Japan Crisis Experts from the University of Chicago

Newswise — The University of Chicago has numerous experts who can comment on the scientific, social, political and cultural dimensions of the ongoing crisis in Japan. Our news officers can assist reporters looking for help with stories on nuclear science, radiation exposure, geology, as well as Japanese culture, law, politics, religion and history.

Nuclear Science

Kennette Benedict, Executive Director, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Expertise in nuclear security and nuclear energy issues. Kennette also can suggest other experts who sit on the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board. [Note: The Bulletin is an independent publication that is housed at the University’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies.]

Thomas Rosenbaum, the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor of Physics and Provost Rosenbaum is an expert on the quantum mechanical nature of materials— the physics of electronic, magnetic and optical materials at the atomic level. In addition to his responsibilities for academic and research programs across the University, he serves on the Board of Governors for Argonne National Laboratory. He also sits on the Science and Security Board for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Robert Rosner, the William Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and PhysicsRosner served as Argonne National Laboratory’s Associate Director for physical, biological and computing sciences and as its Chief Scientist from 2002 until 2005, and as laboratory director from 2005 until 2009. Through this work he became involved a variety of national policy issues, including nuclear and renewable energy technology development. With Richard K. Lester he is co-author of “The Growth of Nuclear Power: Drivers & Constraints,” published in the fall 2009 issue of Daedalus, and sole author of “Making Nuclear Energy Work,” published in the March/April 2008 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Radiation Exposure

David J. Grdina, Professor in Radiation and Cellular OncologyGrdina holds a Ph.D. in Radiation Biophysics and conducts research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy. His work has focused on radiation-induced carcinogenesis and the development and use of radioprotector drugs. He teaches in the Master of Science Threat and Response Management in the Graham School of General Studies. His course focuses on radiological threats and the underlying radiobiological principles involved in the human body’s response to radiation exposure.

Raphael Lee, Professor of Surgery and MedicineDr. Lee studies the ability of radiation to disrupt cell membranes and is studying the development of a surface treatment that can be used as a therapy or protection in cases of high-dose radiation exposure. Lee, a plastic surgeon and trained engineer, is an expert on reconstructive surgery and skin cancers.

Japanese Culture and History

Michael Bourdaghs, Associate Professor in Modern Japanese Literature, Department of East Asian Languages & CivilizationsProfessor Bourdaghs studies modern Japanese literature, culture, and intellectual history. Professor Bourdaghs has studied in Sendai and is familiar with the region. (His wife is a native of Sendai.)

Norma Field, Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor in Japanese Studies, Department of East Asian Languages & Civilizations Professor Field studies modern Japanese literature, history, and culture. She has a particular interest in the role of women in Japan.

James Ketelaar, Professor in HistoryKetelaar is knowledgeable about contemporary Japanese society. He is particularly familiar with Buddhism and the role of religion in Japan.

Japanese Law and Social Work

Tom Ginsburg, Professor of LawGinsburg can comment on Japan’s laws, politics, and society. He has served as a visiting professor both at the University of Tokyo and Kyushu University. Ginsburg focuses on comparative and international law from an interdisciplinary perspective.

E. Summerson Carr, Assistant Professor at the School of Social Service AdministrationCarr has lived in Minami Sanriku, a town destroyed by the 2011 tsumami and understands the community well, particularly from a social work perspective.


Alfred Anderson, Professor of Geology, EmeritusAnderson is a geologist who specializes in volcanology. He has studied volcanoes all over the world, including, Iceland, New Zealand, California and Hawaii. Some of these volcanoes are situated along the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes Japan.

Chris Rowan, postdoctoral scholar in Geophysical SciencesRowan is a geologist specializing in tectonics, the deformation of continents and paleomagnetism. He can discuss the causes of the quake and other tectonic/geological aspects such as aftershocks and future seismic hazards. On March 14 he posted an invited guest blog, “Japan earthquake: The explainer,” on Scientific American’s web site. He blogs at Highly Allochthonous, which is devoted to news and commentary from the world of geology and earth science.

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