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Front Page News at Indiana University

May 8, 2007

'Front Page News at IU' delivers top headlines of the day from the campuses of Indiana University. It comes to you courtesy of IU University Communications in the Office of University Relations.


Premature births may be linked to seasonal levels of pesticides and nitrates in surface water
Conception date affects baby's future academic achievement
2007 BLEMF presents world-class performances and educational offerings; Monteverdi's Orfeo launches festival on May 18
IU wins grant to train future military officers in strategic languages and cultures
Gift honoring fallen officer will expand law enforcement training
IU Bloomington Scoreboard


Premature births may be linked to seasonal levels of pesticides and nitrates in surface water -- The growing premature birth rate in the United States appears to be strongly associated with increased use of pesticides and nitrates, according to work conducted by Paul Winchester, M.D., professor of clinical pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He reports his findings May 7 at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting, a combined gathering of the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Ambulatory Pediatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Winchester and colleagues found that preterm birth rates peaked when pesticides and nitrates measurements in surface water were highest (April-July) and were lowest when nitrates and pesticides were lowest (Aug.-Sept.). More than 27 million U.S. live births were studied from 1996-2002. Preterm births varied from a high of 12.03 percent in June to a low of 10.44 percent in September. The highest rate of prematurity occurred in May-June (11.9 percent) and the lowest for Aug-Sept (10.79 percent) regardless of maternal age, race, education, marital status, alcohol or cigarette use, or whether the mother was an urban, suburban or rural resident. Pesticide and nitrate levels in surface water were also highest in May-June and lowest in August -September, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Read the full story.

Conception date affects baby's future academic achievement -- Does the time of year in which a child is conceived influence future academic achievement? Yes, according to research by neonatologist Paul Winchester, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine professor of clinical pediatrics. Dr. Winchester, who studied 1,667,391 Indiana students, presents his finding on May 7 at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting. Dr. Winchester and colleagues linked the scores of the students in grades 3-through-10 who took the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) examination with the month in which each student had been conceived. The researchers found that ISTEP scores for math and language were distinctly seasonal with the lowest scores received by children who had been conceived in June through August. Why might children conceived in June through August have the lowest ISTEP scores? "The fetal brain begins developing soon after conception. The pesticides we use to control pests in fields and our homes and the nitrates we use to fertilize crops and even our lawns are at their highest level in the summer," said Dr. Winchester, who also directs Newborn Intensive Care Services at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis. Read the full story.

2007 BLEMF presents world-class performances and educational offerings; Monteverdi's Orfeo launches festival on May 18 -- Now in its fourteenth year, the Bloomington Early Music Festival (BLEMF), an annual celebration of music from Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical times, will take place May 18-28 at a variety of venues in the Bloomington community, including two performance spaces on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The festival kicks off on May 18 with a performance of Monteverdi's Orfeo, one of the earliest works recognized as an opera. Fully staged, with orchestra, the BLEMF Opera production celebrates the work's 400th anniversary. Jonathan Michaelsen, chair of IU's Department of Theatre and Drama, is director, and Jacobs School alumnus Corey Jamason, renowned harpsichordist with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, is conductor. The Wells-Metz Theatre, Michaelsen said, was an ideal venue for the production of the "simple and passionate" opera, as it will allow the audience to be very close to the performers. He said the production represents wonderful three-way collaboration between IU's Department of Theatre and Drama, the Jacobs School of Music and BLEMF. "We have two faculty designers -- one scenic and one lighting -- and a graduate costume student involved in the production," he said. "For me, it has been just wonderful to work with students from the school of music." Read the full story.

IU wins grant to train future military officers in strategic languages and cultures -- Indiana University has been selected to receive a two-year federal grant for $481,630 to provide strategic language and culture training to undergraduate students in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs. The Institute of International Education (IIE), on behalf of the National Security Education Program of the U.S. Department of Defense, selected IU's ROTC Strategic Languages and Cultures Program to participate in this new initiative, which aims to improve the abilities of future military officers to speak and understand strategic languages and cultures. The languages covered by IU's program are Arabic, Russian, and the Central Asian languages Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Pashto, Tajik, Turkmen, Uyghur and Uzbek. The co-principal investigators are Henry R. Cooper Jr., professor of Slavic languages and literatures, and Paul M. Foster Jr., director of the Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region and professor of Slavic languages and literatures. "This grant allows IU to craft innovative approaches, including new curricula and enhanced use of distance learning technologies, that respond to needs the U.S. government recognizes as critical now and in the future," Foster said. Read the full story.

Gift honoring fallen officer will expand law enforcement training -- A grant awarded in memory of an Indianapolis police officer killed in the line of duty will allow the IUPUI Police Department to expand its public safety and law enforcement training programs. The Jake Laird Memorial Fund on May 3 awarded the IUPUI Police Department a $5,400 grant to fund production of training videos. The department will use the monies to purchase commercial-grade video recording and editing equipment to capture IUPUI training sessions on CDs. In-house production of training program CDs will allow IUPUI Police to expand training opportunities for police officers statewide and expand public safety programs such as the rape awareness and prevention program offered to IUPUI students and the general public. "What this will allow us to do is to conduct more, and higher quality training with less costs," said IUPUI Police Sergeant Jerry W. Baker who runs the IUPUI Citizens Police Academy. Read the full story.


Indiana University Bloomington Scoreboard

Schedule for Tuesday, May 8 --

Baseball -- Indiana takes on Louisville in a home-and-home series Tuesday and Wednesday. The two teams will square off at Sembower Field on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and at Patterson Stadium on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Louisville enters the contest with a 32-15 record, while the Hoosiers are currently 16-28. Read the entire story.

Results from Friday-Monday, May 4-7

Baseball -- Iowa took the first three games of the series from the Hoosiers, earning a walk-off win on Friday and sweeping Saturday's doubleheader. The fourth game of the series was canceled on Sunday due to rain and lightening.

Softball -- Indiana, 21-34, 1-19 (Big Ten) dropped its final game of the season on Sunday, May 6, falling to Purdue 11-0 in six innings at the IU Softball Field. Read the entire story.

Track and field (men's and women's) -- Three Hoosiers on the men's team recorded first-place finishes as the Indiana track and field teams hosted the Billy Hayes Invitational on the Billy Hayes Track at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex on Friday, May 4, in Bloomington. From the women's team, freshman Vera Neuenswander cleared 4.12 meters to break the Indiana pole vault record. Neuenswander's clearance also improved her regional qualifying mark and currently ranks sixth in the nation. Read the men's story. Read the women's story.


IU in the News

When logic fails, O'Reilly attacks
Cleveland Plain-Dealer (column), May 8 -- Once an IU study on Bill O'Reilly was released, it didn't take long for O'Reilly to spin. Last week, he blamed the watchdog group Media Matters for getting the word out about IU's study, accusing the staff of publicizing it to retaliate for his attack last month against progressive philanthropist George Soros. O'Reilly also tried to impugn IU's integrity, suggesting that Soros' Open Society Institute had donated $5 million to IU to pay for the "nutty" study. IU Journalism Professor Michael Conway didn't even know about the Soros grant until O'Reilly made his accusation. "It sounds like a cool project," Conway said, chuckling. "I don't think our study cost anything, but I'd love to see some of that money." Read the full story.

Tibetan Plateau born before Himalayas
Discovery News, May 7 -- The Tibetan Plateau is not just a byproduct of the Himalayas, according to a new study based on field work in the highest, driest region on Earth. The researchers got at that question with a fairly new technique using oxygen isotopes found in certain minerals. The isotopes suggest that even at a modest 26 million years ago, the Tibetan Plateau was already more than 16,000 feet above sea level (5,000 meters). "They are strongly implying that a lot of the thickening (of the crust to make it higher) happened earlier," said Tibetan Plateau researcher Brad Ritts of Indiana University in Bloomington. Read the full story.

Third-party push by Unity '08 a matter of Hope vs. History
Congressional Quarterly, May 7 -- Some political analysts say, the rise in independent registration is a bad gauge of disaffection with the major parties. When prodded by pollsters, many independents acknowledge that they "lean" to one of them, even as they express misgivings about both. "People can hold both of these views: that they dislike what the major parties are providing them, but that nevertheless they have a predisposition to favor either the Democrats or the Republicans," said Marjorie Hershey, a political scientist at Indiana University. "That entrenched party identification makes it very tough for any kind of third-party movement." Read the full story.

Getting the most bang out of quarks and gluons
New York Times, May 6 -- A group of men viewing wide-screen monitors in a control room at Brookhaven National Laboratory the other day were rooting for very different collisions, ones made by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, or RHIC (pronounced rick). These images showed up spectacularly on screens like fireworks, depicting the aftermath of atomic collisions. One of the six researchers in the control room, Jim Sowinski, 52, a physicist from Indiana University, compared the analysis of the collisions with police investigation and reconstruction of traffic accidents. "The difference is, we're putting all the cars in the same lane running straight at each other," he said. "Then we watch the results. Some are fender benders, and some are head-ons." Read the full story.

Elusive embryonic cells that form blood vessels have now been grown in large numbers
Scientific American, May 8 -- Researchers believe that hemangioblasts exist for a brief time in embryonic development, during which they give rise to the blood-forming tissues of the body. "Theoretically, this should be the ideal cell to use to get vascular repair," says stem cell researcher Mervin Yoder of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, who was not part of the research. Read the full story.

Study: Chimps more evolved than humans: Researchers say chimpanzees have 233 genes that have gone through natural selection
Indianapolis Star (Bloomberg News Service), May 6 -- Humans might use tools better, but chimps are more highly evolved, an analysis of chimpanzee and human genetic sequences found. "The really interesting thing is that the varying genes, they're not necessarily the most obvious genes," said Matthew Hahn, an assistant professor of biology at Indiana University. "It wasn't just brain-related genes." Read the full story.


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