Campus Buzz

Best of seven: A round of applause, please, for Shani Boston C’07, the second member of the Penn women’s track team ever to win a Penn Relays event. Boston took the heptathlon medal at the 110th Relays April 21 with a total score of 5,049 points, 40 more than the second-place finisher, teammate Kai Ivory C’04. Boston joins Frances Childs C’88, who also won the heptathlon in 1988, in this most exclusive sorority.

Up, up and away: How’s this for a trip? You’re tucked into a small rocket that’s attached to a balloon that hoists you up to about 40,000 feet. From there, the rocket blasts you 80 miles into space, where you experience total weightlessness for several minutes before descending back to earth. A team of Israeli engineers and space buffs that includes Divon Lan WG’05 is proposing to offer this experience to the general public for a mere $500,000 a ride. Lan’s company, IL Aerospace Technologies, was one of the eight finalists for this year’s Wharton Business Plan Competition. If this sounds like a dubious use of good money, a competition judge was similarly skeptical, calling the project “an adult carnival ride” during questioning. Oded Loebl, Lan’s partner on the business plan submission, argued to the judge that routine space flights like these could launch a new industry. He pointed out that within three years of Charles Lindbergh’s first solo transatlantic flight, the commercial aviation industry was off the ground.

Loebl said the company would need about $14.6 million over three years to make this project a reality. So why were they competing for a top prize of $25,000 plus legal and accounting assistance? “We’re here mainly for the recognition,” Loebl said. They finished out of the money in the final judging April 26, but they will press on in their search for capital.

From researcher to administrator: Professor Raymond P. Lorion of the Psychology in Education Division at the Graduate School of Education is moving on up to dean—of the College of Education at Towson University in Maryland, effective July 1. During his four years here, Lorion, a licensed psychologist, has held numerous research appointments at centers across campus, including the Center for the Study of Youth Policy in the School of Social Work, the Center for Psychotherapy Research and the Firearm Injury Center at Penn.

Waking life: As students across campus continue to burn the midnight oil to cram for exams and finish papers, they may be feeling the need for something stronger than coffee to keep them awake. One option is an over-the-counter stay-awake drug like Modafinil, known in this country as Cephalon. Next year, Molly G. Cahil C’07, one of 14 Penn Humanities Forum Undergraduate Research Fellows will be studying the ethical and sociological consequences of this drug, which allows users to go without sleep without side effects. The theme of next year’s Forum is sleep, dreams and nightmares.

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Originally published on May 13, 2004