Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Gangnam Style, Global Citizenship, and the (Secretary) General

Friday, January 18th, 2013

As Stanford students, we have been charged – by the Stanfords themselves in the Founding Grant – with the responsibility of “promot[ing] the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.”  The words that Leland and Jane wrote down over 120 years ago in honor of their late son still ring true today, for fuzzies and techies alike.  Whether you are applying for a visa to study abroad or someday praying for favorable trade relations so that you can expose your product to a new market, international relations matter.  So if you’re curious about IR or just wondering why there were police dogs outside of Dink yesterday, read on.

Today, the UN has 193 member nations.

Crash Course: Meet the U.N.

Founded in 1945, the United Nations was born out of the need to address global hostility post-World War II and the League of Nations’ failed attempt at creating an international body that could effectively address international issues.  Despite starting afresh, the formation of an international regulating body still did not sit well with some countries, and after the Soviet Union turned about-face on first Secretary General Trygve Lie due to the UN’s role in the Korean War, the UN was almost doomed to the same fate as the League of Nations.

Like a boss.

Fortunately, Lie’s fellow-Scandinavian successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, strove to prevent the UN from disappearing altogether.  However, the UN has had its share of drama, from the Soviet Union’s desire to create a troika to replace the Secretary General to the Annan family’s Oil-for-Food scandal.

Despite the issues that have arisen, the United Nations remains the predominant world body persistently working to maintain peace between nations and provide aid to those who are hungry, oppressed, illiterate, and ill, deploying approximately 120,000 peacekeepers from over 110 countries and feeding over 90 million people a day.  In the words of current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “we [- the UN -] deliver more humanitarian aid than anyone.”

BMOC: Ban himself

The man with a plan

This Thursday afternoon, Ban Ki-moon came to address the Stanford community and discuss the role of the UN in our rapidly transitioning world.  Expressing his excitement at being able to speak on campus, Ki-moon joked that “Stanford has subtly made its mark on the world…… and that is just your football team.”  But beyond voicing his appreciation for California and joking that after a trip to America as a teen, he “was the 1950s equivalent of PSY” because he was so popular when he got home, Ban Ki-moon emphasized a need for American citizens to help address the profound global change that our world is facing today.  To make his point clear, Ki-moon elucidated three primary ways to navigate our changing world – his points are as follows.

1) Sustainable Development

First, Ki-moon urged individuals to be more conscious of their consumption of Earth’s resources, as “there can be no plan B… because there is no planet B.”  Asserting that “we cannot drill or mine our way to prosperity,” Ki-moon explained his goal for 2030: that everyone in the world will have electricity, solving a current dearth of energy for 1.4 million individuals.  His environmental stance reflects current initiatives at Stanford that you can get involved in, from the Stanford Solar Car project to the Green Living Council.  As Ki-moon said himself, “I know you understand – after all, Stanford’s mascot is a tree.”

2) “Dignity and Democracy”

Focusing on civil unrest in Syria and Mali, the Secretary General illuminated the main concerns for addressing international conflict, including funds, access, and political divisions.  He wants to provide certainty to young people who have uncertain futures, and uphold the human rights of those who can’t defend themselves.

3) Women and Young People

Similarly, Ki-moon argued that women and young people are the “most under-utilized resource” in today’s world.  He called for “more women in the Cabinet, more women in the Parliament, and more women in the boardrooms,” and is proud that South Korea has its first female president(-elect).  Because “half the world is under 25 years of age,” Ki-moon has appointed a special envoy on youth, who will hopefully be a proponent for children and young adults around the world.

“We Are the World”

In sum, Ban Ki-moon discussed a variety of pressing issues that he and his peers in the UN need our help to address.  It is in this vein that Ki-moon wrapped up his talk; rather than talking about how the youth are the future, he argues that it is time to recognize that young people “have already taken their leadership role today.”

So, Stanford students, let’s take Ki-moon’s advice.  Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to recognize the importance of international cooperation and impartiality.  It is time to be global citizens.

A climate change study that doesn’t end in tears

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Corals from the Ofu Lagoon, American Samoa

As an Earth Systems major, I can say it’s sometimes difficult to stay positive about my choice of field because there are so many urgent and intricate problems woven into the daily fabric of life–and in order to learn how to solve them, you have to appreciate how intricate and difficult to undo they really are.  So it’s nice when conservation research pays off, especially for animals in as dire straits as corals are.

Awesome Stanford professor Stephen Palumbi–who among other accomplishments has used molecular genetics to track the incidence of marine mammal meat in canned tuna and formed a band called ‘Flagella’–has found a key difference in the genomics of heat-resistant corals from the waters of American Samoa that might be used in genetic therapy for corals worldwide, potentially saving coral reefs from the worst effects of global warming.  When water temperatures rise above a certain extent, corals get stressed and their photosynthetic partners, zooxanthellae, are expelled from the tissue of the coral, leaving it hard-pressed to manufacture enough carbohydrates without the ability to make sugars from sunlight.    Palumbi and other researchers discovered in their warm-water corals that 60 heat stress genes were activated whether or not the corals were subjected to excessive heat.  If this pattern could be transferred to cooler-water corals, it could potentially avert cases of coral bleaching from extreme heat.

This treatment, if applied, doesn’t solve all the problems coral reefs are facing in the future, of course.  Corals will still have to contend with the rising acidity in the world’s oceans due to the excessive deposition of carbon dioxide from our increasingly CO2-filled atmosphere–an acidity change that makes it harder for corals to build skeletons, because waters become less saturated with calcium carbonate.  Runaway algae growth is also a possibility and a threat, and more frequent and violent tropical storms are predicted in future years, which could be a huge challenge for coral communities to withstand.  However, finding ways to combat heat stress is a necessary first step (we are committed to further global warming, we might be able to stave off the worst ocean acidification), and Palumbi and his team have unlocked a very important discovery.

Badasses of Stanford: Derek Ouyang and Stanford Solar Decathlon

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Initial concept renderings of Stanford Solar Decathlon’s practical yet beautiful Start.Home design.

This week we caught up with Derek Ouyang, ’13, Project Manager of Stanford’s first Solar Decathlon team.

How would you summarize Solar Decathlon in a sentence?

Solar Decathlon is an international competition to design the home of the future, and Stanford is going to win.

Who or what inspired you to start a Solar Decathlon team at Stanford?

Taylor Brady (’13) came up with the idea of putting together a Stanford proposal to compete last Spring. It didn’t make sense to us that Stanford has never competed in such an awesome competition. We submitted last November and received word from the U.S. Department of Energy this past January that we were one of 20 international teams selected to compete next October in Irvine, CA.

What kind of faculty / departmental support do you have?  Where could you use more support?

We have support from almost every department in the School of Engineering and committed faculty advisors as well. We recently got the on board in a major way, helping us move from an engineering design approach to a more human-centered approach. We are starting to get support from the Communications Department and Graduate Business School to help us with marketing and sponsorship, and could definitely use more talented students from these areas.

From a big picture perspective, what do you consider the greatest potential impact of a project like Solar Decathlon?  

From the very beginning we knew that we didn’t want to create a cool showcase house just for the competition — we wanted to use this incredible opportunity to showcase a real industry-changing idea on an international stage. Our idea, called Start.Home, is a new kind of sustainable home module which can be mass-manufactured on an industrial scale and shipped all around the country to build the next generation of net-zero homes. We hope it’s an inspiration to industry, and already some of our supporters want us to build additional core modules for them — who knows, maybe it will become a business sooner than we think!

“Sustainability at the push of a button” – preliminary construction of a building core.

What has been the biggest challenge to the project so far?

Having 100+ people excited about the project is both a blessing and a curse — I spend nearly 40 hours a week just managing our huge team of at least a dozen subteams. But the point of this group is not to be exclusive — it’s really to reach out to our school and engage as many people as possible in sustainability education and an incredible hands-on design project. I just wish sometimes that we didn’t have to go to so many classes on the side.

What has most surprised you about the process?

I’ve been surprised by how much support we’ve gotten from various groups at Stanford and beyond. Sustainable Stanford, VPUE, and the Precourt Institute of Energy are major donors for our project. We were able to get a temporary construction site right by the Terman fountain from March to September of next year from Stanford, and two schools are looking to sponsor the home post-competition. Intel and Bosch are big corporate sponsors, and alumni have been incredibly supportive through donations and networking. We always thought that the idea of students building a net-zero home would interest the community, but we never expected this much feedback and energy. We can’t wait to see what happens once we finally break ground on campus in March! (more…)

Living down “Jaws”: Shark Week and beyond

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

You may have heard that this week is Stanford Shark Week, especially if you’ve been frequenting Y2E2 or Herrin Hall.  If anyone had told me, as a high school senior applying to college, that Stanford had a week of events dedicated just to sharks, I might have taken my chances and skipped applying to those 11 other universities.  This week celebrates the passing of the CA Shark Fin Ban AB 376, which came into effect this January 1st.  California was the last of the West Coast states to ban the sale and possession of shark fins, hopefully closing the U.S. ports to the trade.  The author of the bill, Paul Fong, will be speaking at Stanford on Thursday at 6pm, and there will be additional lectures from superstar biologist Barbara Block on Wednesday, as well as film screenings on Tuesday and Friday.

Really, it’s about time sharks got some positive publicity.  They are more than simply giant toothy fish–in fact, they are an entirely different branch on the evolutionary tree, closely related to rays, skates, and the inexplicably adorable ratfish (tell me you don’t love that face!), but evolutionarily speaking are about as closely related to the bony, scaly fishes we all know as us humans are to our close cousins the lizards.  Sharks have not only some of the most impressive but also the most ancient jaws in the animal kingdom–they are the oldest creatures with jaws alive today, and there are over 300 species found in both freshwater and saltwater.  There is even a shark that lives off the coast of Greenland (creatively titled the Greenland Shark) that has on at least one occasion eaten a reindeer.  In addition to their famous eating abilities, some sharks can leap out of the water like whales, sense a millionth of a volt of electricity in water, and give birth to live baby sharks, which are called pups.

Why is it s difficult for us to appreciate sharks in the way that we admire other top predators like polar bears and wolves and birds of prey?  Do we have affection for only predators with feathers or fur?  I’m sure most reasonable people would agree that harvesting shark fins for soup is cruel.  But sharks are hardly cause for concern for most of us. They should be.  They should be a priority not just because they are endangered and useful for balancing the ecosystem but because they are unique and beautiful in and of themselves.  We don’t want the sharks to disappear before we can get the Jaws theme out of our heads.



Kofi Annan Urges Students To Help Fight Food Insecurity

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

The air is filled with the buzz of excited students rolling in through the doors of the Memorial Auditorium. I mean it is not everyday you get to hear eminent personas like Kofi Annan give inspirational talks. Well, at Stanford we get to that every other day, which is not so bad, frankly. It was quite amusing to see freshmen, who are not yet used to the awesome-ness of being at such a renowned university, shuffle in with gleeful faces while updating their Facebook status on their cellphones, bragging about such events happening, “Only at Stanford.” I should add I was among these freshmen, except that my exuberance was exponentially vivid through my comical facial expressions; bulging eyes, mouth stretched with a gloating grin as I strutted down the isle to the esteemed press area and took my seat in the second row while the remaining one thousand seven hundred and four people struggled to squeeze themselves in seats behind me. Life is good.

Now I’ll let go off my self-obsession and move to the more important part of the afternoon: Kofi Annan’s speech. This former United Nations Secretary General graced us with his presence at the occasion of the opening of the new Center for Food Security and the Environment at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International studies. Who else could be a better speaker than the very person who has initiated projects in order to aid Africa fight food insecurity?

Annan instantly won the crowd over by commenting on the, “duck hunting season at The Farm,” and how, “Luck was on [our] side.” However, more inspirational was his address regarding food security and global climate change. He draws our attention to the harrowing fact that one in seven of the world’s 7 billion people go to bed hungry. Our time is a time of great contrast. While Globalization has accelerated progress, it has not been shared equally amongst the nations. At “the heart” of the situation that the countries receiving the shorter end of the stick have to deal with, is food and nutrition insecurity. Annan deems the global climate change to be the leading cause for the decline of cultivable land and increasing food insecurity. Furthermore, he believes that African nations can play a central role in combating this dilemma since 80% of the world’s uncultivated land lies in Africa. However, Africa can only step up to face challenge if it receives help. As for now, lack of investment in research, human resource development and infrastructure in Africa has resulted in dire consequences. Africa is the only continent which can not feed itself and the prospects do not seem any better considering that its population growth is on a rise. It is imperative to help them since it is not only our moral obligation as a global community to support the unprivileged, but it is also in our interests since it will help us attain global prosperity and stability.

Annan feels that there needs to be true goodwill and effort on both local and global levels. Amongst the measures he mentioned were preventing price volatility, maintaining global food stock, reshaping global agricultural system, giving financial assistance to African women farmers and applying known techniques and tools specially in assisting African smallholder farms. Furthermore, the crux of the matter NEEDS to be handled by governments. They need to establish a broad umbrella and then, through “effective partnerships and networking” with various local and global institutions, find answers to “end hunger NOW.”

Another strategy to counter lack of food security is to be “climate – smart” and this is where the new Center for Food Security and the Environment has a key role to play. There needs to be a global initiative to deal with climate change that consists of a “fair framework based on shared values.” Annan believes that scientists are to lead the way through their research in order to diminish the negative consequences of climate change and with this Center we are now at the forefront of the scientific arena. By organizing ourselves in such a way that it is sustainable and practicable, we can even directly engage ourselves in the local community to help alleviate food insecurity. We, as students of this university with immense amount of talent should be an active part of this new initiative. As Kofi Annan aptly said, “My young friends, do not just sit on the sidelines. Use your energy, your unbounded enthusiasm to end global food insecurity.”

Why Stanford: Admit Weekend 2011

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

The best place to spend the next four years of your life. (Photo cred: Molly MacKenzie)

The sun is shining brightly.  The track and fielders are thwarting gravity right outside my window, and Stanford’s very own Wind of Freedom is lilting happily through the trees.

As I write this post, gazing happily from the relative calm of the Visitor Information Center, it is easy to forget that we are about to be invaded.  Swarmed.  Rendered under siege.  But actually.  Starting this Thursday, good luck biking anywhere, ’cause we’ll all be wading waist deep through ProFros and their parents.  Oh, baby, it’s Admit Weekend season.

Welcome, ProFros, to the TUSB “Why Stanford” list.  The all-inclusive, ever-so-persuasive, quantitative canon of why you really should just click “yes” already and spend Admit Weekend living it up with your future classmates.  Using the latest and greatest metrics Stanford has to offer, I am about to blow your inquisitive minds as only a tour guide can.  Drumroll please….

5.  We Got Game:  #1 Division I Athletics Program

Come watch our BCS Bowl football team, #1 men's swimming team, women's basketball Final Four team, etc., etc.

  • Every year, the Director’s Cup is given to the #1 Div. I athletics program in the nation.  We’ve won it for the last 16 years.
  • If Stanford had been its own nation in the 20048 Beijing Olympics, we would have placed 19th in the world.
  • We have 35 Varsity sports.
  • We have extensive club and intramural sports programs, including sports as diverse as Ultimate Frisbee, inner-tube water polo, sand volleyball, and basketball.
  • All Stanford sports games (besides playoffs) are FREE to all Stanford students.
  • 83% of Stanford students participate in some sort of athletic activity.  This is because we have amazing activity and athletic course offerings.  After Stanford’s classes in sailing, fencing, and archery, you, too, can kick it like Captain Jack Sparrow.  Word.

Stanford alumna Sigourney Weaver rocks the Cardinal

4.  So Hot Right Now:  the Value of the Stanford Brand

In case you missed my earlier article on How Stanford is Redefining Cool, let me break it down for you.  Stanford has been the #1 dream school according to Princeton Review surveys for the past three years.  We have over a dozen career fairs on campus every year, because international employers respect the value of a Stanford education and swarm our campus on a regular basis to recruit our talent.  Not convinced?  How about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck giving up a probable #1 NFL draft pick and multimillion dollar starting salary to finish out his senior year?

If you’re reading this as a ProFro, major props – you conquered a 7% admissions rate to be where you are today.  Consider, for a moment, the flip side of the coin.  32,022 students applied this year.  That’s approximately the population of Monaco.  You’re in a tremendously desirable position.  You were one of the chosen few, and you have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the best four years of your life here at Stanford.


Broken Social Scene to Perform at Stanford

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

BSS. Free. 'Nuff said.

And you would be doing yourself an incredible disservice to miss them. Hailing from Canada, the band includes members Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew, along with up to twenty other artists. There are numerous associated musicians that often perform with BSS, such as Leslie Feist and Stars member Evan Cranley. I was lucky enough to catch their amazing performance at the Treasure Island Music Festival back in October. The number of people onstage, the variety of instruments and vocalists, and their connection with the audience all add up to create a beyond satisfying indie rock experience. The only drawback for me is that this FREE concert coincides with the Railroad Revival Tour‘s (featuring Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford and Sons, and Old Crow Medicine Show) stop in Oakland. #mylifeissohard.

BSS is coming  as part of Vision eARTh 2011, a three-day festival focused on sustainability and the arts. Other events include a sustainability short film competition, a sustainable fashion show, and speaker Vinod Khosla. Click here to view the full schedule.

You will not regret going to see Broken Social Scene. In fact, you’d be crazy not to go. White Plaza – Thursday, April 21st from 9:30 to 11 PM. Did I mention it was FREE?

Going Digital

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

When you're faced with a stack of newspapers and the sleek Kindle, is there really any need to figure out which is the better option?

I’m not a fan of digital textbooks. Before my hard copies come in the mail, I’ve been forced to pore over previews provided by Google Books. Besides the fact that the books have put me to sleep once or twice, the experience wasn’t otherwise enjoyable.  Having to stare at the tiny letters for over an hour isn’t my idea of fun. But if I wanted to stay caught up while waiting for my real textbooks, I had to persist. I did – but only grudgingly.

Yet, every quarter I think I find more offerings to download my books online. For the most part, it’s cheaper. And it’s also greener. There are no production costs and no paper used! While this may seem like a blessing I’m frightened by the downfall of the physical textbooks and regular books. I stare at a screen all day anyways; I prefer not have to stare at it while I’m enjoying light reading. Yet I could metaphorically hear the nail being hammered into the coffin when I got the news that Borders is filing for bankruptcy. Barnes and Noble is still strong since it’s riding the ebook wave with it’s eReader the Nook but there doesn’t seem to be demand for companies that just sell books in print.

Borders has always been a favorite store of mine. While Barnes and Noble seems almost formal with its bustling Starbucks carrying customers and forest green designs, Borders has always seemed more comfortable and relaxed. I’ll be sad to see its stores go. But in order to survive you have to compete. Without an e-reader out, Borders doesn’t really stand a chance.

Something that’s even more telling of the popularity of digital texts is the rapid growth in the tablet PC market. After Apple’s iPad launch last year, it seems like other computer companies are scrambling to catch up in the race for the best tablet. This year brings us the Apple iPad 2, Motorola XOOM, HP TouchPad, and more. More people than ever own tablet PC’s. A tablet PC isn’t the same as an eReader, but consumers purchasing more and more of these products it doesn’t make sense for the average person to own both devices. People are going to have to choose but either way, the ebook market wins.

Even public libraries have jumped on the digital bandwagon. It’s inevitable that sometime in the near future, people will be more reliant on ebooks than traditional hard copies. Even in the past few weeks, I’ve talked to students deliberating between buying a Kindle or suffering through carrying their books around. And considering Stanford’s efforts to be both green and up-to-date with current technological trends, it’s a wonder of how long it will take our student body to make the conversion. For print texts, with its popularity declining, the end may not be imminent but it’s definitely getting there.

O, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, if you’re a fan of e-readers here’s a few gift ideas and deals.

Schwarzenegger: Never Give Up

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

I suppose the central question about Schwarzenegger has always been: is this guy actually smart?  He came and spoke an hour ago about climate change and CA politics.  The performance  gave little new info about either of the two topics at hand but did provide some insight about how the Terminator managed to get major reforms pushed through the California legislature.

Yes, Arnold, even after all these years...

In short, the guy isn’t that smart, but he knows several things: 1) exactly what his priorites are (“I don’t want people to die and I don’t want to be dependent on countries that hate us”), 2) how to get people to work together (more on this later) and 3) that he will work harder than anyone else in the room.


How Stanford is Redefining Cool

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The $2.8 billion tank top? High-grossing Avatar brought Stanford's "cool cachet" to the silver screen.

Stanford has pretty impressive street cred.

I started to catch on to this when I watched Avatar for the first time.  James Cameron’s carefully-crafted CGI masterpiece may be one of the most meticulously constructed cinematic works of our generation.  Which is why I was so surprised to encounter a truly glaring instance of product placement: Sigourney Weaver‘s avatar wears a bright red Stanford tank top.

It’s easy to write this off as clever marketing (though the University was in no way involved) or simply an homage to Weaver’s alma mater.  But it’s not actually that simple.  Stanford has unquestionable purchasing power: not just as a highly-valued institution, but as a cultural symbol of an almost paradoxical confluence of brainpower and, well, coolness.

In this instance, Stanford is identified with the environmentally-conscious “good scientist,” with a confident and powerful female protagonist who is literally trying to save her world.  To those familiar with the Farm today, these are certainly resonant themes on campus which validate our claim to  “coolness.”

But Avatar is only the tip of the iceberg….  (Get it?  James Cameron directed Titanic….)

The Ubiquitous Stanford T-Shirt:

Just like Weezer, we're doin' things our own way and never giving up.

Primed by the Avatar incident, suddenly I was seeing Stanford T-shirts everywhere.  This is almost no surprise, as few universities have a T-shirt design as consistent and uniquely identifiable as ours.  But the numbers are staggering: there are 828,000 Google hits for “Stanford T-shirt” and only 269,000 for Harvard and 694,000 for Princeton.  Google doesn’t lie.

The cultural icon: The Blues Brothers shows how the Stanford T-shirt's cool power spans generations.

The unifying theme I noticed was the context in which the shirts appeared: Stanford T-shirt wearers are cool.  In the case of Sigourney Weaver, it’s a badass scientist working with state-of-the-art technology to revolutionize the way we interact with the world.  In The Blues Brothers, Mr. Stanford Shirt and his fellow concert attendees are, by and large, a bunch of young, fun-loving twenty-somethings rocking out for charity.  (Dance Marathon, anyone?)  The presence of the Stanford T-shirt in Weezer’s “Troublemaker” music video is yet another perfect distillation of Stanford’s pop culture power.  In the video, Weezer and their fans seek to break numerous world records, pushing the boundaries of the possible and having a blast while doing it – a parallel to Stanford’s prominence as a research institution.  On a more obvious level, the lyrics of “Troublemaker” can be seen as an analogy to the Stanford entrepreneurial attitude.  As the bold West Coast foil to the traditionally-grounded Ivies, we are indeed “doin’ things [our] own way and never giving up.”  You’re right, Rivers Cuomo.  “There isn’t anybody else exactly quite like [Stanford].”


Trees and Cacti and Sculptures, Oh My!

Monday, January 10th, 2011

There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy’s life when… he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

From the foothills to the bay....

Stanford consists of 8180 acres.  That’s mildly ridiculous.  Let me put that into perspective: if you count just Disneyland Park itself, that’s roughly 96 Disneylands.  So Stanford waaay outranks Disneyland as the happiest place on earth!  Q.E.D., right?!  But seriously, folks: we students rarely encounter the vast majority of this immense, beautiful campus with which we have been blessed.  And I think a change would do us good.

Just like Twain’s rightly-constructed boy, I implore you, the rightly-constructed Stanford student, to explore the hidden treasure concealed before your very eyes in Stanford’s beautiful outdoors.  Channel your inner Tom Sawyer and ready your treasure map, because this post is all about ‘sploring the outdoor wonders that Stanford has to offer.

Bring me a shrubbery! Ahem, tree….

No, not that kind of Tree.

We have over 27,000 trees growing on central campus.  Whaaaat?  We have so many trees that we have an online encyclopedia of them, with precise bookkeeping identifying essentially every tree on central campus.  In case you’ve ever wondered, you can check out these freakishly thorough tree maps to plan your own adventure.  Rare, old, and historically important trees can be found here, and an assortment of special gardens and alluringly flowering courtyards can be found here.  In the springtime, check out the seasonal blooms along this route of hidden treasure.   In the fall, you can see Stanford’s best fiery autumn leaves by following these instructions.  There’s even a Stanford flora and fauna podcast!

Don’t consider yourself an arboreal connoisseur?  Well, have you ever gazed longingly at the tippy-top oranges on the trees by the Post Office and wondered where to find more?  Halt your awkward fruit-gazing and check this out: a listing of all edible fruit trees on campusKumquats, tangerines, and peaches are just a few of the tasty treats you’ll be able to find around campus.  For additional help, here’s an earlier TUSB post with a partial map.  Please be courteous and leave a fair share of fruit behind for your fellow scavengers!

Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve

The elusive checkerspot butterfly.

Jasper Ridge has been the site of scientific research since Stanford was opened in 1891, and to this day its researchers work “to contribute to the understanding of the Earth’s natural systems through research, education, and protection of the Preserve’s resources.”  There are approximately 60 projects going on at any given time, focusing on the four major areas of environmental and biotic change, structure of ecological communities, geology and geophysics, and direct human influences.  Current projects range from long-term studies of the checkerspot butterfly to testing of camera-trap mammal monitoring to earthquake prediction from electromagnetic anomalies.  Cool stuff!


New SEQ Changes the Face of Stanford Engineering

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Artist's rendition of the final SEQ design

Stanford has always been the West Coast’s tech Mecca.  Finally, with the advent of new Science & Engineering Quad (SEQ), we’re actually starting to look like it, too.  A decade in the making, the SEQ has blessed Stanford’s techiest with an appropriately grand tribute to Stanford’s world-renowned School of Engineering as well as the amazing facilities needed to maintain and enhance that reputation.

Why the new SEQ?  According to Dean Plummer (SoE) and representatives from the Stanford Challenge, the massive new facilities will enable engineers to work alongside researchers from a variety of fields to solve “large-scale, systems-oriented problems,” focusing on those in medicine, energy and the environment, and national security.  With four new buildings and impressive underground laboratories, the SEQ has the space and the state-of-the-art resources to make Stanford’s vast interdisciplinary goals a reality.

Here’s a layman’s guide to all that is awesome about the new SEQ!

Huang Engineering Center:

Stanford's new center for all things tech

Weighing in at a whopping 130,000 square feet, Huang Engineering is the centerpiece of the impressive new techie stomping grounds.  Huang is the new home to the SoE administration, the MS&E Department , and the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering, and its high-tech, 300-seat NIVIDIA Auditorium already hosts some of the more popular CS and MS&E lectures on campus.  Huang is physically attached to Y2E2 via a second floor corridor and is also connected to all the other SEQ buildings via various underground labs and tunnels!  Did someone say University-condoned steam-tunneling?!  That’s right, my fellow engineers, we don’t even have to go outside anymore!  Not that I’d personally recommend a subterranean lifestyle, as Huang boasts a series of majestic terraces and trellises with impressive views of the Main Quad. (more…)

Football Exempt from Sustainability?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Meet Sustainable Stanford.

Stanford’s football team was not the biggest loser on Saturday night.

That prize goes to the sponsors of the on-campus viewing party at Angell Field, who purchased several hundred Aquafina water bottles (pictured right) for students despite the abundance of tap water sources near the event. Although Stanford’s bigwigs claim to have embraced sustainability with great fanfare, these kinds of excesses make the university look hypocritical and insincere. In light of the hullabaloo generated over the false use of recycled paper by some of last year’s ASSU Senate candidates, the mass purchase of low-grade, bottled tap water is simply absurd. A more down-to-earth sustainability policy is in order.

Stanford Lit Up by Afroman

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

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Joseph Foreman, better known as Afroman, set the stage for 4/20 with a lecture on drug abuse in the Oak Lounge of Tressider Union. He discussed in his lecture two legendary anthems to contemporary counterculture, “Crazy Rap (Colt 45)” and “Because I Got High,” along with a host of other songs that explored similar themes. His symposium was originally supposed to take place outside of EBF but was moved to Tressider to accommodate the weather. The move at first raised fears that the expected crowd would not materialize. Nevertheless, the lounge was packed with eager participants by the end of the symposium, allowing Afroman’s words of wisdom to reach many keen Stanford minds.

10 Things To Do This Weekend

Friday, April 16th, 2010

1) Get cultured. SOCA (Stanford Organizing Community for the Arts) is presenting the 11th annual An Art Affair, this weekend in White Plaza, part the reason all those white tents popped up earlier this week.  With over 350 pieces of visual art and installations, tons of student performances and FREE FOOD (fyi, The Cheesecake Factory caters on Friday), it’s the perfect way to be amazed by some of Stanford’s incredibly talented students.

2) FutureFest, aka the other reason all those white tents are in White Plaza.  Presented by GAIA (Green Alliance for Innovative Action), this Saturday from 1pm-7pm, Stanford will celebrate all things green and environmentally friendly with activities, Sustainable Fashion Show, and student performances. The headliners of the day include  Mr. Van Jones himself, the former green jobs advisor to Pres. Obama, as the speaker and the always entertaining De La Soul will be closing musical act.

3) Enjoy singing, dancing and fairy tales gone awry? If yes, then you still have time to see Ram’s Head spring musical Into The Woods this weekend before it ends its run.  As it’s biggest production of the year, the musical promises to be memorable one.

4) Stanford Women’s Leadership Conference. If you’re female and you like to lead, this is the place to be.  Put on by the WCC (Women’s Community Center), the conference is meant help women empower each other through networking and inspiring guest speakers.

5) Study for those midterms coming up next week.  Just a thought.