Alumni News and Views

In This Issue...

RAND Alumnus Lloyd Shapley Wins Nobel Prize in Economics

Lloyd Shapley

Lloyd S. Shapley, a longtime RAND researcher and professor at the RAND Graduate School who is now an emeritus professor at UCLA, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics jointly with Alvin E. Roth for his work on game theory.

"This year's Prize concerns a central economic problem: how to match different agents as well as possible," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a press release on October 15, 2012. "For example, students have to be matched with schools, and donors of human organs with patients in need of a transplant. How can such matching be accomplished as efficiently as possible? What methods are beneficial to what groups? The prize rewards two scholars who have answered these questions on a journey from abstract theory on stable allocations to practical design of market institutions."

In the work recognized by the Nobel committee, Shapley and Roth, working independently of one another, were honored for their research concerning "the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design."

Shapley, a research mathematician at RAND from 1948 to 1950 and 1954 to 1981, taught "Game Theory and Applications" at RGS (now the Pardee RAND Graduate School) in the early 1980s. He used so-called cooperative game theory to study and compare different matching methods, according to the committee. A key issue is to ensure that a matching is stable in the sense that two agents cannot be found who would prefer each other over their current counterparts. Shapley and his colleagues derived in particular the so-called Gale-Shapley algorithm to ensure a stable matching. Shapley was able to show how the specific design of a method may systematically benefit one or the other side of the market.

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Natalie Crawford Recognized with National Defense Award

The United States Air Force Academy has selected senior fellow Natalie Crawford as this year's recipient of the Thomas D. White National Defense Award, citing her long-term support of the Academy and her instrumental role in establishing an important and enduring relationship between RAND and the Academy. Natalie has been at RAND since 1964, and served as vice president and director of Project AIR FORCE from 1997 to 2006.

The Academy praised Natalie for her deep, substantive technical and operational knowledge and experience in areas such as conventional weapons, attack and surveillance avionics, fighter and bomber aircraft performance, aircraft survivability, electronic combat, theater missile defense, force modernization, space systems and capabilities, and nonkinetic operations. The Academy further recognized Natalie as a tireless advocate for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) as a critical component of force development. She has been a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board since 1988, and was its vice chairman in 1990 and cochairman from 1996 to 1999.

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Dedication of James A. Thomson Lobby in Santa Monica Office

James Thomson Lobby

Jim Thomson at dedication of the
RAND lobby

Photo by Diane Baldwin

On November 8, 2012, Jim Thomson was honored in Santa Monica at the official dedication of the James A. Thomson Lobby with a reception and plaque commemorating his 22 years as RAND's president and CEO, as well as his leadership in the initiative to build RAND's current headquarters.

The event featured remarks by Jim, RAND president and CEO Michael Rich, RAND Alumni Association president Natalie Crawford, and Karen Elliott House, vice chair of the RAND Board of Trustees, which collectively made a gift to RAND's Investment in People and Ideas program to name the lobby in Jim's honor. The more than 60 guests in attendance included RAND trustees, donors, alumni, and staff.

The dedication and reception were organized by RAND's Development Office and held in conjunction with the 64th semiannual RAND Board of Trustees meeting in RAND's Santa Monica office. The lobby, located next to the library, serves as the primary entrance to RAND's Main Street Building.

Barbara Neff Retires After "51-derful" Years

Barbara Neff

RAND congratulated Barbara on
"51-derful years"

Photo by Diane Baldwin

In December 2012, the RAND Library staff hosted a celebration of Barbara Neff's career at RAND and wished her well as she moved into retirement.

Barbara was a shining star in the Library for more than 50 years. She joined the organization in 1961 typing catalog cards. Over time, she became head of document delivery and served as reference librarian for more than a dozen years. In everything she did, Barbara was a role model for dedication to RAND and to the Library — and one of the best "information detectives" around! Her colleagues put together a keepsake box of memories for Barbara and presented it at the retirement party.

Longtime colleague Suzy Goulet, reflecting on Barbara’s lengthy career, said, "It’s remarkable what changes Barbara has seen over the course of her career. From the days when books were purchased or physically borrowed from other libraries to the digital age where scholarship is available at the touch of a keystroke, Barbara's seen it all. Her ability to navigate through changes in technology has been laudable."

Chez Jay Designated a Landmark in Santa Monica

We thought we’d share with Bulletin readers an article about Chez Jay, which originally appeared in the October 10, 2012 issue of the Los Angeles Times. We're fairly certain that we can count on two hands the number of RANDites who have not eaten at Chez Jay over the years. A longtime neighborhood favorite, the bar and dining establishment is well-known even to RANDites who visit Santa Monica from other RAND offices.

If you haven't visited Santa Monica in a while you'll likely be astonished by how much the neighborhood has changed. The Civic Center Village project, scheduled for completion by the end of 2013, will bring a mix of residences, retail, restaurants, and walkable plazas and gardens to the site where RAND's longtime headquarters resided before the new RAND campus opened in 2004. At the northwest end of all the new construction still stands the (now-landmark) Chez Jay.

Read the Los Angeles Times article (

A Visit with the Endeavour

By Suzy Goulet

Suzy Goulet and the Endeavour

Suzy Goulet and the Endeavour

Photo courtesy Suzy Goulet

Los Angeles was all abuzz over the arrival of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. First, the Southland was treated to the flyover on September 21 as it rested on top of a plane en route to LAX. As it flew south over the Santa Monica Pier toward Venice Beach, RANDites were able to get a great view from the headquarters campus. Then, in October, the shuttle left the LAX hangar and made its way through the streets of L.A. for its final trip to its new home at the California Science Center.

Endeavour over L.A.

The Endeavour gets a lift over L.A.

Photo by William Edwards

I have been fascinated with space travel since I was a child. In March 1982, I (and about a million other people) were on Cocoa Beach in Florida for the launch of STS 3—the Space Shuttle Columbia. The feelings of wonder, awe, and patriotism were overwhelming as the rocket blasted into space. The crowd broke out into a cheer—that and the vibrations gave me chills.

I had that same feeling when I saw the Endeavour parked in my neighborhood. In order to avoid rush hour traffic, the shuttle left LAX early that Friday morning in October, but was then parked behind the stores in Westchester for several hours. While this was not an official viewing stop, several hundred people came out to take an up-close look. It was truly awesome.

Travelogue: My Adventure with Mau Pau

By Lynn Anderson

On my recent vacation to Asia, I spent a day taking care of an elephant at Patara Elephant Farm, a breeding reserve in Chiangmai, Thailand.

Lynn washing Mau Pau

Lynn washes Mau Pau

Photos courtesy Lynn Anderson

I was part of a group of eight visiting the farm. Upon arrival, each of us was assigned an elephant; mine was a male named Mau Pau. Our job was to take care of our elephants, just as their owners and trainers would. The experience involved understanding our elephant’s temperament; communicating with, bathing, and feeding the elephant; and, yes, riding through the jungle.

I knew that part of the day would include riding, but I expected to climb onto Mau Pau’s back using a ladder, or a ramp, or some other device. Instead, the elephant lifted me up with his trunk. I ended up facing backward on Mau Pau’s head, and had to turn around and face forward without falling off. (I assure you, it’s a long way down!)

Lynn rides Mau Pau

Lynn rides Mau Pau

There was no saddle … nothing to sit on but the elephant. To move, one gently nudges an elephant’s ear and calls out “bi!” For almost two hours, I traveled through the mountainous, muddy trails of the jungle on Mau Pau’s enormous (and bristly haired) head with my legs tucked behind his ears.

I also bathed Mau Pau in a river. I scrubbed him from head to toe with a plant that produces soap as he rolled around in the water, with me hanging on to his back and sides. He always seemed to be aware of where I was and was gentle when changing positions. All the elephants would fill their trunks with water and spray the entire group.

We ate lunch along the river — feasting on an incredible spread of fresh fruits and fried chicken. And, of course, any leftover fruit got consumed by the elephants.

The farm has a breeding program, so we all got to see baby elephants as well. I played with a two-month-old; her mother, nearby, didn’t seem to mind at all. I also touched the stomach of a pregnant elephant and felt the baby kicking inside. You haven’t lived until you’ve felt the kick of an elephant in utero!

I learned so much that day. Who knew that elephants perspire from their feet? And that their mouths are incredibly soft? Or that they have five sets of teeth, and when the last set is gone, they can starve to death?

The owners of the farm clearly love elephants and work hard to provide excellent care for them and a great experience for their guests. Visitors leave with a professionally recorded DVD to bring home as a keepsake!

That day was both exhilarating and exhausting, a highlight of my visit to Asia, and, quite simply, one of the best days of this animal lover’s life. I will always treasure my time with these intelligent, charming, and social animals. But since my return, I have often wondered if Mau Pau would remember me if I ever go back.