NYU Research Digest: Fall 2013—NYU Intelligence


Professors David Garland and Robert Young Elected British Academy Fellows

NYU professors David Garland and Robert Young have been elected to the British Academy as Corresponding Fellows, a designation given to those chosen from universities outside the United Kingdom.

The 42 new Fellows from U.K. universities and the 15 new Corresponding Fellows were selected “for their outstanding research and work across the humanities and social sciences,” the academy said in its announcement.

“The humanities and social sciences celebrate the study of what it means to be human and how we relate to the world around us,” said professor Lord Nicholas Stern, president of the British Academy. “Our new Fellows are world-class experts in the humanities and social sciences and can play a vital role in sustaining the academy’s activities.”

Garland, Arthur T. Vanderbilt Professor of Law at NYU’s School of Law and a professor in NYU’s Department of Sociology, is widely considered one of the world’s leading sociologists of crime and punishment. He has played a leading role in developing the sociology of punishment and was the founding editor of the interdisciplinary journal Punishment & Society. He is the author of a series of prize-winning works, including: Punishment and Modern Society: A Study in Social Theory, which won distinguished book awards from the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and Punishment and Welfare: The History of Penal Strategies, which won the International Society of Criminology’s prize for best study over a five-year period.
Young, Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature at NYU, is a recognized expert in a range of interdisciplinary cultural fields, notably postcolonial literatures and theory, the history of colonialism and anti-colonialism, and cultural history of the 19th and 20th centuries. His published works include The Idea of English Ethnicity; Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction; Postcolonialism: A Historical Introduction; Torn Halves: Political Conflict in Literary and Cultural Theory; Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Culture, Theory and Race; and White Mythologies: Writing History and the West. He is editor of the quarterly Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, which he co-founded in 1998.

John Rinzel Named SIAM Fellow for Contributions to Mathematical Neuroscience and Physiology
John Rinzel, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science and the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, has been named a Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Fellow for his “contributions to mathematical neuroscience and mathematical physiology,” the organization said in announcing its 2013 Fellows.
A SIAM Fellowship is a designation conferred on members distinguished for their outstanding contributions to the fields of applied mathematics and computational science.
Among Rinzel’s research were co-authored studies, with Pablo Jercog, a former graduate student at NYU’s Department of Physics and Center for Neural Science, identifying mechanisms the brain uses to help process sound localization cues. Their findings, which appeared in the journals PLoS Biology and Nature Neuroscience, focused on how the brain computes the different arrival times of sound into each ear to estimate the location of its source.

NYU-Poly President Receives Two Honors
NYU-Poly President Katepalli Sreenivasan, a distinguished experimental physicist whose research focuses on the behavior of fluids and turbulence, recently received two honors.
Sreenivasan was elected to Accademia dei Lincei, the Rome-based scientific academy. A recipient of Humboldt and Guggenheim Fellowships, Sreenivasan was previously elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering, among other academic institutions. Established in 1603, Accademia dei Lincei was the first academy of sciences established in what is now Italy.
NYU Provost David McLaughlin also appointed Sreenivasan to the Eugene Kleiner Chair for Innovation in Mechanical Engineering at NYU-Poly. The endowed chair is named in honor of Eugene Kleiner, a co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, the world’s first successful computer chip producer, who received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic University.

NYU Professor Fei Li Named Pew Scholar
Fei Li, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology, has been selected as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Pew Scholarships— $240,000 over four years to each recipient—provide flexible funding to early-career scientists researching the basis of health problems, including diabetes, autism, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.
One of 22 Pew Scholars in the biomedical sciences, Li will continue his research on the centromere, the part of the chromosome that plays a significant role in cell division. Disruption of this structure can lead to the production of an abnormal number of chromosomes—a condition evident in 90 percent of cancer cases.
“Our long-term goal is to understand how changes in the organized structure of centromeric chromatin can lead to cancer, with the ultimate goal of offering new strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” explains Li.
Li has been a member of the NYU faculty since 2010.

NYU’s David Heeger, Joseph LeDoux, and Ruth Nussenzweig Elected to National Academy of Sciences
Three NYU professors—David Heeger, Joseph LeDoux, and Ruth Nussenzweig—were elected to the National Academy of Sciences last spring.
Heeger and LeDoux, who hold appointments in NYU’s Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology, and Nussenzweig, a professor in the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center, were among the 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries who were elected “in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research,” the academy said.
Heeger’s research spans an interdisciplinary cross section of neuroscience (visual, cognitive, and computational neuroscience), psychology (psychophysics), and engineering (image processing, computer vision, and computer graphics). He develops computational theories of brain function, and his lab uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to test those theories and to quantitatively investigate the relationship between brain activity and behavior. His studies have enhanced our understanding of visual perception and attention. Some of his recent studies have focused on understanding autism.
LeDoux, Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at NYU’s Center for Neural Science, focuses on emotion and memory. His studies show how we can respond to danger before we know what we are responding to. He has also shed light on how emotional memories are formed and stored in the brain. Through this research, LeDoux, who also holds an appointment at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has mapped the neural circuits underlying learning and memory about threats and has identified cells, synapses, and molecules that make this learning and memory possible. His work has also helped shed light on fear and anxiety disorders.
Nussenzweig, C.V. Starr Professor of Medical and Molecular Parasitology in the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology at NYU Langone Medical Center, has conducted pioneering work in malaria research. She and her colleagues have made a series of discoveries in this area, finding that they could induce protection against this infection by the immunization of mice, monkeys, and humans with irradiated sporozoites—parasites that mosquitoes inject into hosts’ bloodstreams.

Tisch Professor Anna Deavere Smith and Tisch Alumnus Tony Kushner Receive Presidential Honors
President Obama recently presented Tisch alumnus Tony Kushner with the National Medal of Arts and professor Anna Deavere Smith with the National Humanities Medal in recognition for their contributions to the arts and humanities and for creating works that “make a lasting contribution to American life.”
Deavere Smith and Kushner were among 24 singers, dancers, poets, producers, playwrights, scholars, and organizations honored at the White House ceremony, during which Obama praised the medal recipients for using their talents “to open up minds and nourish souls, and help us understand what it means to be human, and what it means to be an American.”
The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government.
Smith is a University Professor of Performance Studies at Tisch, an accomplished actress, and recipient of the prestigious MacArthur award for her work, which has been described as “a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.” Her television roles include Gloria Akalitus on the Showtime series Nurse Jackie and Nancy McNally, national security advisor on The West Wing.
Kushner (MFA ’84) is an award-winning American playwright and screenwriter, most famous for Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. He is also author of the screenplays for the 2005 film Munich and the 2012 film Lincoln, both of which earned him Academy Award nominations.

Paula England Elected President of the American Sociological Association
Paula England, a professor of sociology at NYU, has been elected president of the American Sociological Association (ASA). Her one-year term began this August.
“Being ASA president is an exciting prospect because my fellow sociologists are a fascinating group,” says England. “They do research and teaching on crucial public issues as varied as why people end up rich or poor, how much housework husbands do, how businesses make decisions, and how cultural norms about sexuality change.”
England’s research interests include changing family patterns, sexual behavior, contraception, gender, and labor markets. She has written Comparable Worth: Theories and Evidence and, co-authored with George Farkas, Households, Employment, and Gender: A Social, Economic, and Demographic View, among other works.
England has received the Distinguished Research Career Award from the ASA’s Section on the Sociology of Family and the ASA’s Jesse Bernard Award for career contributions to scholarship on gender. She was also elected Francis Perkins Fellow at the American Academy of Political and Social Science and Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

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