Leverage Universities to Transform State Economy

Posted on September 24, 2005  Comments (0)

Leverage Universities to Transform State Economy by Mark Kushner (dean of the College of Engineering at Iowa State University) and P. Barry Butler (dean of the College of
Engineering at the University of Iowa):

Iowa’s colleges of engineering are driving innovation and economic development by doing state-of-the-art research and seeding new companies. We are responsible for $80 million per year in research expenditures – the vast majority of which comes from out of state – with an economic impact of $250 million. The investment we make in faculty researchers has a nearly 15-to-1 return.
Where we invest determines the jobs we produce, the innovation we spark and the wages Iowans earn. We need rock-solid, unbiased data to make those decisions. The data from California say that the amusement-park industry provides $22,000 per-year jobs and the information-technology industry provides $100,000 per year jobs. What are we willing to invest and risk for $100,000 per-year jobs?

The tough part is not convincing people that investing in science and engineering education is wise. And while I agree with the authors I don’t think that is the correct data to look at. The authors want more money invested in their schools of engineering.
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25 New MacArthur Fellows

Posted on September 21, 2005  Comments (2)

25 New MacArthur Fellows Announced
press release
overview of fellows

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today named 25 new MacArthur Fellows for 2005. Each received a phone call from the Foundation this week informing them that they will be given $500,000 in ‘“no strings attached’ support over the next five years.

I think the fellowships are a great idea: give money to people who have done excellent work. I am not sure of the motivations of the MacArthur Foundation, but if it were me I would trust by providing funds to those people they would (as a group, not every single person) take advantage of those funds to create great advances for all of humanity.

It is great to see examples of those doing work worthy of such high praise. Many of the fellows are scientists and engineers including:

  • Ted AmesFisherman fusing the roles of applied scientist and lobsterman to respond to increasing threats to the fishery ecosystem and to suggest needed changes in fisheries management.
  • Lu ChenNeuroscientist probing the complexities of synaptic transmission in the brain, gaining new insights into the processes of learning and memory.
  • Claire Gmachl Laser Technologist engineering state-of-the-art lasers for novel applications in environmental monitoring, clinical diagnoses, chemical process control, and homeland security.
  • Michael Walsh Vehicle Emissions Specialist designing and implementing inventive, cost-effective programs to improve air quality for populations around the globe.

Most Distant Cosmic Blast Sighted

Posted on September 13, 2005  Comments (0)

Most Distant Cosmic Blast Sighted

Astronomers have witnessed the most distant cosmic explosion on record: a gamma-ray burst that has come from the edge of the visible Universe.

Mapping Cellular Signals

Posted on September 13, 2005  Comments (0)

Mapping Cellular Signals by David Pescovitz

Shokat’s laboratory focuses on kinases, enzymes that transfer energy stored within the cell to other proteins. The kinases act as control switches for many cellular activities, from development to death. However, with more than 500 kinases in every cell, identifying a specific kinase’s functionality and manipulating it without affecting others in the protein family is no easy task.

Shokat hopes that someday, scientists wielding his chemical-genetic tools will build a map of all the kinases in the cell. Pharmacologists could then consult that map to determine the best drug therapy to fight a particular disease.

Human Brain Still Evolving

Posted on September 9, 2005  Comments (0)

Is Your Mind Changing? Scientists Think So

Scientists at the University of Chicago have found that two human genes involved in brain size and development are still evolving — and, they suspect, mutating to make people smarter.

Science Camps Prep Girls

Posted on September 5, 2005  Comments (2)

photo of students at science camp

Science Camps Prep Girls, by Christina Stolarz, The Detroit News.

Since 2002, U-D Mercy has offered the Science Technology Engineering Preview Summer, or STEPS, camp for girls who are heading into 10th and 11th grade, he said. The two weeklong camps, which are primarily funded by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ Education Foundation, introduce students to manufacturing, engineering, science and robotics.

Curious Cat University of Detroit Mercy Alumni

Engineers Struggle to Make Science Sexy

Posted on September 5, 2005  Comments (0)

Engineers Struggle to Make Science Sexy, Business Telegraph, United Kingdom.

With more than half engineering graduates defecting to other careers, the profession is in need of an image change

There is a growing realisation that even the youngest children can be excited by engineering, and this is the way to ensure the UK’s future industrial competitiveness. Dr Morton says “The key challenges of the 21st century including energy, transport and health care, will be solved by engineering innovation.”

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

Posted on September 3, 2005  Comments (2)

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False by John P. A. Ioannidis

A finding from a well-conducted, adequately powered randomized controlled trial starting with a 50% pre-study chance that the intervention is effective is eventually true about 85% of the time. A fairly similar performance is expected of a confirmatory meta-analysis of good-quality randomized trials: potential bias probably increases, but power and pre-test chances are higher compared to a single randomized trial.

The Chromosome Shuffle

Posted on September 3, 2005  Comments (0)

The Chromosome Shuffle by Carl Zimmer:

One of the most interesting features of our chromosomes, which I mention briefly in the article, is that we’re one pair short. In other words, we humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, while other apes have 24.

The fusion of chromosome 2 millions of years ago may not have caused any big change in hominid biology—except, perhaps, by making it difficult for populations of hominids with 23 pairs of chromosomes to mate with populations who still had 24.