The Postdocs

first_imgSome physicists spend their lives obsessed with questions about the possibility of parallel universes, or of travel at the speed of light. Amy Rowat is obsessed with the mechanical properties of the tiny cell nucleus, and how changes in its shape affect the cell’s physiological function. She also is applying her training as a soft-matter physicist to the question of how to make the perfect pie crust.Rowat is a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard’s Department of Physics and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and her principal research uses microfluidic tools, in which liquids are forced through channels much smaller than a human hair, to look at single cells, particularly the cells’ nuclei. She is using these tools to explore the largely neglected mechanical aspects of cell biology.But food, in all its forms, also peaks her scientific interest. What at a molecular level, she wonders, makes a truly flaky pie crust flaky?Few people see the world, or cooking, the way Rowat does. “Food is essentially cells and nuclei,” she says. But over the past four years as a postdoc at Harvard, Rowat has been using the principles of physics to advance our basic understanding of how the structure of a cell affects its function – and at the same time she’s been using the physics of food and cooking to get people excited about science. (Rowat, in fact, is one of the developers of a new Gen Ed course that will teach soft-matter physics with, among other things, cooking demonstrations by world-renowned chefs. During the 2010-11 academic year she will be one of the people leading the course.)______________________________________________________There are about 2,000 postdoctoral fellows in the labs at Harvard Medical School, the School of Public Health, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and there are thousands of others in the laboratories of Harvard’s affiliated hospitals. This is the first in a series of articles about a few of those young postdocs on the verge of launching their independent careers.______________________________________________________Rowat’s path to a Harvard physics lab began in Guelph, Ontario, where as a child she was fascinated with biology. “I never had chemistry kits or my own microscope, but I really loved to build things and I was really curious about nature and the world around me,” Rowat says.When Rowat began her undergraduate education at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, she was drawn to questions in biophysics, the study of biological molecules and the larger structures they assemble into, even before she knew what biophysics was. She had planned to major in biology until a physics class changed her mind. “My [physics] professor was fantastic and developed this course and style of teaching where all the students were engaged doing experiments and solving problems, and I thought that was challenging and exciting,” she recalls.Working in a research lab during her summers also had a huge impact on her, she says. “Unless I had the opportunity to work in a science lab as an undergraduate, I would have assumed from science classes that science was not a very creative subject,” she says. But during one impactful summer in the research lab, Rowat created and studied thin layers of polymer films. “I developed a fascination with membranes,” Rowat says. She went on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics – with minors in French, Asian studies, and mathematics.Her graduate work, conducted in the laboratory of Ole Mouritsen, at the Technical University of Denmark and University of Southern Denmark, took her into the world of human biology. She worked on biomembrane physics, conducting experiments in which she deformed the nucleus and nuclear envelope of live cells. This research helped reveal the mechanical properties of the nuclear envelope, and also inspired Rowat to think more about what was going on inside of the nucleus, within the context of the whole cell.“I decided that the nuclear envelope and nuclear membranes would be a great [doctoral] topic because there’s very little that’s understood about the physical properties of the interface between the cytoplasm of a cell and the cell nucleus, which is where the important, essential-to-life processes happen,” says Rowat. After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Southern Denmark, Rowat joined David Weitz’s lab in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Department of Physics because she was interested in working on problems regarding cell mechanics and in developing new microfluidic technologies. She currently uses microfluidic tools for single-cell studies, and recently developed a microfluidic tool to trap single yeast cells, which are widely used in biology as a model system.Thus far, Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has filed three patent applications on behalf of Rowat and co-inventors for microfluidic-related work.In 2007 Rowat proposed a new topic for the Harvard Holiday Lecture Series: pizza.“I said, ‘Have you ever done a topic on food? I think that would be really popular because everyone loves food,’” she remembers. The lecture title was “The Science of Pizza,” and the talk was a hit. In 2008, Rowat and her colleagues collaborated with a local chocolate company that provided taste samples for that year’s lecture. “Each person was doing their own science experiment using their senses. We tried to get across what it’s like to be a scientist and what a scientist does,” she says. “You make observations, you come up with creative ideas to solve problems or interpret your results.”For Rowat, learning the answers to basic questions about the physics of food and cooking have helped her to understand more about the underlying science she’s researching, and she feels strongly about spreading the word to others that science is an exciting, creative, and dynamic field. “I think that when there’s scientific illiteracy, that can lead to many social problems,” says Rowat.The postdoc has also used food for topics in the weekly Squishy Physics Lectures, a series of informal research presentations devoted to soft-matter physics. “It really is a good community-building event, where people from different labs come together and interact,” says Rowat. Lecturers and listeners of the squishy physics series come from many area universities and even other countries, some are from as close as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and others from as far away as Germany, Israel, and Korea. “I think that’s really important in a university, to have these intellectually stimulating discussions and conversations,” says Rowat.One of the most memorable lectures for her was a seminar during Oktoberfest. “I invited a brewer and a yeast biologist,” says Rowat. She developed the idea during a time when her research was working with yeast and engineering devices to study yeast lineages.Considering her postdoc period, Rowat says that Harvard “has been a fantastic place. It’s been a great place to be able to discuss my research with really great colleagues, both within my group and the Harvard community,” she says. Her main philosophy, to take risks and pursue creative passions and ideas, has led Rowat not only to cutting-edge research in soft physics, but also to enjoy running, yoga, and of course cooking meals for friends in her limited spare time. “Sometimes I’ll be cooking with more of an artistic perspective,” she says. “There are other times I’m thinking much more about what’s going on at the molecular level and how I could make a flakier pie crust.” Her most recent creation was a gooseberry pie.So is she ultimately more passionate about the soft-matter physics that underlie that flakier pie crust, or the joy of cooking? Rowat won’t say. But if she could have lunch with either Michael Faraday, the 19th century chemist and physicist whose photograph Albert Einstein kept in his study, or Julia Child, she replies:“I’ve heard Julia Child is quite a character.”last_img read more

Huffington offers social media solution

first_imgDon’t recharge your iPhone or BlackBerry next to your bed. Keep a little soulful distance with those ever-beckoning electronic devices.That was the most important piece of advice that new-media magnate Arianna Huffington offered a morning crowd at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Tuesday (Sept. 14).“We are hyperconnected, and we are paying the price,” said Huffington, who admitted to charging electronic devices as far away from where she sleeps as possible to avoid the temptation to check them throughout the night.The words seemed strange coming from a woman who caters to online audiences driven by a primal need for up-to-the-minute information. But when asked what the future’s next great platform would be, the founder of the popular website The Huffington Post, which boasts 45 million unique visitors a month, answered, “disconnecting.”“Disconnecting in order to reconnect with ourselves is going to be a bigger and bigger trend,” she said, quickly adding, “But don’t forget to check out The Huffington Post.”The author and syndicated columnist was at Harvard to discuss her work and her new book, “Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream.” The discussion was sponsored by the Kennedy School’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.Launched in 2005, The Huffington Post is a news website and collective blog featuring commentary and postings, as well as news from a variety of media outlets. Huffington said she founded the site with the aim of earning readers’ trust, developing a place for civil discourse, and offering news 24/7.“My dream from the beginning was to combine the best of the old — traditional journalism, fact checking, aggressive fairness,” she said, “with the best of the new — immediacy, transparency, and engagement.”In discussing “Third World America,” Tom Patterson, moderator and Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, asked Huffington about her suggestions for “revitalizing America’s middle class.”Community involvement and responsible media coverage are two critical parts of the way forward, responded the author.“We as individuals and as members of our communities need to be engaged in the solutions,” she said, adding, “It’s the only ultimate solution to the major crisis we are going through.”Huffington said that the crisis, including dismal unemployment rates, a rise in poverty, and a drop in the nation’s GDP, is much worse than the Obama administration has acknowledged, noting that she picked the title of her book in an effort to “sound the alarm.”The media also have a role to play in putting a human face to the problems plaguing the nation, said Huffington.“The media have really failed us in terms of telling stories to capture the public imagination beyond the numbers.”But while disconnecting may be the wave of the future, online communities power Huffington’s road map to significant social change.“The Internet and social media are exploding” with ideas and ways to make change, she said, referencing websites like donorschoose.org, which allows people to donate directly to public school projects.“People all around can immediately take action,” said Huffington, adding that if the media can put the spotlight on what is being done there’s the opportunity to “really make a big difference.”last_img read more

Emerald Ash Borers

first_imgFor years foresters and invasive insect experts have been on the lookout for the arrival of an unwelcome guest in Georgia. Now that it’s here, they hope the public will help restrict its spread within Georgia. The Georgia Invasive Species Task Force will launch a public outreach plan to try to curb the spread of this pest in the near future. This task force consists of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Forestry Commission, UGA, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Georgia’s five species of native ash trees usually grow along stream banks. While ash only makes up about 1 percent of Georgia forests, they play an integral role in preventing the erosion of stream banks and keeping silt out of natural waterways. Ash is also a popular landscape tree, with 2.9 million trees planted around Georgia homes, businesses, parks and greenways. The value of these city trees in Georgia is estimated to be around $725 million. In July, researchers found adult emerald ash borers in survey traps in DeKalb and Fulton counties. A follow-up ground survey found larvae in nearby ash trees, confirming an established emerald ash borer infestation. People can help slow the spread of this beetle through Georgia by not moving firewood and by helping others to understand how dangerous it can be to move firewood from one area to another. To help reduce the spread of the emerald ash borer in Georgia, homeowners with ash trees should have a certified arborist check their trees for signs of emerald ash borer infestations. “To prevent the spread of emerald ash borer, it is important not to move firewood in which the insect can hide,” said Kamal Gandhi, associate professor in the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. “Buy local firewood, whether camping or for your home.” Since 2005 University of Georgia invasive species experts have conducted an extensive trapping program in Georgia to screen for the emerald ash borer. For more information about the emerald ash borer and how to protect ash trees, visit www.gainvasives.org/eab.center_img Suspected infestations should be reported immediately so that foresters or arborists can understand how the infestation is spreading. This will aid in the development of effective methods to reduce its spread and impact. Although the adult beetle is an active flyer, it is believed that the primary way the beetle spreads is by hitching a ride on infested ash firewood, logs and nursery stock. Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by burrowing serpentine tunnels in the inner layers of bark, preventing the tree from transporting water and nutrients to and from the tree canopy. For more information about spotting signs of emerald ash borer infestations, view ww.youtube.com/watch?v=wXCynbvf4Lc#at=24.UGA experts on the Emerald Ash BorerKamal Gandhiassociate professor, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resourceskjgandhi@uga.eduGandhi studies the spread of invasive insects, including the emerald ash borer, and has been developing techniques to save infested trees and control ash borer populations. The public can report suspected infestations by: Using the SEEDN (Southeastern Early Detection Network) website www.eddmaps.org/southeast. Using the SEEDN Smartphone App [available for iPhone or Android devices] apps.bugwood.org/seedn.html .Emailing one of the Experts listed below; or by contacting a representative of the Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Department of Natural Resources or their local, UGA Cooperative Extension agent. The small, iridescent-green beetle has killed millions of ash trees across a wide swath of Canada and the upper Midwest since it was first detected in 2002. The emerald ash borer — Agrilus planipennis— has spread south and west from infested areas over the last decade. “The faster (scientists) can track the spread of the insect, the faster they can work to stop it,” said Joe LaForest, integrated pest management and forest health coordinator at the UGA Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Rick Hoebeke associate curator of arthropods, Georgia Museum of Natural Historyrhoebeke@uga.edu Hoebeke helped identify the first emerald ash borer specimens found in metro Atlanta. He started his entomology career in Upstate New York studying the emerald ash borer and has tracked it southward down the Eastern seaboard. David Moorheadco-director, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, and professor of silviculture, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources moorhead@uga.eduMoorhead develops and provides educational information and outreach programs on silviculture, forest regeneration, forest health and invasive species management. Joe LaForest integrated pest management and forest health coordinator, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Healthlaforest@uga.eduLaForest develops protocols for identifying and mitigating harmful invasive pests in Georgia. He has helped develop apps and websites to educate the public about invasive species and streamline the invasive reporting process. Keith Douceco-director, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, and professor of entomology, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Scienceskdouce@uga.edu. Douce develops and provides educational information and outreach programs on forest entomology, forest health, invasive species and regulatory program issues. Will Hudsonprofessor of entomology, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Scienceswghudson@uga.eduHudson is responsible for educational programs covering management of insect pests of commercial and recreational turf, ornamental plant production, pecans, sod farms and Christmas trees.last_img read more

United States Provides Humanitarian Aid in Colombia after Hurricane Iota

first_imgBy Office of Press Relations/USAID November 25, 2020 The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing $100,000 to support the response of the government of Colombia to assist people affected by Hurricane Iota. On November 16, 2020, the powerful Category 5 storm passed over Colombia’s Providencia, San Andrés, and Santa Catalina islands, where heavy rainfall, flooding, and storm surges caused widespread damage.This new funding will provide equipment for firefighters and disaster-responders to clear fallen debris and purchase relief supplies for families. In addition, USAID deployed a Disaster-Assistance Response Team (DART) on November 17, to lead the U.S. government’s response to hurricanes Eta and Iota. This elite team has members throughout the affected region, including in Colombia, who are assessing damage, identifying needs, and bringing urgently needed assistance.The United States, through USAID, has allocated more than $17 million in life-saving aid to help people affected by both hurricanes in Colombia and the Republics of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. This includes providing emergency shelter, food, hygiene supplies, critical relief items, and protection for the most vulnerable people.As the world’s humanitarian leader, the United States remains committed to providing life-saving assistance. It is a core American value to help those in need, and USAID will continue to help the Colombian people and other populations devastated by the storms.last_img read more

Comments sought on CHR’s effectiveness in enforcing Florida’s anti-discrimination laws

first_imgComments sought on CHR’s effectiveness in enforcing Florida’s anti-discrimination laws November 1, 2005 Regular News The 2005 Florida Legislature has directed the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to review the Florida Commission on Human Relations.The Commission on Human Relations is responsible for investigating and enforcing Florida’s anti-discrimination laws (Ch. 760, Florida Statutes ). The commission accepts complaints from persons who believe they have been discriminated against in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations.OPPAGA will analyze the effectiveness of CHR’s role in the civil remedies available to Florida citizens, determine whether CHR’s functions duplicate or overlap with other related programs, and consider the consequences of eliminating the commission.As part of the review, OPPAGA is seeking comments from members of the legal profession with experience in discrimination matters. These comments will be considered in the assessment of CHR’s overall effectiveness in enforcing Florida’s anti-discrimination laws and to offer the legislature recommendations for improving this process. Therefore, lawyers’ opinions are very important to this research.Anyone interested in providing an opinion is asked to complete a brief online questionnaire. The questionnaire is available on OPPAGA’s Web site at www.oppaga.state.fl.us/nosearch/surveys/chrcomments.htm and can be completed until Thursday, November 10.Those interested also may contact Jeanine King or Rashada Houston at (800) 531-2477.center_img Comments sought on CHR’s effectiveness in enforcing Florida’s anti-discrimination lawslast_img read more

Is SEO really a key driver?

first_imgFirst published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, remains a classic best seller for anyone who seeks to improve their communication skills personally and professionally. I strongly recommend it to both those who dabble in marketing through their own networking efforts as well as those whose profession revolves around marketing, especially content marketing. The story about how I fell out of favor with a tenured Higher Ed colleague is a case in point.  In a world saturated with messages and a plethora of channels for delivering messages, authenticity and efficacy are your best differentiators. Taking time to listen to your audience and deliver your message in their preferred style, tone, and verbiage is key but it requires finesse. Rather than crafting your message with SEO in mind, take the Dale Carnegie approach and keep your audience’s interests at the forefront. Remember they are tuned to one radio station—WIIFM—what’s in it for me? Like writing, content development is a process. Only after you’ve drafted and edited your content for effectiveness should you go back and tweak with SEO words.  Disclaimer: Although I wish I did (and am always open to negotiations), I have no financial interest in Dale Carnegie’s book or the Dale Carnegie program. I am simply a huge fan and have been since taking the High Impact Presentation Course in 2006 and subsequently participating in studies of Dale Carnegie training.  Thirty principles described in How to Win Friends and Influence People are broken into three categories, which themselves are terrific guides for any aspiring professional: Become a Friendlier Person, Win People to Your Way of Thinking, and Be a Leader. The principles can be found in a free download of Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book, but they are best learned through study of his iconic text, which is less than 300 pages, because the challenge is to form habits based on the principles.   1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Lorraine Ranalli Lorraine Ranalli is Chief Storyteller & Communications Director, as well as published author. Her most recent work, Impact: Deliver Effective, Meaningful, and Memorable Presentations, is a pocket book of public … Web: LorraineRanalli.com Details Search engine optimization may drive traffic to your website, but your message and how it is delivered will seal the deal. In terms of relationship building and sales, substantive messaging, not SEO, is the key driver. Anything else is just noise. I had been teaching a 100-level Interpersonal Communication course for several semesters. I approached the subject from a business perspective, for that was my understanding of the purpose of the course and my expertise. With permission from the department dean, I chose to use Dale Carnegie’s signature work along with supplemental writings from a variety of business and self-help authors instead of the college’s recommended textbook, which approached the course from a romantic angle. Another issue I had with the recommended textbook was its length and layout. It had been my experience that a majority of students did not read textbooks, especially voluminous ones. When a tenured professor learned I had not been using the text, she took issue with my decision and created a bit of a brouhaha despite admitting to not having read Carnegie. Ironically, had she been acquainted with the principles in How to Win Friends and Influence People, such intellectual divergence could have enhanced the course or laid the foundation for an additional course on the subject. Search engine optimization will drive traffic and boost analytics, but will it close the sale? If content isn’t engaging, it is simply noise. Consumers are savvy. They know the difference between clickbait and substantive content. How you engage your audience and keep them coming back is as important as reaching them. Carnegie’s use of relevant examples inspires introspection, conversation, and doable action. When applied to any communication, Carnegie’s methodology is the secret sauce that helps get the intended message to the intended target as intended. This is why I contend it is vitally important that marketers take time to study the book. Apparently, many others agree, as the book remains a bestseller almost a century after it was first published.last_img read more

Bringing baseball to the backyard

first_img“Having something as simple as a five dollar can of spray paint in the backyard, to be able to get up in the morning and come out back and just throw some balls, there’s nothing simpler,” said Howard. Five-year old Emma created an “iSpy” game for the entire neighborhood, putting signs on telephone poles with balloons attached. (WBNG) — As the weather is warming up across the Southern Tier, parents are coming up with unique ways to keep their kids entertained. Austin said baseball is one of his favorite sports, and playing in the backyard is what he looks forward to every day. Meanwhile, in one Port Dickinson neighborhood, the Dancesia family is also getting creative. Emma said “it’s so fun,” adding she wants to do it every day. “Like” Nicole Menner on Facebook and “Follow” her on Twitter. “At each balloon there’s a paper that says ‘iSpy with my little eye,'” said Emma’s father Todd. The object is something nearby that people would be able to spot. “We’ve seen people young and old doing them all, having a great time doing it and thanking us on their walks,” said Todd. Austin said before the coronavirus pandemic, he and his dad would go to fields to play. When they were shut down, he asked Howard to bring the field home. It doesn’t matter how you bring light to your children during this dark time. “You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to have fun with your kids. From a parents standpoint, there’s nothing better than seeing a smile on your child’s face,” said Howard. Storm Track 12 Chief Meteorologist Howard Manges and his six-year old son Austin took this to the next level, creating a baseball field in their backyard! last_img read more

Foreign Affairs focuses on pandemic threat

first_imgJun 10, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The influential journal Foreign Affairs is adding its voice to the warnings about a potential influenza pandemic by publishing a special section on pandemics in its forthcoming July/August issue.Titled “The Next Pandemic,” the section includes four articles by a panel of experts. They focus on the evidence that the H5N1 flu virus may spark a pandemic, the challenges of preparing for a pandemic, the need to integrate disease-control efforts for people and animals, and the lessons of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.Foreign Affairs is the second well-known journal in less than three weeks to publish a sizable collection of articles on the threat of a pandemic. The British journal Nature published 10 articles on the subject in its May 26 issue.Foreign Affairs has also scheduled a special press briefing on the pandemic issue for Jun 16 in Washington, DC. The briefing will feature two of the article authors, Laurie Garrett and Michael T. Osterholm, along with Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and James F. Hoge Jr., editor of the journal.Following are summaries of the Foreign Affairs articles.’The next pandemic?’The H5N1 flu virus is showing potential to cause the next flu pandemic. It is impossible to predict when a pandemic might hit—the swine flu of 1976, which failed to materialize, is a notable example of the risks of such predictions—but author Laurie Garrett is certain that the world is currently unready to address such a threat. Garrett is a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.The imbalance of wealth, the weakness of public health systems in countries worldwide, and the numerous hurdles to fast, efficient vaccine production are just a few of the issues that will affect how the world copes with a pandemic, Garrett says. She recommends that national policymakers prepare now “for worst-case scenarios involving quarantines, weakened armed services, dwindling hospital space and vaccine supplie.” Further, it is in every government’s interest to bolster the funding and authority of the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization so they can offer timely, impartial assessments of an epidemic’s progress.People engaged in policy and security worldwide “cannot afford to ignore the warning” of a possible pandemic, Garrett writes.’Preparing for the Next Pandemic’The next flu pandemic could well cause hundreds of millions of deaths around the world and bring the global economy to a standstill, writes Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of this Web site.Recent evidence suggests that the H5N1 strain of influenza A could trigger a pandemic like that of 1918-19, which probably killed between 50 million and 100 million people, Osterholm writes. In today’s world, that could mean up to 360 million deaths. The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic gave a hint of the kind of economic disruption a pandemic could cause. Though only about 8,000 of SARS cases occurred, the disease cost the Asia-Pacific region an estimated $40 billion.If a major pandemic began today, the global economy would shut down, Osterholm predicts. The disease would trigger shortages of food and other essential commodities. No vaccine would be available in the first several months, and in the first year the world could produce only enough vaccine for about 14% of the population. The antiviral drug oseltamivir could help countries that have stockpiled it, but in most of the world it would be unavailable. Other medical supplies such as masks and ventilators would be in short supply.As he has done in other recent writings, Osterholm calls for detailed operational planning to get through a pandemic. He also advocates an international project to develop the ability to produce a vaccine for the entire world population within several months of the start of a pandemic. If there isn’t enough vaccine to go around, economic disaster will overtake all countries, regardless of their vaccine supplies. “No one can truly be isolated from a pandemic,” he writes.’One World, One Health’Many diseases that have scared the public and disrupted global commerce in recent years have been zoonoses—diseases that originated in animals and crossed into humans. The emergence of diseases like avian flu, SARS, and Ebola tell us that it’s time to knock down the walls between the agencies and groups that deal with diseases in humans, domestic animals, and wildlife, according to William B. Karesh and Robert A. Cook. Karesh directs the field veterinary program at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and co-chairs the World Conservation Union’s veterinary specialist group; Cook is vice-president of the WCS and its chief veterinarian.Burgeoning international travel, population growth, the global trade in animals and animal products, and a growing dependence on intensified livestock production have made humanity more vulnerable to cross-species diseases, Karesh and Cook write. But “no government agency or multilateral organization today focuses on the numerous diseases that threaten people, domestic animals, and wildlife alike.”The authors observe that the eradication of smallpox—the only major infectious disease that has been eradicated—was possible largely because smallpox, at least under natural conditions, affects only humans. When a pathogen can infect a range of hosts, controlling it becomes far more difficult and requires an integrated approach, they write.They call for a number of steps to integrate efforts to deal with human and animal diseases. Examples include better surveillance of wildlife diseases, requiring animal traders to pay more of the cost of preventing and controlling outbreaks, and inducing governments to improve the regulation of trade in animals.”Bridges must be built between different scientific disciplines, and trade in wildlife must be dramatically reduced and, like the livestock industry, properly regulated,” Karesh and Cook argue.’The lessons of HIV/AIDS’To understand the impact of a potential avian flu pandemic, author Laurie Garrett suggests, one should first examine a slower-moving global pandemic: HIV/AIDS. Garrett details the massive destabilization of countries across the world as soldiers, teachers, and political leaders die and countless children are orphaned.Donor states should spend heavily on HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, but also emphasize development to usher the poorest countries into the global economy, Garrett contends. Donor states also should step up international programs that prevent high-risk sex and drug use while providing condoms and sterile needles, she adds. The survival of some developing countries may rest on risking tension over unequal treatment to provide antiretroviral therapy to important people and workers in key sectors of society.In addition, science and global security interests must recognize the importance of developing more sophisticated methods to identify and track specific strains of HIV and factors, such as drug smuggling, that contribute to the spread of the disease.See also:Foreign Affairs July/August 2005 Table of Contents page with links to excerpts of three of the articleshttp://www.foreignaffairs.com/issues/2005/84/4last_img read more

Church of England scheme signs £100m buy-in deal with Prudential

first_imgThe Church Workers Pension Fund (CWPF) has agreed a partial buy-in deal with the Prudential, for just over £100m (€120m).The CWPF provides pensions for the employees of more than 250 organisations associated with the mission and ministry of the Church of England, including dioceses, cathedrals and mission agencies.It is entirely separate from the Church of England Funded Pension Scheme, which provides pensions for clergy and others in stipendiary ministry, relating to service from 1998 onwards.Benefits for pre-1998 service are provided by the Church Commissioners’ endowment fund. The CWPF is a hybrid scheme covering more than 250 employers, most of which participate in the defined contribution (DC) scheme section, with smaller numbers in the defined benefit (DB) Scheme section, or in both.It has around 2,500 active members, 3,000 deferred members and 2,900 pensioners.Under the new arrangement, the premium will buy a bulk annuity policy committing Prudential to make payments to the fund that match 70% of the payments the fund makes to current DB scheme pensioners.This percentage is related to the liability-matching assets backing the pensions in payment in the DB scheme section.The CWPF’s assets are invested in the Church of England Investment Fund for Pensions, a pooled fund for some of the Church’s smaller pension funds.The CWPF’s total assets were worth £382.4m as at 31 December 2013, of which the DB scheme section’s assets were worth £295.7m.Over the five years to 31 December 2013, the CWPF’s growth assets returned 11.2% per annum, while index-linked Gilts and bonds returned 8.2% per annum.A spokesperson from the Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB), the scheme’s trustee, said: “Many of the assets that were sold to buy this policy were valued at historically high levels and, as this was combined with competitive market pricing for this type of policy, it made sense to sell the underlying assets now and buy this policy instead.”Ken Hardman, partner at Lane Clark & Peacock, lead advisers on the transaction, said: “It was the right time to carry out the transaction because the scheme was in the right place, and the market is still competitive, with attractive pricing.”He added: “It is no secret that in the buyout market there are some significantly sized schemes looking to transact over the short to medium term, and that will drive the market over the next year.“This could have a big impact on insurance capacity and competitiveness, so it is an interesting time.”Mercer provided investment advice on the transaction, while legal advice was provided by Linklaters.Meanwhile, no buy-in arrangements have previously been made for the Church of England Funded Pension Scheme (CEFPS) and none are planned for the near future, the CEPB spokesperson confirmed.He said: “The DB scheme section of the CWPF has a high proportion of pensioners and few active members, so it is important to match a relatively high proportion of liabilities with appropriate assets such as Gilts and bonds, or an annuity policy.”The spokesperson continued: “By contrast, the CEFPS is mostly invested in a diverse range of return-seeking assets such as equities, property and infrastructure, reflecting the fact it is both open to new members and is only paying out pensions earned since 1998.“The scheme’s income from contributions will exceed pension outgoings for many years to come.”But he added: “However, the board may consider options such as a buy-in as the clergy scheme matures, and the board continues with its phased de-risking programme for clergy pensions.”last_img read more

LNG-Fueled 23,000 TEU Behemoth in the Making

first_imgDalian Shipbuilding Industry Company Ltd. (DSIC) and classification society DNV GL have signed a joint development project (JDP) agreement to develop a new 23,000 TEU LNG fueled ultra large container vessel (ULCV).The JDP is focused on delivering a design which is ready for construction and reflects upcoming market trends and incoming regulations.“In developing this new 23,000 TEU LNG fuelled ULCV design, we will show that DSIC can deliver vessels at the cutting edge of the market after two 20,000 TEU container vessels were successfully delivered to COSCO SHIPPING Group this year,” said Mr. Yang Zhi Zhong, President of DSIC. “We see a continuing strong market for ULCV vessels, with lower slot costs especially valued on the main trading routes. At the same time the expansion in bunkering infrastructure in both China and Europe means that LNG is becoming a viable solution for container vessels, lowering costs and ensuring compliance with incoming regulations.”last_img read more