NEW ENDOWED CHAIRS ? After over $8.5 million in donations, UCSD has established five new endowed faculty chairs to help recruit and retain top faculty members. Four chairs will go to the School of Medicine, and one will go to the Jacobs School of Engineering. Endowed chairs offer supplemental funding for teaching, research, and service to the chair holder. UCSD has 164 endowed faculty chairs, including the five new ones.

“In only five decades, UC San Diego has risen in stature to become one of the top-ranked universities in the nation, and that is directly related to the quality of our faculty,” Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said. “We are deeply grateful to our donors who help us to attract and retain phenomenal scholars through endowed chairs. Their visionary support is critical to advancing UC San Diego’s overall academic excellence. 

FIREWALKING ? Several people were transported to a hospital following burns to their feet during a firewalking activity at an Adconion Media Group bonding event. Hundreds of employees participated in the firewalking activity around 8:30 p.m. on April 3 at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in Mission Bay.

San Diego firefighters and paramedics responded to the 911 call at 9:45 p.m., and the victims were sent to UCSD Medical Center, according to San Diego Fire Department spokesperson Maurice Luque.  

“It’s a subjective judgment that somebody has to make for themselves,” Luque told NBC San Diego. “Common sense had to prevail.”

LEGOLAND HOTEL ? Legoland in Carlsbad officially opened its Legoland California Hotel on April 5. The three-story hotel has 250 rooms and is targeted towards kids twelve and under.

The hotel has a total of 3,422 Lego models, including a 400,000 brick animated dragon at the entrance, as well as rooms featuring pirate, adventure and kingdom themes. Each room, reached via a “disco elevator,” also includes kid-friendly sections with bunk beds and Lego treasure chests. Hotel rates begin at $149, with extra costs for premium rooms; guests are allowed early access to the Legoland Park and the opportunity to dine with costumed Lego characters.

MAPPING THE MIND ? President Barack Obama announced the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or “BRAIN” Initiative on April 2. The initiative, designed to understand the brain better through advances in science and technology related to deciphering brain activity, will receive roughly $100 million in funding in the 2014 fiscal year budget. UCSD Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla and several UCSD directors and professors were present at Obama’s announcement.

“We anticipate our scientists will continue to play key roles in this great endeavor,” Khosla told UCSD News Center. “Researchers from UC San Diego — in collaboration with colleagues at Salk and others on the Torrey Pines Mesa — will be involved in almost all areas of the BRAIN initiative, from those in the sciences and engineering, who will help to draw the brain-activity map, to those in social sciences who will help to read the map, figuring out how brain activity translates into cognition.”

SDSC ? UCSD’s supercomputer, Gordon, started last year by the San Diego Supercomputer Center, completed processing data from nearly one billion particle collisions, its largest task to date. The data process is part of a project for the Large Hadron Collider.

Gordon is partnered with the Open Science Grid, a research partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. Gordon processes data generated by the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a large particle detector at the LHC used to find the Higgs boson particle.

“Access to Gordon and its excellent computing speed due to its flash-based memory really helped push forward the processing schedule for us,” UCSD physics professor and CMS project member Frank Wuerthwein said. “With only a few weeks’ notice, we were able to gain access to Gordon and complete the runs, making the data available for analysis in time to provide crucial input toward international planning meetings on the future of particle physics.”