SIR programs in 2011



November 16, 2011
Speaker: Dr. Robert Booth, CEO, Virobay, Inc.
Subj.: Human DNA - The Molecule That Determines Much of Our Life and Destiny

Dr. Booth will describe how DNA functions and its role in allowing life to continue. Although the double helix structure of DNA has been known for more than 50 years, the specific sequence of DNA was only discovered about 5 years ago. Since that time, a wide range of discoveries have been made that allow us to understand what makes humans human and also provides us with insights into the causes of a number of diseases. As a result of these discoveries, a number of new diagnostics have emerged and a number of new therapies have been developed. Despite these great advances, there are still many mysteries which surround the role of DNA, and its functions appear to be much more complicated than anyone imagined.

Since May 2010, Dr. Booth has been the CEO of Virobay, Inc., a company he founded in 2006. Virobay seeks to to develop new therapies for the treat- ment of pain and autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Booth is also a member of the Board of Directors of Pharmacyclics, a company developing novel therapeutics for oncology. In addition, he is a board observer at Galleon Pharmaceuticals, Chairman of Galleon’s Science Advisory Board and a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of ShangPharma, a contract research organization in China, and of Elcelyx, a company focused on diabetes and obesity.

Robert Booth received his Ph.D. and B.Sc. from the University of Lon- don in the field of biochemistry.


October 19, 2011
Speaker: Robert Goodwin, Docent Aboard the USS Hornet Museum and Gartner Managing Vice President
Subj.: The Role of the USS Hornet in Major Events of the Twentieth Century

Mr. Goodwin will describe the history of the USS Hornet during its active service, 1943-1970, and its vital role in two of the major events of the Twentieth Century; WW II and the Apollo Moon Landings. He will highlight the Hornet’s significant contributions to these events, the remarkable complexity and precision of the tightly inte- grated and high-risk aircraft carrier operations, and the considera- ble responsibilities carried out at sea by a very young crew.

Mr. Goodwin saw active duty in the US Navy as an OCS commissioned line officer in 1958-61. He spent two years as a Gunnery Department officer and as Officer of the Deck while underway aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock, which was based in Alameda and is the same Essex Carrier class as

the USS Hornet. He also served one year on the Antisubmarine Warfare Operations Staff in Hawaii, working for the legendary aviator, Vice Admiral John Thach.

Mr. Goodwin is presently a Gartner Managing Vice President and Group/Team Manager, leading three Gartner research practices: Industry Market Strategies, Small and Midsize Business, and Software Markets. He holds a BA in Psychology from Occidental Col- lege.


September 21, 2011
Speaker: Jeffery Bass, President and CEO of the Hiller Aviation Museum
Subj.: The Adventure of Flight

The Hiller Aviation Museum, founded and opened to the public in 1998 by helicopter designer and inventor Stanley Hiller, Jr., features over 40 aircraft from over 100 years of aviation history. The museum celebrates the spirit of discovery and innovation in the aviation pioneers whose creativity made the dream of flight a reality. In his presentation, Jeff Bass will explore the lore of some of the interesting aircraft that comprise the museum’s collection and share the different ways the museum uses aviation to inspire kids about science, engineering, technology and mathematics.

Jeffery Bass has been a museum professional for twenty five years. He served for 18 years as director of planetarium and astronomy programs at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. From there, Jeff joined the Milwaukee Public Museum, one of the nation’s premiere natural histo ry and human culture institutions, as Vice President of Education, Public Programs and IMAX. Along the way, Jeff acquired his Private Pilot license and developed aviation-themed programs at various institutions. In 2007, he joined the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California, as President and CEO. There he has acquired new display aircraft, created extensive education programs for area schools and introduced flight simulation as a regular visitor experience.


August 17, 2011
Speaker: Theo Palmer, PhD, Associate Professor, Neurosurgery, Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
Subj.: Parkinson's Disease in a Petri Dish: Using Stem Cells to Understand and Treat Neurological Disease

Recent advances in stem cell research now allow scientists to repro- gram skin cells to become nerve cells. When isolated from a patient with neurodegenerative disease, these nerve cells faithfully reproduce key features of the disease. Dr. Palmer will describe the emerging technolo- gies that are used to understand and treat Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Palmer’s translational research investigates the role of stem cells in the normal and diseased brain. He uses several stem cell models, including embry- onic, fetal, and adult brain stem cells. Stem cells in the brain, i.e. neural stem cells, produce new nerve

cells throughout adult life. However, this process of neurogenesis is lim- ited to specific regions; it does not repair large injuries nor keep pace with serious degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s dis- ease. Dr. Palmer is studying the molecules that control neural stem cell activity to determine if they might be used to improve the brain’s intrinsic ability for self repair. He aims to find interventions that would promote the production of replacement nerve cells, so that stem cells can be used to augment or repair an injured or diseased nervous system. The ultimate goal of Dr. Palmer’s work is extrapolate findings from the Petri dish into mice, primates, and then humans, resulting in well-validated and safe stem cell therapies that ameliorate the devastating effects of disease or injury.

Dr. Palmer received his PhD from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Re- search Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. He did his post- doctoral work at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. He joined the faculty at Stanford in 2000.


July 20, 2011
Speaker: Martha Kendall, Author and Retired Dean of Language Arts at San Jose City College
Subj.: The Erie Canal, The Silicon Valley of 1825

The construction of the Erie Canal, nicknamed “America’s First School of Engineering,” provided one of the most dramatic examples of the can- do attitude and ingenuity that continue to define the American character. Just as Silicon Valley startups push the envelope of our notions about what is possible, the Erie Canal overcame technological, financial, and political hurdles before it became known as the 8th Wonder of the World.

Skeptics in 1817 said a 363-mile canal that went up and down the mountains of upstate New York would be impossible to build: “You can’t make water go uphill.” When the work began, canal promoters were all too aware that they lacked the know-how and technology to succeed. So, they started on the easiest section, hoping to learn as they went along, and saving the most challenging sections until after they had gained experience.

The Erie Canal crossed the Appalachians to connect the east and west, unifying the young nation. After the canal opened in 1825, millions of immigrants began their westward treks via this waterway that provided the safest and cheapest means of transportation anywhere in the world, and they traveled at the breathtaking pace of 4 mph!

The canal was Americans’ pride and joy, evidence that “we can do anything!” That same spirit of optimism fuels Silicon Valley’s creativity.

Just how did canal promoters succeed at building the impossible? How much did it cost? And how could a waterway only four feet deep revolutionize travel? The answers make a great story, as inspiring today as it was two hundred years ago.

Martha Kendall holds a B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) in English and Spanish from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in English from Stanford, and an M.A. in Social Science from San Jose State University. She taught for many years at San Jose City College and retired in 2009 as Dean of Language Arts. She has written twenty books ranging from college texts to picture books for children. She grew up in Rochester, New York, a stone’s throw from the canal. However, it wasn’t until she moved to California that she became intrigued by the history of the Erie Canal.

The author’s presentation includes colorful images of the modern Erie, and music of the canal era that she performs on fiddle, penny whistle, banjo and guitar.


June 15, 2011
Speaker: Henry S. Rowen, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Subj.: What's Wrong with California? Can it be Fixed?

Henry Rowen's present title does not begin to describe the depth and variety of his diverse roles during a long and distinguished career of service to the nation and to higher education. Hitting only the high- lights; he has been president of the RAND Corporation, Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, and a member of the Presidential Com- mission on the Intelligence of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Dr. Rowen began his Stanford years as a profes- sor of Public Policy and Management at the Gradu- ate School of Business. He then went on to co- direct the Stanford Program on Regions of Innova- tion and Entrepreneurship, where he furthered his understanding of innovation in leading regions around the world, with an emphasis on Asia.

Dr. Rowen’s published views include a piece in the Wall Street Jour- nal, July 2009 entitled "A New York Solution For Bailing Out Califor- nia," and he co-edited several books including: “MAKING IT: The Rise of Asia in Information Technologies (2007)” and “The Silicon Valley Edge: A Habitat for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. (2000)”

Dr. Rowen will put the question "What's Wrong with California?" in historical perspective along with some recent initiatives intended to improve things. Given his wide background, his teachings, and his writings over the years, he is clearly very well suited to his topic and to his audience. Bring your curiosity and your questions about the future of our home state.


May 18, 2011
Speaker: Richard Lowenthal, Chief Technical Officer of Coulomb Technologies
Subj.: The Electric Vehicle Industry and Charging Station Requirements

The speaker will describe new technologies to meet the needs of the emerging electric vehicle industry, including the “ChargePoint Network,” which is a smart charging station network developed by Coulomb Tech- nologies. The network makes it easy for drivers using an Internet connec- tion to locate and access public charging stations along their commute route and to track their vehicle’s charging performance. Municipalities and businesses are using the network to offer and manage charging services to residents, employees and customers. Electric utilities are using the network to collect data to forecast grid enhancements necessary for elec- tric vehicle programs and services.

Richard Lowenthal co-founded Coulomb Technologies in 2007 and was the CEO from 2007 until 2011. He is currently the Chief Technical Officer. From 1990 through 1995, Mr. Lowenthal was vice president of research and development for StrataCom, a telecommunications equipment company. In 1996, he joined Cisco where he was a vice president and general manager. He left Cisco in 1997 to focus his energy for 10 years on civic engagements. He subsequently re- entered high tech full time in 2007 with the founding of Coulomb Technol- ogies. He has a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from UC Berkeley.

Mr. Lowenthal is also a former Mayor of Cupertino and was named Cu- pertino’s Citizen of the Year in 2008. He has held numerous other civic leadership positions including Cupertino City Councilmember, Chairman of the Santa Clara County Library System, President of Fremont Union High School District Foundation, Board Chairman of the West Valley Community Services and President of The Rotary Club of Cupertino.


April 20, 2011
Speaker: Capt. Robert Effler, Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing
Subj.: These Things We Do - That Others May Live

We are fortunate to have headquartered at Moffett Field, the Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing. Their mission is to train for and perform combat search and rescue anywhere in the world. Their motto has been adopted as the title of this presentation. While they handle civilian rescue and other duties to meet the State Mission, their Federal Mission is a combat responsibility. They perform their mission anytime, anywhere and are continually rotating their personnel to hot spots around the globe, including Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan. The “tools of their trade” (weapon systems) include the Lockheed MC-130P airplane and the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. Key to their mission are the “Pararescuemen,” also known as PJ’s (Pararescue Jumpers). These men are among the most highly trained emergency trauma specialists in the U.S. Military. As the name implies, their specialties include the capability to reach a rescue site by parachute.

Our speaker, Captain Robert Effler, is a PJ Combat Rescue Officer. His military background started at birth, as his mother and father were both in the Air Force. After graduating from Jacksonville University in 2003, Captain Effler became a Naval Officer. In 2005 he transferred to the Air Force to become a PJ. He is now a full time Air National Guard officer and has completed two combat deployments; one in The Horn of Africa, and the other in Afghanistan from which he recently returned.

Captain Effler will give a brief overview of the 129th and then describe the Pararescue mission, its training, its current deployments, and its future.


March 16, 2011
Speaker: Tom Steinbach, Director, Environment Program, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Subj.: The Future of Environmental Protection and Energy Policy

We SIR are mindful of our fragile environment, and we protect it. We recycle many products, we reduce our use of printed paper with electronic alternatives, and we cheer when learning of yet another open-space acquisition that will benefit society for generations to come. Yet our use of energy — even in the act of conservation — at times is so pervasive that its effect on the environment has an impact that over- arches almost everything we do, even though it is rarely felt directly (e.g., while paying our heating bill).

Our March speaker, Tom Steinbach, will examine the multifaceted relationship between energy and our environment. He is uniquely qualified by experience and responsibility to provide us with new insights on energy that will be both fascinating and useful.

Previous to joining the Hewlett Foundation, Tom was Executive Director of Greenbelt Alliance, a San Francisco Bay Area land conservation and urban planning organization. At the Hewlett, he oversees grants that address the problems of energy and climate change, greenhouse gasses, energy efficiency and clean transportation. His message about the role of energy in our lives will be inspiring, encouraging, and thought-provoking. Listen to Tom — then help save the planet!


February 16, 2011
Speaker: Duncan MacVicar
Subj.: Hidden Wounds of War

Duncan will describe the trauma that affects many combat veterans and the problems that these troubled veterans cause for them- selves, their families, and their society when they return home. He will describe California’s approach to traumatized veterans who commit crimes and his efforts to improve that approach through legislation and the formation of special Veterans Treatment Courts.

Duncan has degrees from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and from UC Berkeley. He served in Vietnam as a captain in the Army Engineers. Later, he worked at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Hewlett-Packard, and Spectra-Physics. He found his stride as a man- agement consultant, advising high-tech company presidents on strategy; a career from which he retired two years ago. Along the way, Duncan was a founder of three high-tech com- panies, serving as CEO of one of them. He has also written a book on entrepreneurship entitled Maning High-Tech Start-Ups.

Duncan is a long-time community volunteer for his church and numerous nonprofits. He founded a group to build housing for the homeless, and last year he served as Board President of the Community Services Agency in Mountain View. Today, Duncan devotes his time to the cause of veterans suffering from combat- induced trauma.


January 19, 2011
Speaker: Bonita M. (Bonnie) Bergin, Ed.D. President and Chief Academic Officer, Bergin University of Canine Studies.
Subj.: A Look At The Dog's Mind

In 1975, Bonnie Bergin originated the concept of service dogs; dogs trained to help people with mobility limitations. She founded Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) in Santa Rosa, California, to be the provider of such dogs, and later expanded CCI to centers in New York, Ohio, Florida, and southern California. In 1991, she founded theAssistance Dog Institute to educate others on how to train service dogs and how to develop service dog programs, thereby reducing the horrendous 5-10 year wait. The Institute expanded into the world’s first university that awards Associ- ate, Bachelor and Master Degrees in dog studies. In appreciation of her work and in recognition of its expanded academic stature, the Institute was renamed the Bergin University of Canine Studies by the Board of Trustees in 2008.

Among her other achievements she helped develop the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations regarding assistance dogs and she began a program whereby teens-at-risk trained animal shelter dogs and later service dogs for people with disabilities. She has also spoken and taught worldwide, published three books, hosted a television series, and received numerous awards for her contributions to the disadvantaged and training of service dogs. You can get more information at