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FAL L 2011

The intellectual heart of a great university

H ARPUR C O L L E G E o f ARTS a n d SCIE N CES | B I N G H A M T O N U N IVERSIT Y


From the Dean

H

arpur College is a remarkable place, as you will discover when you peruse the first issue of Harpur Perspective. Established over 60 years ago as a small liberal arts college, Harpur College is now the intellectual heart of a great university. While one of six schools comprising Binghamton University, Harpur provides the — Donald G. Nieman, Dean academic foundation for all Binghamton undergraduates and is home to more than 60 percent of the University’s students, demographic changes transforming the Owen Pell ’80; and Kenneth Roth ’78. more than half of its doctoral programs United States, exploring new solutions All have used their Harpur education and some of its most exciting research. to the world energy crisis, and engaging to make impressive accomplishments in Harpur is spread out across the students in interdisciplinary research a variety of professions and substantial Binghamton campus. Nevertheless, we on a broad range of social and scientific contributions to their communities. retain a powerful identity questions. Those themes are also rooted in our commitment to As all of this suggests, Harpur’s historic illustrated by Jeffrey The liberal the liberal arts and sciences, commitment to excellence is alive and arts develop Tanenbaum ’73, a highly to the value of pursuing well. It’s reflected in our prize-winning successful corporate attorney, skills that knowledge and discovery, and faculty, internationally recognized who taught an on-campus help solve to excellence in everything scholarship and research, and students course about the financial real-world we do. who continue to distinguish themselves crisis and corporate Our continuing in national scholarship competitions restructuring, and problems. commitment to the liberal as well as in research and service to Jon Plasse ’72, a leader in arts is reflected in the new the community. And, of course, it’s securities fraud litigation, Institute for Advanced Studies in the underscored by the accomplishments of whose beautiful photographic elegy to Humanities, which supports faculty and our alumni who distinguish themselves in the old Yankee Stadium, The Stadium, student research in areas ranging from their professions and their involvement we celebrated at the new Yankee literature and philosophy to history and in the world community. Stadium in August. politics, and fosters collaboration and I hope you enjoy the stories in this The liberal arts develop skills that the exchange of ideas across disciplines. inaugural issue of Harpur Perspective help solve real-world problems. This I believe Harpur’s founders would feel and that they give you a sense of how year’s Harpur Fellows turned their right at home participating in one of the tradition and innovation combine to expertise in theater, creative writing, institute’s weekly seminars. make Harpur College one of the best literature and environmental studies to The fruits of Harpur’s liberal arts colleges of arts and sciences in the the challenges facing at-risk youth in emphasis are illustrated by the lives nation. But a magazine is no substitute Binghamton and New York City and an of five alumni who were recognized for experience. So I invite you to return isolated community in Costa Rica, with by the University this past year — to campus to observe firsthand the remarkable results. Meanwhile, Harpur Audie Chang ’73; Ann DeLaney ’67; excitement and excellence that defines faculty helped us better understand our Terry Keane, MA ’76, PhD ’79; Harpur College. world through research examining the

Harpur’s historic commitment to excellence is alive and well.

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DEAN, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY — Donald G. Nieman | HARPUR COLLEGE COMMUNICATIONS TEAM — Lori Fuller, Communications Manager; Lee Nesslage, Director, Constituent Relations; Matthew Tynan, Web and Graphic Designer; Brett Vermilyea, Advancement Writer | EDITORS — Brett Vermilyea, Lori Fuller |

DESIGN AND PHOTOGRAPHY — David Skyrca, Art Director; Jonathan Cohen, University Photographer | CONTRIBUTING WRITERS — Brett Vermilyea, Katie Ellis, Ashley Smith | COPY EDITORS — Katie Ellis, Senior Director, Communications and Marketing; John Wojcio, Assistant Director, Communications and Marketing | www.binghamton.edu/harpur


HARPUR perspective

CONTENTS

6 Science 5 Beginning this fall, Behavioral Neuroscience research laboratories will move into the new

10

16

18

The Institute for Advanced

1.4M from the Howard

Seminars combine

From Depth through Breadth

Hughes Grant

Harpur Freshmen Seminars

Studies in the Humanities

Hughes Medical Institute

intriguing intellectual

state-of-the-art

brings together researchers

will fund undergraduate

issues with consideration

Science 5 building.

from diverse disciplines.

research projects.

of transition strategies.

HARPUR NEWS............................................. 2 HARPUR STUDENTS................................ 12 HARPUR FACULTY................................ 20 HARPUR ALUMNI........................ 26


HARPUR NEWS Celebrating the old, at the new On Friday, August 12, Harpur College helped photographer Jon Plasse ’72 launch his book of photos, The Stadium: Images and Voices of the Original Yankee Stadium, at the new Yankee Stadium. Plasse’s book, published by SUNY Press, has received critical acclaim. A reviewer for The New Yorker wrote, “Plasse has captured quiet, often intimate moments. . . . Rare is the sports photobook that can personalize the deeply communal (some might say tribal) act of attending live sporting events, but this is certainly one.” Before watching the Yankees-Rays game from behind home plate in the Jim Beam Suites, each of the 125 alumni attending received a signed copy of the book that evoked memories of fleeting youth and attending games with family.

Jon Plasse ’72

A man of many languages Distinguished Professor Emeritus Saul Levin may have retired in 1999, after 38 years on the Harpur College faculty, but retirement has not cooled his passion for scholarship or slowed his scholarly productivity. Last fall, SUNY Press published an extensively revised edition of his Guide to the Bible, a highly acclaimed book first published in 1987. Levin draws on his expertise in ancient languages and cultures to help readers better understand and appreciate the language and context of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. The volume is a scholarly tour de force that offers, as one reviewer commented, “a wealth of insights and interpretations” of a text “uniquely influential in world history.” To read more about this master of 13 languages who taught himself to read at age four and learned Italian during a short Signal Corps stint in Florence, visit binghamton.edu/harpur/perspective/ faculty/faculty-saul-levin.html

Visit facebook.com/HarpurCollege to view more photos.

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H ARPUR

B O O K S H E L F

Leslie C. Gates

Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Electing Chávez: The Business of Antineoliberal Politics in Venezuela

What We Pass On: Collected Poems, 1980–2009

“Gates’s highly creative empirical investigation shows how declining public confidence in business and fear of losing access to the resource-rich government induced many businessmen to support Chávez despite his anti-neoliberal appeal.” — Daniel Hellinger, Webster University

“Reading Maria Mazziotti Gillan’s Collected Poems What We Pass On is to spend time with an eager intelligence and a love that is not always what we expect it to be. Maria Gillan has opened the meaning of the word poetry — in each poem — to become a vital moment in time.” — Grace Cavalieri, The Montserrat Review

Richard E. Lee Questioning Nineteenth Century Assumptions About Knowledge (3 vols.) “The range is truly extraordinary . . . covering everything from economics to opera, cognitive neuroscience, literary studies, mathematical modeling, and systems theory . . . [the volumes] open a host of questions for scholars to ponder and suggest many enlightening lines of inquiry. . . . Highly recommended.” — Choice

Stephen Ortiz Beyond the Bonus March and the G.I. Bill: How Veteran Politics Shaped the New Deal “Moving beyond other well documented examples of activism by former servicemen . . . Ortiz traces the fortunes of the two major U.S. veterans’ organizations, the first the patrician American Legion . . . the second the older, smaller and scrappier Veterans of Foreign Wars.” — Times Literary Supplement

Mark F. Lenzenweger Schizotypy and Schizophrenia: The View from Experimental Psychopathology “Written by an internationally recognized authority, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the complexities of schizophrenia and psychopathology research. Meticulous scholarship, accumulated wisdom, and personal anecdotes are combined into an engaging and highly readable text.” — Jill M. Hooley, Harvard University

Florence Margai

David Sloan Wilson The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time “Much of The Neighborhood Project is an inspiring panorama of Mr. Wilson’s partners, from the energetic superintendent of Binghamton’s schools . . . to his beloved graduate students. . . . Many books present science or social science to the curious layman, but none make the actual work of research sound this invigorating.” — New York Times

Environmental Health Hazards and Social Justice: Geographical Perspectives on William Spanos Race and Class Disparities In the Neighborhood of Zero “A much needed reference in medical geography and environmental epidemiology that is richly illustrated and offers an accessible introduction to the visualization and spatial analysis of environmental health data.” — Pierre Goovaerts, Chief Scientist, BioMedware Inc.

“Professor Spanos deeply impacted my views on literature and language when I was a student of his, but nothing prepared me for the power and emotion of this memoir. It is an amazing saga.” — Marc Lawrence, writer and director of Two Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics, and Did You Hear About the Morgans?

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Raising the next generation, and yourself, to a higher level

Owen Pell ’80

W

Terence Keane, MA ’76, PhD ’79

hen Owen Pell ’80 received the degree

receiving masters and doctoral degrees at the graduate

Doctor of Laws honoris causa at the May

commencement, he discussed the importance for his life

2011 Commencement, he told graduates,

of A Sense of Where You Are. Written by John McPhee,

“Each of you can dramatically alter your chances of

the 1965 book profiles Princeton University basketball star

success by finding good mentors and by being good

(and future New York Knick and U.S. senator) Bill Bradley.

mentees. Whether you realize it or not, Binghamton has

and scientific career,” Keane said. “Understand what

good mentee.”

the goal is, assembling a group with similar goals

Mentoring is about someone challenging the mentee

and complementary skills, knowing the

in order to raise him or her to a higher level of skill or

strengths of your academic team,

maturity, said Pell, a senior partner at White & Case LLC

relying upon team members to

and authority on the law of looted Holocaust art. It isn’t

do the things in which they

always pleasant and it does not guarantee success. It

are expert, providing

is “a dance” between two people and the mentee must

leadership when needed

demonstrate that he or she is eager to work and ask

and letting others lead

questions.

when it’s their time will

“It is only by not being afraid to ask questions that you

yield academic success,

show that you are not afraid to be wrong or to speak up,”

personal satisfaction

Pell said.

and the excitement of

Terence Keane, MA ’76, PhD ’79, one of the world’s preeminent authorities on post traumatic stress syndrome, received the degree Doctor of Science honoris causa. In his inspiring address to students

To watch a video of Owen Pell’s address, scan the code or visit binghamton.edu/harpur/perspective/ featured-stories/owen-pell.html 4

The book is still a “powerful metaphor for an academic

taught you about mentoring and what it means to be a

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Fall 2011

discovery throughout the course of your career.”


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“I learned, first, to think for myself.” ­­ “What I learned at Harpur was particularly valuable,” Ann M. DeLaney, Esq. ’67 told an audience of graduates in May. “I learned, first, to think for myself. And I learned, secondly, how to marshal whatever analysis I had of any particular problem in front of me, to garner my thoughts and to advocate my side of the case. Those skills have served me well.” DeLaney was speaking at the Harpur College Division of Social Sciences recognition ceremony the day prior to Commencement, where Harpur College Dean Donald Nieman presented her with the Alumni Award in the Division of Social Sciences.

Audie K. Chang ’73, who was given the Alumni Award from Harpur’s Division of Fine Arts and Humanities, told the crowd, “I’m fortunate that my choice of [history and theater] majors gave me a competitive edge in business . . . honing my skills in communicating, surviving rejection, motivating others and continuing to learn new tricks. If you are like me, without a defining career when you graduate, just remember that your liberal arts degree is a foundation to build on. . . . You have an enduring platform to develop yourself to the fullest.”

Dr. Kenneth Jay Roth ’78 received the Alumni Award in the Division of Science and Mathematics for his distinguished work in establishing Sharp Community Medical Group, which serves 150,000 patients throughout San Diego County. In accepting his award, he said that the key to successful lives and careers was to “look inside your heart and find that flame that burns within, that love, the will, the passion that will drive you to apply that degree that you received today into making a difference to the world around you. Your degree may open the door for success, but it’s that life force that will transform the world around you.”

To watch videos and read more about the Alumni Award recipients, scan the above code or visit binghamton.edu/harpur/perspective/alumni/alumni-awards.html

In

M e mo r i a m

Donald Quataert, 69,

Research and editor of the Political Handbook

Richard Hofferbert, 74, distinguished professor

distinguished professor

of the World.

emeritus of political science — Hofferbert

of history — Quataert

James “Dick” Beerbower, 83, professor

joined the Harpur faculty in 1975 and provided

joined the Harpur College faculty in 1986 and built an international reputation as a scholar of Ottoman economic, labor and social history, making Binghamton internationally recognized in Ottoman and Turkish studies. Donations can be made in his name to the Donald and Jean Quataert Research Grant at Binghamton University. Video: binghamton.edu/harpur/ perspective/in-memoriam Arthur S. Banks, 84, professor emeritus of political science — Banks taught at Harpur College from 1968 until his retirement in 1996, serving as department chair for several years, director of the Center for Comparative Political

emeritus of geological sciences — Beerbower received his AB degree from the University of Colorado and his PhD from the University of Chicago and joined the Harpur faculty in 1969.

leadership to establish the doctoral program in political science, with an emphasis on public policy analysis. He retired in 1997. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to the

He retired in 1993. Memorial gifts may be

Department of Political Science.

made to the Binghamton University Foundation

Melvin Shefftz, 82, associate professor

Memorial Account #10351. Note “in memory of

emeritus of history — Shefftz joined the

Dick Beerbower.”

Harpur College faculty in 1962, after earning

Peter Hilton, 87, distinguished professor

his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees

emeritus of mathematics — Hilton was a firstyear student at Oxford University when he was recruited at the age of 18 to work with Alan Turing to break German codes during World

from Harvard University and teaching at Northeastern University, Syracuse University and the University of Michigan. He retired in 2007.

War II, popularly known as the Enigma project. He joined the Harpur faculty in 1982 and retired in 1995.

Memorial donations: giving.binghamton.edu Fall 2011

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A complex building for a complex program Science 5 reflects the growth of Binghamton’s unique Behavioral Neuroscience program that integrates the techniques of biology with experimental psychology.

T

he brain is as complex as a universe — a web of connections that mesh with your nervous system to control the myriad working parts of your body. When it’s damaged by drug abuse, trauma or disease, such critical functions as memory, movement, speaking and learning can be seriously affected. To study such an intricate organ, scientists need high-tech labs that can handle equipment measuring in nanoseconds the electrical impulses sent and received by the brain. During the last several decades, researchers in Harpur College’s Behavioral Neuroscience (BNS) program have built one of the top BNS programs in the country, despite the fact that they conduct their experiments in labs built for very different

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purposes a very long time ago. And although the faculty have been able to do pathbreaking research in these retrofitted spaces, there comes a point when space limitations constrain the progress of research. Beginning this fall, though, BNS research laboratories will move into the new state-of-theart Science 5 building. “BNS research has been a great strength of Binghamton for the last quarter century or more and it’s grown piecemeal,” Harpur College Dean Donald Nieman says. “It was time for us to take the next step and invest in a facility that’s state of the art for this kind of research.” Designed to LEED gold standards, the space boasts a partial green roof, energy-efficient lighting and climate control measures, water-conserving faucets and toilets, paints and carpeting with low amounts of volatile organic compounds, and features that reduce light pollution. And rather than clear out additional green space on campus, Science 5 was constructed on part of the old plaza deck between Science 3 and Science 4. Science 5 reflects the growth of Binghamton’s BNS program, which integrates the cellular and


HARPUR perspective

molecular techniques of biological neuroscience with the sensory and behavioral aspects of psychology. With the new state-of-the-art facilities, BNS researchers will deepen their study of an array of critical issues that affect health and well-being — addiction, stress, obesity, memory and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. By determining the genesis of these problems and better understanding how they affect the brain, their research may lead to interventions to treat them. The building is designed to foster collaboration. Traditionally, every scientist has his or her own laboratory space and equipment, which is not only expensive, but creates silos of knowledge and techniques. The new space builds a shared

Lisa Savage, whose research focuses on memory, and Chris Bishop, who is pursuing research on Parkinson’s, are two neuroscience faculty who will soon move to Science 5.

Science 5 features state-of-the-art laboratory spaces designed to foster collaboration among researchers.

Team research is the future of scientific discovery and the Science 5 building sets the stage for such progress. environment, encouraging scientists doing similar work in wet labs and data entry rooms to interact, learn from one another, ask novel questions and develop creative strategies for answering them. “Team research is the future of scientific discovery and the Science 5 building sets the stage for such progress,” says Lisa Savage, professor and graduate coordinator. Although there is currently collaboration among BNS researchers, the design of the building and the shared space and equipment will open additional possibilities. And that will help an excellent program become even better. “You’ll see someone working 10 feet away from you doing a procedure that you may not know about,” Savage explains. “So you may ask them about it and what it does, or think about how you might potentially use that type of procedure in your own research.” Nieman says Science 5 is the culmination of impressive efforts by faculty hired years ago. As their own work gained prominence, they fostered an environment that attracted young talent and helped them succeed in their own work. “Because the core faculty here have international reputations, we’re able to recruit really good faculty,” Nieman says. “And because Fall 2011

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The new space builds a shared environment, encouraging scientists to interact.

people like Linda and Skip [Spear] have such high standards, they recruit well and they set the bar high for those they hire. People don’t earn tenure unless they’re highly productive. But at the same time, our senior faculty are really good mentors, and they create an environment where people can succeed.” Distinguished professor of psychology Linda Spear’s exceptional work was recognized in 2010, when the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism awarded a five-year, $8.5 million grant to fund the Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Center (DEARC) with Spear as its director. The DEARC is a joint venture of Binghamton University, SUNY Upstate Medical Center and SUNY Cortland. The grant was just one of the many garnered by the department — in fact, 80 percent of the faculty are funded, well above the national average for both psychology and neuroscience. Such external funding has also allowed the department to be self-

sufficient and hire faculty even during lean times. Of course, in today’s economic climate, there never seems to be enough research dollars to go around. So universities are seeking partners that complement their strengths and give them a competitive advantage. In the case of Binghamton and SUNY Upstate, they’ve started to look at other areas to explore. “What you’re seeing with the recent articulation agreement is another layer being graphed onto this,” Nieman says. “We’ve set up plans that will allow our graduate students to take classes at Upstate and our undergraduates to apply for research opportunities. What we’re really trying to do is build a more broad-based collaboration. We don’t have a medical school, but we do have research and teaching strengths that SUNY Upstate doesn’t have.” And with Science 5, Harpur College will have a lot more of what other science departments want and need.

It’s all a matter of taste

I

n a Binghamton University laboratory,

bitter) by using spike timing, known as

behavioral neuroscience Professor

temporal coding. Much like a Morse code

Patricia Di Lorenzo has taken a first

communicates the alphabet, temporal

step toward understanding how we make

coding works when taste nerves send a

decisions about food by studying how the

certain number of electrical spikes in a

brain encodes information about taste.

certain pattern to the brainstem, where

Her research focuses on how nerve cells in the brainstem convey information about what tastes are present on the

neurons interpret taste qualities based on that pattern. Interestingly, when two taste stimuli

tongue. These cells receive information

evoke the same taste quality, such as two

directly from the nerves that stimulate

sugars or two salts, neurons use temporal

taste buds and represent the earliest

coding to differentiate between them. And

stage of central processing of taste

when mixtures of two taste qualities are

information.

presented, the resulting temporal code is

To understand these cells, Di Lorenzo pursues two related research strategies. The first records and analyzes neuronal

a combination of the temporal codes for

Professor Patricia Di Lorenzo studies how the brain encodes information about taste.

each of the components. However, Di Lorenzo’s most intriguing

This ability to influence the central

responses to taste stimuli bathed over the

finding is that when playing a recorded

processing of taste has major implications

tongue. The second plays these recorded

temporal spike pattern back to the

for how we treat common diseases like

responses back to the brainstem.

brainstem, the brain will interpret the

obesity, diabetes, bulimia and anorexia,

pattern of electrical pulses as having a

making Di Lorenzo’s research especially

found that individual neurons in the

taste. So, even though a subject might be

attractive to the National Institutes of

brainstem discriminate among different

licking water, the brain will perceive the

Health, which continues to provide major

taste qualities (sweet, sour, salty and

taste of sugar, salt, sour or bitter.

funding for her lab.

From her experiments, she has

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HARPUR perspective

Alcohol and the young brain Linda Spear is finding evidence that alcohol’s physiological effects on adolescents can create patterns that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

T

he dangers of youthful drinking

may be ‘adolescentizing’ the alcohol

extend far beyond the risk of

response into adulthood with this chronic

auto accidents. In fact, alcohol

exposure to alcohol during adolescence.”

may change the young brain in ways that cause problems throughout life. Distinguished Professor of Psychology

Hoping to better understand how youthful drinking might shape the adult brain, Spear has joined a consortium of

Linda Spear, a noted authority on the

scientists from throughout the United

effects of alcohol on the adolescent,

States to examine long-term effects on

has recorded data that shows typical

the brain and behavior of adolescent

adolescents are very insensitive to many

rats exposed to a great deal of alcohol

of the cues signaling when a person

— levels resembling repeated binge

has had enough to drink. Without those

exposures.

warning signs, adolescents tend to drink more. “And that’s a problem,” Spear says. “Because high levels of alcohol are toxic.” It’s also a problem because the more

reducing social anxiety. In 2010, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism awarded

“We’ve found that shortly after

a five-year, $8.5 million grant to fund

termination of alcohol exposure, the

the Developmental Exposure Alcohol

adolescent animals are socially anxious,

Research Center with Spear as its

and they’re unusually sensitive to the

scientific director.

restoration of social behavior by alcohol,”

Ultimately, scientists in her field

you consume, the less you feel alcohol’s

Spear says. She and colleague Elena

want to learn how to make the most of

effects. In young drinkers, this tolerance

Varlinskaya, a research professor at

adolescence, Spear says. Young people

may become stamped upon the brain,

Binghamton, hypothesize that when the

need to understand that their choices

possibly creating the conditions for

adolescent drinkers become adults, they

have a serious impact. The message is:

alcohol addiction.

will still grow anxious quickly as alcohol

“You’re different from the adults,” she

leaves their systems. When they drink

says. “And that’s kind of cool, because

says, “but it does seem that there are a

again, they will relax and start to socialize,

you may be able to build the brain the

number of circumstances in which you

finding alcohol especially effective for

way you want. So, what do you want?”

“It’s not always the case,” Spear

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from

depth through breadth IASH gathers scholars from a diverse mix of disciplines to examine research into some of the most pressing cultural issues of the day

A

history graduate student sits alone before an audience of a dozen professors and a few students, a large turn-of-the-century map of Turkey projected behind him. As he talks about migration patterns between the Ottoman Empire and the United States — his thesis — the audience pelts him with questions and new ideas: Why do you think the agrarian enclave developed in the West? Why would an immigrant take such a circuitous route? What

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did it mean to be a citizen of Turkey? This is the second time in a year David Gutman presented, and defended, his research to the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), and he loves it. “It’s a very challenging yet supportive environment,” he says. “I always get new ideas.” Nearly every Wednesday, IASH gathers scholars from a diverse mix of disciplines to examine research on some of the most pressing scholarly issues of the day: political trends in


HARPUR perspective

Latin America, judicial identity and judicial choice, gender and sexuality, human migration patterns, rural life and economics and a myriad more. The surprisingly simple format — one IASH member presenting research-in-progress while the others listen and throw in ideas as they occur — produces wonderfully complex results. The most oft-heard phrases during an IASH meeting are “I hadn’t thought of that” and “I’ll have to look more into that.” That’s precisely what Harpur College Dean Donald Nieman had in mind for the institute. “By bringing together scholars from an array of disciplines, IASH builds a network that researchers can turn to when conducting research,” he says. “It creates a community where crosspollination is the norm.”

education of boys and girls is,” she says. “As long as I’m talking about a Brazilian poet, people expect that it’s somebody who has a niche. But when I talk about what she has written about educating boys and girls and about gender, everybody is interested, everybody is concerned.” They all brought their own disciplines to the conversation and made connections to their own work. This kind of interdisciplinarity is unusual. Leaders in higher education like to talk about

IASH provides stipends to release faculty and graduate students from their teaching responsibilities, which frees up hundreds of hours each year to explore topics more deeply. Once a semester, they present their work-in-progress to the institute, which this year consists of 12 faculty members, five graduate students (four on stipend) and two undergraduates, though it can also include visiting faculty and community members. Comparative literature Professor Luiza Franco Moreira was a fellow last year and shared her work on Brazilian poet Cecília Meireles, who wrote a lot about education and how boys and girls were taught differently. The subject sparked a strong debate in IASH. “What I got out of it that I didn’t expect, is how widespread the concern for

interdisciplinarity, but rarely is it as fundamental to a college’s identity as it is in Harpur. And that helps strengthen research. “I had historians listen to me and give me feedback, so it wasn’t just literary scholars,” Moreira says. “It’s very nice to have literary scholars and historians in the same room. Very often they don’t interact.” After launching last year, IASH is gaining momentum with key gifts from alumni. Alex Huppé ’69 believes supporting the humanities and the kind of critical thinkers they create is invaluable, especially in a quickly changing world, where more and more the emphasis of education is on practical skills. “The humanities institute counters the

national trend towards pre-professional higher education,” Huppé says. “It is a move toward opening up the world to our students, rather than narrowing it. ‘Breadth and Depth’ made Harpur’s reputation, and still is the core of the institution. The humanities defined a Harpur education. But that is a tough battle in today’s intellectual climate.”

“It creates a community where cross-pollination is the norm.”

IASH Future Plans In spring 2012, IASH will host a symposium to facilitate the discussion about what the humanities and, more generally, humanistic studies teach students. In fall 2012, IASH will host Martha Nussbaum, whose latest book, Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, is generating an energetic, worldwide conversation about the humanities and their place in education.

IASH is also developing plans for a new program called Independent Harpur Research in the Humanities (IURH). IURH will offer Harpur College juniors and first-semester seniors the opportunity to pursue an independent and often interdisciplinary research project on a topic relevant to the humanities. Students will be IASH undergraduate fellows, meeting in seminars to discuss their research and learn about the ethics of research, mentoring, and the importance of multi/interdisciplinarity and a collaborative approach to one’s own work. They will present their research at the end of the semester and continue into an honors program in their departments, presenting their honors work at the end of the fall semester symposium. Fall 2011

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HARPUR Students Using archaeology to advance a community “

S

ome thought I was a descendant of pirates and that I had a map and knew just where the gold was,” archaeology PhD student Heidi Savery says with a smile. She was digging in Bluefields, Jamaica, one of that country’s least developed coastlines, in 2008. A housing project had unearthed a significant pre-Columbian Taíno site and community leaders had invited her to document the site. But the residents were suspicious. Harpur student Heidi Savery earned a “People would sometimes sit out there Fulbright scholarship for her work helping with their arms crossed, just watching Jamaicans discover their heritage and our every move, watching the screens develop a locally controlled tourism industry. to see what people were picking up and laughing that we were picking up rocks “The community is very much “Archaeologically speaking, Bluefields and pottery,” she says. involved in not only the process of is like an open frontier because so little She laughs at the memory but is archaeology, but the development and work has been done there,” Savery says. quick to point out that this reaction the design,” she says. “They are a driving “And as development is sort of looming is understandable given that outsiders force and inspiration in the Bluefields in the background, it’s important to have been stealing from the country for Archaeology Project.” document all we can, but also to assist centuries, from the days of Christopher Savery’s work has earned her a the community in the negotiations as to Columbus to the present, when most Fulbright scholarship, which will what kind of development, what will be of the tourist industry, by far Jamaica’s allow her to largest, is largely owned by foreign “People would sometimes sit out there with their intern with the Bluefields People’s entities that take arms crossed just watching our every move . . . ” Community most of the profits Association and out of the country. Jamaica National Heritage Trust so she developed and how it will develop.” “That’s where that suspicion comes can understand the complex relationship Partnering with Missouri State from,” Savery says. “And you have to between archaeology and tourism in University, the University of the West take that very seriously.” Jamaica. Indies, Northern Caribbean University, To help people understand her “If we can help the community several community groups and a host motives, Savery invites school children develop natural and cultural resources of researchers and developers, Savery and opens the site to anyone who wants in such a way that has really wide-spread deepened her involvement with the to learn basic archaeology techniques. benefit, they don’t have to sell out to community and started surveying She hopes that what community these larger, all-inclusive hotels,” Savery estate houses of landowners interested members unearth will spark a larger says. “We’re trying to make tourism work in attracting tourism. One possible conversation about heritage and help for heritage, rather than the other way outcome is a heritage trail that links them demand responsible social and around.” historic landscapes with contemporary economic development through ecocommunities. friendly, community-based tourism.

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HARPUR perspective

Was Thomas Jefferson a hypocrite?

PhD candidate in history Andrew Fagal disputes those who think Jefferson betrayed the ideals of limited government by supporting a strong military.

It’s right there in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States — to “provide for the common defense” — says PhD candidate in history Andrew Fagal. For decades, historians have argued over whether or not Jefferson and his supporters betrayed their smallgovernment rhetoric when they took over the presidency 12 years after the country’s founding by engineering spending programs that built domestic military manufacturing industries — a precursor to today’s military industrial complex. Some argued at the time that such government power was unconstitutional. “The Jeffersonians not only viewed it as constitutional, but they viewed it as necessary,” Fagal says. That’s why it was in the preamble. “They identified a major problem during the American Revolution: not having enough domestically produced arms and ammunition. They had to rely on imports.” His research has led to three national fellowships and his selection as one of only two graduate students to participate in the National Endowment for the Humanities seminar, “The Early American Republic and the Problem of Governance,” which was held in Philadelphia this summer.

Before the students, there were the housewives

PhD candidate in history Jessica Frazier says women were much more influential in the anti-Vietnam War movement than most people realize.

During the ’60s, the anti-Vietnam War movement wasn’t the student-led campaign of popular imagination. At least not initially. In the early ’60s, a group of middleaged, middle-class housewives formed Women Strike for Peace to call attention to the out-of-control arms race and quickly realized the consequences of escalation in Vietnam. By 1965, they started traveling to North Vietnam to meet with Vietnamese women, visit POWs and deliver letters. Binghamton University PhD candidate in history Jessica Frazier is looking at why these women took such extraordinary measures and how they influenced the peace movement. She’s received a number of grants to peruse archives around the country, including a Schlesinger Library Dissertation Grant, a Sophia Smith Travel-to-Collections Grant from Smith College and a Mary Lily Research Grant from Duke University. Early in her research, Frazier quickly realized the diversity of women involved — non-violent women, militant women, women of color, poor women — and says they haven’t gotten as much attention as the student movement because those writing about the era were students themselves. “I’m the first generation of researchers who wasn’t alive during the Vietnam War,” she says.

As a scientist, he can do more good

At Brookhaven National Laboratory, Ken Baumann successfully crystallized two proteins, each listed in the National Protein Databank with his name.

After biology major Ken Baumann completed his sophomore year and headed into his first summer internship at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, he was considering becoming a doctor. But having recently completed his third internship there, he’s realized he can do more good as a researcher. “Of course doctors are very helpful,” he says. “But doctors can only help one person at a time, more or less. If I can figure out a protein that can make a new antibiotic and have that antibiotic massproduced, I’m helping thousands, if not millions, at a time.” During his internships, Baumann worked on crystallizing proteins so other scientists could see their threedimensional structures and get clues about how they function within an organism. With this structural understanding, scientists can develop treatments that target specific weaknesses within pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Crystallizing is a complicated process because each culture plate can have a multitude of different conditions, but Baumann successfully crystallized two proteins, each listed in the National Protein Databank with his name. “It’s arduous work, but with the potential payoff in the end, it’s totally worth it,” he says. Fall 2011

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Harpur Fellows n Maura

McDevitt also used her

funding to connect with youth through language by reviving a Staten Island library summer reading program, whose budget had been cut to $100 for the entire summer. With ice cream socials, prizes and raffles to bring children into the library and read on their own, the program attracted more than 250 students. McDevitt got to know some well and loved helping them keep up with their reading between school Sarah SanGiovanni taught kids how to express themselves through writing.

years. “Some of the

Maura McDevitt revived a summer reading program.

most rewarding n Harpur College senior Sarah SanGiovanni is not an imposing

shares a chair with one of the kids, even

when these 6- and 7-year-old kids

figure. She’s thin and smiles easily, but

though there are plenty of higher stools

would come up and give you a hug and

when she stands up, every one of the

around.

be like, ‘thank you,’” she says. “That’s

SanGiovanni returns to the table and

eight girls around the table at Java Joe’s cool-kid coffee house notices.

“I got to really love those kids,”

one of the most sincere forms

SanGiovanni says later. “I got to know

of gratitude that you can get.”

“Where you going, Sarah?” one asks.

their families and their stories. I was

“Are you leaving?” another frets.

amazed by their stories.”

“No,” she responds as she walks over to a nearby countertop and picks up a

SanGiovanni is one of this year’s four Harpur Fellows who received up

bag. “I just didn’t want to lose my purse.” to $4,000 each — supported by donor funds — to pursue a passionate interest Over the summer, SanGiovanni

n Student gratitude struck

Santino DeAngelo during his project, too. As a Binghamton-area native, DeAngelo grew up seeing kids

connected with these kids (and a few

by working on self-designed summer

too familiar with violence and

more who couldn’t make it that day)

projects that better a community.

not familiar enough with art

as she taught them how to express

She chose this project because she

and theater. So he put on a

themselves through writing. She’s just

remembers how hard it was to find a

play for them.

handed out a book compiling their

creative outlet at that age.

work — comic strips, character profiles,

14

moments were

“It’s so important, especially at that

Working with Spanish majors, DeAngelo helped

poetry, etc. The girls, between the ages

age, for them to have the chance to

translate Federico García

of 11 and 16, are taking turns standing

look into themselves and find what they

Lorca’s 1933 Blood Wedding,

up and reading their favorite entries to

think is worth talking about and then

which is about a groom who

each other.

write about it,” she says.

takes revenge after his bride

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HARPUR perspective

runs away on their wedding night with an old flame. DeAngelo then worked with a playwright friend to create an entirely new production. DeAngelo invited local high-school students interested in acting to rehearsals. Two stayed the entire run and became the production’s stage left

Allison Jaekle brought the internet to a Costa Rican village.

and stage right managers. One of the cast members worked with Upward Bound students to talk about the

‘I noticed the foreshadowing at the end

she was buying the satellite from said

text before they saw the play during

of Act I.’ You have that in mind with

one of its distributors went out of

matinees (there were also regular shows

the kids the whole time, but when it

business, which meant it would now

for the general public).

happens, it takes you by surprise.”

cost her $4,000. That was her whole budget.

After each matinee, Katie Kane, senior assistant director in Binghamton

n Allison

Jaekle’s project surprised

Through persistence, however,

University’s Office of Undergraduate

her even before she started. Having

Jaekle found a vendor in Costa Rica

Admissions, talked with the students

spent time studying in a small Costa

who charged less for the satellite, and

and the cast, exploring how the play

Rican village, Jaekle planned to return

would be available for any necessary

dealt with breaking life patterns and how

to install a satellite to connect the

repairs, too. So she flew down to

that applied to their own lives.

town with the larger world — for all

supervise the installation and teach the

“We had an incredible discussion,”

the residents, but especially for the

villagers how to use the Internet.

Santino says. “These are kids from 12 to

children. Unfortunately, two weeks

16, 17, and we had some remarks like,

before she was to leave, the company

“For some of them, this was completely new,” she says. “It was very exciting seeing their reactions and being able to help them log onto the Internet for the first time. For me, this is something I’ve grown up with, so I got to live through them. Seeing their experience, I kind of got more excited about the Internet myself.” The experience also taught her something about herself: “I definitely realized how resourceful I can be. Now I know when I do get under pressure, that I can get out a great product. When everything seemed like it was falling apart, I was very surprised that I was able to pull it off and be that person who was calling every day and being pushy if I had to be and getting the

Santino DeAngelo used theater to encourage young people to reflect on personal choices.

job done.”

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HUGHES

HELP

$1.4M from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute will fund undergraduate research projects

U

ndergraduate research is thriving at Binghamton University, as 27 undergraduates work on 14 different research projects begun in May, funded by a $1.4 million, four-year grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Binghamton is one of 50 universities, including Harvard, Yale and Cornell, to receive the funding supporting interdisciplinary research for undergraduate majors in science and engineering and to develop scientific leaders of the future.

Working with faculty and graduatestudent mentors, the undergraduates started their projects over the summer and will continue them through this 2011-12 academic year. “They’ve bonded very well,” says Anna Tan-Wilson, distinguished teaching professor of biological sciences and HHMI program director. Nora Holt, a junior geology major, 16

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Fall 2011

was interested in gaining research experience. Working with faculty mentors Tim Lowenstein in geology and J. Koji Lum from anthropology and biological sciences, she’s doing graduatelevel research on the chemistry of ancient seawater and microbes and plans to do an honor’s thesis on the results. “This is a great opportunity to get me more involved,” she says. Her


HARPUR perspective

HHMI grant-funded projects/ departmental collaborations ◗ Ancient Microorganisms Communities in Fluid Inclusions in Halite and Gypsum — Geological Sciences, Anthropology, Biological Sciences ◗ Computer Recognition of Apoptotic vs. Normal Nuclei — Computer Science, Biological Sciences ◗ Genetic Basis for Mating Success — Biological Sciences, Mathematics ◗ Image Processing: Estimate Theory of Multiple Bacterial Species in Biofilms — Electrical Engineering, Biological Sciences

undergraduate team member, junior biological sciences major Gabriel Wolfson, was working on the project last year. “I really wanted the research experience and can continue it now because it was funded,” he says. The interdisciplinary nature of the projects posed challenges for the undergraduates. Some told Nancy Stamp, dean of the Graduate School and co-program director, they needed to work past the jargon of the different disciplines. “They said it was a revelation to them to see the faculty during joint lab meetings talk past each other in their disciplines’ jargon,” she says. “The undergraduates said they knew then how very important it was to create ‘common ground’ — one of the themes they had discussed in preparing for their projects.” The undergraduates reported on their progress and the results of the collaborations so far at an end-of-summer poster session. “I’ve never seen an undergraduate poster session where the students were so well prepared to discuss their posters,” said Stamp. “Interestingly, the students were both confident about

◗ Image Stitching, Devonian Forest Fossil Site — Biological Sciences, Computer Science

As program director, Anna Tan-Wilson is helping match students and faculty in research.

◗ Meta-analysis of DNA Microarray Studies on p53 — Biological Sciences, Bioengineering

their presentations and humbled by the realization that their projects were just the beginning of something bigger.” Tan-Wilson served as a matchmaker of sorts for many of the projects, pairing up faculty from the different disciplines. “We have five brand-new faculty in this group,” she said. “And we also had about 90 applications from students. A committee interviewed all of them, and then the faculty mentors held interviews and made the final selection of two students for each of the projects, half of them from groups underrepresented in these disciplines.” “All of the faculty with whom I spoke were very pleased with their undergraduates, and I think some were even a little surprised at how hard the students worked and what they had accomplished,” says Stamp. “One said that the two undergrads were unstoppable; one had discovered a ‘breakthrough’ piece of information that had stymied the lab group and the other wasn’t put off by anything she didn’t know, she ‘elbowed her way into every problem.’” Fall 2011

◗ P53 Binding to DNA in Nanofluidic Device — Physics, Biological Sciences ◗ Statistical-computer Based Technology to Determine Efficacy of Cancer Treatment — Bioengineering ◗ Vibrational Communication by Insects — Biological Sciences, Mechanical Engineering ◗ Watersheds and Wetlands: Reduction of Nutrients and Sediments — Biological Sciences, Geological Sciences ◗ Fe +2/Fe +3 Sensors — Chemistry ◗ DNA Binding to Carbon Nanotubes — Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering ◗ Glutamate Transport and Nociception — Chemistry, Psychology ◗ Computer Program for Mass Spectrometry-based Peptide Identification — Computer Science, Biological Sciences

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a leg up Freshman seminars combine intriguing intellectual issues with consideration of transition strategies

“It helps you transition and makes you feel more prepared.”

E

very year approximately 2,200 freshmen arrive on campus with new freedoms and great expectations. They’re starting to explore their interests and passions, trying to decide the right major, and beginning to think about what to do with the rest of their lives. But they lack a full understanding of what college work entails, what their professors do and where a liberal arts major may take them.

Dean Donald Nieman with students in his freshman seminar, Abraham Lincoln and the Problem of Slavery.

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To give them the tools for a successful transition while engaging them in spirited discussion and exploration of issues central to faculty members’ research, Harpur College collaborates with the Division of Student Affairs to offer seminars (open only to freshmen) that combine intriguing intellectual issues with consideration of transition strategies. The seminars debuted in 2010, when Harpur College offered eight of them. Because they were so successful, this fall Harpur is offering 13. Each two-credit seminar, restricted to 20 students, meets two hours a week. During one hour, the class explores issues critical to a faculty member’s research. For instance, Harpur College Dean Donald Nieman, a historian specializing in law, race relations and civil rights, examines Abraham Lincoln’s role in emancipation. During the second hour, a Student


HARPUR perspective

“I wanted to show that I was a hardcore student.”

Affairs professional takes what students learned in the first hour and applies it to the seven areas recognized as being most challenging for freshmen — time management, study skills, career exploration, leadership skills, campus resources, major selection and how to use the library for research. Sabrena Myers took the class to learn more about one issue — slavery. She was excited to hear different perspectives and likes to debate, but soon learned she needed to hone her skills since she didn’t cite sources, a college necessity. The class provided her with information on options for improving her writing skills and how to take advantage of campus services. “It’s good to have that transition,” she says. “Everybody in the class is a freshman, so everybody has the same questions and the same concerns. It

helps you transition and makes you feel more prepared.” Like Myers, Jerry Pomeranz took the class to examine one subject in depth, an opportunity high school didn’t offer. But the class also taught him how to strengthen his study habits with exercises like recording for a week how he spent his time — number of minutes spent watching TV, socializing, studying, etc. “I wanted to show that I was a hardcore student,” Pomeranz says. “I wanted to produce that image of myself. I spent a lot more time studying that week than I had previously, but it put me into a cycle that I’ve been in ever since.” English Professor Elizabeth Tucker, who taught a course exploring ghost stories in American culture, said she jumped at the chance to teach a seminar.

Harpur first-year student Kimberley Jabrouin presents to classmates in a seminar.

“It’s very important to bring together living and learning on our campus,” says Tucker, who is a former faculty master. “Residential life is such an important part of the students’ experience. With the faculty masters and Student Affairs staff, there are many efforts to make connections, but this is a new way to do it by combining academics and transitioning into the college setting.” For Dean Nieman, this intertwining of living and learning, academics and practical information, students and faculty is what the University is all about. “The thing that’s very special about Harpur is that we bring together very bright, highly motivated students with outstanding faculty,” he says. “These seminars afford freshmen the opportunity to interact with and learn from our senior research-active faculty teaching them.” Fall 2011

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HARPUR FACULTY Anne Brady is one of 100 people in the world trained to teach the intensive Linklater voice method, which she thinks works best for acting.

Freeing the voice. Freeing expression. Freeing the actor.

I

studying with its developer, Kristin Linklater, one of the top voice teachers in the world. Her list of students includes Patrick Stewart, Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Murray and countless others. Brady has studied several methods and feels this one works best for acting. bodies and voices, with a playwright’s “It’s based on impulse,” she says. “It words and with another human being — is uses imagination in addition to what’s the lost art I seek to teach young actors.” going on in the body anatomically. It uses Of course, the first step is to create a the whole body to fully express voice, safe space where actors can experiment. which requires the body to be free.” The next step is to loosen their bodies and To unleash the body, the Linklater their thinking. She starts with the voice. method takes actors through a whole Brady is one of 100 people in the world progression, starting with physical trained to teach the intensive Linklater relaxation exercises and moving through Voice Work, which requires personally breath and free sound. The next step is to

n today’s world, where communication is often mediated by an electronic device like a cell phone, e-mail or IM, theater Professor Anne Brady worries that we are losing the ability to connect with each other. Messages are shorter, less subtle. As a result, we have less intimacy and find it harder to express complex thoughts. It’s the worst possible environment to grow an actor. “Rarely are we present to experience how our words — even our typed words — affect the partner to whom they are directed,” Brady says. “It is not just our bodies and our voices that are atrophying, but our connection to our emotional life and to others. To truly partner — with our imagination and emotions, with our

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HARPUR perspective

Food for fellow writers

M

aria Mazziotti Gillan was thrilled to receive the 2010 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award — given to authors who help other writers and enrich the literary community — and not just because a fellow recipient was the well-known Maria Mazziotti Gillan earned the Barnes John Grisham. & Noble Writers for “It was the Writers Award for her justification of lifelong work helping everything my authors. parents tried to teach me about reaching out to other people and helping,” says the professor of English and director of both the creative writing program and the Binghamton Center for Writers. “They each did it in their own way, my mother through food, my father through all the help he provided. And I’ve done it by helping other writers and setting up programs.” It’s been a theme throughout Gillan’s career, starting when she established a poetry center in Paterson, New Jersey, one of the toughest cities in the country. People told her it was impossible, but she’s kept it vibrant for 30 years by bringing in virtually every famous poet America has produced in that time. Still the center’s executive director, she also started the Allen Ginsberg Awards, the Paterson Literary Review and the New Jersey Poetry Calendar. “Pass it on,” she says and uses a Biblical allusion: “It’s bread cast on the waters. If somebody opens a door for you, then you need to open a door for 10 people.”

Fall 2011

Joe Costa

in. On his last day, he said, “I’m going free a “channel,” which unlocks tensions now” and never came back. in the jaw, tongue and soft pallet so “So the sense of the family got built,” the voice can travel freely. There’s also Brady says. “When he no longer came to emphasis resonator work to open up rehearsals, the actors still had memories of different spaces that sound and voice him. There were pictures of him around can travel through. And, of course, it the room.” addresses articulation. One of Brady’s most uncommon “Through all of this, it’s about productions was Three Penny Opera, allowing the actor’s truth to be in which she partnered with Duoc revealed,” Brady says. “So you’re not Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile. trying to go for a beautiful voice. You’re The international production of Bertolt trying to free whatever this person Brecht and Kurt Weill’s 1928 musical has to say and free text through them. had Brady Skyping with coOther techniques are director Sebastian Dahm to very muscular. This is “It is not just talk about ideas and themes. based on relaxation and our bodies Then Brady and music liberates breath, sound and and our voices Professor Tim Perry took five emotion with imaginative that are lead actors and four ensemble exercises. That’s why I atrophying, members from Binghamton think it’s perfect for actors but our University to Chile to work because they rely on their connection to with Dahm and five leads and imagination to go into a our emotional several more ensemble actors play’s circumstances.” life and from Duoc. They rehearsed Brady uses many to others. in Santiago four weeks before innovative techniques to performing the play eight connect actors to the text, times. helping them explore the The production was then moved to worlds it contains. When she directed Binghamton University, where it added Charles Marowitz’s A Macbeth, a four more cast members from Binghamton disjointed play based on Shakespeare’s before rehearsing with a new student Macbeth, Brady skipped the customary orchestra on a very different stage. first read and, instead, had a team “It was a terrific experience,” Brady mutter the text to actors, thought by says. “Our students learned a lot from thought, without stress, intonation or going down there and making friends and interpretation. This allowed the actors working with a different culture. Basically, to connect with their breath, their we were all after the same thing. I was imagination, the words and their scene surprised how easy that was.” partners without worrying about or Brady says these kinds of experiences knowing what was coming next. and experiments, along with her When Brady directed David Lindsayexploration of voice, movement and Abaire’s Rabbit Hole, which is about a acting techniques, help her be a stronger husband and wife grieving the death artist and better teacher. of their 5-year-old son Danny, who “I am always exploring new ways of was killed in an automobile accident, teaching and new exercises for physical she cast a 5-year-old boy in the part and vocal release and expression,” she of Danny, though the character never says. “Whether I am teaching voice or appears onstage. The boy came to movement or acting, I desire to liberate rehearsals and played games, had picnics the creative self in each student, to and took pictures with the cast and awaken their curiosity and deepen their crew. Halfway through the rehearsal ability as actors to tell a story.” process, Brady stopped bringing Danny

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The inventor still leads “We’re riding a hot wave at the moment. My students are clearly happy, because there are tons of jobs out there.”

P

rofessor M. Stanley Whittingham is at the forefront of the movement to design the next generation of lithium-ion batteries. But that’s nothing new for the man who holds 16 patents, is number 17 in the Greentech Hall of Fame and invented the technology 40 years ago. Whittingham started his career strong, winning the Young Author Award from the Electrochemical Society in 1971 and quickly landing a job at Exxon, where he rode a wave of interest in alternative energy. It was the nation’s first energy crisis. Drivers had to wait in line for hours to get gas and industries and governments poured money into research. His team’s mandate at Exxon was simply to explore energy sources other than petroleum. He found one when he invented the lithium-ion battery. Today, it’s the heart of just about every personal device — laptops, tablets, smart phones, MP3 players. He quickly moved up the corporate ranks, but by the time he made it to division manager of chemical engineering, he realized that every promotion took him one step farther from his true passion: research. At the same time, the ground was shifting beneath him as industry wasn’t planning as far into the future, instead concentrating on the short-term bottom line. And politicians, not seeing immediate payoffs, cancelled funding. So, to continue his research, he left industry. Besides, he didn’t like firing people. “That’s not the business I want to be in,” he says in his quiet English accent with a smile. (If you close your eyes, you

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Harpur College of Arts and Sciences

The career of physics Professor Bruce White ’90 (below right) is a near-perfect mirror of M. Stanley Whittingham’s (above), if 20 years apart. Both enjoyed successful careers in industries that poured money into their research — Whittingham at Exxon, White at Motorola. Both left industry after the investment landscape changed and research support dried up. And both realized they wanted to make a deep impact on energy research, so they returned to academia.

would swear Michael Caine was in the room.) Through the ’80s and early ’90s, interest in alternative energies plummeted even further as gas remained cheap. But around the turn of the millennium, gas prices spiked and interest picked up. After the election of President Obama, interest hit an all-time high and Whittingham, as professor and director of both the Binghamton University Materials Science and Engineering program and the Northeastern Center for Chemical Energy Storage (NCCES), has more external funding for his research than ever.

Fall 2011

“We’re riding a hot wave at the moment,” he said. “My students are clearly happy, because there are tons of jobs out there. This is a good field to be in right now. It’s exciting. The country has finally realized that we’ve got to do something. We’ve been in the doldrums too long.” Whittingham and his students are trying to understand one of the more perplexing mysteries of batteries — why do they store only about 25 percent of the energy that calculations show they are capable of reaching? Whittingham is convinced that fundamental research — continued on page 24


HARPUR perspective

The romance of chemistry Gene Nolis’s reason for joining Professor

Frontier Research Center Newsletter,

M. Stanley Whittingham’s research

which is made up of researchers from

group might seem unusual — “I thought

MIT, Amherst and Argonne National

energy-based research was a romantic

Laboratory.

idea” — but not as unusual as his reason

Because of his hands-on work

for wanting to study chemistry in the first

in Whittingham’s group, Nolis

place.

has traveled all over the country

“Part of why I got into chemistry was

presenting his research (he won the

to publish and become an author,” he

best oral presentation award at the

says. “I guess I have a lot of romantic

Undergraduate Chemistry Meeting at

ideas, but why not become an author in

the University at Buffalo), working with

some fashion?”

some of the top scientists in the world

He’s succeeded. Only in his senior year, Nolis has already published articles in two juried periodicals — the Journal

Senior Gene Nolis has already had an academic career that would make a PhD candidate jealous.

and meeting congressmen who shape surpassed by a long shot ever since my

national energy policy.

involvement with the Whittingham group.

“So not only have I gotten a chemist’s

of Materials Chemistry and the Materials

fundamental perspective, but I’ve gotten

My ability to travel, go to conferences,

Research Society’s Proceedings. He’s

a political and an economic perspective

apply my research and become

also the only undergraduate appointed

as well,” he says. “My expectations

connected to high-quality individuals truly

to the editorial board of the Energy

through my studies in chemistry were

exceeded my expectations.”

Capturing the lost

E

very year, America generates 1020 joules of energy (equivalent of 10 billion barrels of oil), mostly through chemical means like combustion, but only about 40 percent of it is actually used for work; the rest is lost through wasted heat. Bruce White, associate

professor of physics, and his team are discovering materials that capture that unused energy. “Even if we’re not very efficient at collecting that energy, it’s still a lot of energy,” he says. “If we only get 10 percent of it, that would still be a tremendous amount.” He’s looking specifically at thermoelectric materials, which produce voltage when one part gets hot while another remains cold. They have been known for at least 100 years, but most are remarkably inefficient, and the best ones are either 10 times rarer than platinum or they’re toxic.

So White and his team are trying to make their own. They’re working with silicon because it’s abundant and has very efficient electrical properties, but it also conducts a lot of heat. However, computer simulations have shown that by randomly mixing atomic layers of silicon and a heavier substance like tin, thermal conductivity decreases by a factor of 10,000. “Silicon goes from having an efficiency of close to zero, to something in the 10 to 20 percent range,” he says. “And that’s a really big deal.” The team has succeeded in making materials and increasing efficiency, but it hasn’t been able to make any as efficient as simulations suggest. White thinks they’ve figured out why and the next round of experiments should help him understand if he’s right.

Fall 2011

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Digging through soot and dirt

D

iane Miller Sommerville is a selfproclaimed “research rat.” “There’s nothing I would rather do than be in the archives surrounding myself with letters that are 150 years old, covered with soot and dirt and haven’t been looked at for a very long time,” she said. “I love what I find.” Sommerville’s latest research project, “Aberration of Mind: Suicide, the South and Civil War,” not only shines new light on an under-examined topic, but has earned the associate professor of history a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. The fellowship will allow Sommerville, who also serves as director

contemporary problems such as suicide and mental illness were handled in the past. “I wondered how 19th-century southerners dealt with these problems that are so difficult for us in the 21st century,” she said. “Because I am a southern historian, it immediately took Diane Miller Sommerville me to the place where a large of undergraduate studies in the History number of people would have been taxed Department, to take a year off from psychologically — the end of the teaching to focus on writing a book on Civil War.” the topic. Read more at binghamton.edu/harpur/ The project developed when perspective/faculty/faculty-diane-millerSommerville decided to look at how sommerville.html

Whittingham

continued from page 22 looking at the chemistry, the physics and the materials themselves — will produce the next big breakthrough. “The actual material isn’t being fully utilized, and we don’t know why,” he says. “If we understand the mechanism, we can molecularly engineer the material so we get faster chemical

“I wondered how 19th-century southerners dealt with these problems that are so difficult for us in the 21st century.”

he says. “It’s energy and it wants to get out. We tell people that if you had invented the internal combustion engine today, you would not be able to commercialize it. You wouldn’t be allowed to carry that 20-gallon bomb around in the back of your car.” A major researcher in battery technology today is the auto industry as each company races to produce the most energy-efficient cars possible. But

“. . . if you want to store energy, it’s by definition unsafe.” reactions while keeping them safe.” Keeping the technology safe is a theme that quickly becomes apparent when talking to Whittingham. A great fear of researchers and industry is that a terrible accident might bring battery research to a grinding halt. But safety can be hard to define. “Most people out in the real world don’t understand that if you want to store energy, it’s by definition unsafe,”

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despite recent advances, Whittingham doesn’t see the American auto industry going all-electric anytime soon. The batteries are too big, too heavy and way too expensive. The current crop of all-electric cars can only travel about 40 miles before having to recharge. That’s fine for a daily commute or city living, but a family trip to the mountains would be out of the question, especially in an

environment like Binghamton, with its steep hills and cold winters. There’s been some talk about establishing battery-changing stations, but industry is unlikely to agree on a standard battery pack. Instead, Whittingham thinks that cars like the Chevy Volt are the next generation. Instead of being purely electric or using gasoline to augment the engine, the Volt uses gasoline to drive a generator, which charges the batteries. It can drive about 400 miles on its 9-gallon tank, but driving to work would be nearly free because it can travel about 35 miles before it needs to charge, which costs about $1.50. Despite the challenges, Whittingham says staying with gas-only vehicles isn’t an option anymore. Some say that oil production peaked around 2005, at the same time that demand began skyrocketing in countries like China and India. “World petroleum production is going down,” he says. “The petroleum century is gone. So we’ve got to find other sources of energy.”


HARPUR perspective

Distinguished Professors A practical man in an abstract world

An understanding man in a changing world

Many of the most influential findings of Shelley Zacks

The American cultural landscape is rapidly changing. Many

have arisen out of the practical need to address real-world

predict that by 2050, whites of European descent will

problems — how to track inventory, aiding the military

make up barely 50 percent of the U.S. population. Already

in “seeing” an enemy in blind situations, training IBM

non-Hispanic whites are a minority in four states, including

engineers in basic statistical quality control and helping

California and Texas. In nine more states, non-Hispanic

doctors treat cancer.

whites are approaching minority status.

The practicality is a bit surprising for a man who is

Yet, besides the color of the skin, this change is

comfortable uttering sentences like, “I later derived the

nothing new in

Bayes equivariant estimators of variance components.”

the American

(For the record, Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize the

experience. For

word “equivariant.”)

well over 150 years,

“Some mathematicians like to work on abstract

foreign groups

things — they don’t care whether it is applicable or not,”

flocked to the

says Zacks. “Usually what I like is to get a good applied

United States in

problem and try to develop the mathematics around it.

successive waves,

A model should not be built around some mathematical

concentrating

analysis just for

in big-city

the sake of doing

neighborhoods

mathematics alone.”

and small towns,

It’s hard to overstate

making many

Zacks’ influence on the

native-born

field and on industry.

Americans anxious

He’s published seven

as the immigrants

ground-breaking books,

changed the look John Frazier

each written after applying mathematics

and feel of their new environs.

to a real-world problem

“I try to show students historically that it’s a

like helping a soil

constant trend,” says geography Professor John

scientist figure out

Frazier, who was recently named distinguished service

a common mean of

professor by SUNY and given the Ethnic Geography

mineral distribution.

Career Award by the Association of American

In 2009, the journal

Geographers for his pioneering work on ethnicity. “The

Communications in Statistics – Theory and

role of human geography is to explain what places in Shelley Zacks

Methods dedicated

the country are like and how they are changing, and in this context, due to immigration and ethnicity.” Frazier

an entire issue to his work, with 40 scientists submitting

is also revered as the founder of the Conference on Race,

articles influenced by Zacks’ contributions. Earlier this year,

Place, and Ethnicity, which he and a group of colleagues

SUNY named Zacks a distinguished professor.

initiated at Binghamton University in 2002.

Read more at binghamton.edu/harpur/perspective/ faculty/distinguished-professor-zacks.html

Read more at binghamton.edu/harpur/perspective/ faculty/distinguished-professor-frazier.html

Fall 2011

Harpur College of Arts and Sciences

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HARPUR ALUMNI An exciting opportunity to make a connection

L

ike many students of her generation, Deborah Broderick ’81 didn’t immerse herself in Binghamton University extracurricular activities. She went to class, studied and hung out with friends, but she didn’t go to athletic events or write for the school paper. She wasn’t a “club joiner.” “But that’s not to mean as an alum, I don’t feel a strong connection with the University,” she says. “I absolutely do.” Through her work as associate vice president of marketing communications at New York University, Broderick uses her skills to serve her alma mater by sitting on the alumni magazine’s advisory council and, most recently, sharing her devotion to her work with Harpur

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Harpur College of Arts and Sciences

sophomore Gina Aufiero through the Liberal Arts to Careers Externship (LACE) program. As an anthropology major in Harpur College, Aufiero was impeded from exploring a career interest in marketing because formal classes on the subject are generally reserved for School of Management students. But through the LACE program, Broderick put Aufiero in a real-world marketing environment. During the summer, she shadowed Broderick’s colleagues, attended meetings, went to lunch with employees and saw how projects evolved. Aufiero quickly realized how her major related to the field. “It’s really all about understanding

Fall 2011

people and your audience and communicating your product in the right way,” she says. “That’s all about understanding culture.” By making that connection, Aufiero can now make informed choices about electives, internships, minors and other academic options during her junior and senior years, which is precisely the aim of LACE. This summer, 16 students and 16 alumni participated in the pilot program, with more matches planned for winter break and next summer. Harpur Jess Lorden ’83 says it was really fun getting to know Binghamton University student Aleksandar Vukasinovic.


HARPUR perspective

sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply, though selection is based on an evaluation of their application, résumé and a letter of recommendation, and preference is given to sophomores. Selected students are matched with alumni, who help them explore career options. Jess Lorden ’83, associate general counsel at IBM, was one of a team of alumni who mentored Aleksandar Vukasinovic through LACE. A quadruple major — human development, financial economics, political science and computer science — Vukasinovic is considering a career in law but, obviously, has wide interests. Lorden took that into account when designing his externship, seeking to expose him to IBM’s business culture, computer manufacturing and her own passion for corporate law practice. “It’s such a rare opportunity to get an insight into the legal world at the stage that I am and to see how business in conducted,” Vukasinovic says. “And when we were going to the chip factory, it was eye-opening to see this process done. You read about it in a textbook and you see a picture, but it’s different when you actually go there and get into the white suit and start interacting with the environment.” By the end of his externship, Vukasinovic felt part of the team, like he had been at IBM far longer than his handful of visits. He appreciates his new friendships with the alumni and knows they will last well into the future. The alumni feel the same way. “We all felt really good about what we did and we got to meet a current student who we now have a connection with, who we can continue to help going forward,” Lorden says. “It was really fun to have someone who is living it now at Binghamton.” For more information or to participate, contact Wendy Neuberger ’81, MBA ’84, at wneuberg@binghamton.edu or 607-777-2400.

Highpowered attorney, relaxed professor

T

he informal teaching style of acquisition of the faculty into the Jeffrey L. Tanenbaum ’73 collegiate structure is not going to wouldn’t come as a surprise to accomplish anything if the formal anyone who knows him. separation of the two groups remains.” Yes, he was a highAfter 32 years powered New York in private practice, City attorney. Yes, Tanenbaum had a he was involved in chance to implement the representation that philosophy this of General Motors semester when he as it moved through returned to Harpur Chapter 11. And College to teach yes, he was named “World of Corporate Dealmaker of the Reorganization,” a oneYear in 2010 by The credit course on the American Lawyer recent financial crisis Jeffrey L. Tanenbaum ’73 magazine. and how corporations But as president in trouble can of Hinman College in the early restructure themselves and work their ’70s, he argued for a closer working way through bankruptcy. relationship between students and “It’s almost a crash course on faculty, writing in a letter published in what’s happened to us over the last the Hinman Halitosis: five years,” Tanenbaum says. “It’s “[Students] need a system something I always wanted to do. where they can make friends more I enjoy it a lot and it gives me an readily, interact with people more opportunity to give something back on a personal level, faculty and to the school as well. It’s been quite administration included. The rewarding.”

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Harpur College of Arts and Sciences

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HARPUR perspective

To watch a video, scan the code or visit binghamton.edu/harpur/ perspective/alumni/to-beseen-and-heard.html

To be seen and heard

T

wo years ago, alumnus John Liu ’88 was elected

Chung Seto, who ran John Liu’s successful comptroller

New York City comptroller, the first Asian American

campaign and is now his advisor; Kevin Kim, candidate for

to win citywide office. In May at the SUNY Global

New York City Council from Queens; and Lisa Yun, associate

Center in New York City, Binghamton University’s Asian

professor in the departments of English, General Literature

and Asian American Alumni Council (AAAAC) assembled

and Rhetoric and of Asian and Asian American Studies at

a panel to explore whether his election was an anomaly

Binghamton University. The moderator was Rocky Chin, civil rights attorney

or a milestone that signaled a rising Asian-American

and cofounder of the Asian American Bar Association of

political voice.

New York. Comptroller Liu made remarks.

The panelists were Margaret Chin, the first Asian American elected to Manhattan’s District 1; Grace Meng, the only Asian American in the New York State Assembly;

To view more photos, visit Harpur’s Facebook page: facebook.com/HarpurCollege.

Bestselling author Anita Diamant ’75 returns to Harpur Best-selling author Anita Diamant ’75 returned to campus in April for the first time since she graduated. “Things have changed a lot, not only in terms of the landscape, but also in terms of the energy and enthusiasm,” she said. “I’m very proud to be an alumna of Binghamton.” Bat-Ami Bar On, professor of philosophy and women’s studies, director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and chair of the Judaic Studies Department, interviewed Diamant before an audience in the Anderson Center’s Osterhout Concert Theater. Their discussion centered on Diamant’s first novel, The Red Tent, and her latest book, Day After Night, a work of historical fiction that focuses on a detention camp run by the British in Palestine immediately after World War II. To view the full video of the event, visit binghamton.edu/harpur/perspective/videos 28

Harpur College of Arts and Sciences

Fall 2011

To watch a video and read more, scan the code or visit binghamton.edu/harpur/perspective/alumni/ alumni-anita-diamant.html


why I support BinghamtoN University

Jay. S. Benet ’74, vice chairman and chief financial officer of The Travelers Companies, Inc., supports transformative learning experiences like the Harpur Fellows Program, which enables highly motivated undergraduate students to follow their passions by funding their self-designed projects — projects that have a real impact on a community. “It’s not just about writing a check,” he says. “You can write a check to anybody. It’s about giving something that people will use in a way that is successful and productive.”

bold.brilliant.binghamton.edu


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PAID Binghamton University

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Harpur Perspective Magazine