April 18th, 2012 | Alumni
The 2012 Pulitzer Prizes announced this week failed to include a prize for fiction or editorial writing, but for finalists in those categories there is still cause for celebration to be named among the top three contenders for the awards.A Wake Forest alumna was among them. The Pulitzer board cited the work of Tim Nickens, Joni James (’89), John Hill and Robyn Blumner of the Tampa Bay Times as an award finalist “for editorials that examined the policies of a new, inexperienced governor and their impact on the state, using techniques that stretched the typical editorial format and caused the governor to mend some of his ways.”
Here’s an excerpt from an editorial critical of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s record on open government: “The reality is that the administration has a high number of public records requests from the public and the media because it is so secretive in the way it conducts public business. This is not about newspapers. This is about the public’s right to be informed about the business of the state and the importance of transparency as a check on government.”
Joni James ('89)
A native of North Carolina, James is deputy editorial page editor of the Tampa Bay Times. Her list of newspaper stops along her career path includes the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel and The Wall Street Journal. She joined the Tampa Bay Times in 2003 and its editorial board in 2008.
The other Pulitzer finalists in the editorial writing category: journalists from Bloomberg News, who wrote about the European financial crisis, and the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press for an editorial campaign that resulted in the state’s first reform of open government laws in 35 years.
December 20th, 2011 | Alumni, Authors, Books
The Wall Street Journal today listed “Healing Reads: The Year’s Five Best Books,” including one reporter Laura Landro called “a lyrical history of the human heart.” That history’s co-author is novelist Stephen Amidon (’81), who wrote “The Sublime Engine: A Biography of the Human Heart,” with Dr. Thomas Amidon, his cardiologist brother.
The book examines the heart in medicine and culture — and its power beyond its role as an organ. “Even as the organ became the central image in religion and the arts for describing those qualities that make us the most human — Shakespeare’s tale of Antony and Cleopatra, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein — it took centuries to fully understand its physical properties,” Landro writes. She goes on to say that the authors provide “a roadmap to the heart’s chambers, its electrical impulses, and its defects, as well as a basic primer about the interventions that have made it possible for broken hearts to beat on.”
Interviewed by National Public Radio earlier in the year, alumnus Amidon discussed how the heart’s metaphorical power has persisted despite the technological innovations to address the physical heart from the time “the great anatomists of the Renaissance” began cutting open bodies to the surgical interventions today.
“So perhaps there will be a day when we no longer touch our chest and kind of nod, and people understand we’re talking about qualities that can’t be explained by medicine — we’re talking about courage or devotion or inspiration,” Amidon told NPR. “You can have a situation where someone receives an artificial heart, and afterward goes to their surgeon and says, ‘I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart.’ This will make complete sense to us.”
In other words, the power of the heart – “we leave our hearts in San Francisco, wear them on our sleeves, speak straight from them” — endures.
Look for Stephen Amidon at Wake Forest during Words Awake!, a writers’ conference that begins on March 23. He is one of Wake Forest’s literary luminaries, scheduled to return to campus to share his experiences at what organizers hope will be a vibrant weekend celebration of Wake Forest writers and writing.
June 3rd, 2011 | Alumni, Events
The summer issue of Wake Forest Magazine closes with “The Artist’s Way of Metaphorically Seeking,” an essay by Charlotte entrepreneur Mary Tribble (’82) in which she writes about how she decided to sell her respected Tribble Creative Group after a U.S. Postal Service truck t-boned her car on the way to yoga class on Christmas Eve 2008.
“For five months after the accident, I tried to get my life back to normal,” she writes. “While I mended my body through rehab, surgery and more rehab, I virtually abandoned my company. The resulting drop in business, combined with the recession, brought the opportunity for change to a head. A key employee was ready to buy. And finally, I was ready to sell.”
The announcement about her decision made front-page news in The Charlotte Observer. In December the deal closed.
Her essay discusses how she has been exploring “the wide-open options” and how her education at Wake Forest as an art major has helped her remain flexible in thinking about possibilities.
“What’s next?” people wondered. The answer came this week. Dan Murrey, executive director of the Charlotte In 2012 host committee, named seven members of the committee’s leadership for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Tribble will be chief of event planning, an enormous responsibility for promoting Charlotte to the world and making sure the convention meets the Democrats’ expectations.
“It’s serendipitous,” she told me. “What are the odds that I would sell my company, be available and the DNC would announce Charlotte as the convention site?” Already she is waking up with ideas, intent on seeing the convention leave a long-term impact. “All the eyes of the world will be on Charlotte for those four or five days,” she says, “and we can create a lasting legacy for Charlotte and the state.” (Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said the 2008 Democratic National Convention had a $266 million regional economic benefit in direct and indirect spending.)
Tribble credits her good fortune to “totally being open. It’s another new chapter.”
April 1st, 2011 | Alumni
The New York Times this week included a special section devoted to energy, and you could find a Demon Deacon in the spotlight, this time for his work to improve the batteries that power electric cars. He’s Jeffrey P. Chamberlain (’88), head of the Electrochemical Energy Storage group at the Argonne National Laboratory, a lab sponsored by the U.S. Energy Department near Chicago.
The article, “Building Better Batteries for Electric Cars,” on Thursday featured Chamberlain’s prediction that the batteries that use some form of lithium-ion chemistry will be around for at least a decade or two “with plenty of room for innovation.” Those batteries are found in the new Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt cars. “In the near-term, reducing the cost of the battery — and with it, the price of the vehicle — will come mostly from better manufacturing techniques and building more batteries,” according to the Times. “Improving durability and range will largely be the domain of researchers and scientists.”
Count a WFU grad among them. The Times said at Argonne researchers are working with new mixes of chemicals and different structures to increase the cathode’s energy capacity. Argonne has begun to license patents. “The result, Mr. Chamberlain said, would be batteries ‘that squeeze more energy into a smaller package, are less expensive to make and last longer.’”
Chamberlain may well be on his way to removing obstacles for drivers who want a more affordable electric car. The battery is the costliest component.