Remember how Michael Bloomberg gave Johns Hopkins a zillion dollars? (Okay, I’m exaggerating – it was actually only $1 billion.) Anyway, part of the money was earmarked to create special “Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships,” which would encourage academics to explore and collaborate across disciplines. The university just announced the first three scholars to get the job, and they seem like a pretty impressive bunch:
Kathryn Edin – Sociology; Public Health
Edin’s area of interest is poverty: Her research at Harvard, her previous academic home, explored single-motherhood, welfare reform, and disengaged fathers, among other things. She’s even worked on a longterm project studying intergenerational poverty in Baltimore, following the families of 150 children under age 7, starting in the 1990s. “Some now fit the stereotype of The Wire. The surprise is that most do not. Many are trying to make it in the way that we want them to make it: get jobs, support families, avoid welfare,” Edin told the Hopkins Gazette. “A striking number strive to be conventional, just like kids in the suburbs. They have very much the same aspirations.”
Carol Greider – Biology; Genetics
Greider snagged a Nobel Prize in 2009 for her discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that protects genetic data in the chromosome. At Hopkins, she’ll work on both the hard science and medical sides of things, encouraging students to understand how “a primary, basic understanding of cells really does drive innovation in terms of human disease.” Greider was already at Hopkins, serving as director of the School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics; now she’ll also get to work with students in the Krieger School’s biology department as well.
Peter Agre – Molecular Microbiology/Immunology; Biological Chemistry
Agre jokes that his career path makes him sound as though he has attention deficit disorder, since his early career included stints in hematology, cell biology, chemistry, and immunology. But that kind of broad mind is exactly what the Bloomberg Professorships are designed to reward — and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Agre also was the co-recipient of a Nobel Prize in 1993. (He discovered aquaporins.) These days, his research passion is malaria: “Our research ranges from mosquito biology to drug and vaccine development to epidemiology to field studies in Zimbabwe and Zambia,” he told the Gazette.
Ultimately, there will be 50 Bloomberg Professors — can’t wait to meet who’s next!
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