November 2012

Graduate School Calendar GSAS News Online Yale University

Graduate School Honors Four Alumni with Wilbur Lucius Cross Medals


Four distinguished alumni were awarded Wilbur Cross Medals, the Graduate School’s highest honor, on October 11.

This year’s medalists are ecologist John Aber, historian Alfred W. McCoy, geneticist/entrepreneur Jonathan M. Rothberg, and linguist Sarah Grey Thomason. Aber, provost of the University of New Hampshire, has conducted pioneering research in ecosystem management, climate change, and acid rain. McCoy is the leading expert on Philippine political history, opium trafficking, and international political surveillance. Rothberg, CEO of Ion Torrent Systems, Inc., has innovated and developed groundbreaking genome sequencing techniques. Thomason is an expert in theoretical linguistics and endangered Native American languages.   read more

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Seated (left to right): Wilbur Cross Medalists John Aber, Sarah Grey Thomason, Alfred McCoy, and Jonathan Rothberg. Standing: Valerie Hotchkiss, chair of the Graduate School Alumni Association; President Richard C. Levin; and Dean Thomas Pollard.

With Over 160 Volunteers Joining In, Yale Day of Service Deemed “A Huge Success!”


Geology & Geophysics Alumnus Heads Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum


Whiting Fellows Honored for Exceptional Merit in the Humanities

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Many graduate students volunteered at local non-profit agencies on the Yale Day of Service, October 13. Organized by the McDougal Public Service Fellows, the event allowed participants to make new friends and have fun while helping to better the community.   read more


Paleobotanist Kirk Johnson became director of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., in October, overseeing more than 460 employees, an annual federal budget of $68 million, and a collection of more than 126 million specimens and artifacts.   read more


Alexandra Kieffer (Music), Thomas Koenigs (English), Andrew Kraebel (English), and Marian Schlotterbeck (History) were honored recently by the Graduate School for winning highly competitive fellowships from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation.   read more

  Student Research   Alumni Spotlight & Other News  
Oliver Bunn

Studying the Psychology of Finance

Oliver Bunn (Economics) studies behavioral finance, a field that incorporates insights from psychology, sociology, and economic theory. His dissertation, “The Impact of Valuation Measures and Confidence Indices on the U.S. Stock Market,” is comprised of three studies. In one, he analyzes data from 1872 to 2012 to establish the predictability of return on investments in three sectors: industry, utilities, and railroads. In another, he uses surveys of institutional and individual investors to see how changes in the market influenced investors’ thinking, and how their thinking, in turn, impacted the market. His third paper explores combining two traditional investment styles in a novel way.   read more

Emma Ideal

Yale Student Pursues the Elusive Higgs Boson

Emma Ideal (Physics) and several other Yale graduate students are members of an international team of 3,000 scientists working to prove the existence of the Higgs boson, the last elementary particle predicted in the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Its apparent discovery at CERN was announced this past July. Because the Higgs boson is extremely rare (the Large Hadron Collider produces approximately one per trillion collisions), and because it decays quickly after its production, Emma studies a specific decay product, the “di-tau channel,” that can be distinguished from the background noise of other elementary particles.   read more

Eric Rutkow

Seeing American History through the Changing Environment

Eric Rutkow (History) takes a fresh look at American history in his recent book, American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation. Trees have been involved in the establishment and expansion of the United States across four centuries, from the first European settlers to today, he argues. The book ranges from political and economic history to ecology and folklore: from the rebellious colonists’ Liberty Trees to the lumber industry; from the creation of Central Park to Johnny Appleseed. He calls the relationship between people and trees “one of the great drivers of national development.”   read more


Rachel Scheinerman (Religious Studies) has won the Mark and Ruth Luckens International Prize for the best unpublished essay on Jewish thought and culture by a graduate student or recent Ph.D.  Rachel’s paper focuses on Medieval Jewish and Christian interpretations of a passage in the book of Genesis.   read more

Sashka Dimitrievska (Biomedical Engineering), from Canada, and Alice Qinhua Zhou (Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry), from China, have won three-year HHMI International Student Research Fellowships, which support outstanding international students in the United States while they complete their dissertation research. Sashka works in Laura Niklason’s lab to design tissue-engineered blood vessels that will eventually eliminate delays for patients waiting to receive vascular grafts. Alice studies the structure and dynamics of proteins: how they interface and interact. Her cross-disciplinary research, advised by Corey O’Hern (Mechanical Engineering, Physics) and Lynne Regan (MB&B, Chemistry), is expected to lead to advances in biomedicine.   read more

Elissa Hallem

Hallem Wins MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant

UCLA faculty member Elissa Hallem (PhD 2005, Neuroscience) has been awarded one of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s unrestricted five-year fellowships to pursue her research in the physiology and behavioral consequences of odor detection in invertebrates, specifically nematodes. Her work also identifies interventions that may lead to a reduction in parasitic infections in humans. Parasitic nematodes infect more than 20 percent of people around the world, especially in tropical regions. As a graduate student, Hallem studied olfaction in fruit flies and produced more than twenty different transgenic fruit fly lines, each expressing a single, known odorant receptor gene.   read more

Bruce Berman

Berman Named to Distinguished Fellowship at Cambridge

Professor emeritus of political studies and history Bruce Berman (PhD 1974, Political Science) of Queen’s University in Canada was named the 2012 Smuts Visiting Research Fellow in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge. During his year in England, Berman is working on a book titled The Ordeal of Modernity: the Cultural Politics of Ethnicity, on the development of modern African ethnicities and their political expression. He is a scholar of colonial and post-colonial Africa. Berman is former president of the Canadian Association of African Studies and of the African Studies Association in the U.S.   read more

Ana Mari Cauce

Alumna Becomes Provost at the University of Washington

Ana Mari Cauce (PhD 1984, Psychology) was recently made provost and executive vice president of the University of Washington, where she served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2008 to 2011. As provost, she oversees the educational, research, and service missions of all UW’s schools and academic units and works closely with the president on long-term strategic planning. She continues to teach, mentor, and conduct research on adolescent development, with an emphasis on “at-risk” youth. Her many honors include a lifetime achievement award from the American Psychological Association.   read more

Graduate Student Assembly Update

The Graduate Student Assembly launched several significant initiatives this fall. The Facilities and Healthcare Committee has arranged for free monthly Q&A sessions with members of the New Haven County Bar Association and has assembled a list of local attorneys who will provide students with free initial consultations. The Transit and Security Committee has presented the City of New Haven with a prioritized list of dangerous intersections throughout the Yale campus that need attention. With Assistant Dean Robin Ladouceur, the Academics and Professional Development Committee has been working to redesign the university’s grants databases to facilitate students’ applications for supplementary funding. The GSA has also re-launched the Common Grounds program, offering free coffee vouchers for students who want to meet with faculty at the Blue Dog Café, Bass Library Café, KBT Café or Marigold.”   read more

Please contact Gila Reinstein with news items.

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