Briefly

    In celebration of “”Women in Science Day,”” a conference titled “”Creating the Future”” will be held on May 3 at the Salk Institute from 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.

    This will be the sixth in this series of award-winning biennial conferences organized by the San Diego chapter of the Association for Women In Science.

    The morning will begin with addresses from two keynote speakers: science writer and entrepreneur Lynne Friedmann, as well as SDSU Dean of the College of Business Administration Gail Naughton.

    The afternoon will feature a series of interactive workshops on career topics of interest.

    This conference and others like it, which are organized by the Women in Bioscience, focus on current career trends in the biosciences and present a popular networking and career advancement opportunity. Organizers raised over $33,000 for this year’s event from 29 sponsors.

    For more detailed information on the conference schedule visit http://awis.npaci.edu/wib_website/home/.

    Mathematics professor to address shortest network

    Professor Ronald L. Graham will give a free lecture titled “”Searching for the Shortest Network”” on May 6 at 4 p.m. in Garren Auditorium of the Basic Science Building at the UCSD School of Medicine.

    The lecture will address such issues as the shortest network needed to connect a set of cities, and will also summarize past accomplishments, present activities and future challenges on this topic.

    As one of the most sought-after mathematical lecturers in the world, Graham’s work touches many of the major areas of mathematics, including number theory, probability, geometry, combinatorics, graph theory, computability and more recently, algorithms with applications to Internet traffic routing.

    The UCSD Division of the Academic Senate selected Graham as a 2002 Faculty Research Lecture Award recipient. His work has been published over a period of 40 years, and Graham is the author of about 300 scientific articles and monographs.

    Professor predicts volcanic activity in Costa Rica

    According to a study of volcanic rocks in Costa Rica conducted by UCSB geology professor Phillip B. Gans, the Central Valley of Costa Rica will definitely experience major volcanic activity again.

    Gans has a laboratory that is known for its precision in dating volcanic rocks, which he did by using the natural radioactive decay of potassium. Over several years, Gans collected and studied 450 samples from throughout Costa Rica and used that information to determine that subduction-related volcanism in Costa Rica has been occurring for at least 24 million years.

    With the data he collected, Gans discovered that major pyroclastic eruptions have occurred many times over the past million years in the vicinity of the Central Valley of Costa Rica, with the most recent about 324,000 years ago.

    The cities and towns of the Central Valley, including San Jose, the capital, are built on the vast pyroclastic flow deposit that was produced by that eruption. If the same eruption were to occur today, within a matter of minutes to hours, the entire Central Valley and all of the major cities of Costa Rica would be overrun by a hot pyroclastic flow of ash and pumice.

    New vaccine delivery developed at Berkeley

    A simple method of shuttling proteins into cells via microscopic polymer beads shows promise as a general way of carrying vaccines or bits of DNA for gene therapy, according to chemists at UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    Professor of chemistry Jean M. Frechet, with postdoctoral fellow Niren Murthy and their colleagues, designed a polymer that falls apart in acid to form thousands of little molecules that swell and explode the cell’s digestive chamber before the acids have a chance to degrade the antigens contained in the polymer. It is these antigens that stimulate an immune attack against an invading organism or a cancer.

    The technique avoids the problem similar methods have had, in which the cell’s stomach acids destroy the protein antigens before the immune system can detect the presence of the foreign protein. The technique also skirts the disadvantages of today’s injectable vaccines, which employ deactivated viruses to ferry antigens into the cell interior.

    The results of the study appear in the April 21 early online edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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