Chase-Dunn Honored

Christopher Chase-Dunn, distinguished professor of sociology, was honored by the American Sociological Association’s Section on the Political Economy of the World-System (PEWS) with its Distinguished Career Award. The award was presented at the association’s annual meeting in August.

He was recognized for “his exceptional contribution to the intellectual project of world-systems analysis, and to the development and continuity of PEWS.” The Distinguished Career Award is awarded only occasionally and was last presented in 2009.

Chase-Dunn, director of The Institute for Research on World-Systems at UCR, also published a new textbook this year, “Social Change: Globalization from the Stone Age to the Present” (Paradigm Publishers). The book tells the story of human sociocultural evolution, describing the conditions under which hunter-gatherers, horticulturalists, agricultural states, and industrial capitalist societies formed, flourished, and declined. Chase-Dunn and co-author Bruce Lerro gather evidence from archaeology, ethnography, linguistics, historical documents, statistics, and survey research to trace the growth of human societies and their complexity, and they probe the conflicts in hierarchies both within and among societies.

Fisher Finishes Teaching Stint in Moscow

John Martin Fischer, distinguished professor of philosophy, taught a two-week summer school, “Free will and Moral responsibility,” in association with Moscow State University in Russia this summer. The school attracted students from around the world, including Russia, Sweden, Scotland, England, and the United States.

An interview with Fischer, in which he explores the relationships between causal determinism, free will, and moral responsibility, is on the website of the Center for Consciousness Studies in the Philosophy Department of Moscow State University and can be viewed at http://hardproblem.ru/events/interview-with-john-m-fischer/#more-1575.

Weems Book Wins Three Grants

A book by Jason Weems, “Barnstorming the Prairies: Aerial Vision and Modernity in Rural America, 1920-1940” (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), has been awarded three competitive publication grants.

Weems, assistant professor of art history, received the Millard Meiss Publication Grant from the College Art Association, the largest professional organization of artists and art historians worldwide; a Furthermore Publication Grant, a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund; and a grant from the Society for the Preservation of American Modernists.

“Beyond offering meaningful recognition, the true importance of these awards is that they help to underwrite publication of the book in its best form,” Weems explained. “Art history books are especially expensive to produce due to the number of illustrations and the process of acquiring copyright permission to reproduce them. My book, for example will feature over 130 images, with 14 to 16 in color. A grant helps to keep publication costs down so that images don’t have to be cut and the book is affordable for readers.”

“Barnstorming the Prairies” offers the first comprehensive examination of modern aerial vision and its impact on 20th century American life, Weems said. He analyzes an array of flight-based representations that includes maps, aerial survey photography, painting, cinema, animation, and suburban architecture.

“The book explores the perceptual and cognitive practices of aerial vision and emphasizes their formative role in re-symbolizing the Midwestern landscape amidst the technological change and social uncertainty of the early 20th century,” he explained. “I argue that the new sightlines actualized by aviation composed a new episteme of vision that enabled Americans to conceptualize the region as something other than isolated and unchanging, and to see it instead as a dynamic space where people worked to harmonize the core traditions of America’s agrarian identity with the more abstract forms of 20th century modernity.”

Undergrad Student at CERN

Physics and Astronomy undergraduate Connor Richards got to work at CERN, Switzerland, over the summer on two projects: upgrade work for the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment’s Hadronic Calorimeter (HCAL) and a physics analysis to get ready for the second run of the Large Hadron Collider.

CERN is the location of the Large Hadron Collider, a powerful particle accelerator.  The Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, of which UC Riverside is a founding member, is a large particle-capturing detector – one of four experiments at the LHC.

“Right now we are in the first long shutdown (LS1) of the LHC; the collider was shut down at the beginning of February 2013 for repairs and upgrades, and is scheduled to start back up in early 2015, which means that this is a very busy and exciting time at CERN as everyone prepares for the end of LS1 and the beginning of the second run of the LHC,” Richards, a University Honors student, said.

The collider ran at an energy of 7 or 8 TeV during the first run, and after the upgrades scientists are expecting to operate the collider at 13 TeV during Run 2.

“This almost doubling of the energy means we can continue to probe even more exotic physics processes, and CERN is abuzz with nervous excitement as LS1 comes to an end and Run 2 comes closer and closer,” Richards said. “Since the experiment is now going to operate at a much higher energy, it’s necessary to improve the detector that we use to examine these events.”

The other project Richards worked on was a physics analysis that he was preparing for the beginning of Run 2.

“The goal is to study the physics we expect to see at 13 TeV using simulations, but with the added twist that everyone wants to be the first to publish once 13 TeV data becomes available,” he said. “Because of this, we are doing as much work as possible now so that we can analyze the 13 TeV data in an expeditious manner when it becomes available.”

At UCR, Richards works with Professors Owen Long and J. William Gary.

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