DR. ROBERT W. CONN NAMED NEW PRESIDENT OF THE KAVLI FOUNDATION
The Kavli Foundation has announced the appointment of
Dr. Robert W.
Conn as its new president - only the second president since the
Foundation was established in 2000.
Dr. Conn begins serving as the
Foundation's President on April 20th of this year.
Dr. Conn is a renowned academic and business leader, and an acclaimed
scientist whose research is focused on plasma physics and fusion energy
development. Most recently, he served as a Managing Director of
Enterprise Partners Venture Capital (EPVC), a leading venture capital
firm in technology and life
sciences companies. Prior to EPVC, a 30-year career in academics and
research included serving from 1993 to 2002 as Dean of the Jacobs
School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego
appointment will follow the retirement of Dr. David H. Auston, who has
served as president since 2002. Full story.
Profile: Hirosi Ooguri, California Institute of Technology
Using String Theory to Unknot the Riddles of Black Holes and Basic MatterTheoretical physics has a special beauty to those highly adept in
mathematics, and one who grasps the beauty and wonder of the
quantum world is Hirosi Ooguri, the Fred Kavli Professor of Theoretical
Physics at the California Institute of Technology.
Ooguri is a theorist whose work bridges the disciplines of quantum physics and pure math. Says John Schwarz, a fellow physicist at Caltech and
string theory pioneer, "Even though he's a theoretical physicist,
his work is breaking new ground in mathematics." Schwarz has also called
Ooguri one of the leading theoretical physicists in the world. Ooguri
"has contributed to many different aspects" of string theory, he adds, pointing in particular to Ooguri's work on the development
of topological string theory. In the process, Ooguri is helping to boil down the daunting
10-dimensional complexity of string theory to something that the human
brain - at least a theoretical physicist's brain - can wrap around. Full story.
|The Kavli Frontiers of Science
An NAS Program Aims to Open Minds of Talented Young Researchers
In the 1990s, a young Stanford chemical engineering professor named Alice P. Gast began participating in a program designed for up-and-coming researchers. Now known as the Kavli Frontiers of Science, the National Academy of Sciences program brings together bright young researchers across many fields so they can present their work. In the process, they exchange ideas, share experiences, develop friendships and -- when the connection is right -- inspire each other.
In the case of Gast, the program proved pivotal to her research career. Focused on the phenomena of surfaces, Gast encountered German researchers studying membrane biophysics, which she recalls was "a new field for me." The program shifted her focus from the physical to biological sciences. Today, along with serving as president of LeHigh University, she continues being renowned for her study of surface and interfacial phenomena, in particular the behavior of complex fluids. Full story.
New Piece of Alzheimer's Puzzle Identified, Reports Yale
Yale researchers have filled in a missing gap on the molecular road map of Alzheimer's disease.
The Yale team reported in the journal Nature that
cellular prion proteins trigger the process by which amyloid-beta
peptides block brain function in Alzheimer's patients. "They start the cascade that make
neurons sick," said Stephen M. Strittmatter,
senior author of the study. A member of the Kavli Institute of Neuroscience, Strittmatter is the Vincent Coates Professor of
Neurology and director of Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and
Repair at the Yale School of Medicine. "We have known that amyloid-beta
is bad for the brain, but we have not known exactly how amyloid-beta
does bad things to neurons."
In a statement from the Alzheimer's Research Trust in Britain, chief executive Rebecca Wood said: "The
scientists have found out how brain cells might be harmed in
Alzheimer's. This could lead to a way of stopping the damage, and open
the door to the development of new treatments." Full story.
Researchers Find "Switching Station"
Beneath Cell Surface
In the journal Cell,
Yale researchers reported that a switching station beneath the cell
surface is crucial to processing signals from outside the cell. The research team was led by Kavli Institute of Nanoscience
member Pietro De Camilli, M.D. -- the Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell
Biology and Neurobiology, investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute, director of the Yale Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair.
used to think most of the exchange of information between cells was
conducted at the surface, where cell receptors receive signals from
other cells.The findings, however, portray a much more "complex and
fluid system of cellular information processing than previously
envisioned," said Derek K. Toomre, assistant professor of cell biology
at Yale and co-author of the study. Among its applications, the
research may provide new insight related to potential therapeutic
strategies for conditions such as Lowe syndrome, a rare genetic disease
of the eyes, the kidneys and the brain. Full story.
New Cell Type Found That Responds to Edges, Borders and Obstacles
A new type of cell has been identified that allows rats to respond to edges, borders and obstacles. Found by researchers with the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for the Biology of Memory, NTNU, these cells -- named "border cells" -- have firing fields that line up along selected geometric
boundaries of the proximal environment, irrespective of boundary length
or continuity with other boundaries. Collectively, border cells may define the perimeter of the environment and thereby serve
as a reference frame for places inside it, controlling the activity of
the other position-sensing cell types in that environment.
Border cells join at least three other cell types thought to encode an animal's position in
the environment: place cells, whose activity indicates a particular
location in space; head direction cells, which fire only when the
animal is facing a certain direction; and grid cells, whose firing
fields form a regular pattern across the environment. Full story.
Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Discovers Slew of New Pulsars
In January -- just four months into its mission -- the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope discovered 12 never-before-seen pulsars and observed gamma-ray pulses
from 18 others, shedding new insight on the high-energy universe.
"I am very happy to welcome you all to a new era in pulsar physics,"
Roger Romani said at a press conference held at the American
Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, California. Romani is a
researcher in the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and
Cosmology at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford
University. "We know of 1800 pulsars, but until Fermi we saw only
little wisps of energy from all but a handful of them. Now, for dozens
of pulsars, we're seeing the actual power of these machines." Full story.
Study of Galaxy Clusters Detects
Growth-Stifling Dark Energy
Like referees with different vantage points concurring on an important
call in a tight football game, an international team of cosmologists
has independently confirmed the accelerating expansion of the universe.
A decade ago, astronomers studying the relatively uniform brightness of
exploding stars to estimate cosmic distances discovered that the
expansion of the universe appeared to be accelerating. Now cosmologists, including Andrey Kravtsov -- a senior member of the
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago
-- have come to the same conclusion via a completely different method:
tracing the evolution of galaxy clusters. Full story.
AAAS Journalism Awards EndowedThe Science Journalism Awards program
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science has received an endowment from the Foundation, allowing the program to continue on a self-sustaining
Since their inception in 1945, the independently juried awards have
honored distinguished reporting on science by professional journalists.
The awards are an internationally recognized measure of excellence in
science journalism for a general audience.
The endowment also will allow two awards in the television category for
the first time, one for spot news/feature reporting and one for
in-depth reporting. Full story.
|SCIENCE NEWS (cont.)
Dimmest Star-Like Objects Discovered
The two faintest star-like objects ever found, a pair of twin "brown
dwarfs" each just a millionth as bright as the sun, have been spotted
by a team led by Adam Burgasser of the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics
and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
an assistant professor of physics at MIT, said "both of these objects
are the first to break the barrier of one millionth the total
light-emitting power of the sun." Full story
MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. Ronald A. Remillard,
a principal research scientist at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics
and Space Research, and two colleagues have won the 2009 Rossi Prize,
awarded by the AAS High Energy Astrophysics Division. The Rossi Prize
is given out in recognition of significant contributions, as well as
recent and original work, in high-energy astrophysics. Remillard was
honored for his work on the measurements of masses of black holes in
the Milky Way.
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. Evalyn Gates, assistant director of KICP, has published Einstein's Telescope: The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe. The book examines how scientists are harnessing the cosmos as a scientific "instrument" in their quest to determine the makeup of the universe through the phenomenon known as gravitational lensing... Gates
Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscience. The Kavli conference "Molecular Imaging 2009: Routes to Three-Dimensional Imaging of Single Molecules" will take place on the campus of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, from August 9 to August 13, 2009. The goal is evaluating approaches to three-dimensional imaging of single molecules. The conference will feature daily morning and evening sessions,
tutorials for grads and postdocs, a poster session, and facility tours. For complete information and to register, click here.
also was a panelist recently on Minnesota public radio discussing the topic, "Breaking the Glass Ceiling for Women Scientists."
Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at the University of California, San Diego. The 4th Annual Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind Symposium will be held at UC San Diego on May 2. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Irvin Biederman, the Harold W. Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California. Dr. Biederman's topic is "The Neural Basis of (Object) Shape Recognition." Additional information will be posted at the institute's website.
MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. MKI resident/affiliated researchers are playing substantial roles on two of the
seven teams that NASA selected to be part of its virtual Lunar Science Institute. These include MKI director Jacqueline Hewitt, research scientist
Joel Villasenor and Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary
Sciences (EAPS) head Maria Zuber.
Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology. Lieven Vandersypen presented his inaugural lecture as professor at TU Delft in March, predicting that quantum computers are not as far in the future as some think. "In recent years we have produced all the building blocks for a quantum
computer at Delft." Looking forward, Vandersypen said, "We are like cowboys heading off in search of adventure, way off the
beaten track, towards new horizons. I hope and expect that this sense
of adventure and curiosity about the unknown will lead to unexpected
breakthroughs and new technologies."