Weekly Memo

March 9, 2015

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

      Each year, young researchers, scientists, and entrepreneurs gather at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin to share their ground-breaking ideas with colleagues from around the world. This year, we want to make sure a talented grad student or early-career faculty member from the University of Rochester is among them. So here is my challenge to any Hajim School grad student, post-doc, scientist or faculty member born on or after Nov. 8, 1980: Distill your idea or innovation into a three-minute presentation. Share it with a nine-member jury of business leaders, University leaders and faculty members at Sloan Auditorium on May 19. The winner of our competition will automatically advance, all expenses paid, to the Falling Walls Lab Finale on Nov. 8 in Berlin, where 100 participants from around the world will repeat their three-minute presentations to an international jury. Three winners from that competition will be invited to present their ideas alongside some of the world's most prominent scientists at the Falling Walls Conference the following day.

    This is a great opportunity for a young scholar to gain recognition on a international stage, and to network with fellow researchers. Click here to apply by April 26, and here to learn more about the Falling Walls Conference and its origins. Questions? Contact fallingwallsrochester@rochester.edu.

      Congratulations to:

      Edmund Hajim '58 (ChemE), chairman of the University's Board of Trustees, whose $30 million gift has been instrumental to the progress we've made at the Hajim School in recent years. Ed next month will receive the Horatio Alger Award, bestowed annually by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, to honor renowned leaders who have succeeded despite adversity, and are committed to both philanthropy and higher education. Talk about adversity! Ed's parents divorced when he was three years old. His father took custody of him, but was away at sea in the Merchant Marine much of the time. Ed spent most of his childhood in foster homes and orphanages -- in the midst of the Depression and World War II, no less. Despite all that, he was an excellent student, qualifying for an NROTC scholarship that enabled him to attend the University of Rochester. You can read more about Ed's remarkable career here.  I cannot imagine a more deserving recipient for this award!

     Govind Agrawal, the James C. Wyant Professor of Optics, who has been named recipient of this year's Esther Hoffman Beller Medal by The Optical Society (OSA) "for inspiring and educating a generation of scientists and engineers involved with fiber-optic communications and other photonics technologies through your seminal textbooks and high-impact scientific articles."

     Roman Sobolewski, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and of Physics, who has been recognized as a distinguished fellow of the Kosciuszko Foundation Collegium of Eminent Scientists for his outstanding achievements and for his contributions to the Polish scientific community.

     Koji Muto '15 of MechE, our Tau Beta Pi president, who has just accepted a position with ExxonMobil Research & Engineering. He would like to thank Chad Hunter '12 (ChemE), now a process contact engineer with ExxonMobil in Houston, for taking the initiative to bring the company's recruiting efforts to our campus. Koji is also grateful for the opportunities the Hajim School opened up for him, and pledges to "give my time, effort and donations back to the institution that made it all possible." Thanks, Koji. You'll be setting an example that I hope will be followed by many more of our young alumni.

     Dan Christensen '08 (MS Optics) '13 (PhD Optics), now OEM Application Manager with TOPTICA Photonics, who, as a PhD student here, was one of the co-authors of a paper that just received the Newcomb Cleveland Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The paper, "Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain," (Science, Oct. 18, 2013) shows how, during sleep, the brain clears out harmful toxins or waste that build up during the day. In-vivo two-photon imaging was among the techniques used to observe the flow of fluids in the brains of mice as they slept or were awake. Joe Vornehm, who just completed his PhD in Optics here, notes: "This is a great example of how optics is an enabling technology for all sorts of areas, from medical research to manufacturing. The laser was once called 'a solution in search of a problem,' but so much of modern life wouldn't be possible without lasers."

      For the last two years, the Hajim School, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics and the Center for Entrepreneurship -- as a combined unit -- have led the University of Rochester with the highest participation rate in the annual United Way campaign. I hope we can continue to do so in this year’s campaign, which kicked off last week. 92 cents of every dollar will go directly to programs that address the challenges of community and domestic violence; poverty; low graduation rates; and ever-increasing numbers of older adults and their caregivers. To learn more or make a pledge, go to www.rochester.edu/unitedway. A strong showing from the University, as the largest employer in our region, is critical to helping United Way continue to meet these pressing needs -- in ways that make this a better community for all of us.

      As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean