Archive for November, 2009

Happy 350th Birthday, Royal Society!

The AP (11/30) reports that Britain’s Royal Society “is marking its 350th anniversary in 2010 by putting more than 60 of its most important scientific papers online, alongside commentaries by modern scientists. The site — — goes live Monday November 30th, launching a year of anniversary activities.” The society “hopes to use the anniversary year to raise the profile of science as a vital part of Britain’s cultural life. In the society’s early years, science and art influenced one another,” but “today, the two worlds rarely meet.” Keith Moore, the Royal Society’s head librarian, “said one of the society’s goals was ‘to get to the point where people are as comfortable talking about the latest developments in science’ as about the last movie they saw.” Moore said, “Newton, Franklin – these men have entered the popular consciousness. And it should be the same today.”

Info Tool of the Week: Ask a Librarian

When you have a question about the library or where to find the information you need for your research, there are lots of ways to get in touch with a librarian:

For more information and hours of availability for the above services, please check our “Questions? Ask a Science Librarian” web page.  We look forward to hearing from you!



Info Tool of the Week: Purchase Request Form

Even though the University of Virginia libraries own several million items, we can’t own or have access to everything.  In many cases when the library doesn’t own something you need, asking for the item via interlibrary loan will be your best strategy.  However, there may be some occasions when you may wish to ask the library to purchase a copy of an item.  To do this, please submit the information about the item using our online purchase request form.

The library is happy to consider purchase suggestions from its users.  However, be aware that items are added to the collections in support of the teaching and research needs of the University.  Items that do not fall within those areas may be rejected.

If you have concerns about any item not in the libraries’ collections, please consult with the Subject Librarian for your department or area of interest.

Sustainability Research Grants

Sustainability Research Grants

Courtesy of the Rodman Scholars Program

Are you an undergrad doing research and need money?  We will provide $3,000 each for up to five sustainability-themed projects.  Please visit our website and apply today!  Deadline for submission is December 4th.

Blair Taylor Stocks
University of Virginia
SEAS Undergraduate Class of 2010
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Rodman Scholars President
(703) 772-4739

Thornton Art Gallery Opens

The following reposted from an E-mail announcement sent to SEAS faculty and students by Mary E. Lane.

We are pleased to announce the opening of the Thornton Art Gallery, the newest art exhibition at the University of Virginia.  Hosted by the Department of Science, Technology and Society and SEAS, the gallery is located in the foyer of the 2nd floor of Thornton Hall (A-wing, West side).  The first installation in the gallery is currently on display.  It consists of four paintings by local artist and UVA graduate student Katelyn Sack.  If you have not yet had the chance to see the display, please feel free to saunter by and linger. 

The Gallery seeks first to exhibit work by students, but will also grow to present work by faculty and local residents.  This first installment will run through mid-Spring, at which time a new installment will follow.  The gallery is co-curated by Benjamin Cohen (faculty, STS) and George Cahen (faculty, Department of Materials Science and Engineering), with a curatorial committee that includes Kent Wayland (post-doc, STS) and Doug Jerolimov (faculty, STS).  The committee welcomes and actively seeks inquiries from other SEAS faculty who wish to join and contribute to decisions about future installments in the Gallery. 

Most importantly, the committee seeks inquiries from student-artists who would like to display their work.  Please note that although the first installment presents paintings, the Gallery will also display photographs in the future. 

The selection process for the second installment will start at the beginning of the Spring semester. For those interested in displaying work, please contact Benjamin Cohen at:  Include “Thornton Art Gallery” in the subject header.  For those faculty members interested in joining the curatorial committee and contributing to decisions about future installments in the Gallery, please use the same contact address.

NTIS Newsletter Highlights Civil Engineering and Transportation

The November 15, 2009 issue of the NTIS Technical Reports Newsletter highlights reports dealing with civil engineering and transportation topics.  This newsletter is designed “To bring you a sampling of the latest documents added to the NTIS Database and to help you gain a greater understanding of the wealth of scitech information available from the National Technical Information Service.”  The National Technical Information Service (NTIS), is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive source of government-funded scientific, technical, engineering and business-related information.  You can access this issue of the NTIS Newsletter at or subscribe to receive future issues.

NOTE:  You will not be able to access the full text of reports from the above link.  Please check VIRGO for desired items or request needed items using Interlibrary Loan.  You may also find that searching for NTIS reports from within the Engineering Village suite of databases provides you with more detailed abstracts and other information about the reports.  You will still need to rely on other means to access full text, however.

A Robot for My Co-Pilot

In-Dash Robot Uses Facial Expressions To Communicate With Driver

The Wired (11/17, Squatriglia) “Autopia” blog reported, “Audi and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology envision a future where robots riding shotgun make us happier, safer drivers and create a ‘symbiotic relationship’ between car and driver.”  The robot, called Affective Intelligent Driving Agent, or Aida, “would analyze our driving habits, keeping track of frequent routes and destinations to provide real-time traffic info, and make friendly suggestions along the way,” as well as “give gentle reminders to buckle up, watch our speed or slow down for that school bus up ahead.”  The robot “uses a small laser video projector to convey facial expressions and other information.”  Having “human-like motion” and the ability to express emotions, researchers say, “makes it easier to convey information,” since “reading a facial expression is instantaneous.”  The researchers “plan to build a driving simulator for a controlled study” by next year, and “real-world tests will follow in 2011.”

Reposted from the November 18, 2009 ASEE First Bell briefing.

Info Tool of the Week: Science Search Engines

Everybody knows about Google — and everybody uses Google to search the web for needed information.  But wouldn’t it be nice if, sometimes, you could search the web with a search engine optimized for just science and engineering materials?

Well — you can!  Here are some science and engineering oriented search engines that can help you search the web more efficiently and effectively.

Scirus – for scientific information only.  According to their site, Scirus is the most comprehensive scientific research tool on the web. With over 350 million scientific items indexed at last count, it allows researchers to search for not only journal content but also scientists’ homepages, courseware, pre-print server material, patents and institutional repository and website information.  You can also get the latest scientific news from the New Scientist magazine.  Use the Advanced Search option to set your preferences for type(s) of materials to search for, date ranges, etc.  Scirus is sponsored by the Elsevier publishing group.

TechXtra is a UK-based service which can help you find articles, books, the best websites, the latest industry news, job announcements, technical reports, technical data, full text eprints, the latest research, thesis & dissertations, teaching and learning resources and more, in engineering, mathematics and computing.  Many of the things you’ll find through TechXtra come from the ‘Hidden Web’, and are not indexed by Google.

Intute is another UK-based search engine sponsored by a consortium of British universities and libraries.  In addition to providing subject-based web searching Intute offers a variety of online training sessions, customized user options and alerting services, podcasts, news feeds and related services. is a web search engine maintained by the United States federal government designed specifically to search for U.S. government-produced web pages. is a gateway to government science information and research results. Currently in its fifth generation, provides a search of over 40 scientific databases and 200 million pages of science information with just one query, and is a gateway to 1,950+ scientific Websites.  The content for is contributed by participating agencies committed to serving the information needs of the science-attentive citizen, including science professionals, students and teachers, and the business community.

The above science and engineering search engines are only a few of the tools you can use to optimize your web searching and save yourself time and frustration.  For more information about these and other web search options, come by the Brown Science and Engineering Library and let us show you how to find the information you need for your research!

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has unveiled Green Footstep, a free online carbon calculator for reducing carbon emissions in building construction and retrofit projects. 

While many carbon calculators are available online, none address multiple building emissions over the building lifetime. “Green Footstep makes it easier for design professionals to set the design targets theyll need to achieve a carbon neutrality that includes not just operation, but also embodied carbon and others,” said Victor Olgyay, AIA, principal at RMI.  “Just as a life cycle cost analysis of a green building design shows the operating costs you are saving over time, Green Footstep shows you the saved carbon.” 

Green Footstep also shows designers how to comply with specific design goals such as LEEDs energy credits and the 2030 Challenge, the organization that has challenged designers to make all new buildings carbon neutral by 2030.  Edward Mazria , founder and executive director of Architecture 2030, says, “Rocky Mountain Institute’s Green Footstep is an extremely valuable goal-setting and evaluation tool that will help building designers assess a project’s carbon emission impacts with regard to site, construction, and operations.  Because the 2030 Challenge is integrated into the program, this tool can also help designers in their efforts to meet or exceed the 2030 Challenge targets.” 

The Green Footstep tool can be used on residential and commercial new and retrofit building construction projects, from pre-design through occupancy. The tool 

  • Assesses your design’s total carbon footprint due to site development, construction, and operation
  • Helps designers and other project stakeholders set carbon emissions goals and design targets
  • Reveals the most effective levers that you can use to meet the Architecture 2030 Challenge, earn credits in green building rating systems, and achieve other goals
  • Compliments a financial model (based on life cycle cost analysis) to provide the most comprehensive support for building design decisions.

Try out Green Footstep or learn more about its capabilities at

(Portions of this post excerpted from a November 11, 2009 ACRL Science and Technology Discussion List posting by Frederick Stoss.)

Database of the Week: Mechanical and Transportation Engineering Abstracts

CSA Mechanical & Transportation Engineering Abstracts provides citations, abstracts, and indexing of the serials literature in mechanical and transportation engineering and their complementary fields, including forensic engineering, management and marketing of engineering services, engineering education, theoretical mechanics and dynamics, and mathematics and computation.  This database provides in depth, comprehensive coverage of the international engineering literature as well as numerous non-serial publications.  Many of the more recent records in the database include fields containing cited references, corresponding authorés e-mail address, and publisher contact information.  Sources covered include over 3,000 periodicals, conference proceedings, technical reports, trade journal/newsletter items, patents, books, and press releases.

For additional information, please see the CSA Mechanical and Transportation Engineering Abstracts database Factsheet or begin searching the database at CSA Illumina.

The CSA Mechanical and Transportation Engineering Abstracts database is one of many information resources brought to you by the Brown Science and Engineering Library!  Ask for a demonstration of this database or about other resources that can help you work faster, smarter and better!

(Use of this database from this address restricted to University of Virginia users only.  Please contact a librarian for assistance, if you are having trouble connecting.)

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November 2009