March 1

American Academy announces 233rd class

first_imgHarvard’s David Matthew Altshuler, professor of genetics, Harvard Medical School (HMS); Xandra Owens Breakefield, professor of neurology, HMS; Paul Arthur Buttenwieser, clinical instructor in psychiatry, HMS; David Winslow Latham, lecturer on astronomy; Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Joseph Loscalzo, Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic, HMS; John Francis Manning, Bruce Bromley Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Charles Alexander Nelson III, professor of psychiatry, HMS; William James Poorvu, Class of 1961 Adjunct Professor in Entrepreneurship Emeritus, Harvard Business School; and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Professor of Physics Xiaowei Zhuang were among 164 influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors, and institutional leaders who were inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at a ceremony in Cambridge on Oct. 12.Academy Award-winning actor Sally Field, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, novelist Martin Amis, and jazz great Herbie Hancock were among the inductees. Field and Burns read from the letters of John and Abigail Adams, and the ceremony concluded with a performance by Hancock.“The induction ceremony recognizes the achievement and vitality of today’s most accomplished individuals who, together with the Academy, will work to advance the greater good,” said Academy Secretary Jerrold Meinwald. “These distinguished men and women are making significant strides in their quest to find solutions to the most pressing scientific, humanistic, and policy challenges of the day.”Founded in 1780, the American Academy is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious learned societies, and an independent research center that draws from its members’ expertise to conduct studies in science and technology policy, global security, the humanities and culture, social policy, and education.An alphabetical list of the new Academy members is located at: https://news.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/alphalist2013.pdf. The new class listed by discipline is at: https://news.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/classlist2013.pdf.Since its founding by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the American Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation. The current membership includes more than 300 Nobel laureates, some 100 Pulitzer Prize winners, and many of the world’s most celebrated artists and performers.last_img read more

March 1

New art exhibition explores relationships outside of romance

first_imgIn a new exhibition at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, installation artist Jonathan Berger uses words and sculpture to explore the importance of relationships beyond romance between individuals, and between people and their environments, based on oral histories and interviews with colleagues, friends, and community members.The exhibition, “An Introduction to Nameless Love,” is co-presented by the Carpenter Center and PARTICIPANT Inc. in New York and is a culmination of four years of conversations between Berger and his interview subjects, including designers Charles and Ray Eames, and Shaker Brother Arnold Hadd. Berger turned the text of those conversations into large-scale sculptures made up of small tin letters supported by nickel wires.“An Introduction to Nameless Love” showcases Berger’s multifaceted approach to research, communication, and curatorial design, asking the viewer to both read the words on display and to see the sculptures as works of art.The exhibition is curated by Dan Byers, John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, and Lia Gangitano, founder and director of PARTICIPANT Inc., New York City.“An Introduction to Nameless Love” is on view at Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts through Dec. 29, 2019 and at PARTICIPANT Inc. from Feb. 23 through April 5, 2020..last_img read more

February 27

Aggies Invent: Students Help Solve Real World Problems through Technology

first_imgThis guest post is written by Rodney Boehm, the Director of Engineering Entrepreneurship and an Associate Professor of Practice in the Texas A&M University College of Engineering.It’s no secret that augmented and virtual reality are taking the world by storm. From gaming to health care to space travel — the sky is literally the limit with AR/VR. That is why I am so excited that Dell is joining the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program at Texas A&M University for Aggies Invent this weekend. Aggies Invent is a 48-hour intensive design experience that allows students to solve real problems and mingle with experts from industry. We host roughly three of these events each semester. Last year, our AR/VR-themed weekend, sponsored by Dell, was one of our most popular events of 2017. It didn’t hurt that each member of the winning team was awarded a Dell Precision 5520 Mobile Workstation.Aggies Invent will take place this weekend (11/30-12/2), with a kickoff Friday afternoon when students select a need statement provided by Dell and our other partners, Accenture, Intel and Nvidia. These need statements are real problems that the AR/VR industry is currently trying to solve. Teams will be formed, and then the students get to work and produce a rudimentary prototype within a few hours. On Saturday, the teams will spread out across our 60,000 square foot makerspace — the Susu and Mark A. Fischer Engineering Design Center — or they’ll get together in one of our many huddle rooms in the Zachry Engineering Education Complex. By the end of the night, most teams will start working on their video and pitch, which they’ll present to a panel of judges on Sunday afternoon. It’s fast-paced, and I think it’s a great simulator for life beyond Texas A&M.As a professor of practice and director of engineering entrepreneurship, I feel it is my obligation to prepare our students to be the movers and shakers of tomorrow. What better way to do that than by giving them the opportunity to work side-by-side with experienced engineers from Dell using technology that will pave the way we live in the future.Last year, I was blown away by the ideas our students came up with in such a short period of time. They thought outside the box, put their heads together and came up with solutions to problems that major industries are trying to solve. The first place team, Shovel, designed a program that would allow construction workers to see where pipes are located underground before they start digging. Another team, AKU, created an entirely new car-buying experience that would allow the consumer to remain in the comfort of their own home. Team ARchitecture would make construction less costly by eliminating errors before they occur. These are just a few examples of some of the innovative ideas that were born in just 48 hours.We all know that a college education isn’t just about acing exams. It’s about rolling up your sleeves, problem-solving and developing the communications skills required to work on a team. Aggies Invent gives students real-world experience that will jump off their resumé and serve as a talking point with potential employers. Not only does the experience give students a chance to harness their creativity, but it also allows them to gain invaluable practice networking with industry leaders. Who knows, perhaps some of the students who participate this weekend will later go on to work for Dell, bringing their innovative ideas into the homes of millions of Americans.Dell pulled out all the stops last year, and I can’t wait to see what our students create this time around.Learn about our global intensive design experience happening in February — Invent for the Planet.Rodney Boehm is the Director of Engineering Entrepreneurship and an Associate Professor of Practice in the Texas A&M University College of Engineering.  He has broad industry experiences, including over 35 years in all aspects of the telecommunications industry (sales, marketing, manufacturing, business development, and technical design), extensive experience in international companies, and running a startup.  Currently he is using his technical business experiences to develop and run innovation and entrepreneurial programs for the College of Engineering, including Aggies Invent, Engineering Inc, and courses focused on developing an entrepreneurial mindset.  He holds a BS and ME in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.last_img read more

January 17

Turfgrass Conference

first_imgSod farmers, landscape professionals and sports turf managers interested in learning more about the turfgrass industry’s latest innovations are invited to attend the 70th Annual Southeastern Turfgrass Conference.The conference will be held on Tuesday, April 26, at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia. The event will begin at 8 a.m., with registration and breakfast, and conclude at 5 p.m. Recent turfgrass research on the UGA Tifton Campus has focused on improving drought-resistant turfgrass and finding ways to reduce the amount of fertilizer needed to grow turfgrass, according to Brian Schwartz, a UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences turfgrass breeder. More information about these advances and other CAES turfgrass research projects will be shared at the conference. “We are trying to make turf easier to manage,” Schwartz said. Industry experts and UGA faculty will provide updates on the progress made through the UGA turfgrass breeding program, discuss different pesticide and fungicide management tactics and share best management practices for turfgrass. Along with these turf-related topics, experts will be on hand to discuss tax-related issues and succession planning. Schwartz believes these topics will be very beneficial to farmers, specifically. “As a farmer gets older, if they have several kids, succession planning will give farmers strategies to keep the farm together, provide fair ways to divide inheritances and answer other problems that come with inheriting valuable land,” he said. According to Schwartz, the information at this conference is just as valuable today as it was 70 years ago. “The turfgrass conference is a place where people come to not only hear the information — some might argue that is secondary. Because of the long history, many attendees actually do business here,” Schwartz said. The cost to attend is $100 for the full conference or $50 for the morning session only. Those interested can register at ugatiftonconference.org/events.An optional golfing event at the Golf Club of South Georgia is set for Monday, April 25, the day before the conference. The fairway green fee is $25. A barbecue dinner, set for 6:30 p.m., is free to turfgrass conference participants, even if they do not participate in the golfing event. To reserve a tee time, contact the golf course at 229-386-4653. For more questions about the conference, contact Schwartz at 229-386-3272.last_img read more

December 20

Costa Rica Strikes International Narcorafficking

first_imgBy George Rodríguez/Diálogo April 25, 2018 Costa Rican security forces conducted a maritime and land operation in mid-April 2018, leading to the seizure of more than 800 kilograms of cocaine. The Costa Rican National Coast Guard Service (SNG, in Spanish) and Air Surveillance Service (SVA, in Spanish) conducted the maneuvers with the support of intelligence from Colombian security authorities. Large-scale blow Costa Rican authorities conducted the 12-hour operation in a section of the Pacific Ocean across from the Osa Peninsula on the southern tip of Costa Rica thanks to information about a vessel cruising from Colombia toward Costa Rica. Authorities located the drugs, distributed across 35 packets, on April 14th, on a beach in Osa. The seizure added up to other recent exercises SNG carried out, including a blow dealt February 14th-20th, in two maritime interventions that led to the confiscation of more than two tons of cocaine. The Costa Rican security authorities described the seizure as the first large-scale blow dealt to international narcotrafficking in 2018. Authorities seized 1,256 kg in the first operation, and 1,044 kg in the second. Security forces from the U.S. supported both SNG operations within the framework of the bilateral agreement for combined patrolling. Partners of the recently constituted Southern Bloc, comprising Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama, also backed the operations. “The two operations were carried out successfully, supported by intelligence information that allowed us to find out the south-north route each vessel followed,” Commissioner Martín Arias, director of SNG, told Diálogo. “The cooperation of the United States allowed for data to be conveyed in a timely fashion to the U.S. Coast Guard vessel located along the route, which facilitated interceptions. The data wasn’t meant to be analyzed but for immediate response.” Of all cocaine production headed to North America, 82 percent passes through the Pacific. In this case, the specific destination of the intercepted vessels was unknown. “The countries of departure could be Colombia or Ecuador; the destination countries could be Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Mexico,” Commissioner Arias said. “The intelligence originates from a joint U.S.–Latin American countries operations center,” added Arias. “This is a combined task force that a number of U.S. agencies participate in, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, in collaboration with authorities of Latin American partner nations.” The Southern Bloc, key coordination tool The Costa Rica-launched Southern Bloc, comprises four countries with extensive maritime territory in the Pacific Ocean. The sovereign waters of the four Latin American nations cover an area of about 2.2 million square kilometers. The region is ecologically rich, with 78 protected coastal marine areas, 92 percent of all the coral reefs in the Pacific, and several islands declared world heritage sites. Vessels used for narcotrafficking, the illegal traffic of people, and illegal fishing boats, operate on the vast body of water. “As a coordination mechanism for multinational security, the Southern Bloc has a decisive impact on tasks such as the two maritime operations,” Costa Rican Minister of Public Security Gustavo Mata told Diálogo. “With the help of the United States and under the umbrella of bilateral joint patrolling agreements, the effectiveness of joint actions of four countries captures the attention of other nations in the area.” Such is the case with Nicaragua, which “informally stated its interest in joining the bloc,” Mata said. “But I expect Central American countries in general to join the initiative because the problem of drug trafficking is a regional problem, and we have to understand it regionally,” he said. Meanwhile, SNG and SVA remain vigilant; ready to react and initiate operations any time their partner nations request it or share information. Costa Rica doesn’t let its guard down when faced with threats from organized crime.last_img read more

December 20

Colombia, New Target of Russian Disinformation

first_imgBy Gustavo Arias Retana / Diálogo April 09, 2020 In December 2019, Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez told the press that Colombia was suffering a wave of disinformation attacks from Russia and Venezuela. Ramírez said that social media trolls (people who disrupt online communities) encouraged violent protests, in an attempt to destabilize Iván Duque’s government.These complaints coincide with a report from the U.S. Department of State that The New York Times disclosed on January 20. The report confirmed that Colombia is one of the main targets of Russian disinformation in the region, and that the Kremlin seeks to “sow confusion” through social media.“Russia’s interest is to breed distrust among the democratic governments in the western world, and Latin America is no exception. Since Vladimir Putin took office as president, Russia has embarked on a large and surprisingly effective campaign to expand its outreach in our region,” Hugo San Martín, an expert in strategic studies and international security at the University of Granada, Spain, told Diálogo. “In the case of Colombia, the proximity to one of its regional partners, Venezuela, encourages Moscow to take aggressive measures.”Colombia’s strategic position in Latin America is another reason for the country to become a target of Russian disinformation attacks. “Colombia is a power with a dual role: It is the only South American country with coasts off the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Plus, it has influence in Central America,” Carlos Murillo, an expert in international relations at the University of Costa Rica, told Diálogo. “This puts Bogotá in a favorable position. Moscow knows that and needs to have a larger presence.”Both San Martín and Murillo said that the main Russian activities detected have to do with the dissemination of fake news, generated for the region by Russian disinformation networks.“There is evidence published that the Russian media, reinforced by bots [programs that simulate human behavior] and fake accounts on social media, carry out deception campaigns, advance the Kremlin’s agenda, and act as key actors in disinformation operations,” Murillo added.RecurrencesThis phenomenon is not limited to Colombia, but it extends to other nations in the region. “Disinformation is an asymmetrical and indirect military method that Russia uses in different countries. It is one of the main instruments of Russian strategy for political influence, which it executes through conventional mass media and social media. The defense of Bolivia’s electoral fraud, and the attacks against the democratic governments of Ecuador and Chile are evidence of Russian influence,” said San Martín.“Analyzing the images and footage of protesters in those countries, we can see that they mobilize in groups, with military skills, using protection and tubes to throw projectiles at the police, similar to those used in some Colombian cities in previous months. Hatred is injected in society, and [the Russians] wait for the right moment to make it blow up,” San Martín concluded. “Russia sees influence operations as normal business, because they use them inside the country to repress dissidence and control different thinking. It is not only political, but also digital authoritarianism.”last_img read more

November 18

FDA adds 104 staffers to food safety branch

first_img See also: The newly hired CFSAN personnel are filling 91 new positions and 13 existing vacancies, according to a fact sheet that the FDA provided by e-mail. The additions amount to a 10% increase in the center’s staff, according to a Sep 11 Associated Press (AP) report. The hiring surge includes 245 staffers in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, which fields inspectors of food and other regulated products. Of the 245 jobs, 111 are new positions, the FDA said. In announcing the hiring push in April, the FDA said it was needed to implement the FDA Amendments Act of 2007 and two agency initiatives unveiled in the fall of 2007: the Food Protection Plan and the Import Safety Plan. Staff additions at the FDA’s other branches include 133 at the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, 116 at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, 34 at the Center for Veterinary Medicine, and 22 at the National Center for Toxicological Research. In all, the FDA said it has filled 1,317 positions since it announced a major hiring initiative on Apr 30. The agency has 1,005 new employees on board, with another 158 due to begin by Sep 28. The rest of the candidates have accepted job offers but are still going through security procedures. Last December a special FDA committee reported that the agency had been badly weakened by a combination of ever-increasing responsibilities, inadequate funding, and a static work force over the past 20 years. The committee said the FDA had an obsolete information technology system and was losing its ability to keep up with scientific advances. About half of all the new employees—663—are joining the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), which evaluates new drug applications and monitors the safety of licensed drugs. In launching the hiring drive, the FDA said it had been granted direct-hire authority, which saves time by eliminating “certain rating and ranking preferences” when filling jobs for which there is a critical need. Apr 30 CIDRAP News story “Health group urges overhaul of US food safety system”http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food/news/apr3008tfah.html Overall, there are 770 new positions and 547 “backfills,” the agency said. The FDA has a total of 10,144 employees, including 700 Commissioned Corps members. About 2,131 positions are funded by user fees this year, the agency said. Sep 12, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has hired 104 people in its Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) in the past 5 months as part of a surge that has brought more than 1,300 new employees to the agency. “This is really just bringing them back to where they were in earlier years,” said William Hubbard, a former FDA associate commissioner who now leads a group lobbying for sustained increases in the agency’s budget. “It restores losses that they have incurred, but they still have a long way to go to where they can make improvements.” Some independent FDA observers quoted in the AP report called the new hiring push only a first step, though a sorely needed one. Arthur Levin, director of the Center for Medical Consumers in New York, said the FDA’s recruiting shows that public service is still attractive for highly specialized professionals, according to the AP. But he cautioned that the FDA has a history of letting such gains slip away, saying the agency hired more food inspectors after the attacks of Sep 11, 2001, but then gradually trimmed the program. Apr 30 FDA news release about the plan to hire 1,300http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2008/NEW01829.html The report of the staff increase comes after a summer of food safety turmoil linked mainly to the widespread and prolonged Salmonella outbreak associated with Mexican hot peppers. The FDA and other federal agencies drew considerable criticism because they initially suspected tomatoes as the culprit, and it took several weeks to determine that peppers were involved. More than 850 of the 1,005 new staff members are in scientific and medical fields, including chemists, biologists, pharmacologists, medical officers, consumer safety officers, statisticians, general health scientists, and microbiologists, the FDA said. But no breakdown of the types of jobs included in the 104 CFSAN positions was available today. About 500 of the 1,317 new employees will be paid with funds from user fees the FDA charges firms seeking FDA approval for new drugs and devices, according to the fact sheet. “No funding will be diverted from other programs to hire new personnel,” the statement says. Dec 5, 2007, CIDRAP News story “Report says stingy funding has put FDA in crisis”http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food/news/dec0407fda.htmllast_img read more

October 19

Garuda Indonesia to test passengers for COVID-19

first_imgAirlines operating routes in Indonesia have grounded their aircraft to comply with the government’s ban on travel to and from COVID-19 “red zones”. The large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) implemented in major Indonesian cities with hub airports has also heavily impacted airline frequency.Irfan said that the flag carrier had already implemented health protocols including regular disinfection of aircraft, temperature scanning and check-ups for passengers, and onboard physical distancing.The airline had already suspended its in-flight distribution of newspapers and magazines as well as pillows, and switched to using disposable food packaging for its in-flight meals to prevent indirect transmission through contaminated surfaces and objects. It also plans to provide hand sanitizer for all passengers.Flag carrier Emirates Airlines of the United Arab Emirates became the first airline in the world to implement on-site COVID-19 rapid testing for passengers on April 15. The serology test returns results on blood samples within 10 minutes.Topics : Airline passengers may need to anticipate that the new normal for air travel could require that they be tested for COVID-19 before boarding.Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is planning to provide rapid testing services for future passengers to curb the spread of the highly infectious virus on airplanes, president director Irfan Setiaputra told a hearing with House of Representatives Commission VI on Wednesday.“There is a plan that we, along with Angkasa Pura I, Angkasa Pura II and the air transport authority, will conduct [the COVID-19] rapid test for anyone [on] aircraft once flights [resume],” Irfan said, referring to the two state-owned airport operators.last_img read more

October 6

Palm Beach creekfront home has $2m price tag after being passed in at auction

first_imgAuctioneer Nigel Long in action. Photo: David Clark A crowd watches the auction of 45 Murlong St, Palm Beach. Photo: David Clark The property was passed in at $1.8 million on the weekend. Photo: David Clarkcenter_img A crowd gathered at the Ray White Broadbeach auction of 45 Murlong St, Palm Beach. Photo: David ClarkA PALM Beach creekfront property is on the market for $2 million after being passed in at auction on the weekend.The three-bedroom house at 45 Murlong Cres attracted a crowd of more than 50 people and six registered bidders according to Ray White Broadbeach agent Troy Fitzgerald.It was passed in at $1.8 million.But Mr Fitzgerald said he was confident the property would sell in coming weeks.“We’ve got negotiations going on now with a party and we’ve got a few other people who are interested,” he said.“There’s nothing on the market like it in Palm Beach.”More from news02:37Purchasers snap up every residence in the $40 million Siarn Palm Beach North10 hours ago02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa1 day agoThe creekfront property is on the market for $2 million after being passed in at auction on the weekend. Photo: David ClarkThe 655sq m property backs onto Tallebudgera Creek and features 30m of water frontage.The highest sale on Murlong Cres is $1.8 million in November 2016 for number 30.Tallebudgera Creek divides Burleigh Heads and Palm Beach. The median house price in Burleigh Heads is $725,000; in Palm Beach it is $706,000.last_img read more

September 29

Merchant navy fund converts longevity swap to £1.6bn buy-in

first_imgThe Merchant Navy Officers Pension Fund (MNOPF) has insured £1.6bn (€1.88bn) of members’ benefits after converting a pensioner longevity swap into a buy-in with Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC).The £1.6bn buy-in secures the pensions of around 14,000 members in the industry-wide pension scheme. The longevity swap was held between MNOPF and Pacific Life Re and dates back to 2014.Rory Murphy, chair of MNOPF, said the buy-in was positive for members and employers in the maritime and shipping industry but also contained “a positive message here for the wider pensions community”.“A well-run fund, with strong governance and expert advisers, can deliver valued and sustainable benefits to its members while successfully managing the risks and costs faced by its employers,” he said. To carry out the longevity swap in 2014 MNOPF set up an insurance “cell” company using a model offered by Willis Towers Watson, and those involved in the new de-risking transaction said it had benefitted from this structure.Andy Waring, CEO of MNOPF, said: “The trustee pioneered the use of a ‘ready-made’ Guernsey captive cell for the purposes of longevity hedging back in 2014 – one of the reasons for this was our view that it would make a future novation to buy-in easier and more efficient, which has proved to be the case.“Securing the benefits of our members has always been a significant part of the MNOPF journey plan. The buy-in with PIC is a great step forward to achieving this outcome.”Two month novation processAccording to Shelly Beard, senior director and deal lead at Willis Towers Watson, which advised MNOPF, the process to novate the longevity swap to an annuity was straightforward, taking less than two months.The buy-in is the third involving a conversion of a longevity swap that PIC has completed, which the specialist defined benefit insurer said signified growing appetite in the market for these types of deals.In November the Scottish Hydro-Electric Pension Scheme completed such a transaction, insuring £750m worth of liabilities with PIC. The other of the three deals has not been publicised.MNOPF was an early and significant adopter of innovative de-risking transactions, completing its first bulk annuity transaction back in 2009 and doing five further deals since then.CMS provided legal advice to PIC in respect of this transaction, and Pacific Life Re was advised by Hogan Lovells. Baker McKenzie provided legal advice to the trustee.last_img read more