School Notes

School Notes

A supplement to the Yale Alumni Magazine from the fourteen schools of Yale.

School of Architecture
Robert A. M. Stern, Dean

One-of-a-kind chairs

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits Center in Manhattan, May 15–18, will display a collection of original chairs designed and fabricated by YSOA students as part of the fall semester course, “The Chair as Crucible for Architectural Design.” Taught by Tim Newton ’07MArch and Josh Rowley, the seminar explored the chair as a model for understanding architecture from concept to choice of materials and fabrication. “As individual as their authors, the chair provides a medium that is a controllable minimum structure, ripe for material and conceptual experiments,” according to the course description. Students designed and constructed full-scale prototype chairs, which were selected for display at the Furniture Fair. (For photos of some of the chairs, see the Yale Alumni Magazine report, “Have a Seat.”)

Gallery update

The School of Architecture Gallery will show the “2010 Year-End Exhibition of Student Work” from May 21 to July 30. Previous exhibitions this year were “The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture”; “What We Learned: The Yale Las Vegas Studio and the Work of Venturi Scott Brown & Associates”; and “Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future.” The Saarinen show, which closed May 2, covered the architect’s career from the 1930s, when he was a student at Yale, through the early 1960s, when the last of his buildings was completed posthumously by colleagues Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo. A display of drawings, letters, photographs, and other materials dating from Saarinen’s years as an architecture student at Yale included a watercolor done by Saarinen while on student travels. Titled Acropolis, it was recently donated to the School of Architecture by Richard Nash Gould ’68, ’72MArch.


School of Art
Robert Storr, Dean

Alumnus named to Postal Service stamp committee

Graphic designer Antonio Alcala ’83, ’85MFA, has been appointed to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, the panel that annually reviews some 50,000 suggestions for topics and people to be commemorated on U.S. postage stamps. From these thousands of suggestions the committee recommends only about 20 for the postmaster general’s approval. Alcala, who received his MFA from Yale in graphic design, is an adjunct faculty member of the Corcoran College of Art and Design and founder of the design education program DesignWorkshops. His work is represented in the American Institute of Graphic Arts design archives and the Library of Congress permanent collection of graphic design.

Exhibition celebrates artist/educator/publisher

The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut, renowned for its collection of American Impressionist artists, was the venue this spring for an exhibition of works by Sewell Sillman (1924–1992), a graduate of the School of Art and faculty member during the 1950s and 1960s. Sillman was a protégé of the Bauhaus master Josef Albers, both at Black Mountain College and later at Yale, and passed along to his own students the lessons he learned from Albers on Bauhaus drawing, design, and color. Later, his art publishing firm created prints for many of the leading artists of the time. This display of more than 50 paintings, prints, and drawings—including the artist’s well-known “wave” drawings—is the first to fully examine Sillman’s influence; many of the pieces have rarely or never been seen before. Sewell Sillman: Pushing Limits travels this summer to the Asheville Art Museum in Asheville, North Carolina.


Yale College
Mary E. Miller, Dean

Students in national media

A YouTube sensation was born when Sam Tsui ’11 and Kurt Schneider ’10 put their creative talents to work at Yale’s Digital Media Center for the Arts (DMCA). The duo’s Michael Jackson tribute video—in which Tsui single-handedly performed a seven-part musical medley—was featured on the Bonnie Hunt Show in September, ABC’s World News Tonight in October, and the Oprah Winfrey Show in February. The video can be viewed online at

Yalies also made headlines with a new musical admissions video, entitled That’s Why I Chose Yale. Tsui and Schneider were among the many students to collaborate on the project, which was spearheaded by Andrew Johnson ’06, co-written by Ethan Kuperberg ’11, and recorded at the DMCA. The lighthearted send-up of Yale’s traditions and history attracted considerable attention in the blogosphere and in national publications, including the New York Times. The 16-minute film can be viewed at

Saybrugians gathered around their televisions in November, when Saybrook’s own Marty Keil ’12 (son of Morse College master Frank Keil) appeared on a college-student edition of Wheel of Fortune. Keil beat out more than 300 aspiring contestants to earn a spot on the popular game show. While his bid for the jackpot fell short, Keil did come away with $8,500 in winnings from a third-place finish—and stories to share with his fellow Yalies back in New Haven.

Native American student honored for leadership

Skawenniio Barnes ’10, a member of the advisory board of the Native American Cultural Center at Yale, was honored in March with a Special Youth Award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards. Barnes, who hails from Canada’s Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, has been recognized for her leadership skills since 2002, when she was chosen as CosmoGirl! of the Year at age 13. Since then, Barnes has been named one of Canada’s top 20 women by Chatelaine magazine and was featured in Winds of Change magazine’s “College Guide 2009.” She currently sits on the board of directors of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA).

Academic honors for students, alums

In November, the American Association of Teachers of Italian (AATI) announced that both of its annual college essay prizes had been awarded to current or former Yale students: Blake Walsh ’09 won the English language prize for her essay “Mediating the Transition from Infantile Dependency to Mature Autonomy: Food as a ‘Transitional Object’ in Clara Sereni’s Keeping House,” while Italian major Emily Rabiner ’10 earned top honors in the Italian language competition for “Il concetto moderno dell’indagine gialla: Saviano come ‘scrittore/detective’.”

The following month, five Yalies were the recipients of Rhodes or Marshall scholarships. Matthew Baum ’09 and Geoffrey Shaw ’10 will study at Oxford University as Rhodes Scholars in 2010–2011. Marshall Scholarships for postgraduate study in the United Kingdom were awarded to James Luccarelli ’10 and Anna Jo Bodurtha Smith ’10, as well as third-year Yale Law student Nabiha Syed.


Divinity School
Harold W. Attridge, Dean

Gathering sees youth as pivotal to improving U.S.–Muslim relations

If U.S.–Muslim relations are to improve, a key element will be to engage Muslim and American youth. That is one of the points to emerge from a series of intense workshops and speeches at a February 21–23 gathering hosted by Yale Divinity School. The three-day workshop, held at Yale’s new Greenberg Conference Center, included prominent scholars, policy makers, activists, and public figures from throughout the U.S. and the Middle East. The goal of the workshop, which tied into YDS’s Reconciliation Program aimed at Christian-Muslim bridge-building, was to develop a common format and agenda for a major international conference in Egypt June 16–18. The conference will be held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria and is intended to build on the speech President Barack Obama gave in 2009 in Cairo, where he called for a “new beginning” in relationships between the United States and Muslims the world over. Sallama Shaker, visiting professor of Islamic studies at Yale and a leading coordinator of the workshop, said, “This conference provides a human touch to President Obama’s speech. The fact that we can succeed and make a difference—that will be our job.”

Notre Dame scholar appointed to senior ethics position at YDS

Jennifer Herdt, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, will join Yale Divinity School July 1 as professor of Christian ethics, filling the senior faculty position that was vacated when Margaret Farley retired in 2007. Herdt’s primary interests are in the history of moral thought since the seventeenth century, classical and contemporary virtue ethics, and contemporary Protestant social ethics and political theology. Harold Attridge, the Rev. Henry L. Slack Dean of YDS, called Herdt an “outstanding teacher and scholar” who “can bring to bear onto the life of believers today the profound riches of the tradition of Christian ethical reflection.”

Earthquake in Haiti: YDS engages the tragic aftermath

Six days after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, Sam Owen ’12MDiv and Chris Corbin ’12MDiv attended a Sunday service at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery in lower Manhattan where prayers were devoted to Haiti. After the service, Owen and Corbin got to talking about how moved they were, and the next day they boarded a Haiti-bound chartered plane carrying humanitarian aid. “We were called by the Holy Spirit to go down there,” says Owen, who with Corbin spent six days in Port-au-Prince organizing a pharmacy and working in Hospice Saint Joseph. The YDS community responded in a number of ways to the ongoing human tragedy. Leslie Brown ’10MDiv played a key role on the broader Yale campus by coordinating fundraising and educational efforts. At a packed Woolsey Hall benefit concert for victims, Kyle Brooks ’05, ’12MDiv, read his quake-inspired poem, “A Letter to Haiti,” and students Andy Barnett ’12MDiv and Justin Haaheim ’10MAR played with the Theodicy Jazz Quartet. During worship services in Marquand Chapel, Haiti was a daily focus of public prayers. International Relief and Development, founded and headed by Arthur Keys ’73MDiv, sent a shipment of nearly $7 million in medical aid in the days following the earthquake. George Rupp ’67BD is CEO and president of another organization helping in Haiti, the International Rescue Committee, and Joseph Cistone ’90MAR heads up International Partners in Mission, also involved in providing relief to the island nation.


School of Drama
James Bundy, Dean

2010 Yale Drama Series Award announced

Olivier Award–winning playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Hare has selected blu by Virginia Grise as the 2010 winner of the annual Yale Drama Series competition. Grise will be awarded the David C. Horn Prize of $10,000; her play blu will be published by Yale University Press and receive a reading at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven in September. Chosen from 960 submissions, blu is about a Mexican American family’s response to the loss of their oldest son in Iraq.

The Yale Drama Series is jointly sponsored by Yale University Press and the Yale Repertory Theatre, with generous support from the David C. Horn Foundation. Submissions for the 2011 Yale Drama Series competition must be postmarked no earlier than June 1, 2010, and no later than August 15, 2010. The competition is open to any original, unpublished, and unproduced full-length play in English.

Two new musicals selected for Yale Institute for Music Theatre

Two original music theater works will receive two-week workshops in New Haven June 13–27 as part of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre. The Daughters, with music and libretto by Shaina Taub, and Stuck Elevator, with music by Byron Au Young and libretto by Aaron Jafferis, were chosen from this year’s applications to the program.

Established by the Yale School of Drama and the Yale School of Music, the Yale Institute For Music Theatre seeks to identify distinctive and original music theater works by emerging writers and composers, and to serve those writers by matching them with directors, music directors, and actors/singers who can help them further develop their work. By limiting production resources and values, the workshop keeps the focus on the creative process of the artistic team.

Design professor honored for “sustained excellence”

Tony Award winner Ming Cho Lee, cochair of the design department at the drama school, received the Robert L. B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design at the 2010 Theatre Development Fund/Irene Sharaff Awards on April 23, in recognition of his distinguished career that has “become an example to all designers of the beauty, feeling, and empathy that a designer creates through true mastery of this art.”

The Theatre Development Fund, the largest not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts in the United States, was established in 1968 to foster works of artistic merit by supporting new productions and to broaden the audience for live theater and dance.


School of Engineering & Applied Science
T. Kyle Vanderlick, Dean

Advances in medical imaging

Epilepsy affects nearly three million people in the United States and about 50 million people worldwide. While it is often controlled or relieved by medication, for some patients, surgery to remove damaged tissue is the best option.

Thanks to a new imaging system developed by professor of biomedical engineering and diagnostic radiology James Duncan, in collaboration with researchers and physicians at Yale, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, University of Minnesota, and BrainLAB, Inc., neurosurgeons are able to operate with greater precision, leaving healthy tissue undamaged. The breakthrough technology simultaneously maps blood flow, electrical activity, and biochemical activity, which provides neurosurgeons with a clear image of the problem site. Duncan’s Yale collaborators include professors of biomedical engineering and diagnostic radiology Lawrence Staib ’90PhD, Xenophon Papademetris ’00PhD, and Richard Carson.

This medical advancement was featured on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website and was reported in February 22, 2010, issue of Parade magazine by the director of NIH, Dr. Francis S. Collins ’74PhD, in a story entitled, “Revealing the Body’s Deepest Secrets.”

New magnetic solders stronger and greener

Yale researchers have developed a magnetic solder—a metal alloy that acts as the glue for bonding microchips and other electronic devices—that can be manipulated in three dimensions and selectively heated, while offering a more environmentally friendly alternative to today’s lead-based solders.

Until recently, virtually all solder was made from a tin-lead alloy. But legislation in Japan and the European Union banning the import of electronics with lead solders due to lead toxicity has increased interest in trying to find a greener alternative.

“We took this as an opportunity to improve solder for the environment, but we also took it as an opportunity to reexamine how to enhance solder in general,” said Ainissa Ramirez, associate professor of mechanical engineering and lead author of the study. Ramirez and her team have developed a nontoxic solder made of tin-silver containing iron particles. In addition to environmental benefits, the new solder offers several advantages over traditional solders. With the addition of iron, the new solder is stronger and can be remotely moved into hard-to-reach places through magnetic manipulation. “There is a whole range of possibilities for this new kind of solder,” Ramirez said. “In addition to helping make the fabrication of microelectronics more environmentally responsible, these new solders have the potential to solve technological challenges.” (See “PG or Not PG?” for a Yale Alumni Magazine report.)

Four receive NSF Career Awards

Assistant professors Michael Levene (biomedical engineering), Minjoo Larry Lee (electrical engineering), André Taylor (chemical engineering), and Aaron Dollar (mechanical engineering) have each received a National Science Foundation Career Award—one of the highest honors for young faculty members. The Career Award recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education.


School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Peter Crane, Dean

When measuring air pollution’s effect, it’s all about location

Where air pollution occurs can greatly affect its economic consequences, according to research conducted by an environment school professor and a colleague. Robert Mendelsohn ’78PhD, Edwin Weyerhaeuser Davis Professor of Forest Policy, and Nicholas Muller ’07PhD, an economics professor at Middlebury College, examined the costs of the damages caused by air pollution emissions at various locations. They found that air pollution has something oddly in common with real estate: “It’s all about location, location, location,” Mendelsohn said. “Just like where a house is located makes a big difference in its value, a polluter’s location can make a huge difference in terms of the economic consequences of its emissions.”

As an example, they estimate that an extra ton of a single pollutant, sulfur dioxide, spewed from a power plant in, say, parts of the New York metropolitan area would cost society 50 times more than that same ton emitted in the rural Pacific Northwest. Most of that cost involves harm to human health, although the two economists also considered other factors, including the known damage that pollution can do to crops, forests, and man-made materials. Mendelsohn and Muller propose a new era of pollution regulation that takes into account these differences. The research was published in the December 2009 issue of the American Economic Review.

Online magazine wins national award

Yale Environment 360, the environment school’s online magazine, has won the award for best video in the 2010 National Magazine Awards for Digital Media, for an original report that it produced and posted on the site about mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.

The video, Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining, was one of five finalists in the video category that included National Geographic and the New York Times style magazine. Directed by Chad Stevens and produced by Yale Environment 360 and the multimedia company Media Storm, the 20-minute video depicts the enormous environmental and human costs of mountaintop removal mining. The practice, which involves blasting the tops off mountains to get at the coal seams below, has destroyed or severely damaged more than a million acres of Appalachian forest, buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams in mining debris, contaminated water supplies, and driven some local residents from their homes.

Launched in June 2008, Yale Environment 360 was one of just six online-only magazines to receive a nomination as a finalist for this year’s National Magazine Awards, which are regarded as the most prestigious awards in magazine publishing.


Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Jon Butler, Dean

Outstanding graduate mentors

The winners of the Graduate Mentor Awards for 2010 are Kelly Brownell, professor of psychology and epidemiology and public health and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity; John Harley Warner, the Avalon Professor of the History of Medicine and professor of American studies and history; and Suzanne Alonzo, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. They were honored during Mentoring Week in February and will be further celebrated at the Graduate School’s commencement convocation.

A committee of graduate students and faculty selected the award recipients based on anonymous letters of nomination from grateful advisees. One student, nominating Professor Brownell, wrote, “My mentor . . . has taught me that science can be a powerful tool in shaping public policy and effecting change on a national and international scale.” Another student wrote, “Having Professor Warner as my academic mentor is like winning the lottery. He has never ceased to raise the mentorship bar to unprecedented levels.” Writing about Professor Alonzo, one student said, “Suzanne’s confidence in my ideas and judgment throughout this process enabled me to develop intellectually to the point that I now feel she treats me more as a colleague than a student.”

Honoring public service

Dean Jon Butler has announced two new awards to honor students who engage in public scholarship and community service while at Yale. “Scholarship is a responsibility as much as it is a privilege, not only toward our disciplines but also toward our local and global communities, where our skills and talents can have special resonance,” says Dean Butler.

The Public Scholar Award will recognize research conducted by a Yale graduate student that directly and concretely engages and betters the world at large. The Community Service Award will honor a student’s volunteer work in the New Haven area while enrolled at Yale. The student’s volunteer work does not need to be related to his or her academic work. Winners will be selected by a student/faculty/staff committee, and the prizes will be awarded at commencement convocation.

History of Art students win national fellowships

Three graduate students have been awarded fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the research institute of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Meredith Gamer ’12 has won the Paul Mellon Fellowship, which enables a candidate completing a doctoral dissertation in Western art to study abroad for two years, with a third year in residency at the center. Gamer’s dissertation, “Criminal and Martyr: Art and Religion in Britain’s Early Modern Eighteenth Century,” explores the relationships among art, religion, and public execution. The Wyeth Fellowship, awarded for 24 months, supports research focused on art of the United States. Dana Byrd ’11 will spend a year in South Carolina, researching Sea Island plantations for her dissertation titled “Reconstructions: The Material Culture of the Plantation, 1861–1877.” Nathaniel Jones ’12, winner of the Finley Fellowship, will spend two years in Italy researching his dissertation titled “Nobilibus Pinacothecae Sunt Faciundae: The Inception of the Fictive Picture Gallery in Augustan Rome,” and a third at the center completing the dissertation and performing curatorial work.


Law School
Robert Post, Dean

Supreme Court justice speaks at Law School

The Honorable Stephen Breyer, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was at Yale Law School in February for a two-day discussion on “Making the Constitution Work: A Supreme Court Justice’s View.” Justice Breyer’s first talk, introduced by President Richard Levin, was titled “History: Challenges the Court Has Faced.” For his second lecture, “Future: Will the People Follow the Court?” the justice was hosted by Law School dean Robert Post ’77JD and introduced by Potter Stewart Professor of Constitutional Law Paul Gewirtz ’70JD. “This is an extraordinary event,” said Dean Post. “It is extremely unusual for a sitting justice to give formal lectures to an audience, and it is a tremendous honor for Yale.”

Professors receive new appointments

Yale Law professor Douglas Kysar has been named the Joseph M. Field ’55 Professor of Law. Kysar joined Yale Law School in 2008, after having taught at Cornell University Law School for seven years. A leading scholar in the area of environmental law, he also teaches Torts and Law & Globalization. He has published numerous articles and several books, including Regulating from Nowhere: Environmental Law and the Search for Objectivity; Economics of Environmental Law; and The Torts Process. He earned a BA in philosophy summa cum laude from Indiana University in 1995 and a JD magna cum laude in 1998 from Harvard Law School.

John Fabian Witt ’94, ’99JD, ’00PhD, has been named the Allen Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law. A renowned legal historian, Witt joined Yale Law School in 2009. He previously taught at Columbia Law School for eight years and is the author of widely acclaimed work in the history of American law and in torts. His books include Patriots and Cosmopolitans: Hidden Histories of American Law, and the forthcoming Lincoln’s Code: War and Humanity in America.

YLS students assist small Pacific islands

Small-island populations in the Pacific concerned about the potentially devastating effects of climate change are getting help from members of Yale’s Environmental Protection Clinic. The clinic, made up of law and forestry students, has teamed up with Islands First, an organization assisting the small islands in their push for action to address the climate change crisis. A small group of clinic students went to the climate change summit in Copenhagen in December, where they worked closely with several island delegations, doing research, attending meetings, and providing the legal expertise and manpower that the understaffed delegations sorely needed. Dean Robert Post, who hopes to expand such activities at Yale Law School in the future, said, “Our collaboration with Islands First will provide our students with the experience of working on one of the most important issues of our time in the service of a client who is a major player on the world stage. It will prove outstanding preparation for effective public advocacy in the environmental area.” Professor Doug Kysar, who teaches a class on the Law of Climate Change, said the Law School is fortunate to have a dean who recognizes the growing significance of these kinds of opportunities. “If our goal is to train the next generation of thought leaders and change agents to take the global stage,” said Kysar, “then the problem of climate change is the ultimate drama for them to study.”


School of Management
Sharon Oster, Dean

New SOM campus gets key city approval

On March 1, by a vote of 25 to 1, the City of New Haven Board of Aldermen approved the zoning changes necessary for Yale to build a 230,000-square-foot home for SOM on a four-acre plot on Whitney Avenue. During a brief discussion, the aldermen who voted in favor of Yale’s proposal cited the positive economic impact that the project will have on the city, through both the construction phase and the eventual increase in the size of the SOM student body, as well as the fact that the construction is favored by many of the residents in the surrounding neighborhood. The university still needs to get approval of site plans from the City Plan Commission. Internal demolition of the buildings currently on the site has already commenced, and construction of the campus is expected to begin by the end of 2010. The university hopes to complete the building by fall 2013. See info on the new campus at

Research by SOM professors cited by top media

New research by William Goetzmann ’78BA, ’86MBA, ’91PhD, Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies, and Keith Chen, associate professor of economics, has been prominently cited recently in the New York Times, while K. Geert Rouwenhorst, professor of finance, and Gary Gorton, the Frederick Frank Class of 1954 Professor of Management and Finance, were profiled in the Financial Times. Goetzmann noticed that the real estate bonds that financed the first wave of skyscraper construction were remarkably similar to mortgage-backed securities created over the last two decades. His research uncovered an earlier boom-and-bust cycle with many parallels to today’s crisis. Chen has discovered a key mathematical flaw in decades of research on cognitive dissonance. The Times covered how his research has caused prominent psychologists to redesign their experiments. The Financial Times examined influential research by Rouwenhorst and Gorton showing that commodities provide returns as high as stocks while offering a diversification benefit because their returns are negatively correlated with those of stocks and bonds. Read more about the work of SOM faculty at

Internship Fund reaches 100 percent support from the Class of 2011

Each year, the Internship Fund challenges the students of the incoming class to pledge money to help fund summer internships in the nonprofit and public sectors. This year, the Class of 2011 set a Student Fundraising Week record, raising more than $37,000, a result of pledges from 100 percent of the class. The mark represents a significant jump over the $22,000 raised last year. The full participation of the class triggered a $25,000 contribution from the dean’s office. “The success of the drive is the result of our great community,” said Kimberly Bartlett ’11, a fund coleader. “Everyone reached into their pockets and gave what they could.”


School of Medicine
Robert J. Alpern, Dean

A landmark for personalized medicine

Yale researchers have applied new technology to diagnose and recommend therapy for a rare intestinal disorder in a seriously ill baby half a world away—in Turkey. After obtaining samples of the baby’s DNA from Turkish doctors, Richard Lifton, chair and Sterling Professor of Genetics, and colleagues at the new Yale Center for Genome Analysis (YCGA) used an emerging technique to quickly and completely map the “exome,” those regions of the boy’s genome that contain protein-coding genes and their associated regulatory sequences. In just ten days, the team was able to determine that the baby harbored a rare mutation in an intestinal protein which causes congenital chloride diarrhea, a disorder in which the gastrointestinal tract fails to properly absorb chloride and water. Armed with this information, the baby’s doctors were able to tailor a successful treatment program. The feat was a landmark in personal genetics, marking the first time that a patient has been diagnosed and treated based on a comprehensive genetic scan.

Appreciating RNA in a whole new way

Once upon a time, biology textbooks pigeonholed RNA as a mere middleman between DNA and proteins in cells. But more recently, it has become clear that RNA can play far more complex roles. In the December 3, 2009, issue of Nature, scientists in the laboratory of Ronald Breaker, the Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, describe a slew of previously unknown RNA-based structures that may carry out complex biochemical functions. Scientists in Breaker’s lab report in detail on two large, intricate structures built entirely of RNA in bacteria. One, GOLLD, appears to help viruses that infect bacteria to burst out of infected cells so that they can seek new targets. Another, HEARO, might be a mobile genetic element that causes spontaneous genetic change. Breaker says the research helps us come to grips with how cells such as our own really function. “Every time we feel as though we’re giving RNA just about the right amount of credit,” he says, “we find more amazing RNAs.”

Yale Cancer Center director is named inaugural Sackler Professor

Thomas Lynch Jr. ’82, ’86MD, has been named the Richard Sackler and Jonathan Sackler Professor of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center Director. Lynch, who joined the Yale faculty in 2009, is also physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital. An authority on lung cancer, Lynch is renowned for his research on the relationship between genetic variations and the effectiveness of cancer therapies. Richard Sackler and his brother, Jonathan Sackler, joined forces in 2009 to create a $3 million endowment establishing the new professorship.


School of Music
Robert Blocker, Dean

Oral History celebrated at Yale and Carnegie Hall

In April, the School of Music paid tribute to the Oral History of American Music (OHAM) on its 40th anniversary. The project, founded and directed by Vivian Perlis, collects and preserves audio and video memoirs from and about American composers. Interweaving archival footage with live performance, the program featured music and insight from Aaron Copland, Duke Ellington, John Cage, and several others. The concert opened with Charles Ives’s From the Steeples and Mountains, written only a few years after his graduation from Yale College in 1898. Star clarinetist Richard Stoltzman ’67MusM performed Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint, which was written for him, and faculty pianist Wei-Yi Yang played Copland’s thorny Piano Variations. The Mitchell-Ruff Duo—longtime faculty member Willie Ruff and pianist Dwike Mitchell—offered a set of music by Eubie Blake and Duke Ellington. Cellist Lachezar Kostov ’07MusM and pianist Viktor Valkov performed Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Lament. Former School of Music faculty member Jacob Druckman was represented by his brass quintet Dance With Shadows. Between musical selections, video segments presented highlights of footage from the OHAM archives interspersed with photographs and biographical narration. The program was presented in New Haven as part of the Chamber Music Society at Yale, and at Carnegie Hall as part of the Yale in New York series. Clarinet professor David Shifrin is the artistic director of both concert series.

Music alumni make strong showing at the Grammys

Six Yale graduates were among the 2010 Grammy nominees, and three—David Lang, Sharon Isbin, and Marin Alsop—won awards. David Lang ’83MusAM, a School of Music graduate who is now on the composition faculty, won in the category best small ensemble performance for his piece The Little Match Girl Passion. The work also won Lang the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Guitarist Sharon Isbin ’78, ’79MusM, an alumna of both Yale College and the School of Music, won for best instrumental soloist performance (without orchestra) in Journey to the New World, with Joan Baez and Mark O’Connor. Yale College alumna Marin Alsop ’77 was the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra on the recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto, which won a Grammy for best classical contemporary composition. Alsop was also nominated for best classical album for her recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass.

As half of the Enso Quartet, Yale School of Music graduates Maureen Nelson ’00MusM (violin) and Richard Belcher ’00MusM (cello) were nominated for best chamber music performance for their recording of Ginastera’s String Quartets. Longtime faculty member Yehudi Wyner ’50, ’52MusB, ’53MusM, a Pulitzer Prize–winning composer, was nominated in the category of best classical contemporary composition for his piano concerto Chiavi In Mano.


School of Nursing
Margaret Grey, Dean

Article by YSN professor among top research stories

An article by School of Nursing assistant professor Linda Honan Pellico ’89MSN was chosen as a top research story of 2009 in an online public poll conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Pellico’s article, “What Newly Licensed Registered Nurses Have to Say About Their First Experiences,” earned the second highest number of votes in the poll. It was published in the July/August 2009 issue of Nursing Outlook. For more about Pellico’s study, see

Student retraces her steps to freedom

Rose Nanyonga Clarke, a PhD student at YSN, was recently featured in a BBC News broadcast about her efforts to raise awareness about child sacrifice in Africa. When she was 17, Nanyonga Clarke refused to join her family’s use of witchcraft and instead walked from her Ugandan village to a new life. Last summer she organized a trip back to Uganda to retrace her 32-mile journey to freedom, to raise awareness and to create a scholarship for future Ugandan nurses. Watch her first-person account at:

Congresswoman calls on nurses as advocates

Six-term U.S. Congresswoman from California Lois Capps ’64MAR delivered the annual Sybil Palmer Bellos lecture at YSN on April 19. Her speech, “Nurses Make the Best Advocates,” drew on her own 20-year tenure as a school nurse and health advocate. In 2003, Capps founded the House Nursing Caucus to provide an open forum to address issues facing the nursing community, including the nursing shortage, barriers to practice for advanced practice registered nurses, bioterrorism preparedness, health care reform, and patient safety.


School of Public Health
Paul D. Cleary, Dean

Minority high school students consider careers in public health

Just what do public health professionals do? At YSPH’s ninth annual Diversity Day in February, minority high school students from the New Haven area learned that the profession offers an unusually wide variety of opportunity, from testing pharmaceuticals to improving access to clean water to studying why African Americans are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions.

Nearly 30 students were on hand as Dean Paul D. Cleary, along with faculty, current Yale public health students, and an alumna, talked about their public health careers and how their work has taken them as far as Indonesia and Ethiopia. The researchers also sought to demystify the profession—and college—for the teenagers, explaining terms such as epidemiologist, biostatistics, and dean.

Harmful protein linked to experiences of discrimination

African Americans who report experiences of discrimination have higher levels of a particular protein that is associated with cardiovascular and other health problems, according to a study by YSPH researchers. “While previous research has linked discrimination with poor health outcomes, we know very little about the underlying biological mechanisms. This study sheds some light on one potential pathway,” said assistant professor Tené Lewis, the study’s lead researcher.

The protein marker, C-reactive protein (CRP), is found in the blood, and its levels increase in response to inflammation. In addition to heart problems, its presence has also been linked with several psychosocial processes such as mental stress and depression. The researchers studied 296 older African American adults and assessed their experiences with “everyday” forms of discrimination through a nine-item questionnaire that rated the frequency of various forms of mistreatment (ranging from subtle forms of disrespect to outright insults and harassment). A “significant” correlation was identified between CRP levels in the participants’ blood and degrees of discrimination experienced. The research is published online in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Heart attack care improving with quicker, coordinated responses

Health care professionals using new time-saving strategies to coordinate care for heart attack patients saw dramatic improvement in “door-to-balloon” (D2B) times—the time from when a patient enters the hospital to when blood flow is restored to the heart by opening a blockage with angioplasty. Prompt treatment results in improved chances of survival.

A Yale team surveyed D2B times in 831 hospitals and found marked reductions in unnecessary delays in treatment and widespread adoption of recommended strategies to improve care. The improvement was seen across the nation, not just in select hospitals or states. Some examples of strategies to reduce delays in door-to-balloon times include emergency medicine staff activating the catheterization laboratory with a single call and expecting to have the catheterization team in the laboratory within 20 to 30 minutes of being paged. “This campaign has changed the way heart attack care is delivered—for the benefit of patients,” said Professor Elizabeth H. Bradley, the study’s first author. The results are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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