Stanford University

News Service



CONTACT: David F. Salisbury, News Service (650) 725-1944;

Janet Basu, News Service (650) 723-7582

1997-98 Frederick E. Terman Fellows named

Twelve young science and engineering faculty members have been named this year's Frederick E. Terman Fellows at Stanford University.

The new Terman Fellows, who all hold the rank of assistant professor, are Juan Alonso, aeronautics and astronautics; Kyeongjae Cho, mechanical engineering; Martha Cyert, biological sciences; Christopher Edwards, mechanical engineering; Mark Jacobson, civil and environmental engineering; Blake Johnson, engineering-economic systems and operational research; Christopher Klug, chemical engineering; Kefeng Liu, mathematics; Tim Stearns, biological sciences; Scott Thomas, physics; Guenther Walther, statistics; and Tom Wandless, chemistry.

The program was launched in 1994 with a $25 million gift from William Hewlett and the now-deceased David Packard. The two alumni of the electrical engineering department at Stanford, and founders of the Hewlett-Packard Co., endowed the fellowships as a tribute to Terman, university provost from 1955 to 1965, to whom they gave credit for much of their, Stanford's and Silicon Valley's success.

The fellowships are designed to help young scientists, who in recent years have faced increased competition for federal grants that would let them establish their own laboratories and recruit graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The program provides fellows with up to $100,000 in unrestricted funds annually for three years. Junior faculty members in science departments in the School of Humanities and Sciences and the School of Engineering are eligible. Awards are also made to faculty in the Schools of Earth Sciences and Medicine on a rotating basis.

Similar programs exist on a national level but are rare for individual universities.

Juan Alonso joined the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics this fall as an assistant professor. He recently received his Ph.D. from Princeton in mechanical and aerospace engineering, and he works in the emerging field of computation-based aerospace design. His research involves the development of advanced computer simulations that can be used to help design more efficient aircraft more quickly and less expensively. In the past, two basic engineering disciplines have been used to design aircraft: aerodynamics and structural analysis. Alonso is developing a single computer simulation that incorporates both aerodynamic and structural effects. At Stanford he will develop new courses to expose students to computational methods used in aircraft design, and will conduct research in high level aerodynamic/structural aircraft optimization.

Kyeongjae Cho came to Stanford this fall as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He received his Ph.D. in physics from MIT in 1994. His research centers on the broad area of modern computational physics and computational mathematics. Cho is working on a tool that can be used to design nanoscale and micro-electromechanical devices. The tool is a computer model that seamlessly integrates three different physical domains: quantum mechanics that describes the behavior of individual electrons and atomic particles; atomistic theories that describe interactions between atoms; and the continuum behavior exhibited by billions of atoms. Quantum mechanical simulations are the most precise, but are so complex that they cannot be applied to groups larger than 1,000 atoms. Atomistic simulations have less flexibility but can accurately describe groups containing 10 million atoms. Cho intends to combine the three regimes by using continuum modeling for describing most of a material like a silicon crystal. In the vicinity of a defect, however, he will switch to atomistic modeling and then apply a quantum mechanical simulation only at the defect's center. In this way he plans to create highly accurate but efficient simulations of material behavior at extremely small scales. He also will be developing several new undergraduate and graduate courses in scientific computing.

Martha Cyert earned her Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California-San Francisco in 1988 and conducted postdoctoral research in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC-Berkeley until 1992 when she joined Stanford's Department of Biological Sciences as an assistant professor. Cyert is a cell biologist who is interested in intracellular signal transduction ­ how the proteins within cells are instructed to carry out the cell's basic functions. Her research focuses on one of the most well-studied single-celled organisms, baker's yeast, using state-of-the-art genetic approaches to identify physiologic processes regulated by an enzyme called calcineurin. This enzyme regulates intracellular signals by snipping a phosphate chain from various proteins, allowing them to change in response to changes in the environment. Cyert's lab studies some of the functions of calcineurin in yeast cells that are similar to those in mammalian cells, including those in the human immune system. Current work includes studies of ion transport, the regulation of cell wall biosynthesis, and yeast's responses to mating pheromones, which are similar to mammalian cell responses to hormones.

Christopher Edwards has been an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford since 1995. He received his Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley in 1985 and worked for a number of years at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore. Edwards' expertise is in liquid sprays, combustion and heat transfer. He uses new optical diagnostic and theoretical modeling approaches to study sprays ­ to understand, for example, how a fuel-injected engine transforms gasoline into a spray that vaporizes into a gas that can then be ignited to power a car. His work has application to the development of cleaner-burning, more compact and safer engines, and also to the surface coatings essential for manufacturing digital chips.

Mark Jacobson joined the faculty in the School of Engineering in 1994 after completing his Ph.D. at UCLA. An assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, he studies three-dimensional photochemical modeling for regional air pollution. He was the first to link regional models of atmospheric chemistry with global models of atmospheric circulation; this allowed him to build worldwide models of air pollution. He and his students are working on projects that involve studies of air pollution and meteorology in the San Francisco Bay Area, studies of the effects of aerosols and gases on global climate, and studies of global ozone reduction.

Blake Johnson, who has an extensive background in economics and investment analysis, received his Ph.D. from Stanford in engineering-economic systems and operations research. He joined the faculty in that department in September 1995 as an assistant professor. Johnson's particular area of interest is the analysis of investments in physical assets. He is currently gathering data related to semiconductor manufacturing capacity investment and management, and plans to develop a joint industry-academia research group and conference series on capital investment in technology and capital-intensive industry. One of the questions he is exploring is whether semiconductor facilities can be designed to provide greater flexibility through adopting modular or expandable designs. A second project involves studying how new ventures with good ideas gain the resources they need to turn their ideas into products.

Christopher Klug received his Ph.D. in 1990 from the University of Illinois and completed four-and-a-half years of postdoctoral training before coming to Stanford as assistant professor of chemical engineering in January 1996. Klug's area of expertise is the application of solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods to the process of catalysis. Because catalysts can lower the pressure or temperature required or increase the yield of a variety of chemical processes, they are widely used in industry. The development of new catalytic processes, however, has remained a very inexact science, done mostly by trial and error. Klug is trying to gain a more fundamental understanding of what goes on at the surface of a catalyst. NMR allows him to study commercial catalysts at conditions similar to those used in industrial processes. In addition, he uses the technique to study the behavior of polymers on surfaces ­ a key to the properties of adhesives and coatings.

Kefeng Liu has been an assistant professor of mathematics since September 1996. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1993 and served as a C.L.E. Moore Instructor at MIT for three years. Liu's field of study is algebraic topology: a mathematical field that explores ways to classify different kinds of geometric objects. An algebraic topologist, for example, might assign the number one to all loops that don't intersect with themselves and the number two to all loops that intersect themselves only once. When he begins to apply this notation to a large number of different objects, using numbers quickly becomes inadequate, so he uses algebraic notation. The mathematics that arises from this basic approach is used in a number of different scientific fields, including biology (particularly in the analysis of DNA) and chemistry. Liu has made major contributions to the field, including the discovery that a powerful technique in number theory called modular forms, which was used recently to solve Fermat's last theorem, can be applied to algebraic topology.

Tim Stearns became an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in 1993. He earned a Ph.D. in biology in 1988 from MIT and completed several years of postdoctoral study at MIT and UC-San Francisco. Stearns is a cell biologist whose work focuses on cell division and cell organization. His lab has used a combination of genetics and biochemistry to study the mechanisms of division and organization, which are similar in all cells, and to identify new components of the cellular machinery involved in these processes. A major current focus is the study of microtubules, polymers that he describes as "tracks within the cell on which cargo is moved." Some of that cargo includes the duplicated chromosomes that separate as the cell divides in mitosis. Stearns' lab investigates how the microtubules are organized to aid in mitosis and other essential cell functions.

Scott Thomas was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Physics in April 1997. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 1993 and then did several years of postdoctoral work at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Thomas is regarded as the leading junior phenomenologist in theoretical particle physics. His research uses novel applications of supersymmetric gauge theories to study current problems in phenomenology.

Guenther Walther, an assistant professor of statistics since 1994, received his Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. His area of expertise is multivariate non-parametric inference. His current interests are focused in three areas: solar physics, flow cytometry and theoretical research into the structure of high-dimensional data. In the area of solar physics, he is working with Peter Sturrock, professor of applied physics, to study the internal rotation of the sun and the effect that it may have on the solar cycle. Flow cytometry is a method for analyzing and sorting cells that was invented at Stanford and now is used in most modern hospitals to diagnose leukemia and assess the stages of HIV infection, as well as for other purposes. Walther is trying to devise a procedure that will automate the technique, which currently requires a highly experienced operator. His theoretical work involves searching for structure in extremely large data sets with large numbers of variables. A commercial example of such a data set is the database of credit cards maintained by MasterCard or VISA.

Tom Wandless joined the Department of Chemistry as an assistant professor in September 1995 after receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1993. Through his research, Wandless has proven his ability to bring the tools of chemistry and biology to bear on problems of interest in the life sciences. Specifically, Wandless is interested in the study of the cytoskeleton and its role in intracellular signal transduction. Like Stearns, he studies microtubules, filament-like polymers that form to help the cell divide. The primary goal of his research is to unravel normal cytoskeletal functions by elucidating the mechanisms of anticancer drugs such as taxol and by developing novel molecules as probes of cellular processes. These new molecules may have potential as anticancer drugs.


By David F. Salisbury

© Stanford University. All Rights Reserved. Stanford, CA 94305. (650) 723-2300. Terms of Use  |  Copyright Complaints