Archive for the ‘In the Spotlight’ Category

Man on a mission: Working to help veterans who have lost limbs

July 14th, 2014

 

DAN BERSCHINSKI lost both of his legs in 2009 when he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan. His immediate thought, the West Point graduate told CBS news, was that his life was over, but soon came to realize that a whole new chapter had begun.

“Look, I was an officer,” he told JACQUELINE GENOVESE, assistant director of the Arts, Humanities, and Medicine Program in the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, who interviewed Berschinski for the School of Medicine’s SCOPE blog.

“I couldn’t sit there feeling sorry for myself. My soldiers were still in Afghanistan, still getting killed. And the hospital was full of guys with injuries as bad or worse than mine.”

In January, Dan Berschinski (MBA ’15) introduced Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former leader of the Joint Special Operations Command who also led all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, when the retired military leader visited the Graduate School of Business.

In January, Dan Berschinski (MBA ’15) introduced Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former leader of the Joint Special Operations Command who also led all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, when the retired military leader visited the Graduate School of Business.

Now an MBA student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, he is learning how to develop a company he started, Two-Six Industries, which distributes manufactured products to military bases, into a thriving enterprise that employs other veteran amputees.

Genovese writes that the fact that Berschinski is able to walk on his prosthetic legs is a stunning achievement.

“Let’s just say that nobody with my injury has ever walked out of Walter Reed,” the Army veteran told her.

“Berschinski’s right prosthetic leg attaches to his hip – there was nothing left of his leg to salvage. On his left side, he must force the portion of his thigh that is left into a sleeve…Berschinski is quick to point out that he feels lucky. Pointing to his left hand, which is missing a finger and is marked by a large portion of a skin graft.

“The use of IEDs and the length of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mean that there are veteran amputees in numbers not seen since the Civil War. But in a society where only less than 1 percent of the population participated in those wars, these veterans are somewhat invisible. Berschinski is out to change that by raising the visibility of veterans who have lost limbs. In addition, he wants to shine light on civilian amputees, particularly children, who often cannot afford prosthetics. He serves on the board of the Amputee Coalition, using what he describes as this ‘new change in my life’ to help others who he believes aren’t as fortunate as he,” Genovese continues.

“I have the advantage of being cared for by the government. I have access to cutting edge prosthetic limbs and care. Most people don’t have that,” Berschinski said.

Read the full post on the SCOPE blog.

 

 

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 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

Recommended summer reads from Stanford Law School faculty

July 6th, 2014

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 .

Stanford physicist Renata Kallosh honored as part of University of Groningen’s 400th anniversary celebration

June 25th, 2014

Physics Professor RENATA KALLOSH has been awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, as part of its 400th anniversary celebrations.

The university announced that Kallosh was nominated for the honor by the faculty of mathematics and natural sciences there because of her “great influence on the field of theoretical physics and because she is an inspiration to a whole generation.”

Kallosh is well known for her contributions to theoretical physics, particularly to string theory. A video commissioned by Groningen to highlight her work, however, focused more on one of her accomplishments as a teacher. She explains that she had to teach classical mechanics, and decided to find modern parallels to make the lesson more relevant. In doing so, she learned more about a dynamical system, called the “attractor mechanism,” that explains many phenomena.

“It’s when the system ‘forgets’ the initial condition and goes into the situation that is generic, independent of where it started,” Kallosh says in the video. As she began to study the mechanism further, she realized it held up outside of classical mechanics, in particular in the worlds of economics and medicine. “This is what stabilizes heartbeats. Something happened, and then you have a regular heartbeat.”

She soon realized that the same principles applied to her research in supersymmetry theory, string theory and black holes,. By incorporating this in her work, she made advances and discoveries that have had lasting impact on the field of theoretical physics. In the video, she humbly remarks of her achievement that she was “just trying to improve the intellectual quality of my teaching.”

— BY BJORN CAREY

 

 

‘The Commencement Delivery’

June 23rd, 2014

Minutes before taking the stage at Commencement, Bill and Melinda Gates were still waiting for an urgent and top-secret delivery. Stanford Athletics’ Bud Anderson was on the scene to document the drama.

Stanford magazine showcases the summer plans of 10 students

June 19th, 2014
Sharon Wulforich

Sharon Wulfovich, ’17

Ah, summer vacation. Three months for new adventures, internships and geographies; money-making opportunities and chances to simply play it cool. Stanford magazine’s Sam Scott asked around to learn how 10 Stanford students are spending their summers. Their responses could make a working stiff green with envy.

SHARON WULFOVICH, ’17, undeclared: Wulfovich is spending the summer on a pair of trips tied to her culture and religion. First, she’ll visit Israel with members of Hillel at Stanford. Then it’s on to Poland, a trip sponsored by the country’s government, where she’ll learn how country and society moved on from the Holocaust. It will be a study in contrasts, she says, going from the Jewish homeland to a place where much of her family was exterminated. At Auschwitz II, she’ll pay respects at barrack No. 9, where her grandfather endured the horrors of the Nazi death camp. “It’s very important to see what he went through and understand,” she says.

ISABEL ARJMAND, ’16, management science and engineering: Next year, she may take a resume-buffing research position. But after much debate, she decided this was the moment for a road less traveled. In July, Arjmand will embark on a two-day journey to the island nation of Mauritius, 1,200 miles off the coast of Africa, where she will teach English. For someone interested in education, it gives her the chance to lead a classroom. Of course, she could have done that closer to home—or in China, where she also had a teaching opportunity. But she can imagine visiting China later in life, she says. Living with a family on an island in the Indian Ocean? Not so much. “I feel like this was the summer to try something different.”

Read the entire story by Sam Scott on the Stanford magazine website.

Harold Hwang wins prestigious European physics prize

June 18th, 2014

HAROLD Y. HWANG, a professor of applied physics and of photon science, has been awarded the 2014 EPS Condensed Matter Division Europhysics Prize for his role in the discovery and investigation of electron liquids at oxide interfaces. The prize, which Hwang shares with fellow scientists Jochen Mannhart and Jean-Marc Triscone, will be presented at a session of the 25th General Conference of the EPS Condensed Matter Division in Paris this August.

Harold Y. Hwang

Harold Y. Hwang

An outstanding challenge in condensed matter science has been to develop alternatives to conventional semiconductors for the future generations of electronic devices. Of particular interest for such devices are interfaces of transition metal oxides having strongly correlated conduction electrons with highly tunable properties. However, such interfaces have been exceptionally difficult to prepare.

A major step forward in the preparation of oxide interfaces was achieved by Hwang and co-workers employing a pulse laser deposition technique to grow highly controlled metallic interfaces between lanthanum aluminate and strontium titanate. Importantly, quasi-two dimensional conducting channels on strontium titanate interfaces with remarkably high mobilities and carrier densities have been achieved. This has led to a rapid growth in the study of two-dimensional electron liquids in oxide interfaces – the modern counterparts of two-dimensional electron gases in conventional semiconductors. This marks the beginning of a new era in the field of quantum electronic devices.

The EPS CMD Europhysics Prize is one Europe’s most prestigious prizes in the field of condensed matter physics. It is awarded every two years in recognition of recent work by one or more individuals for scientific excellence in the area of condensed matter physics.

— By Bjorn Carey