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Researcher to study use of technology during recent earthquake

A University of Colorado Colorado Springs researcher will join a multidisciplinary team in New Zealand in an effort to study the effects of the earthquake that struck Christchurch on Feb. 22.


Jeannette Sutton, senior research associate at the Trauma, Health and Hazards Center, will join a team from the U.S.-based Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. The team will examine the aftermath of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake with the goal of bringing back lessons that can be applied to U.S. building practices and used in academic settings.

Sutton will examine the use of social media during the earthquake. Specifically, she is interested in how the technology was used to share information between victims and survivors and how volunteers and first-responders used the tools.

"I'm also interested in the collaboration and coordination between volunteer groups and the official response organizations via social media," Sutton said. "And in those areas where social media or communication technology is not available, I want to learn about how they are communicating to vulnerable groups and populations who are at extreme risk."

Sutton will join researchers from Auburn University, the University of British Columbia, the Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado State University and Duke University. The group will focus on the performance of engineered structures in the earthquake, nonstructural building components, hospitals, and the health-care system, as well as risk communication and societal resiliency in addition to Sutton's interest in communication. The Christchurch earthquake is of particular interest to researchers because it was part of an aftershock from a September 2010 earthquake.

The team is organized by EERI's Learning from Earthquakes Program which has sent reconnaissance teams to investigate hundreds of earthquakes during the past 40 years. Six team members, including Sutton, are receiving support from the National Science Foundation. Other public and private organizations are contributing travel support.

During the trip, the researchers will be contributing to a blog. To view, visit http://www.eqclearinghouse.org/2011-02-22-christchurch.

— Tom Hutton

Professor elected to leadership post with international academic group

von Dassanowsky
von Dassanowsky

Robert von Dassanowsky, University of Colorado Colorado Springs professor of German and film studies, has been elected vice president of the Modern Austrian Literature and Culture Association (MALCA), the international academic organization for Austrian studies.

He will assume the office April 7 during the association's annual conference, hosted this year by Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania.

Dassanowsky also has been invited to speak at the "Cultures at War: Austria-Hungary 1914-1918" symposium at St Hilda's College, Oxford University, April 13-15.

CU educators take honors for authoring textbook


A textbook authored by two professors with University of Colorado connections, along with two other academicians from Washington state, was awarded the 2011 Textbook Excellence Award (Texty) in the college level Mathematics/Statistics category.

The Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) honored the first edition of "Briggs/Cochran: Calculus" by William Briggs, Lyle Cochran, Bernard Gillett and Eric Schulz. The book is published by Pearson Education/Addison-Wesley.

Briggs was on the mathematics faculty at the University of Colorado Denver for 23 years, teaching throughout the undergraduate and graduate curriculum with a special interest in applied mathematics. He developed the Quantitative Reasoning course for liberal arts students at CU Denver. He is the author of five other textbooks and monographs, and is a University of Colorado President's Teaching Scholar.

Gillett is a senior instructor at CU-Boulder. He has earned five teaching awards over the span of a 20-year career. He has been active in the publishing industry since 1993, working at that time as a developmental editor for a software package that accompanied a college mathematics textbook series. He has published a number of books, including several student and instructor manuals for math texts, and four rock climbing guides for the mountains in and around Rocky Mountain National Park.

Cochran is a professor of mathematics at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., and Schulz has been on the mathematics faculty at Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, Wash., since 1989.

The Texty Award, created in 1992, recognizes current textbooks and learning materials. Judges are published textbook authors. "Briggs/Cochran: Calculus" was one of seven textbooks to receive the award. For a list of winners, visit http://www.taaonline.net/awards/2011winners.html

The awards will be presented during a luncheon at the 24th annual TAA Conference in Albuquerque on June 25.

The TAA is the only nonprofit membership association dedicated solely to assisting textbook and academic authors. TAA's overall mission is to enhance the quality of textbooks and other academic materials, such as journal articles, monographs and scholarly books, in all fields and disciplines, by providing its textbook and academic author members with educational and networking opportunities.

Law professor's book focuses on Supreme Court justices

In her new book, University of Colorado Law Professor Emily Calhoun examines the obligations of Supreme Court justices to losing parties in constitutional rights disputes.

"Losing Twice" (Oxford University Press) argues that justices have an obligation to avoid and ameliorate harm to citizens whose arguments about constitutional meaning are rejected.  Building on that straightforward proposition, Calhoun shows how the justices' failure to satisfy their obligation inflicts unjust harm on constitutional losers. She moves beyond debates about judicial activism to construct a novel legal framework for evaluating the legitimacy of the work of Supreme Court Justices.

The book draws on insights from many academic disciplines, but is directed at a general readership as well as academic audiences. It examines real-world constitutional rights disputes using language and concepts that will help any reader better understand why the Justices' resolutions of abortion, gay rights, and racial discrimination disputes can provoke such outrage.  

With the book, Calhoun aims to remind readers of the relationship that ought to exist among members of a political community committed to equality and government-by-consent. She questions assertions that justices should be thought of as umpires in an athletic contest or as mere elite, legal technicians. 

Want to suggest a colleague — or yourself — for People? Please e-mail information to Jay.Dedrick@cu.edu

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