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Six Stanford scientists named Presidential Young Investigators

STANFORD -- Six Stanford researchers are among the 220 named Tuesday, May 7, by the National Science Foundation as 1991 Presidential Young Investigators. Designed to help universities attract and keep promising young faculty members, the award consists of $100,000 given over a five-year period. The money, which comes from federal and private funds, is used to bolster existing research and allow for new ideas to be implemented.

Over the award's eight-year history, 59 Stanford faculty have become Presidential Young Investigators; 51 are still here.

Stanford's 1991 recipients are:

Beroza, 31, who studies the physics of earthquakes, joined the School of Earth Sciences faculty last year as an assistant professor. He has developed new methods to study earthquakes, looking for what happens at the earthquake's source.

Part of Beroza's research is to monitor "silent" and "slow" earthquakes -- little-studied earth movements that may help explain or even predict violent ruptures like the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

The Los Angeles native received his undergraduate degree in geophysics from the University of California-Santa Cruz and his doctorate, also in geophysics, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Beroza is a member of the American Geophysical Union and the Seismological Society of America.

Hildemann, 32, is studying organic air pollutants, which are not federally regulated but do contribute to smog. Hildemann, a native of Los Angeles, joked, "The air pollution here isn't up to L.A. standards. It's easier to breathe, but harder to study."

She plans to use her award to support research assistants and "get into a couple of areas of research that are too unusual to be funded." One of those areas is the field of microbiological "pollution" -- the pollen, spores and mold that trigger allergies. She will look for new ways of measuring the parts of these microbes that cause allergic reactions.

Hildemann came to Stanford in 1989 from the California Institute of Technology, where she earned a joint bachelor's degree in engineering and biology and a doctorate in environmental engineering. She also has received the Dana Adams Griffin Fund award, given to young Stanford faculty.

Mark Krasnow, at Stanford since 1985, has been examining mechanisms of gene interactions and cell interactions in Drosophila fruit flies, trying to reconstruct aspects of development in the laboratory.

He plans to use funds from his award to take cells from larvae that would normally differentiate into the tracheal system of the adult fly and see how they develop in a culture.

A native of Urbana, Ill., Krasnow received a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Illinois-Urbana- Champaign and his M.D. and doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Chicago.

Krasnow, 34, was a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Fellow at Stanford for two years, while he did postdoctoral work. Since 1987 he has been a Lucille P. Markey Scholar.

Sanjiva Lele, a native of Lucknow, India, joined the Stanford faculty in January 1990, after a stint as a postdoctoral fellow. He earned a bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur and a doctorate from Cornell University, both in mechanical engineering.

Lele, 32, examines the physics of fluid motion through computerized flow simulations. His specific interests involve the relationship between compressibility and turbulence.

Lele and Levoy both plan to use their awards for new and unusual ideas. "You might call it 'wildcatting,'" the 37-year-old Levoy said. "The projects I have in mind have only a moderate chance at success. . . . I wouldn't feel comfortable writing grant proposals for them."

Levoy, who has been a member of Stanford's computer science department since September, researches ways of using computer graphics to help scientists visualize their data.

A native of Great Neck, N.Y., he received a bachelor's degree in architecture and a master's from Cornell University, and earned a doctorate in computer science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Susan McConnell, 33, from Crown Point, Ind., is doing research in developmental neurobiology. Her research involves discovering how the growing brain knows to generate specific connections between specific neurons, to ensure that messages are sent to the correct places.

Brain development is like setting up a phone system, she said: "You don't want to call Boston and get someone in Philadelphia."

After earning a bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard and a doctorate in neurobiology from Harvard Medical School, she became a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford and joined the faculty two years ago.

McConnell has earned several other awards; most recently she became a Clare Boothe Luce Professor at Stanford.



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