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Northwestern University

Crosscurrents Fall/Winter 2012-13

From the Dean

It’s hard for me to believe, but I am well into my fifth year as dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Looking back, I can easily identify the highlights of my experience so far: celebrating the many honors our faculty and students receive, enjoying the moments of connection with alumni, and, of course, greeting new students in the fall and seeing off graduates in the spring.

Big Data

How much carbon can a forest hold? How quickly will that forest grow over the next 100 years? When it comes to voting, can you pinpoint which voters will support a particular cause? If you like to play computer games, where can you find others with whom you will be evenly matched? Weinberg College graduates are helping to solve those enigmas.

A Tale of Two Artists

As a boy growing up in Ukraine, Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern was surrounded by well-known artists who nurtured his talent for drawing. Similarly, as a teenager in Budapest in the late 1940s, Peter Dallos studied painting with one of Hungary’s foremost artists and also mastered the art of metalworking.

Brighter Future

Precious Wright ’08 knows firsthand the challenges facing young people—especially those without financial resources and family support—as they try to make their way in a world that often seems rigged against them.

The Power Nap

Decades ago, "sleep learning" lured us with promises of mastering a brand new skill—Greek or chess, say—in our sleep. Perhaps, it was thought, we could bypass the daytime drudgery of memorization by listening to instruction in our sleep. Scientific evidence soon quashed that theory.

Lake Michigan's Legendary Lifeguards

In the not-too-distant future, a gleaming new building at the southeast edge of campus will welcome visitors to Northwestern and offer a view of one of the world’s great natural treasures—Lake Michigan. Visitors on a sunny day will enjoy its shimmering surface, most likely unaware of the violent history that lies beneath.

MacArthur "Genius" Grant

As a graduate student researching the history of slavery, Dylan Penningroth had to confront one seemingly paradoxical question: How was it that slaves were able to own property when they themselves were property? Penningroth launched a search through myriad historical records that yielded groundbreaking discoveries about property ownership among slaves across the South.

Intellectual Journeys

For many people, summer is a time for lounging by the pool, improving one’s golf swing, or serving as fodder for mosquitoes. For others, summer offers the chance to dig deeply into a project with a level of commitment and focus that isn’t possible the rest of the year.

Rock Star

At a school noted for its illustrious alumni, the most colorful character at Northwestern may be the inanimate object known simply as the Rock. Since its arrival on campus in 1902, the Rock has been cloaked in a new design almost every night.

Between Worlds

Faiza Abbasi Seth ’00 is late for dinner, but she has a very good excuse. “I got held up at a meeting in the House of Lords,” she says. Seth was speaking with Baroness Shreela Flather, who shares Seth’s passion for helping impoverished children in India.

Spine-Tingling Spectacle

With its fire-breathing performers, dazzling explosions and deafening bangs, Eberhard Zwergel’s annual Halloween extravaganza has lured thousands of awed spectators over the past decade. Zwergel, a senior lecturer and demonstrator in chemistry, doesn’t rely on supernatural sources for his pyrotechnics, but on very real experiments.

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