News highlights for October 5, 2010

CisionPoint news monitoring provides this small sampling of the university's daily news coverage. Click headline to read full text via Cision or link directly to the online article where available. For questions or comments about this service, or to add or delete a name from the mailing list, please contact Gerry Everding.

CBS News
Neanderthals not so dim after all, experts say

Scientists are broadly rethinking the nature, skills and demise of the Neanderthals of Europe and Asia, steadily finding more ways that they were substantially like us. Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis published research into prehistoric fossil remains in Europe that showed a significant number of attributes associated with both the Neanderthals and more-modern humans. “Both groups would seem to us dirty and smelly, but, cleaned up, we would understand both to be human,” he said when the paper was released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “There’s good reason to think that they did as well.” Link to Article See also Washington Post

The Economist

The more the murkier
The Economist blog “Free Exchange” examines a paper by Todd Milbourn of Washington University’s Olin School of Business and Harvard’s Bo Becker on the competition of credit rating agencies. The authors founded that increased competition from Fitch coincided with deterioration in the quality of ratings issued by Moody’s and S&P. First, there was ratings inflation, with more ratings rising towards the top of the scale as competition increased. Second, the correlations between issuers’ ratings levels and bond yields weakened. And third, the power of ratings to predict default went down as competition went up. Link to Article

San Francisco Chronicle
More coverage of NRC report on university patents

The nation’s foremost scientific body says a 30-year-old federal law that encourages universities to patent and license their inventions has helped drive the innovation economy with little or no adverse effect on the tradition of free academic inquiry. The report made public Monday by the National Research Council looks back at the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which enabled universities to patent potentially useful discoveries and allowed the sponsoring institution and the individual researcher to share in any royalties or licensing fees that might flow from projects that may have been federally funded. Mark S. Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis chaired the committee responsible for the report. See also Inside Higher Ed
ACL injuries

Women are more than twice as likely as men to tear the anterior cruciate ligament in their knees. Dr. Robert H. Brophy, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant professor of orthopedics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found that male players use muscles that move the thigh away from the body at the hip more than females do, and speculates that it contributes to the difference. “Programs focusing on strengthening and recruiting muscles around the hip may be an important part of programs designed to reduce a female athlete’s risk of ACL injury,” Brophy says. Link to Article
Young scientist program alum is honored

Cara Schornak spent most of the summer glued to a microscope in St. Louis — and she wouldn’t have had it any other way. The Granite City High School senior spent the summer at Washington University. Schornak, 17, spent eight weeks working in a lab doing research with Granite City High School alum Scott Horrell, who is working on his doctoral degree. “Scott was the one who initiated it,” said Doug Chalker, a Washington University associate biology professor who oversaw their work. Link to Article

KSDK (St. Louis)

Studying abroad amid recent terror fears
Washington University in St. Louis has 75 students in its “Study Abroad” program – most are in Europe. Priscilla Stone heads the international program. Stone is telling her students to use common sense when visiting a foreign land. Right now the university has no plans to cancel or modify its study abroad program. In fact, more students are expected to take part in the spring. Link to story and video

Daily RFT
Need to catch the MetroLink? There’s an app for that!

Todd Sproull, a lecturer at Washington University, has created Metro STL, an iPhone app that tells you exactly when your train will arrive at the station. The app has schedules for each MetroLink stop plus maps of the entire system so you can figure out which one is closest to you. It’s currently available on iTunes for free for a limited time, after which Sproull will raise the price to 99 cents. Link to Article

News in higher education

Wall Street Journal

Ex-radical can’t retire from his past

Bill Ayers, the former Weather Underground radical, retired from the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago this summer, but he is still stirring up controversy at the school. The board of trustees voted last month to deny Mr. Ayers the honorific of professor emeritus after its chairman, Christopher Kennedy, argued that the title shouldn’t go to a man who was co-author of a book dedicated to about 150 political figures—including his father’s assassin. Link to article

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The Chronicle of Higher Education
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