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NAE Selects Campus Newcomer
Noel MacDonald, who joined the College of Engineering faculty during the winter quarter, has been elected a member of the selective National Academy of Engineering (NAE). MacDonald holds a joint professorial appointment in the departments of mechanical and environmental engineering and in materials.
“For his contributions to the development of the scanning auger microprobe and micromachine microinstruments, Professor Noel MacDonald has just been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering,” said Chancellor Henry Yang. “UCSB is excited and honored to have Noel join our faculty. We are also pleased that Noel will be expected to hold the title of Fred Kavli Chair in MicroElectroMechanical Systems.”
Engineering Dean Matthew Tirrell noted that with MacDonald’s election 14 out of a total college faculty of 110 are NAE members. “UCSB is among the top five research institutions in terms of per capita membership in the National Academy of Engineering,” said Tirrell. “We knew Noel MacDonald was a world leader in microsystems technology. We were eager to have him join us, and are delighted that he has received this well-deserved recognition.”
Two years ago, MacDonald took a leave of absence from Cornell University, where he had directed their nanofabrication facility, to direct the federal Microsystems Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The job gave MacDonald a bird’s eye view of high-tech research across America.
Instead of returning to Cornell when he left Washington, MacDonald said he decided to relocate because of “the excellence of the existing nanofabrication, compound semiconductor, fluidics, and optics research groups at UCSB.”
UCSB is one of the five universities participating in the National Nanofabrication Users Network, which MacDonald directed in 1996. The other universities are Cornell, Howard, Penn State, and Stanford.
The scale of measurement for MicroElectroMechanical
Systems (MEMS) is the micrometer, one millionth of a meter. The scale of
measurement for nanotechnology
Asked what he intends to do here MacDonald said, “I envision my contribution, along with other faculty and staff, as the creation of a microsystems technology research and teaching program.” He sees microsystems research as a quintessentially interdisciplinary endeavor.
“My personal view is that during the next 20 years the really fun things are going to happen at the boundaries of the engineering and science disciplines,” he said.
—Reported by Jackie Savani
By Vic Cox
A limited program to better service UCSB enrollees of the UC Care medical plan by smoothing informational access to UCLA Medical Center physicians will take effect on Wednesday, March 15, announced Chancellor Henry Yang and Academic Senate Chair Richard Watts last week in a letter to the campus. If the pilot is successful, the program’s creators hope the service will be extended to members of other campus medical plans.
The project, which allows approximately 2,500 UC Care subscribers and their family members two consultation visits a calendar year at UCLA, is expected to run for a year. It will then be evaluated to decide if it should continue, explained Tricia Hiemstra, Human Resources’ benefits manager.
The pilot covers initial visits, not treatments, and does not include behavioral health benefits. Its chief value to enrollees is thought to be the expanded pool of medical specialists who can be asked for second opinions or confirmation about a diagnosis; treatment alternatives to be explored; and increased medical information on a given condition.
Each consultation, which costs $40, will be coordinated through a liaison office at UCLA Medical Center. A “Request for Consult” form, which will be offered on March 15 and afterwards, is expected to be available on-line (<http://hr.ucsb.edu/Benefits>) and from the Benefits Office. This form, which will be sent to the UCLA Liaison for the Pilot Program, starts the process for selecting a physician, scheduling an appointment, and coordinating claim payments.
A brochure explaining the program is available from benefits and Hiemstra has e-mailed a description to UCSB departments. In her memo she noted that since the UC Care plan requires an annual deductible, enrollees who have met that deductible may find the self-referral option under Tier-2 less expensive than the project’s fee.
“This pilot program is a first step,” said David Sheldon, vice chancellor, administrative services. “My hope is that this medical option at UCLA can be extended to other campus health care plan subscribers. I believe the UCSB/UCLA pilot provides a highly desirable option for access to UCLA.”
Sheldon, Hiemstra, and Watts are part of a large group extending to the UC office of Judith Boyette, associate vice president for employee benefits, that worked to make this step possible. Initially as chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee (FWC), Watts has been directly involved for four years in efforts to ease access to UCLA for UCSB employees. “I followed the groundwork of former committee Chair Steve DeCanio,” he said, noting that DeCanio went on to chair the Universitywide FWC.
“Local medical providers, the UCLA Medical Center, the insurance companies, and UCOP all played roles in moving toward this positive outcome,” he said. Watts singled out Chancellor Yang for his “diligent efforts,” adding that in his experience with the UC system “no other chancellor has devoted nearly so much personal effort to assure improved health care benefits for campus employees.”
Ultrasound May Open Door to Blood Tests without Needles.
Ultrasound can be used to test blood sugar levels, according to research reported in this month’s issue of Nature Medicine. This holds the promise that in a few years needles may no longer be needed to test for some substances in the blood, suggested Samir Mitragotri, UCSB assistant professor of chemical engineering and one of the authors of the paper.
The new method pioneered by Mitragotri and his associates uses sound waves to open up tiny pores in the skin through which a small amount of fluid is extracted. Sugar (glucose) in the sample is then measured and used to analyze glucose in the blood. This method is particularly relevant for people with type I diabetes—about 1 million Americans—who draw blood three to four times a day to measure their glucose levels to determine if an insulin injection is needed.
One big question that was answered affirmatively in the reported research was whether the minuscule bit of interstitial fluid acquired through the ultrasound technique contains glucose in amounts representative of that found in the patient’s blood. The results of the clinical trials in Boston showed excellent correlation between ultrasonically measured glucose levels and those measured by conventional methods.
“The method reported in Nature Medicine allows a painless and bloodless way of determining blood glucose levels,” said Mitragotri, who performed the research at MIT before joining the UCSB engineering faculty in January.
In the new method, low-frequency ultrasound, at a rate much less than that used for fetal diagnostics, is applied to the patient’s skin for about two minutes. The sound waves cause microbubbles to form and burst, which opens up tiny pores in the thin upper layer of skin so that it becomes permeable. The condition persists for 15 hours after ultrasound application.
The long duration of skin permeability enables the repeated testing of interstitial fluid before ultrasound need again be applied. In the clinical trials reported in Nature Medicine, samples were taken every half hour by suctioning. This technique has now been refined so that passive oozing can be used.
Interstitial fluid was also found to be a good substitute for determining blood levels of triglycerides, urea, and calcium. Another substance that could be detected—but not yet correlated to blood levels—in the fluid sample was theophylline, a medication used in the treatment of asthma.
Currently, Mitragotri’s research focuses on making a device that combines diagnostics with drug delivery. This device, which may be worn as a wristwatch, will first test blood levels of glucose and, on the basis of the results, deliver an appropriate dose of insulin. It will also track those levels so that the patient can determine whether the level is moving up or down.
A simpler device to test only blood glucose levels is now being developed by Sontra Medical in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mitragotri, who helped found the company in 1998, hopes to have the product ready in three to five years. It will require approval of the Food and Drug Administration before being marketed.
—Reported by Jacki Savani
By a vote of 400 in favor and 28 against, the UCSB Academic Senate’s mail ballot approved the Faculty Legislature’s Feb. 3 request to slow the planning for stop lights on Highway 217. The results were announced at last Thursday’s Faculty Legislature session.
The show of support capped a month of often furious activity on the questions surrounding proposed changes to Highway 217. The chancellor’s Highway 217 Review Committee received the reports of its traffic and urban planning consultants, e-mailed updates to faculty and staff, met with Santa Barbara County planners and engineers, and posted documents on its Web site (www.instadv.ucsb.edu/217), including the preliminary traffic findings of Irvine-based HNTB Corp.
The traffic consultants’ report analyzed the county’s proposed expressway with road extensions and signalized intersections and suggested alternatives. Among the key findings were that automobile accidents are likely to increase significantly, even with a reduced speed limit; the Fowler Road extension and intersection would divert so little traffic from Hollister that its cost does not seem justified; and delays caused by the two proposed signal lights would cost travelers time valued at as much as $1.2 million a year.
Barton Myers, UCLA professor of architecture and urban design, was hired as the review committee’s urban planning consultant. His report pointed out that Highway 217 is the City of Santa Barbara’s main link to the campus as well as vice versa. “The ease of connection and the degree of accessibility to UCSB are a matter of both travel time and psychological attitudes, both of which are best served by a freeway,” he wrote. He urged the campus to preserve its ties to the city while developing better connections to Goleta.
In a Feb. 29 open letter to Chancellor Henry Yang, Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall promised that “County personnel will work with University personnel to develop a Highway 217 design that is acceptable to the University, while achieving the goals of the Goleta Old Town Revitalization Plan.” She said the consultants’ conclusions would be incorporated into the final design.
Ecologist Scott Cooper, review committee chair, called Marshall’s commitment “a genuine shift in position that is immensely positive...(W)e appreciate the flexibility the county has shown in recent weeks. I honestly believe that we are now working together, something I would not have said in December.”
More to Discuss Than Meets the Eye
By Francis Dunn
As a Goleta resident and lover of open spaces, I am troubled by the superficial discussion of proposed changes to Ward Memorial Boulevard (Highway 217). Important issues are involved that will affect Goleta for years to come.
Communications from the campus Highway 217 Review Committee have begun to address some of these issues, but the campus community as a whole needs to be more fully aware of their implications.
Yes, the campus community should have been consulted more directly, and yes, traffic lights will cause inconvenience. But there are very good reasons to support some form of the proposed changes.
Personally, I would love to see a moratorium on all new development in Goleta. In two years the area has gone from being a mixture of suburbia, small farms, and open spaces to an almost unbroken, Ventura-like sprawl. Unfortunately a moratorium will never happen, and we face two alternatives: Either the sprawl continues to gobble up farms and open lands, or development is diverted to redevelopment—building instead on empty, abandoned, or underutilized land. This is the reason intersections have been proposed for Highway 217.
Developers will not be diverted from those beautiful, wide-open spaces unless the empty acres in Old Town Goleta are easy for customers to get to. And they won’t be easy to get to unless there are intersections on Highway 217. So the issue is not really about the inconvenience of commuters. It is about priorities.
Should we spend the additional millions, or tens of millions, to build overpasses and avoid the use of traffic lights? Should we scrap the intersections altogether and give a green light to further sprawl? Or should we put up with one or two minutes more commuting time in exchange for a wiser course of development? These are the issues we should be discussing.
Of course in the long term, these are not the only alternatives. If Santa Barbara annexes the Goleta Valley, its slow-growth laws will check development. But annexation is unlikely to happen, and is many years away if it does. In the meantime, we need to ask ourselves if some inconvenience is the price we will pay to slow down the sprawl that is overwhelming our community.
Francis Dunn is an associate professor in the Department of Classics, and an avid hiker and gardener.
New Cross-Disciplinary Center to Study Information Society
By Bill Schlotter
We become more aware each day of all that information
technology can do for us. What we don’t know yet is what information technology
is doing to us. How does this bold, new technology affect us as individuals,
as citizens, as families, and as societies?
“In the coming decades, the use of information technology and new communication capacity will dramatically alter commerce, culture, identity, social structures, politics, and the relationships between nations,” said Bruce Bimber, professor of political science and director of the new Center for Information Technology and Society. “The pace of these changes will likely outstrip those of any historical period, including the Industrial Revolution.”
As structured, the center will divide its studies into several areas: It is building wired classroom environments, to study information technology in the learning process. It is studying communication in distributed organizations, and also how information technology affects civic interaction and the structure of society. Finally, it is studying how information technology affects values and culture.
To undertake such diverse research, the center has enlisted the services of faculty from many scholarly disciplines. The center is a collaboration among the College of Engineering and the College of Letters and Science’s divisions of social sciences and of humanities and life sciences. Represented departments include computer science, political science, psychology, electrical and computer engineering, sociology, anthropology, communication, and English.
Such a full-spectrum approach to studying information technology issues makes the center special.
“Many departments at other universities do research
regarding the impact of the Internet on their particular field,” Bimber
said. “Most of those are confined to one or two disciplines. Our goal is
to succeed by being the broadest and most integrative center.”
The center has plans for conferences, workshops and speakers, fellowships for researchers, grants, and collaborations with corporations.
Formation of the Center is being underwritten by a founding gift by the Dialogic Corporation, an Intel Company. Dialogic Vice President Charles House is chairman of the center’s Industrial Advisory Committee.
‘Digital Gazetteer’ Dream Moves Another Step Toward Reality
By Gail Brown
Zoom into any spot on the face of the Earth and find out what exists there, from hospitals to parks, even retrieve old photographs of the place. It’s a dream that is being brought into reality by geographers from around the world. Add to this the ability to find the right spot by place name and you have a digital gazetteer.
UCSB is playing a major role in the development of digital gazetteers through the National Science Foundation-funded Alexandria Digital Library Project (ADL). The major players are the departments of computer science, geography, and the Davidson Library.
The gazetteer is an emerging tool that gives access to vast amounts of information through place names, according to Linda L. Hill, research specialist with the ADL. It’s a way to connect place names to coordinates of latitude and longitude, to informational text, to photographs, and to many other types of information, she said.
“The digital gazetteer is a tool to link place names to digital representations of those places,” said Hill. “It is a powerful concept in ‘georeferenced’ information. It georeferences place names with latitude and longitude, coordinates and links them to images, data, text, and many other types of information.” It can also categorize places by type so that, for example, schools, hospitals, and parks can be identified in a given area, explained Hill.
The digital gazetteer is an essential component of the federal government’s Digital Earth Initiatives, according to Hill. “The concept is to pick any spot on the face of the Earth, and to be able to find out all there is to know, including maps, satellite images, statistics, county plans, environmental impact statements, historical information, even the location of restaurants.”
A major step toward turning gazetteers into reality took place last fall at a workshop at the Smithsonian Institution. Its report is now on the Internet at http://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/gazetteer/dgie/DGIE_website/DGIE_homepage.htm. Going there will bring up the Digital Gazetteer Information Exchange Workshop (DGIE) and links to on-line gazetteers, including the ADL gazetteer.
The workshop on the potential of indirect spatial referencing of information resources through geographic names was largely the initiative of Hill and members of the Alexandria Digital Library Project, and geographer Michael Goodchild, professor and chair of the UCSB Geography Department. Other groups that helped convene DGIE included the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and a set of federal agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Imagery & Mapping Agency, the U.S. Census, and NASA.
By Bill Schlotter
In listening to the popular music of the past century, one gets the impression composers have spent much of the past 100 years trying to fill the world with silly love songs.
But how many of those popular tunes really deal with a healthy, shared love?
Not many, according to Thomas Scheff, UCSB professor emeritus of sociology, who has studied the lyrics of Top 40 love songs written between 1930 and 1999. And the kinds of emotions those songs express say some interesting things about our society, Scheff says.
“I think these lyrics reveal increasing alienation in our society,” says Scheff.
They also reveal that the modern definition of love—at least as pop music composers see it—has been distorted to include behavior more accurately described as obsession and suffering, he said.
Scheff is studying the lyrics of about 9,000 songs. He chose one sample year from each decade and divided the top 40 songs of that year into categories based on their content.
Heartbreak—“wanting someone you no longer have”—was the largest of Scheff’s four divisions. “It was the largest in each sample year all through the 70-year period,” he said.
Infatuation—“attraction to someone you don’t have or might not even know”—was the second-largest group.
Scheff lumped several types of romance songs into a miscellaneous division that wound up third in number of inclusions.
Finally, he created the category of love—“reciprocated attraction”—and found it to be the smallest group of all, with less than 20 percent of all entries.
Scheff found the definitions as troubling as the results. He feels heartbreak and infatuation songs, in particular, are not really about love. “These songs are about obsession and compulsion,” he said.
“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I’ve got to get you into my life. “It’s mostly about the self-absorption and suffering of one individual. To mix that up with love is very strange.”
Examples of infatuation songs cited by Scheff include Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” Phil Collins’ “Every Breath You Take,” and The Beatles’ “Got to Get You into My Life.”
Heartbreak songs used as examples are “All Out of Love” by Air Supply, “Can’t Let Go” by Mariah Carey, and “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men.
Lyrics expressing genuine love usually focus, in part, on the one who is loved, Scheff said. Most feelings expressed by the singer about himself are good feelings. And where the world of the infatuated or heartbroken person is tightly focused on obsession and pain to the exclusion of all else, the world of the loved is expanded.
Examples of such songs are “Almost Like Being in Love,” where the singer proclaims, “There’s a smile on my face for the whole human race,” and “What a Wonderful World,” with its lyric “I hear babies cry, I watch them grow; they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
Scheff had other observations based on his study, which will continue.
He found that over the past 70 years, popular music has been getting more complicated while the lyrics have grown more simplistic. And he has noted that, particularly in the ’90s, lyrics have become more explicit and profane.
Nonetheless, love—however one defines it—remains the abiding interest of songwriters. Among the Top 40, all other human interests and passions are the inspiration for just one song in four.
Ice-Climbing One of the Challenges Physicist Uses to Keep Focus in Life
By Vic Cox
A childhood spent hiking and rock climbing in Utah’s Wasatch mountains was Steve Giddings’ introduction to what became a passion for climbing vertical mountainsides and solid ice formations. As a UCSB theoretical particle physicist he is also deeply involved in solving puzzles posed by black holes in space.
It seems that Giddings likes his challenges tall and deep.
Certainly he had plenty to challenge him as he scaled the pillar of ice in the accompanying photograph, which was taken last year at Ouray Gorge, outside Telluride, Colorado. He had rappelled from the gorge’s rim down about 150 feet and was hacking his way back up the ice formation, planting ice screws for his safety line.
Wielding an ice ax in each fist, which is standard equipment on this terrain, and kicking foot-holds in the pillar with crampon-lined boots required skill and judgment as well as strength. “Sometimes the chandelier-structured ice [seen at right of picture] has air pockets,” Giddings explained. Screws properly set in solid ice can hold thousands of pounds, he estimated, but those set in slush or air pockets are unreliable.
When planning a climb, be it on rock or ice, Giddings said that he not only wants to be physically fit but to know the conditions of the climbing surface and of the weather. He chooses his equipment to suit those conditions, and above all is conscious of keeping the climb as safe as possible for himself and his companions.
“There is inherent risk in climbing, but you take steps to keep those risks reasonable,” he said. He has fallen while climbing, but his ropes saved him from serious injury.
Giddings finds a number of parallels between climbing and his work in theoretical physics. “You have to be extremely focused when you are doing either,” he mused, “and each tests your analytical and problem-solving skills.”
Some would point out that a misstep in a calculation is not as dangerous as one on an ice sheet. “There are perils there, too,” Giddings replies. He also sees beauty in both disciplines. “Nature is extremely beautiful at many levels.”
He adds he knows a number of UCSB scientists who also climb, including Nicola Hill, assistant professor of materials.
In the end, Giddings pits himself against the mountains because “climbing reminds me of what is important. It constantly readjusts one’s perspective on life and has many lessons to teach, the survival value of humility being one of them.”
Asked to elaborate, he said,”Go beyond your abilities and you will fall. You can get away with being over-bold for a while, but something usually happens to remind you [there are limits].”
Regents Lecturers Sought
La Patera Endowment Grows
Vivarium Changes Name
Honors & Awards
|Lou Anne Palius, office manager for the
Geological Sciences Department, has been presented with the Sheriff’s Community
Spirit Award for founding and leading an advocacy group for victims of
domestic violence in the Santa Ynez and Lompoc areas.
|Muriel Zimmerman, senior lecturer in the Writing Program, has been honored as Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, the largest professional organization in the field. The technical writing expert and author ran the UCSB Writing Program from 1991-98.|
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|After three years as interim chief, David
Gonzales has been selected director of physical facilities for the
Facilities Management Department. He also served 15 years as campus labor
relations officer and has a law degree.
|Hazra Abdool Kamal, formerly an accountant with The UCSB Foundation, has been appointed financial officer for the UCSB Alumni Association. She replaces Jan Copeland, who retired after 25 years of UCSB service.|
|Patricia Morrison, formerly management services officer for development, is the new office manager for the Chicano Studies Department. She spent nearly 11 years in the Institutional Advancement Division, mostly with public affairs, before her transfer.|
|Barbra Ortiz, former employment analyst for Human Resources, is now special projects coordinator for the Student Affairs Division. She recently concluded a voter registration drive.|
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