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In The News 2012

Blair Foster:

Gainesville native Blair Foster wins Emmy for film on George Harrison

Gainesville native Blair Foster has won an Emmy Award for her work on the HBO documentary, "George Harrison: Living in the Material World." Foster, a graduate of Eastside High School and the University of Florida (BA, History), shared the Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Special, which was awarded Sept. 15 during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.

As supervising producer of the documentary, which recounted Harrison's life both with The Beatles and beyond, Foster shared in the award with five others, including Harrison's widow, Olivia Harrison, and Martin Scorsese, both of whom won as producers of the program.

Foster previously won the 2009 Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Research for her work on another HBO documentary, “Taxi to the Dark Side,” which examined practices of torture by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the torture of an Afghani taxi driver who died in 2002.

Padgett Powell: University of Edinburgh News and Events

Winners announced for Britain's oldest literary prizes

Acclaimed novelist Padgett Powell and leading biographer Fiona MacCarthy have joined the roll call of celebrated writers to win the James Tait Black Prizes, Britain’s oldest literary awards. 

The winners of the £10,000 prizes, — awarded annually by the English Literature department at the University of Edinburgh, — were announced this evening (Saturday, 21 August) by broadcaster Sally Magnusson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

American writer Padgett Powell, whose work has been was nominated for an American Book Award and excerpted in The New Yorker, is winner of the fiction prize for his book You and I.

One of Britain’s foremost literary biographers, Fiona MacCarthy is the recipient of the biography prize for her book on the British artist and designer Edward Burne-Jones, Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination.

The prizes are for the best work of fiction and the best biography published during the previous 12 months.

This year the James Tait Black Prizes have been extended to include a new category for drama. The prize for the best original new play written in English, Scots or Gaelic has been organised by the University in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland. The first winner of this award will be announced in August 2013.

The James Tait Black's roster of former winners includes some of the best writers in the literary canon with past winners including DH Lawrence, Ian McEwan and Cormac McCarthy.

Fiction winner Padgett Powell, who is a a Professor of writing at the University of Florida, saw off competition from authors including ManBooker Prize nominee A.D. Miller and Scots writer Ali Smith, who also made the fiction shortlist in 2006 and 2011.

Fiction winner Padgett Powell said: “The woman who forty years ago inspired me and supported me in the presumption to write—she appears in my first book as a "literary mother"—has recently written me that she considers the James Tait Black Prize second to the Nobel. I do not gainsay her.”

Veteran biographer Fiona McCarthy topped a biography that included  Pulitzer Prize winner Manning Marable for his book, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, and Australian author Ian Donaldson for his biography of Renaissance dramatist Ben Johnson.

Biography judge Professor Jonathan Wild of the University of Edinburgh, said: “The James Tait Black Prizes have a very long history of celebrating the work of great novelists and biographers. The quality of works we considered this year was top notch, which made the shortlisting process even more difficult than usual.”

The four novels competing for the fiction prize were: Snowdrops by A.D. Miller; Solace by Belinda McKeon; You and I by Padgett Powell; There But For The by Ali Smith.

The shortlisted works for the biography section were: Ben Jonson: A Life by Ian Donaldson; The Last Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination by Fiona MacCarthy;  Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable; Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life by Susie Harries, which also won the 2011 Wolfson History Prize.

The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her deceased husband’s love of reading. They are the only major British book awards judged by scholars and postgraduate literature students.

The announcement of the new drama prize was made as part of the celebrations to mark 250 years of English Literature study at the University of Edinburgh.

Later in the year the University will be making a special award for the ‘Best of the James Tait Black’ in fiction.

The award-winner will be drawn from fiction winners since the award began in 1919.

A shortlist of authors will be announced in the Autumn.

For further information on the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes please go to:

For further information please contact: Joanne Morrison, University of Edinburgh, Press and PR Office, tel 0131 6514 266. Mobile: 07717707623; email:

James E.T. Channell: The New York Times, Voice of America, Wall Street Journal and BBC News

Next ice age will be postponed
January 8, 2012

Geological Sciences Distinguished Professor James E.T. Channell was quoted by the New York Times and the Voice of America suggesting, by analogy with previous ice ages, that the next ice age will be postponed indefinitely because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Research by Channell and co-authors in the United Kingdom and Norway just published in Nature Geoscience explains that the high current levels of carbon dioxide will prevent the natural cycle of cooling that would, in the absence of high carbon dioxide levels, cause the onset of the next ice age within 1500 years. The delayed cooling will result in melting of continental ice sheets and sea level rise. Comments on the study were also published by the Wall Street Journal, which interviewed Channell, and BBC News.

Michael Perfit: WCJB-TV and

Collectors' Day at Florida Museum of Natural History
January 22, 2012

Geological Sciences UF Research Foundation Professor and Chair Michael Perfit was interviewed on WCJB-TV talking about his volcano souvenir collection during its display at the Florida Museum of Natural History's annual Collectors' Day. A photo of Perfit explaining the geology of volcanos to museum visitors at the event appeared on

Mark Brenner: PBS

"Quest for the Lost Maya" special
March 28, 2012

Geological Sciences Professor Mark Brenner appeared on PBS's National Geographic special, "Quest for the Lost Maya." Archaeologists found evidence of previously unknown early Maya occupation hidden under an ancient pyramid in the Yucatan jungle. Structures included a huge palace complex. This ancient Maya community lacked nearby surface water sources and relied on rainwater stored in cisterns especially in the protracted dry season. The classic Maya abandoned the area around 900 AD without an obvious reason.

Studying sediment cores taken from a lake 50 miles away, Brenner and colleagues Senior Associate in Geology Jason Curtis and former Geological Sciences Professor David Hodell (now at University of Cambridge) discovered there had been a series of severe droughts, probably lasting from three to 20 years, including one that occurred coincident with the Maya departure from the area. Because the cisterns could store a limited water supply, it is believed drought forced the residents to leave. Political instability probably prevented their return. The special can be seen at

Geological Sciences PhD graduate, faculty, and graduate students: Smithsonian Channel

"Titanoboa: Monster Snake" special
April 1, 2012

Information on research about the discovery of the world's largest snake will be presented on "Titanoboa: Monster Snake" on the Smithsonian Channel premiering April 1 at 8 pm. A team co-organized by Florida Museum of Natural History Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and Associate Professor of Geological Sciences, Anthropology, and Zoology Jonathan Bloch and UF Geological Sciences PhD graduate and Smithsonian staff scientist Carlos Jaramillo found fossils of 28 snakes in a Colombian coal mine, but researchers did not realize they were snakes until 2007 because they were so large. The 48-feet long, 2,500 pound Titanoboa lived 58 million years ago.

Other UF team members include Geological Sciences and Florida Museum of Natural History PhD candidates Alex Hastings and Aldo Rincon, and Biology PhD candidate (and Geological Sciences masters graduate) Fabiany Herrera. All appear on the show. The full broadcast schedule and more information about the show are available at The show can be seen in Gainesville on April 7 on WGFL CBS4 at 12:30 pm and on WMYG MY11 at 8:00 pm and on April 8 at 1:00 pm on WNBW NBC9.

Andrea Dutton: ABC Australia radio, the LA Times, and WUFT-FM

Rising global temperatures could mean higher than anticipated sea level peak
July 13, 2012

Geological Sciences Assistant Professor Andrea Dutton was quoted by ABC Australia radio, the LA Times, and WUFT-FM about her research suggesting sea level peaked between 18 and 30 feet above current sea level during the last interglacial period about 125,000 years ago. The conclusions by Dutton and her Australian co-author published in Science on July 13 were based on analysis of fossil coral reef data. The previous sea level peak provides insight on how the earth could respond in future to rising polar temperatures. She was also interviewed by the New York Times.

George Kamenov: New York Times

A Jane Doe Gets a Back Story
November 12, 2012

Research presented by Associate in Geology George Kamenov at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in November was cited in a New York Times article entitled "A Jane Doe Gets a Back Story." Kamenov did isotope analysis on hair, teeth, and bone samples from an unidentified murder victim whose body was discovered in Sumter County, FL, in 1971. Contrary to what investigators believed, the analysis indicated she was from Europe, most likely from Greece, arriving in this area within a year before her death. Kamenov based his conclusions on lead isotopes showing similarity to the leaded gasoline used in Europe, and oxygen isotopes, indicating that she grew up in Southern Europe, near the Mediterranean Sea. Carbon isotopes in her hair, which changed from a wheat-based to a corn-based diet, suggested the move from Europe to the United States was within few months to a year before her death. Although information about and a reconstructed image of the woman were published in October in an international Greek-language newspaper, her identity remains unknown.

Brian Silliman: NBC News

Reminders of BP oil spill persist (video)
November 15, 2012

On the docks in Louisiana, fishermen and oystermen say the effects of the BP oil spill remain today. Biology Assistant Professor Brian Silliman and his grad student Marc Hensel featured their work in this video shown on NBC News on the impacts of the BP oil spill on salt marshes, which was also published recently in PNAS.

Andrea Dutton: New York Times

Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines
November 24, 2012

Research by Geological Sciences Assistant Professor Andrea Dutton published in Science was cited in a New York Times article entitled "Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines." The article highlights the scientific basis for expecting a significant future rise in sea level and increasing frequency of coastal flooding such as that experienced during Hurricane Sandy. Dutton's research focused on sea level changes during a warm period about 125,000 years ago, before the last ice age. Although Earth's orbit differed then, with more sunshine on the Arctic, the analogy with today's conditions is still compelling.

Ted Schuur: Associated Press

UN says thawing permafrost to boost global warming
November 27, 2012

Biology Associate Professor Ted Schuur's work on the contribution of permafrost melting to CO2 in the atmosphere has influenced policy makers at the UN. A U.N. report released in November says that thawing permafrost covering almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere could "significantly amplify global warming" at a time when the world is already struggling to reign in rising greenhouse gases

The warning comes as United Nations climate negotiations enter a second day, with the focus on the Kyoto Protocol – a legally-binding emissions cap that expires this year and remains the most significant international achievement in the fight against global warming. Countries are hoping to negotiate an extension to the pact that runs until at least 2020.

Harvey Lillywhite: Science Journal

Salt and the Sea Serpent
November 30, 2012

Despite millions of years living in the ocean, sea snakes still have to watch their salt intake. Biology Professor Harvey Lillywhite has tested hundreds of sea snakes to see if they will drink fresh water.

Sean Patrick Adams: Bloomberg View

Why District Steam Heat Flopped in Gilded Age New York
December 27, 2012

History Associate Professor Sean Adams published a post on Echoes, which is a blog on the Bloomberg View site, about the inadvertent negative effects created when the New York Steam Company brought centralized steam heat to parts of New York city.

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