Round-up of Summer News
Cohon Completes Term as Chair of NWTRB
President Jared L. Cohon has completed his term as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) on which he served for seven years.
In 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed Cohon to the NWTRB, an independent federal agency that evaluates the Department of Energy's (DOE) scientific and technical analyses for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. In 1997, President Clinton selected Cohon to chair the board. The focus of the board during Cohon's tenure was the proposed high-level waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. President George W. Bush recommended the Yucca Mountain site in February and Congress approved it this summer.
Under Cohon's leadership, the board made a number of important recommendations to the DOE. It urged the DOE to develop quantitative estimates regarding the uncertainty of a repository's projected performance over 10,000 years, to improve its understanding of how packages containing radioactive waste might corrode, to evaluate alternative repository designs, and to develop further independent evidence that would increase understanding of the performance of a potential repository at Yucca Mountain.
A highlight and the culmination of Cohon's term as chairman was the board's January 2002 report to Congress, a widely quoted document that helped policy makers understand the scientific and technical issues as they considered the President's recommendation to move forward with Yucca Mountain. Although his term on the NWTRB has ended, President Cohon's service to the nation will continue with an expanded focus. Cohon was appointed in June by President Bush to the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Partnerships Gain Funding for Cancer Research
Carnegie Mellon partnerships with Dickinson College and the Allegheny-Singer Research Institute have received $6.7 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Health for cancer research.
An interdisciplinary scientific team from Carnegie Mellon and Dickinson received a four-year, $3.5 million grant to create a more exact way to identify cancer subtypes, leading to improved diagnosis and treatments.
The Allegheny-Singer Research Institute (ASRI) and Carnegie Mellon received $3.2 million to "combine new imaging technologies with advanced techniques of image data analysis."
Funding for these projects comes from Pennsylvania's tobacco settlement funds earmarked for collaborative research that addresses cancer and infectious disease. Under the terms of its settlement with the tobacco industry, the state will receive an estimated $11.3 billion.
Prior to these awards announced this summer, the state granted $6 million to the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, the Pittsburgh Poison Control Center and Siemens Medical Systems to develop, test and implement an early-warning capability for outbreaks of infectious disease.
Company Helps Preserve Anonymity in Databases
Protecting private information and the movement to protect individual identities has a new ally in DatAnon, LLC, a company co-founded by Latanya Sweeney, assistant professor of computer science, technology and policy, and director of the Laboratory for International Data Privacy in the School of Computer Science, and Antonia Scarlata, entrepreneur in the health care management arena, former CEO of OPTIONS, and consultant to Carnegie Mellon. DatAnon provides computer solutions that guarantee the anonymity of information in databases released for research and analysis, while also ensuring that the information remains useful for those purposes.
New Biomedical Engineering Department Established
The Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) has established a new Biomedical Engineering (BME) Department replacing the long-standing Biomedical and Health Engineering Program.
At the undergraduate level, BME offers an innovative double-major degree program with each of the traditional engineering departments within CIT and a minor program with CIT, the Mellon College of Science and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
At the graduate level, BME offers the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees and participates in the M.D./Ph.D. program with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Research topics include: bioMEMS, bioprocessing, computational biomechanics, medical image & signal analysis, tissue engineering and medical robotics.
Professor Todd Przybycien is the department head and Hilda Diamond, associate head. Sandy Brenner-Hill is business manager and Christal Banks, office coordinator.
Hughes Medical Institute Awards $2.2 Million Grant
The university will receive a four-year, $2.2 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to continue its development of highly interdisciplinary undergraduate programs in the biological sciences. The HHMI is a medical research organization whose principal mission is biomedical research.
Government Relations Opens D.C. Office
The Office of Government Relations, under director Maureen McFalls, has opened an office in Washington, D.C. It is available for use by the university community when visiting Washington to interact with federal officials and as a resource for information regarding legislative and policy matters.
Sharon Grant, former legislative director for Pennsylvania Representative Mike Doyle, heads the office which is at 499 South Capitol Street, Suite 504A, Washington, D.C. 20003.
Videos Win Awards
Ralph Vituccio, director of Media Special Projects in the University Advancement Division, has announced that Carnegie Mellon has won three major awards for excellence in media communications from the Media Communications Association-International.
Winning a "Golden Reel Award" was the Carnegie Mellon video created for the Carnegie Corporation's 100th anniversary celebration last December. Winning the "Bronze Reel Award" was "Virtual March Madness," a TV commercial that aired during the 2001 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships. The "Admission Recruitment Video 2000" won a Telly Statuette, one of the most sought-after awards in the television commercial and video industry.
Center for Computer and Communications Security Formed
Carnegie Mellon researchers have formed a Center for Computer and Communications Security (C3S) to tackle the challenges and problems related to Internet security, data storage and privacy issues stemming from America's ongoing war against terrorism.
The multidisciplinary center, led by Pradeep Khosla, head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, will focus on cutting-edge technologies related to security in distributed systems and wireless and optical networks as well as new technologies to guarantee the privacy of information.
Wind-Energy Contract Renewed
The university extended its commitment to wind energy for five more years. This will allow the university to increase its purchase of wind energy from 5 to 6 percent of total electricity use. Carnegie Mellon was the first Pennsylvania university to purchase wind power in 2001 and its leadership set the 5 percent precedent that many schools are following. The total number of Pennsylvania colleges and universities buying wind power is now 25, the most of any state in the nation.
Researchers Study Effect of Concussion On Athletes
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine will objectively study, for the first time, the effects of single and multiple concussions on the brains of high school and college athletes. The study, funded by a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to help determine when athletes can safely return to play following a concussion.
William Eddy, Carnegie Mellon professor of statistics and an acknowledged world leader in the analysis of fMRI data, is providing statistical support for the study.
Little Boy's Wish for Robotic Playmate Fulfilled
When Colby Cole, a four-year-old boy with incurable cancer, asked the Make a Wish Foundation for a robotic playmate, Dave Touretzky of the Computer Science Department and his students Ethan Tira-Thompson and Alok Ladsariya set to work to deliver a robotic dog to him. They delivered it on July 19. The dog has special programming to sing "Feel like a Woman" and "I'm in the Lord's Army." It dances, plays ball and does the Power Ranger theme song with all the moves.
Chemical Engineering & Chemistry Receive Bayer Foundation Grant
The Chemical Engineering and Chemistry departments have received a $583,000 grant from the Bayer Foundation for graduate fellowships over the next five years. The funds will be used to support two Ph.D. students doing interdisciplinary research in chemical engineering and chemistry, and one Ph.D. student doing research in process systems engineering. The fellowships also involve industrial internships.
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