Archive for the ‘In the Spotlight’ Category

Humanities and Sciences recognizes staff members

June 2nd, 2014

ALYCE BOSTER, financial and administrative manager in the Department of English, was recently named winner of the 2013 Arnice P. Streit Award for Distinguished Service in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

Alice Boster

Alyce Boster

Boster, a 19-year veteran of Stanford, is called the “rock” and the “heart and soul” of the department by colleagues.

One faculty nominator wrote, “She perfectly executes multi-layered tasks in collaborations with faculty.  She never compromises with performance below absolute excellence.  She devotes her entire energy to advancing the goals of the department, while always maintaining a broad view and a humane attitude.”

The school also recently recognized winners of the Dean’s Award of Merit, which recognizes staff members who make outstanding contributions. This year’s winners were DAN KING, student services manager in the Department of Biology; MONICA BRILLANTES, program manager in the Language Center; TINA KASS, associate dean for faculty affairs in the Dean’s Office; and TAMMY LEARNED, administrative associate in the Department of Biology.


Doctoral candidates in the Stanford Graduate School of Education win national dissertation fellowships

June 2nd, 2014

Two dooctoral students at Stanford Graduate School of Education – ERIC TAYLOR and ILANA UMANSKY  –  have been awarded National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowships for 2014-2015.

About 600 students applied for the highly competitive dissertation grants, which went this year to 31 candidates, according to the NAEd, which administers the awards in partnership with the Spencer Foundation. The program “aims to identify the most talented researchers conducting dissertation research related to education,” the group says. The fellowships provide $25,000 in support for such work on the history, theory or practice of formal or informal education.

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor

Taylor and Umansky are in the interdisciplinary education research program offered through Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis.

Taylor studies the economics of education, and conducts research on personnel in the education sector. Working with co-authors, he had two papers recently in the American Economic Review:The effect of evaluation on teacher performance” and “Information and employee evaluation: Evidence from a randomized intervention in public schools.” Prior to Stanford, he worked at Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research, and at the Los Angeles Education Partnership. He received a masters in public policy from from UCLA.


Ilana Umansky

Ilana Umansky

Umansky’s research combines policy analysis, sociological theory and quantitative methods to shed light on the educational opportunities, experiences and outcomes of immigrant and English learner (EL) students. She has examined such subjects as course access, language of instruction, reclassification, and the impact of the EL label. She works in close partnership with school districts, grounding her research in questions and responses that support greater educational equity and excellence for immigrant and EL-classified students. She recently co-authored a paper with GSE professor Sean Reardon: “Reclassification patterns among Latino English Learner students in bilingual, dual immersion and English immersion classrooms.”

Umansky has worked with the World Bank, the Organization of American States, Research Triangle Institute, and Sesame Workshop and has conducted educational equity and quality research in Nicaragua, Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador and other countries in Latin America. She has a master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a master’s in sociology from Stanford.

Umansky’s grant proposal is titled “Peeling back the label: Studies of educational opportunity among students learning English.”

To learn more about the winners’ dissertation projects, visit the full story on the Graduate School of Education’s website.


Laurette Beeson wins Fidler Award for contributions to Stanford Student Affairs

May 28th, 2014
Laurette Beeson Photo Laurette Beeson (Photo: Joy Leighton/Student Affairs)

Laurette Beeson won the 2014 Margaret Ann Fidler Award.  Photo Laurette Beeson (Photo: Joy Leighton/Student Affairs)

The nameplate had just been sealed onto her plaque for the Amy J. Blue Award when LAURETTE BEESON learned that she had received another honor last week.

On Tuesday, May 20, Beeson, an assistant dean for graduate life, was awarded the Margaret Ann Fidler Award for Distinguished Service in Student Affairs. The highest honor given in the Division of Student Affairs, the Fidler award honors a staff member who demonstrates an extraordinary dedication to the division and the mission of the university.

Established in 2000 in honor of MARGARET ANN FIDLER, a former associate vice provost for student affairs, the award recognizes individuals who demonstrate extraordinary integrity and a commitment to teamwork.

Each year, the award is a well-guarded secret until it is announced at a May meeting.

Beeson was very surprised when her name was announced by Fidler, who was on hand to personally give the award. KEN HSU, assistant vice provost for student affairs, was sitting at the table with Beeson and said he could not look at her for fear that she would realize she was this year’s honoree.

The awards committee selected Beeson for nearly 25 years of dedicated service in Student Affairs, “continually demonstrating her commitment, collaboration, patience, flexibility, compassion, respect and results,” the citation read.

“These are the tenets of what Laurette continues to demonstrate as she performs her duties and contributes to her many campus engagements with graduate students, undergraduate students, faculty, staff, parents and others. That there is nothing she will not offer to assist with, no task that is too complicated or difficult for her to tackle, and no topic that she will shy away from for the benefit of the Stanford community, was also one of the main factors in her selection for this award,” the citation continued.



Graduating senior Kaela Farrise receives Stanford Alumni Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award

May 28th, 2014

dish_kaelaKAELA FARRISE, ‘14 has received the Stanford Alumni Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award for making a significant impact on the campus community.

HOWARD WOLF, vice president for alumni affairs and president of the Stanford Alumni Association, announced the award at a private reception on Friday, May 23.

Farrise has been actively engaged in the Stanford community from the moment she arrived on campus. She has served as a member of the executive cabinet of Associated Students; a leader in the Black Student Union;  chair of the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Student Advisory Board and is currently a member of the Senior Gift Committee. One of her nominators described her as “a distinctly talented and motivated young scholar. She is also an activist who combines an unwavering commitment to social justice with exemplary leadership abilities. She is a mature, caring young lady who is organized, dependable, easy to get along with and is committed to being a leader among today’s students.”

The Outstanding Achievement Award was created in 2011 to honor up to three members of the graduating class who have made a significant or unique impact on the Stanford community.

The Stanford Alumni Association also announced the winners of the Class of 2014 Award of Excellence, which recognizes graduating seniors whose undergraduate activities demonstrate the strong potential for continued service to the university and the alumni community. Nominations were submitted by faculty and staff from across campus. This year 150 members of the Class of ’14 received the award and were honored at a reception at the Alumni Association on May 15. Their names will also be listed in the program for the Class Day Lecture, which is hosted by the Alumni Association and takes place during Commencement Weekend.

— BY CARA HANELIN, Stanford Alumni Association

Stanford Professor Jon Krosnick wins lifetime achievement award from public opinion research group

May 27th, 2014
Jon Krosnick

Jon Krosnick

The final tally is in.  JON KROSNICK, a Stanford professor of communication and of political science and, by courtesy, of psychology, has won the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). Bestowed upon Krosnick on May 17 at the association’s annual banquet in Anaheim, Calif., the tribute recognizes outstanding contributions to public opinion research.

The award plaque describes Krosnick as an “academic polymath with a restless intellect and boundless energy” whose scholarship is elite and groundbreaking. According to the AAPOR, “His work during the past three decades has produced essential insights into questionnaire design and survey research methods.”

Krosnick’s career has been devoted to understanding and improving survey research. His focus on accuracy is aimed at making policymakers educated consumers of available data. In particular, AAPOR states, his 15-year exploration of public attitudes on climate change has been “path-breaking and influential.”

Krosnick later described the award banquet as a “bear hug” by a peer group that he considers family. “I am stunned by this award because it is profoundly meaningful to me,” he said. The survey researchers that fill the ranks of AAPOR are “my go-to people,” said Krosnick, who is the director of the Political Psychology Research Group.

“AAPOR has inspired me, validated me, nurtured me and taught me,” he added.

For Krosnick, it has been both a meaningful and challenging career. “Doing the above has not always been popular, and the process has involved its share of frustrations and disappointments.”

GARY LANGER, who served on the award committee, said Krosnick’s contributions to survey research were “unparalleled.”

“By my lights, he’s the most imaginative, most ethical, widest ranging, deepest thinking and hardest working survey researcher of our times,” said Langer, president of Langer Research Associates and former longtime director of polling at ABC.Krosnick, in his acceptance speech, applauded a “big team of collaborators” over the years.

“The most important of these have been the super-talented students I’ve been able to work with: graduate students, undergrads and postdocs here at Stanford. I am deeply thankful to Stanford for giving me the opportunity to work with such great people and to provide such a supportive and vibrant intellectual environment,” he said.

Krosnick is the author of six books and more than 150 articles and chapters. He has also conducted surveys on voter decision-making, passionate attachment to political issues, the influence of the news media, Americans’ attitudes toward climate change and the environment, and many other topics.

Krosnick graduated from Harvard University in 1980 with a BA in psychology. He received both an MA in 1983 and a PhD in social psychology in 1986 from the University of Michigan, and came to work at Stanford in 2004.

A native of Philadelphia with a mother who was an opera singer and a father who was an opera aficionado, he learned to play piano at age 6 and continued playing percussion instruments from elementary school on. Today he is a drummer in the electric jazz band Charged Particles.



Stanford scientists earn Department of Energy research awards

May 20th, 2014

Peter Graham

The Department of Energy has awarded two Stanford scientists funding through the agency’s Early Career Research Program. The program is designed to fund principal investigators who are within 10 years of having received a PhD, with a goal to fund novel experiments and research.

PETER GRAHAM, an assistant professor of physics, works on designing ways to search for a new type of particle called the dark photon. There are four fundamental forces in the world, and as all forces are mediated by a particle, the discovery of the dark photon would reveal a fifth force. The dark photon could also possibly be dark matter, adding to its allure as a research topic.

Both of the experiments Graham’s group is developing rely on the fact that the dark photon is in many ways similar to the photon, and so he may be able to measure its unknown force using techniques similar to measuring electricity and magnetism. The first type of experiment is analogous to using an antenna to send out a radio wave and then detecting it with another antenna. It is shielded to prevent normal photons from getting through, which prevents it from registering the known forces of electricity and magnetism. But the dark photon can pass through this shielding, and in doing so, makes its associated force detectable. In place of antennae, the group will actually use resonant microwave cavities – specialized chambers that confine electromagnetic waves for study – to generate the radio waves that could contain previously undetected dark photons.

The second experiment in the works is designed to look for the dark photon and determine if it is indeed dark matter. In this case, the receiver will be built inside a shielded box, and will be a resonant circuit, which acts similarly to a radio receiver in that it can tune into specific frequencies. Because the shielding blocks out all normal electromagnetic fields, if the receiver sees a signal, that will be a detection of dark photon dark matter.

Graham was awarded $750,000, distributed over five years.



Shambhu Ghimire

Shambhu Ghimire

SHAMBHU GHIMIRE, an associate staff scientist at the Stanford PULSE Institute at SLAC, uses intense infrared laser pulses to create extremely fast electron oscillations in crystals. These oscillations take place in attoseconds ­– billionths of a billionth of a second – and result in bright and similarly brief pulses of ultraviolet light. Although attosecond light pulses have been already generated in a gas, Ghimire’s research aims to investigate novel science and technology opportunities that are only possible with solid crystals.

Essentially playing pinball with electrons, Ghimire wields femtosecond pulses from an infrared laser to smack electrons loose from atoms in a zinc oxide crystal and send them accelerating between other atoms in the crystal’s lattice like a pinball between bumpers. When these electrons swing back and forth, they release energetic ultraviolet photons. In addition, due to the interplay between the regular pulses of the laser and the regular structure of the crystal lattice, these ultraviolet photons come in pulses that can last mere attoseconds. During the process the crystal remains unharmed by the laser.

This research promises to give insight into the fundamental processes at work when high-intensity lasers and matter interact. It also could allow scientists to control and customize attosecond pulses in ways they could not with pulses generated from gases. An ability to initiate and control electron dynamics in semiconducting crystals could lead to future technology and advanced metrology.

Ghimire’s award came at the National Lab level, which is a $2.5 million award, distributed over five years.


More than 2,034 Stanford bicyclists participate in Bike to Work Day

May 19th, 2014
Bike to Work Day at Stanford, May 8, 2014

Bike to Work Day at Stanford, May 8, 2014 (Photo courtesy of Parking & Transportation Services)

During the Bay Area’s 20th annual Bike to Work Day on May 8, Stanford’s bicycle program recorded 2,034 bicycle commuters and 133 walkers coming onto campus. Bicyclists logged a total of 8,783 miles and averaged nearly 11 miles per trip. By biking instead of driving, these commuters eliminated an estimated 7,958* pounds of CO2 emissions that day.

Riders and walkers stopped at one of a dozen Stanford Energizer Stations, which were co-hosted by the university, Stanford Hospital, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.  To date, more than 420 Stanford bicyclists have pledged to wear their helmets for every ride and follow the rules of the road.

Stanford affiliates who take Stanford’s bike safety pledge during May, National Bike Month, will be entered into a drawing to win a free Breezer Downtown EX bicycle. The deadline to pledge is May 31. Parking & Transportation Services will conduct prize drawings for Bike to Work Day and the bike safety pledge on June 9.

* The per-mile emissions factor used for automobiles is 0.411 kg CO2/mile (or 0.906 lb. CO2/mile). This is based upon an average passenger vehicle fuel economy of 21.4 mpg (2011) figure from U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics).


Stanford graduating seniors Hunter Kodama, Chiney Ogwumike, win Alumni Association’s Sterling Award

May 16th, 2014
Howard Wolf, director of the Stanford Alumni Association with Hunter Kodama, '14, a 2014 Sterling Award winner.

Howard Wolf, president of the Stanford Alumni Association, with Hunter Kodama, ’14, a 2014 Sterling Award winner. He shared the award with Chiney Ogwumike ’14.

Graduating seniors HUNTER KODAMA and CHINEY OGWUIMKE have received the Stanford Alumni Association’s 2014 J.E. Wallace Sterling Award for outstanding service to Stanford.
HOWARD WOLF, president of the Alumni Association and vice president for alumni affairs, presented the awards at the SAA Board Meeting on Thursday, May 15.
Kodama, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in public policy, has been actively involved in campus life. He was a Junior Class President, a Freshman Transition Coordinator, a four-year member of the Dance Marathon planning team, the 2014 Associated Students elections commissioner and is currently a Senior Gift co-chair.
“He’s both an individualist and entrepreneurial. He is the definition of what it is to be a student leader at Stanford,” one of his nominators wrote. Other references commented on his warmth and humility, compassion, work ethic, genuine nature and enthusiasm for Stanford.
The Sterling Award cites Hunter“…For the deep level of respect and trust afforded him by his classmates, due not only to the countless ways he has served them and his university, but also to the gracious sincerity and generous spirit he brought to this work.
Ogwumike, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in international relations, has been a stand-out student-athlete. She was a member of the varsity women’s basketball team for four years and received numerous honors on the conference and national levels. She was a captain of the team for two years, a member and committee co-chair of the Cardinal Council and was  an active participant in community volunteer engagements. She was the driving force behind Nerd Nation.
One of her nominators described some of the ways in which Chiney is a stand-out leader: “Chiney has a magnetic personality that makes people want to be around her.  Not only does she have high standards for herself, but also she helps make others around her better.  She is selfless, encouraging, motivating, inspiring and most of all, a person with unquestioned integrity.”
The Sterling Award cites Chiney for being an “incredible role model to young girls,” and “for teaching us all that life is about playing hard, working hard….And for saying with unmitigated love and pride ‘I am Stanford!’ while everyone everywhere agrees unanimously, ‘Yes, you are Stanford.’”
Ogwumike was unable to attend the May 15 dinner becasue she is busy training with the Connecticut Sun, the WNBA team that selected her as the Number One draft pick in April.
The Alumni Association presents the Sterling Award annually to a graduating senior whose undergraduate activities have made an impact on campus and who demonstrates the strong potential for continued service to the university and the alumni community. This is the first time since 1999 that the award has been presented to two seniors.
The award is named for the late J.E. Wallace Sterling, who served as Stanford’s president from 1949 to 1968.

 — BY CARA HANELIN, Stanford Alumni Association

Julie Kennedy wins award for excellence in teaching

May 15th, 2014
Julie Kennedy

Julie Kennedy (Photo: Linda A. Cicero)

Environmental Earth System Science professor JULIE KENNEDY has been awarded the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award by the Northern California Association of Phi Beta Kappa. She is one of four teachers honored this year and the 12th Stanford professor to win the award.

Kennedy said that while she is delighted to be honored, it is the nomination by a former student that she finds to be most gratifying.

“The deepest honor is to have been nominated, to have a student say that what you did, the way you put yourself out there as a teacher and as a friend really mattered to me, and I want others to know about it,” she said. “That’s what really hits my heart.”

On its website, Phi Beta Kappa states that winners of the award “are those who have taught an especially memorable course, or who have had a special impact on the education, career, life, or who have been found inspiring or particularly admirable by a PBK member.”

ROSS FEEHAN, a Phi Beta Kappa member and a Stanford alumnus (2013, B.S. and M.S. in Earth Systems), said he nominated Kennedy for the teaching award because of her deep impact on him as a teacher, benefactor and mentor. “Julie is irreplaceable,” Feehan said. “The talent, vigor and commitment she brings to each of her roles at Stanford are astounding.”

As part of his senior seminar, Feehan worked with Kennedy to help a nonprofit organization in East Palo Alto build a sustainable business model for a farmer’s market in the city. “Julie became intimately involved in the project to ensure that it was mutually beneficial for the organization and my group,” Feehan said. “She attended our off-campus, 8 a.m. meetings and encouraged the students to recognize the complexity of challenges.”

Kennedy, who is also a co-director of the Haas Center for Public Service and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, said that as a teacher, she doesn’t try to pull her students into her world.

“I try to meet them where they are and then ask ‘How am I going to help you become the best and most effective version of you that you can become?’” she said. “The steps we take toward figuring that out are not a quarter-long adventure, it’s a years-long adventure together.”

 — BY KER THAN,  associate director of communications for the School of Earth Sciences


Stanford alumnus Michael Tubbs the subject of ‘True Son’ documentary; screening and discussion Sunday

May 14th, 2014

44345On Sunday, May 18, at 3:30 p.m. in CEMEX Auditorium on Stanford’s campus, there will be a screening of True Son, a documenatary that chronicles MICHAEL TUBBS‘s, campaign to win a seat on the Stockton, Calif. City Council.

Tubbs, ’12, MA ’12, ran for office while completing his bachelor’s degree in comparative studies in race and ethnicity and a master’s in the Graduate School of Education. He won the election in 2012, becoming the youngest person to gain a seat on that troubled city’s council.

True Son follows Tubbs’ campaign, which took place during a year of record homicides and impending bankruptcy. The film premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

In addition to the screening, Sunday’s event will include a panel moderated by Stanford President JOHN HENNESSY. The documentary’s filmmakers  – all Stanford grads – will participate in the discussion along with Tubbs himself. Tickets for the event are free, but registration requested. More details are available here: