The Kavli Foundation
Newsletter Vol. 2 Issue 1, 2009
Dedicated to the advancement of science for the benefit of humanity, The Kavli Foundation supports scientific research, honors scientific achievement, and promotes public understanding of scientists and their work. For more information, visit:

The Kavli Foundation has announced the appointment of
Dr. Robert W. Conn as its new president - only the second president since the Foundation was established in 2000.
Dr. Conn begins serving as the Foundation's President on April 20th of this year.

Robert W. ConnDr. Conn is a renowned academic and business leader, and an acclaimed scientist whose research is focused on plasma physics and fusion energy development.  Most recently, he served as a Managing Director of Enterprise Partners Venture Capital (EPVC), a leading venture capital firm in technology and life sciences companies. Prior to EPVC, a 30-year career in academics and research included serving from 1993 to 2002 as Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). 

His appointment will follow the retirement of Dr. David H. Auston, who has served as president since 2002. Full story.


Profile: Hirosi Ooguri, California Institute of Technology
Using String Theory to Unknot the Riddles of Black Holes and Basic Matter

Hirosi OoguriTheoretical physics has a special beauty to those highly adept in mathematics, and one who grasps the beauty and wonder of the quantum world is Hirosi Ooguri, the Fred Kavli Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology.

Ooguri is a theorist whose work bridges the disciplines of quantum physics and pure math. Says John Schwarz, a fellow physicist at Caltech and string theory pioneer, "Even though he's a theoretical physicist, his work is breaking new ground in mathematics." Schwarz has also called Ooguri one of the leading theoretical physicists in the world. Ooguri "has contributed to many different aspects" of string theory, he adds, pointing in particular to Ooguri's work on the development of topological string theory. In the process, Ooguri is helping to boil down the daunting 10-dimensional complexity of string theory to something that the human brain - at least a theoretical physicist's brain - can wrap around. Full story.
The Kavli Frontiers of Science
An NAS Program Aims to Open Minds of Talented Young Researchers

Alice P. GastIn the 1990s, a young Stanford chemical engineering professor named Alice P. Gast began participating in a program designed for up-and-coming researchers. Now known as the Kavli Frontiers of Science, the National Academy of Sciences program brings together bright young researchers across many fields so they can present their work. In the process, they exchange ideas, share experiences, develop friendships and -- when the connection is right -- inspire each other.

In the case of Gast, the program proved pivotal to her research career.  Focused on the phenomena of surfaces, Gast encountered German researchers studying membrane biophysics, which she recalls was "a new field for me." The program shifted her focus from the physical to biological sciences. Today, along with serving as president of LeHigh University, she continues being renowned for her study of surface and interfacial phenomena, in particular the behavior of complex fluids.  Full story.

New Piece of Alzheimer's Puzzle Identified, Reports Yale

Amyloid-beta molecules, implicated in Alzheimer's Disease, bind to neurons.Yale researchers have filled in a missing gap on the molecular road map of Alzheimer's disease.

The Yale team reported in the journal Nature that cellular prion proteins trigger the process by which amyloid-beta peptides block brain function in Alzheimer's patients. "They start the cascade that make neurons sick," said Stephen M. Strittmatter, senior author of the study. A member of the Kavli Institute of Neuroscience, Strittmatter is the Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology and director of Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair at the Yale School of Medicine. "We have known that amyloid-beta is bad for the brain, but we have not known exactly how amyloid-beta does bad things to neurons."

In a statement from the Alzheimer's Research Trust in Britain, chief executive Rebecca Wood said: "The scientists have found out how brain cells might be harmed in Alzheimer's. This could lead to a way of stopping the damage, and open the door to the development of new treatments." Full story.
Researchers Find "Switching Station"
Beneath Cell Surface

In the journal Cell, Yale researchers reported that a switching station beneath the cell surface is crucial to processing signals from outside the cell. The research team was led by Kavli Institute of Nanoscience member Pietro De Camilli, M.D. -- the Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology and Neurobiology, investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, director of the Yale Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair.

Scientists used to think most of the exchange of information between cells was conducted at the surface, where cell receptors receive signals from other cells.The findings, however, portray a much more "complex and fluid system of cellular information processing than previously envisioned," said Derek K. Toomre, assistant professor of cell biology at Yale and co-author of the study. Among its applications, the research may provide new insight related to potential therapeutic strategies for conditions such as Lowe syndrome, a rare genetic disease of the eyes, the kidneys and the brain. Full story.
New Cell Type Found That Responds to Edges, Borders and Obstacles

New cell type found. Responds to bordersA  new type of cell has been identified that allows rats to respond to edges, borders and obstacles. Found by researchers with the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for the Biology of Memory, NTNU, these cells -- named "border cells" -- have firing fields that line up along selected geometric boundaries of the proximal environment, irrespective of boundary length or continuity with other boundaries. Collectively, border cells may define the perimeter of the environment and thereby serve as a reference frame for places inside it, controlling the activity of the other position-sensing cell types in that environment.

Border cells join at least three other cell types thought to encode an animal's position in the environment: place cells, whose activity indicates a particular location in space; head direction cells, which fire only when the animal is facing a certain direction; and grid cells, whose firing fields form a regular pattern across the environment. Full story.
Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Discovers Slew of New Pulsars

In January -- just four months into its mission -- the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope discovered 12 never-before-seen pulsars and observed gamma-ray pulses from 18 others, shedding new insight on the high-energy universe.

Telescope Detects New Pulsars"I am very happy to welcome you all to a new era in pulsar physics," Roger Romani said at a press conference held at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, California. Romani is a researcher in the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University. "We know of 1800 pulsars, but until Fermi we saw only little wisps of energy from all but a handful of them. Now, for dozens of pulsars, we're seeing the actual power of these machines." Full story.
Study of Galaxy Clusters Detects
Growth-Stifling Dark Energy
KIPC - Galaxy ClustersLike referees with different vantage points concurring on an important call in a tight football game, an international team of cosmologists has independently confirmed the accelerating expansion of the universe.

A decade ago, astronomers studying the relatively uniform brightness of exploding stars to estimate cosmic distances discovered that the expansion of the universe appeared to be accelerating.
Now cosmologists, including Andrey Kravtsov -- a senior member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago -- have come to the same conclusion via a completely different method: tracing the evolution of galaxy clusters. Full story.
In This Issue
Feature: Kavli Profesor Hirosi Ooguri
Feature: Young Scientists Explore "Frontiers in Science"
Yale University: New Piece of Alzheimer's Puzzle Identified
Yale University: Switching Station Found Beneath Cell Surface
NTNU: New Cell Found for Navigating Borders
Stanford University: Fermi Space Telescope Finds New Pulsars
Univ. of Chicago: Galaxy Clusters Detected
Prestigious AAAS Journalism Award Endowed by Foundation
MIT: Dimmest Star-Like Objects Discovered
AAAS Journalism Awards Endowed

The ScieCells in the pale tadpole's brain adopted a new chemical code.nce Journalism Awards program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science has received an endowment from the Foundation, allowing the program to continue on a self-sustaining basis.

Since their inception in 1945, the independently juried awards have honored distinguished reporting on science by professional journalists. The awards are an internationally recognized measure of excellence in science journalism for a general audience.

The endowment also will allow two awards in the television category for the first time, one for spot news/feature reporting and one for in-depth reporting. Full story.

Dimmest Star-Like Objects Discovered

Dim Star-Like Objects DiscoveredThe two faintest star-like objects ever found, a pair of twin "brown dwarfs" each just a millionth as bright as the sun, have been spotted by a team led by Adam Burgasser of the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Burgasser, an assistant professor of physics at MIT, said "both of these objects are the first to break the barrier of one millionth the total light-emitting power of the sun." Full story.


Kavli Bullet Point MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. Ronald A. Remillard, a principal research scientist at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, and two colleagues have won the 2009 Rossi Prize, awarded by the AAS High Energy Astrophysics Division. The Rossi Prize is given out in recognition of significant contributions, as well as recent and original work, in high-energy astrophysics. Remillard was honored for his work on the measurements of masses of black holes in the Milky Way.

Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. Evalyn Gates, assistant director of KICP,  has published  Einstein's Telescope: The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe. The book examines how scientists are harnessing the cosmos as a scientific "instrument" in their quest to determine the makeup of the universe through the phenomenon known as gravitational lensing... Gates 
also was a panelist recently on Minnesota public radio discussing the topic, "Breaking the Glass Ceiling for Women Scientists."

Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscience. The Kavli conference "Molecular Imaging 2009: Routes to Three-Dimensional Imaging of Single Molecules" will take place on the campus of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, from August 9 to August 13, 2009. The goal is evaluating approaches to three-dimensional imaging of single molecules. The conference will feature daily morning and evening sessions, tutorials for grads and postdocs, a poster session, and facility tours. For complete information and to register, click here.

Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at the University of California, San Diego.
The 4th Annual Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind Symposium will be held at UC San Diego on May 2. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Irvin Biederman, the Harold W. Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California. Dr. Biederman's topic is "The Neural Basis of (Object) Shape Recognition." Additional information will be posted at the institute's website.

Kavli Bullet Point MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. MKI resident/affiliated researchers are playing substantial roles on two of the seven teams that NASA selected to be part of its virtual Lunar Science Institute.  These include MKI director Jacqueline Hewitt, research scientist Joel Villasenor and Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) head Maria Zuber.

Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology. Lieven Vandersypen presented his inaugural lecture as professor at TU Delft in March, predicting that quantum computers are not as far in the future as some think. "In recent years we have produced all the building blocks for a quantum computer at Delft." Looking forward, Vandersypen said, "We are like cowboys heading off in search of adventure, way off the beaten track, towards new horizons. I hope and expect that this sense of adventure and curiosity about the unknown will lead to unexpected breakthroughs and new technologies."