Archive for September, 2010

Deierlein wins ‘Popular Mechanics’ award

September 30th, 2010


Popular Mechanics has chosen GREGORY DEIERLEIN, the John A. Blume Professor in the School of Engineering, as one of the winners of the magazine’s annual Breakthrough Awards. He won for designing a structural system for multi-story buildings that allows them to absorb the shaking during a major earthquake; the system confines the damage to a few easily replaceable steel fuses.

The “rocking frame” he developed rocks off its foundation during large earthquakes, unlike conventional building frames that are secured to their foundations. Once the shaking has stopped, steel cables in the frame pull the building back into plumb. By minimizing damage to the building, the frame also reduces injuries to the occupants, as well as enabling people to reoccupy a building sooner after an earthquake.

The frame can be used in new buildings or added into existing steel-frame buildings being retrofitted for seismic safety.

Deierlein and Jerome Hajjar, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University, collaborated on the rocking frame project and will both be honored at a ceremony in New York City on Tuesday, Oct. 5, along with nine other teams or individuals who were chosen.

In a press release announcing the award, editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics James B. Meigs was quoted as saying that the winners were “leading the way into the future, and we’re thrilled to recognize their advances.” This is the sixth year Popular Mechanics has given the awards.

Reflecting on his award, Deierlein said, “Beyond bringing recognition to our project, I hope the award also raises awareness of the activities and contributions of many dedicated earthquake engineering researchers and practitioners who all contribute to earthquake hazard mitigation.”

—Louis Bergeron

Ethics center gets $500k to study equality in education

September 29th, 2010
Debra Satz                Photo by L.A. Cicero

Debra Satz. Photo by L.A. Cicero

The Bowen H. McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society has received a $500,000 grant to focus on understanding the relationship between the ideals of equality and the provision of public education.

Researchers will examine school financing, admissions practices and the local, state and national distribution of educational responsibility to identify hurdles to achieving equality in school systems across the country.

“Education is one of the most powerful levers a society has for shaping its future citizens,” said DEBRA SATZ, the center’s director. “While the American education system has a lot to be proud of, many children receive a far more inferior education than their peers. The center plans to bring ideas from moral and political philosophy – ideas like equality of opportunity, sufficiency and responsibility – to bear on the questions of educational financing and organization.”

The three-year project will bring together Stanford scholars in the humanities, social sciences, education and law, along with two postdoctoral fellows. The grant is funded by the Spencer Foundation.

Bill Larson recognized for crime prevention efforts

September 27th, 2010

The California Crime Prevention Officers’ Association has again recognized BILL LARSON, who is responsible for the Department of Public Safety’s crime prevention and risk management efforts.

Larson won the Practitioner of the Year Award for Region 11 in 2008-09, which includes law enforcement agencies from San Francisco to Monterey. He now has won the same award for all regions of Northern California in 2009-10, according to Stanford Police Lt. RICHARD CINFIO.

In his nomination letter, Cinfio said that Larson, who has been working at Stanford for nine years, “embraces the unique challenges of a campus environment and has played an instrumental role in developing innovative crime prevention programs through a combination of passion, dedication and persistence.”

Cinfio specifically applauded Larson’s efforts as the department public information officer, construction liaison and pedestrian zone safety adviser, and credited his oversight and management of the university’s 911 Emergency Tower Program.

Cinfio noted that Stanford has seen a reduction in reported vehicle and structural burglaries. Although there are many factors that led to the decline, he pointed specifically to Larson’s crime prevention programs.

For more information on these programs, contact Larson at

Victor Wooten’s life lessons

September 24th, 2010

Photo: L.A. Cicero

Victor Wooten, foreground, had more than music to share with the freshmen of the Class of 2014. On Friday, Sept. 17, Wooten and his band held an interactive program titled “Learning In and Through Community” at Frost Amphitheater before a crowd of several hundred freshmen.

The five-time Grammy Award winner was joined on stage by renowned bassist Steve Bailey, drummer JD Blair and saxophonist Bob Hemenger. PWR lecturer ROD TAYLOR, a bassist himself and a personal friend to Wooten, also joined the musicians on stage.

Although the band would perform for students later that night, this time Wooten had a more practical message to send to new freshmen.

“The key to success is to become a good listener,” he said.

Wooten and company used musical activities to explore the meaning of residential community and how learning can happen spontaneously. To exemplify this, they invited LEMIECE ZARKA, a freshman who had never played bass guitar before, to play on stage while the band accompanied her. Afterward, Zarka was given the bass guitar.

Freshman MATT WEBER was chosen for the program’s main exercise. Weber was asked to play bass while wearing objects that represented “baggage” in his life: a cape that represented the weight of his achievements; a chain for his responsibilities; strings representing the family and friends he left back home were attached to his hands and pulled by volunteers.

“Most of this baggage we will never get over,” said Wooten to the audience. “The key is learning to deal with it. You can carry that stuff with you or you can leave it behind.”

For his participation, Weber was given a fretless bass guitar.

“Sometimes the baggage has a payoff at the end,” said Bailey.

The band ended the program with a funk breakdown of “All Right Now.” That night they performed a full concert at Frost for the Class of 2014 New Student Party.

—Sam Julian

A good week for Stanford environmentalists

September 23rd, 2010
Gretchen Daily

Gretchen Daily

Terry Root

Terry Root

Stanford environmentalists have been racking up kudos this week. First, biology Professor GRETCHEN DAILY, a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, was named one of 10 recipients of the Heinz Award. Then Daily was named one of three recipients of the Midori Prize for Biodiversity. On top of that, TERRY ROOT, also a senior fellow at the Woods Institute, received the Spirit of Defenders Award for Science from the Defenders of Wildlife. Actress and environmental advocate Ashley Judd was slated to present the award to Root at a dinner in Washington, D.C., Wednesday evening.

Show Luck some love

September 22nd, 2010

Wake Forest Stanford FootballStanford Athletics has determined that it might take more than a little, uh, good fortune to put starting quarterback ANDREW LUCK over the top in the All-America and Davey O’Brien awards sweepstakes. So they have created a website complete with biographical information, statistics and video highlights. The site also includes quotes such as this one from the New York Times’ Pete Thamel: “Standing out by blending in, Luck has finally given everyone at Stanford a reason to cheer. The university’s best quarterback prospect since John Elway, Luck is a former high school co-valedictorian and a potential top pick in the NFL Draft.” As of Tuesday, Luck was ranked 35th out of 83 candidates for the O’Brien national quarterback award.

If you want to show your own love for Luck, you can vote at least once a day on the O’Brien Award website.

In the official balloting, three finalists will be announced in November and the winner will be announced in December.

Davey O’Brien, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame (1955) and the Heisman Trophy winner in 1938, led TCU to its first undefeated season following a win in the Sugar Bowl. He is the only football player to be awarded the Heisman, Walter Camp and Maxwell awards in the same season. O’Brien died of cancer in 1977, and the Southwest Conference’s annual award was named for him. It became a national award in 1981.

Roble Hall goes Hollywood

September 21st, 2010
From left,  Eisenberg, Garfield, Hammer, Tobin and Sorkin  (Photo courtesy Michael Liu/The Stanford Daily)

From left, Eisenberg, Garfield, Hammer, Tobin and Sorkin (Photo courtesy Michael Liu/The Stanford Daily)

Producer and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin visited Roble Hall Theater Monday morning, accompanied by the stars of the upcoming movie about Facebook, The Social Network.

Sorkin and his stars are doing a promotional tour for the movie, which was screened in Palo Alto Sunday evening. Most of the students packed into Roble had seen the screening. Accompanying Sorkin were stars Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer. Garfield was recently selected to star in a Spider-Man remake slated for 2012.

Stanford lecturer ADAM TOBIN interviewed the four. The event was sponsored by the Stanford Film Society and hosted by Roble Hall. To add to the Hollywood air, Nightline filmed Sorkin’s question-and-answer session with students for an upcoming segment.

The Social Network,written by Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, tells the story of the controversial founding of Facebook, whose offices are located in the Stanford Research Park. The film also apparently includes a scene about a fictional party the characters attended at Stanford.

Although The Social Network is about the very modern phenomenon of the Internet, Sorkin told the students the film includes “themes as old as storytelling itself.”

The audience quizzed the stars of the film about everything from portraying real people as opposed to fictional characters to acting with pop icon Justin Timberlake.

Football great John Lynch among new Athletic Hall of Fame inductees

September 20th, 2010
John Lynch

John Lynch

Football great JOHN LYNCH, one of the most feared tacklers in National Football League history, will be among the new inductees into the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame.

The list of inductees also includes BREVIN KNIGHT (basketball), RICK LUNDBLADE (baseball), TRACYE LAWYER (track and field; soccer), MIKE LAMBERT (men’s volleyball), CATHERINE FOX (women’s swimming and diving), LILIA OSTERLOH (women’s tennis) and NICK BRAVIN (fencing).

Lynch was a first team All-Pac-10 selection and earned second team All-America honors in 1992 after helping Stanford to a 10-3 record and a victory over Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl. Originally recruited to Stanford as a quarterback, Lynch transitioned to safety prior to the start of the 1991 season and immediately moved into the starting lineup. He blossomed into one of the top defensive backs in the nation as a senior in 1992, earning second team All-America marks after leading the Cardinal in total tackles with 76, as Stanford finished the season ranked ninth nationally under the late head coach Bill Walsh.

A third-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1993, Lynch played 15 seasons in the NFL with the Buccaneers (1993-2003) and Denver Broncos (2004-07). A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, Lynch earned a Super Bowl ring with Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII. He was ranked as the #10 most feared tackler in NFL history in a production by NFL Films for the NFL Network.

An outstanding two-sport athlete, Lynch also played baseball at Stanford. He was a member of Stanford’s 1990 College World Series team as a designated hitter and pitcher. His first collegiate at bat resulted in a two-run home run that caromed off the Sunken Diamond scoreboard in a Jan. 31 game against USF. He was drafted as a pitcher by the Florida Marlins in the second round (66th overall) of the 1992 amateur draft. Lynch played two seasons in the minor leagues with the Erie Sailors and the Kane County Cougars before turning full time to football.

Read the full press release from Stanford Athletics.

When John F. Kennedy walked the halls of Stanford

September 17th, 2010
Zev Karlin-Neumann

Zev Karlin-Neumann

If you didn’t have a chance to hear ZEV KARLIN-NEUMANN’s student Convocation speech, you might want to read it online.

Karlin-Neumann, whose proud mom is Rabbi PATRICIA KARLIN-NEUMANN of the Office for Religious Life, was chosen as this year’s student Convocation speaker. The selection committee, comprising representatives from New Student Orientation, Student Affairs and University Communications, was impressed by Karlin-Neumann’s compelling subject and easy delivery style.

In his talk, Karlin-Neumann tells the story of discovering that a young John F. Kennedy once briefly audited classes at the Graduate School of Business. He began his speech by quoting from a letter Kennedy wrote to a friend: “Have become very fond of Stanford. Everyone is friendly—the gals are quite attractive—and it’s a very good life.”

According to A Chronology of Stanford University and Its Founders,published by the Stanford Historical Society, Kennedy registered as a graduate student for the fall quarter in September 1940. He lived in a cottage behind a house on Mayfield Avenue and took classes in business, economics and political science. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy shortly after and left campus “around the Christmas holidays.” As a presidential candidate, Kennedy returned to campus in 1960 to deliver a speech to some 4,000 people inside and outside Memorial Auditorium.

Karlin-Neumann had hoped to write his honors thesis on Stanford’s effect on the young man who would eventually become president. Alas, he couldn’t find enough material. Eventually, he turned to a more fruitful study of Kennedy and the Senate, where Karlin-Neumann interned.

Before returning to campus to deliver his speech, Karlin-Neumann was doing research in Boston and Washington, D.C. Just after his speech, he boarded a plane to pursue further research in New Mexico.

Coincidentally, memories of Kennedy’s sister, EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER, also were evoked recently. Shriver transferred to Stanford in 1941 and graduated in 1943. PRESIDENT HENNESSY talked about her commitment to service during Commencement exercises. He expanded on those remarks for his column in the current issue of Stanford magazine.

Women’s volleyball historic win results in #1 ranking

September 16th, 2010

volleyballLast weekend, Coach JOHN DUNNING‘s women’s volleyball team, ranked No. 1 in the nation, made history.

The Cardinal snapped No. 1 Penn State’s 109 match winning streak with a 28-26, 25-12 and 25-18 win in the championship of the Nike Big Four Volleyball Classic in Gainesville, Fla.

It was the second longest streak in NCAA history for any sport behind the Miami men’s tennis team’s 137-match win streak from 1957 to 1964. Stanford was the last team to beat Penn State back in 2007, when seniors Gabi Ailes, Alix Klineman and Cassidy Lichtman and redshirt junior Stephanie Browne were freshmen.

As a result, Stanford reclaimed the top spot in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll for the first time since 2004. The Cardinal has started the season among the top five teams in the nation eight of the last nine years. Penn State dropped to No. 2, while Florida, Nebraska and Illinois rounded out the top five. Six Pac-10 squads are ranked in the top-25, including four in the top-10.

The Cardinal remain perfect on the year. This weekend, the team plays its first match as the No. 1 team in the nation when it takes on Saint Mary’s on Friday. The Cardinal plays the University of San Francisco on Saturday. Pac-10 competition begins next week on the road in Arizona.

This season, Dunning also made some history of his own. In the season opener against Tulane, Dunning picked up his 700th career win. In his 26th year as a head coach, Dunning is 706-147 (.828), giving him a winning percentage that ranks among the top five all-time for Division I coaches. Dunning is 269-45 at Stanford, leading all active coaches in the conference by winning percentage (.857).

Visit the women’s volleyball website to learn more and to consult the schedule for upcoming matches at Maples Pavilion.