Friday, December 18, 2009

See you in 2010!

See you in 2010.

Due to the mandatory system wide furloughs and scheduled holidays, UC San Diego and the Jacobs School of Engineering will be closed from December 19th through January 3rd. The campus will resume normal business operations on Monday, January 4th.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Brain Observatory

I finally got around to getting my brain around the Brain Observatory at UC San Diego. Jacopo Annese’s Brain Observatory has been all over the news all over the world...the attention peaked recently when Annese and his colleagues "voyaged through the brain of the most famous medical patient in the history of science, Patient H.M., acquiring anatomical images and collecting 2401 paper-thin tissue sections during a 53-hour procedure." (The quote is from the Brain Observatory Web site.)

The story has been all over the news, but I'm partial to Greg Miller's story (prior to the huge media deluge) in the news section of the journal Science...and not just because I used to work's a good story. You can read the PDF of the story at:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Technology for Licensing from UC San Diego Technology Transfer Office

I just got the latest email newsletter from the UC San Diego Technology Transfer Office, which includes links to new technologies available for licensing that were developed at UC San Diego.

Below, I have pasted the Engineering/Physical Sciences Technologies:

Engineering/Physical Sciences Technologies:

High-Efficiency, High-Linearity, Acoustic to Ultrasonic Power Amplifier for Low-Cost Underwater Modem Applications (SD2010-161 and SD2010-817)

A Zero Turn-On Voltage Rectifier for Efficient Wireless Power Supplies and Energy Harvesting (SD2010-135)

A New Method to Synchronize Data Streams Over a Local Area Network (SD2010-035)

Improved Perfusion Imaging Using MRI With Velocity-Selective Arterial Spin Labeling Without Spatial Selectivity (SD2001-175)

Residential Broadband Access (SD2004-122)

Measuring User-Experience in Mobile Gaming Environments (SD2010-171)

A Digitally Controlled High-Frequency, Low-Power, Pulse Width Modulator for Wireless Communications (SD2010-110)

GUSTO: General Architecture Design Utility and Synthesis Tool for Optimization (SD2010-170)

If you are interested in any of the technologies listed, email with the case number in the subject line.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Boeing Dreamliner Landing Gear Braces Tested at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

Jacobs School structural engineering professor Hyonny Kim led testing of the first-ever composite landing gear braces, which were used for the new Boeing 787 aircraft, which took off for the first time today. (New York Times story here.)

Kim is an associate professor in structural engineering at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering, and he led a team of researchers that performed six months of rigorous Federal Aviation Administration tests on the composite landing gear braces.

“This was a very important test,” Kim said. “The quality standards of the testing, and keeping track of the data and documentation (for FAA certification) is extremely high. For us, we had to improve our methods and processes to get to be able to perform at the FAA certification level and we did. We have proven that we can do this level of testing. We have the facility and equipment and capability to do it. What we hope with this project is to demonstrate to the aerospace industry that UC San Diego is capable of and can perform aerospace certification testing for future projects.”

French Aerospace company Messier-Dowty tapped into the expertise of structural engineering professor Hyonny Kim this year to test the strength and durability of the first-ever composite landing gear braces for the commercial aircraft industry.

Energy Efficient Computing on Multiple Scales

"Energy is one of the key issues to be solved in order for systems to work more efficiently," said UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering professor Tajana Simunic Rosing, who is leading MuSyC's Large-Scale Systems effort. "At a very small scale such as a brain-machine interface, without energy you cannot do anything at all. At a very large scale such as a data center, if you are not efficient about how you deal with energy, you go bankrupt."

This quote is from a Calit2 press release announcing Jacobs School computer science professor Tajana Simunic Rosing as one of the leaders of a new research center charged with finding ways to improve the design of computing systems ranging from large data centers to tiny brain sensors. In its first three years, the Multi-Scale Systems Center (MuSyC) will focus on tackling a critical issue affecting multiple scales: energy efficiency.

Doug Ramsey from Calit2 wrote the story. Read the full story on the Jacobs School of Engineering Web site, or on the Calit2 Web site.
Caption for above photo: MuSyC investigators at UCSD, pictured in front of Calit2's GreenLight Instrument modular data center, include (l-r) Rajesh Gupta, Tajana Simunic Rosing and Amin Vadhat. (Not pictured: SDSC's Allan Snavely)
I briefly covered this announcement in a story about Tajana Simunic Rosing's work on energy-efficient data centers in the latest Jacobs School alumni magazine, Pulse.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Albert Lin, a Materials Science alumnus named an adventurer of the year

Jacobs School alumnus Albert Lin (Ph.D. 2008)is one of the world's top adventurers, according to National Geographic Adventure magazine. Below are a couple of paragraphs from the Calit2 story on the award.
It’s not often that a materials scientist by training gets to be labeled one of the world’s top adventurers. But that’s the honor bestowed on Calit2 research scholar Albert Yu-Min Lin, 28, in the December 2009-January 2010 issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine. Lin is affiliated with Calit2’s Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3).

Lin earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering in 2008. After graduation, “his mother, a former Hong Kong movie star, and his father, an astrophysicist, both urged him to get on with things as soon as possible, to find a job that would allow him to eat more steak, less ramen,” writes Luke Dittrich in the feature article, “Conjuring the Great Khan”, that is part of NG Adventure’s cover story. “Instead, Lin decided to begin his post-[doctoral] graduate career by organizing a high-risk, high-stakes project, one that offered little stability and even less promise of success.”

Read the full story on the Calit2 Web site.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How big is a zettabyte?

How big is a zettabyte and why might you care? Calit2's Doug Ramsey recently wrote a story that looks at how much information Americans are taking in. It also explains just how big a zettabyte is and what zettabytes have to do with you. (The New York Times and many other outlets covered the story this week.)

"The average American consumes about 34 gigabytes of data and information each day — an increase of about 350 percent over nearly three decades — according to
a report published Wednesday by researchers at the University of California, San Diego," the NYTimes wrote.

In the Calit2 story
, Larry Smarr says:

"What is clear is that we consume orders of magnitude more information than can be stored on hard drives or transmitted over today's Internet," said Internet pioneer Larry Smarr, Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) and a computer science professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. "Even small changes in how Americans consume information would have serious implications for network planners and require large-scale investments."

Related Links

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Heart Mending with Stem Cells

Bioengineering professor Adam Engler and bioengineering Ph.D. student Jennifer Young landed in Technology Review today. Journalist Lauren Gravitz covered their presentation on Tuesday at ASCB 2009 where they reported advances in using embryonic stem cells (from chickens) to regenerate heart cells.

The big idea is that the bioengineers are working to re-create the physical consitions and cues within organisms that guide (at least in part) the differentiation process from stem cells to heart cells.

Read the Technology Review story here.

Read the Jacobs School of Engineering summary of the research here.

Below is related video from the Engler lab, which is part of UC San Diego's Institute of Engineering in Medicine.

Monday, December 7, 2009

KPBS covered Cell Phones, Sensors and Pollution Monitoring Story

Ed Joyce from KPBS, the San Dieog NPR station, ran a story on the new pollution monitoring system being developed by computer scientists at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Here is the cell phone and pollution monitoring story from KPBS.
BTW, you can follow Ed Joyce on Twitter at:

Friday, December 4, 2009

San Diegans, Cell Phones, Air Pollution Monitoring Network

“San Diego County has 3.1 million residents, 4,000 square miles, and only five official EPA air quality monitors. We know about the air quality in those exact spots but we know much less about the air quality in other places. Our goal is to give San Diegans up-to-the-minute environmental information about where they live, work and play—information that will empower anyone in the community to make healthier choices,” said William Griswold, the principal investigator on the grant and a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

So here is the deal: everyone has cell phones. What if those phones could be used to transmit environmental information collected by tiny, inexpensive sensors hanging from your backpack or board shorts...transmit that info to centralized computers that analyze it and send insights back to regular folks in real time?

That's the plan that computer scientists are putting into action now that they have a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Photo caption:
The CitiSense leadership team (l-r) includes computer science professor William Griswold, computer science professor Ingolf Krueger, School of Medicine/Calit2 professor Kevin Patrick, computer science professor Tajana Simunic Rosing, and computer science professor Hovav Shacham. (Not pictured: computer science professor Sanjoy Dasgupta).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sustainability Talk Tomorrow


Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at the CALIT2 Auditorium at Atkinson Hall, UC San Diego

Reception: 4:00 PM
Program: 4:30 PM

As we reach the beginning of December, there are looming signs that the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen will not reach an agreement. What lies ahead and how can we reach an agreement to stem the growth in emissions?

Join the Greenovation forum at UC San Diego to learn about a more sustainable approach to sustainability. We will discuss how sensor technology can help achieve sustainability at lower cost. The San Diego region is home to a number of promising sensor companies. Come and join the discussion about how sensor research and commercialization can pave the way for a more sustainable future!

The program will feature the following speakers:

Professor Larry Smarr, Director, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CALIT2) and computer science professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

Shimon Gersten, Chief Technology Officer, Talon Communications

Professor Jan Kleissl, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department

Professor Vish Krishnan, Rady School of Management

This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. For more information and to RSVP, visit

Systems Biology and Insulin Resistance

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego recently offered the sharpest-yet picture of how core biochemical pathways in skeletal muscle cells and fat cells are altered in people who suffer from insulin resistance—a primary defect in type 2 diabetes and obesity. Taking a systems biology approach, the bioengineers and medical researchers also determined how a common class of drugs for treating insulin resistance—TZDs—alter these same core pathways. This led the team to uncover previously unknown effects of TZDs and insights that could lead to improved drug therapies for insulin resistance.

The team—led by investigators from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and School of Medicine—recently published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“When you are insulin resistant, your metabolism suffers. If you take a TZD for your insulin resistance, will the drug fix the dysfunction in muscle and fat tissues? Will these changes be functionally related to drug efficacy? These are some of the questions we addressed in our new study,” say UC San Diego faculty members Dr. Shankar Subramaniam and Dr. Dorothy Sears, co-corresponding authors of the new paper. The collaborative project involved Dr. Subramaniam’s Bioinformatics and Systems Biology laboratory in the Department of Bioengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering, Dr. Sears and her colleagues in the Department of Medicine, and Pfizer, Inc.