BRIEFLY

    The Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center has announced that its education program will operate out of the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD. Scott Ashford, an assistant professor of geotechnical engineering, has been named as the director of P.E.E.R.’s education program.

    P.E.E.R is a partnership between nine West Coast universities that primarily researches the engineering methods used to protect structures and land from earthquake damage. Since establishing its education committee in 1998, P.E.E.R. has offered research opportunities to undergraduate students from the participating universities.

    The National Science Foundation annually grants $300,000 to P.E.E.R.’s education committee, which in turn has set up internships for qualified students. Another P.E.E.R. program is the “”Earthquake Engineering Scholars Course,”” where 30 students from affiliated universities visit different campuses over four weekends for a crash course in earthquake engineering. The education committee also discloses new developments in earthquake engineering to middle-school science teachers so they can use such information in their curricula.

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    UCSD to hold conference on Africa’s changing politics

    A conference assessing the transitions of democracy, state formation and identity in modern Africa will be held March 8. The event is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Santa Cruz-San Francisco room of the Price Center.

    The conference will examine the political control and the post-colonial building of African states that have led to political and economic crisis. Speakers from UCSD and several other universities will be on- hand to discuss the shift from authoritarian to democratic political systems over the last decade, emphasizing how violence, communications, human rights and globalization efforts have changed during this period.

    In particular, the nations of Botswana, Congo, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa will be considered as case studies.

    UCSD’s African and African-American Studies Research Project and the newly established Institute for International, Comparative and Area Studies sponsor the conference. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.

    Study claims problems with sweaty palms are genetic

    UCLA scientists have presented strong evidence that hyperhidrosis, the condition commonly known as “”sweaty palms”” syndrome, is a genetic disorder that has gone largely unreported in the medical world.

    According to Samuel S. Ahn, the principal researcher and a professor of vascular surgery at UCLA, a dominant gene may cause the condition. Ahn said, the medical community generally believed the syndrome to be stress-related.

    The study suggests that as much as 5 percent of the population may suffer from excessive sweating from the hands and feet — more than the 1 percent proposed by some older studies.

    The UCLA report also recognizes that sweaty palms play a significant role in daily life and careers. Examples stated that exceptionally sweaty hands could impair a banker from handling money or a police officer from handling a gun correctly. The study also suggests that the rates for genetic inheritance of the syndrome from a hyperhidrosis sufferer to its offspring are high — between 28 and 50 percent depending on the situation.

    Funding for the research came from the California Vascular Research Foundation. The full text of the study can be found in the February issue of the Journal of Vascular Surgery.

    ‘Jihad vs. McWorld’ author to speak at UCSD on March 11

    Benjamin Barber, a distinguished political scientist who wrote the popular book “”Jihad vs. McWorld,”” will present a lecture titled “”Can Democracy Survive the War between Jihad and McWorld?””

    The lecture is part of the Helen Edison Lecture Series and will be held March 11 at 7 p.m. in the Price Center Ballroom.

    Barber examines how the colliding forces of globalism and tribalism are influencing the world, especially in the current climate. His book was first published in 1995 and has garnered attention after the Sept. 11 attacks.

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