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Stories this week at Wake Forest University

November 14, 2007

GOVERNORS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT – The 2008 presidential campaign began with seven sitting or former governors vying for the presidency.  Of those, three remain in the running: Republican former governors Mitt Romney (Mass.) and Mike Huckabee (Ark.) and current Democratic governor Bill Richardson (N.M.).  Jack Fleer, professor emeritus of political science at Wake Forest, says that overall, governors are rated fairly well for their performance when they do win the presidency.  Fleer is watching the 2008 elections closely to see how Romney, Huckabee and Richardson fare in their race to the White House.  His new book, “Governors Speak,” takes a close look at the evolving role of governor and the people who excel in this role and beyond. 

Contact:  Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393.

ISLAMIC STUDIES SCHOLAR TO TALK ABOUT LAGGING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN MIDDLE EAST —Timur Kuran, professor of economics and political science and Gorter Family Chair in Islamic Studies at Duke University, will speak at 4 p.m. Nov. 27 in Benson University Center’s Pugh Auditorium on “Economic Underdevelopment in the Middle East: The Historical Role of Islamic Law.”  Kuran’s research focuses on why the Middle East, which once had a high standard of living by global standards, subsequently fell behind in economic production, organizational capability, technological creativity, democratization and military strength.  He believes the economic and educational institutions of Islam, though well-suited to the era in which they emerged, were poorly suited to a dynamic industrial economy.  His recent papers have identified obstacles involving inheritance practices, contract law, procedures of the courts, the absence of corporations, the financial system and the delivery of social services.

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

ASTRONOMY STUDENTS WATCHING UNUSUALLY BRIGHT COMET –Comet 17P/Holmes, known as the “flaring comet,” is passing near Earth on its nearly seven-year orbit around the Sun, and astronomy students at Wake Forest have been viewing it from the roof of Olin Physical Laboratory.  The old and relatively inactive comet grew much brighter Oct. 24, and scientists are trying to understand why.  While it lacks the distinctive tail associated with comets, 17P/Holmes is now unusually bright, making it easy to distinguish from stars and visible with binoculars or even the unaided eye.  For some of their labs, students in the class gather on the roof, pointing computer-guided, 8-inch telescopes at the heavens. About 180 non-science majors enroll in Astronomy 109 to fulfill their science requirement at Wake Forest, says Paul Anderson, a professor of physics who rotates teaching the course with three other faculty members.  “It’s the kind of subject that strikes the imagination,” Anderson notes, adding that people without strong science backgrounds can see and understand stars and appreciate the spectacular images found in space.  “What we want to do is give them as much hands-on experience as possible.”    Media who would like to arrange coverage, can contact the News Service for days and times of astronomy class meetings.

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

STUDENT TEACHERS USE ‘SMARTPHONES’ IN CLASSROOM— Twelve student teachers at Wake Forest University are pioneering the use of “smartphones,” pocket-sized devices that combine the features of a computer with the functions of a cell phone, in elementary school classrooms this fall.  The first of its kind in the country, the program puts the devices in the hands of student teachers to find out how they can be used to track the performance of students and improve the quality of teaching.  The mobile computing devices, nicknamed Mobis, provide an unobtrusive way to evaluate students during a lesson and find out which students may need some additional help, said Kristin Bennett, assistant professor of education at Wake Forest who is coordinating the program.  To arrange interviews with Bennett and the student teachers, contact the News Service.

Contact: Cheryl Walker,, (336) 758-5237.

RESEARCHERS DISCOVER HEMOGLOBIN FUNCTION — A team of researchers from Wake Forest, the National Institutes of Health and other institutions has discovered a previously undetected chemical process within the oxygen-carrying molecule hemoglobin that could have far-reaching implications for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.  The research by senior authors Daniel Kim-Shapiro, professor of physics at Wake Forest, and Mark Gladwin, chief of the Vascular Medicine Branch of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH, was published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology Nov. 4.

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

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