The Kavli Foundation
Vol. 6, Issue 12  2013
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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:
President Obama Announces the BRAIN Initiative

Applauded by The Kavli Foundation, the Initiative is described by the President as a Grand Challenge of the 21st Century
BRAIN Initiative
Before the official announcement, President Obama greeted a select group of BRAIN Initiative event attendees in the Blue Room of the White House, including Robert W. Conn, The Kavli Foundation's president, and Miyoung Chun, vice president of science programs. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
On April 2, President Barack Obama announced the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative (BRAIN Initiative) - a broad, collaborative research initiative to advance the science and technologies needed to unlock the mysteries of the human brain.

The Kavli Foundation applauded the announcement, and was among three foundations singled out by the White House for its support and important role in bringing forward the initiative. 

"It is a tremendous honor to be partnering with President Obama on our efforts to advance science for the benefit of humanity and for our commitment to continue this important work in support of the BRAIN Initiative," said Fred Kavli, founder and chairman of The Kavli Foundation  Read more

BAM-storyFrom BAM to BRAIN

In 2011, 13 neuroscientists and 14 nanoscientists met at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre outside London for a special symposium entitled: "Opportunities at the Interface of Neuroscience and Nanoscience." During this meeting, the idea of mapping the functioning brain was discussed -- a concept that has been described as "the Holy Grail" of neuroscience. Scientific discussions continued over the course of almost a dozen formal and informal meetings, scores of teleconferences and a number of published science papers. 


Eighteen months later, the Brain Activity Map Project proposal would prove important to the scientific thinking behind the BRAIN Initiative, as well as a major catalyst for its launching. Read more and access timeline/documents for BAM.  



Witnessing Starbursts in Young Galaxies

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) under a starry night sky (Credit: Christoph Malin,ESO)

Armed with a catalog of galaxies discovered by the South Pole Telescope, a team of astronomers has used the great resolving power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to make an exciting discovery about the early universe -- that dusty galaxies began churning out stars much earlier in time than previously believed.

Recently, three researchers behind these findings discussed witnessing starbusts in these young galaxies, the early universe, and working with ALMA.
  • John E. Carlstrom, Deputy Director of the University of Chicago's Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP);  
  • Dan P. Marrone, Assistant Professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona;
  • Joaquin D. Vieira, Postdoctoral Scholar at the California Institute of Technology and a member of Caltech's Observational Cosmology Group.
"We did expect to see bright galaxies.. but not the dusty star-forming galaxies that we found," said Carlstrom. Full story

SPOTLIGHT LIVE: John E. Carlstrom, Dan P. Marrone and Joaquin D. Vieira joined a Google Hangout to answer readers' questions about starbursts and the early universe. View webcast

Cosmic Rays Come from Exploding Stars: An Interview with Stefan Funk
SLAC Supernova
A new study confirms what scientists have long suspected: cosmic rays - energetic particles that pelt Earth from all directions - are born in the violent aftermath of supernovae. Stefan Funk, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at Stanford University, led the team that confirmed a chain of events that researchers have theorized for years: that shock waves from supernovae accelerate subatomic particles called protons to near light speeds, turning them into cosmic rays. In a special interview, Funk discussed the discovery, what it means, and what the next steps are for his research team. Full story

SPOTLIGHT LIVE: Stefan Funk joined a Google Hangout to answer readers' questions about cosmic rays and high-energy physics. View webcast

Astrophysics News
NASA Selects MIT-led TESS Project for 2017 Mission - MKI
Planck Reveals an Almost Perfect Universe - ESA
"Nuisance" Data Lead to Surprising Star-Birth Discovery - KICP
Space Station to Host New Cosmic Ray Telescope - KICP
A Simple View Of Gravity Does Not Fully Explain The Distribution of Stars In Crowded Clusters - KIAA


Solar Power: Is It Time for the Big Push?


Plasmonic solar
Thin film solar cells could cost less to manufacture than conventional solar cells because they use inexpensive substrates, like plastics or glass, and very thin films of expensive photovoltaic materials. (Credit: California Institute of Technology)
Solar power seems poised for a breakthrough. Over the past four years, prices for solar panels have declined 75 percent, while the International Energy Agency projects that renewable energy will become the second largest source of electrical power by 2015. However, this is not just about creating electricity. Nature's solar conversion system, photosynthesis, converts sunlight to fuel. While there are still major gaps in our understanding of this process, researchers believe they can use similar reactions to split water into hydrogen fuel for things that cannot be readily electrified, like airplanes and ships.


Recently, four experts discussed the state of the field and how to move solar technology to broader commercial reality:
  • Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Director of the DOE Energy Frontier Research Center on Light-Material Interactions in Solar Energy Conversion and member of Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) at Caltech;   
  • Nathan S. Lewis, Principal investigator of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Innovation Hub in Fuels from Sunlight at Caltech and member of KNI; 
  • Albert Polman, Director of the Dutch Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter's Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
  • Michael Wasielewski, Clare Hamilton Hall Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University, and Director of the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center.    

"I like to think of solar energy as an inevitable technology," said Lewis. "After all, electric motors are 85 percent efficient and combustion engines are at best 30 percent efficient, so we are going to electrify wherever we can." Full story 


Nanoscience News

Clinging to Crevices, E. coli Thrive - KIBST

Intrinsic Superconductor Behavior Revealed - KIC 


An Intricate Network: New Research Is Uncovering a More Complex Path for Memory


By experimenting with rats such as this one, researchers are discovering the important role a portion of the brain known as the entorhinal cortex plays in memory. (Credit: Raymond Skjerpeng, Kavli Institute, NTNU.)
By experimenting with rats such as this one, researchers are discovering the important role a portion of the brain known as the entorhinal cortex plays in memory. (Credit: R. Skjerpeng, NTNU.)
Most of us can remember where we were during major events in our lives, but now neuroscientists have determined this isn't just an accident of memory; the imprinting of place in our minds plays a fundamental role in remembering events. They've also discovered memories aren't formed and permanently lodged in just one location in the brain, but rely on an extensive network of memory highways that interact with several regions.


To learn more about these significant findings, the Foundation had a discussion with three researchers integral to advancing our understanding of memory:
  • Bradford Dickerson, Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Frontotemporal Disorders Unit and Dickerson Neuroimaging Lab, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston;
  • Mayank Mehta, Professor of Neurophysics at the Brain Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles;
  • Edvard Moser, Director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and the Centre for the Biology of Memory.

"In order to get better at preventing and treating the one-third of all diseases that are brain based and to help the millions of people affected by them, you need to have a general understanding of the brain," said Moser. "Memory is so central to anything the brain does. So if you want to understand the brain, you need to understand memory." Full story 


SPOTLIGHT LIVE: Bradford Dickerson and Mayank Mehta joined a Google Hangout to answer readers' questions about the brain and memory. View webcast   


Neuroscience News

Kavli Community News 



Obama- BRAIN
President Barack Obama is introduced by Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health, at the BRAIN Initiative event in the East Room of the White House, April 2, 2013.   (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Many members of the Kavli community took part in symposia and other activities associated with the Brain Activity Map (BAM) proposal, and later attended the White House announcement of President Obama's BRAIN Initiative. Several members were also co-authors of three seminal papers for BAM -- beginning with the first paper, "The Brain Activity Map Project and the Challenge of Functional Connenctomics." Below are links to those papers with authors listed (Kavli-affiliated researchers are indicated with an asterisk * ).
  • The Brain Activity Map Project and the Challenge of Functional Connectomics
    (Neuron: June 21, 2012) - A. Paul Alivisatos (LBNB/UC Berkeley); Miyoung Chun* (The Kavli Foundation); George M. Church (Harvard); Ralph J. Greenspan* (KIBM/UCSD); Michael L. Roukes* (KNI/Caltech); Rafael Yuste* (KIBS/Columbia) 
  • "The Brain Activity Map" (Science: March 7, 2013) - A. Paul Alivisatos (LBNB/UC Berekely); Miyoung Chun* (The Kavli Foundation); George M. Church (Harvard); Karl Deisseroth (Stanford); John P. Donoghue (Brown); Ralph J. Greenspan* (KIBM/UCSD); Paul L.  McEuen* (KIC/Cornell); Michael L. Roukes* (KNI/Caltech); Terrence J. Sjenowski* (KIBM/UCSD);  Paul S. Weiss* (Fred Kavli Chair/UCLA); Rafael Yuste* (KIBS/Columbia)     
  • "Nanotools for Neuroscience and Brain Activity Mapping" (ACS Nano: March 20, 2013) - A. Paul Alivisatos (LBNB/UC Berkeley); Anne M. Andrews (UCLA); Edward S. Boyden (MIT); Miyoung Chun* (The Kavli Foundation); George M. Church (Harvard); Karl Deisseroth (Stanford); John P. Donoghue (Brown); Scott E. Fraser* (founding board member, KNI/Caltech), Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz (NIH), Loren L. Looger (HHMI), Sotiris Masmanidis (UCLA), Paul L. McEuen* (KIC/Cornell); Arto V. Nurmikko (Brown); Hongkun Park (Harvard), Darcy S. Peterka (Columbia), Clay Reid (Harvard); Michael L. Roukes* (KNI/Caltech); Axel Scherer* (KNI/Caltech); Mark Schnitzer (Stanford), Terrence J. Sejnowski* (KIBM/UCSD), Kenneth L. Shepard (Columbia); Doris Tsao (Caltech); Gina Turrigiano (Brandeis), Paul S. Weiss* (Fred Kavli Chair/UCLA); Chris Xu* (KIC/Cornell), Rafael Yuste* (KIBS/Columbia); Xiaowei Zhuang (Harvard)
A complete list of BAM symposia participants is available here.

President Obama Announces the BRAIN Initiative
Astrophysics News
Nanoscience News
Neuroscience News
Kavli Community
U.S. Kavli Prize Laureates Meet President Obama

U.S. Laureates of 2012 Kavli Prizes Meet President Obama     

In March, President Barack Obama met in the Oval Office with the six U.S. recipients of the 2012 Kavli Prizes. President Obama received the laureates to recognize and honor their landmark contributions to the three fields for which the Prizes are awarded -- astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

The President was joined by White House science and technology advisor John P. Holdren, who also serves as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Said Holdren, "American scientists, engineers, and innovators strengthen our nation every day and in countless ways, but the all-stars honored by the Kavli Foundation deserve special praise for the scale of their advances in some of the most important and exciting research disciplines today." Full story

Available on the Web... 
Kavli Prize Popular Lectures

Now online are videos of the Kavli Prize Week popular lectures. The feaured speakers:

Nathan Myhrvold, author of a 2,400-page cookbook, "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking;"

Lisa Randall, leading theoretical physicist and author of Knocking on Heaven's Door;"

May-Britt Moser, Co-Director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for the Biology of Memory at NTNU in Trondheim;

Mark Emil Hermansen and Lars Williams of the gastronomic research institution, the Nordic Food Lab. View popular lectures

May 1, Noon - 12:30 PDT
Live Google Hangout:
TESS & the Search for Exoplanets

TESS team members  George Ricker, Sara Seager and Joshua Winn answer your questions
Following a three-year competition, NASA has selected the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) project at MIT for a planned launch in 2017. TESS will use an array of wide-field cameras to perform an all-sky survey to discover planets outside our own solar system as they periodically transit their host stars. The first space-based all-sky transit survey, TESS will cover 400 times more of the sky as any previous mission.

On Wednesday May 1, 12:00-12:30pm PDT, three members of the TESS mission will answer your questions about TESS and exoplanets:

* George Ricker, principal investigator of the TESS mission and a senior research scientist at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI);

* Sara Seager, a member of the TESS team and professor of planetary science and physics at MKI;   

* Joshua Winn, Deputy Science Director for the TESS mission and associate professor of physics at MKI.  Read more 

community-newsCommunity News



Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford (KIPAC). The Royal Astronomical Society announced that KIPAC director Roger Blandford has been awarded the society's 2013 Gold Medal for Astronomy.The Gold Medals in Astronomy is one of the Society's highest honors. ...Steven M. Kahn will assume the role of Director of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Project effective July 1, 2013. ...Greg Madejski traveled to Warsaw to receive a professorship of the Polish Academy of Sciences from Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. ...KIPAC celebrated its 10-year anniversary with an open house that attracted the general public.


Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago (KICP).  Edward "Rocky" Kolb has been appointed dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences for a five-year term. Kolb's appointment will take effect July 1.  


Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MKI). Anna Frebel has been named a recipient of an National Science Foundation CAREER Award for her proposal, "The origin of the metal-poor halo of the Milky Way." These highly selective grants are given to junior faculty members who are likely to become academic leaders of the future.   


Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (KISN). The Norwegian Research Council has award a 13,7 million NOK grant to a project led by Menno Witter titled "The Entorhinal Connectome: A Way to Read the Cortex.  ...The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters named Yasser Roudi  the 2013 recipient of the Society's scientific award for young researchers.


Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology (KIND).  Vincent Mourik, Leo Kouwenhoven, and their colleagues won the 2012 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, which "recognizes the author or authors of an outstanding paper published in the Research Articles or Reports sections of the journal Science." 

Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge (KICC). Michele Trenti has been awarded a Marie Curie Career Integration Fellowship. The fellowship objective is "to reinforce the European Research Area (ERA) by encouraging researchers to establish themselves in a Member State or in an associated country, thereby attracting and retaining the best talents in Europe."   


Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo (Kavli IPMU). Director Hitoshi Murayama has been named a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Murayama will also serve as a deputy director of the newly formed Linear Collider Collaboration. ... The Astronomical Society of Japan announced the 2012 PASJ Excellent Paper Award went to Masahiro Takada. It also announced the 2012 Young Astronomer Award went to Masayuki Tanaka


Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science (KIC). Nobel laureate and founding director of KIC Robert C. Richardson passed away. ... In May, KIC will host a three-day innovative workshop on communicating science, to be conducted by the Center for Communicating Science and attended by Alan Alda. 


Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard University. Radhika Nagpal was named Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science. Nagpal is a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, where she heads the Self-Organizing Systems Research Group in the study of collective behavior in biological systems and how such behaviors can be applied to computing and robotics.   


Kavli Prizes. 2012 Laureate Cori Bargmann was named co-chair of a high-level working group charged with defining detailed scientific goals for President Obama's BRAIN Initiative. ...2012 Laureate Winfried Denk gave a public lecture in Berlin on April 24.  ...On May 27, the University of Tokyo will host a Kavli Prize program that features lectures by Sumio Iijima, Kavli Prize Laureate in Nanoscience 2008; Menno P. Witter (KISN); and Hitoshi Murayama (Kavli IPMU). The lectures will be followed by a symposium titled, Scientific Solutions to Global Challenges."