November People Notes

Dr. Diana Bianchi, the Natalie V. Zucker Professor of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology at the School of Medicine, is the new editor-in-chief of the journal Prenatal Diagnosis, the official publication of the International Society for Prenatal Diagnosis.

Jeffrey Blumberg, director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) and a professor at the Friedman School, received the Mark Beiber Award from the American College of Nutrition, of which Blumberg is a fellow, at its annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., on September 29. This award is given to scientists who contribute to building academic-industry collaborations and partnerships in nutrition research. He also will receive the Denham Harman Award from the American College for Advancement in Medicine at its annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., on November 17. This award is given to leading investigators in the field of free radical biology and medicine.

Lori A. Bourassa, a graduate student in molecular microbiology at the Sackler School, was one of 35 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists to participate in the 2007 Robert J. Kadner Institute, sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology. The five-day institute, held at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a hands-on training program designed to educate participants in grant-writing, scientific presentations and scientific communication and ethics, in preparation for a career in the microbiological sciences.

Dr. Douglas Brugge, associate professor of public health and family medicine, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on October 23 during a hearing that examined the health and environmental impacts experienced by the Navajo people after decades of uranium mining and processing around the Navajo reservation to meet the federal government’s need for nuclear weapons material. Brugge is co-editor of The Navajo People and Uranium Mining (University of New Mexico Press, 2006), a book that reflects his long engagement with the legacy of uranium mining on Navajo reservations out West. “This book is the documented history of how these Navajo people lived, how they worked, and now, sadly, how they died waiting for compassionate federal compensation for laboring in the most hazardous conditions imaginable, and which were known at the time yet concealed from them,” wrote Joe Shirley Jr., president of the Navajo Nation. “These Navajo miners and their families became, in essence, expendable people.”

Alessandra Campana, a lecturer in musicology at Tufts for the past three years, has been appointed an assistant professor of music. She received her Ph.D. in musicology from Cornell University in 2004. She was a junior research fellow at New College, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on Italian opera from the 18th to the early 20th century, drawing on archival work, as well as film and performance studies. She is currently working on a book project, The Conjurer's Dream: Opera and Modern Spectatorship in Late Nineteenth-Century Italy. In 2005, she was appointed associate editor of Opera Quarterly.

Heather Curtis, assistant professor of comparative religion, has won the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History for her book, Faith in the Great Physician: Suffering and Divine Healing in American Culture, 1860–1900 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). The prize is for the best first book in the history of Christianity. Prior to joining the university in September, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Divinity School.

Regina Doherty, who received her M.S. and Doctor of Occupational Therapy from Tufts, has joined the Department of Occupational Therapy as a lecturer. Her research interests include ethical reasoning in occupational therapy and acute care occupational therapy practice. She most recently was an assistant professor in interdisciplinary studies at the Institute of Health Professions at Massachusetts General Hospital, teaching courses on the interdisciplinary nature of health care. She is the author of numerous publications, including several book chapters on clinical ethics, and has participated on several interdisciplinary grants.

Dr. Sahar Elmarsafawy has been appointed an instructor in the Department of Public Health and Community Service at the School of Dental Medicine. Elmarsafawy received her M.D., master’s in occupational medicine and Ph.D. from Mansoura University in Egypt. Her postdoctoral training includes residencies in nuclear medicine and occupational medicine at Mansoura University Hospital and a fellowship in environmental epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she most recently was a research associate.

Dr. Lisa Freeman has been promoted to professor of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. She received her D.V.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Tufts, and has been a faculty member since 1996. Her major research interest is the role of nutrition in the pathophysiology and therapy of cardiac diseases. In a relatively short period of time, she has advanced our understanding of the role of nutrition in the development of cardiomyopathies and the progression of heart failure and cardiac cachexia and has demonstrated several ways in which the progression of heart failure can be modulated through nutritional intervention. Much of her work has been done in collaboration with Dr. John Rush, professor of clinical sciences. The American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care recognized Freeman with its Scientific Achievement Award in 2003, and in 2004, she received a five-year NIH education grant to increase the number of veterinary residents who pursue research careers. The result was the REVEAL (Residents’ Enhanced Veterinary Education and Academic Learning) Program, which has dramatically improved Tufts residents’ exposure to and understanding of the research process. Freeman delivers the Cummings School’s entire nutrition curriculum, which has offerings in all four years of veterinary training. She recently served as president of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.

Kelly Greenhill has been appointed an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. She received her doctoral degree in political science from MIT in 2004. She holds a C.S.S. in international management from Harvard University. She has been an assistant professor of government at Wesleyan University and a research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships and has been a panelist at many annual meetings and seminars on international relations and security studies. She has taught courses on “Understanding Civil Wars,” “Causes of Modern War” and U.S. foreign policy.

Maria Harlow has joined the Office of the Vice Provost as an associate director of research administration. She comes to Tufts after 14 years at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she held progressively responsible positions in research administration, most recently as senior grant and contract administrator.

Ben Hescott has joined the university as a lecturer in computer science. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Boston University. His research interests include computational complexity, Kolmogorov complexity, algorithms, data mining and approximating seemingly infeasible problems. He is currently working on expanding current hypotheses regarding the size of NP. At BU, he taught introductory computer science courses and twice received the computer science department’s teaching award.

Angma Dey Jhala has been appointed a lecturer in history. She received her doctoral degree in modern history from Oxford University in 2006, and her master’s in divinity from the Harvard Divinity School this year. Her research interests include modern South Asian history, the history of the British Empire, religion and history and religion and literature. Her book, Zenana: The Politics of Marriage, Succession and Regency in the Lives of Royal Indian Women in Late Imperial India, will be published later this year by Pickering and Chatto Press, London. Jhala is an avid fiction writer and has published in several literary reviews. She is currently producing, directing and writing a film for the Harvard Film Studies Center. The film, “Sailing in the Desert,” examines love and intimacy in marriage between a Hindu Maharani and her English-educated husband. She has served as a research consultant on several films produced by the anthropology department at Temple University.

Shiori Koizumi has joined Tufts as a lecturer in the Department of German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literatures. She most recently worked as an instructor in Japanese at Harvard University, where she earned the Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. Koizumi has taught Japanese at several other institutions, including Bentley College, the Japanese Language School of Greater Boston and the Japanese School in Thailand. She also has experience as a screenwriter and was awarded the NHK Cultural Office Award for Superior TV Drama in Japan.

Ian Lekus, a Franklin Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Georgia, has joined Tufts as a lecturer in history. He received his Ph.D. in history from Duke University in 2003. His dissertation, Queer and Present Dangers: Homosexuality and American Antiwar Activism during the Vietnam Era, looked at how gender and sexuality influenced the development of new political and sexual identities during the anti-Vietnam War movement. Lekus has taught courses on American history since 1865, 20th-century world history, the history of sexuality in America and U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history. As a teacher, he focuses on training his students to conduct original research, including archival research and oral history methodology.

Dr. Cynthia R. Leveille-Webster has been promoted to professor of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, where she has been a faculty member since 1994. During her time at Tufts, she has developed an independent research program in liver pathophysiology. Her research focuses on cell signaling pathways involved in hepatocyte apoptosis. The main contribution of her laboratory has been the demonstration that cAMP protects against liver cell death, accomplished through a unique signaling pathway that provides a potential therapeutic target for a wide range of human and animal liver diseases. Her work has long been supported by the NIH, and in 2000, she received the school’s Pfizer Award for Research Excellence.

Alice Lichtenstein, the Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at the Friedman School and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, is the recipient of the 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism of the American Heart Association. This award is presented to a member who has made major contributions to the affairs of a heart association scientific council and substantial professional contributions in the field. She received the award during the American Heart Association’s 2007 Scientific Sessions, which took place in Orlando, Fla., November 4-7.

Ning Ma has joined Tufts as a visiting faculty member in the Department of German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literatures. She received her B.A. in English language and literature from Beijing University and her M.A. in comparative literature from Rutgers University. She is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, with a concentration in the cultural history of late Imperial China. Her dissertation, From Material to Romantic Egoism: Narrative Patterns of Desire in Chinese and European Fiction, 1550-1850, studies the parallel between the history of Chinese and Western narrative. In particular, she examines the shift of focus from heroic subjects to the personal life of non-heroic, everyday individuals in both cultures.

Scott MacLachlan has been appointed an assistant professor of mathematics. He received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2004. His research interests are in scientific computation and computational applied mathematics, in particular multiscale numerical analysis and efficient numerical solutions of partial differential equations. Applications of this research include the study of fluid flow through porous media and the study of electromagnetic fields in circuit design. Most recently, MacLachlan has served as a Marie Curie Fellow at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, where he developed multi-grid techniques for partial differential equations with complex-valued coefficients.

George McNinch, associate professor of mathematics, was an invited speaker at the special session on “Cohomology and Representation Theory” at the American Mathematical Society national meeting in New Orleans earlier this year. His paper, “Completely Reducible Lie Subalgebras,” was published in the journal Transformation Groups in March. Another paper, “Completely Reducible SL(2) Subgroups,” was published in the journal Transactions of the American Mathematical Society in September; the paper was written by McNinch and Donna Testerman of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. McNinch was an invited participant in a workshop on “Algebraic Groups,” held in May at the Mathematics Institute in Oberwolfach, Germany, and an invited participant and speaker in a workshop on “Algebraic Lie Theory,” held in June at the Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery in Banff, Canada. He also gave an invited seminar talk at the University of Southern California in August.

Mehdi Modares has been appointed a lecturer in civil and environmental engineering. He comes to Tufts from the University of New Hampshire, where he was a research associate and visiting assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering. Modares received his B.S. in civil engineering from Tehran Azad University, his M.S. in civil engineering from Cleveland State University and his doctorate in civil engineering from Case Western Reserve University. His research interests include uncertainty analysis on the dynamics and stability of structures and interval finite element analysis. He has taught courses on the dynamics of structures and matrix structural analysis and modeling.

Ben Perlman, a faculty member in the School of Engineering since 1967, was feted at a retirement reception on October 19. Perlman, a professor of mechanical engineering, is one of Tufts’ pioneers in computational engineering. His expertise in fracture mechanics and finite-element analysis led to the beginning of what has become a 30-year association with the U.S. Department of Transportation Railroad Safety Program at the Volpe Research Center in Cambridge, Mass. Perlman has been one of the School of Engineering’s foremost teachers and scholars for 40 years. His greatest legacy is the scores of former students, now friends and colleagues, who have benefited from his mentorship.

Alisha Rankin has been appointed an assistant professor of history. She received her doctorate from the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University in 2005. She comes to Tufts from Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, where she has been a junior research fellow in history since completing her doctorate. Her research interests lie at the intersection of Reformation history, the history of science and medicine and the history of women, gender and sexuality. She is currently revising her doctoral thesis for publication as a book, titled Noble Empirics: Gentlewomen and the Art of Healing in Early Modern Germany. She has experience lecturing on and advising undergraduate theses in history and in the history and philosophy of science. She will join the history department in January.

Jason Rife has joined the School of Engineering as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. He comes to Tufts from Stanford University, where he received his Ph.D. in 2003. Rife is an expert in guidance and control, and has worked on a number of leading-edge technologies both in the air and under the sea. Working with the Stanford Aerospace Robotics Lab and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, he developed visual sensing and control algorithms to enable long term in situ observation of jellyfish using deep-ocean robots. He implemented his design on the submersible robot Ventana and demonstrated long-duration jellyfish tracking. He also worked at the Stanford Global Positioning Systems Lab, where he led a research team investigating the integrity of technologies for safely landing aircraft using GPS. He is the recipient of graduate fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Stanford School of Engineering.

Gil Rose, founder of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the leading U.S. professional orchestra dedicated to performing music of the 20th and 21st centuries, has joined Tufts as a lecturer in music. He received his Bachelor of Music in music history from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, and both his MFA and an Artist Diploma in orchestral conducting from Carnegie Mellon. Rose founded the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in 1996, and under his leadership, the orchestra has earned several awards from the American Society of Composers and Authors and Publishers, and has released more than a dozen CDs. He is also the music director and conductor at Opera Boston and at the Opera Unlimited Festival in Boston. As guest conductor, he has worked with the Netherlands Radio Symphony, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and at Tanglewood. Rose is the recipient of several awards, including the Columbia University Ditson Conductor Award and the Best Conductor of 2003 Award from Opera Online.

Susan Russinoff, senior lecturer in philosophy and director of the Critical Thinking Program, was one of three presenters at a conference on “Excellence in Teaching: How to Be a Competitive University in the 21st Century,” held October 9 in Monterrey, Mexico. Her session focused on the importance of critical thinking for students and on pedagogical techniques for infusing a university curriculum with critical and creative thinking skills. The conference was organized by LASPAU: Academic and Professional Programs for the Americas, a nonprofit at Harvard devoted to professional and academic development in Latin America, in alliance with Universidad de Monterrey. Representatives from various Mexican universities attended the conference.

Oxana Shevel has joined the university as an assistant professor of political science. She earned her doctoral degree in political science from Harvard in 2003, and then worked as an assistant professor of political science at Purdue University. Her primary research interest is comparative politics, with a focus on the politics of immigration, citizenship and national identity in the former Soviet Union and East-Central Europe. In her book, Migration and Nation Building in New Europe, she examines why post-Communist states vary in their receptivity to refugees. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants and recently served as a visiting scholar at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard.

Grace Talusan, J94, lecturer in English, is a winner of the Creative Nonfiction Foundation’s “Silence Kills” essay contest. As a result, her essay, “Foreign Bodies,” will be published in November in a new book, Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives (Southern Methodist University Press), a collection of a dozen essays from patients and their caregivers on the devastating human results and medical errors that can occur from a lack of communication and understanding among those in the health-care profession. In “Foreign Bodies,” Talusan writes about physicians’ belief in their own immunity and their reluctance to seek treatment, an irony brought home when Talusan’s father, an ophthalmologist, misses signs of his granddaughter’s eye cancer.

Ayanna Thomas, an assistant professor of psychology at Colby College, has joined Tufts as an assistant professor of psychology. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in cognitive psychology, human memory and learning and cognitive aging. She earned her doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Washington in 2001, and then completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive aging at Washington University. Thomas’ scholarly interests are in memory distortion, metamemory and life span changes in memory and examining the cues on which people rely when assessing their understanding and knowledge. Her current research examines how reliance on contextual cues can be used to improve episodic memory in people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sabir Umarov, who received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Moscow Power Engineering Institute in 1986 and his Doctor of Sciences degree from the Mathematics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan in 1993, has joined Tufts as an assistant professor of mathematics. His research interests include time fractional and/or spatial fractional order differential equations, initial and boundary value problems for fractional differential equations and diffusion processes in cell biology and ecosystems. He was a professor of mathematics at the National University of Uzbekistan for 13 years, teaching courses in mathematical analysis, linear algebra and differential operators, and also served as head of the Mathematical Physics Department. He comes to Tufts from the University of New Mexico, where was a visiting professor and Fulbright Scholar.

Marianne Vestergaard has joined the university as an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She received her Ph.D. in astrophysics in 1999 from the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University in Denmark. She comes to Tufts from the University of Arizona, where she has been a postdoctoral research associate since 2003. Her research interests include masses of central black holes in active galaxies and quasars, the growth of supermassive black holes and the physical properties of the quasar broad line region. Vestergaard is the recipient of several fellowships and grants and has published her research in numerous journals.

William Waller, senior lecturer in astronomy, has received a NASA Award of Recognition for his work as a co-investigator with the New England Space Science Initiative in Education (NESSIE), a NASA education program that ran from 2002 through 2007 ( In its last year of operation, NESSIE convened the first New England Summit on Earth and Space Science Education; hosted professional development workshops nationwide for scientists interested in education and educators interested in science; published peer-reviewed articles on astronomy education research; co-sponsored seminar courses at Tufts on topics in astronomy and space science; facilitated podcasts and TV broadcasts from Boston’s Museum of Science on news in space science; and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Space Age through forums that featured veterans of the American and former Soviet space programs. Over its lifetime, NESSIE provided educational services for hundreds of scientists, thousands of educators and millions of Americans interested in space. Waller is currently co-editing a book that will describe NASA’s Space Science Education and Public Outreach Program, of which NESSIE was a small part.

Dr. Xiang-Dong Wang, professor of nutrition and director of the HNRCA Nutrition and Cancer Biology Laboratory, was an invited speaker at 11th Congress of the European Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism September 23-26 in Berlin, Germany. He gave a presentation titled “The Role of Retinoids in Alcohol-associated Liver Cancer.” He also was invited to speak on “Carotenoids in Cancer Prevention” at the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s Annual Symposium on Dietary Supplements, which was held October 3-6 in Scottsdale, Ariz.