The Academic Minute for 2017.1.16-1.20

Academic Minute from 1.16 – 1.20

Monday, January 16th
Ruth Thompson-Miller – University of Dayton
Jim Crow’s Lasting Impact
Ruth Thompson-Miller is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Dayton. She is an author of Jim Crow’s Legacy: The Lasting Impact of Segregation, which uses the phrase segregation stress syndrome to describe the long-term impact on physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as the unshakable influence of racism across years and generations.

Tuesday, January 17th
David Courtwright – University of North Florida
Opioid Crisis
David Courtwright, Presidential Professor in the University of North Florida History Department, is best known for his histories of drug use and drug policy in American and world history. He devoted his first book, Dark Paradise, to exploring the changing pattern of narcotic addiction in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America. Courtwright discovered that, although nonmedical addiction was the norm by 1940, when most “junkies” were men using heroin in big cities, the opposite had been true in the nineteenth century. Then narcotic addiction was mostly medical in origin and most addicts were ailing women. Often they had learned about drugs from physicians who prescribed morphine and other opiates, until they and their successors became more circumspect later in the century.

When Courtwright was doing his research, he thought he would never witness a comparable wave of medical opiate addiction in his lifetime. But such a wave did emerge in the late 1990s; by the 2010s rates of medical addiction were higher than what they had been in the 1870s and 1880s.  Physicians and public health authorities called the new crisis the “opioid” addiction epidemic, in recognition of the key role that synthetic and semi-synthetic prescription opioid analgesics had played in igniting it. This time the poster drug for medical addiction was OxyContin, not morphine. Recently, the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine invited Courtwright to compare and draw lessons from the two great waves of addiction. He found reason for optimism—and concern that proven means of treatment were being neglected.

Wednesday, January 18th
Paul Graham – St. Lawrence University
Celiac Disease
I first came to St. Lawrence in 1995, as a student. I was an English-Writing and Government double major. After graduation, I went to the University of Michigan, where i focused on fiction writing, and also wrote nonfiction, in the MFA Program in Creative Writing. Fortunately, I was eventually able to return to St. Lawrence, and I’ve been a permanent member of English department since 2007. My primary teaching emphasis is in fiction and creative nonfiction writing. I’ve also taught literature courses–Methods of Critical Analysis, Critical Survey of Literature, The Short Story, The Personal Essay, and Senior Seminars. Outside the English Department, I’ve taught in the First Year Program; the content of these courses focuses on food literature.

My creative and scholarly interests have evolved since I’ve arrived here. For several years, I worked on a book of short stories that explored conflicts grounded in gender, sexuality, desire, and repression. Soon I will publish a hybrid of memoir, natural history, gastronomy, and science that explores the experience that comes from the autoimmune disorder celiac disease (which I have). I’ve also written some criticism and essays on the writing process.

Some of my interests include cooking (of course), hiking and canoeing (especially with my dog), running, and, when I can, spending time in the Adirondacks, Ottawa, and Burlington.

Thursday, January 19th
David Zuckerman – University at Texas at Austin
Randomness
David Zuckerman holds an Endowed Professorship in the Computer Science Department at the University of Texas at Austin. He received an A.B. in Mathematics from Harvard University in 1987 and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley in 1991. He was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT from 1991-1993, and at Hebrew University in the Fall of 1993. He has been with the University of Texas since then, visiting U.C. Berkeley from 1999-2000, Harvard University from 2004-2005, and the Institute for Advanced Study from 2011-12.

His research focuses primarily on pseudorandomness and the role of randomness in computing. He is best known for his work on randomness extractors and their applications. His other research interests include coding theory, distributed computing, cryptography, inapproximability, and other areas of complexity theory. His research awards include a Simons Investigator Award, a Best Paper Award at STOC 2016, ACM Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and an NSF Young Investigator Award.

Friday, January 20th
Nicholas Leadbeater – University of Connecticut
Laughing Gas
Nicholas Leadbeater is an associate professor of organic and inorganic chemistry at the University of Connecticut, where he heads the New Synthetic Methods Group. Leadbeater and the NSMG research cleaner and more efficient methods for creating synthetic materials. Dr. Leadbeater holds a Ph.D. from Cambridge University, where he was a research fellow until 1999.

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