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8 1/2 x 11 News

January 8, 2003

Vol. 14, No. 23

The "8 1/2 x 11 News" is published each week by the University Advancement Division. News of campus interest should be sent to one of the following editors:   Ed Delaney, 412-268-1609 (
  Bruce Gerson, 412-268-1613 (
  Susan Cribbs, 412-268-7521 (

The newsletter is available on the official.cmu-news and bulletin boards.

2001 Editions are available online.

2002 Editions are available online.

2003 Editions are available online.

Previous editions are available online.


Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh will receive $1.02 million over the next four years from the National Institutes of Health to create safer methods for using gene therapy to treat patients. Traditionally, gene therapy, used to fight diseases and for regenerative medicine applications, involved delivering a virus to cells, which would then produce their own therapeutic proteins.

Prashant Kumta, professor of materials science and biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, is working with Charles Sfeir, assistant professor of oral medicine and pathology at the University of Pittsburgh, to conduct gene delivery without the use of viruses. The researchers are developing nanostructure ceramic carriers called NanoCaps for delivering DNA into cells to help fight diseases or for regenerative medicine applications.

—In the past, these nonviral methods of gene delivery were considered less efficient than using a live virus, researchers said. But Kumta's team is finding that non-viral delivery systems can carry larger DNA than live viruses and are less toxic. In addition, the nonviral systems can deliver DNA more economically.


In hopes of making Web searches more powerful, Carnegie Mellon researchers are using an Internet game to help improve artificial intelligence. Graduate student Luis von Ahn, a 2004 Microsoft Research Fellow, and his mentor, Manuel Blum, the Bruce Nelson Professor of Computer Science, believe search engines can one day adopt word labels generated by their ESP Game to help computers see images more as humans do. Search engines use algorithm—mathematical recipes designed to solve problem—to sort, rank and filter information on the Internet. But they can't "see" an image the way a human being can, and must rely on surrounding text to make an educated guess. The ESP Game ( automatically and anonymously pairs up two players who don't know each other and asks them to type in words that describe an image. Each player types in descriptive words until, without seeing the other's list, they have a match. Then they are shown another image and the game repeats.


The following is a summary of the safety tips that Creig W. Doyle, director of security/chief of University Police, recently issued to the university community.

—If traveling by car, drive carefully and attentively, as the Christmas period is among the heaviest traffic periods of the year on American roadways. Drink responsibly and use a "designated driver." Never let a friend or family member drive drunk.

—If traveling by plane, leave extra early for the airport and anticipate longer delays at security checkpoints.

—Use extra caution when walking after dark.

—At a store checkout counter, never lay your purse or wallet down, even for a second, when trying to find a credit card. Keep it in your hand at all times.

—Don't take more credit cards along on a shopping outing than absolutely necessary. Use just one if possible.

—When shopping, don't carry so many packages that you can't hold your purse securely. Once you get an armload/handful of packages, make a trip to your car and unload.

—Never leave bags, packages or presents on the front or rear seats of your car where they can be seen. Put them in the trunk. If your vehicle doesn't have a trunk (e.g., a station wagon or SUV with no storage compartment), cover your packages with a blanket, sheet or large beach towel.

—Don't leave other valuables like loose change or CDs in plain view inside your car.


—The new Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research (SEER) invites applications for seed funding from the Carnegie Mellon campus community. Applications are due by Jan. 16. These grants are open to all members of the Carnegie Mellon community. The grants must support activities within the SEER themes of "energy and the environment" and "urban infrastructure." Further information:

—A news brief regarding mileage reimbursement in our Dec. 11 issue had a typographical error. It should have read that "Effective Jan. 1, 2004, the Internal Revenue Service will increase the standard reimbursement rate for operating a car from 36 cents to 37.5 cents per mile for all business miles driven. The standard reimbursement rate to use when computing deductible moving expenses was also adjusted from 12 to 14 cents per mile."

—Please check your department's spaces before leaving for winter break. Occupied and unoccupied areas should be inspected to make sure windows are closed and thermostats set so that the pipes will not freeze.

—The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is relining a water main under the Collaborative Innovation Center construction project through Jan. 19, 2004. This process will involve excavation and equipment in Junction Hollow Parking lot #20 and an increase of deliveries on Roberts Road.


—Doctoral Candidate Dimitrios Gerogiorgis of the Department of Chemical Engineering (advised by B. Erik Ydstie) has won the A.J. Parker Cooperative Research Center for Hydrometallurgy Best Presentation Award for his paper "Flow Modeling for Design of Carbothermic Aluminium Reactors." The paper was presented earlier this month at the Third International Conference on Computational Fluid Dynamics in the Minerals and Process Industries in Melbourne, Australia. The conference convened an international panel of academic and industrial researchers that discussed the state of the art and identified current challenges and future prospects in Computational Fluid Dynamics modeling for the mineral, metallurgical and chemical process industries.

—The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has elected professors Ralph Hollis, Mel Siegel and Dan Stancil as IEEE Fellows for 2004. The grade of Fellow recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding proficiency and achieved unusual distinction in the profession. Hollis, a research professor of robotics, SCS, was recognized for his contributions to multi-degree-of-freedom robotic devices. Siegel, an associate research professor of robotics, SCS, was recognized for his contributions to the field of sensors, measurement and robotics. Stancil, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, was recognized for his contributions to the theory and development of microwave and optical devices using magnetic garnet thin films and patterned ferroelectric domains.

—Senior fullback Brad Stanley broke the university record for touchdowns in a season with 21 this year. The old record was 19 touchdowns by Scott Barnyak in 1990. For his major contributions throughout the season, including almost 1,000 yards rushing, Stanley was named University Athletic Association Offensive Player-of-the-Year and first team fullback.

4 Head Football Coach Rich Lackner reports that the team grade point average at the end of spring semester 2003 was 3.22. The overall university average was 3.12 for men. Of nearly 100 team members, 71% had a 3.0 average or better.


Monday Jan 19: Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The university will host a series of events to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Classes will be cancelled from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. to allow students, faculty and staff to participate in the programming. Further information:

Have a healthy, safe and happy holiday season! Our next issue will be published on Thursday, Jan. 8.

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