Campus notes: Duke cochlear implant expert honored; UNC-Chapel Hill to test sirens Tuesday

September 12, 2013 

Blake Wilson


Duke cochlear impact pioneer honored

Blake S. Wilson, a pioneer in the development of cochlear implants who serves as a co-director of the Duke Hearing Center, will receive the 2013 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.

The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced Wilson will share the award with Graeme M. Clark of Australia and Ingeborg J. Hochmair of Austria, who also played critical roles in developing the device that restores hearing to individuals with profound deafness.

The Lasker Awards are among the most respected science prizes in the world. Eighty-three Lasker laureates have received the Nobel Prize, including 31 in the past two decades.

Melinda Gates, a recipient of Duke undergraduate and MBA degrees who served as a university trustee and delivered Duke’s 2013 commencement address, is being honored by the foundation as well. She and her husband Bill Gates will receive the 2013 Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award for their contributions to improving health in the developing world and elsewhere.

Young UNC faculty members honored

Four highly promising faculty members at UNC-Chapel Hill have been awarded the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty, an honor that recognizes the achievements of outstanding junior tenure-track faculty or recently tenured faculty.

This year’s recipients are:

• Emily Baragwanath, an associate professor of classics in the College of Arts and Sciences

• Wei You, an associate professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences

• Eliana Perrin, an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Child Health Program at the Sheps Center for Health Services Research in the School of Medicine

• Mark Zylka, an associate professor in cell biology and physiology and the UNC Neuroscience Center in the School of Medicine

Baragwanath’s work focuses on the literary techniques used by ancient Greek historians in their narratives. She is in Germany on an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship, studying Xenophon, another ancient Greek historian.

You aims to discover new fundamental physical principles to engineer and manufacture polymer solar cells, using materials that would operate more efficiently and with less harm to the environment.

Perrin investigates prevention of obesity among young people, seeking ways pediatricians can best help them achieve healthy weights and lifestyles.

Mark Zylka is a recognized expert in pain and neurodevelopmental disorders, working toward translating basic science research to treating disease in adults and children.

The Hettleman Prize is named after UNC alumnus Phillip Hettleman, who established the award in 1986.

University to test sirens Tuesday

UNC-Chapel Hill will test its emergency sirens as part of Alert Carolina, a safety awareness campaign, between noon and 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The sirens sound only for a major emergency or an immediate safety or health threat, such as an armed and dangerous person on or near campus; a major chemical spill or hazard; tornado warning for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area issued by the National Weather Service; or a different emergency, as determined by the Department of Public Safety.

The sirens also broadcast brief voice messages. In a real emergency, the sirens would sound a second time with a different tone when authorities determine the situation is “All clear. Resume regular activities.”

During the test, anyone who is outside on or near campus or the Friday Center will likely hear the sirens. The sirens will sound an alert tone along with a brief recorded voice message. When testing is complete, a different siren tone and voice message will signal the “All Clear.”

There are six sirens. They are located at Hinton James Residence Hall off Manning Drive; the Gary R. Tomkins Chilled Water Operations Center behind the Dogwood Parking Deck; Winston Residence Hall at the corner of Raleigh Street and South Road; near Hill Hall behind University Methodist Church; next to University facilities near the Giles Horney Building off Martin Luther King Boulevard and at the Friday Center near N.C. 54.

Grant to further cyber security research

A $5.8 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be used by UNC-Chapel Hill and five partners for a large research project that will explore challenges in cyber security in the era of cloud computing.

“Cyber security is one of the most significant economic and national security challenges facing our nation today,” said Farnam Jahanian, NSF’s assistant director for computer and information science and engineering.

Michael Reiter, the Lawrence M. Slifkin Distinguished Professor of Computer Science in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, is the principal investigator on the project,

“Rethinking security in the era of cloud computing.” Jay Aikat, a research assistant professor in computer science, is the UNC co-principal investigator. Outside partners include Stony Brook, Duke and N.C. State universities, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and RSA Labs.

Reiter said the vast majority of cloud computing research is driven by the perception that it decreases security for its customers, in comparison to those customers using their own infrastructures.

“Instead we see new opportunities for improving the security of data and services by moving them to the cloud, and we plan on pursuing an aggressive research agenda to realize these opportunities,” he said. The work has been dubbed “Project Silver.”

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