Archive for November, 2012

Stanford Libraries celebrate GIS Day

November 13th, 2012

In the last year, Stanford unveiled an interactive map of the Roman Empire called Orbis and an interactive Stanford Election Map Atlas. Both got a lot of national attention. And both are products of Geographic Information Systems, otherwise known as GIS, one of the signature technologies of modern research.

From 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, Stanford Libraries will host its annual “GIS Day” open house at the Mitchell Earth Sciences Building’s Hartley Conference Center. The event will feature an interactive showcase of research using GIS and other geospatial technologies.

Stanford is a national leader in GIS, with training and technology headquartered at the Branner Earth Sciences Library. Its services, closely aligned with the libraries’ social sciences services in statistics and demographics, are in heavy demand across campus. Stanford Libraries also plays a major role in the National Geospatial Digital Archive, funded by the Library of Congress.

Institutions in 45 countries around the world are sponsoring GIS Day events.

The Stanford event will include a series of talks by Stanford professors and GIS professionals from Silicon Valley, a map gallery featuring some of the best work by students across many disciplines, a “Where in the World Am I?” contest with prizes and a Stanford GeoCache challenge. The event will include refreshments and a table for children.

GIS is used in everything from epidemiology to urban planning, from archaeology to marketing studies. Thousands of Stanford researchers will be using this technology in the course of their careers. Students and faculty at all levels and in all schools are currently exploring and exploiting this technology for mapping and data correlation.

“We live and breathe geospatial technologies every day, from the maps we consult on our phones to highly specialized disaster relief mapping that is used to help first responders,” said PATRICIA CARBAJALES, geospatial manager for the Branner Earth Sciences Library. “Because nearly everything can be tagged to location, these technologies provide a powerful tool for research at Stanford.”

—Cynthia Haven, Stanford University Libraries


Bioengineer wins grant to test paper microscope

November 12th, 2012


Manu Prakash

MANU PRAKASH, assistant professor of bioengineering, was named a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, in an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the exploration of bold and innovative ways to improve global health.
The $100,000 award will support Prakash and his team in field testing an ultra-low-cost paper microscope designed for disease diagnostics. These lightweight, print-and-fold “Foldscope” microscopes can be shipped in a flat configuration and assembled in minutes. Device testing will be conducted in India, Thailand and Uganda, and will allow user feedback to help refine the design for mass production. If the pilot is successful, Prakash will have the opportunity to apply for a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

To receive funding, Prakash and the more than 80 other winners in this round of the Grand Challenges Explorations demonstrated a creative idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas — which included agriculture development, immunization and communications — in just two pages.

‘My Last Walk’

November 9th, 2012

On Saturday, the Stanford football team plays its last regular season home game. That means that for the team’s seniors, the game against Oregon State will be their last game as players in Stanford Stadium. It also means that it will be the seniors’ final time to participate in that age-old Cardinal tradition known as “The Walk.”

Two hours before kickoff, Stanford fans of all ages line the pathway from the Arrillaga Family Sports Center, down Sam McDonald Road to the Gate 1 entrance of the stadium to cheer on the players and coaches as they walk to the stadium. The Leland Stanford Jr. University Marching Band lines up behind the team and provides the accompaniment for The Walk.

In the 12th episode of How We Do It, the 15-week original video series that takes viewers inside all angles of the Cardinal Football program, the Cardinal Channel, the creative video production team of Stanford Athletics, features “My Last Walk” in which four seniors – SAM SCHWARTZSTEIN, STEPFAN TAYLOR, DREW TERRELL and CHASE THOMAS – talk about their emotions as they make The Walk into Stanford Stadium for the last time.

The holiday blues: David Spiegel takes questions on holiday stress, depression

November 8th, 2012

The holiday season is fast approaching; soon we’ll be sitting down at the table for Thanksgiving feasts, gathering and sharing gifts with loved ones, and raising a glass to toast the New Year. While holidays are often joyful occasions, the season can also raise stress levels as we try to find time in our already-busy schedules to prepare elaborate meals, wrap presents and travel to visit family. Factor in winter’s short, dark days, inclement weather and the high emotions that can run when we’re around family, and it’s no wonder the holidays are often fraught with feelings of anxiety, stress, depression and loneliness.

Now is the time to take action to minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. To help you keep calm and carry on, the Stanford School of Medicine’s SCOPE blog has asked DAVID SPIEGEL, director of the Stanford Center for Stress and Health and medical director of the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine, to respond to your questions about managing stress and depression.

Questions can be submitted to Spiegel by either sending a tweet that includes the hashtag #AskSUMed or posting your question in the comments section of the SCOPE blog post. Questions will be collected until 5 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, Nov. 9.

‘This American Life’s’ Ira Glass shares storytelling insights

November 7th, 2012

Ira Glass holds a balloon animal during his Nov. 4 talk in Cemex Auditorium at Stanford. (Photo: Ian Garcia-Doty/Stanford Daily)

Most college-age students were just wee toddlers when This American Life was born on the radio in 1995. Thus, many grew up listening as their parents listened to host IRA GLASS and his quirky contributors – DAVID SEDARIS, SARAH VOWELL and DAVID RAKOFF, to name a few – delight in the ordinary and find poignancy in the everyday. For many, Glass is an American treasure.

On Sunday, Nov. 4, 600 students and fans had the opportunity to see the man behind the voice. The Stanford Storytelling Project  (SSP) and the ASSU Speakers Bureau hosted a seminar on storytelling to a capacity crowd in Cemex Auditorium in accordance with their mission to promote the power and craft of oral storytelling. According to JONAH WILLIHNGANZ, SSP’s director, there is no one doing it better right now than Glass.

“Glass is a giant in American storytelling,” said Willihnganz in his introduction on Sunday. “He has created more than great stories – he’s created an infectious sensibility that we come away with at the end of every This American Life show. It’s a sensibility of curiosity, attention and even suspicion – a sensibility that there is a lot going on in the simplest of experiences.”

Students and fans sat in rapt attention as Glass shared insights about story mechanics and the importance of narrative control, as well as some of the secrets of success behind This American Life, which reaches 1.8 million listeners through more than 500 public radio stations each week.

His message to budding storytellers was to find stories they could tell with enthusiasm and wonder. In comparing his radio program to mainstream journalism, he pointed out that what is missing in the average news story is joy, humor and surprise, all the things that make people want to hear a story and which make life worthwhile.

Final words of wisdom from Glass: “It’s normal to be bad before you’re really good.”

The story continues when SSP hosts public appearances by poets NAOMI SHIHAB NYE on Jan. 23 and COLEMAN BARKS in February. Editor and essayist MICHAEL MEADE is expected in April. In the residences, a student storytelling workshop and performance series called “Show and Tell” will launch next week and culminate in a large public event in May featuring some of the best student storytellers alongside faculty and celebrated story stars such as DANIEL HANDLER, aka LEMONY SNICKET. This series supports Glass’ words of advice to students: “Just start making stuff.”

—Robin Wander

Faculty and staff gather for Sierra Camp weekend

November 6th, 2012

Sierra Camp

The Stanford Sierra Camp on Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe may be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Just ask the faculty and staff who, with family and friends, participated Oct. 26-28 in FACULTY AND STAFF WEEKEND at the remote conference center.

relaxing at Sierra Camp

Carolina Parra and Sybille Katz of the Geballe Lab for Advanced Materials relax during a hike at the Stanford Sierra Camp.

Sierra Camp is a popular summer destination for Stanford alumni and their families. Much of the rest of the year, the center serves as a location for corporate retreats.

Twice a year—once in fall and once in spring—Sierra Camp, which is owned by the Stanford Alumni Association, opens its doors to Stanford faculty and staff and their families and friends. This year’s 125 fall participants represented a wide range of academic and administrative departments, including the School of Education, the Graduate School of Business, Academic Computing, Music, the School of Engineering, University Communications, Biochemistry, Psychology, Physics, the Hoover Institution, the Stanford Management Company, Undergraduate Advising and Research, and Pathology.

Weekend activities ranged from boat tours of the lake to counselor-led hikes to evening disco bingo games. Counselors offered special activities for youngsters, who this year ranged in age from 1 to 15.

The history of Stanford Sierra Camp dates back to 1896, when Stanford graduate and engineering Professor William Wrightman Price created a boys’ camp in nearby Glen Alpine Springs. Eventually, he moved the camp to Fallen Leaf Lake, where it became a popular resort among his friends—many of them Stanford faculty.

Beginning in 1953, the then-proprietors of the lodge set aside time for a Stanford alumni camp. It quickly became a popular gathering point for Stanford alumni and their families. In 1966, the Stanford Alumni Association acquired the camp.

To learn more, visit the alumni associate Sierra Camp website or the Stanford Sierra Conference Center website.

—Kate Chesley


Commute Club members say “Cheese!”

November 5th, 2012
Angus Davol and Jiffy Vermylen

Angus Davol of Parking & Transportation Services and Jiffy Vermylen of the Office of Sustainability were among the members of the Commute Club who recently gathered for a group photograph on Manzanita Field.

Members of the COMMUTE CLUB, a program under the auspices of Parking & Transportation Services that offers incentives for faculty, staff and students to avoid driving alone to work, recently gathered on Manzanita Field to pose for a group photograph. The program is 10 years old this year and has grown from 3,600 to 8,300 members since 2002. Club members will get a sneak peak at the photograph shortly. Everyone else will have to wait until the spring promotion series is launched in early 2013.

Polly Kavanagh and Vickie Vargas of the Property Management Office

The photograph will be used to help promote the program, which essentially pays commuters not to drive alone to the main campus. In addition to earning Clean Air Cash or Carpool Credit, Commute Club members can earn up to $96 in Zipcar driving credit, 12 free one-hour Enterprise car rental vouchers and thousands of dollars in savings with free transit for eligible employees.

As if those benefits were not enough, Commute Club members were recently enticed to the group photograph with the promise of a Sprinkles cupcake and the chance to win a variety of prizes, including two $500 prizes, breakfast or lunch catered for a department or student group, a hybrid bike, a three-day weekend rental at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and a free one-year Zipcar membership.

Since 2002, employee drive-alone rates have been reduced from 72 percent to 47 percent. That compares with a current national rate of 76 percent. Annual ridership on Stanford’s free Marguerite shuttle has increased to more than 1.7 million, up 17.5 percent from 2010 to 2011.

Go Commute Club!

To learn how you can become a member, visit the website.

—Kate Chesley

AT&T Park is not just for baseball

November 2nd, 2012

On Saturday, Nov. 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., AT&T Park will be transformed into a science wonderland for the conclusion of the 2012 Bay Area Science Festival. Stanford faculty, graduate students and staff have organized more exhibits than any other organization at this free, family-friendly science extravaganza.

The Chemistry Department will sponsor a performance at 11:30 a.m. called “Colorful Chemistry: Iodine Clock & Elephant Toothpaste.”

Following is a list of the Stanford faculty, departments and student organizations that are scheduled to host exhibits:

Halloween by design

November 1st, 2012

The course description of Mechanical Engineering 319 — Design for Design Thinkers — says students will be introduced to concepts such as contrast, color, materiality, form and proportion. Students in the class, taught this quarter by JONATHAN EDELMAN, JOHN BARTON and CHARLOTTE BURGESS-AUBURN, are given weekly assignments to master these concepts. Here is a sample of some of the “designs” created in the class in the days leading up to Halloween. Click on each photo to get the full effect.