“For most mammals,” writes Science Magazine’s Elizabeth Pennisi, “size matters: Large ones, such as elephants and whales, live far longer than small ones like rodents. But among dogs, that rule is reversed. Tiny Chihuahuas, for example, can live up to 15 years—8 years longer than their much larger cousins, Great Danes. Now, a team of undergraduates may be closer to figuring out why. The most likely culprit? More harmful oxygen free radicals in fast-growing, fuel-burning puppies.”
When confronted with government warnings and media headlines about a new global health threat, it’s best to speak directly to those in the know. Before heading home for Thanksgiving break, students and faculty had the chance to discuss the Zika virus outbreak with biology professors Geoff Holm and Bineyam Taye.
During the November 14 conference, sponsored by the Shaw Wellness Center and Global Health Initiative, Holm drew on his experience as a virologist to describe Zika’s structure and behavior.
“Zika is a plus-strand RNA virus, which means it has one strand of RNA that functions as its genome.” Holm said.
In this way, the pathogen — which is often spread by animals and insects — resembles Yellow Fever virus, Dengue Fever, and West Nile. In behavior, Zika is similar to a Xerox, relying on its unwitting host to help it replicate and export itself to other cells.
“Understanding these replication mechanisms is the purview of basic virology,” said Holm. “We try to identify targets for therapeutic intervention so that we can potentially stop the virus from replicating within the host cell.”
Zika has garnered widespread attention in recent years due to a rare syndrome response called Microcephaly, which is a birth defect that Holm defined as decreased head volume and brain size with consequent central nervous system disabilities.
Symptoms of the virus are mild and may include conjunctivitis, joint pain, fever, and rash. These usually clear up within a few days.
Because 90 percent of Zika cases are asymptomatic, men and women may transmit the virus sexually without knowing they’re infected, posing a risk to pregnant women and women who may become pregnant.
Epidemiologist Taye noted that there have been more than 4,000 cases of Zika recorded nationwide as of November 2016, and more than 600 cases in New York City alone.
“To date, the only cases in New York State are in people who acquired the virus while traveling to Zika-affected areas, or through sexual transmission from someone who had traveled to those areas,” Taye said. “However, the possibility of local transmission through mosquitos remains the biggest public health concern.”
Veins of neon green trace a path across a stark black background in a photo taken by Claire Kittock ’17 and Noor Anvery ’17, displaying a web of microscopic neurons within the brain of a genetically altered fruit fly.
Kittock and Anvery captured the photo through a microscope while researching the cellular architecture of different animals with Mala Misra, assistant professor of biology. The photo later earned first place in the Cooley Science Library’s first ever photo contest.
Kristi Mangine, Colgate’s science library coordinator, thought of the idea for the contest because she wanted to decorate the library’s bare walls and was inspired by several student workers whom she knew were passionate about photography.
“The student photographers have great perspectives on what’s going on around campus,” Mangine noted. “So I thought a photo contest would be great to highlight how [the students] see science at Colgate.”
In early February, Mangine and Peter Tagtmeyer, associate science librarian, e-mailed students, faculty, and members of the Colgate community asking for photos that represented their vision of “science at Colgate.”
After receiving 30 photo submissions, Mangine turned again to the community, this time for a vote to determine the six winners whose photos would be placed on permanent display in the library.
The winning photographs varied widely in subjects, techniques, and fields of study.
Geology professor William Peck’s jewel-toned photomicrograph of a moon rock took second place in the contest. The rock was collected by the Apollo 12 mission to Oceanus Procellarum in 1969. Peck receives a set of lunar samples from NASA every spring for use in his Geology 202 class, and this year’s sample, Lunar Basalt 12005, contained minerals that settled out of the moon’s lava lake approximately 3 billion years ago.
In third place was a portrait of an inquisitive dairy cow snapped by Leda Rosenthal ’18. Rosenthal’s photo came from her time spent at the Durfee dairy farm in Chittenango, N.Y., where she worked as an agricultural economic fellow for Colgate’s Upstate Institute last summer.
Mangine noted that the contest had the added benefit of exposing little-known research projects on campus. “That’s the thing about Colgate,” she said. “There’s such amazing research going on behind closed doors. This contest lets you see it.”
Students looking for a dynamic off-campus experience that also allows them to engage in scientific research will have more options in 2017, thanks to a new agreement between Colgate University and the National University of Singapore (NUS).
After more than a year of exploration and development, representatives of Colgate and the NUS signed a memorandum of understanding June 7, creating a new exchange program to benefit students from both institutions, and to act as a catalyst for future faculty collaboration.
The agreement affords new research options for students in the departments of mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry, and physics & astronomy. Jason Meyers, associate professor of biology, will lead the first group of Colgate students to Singapore in the fall of 2017, but unlike other full-semester study groups, Meyers will accompany students for just a few weeks before returning to campus in Hamilton, N.Y., to teach.
In the spring, NUS students, already acquainted with students from Colgate, will then come to Hamilton, N.Y., to take courses, conduct research, and experience the liberal arts.
“We really wanted to build on the successful National Institutes of Health program in Washington, D.C., in which students take two courses and independent research for credit,” said Nicole Simpson, professor of economics and associate dean of the faculty for international initiatives. “Undergraduate research isn’t common at large institutions internationally, so there was a short list of places that are rigorous and strong in the sciences, but that also applaud undergraduate research.”
Simpson said that, because NUS has existing relationships with Yale and Cornell universities, their faculty and administrators are already familiar with the liberal arts, and their curriculum has rigorous standards akin to Colgate’s.
The new partnership was developed, in part, thanks to Ed ’62, P’10 and Robin Lampert P’10, whose generosity supported the founding of the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs at Colgate. The Lamperts have made a $2.5 million commitment to internationalization, and they also offered to match additional gifts of $500,000 up to $2.5 million for international initiatives.
NUS Professor Roger Tan, vice dean and faculty of science, education and special duties, said he hopes this new endeavor will create more opportunities for cooperation in the future between the two institutions of learning.
“[NUS] students will certainly benefit from your broad-based liberal arts education,” Tan said during a visit to Colgate earlier this month. “I hope we give them an unforgettable experience.”
Professor Damhnait McHugh, Colgate natural sciences and mathematics division director, said that when she visited NUS with Meyers, Simpson and four other faculty in the natural sciences on their fact-finding mission this past January, it became abundantly clear that the university had extensive support systems and a strong commitment to welcoming international students.
“We want our students to really make the most of their social and cultural experience as well, and we hope for international faculty collaborations to develop in the coming years,” McHugh said. “We are very excited about the possibilities.”
An exemplary student and a fierce advocate for LGBTQ awareness and promoting positive sexuality, Providence A. Ryan ’16, a biology and philosophy double major from Schenectady, N.Y., is the 2016 recipient of Colgate’s highest student honor, the 1819 Award.
The 1819 Award is given annually to one student representing character, sportsmanship, scholarship, and service above and beyond their peers.
Colgate’s Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute continues its mission of supporting innovative research with four new grants for 2016. The special funding is designed to help bring together Colgate faculty with outside researchers from around the world in an effort to open new areas of study, and to find creative ways to tackle existing problems.
Colgate Associate Professor of Biology Catherine Cardelús was featured recently in a Nature.com article called “Fieldwork: Extreme research.”
Nature.com talks about the literal and metaphorical heights to which Cardelús must climb in order to pursue her investigations. According to the article, “[it] requires climbing up ropes while battling jungle heat and fending off biting insects. On each climb, she lugs a heavy pack filled with sample-collecting tags and bags, tape measures, notebooks, walkie-talkies, water, lunch, and other supplies for days of work that can keep her in the trees for up to seven hours at a time.”
Due to the unpredictable nature of the work that Cardelús does in the canopy, “you constantly have to be open to the possibility that you can’t do what you need to do,” she told Nature.com.
Colgate University has been named as a Beckman Scholars Program institutional award recipient for 2016.
The grant, totaling $104,000, will provide multi-year research funding for students majoring in biology or chemistry. Colgate joins a distinguished list of universities that received the award from the Irvine, Calif.–based Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 2016 — it includes Emory, Vanderbilt, and the University of Chicago among others.
“We are delighted to have been selected,” said Damhnait McHugh, Raab Family Chair and Professor of biology; director of the division of natural sciences and mathematics. “It offers our top students unparalleled opportunities to engage in extended scholarship.”
(Editor’s note: Fourteen students accompanied Associate Professor of Biology Krista Ingram on an extended study trip to the Florida Keys during winter break to study marine mammal cognition, behavior, and conservation at the Dolphin Research Center. They chronicled their full experience on the off-campus learning blog — here’s a sample, written by Elly Hilton ’17, Madeleine Tsao ’17, and Lacey Williams ’16 on day two of their trip.)
We began the day as usual with a walk around the docks to each lagoon, waving and saying hello to each dolphin. We were still amazed to see the eagerness with which each dolphin approached us, seeming to recognize us from the day before. From the far side of every lagoon the dolphins would swim over to us as soon as they spied us walking down the docks, swimming the length of the dock and eyeing us with a curious sense of recognition and interest. After the rounds we headed over to the front lagoon to prepare for our second dolphin encounter.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $500,000 in funding to an interdisciplinary team of Colgate faculty, led by Associate Professor of Biology Catherine Cardelús, to continue investigating the status and conservation of sacred forests in Ethiopia’s northern highlands.
Christian Orthodox churches emerged in Ethiopia some 800 years ago. Today, thousands of these sites protect some of the region’s last remaining native forests, which stand out in a landscape otherwise dominated by agriculture and rangeland. Sacred forests have survived in spite of changes in societies and the ways in which humans use their land.
“Priests, monks, school children, and others are constantly walking and working in these forests, using them for everything from worshipping to schooling,” Cardelús said. “I hope to learn from those who already use ecosystems sustainably and leverage their methods to help others.”
To that end, Cardelús has tapped colleagues at Colgate and beyond to conduct an interdisciplinary study that will determine the current ecological health of the forests as well as changes in their structure and the perceptions of nearby populations over time.
She is joined on the project by Peter Scull, associate professor of geography; Peter Klepeis, professor of geography and geography department chair; and Carrie Woods, former visiting professor at Colgate, now visiting professor of biology at the University of Puget Sound. The team has also hired two scholars — Ethiopia historian Izabela Orlowska and Alemayehu Wassie, a forester and Christian Orthodox Tewahido Church priest — to operate full-time in country.
Editor’s note: In this series, Colgate students share stories about their summer experiences in offices, labs, and open spaces across the world.
This summer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Chenango United Way (CUW) through a fellowship with Colgate’s Upstate Institute Summer Field School. The CUW funds programs that address issues regarding health, income, and education. I’ve learned the ins-and-outs of the CUW, from marketing and finance to how the organization seeks to make a local impact.
Because of its focus on health, the CUW is a leading community organization in the Greater Chenango Cares: Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. This collaborative health care project among Chenango County organizations was a project led by the Department of Defense as preparation for wartime and disaster missions. For each IRT mission, the military serves high-need areas across the country, while partnering with leading community organizations.
This summer, the IRT mission chosen for Chenango County was a clinic at Norwich High School from July 13–22. The clinic included free medical, dental, optical, and veterinary services. Altogether, we served approximately 2,500 residents with the help of more than 500 volunteers.
As the CUW intern for this project, I sat on the IRT planning committee, which was responsible for the logistics and operations sections of the mission, as well as budgeting and volunteer recruitment.
As an aspiring doctor, this experience has shown me the importance of compassion, and allowed me to embrace the privilege of serving.
Editor’s note: In this series, Colgate students share stories about their summer experiences in offices, labs, and open spaces across the world.
Even though it’s summertime, Colgate faculty continue to make news. Here is a brief roundup.
Buffalo Lockjaw, the award-winning first novel by Greg Ames, assistant professor of English, was featured in a recent ad for Dockers men’s clothing (pictured above.)
Using the hashtag #BookAndALook, the ad copy read “Here’s a soon-to-be-classic look to pair with a soon-to-be-classic novel,” reminding people that they know a new classic the moment they see it. As people learn each year with the Living Writers series at Colgate, a powerful novel can elicit deep feelings and emotions in a reader through a bond of intimacy with the writer. The Dockers ad seeks to evoke the sensibility and attitude of contemporary literature and borrow a bit of it.
Carolyn Hsu, associate professor of sociology, wrote an editorial titled “Draft law may test resilience of Chinese civil society” for East Asia Forum. Her current research examines the rise of NGOs in the People’s Republic of China. NGOs are a new phenomenon in China — they barely existed at all 20 years ago, but now there are millions.
Nina Moore, associate political science professor, was interviewed by Sputnik on Tuesday about the Iran Nuclear Deal. Moore argued that this deal “already is an election issue and will continue to be one in the months ahead, perhaps necessarily so.” Read the full interview.
And finally, a few weeks ago, the Alumni Club of Boston organized a live viewing of the radio show You’re the Expert. Along with all the alumni in the audience, professor Krista Ingram was the guest on the show. You can hear it below:
Colgate professor Eddie Watkins published a new paper in the journal Brittonia with Rehman Momin ’15, Wes Testo ’12 and Jarmilla Pitterman, a professor at UC Santa Cruz. Brittonia is a specialized botanical journal managed by the New York Botanical Garden. The article outlines the discovery of a rare new hybrid fern in Costa Rica. Read more
UPDATE: the New York Times ran an article exploring Yik Yak on the College campus. It mentions the Colgate faculty Yak back.
To quote a recent post on Yik Yak, the notoriously negative mobile application, “Professors have been successfully re-introduced into the Yak environment [and] the ecological consequences should be fascinating.”
Indeed they are.
The campaign began when Geoff Holm, associate professor of biology, noticed a few positive posts from faculty members on the app, but those voices were failing to gain traction.
“I thought that if there was a more coordinated effort, especially at the end of the semester, it could bring a more positive vibe to the campus,” Holm said. He credited his biology colleague Prof. Eddie Watkins with suggesting that posters identify themselves.
“Yes,” said Watkins. “I think we should all be putting our names on there. The students are loving it and my Yakarma is 1174!”
So far, more than 50 professors have posted messages, ranging from the silly to the sublime. There is much sleep-related advice and encouragement, and also a few newbies to the platform. Some of the posts have garnered more than 100 “up votes.”
Prof. Metzler: “While it’s impossible to do everything you need to do and get sleep, take it from someone with a seven-week old; sleep is important for brain function…wishing I got more of it!”
Outdoor Ed had other advice: “I hear sledding and snowball fights are great stress relievers…Come to OE and borrow a sled.”
Prof. Woods: “Thanks to the students at Colgate for making my job fun. I’m sorry I can’t always return the favor, but you know I love ya.”
Prof Scull: “Shout out to my GEOG245 class for a fabulous (yet hard) discussion of the societal consequence of GIS (e.g., the yak)”
Marlowe: “Saw a student helping an elderly man dig out his car the other day. You guys are awesome”
Prof. Page: Sending good vibes Colgate and good luck next week – all out in the open. Life’s so much better out in the open
With so much goodness in the air, even anonymous posts can be nice: “To all of the professors, thank you. What a wonderful, happy thing to wake up to in the morning. You all made my and many other students’ days.”
When Jack Holland ‘13, Adriana Sperlea ‘14, and Sebastian Sangervasi ’14 first began studying zebrafish with Assistant Professor of Biology and Mathematics Ahmet Ay, they probably never thought they’d end up published in one of the country’s most well-known biology journals.
But that’s exactly what happened.
Two recent talks by Colgate professors give some context to the ebola outbreak response from two angles, one by a virologist examining the nature of epidemics, and the other from a perspective of government response, specifically in Liberia.
Professors researching a wide array of subjects — from privacy software to fieldwork in the Galapagos — recently received National Science Foundation grant awards totaling $1,328,055. Read more
Colgate students are sharing their experiences conducting research with faculty members on campus and in the field. This post is by Peter Juviler ’15, Mae Staples ’15, and Kelly French ’15, who are being advised by Frank Frey, associate professor of biology and environmental studies.
For centuries, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people have used plants to treat a variety of physical ailments. We are studying those plants that are native to New York State — specifically their ability to kill certain human-infecting bacteria. Read more
Two Colgate students and their professor have been published in The Journal of Molecular Carcinogenesis for new research into the regulatory processes that maintains genomic stability, which is impaired in cancer cells. This could one day lead to new treatments.
Changchang Liu ’15, Stephen La Rosa ‘13 and Assistant Professor of Biology Engda Hagos received a grant from the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate. Liu is the first author on the published paper, which Hagos says is huge for a student.
“In this field, it takes at least two or three, sometimes four, years to publish one paper. It’s not easy,” Hagos said.
For her published research, Liu was also one of 10 students nationwide to be awarded a Meritorious Honor at the ninth annual Undergraduate Students Caucus and Poster Competition of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Liu cited making new findings as the most exciting part of her research. “Doing the research and making this discovery is kind of like discovering a secret, like a treasure, that only you know, literally, because you just discovered it.”
In addition to Liu’s earlier research, she is now on campus for her third summer in a row working with Hagos. Under the mentorship of Hagos, Liu and two other students, Margaret Wolsey ’17 and Matt Szuchnicki ’15, are studying autophagy, a process by which a cell eats itself so that it can recycle its nutrients. This process has been implicated in many human diseases including cancer.
“He’s very patient and he really cares how you feel about your project,” Liu said about Hagos. “He makes sure you understand what you’re doing and the concepts behind what you are studying, which really helps me grow as a researcher. The close interaction is what made many of the ideas and the entire project possible.”
Liu will go straight from her research in the lab at Colgate to the world-renowned campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. As part of the Colgate NIH Study Group, Liu will take classes and study cancer cell multi-drug resistance in an NIH laboratory.
Hagos remarked, “She’s doing something important. She is one step ahead.”
A second year of funding provided by the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate will allow faculty researchers to further their exploration of the cultural and religious stewardship of sacred forest ecosystems in Ethiopia.
Damhnait McHugh, director of the institute, announced the award to Colgate professors Catherine Cardelús (biology), Eliza Kent (religion), Peter Klepeis (geography), Peter Scull (geography), and Carrie Woods (biology). They are collaborating with Izabela Orlowska and Alemayehu Wassie Eshete, both of Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia.
The $90,000 research award will allow the researchers to continue their assessment of Ethiopian forests maintained as sacred sites around Christian Orthodox Tewahido churches.
Over spring break, Jessica Huang ’14 and Michael Manansala ’14 put the capstone on a research project that they’ve been working on for much of their Colgate careers. Traveling to Kansai, Japan, the seniors presented their research titled “Does observing or producing different types of hand gestures help second-language auditory learning of Japanese short and long vowels?” Read more
Members of the Class of 2014 seeking careers in the health sciences are now receiving offers of acceptance to medical schools around the country.
Brian Chernak ’14, of Rochester, N.Y., Nolan Cirillo-Penn ’14, of Bridgewater, N.J., Elizabeth Flory ’14, of Hanover, N.H., and Tue Nguyen ’14, of Vietnam, are just four of the latest students to be accepted into medical school, continuing Colgate’s proven track record of successfully preparing students who want to pursue careers in medicine.
Two interdisciplinary science research projects featuring collaborations among faculty from Colgate and from around the world have been awarded funding by the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate.
The projects support the core mission of the institute, which aims to foster the creation of new knowledge that is obtainable only through the development of sustained interdisciplinary research.