Reindeer Games. The Muse: December 20

As you probably surmised, this time of year for a Rudolph is full of puns, quips, and sometimes stares of wonder that you might actually have been named by parents in large red coats.  The discovery of my tribal origins raised in the Judaic faith only further amplifies a curious sense of irony in those that I often join in off-key Christmas carol singing.  Yet, this time of year for Barbara and I in a new setting of tremendous beauty surrounded by a new family of colleagues and friends in the CSU community only brings a strong heartfelt feeling of gratitude.

As the holidays approach I have been racing along in my deep dives into the colleges.  I spent full days in the College of Health and Human Sciences and the College of Agricultural Sciences.  Those along for these rides have often described it as speed dating (I could have spent a few hours in each laboratory or meeting) and I in many cases have scheduled second dates.  The immersion with faculty, department heads and administrators really helps clarify opportunities for cross-leveraging and fertilization.  The horizontal opportunities become clearer for cross campus collaborations and connections that link common passion and vision for science and educational endeavors.

I also met with the leadership of the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU to talk about new ideas and possible initiatives in rural health.  The role of mobile health in delivery of health care to rural communities was an interesting part of that dialogue and a real opportunity to combine activities across campus.  I also met with leadership of the Flint Animal Cancer Center to hear their great success story but also to focus on their strategic planning efforts.  This has been a theme as the Superclusters have matured and there is a need to think about dynamics of their evolution.

The theme of enhancing horizontal opportunities on campus was the theme of a facilitated retreat taken this week by my office where we spent a day and a half talking about strategic priorities we will engage in the coming year.  It’s curious that these events are called retreats, as we were definitely thrust forward emerging with some definite themes and ideas for new initiatives we will take to our many stakeholders.   Our discussions focused on three themes; people, process and products.  Topics such as how to better facilitate faculty startups, sponsored activity and large complex funding opportunities (big game hunting) were some items of deep conversation.  We also talked about how our office is optimized to meet the challenges ahead. I realize this is a teaser but more to come on these in the New Year!

I wish you all the very best over the holidays and hope you have time to catch your breath and experience the joy and blessings of the season.  See you in 2014!

Best,
Alan

The Muse: December 13

I have never been much for video games or immersion in virtual worlds.  My kids would routinely run me over in Mario (I would insist on being Luigi) or beat me by three digit scores in EA Sports games.

This fall I had the unusual experience of meeting my avatar on a Brazilian soccer field.  The avatar was a representation of me that was being used to learn how to use signals from my brain and body to control a prosthetic device (or exoskeleton) attached to my legs.  Even without the exoskeleton, this experience brought home the incredible power of the virtual world and the large potential for education, training and human performance.   I recently met with a senior executive in the Augmented Reality division at Qualcomm both in the US and in Brazil that is developing applications for smart phones and in education that combine virtual experience with our real world.  For example, they are able to project onto a real world table, a virtual anatomical animal or human representation for study and virtual dissection that can easily be manipulated.

In the retail world, you may soon be holding your cellphone camera up to a retail aisle and have layers of information projected on the screen augmenting the environment with price (including competitors prices across the street) and nutritional information, or recipes for ingredients in the photograph.  In my recent tour of the College of Natural Sciences, I saw a driving simulator that had the beginnings of this new world. This simulator was being used to test driving acuity under conditions such as texting.  Occupational Therapy in the College of Health and Human Sciences is also engaged in similar technology.  I think this area has a bright future for CSU and I am interested to see the creation of immersive caves or virtual environments with broad application across our enterprise that could touch animal health, immunology, energy, climate science and liberal arts.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting with Tim Gallagher, Chair of the Faculty Council.  I will be stepping up the OVPR interactions with the Council and sub-committees to communicate key aspects of activity in the office related to faculty interests and seek important inputs.  I also met with Craig Beyrouty and Jeff Steiner this week to talk about their vision for the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Agricultural Experiment Station.  Next week I have the pleasure of spending a whole day in the College of Agriculture and another full day in the College of Health and Human Sciences.  I am really looking forward to the time hearing about great science, vision, and how OVPR can facilitate success.

I have had a number of you contact me after reading the Muse and I want to thank you for your feedback.  Most recently, members of our social science community contacted me regarding the involvement of key aspects of behavior in thinking through the big data opportunities.  Indeed, this area is rich with issues regarding how information can be validated, but also how privacy issues and altruistic behavior will play a role in the outcome of these endeavors.  We are more in tune with these issues with regard to personal health. Yet these are very salient points and demonstrate the breadth of inclusivity from different communities we need as more data on people and communities becomes available.

I am not a numerologist but for those of you who are, I understand that the fear of Friday the 13th is called Paraskevidekatriaphobia.  It is said that if you repeat this you will be cured of this fear and no longer be a Paraskevidekatriaphobic.  Not sure this works if your name is Jason.  Good luck.

Alan

Dreyfus Foundation Supports Next Generation of Chemical Scientists at #Colostate

Dreyfus Foundation Supports Next Generation of Chemical Scientists at #Colostate

The Dreyfus Foundation awarded Ellen R. Fisher, chair of CSU’s chemistry department and American Association for Advancement of Science fellow, through its Postdoctoral Program in Environmental Chemistry. The foundation also awarded Professor Emeritus James Bamburg in the University’s biochemistry and molecular biology department, through its Scientist Mentor Program. Congratulations!

The Muse: December 10

The sub-zero temperatures of the last week have resulted in my review of doctoral thesis (circa 1985, temperature much warmer from Davis California) on invertebrate extremophiles and the biophysics of stabilizing solutes like trehalose and proline in cryopreservation of biological systems such as artemia brine shrimp and nematodes.  Unfortunately, these strategies do not help large mammals and we are often left to running in place.   I hope you have found your own adaptive strategies to remain warm!

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