ASU's Krauss receives Rome's most prestigious cultural award

July 15, 2013

Lawrence Krauss, a renowned cosmologist, author and professor at Arizona State University, has been awarded the “Roma Award Urbs Universalis 2013” by the Mayor of Rome. Krauss, who was honored during a formal ceremony on July 12 at the 2,000 year-old Ostia Antica Roman Theater in Rome, Italy, was cited for contributions to culture on an international level.

“This came as a total surprise and is a remarkable honor,” Krauss said. “I particularly appreciate receiving a prize that mixes science and culture, and receiving it in the open air in a 2,000 year-old Roman forum theater, with music and dance performances as well made it something I will always remember.” Download Full Image

“The Roma Award Urbs Universalis” is assigned by a jury to a person who has acquired special merits in the international arena. The “Premio Roma” is a major literary award in Italy and has three sections: international fiction, Italian fiction and international nonfiction, as well as special prizes for persons who have made significant cultural and scientific contributions.

In recent years, the Urbs Universalis Prize has gone to Nobel Prize winners, scientists, engineers and musicians whose work transcends national boundaries. Recent awardees include particle physicist and Nobel Laureate Carlo Rubbia, oncologist and politician Umberto Veronesi, neurologist and Nobel Laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini, violinist and conductor Salvatore Accardo, Academy Award winning actor Maximilian Schell and astronaut Roberto Vittori.

Krauss is internationally known for his work in theoretical physics and cosmology, and is a well known author and science communicator. In addition to being a Foundation Professor at Arizona State University, Krauss is the director of the Origins Project – which explores key questions about our origins, who we are and where we came from, and then holds open forums to encourage public participation. 

Krauss is the only physicist to receive major awards from all three U.S. physics societies: the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics and the American Association of Physics Teachers. Last year he was given the 2012 Public Service Award from the National Science Board for his efforts in communicating science to general audiences.

Krauss has authored more than 300 scientific publications and nine books, including his most recent bestseller, "A Universe from Nothing," which offers provocative, revelatory answers to the most basic philosophical questions of existence. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction within a week of its release.

Krauss also wrote the international bestseller, "The Physics of Star Trek," an entertaining and eye-opening tour of the Star Trek universe, and "Beyond Star Trek," which addressed recent exciting discoveries in physics and astronomy and takes a look how the laws of physics relate to notions from popular culture. A book on physicist Richard Feynman, "Quantum Man," was awarded the 2011 Book of the Year by Physics World magazine in the UK.

Krauss has been a frequent commentator and columnist for newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has written regular columns for New Scientist and Scientific American, and appears routinely on radio and television.

He continues to be a leader in his field, serving as a co-chair of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, on the board of directors of the Federation of American Scientists, and is one of the founders of ScienceDebate2012.

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Communications


Student makes the most of his Mayo-ASU adventure

July 15, 2013

Among the features of his degree program at Mayo Medical School that Layne Bettini likes best is that students are encouraged to seek academic enrichment opportunities at other universities.

Early in 2011, Bettini listened to presentations by faculty from other institutions visiting Mayo’s campus in Rochester, Minn. and he chose a collaborative field of study that suited him best: the law. Download Full Image

“When I was an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to be a congressional intern in Washington, D.C. and I got to see legislative hearings and work with health policy. That really piqued my interest in law. I want to practice medicine, but certainly, I hope to blend my passion for treating patients with a broader goal of helping shape health policy to provide people with maximum quality and access to health care.”

Bettini is enrolled in the M.D./J.D. program, an innovative partnership between Mayo and Arizona State University that enables students to earn medical and law degrees over the course of six years. Launched in 2005, the program has graduated eight students from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and four other medical students, including Bettini, are on track to obtain their Juris Doctor degrees in May 2014.

Bettini, who grew up in Taos, N.M., graduated in 2010 from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor's in biology and a bachelor's in languages, summa cum laude. While in high school, Bettini was drawn to science by the enthusiasm of his physics and calculus teacher who connected him to a general surgeon to shadow over the summer.

“All through college, I knew I wanted to go into medicine. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to interview at Mayo and at several other institutions, but Mayo really stuck out. I could tell they really cared about their students and had a great overall program.

“One of the great things about Mayo is they have a pass-fail curriculum, so we’re not competing against each other for the top spot. We’re all excellent students and that gives us time to work together – it’s not the cutthroat environment some people might think medical school is.”

Mayo gives its students hands-on experience with patients from the very beginning and encourages them to give back to the community. To that end, Bettini has mentored inner-city high school students in Rochester, Minn., served on a legislation committee of a local medical society, worked with Mayo physicians to provide health care to under-insured patients, visited Latin America to survey residents about their health care systems and worked at a student-run smoking cessation clinic.

Bettini also traveled to Honduras to work with Global Bridges, a student-led global health and sustainable development organization, bringing medications to small rural communities with limited health care. Such experiences will help Bettini narrow down the field of medicine to which he will devote his life.

“Having the chance to work with patients in Honduras really opened my eyes to global health and the general well-being of patients.”

Law school normally spans three years, but the M.D./J.D. is an accelerated program of two years, and includes two rigorous summer sessions in between. That appealed to Bettini.

“It’s a great chance to save on time. In medical school, there’s a natural break in the curriculum. The first two years are spent doing basic science work and the last two are in clinical in the hospital. That natural break is the perfect time to augment your education with another degree.”

In his first year of law school, Bettini took 14 classes – Contracts; Civil Procedure; Tort Law; Legal Method and Writing; Property; Legal Advocacy; Administrative Law; Criminal Law; Health Policy and Ethics; Constitutional Law I and II; Criminal Procedure; Professional Responsibility; and Evidence. Next year, in addition to coursework, he plans to join a research cluster in the College of Law’s Public Health Law and Policy Program, and is contemplating an externship in the Healthcare Entrepreneurship Program. He also is a scholar in the Center for Law, Science & Innovation.

“I’d have to say law school is a little more challenging than I anticipated. Of course, I’ve seen the movies about how scary law school can be, and it’s really a big commitment with a lot of reading and writing. But the best part is it’s all fascinating.”

Bettini said he would recommend the Mayo-ASU M.D./J.D. program to serious students because “It gives you a great opportunity to study two very interesting fields, and the chance to work at the forefront of law and medicine.”