January 30, Vol. 24, No. 27                  

Inaugural Simon Initiative Lecture: Improving Science Education with Carl Wieman   
In the inaugural lecture of Carnegie Mellon's Simon Initiative, Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman will discuss "Taking a Scientific Approach to Science Education" at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Jan. 31) in Rangos 1 of the University Center.

Since winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, Wieman, a professor at Stanford University, has dedicated his career to improving science education. His work has produced the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia.

Wieman is a member of the newly established Global Learning Council (GLC) chaired by President Subra Suresh, which was created to complement CMU's Simon Initiative, an effort to harness and leverage CMU's decades of learning data and research to improve educational outcomes for students around the world.

Read more about the lecture.
Read more about The Simon Initiative and the GLC.

Speed and Time Affect Recharging Costs    
Electric vehicles may offer a path to a more sustainable transportation future, but they also might drive up electricity prices if they are charged during times of peak electricity demand.

In a new study, Carnegie Mellon researchers found that optimally varying the charging speed of plug-in electric vehicles can cut the cost of generating electricity to charge these vehicles in half.

"Controlled charging can shift loads later in the night when cheaper power plants are again available," said Paulina Jaramillo, an assistant professor of engineering and public policy (EPP). "Controlled charging could also help to manage fluctuations from renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, which change their output as the wind changes and as clouds pass by."

Jeremy Michalek, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and EPP, said allowing grid operators to control electric vehicle charging speed could reduce costs further.

"We see additional savings up to $70 per vehicle each year or even higher for systems that expect new power plant construction and systems with a lot of wind power," he said.

Learn more about the study.

Breakthrough Neuroscientist Wins Dickson Prize 
Karl Deisseroth, the D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and Psychiatry at Stanford University, is the 2013 winner of CMU's Dickson Prize in Science. Deisseroth is best known for his contributions to optogenetics, a technique that has revolutionized how scientists study neurons in the brain. 

Deisseroth will receive the award before giving the annual Dickson Prize Lecture at noon, Monday, Feb. 3 in McConomy Auditorium. His lecture is titled "Illuminating the Brain."

Named a "Breakthrough of the Decade" by Science magazine in 2010, optogenetics uses light sensitive proteins to control the activity of individual neurons or specific populations of neurons. Using this approach, researchers can selectively activate or inactivate these genetically modified neurons using light, allowing unprecedented control of neuronal activity.

Optogenetics is now being used widely to study the mechanisms of normal brain functions, like memory and sensory perception, as well as abnormal conditions like Parkinson's disease, addiction, depression and autism. 

Learn more about the prize and Deisseroth.

CMU's Grammy Connections     
"Winter Morning Walks," a classical music album based on the book published by Carnegie Mellon University Press, won three Grammy awards this past Sunday.

The album, composed by Maria Schneider, was based on the 2001 poetry book by Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. The album won for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Classical Vocal Solo Album and Best Engineered Album, Classical.

Also at the Grammys, "Kinky Boots," featuring Billy Porter, a 1991 graduate of the School of Drama, and the cast of the Broadway smash, won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. This past June, Porter won a Tony Award for Best Performance in a Leading Role in a Musical for his performance in the production.

Read more about "Winter Morning Walks."

QoLT Partners With Henry Ford Health System       
The Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) Center, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center jointly run by Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, has partnered with Henry Ford Innovations, a unit of the Henry Ford Health System, to develop digital health care solutions to improve patient outcomes and transitional care.

"Henry Ford is one of the nation's most progressive health systems," said Jim Osborn, executive director of the QoLT Center. "Their administration and clinicians recognize the imperative and the opportunity to improve health care efficiency and quality through technology. Together we will pioneer solutions that could benefit thousands of people."

QoLT is an emerging engineering discipline focused on research in assistive robotics and other human-computer systems that can support people in everyday living. Examples include personal robots that serve people at home, and computerized coaches for rehabilitation and support in daily functional tasks.

A portion of funding from the partnership is earmarked for a yearlong, three-phase project course under the direction of QoLT Center Director Daniel P. Siewiorek and Asim Smailagic. The project will employ a team of advanced graduate students with expertise in fields ranging from computer science, machine learning, rehabilitation science and assistive technology.

Learn more about the partnership.

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Calendar Highlights 

Alumni Film Screening: Banshee Chapter

Center for International Relations and Politics (CIRP) Lecture: Jacob Shapiro

Jan. 31
Family Night in Skibo Gymnasium

Three Minute Thesis Competition: SCS

Environmental Science Lecture: "Growing Food in Climate Uncertainty"

Art Lecture: Elika Hedayat

Three Minute Thesis Competition: CFA, HNZ, TPR, MCS

Film Screening: "Growing Cities: Urban Farming in America"

CIRP Lecture: "Bad Governance is Good Politics"

 Personal Mention

Roberta Klatzky
Timothy Verstynen
Subra Suresh
Jodi Forlizzi
Justine Cassell
Chester Warzynski
Cherry Jones

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