Archive for February, 2012

Ask Stanford Med how to ‘spring forward’ without feeling fatigued

February 29th, 2012

Trouble sleeping has been linked to heart problems, increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, development of Alzheimer’s disease and weight gain. Despite the health risks of not getting enough sleep, recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that more than a third of Americans are sleep deprived.
Changes to our sleep schedules, such as the upcoming daylight-saving time change on March 11, can cause difficulty falling or staying asleep and trigger sleep problems. To help you spring forward and stay on track, the Medical School’s  SCOPE blog asked Professor RAFAEL PELAYO to field your questions on sleep research and ways for making sure daylight-saving time doesn’t cut into your snooze time. Pelayo has long researched and treated sleep conditions, including insomnia, sleep disruptions and sleep apnea. He sees adult and pediatric patients.
You can submit questions to Pelayo by sending an @reply message to @SUMedicine and include the hashtag #AskSUMed in your tweet. (Not a Twitter user? Then please submit your question in the comment section of the SCOPE blog post.)  The blog will collect questions until 5 p.m. today, Feb. 29.

Read ‘s full blog post here.


Parents’ weekend slideshow

February 28th, 2012

More than 3,800 moms, dads and other family members flocked to campus for this year’s Parents’ Weekend. Among the highlights: a welcome by Provost and Acting President John Etchemendy, faculty lectures called ‘Back to School Classes,’ campus tours, performances by student groups, and – the biggest highlight – hugs and smiles from their students. University Photographer Linda Cicero captured some of the events.

And the Oscar goes to . . .

February 28th, 2012

For many, Sunday night’s Academy Awards were an introduction to SHARMEEN OBAID CHINOY. But the Stanford News Service has had the Pakistani-born documentary filmmaker in its sights for nearly a decade. Back in 2003, LISA TREI, then social sciences writer for the News Service, featured Obaid and her first film Terror’s Children. That documentary, which chronicled young Afghan refugees in Pakistan, was on the cusp of being released.  After hundreds of rejections to her appeals for funding, Obaid, then a 24-year-old graduate student in international policy studies and communication at Stanford, had succeeded in making the film she wanted to make.
Terror’s Children “really gave me more of a drive to make other films out of Pakistan,” she told Trei, who now is an associate communications director in the Office of the Dean of Humanities and Sciences. “It gave me a sense that things are wrong in my country and people should know about it from our perspective,” Obaid said.

Since then, Obaid Chinoy has made more than a dozen films and won numerous prizes, including an Emmy. And on Sunday night, she walked away with an Oscar for Best Documentary for her film Saving Face.  The film tells the stories of two women who are survivors of acid attacks in Pakistan and their efforts to bring their assailants to justice, and the charitable work of a plastic surgeon who strives to help them rebuild their lives.
“The Oscar is the award, not just another award,” she said during an interview on the Today program in the days leading up to the Academy Award ceremony. Saving Face will air on HBO March 8.
Obaid Chinoy is not the only person with Stanford ties to snag a golden statue on Sunday. ALEXANDER PAYNE, won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The Descendants. Payne, who earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford, where he majored in Spanish and history, has won numerous awards for his directing and screenwriting, including Oscar and Golden Globe awards for Sideways.

The Dish makes no predictions about the success of Game Change, a film adaptation of the book by the same name about the 2008 United States presidential contest. JAY ROACH, who graduated with a BA in economics from Stanford, has directed such movies as Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and Dinner with Schmucks. Roach will be back on campus today for a pre-screening and informal discussion of Game Change. The event is sold out.

What’s on the minds of Stanford parents?

February 27th, 2012

Stanford parents have a reputation for asking hard questions.

PROVOST JOHN ETCHEMENDY’s Friday welcome address for Parents’ Weekend was no exception. During a brief, 15-minute talk, the provost updated them on university news. He also shared email exchanges with freshmen.

Then he opened the floor for questions.

John Etchemendy

Provost John Etchemendy

With the president on sabbatical, the provost explained that he was doing double duty.

“Normally, Parents’ Weekend features two question-and-answer sessions—this one with me in the morning and the other with President Hennessy in the afternoon,” he told a nearly full house at Memorial Auditorium.

“I’m happy to say that, in past years, I’ve successfully encouraged parents to save their really hard questions for the president. But, as many of you know, President Hennessy is on a brief sabbatical leave. So we’ll have to make do with this one opportunity.”

Parents wasted no time sharing what was on their minds. Among the issues raised:

• Challenging changes to the Axess system for paying bills online

• Cumbersome delivery of packages to their children, including delayed deliveries of overnight mail and long lines for pickup

• Whether Stanford takes steps to assure the human rights of workers who make university-licensed apparel

• The future of online education and of ebooks

• Federal privacy laws that allow students to keep their grades and university records private, even from parents

• The reasons for the high cost of higher education

• Whether sophomore seminars will still be available under proposed changes to undergraduate education

• Alcohol use—especially hard alcohol—among Stanford students

• The role of the arts and creativity in undergraduate education and the application of real-world problems to the curriculum

• Availability of recreational music opportunities on campus

• Whether Stanford should stress internships in light of a challenging job market

Mom Ayele Amavigan asked a question of the provost.

The question-and-answer period also offered a bit of levity. A mother who had complained last year that her son’s bike had been stolen on campus returned this year to announce that the bike had been recovered. She also took the opportunity to ask the provost to expand the Stanford Guest House, which is operated by Residential and Dining Enterprises and located on the grounds of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. She said the facility is reasonably priced and convenient, but complained that reservations must be made well in advance.

“Please get more rooms in the Stanford Guest House before 2014,” she said. “I’m bringing 12 people for my son’s graduation.”

SNL’s Seth Meyers does a favor for an old college chum

February 24th, 2012
Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers visited Roble Hall at the invitation of college friend Ellen Oh.

Earlier this week a message went out via Facebook and Twitter that was something akin to “get thee to the theater.” Roble, that is. Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA) announced through social media channels that it was giving away a very limited number of tickets to see Saturday Night Live head writer SETH MEYERS at Roble Hall Theater. At the appointed hour, enough students were lined up around Harmony House to claim all the tickets in 10 minutes.

The SNL star’s appearance was thanks in large part to ELLEN OH, Meyers’ former college friend from Northwestern University and now program administrator for IDA. Her connection with Meyers, coupled with a strong partnership between IDA and the Stanford Residential Arts Program, made the Meyers program a huge success, and a vast improvement on the comedian’s last visit to Stanford. During the hour-long conversation, Meyers reminisced about his first performance at the university that took place in a science lecture hall with a chemistry table in front of him and the periodic table of the elements behind him. “So Stanford,” he said to appreciative laughter.

Oh and IDA executive director JEFF CHANG were thrilled to be able to present the very first program in the newly renovated Roble Hall Theater. Most of IDA’s programs are held in the Harmony House living room with a cozy capacity of about 40. One hundred students were able to participate in the conversation with Meyers at Roble, which is the university’s largest four-class residence hall.

“Interaction and access are two of our goals, and while the larger theater meant more students, it still felt intimate,” said Oh.

Why is Seth Meyers a guest speaker for an organization dedicated to diversity? “Diversity by definition is all of us together. With Seth we were also examining diversity in comedy and career,” said Chang. “When Seth talked about how difficult it was to write a sketch about Jeremy Lin, it was profound to hear that he had been thinking hardest about what would make Lin laugh. It’s an example of how artists are trying to represent a new America.”

Casa Zapata celebrates 25 years of Zoot Suit Week

February 23rd, 2012
Scene from the Zoot Suit play

Casa Zapata students performing in last year's Zoot Suit.

This weekend, Casa Zapata, the university’s Chicano and Latino residential theme house, will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Zoot Suit Week with its production of Zoot Suit, a play about the historic Sleepy Lagoon murder trial in 1940s Los Angeles. The first performance is tonight, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m.


Zoot Suit Week has been the centerpiece of Casa Zapata’s residential programming since 1987, according to resident fellow GINA HERNANDEZ-CLARKE, director of arts in undergraduate education in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Hernandez-Clarke shares resident fellow duties for the 80-student residence with CHRIS GONZALEZ CLARKE, a graduate student at the School of Education.

Each year, Casa Zapata students transform their residence into 1940s Los Angeles during Parents’ Weekend, generally offering a performance or reading of the play, as well as lectures and events about Mexican-American life and culture. Zoot Suit will be offered tonight, Feb. 23, as well as Feb. 24 and 25 at 8 p.m. in Stern Dining. All of the performances are free and open to the public. Opening night on Thursday also will feature actor and producer Daniel Valdez, who played the protagonist in the movie version of Zoot Suit. Zoot Suit was written by Luis Valdez in 1978 and is the first Mexican-American production in history to be featured on Broadway. The film adaptation was nominated for the 1983 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture.

On Friday, Feb. 24, at noon in the Casa Zapata lounge, journalist and author Ruben Martinez will give a talk, Mexican Los Angeles: The Legacy of Zoot Suit, presented with El Centro Chicano and the Institute for Diversity in the Arts. The festivities conclude on Saturday with a dance featuring an alumni ensemble.

Zoot Suit takes place when violent racism against Mexican Americans was at a peak. The play features distinctive costumes, reflecting an era when men wore oversize coats with large lapels, baggy pants that narrowed at the cuff, long watch chains that fastened at the waist and broad-rimmed hats with a large feather. Women wore short skirts and pompadours. The style of dress was seen by many as a sign of Mexican gang intrusion on American culture. In Los Angeles, fights often broke out between Chicanos and white servicemen who frequented the same dance halls. These confrontations culminated in the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots.

Stanford wins top honors among workplaces for commuters

February 22nd, 2012

For the ninth year in a row, Stanford was recognized as one of the Best Workplaces for Commuters by the National Center for Transit Research.

Stanford also competed in the Best Workplaces for Commuters 2011 Race to Excellence. The award recognizes those who offer the highest levels of commuter benefits. Stanford was honored with the “Best Of” award, the top prize in the Race to Excellence.

“Stanford University strives to attract the best and the brightest. Being designated as one of the Best Workplaces for Commuters is important recognition of the university’s leadership in sustainable transportation, which enhances the lives of our commuters, benefits the community, and helps the environment,” said BRODIE HAMILTON, director of Parking & Transportation Services at Stanford.

Funded by the Florida Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Center for Transit Research is located at the University of South Florida.

Diving coach, current freshman and alum bound for London

February 17th, 2012

Freshman diver Kristian Ipsen will compete in the FINA Diving World Cup in London next week.

Stanford’s head diving coach RICK SCHAVONE along with current freshman KRISTIAN IPSEN and Stanford alum CASSIDY KRUG will be part of a 14-diver contingent at the FINA Diving World Cup in London  Feb. 20-26.
Schavone is in his 34th year on the Farm and has coached at least one All-American diver nearly every year since 1982. Krug is a former NCAA champion, and Ipsen has not lost a collegiate meet this season in 12 tries.
The U.S has secured six of the possible 12 spots for the London Olympics, which take place later this summer, and is hoping to qualify more American spots during the London meets.
The actual team will be chosen at the Olympic trials in June.
Read the full announcement on the Stanford Athletics website.

Glynn, Krawinkler and Pelc also elected to National Academy of Engineering

February 16th, 2012

Peter W. Glynn

The previous Dish item reported that STEVEN M. GORELICK, the Cyrus F. Tolman Professor in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science, had been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). It turns out that in fact three other Stanford faculty also received the honor this year. The four Stanford faculty members are among 66 new members and 10 foreign associates whose election was announced last week.

PETER W. GLYNN, the Thomas W. Ford Professor in the School of Engineering and chair of the Department of Management Science and Engineering, was elected and cited for contributions to simulation methodology and stochastic modeling.

HELMUT KRAWINKLER, the John A. Blume Professor, Emeritus, in the School of Engineering, was cited for the development of performance-based earthquake engineering procedures for evaluating and rehabilitating buildings.

Norbert Pelc

NORBERT JOSEPH PELC, professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Radiology and professor of bioengineering, was cited for the development of algorithms and technologies for MRI, CT and hybrid X-ray/MRI imaging.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature,” an NAE press release noted. It also recognizes the “pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”


The latest election brings to 98 the number of Stanford faculty in the engineering academy.


Steven Gorelick elected to National Academy of Engineering

February 16th, 2012
Steven Gorelick

Steven Gorelick

STEVEN GORELICK, the Cyrus F. Tolman Professor in Environmental Earth System Science, is one of 66 new members elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Election to NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer, according to the academy’s press release. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education.

The NAE press release noted Gorelick’s “optimization techniques and transport models for groundwater and remediation of contaminated aquifers.”

Gorelick, who earned his master’s degree and doctorate in hydrology at Stanford, has been a Stanford faculty member since 1988. He also is a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and serves on the Water Advisory Board of the Natural Capital Project.

Gorelick’s research involves the study of water resources with an emphasis on groundwater. The objective of his work is to develop an understanding of fundamental aspects of the transport of fluids and contaminants and to investigate regional water resources systems. He and his students have combined hydrogeology with aspects of ecology, geophysics, operations research and economics to study meadow restoration, wetland protection, water supply management in Mexico and India and contaminated groundwater remediation methods.

Visit Gorelick’s website for more information.