Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Graduate School News and Events


An article co-authored by Brian J. Fried (Political Science) and Atheendar S. Venkataramani (PhD 2009, EPH) was recently published in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Titled “Effect of Worldwide Oil Price Fluctuations on Biomass Fuel Use and Child Respiratory Health: Evidence from Guatemala,” the article demonstrates that an increase in the price of oil leads to greater use of dirtier fuels such as wood, crop residues, and dung, which causes high levels of indoor air pollution. Such pollution increases the incidence of acute respiratory illness, which is the leading cause of death among children in the developing world.

Brian has also written on the political economy of race in Brazil and published on the interaction between class and corruption in Mexico and the distribution of conditional cash transfer programs in Brazil, such as the Bolsa Família, a large social welfare program that provides financial aid to over 11 million needy families on the condition that they keep their children in school and take them for regular health checks. His dissertation investigates the decline of clientelism in Brazil and cites the Bolsa Família as an example of the shift to what he calls “technocratic public policies.” Brian has conducted over 20 months of fieldwork in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Before coming to Yale, he earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Monika Weber, Alison Nugent, Brian Fried and Atheendar Venkataramani

Monika Weber, Alison Nugent, Brian Fried and Atheendar Venkataramani

Alison Nugent (Geology & Geophysics) was co-winner of the Best Student Presentation award at the 14th Conference on Mesoscale Processes.

The conference was sponsored by the American Meteorological Society. Her presentation, "Orographic Precipitation in the Tropics: Seeding the Convection," focused on a recent field project called DOMEX (Dominica Experiment), which sought to understand how convection and precipitation are triggered in the tropics by terrain. Alison’s presentation, which is part of her dissertation research, explored the hypothesis that the properties of air below the cloud layer are important for determining the strength and scale of convection. During the field phase of her work, she studied Dominica for five weeks using a research aircraft to profile the region upstream of the island and penetrate clouds over the island. Her adviser is Ron Smith, director of the Yale Center for Earth Observation. Alison earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard.

Members of the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science, led by Monika Weber (E&AS), have received the grand prize in a national competition for their design of a new way to both detect bacteria that cause food-borne diseases and help doctors diagnose infections. The team received highest honors in NASA Tech Briefs magazine’s “Create the Future Design” contest, which attracted 7,000 product design ideas from engineers, entrepreneurs, and students worldwide.

Food-borne bacteria like E.coli and salmonella cause thousands of infections every year. The most common way of detecting bacteria, the standard plate count, takes 24 to 48 hours — too long for most applications in the food industry. Faster methods are too expensive to be widely applied. The Yale entry, “αScreen Fast and Cheap Bacteria Detection,” is not only small and fast, but also 50 times less expensive than current methods. It is sensitive enough to detect a single bacterium and will cost only $1 per test. The device will allow doctors to quickly identify bacteria from blood samples.

Other members of the prizewinning team were graduate student Christopher Yerino (E&AS), Yale College alumni Hazael Montanaro and Kane Siu Lung Lo, and Mark Reed, the Harold Hodgkinson Professor of Engineering and Applied Science. Currently working on the prototype with Monika are Brian Goldstein (EE), Mary Mu (EE), and Phillip McCown (MCDB), postdoc Xuexin Duan, and undergraduate Kara Brower. The project arose from Monika’s research in Professor Reed’s lab. The design was finalized as part of a team project for the MEMS Design class taught by Professors Hur Koser and Muhammet Uncuer.

Monika’s dissertation research, tentatively titled “Biosensing from Physiological Fluids with Silicon Nanowire/Nanoribbon Field Effect Transistors,” is closely related to the alpha-screen project. Before coming to Yale, Monika earned a master’s degree in theoretical physics at Wroclaw University and a master’s in experimental physics from Freie Universitat Berlin with a minor in electrical engineering from Technische Universitat Berlin. She is a fellow at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and a competitive bridge player.