May
30

Benjamin Franklin, White House women, Prince Charles, new citizens and green elephants

Have you reached a milestone, received an award or conquered the world (at least your little corner of it) lately? Let us know at torch@si.edu.  We want to toot your horn for you! Be sure to include your contact information and a picture as an attachment.

 

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Dr. Alexander Dalgarno

Dr. Alexander Dalgarno

Alexander Dalgarno, senior atomic and molecular physicist at SAO, has been presented the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics. Founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute is one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States. The Franklin Institute Awards are among the oldest and most prestigious comprehensive science awards in the world.

Dr.Dalgarno’s citation reads:

“For his many fundamental contributions to the development of the field of molecular astrophysics, which led to a better understanding of interstellar space, including the giant molecular clouds that are the birthplaces of stars and planets.”

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Dr. Kristina Anderson Teixiera

Dr. Kristina Anderson Teixiera

White House Women’s Leadership Summit on Climate Change
STRI/SIGEO staff scientist Kristina Teixeira was among 100 women leaders who gathered in Washington, D.C., for the White House Women’s Leadership Summit on Climate Change May 23. The administration invited a select group of women experts from the public, private, academic and philanthropic sectors who are working to address climate change. The summit focused on effective communications strategies on climate change and energy, including energy literacy and energy initiatives from the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Critical Challenges and Opportunities for Tropical Forest Science
STRI Staff scientists Joe Wright and Stuart Davies were among a very distinguished group of the world’s leading researchers on tropical forests who were convened in early May in London for a meeting on Critical Challenges and Opportunities for Tropical Forest Science. The conference was coordinated by the British Prince Charles Charities International Sustainability Unit and held at the Royal Society and State Apartments, St. James’s Palace, Clarence House, London.

The express goal of the meeting was to learn about the fresh perspectives emerging research networks and new technologies can bring to understanding and protecting tropical forests. In the first part of the meeting, the scientists agreed on a series of concerns and initiatives about the fate of tropical forests. The second part of the meeting consisted of a series of presentations by Prince Charles, noted scientists, government officials and representatives from the business community.

Participants in the international meeting on tropical forests convened at the Royal Society, London. (Photo courtesy of Stuart Davies)

Participants in the international meeting on tropical forests convened at the Royal Society, London. (Photo courtesy of Stuart Davies)

National Museum of American History

From left, Stacey Mann, Night Kitchen Interactives (website designer), Carrie Kotcho, Lauren Safranek and Magdalena Mieri.

From left, Stacey Mann, Night Kitchen Interactives (website designer), Carrie Kotcho, Lauren Safranek and Magdalena Mieri.

Last year, NMAH educators worked with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to create an online resource to help immigrants to the United States prepare for citizenship. Launched in conjunction with a naturalization ceremony for new citizens held at the museum, the website “Preparing for the Oath: U.S. History and Civics for Citizenship” has won several awards:

  • The EdCom Excellence in Resources Award from the American Association of Museums
  • Best in Education Award from Interactive Media
  • Named one of the 2012 Top Ten Best Museum projects by the Washington Post

Kudos to the MAH staff who worked on the project: Education Technologist Carrie Kotcho; Project Coordinator Lauren Safranek; Magdalena Mieri, director of the Latino History and Culture program and former education staff members Caitlin Donnelly and Jenny Wei.

National Zoo

(Photo by Mehgan Murphy)

(Photo by Mehgan Murphy)

 

National Geographic highlighted the National Zoo as one of the country’s top energy-smart zoos and aquariums.

Elephant Trails, the new home for Asian elephants at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., now has four residents (one of whom is pictured above), with the arrival this week of a new elephant, Bozie, transferred from Baton Rouge Zoo. The new facility in the nation’s capital is built to accommodate an eventual herd of eight to ten adults and their young; Bozie was moved here because her companion elephant in Louisiana died and it is not healthy for elephants to live alone. Also important: Keeping the elephants comfortable through Washington’s steamy summers and frigid winters.

The zoo’s elephants retire to a “barn” quite unlike its typical farm counterpart: the state-of-the-art LEED Gold-certified building uses 40 geothermal wells to maintain constant temperatures. Operable skylights provide natural lighting, cutting electricity use; and “shade cloths” help cooling air circulate through open doors, allowing rising heat to escape through the roof, which slashes air-conditioning demands.

Outside, the barn’s roof is greener still—literally, because it is planted with insulating vegetation that makes the building more energy-efficient, soaks up rainwater, and creates a hospitable living space for local plants, birds, and butterflies. The exhibit’s outdoor spaces employ recycled materials for construction, further reducing its energy footprint, and include an on-site system of efficient pool-water filtration and reuse that reduces the strain on the city’s water infrastructure.


Posted: 30 May 2013
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.