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Pub DateNews Release
1/28/2016 Hertz Fellow Emma Pierson Looks to Computational Statistical Analysis to Stem the Tide of Cancer Deaths

For Hertz Fellow Emma Pierson, analyzing genetic statistics to improve a person’s odds of surviving cancer is more than just academic work, it’s a personal quest. When Pierson was 13, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She recovered, but in 2011, Pierson discovered she had inherited the mutated BRCA1 gene from her mother and grandfather, predisposing her to a greatly increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Rather than worry about it, Pierson has turned the knowledge into a catalyst for her academic research.

1/28/2016 Hertz Fellow Ken Suslick Developing Digital “Nose” for Sniffing Out Suicide Bombers

Hertz Fellow Ken Suslick, the Marvin T. Schmidt Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana), has been developing technology that can detect a common primary explosive used by suicide bombers, triacetone triperoxide (TATP). The detector contains an acid that breaks down emissions from solid TATP into its component parts, acetone and hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide then reacts with an array of chemically responsive dyes that can indicate the presence of TATP, as well as millions of other chemical mixtures, like a digital litmus test.

12/21/2015 Hertz Fellow Ed Boyden Taking Optogenetics to the Next Level and Wins the $3 Million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Ed Boyden, Hertz Fellow and associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences, at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute, won the prestigious $3 Million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his ground breaking work in optogenetics. “I want to understand the nature of humanity, and to do that, we need good neuroscience,” Boyden said. “If someone has Alzheimer’s or epilepsy, we have a moral imperative to try to help stop their suffering.”

12/21/2015 Gut Reactions: Hertz Fellow Cameron Myhrvold Examines Life Cycle of Cells in the Digestive System

Hertz Fellow Cameron Myhrvold, who, along with his colleagues, has devised a new method for measuring the growth rate of gut microbes called distributed cell division counting (DCDC). Potentially, the science could help researchers understand the structure of DNA itself, "mark" cells, and better control which enzymes are expressed. Perhaps most importantly, Myhrvold said, the technology could be used to program the behavior of T-cells, encouraging the immune system to attack only cancer cells, for example, instead of healthy cells.

12/21/2015 Directed Evolution Drives Hertz Fellow Kevin Esvelt to Find Solutions to Vector-borne and Parasitic Diseases

Hertz Fellow and evolutionary biologist Kevin Esvelt has identified a general way to combat vector-borne and parasitic scourges such as malaria, schistosomiasis, and dengue by altering entire populations of these wild organisms. The technique, called CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) gene drive, is an example of directing the natural process of evolution so that the resultant changes can benefit humanity for generations to come. Recently appointed as an assistant professor of the MIT Media Lab, Dr. Esvelt will lead the new Sculpting Evolution research group to explore ecological and evolutionary engineering.

11/19/2015 Hertz Fellow Laurel Larsen Making Waves in Restoring Florida’s Everglades

Laurel Larsen’s research of the Florida Everglades and how it can continue to provide functions that humans value for the foreseeable future is part of a 30-plus year, multi-billion dollar restoration effort to rebuild wildlife habitats and re-create natural water flows. Assistant Professor Larsen is a Hertz Fellow and head of the Environmental Systems Dynamics Laboratory in Berkeley’s Geography Department. Professor Larsen is currently working on projects related to restoration of the Florida Everglades, floodplains within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and greater Mississippi River Delta complex.

11/18/2015 Hertz Fellow Hilary Finucane Makes Strides in Large-Scale Genetic Data Analysis

Hilary Finucane’s work is right at the forefront of improving scientists’ ability to extract biological insight from large genetic datasets. Publishing two recent papers in the journal Nature Genetics, researchers can learn about which cell types and tissues are important for particular diseases, and also which pairs of traits and diseases have a common genetic basis.

10/27/2015 Lowell Wood, Hertz Interviewer and Director Emeritus, Most Prolific Inventor in U.S. History

Inventor-in-residence at Hertz Fellow Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures, Lowell Wood is described as an on-demand problem solver. Myhrvold says "at least half of his activities - maybe more - are trying to help the least fortunate people on Earth." Wood in IV's philanthropic division Global Good - a joint venture with Bill Gates - often does work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bloomberg's recent article, "HOW AN F STUDENT BECAME AMERICA’S MOST PROLIFIC INVENTOR: Lowell Wood broke Edison's patent record and helped bring down the Soviet Union," goes in-depth with this astrophysicist, self-trained paleontologist, and computer scientist.

10/20/2015 Hertz Fellow Mollie Schwartz Improving Microwave Amplification for Use in Quantum Computers

Quantum computing holds the promise of someday providing computational speed and power far beyond the silicon-based computers we have today. Mollie Schwartz and her colleagues at UC Berkeley’s Quantum Nanoelectronics Lab and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory have developed a microwave amplification device able to accurately detect these tiny signals while at the same time adding an extremely small amount of extra noise.

10/20/2015 Hertz Fellow James Wray Leads Research Team Finding Evidence of Liquid Water on Mars

James Wray's work involving NASA and two of his graduate students Luju Ojha and Mary Beth Wilhelm, lead to recently discovering flowing water on the surface of Mars. Wray’s team analyzed strange dark streaks that formed during warm seasons, trickling down the planet’s hills before disappearing in colder seasons, using hardware aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Wray is a Hertz Fellow and assistant professor at Georgia Tech School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

9/24/2015 Hertz Fellow Justin Solomon Releases Book on Numerical Analysis for Modern Computer Scientists

Justin Solomon, Hertz Fellow, wrote the book, Numerical Algorithms: Methods for Computer Vision, Machine Learning, and Graphics, which presents a new approach to numerical analysis for modern computer scientists.” Justin Solomon is a postdoc in applied & computational mathematics at Princeton University.

9/24/2015 U.S.A. is #1 at International Mathematical Olympiad: Team Head Coach Hertz Fellow Po-Shen Loh

Po-Shen Loh, Hertz Fellow and associate professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, was the head coach for Team U.S.A. at the 56th Annual International Mathematical Olympiad that came in first place, outperforming teams from more than over 100 countries. Professor Loh is founder of the educational technology startup, expii.com.

8/17/2015 Kelly Moynihan, Hertz Fellow, Focuses on Engineering the Immune System to Fight Cancer

Kelly Moynihan, Hertz Fellow 2012 at MIT, is seeking answers to the cancer conundrum through immunotherapy, engineering the body’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells in the same way it can eliminate common viruses. She's also committed to mentoring and inspiring the next generation of young scientists.

7/17/2015 Megan Blewett, Hertz Fellow, Explores Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

Megan Blewett, Hertz Fellow 2011, is working to understand the autoimmune disorder multiple sclerosis (MS) by combining chemistry and immunology to study the most commonly prescribed drugs for this disease. Megan Blewett is a PhD student in chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

7/9/2015 Eric Boe, Hertz Fellow and NASA Astronaut, to Blaze a New Trail in Space

Eric Boe, Hertz Fellow and NASA Astronaut, has been selected as part of the team of four veteran astronauts to fly the first commercial space mission from the U.S. The four astronauts, selected for their space flight experience, will fly on capsules built by private companies — SpaceX and Boeing. Boe served as pilot on two space shuttle missions, accumulating more than 28 days in space.

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