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Cambridge architect wins prestigious awards

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A University of Cambridge lecturer is among a team of designers, architects and engineers that have won three awards for their contributions to a new eco-friendly visitor center in South Africa.

The Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Center has been named World Building of the Year, topped the Culture category at The World Architecture Festival and has won The Institution of Structural Engineer's David Aslop Sustainability Award.

Michael Ramage, of the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, Prof. John Ochsendorf (King' 1998) of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Peter Rich Architects, Johannesburg and Henry Fagan and Partners, consulting structural and civil engineers all contributed to the completion of this innovative and unique building.

The Mapungubwe National Park was the center of the first powerful kingdom in Southern Africa, and the new Interpretive Center has been built for South African National Parks.

The landscape retains evidence of the lives, values and belief systems of those who have inhabited it; the interactions between them, others and with the environment.

Designed as an extension of the environment, the stone clad vaults and domed roofs have been constructed using a 600 year old tile- vaulting technique which has provided innovative employment and training opportunities for people from local communities.

The structural vaults are built of thin shell unreinforced masonry created on site from cement-stabilized soil tiles.

Tile vaulting is a traditional building method that has been revived for contemporary architecture on this project.

The building is clad with locally quarried stone which adds a stabilizing load to the vaults and integrates it into its surroundings.

The 300,000 tiles needed were made by two dozen local people over a year and construction skills have been transferred to the nearby community for the future.

The complex measures 1,500m² and its use of local materials has helped achieve 90% reductions in energy use in the construction of a building of this proportion.

Michael Ramage said of the awards: "We're thrilled to be recognized for our approach to structural design, in which form, forces and material selection contribute to lowering a building's ecological footprint".

The World Architecture Festival simultaneously celebrates great architecture and an intellectual challenge to a major world profession.

This year's festival took place in Barcelona from the 4-9 of November.

The Structural Award for Sustainability is the industry's most prestigious award which recognizes excellence in structural design, engineering, and where outstanding commitment to sustainability and respect for the environment has been demonstrated.

Since 1968 the Structural Awards have recognized and rewarded the work of the world's most talented structural designers, their indispensable contribution to the built environment and showcase projects that lead the industry's development.

This year's awards took place on Friday 9 October 2009 at the Natural History Museum in London.


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Source: Cambridge University
Image Credit: Cambridge University
Time Stamp: 11/11/2009 at 4:26:00 PM UTC

Breakthroughs in Nanotechnology on Edge of 'Knowledge Frontier'

Thursday, February 28, 2008

MU scientist's nanotech research earns him 'Outstanding Missourian' award

University of Missouri scientist Kattesh Katti recently discovered how to make gold nanoparticles using gold salts, soybeans and water. Katti’s research has garnered attention worldwide and the environmentally-friendly discovery could have major applications in several disciplines.

Gold nanoparticles are tiny pieces of gold, so small they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Researchers believe gold nanoparticles will be used in cancer detection and treatment, the production of "smart" electronic devices, the treatment of certain genetic eye diseases and the development of "green" automobiles.

While the nanotechnology industry is expected to produce large quantities of nanoparticles in the near future, researchers have been worried about the environmental impact of typical production methods. Commonly, nanoparticles have been produced using synthetic chemicals. Katti's process, which uses only naturally occurring elements, could have major environmental implications for the future. Since some of the chemicals currently used to make nanoparticles are toxic to humans, Katti's discovery also could open doors for additional medical fields. Having a 100-percent natural "green" process could allow medical researchers to expand the use of the nanoparticles. 

"Typically, a producer must use a variety of synthetic or man-made chemicals to produce gold nanoparticles," said Katti, professor of radiology and physics in the School of Medicine and College of Arts and Science at MU, senior research scientist at the MU Research Reactor (MURR) and director of the University of Missouri Cancer Nanotechnology Platform. "To make the chemicals necessary for production, you need to have other artificial chemicals produced, creating an even larger, negative environmental impact. Our new process only takes what nature has made available to us and uses that to produce a technology already proven to have far-reaching impacts in technology and medicine."

The new discovery has created a large positive response in the scientific community. Researchers from as far away as Germany have commented on the discovery's importance and the impact it will have in the future.

"Dr. Katti's discovery sets up the beginning of a new knowledge frontier that interfaces plant science, chemistry and nanotechnology," said Herbert W. Roesky, a professor and world-renowned chemist from the University of Goettingen in Germany.

Katti and his long-time collaborator and colleague, Raghuraman Kannan, assistant professor of radiology, sowed the seeds of Nanomedicine at MU through their groundbreaking discoveries in 2004. MU now has an internationally recognized research program in nanomedicine. The research was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

Katti's research in the field of nanomedicine, biomedicine, cancer diagnostics/therapeutics and optical imaging have earned him numerous awards and recognition. The latest honor bestowed upon Katti is the "Outstanding Missourian" award, which he will receive Tuesday, March 4 in Jefferson City. The award is presented as "acknowledgement of the most accomplished citizens of the state of Missouri" and for making an "outstanding contribution to his state or nation." He is scheduled to receive the award at the beginning of the morning session of the Missouri House of Representatives.

In a recent interview, he expressed his gratefulness for the recognition, but attributes much of the credit to others, including his wife, Kavita Katti, who is a senior research chemist at MU, and his parents in India who supported him in his education.

"I feel excited about the recognition, and I attribute my selection to our institution, my research group and my collaborators," Katti said. "This award is the culmination of several factors, including departmental leadership, a plethora of outstanding collaborators at MU, the deans and, of course, the chancellor. A faculty member could not possibly succeed just by his or her own efforts. We have been very blessed with this team effort. I am very excited to receive this recognition. I think it speaks highly of our school and of our nanomedicine program."

Source: University of Missouri
Time Stamp: 2/28/2008 at 2:22:04 PM CST

Australian Doctor Awarded For Uncovering Smallpox Bioterrorism Risk

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A University of Sydney professor who developed a system to combat bioterrorism has received a major award from the US military.

Professor Raina Maclntyre has won the 2007 Sir Henry Wellcome Medal and Prize from the Association of Military Surgeons of the US (AMSUS*) for developing the world's first system to comprehensively rank the different types of bioterrorism risks - an honor for a non-US and non-military person.

Professor Maclntyre's risk-priority scoring system for the most severe (category A) bioterrorism agents, published in the journal Military Medicine, will help governments prepare for potential attacks.

"Traditionally government decisions about the risk of attack by a particular agent have been made simply on the basis of the probability of attack," said Professor MacIntyre, from the University's National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases and the Faculty of Medicine.

"We hypothesized that multiple factors should be considered other than probability of attack - including the severity of an attacks consequences, the potential for person-to-person transmission, the potential for an agent to genetically modify, the relative ease of decontamination, and the availability of vaccinations."

Professor MacIntyre and her team exhaustively reviewed the history of bioterrorist incidents, the known science about each agent, and the transmission potential of each category A agent. Synthesizing this information into a matrix of 10 different categories of threat allowed them to create a "priority score" for each agent.

"We found that anthrax and smallpox are the highest priority, followed by viral hemorrhagic fevers, botulism, plague and tularemia," she said. "Anthrax topping the list is not a surprise, because it is widely available globally and easy to weaponize, but smallpox scoring highly is a surprise."

The high priority for smallpox flies in the face of the low priority governments have given to it on the basis of probability of attack alone, according to Professor MacIntyre. Although the global supply of the smallpox virus is limited, it has high person-to-person transmission rates, high fatality rates, and it has the potential for high numbers of infections and to be genetically modified into more virulent strains.

"Governments will benefit from this research in that it provides a framework and a tool for rationally and efficiently assigning priority for bioterrorism agents - and therefore planning stockpiles of drugs, vaccines and other supplies," Professor MacIntyre said.

Professor MacIntyre will receive the award in November at the AMSUS conference in Salt Lake City.

* AMSUS is the medical professional body of the US military

Background notes on bioterrorism:

The use of biological agents ("Biowarfare", "bioterrorism") dates back at least to 300 B.C, when the Greeks, Romans and Persians used cadavers to contaminate the water supplies of their enemies.

The Japanese used biowarfare with plague and anthrax against the Chinese in Manchuria in the 1930s and 1940s. The former Soviet Union had an unparalleled bioweapons program which developed sophisticated weaponized anthrax, plague, smallpox and viral hemorrhagic fevers, and continued large scale work well into the 1990s despite signing the Biological Weapons Convention.

Bioterrorism is still a concern - in 2001 in the USA, anthrax spores were mailed to several cities and resulted in 11 cases of inhalation anthrax and five deaths. The economic consequences of this attack were disproportionate to the number of cases, with the shut-down of essential services such as the US Postal Service.

Potential bioterrorist agents are classified by there severity into category A (the most severe) and category B (less severe). Category A agents include anthrax, smallpox, tularemia, plague, botulism and viral hemorrhagic fevers (eg. Ebola and Marburg viruses).

Image Caption: We found that anthrax and smallpox are the highest priority, followed by viral hemorrhagic fevers, botulism, plague and tularemia, said Professor MacIntyre
Image Credit: University of Sydney
Source: University of Sydney
Time Stamp: 9/18/2007 at 12:48:14 PM CST

CU-Boulder Professor Is Co-Recipient Of $250,000 Heinz Award For The Environment

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A professor of civil engineering who has helped bring the basic necessities of water, electricity and sanitation to remote, poverty-stricken areas of the world has been selected as a co-recipient of the 13th annual Heinz Award for the Environment, among the largest individual achievement prizes in the world.

Dr. Bernard Amadei, 53, the founder of Engineers Without Borders - USA - a non-profit organization whose 8,000 members have helped improve the quality of life for people in as many as 43 countries over the past seven years - is among six distinguished Americans selected to share the $1.25 million in awards, presented in five categories by the Heinz Family Foundation.

"Dr. Amadei is literally engineering change in pockets of our country and world that are bereft of even the most basic living infrastructures," said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation. "As founder of Engineers Without Borders, he is harnessing the power of networks and design to improve the lives and fortunes of some of the world's poorest people. His talented teams of academics, professionals and students put to rest the tired notion that engineering and environmental protection don't go together by demonstrating how creative thinking and high standards can benefit both people and the planet."

Dr. Amadei shares the award with Susan Seacrest, founder of the Groundwater Foundation.

Launched with fellow faculty, professionals and students at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2000, Engineers Without Borders - USA (EWB-USA) applies a combination of professional expertise and selfless compassion to remote areas of the world. With funds it raises itself, the organization takes on a range of sustainable engineering projects, such as those that provide clean water, sanitation, energy and education to villages in underdeveloped countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and North and South America.

Dr. Amadei first confronted the dire living conditions of some of the world's poverty-stricken communities in 2000 during a trip to Belize, where he was asked to examine the possibility of a water delivery system for San Pablo, a tiny Mayan village that had no electricity, running water or sanitation. Returning to Boulder, the professor recruited civil and environmental engineering students and a local civil engineering expert and set about designing and implementing a water distribution system whose pump was fueled by a local waterfall and ultimately provided a steady flow of water - one gallon per minute - to the town. The entire project was completed at a cost of about $14,000 with the help of the local community.

Buoyed by the success of the Belize project, Dr. Amadei founded EWB-USA, which has since grown to 224 projects in 43 countries, 8,000 members and 235 established university and professional chapters. In 2001, he co-founded the EWB-International Network, now in 45 countries - including Rwanda, Kenya, India and Palestine.

EWB-USA projects are designed to be maintainable, economically efficient and environmentally sustainable for specific local conditions. Completed projects, many of which are brought to EWB-USA by universities with exchange programs or in-country volunteers, include the installation of solar-powered lighting at a community school and a water purification system in Brazil (coordinated by the EWB chapter at the University of California, Santa Barbara), the construction of a dam and irrigation system on the Kumudo River in Ethiopia (Princeton) and a natural water filtration and storage system in Honduras (University of Pennsylvania).

In order to globally educate responsible engineering students, Dr. Amadei has created a new program at the University of Colorado at Boulder called Engineering for Developing Communities. The program serves as a blueprint for the education of engineers of the 21st century who are called to play a critical role in contributing to peace and security in an increasingly challenged world.

"The success of Engineers Without Borders is due to two overriding factors," Dr. Amadei said. "First is the tremendous need. There are literally thousands of remote villages around the globe that need the basic necessities of life such as clean water, sanitation, energy, shelter, education, health, etc. About 1.2 billion people (out of 6.4 billion) do not have access to clean water in the world today. We have begun to address such demand by virtue of the tremendous spirit of compassion that exists within the extended engineering community and like-minded partnering organizations. I am grateful to the staff of EWB-USA, my numerous colleagues and to the many bright and committed engineering students and professionals around the country who share our passion for making an enduring difference in the lives of so many beyond our borders. On their behalf, I am proud to accept the Heinz Award for the Environment."

Since 1993, the Heinz Family Foundation of Pittsburgh has recognized individuals whose dedication, skill and generosity of spirit represent the best of the human qualities that the late Sen. Heinz, for whom the award is named, held so dear.

Presented in five categories, the other Heinz Award recipients are:

o Arts and Humanities: Dave Eggers, San Francisco, author and founder of the 826 Valencia writing laboratories as well as a publishing house for emerging writers

o Environment (co-recipient): Susan Seacrest, Lincoln, Neb., environmental advocate and founder of the Groundwater Foundation

o Human Condition: David L. Heymann, M.D., Geneva, Switzerland, physician, an assistant director general of the World Health Organization and international public health advocate

o Public Policy: Donald M. Berwick, M.D., Cambridge, Mass., physician, professor and health care reformer

o Technology, the Economy and Employment: Hugh Herr, Ph.D., Cambridge, Mass., inventor, professor and pioneer in biomechantronics

About the Heinz Foundation

The Heinz Family Foundation, one of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, began as a charitable trust established by the late Sen. Heinz in 1984. His widow, Teresa Heinz, created the Heinz Awards in 1993 as the primary activity of the foundation. In addition to the Heinz Awards, the foundation directs a grant-making program that is active in a wide range of issues, principally those concerning women's health and environment, health care cost and coverage, as well as pensions and retirement security.

Nominations for the Heinz Awards are submitted by an invited Council of Nominators, all experts in their fields, who serve anonymously. Award recipients are selected by the board of directors for the Heinz Awards upon recommendation by a blue-ribbon panel of jurors in each category.

Past recipients of the Heinz Awards include marine biologist Jane Lubchenco, inventor and founder of the student robotics competition FIRST Dean Kamen, environmental advocate Peggy Shepard, medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, artist and community activist Rick Lowe and Paul Anastas, a leader in the "green chemistry" movement.

In addition to the $250,000 award for their unrestricted use, recipients are presented with a medallion inscribed with the image of Sen. Heinz on one side and a rendering of a

globe passing between two hands on the other. The medallion symbolizes the partnership, continuity and values carried on to the next generation. The hands also suggest passing on the stewardship of the earth to future generations.

The Heinz Awards will be presented at a private ceremony on October 22 in Pittsburgh.

Source: University of Colorado at Boulder
Time Stamp: 9/12/2007 at 11:16:41 AM CST

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