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Recent news from The Johns Hopkins University

This section contains regularly updated highlights of the news from around The Johns Hopkins University. Links to the complete news reports from the nine schools, the Applied Physics Laboratory and other centers and institutes are to the left, as are links to help news media contact the Johns Hopkins communications offices.

 

Design Flaw in ‘Secure’ Cloud Storage Could Put Privacy at Risk, Researchers Say

Johns Hopkins computer scientists have found a flaw in the way that secure cloud storage companies protect their customers’ data. The scientists say this weakness jeopardizes the privacy protection these digital warehouses claim to offer. Whenever customers share their confidential files with a trusted friend or colleague, the researchers say, the storage provider could exploit the security flaw to secretly view this private data.

MEDIA ADVISORY: As Anniversary of Deepwater Horizon Disaster Approaches, Johns Hopkins Engineer Available to Discuss Oil Spill Research

April 20, 2014, will mark the four-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a Gulf of Mexico rig explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the nation’s worst offshore oil spill. Reporters writing an update on this event may wish to interview David Murphy, who is studying oil spills in a Whiting School of Engineering lab at Johns Hopkins.

Media Advisory: 34 Baltimore City School Teams to Compete Saturday, April 5, in Robotics Contest at Johns Hopkins

On Saturday, April 5, in the Newton White Athletic Center on The Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus, more than 100 middle and high school students from Baltimore City Public Schools will compete in the Hopkins Robotics Cup, the Baltimore City VEX Robotics Championship competition. The event is being hosted by the Center for Educational Outreach at Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering, in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools. The Center’s mission is to increase the number of youth who pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and careers, particularly women and underrepresented minorities.

Batter Up! Student Math Wizards Aim for the Fences with Baseball Scheduling System

Major League Baseball has begun to get some high-tech help with scheduling. But for their 15 affiliated minor leagues, assembling the multi-team, multi-game calendar remains a tedious, time-consuming task that must be completed by hand. Soon, there may be a better way. Johns Hopkins students and faculty members have started tossing advanced math and powerful computing tools at the arcane art of planning game dates. The result is a new scheduling system that has piqued the interest of minor baseball league executives—and may prove to be useful in applications beyond the ballpark.

MEDIA ADVISORY: State Finals for Maryland Science Olympiad to Be Held Saturday, March 29, at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Campus

More than 750 Maryland middle and high school students are expected to participate in the Maryland Science Olympiad state finals. The event is being hosted by the Center for Educational Outreach at Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering, in partnership with Maryland Science Olympiad. The Center’s mission is to increase the number of youth who pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers, particularly women and underrepresented minorities.

When the Flu Bug Bites the Big Apple, Twitter Posts Can Tell the Tale

In recent years, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that tweets can help trace nationwide trends in flu outbreaks. Now, in a new study, a team from Johns Hopkins and George Washington universities has drilled even deeper, probing flu-related tweets from a single bustling metropolis: New York City. Twitter data, the team concluded, can accurately gauge the spread of flu at the local level, too.

Cancer Cells Don’t Engage in ‘Drunken’ Walks as They Spread Through the Body in 3D

Because of results seen in flat lab dishes, biologists have believed that cancers cells move through the body in a slow, aimless fashion, resembling an intoxicated person who cannot walk three steps in a straight line. This pattern, called a random walk, may hold true for cells traveling across two-dimensional lab containers, but Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered that for cells moving through three-dimensional spaces within the body, the “drunken” model doesn’t hold true.

Johns Hopkins Material Scientist Tim Mueller Receives NSF CAREER Award

Tim Mueller, a Johns Hopkins University assistant professor of materials science and engineering, has been selected by the National Science Foundation to receive its prestigious CAREER Award, which recognizes the highest level of excellence and promise in early-stage scholars. His faculty appointment is within the university’s Whiting School of Engineering.

Johns Hopkins Statement: Breach of a University Server

Johns Hopkins has learned from the FBI that information stolen from a Department of Biomedical Engineering web server was posted on the Internet on Thursday, March 6. This came one day after the department received what can only be described as an extortion message from someone claiming to be a member of the hackers’ group called Anonymous.

Three Johns Hopkins Researchers Selected for Sloan Research Fellowship

A theoretical physicist, a computer scientist and a solid-state chemist at the Johns Hopkins University are 2014 recipients of the Sloan Research Fellowship, given annually to young scientists showing promise in their research areas.

Johns Hopkins Senior Wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Stephen Filippone, a senior in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has been selected as a recipient of a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarships for 2014-2015.

Children’s Brain Imaging Data Bank Could Become a ‘Google’ Tool for Doctors

When an MRI scan uncovers an unusual architecture or shape in a child’s brain, it’s cause for concern: The malformation may be a sign of disease. But deciding whether that odd-looking anatomy is worrisome or harmless can be difficult. To help doctors reach the right decision, Johns Hopkins researchers are building a detailed digital library of MRI scans collected from children with normal and abnormal brains. The goal, the researchers say, is to give physicians a Google-like search system that will enhance the way they diagnose and treat young patients with brain disorders.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Can a Mousetrap-and-Rubber-Band Device Protect a Plummeting Egg?

Fifty-nine Johns Hopkins freshmen from an introductory mechanical engineering course will compete. Twenty student teams of two or three students have built devices that must be able to transport an uncooked chicken egg from a platform six feet off the ground to a target below—without breaking the egg.

MEDIA ADVISORY: How Secure is Personal Data on HealthCare.gov? Johns Hopkins Expert Available for Interviews

Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins professor of computer science and director of the university’s Health and Medical Security Lab, testified Nov. 19 before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology at a hearing titled, “Is Your Data on Healthcare.gov Secure?” In a prepared statement submitted to the panel, Rubin said, “HealthCare.gov does not collect nor store Electronic Medical Records, but it does collect whatever personal information is needed for enrollment. This information, in the wrong hands, could potentially be used for identity theft attacks.”

MEDIA ADVISORY: Baltimore Area Middle School Girls to Get Introduction to Engineering

Engineering students at Johns Hopkins are primary organizers and volunteers for “Ready Set Design!” The program aims to cultivate girls’ interest in engineering and engineering careers. About 30 girls from middle schools in Baltimore city and neighboring communities are expected to participate.

Johns Hopkins Students Win Inventors Contest’s Top Prizes for Heart Treatment Device and Cancer Test

A Johns Hopkins undergraduate biomedical engineering student team that devised a two-part system to improve the way life-saving shocks are delivered to hearts earned first-prize in the undergraduate division of a national Collegiate Inventors Competition. In the graduate-level competition, Isaac Kinde, a Johns Hopkins medical student, received third-place honors for developing a test to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers as part of a team at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Biosensor Could Help Detect Brain Injuries During Heart Surgery

Johns Hopkins engineers and cardiology experts have teamed up to develop a fingernail-sized biosensor that could alert doctors when serious brain injury occurs during heart surgery. By doing so, the device could help doctors devise new ways to minimize brain damage or begin treatment more quickly. In the Nov. 11 issue of the journal Chemical Science, the team reported on lab tests demonstrating that the prototype sensor had successfully detected a protein associated with brain injuries.

Scientists Study Some Fishy Behavior to Solve an Animal Locomotion Mystery

A quirk of nature has long baffled biologists: Why do animals push in directions that don’t point toward their goal, like the side-to-side sashaying of a running lizard or cockroach? An engineer building a robot would likely avoid these movements because they seem wasteful. So why do animals behave this way? A multi-institutional research team, led by Johns Hopkins engineers, says it has solved this puzzle.

Johns Hopkins Project Aims to help Mid-Atlantic combat Hurricanes, Heat Waves

The National Science Foundation has awarded Seth Guikema, a Johns Hopkins University assistant professor of geography and environmental engineering, a $3 million grant to build a program that will determine the effect of repeated hurricanes and heat waves on the Mid-Atlantic region and suggest ways to improve the region’s ability to withstand them.

Johns Hopkins Engineering Offers Innovative Master’s Degree in Robotics

In response to industry’s growing need for engineers with the specialized skills and expertise to design and deploy advanced robotics systems, The Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering now offers a Master of Science in Engineering in Robotics (MSE Robotics) degree program.

Schlesinger Named Engineering Dean at Johns Hopkins

T.E. Schlesinger, a distinguished engineering researcher, teacher and veteran leader of one of the top academic departments in his field, has been appointed dean of the Whiting School of Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University.

High Risk-High Reward Research Grants from the NIH Go to Two Johns Hopkins Scientists

Two Johns Hopkins faculty members–Natalia Trayanova and Hans Tomas Bjornsson–have been chosen to receive prestigious National Institutes of Health grants allocated for biomedical research projects that face significant challenges but could lead to major health care payoffs. The Johns Hopkins researchers are among 78 grant recipients nationwide announced Sept. 30 under the High Risk-High Reward Program supported by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund.

Five Johns Hopkins Engineering Doctoral Students Named 2014 Siebel Scholars

Five Johns Hopkins graduate students, recently named to the 2014 class of Siebel Scholars, are pushing the boundaries of medical technology to develop new and improved ways to diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease and other serious health problems. The students are trying to turn stem cells into healthy blood vessels, are testing biological reactions within microscopic droplets and are using advanced imaging techniques to detect disease at an early, treatable stage.

In recognition of their research skills, academic achievements and leadership qualities, the five PhD candidates are being honored as Johns Hopkins’ 2014 Siebel Scholars. The merit-based Siebel program provides $35,000 to each student for use in his or her final year of graduate studies.

MEDIA ADVISORY: In the Wake of NSA Eavesdropping Reports, Can Cyber-Privacy Be Preserved?

Recent news reports stated that the National Security Agency has pursued new methods that have allowed the agency to monitor telephone and online communication, encrypted information that was thought to be virtually immune to eavesdropping. What steps can and should computer scientists take in response to this privacy threat? How will the recent revelations affect the future of cryptography—the field of encoding and decoding electronic communication and transmissions for the purposes of privacy, reliability and efficiency?

To address these questions, the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute will host an hour-long roundtable discussion Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the university’s Homewood campus.

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