spacer spacer spacer
yalealumnimagazine.com   about the Yale Alumni Magazine   classified & display advertising   back issues 1992-present   our blogs   The Yale Classifieds   yam@yale.edu   support us


The Yale Alumni Magazine is owned and operated by Yale Alumni Publications, Inc., a nonprofit corporation independent of Yale University.

The content of the magazine and its website is the responsibility of the editors and does not necessarily reflect the views of Yale or its officers.


New Anchor for Physics Firmament

Meg Urry decided to study astrophysics because it breaches barriers of time and distance: “The idea that you could spend your day studying what was happening billions of light years away really appealed to me." Urry, the Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Yale, will soon be tracking matters closer to home: the workings of the Yale physics department. Beginning July 1, Urry will head the department—becoming the first woman chair in the physical sciences at Yale. Nationwide, men head 89 percent of physics departments.

Urry investigates the formation and evolution of the super-massive black holes that astrophysicists believe anchor each galaxy. Mysteriously, stars in the galaxy that are distant enough from the central black hole to avoid its pull (and destruction) nonetheless “move in ways that imply they know the size of the black hole,” says Urry. “We want to understand how that could be.”

“‘Can you be a scientist and have a family?’ I’ve never been asked that by a man.”

As one of four women in a physics department with 33 professors, and the first tenured female physicist at Yale, Urry recognizes that “there are extra barriers facing women, and those will have to be addressed. One of the first questions I get asked by young women interested in becoming scientists is, 'Can you be a scientist and have a family?' I’ve never, never been asked that by a man.” As an antidote, Urry makes sure to mention her two daughters when she teaches a course or gives a talk. She is married to fellow Yale astrophysicist Andrew Szymkowiak.

One of Urry’s goals is to see “a flood of people taking physics,” including non-science students. Physics, Urry says, “teaches you how to think logically and deductively. It’s the beginning of a very broad spectrum of futures, from law to medicine to diplomacy to politics.” In some countries, she says, students are told: “If you want to get anywhere in this world, you take physics.”



In 1939, at the World’s Fair in New York City, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia swore in  Jane Matilda Bolin '31LLB as the first African American female judge in U.S. history. It was not Bolin’s first first: eight years earlier, she had been the first African American woman to graduate from Yale Law School. Bolin, who died on January 8 at her home in Queens, New York, at the age of 98, spent nearly 40 years as a judge in Family Court before reaching mandatory retirement age in 1978. “She entered new environs fearlessly, exploded old myths, and helped transform American law with her pioneering spirit,” said current Law School dean Harold Hongju Koh. She is survived by a son, a granddaughter, and a great-granddaughter.



Alan Kazdin, the John M. Musser Professor of Psychology, was elected from among five candidates to be the next president of the American Psychological Association, the 150,000-member professional organization for psychologists. Kazdin, who has directed the Yale Child Study Center and now directs the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, will serve as president of the APA in 2008. Kazdin said on his election that he wants the field of psychology “to play a more critical role in serving the areas of diversity, children and families, health care, and social policy.”



Fresh from his tenure as deputy secretary general of the United Nations, Mark Malloch Brown is spending the spring term as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. Malloch Brown, a British national, was administrator of the United Nations Development Programme from 1999 to 2005 and was appointed by Kofi Annan as deputy secretary in April 2006. He stepped down with Annan in December. He is perhaps best known for his clashes with John Bolton '70, '74JD, the former U.S. ambassador to the UN. Malloch Brown will work on a book about leadership in a globalized world during his fellowship.  


©1992–2012, Yale Alumni Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Yale Alumni Magazine, P.O. Box 1905, New Haven, CT 06509-1905, USA. yam@yale.edu