Hub Headlines from the Johns Hopkins news network Hub Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:34:00 -0500 Longtime Johns Hopkins researcher Richard T. Johnson, 'inventor' of neurovirology, dies at 84 <p>Richard T. Johnson, an internationally renowned Johns Hopkins neurologist who is credited with inventing the field of neurovirology—the study of viruses that infect the nervous system—died at The Johns Hopkins Hospital on Sunday of pneumonia. He was 84 and had been active up until the last weeks of his life, giving lectures at medical centers around the nation and overseas.</p> <p>A member of the <a href="">Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine</a> faculty from 1969 to 1997, Johnson served as director of the <a href="">Department of Neurology</a> from 1988 until 1997 and also had a joint appointment in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases in JHU's <a href="">Bloomberg School of Public Health</a>. He mentored more than 55 postdoctoral fellows in virology, neurology, immunology and neurovirology, with at least 10 of them going on to become heads of their own departments, and he served on the faculties of medical schools in Australia, Germany, Iran, Peru, and Thailand.</p> <p>"He influenced literally hundreds, if not thousands, of medical students, undergraduates, and postdoctoral fellows through his charismatic and spell-binding lectures, and through direct mentoring," says <a href="">Justin McArthur</a>, the current head of Johns Hopkins' Department of Neurology.</p> <p>"Many people considered him a 'mentor's mentor' because of his insight, perseverance, and dogged enthusiasm for his trainees."</p> <p>A native of Colorado, Johnson earned his bachelor's degree with honors at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1953, and his medical degree at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, in 1956. An excellent ballroom dancer, he helped pay his way through college by teaching dancing.</p> <p>Completing his internship in medicine at Stanford University Hospitals in San Francisco, he worked as a clinical pathologist in the Department of Virus Diseases at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, where his interest in the origin of viral diseases and infections of the central nervous system began. He then completed a residency and fellowship in neurology and neuropathology at Massachusetts General Hospital.</p> <p>Additional teaching and research in Great Britain and Australia led to appointment to the department of neurology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1964. It was from there that he was recruited to come to Johns Hopkins in 1969 to join Guy McKhann of Stanford to found Johns Hopkins' Department of Neurology.</p> <p>McKhann, a Yale medical school graduate and one-time pediatric resident at Hopkins, recalls that the search committee for the first director of Johns Hopkins neurology was headed by Vernon Mountcastle, the legendary founder of neuroscience, and after much deliberation he had "narrowed the field down to Dick Johnson and me.</p> <p>"It was Vernon's idea to get us both, so we both arrived at Johns Hopkins and spent the rest of our careers here. I took over running the department and Dick built up the research side."</p> <p>"Dick, known as RTJ, was focused on infections of the nervous system, particularly viral infections. He essentially invented the field of neurovirology," McKhann adds. "He was involved in early studies of AIDS, the agent involved in kuru [a fatal, degenerative brain disease], mad cow disease, and in various forms of encephalitis."</p> <p>McKhann says that in addition to his immense skill as a researcher, Johnson was an expert clinician. "Patients came from all over the world with mysterious infections of the nervous system to see him," he says. Johnson was also the founder of the multiple sclerosis clinic at Hopkins.</p> <p>Johnson developed a multidisciplinary laboratory group to study viruses linked to a wide variety of chronic neurological diseases. During this period, he also traveled widely overseas, establishing laboratories to study infectious diseases and teach. His extensive travels earned him the affectionate nickname the "Pan-Am Professor," for the old international airline, Pan American. He was an exceptionally good storyteller, practicing his repartee upon his fellows, and greatly enjoyed attending scientific meetings, "where he regaled all with tales of his travels, and of the pioneers of neurology and neurosurgery at Mass General or Hopkins," McArthur recalls.</p> <p>Johnson succeeded McKhann as director of the Department of Neurology in 1988 and "continued its path to excellence," McKhann says.</p> <p>During his directorship of neurology, Johnson expanded the faculty from 40 to more than 100 and established new programs, including neurointensive care and epilepsy monitoring.</p> <p>He twice won awards for clinical teaching and was an exceptionally prolific researcher, publishing more than 300 peer-reviewed articles in professional journals and book chapters, and editing 10 books. He was the lone author of <em>Viral Infections of the Nervous System</em>, a landmark text first published in 1982.</p> <p>Johnson received numerous national and international awards, including ones of which he became the first recipient. Among these were the first Association of British Neurologists Multiple Sclerosis Medal in 1986, the first Soriano Award from the World Federation of Neurology in 1993, and the first Pioneer Award from the International Society of Neurovirology in 1999. After his supposed retirement in 1997, he served as director of the National Neuroscience Institute of Singapore and as editor of <em>Annals of Neurology</em>.</p> <p>Among Johnson's protégés was <a href="">Janice Clements</a>, now vice dean for the faculty in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as well as a professor of molecular and comparative pathobiology, neurology, and pathology. She joined Johnson's laboratory as a fellow in 1975 and says that the lessons she learned from his Monday morning discussions of all the fellows' research projects provided her with the framework for her subsequent research career, which has included important discoveries about HIV.</p> <p>"Richard Johnson's research has had an enormous impact on how viral infections are studied," Clements says. "His research was novel and had a major influence on academic medicine and the treatment of virus infections of the brain. One of the first patients with HIV was diagnosed by Dr. Johnson because the disease had caused neurological disease.</p> <p>"Dr. Johnson mentored many generations of virologists, neurologists, immunologists, and neurovirologists who now lead research and patient care in these disciplines into the next millennium.</p> <p>"Personally, Dick's mentoring provided me with the opportunities and unique expertise in viral infections on the brain that has allowed me to become a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine."</p> <p>Johnson is survived by his wife, Sylvia Eggleston Wehr, and four children: Carlton Johnson of Florida, Erica Meadows of Baltimore and Kosovo, and Matthew Johnson and Nathan Johnson of Los Angeles, along with three step daughters, Elizabeth Drigotas, Anne Broadus, and Elaine Doherty. He is also survived by five grandchildren and six step grandchildren. His wife of over 50 years, Frances Wilcox Johnson, died in 2008.</p> <p>In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Richard T. Johnson Fund c/o the Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, 750 East Pratt Street, 17th floor, Baltimore MD 21202 or through its <a href="https//">secure online tribute form</a>.</p> <p>A memorial service will be held on Dec. 4 at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Redeemer, 5603 North Charles Street in Baltimore.</p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:05:00 -0500 Johns Hopkins students take first place in Biopharmaceutical Case Competition <p>Students from the <a href="">Johns Hopkins Carey Business School</a> took home the $6,000 first prize at the <a href="">4th Annual Biopharmaceutical Case Competition</a> hosted by Rutgers Business School.</p> <p>The competition, held Nov. 20, pitted teams of three to five students from nine top MBA and Healthcare Management programs, including the Wharton School of Business, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Yale School of Management, in a competition to see which team could develop the strongest business plan addressing a real-world pharmaceutical industry challenge.</p> <p>JHU's Carey Business School took first place, followed by Rutgers Business School, the Yale School of Management, and Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.</p> <p>The competition was sponsored by pharmaceutical companies Bayer, Novo Nordisk, Novartis, Herspiegel Consulting, Campbell Alliance, Sanofi Pasteur, and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC. Executives from the sponsoring companies judged cases on the feasibility of their plan as well as the ability to present and support their findings.</p> <p>Carey students have taken part in two other notable competitions this month:</p> <ul> <li><p>The <a href="">3rd Annual Healthcare Business Competition</a> was held Nov. 14 at the Carey Business School's Harbor East campus. Ten teams from top business schools competed for $6,000 worth of prizes. The case directed teams to produce strategies for reversing the anti-vaccine stigma using social media tactics. Wharton School of Business took home first prize in that event.</p></li> <li><p>On Nov. 21, students from across Johns Hopkins University took part in the first leg of a series of competitions as part of the <a href="">Venture Capital Investment Competition</a>. The national competition is the largest venture capital competition for graduate students with more than 70 business schools competing. The competition stages preliminary competitions culminating in the finals held in North Carolina in April. At the Nov. 21 event, teams of Johns Hopkins students competed to determine who would represent the university at the Mid-Atlantic regional competition, which will be held Jan. 29. The VCIC is co-organized by two Carey clubs: the Innovation Factory and the Private Equity & Venture Capital Club.</p></li> </ul> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:55:00 -0500 Performances by Peabody musicians to be featured on new WBJC radio program <p><a href="">The Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University</a> announced plans Monday for a new broadcast series on <a href="">WBJC 91.5 FM, Maryland's Classical Music Station</a> featuring recorded faculty and student performances.</p> <p>"Peabody Today," featuring selections from the conservatory's 2015-16 concert season, will debut Saturday at 6 p.m. with a recent performance of the Peabody Singers under the direction of Edward Polochick. The concert will air in its entirety on WBJC program director Jonathan Palevsky's "Music in Maryland" program.</p> <p>"WBJC is such an important voice in this community, and it provides the perfect platform to showcase the performances of our world-class faculty artists and gifted student musicians that we have right here in Baltimore," said <a href="">Fred Bronstein</a>, dean of the Peabody Institute. "We are proud to partner with WBJC in order to bring these exciting live performances to a wider audience across the region."</p> <p>Added Palevsky: "As a Peabody alum, it is extremely gratifying to begin this new and exciting level of collaboration. I look forward to this year's concerts and more in the years to come."</p> <p>The Peabody Singers program to be broadcast Saturday includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's <em>Vesperae solennes de confessore</em>, K.339; and <em>Ave Verum Corpus</em>, K.618; as well as the <em>Missa brevis</em> of Zoltán Kodály. Polochick's pre-concert conversation with Palevsky about the works will also be included in the broadcast.</p> <p>Additional Peabody concerts to be broadcast on WBJC this season include performances by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, the Peabody Renaissance Ensemble, and Peabody faculty members featured as part of the Sylvia Adalman Chamber Series.</p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:25:00 -0500 Two Johns Hopkins students awarded prestigious Marshall Scholarship <p>Two Johns Hopkins University students will spend the next year pursuing graduate degrees in the United Kingdom after winning the highly competitive <a href="">Marshall Scholarship</a>.</p> <p>Quenton Bubb, a Johns Hopkins senior majoring in biophysics, will be studying in the Chemistry Department at Cambridge University. Anu Ramachandran, a third-year Hopkins medical student, will study Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.</p> <p>Bubb and Ramachandran are among 32 U.S. students selected as Marshall Scholars this year out of 916 applicants. Funded by the British government, the prestigious scholarship allows high-achieving scholars to undertake postgraduate studies in the U.K. program of their choice, with the goal of nurturing future leaders and strengthening British-American collaborations.</p> <p>For Bubb, the Marshall Scholarship offers a chance to join the world-class research lab led by Jane Clarke at Cambridge, where he'll study the biophysics of intrinsically disordered proteins. In the future, Bubb intends to pursue both an MD and a PhD in molecular biophysics, with the hope of advancing clinical treatment of diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.</p> <p>Another factor that made the Marshall Scholarship appealing to Bubb, he says, was the opportunity to build a "platform for improving the situation for black men and women in STEM"—the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields.</p> <p>"The statistics of blacks in STEM are pretty bleak," Bubb says, describing his "lifetime goal" as working to improve this disparity and serving as a mentor for black scientists. Building connections in both the U.S. and the U.K., he says, "will open doors."</p> <p>Bubb, who is from Brooklyn, New York, and will graduate from Johns Hopkins next month, credits his work at with <a href="">Karen Fleming</a>, a professor of biophysics, as a backbone for his career goals. As a junior last year, <a href="">he won the prestigious UNCF/Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship</a>, awarded to minority students pursuing careers in science and engineering.</p> <p>Ramachandran, who plans to take a year off from her pursuit of a medical degree at JHU to study in London, says she sees the scholarship as a chance to augment her clinical background with "a bigger picture of advocacy research and policy work around global health and refugee health."</p> <p>At Hopkins, Ramachandran has served as director of the student-run <a href="">Refugee Health Partners</a>, which works with the International Rescue Committee of Baltimore to aid newly arrived refugees with chronic and complex medical conditions.</p> <p>She says she's interested in expanding her knowledge, from a global policy perspective, on "all parts of the journey" of a refugee's health challenges once they settle in a new country, where they often face "barriers to accessing and understanding a new healthcare system."</p> <p>As an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, where she majored in neuroscience and philosophy, Ramachandran founded a chapter of GlobeMed, which pairs students with grassroots NGOs around the world. She also interned for two months in Tanzania, working on HIV education issues.</p> <p>At the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Ramachandran, who is from San Jose, California, plans to conduct research in the Public Health in Humanitarian Crisis Group led by Karl Blanchet.</p> <p>Both Bubb and Ramachandran also cited the opportunity to live and research abroad, as well as the long-term professional connections the Marshall Scholarship fosters, as attractions to applying for the program.</p> <p>Founded in 1953, the Marshall Scholarship was designed to commemorate the Marshall Plan, the U.S. government program that assisted in reconstructing Europe after World War II. The award was envisioned as a co-educational alternative to the Rhodes Scholarship, which excluded women until 1977.</p> <p>The ranks of the more than 1,800 Marshall Scholar alumni include Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman, former Arizona governor and U.S Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, and current White House legislative affairs director director Katie Beirne Fallon.</p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 15:45:00 -0500 Thanksgiving-weekend shoppers increasingly go online in search of deals <p>Thanksgiving weekend in America was once a multiday festival of turkey, stuffing, pie, football on TV, leftover turkey, more football, more leftover turkey, and finally carryout pizza on Sunday.</p> <p>Those staples remain, but in recent years the weekend has become synonymous with holiday shopping. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent more than $50 billion on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and on through the ensuing Saturday and Sunday in each of the past two years.</p> <p>Increasingly, holiday shoppers are doing their buying online. In 2006, they let their fingers do the walking (on their computer keyboards) for about 23 percent of their Thursday-Sunday spending; in 2014, that percentage nearly doubled, the retail federation reported. This doesn't even take into account that the holiday shopping weekend has gone into overtime with the addition of Cyber Monday and its wealth of deals aimed at online customers.</p> <p><a href="">Meng Zhu</a>, an assistant professor at the <a href="">Johns Hopkins Carey Business School</a>, understands the allure of online shopping—both as a marketing expert who focuses on consumer behavior and as someone who occasionally shops online. For starters, she <a href="">told <em>Carey Business</em> magazine for its fall 2015 issue</a>, "The transaction cost is low," meaning it's more fun to shop at home in your bathrobe than to drive to the local mall, search for parking, elbow your way through crowds, and possibly find that your desired item is out of stock.</p> <p>Online, in that big warehouse in the cloud, products are seldom unavailable. Offers of free shipping and free returns sweeten the experience. Online shopping also gives shoppers access to product information and reviews on numerous websites.</p> <p>"Then there's the research showing the reduced pain of paying with a credit card, compared to paying with cash," Zhu adds. "Studies show that when you buy with cash—which you might do in a physical store but never online—the brain registers pain. You feel guilty as you hand over your cash. With a credit card, real money seems removed from the equation. That same feeling of pain doesn't register."</p> <p>After 2014 Thanksgiving weekend in 2014, IBM produced a report that examined online shopping habits from Thursday through Cyber Monday. IBM found that smartphones drove more than a third of all online traffic on Black Friday 2014 (more than double the traffic generated by tablets), and yet sales via tablets outdid sales on smartphones by nearly 36 percent.</p> <p>"That makes sense when you consider the behavioral research that supports an idea called fluency," Zhu says. "If you read things on a phone screen, the fonts are small, you have to tap on various spots to move through pages—the whole experience isn't easy, it's not fluent, not compared to a tablet, where the type is easier to read and you can manipulate the screen more easily. The more fluent the experience, the more you'll enjoy it, and the more you'll return to it. Also, misattribution is happening here. This is the psychological mechanism that can cause someone to misattribute the positive feeling of fluency to a liking of the products they are interested in buying, which will in turn increase the likelihood of purchases."</p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:30:00 -0500 P-TECH program will create school-to-industry pipeline for Maryland students <p>Four years ago on a trip to New York City, Johns Hopkins University President <a href="">Ronald J. Daniels</a> had an opportunity to see a fledging education program in action.</p> <p>Industry giant IBM had recently partnered with the New York City Department of Education and New York City College of Technology to launch a six-year program in Brooklyn that charted a direct career path for participating high school students. In addition to learning traditional core subjects, students in P-TECH—Pathways in Technology Early College High School—received two years of free college-level instruction and advanced training in STEM-based fields so that, upon graduation, they would be first in line for attractive jobs at businesses such as IBM.</p> <p>Inspired by what he saw, Daniels believed this high school-to-industry pipeline model could be replicated in Baltimore, to better prepare students for entry into the job market. And now it's set to happen.</p> <p>Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced today at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore a commitment to bring IBM's successful P-TECH model to four Maryland schools beginning next fall. The Maryland State Department of Education will soon issue a request for proposals to select the schools, and Johns Hopkins University, Kaiser Permanente, and IBM already have expressed interest in serving as partners.</p> <p>In his remarks at the launch event, Daniels said Johns Hopkins is "keenly interested" in partnering with Dunbar—with which the university and health system already have a long-standing relationship—to open a health-based P-TECH school.</p> <p>"Our interest is grounded in a desire to bolster the health of our community and create clear and credible pathways to good jobs right here in Baltimore," Daniels said. "We know the ways that meaningful work can provide dignity and independence, and as an enlightened anchor in this city, we altruistically want to support those aims."</p> <p>P-TECH is essentially a separate academic track based at an existing public high school. It matches local school districts, community colleges, and companies committed to taking on qualified graduates. Within six years, students graduate with a high school diploma and a no-cost associate degree from an accredited community college, along with the skills and knowledge they need to continue their education or step into jobs in a variety of industries.</p> <p>Industry partners, working with school districts and community colleges, help map the curriculum to the job skills needed at companies. The industry partners also pair students with mentors and offer skills-based, paid internships and workplace visits.</p> <p>"Maryland has some of the best schools in the country, but there is room for new, innovative ideas like the P-TECH model to streamline the path from education to employment," Hogan said today. "P-TECH graduates will have the opportunity to earn high school diplomas and associate degrees in the technical skills sought by employers, and also contribute to strengthening Maryland's economy through careers with their industry partner."</p> <p>Since the first P-TECH program launched in 2011, the network has grown to 40 schools across three states: New York, Illinois, and Connecticut. By 2016, additional P-TECH schools around the country and in Australia will raise the number to as many as 60 locations serving tens of thousands of students.</p> <p>Currently, there are more than 100 companies affiliated with the schools across a range of sectors, including health IT, advanced manufacturing, and energy technology. In New York City, industry partners include Montefiore Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, ConEdison, and Regeneron.</p> <p>The P-TECH schools are open to all students. This past summer, six students graduated from <a href="">Brooklyn P-TECH</a> in just four years with both their high school diplomas and free associate degrees in technology. Four of the six students were the first in their families to graduate from college. All of them were offered positions with IBM. Three took those high-paying jobs, and three others are continuing their education with scholarships to four-year universities.</p> <p>At Brooklyn P-TECH, 75 percent of fourth-year students at have met the New York State college ready standard in both English and math.</p> <p>Daniels said he deeply appreciates the efforts of Hogan and others to offer this program in Maryland and serve communities in need.</p> <p>"At heart, today represents the need to think anew about so many concerns in Baltimore," he said. "We must leverage our imagination and courage to try new approaches. This isn't a moment for business as usual, and I am enthusiastic about the opportunities that P-TECH offers"</p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500 Four Johns Hopkins researchers named fellows of American Association for the Advancement of Science <p>Four researchers from Johns Hopkins University are among 347 new fellows from around the world elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS fellows are elected by their peers and honored for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.</p> <p>Those recognized from JHU are <a href="">Kevin Hemker</a>, a professor of mechanical engineering in JHU's Whiting School of Engineering; <a href="">Michael Matunis</a>, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Bloomberg School of Public Health; <a href="">Alan Scott</a>, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health; and <a href="">Beverly Wendland</a>, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and a professor of biology.</p> <p>The names of all awardees will be published in the "AAAS News and Notes" section of <em>Science</em> magazine later this week. The newly elected fellows will be awarded a certificate and a rosette pin during the AAAS Fellows Forum at the 2016 AAAS annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 13.</p> <p>Hemker and his students have employed atomic resolution electron microscopy and microscale mechanical testing to change the way the materials community thinks about and understands the mechanical behavior of advanced materials. According to AAAS, he was elected a fellow "for discoveries in underlying atomic-scale processes governing mechanical behavior of advanced materials systems, including nanocrystalline, micro-lattice, thermal barrier, and high-temperature materials."</p> <p>Matunis won recognition "for the discovery of sumoylation, and elucidation of the mechanisms regulating the conjugation of SUMO to proteins and its associated effects on cellular functions." SUMO proteins are dynamically attached to hundreds of other proteins in the cell to regulate the functions of those proteins and a wide range of processes critical for normal cell growth and proliferation. Matunis' research group has revealed important insights into how SUMO modification of proteins promotes repair of damaged DNA and accurate segregation of chromosomes in mitosis. These studies have implications for understanding the development and progression of a variety of human diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and neurological diseases.</p> <p>Scott was elected "for distinguished contributions to the field of parasite molecular biology and immunology, including first report on the genomic sequence and organization of a multicellular parasite." Scott investigates the cross-talk that takes place between parasitic nematodes and the immune system, and how these molecular interactions promote parasite persistence and contribute to debilitating disease. His contributions include his role in the genome sequencing project of the human filarial nematode parasite Brugia malayi, the first multicellular parasite genome to be sequenced.</p> <p>Wendland is being recognized "for groundbreaking studies on the genetic, molecular, biochemical, and biophysical mechanisms underlying endocytosis." Wendland and her team study fundamental cellular processes using yeast cells as a simple model system. Discoveries about how yeast cells function can also teach us about human maladies, such as neurodegenerative diseases or cancer. Her lab's work may ultimately identify new targets for treatments, such as enhanced delivery of gene therapies.</p> <p><em>Editor's note: Kevin Hemker's department affiliation was misstated in an earlier version of this article.</em></p> Sun, 22 Nov 2015 19:52:00 -0500 Football: Johns Hopkins rolls to first-round win in NCAA Division III playoffs <p>In a battle of unbeaten teams, No. 6 Johns Hopkins took all the drama out of Saturday's NCAA Division III football first-round playoff game against 19th-ranked Western New England, building a 38-0 halftime lead and <a href="">cruising to a 52-20 victory</a> at Homewood Field.</p> <p>The Blue Jays (11-0), who scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions, equaled a single-season school victories with their 11th victory. Western New England finished the season with a 10-1 record.</p> <p>Hopkins advanced to take on Wesley (10-1), a 42-22 winner against Framingham State on Saturday. The game will be played Saturday at noon at Homewood Field. The <a href="">complete NCAA Division III playoff bracket</a> is available at</p> <p>The Blue Jays defense forced quick punts by Western New England on its first two drives and the Hopkins offense answered with scoring drives of 65 and 51 yards to grab a 14-0 lead less than nine minutes into the game. A one-yard run by sophomore Ryan Carey capped the first drive, and a 13-yard touchdown pass from junior Jonathan Germano to classmate Bradley Munday polished off the second. The Blue Jays led by as many as 46 points at 52-6 midway through the fourth quarter.</p> <p>Germano was 17-of-26 for 293 yards with four touchdowns, including eight completions for 132 yards and two scores went to Munday. Hopkins rolled up 535 yards of total offense with 359 through the air and 176 on the ground.</p> <p>Michael Munday, Jack Campbell, and Lance Hammond tied for the team lead with six tackles each for Johns Hopkins, which caused five turnovers on the day to run its season total to 34.</p> <p>Johns Hopkins and Wesley will be meeting for the third time in seven years in the NCAA playoffs. The Wolverines topped JHU 12-0 in the 2009 NCAA quarterfinals and topped the Blue Jays 29-24 in the first round two years ago.</p> <p><strong>Also see:</strong> <a href="">Box score</a></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 13:54:00 -0500 In stirring return to JHU, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks systemic racism, violence, and activism <p>Award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates received three standing ovations during his talk at Johns Hopkins University's Shriver Hall on Thursday evening. Members of the audience broke in during his talk to applaud as well, as if it were the State of the Union address, and Coates the president.</p> <p>The appearance came just a day after Coates' 2015 book, <em>Between the World and Me</em>, <a href="">received the National Book Award for nonfiction</a> and about six months after his <a href="">spring talk at JHU</a>, which followed the April unrest in Baltimore. His earlier book, <em>The Beautiful Struggle</em>, was the suggested JHU Book Read title for first-year Johns Hopkins students.</p> <p>Coates' talk centered on <em>Between the World and Me</em>, which Coates explained is an exploration of the experience of raising a child in a world in which racism is systemic and persistent. Addressed to his son, the book also relates the story of Coates' friend, Prince Carmen Jones, who was killed after being mistakenly identified as a suspect and followed by a plainclothes police officer in an unmarked car.</p> <p>"There simply was no way for me to separate the fact that Prince was black from the way he died," Coates said. "We made a decision to group people in a similar box. Suspect is a black male—that then means that all black males are suspects. … It's been the working theory in most of my journalism, in most of my work: How did we get that box?"</p> <p>The perceived criminality of black people, and the resulting policies that, in effect, build racism into American society were the themes of Thursday's talk.</p> <p>Coates, a Baltimore native, recalled the high school student in South Carolina who was violently thrown from her seat and assaulted by a school officer while a school administrator—and a classmate armed with a camera phone—watched. When the video surfaced, it sparked outrage, but also begged the question from some: What did she do to deserve it? The question, Coates argued, should be: Why was it the school's policy to have officers there in the first place?</p> <p>Coates, a national correspondent for <em>The Atlantic</em> whose essay "<a href="">The Case for Reparations</a>" won the George Polk Award for commentary, explained that the perception that black people are predisposed to violence is not a new idea.</p> <p>"It began with the founding of our country," he said, citing laws like the Fugitive Slave Clause in the Constitution and the 60 criminal acts punishable by death if perpetrated by a black person in Virginia during the Civil War. "If you go back and look at the laws as they're formalized, you can actually see race being created."</p> <p>In a particularly powerful moment, Coates discussed terrorism and the recent attacks in Paris, the city in which he lives. He then drew a connection to the Jim Crow era following the emancipation of slaves, calling it a "century-long terrorist campaign."</p> <p>"That is what lynching is," he said. "It's terrorism—it's attempting to effect political change by killing people." The statement was met with applause.</p> <p>Imposing criminality on black people is a part of American heritage, he said, nothing that even American "saints" like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King Jr. could escape. All three were regarded as criminals in their time, Coates said.</p> <p>Questions asked by the audience after the talk brought up a multitude of issues, some for which Coates did not provide comment.</p> <p>For example, when asked about activism by a member of JHU's Black Student Union and by actress Sonja Sohn (best known for her role on <em>The Wire</em>), Coates demurred both times, saying "the job of the activist and the job of an author are very different." He suggested tracing the incidents that incite protests back five steps—asking "why, why, why, why, why"—to get back to the policy that made the event possible.</p> <p>Ultimately he had made a different choice from the activists, he explained.</p> <p>"To be an activist is very hard," he said. "You actually have to convince people. I only have to convince my editors, that's it. … But somebody has to do that work. It's not my work, but I salute you."</p> <p>Audience members asked about his approach to writing. One writer asked about how he battles writer's block. "There's no such thing as writer's block," answered Coates. "What is usually happening is that you have something you want to say and it's not coming out. What's happening is you are experiencing pain, because you're not saying what you want to.</p> <p>"You have to put words on the screen, even if they look five miles away from where you are," he advised. "And then you go to bed. Then you come back and you just try to pull them a little closer. And you do the same thing again: you go to bed, then you come back and pull them a little closer, a little closer, a little closer. … It's hard, it's ugly, it's nasty, and you should give yourself no excuses."</p> <p>Another audience member asked what advice he could give to minority writers and activists who want to have their stories told. "It's less important that you let people know what's happening than you know what's happening on a deep and profound level," he said.</p> <p>His writing, he explained, is a selfish act, informed by extensive research and reading. "It is my intent to satisfy my curiosity first and foremost," he said. "Then I'll tell you about it."</p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500 Filmmaker to speak at 'JHU Forums on Race in America' series <p>Johns Hopkins University has announced that filmmaker, attorney, and criminal justice reformer Dawn Porter will be the next featured guest at its <a href=""><em>JHU Forums on Race in America</em></a> series. She will speak at 10 a.m. on Dec. 2 in Shriver Hall.</p> <p>Porter is the founder of <a href="">Trilogy Films</a> and director/producer of <a href=""><em>Gideon's Army</em></a>, a feature-length documentary film that follows three public defenders working in the deep South as they struggle with long hours, low pay, and overwhelming caseloads. <em>Gideon's Army</em>, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and aired on HBO that summer, has received numerous recognitions and awards, including the Nation Institute's Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize.</p> <p>Members of the Johns Hopkins community with a JHED ID and password can view <em>Gideon's Army</em> from now until Dec. 2 at <a href=""></a>.</p> <p>Porter has also been a producer and writer for television, an executive for network standards and practices, and a practicing attorney. After the forum, she will lead a Race in America roundtable discussion with a group of undergraduate students.</p> <p><em>JHU Forums on Race in America</em>, launched last spring, is sponsored by university leadership, the Center for Africana Studies, the Diversity Leadership Council, the Black Student Union, the Black Faculty and Staff Association, the Office of Institutional Equity, the Latino Alliance, and Student Affairs. Previous speakers have included Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for <em>The Atlantic</em> and author of <em>Between the World and Me</em>; and Charles Blow, an op-ed columnist for <em>The New York Times</em>.</p> <p>Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert C. Lieberman said he and university President Ronald J. Daniels "are pleased to see the series continue as part of a universitywide commitment to discussing and addressing issues of diversity, inclusion, and academic freedom."</p> <p>To learn more and register to attend, visit <a href="">the <em>JHU Forums on Race in America</em> website</a>.</p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500 Exercise could help protect brain against decline as we age, study finds <p><a href="">A new study</a> by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the National Institute on Aging reveals how exercise could energize brain cell function as we age.</p> <p>In tests with mice, researchers discovered that exercise helped boost levels of an enzyme called SIRT3, which may protect against stressors that contribute to brain cell energy loss.</p> <p>The findings, <a href="">published in today's issue of <em>Cell Metabolism</em></a>, could help improve therapies for age-related cognitive decline. As we grow older or develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, our brain cells can stop producing enough energy to remain fully functional.</p> <p>The research team, led by <a href="">Mark Mattson</a> of Hopkins Medicine and the National Institute on Aging's Intramural Research Program, used a new animal model to see if they could aid brain cells in resisting energy-depleting stress caused by neurotoxins and other factors. They focused on the role of the SIRT3 enzyme, located in the cell's mitochondria.</p> <p>Researchers found that mice models that didn't produce SIRT3 became highly sensitive to stress when exposed to neurotoxins that cause brain degeneration and epileptic seizures.</p> <p>With mice that did produce SIRT3, researchers discovered that exercise on a running wheel increased levels of the enzyme. They also found they could use gene therapy technology to boost SIRT3. In both scenarios, increased SIRT3 amounts helped protect neurons from stressors and degeneration.</p> <p>These findings suggest that boosting SIRT3 levels—in turn bolstering mitochondrial functions—could offer a promising therapeutic option for age-related brain degeneration and diseases.</p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500 Johns Hopkins to join other universities in signing Act on Climate pledge <p>Johns Hopkins University will join <a href="">colleges and universities across the nation today in signing the Act on Climate Pledge</a>, building on an existing commitment to reduce the university's carbon footprint. Specific items in the pledge commit Hopkins to increase energy efficiency; conserve resources; and continue to foster groundbreaking research in the fields
 of climate change, public health, energy and sustainability.</p> <p>An official announcement by the White House Council on Environmental Quality was planned for 3 p.m. today.</p> <p>The pledge reads, in part:</p> <blockquote> <p>As institutions of higher education, we applaud the progress already made to promote clean energy and climate action. We recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community's economic prosperity and public health. We believe that research universities play a critical role in developing solutions to climate change and in finding new ways to meet growing energy demands while sustaining the environment. Today, the Johns Hopkins University pledges to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campuses.</p> </blockquote> <p>JHU student groups, including Students for Environmental Action, organized to draft the pledge and submit it for review to the office of university President Ronald J. Daniels.</p> <p>"It was a very fast-moving process, so it's exciting that President Daniels took the time to review the pledge and ensure that we added our voices to the national—and global—conversation," said Ashley Pennington, Program Manager for the <a href="">JHU Office of Sustainability</a>.</p> <p>Specifically, Johns Hopkins has agreed to:</p> <ul> <li>Reduce institutional greenhouse gas emissions 51 percent below our 2008 baseline by 2025. 
 </li> <li>Reduce energy consumption across our campuses and facilities, and pursue clean-energy
opportunities wherever possible. 
 </li> <li>Increase energy efficiency, implement strategies to conserve resources, and identify continued 
areas of improvement in the areas of waste, transportation, social equity, and food justice and nutrition. 
 </li> <li>Implement broad-based, holistic programs that foster sustainability education and engagement
across academic disciplines, and encourage participation from students, faculty members, staff
members and other constituents. 
 </li> <li>Continue to foster groundbreaking research with the potential for significant impact in the fields
 of climate change, public health, energy and sustainability. 
 </li> <li>Use the university's campuses as living laboratories for experimental and experiential programs
that enhance campus sustainability and improve surrounding communities. 
 </li> <li>Critically track progress and continually refine metrics and climate action strategy with the aim
of raising the bar and serving as a model for the university's peers in higher education and for
local, regional and national organizations. 
 </li> <li>Continue to provide sustainability leadership for the Baltimore community by facilitating collaboration across the higher education sector and with local community groups and networks. 
 </li> <li>Sustain community-based projects and programs that improve institutional sustainability, while
also engaging with and supporting the city in which we learn, work and live. 
 </li> <li>Embed sustainability practices and principles into the culture of the university.</li> </ul> <p>For more information on sustainability and green initiatives at Johns Hopkins, visit the <a href="">Office of Sustainability website</a>.</p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 12:45:00 -0500 The road to 'Selma': Director Ava DuVernay talks race, Hollywood, and doing it her way <p>When award-winning director <a href="">Ava DuVernay</a> made a film that Hollywood studios didn't want, she launched her own distribution company.</p> <p>After making three indie dramas, she cultivated a small but devoted fan club and a Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival, the first black woman to receive the honor.</p> <p>Then came <em>Selma</em>, the 2014 historical drama that chronicles the 1965 voting rights marches, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The film earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, the first film by a black female director nominated for the honor.</p> <p>For DuVernay, it also opened access to unlimited budgets and paved the way for new partnerships, including an upcoming original series on the Oprah Winfrey Network.</p> <p>"After you make a hit, everyone likes you," DuVernay joked to an audience that visited Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus Tuesday evening to hear her speak as part of the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium. "As long as people want to hear the story, there's room."</p> <p>A Compton, California, native, UCLA African-American studies grad, and former film publicist who launched her own public-relations agency, DuVernay followed a path to film that was nothing short of unusual.</p> <p>"It was scratching, scraping, like soul-crushing experiences every step," she told Baltimore writer D. Watkins, who facilitated the conversation.</p> <p>DuVernay was on set one day when she thought, "If they can do it, I can do it," she said. The $50,000 she had saved for a house went toward the production and distribution of the independent drama <em>I Will Fall</em>. That's when she launched her distribution platform, known today as Array, which supports films by women and minorities.</p> <p>Some 50 years before DuVernay recreated in <em>Selma</em> the historical events that culminated in the passage in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, her father, a Lowndes County, Alabama, resident, witnessed real history unfold.</p> <p>"I had a real intimacy with the place," DuVernay said. Her mom, who works in Selma today, crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge—the site of Bloody Sunday—every day.</p> <p>Using an original screenplay by British screenwriter Paul Webb, DuVernay expanded the narrative. "There were nuances that were missing," she said. "Like women."</p> <p>As a filmmaker, DuVernay said, it was important to know what motivated those who took part in the historic marches, the moments of violence that propelled them. "The same way we're motivated by Eric Garner, or Freddie Gray, or Walter Scott, or Trayvon [Martin]," she said.</p> <p>That segued into a discussion about Black Lives Matter. Watkins asked what parallels she saw in today's movement and the one she depicts in <em>Selma</em>. "Like-minded people, black people and allies, brown people, fighting and raising their voices for justice," she replied, though she added that the movements themselves are very different.</p> <p>"There was a time when black people couldn't have a pencil, and now we all have a camera in our pocket," DuVernay said.</p> <p>When the floor opened up for questions, self-described movie-geeks and fan girls rushed the microphones, seeking advice and expressing similar grievances about an imbalanced industry.</p> <p>One attendee said she has a DuVernay quote plastered on a wall in her bedroom: "If your dream only includes you, it's too small."</p> <p>To DuVernay, that means hiring a friend who dreams of a career in craft services to do on-set catering, and then some.</p> <p>"It's saying, 'Wow this image that I'm creating, this story that I'm telling, people are going to see this, and it has power,'" she said. "What should it say beyond me?"</p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 08:41:00 -0500 Johns Hopkins releases 2016 men's lacrosse schedule <p>The <a href="">2016 Johns Hopkins University men's lacrosse schedule</a> was released Wednesday evening, a 13-game slate that begins Feb. 9 at Navy and wraps up with an April 30 visit from rival Maryland, the NCAA runner-up a year ago.</p> <p>The Blue Jays will also play host to the Big Ten Conference tournament at Homewood Field on May 5-7.</p> <p>Hopkins opens the season with three consecutive road games in a 12-day span, beginning with the matchup against Midshipmen in Annapolis and concluding Feb. 20 at Loyola. That stretch is followed by four consecutive home games, beginning with the home-opener against North Carolina on Feb. 28.</p> <p>The Blue Jays open their five-game Big Ten Conference slate on April 2 at Rutgers. This will be their second season as a member of the conference</p> <p><strong>Video:</strong> <a href="">JHU coach Dave Pietramala discusses the schedule</a></p> <p>JHU will play the first of two preseason games on Jan. 30 at defending national champion Denver and also visits Georgetown for a preseason game on Feb. 5.</p> <p>The Blue Jays went 11-7 a year ago, winning the Big Ten tournament and advancing to the NCAA semifinals, where they fell 12-11 to Maryland.</p> <h3>2016 Hopkins men's lacrosse schedule</h3> <p>Feb. 9–at Navy, 7 p.m.<br /> Feb. 13–at UMBC, TBA<br /> Feb. 20–at Loyola, 7 p.m.<br /> Feb. 28–North Carolina, noon<br /> March 5–Princeton, TBA<br /> March 12–Towson, 2 p.m.<br /> March 19–Syracuse, 4 p.m.<br /> March 26–at Virginia, TBA<br /> April 2–at Rutgers, TBA<br /> April 9–Ohio State, 2 p.m.<br /> April 17–at Penn State, 7 p.m.<br /> April 23–at Michigan, TBA<br /> April 30–Maryland, 2 p.m.</p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:50:00 -0500 Diversity in design: Baltimore graphic designer on art, representation, and cultural identity <p>Graphic designer <a href="">Jermaine Bell</a> took the scenic route to his creative career.</p> <p>Born and raised in Baltimore, Bell tried college for a year in Minneapolis before returning home and working a few entry-level jobs that made him realize he needed to earn a degree. At 24, he put his head down and nose to the grindstone, working at Starbuck's while taking classes at community college before transferring into MICA's <a href="">undergraduate graphic design program</a>. He continued to work when not in class, adding a gallery assistant internship to his schedule, all while navigating the sometimes frustrating path of being a black student looking to get into a predominantly white field.</p> <p>Now 32, Bell completed a <a href="">Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance</a> fellowship as part the inaugural class of its <a href="">Urban Arts Leadership Program</a>, and he's currently a Baltimore Corps Fellow and the marketing and program coordinator for <a href="">Impact Hub Baltimore</a>, the nonprofit innovation lab, business incubator, and community center moving into the <a href="">Centre Theater</a> in December.</p> <p><a href="">Bell comes to Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus</a> on Thursday to talk about his career after his journey from community college to MICA as part of the <a href="">Digital Media Center</a>'s Salon Series. The Hub caught up with Bell to talk about why he likes working with smaller nonprofit organizations and the lack of diversity in Baltimore's design and arts communities.</p> <p><strong>I didn't look up what MICA's undergraduate student demographics are, but I imagine that, like Hopkins, the number of young black students from Baltimore is pretty small. And from talking to a few black Hopkins alums, I get the impression that school can be a little odd—not just being at a predominantly white institution in a predominantly African-American city, but also because so many people come from elsewhere to go to school here that don't have that sophisticated an understanding of the city's racial makeup at all. What was your MICA experience like? And in addition to providing you with graphic design expertise, did going to MICA inadvertently prepare you for the professional life in an industry that, according to <a href="">an American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) professional society report</a>, is about 86 percent white as well?</strong></p> <p>Yes. At MICA, as a transfer student, your group of friends is the other transfers. Students clearly knew we were not like the other kids that were there. I'm bringing in work on laser printer paper because I'm not spending $20 on Arches stock for a mock-up. And you can feel the eyes judging you.</p> <p>I'm not a person who breaks down, but I was so physically exhausted and getting frustrated because at school nothing I did was ever what I wanted it to be. And I remember one time I was presenting mock-ups for this project I was doing—it was going beyond the branding of the small things and it was going into the spatial design. I was telling [my class] how I went to the [Hampton] mansion in Towson and I was saying how insane it was that all these rich, beautiful things were inside this castle-like place, and that's how the slave owners lived juxtaposed against the tiny, communal stone cabins slaves were forced to lived in. And because I said "castle," somebody scoffed and said, "There's no castles in Maryland." And I replied, "Oh, that's right—it was a <em>plantation</em>." I had to make everyone uncomfortable to make my point. And from then on you become known as the angry guy.</p> <p>In another class, I was working on <a href="">my thesis, <em>Cosby Sweater</em></a>. And, yes, hindsight is 20/20, OK—this was before we know what we do now. The point was to explore black male identity. I was also working with quotes from A. Philip Randolph and Huey P. Newton. But it was called <em>Cosby Sweater</em> and touched on the positive subliminal messages that were conveyed via the Huxtables. They collected art, they were intellectuals, but they were still human beings when they were in their home. That's what I was writing about and looking at. And I was presenting it in class and some of the only standout feedback from students I got was like, "Oh my god, Cosby sweaters are so fun to wear." And the rest of the class was dead-ass silent. That was the extent of critique that I got from my peers.</p> <p>The professor, Kristen Spilman, was really great—she was really smart and helped me fine-tune what I was trying to say, but the majority of the class was not into it. And that's what being black in higher education is like. People just assume that everyone has this one path to college—right from mom and dad's house into a four-year college, then you get married in a tuxedo and a white dress, then you buy a house. That's not my life and not the life of a lot of people I know.</p> <p><strong>Did you find that there's a lack of diversity echo in the field itself when you started working?</strong></p> <p>I worked in an agency and it was like a frat house. It was <em>Mad Men</em> accelerated to 2013. I had a black female creative director, but the creative staff was only seven people, and I was both the traffic manager—meaning every morning I'm hosting a morning meeting with a spreadsheet saying, "You're going to be on this, you're going to be on that"—and I was a designer, so that was a whole different part of my day. So we would be there 14 hours a day, and people were fine with that because that was their life. But because we were always there, people treated [the office] like it was their home. They would come in there wearing shorts and flip-flops and T-shirts. And we were downtown on Pratt Street, around the corner from The Block, and they're [talking about women's bodies] and I'd be like, "There is a woman right <em>here</em>." And I'm a gay man—and I don't know if they knew that, but I wasn't fitting into their culture, but that's the thing. It didn't matter [to them] if I fit into their culture. Being black and gay, I rarely "fit the culture."</p> <p><strong>How have you tried to find your place in the field?</strong></p> <p>I joined <a href="">the AIGA</a> because people seem to think design is either hand-lettering or it's the opposite. It's, "I wear an apron, have a handlebar mustache, I get my hands dirty, and I'm a screen printer."</p> <p>But there were two projects that really made me change my opinion about design in general. The first project was the materials I made for my partner, painter Stephen Towns' show <em>co | patriot</em>. Stephen had some shows around town, but no one was taking notice of him. People thought his work was beautiful, but there was no writing about it. So when he started planning his first solo show in Baltimore at Gallery CA, which is a malleable gallery, Stephen, my friend Kirk, and I branded the show. We drafted a press release. We made sure the press packet was tight. We styled [Stephen] for press photos, which he hates. The title, <em>co | patriot</em>, is a play on the word "compatriot," and the show was about the duality of African-American life, our interior and exterior lives. The logo was black and white, and I always used red somewhere in the press materials—everything was mailed out in a white envelope with a little strip of red tape closing it, symbolizing the blood that connects us. I created specific LED billboards for the show. The advertising was so good for the show [the <a href="">Baltimore LED</a>] asked me to give more images of Stephen's work. We aimed for national press, which we didn't get, but he was written up by almost every publication in the city. And he just won a Ruby [artist award] because of that show and he worked on a Main Street beautification project with Christina Delgado of the Belair-Edison [public art project], and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave a speech and toured the neighborhood. He even the did the official portrait of Bea Gaddy at the Bea Gaddy Family Centers in East Baltimore. We helped bring some light to him and his work and his mission.</p> <p><strong>I was actually going to ask—and I don't want to sound like I'm being too cynical—since the events of the uprising, of course, there's been a great deal of talk about what goes on in the city and how arts and culture fit into that discussion. How have the events of the uprising and the death of Freddie Gray, mutually exclusive events, impacted how black artists are seen or viewed in the city. Has it?</strong></p> <p>Let me answer that by talking about the second job that changed my life, working at <a href="">Hopewell Cancer Support</a>, a nonprofit organization. I was hired just to do an annual fund packet for them. They liked my work so much they asked me to come back. I did their spring 5K run for them, some print work, a newsletter, and helped with their Giving Tuesday campaign. And in the midst of this, because I live in Station North, they asked me to meet with Anelda Peters, who lives in Station North as well. Anelda's husband was [the late Baltimore artist and Station North pioneer] Roy Crosse. Anelda and Roy went [to Hopewell] when Roy was in the last stages of his treatment. He was very thin, could barely hold anything down, but he would go there and do yoga and was part of the team who would help fundraise.</p> <p>You would think there would be a Roy Crosse plaque somewhere in Station North, right? I hear there's something in the works now. But where was the Roy Crosse memorial when he passed last year? I had no idea how instrumental he was in building he Station North community. He was a beloved pillar of the community. I think seeing Roy's face in bronze would help the morale of so many black kids that walk up and down North Avenue—especially the black MICA students.</p> <p><strong>Seriously—he moved down here from New Jersey in what? 2001? 2002?</strong></p> <p>In 2002. I mean, my family is from East and West Baltimore, and back then even they would say, "Hell no we're not going down there." But he built a house there, and he was making beautiful things in that house. He had a koi pond on North Avenue. So has it changed for black artists? Hell no. Once you are famous, yes, people love you. But mostly everyday people are overlooked.</p> <p>I just wrote a piece about Galerie Myrtis and her <a href="">work with the producers of [the TV show] <em>Empire</em></a> for Bmore Art. So there's Galerie Myrtis, New Door Creative Gallery, [Baltimore painter/gallerist] Jeffrey Kent is about to reopen a gallery, Jubilee Arts Center, New Beginnings Barbershop, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, the Great Blacks in Wax Museum, and the Eubie Blake Cultural Center—those are the black arts spaces in a city that is [about] 64 percent black. And artists can't show at Blacks in Wax. So you have five galleries that you have to try to get into as a black artist. I can name six arts spaces in Station North alone. They may show black artists but they are uncomfortable with the issues surrounding "black art." And look <a href="">what happened to "Madre Luz," Pablo Machioli's sculpture at the Copy Cat</a>, a seemingly liberal arts hub. Why would any black person want to show there after that? My safety is in jeopardy there. My piece is in jeopardy of vandalism.</p> <p><strong>Was it the experience with the cancer wellness center that made you want to work exclusively with nonprofits if you can?</strong></p> <p>Yes. Everything I was doing for them was because I loved the women who worked there. And these are all white women, but we could have deep conversations about the work they're doing in addition to talking about all the design work they needed. And just being in this space with them and having them respect my opinion and what I was doing for them, I went into work [thinking], <em>This place is so dope</em>.</p> <p>That changed my opinion of what work should be. There was no way I could go back to an agency where we'd get a brief saying we're targeting 40-year-old white men who work out. And, because they didn't want to shoot original photos, I would sort through Getty images—because even though we were going after older white men, we were going to go about it by showing them images of young people. So I'd be sitting there all day looking at skinny white people and the most beloved kind of people in advertising, the racially ambiguous, sitting on the beach drinking beer. That was my whole day as a designer.</p> <p>So when I left the agency and bounced into these older ladies' offices with papers and people everywhere and they just kept wanting more and more of my work because they liked and respected my work and who I was, I realized that's what was missing in design for me: being a human being. Instead, it often feels like it's all about a product. People are products now, and design is just helping to facilitate that. In school, you think you're learning all these concepts and tools to be a better designer, but when you're out in the real world, all they want to do is sell product.</p> <p>That's why I'm here at the Impact Hub. I know there are a lot of things people can say about Station North being gentrified, but if I'm in a position where I can help put people of color or people who are not ever used in campaigns in projects that might make them feel like they're valuable, I want to be that gateway.</p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 12:20:00 -0500 War on ISIS: Johns Hopkins expert explains how to defeat the Islamic State <p>Friday's <a href="">deadly attacks in Paris</a>, which left at least 129 people dead and more than 350 injured, signaled a new chapter in the Islamic State's war against the West. With a series of coordinated attacks at a concert venue, at restaurants and bars, and outside a stadium, the group—also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh—demonstrated its ability and willingness to strike targets beyond the Middle East.</p> <p>The attacks raised new fears about homegrown, ISIS-inspired terrorists across Europe and beyond and raised new doubts about security as thousands of refugees flee war-torn Syria for the safety of foreign soils. They have also galvanized the resolve of ISIS's international opponents, including the United States, Russia, and France, with French President Francois Hollande declaring that, "France is at war."</p> <p>For insight on recent developments, the Hub spoke with <a href="">Vali Nasr</a>—a Middle East scholar, former U.S. government foreign policy adviser, and dean of the <a href="">Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies</a>—about the Paris attacks, the war against ISIS, and the ongoing instability in Syria that gave rise to this emerging extremist organization.</p> <p><strong>What do Friday's attacks in Paris tell us about the capabilities of ISIS? We've heard in news coverage leading up to the attacks about them being contained in Syria and Iraq, and so maybe the threat doesn't seem so imminent. But obviously this attack tells a different story.</strong></p> <p>I don't think it says as much about their capabilities as it does about their change of strategy. We saw this sort of attack also against <em>Charlie Hebdo</em> a number of months back, and so we knew that they could recruit fighters who have French citizenship and choose a target for an attack.</p> <p>But this time, the understanding is that there has been a major shift in their strategy and they are much more proactively targeting Europe or the United States. Previously they were focused on state building in Syria and Iraq. Now it looks like they are behaving differently, that their priority may be attacks on the West.</p> <p><strong>What would be the reason for that shift? Is this a show of strength, an attempt to spread the ideology and bring in new recruits?</strong></p> <p>We don't know exactly, but first of all I think it's that they want to deter the West from threatening their holdings on the ground. The Russians intervened in Syria, they <a href="">faced a terrorist attack in the Sinai</a>. The French have joined the attacks in Syria, there was a retaliation. So I think primarily it's to deter Western powers from going after their holdings in Syria and Iraq.</p> <p>And secondly, as they have lost some ground in Syria and Iraq in recent months to internationally backed Kurdish forces on the ground, they are trying to show that they still matter and that they're still a vigorous organization by carrying out these attacks.</p> <p><strong>World leaders, in the wake of the attacks, have talked about the war on ISIS. France has stepped up its attacks. What does a war against a group like that look like? You can go after territorial holdings, but there is also an ideological element that it seems would make them a difficult group to fight.</strong></p> <p>No, I don't think it's that difficult of a group to fight. They are controlling territory, not only in Iraq and Syria, but also in Libya and Egypt. The most obvious, low-hanging fruit is to basically eradicate them from that territory.</p> <p>I personally don't think this is so much a war of ideas. Essentially, you're dealing with an organization that is controlling territory and recruiting foot soldiers to do its fighting. Yes, it appeals to them, but this appeal in my opinion isn't so much much religious as it is an appeal to their sense of being underdogs in their own societies, being marginalized, being disenfranchised.</p> <p>The ideas of ISIS may be out there. There are plenty of people in even rich Arab countries who share the ideology of ISIS—the people in Saudi Arabia, the people in Kuwait, in Bahrain, in Qatar whose ideas may be similar. But the singular power of ISIS comes from the fact that it has territory in which it can organize these people, train them, give them a sense of community, give them a sense of political power and turn them into a military force. If it didn't have that capability, if it didn't have that open space, it could not attract so many people and it would not matter as much. It would be a much fainter echo. Even al-Qaeda, before 2001, was able to become al-Qaeda because it had access to all that territory in Afghanistan.</p> <p><strong>So for the Obama administration and its allies, is the strategy being employed now a winning strategy? That is, largely attacking ISIS from the air without committing ground troops, and instead working through the rebel groups on the ground in Syria?</strong></p> <p>The only other option, which people are goading him to say, is that we are going to invade Syria. But if the Republicans were in power, they wouldn't have many more choices than Obama has right now, at this minute. The reality is you want to continue to downgrade and downsize the organization every chance that you get. So bombing them from the air, supporting Kurdish forces or Syrian and Iraqi forces to fight ISIS, taking territory from them, keeping their military engaged is the right strategy. You want to continue to clip their wings.</p> <p>You also want to find a way to end the war in Syria, and that cannot be done through military means, largely because [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad has backers. And so long as there is no political solution to the fighting, the fighting will continue, and that's to ISIS's advantage.</p> <p>So I think <a href="">what Secretary [of State John] Kerry is doing in Vienna</a> is absolutely right. This has to be a multifaceted military and diplomatic effort against ISIS. You have to end the war that has provided the opportunity for ISIS to grow, but at the same time you want to downgrade ISIS's capabilities.</p> <p>Now, whenever you go after an organization like this, it's not going to sit there for you to chop its head off. It's going to react, it's going to retaliate, and it's going to do that in a way that it hopes will thwart you from pursuing your campaign. So these recent attacks I think are a reaction to the success of the Western campaign against ISIS, but also it does put the question on the table about escalating it further.</p> <p><strong>You mentioned the situation in Syria, and I'm reminded of <a href="">something you wrote more than three years ago for <em>The New York Times</em></a> about there being no end in sight for that conflict, an op-ed that in many ways predicted the present-day scenario. So what is the next step there? How does the situation in Syria get resolved?</strong></p> <p>I don't see an easy military victory on the ground, definitely not after the Russian intervention. There is no straight shot for either ISIS or for moderate Syrian opposition to capture Damascus now. Assad's not going to fall. On the other hand, Assad's not going to win, either. He is too weak and too marginalized and too hated for his crimes to be able to conquer all of Syria and hold it.</p> <p>So if there is no military end to this war in the short run, perhaps there might be a cease-fire agreement and then a political deal that would end the fighting. This is kind of like what happened in the Balkans—toward the end of the Balkan War, the Serbs could not win, the Bosnians and the Croats could not win. You might have ended up with a stalemate or a see-saw battle in which many more Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats would have died. The whole point of the agreement was understanding that there is not going to be a military resolution, so how can we have a political deal that will end the fighting.</p> <p>And I think that's what the Vienna meeting is about—looking at the reality on the ground, with ISIS and the refugee crisis, and determining if it's possible to think of a political deal that will end this war.</p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 11:30:00 -0500 Change of 'Scene': Peabody puts Baltimore twist on Kurt Weill's jazz opera tragedy <p>Rising three stories above the Lyric Opera House stage, a dusty Baltimore brownstone bustled with activity. Through large open windows, the audience could see a woman washing dishes, a young man leaning out to talk to folks on the street, and people moving from room to room. Visible through one window was a gleaming brass bed frame.</p> <p>The <a href="">Peabody Opera Theatre</a> and the <a href="">Peabody Symphony Orchestra</a> joined to present the jazz opera tragedy <em>Street Scene</em> for two performances this past weekend. An adaptation of Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, <em>Street Scene</em> was composed by the German composer Kurt Weill with lyrics by Langston Hughes. It is a tragedy following a group of families living in a tenement building on two sweltering hot days in June 1946.</p> <p>Originally set in New York City, the Peabody Opera Theatre decided to set the performance in Baltimore. The change in setting was conveyed the two large panels concealing backstage featuring vintage designs of Baltimore icons, including the Natty Boh man, the Utz girl, and Old Bay tins.</p> <p>"Although originally set on the Lower East Side of New York, <em>Street Scene</em> could just as easily be set in Philadelphia, Baltimore, or any city in which immigrants of varied backgrounds are thrown together to make a community," the opera's director, Kristine McIntyre, wrote in the playbill about the change in location.</p> <p>The ensemble cast, with 23 principal roles, a chorus, extras, a children's chorus, and a live dog, ambitiously presented the lives of families in the American melting pot. As they strive to make ends meet, the characters face discrimination, extramarital affairs, alcoholism, evictions, and domestic abuse.</p> <p>The Peabody Symphony Orchestra, directed by Maestro Steven White, performed the musical score that combined blues and jazz numbers with traditional opera. The lilting music transitioned smoothly between the genres, creating a melting pot effect to the music, as well.</p> <p>Peabody graduate student Fitzgerald St. Louis, playing the tenement's maintenance worker, belted out "I Got a Marble and a Star," a slow-moving blues tune sung from a seat on a dented metal trashcan. A pair of lovers played by graduate students Elizabeth Sarian and Thomas Hochla dance a jitterbug, "Moon-faced, Starry-eyed," on the street before tap dancing upstairs to bed. Senior Shayna Jones, playing Anna Maurrant, transformed the soulful aria "Somehow I Never Could Believe," expressing the excitement of finding love, only to discover that with time and domesticity, "greasy soap-suds drown our wishes."</p> <p>Rebecca Wood, playing Rose Maurrant, captures the emotional experience of a young woman forced out of her home by incredible violence. Vocally, Wood said, the opera is "just as challenging as foreign languages." Indeed, it is just as challenging for members of the audience, who were aided by projected captions of the lyrics.</p> <p>Performing in English, however, gave the cast the ability to perform more fluidly and act with more intuition. Wood described it as an opportunity "to let my brain go, at least in the language department, and sing to my audience with the full attention of my heart."</p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 08:35:00 -0500 JHU students tackle beverage business challenge in consulting case competition <p>A five-person team of juniors took home the first place at the inaugural Johns Hopkins Consulting Club case competition over the weekend, winning a $500 prize.</p> <p>The competition, held Saturday on JHU's Homewood Campus, tasked a group of 18 teams with solving a real-world business problem, creating a strategy, and presenting it to a panel of judges.</p> <p>Each team received two pages of information about a hypothetical situation: a beverage company that wanted to grow global sales volumes by 150 percent by 2020. After four hours, they presented their solution to a group of five judges from Accenture, a consulting firm that sponsored the competition.</p> <p>The top teams proposed several solutions: an expansion into emerging markets, embracing online beverage sales, and acquiring or entering into a joint venture with other international beverage companies, among others.</p> <p>The first-place team included Graeme Steller, Syed Hossain, Alex Broholm, Billy Wang, and Yadel Okorie.</p> <p>"The JHUCC executive board and Accenture judges were all very impressed by the quality of work presented," said Antonio Spina, JHUCC's public relations chair, "and I think it just goes to show that Hopkins students really have what it takes to make great consultants."</p> <p>The event was organized by the Johns Hopkins Consulting Club, the university's first club of its kind geared towards undergraduates. According to the <a href="">Career Center</a>, consulting is the top choice for undergraduates in 2015. The Consulting Club launched last spring to help prepare students for careers in consulting and case interviews, attracting more than 80 members since its inception.</p> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 11:30:00 -0500 Why math? JHU mathematician on teaching, theory, and the value of math in a modern world <p>Math as both profession and course of study can be a hard sell, something even Don Draper might have trouble pitching. The field unites numbers, theories, and ideas that, yes, can be physically represented but remain intangible. Math is a language unto itself that for some might as well be Latin or Klingon. Even its rare turns in popular culture—<em>A Beautiful Mind</em>, <em>Proof</em>, and <em>The Big Bang Theory</em> come to mind—typically depict brilliant but troubled and/or socially handicapped thinkers more absorbed by theory than reality.</p> <p>To <a href="">Richard Brown</a>, however, math can be as beautiful as a ray of morning sunlight cast upon an orchid's petals, as lyrical as a Beethoven symphony. "Math is not about the numbers," says Brown, director of undergraduate studies in <a href="">Department of Mathematics</a> at Johns Hopkins University. "It's the ideas behind the numbers. Yes, you can say it's built on a rigid set of rules, but out of that comes an infinite amount of creativity." And, he adds, beauty.</p> <p>In recent years, Brown has served as math spokesman of sorts. Last year, he <a href="">presented a talk at the inaugural TedxJohnsHopkinsUniversity titled "Why Mathematics?"</a>. He opened up with a question: "Why on earth would anyone choose math as a field of discipline to study, or construct a career in the field?" To answer the query, Brown dissected his own career path: He began his undergraduate studies at Temple University as an architecture major, then switched to engineering. Neither felt quite right. He would find his true calling in math, which he describes as "the thoughtful making of logical structure," and earned a master's degree in applied mathematics from Temple and a doctorate in math from the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to coming to Johns Hopkins in 2005, he worked at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center on the Hubble Space Telescope Project. He also spent four years as a mathematician in a private research engineering firm before returning to academia at American University in Washington, D.C.</p> <p>He edited the book <a href=""><em>30-Second Maths</em></a> (Icon Book, 2012), which took the 50 most engaging mathematical theories and succinctly explained them to the general reader. Brown also contributed to a new book titled <em>Mathematics for the Curious: Why Study Mathematics?</em> (Curious Academic Publishing, 2015). He wrote the book's first chapter, "What Actually Is Mathematics?" in which he talks about math as more art than science.</p> <p>The Hub sat down with Brown to talk about a field that is both misunderstood and underappreciated.</p> <p><strong>You keep asking the question: why math? Are you basically advocating for math as a field of study, or is there a deeper concern here, such as not enough people entering the field, or that too many Americans exit the school system with deficiencies in their math abilities?</strong></p> <p>I wouldn't say there are major issues. But one of the concerns I do have is this transition from middle school/high school mathematics to university mathematics. Sure, a lot of students come in very prepared for the university experience, but a lot of students come in not prepared at all. So, yes, there is some concern, but I wouldn't say there's a worry about not enough people going into mathematics. We tend to have a pretty flush crew coming in every year.</p> <p><strong>When you get beyond the basics of addition and subtraction, math seems to suffer from a dissociation with real world application. I've heard elementary and high school math teachers tell students such things as, and I'm quoting here, "Most, if not everything, I'm going to teach you this year you're never going to use in your life." What is your reaction to such statements?</strong></p> <p>That gets down to one of the root concerns we do have. At the primary and secondary level, some of the people who teach mathematics don't get it. They don't get math, and they don't really understand it. They don't see math's purpose and understand its bigger structure. And they immediately convey that to their students.</p> <p>When we see students come into the university level not prepared for this experience—or they don't like mathematics, or they're afraid or anxious about it—that typically means they've had a teacher like the one you mention, someone who has no full understanding of what mathematics truly is or how to teach it to a younger audience.</p> <p>I think the problem is that [the math] is difficult for the instructor. The only reason they would come across with an attitude like that is that they themselves don't understand the math or are anxious and fearful. They think math is only useful in balancing a checkbook, or torture (laughs). They don't see math as the process of thinking logically.</p> <p><strong>I think there's a perception that some forms of math are problems just for the sport of it, like a crossword puzzle or Sudoku. They exist to challenge your brain, but they won't help cure cancer or put a man on Mars.</strong></p> <p>Without any context of why you're learning something, yes, it becomes just a bunch of problems that you need to solve. There are certain concepts, constructions, or equations that you're never really sure if they are going to show up anywhere or not. But presented in context, math has a number of real-world applications. But the problems themselves have value. Even at the primary school level, you can play Sudoku games and teach the logical structure of things. If you give people a sense that there's a creative nature to mathematics, then at some point, even at the primary school level, they can learn and wonder at some of the logical structures they're building. That is something they take with them the rest of their life, a curiosity about how things are structured logically.</p> <p><strong>Can you give me an example of what you mean?</strong></p> <p>When my son was 9 years old I decided to play a game with him and asked, 'What is 1 + 1?' And he said, "Dad, 2.' And I said, well, sometimes the answer is 10. He laughed at me, but I said, if you only have two numbers to play with, 0 and 1, and not 10 numbers, then what is your number system going to look like? It will be 0 and 1, and you run out of numbers. So you put a 1 as the next digit and you get 10. It's the binary system basically. 0, 1, 10, 100. So, in this system, 1 + 1 = 10. 1 + 10 = 11. Then I asked him what was 11 + 1? And, he said 100. And then we started to play with three-digit numbers. Suddenly he was interested, because it was playful. It was just a game. But, it turns out, this is how computers work.</p> <p><strong>In both your essay and TedX talk you mention the "beauty and the art of math." But surely math is just a series of symbols and numbers; where is the beauty in that? Or are you not referring to the physical representations, but more the logic behind an equation?</strong></p> <p>It's actually the logic and the ideas that all that junk on a blackboard might represent. There's a lot of ways to address this question. I compare it to music. I'm not the first to make this connection. There is a famous essay out there called <a href="">"A Mathematician's Lament" by Paul Lockhart</a>. He compares the teaching of math to the teaching of music. He uses that to say that the way we teach mathematics at the primary school level is just abysmal. If we taught music like that, students would never listen to music until they got to college. They would just be working on scales all day on a piece of paper. They would never understand what the subject is all about.</p> <p>The comparison is nice. Music and math both have this nice logical base set of rules from which all the complexities of their structures are built upon. There are not that many rules in music, and yet we can compose something as beautiful as a Bach fugue. That fact seems obvious to people. Mathematics is the same way. We build our number systems over a base set of rules, and yet there is this an infinite amount of creativity and complexity to the stuff that we do. As mathematicians we see this, and we live for it. But to people at grammar school and high school who are just learning the quadratic formula because they're going to need it some day, they don't see that. They don't get a chance to see the beautiful part of mathematics that we see.</p> <p><strong>Can you explain this beauty?</strong></p> <p>One other nice aspect that music and math share is that in music, when you put together a logical construction, you attach a value to it. People get an emotional response from it. You attach a value to it in the form of how nice it sounds, how harmonious it is. When we create a new mathematical structure, we create a new fact. In and of itself, it's not really interesting. What's interesting is how it fits into the whole of mathematics, whether it addresses a long-standing question or is so counterintuitive a result that it's just stunning to look at. Or maybe it establishes a relationship between two disparate fields of mathematics that nobody ever dreamed existed. The aesthetic value lies in how interesting it is, and how it fits into a greater whole.</p> <p><strong>What pushes math forward? It's not so much lab-based, where we are trying to unravel something like how a cancer cell moves and multiplies. What are the catalysts that make someone create a new formula or structure?</strong></p> <p>Every once in a while, someone comes up with a very clever idea to establish a new result, like something as mind-boggling as <a href="">Fermat's Last Theorem</a>. The first thing you consider when you have a new result is, why does the logic exist the way it does? Why does it work out this way? Does it always work this way, or do I need restrictions to make it work? Then you start to ask, where can I go from here? I have a new perch to stand on, what else can I reach for? Really, that is what research is all about. Every question that is answered raises 10 to 12 new ones. Math works this way.</p> <p><strong>OK, I'm making you chair of a national committee to change how math is taught in the United States. What are some things you're changing?</strong></p> <p>Actually, there was an advisory committee to President Obama formed some years back. One of its conclusions was that kids need to understand why math is important to them, and one way to do that would be to bring more scientists and engineers into the classroom to study mathematics so they could see how it's useful. My first reaction to that was that might not be correct. I think what would be better would be to bring more mathematicians into the classroom to teach math. I think what happens at the primary and secondary level is that people teaching math only have rudimentary understanding of math, they don't understand it at the research and application level. The experts in that field should be the ones teaching the subject. I shouldn't be teaching physics, for example, I should be teaching mathematics.</p> <p>I'm not so sure that showing why math is useful, like balancing a checkbook or calculating a distance, would really help mathematic education. I think treating it more like an artistic endeavor would be useful, where you're teaching mathematics in a much more creative sense. You're teaching kids how to think analytically and reason deductively, as you teach the structure. The attitude at how math is taught is the tough part.</p> <p><strong>I'm wondering how math education in the United States differs from how it's taught in Japan, China, Germany, and other nations.</strong></p> <p>I think the students from the countries you mention are typically ahead of us in terms of math understanding by the time they get to the university level. I've seen the prior work of students from these countries who come here to Hopkins, and it seems to be much more focused on the pure mathematics than on the reasons why it's applicable to the world. For example, they are more advanced in calculus, which tends to be more theoretical in nature than practical in nature.</p> <p><strong>Some find math daunting and think: my brain is just not wired to understand these principles. Do you give any credence to that line of thinking, that a person is just not mathematically inclined, so to speak?</strong></p> <p>I don't think that is true. I think anyone can learn mathematics. Now, maybe it's not the case that anyone can learn advanced mathematics if you start them right here and now, after they've gone through their entire childhood running away from the basic concepts of mathematics. But anyone can learn.</p> <p><strong>So you would tell a student, I don't want to hear the words 'I can't do this,' or 'it's too hard.'</strong></p> <p>And I do (laughs.) I tell some students, perhaps your background is insufficient to grasp what we're doing at the moment, but anyone can learn math at the higher level. Certainly at a level of calculus and above.</p> <p><strong>Do you think learning math might actually be good for us, in terms of brain development and sharpness?</strong></p> <p>I don't know how much research has been done on this, but my gut tells me it's very good for you. I do know that when I read the newspaper and listen to people speaking, one thing as a mathematician you learn to see quite clearly are the logical flaws in arguments. That way of thinking is also useful when you read the legal part of a contract you're about to sign. Why is that? Maybe in a legal endeavor, or when there is a politician speaking, they are trying to use the logic to deceive. But I think that a lot of people are just not aware of the logical flaws in the reasoning. Learning mathematics is learning how to think analytically. Everyone, I think, should learn math so they know how to reason deductively and logically, and put together a complicated idea that makes sense.</p> <p><strong>Do you watch <em>The Big Bang Theory</em>, and, if so, you might know where I'm going with this…</strong></p> <p>I don't. But apparently the math on the dry erase board in the background is all correct.</p> <p><strong>That was my question!</strong></p> <p>Yes, apparently the math on the board is all checked by mathematicians and physicists, because sometimes they put physics on there, too.</p> <p><strong>Math was not your first passion or interest. What about the field won you over?</strong></p> <p>Wow, it was such an evolution. Hard to tell if there was one moment. But when I was studying architecture, there was this sense that I wanted to build something useful that could generate an emotional response. When I got to engineering, the idea that I could find creative ways to solve problems sounded very cool to me, but it didn't quite work for me. When I got to mathematics, I began to understand that there's so much more to math than just playing with equations. There is an actual logical structure to everything that we do. Being able to see and understand that structure really started to speak to me. Here, I thought, I could play in a world that is artistic and I get to do useful things. Either as a teacher or like the work I did for NASA. I felt like I was home.</p> <p><strong>Speaking of NASA, would aliens be able to understand our math? Would we be able to understand theirs?</strong></p> <p>The answer is yes, because there is nothing earthly or tangible about mathematics. Everything that mathematicians do, create, or think of is imaginary. It's made up. It's just logic. So it wouldn't make sense that the logic wouldn't hold up in an alien world. The physics might not hold up, but the logical structure of thought would still be the same. It's a universal thing.</p> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 08:45:00 -0500 Dolphin video game a bold new approach to helping stroke victims relearn motor skills <p>The Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine's <a href="">Brain, Learning, Animation, Movement lab</a> has released an interactive video game, "Bandit's Shark Showdown," that could help rehabilitate stroke victims. An <a href="">article published in the Nov. 23 issue of <em>The New Yorker</em></a> explores the inspiration and development process behind an app that combines cutting-edge robotics, neuroscience, and game design.</p> <p>Many stroke victims suffer hemiparesis, weakness on one side of their body. But, <em>The New Yorker</em>'s Karen Russell writes, "the tissue death that results from stroke appears to trigger a self-repair program in the brain. For between one and three months, the brain enters a growth phase of molecular, physiological, and structural change that in some ways resembles the brain environment of infancy and early childhood. The brain becomes, as one researcher told me, 'exquisitely sensitive to our behavior.'"</p> <p>The lab, led by <a href="">John Krakauer</a>, professor of neurology and neuroscience at JHU's School of Medicine, aims to capitalize on that post-stroke development stage. His team studied the locomotion of dolphins and developed an app that relies on "non-task-based tasks" that engage users and motivate them to play and relearn motor skills. With the use of a robotic arm outfitted with a motion-capture camera, the game challenges users to control the movement of a dolphin in the water with their arms. The user and Bandit the dolphin are one, hunting mackerel and battling sharks.</p> <p>"There's no right and wrong when you're playing as a dolphin," Krakauer told <em>The New Yorker</em>. "You're learning the ABCs again—the building blocks of action. You're not thinking about your arm's limitations. You're learning to control a dolphin. In the process, you're going to experiment with many movements you'd never try in conventional therapy."</p> <p>More, from <em>The New Yorker</em> report:</p> <blockquote> <p>In December 2010, Krakauer arrived at Johns Hopkins. His space, a few doors from the Moore Clinic, an early leader in the treatment of AIDS, had been set up in the traditional way—a wet lab, with sinks and ventilation hoods. The research done in neurology departments is, typically, benchwork: "test tubes, cells, and mice," as one scientist described it. But Krakauer, who studies the brain mechanisms that control our arm movements, uses human subjects. "You can learn a lot about the brain without imaging it, lesioning it, or recording it," Krakauer told me. His simple, non-invasive experiments are designed to produce new insights into how the brain learns to control the body. "We think of behavior as being the fundamental unit of study, not the brain's circuitry. You need to study the former very carefully so that you can even begin to interpret the latter."</p> <p>Krakauer wanted to expand the scope of the lab, arguing that the study of the brain should be done in collaboration with people rarely found on a medical campus: "Pixar-grade" designers, engineers, computer programmers, and artists. Shortly after Krakauer arrived, he founded the Brain, Learning, Animation, Movement lab, or BLAM! That provocative acronym is true to the spirit of the lab, whose goal is to break down boundaries between the "ordinarily siloed worlds of art, science, and industry," Krakauer told me.</p> </blockquote>