Archive for September, 2011

Abbas Milani shares his vision for Iran

September 30th, 2011

ABBAS MILANI, director of Iranian Studies at Stanford, recently took questions on Stanford Facebook Open Office Hours. He’s responded to many of them in the videos below.

Abbas Milani on Stanford Facebook Open Office Hours, Part 2

Abbas Milani on Stanford Facebook Open Office Hours, Part 3

Amos Nur awarded Maurice Ewing Medal for contributions to geophysics

September 29th, 2011

Amos NurAMOS NUR, the Wayne Loel Professor of Earth Sciences, Emeritus, has won the Maurice Ewing Medal, presented at the recent annual meeting of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists in San Antonio, Texas. The Ewing Medal is the highest award given by the society, and recognizes contributions to advancing the science and profession of exploration geophysics.

Nur is known for his innovations in 3-D and 4-D seismic imaging for oil and gas production and is regarded as one of the world’s top academic authorities on rock physics. He joined the Stanford geophysics faculty in 1970 and founded the university’s Rock Physics and Borehole Geophysics Project in 1977, remaining its director until his retirement in 2008.

He directed the Bing Overseas Studies Program at Stanford from 2000 to 2005. In 2007, he co-founded Ingrain, one of the world’s three independent digital rock physics laboratories. He joined the company as its director and chief technology officer following his retirement. Nur has published more than 240 papers and a number of books, and has advised 51 doctoral and 20 master’s students.

Nur acknowledged his students and colleagues for their roles in the decades of research that led to the award during his acceptance speech in San Antonio, saying, “My main role was to initiate and seed projects, but you were the ones who discovered new effects, got new results, created new models and developed new applications.”


By Sarah Jane Keller

Abraham Verghese: A doctor’s touch

September 28th, 2011

Professor of medicine and best-selling author ABRAHAM VERGHESE is a strong advocate for “hands-on” medicine. His dedication to the art of the physical exam led to the development of the Medical School’s Stanford 25, an initiative designed to showcase and teach 25 fundamental physical exam skills and their diagnostic benefits to interns.

In this recently posted TEDGlobal talk, delivered in Edinburgh in July, Verghese discusses the importance of the time-honored physical exam, bedside chat and the power of informed observation in modern medicine.

Watch the video.

Women’s soccer team’s winning streaks

September 27th, 2011

When the Cardinal women’s soccer team beat Arizona 7-zip on Saturday, Sept. 24, it was Coach PAUL RATCLIFFE‘s 197th career collegiate coaching victory. He’s got his eye on 200.

The win also:

• extended the team’s conference winning streak to 21.

• brought its home winning streak to 41.

• raised its regular-season unbeaten streak to 52.

• brought the team’s conference-opening unbeaten streak to 11.

To find out more about Saturday’s game, visit the Athletics website.

Young leaders in health

September 26th, 2011

The documentary The Revolutionary Optimist chronicles the story of a lawyer-turned-social entrepreneur working to empower children living in Calcutta’s poorest neighborhood to become leaders in improving health and sanitation. The video clip below highlights the story of the children’s successful drive to increase polio immunization rates in their community.

The film was directed and produced by MAREN GRAINGER-MONSEN, a senior research scholar in the School of Medicine and director of the Program in Bioethics and Film, and NICOLE NEWNHAM, filmmaker in residence.

Read the full story on the School of Medicine’s Scope blog.


Stanford community members add their stories to ‘It Gets Better’ campaign

September 23rd, 2011

Members of the Stanford faculty and staff have added their stories of discovery, coming out and self-acceptance to the “It Gets Better” website.

The website was developed in 2010 in response to the suicides of teenagers bullied because they were gay or suspected of being gay. The goal of the site is to diminish the rate of suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth by assuring them that life gets better, despite initial feelings of isolation, fear and loneliness.

The website explains, “Many LGBT youth can’t picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can’t imagine a future for themselves. So let’s show them what our lives are like, let’s show them what the future may hold in store for them.”

The Stanford submission features RAMZI SALTI, lecturer in African and Middle Eastern languages and literatures; BEN BARRES, professor and chair of neurobiology; ABIGAIL SCHAIRER, client manager of direct appeal services for the Office of Development; RYAN TAMES, lead cataloging specialist in the Stanford Law Library; and ARNOLD ZWICKY, consulting professor of linguistics.

The submission was created under the auspices of Quest, the Queer University Employees at Stanford group. The filming was coordinated by NOAH ABRAHAMSON, computer information systems analyst in Information Technology Services, and produced by former Knight Fellow HUGO SOSKIN and communications graduate student GEORGIA WELLS.

The video joins a similar piece created by students at the Graduate School of Business.

Graduate student conference on energy shows synergy between SLAC, Stanford

September 22nd, 2011

Some 120 incoming and current Stanford graduate students last week enjoyed five days of presentations, discussions and networking activities relating to the wide range of energy research and teaching offered at Stanford and SLAC.

Tour guide Mandeep Gill, left, describes the operation of SLAC’s linac to electrical engineering graduate students Yu-han Chou and John Belanger during a site tour for participants in the Energy@Stanford & SLAC conference last week. Photo by Janet Rae-Dupree

The first Energy@Stanford & SLAC conference featured more than 30 presentations on topics ranging from energy-conversion science and technologies to energy policies and commercial challenges. Many of the talks had two parts: one given by a professor, the other by a current graduate student. Attendees hailed from 19 departments across campus.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 13,  the students came to SLAC to learn about research conducted by the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) and to tour the SLAC site.

“Our goals are to show both incoming and current grad students the breadth of research going on at Stanford and SLAC and to help these students develop an interdisciplinary network of colleagues who are also interested in energy,” said ZHI-XUN SHEN, SLAC chief scientist.

Key elements of the event were the nightly dinners, each located at a different site on Stanford’s property: Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, SLAC, Graduate School of Business, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center and the private home of LYNN ORR, professor of energy resources engineering.

“Most of the participants this year are incoming graduate students,” said Orr, director of Stanford’s  Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE). “Our goal is to give these new students an opportunity to experience the full spectrum of the Stanford energy universe – everything from cutting-edge solar cell technology to climate modeling to the psychology of energy efficiency and much more.

Read the full story


MacArthur ‘geniuses’ with Stanford connections

September 21st, 2011

Three women with links to Stanford are among the recipients of this year’s $500,000 MacArthur “genius” fellowships. The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation made the announcement of the “no strings attached” five-year awards on Tuesday.

YUKIKO YAMASHITA, 39, is studying the process of stem cell division and its role in age-related decline in organ repair and in the onset of some disorders and diseases, such as some cancers. The developmental biologist was a postdoctoral fellow in Stanford’s Department of Developmental Biology from 2001 to 2006. She is now at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as an assistant professor at the Life Sciences Institute and an assistant professor at the medical school.

“I feel now that I’ve got some freedom to try some out-of-the-blue-type ideas that probably would not receive funding through conventional research grants,” Yamashita told the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Alumna SARAH OTTO, 43, a theoretical biologist at the University of British Columbia, focuses on fundamental questions about population genetics and evolution, such as why some species reproduce sexually and why some species carry more than one copy of each gene and the ecological structure and conditions that favor sexual over asexual reproduction. She holds two Stanford degrees: BS ’88 and PhD ’92, both in biological sciences.

Washington, D.C., lawyer MARIE-THERESE CONNOLLY, 54, fights for the rights of older Americans as the director of the Life Long Justice project at Appleseed, a nonprofit network of public interest justice centers. She received her undergraduate degree in political science from Stanford in 1981.

“I couldn’t think of another issue in this country that has such an impact on so many people,” Connolly told the New York Times. She combats physical and psychological elder abuse and mistreatment, and elder financial exploitation, by breaking down barriers among social services, health care, legal and financial systems. She said her award will bring attention to the issue.



What was going on 18 years ago when today’s freshmen were born?

September 20th, 2011
Greg Boardman

Greg Boardman

There was an audible gasp among student affairs professionals last week when Vice Provost for Student Affairs GREG BOARDMAN reminded them at their annual start-of-the-year meeting that most of this year’s freshmen were born in 1993.

The widespread gasps in the Tresidder Oak Room turned to laughter when Boardman shared parts of the now-famous Beloit College Mind-Set list, which is published annually to reveal the world in which freshmen grew up.

Among the items on the Beloit list:

• Sears has never sold anything out of a “Big Book” that could also serve as a doorstop.

• There has never been an official Communist Party in Russia.

• There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded some U.S. Navy ships.

But Boardman gave the list a new spin when he pointed out what Stanford was like in 1993. Among the items on his list:

GERHARD CASPER was president.


BILL WALSH was football coach.

The Haas Center for Public Service building was dedicated.

The Big Game pep rally in Lake Lagunita was held without a bonfire for the first time to protect the Tiger Salamander.

Sharon Long appointed to National Medal of Science committee

September 19th, 2011

Sharon Long

Sharon Long

SHARON LONG,  the Steere-Pfizer Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford, has been named by Barack Obama to the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science. Long, who served as Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford from 2001 until 2007,  “works at the intersection of genetics, biochemistry and cell biology to study the symbiosis of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and legumes.  Her work aims to improve the use of plants and bacteria in energy conservation and sustainable agriculture, among other things, the White House announcement said.

Long has received numerous honors since coming to Stanford, including a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Shell Foundation Research Award and the Charles A. Schull Award from the American Society of Plant Physiology. She also is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Philosophical Society.

The President’s Committee evaluates nominees for the National Medal of Science, and makes recommendations to the president.

Long noted in an email that “since the Medal was established in 1959, there have been 34 Stanford awardees including eight who also won the Nobel prize, and also including Stanford’s legendary provost Frederick Terman.”