Friday, October 31, 2008

Clean Tech Awards Ceremony

Last night was clean-tech night in San Diego. The Jacobs School's von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurship put on a great event to honor the three local clean tech research projects that are receiving seed funding from the Clean Tech Innovation Challenge--a partnership between the City of San Diego, UC San Diego’s William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and San Diego State University (SDSU).

The program is designed to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies out of university labs as part of the city’s goal to promote the growth of the local clean tech industry. Program participants include faculty from UC San Diego, SDSU, University of San Diego and Alliant International University. Qualcomm, Inc. co-sponsored the first grant awards.

In the photo at the top of the blog post (left to right): Frieder Seible Dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering; San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders; and Terry Moore, Executive Director, Morrison & Foerster Venture Network. (Morrison & Foerster sponsored the party...thanks!)

Two of the three university-based clean tech research projects that are receiving Innovation Challenge funding are from UC San Diego:

Paul Yu, Electrical and Computer Engineering professor, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering
project: Multiple Quantum Wells for Solar Spectral Concentrator and Optical Energy Transport Technology

Yu Qiao,
Structural Engineering professor, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering:
project: Developing Ultrahigh-Efficiency Thermal-Energy Harvesting Materials

John J. Love, Professor,
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, San Diego State University

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Clock that Breeds

Bioengineering professor Jeff Hasty recently published a Nature paper describing the first fast, robust genetic clock that works inside living E. coli cells.

Technology Review's Emily Singer also covered this Nature paper here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

San Diego Wireless History

Going through piles of paper on my desk just now, I uncovered this great story from the Union Tribune from January 2008 by Jonathan Sidener and Kathryn Balint entitled,

Well-connected from the start
San Diego's bustling wireless industry can trace its roots to one local company
It's a great read.

BTW, Balint is no longer at the San Diego Union Tribune. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is President and CEO of CropMom Corporation, a digital scrapbooking site.

Bad Times a Good Time for Tech?

Microsoft's Craig Mundie visited UC San Diego on Friday Oct 10, in order to connect with Jacobs School students and faculty as well as univeristy administrators.

After Mundie's tech demo, he sat down with Alex Pham from the Los Angeles Times, which resulted in a Q&A. Read the full Q&A here. The final question is below.

Do you see a problem with the quality of American computer science graduates?

It is a serious problem, especially in the U.S. For us, our raw materials are smart people. Our culture for the last few decades does little to celebrate engineers and scientists and a lot to celebrate entertainers and athletes.

Parents in the U.S. also are just more decoupled from the academic interests of their kids. They are less demanding of their kids academically and perhaps even encouraging their kids into whatever the parents see as the quickest way to make a lot of money. Taken together, that is creating a somewhat acute shortage of American kids growing up with any passion for math and science.

There is a silver lining in this economic turmoil. Perhaps fewer of our best students will now go to Wall Street. Maybe some will even stay and build things. We need smart people to tackle the hard, long-term problems society faces. It can't be done by politicians and entertainers. It's going to be done by engineers and scientists.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Proteins...Putting them Back Together (Algorithmically)

UC San Diego computer scientists just received an NIH grant to help clean up "the mass spec data mess". (San Diego Untion Tribune clip here)

It's easy to blast apart proteins with mass spectrometers and generate huge amounts of data comprised of all the little protein pieces. It is much harder to put those pieces back together in order to figure out what proteins (and protein modifications) are present in biological samples such as blood and tumors.) UCSD engineers are doing just that...using computational tools, and they just secured an almost $5M NIH grant to keep up the good work and create the software and cyberinfrastructure to enable scientists around the world to take advantage of their algorithmic breakthroughs. More info below and at the links provided.

UC San Diego engineers and scientists have received a five-year $4.94M grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of NIH, to develop algorithms and software for deciphering all the proteins that are present in biological samples. This “proteomics” work promises to revolutionize routine blood tests, vaccine development, cancer diagnostics, and many other
important biomedical challenges, says Pavel Pevzner, the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering computer science professor leading the project. (Read the UCSD release here and the NIH press release here)

"Unanalyzed data from mass spectrometers is piling up in laboratories around the world. Our algorithms can turn much of these ‘dark’ data into the lists of modified proteins that researchers are looking for,” says Nuno Bandeira, the first executive director of the Center for Computational Mass Spectrometry at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering.

Key collaborators on the new grant are Jacobs School of Engineering computer science professors Vineet Bafna and Ingolf Krueger as well as Steven Briggs, a professor of biology at UCSD’s Division of Biological Sciences.

Genetic Engineering News also picked up the story.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nano-Bio-Electronics at the Jacobs School

Joseph Wang, an extremely prolific and influential engineer and chemist joined the Jacobs School faculty this summer. He joined our NanoEngineering Department which got its start in 2007.

Joseph Wang, was the most cited engineer from 1991 to 2001 and consistently one of the world’s most cited engineers and chemists.

Check out his lab webpage, or jump here for an idea of what nanobioelectronics is all about.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Structural Engineering Startup Grabs Venture Funding

AgileNano, a Jacobs School of Engineering structural engineering startup that is commercializing technology from the laboratories of Yu Qiao recently received funding from the Tech Coast Angels. Professor Qiao is the CTO and Jacobs School PhD Candidate Nicole Justis Truitt is the VP of Research and Development at Agile Nano.

I picked up this story from Xconomy San Diego. Thanks Bruce!

Nicole Justis Truitt was one of the co-founders of UCSD's Triton Innovation Network $50k Entrepreneurship Competition, which is currently called the UC San Diego Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Microsoft's Craig Mundie Came to UC San Diego

The students who came to see Craig Mundie were captivated by Microsoft Surface, a tabletop computing surface that allows several users to work independently or together without a mouse or a keyboard.

The grad students who showed off their posters and then participated in a roundtable with Mundie got to see into the inner workings of Microsoft Research that doesn't get covered in the fun demos.

Watch Calit2's Webcast here. See more photos from the event on Calit2's Flikr photostream.

Read the story on the Jacobs School Web site here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fat Study. Bioinformatics Core.

The bioengineers at UCSD are hard core. They consistently rank at the very very top of the national rankingings. The new chair of the department, Shankar Subramaniam, is putting that hard-core ethic into the "bioinformatics core" of a UCSD-led inititative to study how the role that fat plays in diabetes, stroke, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and many other ailments.

The Union Tribune ran a great story on the project, which just received an additional $38M in funding.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Upside-down Undwerwater Slime-Supported Transport

Upside-down Undwerwater Slime-Supported Transport...the newest ride at the biggest amusement park less than a day's drive from your house? Nope. More like, a series of academic papers from Jacobs School mechanical engineering professor Eric Lauga.

The latest paper, called “Crawling Beneath the Free Surface: Water Snail Locomotion” appears in the journal Physics of Fluid.

Check out the press release and video here.