October at Hopkins

October was a busy month at Hopkins. Despite midterms, students turned out for a variety of events including Greek Weekend, numerous sports games (check out our Fall Sports Recap!), several MSE Symposium speakers, and a surprise snowstorm!

JHU Astrophysicist Adam Riess Wins Nobel Prize in Physics

Adam Riess

Adam Riess, the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins and a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, was honored for his leadership in the High-z Team’s 1998 discovery that the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating, a phenomenon widely attributed to a mysterious, unexplained “dark energy” filling the universe. Riess, 41, shares this year’s prize with High-z teammate Brian Schmidt, of the Australian National University, and Saul Perlmutter, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, whose Supernova Cosmology Project team published similar results shortly after those published by Riess and Schmidt. Riess is the 35th person associated with Johns Hopkins as a faculty member, fellow or graduate to win a Nobel Prize and he joins three other Nobel laureates on the university’s current faculty.

Read more in the news release here as well as the Baltimore Sun profile of Riess.

October MSE Speakers: Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, Mayor Cory Booker, Actor Michael K. Williams, and Comedian Aziz Ansari

With a theme this year of ““America’s Boundless Possibilities: Innovate, Advance, Transform,” the MSE Symposium held four events in October. On October 12, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, a Hopkins alum and current trustee spoke, followed that weekend by Newark Mayor Cory Booker. The following week, Actor Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire) spoke. The last October speaker was comedian Aziz Ansari, who presented a stand-up performance instead of a traditional speech. The series resumes November 8th with David Axelrod, former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and November 15th with Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush.

Sliced Bread Just Got Better

Working on the VitaYeast project

A team of Johns Hopkins University undergraduates hopes to save lives by addressing global malnutrition through synthetic biology, coaxing yeast into producing beta carotene and then baking it into bread rich in Vitamin A. The implications are profound—the bread has the potential to help avert health problems that occur when diets lack essential vitamins and other nutrients. The World Health Organization has described vitamin A deficiency as the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. The team was brought together to compete in the annual International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, which challenges students to use synthetic biology to manipulate DNA into carrying out new tasks. The students conduct their research in the lab of the School of Medicine’s Jef Boeke, a leading yeast expert who is a professor of molecular biology and genetics, and worked with 10 faculty advisors from engineering and arts and sciences.

Read more in the homepage feature here and learn more about the project here.

State of the Arts 

Johns Hopkins’ John Astin and Craig Hankin talk with Mariet Westermann of the Mellon Foundation. Photo: Will Kirk/Homewoodphoto.jhu.edu

In the battle of right brain vs. left brain, The Johns Hopkins University is asking: Why not use both? The past, present and future of the arts at Johns Hopkins came squarely into focus earlier this month as arts program leaders from other major universities visited the Homewood campus to discuss the merits of blending a full palette of creative endeavors into a traditionally research-heavy environment. The consensus was that the arts are essential.  “We have amazing talent and extraordinarily devoted faculty and students,” Dean Katherine Newman said after the seminar. “What we don’t have in most of our programs is a critical mass of full-time teaching professors and the space to accommodate all of the students who would like to participate, whether they are primarily interested in the arts or interested in adding an arts emphasis to their majors in the humanities, social sciences or science.” Newman’s efforts to make the seminar a reality and focus more attention on the arts were lauded by both Craig Hankin, director of the Homewood Arts Workshops, and Eric Beatty, director of Homewood Arts Programs.

Read more about this event in the Gazette article here.