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In this issue:
Nobel Laureate Did Landmark Work at SSRL
Library Task Force Report Online
A "Big Bang" Experience in Burbank
Colloquium Today: Understanding University-Industry-Government Relations

SLAC Today

Monday - November 16, 2009

Nobel Laureate Did Landmark Work at SSRL

(Photo - Ada Yonath)
Ada Yonath, the Director of the Centre for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly at Israel's prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science and the fourth woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry, did some of her early and groundbreaking work at SSRL. (Photo: Associated Press.)

Last month, Ada Yonath became the fourth woman in history to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which she shared with Thomas  Steitz and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan for "studies of the structure and function of the ribosome." As many of her colleagues will attest, it wasn't always clear that Yonath was headed for great success. For more than a decade, her passionate, unwavering study of the ribosome looked to many like a dead end. A major breakthrough in her work, and a turning point in the opinion of her peers, happened in 1987 at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, SSRL.

It was polar bears that got Yonath interested in the human ribosome: she read a book about polar bears, and wondered what kind of mechanism would preserve the bears' ribosome so they wouldn't fall apart or be degraded during hibernation. The Ribosome is perhaps the most essential structure within our cells. They read the plans carried in DNA through its intermediary, messenger RNA, to build the proteins necessary for life. The delicate ribosome was easily destroyed under examination, but knowing that nature had its own method of preserving it made Yonath believe that there must be a way to crystallize and study it. 

Read more...

Library Task Force Report Online

The Library Task Force convened in March to explore and define how the library can best be organized to meet SLAC current and future information needs. The group has completed its charge and delivered its report to SLAC senior management. The task force included Anders Nilsson (chair), Niels van Bakel, Patricia Kreitz, Nan Phinney, David Reis, Aaron Roodman and Robert Ruland. In the course of our analysis, we conducted a survey, performed site visits to other laboratory libraries, analyzed data supplied by the SLAC Library staff, spoke to and received letters from many representatives of different user communities including the ES&H Division, SLAC User Organizations, Stanford Science Libraries and interested individuals. If you have any questions, please contact a member of the Library Task Force.

A "Big Bang" Experience in Burbank

(Photo - visiting the set of The Big Bang Theory)
Pat and Doug Kreitz, Susan Pimental and Chris Michael on the set of the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. (Photo courtesy Jessica Ambrosetti.)

SLAC Information Services Manager Pat Kreitz and I joined our friends Susan Pimental (of Stanford University) and Chris Michael for a recent live-audience taping of the popular TV situation comedy show The Big Bang Theory at the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California.

The Big Bang Theory is set in Pasadena, California, and concerns two male Caltech prodigies in their twenties—an experimental physicist (Leonard) and a theoretical physicist (Sheldon), who live across the hall from an attractive blonde waitress (Penny) with show-biz aspirations. Leonard and Sheldon's geekiness and intellect are contrasted with Penny's social skills and common sense for comedic effect.  Read more...

Colloquium Today: Understanding University-Industry-Government Relations

(Image - SLAC Colloquium banner)

Come to Panofsky Auditorium today at 4:15 p.m. to hear Stanford University Consulting Professor Richard Dasher present "Understanding University-Industry-Government Relations: National Innovation Systems of the US, Japan, China and India."

Business globalization, the rapid pace of technology development, and economic volatility have all led to increased attention on innovation as a key to national competitiveness. Accordingly, advanced economies are placing new demands on their universities, governments, and private sector firms to find and engage in more effective models of knowledge transfer and commercialization. This presentation compares how differing constraints and dynamics have led to different flows of money, people, and ideas across these sectors in the US, Japan, China, and India. Focus is on what researchers need to know in order to engage effectively in international scale projects and collaboration.

Dasher is consulting professor at Stanford University, where he is executive director of the Center for Integrated Systems and director of the U.S.-Asia Technology Management Center. The colloquium is free and open to all.

Next Monday, the colloquium series will take a break for Thanksgiving week.

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