Caltech Alumni Received by President of Iceland

More than 30 Caltech alumni, family and friends (plus two faculty members and a current student) were the guests of Icelandic president ?afur Ragnar Gr?son on August 16, 2006. President Gr?son met with the Caltech group for two hours in the traditional residence of Icelandic presidents, Bessasta?ir, in Reykjavik, Iceland. This special event was arranged as the kickoff to a ten-day educational tour of Iceland led by Caltech faculty members Scott Fraser and Marianne Bronner-Fraser. During the program the alumni group learned about the unique circumstances that make Iceland a hotbed for biopharmaceutical and genomics research, while also learning about Iceland's literature, history, geology and culture. Caltech's Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Steingrimur Hermannsson (?52 MS EE), the former Prime Minister of Iceland, arranged the reception at Bessasta?ir as a way to make the Caltech trip unique. Another Caltech-only feature of the trip was a visit to the headquarters of deCODE Genetics in Reykjavik, where alumnus C. Augustine "Augie" Kong (?80 BS MA), deCODE's Vice President for Statistics, welcomed the group for a behind the scenes tour of the cutting edge research facility. The building is known for its innovative architecture as well as the research that takes place there. The alumni were accompanied throughout the trip to Iceland by Caltech sophomore Angela Zah, whose participation was made possible by a fund established anonymously to allow undergraduates to accompany alumni travel programs. After the Iceland tour ended, seven couples visited southeast Greenland for an extended tour that took them for a close-up look at the Greenland icecap, which according to JPL scientist Eric Rignot is losing ice at double the previous rate. In recent years, Caltech alumni travelers have journeyed to destinations as diverse as Antarctica, the Canadian Rockies, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Turkey and Sicily. They will next head to Baja California, Northwest Mexico and the Sea of Cortez accompanied by Professor of Geophysics Joann Stock, from June 24 to July 1, 2007. Space is still available for alumni wishing to join in that program (Alumni Association members have priority on travel program waitlists).