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Tabachnik becomes the college’s first Gates Cambridge Scholar 

Published in spring 2013

Jason Tabachnik (CWR ’13, GRS ’13) has been awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue graduate study in applied mathematics. He was one of 39 Americans to receive the prestigious scholarship this year, and the first Case Western Reserve student selected since the program was established in 2001.

Tabachnik completed bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics, and a master’s degree in physics, during his four years at the university. Ultimately, he says, “I plan to become a condensed-matter physicist focused on the development of new materials.”

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, enables students from around the world to enroll in advanced degree programs at the University of Cambridge. Scholars are chosen for their outstanding academic ability, capacity for leadership and commitment to improving the lives of others.

Tabachnik, who previously received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, gained research experience in several areas of physics during his undergraduate career. His mentors included Perkins Professor of Physics and Distinguished University Professor Philip Taylor, Associate Professor Harsh Mathur, and Baldwin Assistant Professor Andrew Tolley.

In the Department of Mathematics, Tabachnik found another mentor in Professor Erkki Somersalo, who admitted him into an advanced graduate seminar on partial differential equations when he was only a junior. The department presented Tabachnik with the Mathematics Chair’s Award for enriching the intellectual life of the majors program.

Tabachnik says that he hopes to make theoretical contributions to his field by examining “revolutionary advances like metamaterials and superconductors.” At the same time, he plans to collaborate with experimentalists internationally to ensure that these advances are “channeled into viable solutions for global problems.”

A Bequest for Theater

In the mid-1960s, Cynthia Kellogg Barrington (GRS ’64) gained her first experience as a costume designer while earning a Master of Arts degree in theater at Western Reserve University. Decades later, recalling how her education had contributed to her life and career, she decided to make a significant bequest to her alma mater that would support learning opportunities for aspiring actors.

Barrington, who died in August 2010, planned a $425,000 endowment gift to the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program. Her donation, the largest in the program’s history, will fund initiatives such as visits by internationally acclaimed theater artists.

A childhood resident of Massachusetts and Connecticut, Barrington enrolled in the graduate theater program at Western Reserve in 1962. She benefited from the mentorship of faculty member Charles Autry, who was the costume designer for several campus productions she worked on.

“He was a good influence and provided guidance, helping her with her creativity,” says her sister, Faith Barrington. “She loved costuming, and she learned a lot in the department.”

Following graduation in 1964, Barrington stayed in Northeast Ohio for the following Cleveland Play House season, designing costumes for such productions as Twelve Angry Men, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Major Barbara. But she soon found her way to New York City, where she worked as a freelance costume designer and stage manager for numerous Off-Broadway productions, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and Brooklyn Academy of Music.

During her final years, Barrington designated generous bequests to five performing arts programs and theaters.

“When she knew of her illness, she was very conscientious about planning her will,” Faith Barrington says. “She did a lot of investigating and planning where her estate would be best used. She was very selective to support what was influential in her life.”

The MFA Acting Program is among the most respected graduate theater programs in the country. Its alumni include Rich Sommer (GRS ‘04) of Mad Men and 2012 Tony Award nominee Elizabeth A. Davis (GRS ‘06).

“Ms. Barrington’s thoughtful bequest will greatly expand the experiences we’re able to offer our students,” says Ron Wilson, chair of the Department of Theater and director of the program. “Through visiting artists and summer study opportunities to deepen their craft, our students will be prepared for rewarding careers as professional actors.”

Thompson earns top award for educators of first-year students

Lee Thompson (center) receives her award during the Conference on the First-Year Experience from Brian Kibby, president of Mc-Graw Hill Higher Education, and Jennifer Keup, director of the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Lee Thompson (center) receives her award during the Conference on the First-Year Experience from Brian Kibby, president of Mc-Graw Hill Higher Education, and Jennifer Keup, director of the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Professor Lee Thompson, chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences, has received the McGraw-Hill Excellence in Teaching First-Year Seminars Award. She was presented with the honor during the 32nd annual Conference on the First-Year Experience in Orlando, Fla.

The first Case Western Reserve faculty member selected for this national recognition, Thompson was one of the creators of SAGES, the Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship, in 2001. Associate Dean and SAGES Director Peter Whiting nominated her for the award.

A 1982 graduate of Case Western Reserve, Thompson joined the psychology faculty in 1987. She helped lead the college’s strategic planning process in 2008 and has served with distinction on several college and university committees. As a researcher, she has devoted much of her work to exploring the development of cognitive skills, temperament and language from infancy through childhood.

The role for which she has been honored is as leader of Life of the Mind, a SAGES First Seminar in SAGES that investigates the relationship between the mind and the brain, a theme that strongly relates to her research. Thompson increases engagement among first-year students by inviting them to help determine the direction of the seminar. For example, she lets them decide what kinds of assignments to complete and allows them to choose topics within the course’s theme.

“Classroom techniques that encourage active learning are intrinsically motivating because an engaged learner cannot be the victim of boredom,” Thompson said in a February story in The Daily, the university’s online newsletter. “… Because the students create the learning environment, the course changes each time I teach it, and this in turn keeps my enthusiasm high.”

art/sci, etc.

Todd Norton, a junior math and physics major, was selected as a Goldwater Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The foundation provides support to outstanding college students who intend to pursue careers in science, mathematics or engineering.

Marixa Lasso, associate professor in the Department of History, has been awarded two fellowships—from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Humanities Center—to support her research. She is writing a book about a long-forgotten event in Central American history—the dismantling of towns that once dotted the Panama Canal Zone.

Karen Beckwith, the Flora Stone Mather Professor in the Department of Political Science, received the Outstanding Professional Scholar Award from the Midwest Political Science Association’s Women’s Caucus.

Kathryn Lavelle, the Ellen and Dixon Long Professor in World Affairs in the Department of Political Science, published Money and Banks in the American Political System.

Alan Rocke, the Henry Eldridge Bourne Professor of History and Distinguished University Professor, was elected a fellow of the American Chemical Society. In addition, he published From the Molecular World: A Nineteenth-Century Science Fantasy, his translation (with introduction and notes) of a work by the German chemist Hermann Kopp.

Henry Adams, professor in the Department of Art History and Art, published the exhibition catalog A Buckeye Abroad: Frank Wilcox in Paris and Europe 1910-14.

Pete Moore, associate professor in the Department of Political Science, is a co-author of Beyond the Arab Spring: Authoritarianism and Democratization in the Arab World.

Carlos Crespo-Hernández, the Frank Hovorka Assistant Professor in Chemistry, received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation.

Laura Ymayo Tartakoff, instructor in the Department of Political Science, published a book of poetry, Inventario y otros poemas (Inventory and Other Poems).

Hiroyuki Fujita (GRS ’98), president and CEO of Quality Electrodynamics (QED), was appointed to the 2013 Manufacturing Council, a group that advises the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Page last modified: February 9, 2017