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.

Stanford Life Flight: 30 years of saving lives

August 5th, 2014
Flight nurse and emergency medical specialist Michael Baulch is the program manager of Stanford Life Flight, which this year marks its 30th year of operation. (Photo: Norbert von der Groben)

Flight nurse and emergency medical specialist Michael Baulch is the program manager of Stanford Life Flight, which this year marks its 30th year of operation. (Photo: Norbert von der Groben)

In May 1984, a 70-year-old woman critically injured in a car accident in Santa Cruz County became Stanford Life Flight’s inaugural mission. With that incident, Life Flight was established as the first helicopter emergency services program in the Bay Area, and Stanford Hospital & Clinics became the first medical center in the region to have its own helicopter and air medical transport team.

Thirty years and many thousands of flights later, Life Flight has a proud history to celebrate. Its flight crew has years of experience, and its helicopter carries some of the most advanced airborne health-care technology available.

“Stanford has always been regarded as one of the premier programs in the state, if not the country,” said MICHAEL BAULCH, RN, JD Life Flight’s program manager.

Life Flight may launch its helicopter and crew up to three times a day and averages about 700 flights annually, ranging as far south as Santa Barbara and as far north as the Oregon border. Between 30 and 40 percent of those flights carry children to the neonatal intensive care unit of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Adult patients are most often transported to Stanford for stroke, cardiac or trauma care.


In-flight experts

A number of the flight nurses have been on board for years, even decades. To be considered for the crew requires years of experience, as well as extensive clinical qualifications and exceptional interpersonal skills. “People say, ‘I bet your staff is a bunch of Type A personalities,’” Baulch said. “I want the Type D personality whose heart rate never goes up. When you land on a highway where there are badly injured people, you want someone to step in and infuse a sense of calm into the situation.”

Most Life Flight nurses have advanced certifications in flight nursing and critical care specialties, and several have graduate degrees. The nurses maintain their expertise through ongoing training, continuing education courses and hours of practice with simulation mannequins for procedures they may not perform frequently but must manage well in a crisis.

Flight nurses also assist with trauma alerts in the Emergency Department and help in the intensive care units with advanced procedures. “Our job has evolved greatly over the years,” said GERALYN MARTINEZ, RN, a Life Flight nurse since 1990. “When I started, a doctor was giving the orders. Now we have protocols and expanded responsibilities. It’s a very collaborative, team-centered approach.”


Specialized technology

Evolving technology has made the Life Flight helicopter faster and larger and filled with medical equipment that is compact, lightweight and rugged to withstand an environment that is not as controlled as a hospital’s clean and accommodating spaces. “We have benefitted from war-zone medical care techniques developed by the military overseas,” Baulch said.

A nurse now can insert a breathing tube guided by video that interfaces with a computer tablet. Stanford’s Life Flight program is one of just a few programs with professionals qualified to insert a catheter into an artery to monitor blood pressure in critically ill patients, Baulch said. “And we have nurses who are world experts in dialing in the optimal setting for a patient breathing on a ventilator,” he added.

Stanford Life Flight also is the only flight program in Northern California able to transport critically ill cardiac patients who need advanced equipment such as an intra-aortic balloon pump. Its helicopter is equipped with instrument-aided flight capability to make it safer to transport patients in inclement weather. Crew members wear night vision goggles on all nighttime flights to improve safety. “Stanford has kept its focus on safety,” Baulch said, “and on the best use of this very expensive asset.”


Team effort

Life Flight’s nurses and pilots are perhaps the most visible part of the program, but its success also depends on other types of professional expertise: a team of mechanics to maintain the aircraft and a group of communication technicians who track flights and coordinate arrangements so that appropriate medical personnel are ready for patients when they arrive.

Beneath all the technology and specialized training, however, remains the power of a calming voice. “A patient wrote me a very nice letter to say thanks,” recalled DAVID BEVIN, RN, a 20-year veteran with Life Flight, “because I leaned over her and said, ‘You’re going to be OK. You’re going to make it to Stanford.’”


— SARA WYKES, Stanford Hospital & Clinics



Stanford physics professor meets President Obama in the Oval Office

August 4th, 2014

ANDREI D. LINDE, the Harald Trap Friis Professor of Physics at Stanford, was among several winners of 2014 Kavli Prizes who met with President BARACK OBAMA in the Oval Office last week.  The prizes are awarded to scientists who have made seminal advances in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

Linde was awarded the 2014 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics in May for his work in developing the theory of cosmic inflation, which explains the origin and structure of the universe. He shared the award – and the accompanying $1 million prize – with fellow inflation pioneers ALAN GUTH, a professor of physics at MIT, and ALEXEI STAROBINSKY, a cosmologist at the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Read the full announcement on the Kavli Foundation website.

President Barack Obama meets with Kavli Prize laureates from left, Andre Linde, Stanford; John O'Keefe, University College London, Alan Guth, MIT, and Marcus E. Raichle, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. Accompanying the laureates are Kåre R. Aas, the Norwegian Ambassador to the United States; Rockell N. Hankin, chairman of the Kavli Foundation; Robert W. Conn, president of the Kavli Foundation and Miyoung Chun, executive vice president of science programs at the  Kavli Foundation.

President Barack Obama meets with a group of 2014 Kavli Prize laureates in the Oval Office Thursday, July 31. From left, Andrei Linde, Stanford; John O’Keefe, University College London; Alan Guth, MIT; and Marcus E. Raichle, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. Accompanying the laureates are Kåre R. Aas, the Norwegian ambassador to the United States; Rockell N. Hankin, chairman of the Kavli Foundation; Robert W. Conn, president of the Kavli Foundation and Miyoung Chun, executive vice president of science programs at the Kavli Foundation. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Stanford magazine puzzle tests your movie knowledge

July 31st, 2014


Want to take a peek at the answers? They are available on the Stanford magazine website.

Stanford’s dean of Earth Sciences named to newly established Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

July 31st, 2014


PAMELA MATSON, dean of the Stanford School of Earth Sciences, has been appointed to the board of the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation and partnerships critical to boosting America’s agricultural economy. U.S. Agriculture Secretary TOM VILSACK announced the foundation and its 15-member board, which was selected from lists of nominees provided by the National Academy of Sciences and by industry.

Matson is recognized internationally for her work with multidisciplinary teams of researchers, managers and decision makers to develop agricultural approaches that reduce environmental impacts while maintaining livelihoods and human well being. She is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research was authorized by Congress and provided with $200 million in funding as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.  The government funding is to be matched by non-federal funds.

NANCY PETERSON,  chief communications officer, School of Earth Sciences