News Briefs

May/June 2011

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Korean Studies Program Marks 10 Years

Stanford's Korean Studies Program steadily gained momentum in its first decade. When sociology professor Gi-Wook Shin arrived from UCLA to launch the program at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, he was the first tenure-track professor to teach a Stanford course in Korean studies. Today, the program boasts three endowed professorships, two full-time staff, two professional fellowships and research collaborations both on campus and internationally. Its activities include a well-established seminar series, conferences and workshops, and a publishing program. The Korean Collection in Stanford's East Asian Library has grown since its start in 2005 to more than 41,000 volumes and 13 electronic databases.

The Stanford program's social science and policy-driven orientation—and regional, comparative perspective—sets it apart from Korean studies at other universities. The New Beginnings project, a study group started in 2008 to coincide with changing presidential administrations in both countries, is tangible evidence of its mission, including the goal of improving U.S.-Korea relations. Policy experts, former senior American officials and scholars meet in Korea and stateside and make recommendations to the White House. More publicly, Stanford's Korea experts have been finding themselves in the headlines, whether offering firsthand reports on North Korea's nuclear activities (professors John Lewis and Siegfried Hecker) or accompanying Bill Clinton on his rescue mission of two journalists detained in Pyongyang (program associate director David Straub).

Car Culture

While the University regularly wins kudos for its efforts to minimize cars on campus and encourage alternate transport, in April it launched an academic program intended "to create a vital and much-deserved intellectual community around the car as technological and aesthetic artifact and cultural symbol," in the words of its director, communication professor Clifford Nass. The Revs Program at Stanford, with links to the specialized resources of the Revs Institute for Automotive Research in Naples, Fla., brings together campus research ranging from engineering to archeology, psychology to literature and studies of pop culture.

"There is no center, anywhere, doing this breadth and depth of work," Nass told the Stanford Report. "The automobile is machine and metaphor. It is art. It is at the core of understanding the 20th century and the 21st."

Preemie Research

The School of Medicine has opened a research center to improve the study and prevention of premature births through multidisciplinary work employing large state and national data sets. The March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center is a joint venture with the foundation, which has committed funding of $20 million. The principal investigator is Vice Dean David Stevenson, director of the Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Initial research areas include the use of artificial intelligence theory to study the space/time patterns of preterm birth; applying bioinformatics to identify genes and protein biomarkers that could signal prematurity; and studying how the maternal microbiome and placental gene expression affect preterm birth.

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