February 2012

Graduate School Calendar GSAS News Online Yale University

Pioneering Women PhDs to be
Featured in Sterling Library Portrait

Who were Yale’s first women PhDs, and what became of them after they graduated?

Women were first permitted to enroll in PhD programs at Yale in 1892, and two years later, in 1894, the first seven women graduated with doctoral degrees. Their research spanned the fields of astronomy, chemistry, English literature, history, and Romance languages and literatures, and they each went on to pursue noteworthy careers. The Yale Women Faculty Forum (WFF) is currently leading an initiative to commission a portrait of those trailblazing women which will hang in the nave of Sterling Memorial Library.    read more

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Elizabeth Deering Hanscom (PhD 1894, English) taught at Smith College for 35 years and is credited with initiating the study of American literature at institutions of higher education in the United States. (Photo courtesy of the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.)

Alumni Help Students
Broaden Career Options


Clubs Foster Creativity, Outreach & Connection


A New Face at the
Graduate School

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The good news is that a doctorate is a valuable asset for many careers. Research advisors, however, are not always prepared to mentor students towards careers in other sectors. Graduate Career Services and GSAS alumni will launch an initiative this spring to help students learn about and experience what it would be like to have a career outside the professoriate.   read more


Years ago it was virtually unheard of for graduate students to have their own clubs. Now there are dozens of student organizations, formal and informal, and more are launched every year. From cultural associations and performance troups to athletics and public outreach, students have many opportunities to connect with peers outside of their disciplines, as well the support to start their own groups.   read more


Allegra di Bonaventura (PhD 2008, History; JD 2002) has joined the staff of the Graduate School as assistant dean, working with students in the humanities and social sciences. A Fulbright recipient, she brings to the role extensive international experience, a stint on Wall Street, a book forthcoming from W.W. Norton, and an ongoing appointment as assistant editor of the Benjamin Franklin papers.   read more

  Student Research
Alumni Spotlight & Other News  

A History of Disaster and Recovery on the Gulf Coast

Andy Horowitz (History) is writing a dissertation that analyzes the political, economic, environmental, and cultural history of the lower hundred miles of the Mississippi River during the period 1915 to 2011. This is a region beset by disaster, where life is shaped by hurricanes and floods and the seemingly endless efforts to recover from them. Looking at the city of New Orleans and the region in which it sits, he examines the “fate of local cultures, histories, and economies in the face of the powerful pressures of national cultures, government interventions, and environmental destruction.”    read more

Getting Countries
to Cooperate

In a political climate where competition trumps cooperation and economies are stressed by the recession, multinational organizations have come under attack in Congress, and their value has been seriously questioned. Allison Sovey (Political Science and Economics) studies the effectiveness of the World Trade Organization in depoliticizing trade between countries and removing the impediments that block economic exchanges. She has found that the WTO can turn a zero-sum game into a win-win situation for all sides.    read more

Intestinal Bacteria Found to Protect Lungs from Infection

Graduate student Iris Pang (Immunobiology) has shown that helpful or, at worst, harmless “commensal” bacteria in the intestines actually play an important role in fighting flu infection in the lungs. Iris’ study is the first to demonstrate that commensal bacteria provide a signal to the body that prepares other organs, in this case the lungs, to mount an immune response against viruses. Her recent publication about this ground-breaking research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has attracted much attention in the scientific world and led to the publication of articles in American Scientist , Nature, and Scientific American.    read more


Mehmet Baykara (Engineering & Applied Science) won the Silver Award at the fall meeting of the Materials Research Society (MRS) in Boston for his work on high-resolution scanning probe microscopy in the area nanotribology, which is the study of friction, wear, and lubrication at the nano-scale level. Mehmet is only the second Yale student ever to receive this award.

Adele Plunkett (Astronomy) received the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award from the American Astronomical Society for her work on molecular gas outflows, which are a critical component of the star formation process. Currently in Chile on a Fulbright Fellowship, Adele is also a regular contributor to Astrobites.com, a daily blog aimed primarily at undergraduates interested in astrophysical research.

Brandon Terry (Political Science, African American Studies) has won the post-doctoral Prize Fellowship in History, Economics, and Politics at Harvard University. Brandon’s dissertation explores the philosophical foundations and political implications of the recent historiographical debate over the “Long Civil Rights Movement” in contemporary political and social theory.

Chi Xiong (Engineering & Applied Science) is first author of three recent journal papers, two of which were published in Optics Express and one in Applied Physics Letters. He is also co-author of an article in Nature and another in Optics Express. The goal of Chi’s research is to combine photonics (the study of light) and mechanics (the study of physical bodies in motion) at the nanoscale in order to develop ultra-small, fast, and energy-efficient solid-state devices for computing and telecommunications.    read more

Ramazani Wins National Award for Study on Poetry and Globalization

Jahan Ramazani (PhD 1988, English), the Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia, has been awarded the American Comparative Literature Association's Harry Levin Prize for his book A Transnational Poetics (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and U.Va.'s Thomas Jefferson Award in recognition of “his boundary-crossing scholarship in poetry and service to the intellectual life of U.Va.”    read more

Using Mathematical Theory
to Predict Financial and
Debt Crises

Jerome Stein (PhD 1955, Economics), visiting professor in the Research Division of Applied Mathematics at Brown University, has published an interdisciplinary book, Stochastic Optimal Control and US Financial Crisis (Springer-Science, 2012). Stochastic Optimal Control (SOC) is a mathematical theory that has proven helpful to understanding and providing early warning signals of the US financial crisis and explaining the diversity of the European debt crises.   read more

Weld Wins Distinguished Dissertation Award

Kirsten A. Weld (PhD 2010, History), the Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Latin American History at Brandeis University, has won the ProQuest/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award for 2012, announced at the Council of Graduate Schools’ national conference in December. Her dissertation, “Reading the Politics of History in Guatemala’s National Police Archives,” uses the stunning 2005 discovery of Guatemala’s long-hidden police records – at 75 million pages, the largest cache of secret state documents in Latin American history – as an entry point into the country’s tense postwar politics.    read more

Call for Alumni Representatives

The GSAA Executive Committee, the alumni leadership board for the Graduate School, is now seeking alumni who would like to serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2012. The Committee meets twice a year in New Haven to advise the Dean and the staff of the Association of Yale Alumni regarding the Graduate School’s relationship with the alumni community. GSAA leaders collaborate on special projects to achieve greater involvement of alumni within the University, playing an active role in sponsoring events for Graduate School alumni in their local regions. If you would be interested in serving the Graduate School in this capacity, please follow this link to learn more.   read more

Graduate Student Assembly Update

The GSA wishes to encourage more graduate students to serve as representatives for their departments. Greater understanding and access to the governanace of the University is a substantial benefit to students in these roles. The GSA is in the process of organizing a series of lunch sessions for graduate students to meet with the Dean to discuss his report on graduate education at Yale.   read more

Please contact Gila Reinstein with news items.

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