Veterinarian Lance S. Fox knew a good bit about climbing mountains even before he started his trek to Mount Everest, thanks to his time in veterinary school. Dr. Fox will be speaking at this summer’s AVMA Annual Convention, where members of the American Veterinary Medical Association will gather for the latest in veterinary medicine, and Animal Health SmartBrief asked for a sneak peek of his talk and a window into his life-changing trek to the Himalayas and up Mount Everest, documented in his book, “No Place but UP!” Dr. Fox obtained his veterinary degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, and he has worked in private practice and now serves as technical director in North America with the Animal Nutrition & Health division of DSM. You can learn more at his website.

A DVM’s perspective on the highest point on Earth …

I knew Everest would be hard, second only to making it through veterinary school. (read more…)

For those who don’t know the story of Sal Khan and the Khan Academy, a look at the back story and growth rate of the online education portal can be startling. What began as a one-on-one tutoring sessions between Khan and his cousin in 2004 has grown into a platform that touches 200 countries, includes 150,000 educators and welcomes 10 million unique users every month.

Khan’s made a dynamic presentation at CME Group’s annual Global Financial Leadership Conference this week and shared his keen insights on the current and future landscape for education:

On the rising costs of higher education in the U.S.: Khan said an education system where costs grow 5% faster than inflation is not sustainable, adding that the return on investment current students are getting is not good. “The ecosystem is right for alternatives.” Khan says the de-coupling of knowledge and credentials might help solve structural unemployment. (read more…)

Gerry Podesta is the chair of the steering committee for the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry, which is part of the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division. I recently asked him about the state of the polyurethanes industry and what to expect at CPI’s annual conference, which is next week in Phoenix. This Q-and-A has been edited and condensed.

Last year, CPI Director Lee Salamone discussed economic uncertainty, pending legislative reforms to chemicals management, and the fate of expiring tax cuts in the U.S. What is the state of the polyurethanes industry in late 2013?

One trend that had been going strong pre-economic crisis was the movement of upholstered furniture to Asia, which saw the North American market for flexible polyurethane shrink. This trend declined and with the continued growth of solid foam mattresses, the flexible polyurethane market has grown. Many innovations in this space were introduced; most notable was gel foam which continues to generate excitement. (read more…)

Attendees of the Esri International User Conference in San Diego this week witnessed the unveiling of the Urban Observatory, a “live museum” that lets users simultaneously view real-time maps, images, videos, and authoritative data from major cities around the world. The Urban Observatory exhibit wows the senses and uses 30 screens to offer dynamic content from 10 cities that is organized around the themes of work, people, places, movement, and systems.

“The Urban Observatory tells the story of the global community through analysis of our largest, most unique cities,” says Esri president Jack Dangermond. “Interactive maps and standardized information let you investigate every aspect of life. It establishes a common language for cities to share and learn.”

Users of the free online application can view three cities simultaneously. When they zoom in to one digital city map, the other two city maps zoom in parallel, revealing similarities and differences in density and distribution. (read more…)

A recurring theme during’s appearance at the 2013 Esri User Conference on Monday in San Diego was that the music star tries to take the form of a sponge when it comes to sharing his worldly knowledge and experiences with children from the neighborhood where he grew up.

“I just try to sponge up my environment and then wring it out in Boyle Heights.”

For those who don’t know, Boyle Heights is a rather rough neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles. spent his school days being bused to the much more affluent neighborhood of Palisades, but when the time came to direct the fortune he attained as one of the founding members of The Black Eyed Peas, he targeted Boyle Heights.

Given his celebrity status, swims in powerful circles inhabited by world leaders, corporate titans and entrepreneurs working to change the world. He decided to harness the power of that population and established the foundation to address the education and housing issues challenging people like the residents of Boyle Heights. (read more…)