Archive for May, 2011

Alexander Berger named winner of Kevin Bacon’s challenge

May 13th, 2011

From left, actor Kevin Bacon holds forth with Alexander Berger, Aaron Kalb and Alex Romanczuk.

It’s been quite a spring for Stanford senior ALEXANDER BERGER. Recently, the philosophy major from Littleton, Colo., was one of 10 undergraduates to receive the Deans’ Awards for Academic Accomplishment.  Then on May 11, at a Haas Center event featuring actor KEVIN BACON, Berger was named the winner of the Stanford edition of the “1 Degree Challenge,” which asked students to come up with the “Next Big Idea” for using social networking for social good.

Berger’s team, which included fellow seniors AARON KALB and ALEX ROMANCZUK, came up with “Give Like A Billionaire,” an idea that would leverage Facebook, Twitter and email to help those with relatively modest resources engage friends and friends of friends in raising money for charity.

The proposal offered the example of Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and an early Facebook investor, who raised money for his favorite charities by offering to match their contributions.

“Our proposal is to help non-billionaires use friends to raise money for the charity they care about. They begin by selecting a charity and setting a goal,” Berger says in a video explaining the proposal. “Then they ask their friends for contributions, which they will only pay if the goal is met. If the person raising funds falls short of the goal, then the money will be returned to the people who donated. So, instead of having a rich person like Peter Thiel match each friends’ donations, they match each other’s donations.”

Berger’s team will work with Bacon to implement his idea through and receive up to $50,000 for promotion and technical development.

“Kevin Bacon’s challenge gave us  — and all the other participants —  a great chance to think about how social networks could be used more effectively to advance the causes we care about.  We were really grateful for the opportunity to participate, and happy that ‘Give Like A Billionaire’ might be able to help great charities raise more money somewhere down the line,” Berger said.

- Elaine Ray



On video: Community Partnership and Volunteer Service Awards luncheon

May 13th, 2011


It’s an annual gathering in a sunny banquet room of the Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto.  A crowd of civic leaders from Stanford and Palo Alto offer a salute to volunteers whose efforts have had a significant impact on the community.

In introducing the 2011 award winners, Stanford Vice President for Public affairs DAVID DEMAREST quoted his former boss in the White House, George H. W. Bush.

“I remember him often saying that any definition of a successful life must include service to others,” Demarest said. “The amazing work done by the people in this room that we honor today is at the heart of that statement.”

The Miriam Aaron Roland Volunteer Service Prize went to Stanford Drama Professor JANICE ROSS, who created and has taught “Dance in Prisons: The Arts, Juvenile Justice and Rehabilitation in America” for 10 years. The Haas Center for Public Service selected Ross for the prize.

Three Community Partnership Awards went to Project Safety Net, the Peninsula Family Advocacy Program and the Redwood Environmental Academy of Leadership.

– Daniel Stober and Steve Fyffe


Feldman, Newsome elected to the American Philosophical Society

May 11th, 2011

Marcus Feldman

William T. Newsome

MARCUS FELDMAN, professor of biology, and WILLIAM T. NEWSOME, professor of neurobiology at the School of Medicine, are among the 37 new scholars recently elected to the American Philosophical Society.

Feldman, who holds a Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professorship in the School of Humanities and Sciences and is the director of the Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies at Stanford, uses applied mathematics and computer modeling to simulate and analyze the process of evolution. Earlier this year, Feldman won a $1 million prize from the Dan David Foundation for his work.

Newsome, who won the Dan David Prize in 2004, is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His research seeks to understand the impact of the brain and its processes on vision, perception and decision-making. Last year he was co-winner of a $1.3 million Champalimaud Vision Award.

Founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge,” the American Philosophical Society honors and engages leading scholars, scientists and professionals through elected membership and opportunities for multidisciplinary, intellectual fellowship. It supports research and education through grants, fellowships, lectures, publications, prizes and exhibitions.



Four medical school staff win awards for change leadership and spirit

May 10th, 2011

Later this month, four School of Medicine employees will be recognized at the annual Dean’s Recognition Celebration. The honors include the first-ever Inspiring Change Leadership Awards, as well as the Dean’s Spirit Awards, which are in their 10th year.

The Inspiring Change Leadership Awards will be given to SONIA BARRAGAN, associate director of the medical school’s Research Management Group, and NANCY LONHART, associate director and administrative manager for the Stanford Health Policy research group.  The Dean’s Spirit Awards will go to CHRIS SHAY, project manager/planner in the school’s Office of Facilities Planning and Management, and VUONG QUOC VU, course coordinator for the medical school’s Human Health & Disease Course.

Each of the four award winners will receive a cash prize of $1,500.

Read the full announcement and the winners’ profiles on the medical school’s news website.

Fear the Tree? Think again

May 9th, 2011

Cardinal fans given to wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Fear the Tree” might think twice after seeing an ESPN commercial that started airing last week. The spot features Atlanta Braves right fielder JASON HEYWARD discussing in detail how a wooden bat is made while the Stanford Band’s mascot stands by in horror. According to the Unofficial Stanford Blog, former Tree JONATHAN STRANGE flew to Bristol, Conn., last October to appear in the spot. Watch the  video:

Stanford medical scientists receive stem cell funds totaling $5.7 million

May 6th, 2011

Four scientists at the School of Medicine have been awarded a total of $5.7 million by the state stem cell agency.

The awards, which were announced earlier this week, were part of $37.7 million distributed to 27 investigators from nine institutions by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in the third round of the agency’s Basic Biology Awards.

The Stanford scientists, who each received $1.42 million, are:

  • MICHAEL CLARKE, the Karel H. and Avice N. Beekhuis Professor in Cancer Biology, to study the role of a gene involved in the self-renewal of stem cells in Down syndrome and cancer;
  • RENEE REIJO PERA, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and the director of Stanford’s Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Education, to correlate time-lapse studies and single-cell molecular analysis to better understand human embryo development;
  • JOSEPH WU, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine and of radiology, to use induced pluripotent stem cells to study the molecular basis of familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a leading cause of cardiac death in young people;
  • JOANNA WYSOCKA, assistant professor of developmental biology and of chemical and systems biology, to study how non-coding genetic regulatory regions called enhancers rapidly switch on the expression of genes to induce stem cell differentiation.

The full announcement is on the Medical School’s news website.


Sophomore Amy Chen receives Newman Civic Fellow Award

May 5th, 2011

Sophomore AMY CHEN has received a 2011 Newman Civic Fellow Award from Campus Compact. Chen, a human biology major, was among the first group of award-winners—137 students from 30 states—who are finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Newman Civic Fellows are nominated by college and university presidents to acknowledge motivation and ability in public leadership.
“I believe Amy will make significant contributions to the Newman Civic Fellows community and the health care field, just as she is doing at Stanford,” wrote President John Hennessy in Chen’s nomination letter.

Chen is passionate about issues of organ transplantation, organ trafficking and medical tourism. Her goal is to change the organ transplantation sector of the health care industry, specifically in China, and she is building a substantial base of knowledge, skills and experience toward this end.

Motivated by personal experience with liver cancer in her family, Chen has written research papers on the sociocultural effects of hepatitis B and liver cancer, as well as the traumatic effects of organ harvesting in China. Among her many extracurricular commitments, Chen interns at Stanford’s Asian Liver Center developing curriculum and conducting outreach for international health education initiatives. This summer, Chen will travel to China to pursue research on attitudes toward organ donation and transplantation, and on China’s current pilot program to improve organ donation education.

In addition, Chen is furthering her leadership skills through the Haas Center’s Public Service Leadership Program. Last summer she served as a Stanford in Government fellow at the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

“Public service gives me the perfect outlet to take everything I love—health care, kids and education—and explore the best way to put it all together, all the while trying to change the world in my own way,” Chen says. “To me, life is all about the people. Apathy is out of the question; it is only through actions that I can truly express my love for learning more about others around me.”

Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents—representing some 6 million students—who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. Through the Newman Civic Fellows Awards, named for the late Frank Newman, one of the founders of Campus Compact and a founding member of the Haas Center’s National Advisory Board, college and university presidents acknowledge students with the ability and motivation to create lasting change in our communities.

- Katie Pfeiffer

Student filmmakers, Stanford Video excel on the big and small screen

May 4th, 2011

Last year, Stanford student filmmakers took home the Bronze in the 2010 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Student Academy Awards.  Now, student filmmakers ANTHONY WEEKS and THEO RIGBY are hoping this year will be golden.

Weeks’ documentary Imaginary Circumstances and Rigby’s Sin Pais (Without Country) are among the productions selected as finalists in the Academy’s 38th annual student competition.

Academy members will view the finalists’ films at special screenings and vote to select the winners.  Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal awards, along with accompanying cash grants ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, may be presented in each of four categories: alternative, animation, documentary and narrative.  The winning filmmakers will be brought to Los Angeles for a week of industry-related activities and social events that will culminate in the awards ceremony on Saturday, June 11.

Meanwhile, STANFORD VIDEO, which won two Bronze medals at the 32nd Annual Telly Awards earlier this year, has won a Silver Telly – the Telly Awards’ highest honor.

The Telly Awards acknowledge “the very best local, regional and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions and work created for the Web,” according to the organization’s website.

The Silver Telly Council, which includes top industry professionals who are past winners of the silver honor, chooses the Silver winners.

The Silver Telly was awarded for Stanford’s “Leadership” spot that still airs regularly on TV during Stanford sporting events and features Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, the starting guard for the women’s basketball team in the 2008-09 season.  The spot, which won a Bronze Telly in 2010, was edited by Stanford Video’s director GORDON GURLEY, who shares producing and directing credit with CATHERINE O’BRIEN, the department’s director of business development and client relations.

“This was one in a series of three spots focusing on Stanford’s core strengths and the only one that features a student highlighting the message,” said O’Brien.

The two Bronze Tellys received earlier were for Stanford Hospital & Clinics’ Interventional Cardiology Promo, which aired as the opener for the department’s live satellite training transmissions from the Catheterization Angiography Laboratory, and the 2010 Roundtable hosted by newsman Tom Brokaw, titled “Generation Ageless: Longevity and the Boomers.”


- Elaine Ray and Rob Huffman

Whalen, Sherman, Marecic and Fua picked by NFL teams; Basketball’s Green dips a toe in the NBA draft

May 3rd, 2011


This weekend’s NFL draft was fruitful for four graduating members of the Cardinal football team.

RYAN WHALEN was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, quite an achievement for someone who joined the Stanford football team as a walk-on and had to work his way up to scholarship status.

RICHARD SHERMAN was drafted by Seattle Seahawks.

SIONE FUA was selected by the Carolina Panthers.

The Cleveland Browns picked OWEN MARECIC.

Meanwhile, Junior guard JEREMY GREEN has made himself eligible for the 2011 NBA Draft, but will not hire an agent at this time in order to maintain his NCAA eligibility.

Read all about these and other sports stories on the Stanford Athletics website.

Condoleezza Rice shows off her acting chops on ’30 Rock’

May 2nd, 2011

We always knew that  CONDOLEEZZA RICE is a heck of a classical pianist.  But what was not clear until Thursday night was whether her impeccable timing on the ivories extended to her comic acting. But in a cameo on the April 28 episode of NBC’s 30 Rock, the former secretary of state showed she had a flair for scene stealing on the small screen.

Rice made an appearance as herself as the girlfriend of Jack Donaghy, played by ALEC BALDWIN. In the scene, Rice challenges Baldwin’s character to a musical duel.  (According to New York Times chief music critic, Anthony Tommasini, the pieces she played were all Mozart.)

If things don’t work out in her day job as a Hoover fellow,  professor of political science and business, a new career may be in the offing.