“… In Other News, ‘Never The Twain Shall Meet.'”

L'Extreme Orient
Solid gold.

Hark! The goras, the gaijin, the waiguks, the vellaikaarans — whatever you call them, it’s serious: They’re finding out the face-reading secrets buried deep in our Oriental, collectively-oriented psyches. See, we Easterners read expressions differently, because we don’t process emotions as individuals! We assess facial expressions based on a holistic evaluation of the group. … Holistic like our medicines! (OMG) Maybe we’re so holistically-minded because we view life not as a line but as a circle, turn, turn, turn.

Well, I we don’t know about you y’all, but this exposé from The New York Times is too close for my our comfort. So saddle up your camels and flying carpets — we’ve got to meet somewhere and discuss how to stay inscrutably ‘Other’ in this changing age. Let’s meet in heady, spicy Samarkand. … If that’s cool with everyone.

East and West Part Ways in Test of Facial Expressions [NYT]

Comments Off on “… In Other News, ‘Never The Twain Shall Meet.'”         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   March 18, 2008

Heart-y, Healthy Cuisine

Junnoon (SF Chronicle/Katy Raddatz)

In partnership with the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital, award-winning Palo Alto restaurant Junnoon launched a HEARTier choices prix fixe menu earlier this year, featuring “flavor rich, cardio-protective recipes that are low in saturated fat, low in simple carbohydrates and high in fiber content.”

Ashish Mathur, executive director of the Mountain View, California-based heart center—the first nonprofit, community-supported center in the world devoted to the prevention of coronary artery disease in people of South Asian descent—says that heart-healthy meals low in cholesterol and fat are especially important for people from the Indian subcontinent, who are four times more likely to have a heart attack than the general population (Palo Alto Daily News).

Noted by Esquire magazine as one of the “20 most exciting places to dine” nationwide in 2006, Junnoon is Harvard MBA Sabena Puri‘s first restaurant venture. Its culinary team includes Floyd Cardoz (of New York’s Tabla) as consulting chef.

Diners won’t have to put up with bland or boring food on the special menu, which includes a pomegranate, peanut and fresh sprout salad. “It’s not diet food,” explains Puri. “Our food gets its appeal from the use of varied spices to enhance flavors as opposed to adding oils and fats.” (Daily News). Puri, having family members who died from heart disease at a relatively early age, was eager to do what she could “to help the South Asian Heart Center in its mission to stem the epidemic.” (Siliconeer).

Comments Off on Heart-y, Healthy Cuisine         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   April 11, 2007

Spreading The Prakash

Sinha (Nature.Com)

Four years ago scientists discovered SRD, a 32-year-old Ahmedabadi woman born into blindness.

Now her case, published recently in Psychological Science, is forcing scholars to reconsider their approach to the disability.

Neuroscience dogma says little can be done if a blind child isn’t operated on by age six.

But SRD’s case is turning that doctrine on its head–her sight was restored at age 12, and her brain, in strong defiance of theory, “learned to interpret visual information.” The findings provide hope that the brain can learn to see later on in life.

“There is a critical period for perfect acuity,” Pawan Sinha, the study’s primary investigator, and a neuroscientist at MIT tells Time Magazine. “But there is not a critical period of learning to do complex visual tasks.”

Sinha is the founder of Project Prakash, a humanitarian and research effort aimed at expanding access to proper eye care in India.

Project Prakash
Prakash featured in MIT news mag
The Sinha Lab at MIT
Pawan Sinha’s profile on Indian NGOs

Comments Off on Spreading The Prakash         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   March 7, 2007

Expectant South Asian Moms At Risk

Mother and Child
“Mother and Child” (RedKettle.Com)

A study out today suggests South Asian and black women generally have shorter-term pregnancies than their white counterparts.

The report, published in the British Medical Journal, considers 12 years-worth of data from 197,000 London births. Findings indicate that “for every stage of gestation, perinatal mortality (death before, during or shortly after birth) is highest in south Asian women.”

Dr. Imelda Balchin, who directed the research effort, suggests race is most likely an “indicator” of genetic deviation from normative gestational length.

“Whether differences in outcome were due to social disadvantage or biology, the implications for management are the same,” says Balchin who calls for increased care and rigor when it comes to screening South Asian and black expectant moms.

Comments Off on Expectant South Asian Moms At Risk         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   March 2, 2007

Sunita Moonwalks Her Way Into History Books

Williams in Space
Williams on Jan 31 (AP/NASA)

American astronaut Sunita Williams broke a world record yesterday, having spent more time walking around in space than any other woman.

According to an Associated Press report, Williams set the record–of 22 hours and 27 minutes–while upgrading the international space station’s cooling system.

This beats the previous women’s spacewalking record by over an hour.

Blast off! Sunita Williams Heads Back to Space
We spoke to Williams back in 2004. Read the interview here.

Comments Off on Sunita Moonwalks Her Way Into History Books         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   February 5, 2007
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Working Toward Affordable Vaccines

Henry Daniell
Professor Henry Daniell (UCF)

In a university ad lauding them for their research awards, Professor Henry Daniell and two of his colleagues (Karen Dow, Peter Delfyett) take a victory walk around campus, fist-bumping and giving a thumbs up along the way. According to VOA News, Daniell, from the University of Central Florida, has come up with a way to make inexpensive vaccines that would be affordable for the world’s developing communities. “Scientists inject plants, like tobacco, lettuce or carrots, with vaccine genes. They are then planted in a greenhouse before being crushed and put into capsules to be taken by patients. The method skips a number of traditional processes involved in producing the therapeutic proteins needed to make vaccines—cutting the price of the final product.” (VOA)

Motivated to work on the vaccines by seeing the impact of diseases like cholera and amebiasis in his native India, Daniell has created vaccines for those diseases as well as anthrax, plague and rotavirus. The next stage is human clinical trials. Thanks to his anthrax vacine, which earned him a congratulatory call from the Director of Homeland Security, his bioterrorism vaccines “are on fast track approval” for the trials. The professor is also working on vaccines for tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis and diabetes.

In an interview with the Discovery Channel—“Turning tobacco into the tonic that ails you”—Daniell discusses his vaccine work with tobacco plants. The interview mentions that the professor’s work is not funded by the tobacco industry, and that the vaccine is not delivered through smoking.

Daniell Lab

Comments Off on Working Toward Affordable Vaccines         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   January 25, 2007

Sunita & Crew Give Martha Tour Of Expedition 14

expedition 14 crew
Lopez-Alegria and Williams chat with Stewart (NASA TV)

Martha Stewart chatted with the crew of Expedition 14 Monday morning, including Sunita Williams, in an event shown on NASA TV.

Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams showed off her green thumb with a sample of bean sprouts she had been growing as part of a horticulture experiment for long-term living in space. Pickles and shrimp cocktail were the crew member’s top choices when asked of their favorite foods in space.

After giving a glimpse of their personalized sleeping areas, Williams and Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria told Stewart they were open to any home decorating or cooking tips for their home in space.(NASA)

Blast Off! Sunita Williams Heads Back to Space
Working Woman: Sunita Williams, Nirali 2004
Emeril Lagasse chats with Station Crew (video)

Comments Off on Sunita & Crew Give Martha Tour Of Expedition 14         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   January 24, 2007

Girl Geeks Share Their Stories

Such a Geek

Editors Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders solicited stories from women “nerds” and “geeks” over the internet and received submissions from lady geeks who grew up interested in science, technology and other non-traditional fields for women. The resulting anthology, She’s Such a Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology and other Nerdy Stuff, includes contributions from women working in computer science, game design and scientific research, including Kory Wells, a writer and computer scientist whose mother encouraged her dreams of becoming an astronaut and a computer programmer, Roopa Ramamoorthi, a scientist with two doctorates who encounters the assumption that “real” scientists are men and that the women work for them as technicians, and Mara Poulsen, a game designer who discovers “the great conundrum of the video game heroine: Why, if she’s out clashing with the bad guys, would she be wearing an outfit that exposes most of her vital organs?”

The She’s Such a Geek Blog

Comments Off on Girl Geeks Share Their Stories         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   January 22, 2007

Happy Cranberry-Colored Holidays

cranberry harvest
Cranberry harvest. (British Columbia Cranberry Growers Association.)

As a fruit indigenous to North America, the cranberry was around long before Thanksgiving. It’s a berry that adds color and flavor to some of the holiday’s traditional foods. And to some not-so-traditional foods. My mother has been known to stockpile bags of the berries in the freezer this time of year in order to create some colorful dishes like her cranberry take on pulihara. (It was tangy enough to compete with the likes of gongura, in my opinion.)

You may already know about the many health benefits of the tiny berries “rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Research indicates they may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, urinary tract infections, gum disease and ulcers. They’re also high in vitamins A and C and in potassium.” (NPR.)

Further research into the “health-giving” properties of the cranberry will be made possible by a $2 million gift to the University of British Columbia from the heirs of cranberry farmer Rashpal Dhillon (half of the gift will be used to fund research into pulmonary fibrosis, the fatal lung disease he died of). Dhillon was B.C.’s first Sikh police officer in 1954 and pursued cranberry farming before Ocean Spray became a household name.

More information: The Vancouver Sun

1 Comment         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   November 23, 2006

Blast Off! Sunita Williams Heads Back to Space


The space shuttle Discovery is getting ready for a December 7 launch on a mission to the international space station, and Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams will be on board. She’ll be in space for six months, replacing German astronaut Thomas Reiter as flight engineer.

Back in October 2004, interviewed Sunita, and she had some inspiring words for other women interested in pursuing what can seem like far-fetched careers for women, even in these modern times:

Don’t ever let anyone tell you, “You can’t do it.” That’s the biggest thing—I had one squad commander who said, “Being an astronaut is for jet pilots, not for helicopter pilots.” If you know that’s what you want, you’ve just got to go for it. You do the best you can do at what you’re doing and find out what you need to do to get in this field.

Wise words, indeed. Good luck to Sunita and the entire Discovery crew on a safe and fruitful mission.

Read the October 2004 Niraliinterview with Sunita Williams

3 Comments         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   November 14, 2006