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Research News Briefs

April 13, 2012

AAAS Selects Two NYU Faculty as Fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) selected two NYU faculty as 2011 Fellows—Zlatko Bacic and Michael Ward, both professors in the Department of Chemistry.

“These individuals have been elevated to this rank because of their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished,” AAAS announced.

Bacic, who does work in theoretical and computational chemistry, was recognized “for distinguished contributions” in creating computer models of how small molecules interact, with particular attention to how these molecules behave in clusters and in tiny cavities.

Ward, who chairs NYU’s Department of Chemistry and directs its Molecular Design Institute and Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, was cited “for distinguished contributions to solid state chemistry and materials science, service as an editor of Chemistry of Materials, and director of two NSF-supported research centers.”

This year, 539 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS. New Fellows were honored in February during the AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver.

NSF Recognizes NYU-Poly’s Hai Li and Oded Nov with CAREER Awards

Two members of the NYU-Poly faculty have been honored with the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award.
Assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Hai Li and assistant professor of technology management Oded Nov both received the awards in March.

The CAREER Award is the National Science Foundation’s top accolade for junior faculty who stand to assume significant leadership roles in their fields. Their awards mean that approximately one-third of NYU-Poly’s eligible faculty members are conducting research under CAREER grants.

Li will receive $450,000 over five years to fund the optimization of a new method of on-chip memory storage applicable to everyday devices like cell phones and computers, as well as large-scale data centers and corporate servers.

Nov will receive $500,000 over five years to conduct research that aims to transform technology-mediated social participation, or the ways in which humans use social technologies for collaboration and collective action.

Myles Jackson Elected to German National Academy of Sciences

Myles Jackson, a professor at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and Polytechnic Institute of NYU, has been elected as a foreign member of the German National Academy of Sciences, the nation’s equivalent of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Established in 1652 and also known as the Leopoldina zu Halle, it is one of the oldest academies of sciences in the world and the oldest continuously existing academy. Its members have included Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe, Charles Darwin, and more than 100 Nobel Laureates, among them Marie Curie, Ernest Rutherford, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein.

The Dibner Family Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at NYU-Poly, Jackson is working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled: Patents, Race, and HIV/AIDS: A History of the CCR5 Gene Patent.

Three Faculty Win Sloan Foundation Research Fellowships

Three NYU faculty have been awarded fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Robert Froemke, an assistant professor in the Departments of Otolaryngology, Physiology, and Neuroscience at the NYU Langone Medical Center; Pierre Germain, an assistant professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences; and Virgiliu Midrigan, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics.

The fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars “whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars—the next generation of scientific leaders,” the Sloan Foundation said in announcing this year’s Fellows.

“Today’s Sloan Research Fellows are tomorrow’s Nobel Prize winners,” said Paul Joskow, president of the Sloan Foundation. “These outstanding men and women are responsible for some of the most exciting science being done today. The foundation is proud to support them during this pivotal stage of their careers.”

Fellows receive $50,000, over a two-year period, to further their research.

Philosophy’s Maudlin Part of Templeton Grant to Explore Universal Questions

NYU Philosophy Professor Tim Maudlin is part of a three-year Templeton Foundation grant that will explore basic questions concerning the nature, age, and fate of the universe.

The initiative, funded through a $967,000 grant from the foundation, aims to establish philosophy of cosmology as a specific, interdisciplinary field of study. Collaborating institutions include Rutgers University, which is heading the effort, Columbia University, Yale University, NYU, and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Cosmology is the study of the nature of the universe. The philosophy of cosmology concerns philosophical issues arising from cosmology and the relationship between cosmology and science, social sciences, religion, mythology, and other human activities.

Among the specific issues the group will explore are the meaning of space and time, whether our universe is unique, how and why the universe came to be, and the role of human beings in it.

NYU Game Center to Offer MFA Degree in Game Design

The NYU Game Center, one of the world’s leading academic game programs, will offer a new Masters of Fine Arts degree beginning in fall 2012. MFA students will explore games as a creative art form as they design and develop games within a context of rigorous scholarly study in the two-year program at the NYU Game Center.

The curriculum includes game design, game programming, visual design for games, and game criticism. The program is distinctive in looking at games across a wide variety of media, from consoles and PCs to smartphones and social networks. Over the course of two years, students will find their voices as creative practitioners working on individual and group projects, as they study the theoretical and cultural aspects of games, all within the thriving community that is the NYU Game Center.

“Games are the defining cultural form of this century and the NYU Game Center MFA is dedicated to exploring their potential,” says Director Frank Lantz. “There are places to study the technical and business aspects of games, but the Game Center MFA has a unique creative focus on games for today’s platforms.”

Steinhardt Researchers Receive $4.5 Million To Boost Science Instruction and Testing Among English Language Learners

More than 41 percent of New York City students report speaking a language other than English at home. According to the New York City Department of Education, 154,466 students are classified as English Language Learners (ELLs), roughly equivalent to the population of Salem, Oregon. As New York City seeks to produce the next generation of innovators in its quest to become a scientific and technological hub, ensuring quality science instruction and assessment at the K-12 level is critical.

Okhee Lee, Steinhardt professor of teaching and learning, recently received a $4.5 million National Science Foundation grant dedicated to the study of improving science achievement among ELLs in urban and rural areas.

“English Language Learners often do not receive science instruction due to the perceived urgency of developing literacy and numeracy skills, and when science is not tested, it tends to be ignored,” says Lee.

Lee, whose native language is Korean, and her Steinhardt colleagues, Lorena Llosa and Susan Kirch, manage the NSF-funded project, titled “Promoting Science Among English Language Learners (P-SELL) Scale-Up.” The four-year study—which will conclude in 2015—will address science standards and assessment for fifth graders, looking closely at science curriculum and ways to enhance teachers’ science knowledge, teaching practices, and instructional resources in order to improve science achievement of all students, especially ELLs.

NYU’s Aquila Theatre Company Performs at the White House

The Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives program of the Aquila Theatre, the professional company-in-residence at NYU’s Center for Ancient Studies, was invited to perform a staged reading of Scenes from Ancient Greek Literature (above) for the Obama administration and members of Congress at the White House on Nov. 16, 2011. Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: Poetry-Drama-Dialogue is supported by a Chairman’s Special Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is aimed at bringing the U.S. military veteran community and the public together through exploring ancient works.

The free public program of staged readings, lectures, reading groups, and workshops is visiting 100 libraries, arts centers, museums, theatres, and galleries across America through April 2013.

Stern Professor Edward Altman Launches Digital App for Renowned Z-Score

Forty-five years ago, the Stern School of Business’ Edward Altman created the Z-score model to assess a company’s credit risk and probability of default, a formula that became the gold standard for bankruptcy prediction among practitioners and academics. Now, in response to an increasingly global economic landscape and heightened demand for real-time information to manage risk, Altman has expanded his well-tested model and launched a new app, “Altman Z-Score Plus,” in partnership with Business Compass LLC.

Altman predicts an increase in the U.S., and especially Europe’s, high-yield corporate bond default rate to perhaps 4% in 2012 based on the twin risks of a further slowing of the U.S. GDP and a default in at least one European country’s bonds. These risks have affected current yield spreads and distressed ratios, two components that help drive Altman’s forecasts.

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