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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI names 10 to watch in 2010

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KINGSTON, R.I. —December 17, 2009—The University of Rhode Island is joining everyone who is making a list this holiday season by creating one of its own. URI’s 10 for 10 list includes alumni and professors who will be people to watch in 2010.

1. John King, a 1985 journalism alumnus, will take over Lou Dobbs’ spot on CNN early next year. King will host a show about politics, which will put him in direct competition with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews whose “Hardball” is also about politics. King is more than up to the challenge. A top political reporter for CNN since 1997, he is currently hosting “State of the Union” on Sundays. He played a key part of CNN’s innovative coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign and pioneered the use of CNN’s multi-touch board. CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, a 1983 alumna, recalls first meeting King when both were cub reporters covering the first Gulf War from Saudi Arabia. He was the AP reporter; she was there for CNN. Amanpour is CNN's chief international correspondent and anchor of Amanpour., a 30-minute, daily interview program that premiered on CNN International in September.


2. Major General Michael T. Flynn, a 1981 alumnus, has become known as the chief operating officer of the Afghanistan war. A trusted advisor to Army General Stanley A. McChrystal, Flynn brings a different and updated approach to gathering intelligence. His brother, Col. Charles Flynn, a 1986 alumnus, can often be seen at his side. The brothers grew up in Middletown, R.I.




3. Annie De Groot, professor of molecular biology and director of the URI Institute for Immunology and Informatics, is on the front lines of the search for vaccines for emerging infectious disease. Founder of EpiVax, Inc., a successful Providence-based biomedical research facility, she established her Institute at the University in early 2009, and just a few months later she was awarded a $13 million grant to pioneer the development and application of an integrated gene-to-vaccine program targeting such diseases as AIDS, hepatitis C, and emerging bioterror agents. Her GAIA Vaccine Foundation aims to distribute the HIV vaccine at no profit to developing countries. And this month, De Groot’s company announced a research agreement with pharmaceutical giant Roche Worldwide to evaluate a technology that could reduce detrimental immune responses to certain drugs.


4. Kate Moran, associate dean of URI's Graduate School of Oceanography and professor of ocean engineering, was named last year as a senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology, where she provides guidance to President Barack Obama on issues related to oceans, the Arctic and climate change. She is well known in scientific circles for her leadership of major international research expeditions to discover the source of the Indian Ocean tsunami and to learn about ancient Arctic climate. Moran has long been a leading voice in communicating the threat the world faces from global warming, and her new role in the Obama Administration, which she will hold for two years before returning to URI, will give her an even more visible platform from which to address the topic.


5. Jackie Sparks, an associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies, recently finished work on the largest clinical trial to date, which showed that couples who had a simple method of client-directed feedback incorporated into their counseling were nearly 50 percent less likely to wind up divorced or separated.


6. URI biophysicists Yana Reshetnyak and Oleg Andreev have discovered a technology that can detect cancerous tumors. Their harmless detection method could be used as a universal procedure in the future to locate a problem before the patient ever feels ill. In addition, the URI couple has discovered a way to inject diagnostic or therapeutic agents into cancerous cells without harming healthy cells that surround them. Their work has attracted more than $6 million in grants in four years. Health care and pharmaceutical companies have also expressed interest in their work.


7. If you’re interested in the disease fighting properties of certain foods, then Navindra Seeram, URI assistant professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, is a researcher to watch in 2010. Named the 2009 Young Scientist of the Year by the American Chemical Society’s Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the scientist’s goal is to educate the research community and the public about the many benefits of a variety of plant and berry foods, as well natural products. His message is receiving widespread attention--he was quoted in Nutrition Action Health, Good Housekeeping, Men’s Health and the Newport Mercury. He had two of the Top Ten Most Accessed Articles in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2008. He is the editor of the Clinical Pharmacognosy Series, a new CRC Press (Taylor and Francis) book series delves into uses and benefits of natural products in clinical pharmacy practice.



8. Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, a 1999 alumnus, appears weekdays on radio’s The Takeaway offering his takeaway on all aspects of the sporting world. The morning news program, hosted by John Hockenberry and Celeste Headlee that was developed for NPR through partnerships with BBC World Service, the New York Times and WGBH Boston. It is a nationally syndicated program. A linebacker and political science major at URI, Ibrahim was a finalist for the prestigious NCAA Scholar and Athlete award. Since college, he has continued to intersect sports and politics on his blog, Brooklyn Bedouin. He has also been published in ColorLines, WireTap Magazine, and Left Turn. He worked with Green for All, the Movement Strategy Center, and created Future5000.com an online database of youth organizing. He is currently writing a book called Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet, due out in July 2010.


9. Toby Guidry, 2001 alumnus, works in Los Angeles as a casting associate for Burrows Boland. He has worked with several of the biggest directors in Hollywood, including Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Tony Scott and the Farrelly Brothers. He is casting for Zemeckis for a remake of Yellow Submarine, which is using a 3D performance capture animation. Last spring, he served as casting director for a Spike TV comedy pilot called The Back Nine, a golf sitcom that began shooting in the spring. Among the films he has worked on are Bride Wars, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Taking of Pelham 123, Marley and Me, The Heartbreak Kid and Herbie: Fully Loaded. Future projects include From Prada to Nada (Disney, Zemeckis), The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (Spielberg) and Mars Needs Moms (starring Seth Green, Joan Cusack).


10. If you watch any of the major cable news networks or follow financial news online, you’ve probably seen Barry Knapp, managing director and head of U.S. equity portfolio strategy for Barclays Capital and a 1984 economics graduate. He’ll certainly be one to watch in 2010. Check out the following links to see Barry in action on CNBC, Bloomberg, Blogspot and the Australian Broadcast Corp.’s Lateline Business.