Archive for March, 2013

Pediatric immunologist answers questions about food allergy research

March 29th, 2013

Kari Nadeau

Food allergies affect millions of children, who find it difficult to enjoy ordinary activities like birthday parties and restaurant meals because of worries that something they eat could send them into anaphylactic shock.

As the New York Times described recently, Stanford scientist KARI NADEAU, associate professor of pediatrics, is studying how to desensitize children to their allergy triggers. The article generated considerable response, so Nadeau followed up with a letter clarifying information for parents of severely allergic children.

Recently in Scope, the blog from the School of Medicine, she took questions on food allergies and her desensitization research.

Among the questions Nadeau was asked: “What’s the simplest way to identify the cause of an allergy in kids?”

The answer?

“If you suspect an allergy to a specific food or environmental cause, skin prick testing is the simplest and least invasive way to initially identify the allergy but it is not the gold standard. A food challenge in the doctor’s office is the true way to test for food allergies.”

Read more of Nadeau’s responses on the Scope site, and subscribe to the award-winning blog at this website.


Engineering alumnus honored with prestigious science award

March 28th, 2013
Mung Chiang

Mung Chiang

MUNG CHIANG, a Stanford alumnus who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at the School of Engineering, has been awarded this year’s Alan T. Waterman Award. The annual award honors outstanding researchers under the age of 35 in any field of science or engineering that the National Science Foundation supports.

Chiang’s achievements will be recognized with a $1 million award, spread over five years, to help further his research, which focuses on developing methods for analyzing the often-complex interaction between layers of wireless networks.

Chiang completed his doctorate in electrical engineering at Stanford in 2003 under the guidance of engineering Professor STEPHEN BOYD and the late THOMAS COVER, who was a Stanford professor of electrical engineering and of statistics. Chiang is now a professor at Princeton University.

“It is a great pleasure to honor Mung Chiang with NSF’s most prestigious award designed to recognize outstanding young researchers,” said NSF Director SUBRA SURESH. “Dr. Chiang’s work links the worlds of theory and practice, and begins to close the gap between what is known today and what might be possible in next-generation wireless networks. His scientific contributions are certain to continue to impact our lives.”

Chiang’s research has been applied to wireless network radio resource optimization and Internet congestion control, as well as network traffic routing and fair distribution of resources in cloud computing.

“I’m deeply humbled by this prestigious honor,” Chiang said. “We’ll use NSF’s support to further develop mathematical languages that crystallize the architectures of network design and then turn the theoretical advances into deployable systems.”

An IEEE Fellow, Chiang received the institute’s 2012 Kiyo Tomiyasu Award. He also is the recipient of the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, NSF CAREER Award and MIT Technology Review young innovator award, called the TR35. He joined the Princeton faculty in 2003.

The Waterman Award will be presented to Chiang at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on May 9.

—ANDREW MYERS, Stanford Engineering

Stanford synchronized swimming team captures seventh collegiate national title

March 27th, 2013


The Stanford synchronized swimming team won its seventh Collegiate National title, and first since 2008, on Saturday.

“I could not be more proud of the Stanford synchro team today,” said head coach SARA LOWE. “The girls have worked so hard all year, and it was so exciting to see all of their hard work pay off and culminate in a national championship.”

Lowe was a member of the Cardinal squads that won four consecutive U.S. Collegiate National championships from 2005 to 2008. Stanford also won the title in 1998 and 1999.

The Cardinal, which finished fourth last year, swept the team, trio and duet finals March 23 to claim the title in its home pool at the Avery Aquatics Center.

Stanford dominated the team final as MADISON CROCKER, MORGAN FULLER, LEIGH HALDEMAN, MARIYA KOROLEVA, MICHELLE MOORE, OLIVIA MORGAN and EVELYNA WANG scored a 91.075. Ohio State took second with an 89.362.

Read the full story on the Athletics website.


Hoover exhibit on China wins exhibition award

March 26th, 2013

A Stanford exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese republic is being honored by the Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL).

“A Century of Change: China 1911-2011,” which closed last year, included photographs, posters, letters, memorabilia and audiovisual materials from the Hoover Institution Library and Archives, where the exhibition was held.

The exhibition is one of four recipients of the 2013 Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab American Book Prices Current Exhibitions Award. The awards are given out by the ACRL Rare Books and Manuscripts Section.

The award recognizes outstanding printed exhibition catalogs and guides and electronic exhibitions produced by North America and Caribbean institutions.

Certificates will be presented to the winners and the recipient of an honorable mention in June.

The exhibition closed in February 2012, but its catalog, images and text are still available to view online.



Two Stanford humanities doctoral candidates awarded Rare Book School fellowships

March 25th, 2013

Andrew Bricker

Hannah Marcus

HANNAH MARCUS and ANDREW BRICKER will participate in a three-year program, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography, whose aim is to reinvigorate bibliographical studies within the humanities.

The Rare Book School (RBS) at the University of Virginia awarded 20 fellowships in critical bibliography to early-career scholars. The fellows were chosen from a field of 250 applicants in the humanities who are affiliated with institutions throughout the United States.

As fellows, Bricker and Marcus will receive advanced, intensive training in the analysis of textual artifacts. Led by a distinguished faculty, they will attend annual research-oriented seminars at the Rare Book School and at major special collections libraries nationwide. Fellows also use stipends to fund travels to special collections and to host academic symposia at their home institutions.

Marcus, a doctoral candidate in history, whose research focuses on Catholic censorship in 16th- and 17th-century Italy, said that the program would introduce her to “an extended community of book professionals and academics who are thinking creatively about books as both material and textual objects.”

The fellowship will allow Marcus to conduct archival research in the Roman Inquisition archives in the Vatican. She also will be able to visit the numerous Italian libraries and special collections that house “evidence of censorship in corrected, expurgated and mutilated early modern books.”

Bricker’s dissertation, “Producing and Litigating Satire, 1660–1760,” explores the intersections between literary studies, legal history and bibliography. Bricker, who is working on his doctorate in English, said that the interdisciplinary nature of the fellowship was extraordinarily valuable.

“In an era of ever-increasing specialization,” Bricker said, the opportunity to “diversify one’s knowledge and to grow as a researcher is both rare and exciting.”

The Rare Book School provides continuing-education opportunities for students from all disciplines and levels to study the history of written, printed and born-digital materials with leading scholars and professionals in the fields of bibliography, librarianship, book history, manuscript studies and the digital humanities.

Marcus and Bricker plan to use fellowship funds to organize and host symposia at Stanford about the history and future of the study of material texts.

—CORRIE GOLDMAN, The Humanities at Stanford

Rachel Maddow at Stanford, now on video

March 22nd, 2013

We know you have busy lives, so it’s rare that we post a long-form video in the Dish. But we will make an exception for RACHEL MADDOW, Stanford alum, author and MSNBC talk show host. On March 16, Maddow returned to her alma mater to give a talk at Memorial Auditorium. In the video, she’s introduced by ROB REICH, associate professor of political science and faculty director of the Undergraduate Program in Ethics in Society. For years, Reich has required ethics students to read Maddow’s honors thesis on the dehumanization of HIV/AIDS victims, but this is the first time they had met.

Here’s Maddow in her own words.

Law students tell the governor what they think about realignment and parole

March 21st, 2013

Law students with BrownA group of Stanford Law School students recently presented their research findings to California GOV. JERRY BROWN on the implementation and impact of the state’s Public Safety Realignment legislation and on key aspects of the parole process for California “lifer” inmates.

The students conducted the research as part of a course, Advanced Seminar on Criminal Law and Public Policy: A Research Practicum. The course was created by JOAN PETERSILIA, the Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law, and the research was supervised under the auspices of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, which Petersilia co-directs with ROBERT WEISBERG, the Edwin E. Huddleson, Jr. Professor of Law. The research produced by the class is intended to contribute to the state’s and counties’ understanding of the impacts of realignment.

According to Petersilia, “California’s realignment is the biggest penal experiment in modern history, but little has been done to consider realignment’s impact broadly, or to evaluate its statewide impact on crime, incarceration, justice agencies or offender recidivism.”

Read more on the Stanford Law School website.

Software is forever

March 20th, 2013

Library archives are not just about books, of course, especially in Silicon Valley.

“In our world, software has become a vital medium of communication, entertainment and education,” said University Librarian MICHAEL KELLER.

In that spirit, Stanford University Libraries is partnering with several federal agencies to preserve one of the world’s largest pristine collections of software, the 15,000 software titles in the Stephen M. Cabrinety Collection in the History of Microcomputing held by the Libraries.

The Libraries will work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to preserve the collection. Funded by the National Software Reference Laboratory (NSRL), Stanford and NIST will spend two years digitally preserving the 15,000 software titles.

The Cabrinety Collection includes titles from virtually all of the major microcomputer platforms, including home computer and video game consoles. The collection was assembled by STEPHEN M. CABRINETY, who began collecting software as a teenager and maintained an intensive interest in computer history throughout his life. Cabrinety was director of development of Superior Software Inc.  and founder of  the Computer History Institute for the Preservation of Software. He died in 1995, and Stanford acquired the entire collection as a gift from the Cabrinety family in 1998.

The work of capturing disk images ­– exact copies of the data on the original software media – will proceed as a cross-country collaboration between the Stanford University Libraries and NIST. At Stanford, Special Collections staff will catalog and prepare the materials for shipment to the NSRL forensics lab in Gaithersburg, Md. The software disk images, associated digital photography of box covers, manuals and inserts will then be sent to Stanford for long-term preservation in the Stanford Digital Repository.

Stanford bioengineer Covert receives $1.5 million Distinguished Investigator grant

March 19th, 2013

MARKUS COVERT, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, has been awarded a $1.5 million Distinguished Investigator exploratory grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Covert was one of five recipients of this year’s award, which, according to the foundation, “aims to unlock fundamental questions in biology.”

Covert’s research involves building complex computer models of living organisms. Last year, he announced completion of the world’s first whole-cell computer model of a simple bacterium. The three-year Allen grant will support Covert’s ongoing work to develop models of cells of increasing complexity, including human cells.

“Recently, our lab built a computer model that takes every single gene into account for a single cell, but we still have a long way to go before this technology is ready to apply to complex organisms,” said Covert, who works in the Department of Bioengineering, a joint effort of the School of Engineering and the School of Medicine. “The Allen Foundation’s generous award will enable us to solve some of the most critical challenges posed by more complicated cells.”

Read the full announcement on the Stanford Engineering website or watch this video, in which Covert talks about his work.

Stanford physicist Steven Kahn to head Large Telescope project

March 18th, 2013

Physics Professor STEVEN KAHN has been named director of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Project. He will assume the post July 1 and will retain his affiliation with SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford.

LSST is billed on its website as the “widest, fastest, deepest eye of the new digital age.” The project is currently in the final stages of its design and development. The telescope will be located in Chile.

By digitally imaging the sky for a decade, the LSST will drive advances in big-data science and computing and create opportunities for transformative education in science, technology and mathematics.

“Steve brings a unique blend of relevant management and scientific experience to this position. He will inherit a strong team and will lead LSST into the construction phase,” said WILLIAM SMITH, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), who made the announcement last week.

In this artist's rendition, the LSST primary mirror is seen through the slit of the dome at sunset. The LSST will carry out a deep, 10-year imaging survey in six broad optical bands over the main survey area of 18,000 square degrees. (Image credit: Todd Mason, Mason Productions Inc. / LSST Corp.)

DAVID MACFARLANE, director of SLAC Particle Physics and Astrophysics, and chair of the LSST Corporation board of directors, said, “Steve Kahn brings an outstanding breadth of scientific credentials in assuming the LSST director role, along with tremendous project leadership and management experience.” He added that Kahn is uniquely positioned with the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy to take on the directorship as the project makes the all-important transition to construction.

Read the full announcement from AURA.