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Five Northwestern Professors Receive Guggenheims

April 15, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Five Northwestern University faculty members have received 2008 Guggenheim Fellowships. They are among only 190 Guggenheim recipients chosen from 2,600 applicants in the United States and Canada. They are:

• Ken Alder, Milton H. Wilson Professor in the Humanities and professor of history. He will use the Guggeheim award to pursue his research project "Personal identification from the Renaissance to the genome." It examines that way that the forensic sciences — ordinarily used to identify individuals before courts of law — also have been deployed to place people within racial groups and genealogical lineages, shaping their sense of who they are.

Alder studies the history of science and technology in the context of social and political change and directs the Science in Human Culture Program at Northwestern. He has been on the University's faculty since 1991.

Alder's first book, "Engineering the Revolution," was awarded the 1998 Dexter Prize from the Society for the History of Technology as the best scholarly book published in the field. The book takes up the history of the gun to explore how technological transformation is rooted in political and cultural forces. "The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error that Transformed the World," published in 2002, received the Watson Davis Prize from the History of Science Society and has been translated into 13 languages. Alder's most recent book, "The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession," was published in March 2007.

• Alice Domurat Dreger, associate professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at the Feinberg School of Medicine. She will do research for a book on "Science and identity politics in the Internet age." Dreger intends to study highly publicized identity politics controversies involving academics and the response of marginalized groups when they feel the work of scientists injures their rights and reputations.

Dreger joined the Northwestern faculty in 2005. Her work focuses on using history to improve the biomedical and social treatment of people born with socially challenging anatomies, including sexual anatomies, craniofacial anomalies, conjoinment and dwarfism. Dreger frequently writes about and speaks on these topics for medical and nonmedical audiences, including the media, fellow activists and policy makers. Her 2004 book "One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal" was named book of the month by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and received an honorary mention for the 2005 Gustavus Myers Book Award.

• Wendy Griswold, Arthur E. Andersen Teaching and Research Professor in the Department of Sociology. She will use the Guggenheim to pursue her research on "The Federal Writers' Project and American regionalism." She is writing the second of a three-book series (the first was her 2008 book "Regionalism and the Reading Class") on how the essays of the American Guides, a series of state guidebooks that the WPA's Federal Writers' Project produced in the late 1930s during the New Deal, definitively shaped the American culture of place.

Griswold's research and teaching interests include cultural sociology; sociological approaches to literature, art and religion; regionalism, urban representations and the culture of place; the Federal Writers' Project; and comparative studies of reading practices.

Griswold has been on the Northwestern faculty since 1997. She also has appointments in English and communication and directs the Culture and Society Workshop at Northwestern's Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.

• Yonggang Huang, Joseph Cummings Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering in the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. His project is "Atomistic-based continuum theory for nano-structured materials." He proposes to develop a theory that would further the development of nanotechnology by filling the gap between atomistic models and continuum theories.

Huang's research group is dedicated to the mechanics of materials. One recent topic is mechanical analysis of the design of stretchable and foldable silicon-integrated circuits to prevent their mechanical failure and the degradation of their electrical behavior during stretching and bending. Huang's other research interests include micro- and nanomechanics. He joined Northwestern in 2007.

• Lance J. Rips, professor of psychology. He will pursue research on "Concepts of individuals and their persistence." The project studies how people keep track of objects as these objects change over time, how they reorganize their concepts as the results of such changes and how their decision making adapts to anticipated changes in their own future selves.

Rips' research also addresses human reasoning, especially reasoning about causality and mathematics. He is especially interested in the way people learn new mathematical systems, their knowledge of natural categories and their understanding of counterfactual sentences.

Rips is the author of "The Psychology of Proof: Deduction in Human Thinking" and "The Psychology of Survey Response" (with Roger Tourangeau and Kenneth Rasinski). The latter won the 2006 Book Award from the American Association of Public Opinion Research. Rips is also co-editor of the forthcoming anthology "Reasoning: Studies of Human Inference and Its Foundations." He has been on the Northwestern faculty since 1993.
Topics: People