Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nurture Affects Gender Differences in Math Abilities, Researcher Says

Nurture plays an important role in shaping math abilities for both men and women, says Moshe Hoffman, a postdoctoral researcher with a joint appointment at the Jacobs School of Engineering and Rady School of Management. That's the conclusion that Hoffman and his Rady School adviser, Uri Gneezy, reached after conducting an extensive study published earlier this year in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hoffman will present his findings during a talk at 2 p.m. today at the Qualcomm Conference Room at Jacobs Hall.

His study already has generated a wave of media coverage. Some examples below:
Time Magazine
The Wall Street Journal

Also, here is the abstract of the paper:
Women remain significantly underrepresented in the science, engineering, and technology workforce. Some have argued that spatial ability differences, which represent the most persistent gender differences in the cognitive literature, are partly responsible for this gap. The underlying forces at work shaping the observed spatial ability differences revolve naturally around the relative roles of nature and nurture. Although these forces remain among the most hotly debated in all of the sciences, the evidence for nurture is tenuous, because it is difficult to compare gender differences among biologically similar groups with distinct nurture. In this study, we use a large-scale incentivized experiment with nearly 1,300 participants to show that the gender gap in spatial abilities, measured by time to solve a puzzle, disappears when we move from a patrilineal society to an adjoining matrilineal society. We also show that about one-third of the effect can be explained by differences in education. Given that none of our participants have experience with puzzle solving and that villagers from both societies have the same means of subsistence and shared genetic background, we argue that these results show the role of nurture in the gender gap in cognitive abilities.

Here is the full text of the paper. 

Make sure to stop by and listen in!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Jacobs School Photo Booth at UC San Diego Founders' Day Celebration

Here are some of our favorite photos from the Jacobs School of Engineering photo booth at the UC San Diego Founders' Day celebration. We asked people to draw or write down "What will be the next big innovation or invention?"

Renewable energy, health care and space travel / teleporting were popular, but answers spanned a wide range of topics. What will be the next big innovation or invention? How will it change the world? Your life? (Feel free to leave answers in the comments section, or on our Facebook page:

High resolution versions of these and more photos are on the Jacobs School of Engineering Flickr photostream. Even more photos from the photo booth are on our Facebook page.

A special thanks to Dr. Shu Chien for participating!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Join Us at Founders' Day

Founders' Day is tomorrow and we hope you'll come to see us at our affinity booth. We want you to tell us what will be the next big innovation or invention that will change the world--and your life. You can draw or write your answer at our booth. We'll take your picture and post it on Facebook.
We'll be on Town Square starting at 11:30 a.m. Food trucks offering free food--that's right, we said free food--will be on hand starting at 12:30 p.m. There also will be a short program from noon to 12:30 p.m., including remarks by Prof. Adam Engler, from the department of bioengineering. See you there!

Founders' Day Fun this Friday, Nov 18, 2011

Founders' Day fun tomorrow. Check out the Jacobs School of Engineering booth. (Details on Founders' Day in the Union Tribune.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

DARPA Challenge Comes to UC San Diego

Every few years the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) holds a public competition to stretch the outer limits of what technology can do. Two years ago they dispersed 10 large, red weather balloons at undisclosed locations across the U.S. The celebrated 2009 DARPA Network Challenge to find the balloons was solved in just nine hours by a team from MIT. Now, Manuel Cebrian, a member of that winning team, is aiming for a repeat win – only this time, the challenge is exponentially harder.
According to Dr. Cebrian – who is now a research scientist at the University of California, San Diego – instead of just looking for 10 balloons, the new DARPA Shredder Challenge’s ultimate puzzle involves piecing together roughly 10,000 pieces of different documents that have been shredded. “This is almost certainly the most challenging puzzle ever created,” said Cebrian. “A combinatorial number of possibilities makes the problem intractable by computer algorithms alone. A combination of crowd-sourcing and advanced computer-vision algorithms is necessary. This is exactly our approach.”
Interested in participating or to learn more? Visit the UCSD Shredder Challenge Team online at, or contact the UCSD team at

Fallen Star Hoist Videos

Learn more:

Also, check out a great view of Fallen Star from Octocopter. Learn about the Octocopter project on the Octocopter site at the National Geographic Society.

Untitled from Radley Angelo on Vimeo.

A great video montage from UCSD-TV

Here is another view of the Fallen Star hoist from Bucky.

And a great Fallen Star with shadow pic:

Baby blue siding

They seem to be getting close to hoisting this house clad in baby blue siding.

- Mobile Post

9:30 AM Fallen Star UC San Diego Stuart Collection

It looks like they are testing out the hoisting harness...but I'm no expert.

Learn more about the project:  Fallen Star to Land on Campus this Fall

Fallen Star 9 AM photos

Jacobs School Robot in the Headlines

iFling, a robot developed by Prof. Tom Bewley's Coordinated Robotics Lab, has been grabbing the spotlight this past week. It has been featured on MSNBC's Future of Technology blog, the popular website Gizmodo and the Automaton blog at IEEE Spectrum.
The robot is designed to pick up standard-size ping-pong balls off the floor and fling them across the room (hence the iFling name), all while standing upright and balancing on two wheels, Segway-style. It is currently going through its third design iteration. It could be automated to create teams of bots playing catch together. Or it could be built on a bigger scale and fling tennis balls, baseballs and volleyballs. It could even work without an operator. But bloggers seemed particularly excited by the possibility of iFling becoming dogs' best friend.
A video produced by Bewley's lab showing off iFling's moves had received more than 37,000 views as of Wednesday morning. Watch it for yourself to see what this little robot can do:

Monday, November 7, 2011

New Building: Structural & Materials Engineering Building / Panel Discussion Nov 8

Nov 08, 2011 7pm - 8:50pm - Special Event: SME Building Panel Discussion

Speaker: SME Building Panel 
Location: Center Hall, Room 101
Come learn about the future home for the Department of Structural Engineering, Department of Nanoengineering, Department of Visual Arts and Medical Devices Group. The Structural and Materials Engineering Building (SME) is nearing completion and many parties have been involved in the design-build process from start to finish. Hear about the the dynamic interaction of the various team members (designers, architects, owners, construction managers, and inspectors) required to successfully complete the project. The event will begin with presentations from Safdie Rabines (Architect's point of view), Englekirk Structural Engineering (Design Engineer's point of view), UCSD Facilities Design & Construction (Owner's and Inspector's points of view), and Mortenson Construction (Project Manager's point of view). A question and answer period will follow the presentations.

Don't miss out on this exciting opportunity to learn about your future home!

Contact for Event

Lindsay Walton
Phone: 858-822-3273
Email: lwalton@ucsd.ed

World Premier: Forbidden Tomb of Genghis Khan

What: World Premier: Forbidden Tomb of Genghis Khan at Calit2, UC San Diego.

A National Geographic Expedition Documentary featuring
Calit2 Research Scientist, Albert Yu‐Min Lin, PhDA National Geographic Expedition Documentary
featuring Calit2 Research Scientist, Albert Yu‐Min Lin, PhD (and a Jacobs School of Engineering

When: Wednesday, November 9, 2011. 7PM Documentary, 8PM Panel Discussion with the Expedition Team.

Where: Calit2 Auditorium, Atkinson Hall | University of California San Diego

Forbidden Tomb of Genghis Khan will also be featured on the National Geographic Channel
Wednesday, November 9 at the following times: at 9pm EST, 8pm CT, 7pm MT, 9pm PT, 8pm AK, 7pm HI

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jacobs School Alumna Named One of the Top 10 Women to Watch in Tech

Congratulations to CSE alumna Jennifer Arguello, who was recently named one of the Top 10 Women to Watch in Tech by the website Femmeonomics. Arguello landed in the number two spot and was labeled a "stereotype buster." According to the website, Arguello "is a product manager on the apps team at Mozilla, helping to define the next generation of apps and the future of the web. On the technical side, her project is about contributing to web standards by pushing the boundaries of what the web can do today."
See the Top 10 list here.
There's also a Top 50 list you can browse.
You can also visit Arguello's website here. She is a lifetime member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, where she serves on the organization's national board of directors. She also serves on the alumni advisory board for the CSE department at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Nanoengineer Runs the New York Marathon

Dan Kagan usually can be found crafting nano-scale rockets that can detect cancer cells, isolate proteins and provide targeted drug delivery in a lab here at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. But this Sunday, he'll face another challenge: he is running in the New York City Marathon.

Kagan grew up 20 miles outside the city and said he always wanted to run that race. He has run the San Diego and Austin marathon in past years. "I am very excited," he said. 
Kagan is a Ph.D. bioengineering student in professor Joseph Wang’s Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics in the department of nanoengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering. His research focuses on nano-scale motors that can be propelled in a variety of ways. To develop some of the nanorockets in Wang’s lab, he exploited a relationship between a solution’s silver ion concentration and the speed of gold and platinum nanowires for sensing nucleic acids. He also found a way to make binding to biological targets, such as DNA and RNA, more effective by using microrockets propelled by oxygen bubbles. The motors and rockets are fairly cheap to manufacture – and their motion is visible with a strong magnifying glass. (For related work, Kagan won best NanoEngineering poster at Research Expo 2011.)
Kagan recently was one of five bioengineering Ph.D. students from UC San Diego to become a Siebel Scholar. The award comes with a $35,000 fellowship during the last year of the student's studies.  Kagan plans to use some of the funds to explore possible ideas for a startup company after he graduates in spring 2012. He also plans to use some of the award to help develop a guide to molecular biology protocols and troubleshooting in the lab. Proceeds from the guide’s sales would go to science materials for high school classrooms.
When he isn’t in the lab, Kagan is the cultural coordinator for UC San Diego’s Graduate Student Association. He plans field trips to museums, the symphony and Broadway San Diego shows, among other destinations. He also organized the first-ever graduate student art competition on campus in March. He also enjoys spending time with his fiance, and, of course, running.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Architectural Tours of UC San Diego / Coming in January 2012

Visitor’s Program Offers Special Architectural Tours of Campus
Unique look at noted buildings…Starting in January, UC San Diego will offer a special free "Architectural Tour" of the campus and Scripps Institution of Oceanography on the fourth Sunday of every month.  The hour-and-a-half tour will depart at 2 p.m. from the Gilman Information Pavilion, led by a Visitor’s Program volunteer guide. The tour is based on Dirk Sutro's book, "The Campus Guide, University of California San Diego -- An Architectural Tour.” A prior reading of the book, which is available in the campus bookstore and elsewhere, would provide visitors with an excellent preparation for the tour.  Reservations can be made by calling 858-534-4414 or

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center / CONNECT

CONNECT has a story about the recent "Innovation 101" series entitled "Technology and Innovation in Proof of Concept Centers: Accelerating the Commercialization of University Innovation".  The story includes Dr. Rosibel Ochoa, Director of the von Liebig Center at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.

Read the story on the CONNECT Web site, in the Policy eNEWS archive.

When Robots Go to School

There comes a time in some robots' life when they have to leave the lab and go to elementary school. That time recently came for Switchblade and iFling, two robots developed by the UCSD Coordinated Robotics Lab led by Prof. Thomas Bewley (

The two robots put on quite a show at Curie Elementary School in the University City neighborhood during science night. They were there to get students excited about science. They successfully accomplished their mission, judging by this video recorded during the event:

 To explain how the high-tech robots move, Bewley and his graduate students, Nick Morozovsky and Saam Ostovari, had brought two low-tech accessories: a broom and a drumstick. They asked students to try and balance each on the palm of their hand. The students soon discovered that the broom was much easier to balance than the drumstick. The math that explains why this happens also helps explains how Switchblade and the much smaller iFling move.

"It was awesomely awesome," one student said, after watching the two robots show off their moves.