By Bill Steele
Two Cornell faculty members have received Guggenheim fellowships to conduct research abroad during their sabbatical years. Joseph Y. Halpern, professor of computer science, and Rebecca Harris-Warrick, associate professor of music, are among the 183 artists, scholars and scientists to have been selected as fellows for 2001-02 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Guggenheim fellowships are designed to help fellows secure a block of time, free from other duties, in which to pursue their own scholarly or creative work. Fellows are appointed "on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment." The stipends are small, representing living expenses for the year, but the fellowships carry high prestige.
Halpern will spend most of the year in the Netherlands at the Dutch National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI) and at the University of Amsterdam. He will also spend four months at the Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision-Making at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, under a concurrent Fulbright fellowship.
Halpern plans to study decision-making in complex systems, which involves dealing with systems where the likelihood of events is difficult to ascertain and sometimes where it's not even clear what the events might be. The work is part of the field of artificial intelligence, and it bears on the querying of databases and on game theory. Halpern's wife and three children will accompany him on his travels.
Harris-Warrick will spend the year researching the role of dance in French opera during the 17th and 18th centuries. During that period, Harris-Warrick said, dance was one of the driving features of opera, yet most scholars have not considered it a serious part of the works. But "French opera was saturated with dance that functioned in a myriad of fascinating ways," she added. "It is high time to give dance in opera its due."
She will be based in Stockholm, where her husband, Ronald Harris-Warrick, professor of neurobiology and behavior, will also be spending his sabbatical, and she will commute regularly to Paris, using both the Stockholm and Paris libraries, including the library of the Paris Opera. The Swedish court, she notes, had extensive contact with the French court at the time.
This is the third year in a row that a member of the Cornell music department has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Graduate student composers Steven Burke and James Matheson were so honored in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.