E-Portal Newsletter - September 2009

September 2009 edition


Dean Blaine Hudson Delivers "State of the College" Address

Dean Blaine Hudson delivered the annual "State of the College" address to an assembly of A&S faculty, staff and students on September 11, 2009. Hudson's address, his sixth since being appointed dean in 2004, outlined the accomplishments, challenges and strategic goals of the college as the 2009-10 academic year begins.

See full text of the Dean's address: State of the College 2009

Dean Hudson also offered his perspective on the ever-changing global economy and its implications for higher education.

"For the past few years, much of our attention has been focused on weathering a financial crisis unlike anything our nation and world have experienced in three generations," said Hudson, "This crisis may be more than a proverbial 'bad patch.'  It may be a fundamental transformation that reshapes the national and global political economy for decades to come.  And, if so, the implications for higher education are far-reaching."

To meet the mandate of doubling the number of college graduates in Kentucky and expanding the base of educated people in our nation, Hudson says that these new graduates will come "from what will soon be the new American majority, i.e., students who are more diverse by race, ethnicity and class than are college students today—the same students who are least successful in American colleges and universities today. This is why our commitment to diversity and equality must be far more than the stuff of platitudes and public relations."

Hudson continued: "As a College of Arts and Sciences, located in a state near the bottom of nearly every conceivable ranking of economic health and educational attainment, we can and must play a major role in making this investment in opportunity—to ensure, insofar as we can, that all of our students can state proudly that they had good teachers and, if they worked hard, they met high standards and were successful.  In my view, this is not only the smart thing to do—it is the right thing to do.”

Full text of the Dean's address: State of the College 2009

UofL Biologists find that "good" bacteria can switch sides

Scientists have long known that our bodies contain good bacteria that help us do things like digest food. But one such organism may also have the ability to protect germs that make us sick, a University of Louisville study has shown.

The finding is worrisome from a human health standpoint, said Michael Perlin, a UofL biology professor who led the study. UofL biologists Lee Dugatkin and Ron Atlas teamed up with Perlin to conduct the 3-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Perlin’s team found that a strain of E. coli bacteria that normally lives harmlessly in our digestive tract can mobilize to protect Salmonella, a microbe that often causes severe gastrointestinal illness.

“We knew some E. coli strains can leak a substance that makes even the sensitive E. coli cells around them survive exposure to antibiotics, but we didn’t know they could do the same for a totally different bacteria,” he said.

“This is something no one has seen before. It’s surprising and a little scary.”

An article on the discovery appeared Aug. 5 in the biology journal of the Proceedings of the Royal Society .

A large body of research has been devoted to understanding how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics by trading genes with other bacteria, Perlin said. The UofL study, however, identifies an entirely new way microbes can develop resistance.

Perlin’s team found that some bacteria act as “altruists,” sharing their resistance with other bacteria without transferring the responsible genes.

“This is of concern because it suggests that one type of bacteria that produces a substance to break down an antibiotic can protect other bacteria that cause diseases,” he said.

Antibiotic resistance has become a pressing public health problem, with the number of resistant bacteria increasing in the last decade. Many bacterial infections are becoming resistant to the most commonly prescribed antibiotic treatments, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National Institutes of Health figures show that about 90,000 people die each year due to a drug-resistant infection, up from 13,300 deaths in 1992.

Reprinted from UofL News, August 11, 2009

English Professor Matthew Biberman featured in Jay Leno video

UofL English professor Matthew Biberman's 2009 book, Big Sid's Vincati: The Story of a Father, a Son, and the Motorcycle of a Lifetime, tells a moving story of a father-son project to build a rare motorcycle.

When his father "Big Sid" had a near-fatal heart attack and gave up the will to live, Matthew Biberman impulsively promised Sid, an expert motorcycle mechanic, that together they would build a Vincati motorcycle -- half Vincent, half Ducati -- a rare bike that had never been completed in North America. Reminiscent of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the book is a powerful story of fathers and sons, and shows not only how the Bibermans built their Vincati but also how the two men reconstructed their relationship.

NBC's Jay Leno profiled the father-son team and the bike they created on his Jay Leno's Garage website.

Bullitt Lecture in Astronomy is a "lunar double feature"

The October 8 Bullitt Lecture on Astronomy offers a "lunar double feature" when a member of the Apollo moon rover development team and a current space exploration researcher will lecture at the University of Louisville.

The free, public Bullitt Lecture in Astronomy, intended for the general public, will begin at 7 p.m. in Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium. This year's event is planned to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon.

Topics will be "Lunar Roving Vehicle -- Spacecraft on Wheels" by Ferenc Pavlics and "Current and Future Exploration of the Lunar Surface" by Philip Abel.

Pavlics will talk about the early concepts considered for moon exploration, the design and development of the lunar roving vehicle and the results of the successful operation. Between 1968 and 1972, he was the engineering director responsible for the rover's design, development and manufacturing for the Apollo program. After retiring from GM, the scientist also was a consultant in the development of the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Exploration rovers.

Abel has been a leader in the human robotics systems project at NASA's John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. His group has also built a simulated lunar operations facility at Glenn Research Center for research and design work, and it has created replicas of the Apollo lunar rover's wire mesh wheels for current testing.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium present the annual lectures through an endowment established by the family of former U.S. Solicitor General William Marshall Bullitt.

For more information, contact professors Gerard Williger at 502-852-0821 or williger@physics.louisvlle.edu or James Lauroesch at 502-852-1394 or jtlaur01@louisville.edu

Axton Reading Series features award-winning poets and novelists

University of Louisville poet Derek Mong's September 10 reading launched the fall Axton reading series at UofL. The series also will feature visits from a poet and a novelist who will lecture and lead master classes for students.

UofL's English department brings in distinguished writers through the Anne and William Axton Reading Series. These free, public literary events are funded by and named for Anne Axton and her late husband, a former English professor.

Derek Mong is the 2008-10 Axton postdoctoral fellow in poetry and organizer of the Axton Festival of Poetry and Film earlier this year. He has won two Hopwood Awards from the University of Michigan for encouragement of creative work in writing, and he has taught creative writing at several universities and for the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society. He has been published in Southern ReviewPleiades and The Missouri Review, from which he won an Editors' Choice Prize.

Here's the remaining fall Axton reading series on UofL's Belknap Campus:

Nami Mun, Chicago-based fiction writer who just published her first novel, Miles from Nowhere. Her stories have been published in the 2007 Pushcart Prize AnthologyThe Iowa Review and the journal Tin House, which named her an Emerging Voice of 2005. She will read from her works at 4:30 p.m. October 22 in Bingham Poetry Room, Ekstrom Library, and will lead a two-hour master class at 10 a.m. on October 23 in Room 300, Bingham Humanities Building.

Terrance Hayes, poet and Carnegie Mellon University associate professor of creative writing. He has published three poetry collections: Muscular MusicWind in a Box and Hip Logic, which won the National Poetry Series. He has won several fellowships and awards, including a Pushcart Prize, and been published in The New YorkerPoetry and other journals and magazines. Hayes will read from his works at 7:30 p.m. November 12 in Bingham Poetry Room, Ekstrom Library, and will lead a two-hour master class at 10 a.m. on November 13 in Room 300, Bingham Humanities Building.

For more information, contact Jeffrey Skinner at 502-852-3057 or jeffrey.skinner@louisville.edu

A&S announces topics for fall 2009 NETWORK luncheon series

The UofL NETWORK luncheon dialogue series will take a look at modern-day Girl Scouts as well as African Americans and Africans who gained status by relocating to other countries.

The College of Arts and Sciences sponsors NETWORK, an acronym for New Energy to Work Out Racial Kinks.

Here is the fall schedule for the public UofL NETWORK luncheons, all of which begin at noon in the University Club on Belknap Campus:

  • September 24 – "'No, You are the Unamericans!': Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois and Cold War Challenges to Full Citizenship." Joy Carew, UofL associate professor of Pan-African studies, will discuss African Americans who left the United States for the Soviet experience. She is the author of Blacks, Reds and Russians: Sojourners in Search of the Soviet Promise.
  • October 22 – "African Elites in India." John McLeod, UofL associate professor of history, will discuss his book by that title, which includes essays by specialists in the history of currency, architecture and art history of South Asia.
  • November 19 – "More Than Girl Scout Cookies: Voices of Today's Girls." Terry Blackwell, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana Inc. chief executive officer, will talk about diversity's role in her organization's 96-year history and mission to instill qualities of character, courage and confidence in girls.

Each meal is $10; reservations are required by the Monday prior to each event. To reserve a spot, contact Linda L. Wilson at 502-852-0274 or llwils01@louisville.edu; or contact Marian Vasser at 502-852-2252 or mrvass01@louisville.edu

Yearlings Club discussions examine schools, violence, multicultural Issues

A Yearlings Club community discussion series this fall will touch on Jefferson County school matters, black-on-black violence, the Hispanic community, and will wind up with a holiday jazz celebration in December.

The Yearlings Club, a partner of the University of Louisville's College of Arts and Sciences, is devoted to civic responsibility, community service and leadership development. Each year, the club organizes public events aimed at bringing people in Louisville together with UofL faculty members to share expertise, forge common bonds and explore issues.

All events run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month at the Yearlings Club, 4309 W. Broadway, and include refreshments and networking opportunities.

See photos from the September 13 Yearlings Club event, "Back to School": Courier-Journal Photo Gallery

The fall series began on September 13 with the topic of "Back to School," a discussion of the new student assignment plan, Shawnee High School's future and expansion of parental involvement in Jefferson County Public Schools. Invited panelists included Superintendent Sheldon Berman; Pat Todd, executive director of the JCPS Gheens Professional Development Academy; and JCPS school board members Ann Elmore, Debbie Wesslund and Carol Haddad.

The rest of the fall series includes:

  • October 11 - "What is a Black Life Worth? How to Break the Continuing Cycle of Black-on-Black Violence in Louisville," panel including family advocate Christopher 2X, Life Institute youth outreach leader Eddie Woods and families of victims of violence.
  • November 8 - "The Americana Center: A Local Crossroads of the World," discussion of the growing influence and contributions of international residents. Panel will include representatives of the Hispanic community.
  • December 13 - "Holiday Jazz Event"

For more information, contact Reginald Meeks at 502-852-3042 or reginald.meeks@louisville.edu; or contact Marian Vasser at 502-852-2252 or mrvass01@louisville.edu