September 10, 2012

News Digest: Honor: Doug Parish and Ray Wilson, NASA taps UW to study the origin of life in the universe, new director of real estate studies

UWPD officers honored for lifesaving work
University of Washington police officers Doug Parish and Ray Wilson will receive the Governor’s Lifesaving Award for their actions on May 20 during the annual Beat the Bridge event in Seattle.

At about 9:35 a.m., Parish responded to a report of someone in distress along Walla Walla Road near the Intramural Activities Building and found a man unconscious and unresponsive. Parish began performing CPR and a unit equipped with an automated external defibrillator was requested.

Wilson responded and, as Parish continued chest compressions, Wilson applied the AED pads and administered a single shock. Then a woman who said she was a nurse took over CPR, relieving Parish after 10 minutes of chest compressions. A private ambulance crew arrived a short time later and took over caring for the victim, who was conscious and semi-alert when paramedics arrived and took him to UW Medical Center.

Parish and Wilson will be formally recognized in Spokane Sept. 26-27.

NASA taps UW team to study origin, distribution of life in the universe
The UW astronomy department’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory works across disciplines to study habitability of extrasolar planets — or those outside of our solar system.

That work now has a firm commitment to continue. NASA has again selected the UW’s Virtual Planetary Lab as a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, a multi-institution consortium dedicated to studying the origin and distribution of life in the universe. The institute is headquartered at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, near Mountain View, Calif.

A $40 million grant will be shared five teams, averaging about $8 million each. The five new teams join 10 others already at work.

“The intellectual scope of astrobiology is breathtaking,” said Carl Pilcher, Astrobiology Institute director, “from understanding how our planet went from lifeless to living, to understanding how life has adapted to Earth’s harshest environments, to exploring other worlds with the most advanced technologies to search for signs of life.”

By coming together in the institute, Pilcher said the new teams will “make the connections between disciplines and organizations that stimulate fundamental scientific advances.”

“This is great news,” said Victoria Meadows, UW associate professor of astronomy and director of the Virtual Planetary Laboratory. “Our research will allow us to better understand the environments of planets found around other stars, and to search for signs that these planets can or do support life.”

Stephen O'ConnorTeacher, consultant is new director of Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies
Stephen O’Connor starts this month as the new director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in the UW College of Built Environments.

O’Connor, with a doctorate in urban planning and policy development from Rutgers and a master of science in design from Harvard University, has been an adjunct professor at Rutgers University since 1992. O’Connor has taught about housing, site planning and real estate development at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also runs his own national real estate consulting firm.

O’Connor succeeds George Rolfe, the center’s director since 2008. Rolfe praised his successor as “enthusiastic and dynamic” and said O’Connor impressed students during his campus interview.

John Schaufelberger, interim dean, said that in his courses O’Connor addresses the needs of the social as well as physical infrastructure of communities. “Stephen’s true passion lies in social equity and the production of affordable housing,” he said. O’Connor starts in the position this month.