Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Three Stanford faculty members named Guggenheim Fellows

April 16th, 2014
Robert Dawson

Robert Dawson

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has named three Stanford faculty members Guggenheim Fellows: ROBERT DAWSON for photography, JONATHAN LEVIN for economics and MONIKA PIAZZESI for economics.

“It’s exciting to name 178 new Guggenheim Fellows,” Edward Hirsch, foundation president, said in a press release. “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has always bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

In their own words, the three Stanford fellows described their projects.

Robert Dawson, photography instructor: I was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship based on my 18-year photographic survey of public libraries throughout the United States. It resulted in the book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay published this month by Princeton Architectural Press. It contains 160 of my photos along with 15 essays, including a forward by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett. My proposed project is to spend the next year in the city of Stockton, Calif. Stockton is the second largest city in the United States to declare bankruptcy and is one of the least literate places in the country. I will be working with the Library and Literacy Foundation of San Joaquin County in their efforts to bring literacy and hope to a troubled place.

Jonathan Levin

Jonathan Levin

Jonathan Levin, ’94, economics professor: I’m working on competition in health care. I’m hoping to write some papers looking at questions such as: How effective is competition in health insurance, given that in most local markets there are a few large insurers with dominant market positions? Why do private insurance costs in different areas of the country vary so much but in ways that are very different from public Medicare costs? And how might the consolidation of health care providers into large organizations and ACOs affect healthcare costs? I will also be at Oxford next year during the Guggenheim so hopefully I’ll learn something about the NHS and health care systems in Europe.

Monika Piazzesi

Monika Piazzesi

Monika Piazzesi, PhD ’00, economics professor: My project is on banks’ risk exposures. In particular, I have been working on developing a new method that uses regulatory data on bank positions and comes up with a measure of their exposure to risk. An advantage of the method is that it allows researchers or regulators to understand the exposure contained in derivative positions. The regulatory data on these positions is quite opaque. For example, banks are not required to disclose the direction of their exposures – the derivative positions may be bets on interest-rate hikes or on interest-rate falls. The exposures in these derivative positions are large, and so it is really important to be able to extract the risks that are contained in these positions. Moreover, the measure is additive so that we can aggregate our estimates to a group of large banks or the entire banking sector. The aggregated measures will help us assess the risk exposures of the financial sector.

Read the Guggenheim press release.

Adam Johnson honored with short story award for ‘Nirvana’

April 10th, 2014
Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson

English Professor and Pulitzer Prize winner ADAM JOHNSON has won The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. The £30,000 prize is the largest in its field.

According to the announcement on the website BookTrust, Johnson’s story is “set in the near future” and “employs science-fiction themes and imagery to explore personal tragedy.” The story draws from the life of the late singer KURT COBAIN and his band, Nirvana.

Ironically, Johnson accepted the award in a ceremony at the Stationer’s Hall in London on April 5, 20 years to the day that Cobain died.

Although best known for his Pulitzer-prize winning novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, Johnson has been happy to “follow what fills his imagination” and write a collection of short stories called “Interesting Facts” set for publication by Random House in 2015. The story “Nirvana” will appear in that collection.
When writing novels, Johnson admits to missing the shorter form  –  the discovery, the struggle, the battle and the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a story. For Johnson, the form can also be freeing because the short story feels closer to that moment of witness where one human being has true access to another.

“I was inspired by a combination of my wife’s struggle with cancer and a friend who took his own life,” Johnson explained.  “When my wife was going through chemo, and my friend shot himself, I began asking questions about what our duty is to dying people and the departed, when they go, and what remains and how we speak to them and share what they go through.”

In his presentation speech, the Sunday Times literary critic and prize judge JOHN  CAREY described “Nirvana” as “a mind-expanding, futurist story and a story about redemption.” Another judge, novelist and comic DAVID BADDIEL, said, “I loved ‘Nirvana.’ It was both sad and, rare in literary-competition-land, funny. Plus it proves that genre fiction – the story is, at heart, science fiction – can work, emotionally and artistically, at the highest levels.”


Read more about the prize on  The BookHaven

Moretti wins National Book Critics Circle Award

March 25th, 2014


Franco Moretti

Franco Moretti

FRANCO MORETTI, professor of English and of comparative literature, has received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Distant Reading (Verso, 2013), his latest book of criticism.

The collection of 10 essays is structured in chronological order and creates a snapshot of how Moretti’s thinking as a literary historian has evolved.

Spanning two decades of literary scholarship, the book offers methods for studying literature that break away from the kind of close reading literary critics have championed in the past. Distant Reading also displays Moretti’s use of digital data to examine literature in enlightening ways.

Moretti founded the Center for the Study of the Novel at Stanford and also is the co-founder and director of the Stanford Literary Lab, a component of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), an interdisciplinary collective of labs that use digital data and visualization information for scholarship.

CESTA Director ZEPHYR FRANK noted, “Moretti has helped to define what it means to work in the so-called ‘digital humanities.’”

Frank, an associate professor of Latin American history, said that Distant Reading is “significant both in terms of method, showing how distant reading can open up the great archive of unread works of the past, and in terms of analytical punch, showing how, for instance, the conception of Hamlet as a networked play changes the way we read the social relations and plot developments depicted therein.”

Earlier this year, Moretti was one of several Stanford scholars who discussed the future of digital research and teaching at an American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) event held on campus. Videos of each presentation are available on the AAAS website.

— BY TANU WAKEFIELD, The Humanities at Stanford

Verghese to receive Heinz Award

February 28th, 2014

verghese-150-13ABRAHAM VERGHESE, professor of medicine and best-selling author of the novel Cutting for Stone, has been selected to receive the $250,000 Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities.

“Dr. Verghese’s widely acclaimed writings touch the heart and inform the soul, giving people of all walks of life a true understanding of what it is to heal the whole person — not just physically, but emotionally,” TERESA HEINZ, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation, said in a news release announcing the annual Heinz Awards in five different categories: arts and humanities; the environment; the human condition; public policy and technology; and the economy and employment.

Verghese is vice chair for the theory and practice of medicine. He is a strong advocate for the value of bedside manner and the physical exam — skills he sees as waning in an era of increasingly sophisticated medical technology.

“As a teacher and a caregiver, Dr. Verghese has shown how the best physicians are those who understand that healing is about more than medicine,” said LLOYD MINOR, dean of the medical school. “As a writer, he has shared this message broadly, reminding us all of the enduring power of the human touch.”

Cutting for Stone was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years. Verghese’s first book, My Own Country, a memoir about AIDS in rural Tennessee, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has been published extensively in the medical literature. His writing also has appeared in The New Yorker and The Atlantic, among other magazines.

“In my work as a writer, I have always tried to convey the notion that medicine is a uniquely human, person-to-person endeavor,” Verghese said. “In my view, it is a ministry with a calling.”

The Heinz Awards are given in memory of U.S. Sen. JOHN HEINZ, a Pennsylvania Republican who died in 1991.

The 19th annual awards will be presented April 3 during a private ceremony at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.


Academy Award speeches featuring five from the Farm

February 27th, 2014
Alexander Payne

Alumnus Alexander Payne is up for an Oscar for directing Nebraska. © 2014 Paramount Pictures Corporation

Stanford magazine dug deep in the archives of Oscar award ceremonies to come up with the top five Stanford Academy Award moments.

But writer SAM SCOTT is quick to add that these are top five partly because they were the only moments that Stanford “could find video of.”

Among the alumni featured in the magazine’s story are two-time Oscar-winning writer and director ALEXANDER PAYNE, ’83; actor JACK PALANCE, ’49; documentary film producer CYNTHIA WADE, ’96; costume designer EDITH HEAD, ’20; and producer ROGER CORMAN, ’47.

Payne is up for another Oscar this year for having directed Nebraska. The Oscar ceremony is March 2. Payne is known for such films as Election, About Schmidt, Sideways and The Descendants.

Although Payne is widely acknowledged for his work, Scott suggests that the most memorable Oscar moment may be Palance’s jibe at host Billy Crystal and his impromptu performance of one-handed push-ups.

Read the Stanford magazine article and see the clips.

Stanford Women’s basketball players recognized for their performance on the court

February 25th, 2014

Chiney Ogwumike, Number 13, and Amber Orrange, Number 33 (Photo: Don Feria)

The past two weeks have brought well-deserved recognition to Stanford women’s basketball senior forward CHINEY OGWUMIKE and junior point guard AMBER ORRANGE.

Last Thursday, Ogwumike received the 2013-14 Capital One Academic All-America of the Year award for Division I women’s basketball.  The awards program, administered by College Sports Information Directors of America  (CoSIDA), selects an honorary sports team composed of the most outstanding student athletes of a specific season.

The All-America announcement makes Ogwumike the first member of the Stanford women’s basketball team to earn the honor. She joins a star-studded list of former Cardinal standouts who also earned it for their respective sports, including ANDREW LUCK (football, 2012), NICK AMUCHASTEGUI (wrestling/at-large, 2011 and 2012), ALIX KLINEMAN (women’s volleyball, 2010), RACHEL BUEHLER (women’s soccer, 2007) and TOMMY VARDELL (football, 1991).

On Monday, Feb. 24, Ogwumike was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the eighth time this season while Orrange was named one of 22 finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award.

In addition to being Ogwumike’s eighth Player of the Week honor of the season, it is also the 17th of her career.

Orrange is one of two Pac-12 point guards on the list for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given annually to the top point guard in the nation. Cal’s BRITTANY BOYD is also on the list. This year’s winner will be announced at the Final Four in Nashville.

Behind Orrange’s leadership, the Stanford women’s basketball team has captured its 14th straight Pac-12 regular-season title following this past weekend’s sweep of USC and UCLA.

Stanford’s team, with the Pac-12 Tournament’s top seed already in hand, finishes the regular season at Maples Pavilion this weekend, hosting Washington Thursday at 8 p.m. and Washington State Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Network.



Ethiopian lawyer receives human rights award from Stanford Law School

February 24th, 2014
Seife Ayalew Asfaw

Seife Ayalew Asfaw

Stanford Law School has selected prominent Ethiopian human rights activist SEIFE AYALEW ASFAW as the inaugural recipient of its Rubin Family International Human Rights Award. The new award recognizes young leaders in the international social justice movement by bringing one such individual to Stanford Law School as a practitioner-in-residence for two weeks every year.

During his stay on campus April 8-17,  Asfaw will collaborate with scholars throughout the school and the university, and share strategies with social justice leaders in the Bay Area.

Asfaw leads a network of legal aid centers in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.  His primary responsibilities include daily assessment and monitoring of the activity of legal aid centers there, mentoring and supervising legal aid service providers and paralegals, conducting human rights training, and building relationships with donors and collaborative partners.

Asfaw works within the framework of Ethiopian law to advance human rights, specifically by expanding citizens’ knowledge of and access to legal services. He plans to use his time at Stanford to study how public interest legal organizations in the United States combine legal services and impact litigation. He intends to establish an Impact Litigation Project in partnership with private law offices, nongovernmental organizations and law schools when he returns to Ethiopia. The project will allow Asfaw to challenge Ethiopian laws and practices that discriminate against women and children, limit freedoms of association and religion, and impair the economic rights of poor and vulnerable people.

The Rubin Family International Human Rights Award is designed to enhance the practitioner-in-residence’s capacity to influence policies, practices and laws that promote systems-changing responses to significant human rights problems. By uniting legal education with a spirit of application to the world’s most pressing human rights crises, this award will also create opportunities for Stanford law students to participate in globalized citizenship and advance a focus on the realization of human rights.

—ANJALI ABRAHAM, Stanford Law School

Seven Stanford faculty receive Sloan Research Fellowships

February 20th, 2014

Seven Stanford faculty members are among the American and Canadian scholars to receive Sloan Research Fellowships for 2014.

Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to researchers whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders, according to a press release issued by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“For more than half a century, the Sloan Foundation has been proud to honor the best young scientific minds and support them during a crucial phase of their careers when early funding and recognition can really make a difference,” said PAUL L. JOSKOW, president of the foundation. “These researchers are pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge in unprecedented ways.”

The Stanford faculty in this year’s class of 126 researchers are:

THOMAS MARKLAND, assistant professor of chemistry

MARIA BARNA, assistant professor of genetics and developmental biology

ANSHUL KUNDAJE, assistant professor of genetics and of computer science

JULIA SALZMAN, assistant professor of biochemistry

JAKUB KASTL, assistant professor of economics

LIANG FENG, assistant professor of molecular and cellular physiology

MONIKA SCHLEIER-SMITH, assistant professor of physics

Awarded in eight scientific and technical fields – chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics – the Sloan Research Fellowships are awarded through close cooperation with the scientific community.

Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists. Winning fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity and potential to become a leader in his or her field. Fellows receive $50,000 to further their research.

For a complete list of winners, visit the fellowship website.

Stephen Boyd elected to National Academy of Engineering

February 18th, 2014


Stephen Boyd (Photo credit Joel Simon)

Stephen Boyd (Photo: Joel Simon)

STEPHEN P. BOYD, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

According to the NAE, membership honors outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice or education” and to the “pioneering of new and developing fields of technology,” among other acts of professional distinction.

The NAE cited Boyd for his contributions in applying the methodology of convex optimization to machine learning, signal processing, circuit design and other applications. In mathematical optimization, an algorithm is used to adjust variables to optimize an objective. Most optimization problems are difficult to solve, even with powerful computers. But convex optimization problems can be solved using special mathematical properties.

Boyd and colleagues have helped identify many specific applications in which convex optimization can be used to solve practical problems in areas such as statistical modeling and machine learning, automatic control, image processing, engineering design, supply chains and finance.

A professor in the Information Systems Laboratory at Stanford, Boyd holds courtesy appointments in the departments of Management Science and Engineering and of Computer Science and is a member of the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering.

The NAE has just 2,250 members in the United States and 214 foreign associates. Boyd is the 110th School of Engineering faculty member to join this prestigious body.

TOM ABATE, Stanford Engineering


Willinsky honored for developing Open Access platform

February 14th, 2014

John Willinsky

JOHN WILLINSKY had just finished collaborating with a local newspaper on a big project when he made a discovery that would shape his academic career: He was surprised to find out that he couldn’t re-publish his own research online with the package of articles on education.

“That was a turning point,” Willinsky, a professor in Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, said of that moment. “I realized something was wrong with this picture.”

Willinsky saw how the legal barriers against sharing published research findings and the high cost of academic journals were keeping the public from having access to important work. That epiphany led Willinsky to look into the idea of sharing scholarly research for free. There was no formal Open Access movement at the time (since then, one has blossomed), so he began exploring options to promote his “free to read” idea.

Willinsky founded the Public Knowledge Project and developed Open Journal Systems (OJS), a free, open source platform that allows journals to be more easily and affordably published online. Since then, more than 1.5 million articles have been published in journals using the OJS platform.

For this work, SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, has given Willinsky its semi-annual Innovator Award.

“We’re proud to honor his rich contributions to changing the face of scholarly communication,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC, in a news release posted last month. “John is a rare combination of visionary and pragmatic. He understood the benefit of Open Access long before most people, and was also able to build infrastructure that has been absolute crucial to the successful advancement of Open Access journal publishing.”

Willinsky joined the faculty at Stanford in 2008, and his efforts soon led to the Graduate School of Education (GSE) being at the forefront of the Open Access movement: It established, at his behest, one of the first open archives, enabling faculty to provide free copies of their peer-reviewed journal articles to the public. Last year, students at the GSE voted to follow the same policy and also put their work on the archive.

On sabbatical this quarter, Willinsky is writing a book about the history of intellectual property. He also is the author of The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship (MIT Press, 2006), Technologies of Knowing (Beacon, 2000) and Learning to Divide the World: Education at the Empire’s End (Minnesota, 2008), among other titles.

Willinsky has framed his commitment to Open Access as an issue of social justice. For him, Open Access is a way to positively impact the inequity in education that he had observed throughout his career. “It’s so basic in terms of a human right,” said Willinsky of access to knowledge. “The value of learning is in the sharing.”

This item was adapted from an article by freelance writer Caralee Adams for SPARC and a news release that the group issued.