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KU announces new director of Monarch Watch

LAWRENCE — Monarch Watch, an international program at the University of Kansas dedicated to the conservation and study of monarch butterflies, has a new director. Kristen Baum, well known for her work on monarchs and pollinators, began this week as director of Monarch Watch and as a senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research and a professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.

 

‘Infamous’ woman physician at center of criminalizing abortion profiled in new biography

LAWRENCE — The word “Restellism” used to be synonymous with abortion. The term was coined because of the notorious Madame Restell, a wealthy midwife who became a renowned and divisive figure in America during the 1800s. But who exactly was she? That is answered in a University of Kansas professor’s new book titled “The Trials of Madame Restell: Nineteenth-Century America’s Most Infamous Female Physician and the Campaign to Make Abortion a Crime.” This account also features unmistakable parallels to current political and social issues that still divide the nation.

 

Distinguished professor lecture to highlight pay, promotion and grants in academia

LAWRENCE — Donna Ginther will give her inaugural distinguished professor lecture next week at the University of Kansas. The Roy A. Roberts and Regents Distinguished Professor of Economics will present “Turning the Research Lens on Ourselves: What Do We Know About Pay, Promotion, and Grants in the Academy?” at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8 in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union. Individuals can register to attend the lecture.

 

Music theorist shows how EDM broke pop music’s chorus

LAWRENCE – Your ears are not fooling you. Electronic dance music DJs-turned-producers have affected the very form of popular music in the past decade, essentially breaking the chorus in half, a University of Kansas music theory professor says. In “Formal Functions and Rotations in Top-40 EDM” in the latest edition of Intégral, the Journal of Applied Musical Thought, Brad Osborn shows how electronic dance music producers like Calvin Harris who have recently dominated the Billboard magazine pop charts have broken apart the old rock top-40 structure.

 

Full stories below.

 

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Contact: Kirsten Bosnak, KU Field Station, 785-864-6267, [email protected], @KUFieldStation

Kristen Baum will lead Monarch Watch

LAWRENCE — Monarch Watch, an international program at the University of Kansas dedicated to the conservation and study of monarch butterflies, has a new director. Kristen Baum, well known for her work on monarchs and pollinators, began this week as director of Monarch Watch and as a senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research and a professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.

Baum comes to KU from the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University, where she was a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and associate dean for research. The Monarch Watch directorship will be supported in part by the Chip and Toni Taylor Professorship in Support of Monarch Watch, established last year by founding director Orley “Chip” Taylor and his wife, Toni Taylor. Chip Taylor announced last year that he would be stepping away from day-to-day operations of the program to focus on completion of several projects.

Baum has worked with monarchs and pollinators in the Great Plains for more than 25 years. Her research also focuses on the effects of land use and management practices on monarchs, native bees and other pollinators. She has served on numerous state, regional and national working groups to support pollinator conservation efforts.

“I started a small monarch tagging project in 1992. This project grew and changed through the years from a focus on research and outreach to an international program dedicated to monarch science and conservation,” Chip Taylor said. “When close to retirement, I realized that the program was reaching at least 100,000 people a year and that it simply had to continue.

“I’m excited and pleased to see this program continue and to be able to turn the directorship over to Kristen Baum. Kristen is an outstanding scientist, a dynamic and experienced leader with a strong research program. She also has an outstanding record as an adviser to developing scientists.”

Baum said she was excited about the opportunity to join the Monarch Watch team.

“I’ve participated in several Monarch Watch programs over the years, including tagging monarchs as part of my research and creating a Monarch Waystation at my home,” she said. “Under Chip’s leadership, Monarch Watch has developed an international reach through research, education and on-the-ground conservation efforts that have benefited the monarch butterfly, as well as other pollinators and wildlife. I’m honored to have been selected to lead Monarch Watch and build on these efforts that have been decades in the making.”

The Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research, a KU research center, houses a variety of environmental research labs and remote sensing/GIS programs in Takeru Higuchi Hall and the West District greenhouse. It also is the administrative home for Monarch Watch. In addition, the research center manages the 3,200-acre KU Field Station, a site for study in the sciences, arts and humanities.

 

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The official university Twitter account has changed to @UnivOfKansas.

Refollow @KUNews for KU News Service stories, discoveries and experts.

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Contact: Jon Niccum, KU News Service, 785-864-7633, [email protected]

‘Infamous’ woman physician at center of criminalizing abortion profiled in new biography

LAWRENCE — The word “Restellism” used to be synonymous with abortion. The term was coined because of the notorious Madame Restell, a wealthy midwife who became a renowned and divisive figure in America during the 1800s.

“She was famous enough that anyone who saw that word in a newspaper knew Restellism was referring to her,” said Nick Syrett, a professor of women, gender & sexuality studies at the University of Kansas.

But who exactly was Madame Restell? That is answered in Syrett’s new book titled “The Trials of Madame Restell: Nineteenth-Century America’s Most Infamous Female Physician and the Campaign to Make Abortion a Crime.” This account also features unmistakable parallels to current political and social issues that still divide the nation. It’s published by The New Press.

Syrett first ran across her story while attending graduate school at the University of Michigan.

“She is basically a figure in everyone’s history of New York City or prostitution or contraception or abortion. She appears everywhere, but generally for only a page or two,” he said.

Madame Restell was the pseudonym of Ann Trow Summers Lohman, a British-born woman who immigrated to the U.S. in 1831. She ran what was called a “lying-in hospital,” which was a place where women “could stay during their pregnancies and be delivered of their babies.”

“This is in some ways a conventional biography. A story from birth to death with what happened in between,” Syrett said.

Yet Restell’s life was anything but conventional.

He said, “Most of the dialogue about her in the 19th century was critical. No one stood up for her. So what I tried to do is understand what motivated her. What was she trying to do? How did she serve people’s needs? And why did she call herself what she did?”

The era in which Restell practiced is notable for being when abortion went from a vaguely regulated misdemeanor to a full-blown felony. It follows the trajectory over that period (1820s to 1880s) in which the act is increasingly criminalized.

“There are numerous reasons for why this occurred,” said Syrett, who is also an associate dean at KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

He said that beginning in 1857, doctors in the American Medical Association lobbied state legislatures to criminalize abortion, in part so that they could eliminate the competition of lay practitioners who did not have medical degrees.

“It’s also due to concerns about single women getting pregnant and being able to disguise and/or terminate a pregnancy and not get in trouble for having sex outside of wedlock,” he said. “It’s nativist fears about the white middle-class birthrate going down while immigrant birthrates are going up. It’s fears of middle-class married women taking control of their own reproductive lives and trying to have smaller families. And then it’s also a fear that the most successful abortion providers were women, and women were expected — like Madame Restell — to be housewives and mothers.”

While Restell was indeed a wife and mother, she was also a wildly prosperous entrepreneur in a society not eager to tolerate women in that role.

“She was convicted a couple of times,” Syrett said. “And once when the conviction was overturned on legal technicalities, she paid to have the entire opinion from the New York Supreme Court printed in the newspaper to prove to readers, ‘I’m not making this up.’”

The professor pored through thousands of articles while researching this story, which took him to New York’s municipal and state archives, and to the American Antiquarian Society in Massachusetts.

“The New York part was fun for me because I lived there for about 10 years. In doing the research, I went and walked the map and landscape of everywhere that she lived and practiced,” he said.

Madame Restell’s life did not have a happy ending. She was arrested by postal inspector and moral reformer Anthony Comstock, whose “Comstock laws” were aimed at banning the distribution of anything deemed obscene by the government (laws which are currently used to prosecute those sending abortion drugs through the mail). In the morning hours before her trial was to start, Restell was found in a bathtub with her throat cut. It was ruled a suicide, but rumors of it being murder have persisted to this day.

“I don’t think she was killed,” Syrett said. “I’ve seen the coroner’s report and the death certificate. It’s also quite clear that based on the testimony of the servants who worked in her household, no one would have been able to get in at night because the doors were still locked. This all demonstrates she took her own life.”

Now in his seventh year at KU, Syrett has investigated subjects ranging from maturity and masculinity to fraternities and queer history. His books include “An Open Secret: The Family Story of Robert and John Gregg Allerton” (University of Chicago Press, 2021) and “American Child Bride: A History of Minors and Marriage in the United States” (University of North Carolina Press, 2018). He is also co-editor of the Journal of the History of Sexuality.

“Madame Restell is a fascinating figure in her own right,” Syrett said. “But I also realize lots of people in the U.S. don’t know that abortion was legal in colonial America through the early 19th century. If this book educates us more about how it came to be criminalized, that can help us understand the debates we’re having now.”

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Contact: Savannah Rattanavong, Office of the Provost, 785-864-6402, [email protected], @KUProvost

Distinguished professor lecture to highlight pay, promotion and grants in academia

LAWRENCE — Her work has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Economist, the New York Times and more. She’s testified before Congress and consulted on equity and diversity issues in science funding with organizations like the National Academies of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

And soon, Donna Ginther will present her inaugural distinguished professor lecture at the University of Kansas.

Ginther, the Roy A. Roberts and Regents Distinguished Professor of Economics, will present “Turning the Research Lens on Ourselves: What Do We Know About Pay, Promotion, and Grants in the Academy?” at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8 in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union.

Individuals can register to attend the lecture.

Ginther’s research focus includes scientific labor markets, gender differences in employment outcomes, wage inequality and children’s educational attainments.

As the director of the Institute for Policy & Social Research since 2019, Ginther develops the institute’s multidisciplinary research program and manages the direction of the center. The institute is a faculty-driven research center supporting scientists who focus on policy-relevant issues and social problems.

In addition to her leadership work at the institute, Ginther is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an adviser to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s Council on Tax Reform. During her service in the latter role, the council recommended the successful repeal of the state food sales tax.

Some of Ginther’s recent research covered the economic impact of COVID-19 and its effect on the Kansas economy. During the pandemic and through 2022, IPSR provided regular updates on economic conditions in the state, as well as county infection rates.

Ginther and her colleague Carlos Zambrana showed that Kansas counties that adopted mask mandates before vaccines became available experienced a 60% reduction in COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths. This work received national attention, and Ginther received the COVID-19 Pivot Award from the KU Office of Research and the Don Steeples Service to Kansas Award.

She has also won multiple teaching and research awards, including the Byron T. Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching, the University Scholar Award and the American Society of Cell Biology Public Service Award.

Ginther has previously served as vice president and board member of the Southern Economic Association, member of the Nominations Committee and the Board of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession, and member of the American Economic Association Committee on Equity, Diversity and Professional Conduct.

Before joining the KU faculty in 2002, Ginther worked as a research economist and associate policy adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and taught at Washington University and Southern Methodist University.

Ginther earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The first distinguished professorships were established at KU in 1958. A university distinguished professorship is awarded wholly based on merit, following exacting criteria. A complete list is available on the Distinguished Professor website.

 

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Don’t miss new episodes of “When Experts Attack!,”

a KU News Service podcast hosted by Kansas Public Radio.

 

https://kansaspublicradio.org/when-experts-attack

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Contact: Rick Hellman, KU News Service, 785-864-8852, [email protected], @RickHellman

Music theorist shows how EDM broke pop music’s chorus

LAWRENCE – Your ears are not fooling you. Electronic dance music DJs-turned-producers have affected the very form of popular music in the past decade, essentially breaking the chorus in half, a University of Kansas music theory professor says.

In “Formal Functions and Rotations in Top-40 EDM” in the latest edition of Intégral, the Journal of Applied Musical Thought, Brad Osborn shows how electronic dance music producers like Calvin Harris who have recently dominated the Billboard magazine pop charts have broken apart the old rock top-40 songs’ verse-chorus-bridge structure.

Instead, Osborn writes and shows in diagrams, these producers have substituted “a hybrid section” he calls the “riserchorus” and paired that with a beat-heavy “drop” section that provides the release of psychic tension that the old-fashioned chorus did.

Osborn writes that the riserchorus “blends the anticipatory sonic functions of a riser (including rising pitch with a rhythmic build) with the lyrical-melodic memorability of a chorus.”

In retrospect, Osborn said, he noticed this change in structure around 2014.

“All of a sudden, I heard music in which it was really unclear what the chorus was,” Osborn said. “Essentially, instead of one big section that we could all point to, you had two sections. In the first one, you had the memorable vocal hook that we all love in a chorus — the title of the song — but there’s no beat. And it’s quiet.

“I was like, ‘That’s not what a chorus is supposed to do.’ And then the next section would have the big, thumping beat, but no vocals. That’s the drop section.

“And so the question becomes, ‘Is there a chorus in this music anymore? Or have we split the idea of chorus into two separately functioning sections, such that one of them has the catchy hook, and the other has the beat, but never the two shall meet?’”

Osborn believes this stems from producers like Harris, David Guetta and Skrillex bringing their club-pleasing ways to their recorded collaborations with pop singers, then condensing that into a three-minute package.

“You’ve got these producers behind the boards now working in pop music, but where they all started were sweaty clubs in Detroit and Berlin. And that music was not about melody at all. That music was about beat. Building up textures slowly and then taking them away and then dropping the beat. So what we hear starting around 2014 is some of that being made more radio-friendly in these collaborations with vocalists. So now, all we’re really doing is putting a catchy melody on top of that stuff.”

That’s if you bother to build at all, Osborn said.

“A lot of times what you’ll hear now are songs starting right on their chorus, because we have such short attention spans. There’s no time for an intro, no time for a buildup, no time for verse. We start on the chorus. And we still get three choruses. But usually that comes at the expense of only one verse.”

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