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News 02-14-2001

Syllabus Conference to Address Web Technologies

Track 4 of the Syllabus Spring2001 conference, to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio April 5-8, will deal with "Web Technologies: Portals, Resources, and Development." The Web may be "the killer app" that technologists have predicted for years. In a short time, the World Wide Web has affected education and the world in ways unimagined just five years ago. In that time, educators have discovered much about what's possible using the Web, what works and d'esn't work, and how best to select resources for students to use. Web tools can help educators explore resources and content, organize courses and projects, share work, and communicate with others. Campus portals provide a quick way for prospective students anywhere to learn about a campus; enrolled students can track their academic progress; and faculty can coordinate student advising with student mentors, writing centers, or deans' offices.

The Web Technologies: Portals, Resources, and Development track is rich with exciting sessions in which many faculty presenters share their experiences using and teaching on the Web. Sessions topics include visualization on the Web, a step-by-step process for setting up a Web course, managing classes more efficiently using the Web, navigating the Web and finding the right "content," and human communication in the Web sphere.

For detailed session descriptions and online registration, visit Also, be sure to check out the conference brochure in the January issue of Syllabus magazine.

NASA Opens Space Station Science Command Post

The command and control center for scientific research onboard the International Space Station is open for business. The science command post linking Earth-bound researchers with their experiments and astronauts in orbit was commissioned recently at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The Payload Operations Center will provide support for Space Station science operations, the most ambitious research endeavor ever undertaken in space. The new 13,300 square-foot facility is housed in a section of the Huntsville Operations Support Center, a historic two-story complex that provided engineering support for Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle launches, as well as Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory operations. The complex also houses the Spacelab Mission Operations Control Center from which more than 25 Shuttle-based science missions were controlled.

Throughout the life of the Space Station, the operations center will integrate research requirements, plan its science missions, and ensure that they are safely executed. It will integrate crew and ground team training and research mission timelines. It will also manage use of Space Station payload resources, handle science communications with the crew, and manage commanding and data transmissions to and from the orbiting research center.

To take a virtual tour of the science command post and get more information, visit

Students Abandon Technology

Students at Seattle Pacific University declared this "Technology Sabbath" week at the Christian liberal arts university, temporarily abandoning technology so they can concentrate on friendships and faith. About 300 students who live in the Marston/Watson and Moyer residence halls volunteered to use technology only for classwork, and to spend their free time talking with friends or attending worship services. The intent of the experiment is to encourage students to use the time being with friends that they ordinarily would be using for e-mailing, surfing the Internet, or watching TV.

Steelcase and MIT Media Lab Showcase Collaborative Project

Steelcase, a designer and manufacturer of products used to create high performance work environments, recently announced its collaboration with the MIT Media Lab on a design project that is featured as part of the Museum of Modern Art's "Workspheres'' exhibition. The interactive 'Atmosphere' exhibit addresses the complexity of information management in the modern workplace. The exhibit consists of six projects that examine the changing nature of the workplace and the role of design in creating effective solutions to accommodate those changes. In the exhibit, users can navigate a large wide screen that represents an ''organic'' cloud of information. Up to three people can navigate through the information simultaneously by using one of three handheld devices, each representing a different level of detail--macro, medium, and micro. As information is seamlessly integrated, users can intuitively navigate financial, management, operational and administrative processes to better manage complex projects and multiple ideas.

The "Workspheres" exhibit will be open to the public at MoMA through April 22, 2001. For more information, visit

NASA Equipment Aids Study of Galapagos Spill

The recent spill in the Galapagos, caused when a fuel delivery ran aground near Shipwreck Bay, is under scrutiny using NASA's SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor). While containment efforts and favorable ocean currents reduced the severity of the disaster, some ecologists say that the low mortality of birds and other large animals might not fully reflect the extent of the damage.

Because phytoplankton, along with other photosynthetic organisms like aquatic plants, occupy "square one" in the ecosystem's food chain, life in the Galapagos depends heavily on these smallest of life forms. Consequently, monitoring the health of marine bugs and plankton will be necessary for understanding the full impact of the spill. A combination of data from NASA's SeaWiFS satellite and direct measurements at spots around the islands will give scientists a good idea of how these tiny organisms respond to the spill.

SeaWiFS can measure phytoplankton levels in the entire Galapagos ecosystem. The satellite's sensors, which have a resolution of about 1 square kilometer, measure the color of the water, which varies with the concentration of chlorophyll and other plant pigments. Water with more phytoplankton simply looks greener than water in plankton-poor regions.

A primary goal of SeaWiFs is to monitor worldwide populations of aquatic microbes. They might be small individually, but taken together the diminutive life forms play an important role in the global carbon cycle. NASA scientists are using SeaWiFS data to discover how marine plankton numbers vary throughout the year.

For more information, visit

Technology Entrepreneur Gives UCSF $5.4 Million

A $5.4 million gift to support the human genetics program at the University of California, San Francisco's new Mission Bay campus and promote promising studies of young investigators in cardiovascular research was announced recently by high-tech entrepreneur Eric Greenberg and UCSF. The gift will fund the Carmel and Eric Greenberg Human Genetics Laboratory at UCSF Mission Bay and will establish the Greenberg Young Investigator/Opportunity Awards in Cardiovascular Genetics.

The new laboratories will enable UCSF to expand its program in human genetics, which concentrates on identifying the genetic contributions to common diseases, understanding how genes determine response to drugs (pharmacogenomics), and developing new strategies for discovering the function of human genes. The laboratories will be part of a new genetics, neuroscience, and developmental biology research building soon to be under construction at UCSF Mission Bay. The campus plans to begin construction of the building later this year with completion scheduled for 2003.

Greenberg's gift supports the new site's focus on innovative collaborations and new technologies. UCSF Mission Bay will be home to basic scientists working in new programs in human genetics, brain development, and advanced technology -- areas expected to yield valuable insights into how cells communicate, how the brain learns, and methods for creating personally tailored drugs for a variety of diseases and conditions.

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