10, Salisbury, Maryland. Joseph C. Finney, HS ’65, March 3, Monterey, California. William H. Hetznecker III, Med ’66 (PGF), April 1, Broomall, Pennsylvania. Glenn C. Waehner, Engr ’66, February 14, Fresno, California. Bernard John Hodgkinson, HS ’68, March 24, Palm Springs, California. David M. French, SPH ’69, March 31, Charlottesville, Virginia. Frederick J. Hanna, Bus ’69, February 25, Westminster, Maryland. Robert W. Armacost, A&S ’70 (MLA), Ed ’73 (MEd), February 14, Baltimore, Maryland. Phillip “Phil” Cunningham, A&S ’70 (MLA), ’74 (Cert), March 11, Baltimore, Maryland. Robert Frank Biehl, SPH ’72, Med ’72 (PGF), March 22, Springfield, Illinois. Roberta G. Roberts, Ed ’76 (MEd), April 6, Baltimore, Maryland. Jean-Michel A. Roland, Med ’76 (PGF), March 26, Amherst, New York. Frank D. Boston Jr., Ed ’79 (MEd), May 1, Baltimore, Maryland. Leo Francis Dudek, Engr ’79, May 8, Baltimore, Maryland. Mavis B. Marks, SPH ’80, March 4, Washington, D.C. George William Moore, HS ’80, Med ’81 (PGF), April 4, Baltimore, Maryland. Thomas Kenny Carey, Ed ’85 (Cert), February 26, Towson, Maryland. Jill Hughes Palkovitz, A&S ’86 (MLA), May 23, Baltimore, Maryland. Elizabeth S.E. Moran, Bus ’87 (MAS), March 15, Greenville, Delaware. William F. Powers, SPH ’92, April 9, Kildeer, Illinois.

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Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 69

honor ⋅ respect ⋅ humility ⋅ integrity ⋅ excellence

The Bryn Mawr School Great Minds. Strong Hearts. Bold Voices.

Personal Development Creative Pursuits Military History Language Adventures Children/Family Matters Multi-Day Trips Book Talks …and much, much more!

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70 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011


Golomb’s Answers

“Spelling the States” Solutions Puzzle on page 17. 1. Letters adjoined: h, i, o. State added: Ohio. 2. Letters adjoined: a, w. States added: Iowa, Hawaii. 3. Letters adjoined: d, n. States added: Idaho, Indiana. 4. Letters adjoined: k, l, s. States added: Alaska, Illinois, Kansas. 5. Letters adjoined: b, e, r. States added: Arkansas, Delaware, Nebraska, Rhode Island. 6. Letter adjoined: m. States added: Alabama, Maine, Oklahoma.

7. Letter adjoined: t. States added: Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee. 8. Letters adjoined: c, g. States added: Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin. 9. Letter adjoined: u. States added: Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah. 10. Letter adjoined: y. States added: Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Wyoming. 11. Letter adjoined: v. States added: Nevada, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia.

12. Unused letters: f, j, p, x, z. States not yet spelled: Arizona, California, Florida, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas.

Extra credit: The letter j appears only in New Jersey, and z only appears in Arizona. F can be found in California and Florida, and x in New Mexico and Texas. The letter p appears in Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Because the letter b occurs in only two states (Alabama and Nebraska), if we had omitted b from our list of 20 letters and adjoined p instead, we would have a total of 42 states using only 20 different letters.

Congratulations To the recipients of the 2011 Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association Awards Read more about these 41 notable alumni and faculty or nominate someone for next year’s award at

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Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011 71

H o w To :

Harvest Stem Cells from Cord Blood B 1

Five graduate students in Johns Hopkins’ Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design believe they’ve invented a method that will significantly increase the number of stem cells that can be drawn out of the cord blood. They have secured a provisional patent on their new technology and founded a company, TheraCord LLC, to explore the commercial possibilities. One of the inventors, Christopher Chiang, explains how their new system works.

—Dale Keiger


After the birth of a child, collect the umbilical cord and the placenta.  

Employing a single-use kit now under development, connect the umbilical vein and arteries, via tubing, to a collection bag and a pumplike device.



Pump special solution into the umbilical cord and the placenta vascular system to flush out stem cells. Early tests of the new procedure have yielded up to 50 percent more stem cells.

72 Johns Hopkins Magazine • Fall 2011

Send stem cell–rich blood to a cord blood bank, where it will be cryogenically preserved for later use.

Wesley Bedrosian

lood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta of a newborn contains a wealth of stem cells that can be used in transplant surgery; to treat leukemia, various other cancers, and blood disorders; and in research on regenerative medicine. But the present method of drawing blood from the umbilical cord and the placenta—basically inserting a needle into the cord’s vasculature and using gravity to feed a collection bag—fails to draw out enough stem cells to be medically useful 60 percent of the time.

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