Economist, neurosurgeon win MacArthurs

first_imgEven among Harvard faculty, few professors can claim the mantle of publicly certified “genius.” As of Tuesday, however, two University scholars — an economist who tackles public problems with hard data and a pediatric neurosurgeon whose innovative techniques have been put to use in everyplace from Cambridge to Uganda — can do just that.Raj Chetty ’00, Ph.D. ’03, professor of economics, and Benjamin Warf, M.D. ’84, associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and director of the Neonatal and Congenital Anomaly Neurosurgery Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, have received 2012 MacArthur Foundation fellowships, more commonly known as “genius grants.”Chetty and Warf are two of 23 recipients recognized by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their “extraordinary originality and dedication” to their chosen fields. The honor comes with no-strings-attached grants of $500,000, paid over five years, which recipients may use to fund the creative, intellectual, and professional pursuits of their choice.Nominations are anonymous, and recipients are not told in advance that they are under consideration — meaning that the phone calls notifying them of their awards come as a bit of a shock.“I was really surprised,” said Chetty, who was having lunch in downtown Boston with his mother at the time. “I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. I ignored it a few times and eventually picked up.”Warf was at a hotel in Rio de Janeiro, planning to speak at a conference, when he received the news.“It was a little awkward. The [cellphone] connection wasn’t so great,” he said with a laugh. “I was floored.”Chetty is an up-and-comer who, at 28, was one of the youngest economists to be offered tenure in Harvard’s history. He has a history of precocious achievement: After graduating from Harvard College, he stayed on at the University and earned his doctorate in just three years. (He then spent several years as an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, returning to Harvard to join the faculty in 2009.)His research agenda has been equally ambitious, touching on issues from taxation to teacher quality to unemployment. He hopes to steer public policy debate away from talking points toward data points, he said.Earlier this year, a finding by Chetty and his co-authors that the quality of a child’s teacher early in life can boost future income made national headlines and earned a mention in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.“We want to try to connect to the public discourse using rigorous scientific methods, so it’s not just public opinion,” Chetty said.The award frees up his time to pursue the next big ideas in public economics — such as an ambitious study of equality of opportunity in the United States that would track economic mobility from one generation to the next by ZIP code, pinpointing conditions that help to promote a level playing field.The MacArthur “has given me the freedom to pursue the types of large-scale projects that will take years,” Chetty said. “But it’s also a vote of confidence that people are interested in this type of research. I hope it’ll motivate our research team to do more of this type of work.”For Warf, the award is not a validation of a young career on the rise, but recognition of hard-won innovations made halfway across the world.In 2000, Warf, his wife, and their six children left his native Kentucky for Uganda, where he started a pediatric neurosurgery hospital under the auspices of the Christian medical nonprofit CURE International.While there, he noticed that the country’s poor children suffered an unusually high incidence of hydrocephalus, a fluid buildup inside the skull that puts pressure on the brain. He went on to publish groundbreaking research on the causes of infant hydrocephalus, linking it to prior brain infection.Warf also developed a novel technique for treating hydrocephalus. First-world doctors often rely on shunts, tubes that allow fluid to escape from the brain into the abdominal cavity — though half of shunts fail within two years of the procedure.In Uganda, where neurosurgeons are scarce and access to nearby hospitals is limited, Warf created a workaround procedure that dramatically lessened the need for follow-up emergency procedures. The technique, known by its shorthand ETV/CPC, cauterizes brain ventricle tissue so that less cerebrospinal fluid is produced, and with minimal invasion makes an opening inside the brain that reroutes the dangerous fluid buildup to the base of the brain, where it is supposed to flow.“That’s the interesting and quirky thing — a procedure that was developed and proven in terms of outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa is now starting to influence care in the United States,” Warf said. “It’s the way that I treat hydrocephalus in babies now here at Children’s. I think over the next decade or so, it’s going to increasingly become the first treatment for babies with hydrocephalus.”The family returned to the United States in 2006, and Warf came to Children’s, where he had been a fellow earlier in his career, in 2009. He has continued to oversee the Ugandan hydrocephalus project from abroad, including a program that has trained 20 neurosurgeons from developing countries in Warf’s methods. It has been an expensive and challenging juggling act that the MacArthur grant will make much easier, he said.“I feel a bit of a weight of responsibility,” Warf said. “There’s this opportunity that’s just fallen into my lap that I wasn’t expecting. I want to be able to be a good steward of that and make the most of it.”last_img read more

Man Charged For Striking Woman, Child In Hotel

first_img(Photo: Greensburg Daily News)GREENSBURG – A 27-year-old man is accused of assaulting a woman and young child inside of a Greensburg hotel room.Greensburg Daily News reports Bryce D. Wesseler was charged Friday with felony domestic battery, criminal confinement and battery on a child.Police say they picked up Wesseler after he left the Quality Inn & Suites in Greensburg around 8:30 p.m. Thursday.The female victim told investigating officers that she went into the hotel bathroom to gather personal belongings and he wouldn’t let her leave, leading to a verbal argument.It eventually turned physical when she expressed desire to leave the hotel room.Wesseler allegedly threw her on the floor and used his hand to muffle her cries for help, police said.A 4-year-old child was trying to help the woman when Wesseler shoved the adolescent into a wall.The child, who suffered swelling and redness in the forehead, told a hotel employee, “he [Wesseler] is always mean to us,” the newspaper reports.A guest at the hotel overheard the incident and told an employee. The hotel worker said she got to the room and saw a naked man on top of a woman allegedly holding her down and choking her. The employee then called police.Wesseler left the hotel wearing only a pair of jeans and was later found and arrested by police.He had scratches on his head from the altercation but did not seek treatment. According to the newspaper, he was breathalyzed and registered .10 percent.A trial date has been set for late January and court documents reveal Wesseler is not allowed to have contact with the victims in the case.last_img read more

Awogu: Nigerian Premier League Has Grown

first_imgThe General Manager of Super Sports, Felix Awogu, has hailed the League Management Company, LMC, for giving Nigerian football fans a league to behold.In a chat with journalists in his office, Awogu said this season’s league has been one of the best in recent years.“This is the best I have seen in a long time. The league has grown; there have been more wins in the league this season than any in our history. The records are there to cross-check. Though, there have been little issues of violence but not as bad as it used to be. These are little hiccups.This is the first time Super sports have done a direct deal with the league. We have gone through third parties before now, but for the first time in the last one year, we have decided to say, ‘let’s work with the league directly, and it is paying off, and we are very happy, and we are going to continue to work in that direction,” Awogu said.Asked if he backs the idea of mid-week matches in our league considering the state of our roads in the country.“I do. First and foremost, you have to look at the fact that midweek matches, especially Friday matches which are very unique have attracted more fans to the stadia than the 4pm matches. It’s an innovation, they have to keep trying things. For the first time, the average attendance in the Nigeria league has hit 15,000. Even the EPL is just about 20,000. There is a growth pattern in the league which we should commend. It is something I will always hit my chest and say yes, I think we have delivered and added value to Nigeria.Awogu indeed frowned over none payment of players’ salaries, saying any one that cannot pay the salaries of players have no business in the league.“Even if they are owned by the government, if government cannot afford it, government should let it go. Get investors to take over. We have small teams like Ikorodu United, which pays salaries as at when due and manages its structure appropriately. They fly the team when they have to fly them to attend matches. Why can’t other teams replicate that? To us, it was an ideal team and when we see teams like Ifeanyi Uba FC, which is a privately owned team, we see El-Kanemi, which has returned to the base, flying for their games, so why can’t they replicate it?“I am of the opinion that it is time the Nigeria teams go on to the stock exchange, sit back and let investors take control. Let the fans own the teams and once they do that, there will be a strong synergy between the fans and the clubs and then the attendance will grow, merchandising will grow. Like I pointed out, is it now time that clubs start hiring a marketing team, a brand manager? For a team like Enyimba FC, two times African champions, what have they done with their brand? These are some of the things that team holistically have to look at and I think it’s is a big job for the LMC,” Awogu said.The Supersports boss craves for the best team to win the league. “We are supporters of the league; we support every team in the league. We want the best team that can represent Nigeria appropriately and possibly win in the continent. It has been a long time since Enyimba won the CAF Champions League and there’s a lot of money there. You win the CAF Champions League, you get about 2 million USD, you go for the international championship, you get about 10 million USD, it is a huge investment inflow into the Nigerian economy if we can get a team to qualify to win the championship in Africa and also go for the World Club Cup. To us, that will be massive. It’s not just about the LMC, it’s about the federation and the Ministry of Sports putting heads together and seeing how these things will work,” he advised.He also threw more light on some of the challenges Supersports is faced with when covering matches in troubled areas like the North-east.“Security is improving and for the first time in four years, three major roads were opened in Maiduguri. So, things are changing. If the roads are being opened in Maiduguri, it means our Outside Broadcasting; OB vans will be able to drive into Maiduguri. If you look at an OB van for instance, it will probably cost you about 10m dollars to acquire a standard one with high definition compliments.“Our roads are not the best in the world, but we have been all over Nigeria. We were in Kano to cover some matches and shows highlights from Maiduguri. Not that we are not there but it is not yet time to move the OB facilities. If peace returns, which we have been praying for, I think the first thing we will do is take ‘Let’s Play’ with my team to go and give the children some football, let them have something to identify with, let them find some solace, some joy, after many years of stress,” he noted.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram • Backs mid-week matchesBy Kunle Adewale last_img read more

Memories still haunting on genocide anniversary

first_imgGLENDALE – The blood-stained carriage and the smoldering city still seemed fresh to the Rev. Vartan Dulgarian as he recalled personal memories of what many believe was the first genocide of the 20th century. “The garbage wagon – all the bodies just piled up – the blood was flowing for three days,” Dulgarian, 96, said Monday as he recounted memories of a massacre of Armenians in Izmir in 1922. The city on Turkey’s Aegean coast, then held by Greeks, was set ablaze by invading Turks. He had lived there with his mother and sister, and was being marched away with dozens of others to the slaughter when he recognized a Turkish grocer whom he had worked for during the past three summers. “He was the head of the soldiers,” he said. “I went up to him and embraced him. He said, ‘Oh, you are here?’ He said, ‘Put this child in my cart and put a fez on him.’ He took me back to my mother.” Dulgarian eventually got on a ship to Greece, then ended up in Egypt before coming to America decades later and settling in Glendale. As old age claims more survivors of the mass slaughter known as the Armenian Genocide – which Armenians say began on this date in 1915 – Dulgarian is among the handful of eyewitnesses still able to tell his story. In a way, he’s planting seeds in the minds of the next generation that he knows one day will bear fruit. “I am 96 years old,” he said. “All the bloody things happened in my life … it’s important for the new generation to know that these people have been brutalized, and massacred, so they know their history.” Dulgarian’s story is a slice of forbidden history still disputed in the halls of power in Europe, a story the U.S. government does not recognize as genocide. Armenians and many historians have asserted that Ottoman Turks began the displacement and slaughter of some 1.5 million ethnic Armenians in Turkey on April 24, 1915, a campaign that lasted until 1923. Its 92nd anniversary today will be marked by remembrances in Glendale, home of the largest Armenian community outside Armenia. In L.A., a march from the Little Armenia neighborhood to the Turkish consulate is planned. Meanwhile, Turkey has acknowledged that large numbers of Armenians died between 1915 to 1923 but has denied that it was genocide. Instead, its leaders say the death toll is inflated and that the massacres were the result of civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey took out a full-page newspaper ad Monday, paid for by its embassy in Washington, which invited Armenia to “study the historical facts jointly.” The idea of a joint historical commission has been touted by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since April 2005 – and has been rebuffed by Armenian leaders. “We think that there are two narratives here that are diametrically opposed to each other,” Turkish Consul Timur Soylemez said Monday. “It is a matter that belongs to history. … In order to reconcile this history, we need to look at it in a sober, sincere and genuine way.” For Levon Marashlian, a historian at Glendale College, the proposal is actually a step back. “It’s an effort to divert attention from the main issue,” he said. “There is so much evidence already that it’s a genocide that a study – the kind Turkey wants – would not be productive. It’s like proving again the Civil War happened.” The ad also supports efforts to “examine history, not legislate it.” U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, is making his annual push to pass an Armenian Genocide recognition bill in Congress. But the White House and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have sidestepped the issue, as Turkey is a key regional ally. “The crime of genocide is the highest crime according to international law,” Soylemez said. “You don’t throw these allegations around lightly. The solution is not in the U.S. The solution is between Turkey and Armenia.” But for many who have lost relatives in the massacres or during the subsequent exile in the Syrian desert, healing can only begin with recognition. “We’re still trying to get away from the desert,” said Raffi Momjian, executive director of the Genocide Education Project, a San Francisco-based nonprofit focused on Armenian Genocide education. “We can’t do that until we get the proper recognition.” And those nightmarish memories will always be etched in Dulgarian’s mind. “In my life, always I pray for the people,” he said. “I (forgive) them. But I can never forget the genocide.” [email protected] (818) 546-3304 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more