Archive for the ‘In the Spotlight’ Category

Windhover contemplative center nearing completion

August 20th, 2014

Joe Oliveira, son of the late artist and art professor Nathan Oliveira, works with Jeanette Smith-Laws, director of Student Unions and Operations and architect Kent Chiang during the installation of four of his father’s paintings in Windhover, a new contemplation center on campus. (Photo: L.A. Cicero)

Windhover, a sanctuary for quiet contemplation, is nearing completion on the west side of campus on Santa Teresa Street.

The center was designed around four large abstract paintings inspired by birds in flight – known as the “Windhover” series – created by the late Nathan Oliveira, an internationally acclaimed artist who taught at Stanford for more than three decades.

Oliveira, who died in 2010, long dreamed of creating a campus center to house the paintings and to provide a quiet place where members of the Stanford community could rest in quiet reflection.

In a 2002 interview with Stanford Magazine, Oliveira said: “I’ve always thought if I had wings, I could fly. Well, I do have wings in my mind … and these paintings are like a catalyst that can take you where you want your mind to fly.”

Oliveira created the paintings over a 25-year span in his studio in the Stanford hills. He was a familiar sight walking among the foothills around Stanford’s Dish, scanning the sky for kestrels and red-tailed hawks.

“These painting were born in the hills around Stanford,” said Joe Oliveira, the artist’s son and agent.

Last week, art installers mounted the paintings on the walls – each painting has its own room – under Joe Oliveira’s watchful eye.

“My dad would be so pleased, so enthusiastically happy to see this,” he said, standing in the room with the largest painting – a diptych that combines a bird’s wings with horizons and views of planetary elements.

Oliveira said everything about the building’s design contributes to the calming nature of the space, including the use of filtered light and natural-colored, rammed-earth walls – an ancient building method his father had envisioned for the center.

The landscaped grounds around Windhover feature a granite labyrinth, trees young and old, and a small reflecting pool. The center’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer visitors glimpses of the paintings from the outside.

Windhover will open to the Stanford community in mid-September. Stanford IDs are required to enter. A formal dedication will be held in early October.

KATHLEEN J. SULLIVAN, Stanford News Service

Cardinal football preview

August 19th, 2014

Fans watch Cardinal football’s live scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 16. (Photo: Shirley Pefley/

It’s not often that Cardinal fans get to watch the football team practice, so when the opportunity arose on Saturday, many of the gridiron faithful flocked to the Dan Elliott Practice Fields to catch a live scrimmage. After the practice, the student-athletes joined the community for the annual Fall Sports Open House at Stanford Stadium. Members of the women’s volleyball and field hockey teams and both men’s and women’s soccer teams were on hand to sign autographs and run drills and contests with young fans. Check out for insight on the scrimmage from Coach David Shaw and several players.

Stanford Engineering student wins international competition for efforts to miniaturize ultrasound device

August 18th, 2014
Henry Samueli, co-founder, chairman of the board and chief technical officer of Broadcom, with  Stanford graduate student Jonathon Spaulding

Henry Samueli, co-founder, chairman of the board and chief technical officer of Broadcom, with Stanford graduate student Jonathon Spaulding

A Stanford Engineering student won the $10,000 first place prize at the third annual Broadcom Foundation University Research Competition.

JONATHON SPAULDING, a Stanford doctoral  candidate in electrical engineering, hopes to build smaller, cheaper and more efficient handheld ultrasound systems.

“Imagine having these devices in every doctor’s office, or taking ultrasound scanners into the field where imaging technology is limited,” Spaulding said, adding that he is continuing work in hopes of developing a hardware prototype the size of a common flash drive.

He entered the international competition at the urging of his adviser,

BORIS MURMANN associate professor of electrical engineering.

“I have not in my PhD career entered any kind of research competition before,” Spaulding said.

He credited  YONINA ELDAR, a professor of electrical engineering at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, for laying the mathematical foundations for the approach he used in his research. Spaulding said his research seeks to provide a “hardware proof of concept for her work.”

Spaulding won after a round of three-minute presentations and poster sessions judged by engineers from Broadcom, a U.S. semiconductor company.  The graduate-level engineering competition, held at the beginning of the Broadcom Foundation’s annual Technical Conference, invited a dozen students to present their research to a panel of judges. The judges rated the competitors on their presentation skills, the quality and level of the science involved and the applicability of the projects in the real world. Second and third place prizes were awarded to students from Israel and Belgium, respectively.

 —AUBREY HANSON,  Stanford Engineering

Anat Admati: ‘I need you to help me scream.’

August 14th, 2014

ANAT ADMATI is the coauthor of The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It. She says policymakers have failed to protect the public and reduce the harm inflicted by a reckless financial system. Admati believes that explaining the issues to a broad audience is essential for bringing about policy change. That was her goal when she gave a talk at the 2014 TEDxStanford.

Stanford professor to receive highest honor from civil engineering society

August 13th, 2014

Kiremidjian_150x235ANNE KIREMIDJIAN, a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been named a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

She will receive the award – the society’s highest honor – at the ASCE Global Engineering Conference in Panama City, Panama, in October.

Kiremidjian was honored for her career achievements in probabilistic seismic hazard assessment, for her commitment to educating the next generation of earthquake engineers and for her leadership in encouraging women to become engineers.

As a leader in developing and applying the techniques probabilistic assessments to seismic hazard and risk, Kiremidjian has been a central figure in the evolution of earthquake engineering. She led the John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center at Stanford from 1997 to 2002 and served as co-director from 1989 to1996.

Kiremidjian is a pioneer of wireless structural health monitoring development, holding U.S. patents for innovations in wireless sensor development and damage detection algorithms. In addition to her research achievements, Kiremidjian has been a successful entrepreneur who founded companies related to seismic risk modeling and structural health monitoring.

Throughout her career, Kiremidjian has dedicated herself to educating undergraduate and graduate students with an emphasis on promoting women in the field. Her efforts in this regard include serving as a mentor to young female faculty at various universities through a program supported by the National Science Foundation.

Kiremidjian holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Queens College of the City University of New York. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees at Stanford.

— TOM ABATE, associate director of communications, Stanford Engineering


Stanford Football Open House scheduled for Saturday

August 12th, 2014

A fan at last year’s Football Open House. (Photo:  David Elkinson for Stanford Athletics)

Stanford Athletics invites fans of all ages to the free 2014 Open House in Stanford Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 16. Meet student-athletes from all fall sports teams, participate in drills on the field and get autographs from the entire 2014 football team.

Schedule of Events
10:00 – 11:50 AM: (Elliott Practice Fields)
- Football Open Practice

11:45 AM – 12:30 PM: (Outside Gate 1 – Stanford Stadium)
- Fan Activities, Contests & Prizes

11:50 AM – Noon: (Elliott Practice Fields)
- Practice Ends, Coach Shaw addresses fans

12:30 – 2:00 PM: (Stanford Stadium Field)
- Football Skills Session led by coaching staff (open to youth in 8th grade and under)
- Meet and engage with other Cardinal teams, including Women’s Volleyball, Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer and Field Hockey
- Fan Activities and Contests

1:00 – 2:00 PM: (Stanford Stadium – West Concourse)
- Autograph Session with Football Team (one item/person)

Other Details:
- Free admission for all fans
- Free parking in all campus lots (View Parking Map)
- Concession stands in Stanford Stadium will be open from 12:30 – 2:00 PM
- For questions, please call 800-STANFORD (option 4) or email

-  Faculty and staff receive  a 40 percent discount on season tickets, which are still available. If you are considering season tickets and want to see the best available seats, the Stanford Athletics Ticket Office will be showing stadium seats at the Open House. If interested, email or (800)-STANFORD (option 2).

Stanford global health chief launches effort to help contain Ebola

August 8th, 2014

A health worker outside Connaught Hospital, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. (AP Photo/ Youssouf Bah)

As the Ebola epidemic continues to spiral out of control, MICHELE BARRY, MD, director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health, has launched a fundraising campaign to help combat the outbreak in Liberia. On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern – the worst outbreak of the disease ever recorded.

The disease claimed the life of SAMUEL BRISBANE, MD, a colleague who mentored residents in the Yale/Stanford Johnson & Johnson Scholars Program. Brisbane was the first Liberian doctor to die in the outbreak, which the WHO says is responsible for more than 900 deaths in West Africa.

Brisbane was an internist who treated patients at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, the country’s largest, in the capital city of Monrovia. A second medical officer has become ill at the hospital, one of the sites for the scholars’ program, Barry said.

Through the program, Brisbane mentored physicians from Stanford and other institutions who volunteer for six-week stints in resource-limited countries. He quarantined himself after showing signs of illness but died on July 26 after being transferred to a treatment center, said Barry, a professor of medicine and senior associate dean for global health at the School of Medicine.

She said Liberia is in desperate need of personal protective equipment for health care workers, such as masks, gowns and gloves, as well as trained personnel who can do contact tracing and isolation of infected individuals. The Ebola virus has a 21-day incubation period, during which time an infected individual can transmit the virus to someone with whom they have very close contact with bodily fluids.

Michele Barry

Michele Barry

Barry joined an informal fundraising campaign with her colleagues on July 29 to help Liberian health care workers contain the spread of the disease, raising $11,000 in 48 hours. Two days later, she broadened the appeal in an email sent to all Stanford medical school faculty. The first shipment of medical supplies was delivered shortly after that, she said.

Barry has had experience fighting Ebola in Uganda, where she said outbreaks have been limited by isolating patients in outdoor tented hospitals and where physicians and nurses have had access to good protective gear. In the past, she said the disease typically has had “hot spots” that last a month and then subside.

But the latest epidemic, which has affected patients in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, as well as Liberia, has followed a different path.

“I think we are doing a better job of taking care of patients and keeping them alive longer, so they become more viremic [in which the virus has spread through the bloodstream] and more infectious,” she said. “And with globalization, there is more traffic across borders so spillover to other countries occurs.”

The first American, Patrick Sawyer, fell victim to the disease on July 25 after contracting the virus during a visit to Liberia. He became seriously ill on the flight home to Minnesota and made a stop in Nigeria, where he died.

The disease, also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is initially difficult to spot because the first symptoms – sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat – resemble a common flu. Patients then develop more serious problems, including vomiting and diarrhea and impaired kidney and liver function, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease has no cure, with fatality rates in the latest outbreak approaching 90 percent, according to the WHO. However, some patients are able to mount a significant enough immune response to recover from the infection.

Like HIV, the disease is spread through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected individual. Health care workers typically becoming infected through needle sticks or blood splashes, Barry said. She said the best protection for health care workers is to apply universal precautions – a practice begun in the early days of the AIDS epidemic – in which caregivers treat all patients as potentially infectious and use masks, gloves and other preventive measures.

“The difference is that HIV patients don’t bleed profusely, while at the end of a life of an Ebola patient, patients bleed everywhere,” she said.

She said she does not see the disease as a major threat to the United States, where effective infection control methods are widespread.

“I think we need to be vigilant, but I don’t think there needs to be any true concern that this is going to spread to the United States,” she said. “There’s always a risk of a patient coming in unknown to the hospital, but we practice good universal precautions because we have the equipment and we’ve been trained to treat HIV.”

Donations to the health care project can be made online at–2.


RUTHANN RICHTER, Stanford School of Medicine

Fellowship helps bridge technology and education

August 8th, 2014

Sleeves rolled up, coffee by your keyboard, you hunker down and dig into that new online course. But then it comes: the inexorable pull to Facebook, email, news and sports links, and other virtual distractions. Soon it’s 15 minutes learning, 45 minutes surfing.

DANIEL GREENE is addressing the growing problem of online distraction and student procrastination through his doctoral research at Stanford Graduate School of Education. With co-researcher Richard Patterson, a behavioral economics student at Cornell University, Greene is testing out downloadable software tools that can remind students when they are visiting distracting websites, help them to set daily productivity goals and prompt them to temporarily block diversions when they are completing online coursework.

Daniel Greene

Daniel Greene

Greene is one of two graduate students in the Stanford Learning Sciences and Technology Design (LSTD) Program this year whose work is being supported by the Amir Lopatin Fellowship. The fellowship grants recipients up to $7,500 to cover research-related expenses for exceptional projects involving technology and education.

Fellowship funds enable Greene to provide a modest amount in cash and gift certificates to compensate participants in his study. “This is allowing us to gather the largest participant pool possible – about 1,500 students,” he said, noting that he draws them from an open access online course, Statistics for Medical Professionals, offered by KRISTIN SAINANI, associate professor of health research and policy.

Participants have been randomly assigned to receive one of several software tools. These include: a reminder tool that launches a popup every time a student has accumulated 30 minutes per day on websites that they have labeled as “distracting,” a commitment tool that gives students the ability to temporarily block distracting websites once they have exceeded a self-imposed portion of “distracting site time,” and a focus time tool that detects when students visit the course site and then offers them the opportunity to block distracting websites while they work.

“We’ll be able to see each detour into Facebook during a video lecture, each late-night Reddit visit and each assignment interrupted by computer games, and we’ll be able to relate these behaviors to survey responses and learning outcomes,” said Greene. The project is among the first large-scale experimental studies of student self-control in massive open online courses, or MOOCs, he added.

The other Lopatin Fellow this year, KAREEM EDOUARD, is helping middle-school students in Haiti engage in science inquiry practices by producing their own short films related to Earth science on video-enabled tablets. After creating their films around the school campus and in guided excursions, students will upload them on a special platform and will be led to ask, investigate and answer related science-based questions.

Kareem Edouard

Kareem Edouard

For example, a module on soil erosion – a problem plaguing the country since French colonial times – will involve students learning about the phenomenon and filming areas where such erosion is taking place. They will then be guided to pose and answer questions regarding the causes and consequences of the situation, as well as come up with potential solutions.

Edouard will oversee follow-up interviews with teachers and students, as well as having them fill out a survey, to gauge the impact of the video tablet on critical thinking and the science inquiry process. The fellowship is helping Edouard pay for the tablets, translation of the English materials into Haitian Creole and French, and honoraria for Haitian teachers and researchers, as well as his travel to and from Port-au-Prince.

Edouard, a second-generation Haitian American, has long felt the pull back to his parents’ country. “The education system in Haiti has been hit with difficult times primarily due to the 2010 earthquake,” he said. “However, even prior to the catastrophic event, the foundation of Haiti’s public education system was structured around rote memorization and a lack of funding. My goal is to collaborate with the Haitian diaspora to increase public school funding and support to Haitian educators in developing curricula and new pedagogical practices so they may help students develop critical inquiry skills to flourish in future STEM fields.”

Since its creation in 2008, the Lopatin Fellowship has supported 10 students at the Graduate School of Education, including Greene and Edouard.

“These two new projects both reflect the spirit and aim of the Lopatin Fellowships, which is to support research demonstrating how technology can improve learning and increase education’s reach,” said SHELLEY GOLDMAN, professor of education.

The Lopatin endowment fund is supported by the generosity of the family and friends of Amir Lopatin (1976-2004), a former doctoral student in the LSTD Program. On March 25, 2004, Lopatin lost his life in an automobile accident. “This year marks the 10th anniversary of his death,” said Goldman. “It’s gratifying to see how the different projects are a testament to his power to ask difficult questions and inspire others to help answer them. They speak directly to his concerns and goals.”

Greene is scheduled to receive his PhD in 2016, and Edouard in 2017.

 — MARGUERITE RIGOGLIOSO for Stanford Graduate School of Education


Stanford makes top of the list of Princeton Review’s LGBT-friendly campuses

August 7th, 2014


In  Princeton Review’s latest college rankings, Stanford was named the nation’s No. 1 LGBT-friendly campus for its welcome atmosphere for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The list is based on current students’ answers to the survey question: “Do students, faculty and administrators at your college treat all persons equally, regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identity/expression?”

The guidebook surveyed 130,000 students at the 379 colleges to rate their schools on dozens of topics and report on their campus experiences.

The rankings, which were released earlier this week, also included Stanford once again on its 2015 Green Honor Roll for “exceptional commitments to sustainability across key issues,” from course offerings and recycling programs to plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Stanford was ranked fourth among schools with the best college libraries, seventh for top entrepreneurial programs for undergraduates and eighth as best-run college.


David Kennedy at TEDxStanford: ‘Not your daddy’s military’

August 6th, 2014

DAVID M. KENNEDY is a professor emeritus of history at Stanford, where he has taught for more than 40 years. His book Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2000. His most recent book is The Modern American Military, published by Oxford University Press in 2013. At the 2014 TEDxStanford conference in May, Kennedy talked about America’s all-volunteer armed forces, and the implications of a having a military that is at war while the civilian sector is not.