Cardinal football players grab attention

July 16th, 2014


Stanford players continue to be named to watch lists for a host of annual football awards including senior TY MONTGOMERY, above, who on Tuesday was selected to the list for the Bilentnikoff Award, which recognizes the outstanding receiver in college football. Montgomery has previously been named to watch lists for the Maxwell Award (player of the year) and the Hornung Award (most versatile).

As of Tuesday, 10 Cardinal football players have been named to preseason watch lists for various awards, several for more than one honor. They are:

Maxwell Award (Player of the year)
Kevin Hogan
Ty Montgomery

Bednarik Award (Defensive player of the year)
Henry Anderson
Alex Carter
Jordan Richards
A.J. Tarpley

Hornung Award (Most versatile)
Ty Montgomery 

Rimington Award (Most outstanding center)
Graham Shuler

Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award (Most outstanding place kicker)
Jordan Williamson

Bronko Nagurski Award (Outstanding defensive player)
Henry Anderson
Alex Carter
Jordan Richards
A.J. Tarpley

John Outland Trophy (Outstanding interior lineman)
Henry Anderson
Andrus Peat

Jim Thorpe Award (Best defensive back)
Jordan Richards

Rotary Lombardi Award (Lineman of the year)
Henry Anderson
Andrus Peat
A.J. Tarpley

Butkus Award (Outstanding linebacker)
A.J. Tarpley
James Vaughters

Biletnikoff Award (Outstanding receiver)
Ty Montgomery

Read more about the honors on

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.

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 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.

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


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

McConnell named Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor

July 2nd, 2014
Susan McConnell

Susan McConnell

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has named biologist SUSAN MCCONNELL, the Susan B. Ford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, one of 15 HHMI professors. According to the HHMI press release, each professor receives $1 million over five years to create activities that integrate their research with student learning in ways that enhance undergraduate students’ understanding of science.

According to the press release: “HHMI professors are accomplished research scientists who are making science more engaging for undergraduates. By providing HHMI professors with the funds and support to implement their ideas, HHMI hopes to empower these individuals to create new models for teaching science at research universities. The newly selected group—who represent 13 universities across the country—will join the community of HHMI professors who are working together to change undergraduate science education in the United States.”

Said McConnell, “Now more than ever, our ability to communicate science to a broad audience is essential for the public support and funding of basic science. Just as importantly, effective communication is central to the success of any Stanford undergrad, in any field, both now and in the future. Through this award, I hope to engage undergraduates in the life sciences in communicating science to a variety of audiences and through many media, including the arts.”

This is how HHNI explains McConnell’s work on its website:

“Neurobiology, education and art can be distinct pursuits, but for Susan McConnell, they overlap and complement one another.

“In her lab at Stanford, McConnell is working to understand how neural circuits are constructed in the mammalian brain. She explores several key steps in that developmental process: how neurons are produced as the brain’s cerebral cortex develops, how new neurons are assigned their identities, and how those cells are wired together into information-processing circuits.

“Her lab’s findings have opened new lines of research in several distinct areas of neurobiology. They have determined at what point in their development cells in the cortex commit to becoming specific types of specialized neurons, and shown that those cells lose their ability to respond to fate-inducing cues over time. McConnell also found that cells called subplate neurons are responsible for pioneering early connections between the brain’s cortex and thalamus, and developed genetic methods to explore the patterning of the early telencephalon, the embryonic structure from which the cerebrum develops.

“She brings her enthusiasm for neuroscience into the classroom, and Stanford has recognized McConnell with its two highest teaching honors, the Hoagland Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her course on neural development, which she has taught at Stanford since 1989, is praised by students for its impact not just in conveying course material, but also in teaching them ‘how to think.’

“From 2010-2012, McConnell co-chaired a university-wide commission that evaluated undergraduate education at Stanford and provided recommendations for the future. The intensive analysis culminated with recommendations for a wide variety of changes, including a new system of breadth requirements based on ‘ways of thinking’ and ‘ways of doing’ rather than on traditional academic disciplines.

“That experience prompted McConnell—who also teaches a course in conservation photography at Stanford—to consider the role of creative and artistic expression in the sciences. As a result, she piloted The Senior Reflection in Biology, a senior-year capstone experience in which students in the life sciences are invited to undertake an in-depth creative project that joins a compelling scientific subject with a passion for the arts. At the same time, she revised the biology courses that enable students to fulfill Stanford’s ‘Writing in the Major’ requirement, creating opportunities for students to either write for scientific audiences or to translate biology topics for non-scientists.”

Visit the HHMI website.

World Cup men’s soccer; then and now

July 1st, 2014
    A group of World Cup soccer fans assembled at the large monitor in Y2E2 Tuesday, July 1, to watch the U.S. team play Belgium in an elimination round. The U.S. battled but fell to Belgium 2-1 with all the goals scored in extra time. (Photo: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service)

A group of World Cup soccer fans assembled at the large monitor in Y2E2 Tuesday, July 1, to watch the U.S. team play Belgium in an elimination round. The U.S. battled but fell to Belgium 2-1 with all the goals scored in extra time. (Photo: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service)

On Tuesday, crowds gathered across campus to huddle around TVs to watch the United States battle Belgium in the FIFA World Cup. And despite the heartbreaking loss, the U.S. and Stanford have much to be proud of, given how far the country has come in the soccer world over the past two decades.

“To understand how the 1994 World Cup changed soccer in America, you must consider what soccer was like in America,” wrote DAVID KIEFER, assistant media relations director in Stanford Athletics.

“Most young American soccer players had never seen a professional match  – on TV or in person. Virtually the only soccer programming came on Spanish-language channels, and often only with the help of rabbit-ear antennas draped with tin foil.

“There was no true outdoor soccer league in the country in 1994. The mercenaries who tried to make a living at the game in the United States played indoor soccer, on turf-covered ice rinks. The indoor league was more stable than the top outdoor circuit, the American Professional Soccer League (ASPL), which lived up to the adage that if you need to have ‘professional’ in your name, you probably aren’t.

“The APSL averaged ‘crowds’ of barely more than 2,000 and hardly was the launching pad the American game required to increase its popularity and stature. At the time, American players were not really accepted in Europe, and the best players had barely any club options at all …

“Much of the mainstream media only begrudgingly embraced soccer, and only because they understood that the World Cup was a big deal. Soccer, however, was not, at least in their eyes. Most newspaper sports editors did not grow up with the sport, were unfamiliar with it, and were eager to belittle it.

“But the 1994 World Cup, which included six matches at Stanford, changed all that. And Stanford’s role in that transformation was a great one.
“When the U.S. was awarded the World Cup by FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, in 1988, the U.S. hadn’t qualified for a World Cup since 1950. The concern internationally was whether the tournament would be a source of embarrassment for the U.S. on the field and in the stands, and for FIFA, for taking the chance on the U.S. in the first place.

“Stanford played a role in earning the trust of FIFA because of its success in hosting matches during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Nine were played at Stanford, drawing crowds of 83,642 for an Italy-Brazil semifinal, 78,000 for a first-round match between the U.S. and Costa Rica, and 75,000 for West Germany-Brazil.

“In the years that followed, Stanford became a regular stop for the U.S. national team, playing five exhibitions from 1990-93, against the USSR and Russia, Argentina, China, and Germany. The 1998 World Cup cycle included two qualifying matches at Stanford, against Costa Rica and Canada.

“The South Bay’s rich soccer history, featuring the original San Jose Earthquakes of the old North American Soccer League, and the massive size of Stanford Stadium made Stanford an ideal choice as one of the 1994 Cup’s nine host venues.

“It got even better – the Stanford venue would become the home base for Brazil, the three-time world champion and the masters of ‘the beautiful game,’ in which style is just as important as results in the soccer-mad nation.

The average attendance at the six matches that were held at Stanford in 1994 was 81,736.

Brazil vs. Russia was the first game of the XV World Cup of Soccer at Stanford Stadium in 1994. That year,  the FIFA World Cup was held in nine cities across the United States. The average attendance at the six matches that were held at Stanford that summer was 81,736. (Photo: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service)

“The Brazilian fans descended upon the team’s tournament headquarters at the now-closed Villa Felice lodge in Los Gatos and the team’s training grounds at Santa Clara University’s Buck Shaw Stadium. Training would be joined by chanting and singing fans, who at night would shift to Los Gatos’ Town Plaza Park for samba, soccer and one big continuous party.

“The Brazilians taught Americans how to be soccer fans and their influence remains in evidence today with the singing, chanting and drum-beating supporter groups that now proliferate the American soccer scene.”

Kiefer noted that the average attendance at the six matches that were held at Stanford in 1994 was 81,736.

“But, even more important,” he added, “was the respect the U.S. gained as a soccer nation. “Not only did America prove to the world that it could appreciate and support the game at its highest levels, but the quality of play by the U.S. was proof of inclusion into the realm of soccer’s elite.”
Read Kiefer’s full story on