Everything should be
as simple as possible,
but not simpler ~
Albert Einstein


A Telling Effect

First appeared in Illinois Alumni magazine in March 2003

Barry Bearak, MS ‘75 COM, doesn’t like to talk about himself.

“It makes me self-conscious,” he said. “I get flustered.”

On the other hand, he is very good at telling other people’s stories. Bearak, a New York Times staff writer who received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for his coverage of the devastation of Afghanistan, has been telling other people’s stories for close to 30 years.

Looking for the Edge

First appeared in Illinois magazine in December 2002

The dawn is dull, the day trying to decide if it will be spring or remain winter. The houses in this Champaign neighborhood are faded and worn, the sidewalks cracked and dingy and in this gray, muddy, early spring day there is little vegetation to enliven the scene.

A Place To Belong

First appeared in Illinois Alumni magazine in May 2002

Once upon a time, Lynn Schreiber Price ‘77 COM was like every other kid in her Skokie, Ill., neighborhood. She attended Miss Kurzweg’s second-grade class at Middleton Elementary. She had two best friends, Barb and Darleen. Price’s mother, Jackie, was a homemaker. Price’s father, Alex, worked as a glazier, and his handiwork — art glass pieces and fancy mirrors — decorated their otherwise simple home.

One day that comfortable world shifted radically.

Magnificent Obsession

Illinois Times

It is 9:30 a.m. when archaeologist John Kelly’s pine-green Jeep Cherokee lumbers across the grassy field and comes to a stop at two tarp-covered trenches blocked by barricades and yellow tape. It’s quiet except for the whirring and buzzing of crickets and the distant, dull whine of traffic from Highway 70 nearby. Kelly, 56 years old, tall and lanky, with a narrow face and high forehead, eases himself from the car, cup of coffee in hand.

Mark Smith: Providing the Tools for Success

Washington University Record January 2001

From the first day the law school students arrive on campus, Mark Smith, J.D. ‘86, associate dean of student services, works to get to know each one. He introduces himself at the welcoming assembly; he wanders the hall checking in with students as they change classes; he talks to them about what kinds of fields they are interested in. And, when the time comes, he takes the mystery out of getting interviews and parlaying an interview into a job offer.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! How the Brain Processes Auditory Information

University of Illinois, Molecular and Integrative Physiology newsletter January 2001

How do frogs in a pond resemble people at a cocktail party? In both cases communication is possible only if frogs and people focus in on a particular voice… or croak… and tune out other, extraneous sounds.

Albert S. Feng, professor of physiology, biophysics, bioengineering and neuroscience, has spent the last decade teasing out the elements of listening in what he terms “a complex auditory environment.” His research has led him to study not just frogs and cocktail parties, but bats, which rely on their keen sense of hearing to gobble thousands of insects per evening.

Count Her In

Illinois Alumni magazine January 2001

Suze Orman, ‘77 LAS, once limited her career goals to a single area: waitressing.

“My grades were never great. I had a speech defect, so I couldn’t speak, and I had mild dyslexia, so I couldn’t read. I thought I was dumb,” she said.

Like Magic: 1997 Beckman Institute Fellow Brendan Frey

Beckman Institute Annual Newsletter October 1997

In some ways, Brendan Frey, 1997 Beckman Fellow, became interested in machine learning because it appealed to his sense of magic.

“To know the secrets of how something that is beautiful and magical works is, to me, like being a magician,” says Frey, who even as a child was interested in machines that behave intelligently.

“I was always trying to be a magician, to duplicate nature,” says Frey, who now researches machine learning using graphical models, otherwise known as Bayesian Networks.

Sharing Space

Illinois Alumni magazine March 1996

Like most people, astronaut Joe Tanner ‘73 ENG puts his pants on one leg at a time, but in his case, those pants belong to a space suit and weight 60 pounds. Last February, Tanner joined an elite group of astronauts — one of only 19 on active duty who have spacewalking, or “extra vehicular activity” (EVA), experience.

During the mission, STS-82, Tanner and six other astronauts replaced and updated parts of the Hubble telescope.

David Becker, Little in Life More Valuable than Friendship

Washington University Record January 1996

It was a beautiful fall evening when David Becker threw out the first pitch at the St. Louis Cardinals game against the Dodgers. Fred Hanser, J.D. ‘66, chair of the St. Louis Cardinals and one of Becker’s first students, was behind the plate catching—at Becker’s insistence.

Hanser signaled for a high fastball, Becker pitched a low slider that broke sharply to the outside. The fans, including hundreds of Law School students, roared.

Becker has a lot of fans. That’s because he is his students’ biggest fan.


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