Entrepreneurial stars come out

Kicking off the third-annual Entrepreneur Weekend in April, superstar entrepreneurs shared the stage for a conversation on founding, funding, building, and scaling the most innovative companies in the world.

“When we assess entrepreneurs, we try to put some hurdles in front of them to see if they have the grit to overcome them,” said Ashton Kutcher, actor and founder of A-Grade Investments. With CNBC’s David Faber moderating, other panelists included Tony Bates, former executive vice president of development and strategy for Microsoft, CEO of Skype, and head of enterprise for Cisco Systems; Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb; and John Donahoe, eBay president and CEO. Daniel Rosensweig P’15, P’17, former COO of Yahoo and now CEO of Chegg, joined them and was responsible for enticing these well-known friends of his to drop into Hamilton. More than 2,000 people filled Cotterell Court for the event.

Showing the grit that Kutcher referenced, Colgate student entrepreneurs pitched their own ideas Friday night Shark Tank style. Presenting to the panelists were: Katie Rydell ’14 for her LateDate app; Ariel Sherry ’15 for her Age Together consulting service; and Daniel Swiecki ’14 and Joshua Lasker ’14 for their Sapling Advisory project, which matches financial advisers with clients. In a surprise twist, all of the students were named winners and split the $15,000 purse. They received $5,000 each to develop their projects, which were cultivated through the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute (TIA).

On day two, Julian Farrior ’93, founder of Backflip Studios, was awarded the inaugural Entrepreneur of the Year award at a luncheon attended by more than 300 people.

“This place allowed me to study philosophy. I studied art. I also went deep into mathematics,” Farrior said. “I realized I loved the creative process — that was the seed for a number of different choices I’ve made in my life.”

Five winners of Colgate’s 2014 Entrepreneurs Fund competition were also announced: Vern Clothing, Sapling Advisory, HUGS (Hamilton United Gift Shop), Prettier Please, and Late Date. Each venture received seed capital, incubator space in Hamilton over the summer, and intellectual resources from within the Colgate community.

At a second Shark Tank session, other TIA students presented project ideas. Acting as auctioneer, David Fialkow ’81, P’17 drew out financial support for the hopeful entrepreneurs. Hands shot up in rapid succession, offering support in increments of $250 or $500.

By the end, Fialkow’s firm had invested $25,000 and he had helped raise nearly $20,000 more from audience members. These investments will go into ventures ranging from Bus Path, which installs GPS devices on Colgate Cruisers, to ENGAGE, an educational program to improve educational opportunities for underserved youth in the Baltimore area.

Giuliani on campus


Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani addresses students and faculty at the Colgate Memorial Chapel.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani addresses students and faculty at the Colgate Memorial Chapel. (Photo by Ashlee Eve)

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani discussed the state of American politics and the need for resolute leadership in a lecture at Memorial Chapel in April.

“A leader has to know what he or she wants to accomplish,” said Giuliani, who is known as “America’s Mayor” for his leadership during and after the September 11 attacks. “You have to have strong beliefs.”

Giuliani acknowledged the difference between ideological leaders and practical leaders. “When our principles meet resistance, an effective leader finds a way to take a percentage of what he or she wants,” he said. “In order for human beings to work together, we have to compromise.”

Giuliani maintained that President Barack Obama has not yet made that shift to practicality, but will be forced to compromise with Republicans in his last two years in office.

In a lengthy question-and-answer session with students, Giuliani defended charter schools, the constitution, low taxes, and the mayoral capabilities of his successor, Michael Bloomberg.

Andy Philipson ’14 asked for Giuliani’s thoughts on gun control. “It is behavior we have to deal with, not guns,” answered the former federal prosecutor.

Students also asked about building up the U.S. military. Giuliani stressed a policy of peace through strength, both militarily and economically. “You prevent war by being so damn strong that nobody wants to go to war with you.”

In an appropriate last question, Patrick (P.J.) Benasillo ’17, a fellow New Yorker, asked Giuliani what September 11, 2001, was like for him. A respectful quiet filled the room as Giuliani responded. “It was the worst day of my life and the best day of my life. I’ve never seen worse things and I’ve never seen such bravery. I knew people were looking at me. Therefore, their reaction would be determined by my reaction.”

Giuliani’s appearance, during which he also visited the village of Hamilton Fire Department and had dinner with students, was sponsored by the College Republicans, the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization, and the Budget Allocation Committee.

Jacqueline Oshry ’14

The perils of pedestals

What are the consequences when one romantic partner feels over-idealized by another? Jennifer M. Tomlinson, an assistant professor of psychology, set out to examine whether it can hurt a relationship when one person is glorified.

Her research with fellow psychologists Arthur Aron, Cheryl L. Carmichael, Harry T. Reis, and John G. Holmes was the basis for “The costs of being put on a pedestal: Effects of feeling over-idealized,” a paper published in the May issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

The researchers conducted three studies: the first was an experiment with 99 dating couples, the second was a survey of 89 married couples, and the third was a survey of 156 dating couples. The studies found that relationship satisfaction suffers when people feel that they are put on a pedestal, or over-idealized, by their romantic partner. In the experiment, participants physically distanced themselves from their partners after a perceived over-idealization.

Tomlinson stressed that relationship maintenance requires a delicate balance. People were most satisfied with their relationship when there was some idealization and they believed that their partner saw them as slightly better than they saw themselves.

“While it may be tempting to provide effusive praise, I think it’s also important to communicate understanding and validation of a person’s core identity,” Tomlinson told Live Science.

The paper grabbed a lot of international media attention, including stories in the Business Standard, India Times, and on Fox News.

— Hannah O’Malley ’17 

Immigration fuels wage increases overall, study shows

Chad Sparber poses for a faculty portrait.

Economics professor Chad Sparber. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

As the national debate over immigration policy continues, research by Professor Chad Sparber and two colleagues has added to the dialogue.

An increase in H-1B visas — a program for U.S. companies to bring in skilled immigrants — did not harm U.S. workers or the U.S. economy, found Sparber, an associate professor of economics. In fact, the research found that “inflows of foreign H-1B workers may explain between 30 percent and 50 percent of the aggregate productivity growth … that took place in the U.S. between 1990 and 2010.”

Sparber and his research asso-ciates — Giovanni Peri and Kevin Shih, both of the University of California, Davis — began their research in 2013. They continue to study the numbers, and recently released a new report on the impact of H-1B visas on the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the team found that as immigrants in the STEM professions flocked to a city, wages grew for the native-born, college-educated population. Their findings were released in May by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“A one percentage point increase in the foreign STEM share of a city’s total employment increased wages of native college-educated labor by about seven to eight percentage points and the wages of non–college-educated natives by three to four percentage points,” according to the WSJ article.

Importantly, the results identify a causal effect of immigration on wages that is distinct from the fact that productive cities will attract more immigrants.

Sacred forests, Martian rocks, circadian rhythms

Thanks to a new $90,000 award from Colgate’s Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute, faculty researchers can continue to assess Ethiopian forests maintained as sacred sites around Christian Orthodox Tewahedo churches for a second year.

Colgate professors Catherine Cardelús (biology), Eliza Kent (religion), Peter Klepeis (geography), Peter Scull (geography), and Carrie Woods (biology) are collaborating with Izabela Orlowska and Alemayehu Wassie Eshete, both of Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia.

Findings from the team’s first year of research indicate that the forest ecosystems are affected by the planting of non-native trees, geographic location, varying methods of grove maintenance, and community identity. The latest grant will allow the team to analyze their findings and work closely with local Ethiopian communities on forest conservation plans.

Also receiving institute funding is Jonathan Levine, assistant professor of physics and astronomy: $30,000 to study laser-atom interactions in a mass spectrometer for dating Martian rocks. This study is in collaboration with F. Scott Anderson and Tom J. Whitaker of the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado.

In addition, Krista Ingram, associate professor of biology, received a two-year award for her work on the influence of circadian rhythms and gene-by-environment interactions on human behavior with colleagues Allan Filipowicz (Cornell University), Neil Bearden (INSEAD, Singapore), and Kriti Jain (IE Business School, Madrid).

— Lauren Casella ’16

Seniors present research to leading scholars in Japan

Students travel to Japan during Spring Break 2014.

Students Jessica Huang ’14 and Michale Manansala ’14 travel to Japan during Spring Break 2014.

Over spring break, Jessica Huang ’14 and Michael Manansala ’14 put the capstone on a research project they’ve been working on for much of their Colgate careers. Traveling to Kansai, Japan, the seniors presented their research in front of an audience of leading scholars from Japan at the Phonological Association in Kansai conference at Kobe University. They were accompanied by professors Yukari Hirata and Spencer Kelly, who have been advising them.

The project, which was supported by a National Science Foundation grant, involved the fields of Japanese language learning and psychology/neuroscience. The researchers studied whether visual cues help people learn Japanese — specifically, whether the use of hand gestures helps to distinguish vowel lengths, which change the meaning of Japanese words. According to past studies, English speakers in particular have found learning Japanese difficult because they are not used to vowel lengths affecting the meaning of words.

“[We] compared two different types of hand gestures to see which type would teach native English speakers to better distinguish the vowel lengths in Japanese,” explained Manansala, a molecular biology and Japanese double major from Dumont, N.J. “We also tested whether actually doing the gestures while learning, or just watching, would be better.”

The team, which also included April Bailey ’14 and Kristen Weiner ’15, is among 88 Colgate students to participate in the study over the past three years. Huang and Manansala also used high-end software and technology to measure participants’ brain wave responses.

Ultimately, the study showed no direct relationship between hand gestures and increased learning. According to Hirata, these findings lead to an overall question of whether a non-native speaker could ever fully reach the aptitude for the Japanese language (or any language) of a native speaker.

While the project started in 2006 (funded by Colgate’s Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute) with a group of students working under Hirata and Kelly, Huang and Manansala joined in during their sophomore year and incorporated the research into their senior thesis papers.

“We really wanted our students to see not only the technical aspects, but also the bigger picture of how you do research,” Hirata said. “They [weren’t] just doing what we told them to do, but they also [took] time to digest information, and they’ve developed an understanding of this project as a whole.”

“The professors made us feel like we were a vital part of the project,” said Huang, a Japanese and philosophy double major from Ridgewood, N.J. “So, it was our responsibility to do well, but we also wanted to contribute as much as possible. We formed a nice team.”

Hirata and Kelly are writing three full-length manuscripts on their findings, which are co-authored by Huang and Manansala.

“It’s been a fun process starting as sophomores and not really being sure what would happen with this,” reflected Manansala. “As seniors, being able to present it was really rewarding.”

— Aminat Olayinka Agaba ’14 

Five Fulbrights

Four recent graduates and one professor will be exploring different parts of the world with their newly awarded Fulbright grants. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic achievement and potential for leadership in a specific field.

Jessica Graybill, associate professor of geography, is heading to Russia this August to study the social and cultural geographies of climate change in Vladivostok. As the winner of a Science and Innovation Fulbright, Graybill will seek to understand how citizens approach the problem of climate change facing their coastal city. Her research focuses on sustainability and its impact on the Arctic regions.

Neal Barsch ’14 of Englewood, Colo., will travel to the Philippines. An economics major and music minor, he will study the possibility of bringing

mobile financial services, such as branchless banking, to the rural poor by using the existing infrastructure of the country’s ubiquitous sari-sari stores.

Margaretta Burdick ’14 of Bedford, N.Y., received an English Teaching Assistantship in Turkey. A political science and psychology major, Burdick developed an interest in Turkish culture during a trip to Istanbul while abroad with the Geneva Study Group.

Emma Ellis ’14 of Northwood, N.J., was awarded an English Teaching Assistantship in Mongolia. The English major hopes to pursue her interests in literary journalism by producing travel articles about her experiences in Mongolia.

A third English Teaching Assistantship was given to Jessica Hall ’14, who will be in South Korea. An English literature and anthropology major from Gallatin, Tenn., her senior thesis focused on Korean pop music. Hall was the choreographer for the Korean Student Association dance team.

Rowlett to lead Council on Undergraduate Research

Professor Roger Rowlett and a student work with an X-ray  diffractometer.

Professor Roger Rowlett and a student work with an X-ray diffractometer. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Colgate professors are not only sought after by students and alumni, but they also are often chosen to lead their professional organizations. That honor has most recently come to chemistry professor Roger Rowlett, who has been elected president of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) for 2015–16.

With nearly 700 institutional members and more than 10,000 individual members, the CUR is the leading organization that supports high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. Rowlett has been a member since its first biennial conference, which was held at Colgate in 1985.

“CUR has served a pivotal role in my personal professional development as a scholar and teacher in the undergraduate education setting,” said Rowlett, who is the Gordon and Dorothy Kline Professor of chemistry. “I know I am not alone among faculty and undergraduate students whose research successes were made possible or enhanced by CUR in some way. I am honored that my colleagues have entrusted me with this leadership responsibility.”

Honoring this year’s retiring faculty

Promoted to the role of professor in 2011, Emily Hutton-Hughes served on the libraries’ senior management team. As head of collection development, she was instrumental in building an outstanding collection of print, digital, and audiovisual material. She guided the evolution of the collection from a print-only universe to our current digital era. Recently, Hutton-Hughes served as co-coordinator of the groundbreaking ConnectNY Shared Print Trust Project.

D. Kay Johnston, professor of educational studies and women’s studies, developed the childhood education program, and as chair of the Department of Educational Studies, expanded the departmental major/minor and MAT program. Johnston chaired and served on the Faculty Affairs Committee and directed the women’s studies advisory board. The author of several books about teaching, including Education for a Caring Society, Johnston was awarded the AAUP Professor of the Year Award, the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Sidney J. and Florence Felton French Award for Inspirational Teaching.

For the past 27 years, Douglas Macdonald taught political science. He also was director of the International Relations Program and the Geneva Study Group. The title of his influential book Adventures in Chaos: American Intervention for Reform in the Third World captures the thrust of his scholarship. After retirement, Macdonald will continue his scholarly work as a visiting professor at Williams College.

Also recognized at commencement for his retirement was Dick Biddle, the winningest coach in Colgate and Patriot League football history. After 18 seasons, he retired as Fred ’50 and Marilyn Dunlap Endowed Chair for Football emeritus (read more in the winter 2014 Colgate Scene).

Live and learn

valon Bunge ’15 and Jake Mahr ’17 spun their way through Spring Break 2014.

Avalon Bunge ’15 and Jake Mahr ’17 spun their way through Spring Break 2014. The two Clay Club members accepted an invitation to visit the home and pottery studio of Jim ’64 and Sarah Young in northwest Arkansas. The Youngs are the founders of Van Hollow Pottery, offering classes and selling pottery on the shores of Beaver Lake in the Ozark Mountains. After an intense living-learning experience, Bunge raved about the trip:

For a week, we ate, slept, and breathed pottery. We learned new techniques for wheel throwing and slab building, and used Jim’s many tools — most of them handmade and unique — to stamp and shape wet clay.

But that was only the beginning. Jim mixes all his own glazes, and we got a lesson in glaze chemistry and then had the chance to play with glaze combinations, sometimes applying as many as five glazes to a single piece. When we combined the glazes with the new and improved clay forms we’d created, the results were spectacular.

The crowning glory of the week was raku, an alternative firing technique where pieces are glazed, brought up to approximately 1900 degrees F, and then plucked from the kiln while the glaze is still molten and plunged into buckets of combustible materials. Then the lid is slammed onto the bucket, creating a reduction chamber that does amazing things to the elements and minerals in the glaze.

A raku firing is fast, dynamic, and incredibly exciting. And Jim is planning to give a raku kiln to Colgate’s clay studio! We are over the moon about the opportunity to do raku at Colgate. But even more, we’re grateful for Jim and Sarah’s amazing warmth and generosity in opening their home to us and sharing their wealth of pottery knowledge, delicious cooking, energetic dog Skipper, and their brilliant joie de vivre.

’Gate gamers

'Gate Gamers push the gaming world to its limits.

Amid a sea of wires and circuit boards, Sean Foster ’16 (pictured) spent many hours in the lab with partner Lillie Pentecost ’16 to complete their project “Flippy-Floppy Bird,” a replication of the popular iPhone app. Using logic, a pseudorandom number generator, and countless other devices they’ve studied in Physics 336: Electronics, they were able to create an LED version of the game in which the player safely navigates a “bird” through obstacles. Students in this class, taught by Professor Catherine Herne, were given the challenge of creating something that simply worked, putting both their digital skills and creativity to the test. Many of the outcomes were games, which rely heavily on logic, including Color Blitz, Hangman, and Digital Rock-em-Sock-em!