Stanford DailyStanford Daily 7/28/2016 Thu, 28 Jul 2016 02:17:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Former Stanford standout Rosco Allen ’16 sets sights on professional basketball career Thu, 28 Jul 2016 00:43:17 +0000 Former Stanford forward Rosco Allen led the Cardinal in scoring this past season at 15.6 points per game before declaring for the NBA draft in April. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Former Stanford forward Rosco Allen led the Cardinal in scoring this past season at 15.6 points per game before declaring for the NBA draft in April. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Ranging from the castles of Budapest to the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas to Maples Pavilion, Rosco Allen’s journey to the NBA Summer League has been anything but ordinary. Now, he’s blazed his own trail back to Vegas, where he has a chance to crack the Golden State Warriors’ roster and make Oakland the next stop on his basketball odyssey.

After leading the Cardinal in scoring last season, the former Stanford standout unexpectedly opted to forgo his final year of eligibility to try his hand at the pro game. Although he became the team’s leader during his academic senior season, 2015-16 marked the only season in which he was a full-time starter.

With his degree in hand, Allen ‘16 was faced with a difficult choice: leave the relationships he had forged on campus behind to start his pro career, or return to the Farm for one final shot on the basketball court.

New Stanford head coach Jerod Haase was supportive of Allen throughout his decision-making process, but Allen felt it was the right time to say goodbye to Stanford.

“[Leaving] was tough… I’ve made some really good relationships on and off the court and it was tough leaving them, but I just felt like it was the best decision for me. I had received my degree already and I feel like it was time to start the next chapter of my life.”

Allen attended the 2016 NBA Draft in June. When no teams called his name on draft day, Allen ultimately inked a deal with Golden State to start his professional career and pursue his passion.

“It means everything [to me]. I love this game, and I want to keep playing for as long as I can. It’s just another opportunity for me and I’m trying to make the most of it.”

Allen wasn’t expecting to be drafted, but still wished in the back of his mind that a team would select him. A few unspecified teams had contacted Allen before the draft to offer him spots in the Summer League, but the Warriors had always been the front-runners for Allen’s services. They had sent representatives to many of his games, so Allen always thought Golden State had the “best feel for him” throughout the process.

“I’ve put a lot of hours into the game, and to have this opportunity to play even on a Summer League team, and especially for the Warriors, since I played at Stanford so close, [they were] the team I knew the best, so it was a great experience for me,” Allen said. “It’s a blessing.”

After just one practice, Allen had already noticed how much faster and bigger the players were. Even so, he embraces the challenge as an opportunity to improve his basketball skills.

“It was a great learning experience for me, and I’m looking forward to the next few days to keep getting better and go into Vegas and try and win as many games as possible,” Allen said.

With his future uncertain after Summer League, Allen knows one thing for sure: His family will be there, cheering him on. His parents, grandmother, aunt, uncle and four siblings all still live in Las Vegas, and will attend all of his games this summer.

Allen is excited about their presence because they weren’t always able to make the trek to Palo Alto during his college days.

The family moved from the old city of Budapest to settle in the Nevada desert when Allen was 12. Eventually, he settled at Bishop Gorman High School, a national athletic powerhouse.

His introduction to American culture? The neon lights, strip clubs and fake European landmarks of Sin City.

“The American culture was much different than the Hungarian one,” he said.

In Allen’s hometown of Budapest, the largest city in Hungary, there are real castles and ancient buildings, some over 500 years old. Surprisingly, the modernity was more of a shock than anything to Allen. The scorching Nevada desert heat was also new. Allen wasn’t used to any of it.

However, Allen quickly became grounded in Vegas. There, he carried the Gaels to win three state championships.

Allen’s bilingual roots helped ease his transition into American life. He grew up speaking both English and Hungarian. Allen’s father, Daniel, doesn’t speak Hungarian, so Allen quickly became fluent in both, using English around the house and Hungarian with friends. Math came more easily because of his English knowledge, but there was still an adjustment period.

While he settled in and racked up All-State accolades playing high school ball in Las Vegas, Allen ran into Kevin Durant, the Warriors’ newest star, several times. During his first two years of high school, he saw Durant work out with fellow Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook, and attended Durant’s camp during his junior year. Later, he worked out with Durant when he came to practice for Team USA.

Allen naturally models himself after Durant, given that they play the same position and have a similar body type. Being the Stanford graduate that he is, he’s trying to be like the greatest in his field.

“He’s extremely talented, so I try to take as many of his skills and try and implement them into my game as possible,” Allen said. “He’s just a tremendous talent, and it’s great to have him on the Warriors.”

Now, he hopes to play behind Durant and two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry on perhaps the most talented team in basketball, an opportunity he would relish should he earn the chance.

“[It would be cool] just to be on the same court as them, being able to learn from them, and being able to try and compete with them,” Allen said. “Obviously, I know that’s kind of one-sided, but just trying to be my best and trying to learn as much as I can from those guys would be an amazing experience.”

At a glance, Allen’s skill set meshes well with the Warriors’ offensive philosophy: space the floor and make a whole lot of 3-pointers. So far, Allen is confident that that should help make his transition to the NBA a little bit smoother.

“Whenever you can space the floor, it translates to every level. Just being able to make space for guys that can really drive and really make plays, but just having the defender being pulled out the perimeter obviously is going to help with that.” Allen said. “I feel like that’s going to be the quickest transition for me — always being a threat and drawing the defender out and trying to allow guys to make plays.”

If Allen doesn’t end up making the Warriors’ roster, he wouldn’t rule out playing overseas.

“I’m just really trying to take this one step at a time,” Allen said. “I’m trying to do my best in Vegas to try and raise my stock and impress some guys. That’s all I’m really focused on right now. Obviously, my agent has been making phone calls and things like that but I’m really not trying to focus on that.”

Allen has traveled a long way for this moment. He’s not going to let it pass by knowing he didn’t give it his all. Now, he’s hoping that what happened in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.


Contact Ben Leonard at bentleonard18 ‘at’

]]> 0 Rosco Allen #25. Photo by Rahim Ullah Former Stanford forward Rosco Allen led the Cardinal in scoring this past season at 15.6 points per game before declaring for the NBA draft in April. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)
Stanford researcher confirms link between canned food, harmful chemical Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:29 +0000 Research led by Jennifer Hartle, a postdoctoral researcher at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, has confirmed the link between canned foods and Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical associated with health problems.

Hartle co-authored the study, published June 8 in Environmental Research, with Ana Navas-Acien and Robert Lawrence of Johns Hopkins University.

Consumption of BPA-contaminated foods has been implicated in childhood obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other health issues. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consider an oral dose of BPA higher than 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight to be harmful. The EU’s maximum acceptable oral dose is much lower, at 4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight.

Previously, Hartle showed that children are exposed to BPA at higher levels due to the chemical’s presence in school lunch packaging. Because children are still growing, the hormone imbalance that BPA causes can be particularly disruptive in their development. Hartle’s work on lunch packaging led her to canned foods.

When Hartle and her co-authors began their research in 2011, a connection between BPA and canned foods was known; what was not known, however, was how much of the BPA in the body came from canned foods in one’s diet.

“We think that [BPA] could have came from environmental factors as well: It’s found in air, dust, soil, [touching plastic] that has BPA on it,” Hartle said.

Using three different surveys collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003-08, Hartle and her co-authors analyzed what patients had eaten in the 24 hours before giving urinary and blood samples. The researchers found that 92.6 percent of the U.S. population had measurable levels of BPA.

“That’s when the concern really grew, because that is a huge number,” Hartle said. “For any environmental contamination, 92.6 percent means almost every single person has BPA in their system.”

Hartle discovered that even with environmental factors and other sources of BPA exposure accounted for, there was still a significant correlation between canned foods consumption and the chemical in one’s urine concentrations.

BPA is found in the resin of a can’s lining. Because cans can vary widely by company and food type, the amount of BPA in canned foods can also vary. Research has shown that foods that require more heating in the canning process are most susceptible to BPA.

“BPA is lipophilic,” Hartle said. “It’s very drawn to the fat, and so often times you’ll find higher levels of BPA in cans of meat and other kinds of fatty foods.”

Canned soups, for example, have a high concentration of BPA. Because soup is a heterogeneous mixture of solids and liquids, it takes longer to heat all of the components to the same temperature. This, in addition to soup’s usually high fat content, causes high BPA concentration.

Despite the clear connection between canned foods and BPA, manufacturers currently have no legal obligation to change the composition of cans’ linings. While some water bottles or cans state that their contents are BPA-free, consumers cannot know if these claims are actually true. There is no official certification or qualification that can manufacturers can receive. Different brands disclose different levels of information; according to Harle, some companies like Muir Glen or Eden Foods are more transparent in what they share.

“They have gone in or they have paid to have analysis,” Hartle said. “Can manufacturers still don’t have to disclose [anything], but some companies know that people will stop buying their products if they’re not clear what the cans are made of.”

Hartle offers a two-part solution to minimize one’s exposure to BPA. She advises people to eat fresh fruits and vegetables with no packaging as well as to become advocates for food safety.

“Call can manufacturers,” Hartle said. “They keep track of how many people are calling. [Tell them that] we want not just BPA-free cans, but we want safe cans. So we want to know if any alternatives are safe.”


Contact Hannan Waliullah at htwailiulah ‘at’

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Stanford Marching Band tweets comical ‘Cease and Desist’ letter to Trump Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:07 +0000 The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) added to its long history of diving into controversy last week with a “Cease and Desist” letter directed at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The band tweeted the letter on Thursday to argue that Trump does not have the right to use the Free song “All Right Now,” which was rearranged in 1972 for use as the Stanford band’s fight song.

Trump used the song to introduce his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, at a campaign event in New York City last Saturday.

“Your use of the song ‘All Right Now’ as background music during the official introduction of your Vice Presidential pick is probably a violation of Free’s common law trademark rights, common law service mark rights, and trade name rights, and this letter constitutes a demand that you cease and desist any and all use of the song ‘All Right Now’ in any campaign-related events, functions, or shindigs,” the letter states.

The band admits that its legal claim is not valid, conceding its members are not lawyers (“but we have binge watched all 20 seasons of ‘Law and Order’ instead of studying for finals”).

Instead, the band stakes a “philosophical claim” over the 1970 song, which the band adopted after it was rearranged by Arthur Barnes, a former professor of music at Stanford. The band explains that it doesn’t want Trump’s “divisive rhetoric” to “tarnish the spirit of the song.”

The band’s request is not entirely self-interested, however. The group humorously suggests that it is also trying to protect Trump from soiling his image as a presidential candidate.

“Also, for the record — the lyrics to ARN are about a dude trying to hook up with a meter maid,” the letter says. “Regardless of the upbeat and encouraging nature of the chorus, we don’t think that’s a message that the 2016 Republican Party really wants to stand behind.”

Alex Ramsey ’17, one of the band’s head writers, told The Daily in an email that the group was surprised by how much publicity the group’s Tweet elicited. The letter has received an “overwhelmingly positive” response, he said.

“We even got some praise from USC’s Marching Band, which is surprising because our two groups don’t normally, uh, see eye to eye,” he wrote.

The letter has been retweeted over 600 times, but Trump has yet to respond. In the letter, the band requests that all questions be reported to the USC Trojan Marching Band.


Contact Tanushri Sundar at tanushrisundar ‘at’

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Researchers partially restore vision in mice Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Led by associate professor of neurobiology Andrew Huberman, researchers from Stanford, Harvard and University of California, San Diego have partially restored blindness in mice. Huberman intends to apply the results of this study toward repairing damaged eyesight in humans.

The study used mice that were intentionally blinded in one eye through damage to the optic nerve, which links the retina to the brain. The rodents were divided into three treatment groups, and each group received gene therapy, visual stimulation or both.

The researchers specifically experimented on neurons called retinal ganglion cells, which are located in the innermost layer of the retina. These cells send visual information in the form of electrical impulses, called action potentials, from the eye to the brain via axons. Axons, which are often compared to telegraph wires, are the long, thin components of neural cells that form synaptic connections with different parts of the brain. An eye’s retinal ganglion cells’ axons collectively make up the eye’s optic nerve.

“Retinal ganglion cells have one specific job,” Huberman said. “It’s the only job they perform, and that job is to take visual information as seen by the eye and convey it to the brain.”

In mice that received both gene therapy and visual stimulation, some damaged retinal ganglion cells regenerated completely, allowing the rodents to see large moving objects. To the relief of the researchers, each regenerated axon also connected to its correct target in the brain.

“This is extremely reassuring because what it suggests is that in humans, if we were to stimulate regeneration of a given set of neurons after an injury, those neurons would have the wisdom to wire up to their targets in the brain in the right way,” Huberman said. “The neurons know exactly who they are, and they find their way home.”

The mice study was designed to answer two important neurobiological questions that, when solved, could allow scientists to regenerate cells not just for vision but also elsewhere in the central nervous system.

“The first question was ‘How could we get neurons to regenerate?’” Huberman said. “The second question was ‘If they do regenerate, do they form correct patterns of connection?’”

In one set of mice, a gene therapy was introduced to each rodent’s injured eye in the form of a virus expressing mTOR, or mammalian target of rapamycin. mTOR, a gene relating to cell growth, activated growth of the mice’s retinal ganglion cells. The researchers found that retinal ganglion cells exposed to elevated levels of mTOR regenerated a short distance but were unable to reach the brain.

Another group of partially blind mice was placed in an “IMAX for mice,” where the creatures viewed high-contrast movies of drifting gradients and moving black and white bars that electrically activated neural growth. Unfortunately, the retinal ganglion cells of mice who watched movies regenerated even less than those of the mice who received gene therapy.

However, when visual stimulation and gene therapy worked synergistically, the axons of the mice’s retinal ganglion cells grew very long distances in short periods of time and were able to reach the brain. The neural connections formed in the optic nerves of the rodents in this group allowed said mice to respond appropriately to moving objects: The mice ran away from perceived threats.

However, the mice’s restored eyesight was by no means perfect. Only 1 to 5 percent of the total retinal ganglion cell population regenerated, which allowed for only very limited vision. Additionally, due to temporal and financial restraints, the researchers are unsure if all types of retinal ganglion cells will connect correctly to their targets in the brain during neural regeneration.

Even so, Huberman is unfazed and looks forward to building on the results of the study.

“I have every reason to believe that these audacious goals are going to be met not just because of the work that my lab is doing, but because of the work that other labs [besides my own] at Stanford and other laboratories in the United States are doing,” Huberman said.


Contact Jacky Moore at jackymoore99 ‘at’

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Brock Turner to undergo mandatory drug, alcohol counseling Tue, 26 Jul 2016 08:00:34 +0000 Before his release from jail this September, Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, will undergo random testing as well as mandatory drug and alcohol counseling after he was found lying about his high school drug and alcohol use.

The new counseling requirements followed the release of documents from Santa Clara County Superior Court and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, which revealed that Turner acted aggressively toward another woman prior to the convicted assault and that he lied to officials about his behavior in high school.

According to the prosecution’s sentencing memo, Turner denied using illegal drugs and said he only began drinking alcohol after he started attending Stanford in September 2014. He made the claims during an interview with a probation officer and during a jailhouse interview on June 14.

“Coming from a small town in Ohio, I had never really experienced celebrating or partying that involved alcohol,” Turner wrote in a statement to Judge Aaron Persky ’84 A.M. ’85.

However, according to the prosecution memo, the police concluded from photos and text messages retrieved from investigators that Turner was “engaging in excessive drinking and using drugs,” including LSD, ecstasy and cannabis, when he was in high school. Once Turner was notified that his text messages had been publicized, he admitted to using LSD, smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol in high school.

Turner also had a previous arrest for underage alcohol possession in November 2014.

In a report by the Associated Press, Turner’s probation manager Jana Taylor — who recommended the counseling for Turner —  wrote in an email that the department does not want to be blamed for discovering that Turner had positive drug or alcohol tests and not modifying his probation accordingly.

Taylor wrote to the Associated Press that Judge Persky — who drew sharp scrutiny for giving Turner what many saw as a “light sentence” of six months in jail — will not oversee the changes in Turner’s probation terms.

The addition of counseling to Turner’s probation was enacted by the internal probation department, and is expected to be approved by the Santa Clara County Superior Court, Taylor wrote.


Contact Shagun Khare at ‘at’

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Undergraduate fellowship seeks students of color to become professors Tue, 26 Jul 2016 08:00:22 +0000 The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) recently picked five Stanford students to be fellows as part of its commitment to increase diversity in higher education. This year’s new fellows are Alicia Perez ’18, Andrea Flores ’18, Andrea Villa ’18, Jack Herrera ’18 and Rocio Hernandez ’18.

Founded in 1988, MMUF is part of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is a principal part of the foundation’s initiative to raise minority representation in university faculty. The foundation hopes that by focusing on undergraduate students it can increase the number of people of color who eventually attain Ph.D.s.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2013 only 16 percent of America’s full-time professors were people of color. Many colleges have faced increasing scrutiny over faculty diversity. For example, Stanford’s group Who’s Teaching Us demanded a range of diversity-oriented reforms from the University this year. Data shows that underrepresentation of minorities persists at Stanford and other universities.

MMUF seeks to combat this gap. Accepted students, who are typically rising juniors, gain access to mentors, programming, research support and grants meant to help fellows develop their interests and write their honors thesis papers.

Every year, MMUF picks five undergraduates from each of the 46 participating universities in the U.S. and South Africa to be fellows. This year’s Stanford recipients vary in their interests and hopes, but they were all picked for their passion and commitment to the goals of MMUF as well as their readiness to pursue Ph.D.s in the MMUF-approved fields, which are centered in the humanities and sciences.

As MMUF’s goal is to diversify higher education, all five fellows are minorities and many are already thinking about how they will use this opportunity to give back to their communities.

Rocio Hernandez, a new fellow and urban studies major, said her research will likely focus on helping Latinx individuals. Similarly, Andrea Flores, a sociology major, hopes to use MMUF’s resources to “give back.”

“I’m gonna do what I can to represent my community, and I’m gonna go back and educate the people in my hometown about the systems that are in place,” Flores said.

For her Mellon Fellowship, Flores hopes to research political injustice and “failures of education” in her town, which she says is home to many undocumented immigrants. She wants to uncover the faults in her community’s school system while also talking to her community about the opportunities available to them.

According to Flores, MMUF was inspired by Benjamin Mays, an African American that fought for his rights to education before the Civil Rights Movement when very few minority students were able to attend universities. After completing his education, Mays gave back to his community through his work as a teacher and dean. Like its inspiration Mays, MMUF seeks to use education to improve society.

New fellows said that they are able to enter their junior year of Stanford knowing that they have access to a close-knit community of individuals not only on the Stanford campus, but also at universities around the U.S. This newfound wealth of resources helps fellows pursue goals that go beyond Stanford campus.

“I want to go back to my community because I feel that no one is paying attention to the issues that are going on,” Flores said.

Flores believes MMUF provides students with opportunities to pursue their own passions and better society. By joining the foundation, students become part of a larger unit, she said — one filled with support and new ideas.

“I think I just really want to hone in more on my own personal interests and understand the way that I can leverage that, both through a career in academia as well as [by lifting] marginalized voices,” Hernandez said.

Flores says MMUF is one of few academic organizations she has found with many people of color.

“I feel very welcomed and very supported because the people that are in charge of it really, really want people to succeed — really want people of color to pursue this path because there aren’t that many,” Flores said.


Contact Shilpa Sajja at 19ssajja ‘at’ and Rebecca Mak at 19rmak ‘at’

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Stanford students get book deals Tue, 26 Jul 2016 08:00:01 +0000 Two Stanford students — Brittany Newell ’16 and Kiley Roache ’18 — have each recently acquired deals with publishing houses to publish novels written during their time as students at Stanford.

Henry Holt will publish Newell’s novel, “Oola,” in 2017, and Harlequin Teen will publish Roache’s novel, “The F Word,” in the summer of 2017.

Newell said her book is about a writer who wants to create a “100-percent accurate” character based on his girlfriend.

“What starts out as an allegedly romantic gesture gradually turns into this weird, twisted power play as he tries to know every single thing there is about her,” Newell said.

The young writer found inspiration for her book from Genisis P-Orridge, lead singer for the band Psychic TV. (Genisis’s preferred pronoun is “they.”)

“They have this concept of pandrogyny,” Newell said. “It’s basically the idea that when we fall in love with someone — when Genisis fell in love with their late wife — it was as if they were the same being.”

Newell became fascinated by the idea of pandrogyny and wondered about the various ways that the goal of pandrogyny could go wrong if one took the concept too far or simply did not understand what that concept meant. Pandrogyny is when both partners in a relationship transition into one being. For example, Genisis underwent multiple surgeries and dressed as their partner to reach their goal of a pandrogyne.

Newell is appreciative that she was still in school while writing her book, because deadlines sent by her London-based agent would have been harder to meet with a full-time job or other more time-intensive commitments. Newell said she thought of writing her novel as another class in order to make sure she gave her creative work the same importance as her academic work.

“I always mentally, just for my own peace of mind, have to block out time for writing,” Newell said.

Roache’s novel, which she wrote last summer, is about a young feminist writer who joins and observes a fraternity, hoping to expose what she sees.

“But the longer she stays, things become more complicated,” Roache said. According to Roache, she was inspired by the second-wave feminist slogan that the personal is political.

“There are all these huge societal, sociological processes at play that you can see in your everyday interactions but then at the same time those are still personal interactions,” she explained.

Roache was interested in the idea that friends who are different from each other and have different backgrounds can change each other’s views and opinions.

Since Roache wrote her novel’s first draft over the summer, she arrived at school with a manuscript that needed revisions and edits — and “revising is where most of the work happens,” she said.

She makes a point of setting aside a couple hours per week solely for writing. During high school, she would often stay up extra late to work on creative writing projects.

“It’s kind of like a stress relief working on it,” Roache said. “I enjoy doing it. It really doesn’t feel like work.”

Roache’s writing experience goes back to before college; she first signed with her agent before she graduated high school. She has worked on various projects since middle school but did not complete a project until her high school senior year. That project was the first work she sent to her agent — but she was not comfortable publishing it at the time.

“Although I learned so much from that experience, it wasn’t ready … to go into the world as a book,” Roache said.

Contact Elaine Pappas at epappas18 ‘at’

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Artificial intelligence camp bridges STEM gender gap Mon, 25 Jul 2016 08:00:13 +0000 Twenty-four girls arrived at Stanford on July 11 to attend a tuition-free camp aimed to give young girls and underrepresented minorities the opportunity to be exposed to STEM-related fields. Stanford Artificial Intelligence Outreach Summer (SAILORS) was created in the summer of 2015 by Fei-Fei Li, a professor of computer science, Postdoc Olga Russakovsky, and Rick Sommer, executive director of the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies. Rising high school sophomore girls from 20 states and three countries listened to lectures and conducted research with faculty in the Artificial Intelligence Lab.

“SAILORS is built on the hypothesis that a humanistic mission statement would attract more diverse students,” Li said. “In turn, their values and perspectives are injected into the technology that will impact our society.”



Li grew up in China, where she said the schism between females and males was wider than that in the US. Li was fortunate to have parents who supported her education along the way, and has been a professor for more than ten years. She has seen many changes in the Stanford computer science (CS) department, but she hopes to see greater diversity in staff and students.

“The faculty is talking more about diversity and I’ve seen an increasing undergraduate percentage in women and minorities,” Li said. “But for my taste, the change is way too slow.”

According to the US Department of Commerce, women hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs than men. Women majoring in STEM are also less likely to work in STEM jobs than their male counterparts. The US Department of Commerce attributes these tendencies to “lack of female role models, gender stereotyping and less family-friendly flexibility in the STEM fields.”



But in the safe haven of the Artificial Intelligence Lab, the girls are already comfortable with each other, joking and chatting with one another during break time. They listened and took notes during a lecture on computer vision in the morning, and participated in team bonding activities before lunch. The rigorous lectures and research projects, combined with personal growth sessions and tours to Dropbox and the Computer History Museum, provide an engaging and comfortable environment for the girls to explore their interests.

SAILORS alumna Rachel Guo expressed her gratitude for the program. As one of the few girls in advanced math and science classes at her high school, Guo said she was often teased or labelled as a “nerd”, and the boys in the classes were “normal.” But after meeting the other 23 girls at camp, Guo realized she was not the only one who felt out of place at school.

“I could express my inner geekiness,” Guo said, with a grin. “I felt completely included because everyone was so understanding, and we’ve all been in similar situations.”

Though SAILORS alumna Connie Lu felt that the boys at her school treated her the same in STEM-related classes, she still notes that in the programming or STEM related clubs, there are fewer female members and girls in leadership positions.



“But here, I met a lot more girls who were interested in STEM,” Lu said. “We still talk even now, about the things we are doing and opportunities [in STEM] nearby.”

SAILORS started as a dream, but Li and Russakovsky needed support and helping hands as it grew into a reality. This year, more than 50 professors, undergraduates, graduates, Ph.D.s, postdocs and research scientists volunteered to create a free opportunity for rising sophomore girls.

“I wouldn’t call it a success yet,” Li said. “We are still trying to make it as good as possible. I’m just trying to do the best job that I can.”


Contact Vivian Chiang at vivianchiang2010 ‘at’

]]> 0 Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 7.09.38 PM Vivian Chiang/THE STANFORD DAILY SAILORS 4 Vivian Chiang/THE STANFORD DAILY SAILORS 1 Vivian Chiang/THE STANFORD DAILY
Knightscope issues report on robot incident at Stanford Mall Mon, 25 Jul 2016 08:00:04 +0000 Knightscope, the company that produced the security robot that allegedly knocked down a child and ran over his foot at the Stanford Shopping Center two weeks ago, has released a report of the events that transpired prior to the injury.

The robot, which began patrolling the Shopping Center last year, was designed to predict crime by alerting authorities to abnormal events and known criminals. With nearly 30 sensors and laser ranging devices, the robot — called the K5 Autonomous Data Machine — has the capability to sense its surroundings to over 300 feet.

Knightscope issued its report in response to a July 8 incident in which one of the K5 machines collided with 16-month-old Harwin Cheng and ran over his foot, according to the boy’s mother, Tiffany Teng. The boy sustained no serious injuries, but did suffer a bruised foot with minor swelling and a scrape on the leg. However, Cheng’s parents spoke out against the machine as dangerous.

“He was crying like crazy, and he never cries,” Teng told ABC News.

A Knightscope robot docked in the Stanford Shopping Center. (DEREK SHAO/The Stanford Daily)

Teng and her husband hoped that by sharing their story they could warn other parents about the robot and convince them to be careful at Stanford Shopping Center. The Shopping Center has suspended all security robot activity until the incident is fully investigated.

Knightscope issued a formal apology to the family of the child, calling it a “freakish accident.” But on Business Wire, Knightscope says that their robo
t initially tried to avoid the child.

“A child left the vicinity of his guardians and began running towards the machine,” the report states. “The machine veered to the left to avoid the child, but the child ran backwards directly into the front quarter of the machine, at which point the machine stopped and the child fell to the ground.”

Teng told the Mercury News that instead of halting, the machine moved forward as her son lay facedown on the ground. In its report, Knightscope agrees that the robot’s sensors did not register an obstacle correctly.
Knightscope continues on to say that K5 Autonomous Data Machines have driven over 25,000 miles and operated over 35,000 hours without any reports of incidents like the one Teng described.

Knightscope did not respond to The Daily’s request for a comment on the version of events in Business Wire, after stating that they have been in contact with Teng and are “not conducting any further interviews” at her request. The child’s family and Stanford Shopping Center also did not respond to inquiries from The Daily.


Contact Michelle Liu at michellemhliu ‘at’

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Rare blood cancer responds to new treatment pioneered by Stanford physician Sat, 23 Jul 2016 23:06:31 +0000 The majority of patients with systemic mastocytosis (SM), a rare blood cancer, are in need of an effective drug. Jason Gotlib M.D. ’95 M.S. ’03, associate professor of medicine, might have made a breakthrough.

In a study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine, Gotlib and his team found that SM responds to a drug called midostaurin, a “protein kinase inhibitor” currently undergoing trials for its effectiveness with various diseases.

The study, which was a collaboration between principal investigators from 29 academic institutions worldwide, was spearheaded by Gotlib and sponsored by pharmaceutical company Novartis. Gotlib, a hematologist, hopes that the study’s results could be “practice-changing,” as SM currently has only one form of approved treatment, which is largely ineffective.

Associate Professor of Medicine Jason Gotlib may have found a novel cure for rare blood cancer. (Courtesy of Jason Gotlib)

Associate Professor of Medicine Jason Gotlib may have found a novel cure for rare blood cancer.
(Courtesy of Jason Gotlib)

Novartis has submitted midostaurin to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval. Gotlib said that the drug will likely be approved later this year or in early 2017.

In SM, mast cells are overproduced and accumulate in organs such as the bone marrow, spleen, liver, lymph nodes, skin and gut. In advanced forms of the disease, mast cells’ infiltration of organs leads to low blood counts and liver function abnormalities as well as decreased absorption in the small intestine and weight loss.

In about 90 percent of patients with SM, the disease is a result of a gene mutation called KIT D816V. Midostaurin is felt to be active in SM patients by blocking the activity of the D816V-mutated KIT receptor tyrosine kinase.

European investigators have recently shown that midostaurin may benefit patients with earlier stages of the disease. A recent international trial has also shown that the drug can improve survival in patients with acute myeloid leukemia with a particular type of mutation called FLT3, another target of midostaurin.

Gotlib and his colleagues’ trial shows that the drug may allow patients with the most deadly form of SM to live longer; midostaurin-treated mast cell leukemia patients lived about 3-4 months longer than average historical survivals in this poor-prognosis subtype.

The drug did produce side effects in some patients, such as low-grade nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. However, these side effects were generally quelled by administering the drug with meals and anti-nausea medicine.

The process of identifying midostaurin as an effective form of treatment was long and complex — “a decade-long story,” in Gotlib’s words.

The journey began 14 years ago when Gotlib, still a research fellow at Stanford, treated a patient with a blood cancer disease similar to SM. Gotlib prescribed the drug imatinib, and the patient initially experienced improvements. However, his cancer cells later developed a mutation causing resistance to the drug and he eventually succumbed to the disease.

Gotlib, who continued to think back to his experience with the patient, was frustrated at the lack of treatment options for rare blood diseases. Not long after working with the patient, Gotlib sent samples to Harvard researchers, who identified a specific molecular abnormality that had caused the patient to become resistant.

The Harvard researchers then created mice with this specific imatinib-resistant mutation and found that the mice responded to a drug that was structurally different — midostaurin. The findings excited Gotlib, who hoped that the positive results of the drug in mice would translate over to human blood cancers.

Gotlib decided to test the drug on a colleague’s patient with very advanced mast cell leukemia, which is a highly fatal variant of SM. The patient was treated under Novartis’ “compassionate-use program,” which grants access to medical products still under investigation.

“The patient, who was literally near death in the hospital, had a very impressive response and was able to leave the hospital, do activities and cook,” Gotlib said. “She did well for several months but then ended up developing resistance — not because her mast cell disease wasn’t under control but because she had an associated disease which led to acute leukemia.”

However, the patient’s initial positive results led to Gotlib’s study, which validated the drug’s effectiveness in patients with SM. Due to positive results and few side effects, Gotlib is confident the drug will be approved.


Contact Emma Cockerell at emmamc2000 ‘at’


An earlier version of this article contained scientific inaccuracies and misstated the study’s publication date and Jason Gotlib’s title. The Daily regrets these errors. 

]]> 0 Screenshot 2016-07-19 00.53.29 Associate Professor of Medicine Jason Gotlib may have found a novel cure for rare blood cancer. (Courtesy of Jason Gotlib)
Photos: Cardinal at The Bank of The West Classic 2016 Fri, 22 Jul 2016 22:25:04 +0000 Photos by Mike Kheir and Rahim Ullah

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Stanford relocates 29 residences near University Terrace due to chemical contamination Fri, 22 Jul 2016 08:00:27 +0000 The Palo Alto City Council approved Stanford’s plan to relocate 29 residences near University Terrace — a faculty housing development close to campus — to minimize the risks of trichloroethylene (TCE), a cancer-causing chemical found in the area. The council put forth additional conditions requiring Stanford to install further protections in dozens of the homes near the site as well.

The council’s decision, which occurred over the past two weeks, follows the discovery of high levels of TCE at University Terrace last year. After Stanford submitted a risk assessment to the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), several “hot spot” areas with high levels of TCE were identified. Therefore, in addition to the recommendations made by the DTSC, the Palo Alto City Council also called for about 40 homes nearest to those “hot spots” to have a depressurization, ventilation or other form of protection system installed to prevent indoor air contamination.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a dangerous compound that was discovered in some Stanford housing. (Wikimedia Commons)

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a dangerous compound that was discovered in some Stanford housing.
(Wikimedia Commons)

“It’s a very common approach,” said Stanford spokeswoman Jean McCown. “DTSC, in fairness to them, did not think this was necessary, but the City Council asked that it be added, and we will be doing that.”

Despite these extra precautions, some have qualms with Stanford’s latest plan.

According to Center for Public Environmental Oversight Executive Director Lenny Siegel, who worked as a consultant for University Terrace residents, prolonged exposure to TCE can result in a higher likelihood of cancer and can have particularly adverse effects on pregnant women. Thus, he believes that complete transparency about the issue is critical — and currently lacking.

“Under Stanford’s plan, there was no indication that prospective residents or residents or visitors would know that [the area] is a contamination site,” Siegel said. “My experience nationally is that it’s very important to tell people about contamination. When you don’t and they find out about it, all hell breaks loose.”

The council’s decision comes after months of disagreement between the University and Palo Alto residents over how best to handle the mitigation of TCE in various neighborhoods. Last year, for example, residents of College Terrace — a neighborhood adjacent to Stanford and across the street from University Terrace — independently discovered hazardous TCE levels in six of the 19 homes they examined. This was contrary to Stanford’s assurances that the College Terrace area would not be affected. Concerned that TCE from the University Terrace site may have migrated to College Terrace and other locations, the residents then submitted a report regarding the high levels of TCE in the area to the DTSC for evaluation.

Fred Balin, a resident of College Terrace, believes the Palo Alto City Council should have waited for DTSC to respond to the residents’ findings before making the decision to relocate the 29 residences at University Terrace.

According to Balin, his neighborhood’s findings could have implications for how well the site characterization, or identification of contamination, was performed at University Terrace. Thus, he believes the council’s solution may not sufficiently address the issue.

“It’s definitely premature for the city to let the project go while there is still a potential problem for residents,” Balin said.

Siegel, however, is less opposed to the council’s decision to mitigate TCE levels at University Terrace before making a decision on how to handle the high TCE levels at College Terrace.

“I’m okay with [the University Terrace and College Terrace sites] being handled separately as long as the council recognizes that the initial findings of [University Terrace] indicated that the contamination was more likely to migrate than Stanford had asserted,” Siegel said. “However, there is still a need for Stanford to do additional sampling to determine to what degree the existing homes in College Terrace are threatened by the contamination.”


Contact Shagun Khare at ‘at’

]]> 0 TCE Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a dangerous compound that was discovered in some Stanford housing. (Wikimedia Commons)
Food review: Poki Bowl serves up trendy Hawaiian delicacies Fri, 22 Jul 2016 04:30:43 +0000 It’s a hot summer day. The sun glares at you as beads of sweat run down your neck. Most people would opt for a cool glass of water or an icy popsicle. But these days, a new, trendy summer dish has come along: “poke,” or fish salad.

Founded by co-owners Nick Nguyen and Charlie Le, “Poki Bowl” is a casual, Bay Area-based eatery that serves the traditional Hawaiian appetizer poke. The main idea of Poki Bowl is to provide a quick, delicious bite that can be customized to anyone’s tastes. The customization of the poke begins with the selection of a bowl size ($9.50 for small, $10.95 for large). Customers can choose from rice and salad bases to complement scoops of both raw and cooked seafood (salmon, tuna, spicy tuna, yellowtail, shrimp, octopus). Toppings including vegetables and crab meat (avocado, cucumbers, onions, green onions, masago eggs, seaweed mix, sesame seeds, wasabi, ginger, imitation crab) and flavorful sauces (non-spicy, mild, spicy, spicy mayo) give a finishing touch to the coined “sashimi in a bowl.”

Upon opening the door to the busy establishment, I first notice that the restaurant is relatively small — there is only enough space for the kitchen, the counter and a few tables on the side. An ice cream freezer and condiments table take up the remaining standing room. Counter attendants are generally fast and courteous, but they do not explain the process of ordering, which leaves me, as a first-time customer, confused. Regardless, I take a quick glance at the menu and jump right into ordering my meal: a small bowl with a brown rice base, three scoops of diced and marinated seafood (shrimp, tuna and octopus), cucumbers, avocado and imitation crab. A dash of mild sauce and sesame seeds complete my bowl of poke. And although the dish initially seemed pricey to me, the generous servings of seafood make the food well worth it.

The colorful presentation of the platter is visually pleasing to the eye, with a clear view of almost all of the ingredients. A quick stir of the bowl blends the various tastes together beautifully. The more mellow flavors of the rice and vegetables perfectly balance the succulent seafood and tangy dressing. The soft rice and avocado mend well with the tender fish, while the cucumber and sesame seeds add a bit of crunch to the appetizing dish.

After munching away at the very filling sashimi bowl, I head back into Poki Bowl to grab a macaron ice cream sandwich provided by Mavens Creamery. The desert washes away the strong flavor of the seafood that remains on my tongue, and it floods my taste buds with a sweet, chilling tang.

Poki Bowl offers a wide variety of fresh and bountiful fixings for an inexpensive price. With two locations in San Jose and an impending venue right near Stanford campus, the eatery proves itself a rightfully popular joint for all.

Contact Ashley Phuong at ashleyaphuong ‘at’

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CDC releases preliminary findings on Palo Alto suicide clusters Thu, 21 Jul 2016 08:00:27 +0000 In light of the recent suicides of several Palo Alto teens, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began an epidemiological study in February 2016 that investigated previous youth suicide clusters. Last week, the CDC released preliminary findings of their study, which revealed that mental health problems, recent crises and problems at school were major factors in the suicides of the 232 youths throughout Santa Clara County the CDC investigated.

The CDC’s research revealed that 46 percent of victims had a mental health problem at the time. The most common mental health problems were depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Of the 232 cases studied, 53.7 percent had experienced a major crisis in the last two weeks. Male youths were found to be much less likely to report mental health problems or seek help and had a higher suicide rate than female youths.

Palo Alto has a teen suicide rate more than four times the national average. In the last seven years, Palo Alto has seen 10 teen deaths — six in a cluster during the 2008-09 school year and four in 2014-15. Several of these adolescents took their own lives on the Caltrain tracks near the high schools.

Suicide clusters are defined by the CDC as “three or more suicides in close proximity in regards to time and space.” The first suicide cluster in Palo Alto took place in the spring of 2009 with the deaths of four students affiliated with Gunn High School and two other local teens. The next cluster took place between October 2014 and March 2015, during which four more Palo Alto Unified School District students took their own lives.

The suicides caused students, parents, teachers, school administrators and Stanford to examine the Palo Alto community and its reputation of being a high-pressure area for academic achievement. A community response was developed to address the apparent causes of the suicides in the first cluster: parental pressure and academic stress. Projects, such as “We Can Do Better Palo Alto” were initiated to change the culture of Palo Alto and more programs were being introduced at schools to improve dialogue about mental health and reduce overall stress.

There were also movements to remove “zero period” at local high schools, an optional class period that begins at 7:20 a.m., before normal classes. Although class was initially removed, it was reinstated after outcry from students that extra limitations were not the solution to stress. Overall, the success of the programs is unclear.

As a result, the Santa Clara County Health Department requested that the CDC investigate Palo Alto’s teen suicides on behalf of the Palo Alto School District. Five members of the CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted the study. In February, they came to Palo Alto to consult organizations that worked with youth mental health and suicide prevention and to study county-wide data of 232 suicides from 2003 to 2015.

The CDC found that high school students who had considered suicide were found to have many traits in common; they were much more likely to have missed school in the last month, experienced bullying, used alcohol or drugs in the past, engaged in binge drinking recently or to have identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

The CDC’s report is still incomplete, and its findings may be subject to change as the research continues. However, it does recommend broad steps to prevent future suicide clusters. The report urges those who live or work with youth to be familiar with signs of mental distress. Youths should be “encouraging help-seeking behavior, and ensuring access to quality care.” It also recommends focused outreach to male youths and increased efforts to prevent bullying. Additionally, it mentions the importance of having students develop trusted relationships with teachers or adults in order to make them feel more comfortable discussing a suicidal crisis.

The final report will also include analysis of youth suicide trends, the accuracy and role of media coverage and increased input from members in the community. This report, although preliminary, does provide a basis of facts and recommendations for the community to look to in the continued battle against youth suicide in the county and leads Santa Clara County one step closer to the goal of ending its stigma as a suicide-prone area.

Any person who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal is urged to call 1-800-784-2433 to speak with a crisis counselor.


Contact Ishika Chawla at ishikachawla2000 ‘at’ and Lucille Njoo at ponigalnew ‘at’

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Philosophy Talk faces fundraising woes Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:55 +0000 Philosophy Talk, a one-hour weekly radio show hosted by Stanford philosophy professors John Perry and Kenneth Taylor, ended its first crowd fundraiser July 8 far short of its goal in a bid to close budget gaps, two years after Stanford began decreasing the program’s funding.

The show held its campaign on Indiegogo’s Generosity site — a specific platform of the popular crowdfunder — over the course of two months. The campaign raised about $5,500 of its $150,000 goal as part of an initial effort to continue production.

Director of Marketing Dave McAllister —who joined Philosophy Talk a month ago due to the show’s growing need for self-sufficiency—said that though Philosophy Talk did not reach its fundraising goal, the Generosity campaign was a success in that it allowed the marketing team to “review what worked and what didn’t.”

Philosophy Talk, which first aired 12 years ago, is broadcasted live on San Francisco’s KALW Sundays at 10 a.m. and rebroadcasted on over 430 stations across the country throughout the week. Each week a new guest joins the hosts as an expert on a particular topic. Notable guests include the infamous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, whom the show hosted via video-conference in its “Ethics of Whistleblowing” show last year.

At the show’s inception, Stanford gave Philosophy Talk significant financial support. The University increased that funding five years ago to create new positions, such as Director of Marketing and Head of Research, and to expand the program’s reach to more stations. Since then, Stanford has decreased funding to move Philosophy Talk towards becoming more independent, likely due to competition within the University for funds, said the show’s Head of Research Laura Maguire, Philosophy Ph.D. ’06.

Maguire, who has worked at Philosophy Talk for five years, wishes the University would fund the show again, even if only partially.

“We would all be a lot less anxious about the future of Philosophy Talk if that happened,” Maguire said.

With decreased funding from Stanford, the radio show has struggled to make up the difference. McAllister attributes difficulties in marketing Philosophy Talk to an overall lack of public awareness about philosophy.

“[People] think of [philosophy] as something that doesn’t apply to them in general, whereas philosophy does impact just about every single thing in some way,” McAllister said. “Philosophy Talk allows people to question things in way that they don’t get to think about in everyday life.”

Maguire agreed with McAllister that the show is a good way for people to learn about philosophy and philosophical thinking. Maguire said that the topics she suggests for the show are inspired by what is happening in the world at the time and discussed philosophically at length. For instance, one of the programs addressed white privilege by questioning the definition of privilege.

Maguire also said that fundraising through listeners is only one aspect of the program’s efforts to match its budget of half a million a year, which includes the costs of its three full-time staff members and other part-time staff. Other fundraising methods include grants, merchandise and membership of the online Community of Thinkers that offers bonus content to donating listeners who have partial ownership of the show.

McAllister believes audience expansion and better online presence are necessary if Philosophy Talk is to continue producing at the same quality every week. In his plan for audience expansion, McAllister foresees growing Philosophy Talk’s social reach by 20 percent and its newsletter subscribers by 50 percent by the end of the year. The show also hopes to add 25 to 50 new stations by then. Finally, McAllister plans on “reinventing” the show’s website for mobile devices and focusing more on social media platforms.

Producer Devon Strolovitch, who has been at Philosophy Talk for over 10 years, said the show’s campaign difficulties are not new.

“What we find is that people aren’t going to donate without us asking them to,” Strolovitch said. “It’s a weird dance you have to do, but people aren’t just sitting around thinking ‘how can I donate to you today.’”

The non-profit program also cannot explicitly fundraise on the radio during the show. In addition, many people wrongly believe the show is Stanford-supported in addition to Stanford-based, Strolovitch said.

With new marketing strategies and possible continuation of crowd fundraising planned, McAllister believes Philosophy Talk will continue for the foreseeable future to provide an often underappreciated but vital perspective.

“Philosophy doesn’t necessarily reach conclusions; it ponders questions of which we don’t have answers,” McAllister said. “However, what it does is it provides you with a basis for you to choose which direction you believe the answer should lie. We don’t try to tell you how to think.”

Contact Caitlin Ju at ju.caitlin ‘at’

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Q&A: Joshua Browder ’19, creator of ticket-fighting chatbot Tue, 19 Jul 2016 08:00:32 +0000 (Courtesy of Joshua Browder)

(Courtesy of John Liu)

Joshua Browder ’19 has created what he calls the world’s first robot lawyer to do everything from fighting unfair parking tickets to helping Syrian refugees apply for asylum. The computer science student coded a chatbot named DoNotPay that offers free legal aid by asking questions and then providing the relevant documents for users to mail.

DoNotPay has already overturned 160,000 parking tickets and is currently working to go beyond parking tickets by aiding refugees as well as HIV-positive patients who need help finding the right tools to legally notify their partners. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Browder spoke about the inspiration behind DoNotPay, the effect his service has on its user base and his hopes for the future. Browder discussed the potential that technology has to raise living standards and explained how legal technology can empower people with limited options.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Why did you decide to create DoNotPay?

Joshua Browder (JB): It was kind of by accident. At the age of eighteen…I got a large number of parking tickets myself. It was quite embarrassing, and after about the fourth ticket, my parents said to me: “you’re on your own, we’re not going to help you with your tickets anymore”… So, out of necessity, I kind of had to become this local parking guru. I began helping my family and friends and I thought that it would be such a cool side project to kind of show off to everyone if I could create a chatbot to help people appeal their tickets automatically.

TSD: What are your thoughts about gaining access to legal aid?

JB: I think it’s really a big problem worldwide. You have these parking tickets that are around $150 sometimes, at the higher end. It can cost $50 just to challenge them. So even if you’re successful, you have to pay one-third of the price, and [for] people who are on limited income or with no income, this is just financially crippling for them.

TSD: Have you heard any stories from your users about how you’ve helped them?

JB: Yes. One I talk about a lot is an elderly pensioner in the north of England who made a very small mistake… [She’s] on the state pension, which is about 240 pounds a week, and the parking ticket, if she didn’t pay immediately, was 120 pounds. So she was being deprived of half of her pension, which she needed to pay for all the food, heating… It’s really debilitating and wrong of the government to be taking this amount for such a small mistake… It’s almost a human rights issue.

TSD: I read that you’re branching out from just dealing with parking tickets. Could you talk a bit about the expansion of your app?

JB: It will help Syrian asylum seekers in the United Kingdom apply for refugee status, and the way that will work is the bot will be able to understand Arabic and answer questions in Arabic, but produce documents in English.

TSD: Why did you feel that it was so important to fight against parking tickets and for Syrian refugees?

JB: I think that there is so much potential with technology in general, but it’s almost disappointing what’s happening. For example, lots of bots have been released recently, and all they can do is order pizzas or get flowers, but I want to be able to actually help people, and I think that is not being done as much as it should.

TSD: What are your hopes for your bot in the future?

JB: My hopes are that it will level the playing field. There is so much inequality in the law with the richest people in society getting advantages in the legal system. My hope is that one day everyone can have the same standard of legal protection as a billionaire.

This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed.

Contact Shilpa Sajja at 19ssajja ‘at’

]]> 0 (Courtesy of Joshua Browder) (Courtesy of Joshua Browder)
Cardinal well-represented at 2016 Bank of the West Classic Mon, 18 Jul 2016 22:25:11 +0000 Stanford women’s tennis will see its fair share of action during the following week in the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Taube Family Tennis Stadium, headlined by newly turned professional athlete Carol Zhao facing off against Stanford alum and current world No. 71 Nicole Gibbs in the first round.

The main draw tournament runs from July 18-24, with the battle of the Stanford athletes getting underway on Monday at 7 p.m. Zhao, ranked No. 346 in the world, earned a wildcard into the main draw, while Gibbs was one of the 20 professional players selected for the tournament field based on ranking. The winner of their match will advance to face the 4th-seeded Coco VandeWeghe, ranked No. 35 in the world, on Thursday at 7 p.m.

However, the Stanford duo will not be separated for long as they also compete in the doubles draw, this time as a team. Zhao and Gibbs will face off against Arina Rodionova from Australia and Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Zhao has played in this tournament for the past two years, falling in the first round last year to world No. 57 Mona Barthel. Gibbs reached the second round of last year’s tournament before losing to world No. 20 Elina Svitolina.

Zhao decided last month to forgo her senior year at Stanford in order to pursue her professional career. Playing at the team’s No. 1 spot for the past two years, Zhao has seen incredible success in a Cardinal uniform. The 2015 NCAA Singles runner-up accumulated a career 76-16 record and was a three-time all-conference pick. Zhao was instrumental in Stanford’s 2016 NCAA championship run despite missing much of the season competing in tournaments and training with the Canadian national Fed Cup team. After the Cardinal started their season 6-3, Zhao’s return to the lineup prompted Stanford to win 16 of its last 19 matches, with the team ultimately capturing its 19th national championship.

Gibbs, who has been competing professionally since leaving Stanford after her junior season, finished her successful college career with 111-15 overall record. An All-American in singles during each of her three seasons at Stanford, she was a two-time NCAA champion (2012, 2013) and a two-time NCAA singles champion as well.

Both Zhao and Gibbs remained busy in the weeks prior to the tournament. Zhao recently competed at the $25K Winnipeg National Bank Challenger in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Coming off a loss in the Round of 128 at Wimbledon, Gibbs played in the Stockton Challenger, a $50K USTA Pro Circuit tournament held at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

The Stanford ties continued as returning sophomores Melissa Lord and Caroline Lampl received wildcards into the tournament’s qualifying draw. On Saturday, Lord dropped a 6-2, 6-3 decision to Olga Govortsova. Lampl also fell in the first round to Asia Muhammad, 6-1, 6-0.

Playing a prominent role down the stretch this season, Lord won 10 of her last 11 matches, posting a 25-12 overall record, including 16-7 in dual matches. Lampl also enjoyed a tremendous rookie season as she led the Cardinal in overall victories (30-5), including 13 of her 14 matches at the No. 5 spot in the lineup.

Local top-ranked junior Catherine ‘Cici’ Bellis has also accepted a wildcard into the main draw of the tournament. After winning the USTA Girls 18’s National Championships, the 17-year-old from Atherton rose to national fame in 2014 after knocking off world No. 13 Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the US Open at the age of just 15. 

The playing field also includes some of the top names in women’s tennis, including world No. 7 Venus Williams and No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova. Americans Coco VandeWeghe and Varvara Lepchenko are seeded in the tournament as well.

The Bank of the West Classic is the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world and is the first stop of the Emirates Airlines US Open Series. Tickets and more information can be found at


Contact Benjamin Chen at thebenchen10 ‘at’

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Stanford men win first Capital One Men’s Cup, women runners-up Fri, 15 Jul 2016 16:59:39 +0000 Stanford Men’s Athletics captured its first Capital One Cup as the nation’s most successful athletics program during the 2015-16 campaign.  The Cardinal women finished second after winning the Cup for three straight years.

The Capital One Cup is awarded annually to the best men’s and women’s NCAA Division I athletics programs for their cumulative on-field performance across all collegiate sports. Teams earn points for their schools based on their top-10 finishes in NCAA championships and final official coaches’ polls across 21 women’s and 20 men’s sports.

Stanford and USC, the winner on the women’s side, will receive a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships and will both be recognized at the 2016 ESPYS on July 13.

The Stanford men totaled 126 points, edging runner-up North Carolina (108). The Cardinal women scored 86 points, losing out to USC (94).

Stanford got off to a strong start in the 2015-16 academic year by winning the NCAA title in men’s soccer, and secured top-10 finishes from football (ranked No. 3 in final USA Today Coaches’ Poll) and men’s water polo (ranked No. 5 in final CWPA poll).

In the spring, Stanford received boosts from men’s track and field (eighth at NCAA Championships, sixth at MPSF Championships), men’s gymnastics (NCAA runner-up) and men’s volleyball (ranked No. 6 in final AVCA poll).

The Cardinal women earned a national championship in tennis as well as top-10 finishes in soccer, gymnastics, swimming and diving, golf, lacrosse, outdoor track and field, rowing and water polo.

Prior to this year, Stanford’s best performance in the Men’s Cup was a fifth-place finish in the 2010-11 inaugural trophy presentation.


Contact Matthew Oh at mattoh ‘at’

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Louis Newman appointed associate vice provost Thu, 14 Jul 2016 08:00:34 +0000 Louis Newman joined Stanford this month as the new associate vice provost and director of undergraduate advising and research. Newman will oversee all academic advising directors and undergraduate research funding as well as coordinate programs for undergraduates, including the process of academic review and progress for students facing academic difficulty.

He replaces Rob Urstein, who is now the managing director of global innovation programs and lecturer in management at the Graduate School of Business.

Newman draws on his 33 years of experience as both a faculty member in the religion department and administrator at the private liberal arts college Carleton, most notably as the associate dean of the college and director of advising.

“I loved [advising] as much as the teaching, and I began to think of teaching and advising really as being very much of a piece,” Newman said. “I was teaching [my advisees] about how to be better students and teaching them how to think about their education. That to me made a lot of sense, to bring together teaching and advising.”

Newman taught Judaic studies at Carleton and believes his experience as a faculty member and as a researcher will prove helpful for his role at Stanford.

Though the undergraduate advising and research components of his new position might seem separate, Newman views the two as connected in several ways. For example, advisors can suggest research projects and alert students to opportunities related to the $5 million in annual research support that Stanford provides for undergraduates. This research experience can lead students to change their majors or have another conversation with the advisor.

“I worked a lot at Carleton on making sure that advising was more than just a transaction where a student had a conversation with an advisor to get an answer to a very specific question,” Newman said. “I like to think about advising in a more holistic way, so I like to stimulate conversations between students and advisors about bigger questions.”

Newman is looking forward to the challenge of helping the undergraduate advising and research team work together more effectively, as well as immersing himself in the Stanford community.

“Advising plays a critically important role in helping students navigate their way through this institution and then out of it into the world,” Newman said. “Academic advising is really at the heart of what educational institutions should be concerned with.”


Contact Caitlin Ju at ju.caitlin ‘at’

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Brock Turner trial inspires legislation, recall campaign Wed, 13 Jul 2016 08:00:51 +0000 Following accusations of lenient sentencing in the Brock Turner case, California legislators on June 20 introduced Assembly Bill 2888, which would effectively mandate a minimum sentence of three years in prison for those convicted of sexual assault. Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), Assemblymen Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Bill Dodd (D-Napa) are the three Northern Californian legislators behind the bill.

“What we’re doing is saying [that] regardless of whether the victim is intoxicated, a rapist has to go to jail and can’t just get off with a slap on the wrist,” Low said in an email to The Daily. “Rape is rape, plain and simple. We have a rape epidemic on our college campuses right now and we need to stand up and say no more.”

In the January 2015 assault, Turner was convicted of three felonies: assault with the intent to commit rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious person. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85 sentenced him to a six month term in county jail and three years probation on June 2.

The current state law mandates a state prison term of three, six or eight years for rape, which is defined as “nonconsensual sexual intercourse accomplished by force,” according to California Penal Code Section 261. According to Low, this definition of rape, condemned by several California lawmakers as archaic, does not include penetration of any kind without consent, thereby creating a loophole for sex offenders like Turner.

Furthermore, according to Low, a rapist has to “have used force” to trigger a mandatory prison sentence. But if a victim is unconscious or severely intoxicated, then the rapist doesn’t have to use force, Low said.

According to Stanford Law School’s William H. Neukom Professor of Law Mark Lemley, the current law also attempts to set a minimum prison sentence in cases of sex crimes. But judges can, as Persky did in the Turner case, “avoid that result by citing extraordinary circumstances and the interests of justice,” Lemley said.

“AB 2888 is an effort to make clearer that the intended punishment for rape and sexual assault of an unconscious person is prison, not probation,” he said.

Deputy Public Defender Sajid Khan, an opponent of AB 2888, defends Persky’s sentence in an article for the National Association for Public Defense (NAPD):

Mass incarceration is largely a result of judges who have either not utilized discretion in sentencing or who have been deprived by state legislatures of discretion. This lack of discretion has manifested in draconian sentences and overfilled prisons. Rather than using robotic, one-size-fits-all punishment schemes, we want judges, like Judge Persky, to engage in thoughtful, case-by-case, individualized determinations of the appropriate sentence for a particular crime and particular offender.

Low, however, disagrees with accusations of mass incarceration. He expects the bill to impact 100-200 sexual assault cases currently being adjudicated in California, but believes that “100-200 cases would not imply mass incarceration” and that “anyone who has raised this as a concern is simply trying to avoid the issue at hand,” he said.

Several Stanford professors, on the other hand, are less interested in new legislation and more focused on recalling Persky.

Stanford Law School’s Frederick I. Richman Professor of Law Michele Dauber believes that “changing the law won’t do anything to hold Judge Persky accountable and won’t do anything about the fact that [Persky] is biased,” she said.

“Honestly, I think that Persky’s decision on the Turner case abused his discretion,” Dauber said. “I don’t think the answer is taking away discretion from a thousand good judges in order to deal with the problem of one bad judge. The solution is to elect a different judge.”

Referencing the De Anza Community College gang rape case that Persky presided over, Dauber accused Persky of “bending over backwards to help [the perpetrators] out and giving them every opportunity not to be found responsible,” she said.

Dauber helped establish a campaign to recall Persky, which is endorsed by the Progressive Women of Silicon Valley. The movement has since raised $300,000; GRLCVLT, a nationwide secret society promoting justice for women, is one of its major donors and will be holding a benefit concert for the campaign on Aug. 1 in Brooklyn.

“I don’t want victims [to be with] a judge who isn’t compassionate about sexual assault, who doesn’t understand the trauma and isn’t going to take the crime seriously,” Dauber added.

In his article for The Guardian, David Palumbo-Liu, professor of comparative literature, also endorses the recall campaign, citing the Ramirez case as evidence of racial and class bias on Persky’s part. Raul Ramirez, an immigrant from San Salvador who was convicted of sexually assaulting his female roommate in a case similar to Turner’s, was sentenced by Persky to three years in state prison.

“Judicial discretion can only be entrusted to judges who will exercise it fairly in all cases,” Palumbo-Liu wrote in his piece for The Guardian. “The road to reform that protects the rights of all of those caught up in the criminal justice system — men and women, white and nonwhite, poor and privileged — has to be a willingness to root out bias wherever it exists.”


Contact Karissa Dong at karissadong ‘at’ and Rachel Zhang at rachel.m.zhang ‘at’

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Researchers develop ‘chemotherapy missiles’ to solely target cancer cells Wed, 13 Jul 2016 08:00:43 +0000 Jennifer Cochran, associate professor of bioengineering, has led development of a new way to target cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. Cochran and her coauthors’ research on “guided chemotherapy missiles” appeared in June issues of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and Angewandte Chemie.

Courtesy of Jennifer Cochran

(Courtesy of Jennifer Cochran)

The idea is to use an engineered protein that links to molecular antennae on the surface of a cancer cell. These antennae can differentiate healthy tissue from tumor tissue and become a conduit to directly deliver chemotherapy into the tumor cells.

“Chemotherapy is extremely toxic since it indiscriminately kills healthy cells in addition to tumor cells,” Cochran said. “And for that reason we and others are motivated to develop ways to more selectively target chemotherapy to tumors to make it safer and more effective.”

Chemotherapy’s toxic nature gives it many limitations; figuring out the right dosage without harming healthy tissue can be quite challenging. The engineered protein could potentially decrease these limitations with more potent chemotherapy directly administered to the tumor. The goal is increased safety for the patient.

Cochran and her team’s research on the chemotherapy missiles built on their previous work creating a tumor-targeting protein that functioned as a “molecular flashlight” to image tumors. The engineered protein used a knot-like protein called knottin that has the capacity to detect cancer cells.

“Once we saw the tumors lighting up in these experiments, it inspired us to use the same engineered protein as a vehicle to deliver drugs to tumors,” Cochran said.

Academic and industrial work has used a similar approach with large proteins called antibodies. But smaller engineered proteins such as knottin penetrate the tumor wall more easily. Tumors are dense, so smaller proteins are better at wiggling inside them.

Cochran has always had a passion for the proteins fundamental to her chemotherapy missiles. She started studying proteins with basic science and then moved on to manipulating them through design and engineering methods. Her protein fascination — along with a desire to cure cancer and help save lives — drove her latest work.

According to Cochran, the new approach is promising so far. Although the technology has been successfully tested in animals and cells in a dish, it is not ready for human use yet.

“We need to continue to test in models for therapeutic efficiency and potency before getting it to patients,” Cochran explained. “More trials need to take place, and manufacturing is a big part of the picture as well. It will cost a lot and take a lot more time, but getting it to the public is our ultimate goal.”

Contact Meghna Gaddam at meghna.gaddam ‘at’

]]> 0 Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 10.15.19 PM Courtesy of Jennifer Cochran
Cantor exhibit ‘Soulmaker’ is a haunting rememberance of things past Tue, 12 Jul 2016 21:09:53 +0000 “Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine” is an exhibition and newly released book by Stanford arts and humanities professor Alexander Nemerov, on view at the Cantor Arts Center. The exhibit follows the life of early-20th-century social activist and photographer Lewis Hine with an in-depth exploration of his photo series documenting the plight of child workers.

When looking at “Soulmaker” as an exhibit, photographs are spread around the room, grouped into little clusters meant to tell contained narratives. The exhibit is an intriguing exploration of Hine’s legacy, as it combines both past and present, with Hine’s original photography and Stanford alum Jason Francisco’s pictures trying to recapture the fading history within the sites in which Hine’s subjects once lived and suffered.

What ties these snapshots together is the subjects’ isolation — how do these children, far too mature for their age, deal with the repetition and the monotony of their daily lives? Many curious eyes look into the camera, directly back at Hine. They want to know why this man is pointing such a strange device at them.

Just as one girl looks out the factory window and finds herself restricted, the child workers in Hine’s photos are all trapped as young members of the American workforce. Bound to their families and communities, these workers show a wide variety of expressions, from smiling faces to suspicious glares to wistful, dead-eyed gazes. The silent takeaway is that these children are burdened by the government’s response to economic, social and political issues. Faced with a lack of freedom to play and explore, accepting of their roles, resigned to their dreamless futures, these children march on with a hope of improving their lives.

In Nemerov’s synopsis of the gallery, he makes readers ponder the legacy of Hine’s photos, asking whether those child workers disappeared and if their presence can be felt again. He introduces Jason Francisco, a photographer and Stanford graduate who aims to recapture Hine’s work. Francisco visits locations where Hine took photos of buildings or fields where the children once stood. His color-filled, clear photos are grouped with the grainy images Hine’s took a century ago, an attempt to remember traces of a lost history, since the children’s suffering seems to have vanished without a trace. The child workers seem to haunt the locations Francisco tried to recapture, left behind and forgotten.

Professor Nemerov conveys his admiration of Hine’s work through his “Soulmaker” exhibit, commemorating his legacy by grouping Hine’s photos to be mediated in a new, fleeting way. He suggests that the children are stuck in time and continue to exist in each photo, combining Francisco’s efforts with photos of the past. That contrast evokes an eerie feeling, implying that their time of life is gone and that almost nothing of the child laborers remain, except for those precious and ephemeral photographs.

“Soulmaker” runs until October 24, 2016, at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts.


Contact Ify Ezechukwu at ify199898 ‘at’ and Jessica Xing at jessica.xing1998 ‘at’

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Film review: Nuns’ yarn ‘The Innocents’ is a chilly affair Tue, 12 Jul 2016 20:47:34 +0000 Anne Fontaine’s “The Innocents” is an admirable attempt at answering the age-old question of faith versus science, but it doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Equipped with skillful cinematography and a story with plenty of promise, veteran director Fontaine’s newest film is, in the end, a cold disappointment.

Based on a true story, this film follows French Red Cross medic Mathilde Beaulieu (Lou de Laâge), as she becomes involved with a problematic situation taking place inside a secluded Polish convent after World War II. Upon her arrival at the convent, Mathilde is shocked by what she discovers: several pregnant nuns who have suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of Soviet soldiers.

Fontaine treats religion and science with an impressive sense of respect as as the film delves into the separate world enclosed by the walls of the convent. Mathilde, an atheist from a communist family, immediately clashes with the strictly devout Mother Superior (Agata Kulesza). The Mother Superior is severe and closed off, but in her we see a fiercely protective maternal figure who strives to protect the convent and its inhabitants’ reputations at all costs. The film starts with the Mathilde and the Mother Superior in direct opposition, but as the story progresses, faith and science begin to merge. Mathilde forms an unexpected partnership with Sister Maria (Agata Buzek), a figure of stability in the convent. Maria is able to act as the middle ground between Mathilde and the unwavering Mother Superior, inviting both the nuns and the audience alike to be open to the grey area between the polar opposites.

The film is beautifully shot in cool blues and greys, a reflection of the often somber, quiet nature of the story. However, the artistic cinematography does not mask the film’s major shortcoming: the lack of emotional connection with the audience. “The Innocents” is a classic case of a plot-driven story that leaves too little time for the audience to get to know the characters; as a result, it is nearly impossible to get a sense of who the characters are and to understand their motivations.

This is partly due to Fontaine’s imbalanced focus on Mathilde: although the story follows her experience, we know little of her background and she rarely provides a visceral reaction to the events of the film. Her role is that of a mediator who can allow the nuns to share their own stories and reveal their individualities, but Fontaine wastes her in short and irrelevant scenes referencing. The disconnect is detrimental, as many of the poignant scenes between Mathilde and the nuns in the film do not quite evoke the empathy they should. Thus, we are left studying the characters from a distant perspective.

This is not to discredit the admirable performances of some members of the talented cast. Agata Kulesza’s portrayal of the icy Mother Superior is one of the bright spots in this film. Kulesza explores the complexities of her character well, unwrapping each layer of the Mother Superior’s personality, and makes her character the most developed in the film. The first impression of the Mother Superior is a somewhat negative one. She is cold and strict. As the film progresses, however, Kulesza masterfully reveals what lies beneath her stern façade.

Agata Buzek’s Sister Maria is similarly laudable. Sister Maria is arguably the central character of the film despite the focus on Mathilde’s life; she is the representation of the push and pull of faith and science, and Buzek portrays her pivotal character with great respect. Like the Mother Superior, Maria is seen as detached and severe at first, but we begin to root for her as her backstory is revealed and we see her stand up for herself and what she believes in.

The result is a quiet but commendable attempt somewhat muted by the disconnect between the characters and audience. Despite a triumphant cookie-cutter ending, “The Innocents” is an imaginative look into the ways in which we choose to heal and persevere after facing crippling tragedy.


Contact Gwen Cusing at 17gcusing ‘at’

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Undergrad antibiotic treatment startup receives grant Tue, 12 Jul 2016 08:00:45 +0000 (LINDA CICERO/Stanford News)

(LINDA CICERO/Stanford News)

Four undergraduate students looking to develop antibiotic treatments to multidrug-resistant bacteria recently received a $10,000 grant from Stanford’s chemistry, engineering & medicine for human health (ChEM-H) department for their biotechnology startup.

The students involved in the startup, Christian Choe ’17, Maria Filsinger Interrante ’17, Zach Rosenthal ’17 and Catherynn Vuong ’16, met through a ChEM-H entrepreneurship research program led by chemistry and chemical engineering professor Chaitan Khosla. Khosla introduced the program during CHEM 181: “Biochemistry I,” which all four students were taking at the start of the academic year. The program, which was new as of the last academic year, seeks to continue offering mentorship and resources to students interested in biotechnological entrepreneurship.

“We thought it would be interesting to help students see the context of what they learn in a real world setting,” Khosla said.

The students were eager to take advantage of the unique opportunity to understand biotechnology in an entrepreneurial setting.

“At Stanford, there’s certainly a startup culture,” Rosenthal said. “But when it comes to the biosciences, it seems like that was lacking. I love the entrepreneurial attitude at Stanford, and I certainly have a passion for the sciences and have some experience with lab work, so it just seemed like a great opportunity.”

With an increase in antibiotic use, variations and mutations in bacteria have evolved to become resistant to those antibiotics already available. Researchers recently encountered the first individual to carry the bacteria impervious to colistin, the so-called “last resort” antibiotic.

“The reason why I was interested in antibiotics was that it was a big unmet medical need,” Choe said. “Big pharmaceutical companies aren’t really interested in pursuing the development of antibiotics because it’s not as profitable and also because bacteria is developing relatively quickly.”

The team has been putting together a plan to study Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii, both of which are bacteria with strong resistance to antibiotics.

Starting out with more low-risk bacteria, the team is testing their antibiotic against E. coli this summer. If proved successful, the group will be testing resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii with their antibiotic proteins.

“I would say we’re in preliminary testing,” Interrante said. “We have the proteins that we want to work with, and we’re starting to see how they work. We haven’t demonstrated our final result yet; we want to, and we’re definitely making progress towards that.”

Although the team has a lot of work left to do, they are optimistic about the future, especially given the qualities that each individual brings to the table.

“I think that every one of us provides something that we are ungodly good at,” Rosenthal said. “We each make unique contributions to the team. All four of us aren’t the same, and that’s good because it provides some intellectual diversity.”


Contact Ethan Teo at ethanteo99 ‘at’ and Nicole Chen at 19nicolec ‘at’


]]> 0 biotech (LINDA CICERO/Stanford News)
Santa Clara County approves partnership to acquire Buena Vista mobile home park Tue, 12 Jul 2016 08:00:38 +0000 Vijeet Chaugule/THE STANFORD DAILY


After a four-year battle between the owner of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, the City of Palo Alto and Buena Vista residents, there is a chance that one of Palo Alto’s last islands of affordable housing may be saved, as a plan for the county to acquire and improve the park was approved in recent weeks.

The three partners to fund the effort — the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, the Palo Alto City Council and the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County — all unanimously backed the plan over the past three weeks. The City Council and Housing Authority approved the plan about two weeks ago following the County’s initial greenlight June 21.

The plan between these three agencies calls for a $14.5 million contribution of affordable housing fees each from both the County and the city of Palo Alto to purchase the property from the Jisser family — the park’s owners — at fair market value, with an additional set of funding from the Housing Authority dedicated to improving the state of the park.

Previous efforts to save Buena Vista have gone awry, but Palo Alto Mayor Patrick Burt is hopeful that this plan will satisfy parties on all sides of the issue.

“The property owner will be guaranteed fair market value for his property and the residents will be able to stay in a renovated trailer park,” Burt said.

Palo Alto and Santa Clara County now await the owner’s decision on whether to accept the purchase and acquisition offer. If the owner does not accept, the Housing Authority may use its powers of eminent domain to force the sale.

Burt believes that the plan — if executed — will finally calm the frustrations of both Buena Vista residents dealing with an uncertain living situation and deficiencies in park facilities and other Palo Altans who have pushed for the park to stay.

“[The park] would be an improved infrastructure and residence over what exists today,” Burt said. “The community … has expressed very strongly that they value the retention of Buena Vista as a part of our community for providing both social and economic diversity and vital housing for low-income people.”

Vice president of the Buena Vista Association Mary Kear, who has lived in the mobile park for 11 years, believes funding for park improvements will particularly benefit the residents. According to Kear, the facilities have not been up to par, even though rents were raised every year.

Last Monday, the city also scored a victory when a federal ruling dismissed the owner’s against Palo Alto. Attorney Larry Salzman, who represents the Jisser family, said he is “outraged” by the situation.

“Making the Jissers preserve a mobile home park — by taking private land to turn over for the benefit of a particular group, from an individual’s private property — is not the kind of public service that traditionally comes to mind,” Salzman said.

Buena Vista residents, however, take a different view. For them, the plan is a chance for security and stability after a volatile period of four years, Kear said.

Kear recalled a time of uncertainty during which residents’ hopes of saving Buena Vista were repeatedly raised and then dashed. Neighbors told her that their families might be separated if the park was closed. Parents would have had to move to low-income housing in areas with less highly regarded schools and contemplated sending their children to relatives who lived in areas known for better education. A psychologist was even brought in with the aid of Stanford’s professor of education Amado Padilla to help children who were having nightmares about the situation.

Although residents are still in limbo while they await the Jissers’ decision, Kear noted a heightened sense of optimism within the park.

“For a while people were just scared because we waited and waited,” Kear said. “In the beginning it was overwhelming for everybody. Now you see people having hope again.”

Residents and advocates such as Friends of Buena Vista founder Winter Dallenbach attribute the success of the save-Buena-Vista plan to the mobile park residents themselves.

“Every time they were asked to step up, they stepped up and then, on their own, took up the initiative over and over again,” Dallenbach said. “If there was ever a group of people that was determined to stay some place to survive, it was that group of people.”

Contact Shagun Khare at ‘at’

]]> 0 Buena Vista _ Vijeet Vijeet Chaugule/THE STANFORD DAILY
‘Before Stanford’: Exploring interactions through the ages Mon, 11 Jul 2016 08:00:22 +0000 Shards of a Chinese vase, a stone mortar and pestle and a brass phoenix button: These artifacts and many more are currently on display in the exhibit Before Stanford: Founding Communities, Present Pasts, a collection of artifacts from the Stanford University Archaeology Collections curated by students.

The four-case exhibit was the result of a class, ARCHLGY 134: “Museum Cultures: Material Representation in the Past and Present,” taught by Christina Hodge, academic curator and collections manager. Over a 10-week quarter, students attended lectures and tours to gain background information and then split into groups of three to create the different cases that make up the exhibit.

The display offers an inside look at the lives of three main groups who once lived on the Farm: the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, Spanish colonialists and the workers at Jane and Leland Stanford’s mansion. As a whole, the exhibit emphasizes the role of Stanford’s past in the present and future.

Creating the exhibit

While Hodge curated the introductory case and provided advice, the students designed the layout of the cases, drafted explanatory texts and mounted the artifacts.

The process of finding and displaying the interactions between people at different times in Stanford’s history taught students about everything that goes into creating an exhibit.

“I definitely think about museums differently now — the stuff that has to go into just displaying something,” said student curator Nylah Byrd ’18.

Picking the artifacts for each case required careful thought. After group members established a theme for their case, they looked for artifacts within the Stanford collection that were able to tell a story about the people in their given time period.

Student curator Michelle Kwon ’16 explained how a simple call bell wire from the Stanford mansion represented the relationship between employee and employer at the time it operated.

The wire connected the bells in the house, which gave employees and employers the freedom to communicate with each other despite not being in the same physical space. But Kwon pointed out the irony in the situation: Those working for the Stanfords may have had physical freedom, but they were required to answer calls and could not come and go as they pleased.

Before splitting into groups, all students spoke with an expert in order to understand objects from the Muwekma Ohlone tribe.

According to Hodge, Muwekma Ohlone chairwoman Rosemary Cambra spoke with the class to emphasize “the creativity and persistence of [her] ancestral community, the complexity of their religious traditions and … how important Stanford lands remain to them.”

The talk allowed students to understand not only the significance of each artifact but also the role that the Muwekma Ohlone people have played and continue to play in Stanford’s history.

“When we were creating the exhibit, we really tried to make sure that we didn’t portray the Native American population as something that was only in the past,” Byrd said. “We tried to really make sure that [it was shown that] the society still exists… It’s still present today.”

Kwon also emphasized that the Ohlone are still present today and should be understood and respected. She feels that this understanding has been lacking in the past decades.

Lessons from history

“Before Stanford” showcases not only specific time periods but also the connections between them. Take, for example, the phoenix button in the “Missions and Rancheros” case, which chronicles Spanish colonialism with artifacts from Mission Dolores and the Buenal Rodrigues Adobe, a 19th-century Mexican farmstead. As Hodge explained, there is more to the button than first meets the eye.

“[The button was] made in England for a ruler in Haiti, then traded in California and was almost certainly owned and valued by an indigenous laborer on the Buelna estate in the 1830s,” Hodge said. “This tiny personal item prompts us to recognize the experiences of Native people in early California and the vast dynamics of colonialism and globalization.”

Kwon said researching the interactions between different groups in each time period allowed her to learn more about what makes an interaction between different groups a positive one.

“Being able to be open and understand each other is one of the more fundamental roots that can create cooperation and, again, respect,” Kwon said.

While rooted in the past, material in the “Missions and Rancheros” case may influence future decisions on campus. “Mission and Rancheros” touches on colonialism; a campaign to rename Stanford buildings and streets named after Junipero Serra grew out of controversy surrounding Serra’s role in colonization of the area.

Carson Smith ’19 is a student senator on campus as well as a member of the Native community due to her family ties with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Smith said that exhibits like “Before Stanford” may help the renaming campaign by calling attention to the injustices done to Native peoples.

“Showing Stanford recognizes this [issue of the Serra buildings], and [that] we have archaeology exhibits that recognize this … could be really helpful,” Smith said.

Smith believes that showcasing history may help combat the argument that Serra’s actions were normal for the time period and therefore not a problem. She said history exhibits that call attention to missionaries’ treatment of Native peoples acknowledge the flaws in the missionaries’ ways despite what their eras may have accepted.

“You can bet that you’ll at least affect a handful of people at the very least, and that’s all you can really ask for and hope that that just snowballs,” Smith said. “You have to start somewhere, right?”


Contact ZaZu Lippert at zazulippert ‘at’

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The Outsiders avoid the sophomore slump on ‘O/X2’ Mon, 11 Jul 2016 01:15:18 +0000 The Outsiders in the studio. (JACOB NIERENBERG/The Stanford Daily)

The Outsiders in rehearsal. (JACOB NIERENBERG/The Stanford Daily)

Though it is hardly a concept exclusive to hip-hop, the sequel album holds undeniable weight in those orbits. Consider some of the most acclaimed rap albums of the decade so far: Future’s “DS2,” Run the Jewels’ “Run the Jewels 2,” Meek Mill’s “Dreamchasers 2.” Some rappers don’t release sequels to their most famous works until a few albums later; after the mixed reception of the albums that followed “The Marshall Mathers LP” and “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…,” Eminem and Raekwon revisited them more than a decade later to critical acclaim. The reason for this is not just about the music, but the dynasty that it builds. Trends in hip-hop change faster than in any other genre, and artists are judged as much by the strength of their trademark as they are for the quality of their music—perhaps even more so. Anyone within earshot of a radio surely can’t forget the choruses of “Run This Town” and “Empire State of Mind,” but do you remember that Jay-Z was even on those songs? No? Well, “The Blueprint 3” sold nearly three million copies all the same.

The latest hip-hop outfit to try their hand at a sequel album is none other than Stanford’s own Outsiders. It’s been just over a year since they made waves with their debut, “O/X1,” a solid mixtape that combined socially conscious hip-hop with some absolute bangers. Following some lineup changes, the gang is back for seconds, and on “O/X2,” the Outsiders deliver a sequel that is every bit as good as its predecessor—and, in some respects, even outdoes it. Credit to the production trio of Doza, C4 and faruhdey, who play a much larger role than on the previous outing, and EAGLEBABEL—who also pulled triple duties as producer, mixer, and master—for creating a much lusher, more varied soundscape than on “O/X1.” The three producers each get to show off their chops on their own musical interludes; despite some daffy sampling courtesy of Cartoon Network on Doza’s “Hamboning (Interlude)” and C4’s “Jacked (Interlude),” these tracks suggest that they’re really starting to lock down their signature sounds. The fact that all but one track was self-produced by the band goes to show how capable the Outsiders are in the studio and how they can really make these songs sound great. Surely Doza, C4 and faruhdey will only grow more skilled behind the console and put out more creative, catchy beats.

The songwriting on this mixtape is of exceptional quality as well. EAGLEBABEL’s fingerprints are all over, being featured over half of the project’s 14 tracks. His “#FinesseLove,” which opens the album, carries the same balance of existential dread and rapturous joy that makes Chance the Rapper so beloved. (EAGLEBABEL even throws in a convincing “agh!” or two.) A few tracks later, Eli Arbor brings his vivid lyrical storytelling—sharpened on his odyssey of self-discovery, “IDols”—to the track “Last Train to Toronto,” offering a very different view than that of Drake from his fortress of solitude in the 6. Eli excels at character studies through his raps; when he laments that “‘round here no one graduates / A’s only come with R’s and K’s,” you get the sense that these are real people and not stock characters, almost as if Eli personally knew the “hood stoners” and “thick chicks” that he references. When EAGLEBABEL and Eli join forces on early standout “Jealous,” it brings out the best in both of them and truly lives up to why this band is has the name that it does. The duo let loose about not fitting in—academically, socially, racially, artistically—trading fantastically quotable lines. EAGLEBABEL calls: “If I don’t sign my identity to Hollywood or Ivy Leagues / Then obviously the credit ain’t meant for me.” Eli responds: “Believe us when we say that this gift isn’t heaven sent / ‘Cause we’ve been through hell, just to fit our own message in.” Though one might expect these misfits to yearn for acceptance, “Jealous” defiantly asserts that they are anything but, and are proud of their differences even as they tear down the attitudes that devalue them.

Some of the experiments on the back half of the album yield mixed results. Doza’s other production, “Corazon (Homecoming),” deftly mixes a Latin beat with vocal clippings and guitar riffs, and is the most danceable track on the album, but sometimes the overlaid piano clutters up (or even washes out) the sonic collage. And while Jae’s two earlier tracks are smooth and soulful, her collaborative track “On the Floor” unfortunately falls flat. Jae’s voice has a lightness to it that serves “D4U” (a duet with EAGLEBABEL) and “Can’t Take It” well, but lacks the energy to help her attempt at a rap verse leave the ground. The album quickly returns to form, however, with Eli’s relationship post-mortem, “AFC,” and hits a late peak with the stunning “Love Ballad.” Coupled with its introduction, the song starts with a piano piece from EAGLEBABEL that merges gorgeously with faruhdey’s beats. After five minutes of instrumental, EAGLEBABEL comes in out of nowhere, delivering one of his absolute best raps yet. “I was in the pew and I was looking at you / There was nothing but the weight of the world under my shoes,” he says, before vanishing just as suddenly as he appeared. It’s such a fantastic verse, and it’s over so soon, that you might wish that he’d stuck around a little longer.

The album ends with a reprise of the poem that ended “O/X1,” a deliberate callback to what brought the Outsiders to where they are now. Since that debut mixtape, the Outsiders have explored their own solo careers, discovered their strengths as musicians, and experimented with their sound. Upon reuniting in the studio, they’ve produced another promising record. While framing “O/X2” as a sequel, on one hand, implies that it is a progression of the work that came before it, it also, just as strongly, makes the case that the Outsiders have more to share with us.


Contact Jacob Nierenberg at jhn2017 ‘at’

]]> 0 Outsiders The Outsiders in the studio. (JACOB NIERENBERG/The Stanford Daily)
Dwight Powell ’14 signs four-year extension with Dallas Mavericks Sun, 10 Jul 2016 23:42:39 +0000 Former Stanford basketball standout Dwight Powell ’14 signed a four-year deal worth $37 million on Sunday to return to the Dallas Mavericks, according to several reports. The power forward, previously a restricted free agent, will return to a Mavericks team that has been active in the offseason, re-signing Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams and acquiring Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Golden State Warriors.

Powell played four years at Stanford, averaging 14.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in his senior year.  The five-star high school recruit received first-team All-Pac-12 honors twice in his career. Powell earned his degree in science, technology and society and was named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year in his senior year.

Powell was also part of the 2013-14 Stanford team that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen after upsetting the Kansas Jayhawks. The Toronto native ranks in the top 15 at Stanford in career points, rebounds, blocks and steals.

After being selected with the 45th pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Powell signed a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that summer but was later traded to the Boston Celtics. After seeing little playing time during his first season in Boston, Powell was traded to the Mavericks as a part of the blockbuster trade that moved Rajon Rondo from the Celtics to the Mavericks. Last season, he averaged 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds — both career highs — in just over 14 minutes for the Mavs.

At 6-foot-11, 240 pounds, Powell has shown promise as a spirited rebounder and an athletic finisher off of the pick-and-roll.  While possessing a versatile skill set, he must improve his defense and develop an outside jump shot to become a more all-around player. The Mavericks have locked Powell up as a part of their future plans as Dallas prepares for the impending retirement of its franchise player and power forward Dirk Nowitzki.


Contact Matthew Oh at mattoh ‘at’

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Film review: Documentary ‘Zero Days’ exposes shady computer virus Sat, 09 Jul 2016 13:56:12 +0000 An entire city’s electricity grid shut down. Millions of dollars worth of industrial equipment destroyed. Both executed with a few lines of computer code, leaving no trace as to the identity of the perpetrator. A futuristic nightmare? Perhaps not.

“Zero Days,” the new documentary from Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”), tells the terrifying and disturbing story of the Stuxnet virus, a computer worm created by the American and Israeli governments in an effort to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. But while “Zero Days” is beautifully produced and brings to light information on an intriguing subject, it is clear that too much relevant information is classified. Gibney’s regurgitation of insignificant information is likely to leave viewers frustrated, with far too many questions unanswered.

The film opens in Iran, where the assassination of two nuclear scientists — combined with the destruction of many highly essential nuclear centrifuges — has left the country’s nuclear program in disarray. The centrifuges’ disintegration leave many in Iran asking: “What could have caused these machines to go awry?” Soon, the cause is suggested to have been the work of a joint American-Israeli covert operation. Gibney introduces the Stuxnet virus and the dangerous ramifications that the development of cyberwarfare can have on the future of war.

In order to give the viewer a deep understanding of the politics and historical relevance of Stuxnet, Gibney dedicates a significant portion of the first half to explaining Iran’s nuclear program and the international politics that led up to Stuxnet’s birth. However leaden this portion may be, it provides enough context for a broader understanding of the motivations of key players. As the puzzle pieces fall in place, we come to realize that Stuxnet is far more than a simple bug: It is a calculated move by political nation-states designed to prevent Iran from enriching their nuclear program.

The documentary is undoubtedly well-produced; its riveting visual effects and graphics effectively complement the fascinating story of Stuxnet. These visual effects help viewers to understand the complex nature of both the virus itself and the politics behind the entire operation.

Yet the biggest problem of “Zero Days” is its focus on so much classified information. Time and time again, we hear from intelligence officers and political officials say that they “know nothing” and that even if they did, they “cannot comment.” Although anonymous NSA, CIA and Mossad employees make appearances, commenting on the program, there is still so much hidden. This means that Gibney has to linger far too long on seemingly unimportant aspects of the operation, such as the in-depth history of a certain Russian antivirus company. With so much under wraps, viewers are left to fill in the gaps for themselves about the virus and operation.

The film’s un-clear-cut ending is also certain to frustrate many. A lot of questions remain unanswered, but at least Gibney is straightforward about it. Given the limitations of the available information, it is commendable that Gibney figured out how to portray Stuxnet from both a technical and political standpoint. Nevertheless, because of its shortcomings, “Zero Days” is truly only worth watching for its distinctive subject matter and interviews, which attempt to unravel the once-safely-guarded mysteries of cybersecurity.

“Zero Days” will be available at select theaters and on iTunes and Amazon on July 8.


Contact Andrew Choi atandrewyoonchoi ‘at’ and Grace Lam at gracelam95122 ‘at’ 

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Classy Classes: AFRICAAM 54N: ‘African-American Women’s Lives’ Thu, 07 Jul 2016 08:00:11 +0000 AFRICAAM 54N: “African American Women’s Lives” allows students to examine the role African-American women have played throughout history and through the contemporary era.

Assistant history professor Allyson Hobbs teaches the course during the school year and also as an intensive six-week summer class. According to Hobbs, the main purpose of the course is to raise awareness of African-American women and uncover their history.

“I’ve always felt that we haven’t paid enough attention to the particular and sort of distinct uniqueness of African-American women, so I was really excited about the opportunity to … correct some of the preconceived ideas and stereotypes about this history,” she said. “I really want my students to take away that African-American women have a history, and they have a history that is worthy of studying, worthy of researching and worthy of writing about.”

The course is built on the foundation of spirited discussion and student participation. Students sit slightly facing each other to more effectively invoke group discussions.

“I like that it’s not a lecture; we’re all conversing with each other,” DiJonai Carrington ’19 said. “You feel free to give your opinions, and no one judges you for what you think about something. I think that’s really cool, because we can all bounce ideas off of each other.”

Hobbs begins each class by connecting modern examples of African-American women to historical figures to give students a way to relate with familiar ideas. In one recent session, Hobbs showed her students a clip of actor and activist Jesse Williams giving his acceptance speech after receiving Black Entertainment Television’s Humanitarian Award, targeting racial tensions and cultural appropriation in light of recent tragedies. Students discussed the social setting of the speech and how money and capitalism can potentially impact the aspects of racism Williams mentioned. Hobbs also highlighted Williams’ remarks on the underrated respect African-American women receive.  

During another class, Hobbs gave her students a chance to examine visual depictions of first lady Michelle Obama and musician Beyoncé. She used these two women as examples of how success and motherhood can be intertwined in a single lifestyle.

“We analyzed a picture of Michelle Obama and Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ video, and we discussed how radical these two images are — how they can be successful and be mothers, and how this is kind of unprecedented in black female history,” Jace Casey ’17 said.

Hobbs then connects the contemporary figures to historical examples of African-American women’s lives. The course focuses on intersectionality and the idea that racism, sexism, classism and homophobia relate to each other. Hobbs introduces the ideas of a culture of dissemblance, appearing opposite of a stereotype, and the politics of respectability, adhering to middle-class values, and shows how African-American women are affected by them.

She prompts participation by using open-ended questions such as “What happens to the women who do speak out?” and “How are they perceived, and how do people respond to them?” when bringing up examples of renowned female historical figures such as Rosa Parks.

Hobbs also addresses enslaved African-American women and explores the ideas associated with female slaves, including powerlessness, invisibility and sexual abuse.

Some texts that the course explores are Harriet Jacob’s “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” Henry Bibb’s “Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb and Deborah Gray White’s “Ar’n’t I a Woman? In conjunction with the readings, Hobbs has created an ongoing blog that gives students an opportunity to respond to the texts with their ideas.

“The blog offers students a chance to have a weekly assignment that is meant to be creative and is meant to give them a chance to really step into the minds of either the authors of the readings or some of the figures in the readings,” Hobbs said. “We use that as a launching pad for our conversation.”

Movie screenings are held once a week to explore specific films centering around topics relevant to the class’s weekly discussions.

Students found numerous aspects of this course to be eye-opening, as it gave them a better understanding of the history of African-American women.

“This is specific to me and my life, and it’s been cool to see the progression,” Carrington said. “I like to see how we’ve been able to evolve over time.”

Contact Nicole Chen at 19nicolec ‘at’

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