Archive for the ‘Best of’ Category

Late Stanford climate expert to be inducted into California Hall of Fame

July 24th, 2014
schneider_Hall_

Stephen Schneider (Photo credit: Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service)

Renowned Stanford climate scientist, the late STEPHEN H. SCHNEIDER will be inducted into the California Hall of Fame, GOV. JERRY BROWN announced recently.

Other individuals who will be honored at a ceremony on Oct. 1 in Sacramento include basketball legend

KAREEM ABDUL JABAR, author JOAN DIDION and film director FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA, as well as civil rights hero CHARLOTTA BASS, community organizer FRED ROSS SR. and social activism innovator MIMI SILBERT. The newest class will join 81 Californians previously inducted for exemplifying California’s spirit of innovation.

At the time of his death in 2010, Schneider was a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and was the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford. Well known for his emphasis on science communication and a world expert on interdisciplinary climate science, he consulted with federal agencies or White House staff in every U.S. presidential administration since the Nixon era.

Schneider first alerted the public to climate change in 1972. He was a leader in the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and was part of the three groups of IPCC authors who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 (equally with former Vice President AL GORE). He founded the interdisciplinary journal Climatic Change and continued to serve as its editor-in-chief until his death.

Schneider’s widow, TERRY L. ROOT, will accept a Spirit of California medal from the governor and first lady on behalf of her husband during the official ceremony in Sacramento on Oct. 1. Root is a Stanford biology professor, by courtesy, and also is a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute.

“I was so thrilled when I got the call from the governor’s office telling me that Gov. Brown had decided to induct Steve into the California Hall of Fame,” Root said. “This is truly a great honor for Steve. I just wish he were here to receive it himself.”

In announcing the awards, Gov. Brown said, “These talented pioneers represent the very best of California. Their determination, intelligence and creativity continue to inspire us.”

In addition to the ceremony, inductees will be commemorated with an exhibit of personal artifacts highlighting their lives and achievements. It will open to the public at 10 a.m. on Oct. 2 at The California Museum in Sacramento.

—  TERRY NAGEL, Stanford Woods Institute

Stanford welcomes Hollyhock teaching fellows

July 22nd, 2014

Nearly 100 teachers from high poverty, hard-to-staff high schools have been named inaugural Stanford Hollyhock teaching fellows.

The teachers, representing 39 districts in 17 states and the District of Columbia, arrived at Stanford Sunday for the beginning of their professional development program.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with this cohort of teachers who are dedicated to teaching underserved populations,” said JANET CARLSON, executive director of the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching, which runs the program.

Established this year, the Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship for Teachers supports early-career high school teachers for two years with an intensive institute on campus during two consecutive summer sessions and year-round online coaching.

Irene Kim, David Hansen and Kyle Svingen of Oakland International High School in Oakland.

Irene Kim, David Hansen and Kyle Svingen of Oakland International High School in Oakland.

The fellowship, funded through a $4.5 million gift from an anonymous donor, is free for participants, and includes accommodations and meals during the two-week summer workshops on the Stanford campus.

The 99 teachers selected this year come from public and charter schools nationwide. On average, the teachers have 3.6 years of teaching experience and 78 percent have earned master’s degrees. The schools they teach in are low-resourced and more than 80 percent of the students they teach qualify for free or reduced lunch rates.

Research shows that nearly half of all teachers leave the classroom within five years, and in high poverty schools, the turnover rate is even higher.

Kristin Richardson and Frances Pasternik of Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma

Kristin Richardson and Frances Pasternik of Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“Every year, thousands of early career teachers leave the classroom just as they are on the edge of developing more skilled practice and increasing their impact on student learning,” said PAM GROSSMAN, the faculty director of CSET. “If we are to improve outcomes for students, we must try harder to keep talented teachers in the classroom long enough to make a difference for their students. By treating teaching as a revolving door occupation, we shortchange both our students and our schools. This program is designed to stop the revolving door.”

The fellows, who will be on campus until Aug. 1, are broken into four subgroups: science, math, English and history. Each fellow applied to the program with at least one colleague from his or her own school to ensure school support and commitment.

Mayra Chavolla and Vivian Delgado of Latino College Preparatory Academy in San Jose, California

Mayra Chavolla and Vivian Delgado of Latino College Preparatory Academy in San Jose, California

Stanford instructors from the GSE and departments university-wide will teach in the content areas. They include: Carlson, Grossman, HILDA BORKO, BRAD FOGO and BRYAN BROWN of the GSE; NOAH DIFFENBAUGH of the School of Earth Sciences; CHRIS CHIDSEY of chemistry; DEBORAH GORDON of biology; and HELEN QUINN, emeritus professor of physics.

The fellows will also hear presentations from Stanford PRESIDENT JOHN HENNESSY on why teaching matters; Stanford’s dean of admissions, RICHARD SHAW, on how to better work with students applying to college; and others.

The fellows’ time on campus will be complemented with a day-visit to San Francisco where they will visit the Exploratorium, the de Young Museum, Alcatraz Island and other points of interest.

To read more about the fellows and their projects, visit the CSET website.

—  BROOKE DONALD, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike make history as first sisters to participate in WNBA All-Star Game

July 18th, 2014

ogwumike

Former Stanford stars CHINEY and NNEKA OGWUMIKE became the first pair of sisters ever selected to participate in the WNBA All-Star Game, which takes place Saturday, July 19, in Phoenix. Chiney, ’14, will be a reserve for the East, while Nneka, ’12, will come off the bench for the West.

The sisters continue to make history after becoming only the second set of siblings selected No. 1 overall in an American professional sports draft. Nneka was taken with the top pick in the 2012 draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, before Chiney went No. 1 to the Connecticut Sun earlier this year. Chiney’s all-star selection in her rookie season comes during Nneka’s second all-star-worthy season and third year in the league overall.

Nneka is averaging 14.8 points per game, a career high, and grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game for the Sparks to rank 13th in the league in both categories. She has started all 20 games so far in 2014 and 87 of 88 during her three years in Los Angeles.

Chiney ranks in the top 10 in scoring (8th, 15.4 points per game), rebounding (7th, 8.4 per game) and blocks (6th, 1.2 per game) in the WNBA. She leads the league in offensive rebounds with 86 on her way to nine double-doubles, good for second-best in the league. She has scored in double figures in all but one game this season, including a 25-point, 10-rebound outburst at Minnesota in her second career game.

Reserves were chosen by the WNBA’s 12 head coaches. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players on their own team. They selected reserves by voting for six players within their own conference, including two guards, three frontcourt players and one player regardless of position.

Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game at US Airways Center in Phoenix will be nationally televised on ESPN, with tip-off at 12:30 p.m. PT.

Read more on the Athletics website.

 

Stanford students get their hands dirty in ‘Science of Soils’ class

July 15th, 2014

In his perennially popular Science of Soils class, SCOTT FENDORF, professor in Earth sciences, encourages his students – from freshmen to graduate students – to get their hands dirty while learning about the essential properties of soil for life on Earth. In this video, courtesy of the School of Earth Sciences, Fendorf and his students share their experiences.

Acress Anna Deavere Smith talks education, poverty with Stanford scholars

July 11th, 2014

 

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH, actress, playwright and New York University professor, performed parts of a work-in-progress and discussed her ongoing research for a new play she is writing on the subject of the school-to-prison pipeline at the annual Cubberley Lecture, sponsored by the Graduate School of Education(GSE). Smith’s performance was followed by a conversation with GSE Professors PRUDENCE CARTER and SEAN REARDON. Photo and video highlights of her visit are now on the GSE website.

Stanford football works to make an impact on and off the field for local youths

July 10th, 2014
Drew Miraglia, equipment assistant for Stanford Football, fitting a YIP participant.

Drew Miraglia, equipment assistant for Stanford football, fitting a YIP participant.

Last week more than 100 students from local middle schools were greeted on campus by Stanford football players and staff, representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps and teachers from the Ravenswood Unified School District.

They are participating in the Youth Impact Program (YIP), a three-week summer program in academics and life skills for at-risk youths, presented by the San Francisco 49ers and hosted by Stanford.

The YIP participants take morning STEM and English classes on the Stanford Campus taught by local Ravenswood Public School teachers and current Stanford student athletes. In the afternoon, the YIP participants learn essential life skills on nonviolent conflict resolution, bullying, self-confidence and courage in decision-making.

“For the fourth consecutive year, Stanford University and the Stanford Football program are honored and privileged to participate in the Youth Impact Program,” said Associate Athletic Director MATT DOYLE.

YIP!
Twelve student athletes from the current Stanford football team serve as coaches and mentors for the students. Through an academic program developed in part by teachers from the Ravenswood School District and the Lockheed-Martin aerospace company, a leadership curriculum extracted from U.S. Marine Corps ethics and a football plan developed by the Stanford football coaching staff, the boys are taught to lead and follow principles that are effective on the field, in the classroom, and in life.

“One of the most enjoyable aspects for us is that our student-athletes get to learn and grow right alongside the kids in the program,” Doyle added.  “It’s a ‘win-win’ for all involved.”

Read the full story on the Athletics website.

 

Stanford undergraduate Eric Smalls imagines a different kind of learning environment

July 9th, 2014

As a child, ERIC SMALLS was an inquisitive kid who was fascinated by the world around him. But school was often a place where curiosity was not encouraged.

“If it wasn’t in the curriculum, I didn’t get my questions answered,” Smalls recalled during a talk he gave May 10 at the 2014 TEDxStanford conference.  Far from discouraged, he looked for ways to challenge himself.  In middle school he discovered CARL SAGAN in the library. As a teenager, he searched the Web and found a robotics group that met so far from his home that he took three buses to get to it. Appreciating the distance Smalls had come, the director of that program sent him home with a robotics kit. Within three hours he had build his first robot. Smalls found robotics enthusiasts on Facebook who helped him reprogram his design.

Before his arrival at Stanford as a freshman in 2012, Smalls participated in a six-week residential program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a contributor to Carnegie Mellon University’s Multi-Robot Research Project. He also had an internship at the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Laboratory, where he developed computer vision software for autonomous drones. In 2012, President BARACK OBAMA featured Smalls in a campaign video about the importance of STEM education.

Soon after his arrival on the Farm, Smalls founded the Stanford Robotics Club, which now has more than 100 active members.

During his TEDxStanford talk, in which he was interviewed by the event’s co-host SHEILA DHARMARAJAN, the computer science major asked:

“What if we made learning more like a kitchen than a cafeteria? What if we made it more creative, where you’re engaged in the process? When I built the robot it was turning these math symbols that I’d learned in school and memorized into something that moved a robot, and that really inspired me.”

 

 

 

Stanford research team wins 2014 Eni Award

July 7th, 2014

ENI-award-medal_500

Three researchers from Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences were recently honored with a 2014 Eni Award, a prize aimed at promoting more efficient and sustainable energy sources, as well as inspiring future generations of researchers.

The researchers, TAPAN MUKERJI, associate professor of energy resources engineering and of geophysics, GARY MAVKO, professor of geophysics, and JACK DVORKIN, a senior research scientist in geophysics, were honored with this year’s Eni Award in “New Frontiers of Hydrocarbons” for their work in devising a way to obtain quantitative information about the rocks and liquids that lie beneath the Earth’s crust. This information is critical for research related to the production of oil and gas. DARIO GRANA, a Stanford alumnus who is now an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Wyoming, also was part of the prize-winning team, which was led by Mukerji.

The Eni Award is an honor bestowed by the Italian energy company Eni S.p.A. to recognize scientific research that advances our knowledge and ability to use more efficient and sustainable energy sources. The Eni Scientific Award Committee that selects the Eni Award winners is composed of Nobel Prize winners, researchers and scientists. This year, the 23-member committee received more than 1,400 applications.

Two prizes were given for “New Frontiers of Hydrocarbons” to acknowledge the research of two separate research groups. The other prize recipient was AMIR HOVEYDA, a professor of chemistry at Boston College, who has identified new and particularly efficient methods for synthesizing complex molecules with specific shape arrangements. The winners received their Eni Award medals at a special awards ceremony held in Rome on June 17.

— BY HOLLY MACCORMICK, communications assistant in the School of Earth Sciences

This is computer music: Ge Wang at TEDxStanford

July 1st, 2014

At TEDxStanford on May 10, GE WANG, assistant professor at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, offered a primer on computer music. He invited the audience to join him in “geeking out,” as he wrote code. He showed the audience a speaker array created out of salad bowls from Ikea. He made a variety of sounds using parts of a gaming controller. He played chords with an iPhone.

Wang’s research focuses on programming languages and interactive software design for computer music, mobile and social music, laptop orchestras and education at the intersection of computer science and music. He is the author of the ChucK audio programming language, as well as the founding director of the Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) and the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra (MoPhO). He also is the co-founder of Smule (which makes social music-making apps and has more than 100 million users) and the designer of the iPhone’s Ocarina and Magic Piano.

And while the technological aspects of his talk were compelling on their own, the overarching theme was about human expression and connection.

“Computer music isn’t really about computers.” Wang said in closing. “It is about people. It’s about how we can use technology to change the way we think and do and make music, and maybe even add to how we can connect with each other through music.”

In addition to being avialable on the TEDxStanford website, Wang’s talk now is available on Ted.com .

Children’s book by Stanford researcher chronicles a baby elephant’s life

June 30th, 2014

babyelephant_dish600px

In the new children’s book written by CAITLIN O’CONNELL, a consulting assistant professor at Stanford Medical School, the adorable baby Liza steals every scene – taking her first steps, playing with other babies, taking a bath, letting her older brother help her get to her feet.

Except the baby at the center of this captivating story weighs 250 pounds, learns how to walk on four legs within hours of her birth, greets other babies by placing her trunk in their mouths, and takes a bath by rolling in a cool mud puddle in the African savannah.

A Baby Elephant in the Wild, written for preschool through elementary school readers, features Liza, an African elephant born in Etosha National Park in Namibia.

O’Connell and her husband, TIMOTHY RODWELL, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, have been taking pictures of Liza since her birth.

Liza’s arrival marked the first time that O’Connell has been able to follow the growth of one specific elephant from birth during the 20 years she has devoted to studying elephant behavior and conservation. O’Connell has a research station in the park.

Each photograph in the book is a marvel, from a sequence of pictures of a tiny Liza rolling in the mud in the shadow of her 8,000-pound mother’s legs to group photos of the young elephant and her extended family relaxing in the dappled shade of an acacia grove.

The book introduces young readers to how elephants live in the wild:

“A layer of mud is not just fun – it also helps protect an elephant’s skin from parasites and sunburns.”

“While resting in the shade, elephant mothers will stand facing outward, on guard while baby elephants either lie down or lean against their mothers to sleep. Flapping their ears while resting helps baby elephants cool down.”

“Elephants have an aquatic ancestry, so it makes sense that they like the water and are good swimmers. In fact, they use their trunk as a snorkel when swimming in deep water.”

Gently imparting a message about conservation, the book says that Liza’s mother knows how to protect her from danger and even trouble within the family, but she won’t be able to protect her from disease or starvation in the years ahead. The book notes:

“Too many fires, a bad drought, and the cutting down of forests to make room for crops are some of the reasons why an elephant might not have enough food to survive. Poachers looking for either meat or ivory also threaten elephants in the wild. In some areas, elephants are risk of going extinct if they are not better protected.”

Through their nonprofit organization, Utopia Scientific, O’Connell and Rodwell are conducting an ongoing study of elephants in partnership with Stanford and with support from the Oakland Zoo. Learn more about O’Connell and her other books, including The Elephant’s Secret Sense: The Hidden Life of the Wild Herds of Africa and, for young readers, The Elephant Scientist, on her website.

— BY KATHLEEN J. SULLIVAN