Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon August 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM EDT
Dr. Sophie Lebrecht participates in a panel at the one-year anniversary of the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps. [Photo: Christy Bowe/Image Catcher News]
In 2011, Dr. Lebrecht published her research, supported by the National Science Foundation’s Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center, on how the brain uses visual information to create signals that inform decision making. In short, Lebrecht studied how what we see affects what we do. She was quickly aware that her research could be useful to any company vying for consumers’ attention in today’s image-cluttered world. Today, thanks in part to I-Corps’ support, Lebrecht is about to launch Neon Labs, a startup that uses algorithms derived from her research to identify the still frame from a video that is most attractive to the viewer. With this technology, any media or video-hosting platform could apply her research to drive video traffic and attract users. I talked with Lebrecht about I-Corps and her experience as a scientist-turned-entrepreneur.
What inspired you to make the transition from research in a lab to creating a startup?
I was the lead on this project—it was my PhD work—and Michael Tarr, my PhD advisor, was also integrally involved. We looked at the data from our study and thought, “Wow, we’ve actually hit on something that is incredibly useful.” I mean, think of how many people would want to be able to predict what visual information is going to lead to what decision! I just felt like I should get it out of the lab.
- Posted byon August 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM EDT
Last night, the Senate advanced the cause of protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties by unanimously confirming four of the President’s five nominees to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB): Rachel Brand, Elisabeth Cook, Jim Dempsey, and Judge Patricia Wald.
While the Senate has yet to vote on the President’s highly qualified nominee David Medine to serve as the Board’s chair, yesterday’s confirmations give the Board a quorum and will allow it to begin performing its important work.
- Posted byon August 3, 2012 at 1:53 PM EDT
Inventors play a key role in solving the world’s most vexing challenges by developing lifesaving drugs to fight devastating illnesses, new seed strains for combatting famine, green technologies to combat global climate change, and myriad information-technology advances to assist the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.
Patents for Humanity, a new pilot program developed by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), seeks to encourage inventors who develop and help make availablepatented technologies that address the world's humanitarian challenges and improve the lives of the poor. As an incentive, winners will receive a certificate for expedited processing of certain matters before the USPTO, as well as public recognition for their contributions.
- Posted byon August 1, 2012 at 3:47 PM EDT
President Obama is committed to raising America’s game in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. As the President said at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign to improve STEM education, "I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, whether it's science festivals, robotics competitions, fairs that encourage young people to create and build and invent—to be makers of things, not just consumers of things."
I recently spoke with Eric Schwarz, co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, and Leo Flanagan, principal of the Clarence Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, MA, a neighborhood of Boston. Since 2006, Citizen Schools has partnered with the Edwards Middle School as an expanded learning time partner to lengthen the school day by three hours a day and bring in a hundreds of volunteers to teach apprenticeships. Citizen Schools partners with over thirty schools in eight states across the country. As part of thinking about new ways to engage young people in STEM education, I’m particularly interested in the role that skilled volunteers and mentors can play in improving student performance.
Can you tell me about the mission and model of Citizen Schools?
Eric Schwarz: Our mission is to close the opportunity and achievement gaps and our strategy for doing that is to give kids more time to learn and practice academic skills, but also get the chance to be successful with successful adults. Our “special sauce” is a modern form of apprenticeships where middle school kids – we focus on the middle school grades as we know it’s a critical turning point for most kids – get the chance to work with talented adults from the community to make cool things. So, architects may be teaching kids to redesign their school, engineers from Google are working with kids to build robots and design apps, and volunteers from Cognizant are teaching kids about LEDs, Parallel Circuits, and Conductive Threads.
- Posted byon July 31, 2012 at 5:22 PM EDT
President Barack Obama addresses 2011 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipients in the East Room of the White House, July 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Today, the President met with a group of leading American scientists and engineers in the East Room of the White House to thank them for their research and encourage them to keep up the good work. Before meeting with the President, in an award ceremony today at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Science and Technology Advisor John Holdren conferred the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) to the 96 outstanding researchers.
Last week, President Obama announced this year’s winners of PECASE, an honor bestowed upon independent researchers in the early stages of their careers. PECASE recognizes and supports scientists and engineers who show exceptional promise for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge and reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to developing outstanding scientists and engineers that contribute to the growth and prosperity of our Nation.
“Discoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people.” President Obama said. “The impressive accomplishments of today’s awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead.”
- Posted byon July 31, 2012 at 2:59 PM EDT
Last Monday, at a Capitol Hill briefing co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Michael Bennet of Colorado, a panel of experts described some of the innovative learning technologies being brought to bear in public education and ways in which the Obama Administration’s proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education (ARPA-ED) could speed the development and deployment of these valuable technologies.
ARPA-ED is modeled after DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which catalyzed the development of world-changing technologies such as the Internet and GPS. ARPA-ED would similarly focus on transformative research and development, pursuing projects such as personalized digital tutors that are as effective as the best human tutors to support teachers as they focus on their students; courses that improve the more students use them; and new ways to assess student progress that are as compelling and fun as video games.
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