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New research may change how world measures greenhouse gas emission

November 7, 2016
New research finds greenhouse gas emission measurement to be off by 12 to 23 percent

New research finds greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater plants may be underestimated by 13 to 23 percent. (Photo by Christine und Hagen Graf, Creative Commons)

It turns out that everyone may have been measuring carbon emissions incorrectly all along. But not in a good way.

New research led by Colgate Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Physics Linda Tseng, published this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology and reported in Scientific American, identified an overlooked source of greenhouse gas emission — from wastewater treatment — that may increase current greenhouse gas emission estimates from that sector by 13 to 23 percent.

The international body that recommends guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions accounting does not currently include wastewater treatment plant carbon dioxide emissions because they are considered to be from natural biological sources that are carbon neutral. Tseng, along with colleagues from the University of California–Irvine and the University of Melbourne, found that a fraction of wastewater emissions actually has fossil origin (produced from petroleum) due to the household use of man-made synthetic detergents and soaps.

“We hope this study would promote efforts to quantify greenhouse gas emissions more accurately, matching the increasing global interests to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tseng. “The results of this research should be seen as an opportunity to reduce and sequester emissions from wastewater treatment, and could help wastewater treatment facilities meet their emission goals.”

Visit Scientific American for more information, or go to the journal Environmental Science & Technology to download the original journal article.


Dani Solomon ’13 explores the connection between theater and science

October 26, 2016
Dani Solomon '13. Photo by

Dani Solomon ’13 in One Way Red. Photo by Nick Gilbert ’18

Real science fused with science fiction when Dani Solomon ’13 performed One Way Red, a solo show that followed a young woman’s one-way journey to Mars. The 90-minute performance on October 6 unfolded as Sam, played by Solomon, stumbled upon an online video about the Mars One project — an actual nonprofit that intends to colonize Mars by 2026.

The performance jumped back and forth between Sam’s bedroom, where she applied for the Mars One project, and the surface of the red planet. There were moments of both humor and profound loneliness as Sam left Earth to experience interplanetary adventures on Mars.

“We didn’t start with a script,” Solomon said. She and her collaborator, Mason Rosenthal, use an unconventional approach to theater in their work with Philadelphia-based Medium Theatre Company. “We start with a question or curiosity. We often start from a known, familiar place, and through the process of following a curiosity, we follow the known into the unknown.”

Space travel has long captivated American’s imaginations; One Way Red questions why we look spaceward and what we hope to find there. The possibility of interplanetary travel serves as the backdrop for this existential fever-dream populated by alien mirrors, talking lamps, and a sassy computer-assistant named Morgan.

“I think a lot of people in our generation want to do something exceptional to be remembered,” Solomon said. “This character has a lot of that drive, that ambition to do something great and historical.”

Solomon, who was a physics and theater major at Colgate, is interested in the process of discovery found in both the sciences and the theater. The play was performed in the Ho Atrium to mingle the arts and sciences and to allow the audience to enter an otherworldly space between reality and fiction.

In addition to performing the play, Solomon gave a talk about alternative career paths for physics majors. She and Rosenthal also hosted a workshop that encouraged students to explore unconventional approaches to theater.

Solomon hopes that there will be more intermingling of the arts and the sciences in the future, especially at Colgate. “Getting people from different disciplines to ask hard questions together is the next step toward interdisciplinary dialogue,” she said.


New agreement launches Singapore exchange program

June 24, 2016
A new agreement between Colgate University and the Naitonal University of Singapore will create new off-campus study options in 2017.

Representatives from Colgate University and the National University of Singapore sign a memorandum of understanding creating a new student exchange program in 2017. (photo by Alice Verdin-Speer)

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.”

Related:
Off-campus study
Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs
Colgate Study Groups


A planetary tour inspired by Star Wars

December 1, 2015

PlanetsofStarWarswebFrom gas-giant Bespin to forest-moon Endor, fictional planets of the Star Wars galaxy have a number of similarities with actual planets in our own universe, and for the next three Friday nights at the Colgate University Ho Tung Visualization Laboratory, the public is invited to join a galactic exploration of how planets in a galaxy far, far, away compare to our own.

The live tour through the universe, titled The Planets of Star Wars: The Search for Another Earth, will be led by Joe Eakin, senior visualization lab designer and technician, who has selected about 12 Star Wars universe planets to compare with known exoplanets orbiting stars outside our own solar system.

“It’s pretty easy to compare Endor and Naboo to other Earth-like planets,” said Eakin. “During the show, the dome of the theater will look like we’re inside an Imperial shuttle, flying to the different planets. It’s a great way to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

The free shows in the 53-seat full-dome theater are scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Friday, December 4, 11, and 18. Immediately following the show, a holiday-themed musical, titled Let it Snow, will also be played.


A perspective on the importance of Community Reads

October 26, 2015
Photo by Andrew Daddio

Professor Jeff Bary – photo by Andrew Daddio

(Editor’s note: the following commentary is from Professor Jeff Bary on Colgate Community Reads. Kiese Laymon, whose book was an integral part of the program, will be on campus on October 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.)

In September 2014, Colgate students occupied the university’s administration building for 100 hours. They demanded a Colgate for All and offered a list of 21 points that they wanted the university to address in an attempt to improve the situation for students who felt marginalized because of race, gender identity, or socio-economic status.

In the spring of 2015, as the administration continued to address those 21 points, faculty and staff debated about whether or not we should scrap Colgate’s summer book program. Some feared that students didn’t read the book and that we only talked about it in some pseudo-meaningful way for 60 minutes during orientation. We were either missing a golden opportunity or doing something we shouldn’t be doing.

I am a believer in the golden opportunity. Discontinuing the program was especially disconcerting to me in the light of the Colgate for All movement. I remembered going down to the administration building and hearing first-year students speak — students who arrived on campus having just read Freedom Summer, which details the sacrifices that students were willing to make 50 years ago in the name of civil rights.

It was almost direct evidence of the impact that summer books can have on our students and on the Colgate culture. It argued for new ways to strengthen the program, increase student participation, extend the intellectual life of the book, and potentially reach a larger portion of our community.

As interim director of the First Year Seminar Program, I convened an ad hoc committee of like-minded — and maybe not so like-minded — faculty and staff who would be interested in considering what we could do to make the program more meaningful.

Based upon the committee’s work and open forums with faculty, staff, and students, we decided to invite all students to read the book. Instead of discussing it for an hour during orientation, we would develop an interdisciplinary series of events, providing formal opportunities to build a shared experience around the text.

We also significantly redesigned the process for selecting a book, including all faculty, staff, and students in the decision. The community voted on the final selection, which turned out to be Kiese Laymon’s book of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in AmericaHow to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America book cover

This book is not easy. It’s not easy for the majority of our students, who are white, to read a book that was not written for them. They are normally the target audience. Would they take it as a challenge or dismiss it?

During a series of Colgate Conversations for first-year students during orientation, we covered many topics — presentations on Colgate history, issues of inclusion, and our summer reading. I led one of those conversations, and a student said, “You know, I chose to come to Colgate because I was going to fit in and everybody there was going to be a lot like me.” But he said it with a dawning realization that he should try to get out of his own little world and meet people that he’d never met before from places that he’d never visited. He needed to understand how life may be for others and how their experiences could enrich his own.

What will that realization mean to him and to his classmates 10 or 20 years from now? I came away from that conversation thinking, boy, these students were serious, and they did really hard work.

They will continue that work through a schedule of 17 book-related events, from poetry readings to dance performances to film screenings to scientific lectures — all dealing with issues of intergroup dialogue, the black experience in America, and how people who are not from a marginalized group contribute to this culture in which we find ourselves. We’re all part of this. We’re all in this together.

Jeff Bary, associate professor of physics and astronomy.

Related links
Colgate community reads
Physics and Astronomy department page
Colgate professor Jeff Bary examines chemical spill affecting thousands in West Virginia
Professor Jeff Bary among group of international astronomers published in Nature magazine
Get to know Jeff Bary

 

 

 

 

 


Faculty answer questions on science behind Iran nuclear deal

September 2, 2015
President Barack Obama works on his Iran nuclear deal speech in the Oval Office, Aug. 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama works on his Iran nuclear deal speech in the Oval Office, Aug. 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Lawmakers continue to deliberate the finer points of the Iran nuclear deal, and media outlets are publishing stories on a daily basis, using words like “isotope,” “centrifuge,” and “uranium enrichment.”

Colgate turned to a team of faculty to explain some of those words — and a bit of the science that is so critical to a serious debate of the issues surrounding the agreement.

Read more


Colgate Faculty in the News

July 31, 2015
A student works with laser experiments in Prof. Kiko Galvez's physics lab in Colgate's Robert H.N. Ho Science Center. (photo 2008)

A student works with laser experiments in Prof. Kiko Galvez’s physics lab in Colgate’s Robert H.N. Ho Science Center.

Even as summer temperatures neared the 90’s in Hamilton this week, Colgate’s faculty continued to achieve. Here are this week’s highlights.

The New York Times has called Graham Hodges, George Dorland Langdon Jr. professor of history and Africana and Latin American studies, “a taxi historian.” He recently weighed in on the debate making headlines in the NYC area: is taking a taxi or a car hailed with the smart-phone application Uber better, in terms of the exploitation of workers?

The argument has led to protests, lobbying, and harsh criticism from both sides. In an argument where there’s no clear choice, Hodges shared some insight into the difficult position drivers are in today, bearing the entire operating costs.

Read more about taxi drivers in Hodges’ book and see the full debate on Mashable.

Enrique (Kiko) Galvez, Charles A. Dana professor of physics and astronomy, will be honored as one of the chairs of the Third International Conference on Optical Angular Momentum in New York City August 4-7.

Galvez is recognized as a leading name within the field of optical angular momentum, which has received an increase in attention in recent years. His specialties include physical optics, quantum optics, and experimental atomic physics. While at the conference he will be presenting a paper he co-authored with Kory Beach ’15 and Jonathan Zeosky ’16. Learn more about the project.

Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, with the advent of life insurance, there has been a surge in personal data collection. Dan Bouk, assistant professor of history, combined his interests in modern U.S. history and the history of capitalism to write about the need to quantify our lives in How our days became numbered: Risk and the rise of the statistical individual.

Read the Financial Times’ review: (subscription required.)

 


Warren Dennis ’16: Preparing for NASA’s future by understanding its past

July 13, 2015
Warren Dennis

Warren Dennis ’16 in front of the Space Shuttle Discovery

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’m interning for the History Program Office of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Washington, D.C. By providing easy access to information about its past successes and failures, the history office helps NASA to grow and better prepare for future situations. Read more


Professor Kiko Galvez fingerprints monstars

March 25, 2015
Kiko Galvez, Charles A. Dana Professor of physics and astronomy

Kiko Galvez, Charles A. Dana Professor of physics and astronomy (photo by Dylan Crouse ’15)

Some people look at the sunlight wandering across the bottom of a swimming pool and see only glare. Kiko Galvez, Charles A. Dana Professor of physics and astronomy, sees the fascinating effect of electromagnetic beams bouncing and sliding through watery matter.

The innate curiosity that leads Galvez to look beyond the obvious has served him well. Last year, for the first time, he and his fellow researchers intentionally created a light pattern known as a “monstar” by polarizing a beam of light and feeding it through a series of carefully placed lenses.

Read more


New system recovers helium for laboratory use

March 19, 2015
Matt LeGro ’15 and Professor Ken Segall are using helium in their research studying the behavior of Josephson junctions (small electrical circuits) to see if they can model neuron behaviors in the brain. Photo by Andrew Daddio

Matt LeGro ’15 and Professor Ken Segall are using helium in their research studying the behavior of Josephson junctions (small electrical circuits) to see if they can model neuron behaviors in the brain. Photo by Andrew Daddio

Party balloons can no longer be taken for granted: there’s a worldwide shortage of helium. Prices quadrupled between 2000 and 2012, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. But a new helium-recovery system will put Colgate’s science laboratories at the forefront of efforts to conserve the dwindling supply of this increasingly expensive gas. Read more


Professor Aveni co-hosts Stones and Stars symposium

December 17, 2014
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Professor Anthony Aveni recently co-hosted a symposium on Native American ceremonial stone landscapes.

Using the night sky to explain the culture of different societies is a practice familiar to Professor Anthony Aveni. In early December, the distinguished astronomy and anthropology professor co-hosted a symposium intended to spark a dialogue about Native American sacred sites and exploring their connections to cosmic events. Read more


Professor Jeff Bary among group of international astronomers published in Nature magazine

November 5, 2014
This is an artist’s impression of the triple star system GG Tau A

An artist’s impression of GG Tau A.    (Photo courtesy of L. Calcada from EDO)

An international collaboration of astronomers that includes Jeff Bary, Colgate associate professor of physics and astronomy, has published an article about the discovery of a “planet-forming lifeline” in a nearby triple-star system in the journal Nature.

Using the recently commissioned Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) located in the Atacama desert in Chile, the group, led by Anne Dutrey of the Observatoire de Bordeaux in France, found direct evidence of material passing from a large outer disk of material inward toward a smaller, inner disk surrounding the singleton star in the system. Read more


Students gain access to world-class telescope in New Mexico

October 1, 2014
Colgate students will be able to use the Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5 meter telescope.

The Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5 meter telescope.

Colgate students will have the opportunity to get closer to the stars thanks to a three-year arrangement that provides them with valuable access to a world-class telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. Read more


Light years ahead: Katie Karnes ’17 studying quasars as part of summer research

July 28, 2014
(L to R): Joshua Reding '15, Zachary Weaver '17, Luna Zagorac '16, Anneliese Rilinger (Williams) '17, and Katie Karnes '17.

Students conducting summer research in Colgate’s Foggy Bottom Observatory (L to R): Joshua Reding ’15, Zachary Weaver ’17, Luna Zagorac ’16, Anneliese Rilinger (Williams ’17), and Katie Karnes ’17. Photo by Matt Johnson ’15

Colgate students are sharing their experiences conducting research with faculty members on campus and in the field. This post is by Katie Karnes ’17, an astrogeophysics major from Cincinnati, Ohio.

It’s 3:45 a.m. on a Thursday and I’m staring at the four monitors in front of me, trying to focus on saving the files correctly. Although sunrise is still hours away, the sky is beginning to lighten and this night of collecting data is coming to an end. This summer I am spending 10 weeks on campus working with Professor Tom Balonek in the physics and astronomy department. Read more


Brett Christensen ’16 dives into studying barnacles as part of summer research

July 21, 2014
This summer, Brett Christensen '16 has been raising barnacles at various life stages for a biomineralization experiment.

This summer, Brett Christensen ’16 has been raising barnacles at various life stages for a biomineralization experiment.

Colgate students are sharing their experiences conducting research with faculty members on campus and in the field. This post is by Brett Christensen ’16, a biophysics and philosophy double major from Marilla, N.Y.

This summer, I’m studying barnacles — impressive little organisms that live in the ocean. As a biophysics and philosophy double major, I found an opportunity in the research lab of Professor Rebecca Metzler in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Read more


Colgate’s Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute funds two more research projects

March 24, 2014
Colgate professor Jonathan Levine and his collaborators are designing a novel mass spectrometer to try to better determine the ages of rocks on Mars.

Colgate professor Jonathan Levine and his collaborators are designing a novel mass spectrometer to try to better determine the ages of rocks on Mars.

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.

Read more


Get to know: Jeff Bary, assistant professor of physics and astronomy

December 18, 2013
Photo by Andrew Daddio

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Jeff Bary, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, talks about how his passion for astronomy developed, his research interests, favorite course to teach, and more in this Q&A.

An astronomer is born. When I was nine, a friend gave me a book about astronomy titled What’s Up There? by Dinah Moche, which I read countless times. My dad, a middle-school science teacher, encouraged me to pursue the subject. He organized a series of events celebrating Halley’s Comet’s last visit in 1986. I was hooked. Read more


Teaching moment turns into photo opportunity as aurora borealis makes campus appearance

October 9, 2013
Professor Tom Balonek photographed the aurora borealis Tuesday night on campus.

Professor Tom Balonek photographed the aurora borealis Tuesday night on campus.

Professor Tom Balonek and students in his Solar System Astronomy and his Astronomical Techniques courses were lucky enough Tuesday night to observe the aurora borealis from campus.

Read more


Professor Jeff Bary hopes multidisciplinary series sheds light on mountaintop removal mining

September 18, 2013
Mountaintop removal practices were used on this mountain in West Virginia. The mountain had been covered with trees like those in the background.

Mountaintop removal practices were used on this mountain in West Virginia. The mountain had been covered with trees like those hills in the background.

Appalachia is a region deeply connected to the history of the United States, yet rarely makes the headlines.

Jeff Bary, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, aims to change that by introducing a multidisciplinary series to Colgate honoring Appalachian culture and, more importantly, bringing awareness to what he considers a social and environmental crisis known as mountaintop removal.

Read more


U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna meets with students, faculty, and staff during visit to Colgate

September 17, 2013
U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna (right) talks with Professors Krista Ingram (center) and Randy Fuller (left) Monday.

U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna (right) talks with Professors Krista Ingram (center) and Randy Fuller (left) Monday. (Photo by Andy Daddio)

U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, connected with the Colgate University community Monday, meeting with faculty, administrators, and students, discussing issues ranging from natural-gas fracking to political gridlock and the federal budget sequester.

After hearing Michael Hayes, professor of political science, describe Colgate’s Washington D.C. Study Group, Hanna immediately handed Hayes a business card and said he wants to meet with students when they travel to the nation’s capital for the spring 2014 semester.

Read more


International Digistar conference comes to Colgate

July 29, 2013
Students from across academic disciplines are able to take advantage of the Ho Tung Visualization Lab facility.

Students from across academic disciplines are able to take advantage of the Ho Tung Visualization Lab facility.

Digistar Users Group members from around the world are now gathered at Colgate’s Ho Tung Visualization Lab for their 26th annual conference.

Hamilton, N.Y., joins sites in Germany, Japan, Canada, India, and the Netherlands as a conference host for users of the Digistar projection system, the technological heart of Colgate’s unique visualization lab.

Read more


Summer research between students and professors at Colgate

July 24, 2013
Posters

Stephanie Maripen ’15 explains her research into the genetic factors affecting skull shape and body size in poodles. (Photo by Andy Daddio)

Summer certainly means pool parties, lazy afternoons, and hot dogs on the grill. At Colgate, summer also means time for some serious research.

A sampling of about 150 students conducting summer research on campus presented their findings at the Robert H.N. Ho Science Center last week. The research on display spanned a wide range of disciplines, from biology and neuroscience to geology and sociology, to name a few.

Read more


Professor Anthony Aveni receives national recognition for interdisciplinary work

May 6, 2013

Tony Aveni, Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology and Native American Studies, teaches a class in the Ho Science Center.

Professor Anthony Aveni has a lot to celebrate.

As students mark their last week of the spring semester, the Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology and Native American Studies marks the conclusion of his 100th semester teaching at Colgate.

Read more


Colgate physics majors stand out at annual conference

April 22, 2013

“Did you hear the one about the new restaurant NASA is building on the moon? It has great food but no …”

This was the kind of question asked of undergraduates during Physpardy, the “geekiest of competitions” (according to Professor Enrique Galvez) that was held at the annual Rochester Symposium for Physics Students. Colgate placed second in the Jeopardy knockoff, competing against college teams from Houghton, Rochester, West Point, SUNY, and Siena.

A student works with laser experiments in Prof. Kiko Galvez’s physics lab in Colgate’s Robert H.N. Ho Science Center. (photo 2008)

The Colgate contingent was led by physics professors Enrique Galvez and Ken Segall.  Galvez brought the juniors Carrie Brurgess ’14, Fiora Cheng ’14, Brett Ross ’14 to talk about quantum optics. Segall led seniors Matt Brunetti ’13, Sean Guo ’13, and Ryan Freeman ’13, to talk about their research in physics.

“I was really impressed with the research being done by undergraduates at other universities,” said Freeman, “but I have to say that I really think that Colgate’s undergraduate research stands out.” He said that is likely due to absence of graduate students at the university, who would likely draw the attention of professors.

“We, as undergraduates, are a more integral part of the research being done here,” Freeman said.

Galvez, a leader in the field of teaching quantum mechanics, was recently featured in a Scientific American roadshow.

Other questions at the event included:

In the category Alphabet: “Speed of light in a vacuum.”
In the category Newton’s gravity: “The number of “g’s” you’d experience if you’re on a planet with half the earth’s radius and half its mass.”

In the comment field, add your answers — in the form of questions of course.


Faculty appointments and promotions announced

March 20, 2013

Provost and Dean of the Faculty Douglas A. Hicks recently announced faculty appointments and promotions that had been approved by the university’s Board of Trustees. Read more