Campus briefs Feb. 4

Feb. 03, 2014 @ 12:22 PM



- Surojit “Surge” Biswas, a May 2013 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, has received a 2014-2015 Churchill Scholarship, valued at $62,000, for graduate work at the University of Cambridge in England. He is one of 14 candidates chosen nationwide for the one-year award by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, which was established in 1959. Biswas also is the 15th Churchill Scholar from Carolina since the first Churchill Scholarships were awarded in 1963, and is now one of 479 Churchill Scholars.


- Allison Criscenzo, a freshman from Durham, was named to the Bentley University fall dean's list in Waltham, Mass.


- Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., has announced that media communications sophomore Rebecca McMorrow from Durham has made the fall dean’s list. She is the child of Mr. and Mrs. Michael R. McMorrow and a graduate of Durham Academy Upper School.


- Dr. Heidi Steltzer, assistant professor of biology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., is a 1993 Duke alumna who is the first-ever recipient of the Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring from the American Geophysical Union. The national award is given for excellence in research, teaching and mentoring the next generation of scientists.


- The UNC School of Medicine has awarded the 14th Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize to Dr. Marcus Raichle, a neurologist from Washington University in St. Louis who has made remarkable research findings about the persistent brain activity of our at-rest minds.

Raichle’s imaging methods use the brain’s blood flow to correlate the activity of different regions of the brain while we’re at rest. The method is now used in the Human Connectome Project, the large NIH-funded brain initiative that aims to create a comprehensive map of the major neuronal connections in the human brain.


- The chair of the chemistry department and a Nobel Prize-winning genetics researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill were honored with the General Alumni Association’s Faculty Service Award. The association’s board of directors presented the awards to chemistry professor Valerie Ashby and genetics scientist Oliver Smithies. The award was established in 1990 and honors faculty members who have performed outstanding service for the university or the association.


Ashby, of Durham, grew up in Clayton and earned both a bachelor’s degree in 1988 and a doctorate in 1994 in chemistry at UNC. She became department chair in 2012, and her research focuses on synthesis of biomaterials used for such functions as drug delivery and gene therapy.


Smithies of Chapel Hill is the Weatherspoon Eminent Distinguished Professor in the UNC School of Medicine’s department of pathology and laboratory medicine. The native of England joined the faculty in 1988, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2007 for his work in genetics. The award recognized his contribution to introducing gene modifications to mice using embryonic stem cells, giving the mice human-like characteristics to more accurately predict how treatments might work in humans. 


- UNC Hill Hall’s auditorium will be renovated and named after former Chancellor James Moeser and his wife, Susan. Hill Hall houses UNC-Chapel Hill’s music department. Moeser served as the university’s chancellor from 2000 to 2008 and is a renowned organ recitalist, church musician and teacher. Susan Moeser is the university organist and is a lecturer in the department of music. The new name will be the “James and Susan Moeser Auditorium.”


Renovations to the 550-seat auditorium and rotunda are expected to begin in 2015 and take two years to complete.  Upgrades will include a climate control system, a state-of-the-art acoustical treatment, a professional grade stage, and a piano and equipment lift. Total cost of the renovations is $15 million.


- Mark Katz, professor and chair of the department of music and adjunct professor of communication studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, has been named director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Katz will start his five-year term on July 1, succeeding John McGowan, who has directed IAH since 2006. McGowan will complete his term at the end of June and return to his full-time faculty role in the department of English and comparative literature.


- Andrew Perrin, an associate professor of sociology, has been named the new director of the Carolina Seminars Program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Perrin succeeds James Peacock, Kenan professor of anthropology. The mission of the Carolina Seminars Program is to assemble scholars from different departments and schools to study complex problems and bridge disciplinary boundaries.


- Dr. Jim C. Harper, associate professor and chairman of the N.C. Central University history department, has been elected to serve on the executive council of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History based in Washington, D.C. Harper has been a member of the NCCU faculty since 2000.




Tuesday: New York Times reporter and author Peter Baker visits Duke to promote his new release, “Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House.” In a conversation with Duke professor Peter Feaver, Baker will discuss his effort to chronicle the history of the Bush administration. Following the discussion, Baker will be available for a book signing and public reception. Barnes & Noble will have copies of “Days of Fire” for sale at the event. | 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.; room 3, Sanford School of Public Policy, 201 Science Drive, Duke West Campus, Durham

Friday – Sunday: Duke’s "Dancing the African Diaspora: Theories of Black Performance" aims to re-ignite the discourse on defining black dance on a global scale by bringing together scholars, practitioners, educators and other stakeholders for three days of intellectual and artistic inspiration. For information, visit


Sunday: UNC music professors Brent Wissick (cello) and Juan Alamo (percussion) join the UNC Cello Choir to present a diverse collection of music for cello, narrator and assorted instruments. The concert will feature original compositions by UNC composers Allen Anderson and Lee Weisert. Free. | 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Hill Hall Auditorium, 145 East Cameron Ave., UNC-Chapel Hill


Feb. 10: Duke psychology and behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely delivers a lecture on the economics behind love and relationships. | 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.; room 119, Social Sciences Building, Duke West Campus, 419 Chapel Drive, Durham