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Stories this week at Wake Forest University

July 26, 2007

STUDENTS CONSIDER QUALITIES OF ‘GOOD QUESTIONS’ IN DEBATES – The July 23 Democratic presidential debate broke new campaign ground with the use of videotaped questions submitted by voters on YouTube. CNN chose which questions would be posed to the candidates. For teenagers attending the summer debate programs at Wake Forest, this was an opportunity to research what makes a good question in such a situation. While most viewers around the country focused on the candidates, the summer debate students at Wake Forest watched the debate and used a 20-point scale to rate the questions chosen by the CNN/YouTube team. Ross Smith, director of debate at Wake Forest, believes his group was the only one measuring the quality of the questions. He says no matter who “won” the debate, the big story was the questions. “Pundits, observers, and the campaigns have opined about the questions and whether or not CNN picked the "best" ones, but first we need to know how a "good question" should be defined.” A preliminary report on the results of the question assessment is posted at and at

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393

WFU LAUNCHES TWO NANOTECHNOLOGY STARTUPS – Wake Forest has launched two startup companies, FiberCell and PlexiLight, to turn breakthrough technologies developed at the university’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials into products for the commercial marketplace.  FiberCell plans to develop the next generation of solar cells based on a novel architecture that utilizes nanotechnology and optical fibers to dramatically boost efficiency, while PlexiLight plans to develop a revolutionary lighting source that is lightweight, ultra-thin and energy efficient because it produces visible light directly rather than as a byproduct of heating a filament or gas.  FiberCell and PlexiLight have received startup funding from Wake Forest and Connecticut-based NanoHoldings, which specializes in building early-stage nanotechnology companies around exclusive licenses from leading research universities.  Both new companies are funding further research by the nanotechnology lab to develop prototypes of various applications for the respective technologies and expect to gradually shift operations to Winston-Salem’s Piedmont Triad Research Park over the next 18 months.

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238


REPORTERS INVITED TO OSTEOARTHRITIS STUDY SIMULATION -- Members of the media are invited to experience firsthand the challenges faced by participants in a weight loss and exercise study for the elderly suffering from osteoarthritis. While wearing a weighted vest, reporters can go through some of the same testing and try the same exercises as the study participants. Stephen Messier, professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest, says the goal of the Intensive Diet and Exercise for Arthritis (IDEA) study “is to maintain quality of life and independence for those suffering from osteoarthritis.” The study began in January with the first set of 45 participants. The third set of participants joined the study July 9. Participants are available for interviews, and there are many visual opportunities for photos and b-roll.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393


WFU PROFESSOR AVAILABLE TO DISCUSS RECENT TRIP TO AFRICASylvain Boko, Zachary T. Smith Associate Professor of Economics at Wake Forest, returned recently from a three-week trip to Africa, where he led an interdisciplinary team of professors from 11 Atlantic Coast Conference universities to various sites in Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa.  The group examined the psychological, social, economic and institutional aspects of conflict resolution, reconciliation and reconstruction efforts underway in those nations, which have endured war, genocide and apartheid.  The trip was sponsored by the ACC’s Inter-institutional Academic Collaborative, a conference initiative that supports scholarly research in areas of the world where it is not feasible for a single university to sustain a full program.  Boko, a native of Benin, leads frequent field trips to Africa and is knowledgeable about a host of current issues affecting the continent, such as the ongoing conflict in Darfur.

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238

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