Campus News in Brief

Special reading hosted by writing department to welcome new members

The creative writing department will welcome Kevin Gonzalez and Lauren Shapiro to Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh with a special reading on Nov. 12 at 4:30 p.m.

Gonzalez is a Carnegie Mellon alumnus who received bachelor’s degrees in creative writing and international relations. Shapiro has degrees from Brown University and Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The two will join a decorated group of poets and writers in the English department.

Currently at Carnegie Mellon, Gonzalez teaches Beginning Fiction Workshop and Beginning Poetry Workshop. Gonzalez has written a poetry collection, Cultural Studies, and is currently writing a novel. Gonzalez’s novel has had excerpts published in Playboy, Narrative magazine, Best New American Voices, and Best American Nonrequired Reading.

Shapiro, experienced in book editing, publishing, and literary translation, wrote a book, Easy Math, which won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize.

According to a press release, Gonzalez said, “I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to return to CMU’s Creative Writing Program as a faculty member. My experience as an undergrad here undoubtedly shaped me in many ways, as a writer, an editor, and even as a teacher. Although writing itself is a solitary act, I find that I, and most writers that I know, work best when part of a thriving literary community. The program at CMU is unparalleled, as far as undergraduate creative writing programs go, in building a strong sense of community between students and faculty.”

Lower wealth leads to higher risk of colds according to CMU researchers

Lower socioeconomic status in childhood and adolescence makes aging individuals more prone to disease, according to the findings of Carnegie Mellon researchers.

The study, published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, shows that children and adolescents go on to have shorter telomeres, biomarkers of age in a cell’s DNA that naturally get shorter with age. Shorter telomeres eventually cease to function, causing the cell to die. Shorter telomeres are also connected to cardiovascular disease and cancer, among other diseases and health problems.

Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon, and his team took 152 healthy volunteers between ages 18–55 and measured their white blood cell telomere lengths.

To judge socioeconomic status, the researchers had participants report whether they owned a home and whether their parents owned the family home during their childhood. Participants were exposed to a rhinovirus, which often starts a cold, and were quarantined five days to determine whether they had an upper respiratory infection. Less wealthy participants had shorter telomere lengths compared to their peers. For every year a participant’s parent did not own a home, their telomeres were on average 5 percent shorter than their peers’.

According to a press release, Cohen said, “We have found initial evidence for a biological explanation of the importance of childhood experiences on adult health. The association we found in young and midlife adults suggests why those raised by parents of relatively low socioeconomic status may be at increased risk for disease throughout adulthood.”