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  • richardmitnick 10:40 am on May 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: An array of artificial synapses designed by researchers at Stanford and Sandia National Laboratories can mimic how the brain processes and stores information., , , , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers’ artificial synapse is fast, efficient and durable” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    April 25, 2019
    Taylor Kubota

    1
    An array of artificial synapses designed by researchers at Stanford and Sandia National Laboratories can mimic how the brain processes and stores information. (Image credit: Armantas Melianas and Scott Keene)

    The brain’s capacity for simultaneously learning and memorizing large amounts of information while requiring little energy has inspired an entire field to pursue brain-like – or neuromorphic – computers. Researchers at Stanford University and Sandia National Laboratories previously developed [Nature Materials] one portion of such a computer: a device that acts as an artificial synapse, mimicking the way neurons communicate in the brain.

    In a paper published online by the journal Science on April 25, the team reports that a prototype array of nine of these devices performed even better than expected in processing speed, energy efficiency, reproducibility and durability.

    Looking forward, the team members want to combine their artificial synapse with traditional electronics, which they hope could be a step toward supporting artificially intelligent learning on small devices.

    “If you have a memory system that can learn with the energy efficiency and speed that we’ve presented, then you can put that in a smartphone or laptop,” said Scott Keene, co-author of the paper and a graduate student in the lab of Alberto Salleo, professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford who is co-senior author. “That would open up access to the ability to train our own networks and solve problems locally on our own devices without relying on data transfer to do so.”

    A bad battery, a good synapse

    The team’s artificial synapse is similar to a battery, modified so that the researchers can dial up or down the flow of electricity between the two terminals. That flow of electricity emulates how learning is wired in the brain. This is an especially efficient design because data processing and memory storage happen in one action, rather than a more traditional computer system where the data is processed first and then later moved to storage.

    Seeing how these devices perform in an array is a crucial step because it allows the researchers to program several artificial synapses simultaneously. This is far less time consuming than having to program each synapse one-by-one and is comparable to how the brain actually works.

    In previous tests of an earlier version of this device, the researchers found their processing and memory action requires about one-tenth as much energy as a state-of-the-art computing system needs in order to carry out specific tasks. Still, the researchers worried that the sum of all these devices working together in larger arrays could risk drawing too much power. So, they retooled each device to conduct less electrical current – making them much worse batteries but making the array even more energy efficient.

    The 3-by-3 array relied on a second type of device – developed by Joshua Yang at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who is co-author of the paper – that acts as a switch for programming synapses within the array.

    “Wiring everything up took a lot of troubleshooting and a lot of wires. We had to ensure all of the array components were working in concert,” said Armantas Melianas, a postdoctoral scholar in the Salleo lab. “But when we saw everything light up, it was like a Christmas tree. That was the most exciting moment.”

    During testing, the array outperformed the researchers’ expectations. It performed with such speed that the team predicts the next version of these devices will need to be tested with special high-speed electronics. After measuring high energy efficiency in the 3-by-3 array, the researchers ran computer simulations of a larger 1024-by-1024 synapse array and estimated that it could be powered by the same batteries currently used in smartphones or small drones. The researchers were also able to switch the devices over a billion times – another testament to its speed – without seeing any degradation in its behavior.

    “It turns out that polymer devices, if you treat them well, can be as resilient as traditional counterparts made of silicon. That was maybe the most surprising aspect from my point of view,” Salleo said. “For me, it changes how I think about these polymer devices in terms of reliability and how we might be able to use them.”

    Room for creativity

    The researchers haven’t yet submitted their array to tests that determine how well it learns but that is something they plan to study. The team also wants to see how their device weathers different conditions – such as high temperatures – and to work on integrating it with electronics. There are also many fundamental questions left to answer that could help the researchers understand exactly why their device performs so well.

    “We hope that more people will start working on this type of device because there are not many groups focusing on this particular architecture, but we think it’s very promising,” Melianas said. “There’s still a lot of room for improvement and creativity. We only barely touched the surface.”

    To read all stories about Stanford science, subscribe to the biweekly Stanford Science Digest.

    This work was funded by Sandia National Laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Semiconductor Research Corporation, the Stanford Graduate Fellowship fund, and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation for Postdoctoral Research at Stanford University.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 2:47 pm on May 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What it’s like to be a theoretical physicist", Read Brandon Rayhaun's interview, Read Natalie Paquette's Interview, Read Richard Nally's interview, Read Shamit Kachru’s interview, Shamit Kachru and three of his graduate students talk about what life is like as a theoretical physicist today, Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “What it’s like to be a theoretical physicist” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    May 3, 2019
    Nathan Collins

    1
    Shamit Kachru and three of his graduate students talk about what life is like as a theoretical physicist today – how they got into the field, what keeps them motivated and what their work means to them.

    Kachru has been studying physics in one form or another for three decades. He spoke about his newfound interest in theoretical biology, why he likes being an administrator and what motivates him to continue on in science.

    Walk into Shamit Kachru’s office, and the first things you’ll notice are the couch and the coffee table that sits in front of it, both situated across from a chalkboard that takes up most of one wall. Intentionally or not, it is a social space. Kachru is a professor of physics and director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics, and what that means in practical terms is that when he’s not reading books or printouts of academic papers, he’s usually talking to other people and sharing ideas.

    Of late, Kachru’s ideas include thoughts on how to better understand black holes through the lens of number theory, a branch of pure mathematics concerned with questions such as “What is the distribution of prime numbers?” And as a new member of Stanford Bio-X, more and more of the ideas Kachru thinks about concern biology and the theory of evolution, a field Kachru got into simply by talking to a fellow physicist.

    Here, in a glimpse into the lives of theoretical physicists, Kachru, his former graduate student Natalie Paquette and two current graduate students, Brandon Rayhaun and Richard Nally, talk about what it’s like to be a theoretical physicist today – how they got into the field, what keeps them motivated and what their work means to them.

    “We’re not all marveling at the universe all the time. But occasionally in my work, and these are the moments that keep one going, you do encounter something that really inspires awe in a serious way.”

    Read Shamit Kachru’s interview

    Shamit Kachru’s work is abstract and mathematical, and as a result, his days are spent reading academic journals, working out his thoughts on a pad of paper or a chalkboard and sharing ideas with other physicists. In the big picture, he is on a kind of search for Platonic forms – eternal, unchangeable truths that exist outside of our experience of them. Kachru talks about why he likes administrative positions (it’s not the paperwork), why he recently decided to branch out into theoretical biology and the sense of awe that keeps him going.

    “Right now I’m department chair, and I’m also director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics, and so you might look at this and say, ‘OK, this is somebody who is going to turn 50 soon and has decided to be an administrator.’ And this is a total misreading. The thing that interested me about both of those roles is they give you the ability and even force you to interact with even more people who tell you more interesting things that you otherwise wouldn’t hear.

    “I personally get a lot of joy out of interacting with students. I’ve had graduate students who were wonderful and who play, as I get older, a really important role in my research. I’ve just started taking biology students. It’s a different cohort. They’ll teach me different things. A lot of research is two different people explaining things to each other, then you put those two things together and at that moment you get something new.

    “I have spent some time in the past couple of years hanging out in the group meetings of Dmitri Petrov’s group and Daniel Fisher’s group in biology and Bio-X, and have heard absolutely fascinating things there about evolutionary experiment and theory. I finally decided that the time was right for me to start trying to contribute my own research to ongoing attempts to understand evolutionary dynamics.

    “Biology was the place I entered science as a kid. I used to get these cards from the World Wildlife Federation with pictures of pandas and belugas and raccoons – you know, whatever they put on these cards. And so you grow up already with a natural affinity for living things. Only much later when I was on leave from Stanford at the University of California, Santa Barbara, did I meet a prominent physicist, Boris Shraiman, who transitioned to studying theoretical questions in biology. Without any preconception, I spent a lot of my time there listening to the things he works on and going to a workshop. What struck me was what an exciting time it was in their field. What’s happened is people started to do experiments in evolution, and this together with the ability to rapidly sequence genomes opens up a host of questions to scientific inquiry.

    “Now if you ask, ‘What are motivations to understand how evolution works?’ here I can be practical. The 1918 flu killed millions and millions of people, and sometime there will be another such flu strain and millions and millions of people will die. If you ask, ‘How are we going to combat the flu,’ some of the best ideas involve studying the way that different flu strains’ genetic lines of descent are splitting and branching, to figure out which flu is the most successful, to figure out what the vaccine should be that we use to combat what next year’s flu is likely to be. And that work came out of theoretical physicists working with biologists.

    “I’m not a religious person, but when you read accounts of religious people about how they feel, there is a feeling of awe people can have. Now, daily life as a scientist, just like daily life as anything, is mostly, you know, you get up and you’re tired and you have to feed the rabbits or whatever you happen to have, and so on and so forth. So we’re not all marveling at the universe all the time. But occasionally in my work, and these are the moments that keep one going, you do encounter something that really inspires awe in a serious way.

    “For many people, the way it comes about is some fact about nature that’s discovered in an experiment, and that can happen for me too. But as a theorist, another way it really comes about is when some fact about nature, or at least a toy model of something that could be seen in nature, turns out to also have a really deep and fundamental origin in pure mathematics, which as far as I can tell is the closest thing to pure Platonic thought that we have as humans.”

    2
    Natalie Paquette

    Paquette graduated from Stanford in 2017 and is now a Sherman Fairchild Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech. She talked about discovering physics in college, why physics never gets old and how, in a way, she has a superpower.

    “String theory feels like a little superpower that I have, this physical intuition that enables me to make connections and have insights into things that by rights I should not be able to say anything interesting about.”

    Read Natalie Paquette’s Interview

    Natalie Paquette works on the mathematics underlying string theory and quantum field theory. Until 2017, she was a graduate student in Kachru’s group. She is now a Sherman Fairchild Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech. Here, she talks about how she first fell in love with physics in college, why string theory is a kind of mathematical superpower and why, for her, physics never gets boring.

    “I didn’t really know that I wanted to do physics until I was in college. I remember when I was young I liked to read and write a lot. I thought about being an author. I briefly contemplated being a doctor. I thought about being an engineer, a marine biologist – I really wasn’t sure. I was interested in all sorts of things, and so it wasn’t really until I came to college that I got a better sense of who I was interest-wise and what my academic aptitudes were. I went to Cornell University as an undergrad, and originally I matriculated in biological engineering, and then eventually I ended up taking a physics class. I just knew after that class that physics was the thing that I liked the best.

    “String theory feels like a little superpower that I have, this physical intuition, this extremely powerful framework that enables me to make connections and have insights into things that by rights I should not be able to say anything interesting about. I’m not trained as a geometer, I’m not trained as a number theorist, but somehow by thinking really hard about aspects of string theory, I’m able to get insight into all of these far-reaching mathematical fields. I find that sort of really amazing and powerful. Of course, compared to mathematicians in any of these areas, I’m still a dilettante, but hopefully an insightful one. It’s just been really fun for me to learn mathematics through this unconventional physical lens.

    “Does physics ever get boring? No, it never gets boring. If I’m really frustrated by the particular things I’m working on or if I feel really stuck, I’ll try to learn some subject in condensed matter physics or I’ll try to learn something in cosmology or just some other area of physics, and that’s all it takes for me to be re-inspired with this subject. I need to take breaks from time to time and study other things and think about other things, but the subject as a whole definitely never gets boring for me.

    “I am a lot more regimented now than I was when I was a grad student. I wasn’t a morning person. I was one of those sleep-late-and-work-late, very night-shifted grad students. Right now I’m trying to wake up around 7 or 7:30. I made a choice to start training in mixed martial arts recently, and I do my training in the morning and that forced me to rotate my whole schedule. There is something about doing really, really intense physical activity that sort of balances how intense your day can be mentally.

    “I don’t think physics is the only interesting thing in the world. That would be very shortsighted of me. I do have other things I’m interested in, things I learned about as a hobby, things related to economics or biology or other things. There’s all kinds of cool stuff going on in all kinds of other places. And so if nothing worked out with physics, then I’m sure I could find something else interesting to do and be happy about it. But as long as I have a chance of getting to do my favorite thing indefinitely, if I’m lucky enough to get a tenure-track job, then I’ll try to do that as long as I can.”

    3
    Brandon Rayhaun

    Rayhaun is a third-year graduate student and works on string theory with Kachru. He spoke about what science means to him, how no day is particularly typical and the other Stanford professor who inspired him to pursue a career in physics.

    Read Brandon Rayhaun’s interview

    Graduate student Brandon Rayhaun works with Kachru probing the mathematical connections between string theory, black holes and number theory. Of his choice to pursue a career in physics, he says “it was sort of serendipitous.” Here, he talks about the late-night epiphany that solidified his desire to pursue physics, a typical day in the life of a theoretical physics graduate student and why it’s worth developing theories that, for the time being at least, can’t be tested.

    “I had various romantic notions about theoretical physics because I grew up watching various documentaries about string theory. But I think if I had to pinpoint the exact moment where I really knew that I wanted to study physics, I was in high school studying for a French exam, and I was procrastinating, looking up random videos on YouTube, and I stumbled upon Leonard Susskind’s quantum mechanics lectures. It was 5 a.m. and I had watched maybe four or five hours of Lenny Susskind lectures and I forgot to study for the French exam. That’s when I got more interested in actually pursuing physics as a possibility.

    “No day’s terribly typical. I wake up anytime between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. It’s truly that variable. Part of that is because there are times where I’m in a place where I can be working and there are other times where I’m just not feeling it. I’ve learned over time to not force myself to do creative type work when I’m not in the zone or I’m not feeling it. But when I’m really feeling it, I’ll be too excited to stay asleep for too long, so I’ll force myself to wake up at 6 a.m. or 5 a.m. or whatever and get up, and I’m really eager and excited to think about the problem I was thinking about the night before.

    “Why should we do it? This is a question I still grapple with. The fact is that the theories we’re working with offer predictions that are currently inaccessible to experiments. I think there is this amnesia about things. We look at things like quantum mechanics, and in retrospect it’s clear that we should have done it because it led to all kinds of interesting technological advancements, like MRI machines, your computer, everything uses quantum mechanics. But at the time that people were thinking about it, when it first arrived on the scene, it was an incredibly abstract, really removed thing.

    “Here’s another way to answer the question. I mean, why do we do art? You can make sort of similar arguments that art doesn’t impact humans in the same way that antibiotics do or something like that. But I would argue that it really does. Art adds beauty to our lives.

    “I tend to think about string theory in a similar way. Science is a collection of stories, really beautiful stories, about how the universe works. We need to do a better job of communicating these stories to people, but say we were communicating these stories to people – that I think would be a totally worthwhile endeavor. I think scientists would then be like a combination of artists and adventurers. There are these adventurers who go out into these abstract universes, kind of find patterns, interesting gems, interesting rocks and bring them back and then show them to people and add some beauty to their lives.”

    4
    Richard Nally is a fourth-year graduate student in Kachru’s group studying black holes and number theory. He spoke about the experiences that led him to physics, the excitement of seeing math come alive and the inherently social nature of his work.

    “One of the things I like so much about this field is that it’s very social. People tend to be confused about a lot of the same things, so you go talk to somebody else and find out their perspective on it.”

    Read Richard Nally’s interview

    Graduate student Richard Nally is unabashed about his reasons for studying an abstract corner of theoretical physics, and it has nothing to do with the possibility his work might someday have practical value. Instead, he studies theoretical physics “because it’s cool.” Like many physicists, his interest in the subject grew from reading popular books written by leaders in the field, but Nally also cites a curiosity that grew out of a childhood conundrum.

    “I was very clumsy. I dropped basically everything I got my hands on, and I could never quite understand why that happened. And so I asked. I wanted to understand why things fall basically. That’s still more or less what I think about.

    “So I kept on asking my science teachers, and they all just said it’s this thing called gravity. So I kept on asking and asking and heckling, and eventually sometime in middle school one of them threw at me a copy of Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. I read it and I’m like, ‘OK, this is the coolest thing ever. I need to do this.’

    “The big problem in theoretical physics very broadly is, there’s four forces in the universe, and one of them is very different than the others, and that one is gravity, and so we’re trying to understand how it works. There’s a framework for trying to understand it, string theory, and so that’s always what I wanted to work on.

    “There are a couple different archetypical days. One is I lock myself in my office and read papers until I get confused, and then I go talk to someone about them. Another is you go to a seminar. Sometimes it’s on a topic very close to you and you understand it quite well. Sometimes it’s on a topic completely orthogonal to your research and you get confused very quickly. But you want to get the big picture and come up with an interesting question to ask.

    “The third type of day is when you’re trying to find a good question to ask. You could ask, ‘Where did the universe come from?’ And that’s a question that people have been trying to answer forever, but that’s a problem that takes an infinite amount of work. You need to find a question that’s concrete enough that you can handle, interesting enough to keep on motivating yourself to do it and important enough that somebody else will care. That’s a struggle, and that’s sort of why you go to all of these seminars and read so many papers, just to understand what other people have been thinking about and do you have something to say.

    “One of the things I like so much about this field is that it’s very social. People tend to be confused about a lot of the same things, or sometimes you find something very confusing that nobody else does, so you go talk to somebody else and find out their perspective on it. If you don’t talk to people, you’re never really going to understand all of what’s going on. Really, you’re always confused about something. That’s the natural state of doing research, and for me, a lot of the time being confused is part of the fun.

    “The fun parts aren’t necessarily doing long calculations with twos and minus signs and all that other stuff that you’re going to screw up a million times, and you have to keep on redoing until you get it completely right and then you check and double-check and triple-check. I don’t think many people find that very exciting. What really excites me is when you can see the math come alive and give you some sort of picture of the reality that lives behind it.

    “I want to continue in academia. It’s hard, you know. There are not enough jobs to go around. And it becomes very competitive very quickly. But I love it. I really can’t imagine doing anything else at this point in my life. For me what matters is being passionate about what I do every day, and that means doing physics.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 4:57 pm on April 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Semiconductor research, Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers measure near-perfect performance in low-cost semiconductors” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 15, 2019
    Taylor Kubota

    Stanford researchers redefine what it means for low-cost semiconductors, called quantum dots, to be near-perfect and find that quantum dots meet quality standards set by more expensive alternatives.

    1
    A close-up artist’s rendering of quantum dots emitting light they’ve absorbed. (Image credit: Ella Marushchenko)

    Tiny, easy-to-produce particles, called quantum dots, may soon take the place of more expensive single crystal semiconductors in advanced electronics found in solar panels, camera sensors and medical imaging tools. Although quantum dots have begun to break into the consumer market – in the form of quantum dot TVs – they have been hampered by long-standing uncertainties about their quality. Now, a new measurement technique developed by researchers at Stanford University may finally dissolve those doubts.

    “Traditional semiconductors are single crystals, grown in vacuum under special conditions. These we can make in large numbers, in flask, in a lab and we’ve shown they are as good as the best single crystals,” said David Hanifi, graduate student in chemistry at Stanford and co-lead author of the paper written about this work, published March 15 in Science.

    The researchers focused on how efficiently quantum dots reemit the light they absorb, one telltale measure of semiconductor quality. While previous attempts to figure out quantum dot efficiency hinted at high performance, this is the first measurement method to confidently show they could compete with single crystals.

    This work is the result of a collaboration between the labs of Alberto Salleo, professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford, and Paul Alivisatos, the Samsung Distinguished Professor of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the University of California, Berkeley, who is a pioneer in quantum dot research and co-senior author of the paper. Alivisatos emphasized how the measurement technique could lead to the development of new technologies and materials that require knowing the efficiency of our semiconductors to a painstaking degree.

    “These materials are so efficient that existing measurements were not capable of quantifying just how good they are. This is a giant leap forward,” said Alivisatos. “It may someday enable applications that require materials with luminescence efficiency well above 99 percent, most of which haven’t been invented yet.”

    Between 99 and 100

    Being able to forego the need for pricey fabrication equipment isn’t the only advantage of quantum dots. Even prior to this work, there were signs that quantum dots could approach or surpass the performance of some of the best crystals. They are also highly customizable. Changing their size changes the wavelength of light they emit, a useful feature for color-based applications such as tagging biological samples, TVs or computer monitors.

    Despite these positive qualities, the small size of quantum dots means that it may take billions of them to do the work of one large, perfect single crystal. Making so many of these quantum dots means more chances for something to grow incorrectly, more chances for a defect that can hamper performance. Techniques that measure the quality of other semiconductors previously suggested quantum dots emit over 99 percent of the light they absorb but that was not enough to answer questions about their potential for defects. To do this, the researchers needed a measurement technique better suited to precisely evaluating these particles.

    “We want to measure emission efficiencies in the realm of 99.9 to 99.999 percent because, if semiconductors are able to reemit as light every photon they absorb, you can do really fun science and make devices that haven’t existed before,” said Hanifi.

    The researchers’ technique involved checking for excess heat produced by energized quantum dots, rather than only assessing light emission because excess heat is a signature of inefficient emission. This technique, commonly used for other materials, had never been applied to measure quantum dots in this way and it was 100 times more precise than what others have used in the past. They found that groups of quantum dots reliably emitted about 99.6 percent of the light they absorbed (with a potential error of 0.2 percent in either direction), which is comparable to the best single-crystal emissions.

    “It was surprising that a film with many potential defects is as good as the most perfect semiconductor you can make,” said Salleo, who is co-senior author of the paper.

    Contrary to concerns, the results suggest that the quantum dots are strikingly defect-tolerant. The measurement technique is also the first to firmly resolve how different quantum dot structures compare to each other – quantum dots with precisely eight atomic layers of a special coating material emitted light the fastest, an indicator of superior quality. The shape of those dots should guide the design for new light-emitting materials, said Alivisatos.

    Entirely new technologies

    This research is part of a collection of projects within a Department of Energy-funded Energy Frontier Research Center, called Photonics at Thermodynamic Limits. Led by Jennifer Dionne, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford, the center’s goal is to create optical materials – materials that affect the flow of light – with the highest possible efficiencies.

    A next step in this project is developing even more precise measurements. If the researchers can determine that these materials reach efficiencies at or above 99.999 percent, that opens up the possibility for technologies we’ve never seen before. These could include new glowing dyes to enhance our ability to look at biology at the atomic scale, luminescent cooling and luminescent solar concentrators, which allow a relatively small set of solar cells to take in energy from a large area of solar radiation. All this being said, the measurements they’ve already established are a milestone of their own, likely to encourage a more immediate boost in quantum dot research and applications.

    “People working on these quantum dot materials have thought for more than a decade that dots could be as efficient as single crystal materials,” said Hanifi,” and now we finally have proof.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 12:51 pm on March 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: BioAIMS, ChemAIMS, Natalie Geise and Jen Marrero, Stanford University, The group gives women, The group gives women LGBTQ+ and underrepresented minority students a place to find support and organizes opportunities to interact with visiting faculty,   

    From Stanford University: Women in STEM-“Chemistry students provide space for underrepresented groups in science” Natalie Geise and Jen Marrero 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 21, 2019
    Erin I. Garcia de Jesus

    Two Stanford graduate students are helping underrepresented students in the Chemistry Department chat with faculty they relate to over breakfast. Their group aims to establish a community and facilitate conversations about diversity in science.

    1
    Chemistry graduate students Natalie Geise, left, and Jen Marrero Hope founded ChemAIM as a way of creating a community for women and minorities in chemistry. (Image credit: Binhong Lin)

    Breakfast conversations have taken a new shape in Stanford’s Chemistry Department, thanks to the efforts of two graduate students: Jen Marrero Hope and Natalie Geise, now fourth-year students in the department’s PhD program.

    The duo began the Chemistry Association for the Interests of Minority Students, ChemAIMS for short, when they saw a gap in support for underrepresented groups in chemistry and decided to set up a group on their own. The group gives women, LGBTQ+ and underrepresented minority students a place to find support and organizes opportunities to interact with visiting faculty.

    The founders said chemistry graduate students typically bond with their cohort as they take classes and teach in their first year. But then they withdraw to their respective labs – which may be less diverse – for the next few years to do experiments and complete their degrees.

    “It’s much more likely that you would be the only woman or only Latinx in your lab or that you see in your day-to-day life,” Geise said. “That can be really hard and graduate school is already pretty isolating, so it’s important to have a community.”

    A friend of Hope’s at Caltech coordinated student breakfasts with women invited to give department seminars. Based on the success of that program, Hope started a similar group at Stanford, boosted by department funding for food. “Since then it has expanded with the goal of hosting speakers from a broader range of underrepresented backgrounds,” Hope said.

    With the breakfasts, Hope and Geise sought to create a space for students to interact with speakers they have something in common with. Students have the chance to ask questions they might not feel comfortable asking in front of the entire department or to discuss the struggles of being an underrepresented person in science.

    “When the department invites speakers who look like us, getting a piece of their time to talk with them and say ‘Hey, I don’t see you guys very often. How did you do it?’ felt really important,” Hope said.

    Promoting inclusion

    Hope and Geise learned the ins and outs of planning department events when they joined the Chemistry Department’s Graduate Student Affairs Committee in their first year at Stanford. They discovered how to find funds and get people on board for new events. So, when Hope and Geise launched ChemAIMS in 2017, they had at least some idea of what to do.

    The name, they said, was “shamelessly stolen” from the biomedical diversity group on campus (with permission), called BioAIMS. While BioAIMS supports students in the biosciences and medical school, which encompasses a large portion of Stanford’s campus, ChemAIMS focuses on helping students whose work might not be related to biology. To date, 91 trainees – which includes graduate students and some post-doctoral researchers – are on their mailing list.

    “It’s cool to try and spread the love so that people in other sciences also have somewhere to go,” Hope said.

    Though ChemAIMS started with breakfasts, it has expanded to include a research discussion group spearheaded by Geise and a community-driven book club, which just finished reading Bad Blood by John Carreyou. And this spring, ChemAIMS will host their first student-invited seminar speaker, Miriam Bowring from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Bowring will give a talk on her research but will also focus on diversity in science.

    “It’s important to have the smaller groups where we are the focus,” Hope said. “It’s also important to have a larger, inviting community and say, ‘Hey, you also need to be thinking about this.’”

    This year Hope and Geise were invited to speak about ChemAIMS at student orientation in the fall. And they will present a poster at the department’s recruiting events.

    “We’d like to see more students who feel that they’d be welcome and that this is an environment where we do care about these issues,” Geise said.

    Balancing act

    Despite their success, Hope and Geise are not primarily focused on advocacy – they are graduate students striving to earn their doctorates. That can make it hard to find time for ChemAIMS, but both see it as an important part of their Stanford experience.

    “I know logically that being at the bench and working all the time is not efficient,” Geise said. She added that her research is structured in a way that keeps her busy during some periods and more relaxed in others, which makes it easier for her take time away to organize ChemAIMS events.

    “This kind of work is what keeps me sane in graduate school,” Hope said. “Because experiments don’t work all the time and it’s good to remember that there are other ways that I’m making an impact on my community and the department.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 11:10 am on March 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Computer science college seniors in U.S. outperform peers in China, , , , India and Russia, new research says", Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Computer science college seniors in U.S. outperform peers in China, India and Russia, new research says” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 19, 2019
    Alex Shashkevich, Stanford News Service
    (650) 497-4419
    ashashkevich@stanford.edu

    1
    New Stanford-led research found that undergraduate seniors studying computer science in the United States outperformed their peers in China, India and Russia on a standardized exam measuring their skills. (Image credit: Sidekick / Getty Images)

    An international group of scholars led by the Graduate School of Education’s Prashant Loyalka found that undergraduate seniors studying computer science in the United States outperformed final-year students in China, India and Russia on a standardized exam measuring their skills. The research results were published on March 18 in a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    International comparison of universities usually falls in the domain of popular news rankings and general public perception, which rely on limited information and do not consider the skills students acquire, Loyalka said. That’s why he and his team wanted to collect and analyze data on what students learn in colleges and universities in different countries.

    “There is this narrative that higher education in the United States is much stronger than in other countries, and we wanted to test whether that’s true,” said Loyalka, who is also a center research fellow at the Rural Education Action Program in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. “Our results suggest that the U.S. is doing a great job at least in terms of computer science education compared to these three other major countries.”

    The findings

    As part of the study, the researchers selected nationally representative samples of seniors from undergraduate computer science programs in the U.S., China, India and Russia. Students were given a two-hour standardized computer science test developed by the nonprofit testing and assessment organization Educational Testing Service. In total, 678 students in China, 364 students in India and 551 students in Russia were tested. In the United States, the researchers used assessment data on 6,847 seniors.

    The test, which aligns with national and international guidelines on what should be taught, probed how well students understand different concepts and knowledge about programming, algorithms, software engineering and other computer science principles.

    Researchers found that the average computer science student in the U.S. ranked higher than about 80 percent of students tested in China, India and Russia, Loyalka said. In contrast, the difference in scores among students in China, India and Russia was small and not statistically significant.

    Researchers also compared a smaller pool of students from top-ranking institutions in each country. They found that the average student in a top computer science program in the U.S. also ranked higher than about 80 percent of students from top programs in China, India and Russia. But the top Chinese, Indian and Russian students scored comparably with the U.S. students from regular institutions, according to the research.

    The researchers also found that the success of the American students wasn’t due to the sample having a large number of high-scoring international students. The researchers distinguished international students by their language skills. Of all sampled U.S. students, 89.1 percent reported that their best language is only English, which the researchers considered to be domestic U.S. students.

    “There is this sense in the public that the high quality of STEM programs in the United States is driven by its international students,” Loyalka said. “Our data show that’s not the case. The results hold if we only consider domestic students in the U.S.”

    The researchers also found that male students scored moderately higher than female students in each of the four countries.

    “The difference between men and women is there in every country, but the gaps are modest compared to the gaps we see between countries and elite and non-elite institutions,” Loyalka said.

    Further research

    The new research is a part of a larger effort led by Loyalka to examine the skills of students in science, technology, engineering and math fields in different countries. In another forthcoming paper, he and his collaborators examine other skills among students in the same four countries. Further research will also look at the relationship between skills developed in college and labor market outcomes, he said.

    Another major goal of the research team is to look more deeply at what might be driving the difference in the performance among countries.

    “We’re looking at different aspects of the college experience including faculty behavior, instruction and student interactions,” Loyalka said. “One of our major goals is to see what types of college experiences could contribute to better student performance.”

    Other Stanford co-authors on the paper included doctoral students Angela Sun Johnson and Saurabh Khanna as well as Ashutosh Bhuradia, a project manager for the research.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 10:53 am on March 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building provides new home for the life sciences at Stanford", , , , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building provides new home for the life sciences at Stanford” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 20, 2019

    Ker Than

    1
    The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building, Stanford’s newest research building devoted to the life sciences, will be formally dedicated this week. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building provides laboratory space for Stanford’s top-ranked Biology Department faculty and staff, as well as hundreds of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

    In the new Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building, which will be formally dedicated this week, Stanford biology faculty and students once spread across campus are now together under one roof. Here, experts in areas such as ecology and evolution are working next to molecular and cellular biologists in communal spaces that promote both intellectual and social interactions.

    Bass Biology is dedicated solely to research in the life sciences and provides laboratory space for Biology Department faculty and staff, as well as hundreds of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Construction of the five-story structure was completed last summer. Faculty have been gradually relocating their labs into the building since the fall.

    “The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building is becoming a place of collaboration and discovery,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a neurobiologist whose lab is located in the new building. “Here, faculty members and students from across the biological sciences will work side by side in state-of-the-art laboratories and gain new insights into the building blocks of life. I am very grateful to Anne and Bob, whose generous gift to Stanford is a testament to their vision for science research and discovery.”

    A vision for the life sciences

    The building was made possible by a gift from Anne T. Bass, MLA ’07, and Robert M. Bass, MBA ’74, longtime Stanford volunteers and donors. The couple have provided counsel and extraordinary philanthropic support to four university presidents, many deans, and dozens of faculty to advance Stanford’s mission of teaching and research.

    2
    Bass Biology features an interactive “media mesh” that displays biology-themed abstract images that can be controlled through a touch-screen interface. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    “Our top-ranked Biology Department could have no better champions than Anne and Bob,” said Martin Shell, vice president and chief external relations officer. “This building brings to completion the science, engineering and medical campus plan that Bob was instrumental in shaping during the early days of The Stanford Challenge. During that campaign, Anne’s service on the H&S Council inspired others to follow their lead by endowing faculty positions. Together, Anne and Bob worked with academic leaders to ensure that this building will best serve our faculty and students.”

    Anne Bass is a longtime children’s health advocate, both at home in Fort Worth, Texas, and at Stanford. She has been a member of the board of directors for the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford since 2000 and co-chaired two of the hospital’s campaigns. She is a long-serving member of the H&S Council and also served multiple terms on the Stanford Athletic Board and the Parents’ Program Advisory Board.

    Robert Bass is founder of the American aerospace firm Aerion Corp., president of his investment holding company Keystone Group LP and the founder of the Oak Hill family of investment funds. At Stanford, he served five terms as a member of the Board of Trustees, from 1989 to 2018, including as board chair from 1996 to 2000. His primary focus was on the Land and Buildings Committee, reshaping the campus as it has grown. He is a director of the Stanford Management Company (SMC), which oversees the university’s endowment. He was a founding director of the SMC Board in 1991 and served as chairman from 2000 to 2004.

    Robert is a trustee of Rockefeller University, Middlesex School, and the Amon Carter Museum. He is chairman emeritus of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

    Together, the Basses have been active in many of Stanford’s major fundraising campaigns. They endowed five chairs in the School of Humanities and Sciences during Stanford’s Centennial Campaign. They served as co-chairs for The Campaign for Undergraduate Education and created the Bass University Fellows in Undergraduate Education Program, which recognizes faculty for their exceptional contributions to undergraduate education. During The Stanford Challenge, they served on both the steering committee and leadership council.

    In 2013, the Stanford Associates awarded the couple the Degree of Uncommon Woman and the Degree of Uncommon Man, the university’s highest honor for rare and extraordinary service.

    Anne Bass said that she and her husband have been inspired by the discoveries made by Stanford biologists as they seek to unravel the mysteries of life. “The key to curing childhood leukemia could lie in a fundamental discovery about cancer cells that has already been made but whose significance hasn’t been realized yet,” she said. “Stanford’s world-class biologists are well-poised to make discoveries like these in the future, and Bob and I are proud to help them in their endeavor.”

    Treating diseases begins with an understanding of biology, Robert Bass added. “Foundational research in the biological sciences is essential, affecting everything from how we perceive ourselves and our relationship to the rest of the planet to advances in medicine and agriculture. Across Campus Drive is the research building that houses Bio-X. The X refers to the innovative collaborations from engineering, to chemistry, and beyond, but bio is the foundation,” he said. “Bass Biology is the transition from the academic campus to the medical center, and that influenced the architecture.”

    3
    Biology-themed artwork is incorporated throughout Bass Biology. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    4
    Bass Biology’s first-floor lobby features an art installation called Pacific Cadence that provides a visual presence for Hopkins Marine Station on campus. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    Beneficial adjacencies

    Situated on Campus Drive between the Clark Center and the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning, Bass Biology is the cornerstone of Stanford’s new quad, which connects with the School of Medicine via Discovery Walk. This walkway, which runs through the medical school to Stanford Bio-X in the Clark Center, highlights the connection between foundational and applied research in the quest to improve human health.

    The building’s close proximity to other departments at Stanford – such as computer science, statistics and engineering – will help promote collaborations and interactions among faculty and students from different academic disciplines. “Biology is at the nexus of the sciences at Stanford. Development of a quad, with Bass Biology as one of its anchors, is very exciting because it creates a new focus for the natural sciences on the campus,” said Tim Stearns, the Frank Lee and Carol Hall Professor at Stanford and chair of the Biology Department.

    In the past, the Biology Department’s faculty and students were split across five aging buildings. This physical separation ran counter to the collaborative nature of modern science. In Bass Biology, faculty and their labs are purposefully arranged to create beneficial adjacencies that enhance collaboration. The 133,000-square-foot building is divided into wet labs for hands-on research and computational or “dry” labs. Hybrid research spaces combining both types of labs are also available.

    “We’re extremely excited about and grateful for this new space, which seems ideally designed for sparking creativity across teams,” said Gretchen Daily, whose lab has relocated to the new building. Daily has been honored for her contributions to undergraduate teaching as a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. She is also the Bing Professor of Environmental Science and director of the Natural Capital Project, which is advancing a systematic, science-based approach for integrating the values of nature into policy and finance worldwide.

    “Bass Biology will give us a huge boost within the Biology Department, as we have many innovative collaborations with different labs and with the nearby Medicine and Engineering schools,” Daily said.

    Telling a story

    Designed by Flad Architects and Ennead Architects, the limestone-clad, two-wing structure is connected by an enclosed bridge on the upper floors. The slats in the multi-story pergola that shade the building’s entry are meant to be an evocative reflection of the bands in gel electrophoresis, a common laboratory technique.

    Incorporated throughout the building are multiple storytelling elements. For example, a two-story interactive “media mesh,” visible from Campus Drive and the medical school, displays biology-themed abstract images that are controllable through a touch-screen interface near the building’s entrance. The first-floor lobby and entranceway of Bass Biology also features an art installation called “Pacific Cadence” to provide a visual presence on campus for Hopkins Marine Station, which is affiliated with the Biology Department. “Pacific Cadence” is made up of photographic collages of the ocean’s surface that are seamlessly knitted together to give a sense of the vast, complex and ever-changing nature of the Pacific Ocean.

    An open house event for Bass Biology will be held on March 21.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 10:32 am on March 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford University launches the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 18, 2019
    Amy Adams

    1
    John Etchemendy and Fei-Fei Li will co-direct the new Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. (Image credit: Drew Kelly for Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence)

    Stanford University is launching a new institute committed to studying, guiding and developing human-centered artificial intelligence technologies and applications. The Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) is building on a tradition of leadership in artificial intelligence at the university, as well as a focus on multidisciplinary collaboration and diversity of thought. The mission of the institute is to advance artificial intelligence (AI) research, education, policy and practice to improve the human condition.

    The university-wide institute is committed to partnering with industry, governments and non-governmental organizations that share the goal of a better future for humanity through AI. As a part of this commitment, the institute is working closely with companies across sectors, including technology, financial services, health care and manufacturing, to create a community of advocates and partners at the highest level. HAI will be led by John Etchemendy, professor of philosophy and former Stanford University provost, and Fei-Fei Li, professor of computer science and former director of the Stanford AI Lab.

    With world-class humanities, social sciences, engineering and medical schools located on the same campus as experts in business, law and policy, Stanford HAI expects to become an interdisciplinary, global hub for AI learners, researchers, developers, builders and users from academia, government and industry, as well as policymakers and leaders from civil society who want to understand AI’s impact and potential, and contribute to building a better future.


    The emergence of artificial intelligence has the potential to radically alter how we live our lives. This new era can bring us closer to our shared dream of creating a better future for all of humanity. It will also bring opportunities and challenges that we can’t yet foresee, requiring a true diversity of thought. Stanford HAI aims to become a global, inter-disciplinary hub for discussion and development of AI.

    Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said artificial intelligence has the potential to radically change how we live our lives. “Now is our opportunity to shape that future by putting humanists and social scientists alongside people who are developing artificial intelligence,” he said. “This approach aligns with Stanford’s founding purpose to produce knowledge for the betterment of humanity. I am deeply thankful to our supporters who are providing foundational funding for the institute, which is a critical element for our vision for the future of Stanford University.”

    Stanford HAI formally launches at a symposium on Monday, March 18 featuring speakers such as Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and California Governor Gavin Newsom, as well as leading experts Kate Crawford of NYU, Jeff Dean of Google, Demis Hassabis of DeepMind, Alison Gopnik of UC Berkeley, Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners and Eric Horvitz of Microsoft Research. (Watch the livestream here.)

    The institute launches with 200 participating faculty from all seven schools at the university. In collaboration with appropriate schools and departments, it also plans to hire at least 20 new faculty, including 10 junior fellows, from across fields spanning humanities, engineering, medicine, the arts or the basic sciences, with a particular interest in those working at the intersection of disciplines. It will also house research fellows, convene groups of professionals to solve critical issues to humanity and distribute funding to spur novel research directions. In addition, the institute will partner with organizations including AI4All, AI100, AI Index, Center for AI Safety and the Center for the Study of Language and Information. HAI, along with a new Data Science Institute, will anchor a planned 200,000-square-foot building that is intended to serve as a rallying point and catalyst for interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Solutions for society

    HAI is the first initiative to launch out of Stanford’s long-range planning process, begun in 2017 with an open invitation to faculty, students and staff to submit ideas for how Stanford could empower creativity and agile research, and accelerate solutions for society. That process resulted in multiple focus areas with teams strategizing how best to leverage Stanford’s unique strengths to approach challenges in diverse fields including education, health, the environment and basic research.

    The cross-campus collaboration arose out of that process as a pressing challenge as society enters the age of artificial intelligence. This new era can help us realize our shared dream of a better future for all of humanity, but also has the potential to bring challenges and disruptions that societies around the world will need to be prepared to confront.

    Etchemendy, who is also the Patrick Suppes Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, said he expects the institute to become a global educator and convening forum for AI. “Its biggest role will be to reach out to the global AI community, including universities, companies, governments and civil society to help forecast and address issues that arise as this technology is rolled out,” he said. “We do not believe we have answers to the many difficult questions raised by AI, but we are committed to convening the key stakeholders in an informed, fact-based quest to find those answers.”

    Li said Stanford’s position on the importance of the diversity of thought is unique within the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence. “AI is no longer just a technical field,” she said. “If we’re going to make the best decisions for our collective future, we need technologists, business leaders, educators, policy makers, journalists and other parts of society to be versed in AI, and to contribute their perspectives. Stanford’s depth of expertise across academic disciplines combined with a rich history of collaboration with experts and stakeholders from around the world make it an ideal platform for this institute.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 10:48 am on March 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford researchers develop a smartphone app to simultaneously treat and track autism", , Stanford University   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers develop a smartphone app to simultaneously treat and track autism” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 6, 2019
    Nathan Collins

    1
    A smartphone app that could help diagnose autism uses a game to encourage kids to act out concepts such as being an artist or the feeling of being surprised. The app takes video of the kids at play to analyze and detect indicators of autism. (Image credit: Courtesy Wall Lab)

    Diagnosing autism can take half a day or more of clinical observation, and that’s the quick part – often, families wait years just to get to that point. Now, in hopes of speeding things up, Stanford researchers are developing a smartphone app that could drastically reduce the time it takes to get a diagnosis.

    The heart of the app, called GuessWhat, is a game that encourages kids to act out concepts such as playing baseball or the feeling of being happy. But just as important, says creator Dennis Wall, an associate professor of pediatrics and of biomedical data science, is the fact that the app takes video of kids at play – video that preliminary work suggests can be analyzed to figure out if kids have autism.

    With help from a Neuroscience:Translate seed grant from the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, Wall, James Landay, a professor of computer science, and colleagues are expanding GuessWhat’s capabilities as not just a diagnostic tool but perhaps a therapeutic one as well.

    “Children are missing an opportunity” to get help with autism, Wall said, and if the project is successful, it will “address a critical need in the diagnosis of autism.”

    Charades as diagnostic tool

    The original idea for GuessWhat, Wall said, came to him while playing a smartphone-based version of charades. In that game, players hold a phone on their foreheads, screen facing out, so that others can see a cue – a picture of an astronaut, for example – and try to guess that cue from what their friends act out.

    Wall realized that by getting kids to act out a variety of different concepts – astronauts and the like, but also emotions or social situations – he might be able to capture video of children and use machine learning algorithms on that video to determine the probability any one child had autism. That, Wall said, could be useful both for diagnosis and for tracking developmental progress. And for parents, it could be done relatively quickly and without having to wait years for a visit to a specialized clinic.

    “I thought if we could do something like this for autism, if could be really powerful,” Wall said.

    Here’s how it currently works. After parents or other adults open the app and sign in, they hold the phone up to their foreheads, screen facing out so a kid can see it. The screen then displays an image – pictures of emojis or people in various jobs or social situations – for the child to act out. The adult then tries to guess what the image represents.

    The difference from usual charades is the video. While a child plays, the smartphone’s camera captures video, which serves two purposes. In the initial stages, Wall, Landay and colleagues already know which kids have autism and which don’t, and the point is to analyze the video using machine learning methods to figure out which facial expressions, movements or other behaviors distinguish those with autism. From that, the app would learn to detect indicators of autism, which a child’s doctor could then use to screen kids without having to see them in a specialized clinic. Preliminary experiments, Wall said, suggest the strategy could work – and that the time is right to expand the team’s efforts.

    Charades as therapy

    Now, Wall said, “our goal is to build it up, and that’s where the seed grant comes in.” With that funding, the team is gearing up for field tests with a wider group of families, who will participate in co-designing the next version of the app. The team will also continue to gather data that could help the app better distinguish between kids with and without autism.

    The seed grant will also go toward developing GuessWhat into a therapeutic as well as diagnostic app, creating what Wall calls an action-to-data feedback loop. “That could enable us to track progress using GuessWhat game play as a metric while treating the children” to be more able to function well in social situations, Wall said. “Once they’re more social, many will switch tracks from a delayed development track consistent with autism to a more typical development track.”

    In the coming months, Wall and colleagues will work with clinicians to incorporate elements of two standard autism therapies, known as discrete trial learning and pivotal response training, into GuessWhat. Some features of those therapies, such as flashcards that teach kids to discriminate between emotions and games that emphasize imitation and social interaction, could be relatively easy to implement in a smartphone app, Wall said. Ultimately, the hope is to get ready for clinical trials to test GuessWhat’s therapeutic value sometime in the next few years.

    But the most important goal may be simply to keep track of a lot of data – for example, which diagnostic decisions are made and why. “Medicine in general has failed to do a good job of record management,” Wall said. “So, when something happens in a doctor’s office – identifying a breathing abnormality with a stethoscope, a visual screen of a developmental delay, a screen of the eyes – much of what drives that doctor to arrive at a decision is lost.” By actually storing lots of data on kids playing games, researchers have a better place to start when trying to understand what autism is and how to address it.

    “No one has ever captured this data before,” Wall said. “That creates an opportunity to do much, much more for developmental pediatric health going forward.”

    Wall is a member of Stanford Bio-X, the Maternal & Child Health Research Institute and the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Landay is a member of the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Additional collaborators are Haik Kalantarian, a postdoctoral fellow in pediatrics and biomedical data science; Peter Washington, a graduate student in bioengineering; researchers Aaron Kline and Qandeel Tariq; and clinical research coordinators Kaitlyn Dunlap and Jessey Schwartz.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 4:35 pm on March 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford lab wants to make the environment of outer space work for us", “We could do many missions with CubeSats – small modular satellites – in the outer solar system that we wouldn’t be able to do now.”, “We have to do work that’s revolutionary rather than only evolutionary if we’re going to get to that next step in space exploration.”, “We like ideas that verge on science fiction” Close said, “We want to open up access to the solar system in a way that takes advantage of the space environment while also protecting our spacecraft from it.”, Close pictures her work as part of a larger story of aspirational space research that has led to versatile innovations including GPS laptops water purifiers wireless headsets artificial limbs, One idea the researchers have is to power spacecraft or their subsystems with plasma, Passing by certain planets like Jupiter and Saturn they can become surrounded by higher density plasma which causes the vehicles to build up a negative charge, Sigrid Close associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University is finding ways to treat the space environment as a collection of resources., Stanford University, The researchers are hoping they could capture that charge to power spacecraft on their way out of the solar system, The Space Environment and Satellite Systems lab members don’t expect to pluck food and water from the cosmos. Instead they are focused on plasma, They think plasma could power longer range spacecraft or enable a new way of surveying asteroids for mining an application that could provide possible materials for use on Earth and in space, This set of spacecraft and sensors would weigh somewhere between one-fifth and half as much as systems currently sent to explore asteroids, When explorers venture into the great unknown of outer space they must bring along everything they need.   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford lab wants to make the environment of outer space work for us” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 5, 2019
    Taylor Kubota

    When explorers venture into the great unknown of outer space, they must bring along everything they need. This adds expense and complexity to an already ambitious endeavor – and limits where spacecraft can go. As a way to ease that packing burden, Sigrid Close, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University, is finding ways to treat the space environment as a collection of resources.

    1
    Research Engineer Nicolas Lee, left, works with PhD student Sean Young, right, on an energy harvesting antenna used in their hypervelocity impact experiments at NASA Ames under the supervision of Associate Professor Sigrid Close. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

    “For us to be a space-faring species, we need to better understand what’s out there,” said Nicolas Lee, research engineer in Close’s lab and her former graduate student. “We want to open up access to the solar system in a way that takes advantage of the space environment, while also protecting our spacecraft from it.”

    The Space Environment and Satellite Systems lab members don’t expect to pluck food and water from the cosmos. Instead, they are focused on plasma – the collection of gaseous charged particles that surrounds planets and asteroids. They think plasma could power longer range spacecraft or enable a new way of surveying asteroids for mining, an application that could provide possible materials for use on Earth and in space.

    “We like ideas that verge on science fiction,” Close said. “We have to do work that’s revolutionary, rather than only evolutionary, if we’re going to get to that next step in space exploration.”

    Plasma power

    We can witness plasma as lightning and in neon signs but it’s also abundant throughout the universe in places with strong magnetic fields – the sun is big ball of plasma and the Earth’s upper atmosphere is plasma, too. The Close lab has set its sights on plasma because spacecraft are regularly immersed in it.

    One idea the researchers have is to power spacecraft or their subsystems with plasma. As spacecraft venture farther from the sun, they cannot rely on solar power. But in passing by certain planets, like Jupiter and Saturn, they can become surrounded by higher density plasma, which causes the vehicles to build up a negative charge. The researchers are hoping they could capture that charge to power spacecraft on their way out of the solar system.

    “If it works, it has the ability to expand the types of missions that we can actually fly,” said Sean Young, a graduate student working with Close on this project, which is part of a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship. “We could do many missions with CubeSats – small, modular satellites – in the outer solar system that we wouldn’t be able to do now.”

    As for its role in asteroid mining, the lab scientists think the small plumes of plasma that an asteroid emits after a meteoroid strike could reveal the materials within. Working off this idea, they have proposed a parent spacecraft that distributes 10 to 20 small sensors around an asteroid to report the location, timing and speed of plasma that washes over them. These measurements could indicate whether the asteroid contains water, organics or any elements of interest.

    This set of spacecraft and sensors would weigh somewhere between one-fifth and half as much as systems currently sent to explore asteroids, which means one mission could send out several sets to explore multiple asteroids at once. The project is called Meteoroid Impact Detection for Exploration of Asteroids (MIDEA) and is part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program, which funds radically innovative visions that are in the early stages of development.

    Our connection to space

    Close pictures her work as part of a larger story of aspirational space research that has previously led to versatile innovations, including GPS, laptops, water purifiers, wireless headsets and artificial limbs. Where some only see the hype around setting up colonies on the moon or Mars, Close sees technologies that could someday allow people to stay on Earth in the face of extreme environmental changes.

    “Many people don’t understand why we spend our resources on space research and exploration when we could use them on something else,” Close said. “But we’ve all benefited so much from the space program and there’s so much more to discover.”

    To read all stories about Stanford science, subscribe to the biweekly Stanford Science Digest.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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  • richardmitnick 4:00 pm on February 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Stanford University, Stanford’s School of Earth and Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth), ,   

    From Stanford University: “Volcanoes, archaeology and the secrets of Roman concrete” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    February 26, 2019
    Josie Garthwaite

    Geophysical processes have shaped Pozzuoli, Italy, like few other places in the world. Stanford students applied modern tools to understand those links and what it means to live with natural hazards as both threat and inspiration.

    1
    Students gather atop Mount Vesuvius in southern Italy and listen as geophysicist Tiziana Vanorio discusses how volcanic activity has shaped the surrounding region. (Image credit: Kurt Hickman)

    High above Italy’s Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily, 13 students sit atop Stromboli Volcano as it erupts. Ash falls on their shoulders and ping-ping-pings their helmets. The ground beneath their feet trembles.

    3
    The Island of Stromboli, Shot 2004 Sep 28 by Steven W. Dengler.

    “It’s one thing to read and talk about seismic and volcanic hazard; it’s another thing to experience it,” said geophysicist Tiziana Vanorio, an assistant professor in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “I wanted to share this with them.”

    The journey to Stromboli had begun the day before in Vanorio’s hometown, Pozzuoli, a colorful port city founded by the Greeks and later occupied by the Romans, at the center of a volcanic caldera, or depression, known as Campi Flegrei. Vanorio, the 13 students and two teaching associates boarded a hydrofoil in Naples and sailed south across the deep blue water of the Tyrrhenian for nearly four quiet hours before catching sight of smoke, steam and gases puffing from Stromboli’s cone.

    2
    During their two-week trip, students visited two volcanoes in Italy and local towns shaped by their proximity. (Image credit: Yvonne Tang)

    Reaching the top would prove more arduous – a five-hour climb up steep slopes of ash and rock. Sedimentologist Nora Nieminski, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford Earth and a guest instructor on the trip, sprinted ahead to shoot drone footage that she would later help the students manipulate to create 3D models of the volcano. But the rest of the group walked without hurry. Halfway to the top, they stopped to rest near a dark scar on the volcano’s northern flank known as the Sciara del Fuoco, where the volcano has collapsed on itself.

    Dionne Thomas, ’20, a student on the trip who is majoring in chemical engineering, remembers smelling dirt and ash, seeing the Tyrrhenian Sea reflecting the sky’s late-afternoon wash of orange and blue, and counting down the minutes between small bursts of lava from a caldera upslope. While she noticed the weight of exhaustion from the long climb, she said, “I felt really strong.”

    Thomas and the 12 other students on the trip visited Stromboli as part of a three-week seminar in southern Italy focused on volcanoes, archaeology and the science of Roman concrete – an exceptionally durable material that may hold insights for future materials that are more sustainable or even suitable for building habitats on Mars.

    Offered through Stanford’s Bing Overseas Studies Program, the seminar is an opportunity to draw visceral connections between science and history, and to gain a better understanding of Earth along the way.

    Nature’s laboratory

    The Neapolitan Province in southern Italy is an ideal place to dive into the science of natural hazards and how they have played into daily life and innovation over thousands of years. Densely populated and peppered with dozens of volcanoes, the region ranks as one of the most hazardous on Earth. The ruins of a Roman harbor and an emperor’s villa can be found offshore, sunken like Atlantis as a result of unrest in Earth’s crust. “Not many places on Earth experience this kind of seismicity and volcanism, while being an ancient town and functioning as a modern society,” Vanorio said. “That’s the beauty of the place.”

    Underlying the seminar’s excursions and daily lessons in geophysics, the properties of Roman concrete and 3D modeling from drone images was a larger exercise in finding connections between different fields of study. It’s no accident that students chosen to participate in the seminar represented a wide range of majors, including computer science, physics, classics, chemical engineering and political science.

    3
    The ancient Italian city of Pozzuoli was shaped by volcanic activity. (Image credit: Kurt Hickman)

    “There are still scientific questions that we don’t know how to answer,” said Vanorio, who discovered natural processes deep in the subsurface of Campi Flegrei that mirror those in Roman concrete, and has used historical texts to shed light on strengths and the characteristics of both volcanic and engineered materials. “The more we leverage knowledge across different disciplines, the more we can address and solve those problems.”

    For Amara McCune, BS ’18, who joined a previous seminar in the region led by Vanorio in 2016, the intermingling of geophysics with dives into the region’s culture proved a powerful mix. “The unique combination of learning about Pompeii, volcanic uplift and Rome while being on-site, hearing from local guides and having archaeological and geological experts point out features of a location made for an incredibly rich learning experience,” she said.

    ______________________________________________________________________
    Materials inspired by nature
    4
    Romans used concrete made with volcanic ash to build long-lasting structures like the amphitheater in Pozzuoli, Italy. (Image credit: Nora Nieminski)

    Nearly all concrete today is based on a recipe developed in the early 1800s, which requires a process that’s heavily carbon-intensive. But ancient Romans invented a different recipe for concrete structures that have survived for millennia. Research now suggests this ancient material and the volcanoes that made its key components may hold clues for more sustainable building materials.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    Now pursuing a PhD in physics, McCune said the seminar in southern Italy helped to broaden her thinking about how she might apply her degree. “It made me more open to different fields and eager to learn the history and intricacies of the natural world around us,” she said.

    During the most recent trip, darkness fell as the group, giddy in anticipation of the volcano’s powerful eruptions, settled in around Stromboli’s rim. “It explodes violently and without warning – these big, loud bang explosions followed by incandescent ash flying into the air,” explained Dulcie Head, a teaching assistant on the trip and a PhD student in geophysics.

    By this time, the students could see the ash swirling around them as more than volcanic dirt. They knew that similar ash had been a key ingredient in construction of the amphitheater, harbor and ancient marketplace in Pozzuoli, and even the Pantheon in Rome, with its massive, unreinforced dome – the largest in the ancient world.

    “Pozzuoli is possibly the place where Romans, by looking at nature, were inspired to make an iconic material,” Vanorio said. They developed a recipe for concrete that lasts for thousands of years using volcanic ash, lime, tiny volcanic rocks and water, while modern concrete often crumbles within 50 years.

    Atop Stromboli, which scientists carefully monitor for safety, the students also had enough Earth science churning through their heads to see the volcano itself as a natural laboratory. “This volcano is literally producing new rocks as we’re sitting here. It’s throwing them at us,” Head explained. “It’s exciting to see such an active process, where a natural event also produces new materials.”

    The group bounced and slid down a path on the volcano’s slopes wearing gas masks to protect their lungs from ash and sand kicked up by their feet. Back at their hotel at the foot of the island, they peeled off their masks and washed away Stromboli’s detritus. Later, the group learned how to calculate the trajectory and velocity of the volcano’s arcing ash projectiles with particle-tracking software.

    “This was one way for us to use time-lapse images,” Vanorio said. “I wanted students from Earth science, from the classics, and engineers to learn how to use this tool because we are finding ourselves using these kinds of images more and more – often captured by drone – whether it’s to analyze inaccessible outcrops of rocks or map vast ancient sites or a building.”

    What could have seemed like abstract calculations took on greater resonance in light of the group’s up-close encounter with the eruption. “I’ll never forget the bright sparks of the eruption against the dark night,” said Sylvia Choo, ’20, who is majoring in classics and biology. “It was incredible to experience the great force of nature.”

    Ancient city

    Some 150 miles across the cool Tyrrhenian, within the Campi Flegrei or “Burning Fields” caldera, lies downtown Pozzuoli. In this city best known to many Italians as the birthplace of Sophia Loren, the ruins of a Roman marketplace are a hub for cross-disciplinary connections.

    Pozzuoli sits on a restless, Manhattan-sized swath of coast where the rotten-egg smell of sulfur laces the air. Solfatara crater, home of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, gurgles on the edge of town. And just offshore, sculptures, thermal baths, a villa, bright tiled mosaics and other archaeological ruins rest more than 30 feet below sea level, victims of the caldera’s subsidence.

    5
    Parts of Pozzuoli’s ancient architecture contain records of long-term subsidence and brief periods of uplift. Rapid uplift during the 1980s left the town’s harbor too shallow for docking. (Image credit: Kurt Hickman)

    6
    Students swam through a sunken Roman resort town in the underwater archaeological park of Baiae off the coast of Pozzuoli. (Image credit: Kurt Hickman)

    Near Pozzuoli’s modern-day waterfront, three columns stand amid the ruins of the old marketplace, or Macellum. The students knew from their studies on campus in the spring that the marble trio held a 2000-year record of long-term subsidence and brief periods of uplift. So as the columns came into view when the group first walked down from their villa residence, several students exclaimed, “Oh, there they are!”

    Gathering close to the columns for a lecture from Vanorio while Nieminski’s drone buzzed overhead, they could see bands of tiny holes bored by so-called “stone-eater” mussels – marine mollusks that drilled up and down the columns as the rise and fall of the caldera changed how much of the structures extended above the waterline. “They literally made a mark on history,” Choo said.

    Using skills developed in on-campus seminars led by Nieminski, the students were able to analyze history at the Macellum and other sites with a lighter touch. They built 3D models of the marketplace from Nieminski’s drone imagery and manipulated them with software to take measurements and answer scientific questions of their own devising.

    Thomas, for example, examined the different materials in the columns to understand how weathering and water pressure from below played out over time. The project, she said, allowed her to weave together knowledge from chemical engineering, physics and math, as well as the geophysics lessons from the seminar. “After this seminar, I am even more convinced that many fields can overlap,” she said.

    Restless Earth

    Ups and downs are part of the fabric of life in Pozzuoli. In the early 1980s, the ground rose more than 6 feet in just two years, an alarming rate of uplift that reshaped the town, leaving the harbor too shallow for docking and forcing the relocation of schools and shops.

    The rising seabed also triggered enough earthquakes to prompt evacuation of nearly 40,000 people – including Vanorio, then a teenager – for two years beginning in 1982. “Everyone was worried,” she said. “People were expecting an eruption, and we were really concerned about the seismic hazard. The houses were not retrofitted seismically.”

    But as seminar students learned through lectures and readings this summer, the episode tipped off Stanford scientists to an unusual toughness in the rock here. Other volcanic calderas, like Yellowstone or the Long Valley, located east of Yosemite National Park, tend to release the energy accumulated from uplift fairly soon through earthquakes. “Those calderas experience uplift and then almost immediately, seismic activity starts,” Vanorio explained. “The rocks deform and then they fracture.”

    In Pozzuoli, earthquakes didn’t begin until the Campi Flegrei caldera had deformed by nearly 3 feet. “The question from a rock physics point of view has been, what kind of rocks in the subsurface are able to accommodate such large strain without immediately cracking?” The rock capping this caldera, it turns out, contains fibrous minerals mirroring those in Roman concrete that allow it to stretch and bend before failing under stress.

    At the marketplace, Vanorio also pointed out that the durability of Roman concrete can be seen in sections of the ancient walls where the bricks made of tuff – a kind of volcanic rock – eroded away long ago, but the mortar made with volcanic ash and lime still remains. “At the end of the day, these ancient sites are made of Earth materials that degrade and change over time,” Vanorio said. “We can use rock physics to understand those materials and learn to preserve them better.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
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