Vermont Department of Public Service names Asa Hopkins director of Energy Policy

first_imgThe Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) has named Asa S. Hopkins, Ph.D., as the new Director of Energy Policy and Planning. Dr. Hopkins will lead the Department’s policy and planning division, which serves as Vermont’s State Energy Office. In conjunction with the Commissioner of Public Service, the Governor’s office, the Legislature, and other energy stakeholders, Dr. Hopkins will develop and implement statewide energy policy, including energy efficiency and demand resource management programs, renewable energy policy, and electric utility planning.‘Asa will bring scientific rigor and a fresh perspective to energy planning here in Vermont,’ said Commissioner Elizabeth Miller. ‘His experience in energy efficiency and in federal energy policy at the Department of Energy will be of tremendous benefit to the people of Vermont. The Department of Public Service is delighted to welcome him as Director.’Before joining DPS, Dr. Hopkins worked at the United States Department of Energy for Under Secretary for Science Steven Koonin, serving as Dr. Koonin’s assistant project director for the DOE’s Quadrennial Technology Review. Before that he served as an analyst at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, providing economic and technical analysis of federal energy efficiency standards for appliances. Dr. Hopkins has a B.S., summa cum laude, in Physics from Haverford College and an M.S. and Ph.D, both in Physics, from the California Institute of Technology. He will join the DPS at the beginning of October.The Department of Public Service is an agency within the executive branch of Vermont state government. Its charge is to represent the public interest in matters regarding energy, telecommunications, water and wastewater.last_img read more

FDA requests backup in hunt for Salmonella source

first_img “We’re getting as many resources online as possible,” he said. Tauxe emphasized that case-control studies continue to strongly suggest tomatoes, as more than 80% of those who were sick say they ate fresh tomatoes, about twice the rate among healthy controls. However, he said expanded case-control studies that the CDC conducted over the weekend clearly pointed to a need to look beyond tomatoes. He said the FDA is exploring the idea of forming an interagency task force to help coordinate the work of federal agencies and state health departments. The outbreak involves the relatively rare Salmonella enterica serotype Saintpaul. In early June the FDA warned consumers not to eat raw red plum, red Roma, or red round tomatoes, or products that contain any of those varieties, unless the growing areas are on a list posted on the agency’s Web site. Jul 1, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said today that it was activating an emergency network of laboratories to help out in the quest to determine if other food items commonly served with fresh tomatoes could be the source of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak that has now grown to 869 confirmed cases. Also, he said Congress still has not required food companies to build in food safety controls that the FDA requested last November when it released its food safety plan. David Acheson, MD, the FDA’s associate commissioner for foods, said at a news briefing today that the FDA has activated the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), a voluntary system that was established after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks to temporarily increase laboratory capacity. Acheson said 10 of about 100 labs in the system have already offered to help with additional food-product testing. FERN was previously activated during the spinach-related Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak and during the investigation of melamine contamination in pet food, he said. Jun 27 CIDRAP News story “Salmonella source still a mystery as cases top 800” Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, said the most recent illness onset among the confirmed cases was Jun 20, which he said suggests the outbreak is ongoing. Cases have occurred in 36 states and the District of Columbia, though large percentages are from Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Several case clusters—groups of sick people who had the same exposure—have emerged in the outbreak investigation and could provide valuable trace-back clues, he said. The slow pace of the investigation and the FDA’s uncertainty about tomatoes as the source of the outbreak have upset some growers. On Jun 28, Tom Nassif, president and chief executive officer of the Western Growers Association, released a statement calling on the US House Committee on Agriculture to hold hearings on the Salmonella outbreak.center_img Outbreak stirs talk of changeAcheson acknowledged the difficulties in investigating the outbreak and said federal officials are already pondering ways to avoid similar problems the next time the nation faces a large outbreak linked to fresh produce. In past updates, federal officials have said fresh tomatoes are frequently consumed with other produce items in dishes such as salsa, pico de gallo sauce, and guacamole. Those recipes often include other fresh components such as finely chopped jalapeno peppers, onions, cilantro, and garlic. “The collateral damage inflicted on thousands of innocent producers in this country by FDA ‘blanket’ advisories such as with spinach and tomatoes cannot go unchallenged,” Nassif said. Advice to consumers unchangedThough the FDA is broadening the scope of the outbreak investigation, Acheson said the agency is not changing its advice to consumers or naming the other products it is now investigating. “We’ll update the message as needed, based on the science. It would be irresponsible to say where we’re expanding,” he told reporters. Some infectious disease experts have faulted federal investigators for not tracing the tomatoes consumed by controls to help clarify which products are contaminated and confirm that tomatoes are the source. However, Tauxe said today that officials have not yet requested that type of trace-back study. The produce industry has a role to play in avoiding a repeat of this difficult outbreak investigation by ensuring that its products are safe, Acheson said. One reason for the frustrating slowness of the trace-back studies is that most growers, packers, and distributors still maintain paper records. “Electronic record-keeping would enhance traceability,” he said. See also: CDC Salmonella updatelast_img read more

USC faculty members selected for Sloan Foundation grant

first_imgThe Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has selected four USC faculty members, Christoph Haselwandter, Dion Dickman, Jernej Barbič and Jennifer Garrison, to serve as research fellows for 2014.These four people are among the 126 researchers from the United States and Canada who were selected to the fellowships, which will provide them with a two-year, $50,000 fellowship award.More than 700 people are nominated each year for the Sloan fellowships, and the committee looks for people who have shown the potential to be forerunners in the scientific community through their accomplishments. 42 prior fellows have won the Nobel Prize, while 63 have received the National Medal of Science.Haselwandter, of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, works as an assistant professor of astronomy and physics. He is currently doing research on cell membranes and their channels, but he is also training in theoretical physics, utilizing new scientific advances to better understand the physical principles that allow for the proliferation of living cells.Dickman, also of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, is a neuroscientist who is studying the development of synapses. He plans on using his fellowship to develop new ways to see synaptic activity and plasticity.Barbič, of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, works as an assistant professor of computer science, and was previously names one of the “35 Innovators Under 35” by the MIT Technology Review. His current research studies animation, sound, haptics and computer graphics.Garrison, of the USC Davis School of Gerontology, as well as the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, is conducting research on neuropeptides, molecules that neurons use to send messages to each other. She wants to study use the grant to specifically look at the effect that neuropeptides have on aging.last_img read more