Carnegie Mellon University

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April 26, 2012

Personal Mention

Chester Spatt, the Pamela R. and Kenneth B. Dunn Professor of Finance at the Tepper School of Business, has been selected to serve on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s new Model Validation Council. The six-person council will provide expert and independent advice on the Federal Reserve’s process to rigorously assess the models used in the stress test for banking institutions, a requirement of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The council is intended to improve the quality of the Federal Reserve's model assessment program and to strengthen the confidence in the integrity and independence of the program. Joining Spatt as members of the council are Council Chairman Francis X. Diebold, professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania; Peter Christoffersen, professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto; Mark Flannery, professor at the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida; Philippe Jorion, professor at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California at Irvine; and Allan Timmermann, professor at the Rady School of Management at the University of California at San Diego.

Dan Nagin, the Teresa and H. John Heinz III University Professor of Public Policy and Statistics, has led a new report by the National Research Council Committee that finds that current research on the effect of capital punishment on homicide rates is not useful in determining whether the death penalty is a deterrent. The report evaluated studies conducted since a four-year moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 1976, and it found that the studies do not provide evidence for or against the proposition that the death penalty affects homicide rates. These studies should not be used to inform judgments about the effect of the death penalty on homicide, and should not serve as a basis for policy decisions about capital punishment, the committee said. Read the full story

The European Association for Theoretical Computer Science has named Venkatesan Guruswami, associate professor of computer science, and Mihai Pătraşcu of AT&T Labs as joint recipients of its 2012 Presburger Award for young scientists. Since 2010, EATCS has conferred the award each year to a young scientist (in exceptional cases to several young scientists) for outstanding contributions in theoretical computer science, documented by a published paper or a series of published papers. Guruswami, who joined the Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Department in 2009, has contributed cornerstone results to the theory of list decoding of error-correcting codes. Read the full story.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Senior Fellow George Cowan, who worked on the Manhattan Project, died April 20 at age 92. Cowan earned his Ph.D. from the Mellon College of Science in 1950 and worked at Los Alamos from 1949 to 1988. He founded the Santa Fe Institute in 1983. In 2002, he received the Los Alamos Medal, the highest honor the laboratory bestows upon an individual or group, for his pioneering work in radiochemical techniques and for his measurements of fundamental physical properties of neutrons from nuclear explosions. In a statement following his passing, Los Alamos officials called him “a giant at the Laboratory, in the community, and in Northern New Mexico.” Read more about Cowan at