“The Amir Lopatin Fellowship” – Request for Proposals

The Amir Lopatin Fellowship at Stanford University issued its first Request for Proposals on March 25, 2009. The text of the announcement is below.

“The Amir Lopatin Fellowship”

Announcing: Request for Proposals (RFP)

Date of announcement: March 25, 2009

Deadline: May 1, 2009

Decision date for award: May 22, 2009

The Stanford University School of Education (SUSE) has recently established an endowment fund thanks to the generosity of the family and friends of Amir Lopatin, former Learning Sciences and Technology Design (LSTD) doctoral student. Five years ago on March 25th, Amir sadly lost his life in an unfortunate automobile accident during Spring Break. His family and over 300 families and friends worked intensively to create a memorial fund in his name to support research in learning sciences and technologies design, which Amir strongly felt held much promise for education. Proceeds from this endowment fund will provide support to a research project of exceptional merit, selected each year from among proposals submitted by SUSE doctoral students in the Learning Sciences and Technology Design (LSTD) program, in line with the criteria described below. In 2009, the first year of this Fellowship, the selected proposal will be awarded up to $1,200, to cover research-related expenses (with future amounts dependent on the endowment payout in a given year). The Fellowship will be advertised on a similar calendar each year.

The eligibility requirements described in the endowment award, and the proposal specifications determined by LSTD faculty administering the program are as follows:

• The purpose of the Fund shall be to provide funding for LSTD PhD students to support an exceptional project involving technology and education.
• “Special consideration will be given to projects involving community-level fieldwork which use technology and project based learning to make education more engaging for primary and secondary school age students and otherwise enhance children’s educational experience.”
• A brief description of the research proposal will be provided in no more than five single space pages (12 pt font). A project description should include: (1) statement of your research problem; (2) your approach to investigating the problem (research design, sample, procedures); (3) timeline with key activities for your research activity, and (4) budget and budget explanation. Select references should be included, and will not count toward the five-page limit. A current resume should also be included with the application.
• A brief final report from the Lopatin Fellow’s research activities will be due no later than March 25th of the year following their award, and will be posted on a website associated with the Fellowship.

The application due date is Friday, May 1st, by noon. The application should be submitted as a single PDF file, including the project description, budget and resume. Send a copy of your application via attachment, with Subject header “Lopatin Award Application” to Roy Pea ([email protected]). Put your last name into the file name of your document, using the following file naming convention when you email your award application: LastnameLopatinAward.doc

After award applications are received, the Lopatin Award Committee (comprised of a group of LSTD program faculty) will review proposals and make decisions about the award for announcement on May 22, 2009. The decision will be based on scientific merit, and not financial need, consistent with the terms of the endowment award. Students in the program will only be able to win the Lopatin Award once during their doctoral training. For the project budget, funds can be proposed for a broad range of purposes, such as research media (e. g., audio or videotapes, hard-disks or charges for media storage), transcription costs, paying data coders, participant costs, photocopying, mailing, software, living expenses at research site if maintaining residence there, travel expenses to/from research site. With the size of the awards currently anticipated, the Lopatin Fellowship funds will not be used for tuition payments to Stanford, to purchase capital equipment, or for self-payment for transcription or other research activities.

For more background on Amir Lopatin, please see the family’s memorial site at http://www.amirlopatin.com/

Announcing the Amir Lopatin Fellowship

Dear SUSE doctoral students, The School of Education is pleased to announce the Amir Lopatin Fellowship, a recently established endowment fund thanks to the generosity of the family and friends of Amir Lopatin, former Learning Sciences and Technology Design (LSTD) doctoral student. The purpose of the award is to provide funding for exceptional School of Education PhD students to support summer post-graduation projects involving technology and education. For more information on the fellowship criteria… http://ed.stanford.edu/suse/admissions/fellowship_grants/AmirLopatinResearchAward.doc

Amir’s Stanford Bio

About Me:
I am currently a first-year PhD student studying under Roy Pea in the “Learning Sciences and Technology Design ” program of the Stanford University School of Education. Prior to Stanford, I studied at Brown University from where I graduated in May 1999 with an ScB in computer science. My goal here at Stanford is to apply my passion for technology within the field I think poses the most interesting and meaningful challenges: education. It is my animating faith that technology holds the key to making education accessible and effective for everyone and that education, in turn, holds the key to just about everything else that is worthwhile. My specific research interests are still inchoate but here is a short list of topics I would like to investigate before my time here is up.
Before coming to Stanford, I worked as a software engineer at a start-up company called Visible World . There, I specialized in user interface and data-visualization work. My biggest project was a full-featured MPEG2 Transport Stream Analyzer . I also wrote a nifty app we called the Command GUI which was used to monitor the media preparation process for Visible World’s patented intellispot technology. In NYC, my main avocation outside of work was Ultimate Frisbee . I even started NYC’s first public ultimate league, NYCPUL. I am not sure if the league will continue now that I am gone because, in truth, I did almost all of the work and the league was very hard to run within the space constraints of Manhattan.
Before NYC, I lived in SLC Utah for one year. There, I worked for a company called Evans and Sutherland . Evans and Sutherland is the oldest company working in the field of high-end graphics and simulation systems. I did some work there on head-tracking in tank simulators so that the field of view would change in the windows of the tanks as people moved their heads around inside the simulator. The job was pretty cool but Utah was not a good match for me (although I did love the skiing and the mountain biking).
A lot happened to me before that, but I don’t want to waste your bandwidth with the prehistoric details.

Research interests:

• Programming to learn: How can programming literacy most effectively be leveraged to facilitate instruction in fields outside of computer-science. People that can program have a language for describing processes that other people lack. This is similar to the way that people who understand calculus have a language for describing change and therefore have an easier time describing and comprehending concepts in physics and math. If curricula designers could take this literacy for granted could they design course materials that are more effective than conventional ones?
o Mindstorms.
o Allan Kay
o Andy Disessa

• Gaming to learn: Are video games an under-exploited educational resource or just a distraction?
o Prensky :

• Issues in educational motivation: What are the motivational qualities of competition? Can computers be used to isolate the beneficial qualities of competition while muting the pernicious ones? In my experience, competition has always been highly motivating. The downside of competition is that if you are on the losing side well Holden Caufield said too well: “Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right; I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.” The thing about computers is that they can adjust their difficulty levels so that nobody feels like they are losing allowing instructors to reintroduce competition without anyone feeling bad.
• Issues in assessment: Can real-time monitoring of student learning activities obviate the need for post-facto assessment?


My time with Amir was brief; though I will always be grateful for our laughs out at trivia night and our conversations on campus.

My prayers and blessings to Amir’s family and loved ones.

Matt Ronfeldt

Stanford Educator Fall 2004

You can read the article about Amir from the Stanford Educator published in Fall 2004 by visiting this site: http://ed.stanford.edu/suse/news-bureau/educator/fall2004/pages/StudentNews.html

Haven’t given up on our conversation

Hi Amir,

I knew you’re out there somewhere in the Great Beyond, or whatever the term is that you use for it. I just thought that I would let you know that I’m still thinking about you and the conversation that we had in a Stanford parking lot late one night about our long-term goals. You’ve reached your ultimate goal in where you want to be, and I can only hope to join you there one day.

In the meantime, I thought I would share both an interview that I gave to a newspaper in Cyprus that describes my conflict-resolution idea – https://www.reportfromcyprus.com/Peace%20thru%20education.htm – and my updated sites, https://www.jerusalemsolution.org and https://www.cyprussolution.org .

I miss you. – Mills

I. James Quillen Fellowship

Amir was supported in his graduate studies at Stanford by the James and Viola Quillen Fellowship. James Quillen served as Dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education from 1952-1966, and is known for raising the school from a regional teacher and administrator training program to the preeminent research institution that it is today. I remember Amir working diligently on this thank you letter, which is dated the month he died. Amir was incredibly grateful for the financial assistance he received, which went a long way in helping him to fulfill his goals. This is why the Amir Lopatin Memorial Fund will seek to offer similar assistance in the future.

March 2004

Dear Ms. Gangloff,

I am a recipient of the I. James Quillen fellowship at Stanford University. I want to let you know how grateful I am for your family’s generosity and the opportunity it has given me to study at this great institution. I hope to contribute to the legacy of scholarship Dean Quillen left imprinted here.

My studies so far have been focused on the intersection between education and technology. For example, I am currently researching how computers may be used to improve reading comprehension within electronic documents. I am also very interested in the threats and possibilities that interactive video games present to the field of education.

Before coming here, I received my bachelors degree in computer science from Brown University. I then went to work as a software engineer for four years where I specialized in user-interface design, graphics, and data visualization technologies. It is my goal to use the skills I gained as a professional programmer and apply them to the field that I feel poses the most interesting, important and rewarding challenges: education.

I realize how privileged I am to be here and I want to reiterate my gratitude to your family both for Dean Quillen’s role in making the School of Education the great place it is, as well as for the generosity that makes it possible for me to study here.


Amir Lopatin

Rabbi Feldman’s Dvar Torah on April 12, 2005

From: Jonathan Novich
Subject: An Abbreviated Memorial in Palo Alto
To: “Uri”, “Shoshana Lopatin”
Cc: “Rabbi Yitzchok Feldman”, “Rabbi Dov Greenberg”
Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2005, 11:11 AM

Dear Shoshana, Uri, and Sara-

I’m certain Amir would have been pleased had we been able to link directly last night for his memorial service. Without the webcast, we felt it would be best to gather when we could remember Amir more appropriately – with a screening of the video you will be uploading soon.

That said, we also wanted to mark the yahrzeit here as well – so Rabbi Feldman spoke about Amir between Mincha and Maariv (attached as an mp3).

Rabbi Dov Greenberg of Chabad at Stanford also offered his reflections on the yahrzeit – they are attached as well (“We all miss him”).

We’re planning to schedule a gathering later this week once the recording of the event in NJ is available.

As for me, a year later, I reflect on the conversations I would have shared with Amir this past year, the insight I am sure he would have brought me, the laughter I am certain we would have enjoyed, and the inspiration I know I would have drawn from the free-spirited, warm-hearted, open-minded, and always-loving Amir.



Amir’s First Yahrzeit


Extract from a talk given at Shabbat Dinner at the Chabad House of Stanford,
April 15, 2005

By Rabbi Dov Greenberg

This past week we marked the first Yahrzeit of our dear friend, Amir Lopatin, who was tragically and suddenly taken from us on the third of Nissan, 5764. On Amir’s first Yartzeit the hakamat matzevah (unveiling) took place at the Ahavath Torah Cemetery in New Jersey.

Tonight, I would like to reflect upon the language of the Torah and our tradition, which employs three distinct and paradoxical names for a cemetery:

1) Beit Hakvarot: a home for burial
2) Bait Olam: a home of eternity
3) Beit Hachaim: a home for the living

What is the significance behind the strikingly different names conferred by Jewish tradition on a cemetery?

The answer is profound.

These three titles – a home for burial, for eternity and for the living — represent three ways in which we can understand death. These three interpretations are expressions of three ways in which we can understand life. The way we define life, is the way we define death.

If we define life as an exclusively physical experience, an opportunity to maintain, nurture and gratify our material selves; if life is merely about tending to the appetites of our bodies and hearts, then death – that unfathomable moment when the body turns lifeless – constitutes the tragic cessation of life. The cemetery, then, is a home for burial. A life has, sadly, reached its final chapter.

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” Yogi Berra taught us. But in the cemetery, “it’s over.”

But there is another perspective on the meaning of life: Seeing life as a spiritual experience, in addition to a physical one. If life is also about nurturing and nourishing our souls, our spiritual identity, our inner spark of G-d, then death, as irrevocable as it is, is not the interruption of life.

Tragic and horrendously painful? Absolutely yes. The end of one’s life? Absolutely not. Because a soul never dies. It continues to live, love and feel in another dimension, on a spiritual plane, one that cannot be grasped through our senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling or tasting. Yet, the soul, which is an aspect of G-d, a fragment of the divine, is not subjected to death, only to travel from one realm of experience to another.

In this perception of life and death, a cemetery is a home of eternity. The body is interred, but the soul remains eternal.

Yet there is something even greater we can achieve. If we, those left behind, use the passion and the values of our loved ones who are not here with us, to inspire and affect our daily lives and behavior, then the cemetery becomes a “home for the living.” By inspiring and touching the daily lives of their loved ones, fellow students, friends and community members, they are in some very real sense still alive. Their own dreams and ideals continue to exist, in a very tangible way, in the earthly lives of the people touched by their love and goodness.

This is true of our dear friend Amir Lopatin, who was loved by his family and his many friends. In Congregation Emek Beracha and here, The Chabad House at Stanford, he shared his warmth with others and lit the fire of compassion in many hearts.

Over the past year, I have often thought of those moving words, “Tzadikim be-mitatam nikraim chayim,” the righteous, even in their death, are called living, because a trace of them remains. The good they do lives after them; their influence leaves a mark on many lives. For Rachel, myself and many of you, that is true of Amir Lopatin. May his memory be an inspiration and a blessing…

Shabbat Shalom


Amir has been on my mind quite a bit lately, particularly because his birthday is in a few short days.

A year ago, on Amir’s 28th birthday, I invited him out for beer and trivia night at a local pub that many of us from school frequent. It was a Tuesday. Tuesdays were a particularly busy day for Amir during Winter Quarter, but he came out to trivia night after his last class and we toasted his birthday (our trivia team also did particularly well at the trivia contest that evening).

Last night, our education school cohort went out bowling to celebrate Dabney’s 29th birthday. The last time that most of us were at Palo Alto Bowl was just over a year ago; we were there as a group and Amir was with us. Several of us spoke fondly of our memories from that evening. Aurora and Frank remembered how Amir drove part of the group to dinner and charmed his way out of a ticket when a cop pulled him over for making an illegal turn. Later that evening at the bowling alley, Amir wondered if it was a “Latin thing” to enjoy dancing, because Iliana and I (the two Latinas of our group that night) danced to and from our lane each time we bowled. The Amir stories continued last night, making us smile, as they do at so many of our formal and informal get-togethers. We missed him last night. We miss him at all of our milestones. But he is certainly with us.

This coming Thursday is Amir’s birthday, and our education school cohort will gather at Jon and Luke’s place for a pot luck dinner in his honor. Happy Birthday Amir. You are still with us.