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Jennifer Hooper McCarty says she's no "Titanic geek," but she does love a good engineering mystery.
In 1999, McCarty had just finished her master's degree and
was continuing on to the doctoral program at the Whiting
of Materials Science and Engineering. Timothy Weihs, a
professor in the department, encouraged her to take part in
a Discovery Channel-funded project to examine recently
retrieved pieces of the famous luxury liner. Weihs and
colleague Tim Foecke, a metallurgist at the National
Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg,
Maryland, had taken part in a three-week expedition to the
site of the wreckage.
|The Titanic in Belfast, shortly before launching. Her rivets, handmade and too full of slag, may have been responsible (along with the iceberg) for her sinking.||
At the time, McCarty was doing research at the Smithsonian Institution, examining ancient Asian ceramics. "I came to Johns Hopkins in the first place because [Materials Science and Engineering] had a program that allowed for the study of historical objects. So, of course, I leapt at this chance," says McCarty. "The Titanic movie had just come out, and here we had all these samples from the ship itself. It was great."
Using the same methodology that forensic scientists use in crime scene investigations, McCarty, Weihs, and Foecke applied new tools to the mystery of how a supposedly unsinkable, double-hulled ship could go down in less than three hours. They uncovered new evidence suggesting that substandard rivets might have been as much at fault for sinking the Titanic as the infamous iceberg it struck on April 14, 1912.
The team presented its findings last year in the National Geographic Channel's Seconds from Disaster series. The findings are also detailed in a new book, What Really Sank the Titanic: New Forensic Discoveries (Kensington Books, 2008), by McCarty and Foecke.
Some of the recovered wrought iron rivets, the researchers discovered, contained too much slag, a glassy residue left behind after the smelting of ore, which made the rivets brittle. The team collected materials from other ships built from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, looking at different types of iron and steel. Using this evidence, they ran computer models that demonstrated what the impact might have looked like and how exactly the iceberg damaged the hull.
After completing her PhD in 2003, McCarty went to work in the University of Oxford's Department of Materials lab, where she did metallographic analysis of 18th- through 20th-century rail materials and Roman coin deposits. While in Great Britain, McCarty continued to search for Titanic clues — in London library archives; in Belfast at the Harland & Wolff Shipyard, where the Titanic was built; and in Southampton, the British port where the ship was launched. She poured over transcripts of interviews from Titanic survivors and talked with modern-day blacksmiths who employ techniques in use when the Titanic was built. She found that the wrought iron rivets were handmade and, in the Titanic's case, installed quickly to get the ship built under deadline.
"What likely happened was that when the iceberg hit key points along the side of the ship, the impact wasn't that strong, but it was enough to pop certain rivets that were holding these steel plates together," she says. "It wasn't one big gash, but lots of little holes. Water started to seep into the compartments, and in short time, they started to fill."
Upon her return to the United States, McCarty worked in the licensing and technology transfer office at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. In January, she became a clinical assistant professor with OHSU's School of Dentistry, in its Department of Biomaterials and Biomechanics.
McCarty says her next research project will take her to Paris, to examine the Eiffel Tower. "The Eiffel Tower story may not have the same dramatic ending as the Titanic," she says. "But I think I can still throw an audience into the story and take them back to the era when this famous structure was built." — Greg Rienzi
|Jennifer O'Laughlin in Mozart's Le nozze de Figaro. Her last-minute substitution for an under-the- weather lead was called "a needed ray of sunshine."||
Last summer, soprano Jennifer O'Loughlin was in Vienna
rehearsing for a competition when she received an
unexpected phone call: She was urgently needed at the
Salzburg Festival for a performance — the next
day. Salzburg, widely considered one of the most
important festivals in the world, is known both for the
breadth of its programming — including opera, plays,
and concerts — and for the quality of the
performances. The scheduled female lead of Mozart's Le
nozze de Figaro was sick, and O'Loughlin, who had
previously learned the role as cover (the operatic version
of an understudy), was being asked to fill in.
Within hours, and not knowing whether she would ultimately be needed or not, O'Loughlin was on a train to Salz-burg. She wanted to participate in the prestigious festival, but she also knew that only she and one other soprano, under whom she originally learned the role as cover, could perform the opera in Italian. "If I hadn't been there," O'Loughlin says, "someone would have had to sing from the side stage."
Timing was not the only challenge. The Salzburg conductor would have his own interpretation of the opera. It had also been nearly a year since the Pennsylvania-born soprano had sung the piece in Italian, and the festival required her to work without a prompter. "It was a little bit scary," O'Loughlin says. "I don't know how I got through it, but I did somehow."
And to rave reviews. "A much needed ray of sunshine . . . a dreamy, lusciously sung Susanna," Opera News' Larry Lash called her.
The Salzburg Festival kept her on as cover for the remainder of the shows (and invited her to sing the role in the festival's 2008 tour, which will travel to Japan's Osaka Festival this month). At the festival's end in August, O'Loughlin, who studied voice at Peabody under Ruth Drucker and in 2002 earned a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music, returned to Vienna to finish preparing for that competition, the Wigmore Hall Song Competition in London, where she was a semi-finalist.
Apparently Salzburg was good practice. — Siohban Paganelli, A&S '08
Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Keys But
Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday
Life, by Sandra Aamodt, A&S '88, and Sam Wangand,
It was a warm December day in Peshawar, a stronghold of the
Taliban in Pakistan's northwest frontier, when Edward P.
Joseph found himself in a private audience with Benazir
Bhutto. Less than 24 hours later, the leader of the
Pakistani People's Party would be assassinated. The meeting
was her last encounter with international officials.
|Edward Joseph was one of the last international officials to meet with Benazir Bhutto before her death.||
Joseph had been invited to Pakistan to serve as an observer
in its parliamentary elections. A Johns Hopkins Nitze School
of Advanced International Studies graduate and visiting
scholar, he is a renowned expert in foreign policy,
conflict resolution, and democracy. On December 26, he and
International Republic Institute colleague Samir Sarteep
made their way through several layers of security into a
crowded cricket stadium to hear Bhutto and others speak at
a campaign rally. Days before, a suicide bombing in a
mosque had killed 50 people; there was trouble in the north
and south, and Bhutto faced perpetual threats to her own
security. From far back on the dais, Bhutto spoke last,
delivering an impassioned speech about social justice,
democracy, and development.
After the rally, Joseph and Sarteep headed to the walled estate of one of Bhutto's supporters, who earlier that day had invited them to meet the first woman to head a Muslim state. They arrived early, watching her emerge from the same white SUV in which she would be riding when the bomb later struck. They adjourned to the living room, where Bhutto, Joseph, and Sarteep sat on one side of the room and the candidate's top aides and local officials — mostly male, all deferential to Bhutto — on the other. Her voice was a bit raspy and she coughed from time to time, but her enthusiasm did not waver.
"She was a charming and dynamic person loaded with energy. She was highly enthused, highly energized. She projected a real air of determination," Joseph says. Bhutto spoke for 90 minutes, ranging from her concerns about election rigging to her thoughts about Pakistan's internal situation. "It was clear the great weight that she put on the relationship and role of the United States," Joseph says. "She spoke about the position, the various impacts, positive and negative, that it had on the Pakistani government."
Bhutto, who twice served as Pakistan's prime minister, was fixed on a campaign to challenge the country's military-backed structure through elections. "The choice," she told Joseph, "is not between dictatorship and democracy. It is between extremism and moderation." There was no doubt she knew of the threats to her safety, says Joseph. "She was confronted with them constantly. But she betrayed not the slightest hint of fear. It was total determination."
The next day, Joseph and Sarteep were back at their hotel when they heard that Bhutto had been assassinated. "We were really shocked and saddened because this was someone who had really left an impression on us, and who had been so gracious to us," Joseph says. "We had felt a bond — we were captivated by her, and felt privileged that she had given us so much private time after this rally."
As worrisome as the assassination was, their own safety was a more pressing concern for Sarteep and Joseph. With violence breaking out all over Pakistan, locals urged them to avoid the open road, to stay hunkered down in their hotel. After a few days, conditions calmed, and Sarteep and Joseph returned to Islamabad.
In the months since, Joseph has reflected on the larger meaning of Bhutto's death. "There's a tremendous vacuum. For whatever flaws she and her party had and have, she really did represent a widely acceptable legitimate opposition," he says.
Joseph, who has over the past 15 years traveled in the Balkans, Iraq, Congo, and Haiti, as well as Pakistan, has met many world leaders. But Bhutto was especially remarkable, he says. "She was absolutely exceptional in her ability to define the real challenges that she had, and to think about problems that she faced in a very clear and strategic way. She was virtually unique in her courage and determination." — Kristen A. Graham
Tory Tunnell always wanted to be a writer — until she fell in love with film. Those two passions come together in TRUMBO, a movie that captures the life and work of famed screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Tunnell is a producer, and her newest film pays homage to both its eponymous hero and the artistic spirit he embodied.
One of the "Hollywood Ten" jailed and blacklisted during
Hollywood's Red Scare, Trumbo is now seen as a hero who
defended not just his own rights, but those of others.
Unable to work in the movie business, Trumbo retaliated
through decades of letter writing, from the time of his
incarceration to his ultimate return to screenwriting in
the 1960s with such epics as Exodus and
|Liam Neeson in TRUMBO, produced by Tory Tunnell and Safehouse||
TRUMBO is set to release in theaters this summer,
and had its premiere last September at the Toronto
International Film Festival. It was produced by Safehouse
Pictures, the company Tunnell co-founded with friend Will
Battersby in 2005, and stars Paul Giamatti, Danny Glover,
Nathan Lane, Joan Allen, Liam Neeson, and others. The movie
relies on performances of letters, interviews, and clips
from his films to capture the man Tunnell considers the
greatest letter-writer of all time. "He's such an
inspirational figure," Tunnell says. "It was a joy to
discover him through the process."
As an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins, Tunnell was an area studies major ( English and Writing Seminars) and an aspiring writer with internships at The New Yorker and Harper's Bazaar. Her first job out of school was with Miramax, where she read scripts and learned the business side of the movie industry under the tutelage of the company's chief financial officer. Next she joined OpenCity Films as the head of development, bringing a seven-figure investment into the company and working on films such as Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes and Sean Penn's The Assasination of Richard Nixon.
In 2005, she and Battersby went out on their own, founding Safehouse Pictures, based in New York. Fellow Hopkins grad Neal Trivedi, A&S '98, is an investor liaison, marketer, and fund manager for Safehouse, helping the company finance its own films. Last year, the company co-produced Awake, a thriller about a man who suffers "anesthetic awareness" during surgery.
At Hopkins, Writing Sems and screenwriting classes taught Tunnell a key lesson she says she relies on today: how to write not only for yourself, but with an audience in mind. "Film is an expensive medium," she says. "You have to be thinking about who is actually going to pay to come see what you're producing." — SP
Nurul Izzah Anwar, SAIS '07, was elected as a member of parliament in Malaysia during the early March elections. She is the daughter of Anwar Ibrahim, a former visiting scholar at SAIS's Southeast Asia Studies Program and the current opposition leader in Malaysia.
Eric Ding, A&S '04, has been named a 2008 Soros Fellow. The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans helps immigrants and their children prepare for leadership roles in various fields. Ding, who was born in Shanghai, China, is currently studying at the Boston University School of Medicine.
Gerard Dubois, SPH '73, head of the Department of Public Health at the State University of Amiens, was awarded the Légion d'honneur, France's highest civil and military medal. Dubois received the medal on February 7 from health minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin.
Joel Fan, Engr '04 (MS), Peab '94 (MM), has reached No. 3 on the Billboard Classical Chart with his solo album, World Keys. A pianist in Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, he made his New York debut on March 14, performing many of the songs on the new CD.
Pierre Vigilance, Med '96, SPH '97, in February was tapped to head the Department of Health in Washington, D.C. He previously developed an HIV-AIDS program in Baltimore City and was the director and health officer for Baltimore County Department of Health. His tenure included work on local legislative changes that have reduced youth access to tobacco products.
Albert Einstein once said, "Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love." Perhaps location is. At this year's February 14 Alumni Reunion, 30 couples celebrated Valentine's Day at the place that brought them together, Johns Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. In true SAIS spirit, the evening was both informative and entertaining as singles, friends, and couples gathered to dine and discuss. Welcomed by a SAIS faculty panel titled "The Power of Elections?" attendees were afterward embraced by the romantic music of two Peabody graduates (and soon-to-be-married couple) soprano Jessica Hanel, Peab '04 (MM), and pianist Joseph Satava, Peab '97, '06 (DMA). Cocktails were followed by a sumptuous dinner, during which wined-and-dined SAIS alumni enjoyed the talks of a well-known Washington couple, veteran journalists Judy Woodruff and Al Hunt. — Julia Romano, SAIS '09
Happy couples: Luda Murphy, Bol '60, SAIS '61, and Dick Murphy, SAIS '58; Sean McGowan and Erica Shein, both SAIS '08; Al Hunt and Judy Woodruff.
As his class's 70th reunion approaches, Willard Hackerman,
Engr '38, is challenging fellow alumni to take his lead. He
has committed up to $100,000 to match donations made to the
Hopkins Fund this spring.
"The generosity of alumni has helped to make Hopkins the thriving institution it is today," says Hackerman, a former university trustee who now serves on the board of visitors of Johns Hopkins Medicine and is president and CEO of the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., which was co-founded by his mentor (and Whiting School namesake) G.W.C. Whiting. "The participation of generations of Hopkins graduates has built this institution and kept it strong. A gift to the Hopkins Fund is our most solid investment-immediately enriching the lives and academic experiences of our students."
As the primary source of support for undergraduates on the Homewood campus, the fund provided more than $1 million in scholarship aid last year to students in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering. Hopkins Fund gifts also support undergraduate teaching and research at the two schools, and provide materials and online journal access at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library.
Time is running out to take Hackerman up on his offer. The challenge will only apply to contributions made to the Hopkins Fund on or before June 30, 2008. To contribute, visit www.johnshopkins.edu/annualfund or call 800-548-5422.
The Old Guard
JHU inCircle, a new online career and social networking tool, is now available to alumni, students, and faculty. Craven, A&S '64 (MA), has filled out his online profile to demonstrate the cool things JHU inCircle can do for you. Login and connect at alumni.jhu.edu.
|Photo by Will Kirk||
Applying to Johns Hopkins (or any highly selective
university) can be daunting. There are nearly 16,000
students vying for about 1,200 spots in Hopkins' fall
freshman class alone. College prep courses, high school
counselors, and expensive coaches can all be helpful. But
nothing gives a prospective student real answers quite like
someone on the inside. On Friday, June 27, the Office of Alumni
Relations and the
Office of Undergraduate Admissions are co-hosting the
second annual Admissions Advisory Workshop. The daylong
program gives Johns Hopkins alumni families the opportunity
to join staff and students for wide-ranging discussions on
all aspects of the college admission process, from the
first visit to application submission. For those who wish
to learn more specifically about the process for Johns
Hopkins, the Admissions Office hosts a half-day "Hopkins
Preview" on Saturday, June 28.
In addition to the question-and-answer sessions on Friday, students and their families will join mock admission committees for two highly selective institutions, "Brick and Ivy University" and "Mid-Atlantic College." Using the profile for that particular school, each group will review three applications and make admission decisions: One applicant will be admitted, one will be put on a wait list, and one applicant will be denied. Admissions staff chair the committees, provide feedback, and shed light on different aspects of each student.
"The mock application review in groups was one of my favorite parts because you were able to see how difficult and tedious it is to pick just one person for acceptance/waiting list/rejection," says Claire Snodgrass, a participant in last year's workshop who has been accepted as an early decision applicant for the class of 2012. "The group activity provided a great insight into the admissions process and what the readers look for in an applicant."
Claire attended the workshop with her sister, Jennifer A. Snodgrass Plyler, A&S '07 (BA, MA), and their mother, Geraldine. "From speaking to Claire, I can understand that many legacy applicants feel added pressure because they have a parent or sibling who was accepted and they do not want to be rejected," says Jennifer. "In so many ways I saw that [the workshop] calmed Claire's fears about a 'ruthless' application process." — Amy Brokl, A&S '03
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