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Achievements Selected recent feats by students, faculty, and staff

Please see below for recent student, alumni, faculty, and staff accomplishments:



Vladimir Airapetian (physics) received $318,027 ($106,138 total in incremental funding through 8/13/20) from NASA for his project "Prebiotic Chemistry of the Young Earth and Mars From Theoretical and Experimental Studies."

Nicole Caporino (psychology) received $50,000 from the Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Foundation Inc. for her project "Web-based Training in the Assessment and Treatment of Pediatric OCD."

Douglas Fox (chemistry) received $109,337 (previously awarded amount $104,675 - total award now $ 214,012) from the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities for his project "Fluorescent Cellulose Nanomaterial Development Project."

David Haaga (psychology) received $85,326 from the TLC Foundation for his project "Randomized Controlled Trail of the Comprehensive Behavioral (COMB) Model of Treatment for Trichotillomania."

Daniel Kerr (history) received $225,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation for his project “Kerr Luce Humanities Truck.”

Jessica Leight (economics) received $788,858.98 from the US Department of Labor for her project "The impact of mentoring and life skills training on secondary progression and child labor among girls: a randomized controlled trail in Rajasthan."

Ethan Mereish (health studies) received $169,287 from NIH - NIAAA for his project "Minority Stress Reactivity and Hazardous Drinking."

Laura Owen (education) received $9,999 from the DC Public Schools for her project "DC Public Schools College Institute."

Kathryn Walters-Conte (director, Professional Sciences Masters in Biotechnology) received $49,270 from NSF for her project "Type I: Tenleytown I-Corps Site for Science."


Laura Beers (history) was co-winner of the 2017 Stansky Book Prize awarded by the North American Conference on British Studies for her book Red Ellen: The Life of Ellen Wilkinson, Socialist, Feminist, Internationalist (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Mary Gray (mathematics and statistics) was selected for the inaugural class of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) Fellows Program.

Silvina Guidoni (physics) received the 2017 NASA Heliophysics Science Division Peer Award.

Nathan Harshman (physics) won a Reviewer Excellence award from the American Association of Physics Teachers for the contributions he has made to the American Journal of Physics.

Matt Hartings (chemistry) was named among the " 25 chemists to follow on Twitter" by Chemical and Engineering News.

Ibram X. Kendi (Director, Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center) was ranked #29 this year's Root 100 List, a list honoring the most influential African Americans, ages 25-45. In addition, he won the 2017 Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History for Black Perspectives (African American Intellectual History Society).

Melissa Scholes Young (literature) won Best Book Award in Literary Fiction from American Book Fest for her debut novel, FLOOD. The book was also reviewed by the Mark Twain Forum and featured on Center for Mark Twain Studies (Elmira College). Kevin MacDonnell writes, "Flood reflects America's rural-urban divide, racism, empty-headed faith, willful ignorance, wheel-spinning, and marveling at distracting fireworks instead of the vast universe looming behind them. It's more than a hillbilly elegy."


Dan Arbell (Center for Israeli Studies) wrote an opinion article for The Conversation about Jerusalem, which was recognized as Israel's capital by the Trump administration. Arbell wrote, "Trump's announcement on Dec. 6, 2017, seemed to be based on mostly domestic political considerations." The piece ran in over 15 outlets, including the Arizona Daily Star.

Sarah Irvine Belson (education) and Anastasia Snelling (health studies) co-authored an article about the impact of sugar-filled foods on kids' performance in math. Irvine Belson and Snelling wrote, "... helping kids develop a taste for healthful foods early in life sets them on a path to better school performance and becoming a healthier adult." The piece ran in over 45 outlets, including the Los Angeles Times.

Ernesto Castañeda (sociology) authored an opinion article for US News & World Report about why lawmakers should work on a bipartisan deal for immigration reform. Castañeda wrote, "Keeping people undocumented or without a clear path to citizenship runs against American ideals of democracy and equality."

Amos Golan (economics) published the book Foundations of Info-Metrics (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Mary Hansen (economics) co-authored an opinion piece for Inside Higher Education about the new Title IX guidelines. Hansen wrote, "Colleges and universities that raise the standard in Title IX proceedings should ... work harder to create the safe campus environment that the authors of Title IX envisioned in the first place."

Justin Jacobs (history) authored an article for the Washington Post's "Made by History" blog discussing the Indiana Jones movie franchise and the history of Western archaeological expeditions. Jacobs wrote, "By 1936, the year that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" takes place, the King Tut effect had been reshaping archaeology for more than a decade. If Western archaeologists were doing any digging at all, they were doing it under Egyptian, Turkish, Peruvian or Chinese oversight. In some instances, they were doing it alongside non-Western colleagues."

Evan Kraft (economics) authored an op-ed for The Hill on President Trump's Federal Reserve nominees. Kraft wrote, "As the extended deliberation process continues, it would be pretty difficult to say that we are reaching much clarity about what the administration plans for the Fed."

Allan Lichtman (history) penned an op-ed for The Boston Globe about why America can't wait for the findings of the special counsel's investigation into possible Russia collusion. Lichtman wrote, "Beyond hard politics, it is time again for Republicans to choose patriotism above party and vote for a most necessary impeachment investigation."

Allan Lichtman (history) wrote an opinion article for VICE about threats to American democracy. Lichtman wrote, "Unfortunately, this commission [which investigates voter fraud] is ignoring the true danger in 2018, which is not voter fraud, but Russian hacking to alter the vote."

Juliana Martinez (world languages and culture) authored a piece for Diverse: Issues in Higher Education about issues with how diversity and inclusion play out in businesses and higher education institutions. Martinez writes, "As a professor of humanities and cultural studies-and as someone who engages in diversity and inclusion work-I see my own institution and many others struggling to confront thorny questions about what constitutes diversity."

Rachel Louise Snyder (creative writing) authored an opinion piece for the Washington Post about the link between domestic abuse and mass killings. Snyder wrote, "…. while the link between mass shooters and domestic violence is increasingly recognized in the public arena, articles and op-eds, strangulation as a specific sign of lethality in the context of domestic violence remains largely unknown."

David Vine (anthropology) authored an opinion article for the Washington Post about why the United States still has colonies and citizens who lack full democratic rights by law.


Joanne Allen (art history) spoke to the Washington Post about the single privately owned property on the National Mall, the home to the American Pharmacists Association. "Pope's modest, restrained classicism conveys a sense of permanence and respectability while allowing for the display of iconography expressive of the aims and progress of the pharmaceutical profession," said Allen, referring to the building design.

Michael Bader (sociology) spoke to NPR affiliate KPCC about a paper he co-authored last year discussing how some racially integrated cities in Los Angeles were at risk of re-segregating. Bader said, "Segregation decreases the opportunities for blacks and Latinos and increases for whites and that leads to inequality."

Evan Berry (philosophy and religion) spoke to the Los Angeles Times about Pope Francis traveling to Colombia to promote a peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Berry discussed how the pontiff has not shied away from political controversy in the pursuit of peace.

Margaret Biser (CAS/MA, public history '17) was interviewed at NPR for a podcast "Think" with Krys Boyd, to talk about her public history work on common misconceptions about slavery and African-American history.

Boncho Bonev (physics) spoke to about findings uncovered from a rare comet that flew by Earth earlier this year. The findings shed light on key details about native ices in comets from Jupiter. Bonev said, "Comet scientists are like archaeologists, studying old samples to understand the past."

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency covered an event held on campus that highlighted Israeli cuisine and discussed the power of food as a cultural and political tool. Michael Brenner (director of the Center for Israel Studies) said, "[Israel] is the gourmet nation and a champion of sophisticated, healthy cooking." The story ran in multiple outlets including The Times of Israel, the Arizona Jewish Post, and Cleveland Jewish News.

EdScoop covered a move by American University to join Open Textbook Network, a consortium of universities and colleges using free, open educational resources. Max Paul Friedman (history) spoke to EdScoop about why he chooses to use OER. Students should not have to bear the financial burden of textbooks, said Friedman, who added: "Because it's open and it can be amended, it's much more flexible and can wind up working better."

Mustafa Gurbuz (sociology) spoke to The Intercept about the rise in war crimes in Eastern Ghouta despite cease-fires in Syria. Gurbuz said, "The Syrian regime would like to show its teeth, not only to the opposition, but also its partners."

Mary Hansen (economics) spoke to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the economic effects of a Super Bowl between two teams representing cities in the same state. Hansen said, "The most important thing in terms of improving economic outcomes in a city from events like this is how many out-of-towners the city can attract." In addition, Hansen spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the proposed House bill to end the adoption tax credit. Hansen said the credit gives "breathing room" to middle-class families that adopt. Hansen also talked about the issue with Vox.

Gregory Harry (physics) spoke to Xinhua about the detection of gravitational waves and the light from two stars colliding. Harry said, "Even though our detections have been very clear and strong compared to what we expected, there is still plenty of room for stronger, clearer detections." In addition, Washingtonian magazine featured Gregory Harry and student Maya Kinley-Hanlon, for their contributions to a scientific discovery of a gravitational-wave detection of two neutron stars colliding in space. Harry said, "We're really at the very beginning of a whole new field, and that's exciting."

Matt Hartings (chemistry) spoke to CNN Digital about whether dark chocolate really is healthy. "Higher percentage chocolates have the added benefit over the lower percentages and milk and white chocolates because they contain less sugar and less fat," said Hartings.

Cheryl Holcomb-Mccoy (dean, School of Education) talked to Diverse: Issues in Higher Education about the need for college counselors. Holcomb-McCoy said, "What we're seeing today on college campuses with increasing diversity of student populations is that there is not necessarily a tolerant community university campus."

Laura Juliano (psychology) spoke to The Wall Street Journal about coffee addiction, and tips to kick the habit. "Regular users will choose to take caffeine over money, over a placebo," Juliano said.

Ibram X. Kendi (director, Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center) and Cynthia Miller-Idriss (director, International Training and Education Program) talked with The Chronicle of Higher Education about free speech issues and college campuses. Kendi said, "What makes speech illegal - or what I would consider to be unfree - is when it's both dangerous and false. And I consider racist speech to be both dangerous and false." Miller-Idriss said, "One of my major concerns is that we're going to see additional violence coming out of the use of university campuses as a site to contest issues of academic freedom and to push universities to make these choices that are difficult about what is hate speech [and] what is free speech."

Ibram X. Kendi (director, Antiracist Research and Policy Center) spoke to The Undefeatedabout his role at AU, the new center, and how racism impacts US culture. Kendi said, "We have been taught that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas, lead to racist policies. If the fundamental problem is ignorance and hate, then your solutions are going to be focused on education, and love and persuasion." In addition, he spoke to Al Jazeera about President Trump's response to the NFL protests. Kendi said, "Either Americans have the right to protest, or Americans don't. The president can't pick and choose who he's going to defend." Kendi also spoke to NPR's affiliate in Phoenix, and Theresa Runstedtler, associate professor of history, spoke to CBC's The Current about the issue.

Washington City Paper featured Ibram X. Kendi (founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center) in its 2017 edition of interesting and influential DC figures. Kendi spoke about the broad reach of the new center, saying, "We want to figure out ways to assist many of these different groups of people so they understand how to pursue what they already do from a more anti-racist standpoint."

Ibram X. Kendi (director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center) spoke to the Guardian UK about Dunham's defense of a TV writer accused of rape. Kendi said, "The expression of racism is to fundamentally deny its expression."

Evan Kraft (economics) spoke to the Voice of America about President Trump's legislative agenda and the GOP tax bill. Kraft said, "I can see this [Republican tax bill] backfiring. I don't see it stimulating the economy very much in the short term."

Alan Kraut (history) spoke to WESA Radio about US approaches to refugee resettlement. Kraut said, "Regret over how the United States handled refugee resettlement after World War II seemed to drive policy in the late seventies." In addition, he spoke to US News & World Report about the Trump administration's move to consider assimilation when deciding which refugees to admit. "Refugee admission is often a political act," said Kraut.

For a story in the New York Times about a 3-year-old whose parents died in Auschwitz and the US soldier who worked to get the child out of occupied Berlin, History Professor Alan Kraut discussed the Truman Directive of 1945 that allowed limited immigration from war-torn Europe. Of President Harry S. Truman, Kraut said, "He really did believe that the US should live up to its reputation as a beacon of light."

Peter Kuznick (history) spoke to Hearst Television and Al Jazeera English about the JFK files.

Peter Kuznick (history) spoke to PBS about the first nuclear chain reaction and its impact on history. Commenting on the risk involved with testing a nuclear chain reaction, Kuznick said, "We could have very easily lost Chicago."

Allan Lichtman (history) spoke to MSNBC about soon-to-be unclassified documents about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Lichtman said, "Nothing in these documents is going to kill off the industry of the JFK conspiracy theorists, although it may cast some new light." In addition, he appeared on CNN to speak about Trump's presidency. Speaking about Trump's propensity for telling lies, Lichtman said, "Trump has destroyed the concept of truth, even destroyed the concept of reality."

Allan Lichtman (history) appeared on WUSA-9 to discuss the likelihood that President Trump will be impeached. Lichtman said, "I have no doubt that the Mueller investigation is going to reveal a conspiracy between Trump and his team and the Russians to get Trump elected."

Juliana Martinez (world languages and cultures) spoke to the Christian Science Monitor about the historic gains of transgender candidates in this year's elections. Martinez said, "Society is at a point where trans people can do this now. This was unthinkable 10 years ago, maybe even five years ago."

Ethan Mereish (health studies) spoke to NBC News about his research into how double discrimination and loneliness affect the mental health of individuals that identify as bisexual. Mereish said, "Bisexual people face double discrimination in multiple settings - bisexual people are often invisible, rejected, invalidated [and] stigmatized in the heterosexual community as well as the traditional LGBTQ communities." In addition, he spoke to the Washington Post about ways to improve health disparities faced by bisexual individuals in the LGBT community. Mereish said, "We know that bisexual people are often invisible, invalidated and stigmatized - experiencing multiple forms of discrimination from the heterosexual community and lesbian and gay community." The story ran in additional news outlets including the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

Cynthia Miller-Idriss (education) talked with Education Dive about concerns about international students and Trump administration policies.

Ying-Chen Peng (art history) spoke to the Associated Press about an exhibit featuring art from Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi's personal collection. Peng said, "We already have a lot of scholarship on who she is and how she ruled China. But this show brings you a different angle. This exhibition seeks to introduce you to this woman as an arts patron." The story ran in over 350 outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

Dean of the College of Arts and Science Peter Starr spoke to the Washington Post about universities' investments in science facilities. Starr said, "DC really is a science town to the point that people don't recognize."

Spectrum, a publication devoted to covering autism research, featured Associate Professor of Psychology Catherine Stoodley's research on a particular region of the cerebellum that features in autism. Findings indicate that the region is disrupted in children with autism. Stoodley said, "These findings are incredibly exciting and provide strong evidence that this region is an important player."

Katharina Vester (history) spoke to Battle Creek Enquirer for a story about Rice Krispies treats. Vester said, "Americans are always looking for a definition of American cuisine, and it's changing every 50 years what it means to have an American national cuisine."

David Vine's (anthropology) 2016 assessment of American military base expansion was quoted in an Arab Weekly article about the possibility of new terrorist insurgencies. Vine wrote in his assessment, "[American] bases have fueled radicalism, anti-Americanism and the growth of the very terrorist organizations now targeted by the supposedly new strategy."

Lauren Weis (women, gender and sexuality studies) spoke to the Boston Herald about how sexual harassment can affect victims' careers. Weis said, "Young women often have an idealized notion of the professional field they're heading into and no idea what the culture is like behind the scenes."

Stef Woods (critical race, gender and culture studies) spoke with Voice of America about the rise in Snapchat use among youth.

Stef Woods (critical race, gender and culture studies) spoke to Morning Consult about consumers' outlook for 2018. Woods said, “I think reflecting on economic growth around the holiday season, buying gifts, thinking on resolutions- at the end of the year, we would hope we're hopeful.”

Melissa Scholes Young's (literature) debut novel, Flood, was reviewed by the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Past Achievements