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UT News

In the Know

The Feb. 22 weekly roundup of campus kudos and press mentions.

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Campus Kudos

Professor appointed to executive board for teaching association
Jill A. Marshall, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has assumed the role of vice president on the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Executive Board. Marshall will serve as vice president in 2010. She will continue in the presidential chain as president-elect in 2011, president in 2012 and past president in 2013. The AAPT is the premier national organization and authority on physics and physical science education with more than 10,000 members worldwide.

Two MBA students win Texas MootCorp, advance to global competition
David McParland and Franklin Fuchs, both Texas MBAs in the Class of 2010, won the Texas round of the MootCorp Competition. The two students created a company called Solavicta, which aims to produce the lowest cost solar power generation equipment in the world. Solavicta’s win earns them a berth in the Global MootCorp Competition May 6-8 in Austin. They also win the Austin Technology Incubator Launch Package, which offers strategic business consulting services and mentoring from a team of industry experts, office space and access to discounted legal, accounting and businesses services.

Professor continues work on Austin’s historic resources with $15,000 grant
School of Information Professor Gary Geisler, with colleagues in the School of Architecture, has received a $15,000 grant from the Texas Historical Commission. The grant will help Geisler and his team continue working on its “Austin Historical Survey Web Tool.” The primary aim of this project is to address the city of Austin’s lack of an up-to-date comprehensive survey of historic resources. The team will develop a Web-based participatory tool that will produce a richer, more complete record of Austin’s historic properties and neighborhoods. Upon completion, the tool will be handed over to and maintained by the city of Austin.

Two students receive $50,000 fellowships to practice public-interest law
Two third-year students in the School of Law‘s Justice Corps program have been awarded fellowships to practice public-interest law. Kyle Marie Stock received the George M. Fleming Fellowship in Health Law, while Stephanie Kolmar received the Julius Glickman Fellowship in Public Interest Law. Each fellowship provides $50,000 per year for full-time legal work on a project sponsored by an existing public interest legal organization and supervised by a licensed attorney. A faculty committee selects the recipients.

Press Mentions

The New York Times: Plane attack prompts debate over terrorism label
Feb. 20

When a man fueled by rage against the U.S. government and its tax code crashes his airplane into a building housing offices of the Internal Revenue Service, is it a criminal act or an act of terrorism?

Ami Pedahzur, a professor of government at The University of Texas and author of the book “Suicide Terrorism,” said that while Stack’s actions might be viewed as a copycat version of 9/11 attacks, they fall short of terrorism.

Pedahuzur said there is no evidence that Stack was involved in a highly planned conspiracy, and descriptions of Stack’s state of mind in the days before the crash suggest the software engineer “snapped” after suffering an emotional breakdown. His manifesto was filled with rants that were just as personal as they were political, such as his complaint that corrupt politicians are not “the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.”

The Wall Street Journal: A tip for your golden years — keep it simple
Feb. 21

A clear-cut financial plan is a good idea at any age. But a growing body of research suggests simplicity takes on added urgency as we move into our 70s.

George M. Korniotis of the Federal Reserve and Alok Kumar of The University of Texas business school studied thousands of stock trades made by investors in the 1990s, and found that older investors traded less frequently and held less-risky portfolios. They also lost their knack for stock picking beginning in their early 70s.

Investors in their 70s and 80s are less able to return to work and have less time to recover from poor choices than younger investors, as many retirees portfolios learned last year.

BusinessWeek: Gridlock is good for Bernanke dollar in fight over rate audits
Feb. 22

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke may be in favor of a do-nothing Congress when it comes to his fight over audits of monetary policy.

Ultimately the Fed is likely to face more scrutiny because of voter anger and congressional concern about a lack of transparency in its bank bailouts and its use of taxpayer funds to aid financial firms such as New York-based American International Group Inc. At issue is how intrusive and intense the oversight will be.

“Historically they’ve maintained their secrecy, and that’s true of most central banks in the world,” said University of Texas Professor Robert D. Auerbach in Austin, a former congressional economist and author of the 2008 book “Deception and Abuse at the Fed.” “But we’re in a democracy, a great democracy. We shouldn’t have that here.”

Newsweek: Harvard’s crisis of faith
Feb. 11

It doesn’t take a degree from Harvard to see that in today’s world, a person needs to know something about religion.

On the Harvard campus — where the next generation of aspiring leaders is currently beginning the spring term — the importance of religion goes without saying. But in practice, the Harvard faculty cannot cope with religion.

Harvard likes to regard itself as the best of the best. Yet even public universities — The University of Texas, Arizona State, and Indiana University, for example — generate more excitement around the subject of religion than Harvard does.

Los Angeles Times: Capsule: Sites seem to show a true face
Feb. 22

A prevailing theory in psychology has been that people use their social-networking pages to protect an idealized version of themselves, not the person they really are. That may not be so.

In one of the first studies to attempt to answer this question, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Johannes Gutenberg-University in Germany recruited 236 female college students, ages 17 to 22, in Germany and the United States. Using a number of psychological measures, they assessed the personalities of the participants and then perused the participants’ online pages to form impressions of their personality.

Read last week’s In the Know.