The Daily brief: September 7, 2011

Sept. 7, 2011, 5:00 p.m.

Top Notch | U.S. News rates Stanford’s undergraduate engineering program  as one of the top 10 in the nation (where the highest degree offered is a doctorate) in its 2012 ‘Best College’ rankings. Specific results will be announced next week. Last year, Stanford’s program was number two, behind MIT and ahead of UC-Berkeley, Caltech and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Cracked | A team led by Elie Bursztein, a postdoctoral scholar in computer science, has developed and made public a tool to bypass the encryption on PC’s hard drives and find what websites a user has visited and what files they might have uploaded to the Internet. Previously, similar types of “forensic” software have only been able to recover data from disks per se, rather than reconstruct the online activity of the disk’s user, since the user names and passwords are encrypted by the operating system. Bursztein’s team cracked the algorithm that is used on Windows computers to store that information earlier this year.

Dean’s Medal | Three individuals will be recognized with the 2011 School of Medicine Dean’s Medal on Sept. 10. They include longtime school supporter C.J. Huang; genetics professor Stanley Cohen, whose work helped lay the groundwork for the field of genetic engineering; and California Rep. Anna Eshoo, a health and science advocate. The medal, inaugurated in 2008, “honors individuals whose scientific, medical, humanitarian, public service or other contributions have greatly advanced the mission” of the School of Medicine.

HP award | Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced the recipients of its fourth annual HP Labs Innovation Research Program awards, one of whom is associate professor of mechanical engineering Beth Pruitt. Her project, which focuses on “intelligent infrastructure,” is entitled “Self-Powered Energy Efficiency Nodes for CeNSE.” This year, she is one of 62 university professors worldwide to be selected for the awards, which are designed to fund research collaborations with HP.

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