News Article | May 10, 2017
Last month, we buried a student from my university. According to fellow students who were with him at the time of his death, he was killed while demonstrating for the reinstatement of democracy: a soldier from the National Guard fired a tear-gas canister at close range that hit him in the chest. He is one of some 40 people, most of them youngsters, who have died at demonstrations in the 6 weeks since the Supreme Court moved to strip the Venezuelan parliament of its constitutional role, essentially handing power to President Nicolás Maduro. We suspended academic and administrative duties to mourn, and planned an emergency meeting to decide how to resume activities. On the morning of the meeting, few of us could reach campus because of blocked roads. We eventually came together — many of us remotely — and asked staff and students to carry on, but to be ready to improvise, using virtual classrooms, reprogramming schedules and meeting off-site as necessary. Political and economic crises — and the concomitant shortages of food and medicine — have afflicted Venezuelan science for years. Former president Hugo Chávez established socialist economic policies and restricted academic autonomy. Most of the country’s revenue comes from the petroleum industry, and because the price of oil has fallen, Venezuela struggles to pay for basic necessities. The instability and violence under Maduro, Chávez’s successor, has made the situation even worse. How do we cope? We don’t; we just try to survive. As rector at Metropolitan University in Caracas, I try to maintain motivation among staff and students. I also dedicate one day per week to the chemistry laboratory I run at Simón Bolívar University in Caracas as professor emeritus. There, with a couple of young professors and a dozen students, we hold scientific discussions every Friday and keep running our projects as best we can. An annual inflation rate in excess of 500% and limited access to foreign currency mean that scientists cannot buy what they need for experiments. They are adjusting their line of research according to the supplies left in their freezers and cupboards. When my lab was unable to obtain sufficiently pure reagents for our studies of an ionic liquid last year, one of my students went to Mexico at his own expense to do the assays. When he came back, he had to wait more than a week to do the rest of his experiments because we did not have running water in the laboratory. Unsurprisingly, both he and his immediate supervisor have since left the country. When recurring power shortages exhausted our supply of fuses, one student contemplated making his own until a former student now in the United States sent us a box of them. Pointless setbacks are crushing progress and morale. Nonetheless, the good will of the staff who remain and the huge effort of students mean that we have managed to continue — for instance, by developing techniques to measure chemicals such as ethanol from electrical fluctuations on nickel nanowires and to conduct fundamental studies on oxygen transfer reactions. Venezuela now has little in common with the country where I became a professor in 1980. Then, academics spent their time planning experiments rather than how to find their next meal. Two months’ salary of an assistant professor would buy a brand new car; now a professor could not get a used car with two years’ salary. A full professor makes much less than US$100 a month — not enough even to pay for food. Metropolitan University is a private institution — we have secured some support from industry to provide students with scholarships and to compensate staff for accomplishments in teaching and research, but the brain drain in Venezuela is staggering. In some leading universities, the number of academic staff has halved. Scientific productivity has collapsed. The number of publications in 2012 matched that in 1997. From 2008 to 2012, publications in international journals fell by 40%, and the situation has now declined drastically from those relatively stable years. Two weeks ago, Maduro’s officials announced plans to pull out of the Organization of American States (OAS), a group of 35 independent governments that requires its members to uphold certain standards of democracy and human rights. After repeatedly violating the constitution, at the beginning of the month, he announced plans to rewrite it. Already, we do not have a free press, and access to information is very limited. Internet access is expensive, and connections are slower than in any other country in the region. Many opposition leaders have been banned from participating in elections, and hundreds of political prisoners are being held with sham trials or with no trial at all. Exit from the OAS will isolate us even more. International awareness of what is happening in Venezuela is important. It is difficult to see how or when we could solve this by ourselves. Still, we have to press for change, and that is what thousands are doing every day on the streets, particularly university students, rallying for the release of political prisoners, for humanitarian channels to provide food and medicine and for the restitution of democracy. Already, the energy and persistence of the protesters have surprised many observers. Let us hope that they can, without experiencing further bloodshed, inspire leaders to restore constitutional rule and help launch a national recovery. I still have plenty of experiments to do.
News Article | April 23, 2017
My father, Jon Vogler, who has died aged 77, used his skills as an engineer to set up the UK’s first large-scale recycling system. In 1974, when recycling at home was virtually unknown in Britain, Jon designed a household scheme in West Yorkshire for Oxfam called Wastesaver. His innovative “dumpy” device, made of metal tubing, held four different coloured bags into which households sorted their waste. With the co-operation of Kirklees council, the sorted material was collected from 20,000 homes and taken to a disused mill in Huddersfield for recycling. The project revealed for the first time the public’s appetite for such schemes. When the collection of waste became unviable due to fluctuations in commodity prices, Wastesaver changed tack to deal with clothes and textiles. Wastesaver still operates today, from a huge warehouse in Batley, West Yorkshire, where many of the clothes donated to Oxfam shops and clothing banks are sorted and recycled. Jon’s publications sold all over the world, serving as handbooks to community organisations and governments on how to reclaim waste. In the 1980s, with funding from the Commonwealth and the United Nations, he undertook research into the reuse of waste materials. His consultancy, Interwaste, aimed to help people in developing countries. He was born in Hackney, north-east London, son of Sidney Vogler, a public health inspector, and his wife, Thérèse (nee Jinks). Their Jewish-Catholic marriage was unusual for the time. After attending Haberdashers’ Aske’s school in Hampstead on a state scholarship, Jon gained a degree in aeronautical engineering from Bristol University. He was among the first Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) volunteers and helped to finish building and then taught at the multiracial Bernard Mizeki school in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Back in the UK, he took up an industrial fellowship with English Electric and married Jill Hughes, a doctor, in 1962. In 1966, they moved to Nigeria, where Jon was resident engineer on the Kainji dam on the River Niger. The family returned to the UK the following year, and in 1971 settled in Leeds. From the mid-80s Jon’s focus shifted to computing, then cyber-security, when that concept was in its infancy. He became a prolific technology journalist and an expert witness testifying in industrial disputes and criminal cases. In later life he gained a BA in fine art at Leeds Metropolitan University and an MA in contemporary art practice at Leeds College of Art, specialising in letter-cutting and sculpting in wood and stone. Jon and Jill’s sculpture-filled garden hosted many charity events, often in support of refugees. For almost two decades, too, Jon led volunteer working parties of the Friends of Roundhay Park, and for this he was awarded a British Empire Medal in 2014. Although his energy gradually decreased, his curiosity remained undimmed after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a consequence of his early career in industrial engineering. He is survived by Jill, their three daughters, Miranda, Pen and me, and son, Justin, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
News Article | August 22, 2016
Undergraduate interns selected for this year’s Summer Scholars program come from Montana to Florida and Puerto Rico and have a diverse set of scientific accomplishments and personal interests. “I’m excited to use this internship as an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. Interning at MIT will give me a chance to adapt to a new environment, cope with new subject matter, and meet new people,” says Justin Cheng, a Rutgers University junior majoring in materials science and engineering. He’d like to tackle a project related to electronic or photonic materials. “My fun fact is that I received a black belt in karate (Okinawan Shuri-Ryu) when I was in high school,” Florida State University junior Alexandra T. Barth says. She is pursuing a double major in chemistry and physical science and hopes to conduct research in the area of materials chemistry and pursue a doctorate in the field. Cheng and Barth are two of 11 outstanding undergraduates who will conduct graduate level research at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from June 7 through Aug. 6. The group’s interests range from condensed matter physics and materials science to biotechnology and bioinformatics. “MIT is very fortunate to have this very talented group of students with us, and the faculty all hope that one of them will work with their group,” says Carl V. Thompson, director of the Materials Processing Center and Stavros Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. Center for Materials Science and Engineering Director Michael Rubner adds, "This is an amazingly successful program that will no doubt continue far into the future." Interns will have the opportunity to choose from a multitude of on-campus research opportunities. The scholars will hear faculty, postdocs, and graduate students outline their summer projects in the morning and then tour their labs in the afternoon on Wednesday, June 8, through Friday, June 10. The program is sponsored jointly by the Materials Processing Center and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. Suna Njie, a junior at historically black Alabama State University, has lived on three continents and visited seven countries. “Traveling and living in different areas of the world at an early age has opened my eyes to many traditions and lifestyles,” she says. “It is my ultimate dream to become a research professional in the biochemistry field. This will allow me to have an immense impact on the scientific and general community.” “I’m excited to learn more about materials science and engineering and other scientific disciplines through talking with faculty and students alike,” says University of Massachusetts at Amherst junior chemical engineering major Ashley Kaiser. “I hope to research nanostructured materials, especially 2-D materials, and their role in energy and electronics applications.” Kaiser is a gymnast who is challenging herself by learning the still rings, an event that only appears in men’s gymnastics because it requires tremendous upper body strength. “Fascinated with this physical challenge, I worked hard to learn the basics. Today, I still seek advice for this event from my gymnastics coaches and male gymnasts, who always seem surprised to see a girl up on the rings,” she says. Physics major Grant Smith won the Bert Elsbach Honors Scholarship in Physics at Pennsylvania State University last year for exceptional achievement. He has minors in both mathematics and electronic and photonic materials. “I am exposed to coursework dealing with [the] most fundamental natural behaviors punctuated by coursework focused on the application of these concepts to engineering problems,” Smith says. His work under Professor Nitin Samarth at Penn State focuses on topological insulators. He hopes his lab experience at MIT will provide broader experience in the electronic properties of materials. Michael Concepción Santana, a junior at Polytechnic University in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is interested in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically in synthesizing ligands that can deliver drugs to attack disease cells and cure illnesses. He has participated in several research projects including experimental green synthesis and characterization of Podophyllotoxin, a plant-derived organic polymer and potential anti-cancer agent, under Ajay Kumar at Metropolitan University in San Juan. He participated in the Air Force Junior ROTC program during high school and won three military-themed scholarships. “Having that experience during high school developed in me the leadership, character and integrity that is necessary in the field of science and engineering,” Concepción says. Johns Hopkins University junior Michael Porter hopes to pursue research in polymeric biomaterials and drug delivery. “Through this program, I hope to refine and confirm my research interests for graduate school and for a career in research,” he says. Porter, whose father is white and mother is Japanese, recalls difficulty communicating as he grew up in Ohio trying to learn two languages and attending the local Japanese school. “I still find that communication is as fundamental as ever in building and maintaining meaningful relationships,” he says. He previously participated in a summer research internship at UMass Amherst, where he studied the bacterial collection potential of cellulose fiber mats, and how changing their surface charge and topography could impact their effectiveness. As the daughter of a U.S. military employee, Erica Eggleton lived in Germany for six years, attending an American school on base from 7th to 12th grade. “These were my forming years, so I believe that living in Germany helped shape me into the person I grew up to become,” she says. Eggleton, a chemical engineering major at Montana State University, plays mellophone in the university’s Spirit of the West Marching Band as well as French horn in the brass quintet. She is interested in fuel cell research and is a co-author of an International Journal of Hydrogen Energy paper analyzing gas-liquid flow mechanisms in proton exchange membrane fuel cells. “I live in Montana, where the mountains are my backyard and I am surrounded by outdoor activities. Seeing the beauty of our world everyday motivates me to help conserve it for generations to come,” Eggleton says. She hopes her summer internship will offer the opportunity to do work related to renewable energy or sustainable materials. University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez sophomore Ashley Del Valle Morales is looking forward to exchanging new and exciting concepts about energy and sustainability with diverse scholars, as well taking advantage of the opportunity to acquire and enhance her research skills. “By learning about and implementing new materials, we can minimize pollution, increase the use of recycled and renewable materials and have recycling-friendly designs. My passion lies in creating and generating energy in an efficient, cost-effective and sustainable manner,” she says. Del Valle says she learned to do crochet when she was eight years old, and it has become one of her passions ever since. “All my family says I am a young woman with the soul of a grandmother, because in every free time I get I do crochet,” she says. Vanderbilt University sophomore Victoria Yao also is interested in exploring new ways to affect environmental change and sustainability. She hopes to conduct research from the perspective of her major, chemical engineering. Yao tutors elementary school students in math through the Pencil Projects club and mentors nearby high school Key Clubs through Circle K. “I enjoyed building a relationship with these kids, and I hope to continue this in the future,” she says. Jennifer Coulter, a Rutgers junior physics major, serves as the outreach coordinator for the Society of Physics Students and as a program co-coordinator and frequent mentor for the Douglass Project for Women in STEM. “Through both of these appointments, I feel I have been able to use science education to significantly better the careers of the future researchers of Rutgers,” she says. Coulter hopes to participate in condensed matter physics at MIT during her internship. “I have confidence that this program will allow me to develop my skills in solid state physics and hopefully help me determine my direction as I apply to graduate school,” she says. At Rutgers, Coulter has participated in research under materials science and engineering Professor Dunbar Birnie that led to several publications on solar cell material growth. The Materials Processing Center and Center for Materials Science and Engineering sponsor the nine-week National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) internships with support from the National Science Foundation's Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program (grant number DMR-14-19807).
Cabeza M.,Metropolitan University |
Heuze Y.,Metropolitan University |
Quintana H.,Metropolitan University |
Bratoeff E.,National University of Pharmacy
Asian Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances | Year: 2010
The aim of this study is to compare the effect of Testosterone (T) and finasteride (F)-treatments on the diameter of the pigmented spot of hamster's flank organs as well as on the weight of seminal vesicles and prostate glands in two different animal models: prepuberal and adult hamsters. The treatments administrated to prepuberal hamsters, after 7 days of castration and adults hamsters after 30 days of castration showed similar results in the growth of prostate and seminal vesicles. However, the flank organs response to finasteride from prepuberal hamster was different than that observed for the flank organs from adult hamsters. Daily injections with T plus F in prepuberal castrated hamsters did not decrease the diameter of the flank organs, thus suggesting that the 5α-reductase enzyme is not present in these glands. In conclusion, the flank organs from prepuberal hamsters are a good model for the determination of the androgenic and antiandogenic activity. However, this assay is not suitable for the determination of 5α-reductase inhibitory activity of different steroids in vivo. Furthermore, both adults and prepuber hamsters prostate and seminal vesicles are good models for the determination of the androgenic, antiandrogenic and 5α-reductase inhibitory effects in drugs. © 2010 Academic Journals Inc.
Nlshimura T.,metropolitan University |
Nlshimura T.,Tokyo Metroplitan University |
Seo A.,metropolitan University |
Doi K.,metropolitan University
Journal of Japan Industrial Management Association | Year: 2010
The touch panels have come into widespread use in recent years. For example, touch panels are used in ticket-vending machines at stations and automated teller machines at banks. However, there has been little research regarding touch-panel operability from the standpoint of biomechanics. If an evaluation index that is capable of providing an evaluation based on work posture can be created, that evaluation index can be transformed into a digital human model. Additionally touch-panel operability can be evaluated. The authors therefore applied arm manipulability utilized in the field of robotics to evaluate touch-panel operability and conducted an experiment to evaluate touch-panel usability. Ten healthy male subjects participated in the experiment. They were asked to operate the touch panel under the following conditions: seven touch panel angles (0, 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90 degrees). As the evaluation index, switch operation frequency and subject operation efficiency were utilized to compare arm manipulability results. The results showed that arm manipulability correlates with switch operation frequency and subject operation efficiency. From this study, it was found that it is possible to apply arm manipulability as an evaluation index for touch panels.
Lopez-Cruz I.L.,University of Chapingo |
Rojano-Aguilar A.,University of Chapingo |
Salazar-Moreno R.,University of Chapingo |
Ruiz-Garcia A.,University of Chapingo |
Goddard J.,Metropolitan University
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2012
Sensitivity analysis is an important step in developing mathematical modelling of agricultural systems. However, usually for greenhouse crop models, local approaches based on the calculation of derivatives are applied. Unfortunately, the main drawback of local approaches is that derivatives provide information only at the base point where they are computed and do not take into account the rest of the variation range of the model's parameters. In contrast, several so called global sensitivity analysis approaches such as standardized regression coefficients, the elementary effect test, variance-based methods and Monte Carlo Filtering are being developed. In the present work a comparison between a local sensitivity analysis and two global sensitivity methods is carried out. The paper focuses on the methodological issues concerning both local and global sensitivities approaches, where their similarities and differences are discussed. A five-state variables greenhouse lettuce crop model is used in order to show both the strengths and also the weaknesses of the paradigms. In the case of the local method the so-called sensitivity equations are stated and solved. For the global approaches, firstly, probability density functions (PDFs) were assigned to each of the model's parameters. Secondly, five thousands Monte Carlo simulations were conducted in order to calculate the sensitivity indices and measures. The lettuce crop model was implemented in Matlab, and the global sensitivity analysis was programmed using the SimLab (ver. 3.2) software. More reliable results were obtained by the global method based on variance calculation Fourier Amplitude Sensitive Test (FAST) which indentified as the most sensitive parameters for the NICOLET model the coefficients: radiation extinction, photosynthetic efficiency, leaf conductance to CO2, specific growth rate, maintenance respiration and reference temperature.
Andrade J.,Metropolitan University |
Martin A.,Metropolitan University |
Rodriguez A.,Metropolitan University
WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment | Year: 2014
This study is part of a much larger effort by many stakeholders, called Water Caravan, to implement a rescue Master Plan for the Lake Chalco and Xochimilco basins. Our study focuses on an integrated strategic urban proposal to upgrade an area between three important boroughs of Mexico City, specifically the waterfront of Lake Chalco, the Cuemanco Ecological Park and its surrounding areas. This is an area of great ecological, cultural and historical relevance for our city. Nonetheless, an unregulated urban sprawl, as well as local population increase, has seriously deteriorated the area. The selected site, along with Chalco and Nacional Channel acquire a great significance as the gateway to this highly valuable region of cultural and historical relevance. This work proposes a Master Plan to make local scale interventions: connect bordering neighborhoods, reorganize its land use and activate the Park and Chalco Channel, in order to incrementally revitalize the area. © 2013 WIT Press.
Garbin A.J.I.,São Paulo State University |
Garbin C.A.S.,São Paulo State University |
Moimaz S.A.S.,São Paulo State University |
Baldan R.C.F.,Metropolitan University |
Zina L.G.,São Paulo State University
Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health | Year: 2011
Disorders localized to the musculoskeletal system are a common problem among dental personnel. This study has the aim of surveying epidemiological studies reporting positive associations between dental practice and musculoskeletal disorders (MSKDs). The focus was to evaluate the size of reported risk increase and the extent to what alternative causal explanations were considered. Reports with significant links (p value <.05) were systematically selected from 2 electronic databases. Twenty-five studies were identified. Risk measures were reported in 8 studies, and all of them presented weak associations. The impact of at least 1 competing explanations was analyzed in 32% of studies, but adjustment was considered not adequate in half of them. The evidence on dentistry as a profession with potential risk for development of MSKDs remains questionable. Further research is needed to more carefully elucidate the risk and the impact of MSKDs in this particular occupational group. © 2011 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.