Archive for April, 2013

Harold Hwang wins top Korean Award

April 30th, 2013


Harold Hwang

HAROLD Y. HWANG, professor of applied physics and photon science at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, has won the 2013 Ho-Am Award in Science, one of five annual awards often referred to as the Korean equivalent of the Nobel prizes.

The award – which consists of a 6-ounce gold medal, a laureate diploma and a cash prize of 300 million Korean won (about $265,000) – will be presented May 31 in Seoul. Recipients also are scheduled to give commemorative lectures at major universities, academies and high schools across Korea.

Hwang is an expert in creating complex oxide materials with extraordinary electronic and magnetic properties, including superconductivity. Made of alternating atomic layers of metals and oxygen, these materials are the focus of intense worldwide research seeking to design new combinations for electronics, sensing and energy applications.

“Complex oxides are today where semiconductors were early in the 20th century, when crystal radios were state of the art,” Hwang said. “If you put various semiconductors together, you can make fantastic devices just because the semiconductor interface can range from an insulator to a good conductor. With complex oxides, however, you can add superconductivity, magnetism, ferroelectricity and many other properties. Imagine the possibilities.”

The key, he said, is determining the principles that give each atomic arrangement its special behavior. Hwang and colleagues use SLAC’s light sources to probe the electronic behavior of these materials. His team is creating a chamber that will enable researchers to create complex materials layer by layer and measure their properties at the same time.

The Ho-Am Prize was established by Samsung in 1990 to honor its founding chairman, the late Byung-Chull Lee. “Ho-Am” was Lee’s pen name. Awards are given each year in the categories of science, engineering, medicine, arts and community service. In addition, a Ho-Am Prize in Mass Communication was awarded from 1991 to 1994 and in 1996.

A total of 177 people have received Ho-Am prizes, including two Stanford professors: THOMAS LEE (2011, engineering) and STUART K. KIM (2004, medicine).

Ho-Am Prizes are awarded to people of Korean origin. (The prize for community service, however, can also be awarded to non-Koreans who made outstanding contributions to Korea and Koreans at home and abroad.) Hwang’s parents are from Korea, and came to Southern California for graduate school. He said he’s descended from a Chinese merchant who moved to the Korean peninsula about a thousand years ago.

—MIKE ROSS, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Stanford’s Asian Staff Forum hosts Adam Johnson

April 29th, 2013

Newly minted Pulitzer Prize winner and English Professor Adam Johnson signs books at an Asian Staff Forum talk.

When the Asian Staff Forum (ASF) invited ADAM JOHNSON, associate professor of English, to speak to their group about his novel The Orphan Master’s Son, they had no idea that just a few days before the event their guest would win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The Orphan Master’s Son, Johnson’s third novel, is a gripping tale about a young man’s life and struggles in North Korea during Kim Jong Il’s reign. The ASF seeks to promote the interests of Stanford employees of Asian/Pacific/Indian subcontinent descent or affinity.

Originally planned as an intimate discussion at the Asian American Activities Center, the event was moved to the Humanities Center to accommodate more people. But Johnson played down the impact the prize was having on his daily life. Asked by an audience member how it felt to win a Pulitzer, Johnson said that since the announcement his dishwasher had broken and he had gotten a parking ticket, so “everything feels the same.”

A curiosity about the “great tragedies of the world” inspired Johnson to learn more about the turbulent history of the Korean peninsula and the harsh reality of life in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). He gleaned what he could from policy texts and frequent visits to propaganda laden DPRK websites. “Scenarios, scenes and dialogue” that filled in the missing human stories “just started coming out,” he said.

As a fiction writer, Johnson was particularly intrigued by how the strict rules of the Kim dynasty have created a “single national story” for North Koreans.

In an effort to learn more about the cryptic society, Johnson visited North Korea in 2007. He knew that in such a closed society where even family members censor each other, he wouldn’t be able to stop people on the streets to learn more about their lives, but said that he learned a lot through observation. His imagination filled in the rest.

“Legend, myth, rumor and dreams are powerful tools” when it comes to “building a psychological portrait,” Johnson told the group.

—CORRIE GOLDMAN, Humanities at Stanford

Wellness Fair draws 2,550

April 26th, 2013
Photo credit: Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News

David Iott, commissary executive chef in Arrillaga Family Dining Commons, and Devinder Kumar, sous chef in Florence Moore Hall, beckon Anna Cobb, graphic designer for University Communications, with an amuse bouche featuring smoked turkey at the Wellness Fair. Photo credit: Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News

The theme of last week’s Wellness Fair was “Summer Fun,” so the BeWell@Stanford and Health Improvement Program staff decorated the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation with brightly colored balloons, including a palm tree made of orange and green balloons, and themselves with bright red T-shirts and leis.

The April 18 event, which opened at 10:30 a.m. and closed at 3 p.m., attracted 2,550 faculty and staff.

Inside, massage therapists kneaded backs and shoulders. Staff from Residential and Dining Enterprises prepared delicious, nutritious food for the event. Campus chefs in tall white toques handed out more than 4,000 tasty samples of green salads and blueberry smoothies – along with recipes to make them at home.

Faculty and staff could get their bone density measured, their blood pressure checked and their skin examined for sun damage.

They also had the chance to play games. There were beanbags to toss, golf balls to putt and bowling pins to juggle. Some people danced to a Wii Fit video routine. Others got their picture taken – putting their smiling faces inside the face cutout of a surfer in a wetsuit holding a boogie board. Some made their own taco spice mix and left with a recipe for the mix and for a lentil-mushroom filling for a meatless taco.

There were other give-aways, including foam rollers, miniature compost or recycling bins, lip balms with sunscreen, beach balls and reusable shopping bags. The BeWell staff also handed out raffle prizes: a cruiser bike, an outdoor grill and Stanford folding chairs.


Al Gore dedicates bench in memory of Stephen Schneider

April 25th, 2013

Former Vice President AL GORE was on campus Tuesday to remember a friend. Gore spoke at a private ceremony dedicating a stone bench in the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden in memory of renowned climate scientist STEPHEN SCHNEIDER, a former Stanford biology professor and senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, who died in 2010. Gore also spoke later that day, giving the inaugural Stephen H. Schneider Memorial Lecture.

Schneider and Gore worked together on several projects and shared, along with Schneider’s colleagues on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change.”

Before Gore spoke, Schneider’s widow, TERRY ROOT, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute and frequent scientific collaborator with Schneider, thanked Schneider’s friends.

A bench dedicated to Stephen H. Schneider sits in the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden. An engraving reads, ''Teach your children well.'' At right, Terry Root, Schneider's widow and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, leaves a stone at the bench.

“I promised I wasn’t going to cry,” she said through the onset of tears, throwing up her arms. Then, the Rev. Canon SALLY G. BINGHAM, president of climate change advocacy group Interfaith Power and Light, compared Schneider to Old Testament prophets. “He raged on about drought, fires, floods, rising seas with the spread of disease unless we changed our ways.” Although Schneider was “not a believer,” Bingham said, he was among a small number of scientists willing to include religion in the climate change dialogue and to emphasize the moral issues involved.

“He was a force of nature,” Gore said of Schneider. “He was sui generis.” Schneider inspired others, Gore noted, with “his passion, his commitment, his stamina, his relentless desire to keep working for the truth and to get the message out.”

Gore recalled first seeing Schneider on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the mid-1970s, when climate change had barely made it into the American consciousness. Schneider’s work to raise awareness of the issue was “awe inspiring,” Gore said. “There are very few people in history as successful as Steve was in helping to protect that only home we have ever known.”

After Gore’s comments, Stanford Woods Institute Co-Director JEFF KOSEFF wrapped up the proceedings. He called Schneider a “mensch,” a Yiddish term that Koseff translated as “a person you want to be around because he or she makes you feel genuine and whole. A mensch makes you feel good about yourself and what you do, lifts up those around him or her. A mensch inspires [people] to do good, to heal the world.”

Koseff paused to imagine Schneider asking him if he could come up with a slogan for the day’s event. “I said, ‘Yes, I can, Steve. We’re dedicating a bench for a mensch.’”

Watch a video montage of Schneider discussing climate change.

ROB JORDAN, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

President Hennessy receives the inaugural Tall Tree Global Impact Award

April 24th, 2013

When it was time for the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and the Palo Alto Weekly to honor outstanding local individuals and organizations with the 2013 Tall Tree Awards, they decided to add another prize to this year’s roster — the Global Impact Award.  Stanford President JOHN HENNESSY was selected as its first recipient.

“I am deeply honored to be the first recipient of the Tall Tree Global Impact Award,” Hennessy said at a celebration of the awardees earlier this month. He noted that El Palo Alto, “the tall tree,” is at the center of both the Stanford seal and the City of Palo Alto’s seal.

During his acceptance remarks, Hennessy recognized all of the “incredible people” he’s worked with, particularly faculty and staff, “who are so dedicated to our students.”

“My career and my interests and my family have all been nurtured by this community over the years,” Hennessy continued. “Of course, living in this area I breathed the atmosphere of entrepreneurism that is everywhere and learned about thinking big, swallowing that potion that says you really can change the world and do something remarkable that affects people.

“The symbiotic relationship between the community, the university and the valley has been absolutely crucial to make that happen. One of the reasons we’ve succeeded is not only this inventive atmosphere that exists at the university, but because this is an absolutely delightful place to live. And that’s one of the things that’s really helped us recruit the best and brightest people from around the world.”

Hennessy said that when he and his wife, Andrea, first came to the area in 1977, it was not the world’s technological hub as it is today.

“When I first came, if you wanted to go talk to the movers and shakers in the computer industry, you had to get on a plane and fly to Boston or fly to New York. Now, they all fly here to visit us,” he said.

He reminded the attendees that there remains work to be done in order to ensure that the greater Palo Alto area continues to hold on to its core values: excellence in education; maintaining a vibrant arts community; building a state-of-the-art hospital; and being role models in environmental sustainability.

“I look forward to working with all of you to make sure that our community remains a leader not only in innovation, but also in the quality of life we offer the people who live here,” Hennessy concluded.

Since 1980, the Tall Tree Awards have recognized individuals and organizations that have made “bold and significant contributions to the heart of Palo Alto, while extending influence beyond our local community.”

In addition to the Global Impact Award (which will be awarded periodically, not annually), the 2013 recipients of the annual Tall Tree Awards are:

Outstanding Business: Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Outstanding Nonprofit Organization: Breast Cancer Connections

Outstanding Citizen: RAY BACCHETTI, a former vice president for planning and management at Stanford

Outstanding Professional: BECKY BEACOM, health educator for Palo Alto Medical Foundation


Alumna Sharon Olds wins Pulitzer for poetry

April 23rd, 2013


(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

SHARON OLDS won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry April 15 for Stag’s Leap. The book has been called an unflinching response to the collapse of her marriage of 32 years, a mix of grief and confusion that shows in the collection’s namesake poem:

“When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up.  Even when it’s I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver.”

Olds, who graduated from Stanford in 1964, teaches at New York University and is former poet laureate of New York. She penned most of Stag’s Leap in the late 1990s, in the years after her divorce. “I wrote these poems the way I always write, which is immediately,” she told the Concord Monitor. “Only then do I have the feeling that is so full in me that it feels the need to spill over into an expression of itself.”

But she held off publishing these poems for more than a decade, promising her grown children she’d allow time for the changes to absorb. She said she never imagined the kind of reception that lay in store for them.

“It was beyond unexpected,” she told the Huffington Post. “There are things we think won’t happen to us – that are outside our picture of ourselves.”

(AP Photo/Alfred A. Knopf, Michael Lionstar)

Stag’s Leap is her 12th collection. Her first, Satan Says, was published in 1980, when she was 37, a delayed start she attributes to earlier resistance from male editors. Her first submitted poem to a magazine got a reception hardly imaginable today. “They told me: ‘This is a literary magazine. If you wish to write about this sort of subject, may we suggest the Ladies’ Home Journal. The true subjects of poetry are … male subjects, not your children,’” Olds told The Guardian.

Olds has won numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Prior to the Pulitzer, Stag’s Leap won the T.S. Eliot Prize for the best collection of verse published in Britain and Ireland in 2012.

In awarding that prize, CAROL ANN DUFFY, chair of the judging panel, said: “This was the book of her career. There is a grace and chivalry in her grief that marks her out as being a world-class poet.”

—SAM SCOTT, Stanford magazine


Stanford ingenuity on display at 2013 Cool Product Expo

April 22nd, 2013

Earlier this month, hundreds of people attended the Cool Product Expo, hosted annually by the Graduate School of Business (GSB). The event, held at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, showcased more than 40 companies and products at the cutting edge of technology and design.

“We selected these based on outstanding innovation in either technology, manufacturing or design,” said first-year MBA student DANIEL CHEN, one of six GSB students who organized the event. Chen and his classmates anticipate that these products, from foldable kayaks to electric skateboards to telepresence robots, are items that will top wish lists in 2013.

There were several clever gizmos from startups founded by Stanford students, graduates or faculty.

Boosted Boardsoffers the world’s lightest electric vehicle, a battery-powered skateboard that was born on campus by co-founders

JOHN ULMEN, SANJAY DASTOOR and MATTHEW TRAN. The battery-powered motor takes the board up to 20 mph and runs about 6 miles on a single charge. Regenerative brakes top off the battery as you go, or the plug-in battery recharges in about an hour. Supported in part by a strong KickStarter campaign, the company will ship out the first production boards in the coming months.

Another electric vehicle startup, Faraday Bicycles, was founded by Stanford grad ADAM VOLLMER. While working at IDEO, Vollmer began designing the vintage European courier-style electric bike as a way to attract people to commuting by bicycle. Vollmer refined the design with the help of ANDREW TAYLOR, a graduate of Stanford’s product design program and the company’s lead mechanical engineer. The plug-in bicycle provides 20 miles of pedal-assisted power, making climbing even San Francisco’s hills a breeze.

The booth for Instacube, a photo-sharing device from a company co-founded by BILL BURNETT, the executive director of the Stanford Design Program and a consulting assistant professor, and Stanford grad ANDY BUTLER, also drew a large crowd. The digital picture frame-like device displays a customizable photostream of content uploaded to various social networks by you or your friends. The touchscreen frame has potential outside of the home, too: Chef JAMIE OLIVER will soon be deploying the device on tabletops in his restaurants to serve as a sort of “digital sommelier” to help diners pair foods and wines.

Here’s a quick snapshot of other companies with strong ties to Stanford that were on hand at this year’s Cool Product Expo.

Freebord, another skateboard company, offers boards with wheels attached to swiveling axles, allowing for smooth free-ride steering.

Revolights has developed futuristic lighting solutions for bicycle wheels to make riders more visible at night, and to make bikes look incredibly cool.

Motrr offers a rotating platform designed to make video-conferencing with iPhones a smoother experience.

Clean Bottle, the company that launched a sports water bottle that opens on both ends for easier scrubbing, showed off the latest addition to its lineup, an aluminum bottle called The Square.

Artiphany shared a new augmented reality greeting card that can be programmed with personalized messages.

Radian, by Alpine Labs, is an iPhone- and Android-enabled tripod attachment that makes time-lapse photography a cinch.

Stealth HD presented a system that stitches together video from multiple cameras into a seamless high-resolution panoramic video.

Sifteo demonstrated its tiny intelligent videogame cubes, which have been a hit among the gaming community.

Tegu showcased the company’s children’s wooden building blocks, which are made from sustainable materials and snap together with magnets.

First Night, Twelfth Night

April 19th, 2013

Earlier this week the Stanford community commemorated the 75th anniversary of Memorial Auditorium with a performance in Pigott Theater of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which was the first-night production on August 20, 1937, in what was then called Memorial Hall.

We can thank the plumbers for bringing Twelfth Night back to MemAud. To quote from the evening’s program, “it was ‘a very midsummer madness’ that led to the discovery of a cache of materials relating to the initial staging of the play right here on these boards.”

Plumbers working in the auditorium discovered two boxes tucked away in an unused tunnel in the building. The boxes contained set and lighting designs, crew schedules, memos regarding the management of the building, purchase orders and watercolor renderings as well as a program for the inaugural production of Twelfth Night.

The accidental time capsule inspired production manager ROSS WILLIAMS and former chair ALICE RAYNER and other staff and faculty at the Department of Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) to bring the Bard’s comedy back for an anniversary performance.

A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts Class of 2014, under the director of DOMENIQUE LOZANO, presented the “Will on Wheels” production of the play to a sold-out crowd. It was the students’ last performance of the play, and they were delighted with the Pigott stage, which they called warm and acoustically enveloping, and the crowd, which they said got more of the humor than the middle and high school students they’ve been performing for as part of A.C.T.’s education outreach program. “We got laughs where we’ve never had them before,” said NEMUNA CEESAY, who played Maria.

Guests attending the after-party gala in the prop shop were treated to sumptuous nibbles and beverages while surrounded by sets and mementos from previous productions.

There was an airplane overhead from Threepenny Opera, a dramatic black-and-white drop from Skin of Our Teeth and a portrait designed to look like TAPS lecturer JEFFREY BIHR from Restoration Comedy presiding over the festivities.

Vintage film footage from 1937 (digitized by University Archivist DANIEL HARTWIG) of players rehearsing Twelfth Night on the Frost Amphitheater slope, sepia-toned images of Memorial Auditorium when it appeared to stand alone in a field and photographs from other productions over the years projected on a large screen reminded the revelers of the rich history of MemAud.

TAPS department chair JENNIFER DEVERE BRODY, who organized the event, said of the celebration, “This is just the beginning of more to come in the years ahead.”


Former senator and Stanford alum Jeff Bingaman returns to the Farm

April 18th, 2013
Jeff Bingaman

Jeff Bingaman

Former U.S. Sen. JEFF BINGAMAN, a Stanford Law School alumnus, has joined the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance as a distinguished fellow to develop policies to assist states and local communities in promoting increased use of clean energy.

Currently, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have adopted policies to promote increased generation of electricity from renewable energy sources in the form of Renewable Portfolio Standards. Seven other states have adopted voluntary goals for generation of electricity from renewable sources. Bingaman’s efforts will focus on actions that could be taken to extend and update those policies. His fellowship is made possible by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Bingaman, who spent 30 years in the Senate, championed the Clean Energy Standards Act of 2012, which would have required greater use of low-carbon energy sources. During his tenure, he served as chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He also served on the Senate Finance Committee and its Subcommittee on Healthcare and on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; in those committees he was involved in the development of the Affordable Care Act.

Bingaman earned his undergraduate degree in government from Harvard in 1965. He then entered the Stanford Law School, where he met, and later married, fellow law student Anne Kovacovich. After one year as New Mexico assistant attorney general and eight years in private law practice, Bingman was elected attorney general of New Mexico in 1978. In 1982, he won election to the U.S. Senate. He was re-elected to a fifth term in 2006. Bingaman’s seniority, along with his chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, allowed him to pursue issues important to New Mexico families and communities.

Read the full story on the Stanford Law School website.

Tavis Smiley to moderate panel on the ‘State of Black America’

April 17th, 2013

Television host and author  TAVIS SMILEY will be the moderator of a panel titled “The State of Black America 150 Years After the Emancipation Proclamation: Honoring the Past, Defining the Future.” The event, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in CEMEX Auditorium at the Knight Management Center, is free and open to the public.

The discussion, sponsored by the Program in African and African American Studies (AAAS), is this year’s St. Clair Drake Memorial Lecture.

Panelists are:

ARNETHA BALL, professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and director of AAAS;

RALPH RICHARD BANKS, professor at Stanford Law School;

ALLYSON HOBBS, assistant professor of history at Stanford;

MARC LAMONT HILL, associate professor, Teachers College, Columbia University;

ROBIN D. G. KELLEY, professor of history, University of California–Los Angeles;

NA’ILAH NASIR, associate professor and chair of African American Studies, University of California–Berkeley.

The lecture series  is dedicated to the memory of the late  ST. CLAIR DRAKE, renowned professor of sociology and anthropology, an early researcher on black Americans. Drake also was the founding director of Stanford’s Program in African and African American Studies. He died in 1990.