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An Update from the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences

April 2013


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Alumni Events

Sur la table: Food, Identity and the Jews in Modern France
April 15, 7:15 pm
French Embassy

Annual Capitol Hill Alumni Reception
April 17, 5:30pm
Capitol Visitor Center

52nd Annual Alumni Outstanding Service Awards
April 18, 6:30 pm
1957 E Street, NW, City View Room

GW LinkedIn Group Virtual Networking Hour
April 25, Noon

GW Culture Buffs at the National Museum of African Art
April 27, 11:30 am
National Museum of African Art

Pragmatism about God, Death and the Absurd
April 28, 4:30 pm
Phillips Hall, Room B152

Predicting the Present with Search Engine Data, featuring Hal Varian, Google, Inc.
May 8, 6:00 pm
Marvin Center, Room 310

GW's Women and Philanthropy Forum
May 9, 9:00 am
Four Seasons Hotel, Washington, DC

Museum Studies Alumni Reception at AAM Annual Meeting
May 20, 5:00 pm
Hilton Baltimore

Other Events

SMPA Alumni/Student Networking Salon
April 10, 6:00 pm
Jack Morton Auditorium

University Seminar on Forecasting: Keith Ord
April 11, 12:30 pm
Monroe Hall, Room 321

Summer Sessions Fair
April 11, 1:00 pm
Kogan Plaza

Daniel Bozhkov
April 11, 6:00 pm
Center for the Study of Modern Art

The Very Model of a Roman Woman Warrior
April 11, 6:00 pm
Funger Hall, Room 103

University Orchestra: Spring
Is in the Air
April 14, 3:00 pm
Lisner Auditorium

The Politics and Culture of Contemporary France
April 15, 2:30 pm
Gelman Library, Room 702

Sourced: The Archival Perspective
April 16, 2:30 pm
Gelman Library, Room 710

Yeskel Memorial Concert Series: Vijay Iyer
April 16, 7:30 pm
Lisner Auditorium

Jane B. Hart Lecture: Robert Boyd
April 17, 4:30 pm
Jack Morton Auditorium

Info Session: MA in Organizational Sciences
April 17, 6:30 pm
Phillips Hall, Room 411

Chamber Music Soiree
April 17, 7:30 pm
Phillips Hall, B120

University Seminar on Forecasting: Arabinda Basistha, West Virginia University
April 18, 12:30 pm
Monroe Hall, Room 321

Wangechi Mutu
April 18, 6:00 pm
Center for the Study of Modern Art

DanceWorks Spring 2013
April 18, 19, 20, 7:30 pm
Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre

Comparative Politics Workshop: Paul Zachary & Alex Downes
April 19, 12:30 pm
Sigelman Seminar Room, Hall of Government 428

Mindfulness Group
April 19, 3:00 pm
2033 K Street NW, Suite 330

University Singers & Chamber Choir
April 20, 4:00 pm
Western Presbyterian Church, 2401 Virginia Avenue, NW

GW Symphonic Band & Wind Ensemble
April 21, 3:00 pm
Lisner Auditorium

GW Health Professions School Recruitment Fair
April 22, 4:00 pm
Charles E. Smith Center

Student Recital: Troy Gibb, Guitar
April 24, 6:00 pm
Phillips Hall, Room B-120

Jewish Literature Live Speaker: Nathan Englander
April 25, 5:00 pm
Marvin Center Amphitheater

Phi Alpha Alpha Induction
April 26, 6:30 pm
Continental Ballroom

Vocal Music Department Recital
April 26, 7:30 pm
Department of Music, B-120

Opera Scenes
April 26, 7:30 pm
Phillips Hall, B120

Student Recital: Maria Weissman & Davey Knific
April 26, 9:00 pm
Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre

Department of Music Jazz Festival
April 27
Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre

Student Voice Recital, Amanda Newman
April 28, 7:30 pm
Phillips Hall, Room B-120

Student Voice Recital: Lizzy Marmon
April 28, 3:00 pm
Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre

Piano Department Recital
April 29, 7:30 pm
Phillips Hall, Room B-120

Comparative Politics Workshop: Alanna Van Antwerp
May 3, 12:30 pm
Sigelman Seminar Room, Hall of Government 428

Department of Music Electronic & Computer Music Concert
May 3, 7:30 pm
Phillips Hall, B-120

Department News



East Asian Languages and Literature


Fine Art and Art History

Forensic Sciences



Judaic Studies


Media and Public Affairs

Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Museum Studies




Political Science


Romance German and Slavic Languages and Literature

Science and Engineering Hall

The Solar Institute

Speech and Hearing Sciences


Theatre and Dance

University Writing Program

Womens Studies

Ben Vinson III to Be Columbian College's Next Dean
Ben Vinson III, a renowned scholar and vice dean for Centers, Interdisciplinary Programs, and Graduate Education at Johns Hopkins University, has been named the new dean of the Columbian College, effective August 1. A member of the Hopkins faculty since 2006, Vinson is the Herbert Baxter Adams Professor of Latin American History and the former director of the Center for Africana Studies.

“Columbian College's reputation as a world-class training ground for global leaders in the arts and sciences is a marvelous attractor for me, and I look forward to helping cultivate the school's reputation in the years to come,” said Vinson. Read more.

Turtle Ants: Shielded from Danger
Scott Powell has spent a lot of time sitting in trees in eastern Brazil. Among the branches and tropical wildlife, the assistant professor of biology has passed many summer hours watching a remarkable little creature distinguished by a dish-like head that acts as a shield against intruders—the turtle ant. The insect fascinates Powell not only because of the intimate connections between the ant’s unique physical features and its habitat, but also because of its interactions with other ant species. Read more.

Accelerating Sperm Analysis
Forensic laboratories are often plagued with a backlog of evidence related to sexual assault cases. Currently, the only test for the presence of semen is the microscopic observation of spermatozoa, a time-consuming process that involves forensic scientists and analysts spending hours looking at slides through a microscope. To accelerate the processing time and decrease the margin for error in this process, Assistant Professor of Forensic Sciences Daniele Podini is working with students to develop a faster, cost-effective, and automated method for the identification of spermatozoa. Read more.

Shaping Mathematics . . . Literally and Figuratively
From the time he was seven years old and his father brought home a thick library book about origami, Lowell Abrams has been fascinated by the way shapes can be folded and fit together. Legos, tinker toys and other types of construction sets also captivated his childhood imagination. Today an associate professor of mathematics, Abrams continues to build with small models and collections of various pieces and shapes on his desk to help him pursue abstract ideas.

“These are hands-on manifestations of the concepts I grapple with in my work and artistic imagination,” he explained. Read more.

Looking Beyond Her Deanship: Peg Barratt to Travel to Japan as a Fulbright Scholar
Peg Barratt, who steps down on June 30 as dean of the Columbian College, will spend six months at the Kyoto University in Japan as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. She will conduct research on early childhood practices and their policy contexts, and explore factors that influence Japanese parents when making child-rearing decisions.

“Japan is a country that, objectively, is a lot like ours,” said Barratt. “But there are deep cultural differences that I find fascinating.” Read more.

JUMP to Support Math and Physics Undergrads
The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $614,400 grant to launch the Joint Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics scholarships (JUMP). The program will provide scholarship and mentoring support to a select group of 30 mathematics and physics undergraduates to encourage continued study in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and math). Professors Yongwu Rong, Gerald Feldman, Larry Medsker, Svetlana Roudenko, and Daniel Ullman helped spearhead the JUMP initiative. Read more.

Gallery 102’s “art + evolution” Couples Scientific Research and Fine Arts
Research science and artistic expression may seem an unlikely pairing, but the combination made perfect sense to doctoral candidates Kes Schroer and Serena Bianchi of GW’s Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology (CASHP). The duo collaborated with sophomore art history and journalism major Roxanne Goldberg to create an exhibit featuring photographs taken by CASHP scientists and researchers, and artistic works inspired by those photographs. The result: Gallery 102’s student-curated show, “art + evolution”. Read more.

Research Days Highlight Student Scholarship
During GW’s 18th annual Research Days event, Columbian College students received top prizes for research showcasing the arts and sciences. Among them were Jaishri Atri (biological sciences) for his presentation on endosymbiotic bacteria, which resides within other organisms; and David Pomeroy (economics) for his study of metro’s SmarTrip card as it relates to bank debit cards. Read more.

Snake Study Breaks New Research Ground
Alex Pyron’s research focuses on the slithering subjects of some people’s nightmares. The biology professor studies snakes, determining how one might be related to another and, in some cases, uncovering a new reptilian group altogether—like when he and a team of researchers discovered a new genus of the blindsnake on the island country of Sri Lanka. Using DNA sequencing to determine its relationship to other snakes, Pyron thought the blindsnake the team uncovered—right in the yard of an environmental agency office—could be a new species. It turned out to be much bigger than that. Read more.

Kerry Washington to Be Commencement Speaker
Alumna, activist, and award-winning actor Kerry Washington, BA ’98, will address GW graduates and guests at the Commencement ceremony on the National Mall May 19. Washington, who graduated from the university magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and previously served as a Board of Trustees member, will also receive an honorary degree. Photo courtesy Craig Sjodin/ABC. Read more.

GW High5 Challenge
The GW High5 challenge invites members of the GW community – alumni, students, parents, faculty, and staff – to vote for their favorite five university programs to compete for challenge funding from a GW alumnus totaling $39,000. Among the voting choices that could benefit from this funding are the GW Arts Initiative, the GW Museum, and the Science and Engineering Hall. For more information and to make your voice heard, visit http://go.gwu.edu/gwhigh5.

In Memoriam
We note with regret the recent passing of the following members of the GW Community:

Trustee Emeritus Eugene Lambert, AA ’55, BA ’57, chair of the Heritage Society, former president of the GW Alumni Association, and founding and emeritus member of Columbian College’s National Council for the Arts and Sciences; Lambert served as a GW alumnus trustee from 2000 to 2006 and was elected as an emeritus trustee in 2007. He received the Alumni Outstanding Service Award in 1999.

“Gene was a generous supporter and benefactor ,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “I came to know him in particular as the unfailingly witty and gracious host of our annual Heritage Society events. He will be greatly missed.” Read more.

William Pucilowsky, associate professor of theater and a vital member of the GW community for 34 years; in 1979, Pucilowsky joined the Department of Theatre and Dance, where he developed and taught a variety of design courses. He also taught and designed for the department’s six-production Mainstage Season, and served for six years as the producer there. He was a dedicated advisor and mentor to students during their time at GW and long after their graduation. In addition, between 1980 and 2003, he had an active career as a costume designer in Washington’s thriving professional theatre community.

Arthur Hall Smith, professor emeritus of painting, MFA ’79, joined the faculty in 1974 following service as a curatorial assistant at the Phillips Collection. He studied in Paris on a Fulbright Fellowship, attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the Ecole du Louvre, and the Institute d’Art et Archeologie. His commissions include the Centennial Murals at the Illinois Wesleyan University’s Memorial Center and the Mural of Mammals in World Art in the Mammal Hall of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The Corcoran Gallery of Art held a ten-year retrospective of his work in 1961.

Elissa Froman, BA ’06, a political activist representing Jewish communities in D.C. and nationally; Froman, who graduated with a degree in Judaic and women’s studies, was a congressional lobbyist for the National Council of Jewish Women and an active member of GW Hillel before her 2006 graduation. She specialized in civil liberties, the separation of religion and government, and social justice.

New Books
Death of the Chesapeake by Richard Albright, MS ’80 (Wiley-Scrivener)

Lobbying the New President: Interests in Transition, by Heath Brown, PhD '05 (Routledge)

The Evil Necessity: British Naval Impressment in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World by Denver Brunsman, Denver Brunsman (University of Virginia Press)

Crisis, Disaster, and Risk: Institutional Response and Emergence
by Kyle Farmbry, MPA ’94, PhD ’99,(M.E. Sharpe)

Bounded Bureaucracy and the Budgetary Process in the United States
, by Jay Eungha Ryu, MPA ’98 (Transaction Books)

Occupational Labor Shortages: Concepts, Causes, Consequences, and Cures
, by Burt Barnow, Amsterdam Professor of Public Service, with John Trutko and Jaclyn Schede Piatak (W.E. Upjohn Institute)

State Tax Policy: A Political Perspective
, by David Brunori, research professor of public policy (Urban Institute Press)

Regulation: A Primer
, by Susan E. Dudley, Director of the GW Regulatory Studies Center, with Jerry Brito (Mercatus Center)

Awards and Recognition

U.S. News and World Report ranked the American Politics doctoral program 16th and the Political Science doctoral program 36th in this year’s national ranking of graduate programs.

Karen Ahlquist received the Irving Lowens Article Award from the Society for American Music for her article “Musical Assimilation and the German Element at the Cincinnati Sängerfest, 1879”.

Elizabeth Chacko, Chair of the Department of Geography, will spend six months at the National University of Singapore as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar to research the integration of new and old streams of immigrants from South Asia.

Liana Chen, assistant professor of East Asian languages and Literatures, has been awarded a year-long research fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to work on her monograph ‘Staging the Empire: A History of Qing Court Theatre, 1662-1924”.

Doctoral candidates in political science Kerry Crawford and Julia Macdonald published the article “Establishing a Marketplace of Women in Peacekeeping: An Analysis of Gender Mainstreaming and Its Viability in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations” in the most recent edition of Air & Space Power Journal.

Anthropology students Vance Powell and Kelly Ostrofsky, and alumna Heather Dingwall, BS ’12, were awarded 2013 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. In addition, master’s candidate Evy Vourlides received a Fulbright Fellowship, and Heather Dingwall, BS ’12, and doctoral student Kevin Hatala are lead authors on a peer-review article in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Communications students Valerie Berg, Alisa Occhiuzzi, Emily Willhoft, and Colette Rosenhaus will present senior theses at the Theodore Clevenger Undergraduate Honors Conference. And Jennifer Gorfine and Alexander Griffith will present their theses at the James McCroskey and Virginia Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference.

Thomas Richards, BA ’10, has been named one of six winners in the Metropolitan Opera’s annual young singers competition, one of the opera”s most prestigious events.

Julia Sittmann, a history doctoral candidate, was one of 17 individuals out of 442 applicants to receive a CLIR-Mellon Fellowship for dissertation research on the encounters between Iraqi university students and the Ba’thist regime.

Silvio Waisbord, professor of media and public affairs, authored “Successful polio eradication in Uttar Pradesh, India: the pivotal contribution of the Social Mobilization Network, an NGO/UNICEF collaboration” in the inaugural issue of Global Health: Science and Practice.

We Want to Hear From You!

We welcome reactions, commentary and story recommendations on our Facebook page, or you can contact us at ccasnews@gwu.edu.