Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

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Alumni Spotlight

Alumnus Wins Pulitzer Prize for History of Vietnam War

Fredrik Logevall

Fredrik Logevall

Fredrik Logevall (PhD 1993, History), the John S. Knight Professor of International Studies at Cornell and director of that university’s Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, has won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for History for Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam (Random House, 2012). On July 1, Logevall will become Cornell’s vice provost for international relations.

“As an author, you dream about something like this, but you don’t dare think it will really happen to you,” Logevall said on learning of his award.

The Pulitzer citation calls Embers of War, which covers the years from 1919 to 1959, “a balanced, deeply researched history of how, as French colonial rule faltered, a succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road toward full-blown war.” The book was listed as one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

Logevall’s earlier books include Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam (University of California Press, 1999), which won three prizes and began life as a dissertation written under the direction of Gaddis Smith and Paul Kennedy; Nixon in the World: American Foreign Relations 1969-1977 (Oxford University Press, 2008, with Andrew Preston); and America’s Cold War: The Politics of Insecurity (Belknap/Harvard, 2009, with Campbell Craig). He is also co-editor (with Christopher Goscha) of University of California Press book series “From Indochina to Vietnam: Revolution and War in a Global Perspective.”

Logevall says his PhD training at Yale was instrumental in shaping him as a historian. “Yale was a superb place in the early 1990s to study diplomatic and international history. We had a critical mass of people working in these fields — faculty and graduate students — and it was great fun, not to mention hugely beneficial, to be in that environment.”

A specialist on U.S. foreign relations, Logevall teaches the history of U.S. diplomacy and foreign relations, the international history of the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. He joined the Cornell faculty in 2004 after teaching at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he co-founded the Center for Cold War Studies. In 2006-07 he was the Leverhulme Professor of History at the University of Nottingham and Mellon Senior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Logevall is also an associate of the London School of Economics IDEAS Cold War Studies Programme.


Yale-trained Chemist Wins Big on JEOPARDY!

Trebek and Whitener on Jeopardy!

Post-doctoral fellow Keith Whitener (PhD 2010, Chemistry), won $100,000 in the JEOPARDY! Tournament of Champions in February and more than $147,000 during the regular season, making him one of the top fifteen winners ever to compete on the show.

Keith Whitener in laboratory

Top, Alex Trebek and Keith Whitener on the JEOPARDY! set. Below, Whitener in the Naval Research Lab.

In his day job at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C., Whitener studies the chemistry of surfaces, specifically graphene, a substance composed of pure carbon, with atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern in a sheet only one-atom thick. Graphene is the basic structural element of several forms of carbon, including graphite, charcoal, carbon nanotubes, and fullerenes. His research has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and The Journal of Physical Chemistry.

During his years at Yale, Whitener sometimes competed in trivia night at Anna Liffey’s, the Irish pub on Whitney Avenue, but admits that “the questions were surprisingly hard, and I never did very well.” When playing JEOPARDY!, he found science to be the easiest category and “a good way to score a lot of points quickly.” The most challenging categories for him were the ones that dealt with topics from 1960 to 1980. “I’m too young to remember the events from this period directly, but I’m too old for this period to have been taught in history class. Whatever knowledge I have is simply by virtue of having picked it up randomly along the way.”

Whitener earned his BS in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder, before joining the NRL. His Yale adviser was R. James Cross, and his research focused on Fullerene chemistry and physics. Whitener was recently married to his Yale classmate, Rachel Dexter (PhD 2010, Chemistry), a biologist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Her adviser was Alanna Schepartz. They expect to use the game-show winnings to help pay for their first house.


Computer Scientist Named Vice President of Shenandoah University

Adrienne G. Bloss

Adrienne G. Bloss

Adrienne G. Bloss (Ph.D. 1989, Computer Science), associate dean for academic affairs and institutional relations and professor of computer science at Roanoke College, has been named vice president for academic affairs at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Selected from pool of more than 125 applicants, Bloss will begin her new position in July.

“I owe much to Yale, but am most indebted to my adviser, Paul Hudak, whose intellect, compassion, and love of life were so influential for me,” Bloss says. “I know that Paul continues to provide outstanding guidance for the many students whose lives he touches daily.”

Bloss was a American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow at Shenandoah during the 2010-11 school year, focusing on budget process, institutional advancement, and institutional identity and visiting campuses across the country. ACE Fellows are chosen by The American Council on Education for showing great promise for administrative advancement and significant future leadership contributions to higher education.

“My ACE fellowship gave me a broader understanding of the landscape of higher education and of how individuals and institutions can contribute to the educational challenges we face as a nation and a world,” she says. “It also gave me the opportunity to get to know Shenandoah – its core values, its history, its programs and, most importantly, its people.”

At Roanoke, Bloss was instrumental in the development of a new college-wide honors program and the significant expansion of the national scholarship program. She oversaw general education as well as curricular and faculty development, and led the implementation of a new general education curriculum in 2009. In 2006, she completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University.