Eye on Science: Look for a busy year for these La Jolla-based folks

By Lynne Friedmann

Contributor

It's time to take a peek at what the year ahead may hold for some research leaders with ties to La Jolla.

Sandra Ann Brown

starts 2011 as the newly appointed vice chancellor for research at UCSD. She will be responsible for promoting, facilitating and supporting the university’s complex and growing research mission which in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2010 amounted to more than $1 billion in funding.

The Office of Research Affairs at UCSD fosters research across disciplines and is charged with creating opportunities, enhancing the research experience, developing tools and training to improve research administration, and supporting and promoting university innovations to benefit the region, the state, the nation, and the world.

A professor of psychology and psychiatry, Brown has spent more than 20 years at UCSD managing academic appointments in two departments: Psychology on the general campus, and Psychiatry in the School of Medicine. She has also simultaneously directed the development of clinical, education, and research activities as the chief of psychology at the Veterans Affair Health Services System in San Diego.

Astrophysicist

Alison Coil

will one day tell us how and why galaxies cluster. The Universe is built up by various structures: Stars are collected together into galaxies, galaxies are collected into galaxy groups, and galaxy groups are collected together into galaxy clusters. Coil’s research interest lies at the intersection between large-scale structure, cosmology, and galaxy evolution. An assistant professor in the UCSD department of physics, Coil conducts her research as part of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS) and focuses on the evolution of galaxies when the Universe was half its current age. This provides enough of a time baseline to measure significant evolution but is near enough that large statistical samples can be gathered.

She works primarily with observational evidence, utilizing multi-wavelength imaging and spectroscopy, and interpreting her findings by collaborating with theorists to compare her results with numerical and analytic simulations. The outstanding promise of Coil’s work was recognized in 2010 when she received a Sloan Research Fellowship awarded to exceptional young researchers early in their academic careers and at a pivotal stage of their research

Philip Steven Low

is a pioneer in the field of computational biometrics. He is founder and CEO of NeuroVigil is a wireless neurodiagnostics company with offices in La Jolla. Low is the inventor of the iBrain — a wireless device for at-home sleep monitoring and diagnosis. Other applications for the technology include the systematic search for brain-derived biomarkers of neuropathologies that include narcolepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

Major pharmaceutical companies are interested in iBrain as a means to detect subtle changes in brain activity during clinical trials before visible signs of drug side effects surface. The iBrain received top honors in the 2010 CONNECT Most Innovative New Product Awards competition (Life Sciences/Diagnostics and Research Tools category), and Low was named as one of the top young innovators of 2010 (under the age of 35) by MIT Technology Review magazine.

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