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Binghamton Research Binghamton University


State University of New York


Fall/Winter 2011

Drought on the horizon?

As federal funds slow to a trickle, Binghamton researchers turn to new sources of support


Graveyard shift Historian says Civil War may have killed far more than previously believed

This photo of men wounded at Fredericksburg during the Civil War comes from the Library of Congress.

Binghamton Research Binghamton University

State University of New York

Fall/Winter 2011




34 c o n t en t s




About Binghamton Research

International insight

Tracking childhood depression to its source


Study identifies challenges facing brands with global ambitions

Psychologist explores roles of nature, nurture





Get real

These Binghamton scholars have a global reach

Simulation offers new solutions for industry, medicine



One world

Student research

Have we reached the end of an era?


Honors Young faculty win prestigious NSF grants

8 Research at risk Federal budget cuts threaten to undermine scientific exploration at American universities

14 Graveyard shift



The heart of the matter


Educating women about heart attacks could save lives


Historian says Civil War may have killed far more than previously believed


Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011


About Binghamton Research Editorial Staff

New York State Center of Excellence

Editor Rachel Coker,

Organized Research Centers

Art Direction and Design Martha P. Terry Photography Jonathan Cohen, iStock Images Contributing Writers Eric Coker, Rachel Coker, Merrill Douglas, Gail Glover, Doug McInnis, Kevin Singer, Andrew Tutino, Barb Van Atta, Dom Yanchunas Copy Editing Diana Bean, Katie Ellis, John Wojcio Illustrations iStock Images

Binghamton University C. Peter Magrath President Bahgat Sammakia Interim Vice President for Research Marcia R. Craner Vice President for External Affairs Binghamton Research is published twice a year by the Division of Research, with cooperation from the Office of University Communications and Marketing. Permission is granted to use part or all of any article published here. Appropriate credit and a tearsheet are requested. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Binghamton Research, Office of Research Advancement, PO Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000. Binghamton University is strongly committed to affirmative action. We offer access to services and recruit students and employees without regard to race, color, gender, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or national origin. Printed on paper that contains 55 percent recycled content with 30 percent post-consumer waste.

Printed at a facility that is 100 percent wind powered.

Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center (S3IP) Director Bahgat Sammakia, Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM) Director Peter Borgesen, Center for Advanced Sensors and Environmental Systems (CASE) Director Omowunmi Sadik, Center for Applied Community Research and Development (CACRD) Director Pamela Mischen, Center for Autonomous Solar Power (CASP) Director Charles R. Westgate, Center for Cognitive and Psycholinguistic Sciences (CaPS) Director Cynthia Connine, Center for Development and Behavioral Neuroscience (CDBN) Director Norman Spear, Center for Emerging Technologies in Healthcare (CETH) Director Bahgat Sammakia Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender (CHSWG) Co-Directors Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin, Center for Integrated Watershed Studies (CIWS) Director John Titus, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture (CPIC) Director Maria Lugones, Center for Leadership Studies (CLS) Director Francis Yammarino, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) Director Marilyn Desmond, Center for the Teaching of American History (CTAH) Director Adam Laats, Center for Writers (CW) Director Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Clinical Science and Engineering Research Center (CSERC) Director Kenneth McLeod, Institute for Energy-Efficient Electronic Systems (IEEES) Director Kanad Ghose, Institute for Materials Research (IMR) Director M. Stanley Whittingham, Institute of Biomedical Technology (IBT) Director John G. Baust Integrated Electronics Engineering Center (IEEC) Director Bahgat Sammakia, Linux Technology Center (LTC) Director Merwyn Jones, Public Archaeology Facility (PAF) Director Nina Versaggi, Roger L. Kresge Center for Nursing Research (KCNR) Interim Director Ann Myers,

Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

Institutes for Advanced Studies

Throughout this magazine, you’ll see QR codes like the one shown here. Scan them with your phone and you’ll be taken to online-only extras. (This one will take you to Discover-e, our online newsletter.) All you need is a QR reader. Point your phone’s Web browser to, and you’ll be directed to an app for your Android phone or iPhone.


Center for Korean Studies Director Sungdai Cho, Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations (FBC) Director Richard E. Lee, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) Director Bat-Ami Bar On, Institute for Asia and Asian Diasporas (IAADS) Director John Chaffee, Institute for Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) Director David Sloan Wilson, Institute of Global Cultural Studies (IGCS) Director Ali Mazrui, Institute for Intergenerational Studies (IIS) Director Laura Bronstein, Watson Institute for Systems Excellence (WISE) Director Krishnaswami (Hari) Srihari,


It’s no secret that cutting-edge research is costly. There are scientists to be paid, laboratory equipment to be purchased, graduate students to be trained and so forth. And so Binghamton University faculty members are looking to new funding sources — private industry, foundations and venture capitalists, to name but a few — as the federal government cuts spending on research and development. Our researchers are determined to continue with their innovative work in fields ranging from information security to chemical sensors. We’re proud of this spirit of inquiry, one that this year led to a record 14 patents being awarded to faculty researchers. We’re also eager to see the findings of our scholars engaged in projects with a healthcare focus. Brandon Gibb is investigating the sources of childhood depression and trying to tease apart questions of nature vs. nurture. Meanwhile Pamela Stewart Fahs, who has devoted much of her career to rural health, has a new scheme for educating women about heart attack symptoms. Her method could be a new line of defense against heart disease, the No. 1 killer of American women.


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A drive toward new insights and ideas also leads Binghamton faculty members to explore foreign places and cultures. Our scholars examine topics such as global brands, Korean cuisine and the meaning of cross-cultural gift giving. And at Binghamton’s internationally renowned Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations, researchers view the globe through the unique lens of world-systems analysis. Take a look at places around the world where our scholars are making their mark using our Facebook app at and in this issue of Binghamton Research.

Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

National Science Foundation CAREER Award


Energy-efficient programming boosts ‘green’ computing Yu David Liu plans to design a computer language that will allow — and encourage — programmers to create more energy-efficient software.

Computer scientist Yu David Liu’s interest in energy-efficient computing led him to the nascent field of  “green”   software development. Computers and electronic devices, ranging from smartphones to servers, consume a steadily growing amount of energy. In recent years, computer scientists have developed an interest in paring back this consumption, though generally they’ve approached the challenge through modifying hardware or perhaps operating systems. Liu plans to tackle the problem by considering how programmers can create more energy-efficient software. Liu, who joined Binghamton’s faculty in 2008, received a five-year, $448,641 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, the agency’s most prestigious award for young researchers. He also received a $50,000 grant from Google for a related research project. “Saving energy is an activity that should come from many layers,” says Liu, who plans to build energy-related parameters into a programming language. None of the mainstream computer languages supports energy-aware programming, he says. However, language designers often create a blueprint that can be extended. Java, for instance, could be extended as EnergyJava and remain 90 percent the same. Such moderate changes would make it possible for programmers to adopt it relatively easily.

“I think every researcher wants to make the world better, and we just put it into our own perspective,”  he says. “ Sometime in the future, every Computer Science 101 class may include a lecture or two on energy-aware programming. As an educator, I’m excited about helping to ensure that next-generation programmers are green-conscious from the beginning of their careers.”


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There isn’t much history in this area, Liu says, so it’s hard to say how quickly industry will react to the development of an energy-efficient language. However, new language designs have the potential to influence how millions of programmers think.

Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

National Science Foundation CAREER Award


Atomic-level view affords mechanical engineer new insights Guangwen Zhou’s bold microscope techniques lead to a grant from the NSF’s most prestigious program for young faculty.

Mechanical engineer Guangwen Zhou studies surface structure and chemistry at the atomic level. His work on oxidation and reduction reactions could one day lead to more durable gadgets as well as more environmentally friendly electronics-manufacturing processes. Zhou, who joined Binghamton’s faculty in 2007, recently received a five-year grant of more than $400,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program to support his research. Zhou plans to create reaction models for the reduction of metal oxides —  such as copper oxides  —  at the atomic scale and then link them to the models for larger-scale reactions. (Time out for a brief chemistry lesson: Oxidation is the loss of electrons. Reduction is the gain of electrons. These processes govern phenomena ranging from fire to rust.) Zhou’s work takes advantage of new high-tech in situ microscopy techniques that allow him to observe reactions at the atomic level as they’re happening. “Seeing is believing, right?” he says, explaining the benefits of observing chemical reactions in this way. Zhou uses transmission electron microscopes and scanning electron microscopes at Binghamton’s Analytical and Diagnostics Laboratory. He also collaborates with researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Pittsburgh.

“This is a very old field, but we have very little knowledge of these processes at the atomic scale,” he says. “It will push our fundamental understanding forward.”


Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

The research could enable electronic devices to be manufactured at lower temperatures. It has practical applications for materials processing related to thin films, fuel reactions, heterogeneous catalysis and gas sensing, too. Zhou also intends to develop a virtual transmission electron microscope as part of the project.

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s t u c t e g d u b l a r Fede ine m r e d n u o t n e t threa tion a r lo p x e c ifi t n scie at American universities


If the future echoes the past, the U.S. economy of the 21st century will be fueled by scientific breakthroughs. The money needed for such research has often come from the federal government. But here the past and the future may diverge. As Congress takes aim at budget deficits, science funding at every American research university is in the cross hairs.

“We have faculty who have been funded for 20 years or more who may not be funded,” says Lisa Gilroy, assistant vice president in Binghamton’s Office of Sponsored Programs. “As a statesupported school, we’re feeling it from

state budget cuts, too. Sometimes, it’s a twofold blow.” Major cuts could seriously dent Binghamton’s fast-growing research program. Current research awards of $44 million annually are nearly triple the $15.4 million of just 15 years ago. And research is a machine that requires constant feeding. “It’s personnel, it’s equipment, it’s infrastructure,” Gilroy says. “Research is costly.” Even before the budget ax began to fall, science funding was in trouble. Although federal science spending had been inching up since 2005, when adjusted for inflation, spending had been falling quickly, according to National Science Foundation reports.

With that in mind, Binghamton researchers are already in search of new funding. For instance, Jessica Fridrich, professor of electrical and computer engineering, may look to the movie industry to pay for her video technology research. Her technology can be used by law-enforcement officials to trace video back to specific recorders, an innovation useful when tracking bootleggers. Chemistry Professor Omowunmi Sadik may look for venture-capital funding or licensing revenue to support her work in sensor technology. Her sensors could be used to monitor food and water for contaminants, detect weapons of terror or look for diseases such as cancer. Steven Jay Lynn, distinguished professor of psychology, is collaborating with Dutch researchers on sleep-deprivation studies. The Dutch government is providing most of the funding.


Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

That threat has spurred Binghamton University researchers to look for new funding sources — including private industry, foundations, think tanks, venture capitalists and licensing agreements. One researcher has aligned with scientists at a European university who still have cash to spend. Others plan to scale back the scope of their research if necessary. Federal cash isn’t easily replaced: It has made up more than half of all university research funds in recent years.

In the 2011 fiscal year, federal science spending will fall $5.2 billion from 2010 levels, according to data compiled by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Most of the cuts will hit defense-related research, but more than a billion dollars will come out of the federal research budget for health, energy, homeland security and agriculture. Much larger science cuts in the 2012 budget are expected if Congress proceeds with proposals to slash trillions of dollars in overall spending.

“What is lost if I can’t fund this work? That’s t he million-dollar qu estion.” — Jessica Frid rich, prof and computer essor of electrical engineering

Jessica Fridrich Since: 1991 : $5,120,538 Funding to date

ing by Sponsor Binghamton Research Fund 18%

1% 1% 2%

Federal ards) Federal Flow Through (Subaw ts State and Local Governmen tions Business, Private Organiza and Industry anizations Foundations and Health Org

8% 59%

Foreign Colleges and Universities


Federal Research Funding Current dollars

Billions of dollars

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120 110 100

Constant dollars (adjusted for inflation)

90 80 70 60 50






? Without federal support for research, the next breakthrough medical treatment or must-have electronic gadget may not make it to market.

But for some researchers, the money may run out. One is Ralph Miller, distinguished professor of psychology. Miller does basic research in the areas of learning, memory and decision making. Basic research has no immediate commercial application, but it may provide the theoretical underpinnings of future treatments or products. Though Miller has received federal support for all 32 of the years he has been at Binghamton, the National Institutes of Health has said that he must do more applied research or lose his funding. Applied research is designed to result in new products or treatments relatively quickly. (The NIH is to receive a $329 million budget cut in fiscal 2011.)

In any case, the competition for grants will increase. “If the pool of money shrinks, then I have to put in better proposals,” says Patrick Regan,

professor of political science. He has used funds from the National Science Foundation, the World Bank and the CIA to model what happens when third parties intervene in conflicts in other nations. His work focuses on hypothetical situations, but the findings have applications today. “Libya is a perfect example,”  he says. With the prospect of less federal funding, Regan is seeking money from the U.S. Institute for Peace, created by Congress in 1984 to promote peace and conflict resolution. He will again try the National Science Foundation. “But if I don’t get funding for any one year, I don’t think my life will change,”  he says.  “I still have things to do with data I’ve already collected.” That approach may not work in the life or physical sciences, which have to keep labs running and scientific teams together. “If I were in chemistry and maintained a lab with five post-docs, and my lab shut down, I’d be pretty bummed out,” Regan says. Federal science cuts will damage the economy as well, researchers say. “What is lost if I can’t fund this work?” Fridrich asks. “That’s the million-dollar question. How much is lost if you can’t obtain intelligence in time to prevent


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Miller has enough money to continue his research for another 2½ years. When it runs out, he will discontinue his costly animal research and will switch to using human subjects.  “That’s what I can do without NIH money and still continue the direction of my basic research,”  he says.

Ralph Miller Since: 1979 Funding to date: $4,689,064

ey n o m f o l o o p “If the shrinks, then in t u p o t e v a h I ls.” a s o p o r p r e t bet egan, — Patrick R al science politic professor of

Patrick Regan Since: 1997 Funding to date: $321,699

(a terrorist act)? How much is lost if you can’t show a movie pirate created bootleg movies? You can’t really put a price tag on these things.”

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At the same time, failing to pay for science now could mortgage the nation’s future. “  Science is not a luxury,” the late John Marburger III, former science advisor to President George W. Bush and then-vice president for research at Stony Brook University, wrote in an April 2011 opinion piece in The Huffington Post. “Economists estimate that approximately half of post-WWII economic growth is directly attributable to R&D-fueled technological progress.” Major cuts would also crimp the pipeline that supplies tomorrow’s scientists. Typically, future scientists learn by serving as undergraduate and graduate research assistants to faculty members. Cut the research budget, and there’s no money to pay them. “I had to let go a post-doctoral assistant,” says Fridrich, who is skimping along on her last remaining research grant. Having fewer scientists would cost the U.S. heavily, Sadik says. “It would reduce our global competitiveness,”  she says. That’s because cuts may not only shut the door on promising American


students, but also slash the number of talented foreign students who come to study in the United States. American industry might pay the biggest price. Universities are bastions of basic research — research that is costly and often doesn’t pay off for decades. In recent years, industry has increasingly looked to universities for the basic-research breakthroughs that lead to new products. Without these innovations, in fields such as physics, chemistry and biology, we wouldn’t have today’s cheap, fast computers, manned space flight or high-tech medicines. As the crunch hits, some researchers may find cheaper ways to pursue research. There is precedent for economic necessity forcing scientists to think outside the box. The Soviet Union is a key example. It was denied access to advanced Western computers during the Cold War. With no alternatives, Soviets created sophisticated software that enabled scientists to do more with the secondrate computers they did have. Russian computer scientist Igor Agamirzian described the Soviet system in the April 1991 issue of Byte, one of the leading computer magazines

Steven Lynn Since: 1996 Funding to date: $413,725 of that time. “My fellow students and I were proud of Soviet software engineering, convinced that there were positive aspects in our dated computer hardware: It was a training factor that enabled us to engineer applications that were better than the American programs. Americans, we thought, did not care about efficiency. But we had to, so we were better programmers.” The United States has suffered fewer deprivations, and its well-funded science system has helped create the world’s strongest economy. But even in good times, federal money was hardly guaranteed. “I believe the majority of grant proposals are not funded,” Lynn says. “It has always been very tight.” Now things could get tighter still, forcing researchers to make tough choices.

Omowunmi Sadik Since: 1996 Funding to date: $2,987,387

— Doug McInnis


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“More than ever, I feel I have to pick and choose the projects I want to do,” Lynn says. “Right now, I’m doing research at Binghamton that can be done without outside funding. If I could get the grants, I would be doing different research. In a sense, tight budgets force people to decide what they can and cannot do. You have to allocate resources, and you have to make every hour of research count.”


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A soldiers cemetery in Alexandria, Va., as seen in a picture from the Library of Congress.


Historian says Civil War may have killed far more than previously believed

The Civil War stands as the deadliest conflict in U.S. history. Hundreds of thousands died in battle. Poor conditions in military encampments took the lives of many more. The effects of this bloody conflict reverberated across the lives of the 3 million men who fought in the war as well as the generations that followed.

J. David Hacker probes census data to provide new perspectives on 19th-century history.

“Even if the number of war dead was ‘only’ 620,000, that still created a huge impact, especially in the South, and a figure of 750,000 makes that impact — and the demographic shadow it threw on the next two generations of Americans — just that much greater.” — James McPherson, the preeminent living historian of the Civil War

A new analysis of census data suggests that this grisly era was even more costly than experts previously believed. Binghamton University historian J. David Hacker says the war’s dead numbered about 750,000, an estimate that’s 20 percent higher than the commonly cited figure of 620,000. His findings will be published in December in the journal Civil War History. “The traditional estimate has become iconic,” Hacker says. “It’s been quoted for the last hundred years or more. If you go with that total for a minute — 620,000 — the number of men dying in the Civil War is more than in all other American wars from the American Revolution through the Korean War combined. And consider that the American population in 1860 was about 31 million people, about one-tenth the size it is today. If the war were fought today, the number of deaths would total 6.2 million.”

Pulitzer Prize-winner James McPherson, the preeminent living historian of the war, says he finds Hacker’s new estimate plausible. “Even if it might not be quite as high as 750,000, I have always been convinced that the consensus figure of 620,000 is too low, and especially that the figure of 260,000 Confederate dead is definitely too low,” McPherson says. “My guess is that most of the difference between the estimate of 620,000 and Hacker’s higher figure is the result of underreported Confederate deaths.” Some researchers have tried to recount deaths in selected companies, regiments and areas. But Hacker says these attempts at a direct count will always miss people and therefore always underestimate deaths. “There are also huge problems estimating

J. David Hacker speaks about his findings. Visit civilwar or scan this code to see the video.

mortality with census data,”   he explains. “You can track the number of people of certain ages from one census to the next, and you can see how many are missing. But the potential problem with that is that each census undercounted people by some unknown amount, and an unknown number of people moved in and out of the country between censuses.” However, new data sets produced in the past 10 years or so, instead of giving the aggregate number of people in certain age groups, identify each person and his or her age, race and birthplace. Hacker realized that civilian deaths were so low relative to soldiers’ deaths that he could compare the number of native-born men missing in the 1870 census relative to the number of native-born women missing and produce an estimate from that. He looked at the ratio of male survival relative to female survival for each age group and established a “normal” pattern in survival rates for men and women by looking at the numbers for 1850-1860 and 1870-1880. Then he compared the war decade, 1860-1870, relative to the pattern. Hacker’s method allowed him to get around the problem of differential census counts, too. The 1870 census, for instance, was notoriously poor in the South. But in this context it shouldn’t matter: If it’s bad for men, it’s also bad


Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

The 620,000 estimate, though widely cited, is also widely understood to be flawed. Neither the Union nor the Confederacy kept standardized personnel records. And the traditional estimate of Confederate war dead — 258,000 — was based on incomplete battle reports and a crude guess of deaths from disease and other non-combat causes. “It’s probably shocking to most people today that neither army felt any moral obligation to count and name the dead or to notify survivors,” Hacker says.

“About half the men killed in battles were buried without identification. Most records were geared toward determining troop strength.”

! Historian J. David Hacker’s new estimate of Civil War dead is greater than all American war deaths from the Revolution to the present. It fundamentally changes our ideas about the human and psychic costs of the conflict.

for women, which preserves the pattern. Hacker added in the conventional estimate of black soldiers’ deaths. On the civilian side, an estimated 50,000 people died as a result of the war. Hacker assumes the number of civilian deaths among white women age 10 to 44 is zero in his model, so that can’t account for his number being higher than the conventional estimate.

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Hacker says he found approximately 750,000 male deaths beyond what would have been expected over the course of the decade. His estimate includes deaths of men who may have been wounded on the battlefield or contracted a disease in camp and then died at home. It also includes deaths from Cold Mountain-style guerilla warfare. About 30,000 of the men who participated in the war would have died even if there hadn’t been a war, so Hacker sees his estimate as conservative even though it’s far higher than the conventional figure. Hacker’s new estimate of Civil War deaths spans a wide margin: 650,000 to 850,000, with 750,000 as the central figure. “Highlighting the potential error in my estimate also calls attention to the potential error in other ways of arriving at estimates,”   he says.   “The war came right at the beginning of modern statistical understanding. It’s the first war when we can try to count all these people, but we can’t do it well. In some ways, this number is our best estimate of the social costs of the war. So it’s important to get it right.”


Lesley J. Gordon, professor of history at the University of Akron and editor of Civil War History, the oldest peerreviewed journal focused on the era, says she knew that Hacker’s findings were exciting as soon as she read his paper. “What I appreciate about it is he’s showing us that you can take an accepted fact like these numbers and, yes, there are reasons to be doubtful,” she says. “There are ways to challenge ourselves and think about things that have been accepted all these years. The number has been undercounted. It might not be exact, and that’s OK, but we’re still off by a considerable amount.” Like earlier estimates, Hacker’s includes men who died in battle as well as soldiers who died as a result of poor conditions in military camps.  “Roughly two out of three men who died in the war died from disease,” he says. “The war took men without acquired immunities to infectious diseases from all over the country and brought them all together into crowded camps that became very filthy very quickly. It was a decade before some key discoveries in microbiology about disease pathogens and sanitation. They had a sense that cleaner air and water is healthy, of course, but they didn’t have a sense of clean water at the microbiological level.” Deaths resulted from diarrhea, dysentery, measles, typhoid and malaria, among other illnesses. There’s debate among historians about the destructiveness of the war. Was it a  “total” war, a war levied against a population, not just an army? “If you want to argue that the conflict was very destructive, the 750,000 number could certainly suggest that,” Hacker says. “On the other hand, you could emphasize that neither army directly targeted the civilian population, that the number of civilian deaths was relatively low and that most soldiers’ deaths were not on the battlefield. Only when you add both sides’ casualties, which we don’t do for other wars, can you get to that total.”

He notes that the new figure would indicate higher numbers of widows and orphans in the post-war years. If his revised estimate is accurate, the new death count is greater than all American war deaths from other conflicts combined, from the Revolution to the present day. It fundamentally changes our ideas about the human and psychic costs of the conflict. Gordon agrees. “When you have that many men gone, 20 percent more men dead, it does add a layer to the suffering,” she says. “It adds to our understanding of that generation.” At the very least, she says, Hacker’s findings mean that historians need to put a large asterisk next to the commonly cited death toll. McPherson says Hacker’s new figure should gain acceptance among historians of the era. “An accurate tally — or at least a reasonable estimate — is important in order to gauge the huge impact of the war on American society,” he says. “Even if the number of war dead was ‘only’ 620,000, that still created a huge impact, especially in the South, and a figure of 750,000 makes that impact — and the demographic shadow it threw on the next two generations of Americans — just that much greater.” — Rachel Coker

Historian Diane Miller Sommerville hopes to better understand the Southern psyche during and after the Civil War.

Suicide in the Civil War South Another Binghamton historian is contributing to new ideas about the Civil War and its consequences. Diane Miller Sommerville’s latest project, Aberration of Mind: Suicide, the South and Civil War, shines new light on an under-examined topic.

Sommerville received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Award to support her work on the topic.

This led some soldiers to commit suicide before going off to war, en route to battle or after the fighting. “To go home a failure or a coward was not an option because it would taint them for the rest of their lives,” Sommerville says. “The dilemma for many young men was: ‘What do I do? I’m afraid to fight but I can’t go home because I’ll be labeled a coward.’”

In examining the personal and societal costs of the Civil War in the South, Sommerville found that southern men and Confederate

Southern women, meanwhile, were sometimes drawn to suicide because of the deaths of loved ones. They often found themselves in the

unusual situation of no longer being protected or provided for by their husbands. “In war, that arrangement is thrown out the window, and these women are asked to deal with new roles in society,” Sommerville says. “They have to protect their homes and children, and they have not been prepared to do this.” It is important to understand that there was significant psychological suffering in the South during and after the war, Sommerville says. “There was a generation of men and women, especially in the South, who really suffered,” she says. “This was a social consequence of the Civil War, and so much war research has focused on the military and emancipation. This is an opportunity to learn something more about the Civil War. I don’t think these questions have been adequately raised and answered.” — Eric Coker


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“I wondered how 19th-century southerners dealt with these problems that are so difficult for us in the 21st century,” she says. “Because I am a southern historian, it immediately took me to the place where a large number of people would have been taxed psychologically — the end of the Civil War.”

soldiers were “constrained by ideas of manhood that are shaped by ideas about courage and honor.” In the 19th century, courage was defined as not acknowledging fear. “It was manly not to acknowledge that you were afraid,” she says. “By the 20th century, courage is actually knowing that you are scared but are managing it. The 19th-century soldier had not yet realized that.”


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Study identifies challenges facing brands with global ambitions


Blue-chip corporations from the world’s richest nations have plenty of experience expanding into developing countries. Now that companies from emerging markets have begun pushing into wealthier countries, they need guidance on how to predict whether a crossborder business deal will be successful.

Wang recently conducted a statistical analysis that identifies some unique characteristics of deals involving emerging-market companies acquiring established counterparts in the richest economies. When a large suitor from a developed economy — the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom —

wants to gobble up a company in a developing nation, the acquirer usually benefits from a longstanding, reliable and predictable capital market, banking system, legal framework and economic policy at home. This, however, can turn to a disadvantage when expanding to a nation that requires a company to adapt dynamically to a fast-changing system. Thus, while the acquirer itself also matters, the challenge lies in understanding the rules of engagement in the developing nation. Conversely, when an upstart company from an emerging economy covets a firm in a rich country, the acquirer must be more self-reliant in raising capital and cobbling together a network of experienced investment bankers and lawyers. Understanding the political, legal and economic frameworks in a traditional economic powerhouse such as the United States or Britain is less of a problem.

One example is Hong Kong-based Lenovo Group’s acquisition of IBM’s personal-computer division in 2005. Another is the purchase of the U.K.based Jaguar Land Rover luxury auto brand by India’s Tata Motors from Ford Motor Co. in 2008. Illinois-based Motorola Inc.’s acquisition of a controlling stake in Hong Kong’s Hutchison Mobile Data Ltd. in 1993 is included among the traditional-style international deals analyzed. Another is U.S. publishing giant Time Inc.’s 1985 purchase of Asiaweek magazine, which was founded in Hong Kong. Out of the entire population of crossborder mergers in which one party is based in a developed country and the other is in an emerging economy, the company from the emerging market is the acquirer a quarter of the time. That proportion is expected to grow in the near future as China, India, Brazil and other economies in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe grow more robust. Wang and her colleagues used logic regression in searching quantitatively for pathways to merger success, which


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Growing companies from fledgling economies can draw lessons from the work of Qi Wang. An associate professor of marketing at Binghamton University, Wang studies the ability of local brands to become international brands. She analyzes the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful international mergers and acquisitions. Her conclusions are valuable to corporate executives and investment bankers who need to understand the strategic, legal and cultural risks before they forge deals abroad.

“This is new now for companies in emerging markets, so they are still learning how to expand more effectively,” Wang says. “It is very surprising to us that the firm itself mattered the most when an emergingmarket company expanded to a developed country.”

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Qi Wang analyzes the challenges companies face as they try to globalize their businesses.

“Companies from emerging markets have to be very strong themselves, especially financially very strong. Experience, size and financial strength are very important factors when they buy.” — Qi Wang, associate professor of marketing


was measured by whether the intended deal was eventually completed. A completed merger was assigned a value of 1. A prospective merger that was eventually abandoned was given a value of zero. Explanatory-variable values were gleaned from several factors that were categorized as country-, transaction- or firm-related. These ranged from company size and country risks to whether the acquisition was paid for in cash, whether it was viewed as hostile or friendly and the percentage stake being purchased. The cross-border merger study is part of Wang’s varied body of research examining marketing implications of behavioral and networking relationships among companies, among consumers and between companies and consumers.

Juanjuan Zhang, an assistant professor of marketing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has cited Wang’s work in her own research. “She makes the effort to look into the important yet nuanced effects of marketing strategies in social environments,” Zhang says, “and she owns the newest methods to do so.” In the end, for acquirers in emerging economies, the strongest correlations turned out to be internal ones. “These companies have to be very strong themselves, especially financially very strong,” Wang says. “Experience, size and financial strength are very important factors when they buy.” Multinationals from developed economies have more experience buying companies elsewhere. Still, such acquisitions continue to pose unique chal-

What do we learn from peers when shopping online?

! Qi Wang’s research highlights key challenges for companies looking to expand their global reach. She also has made important discoveries regarding online consumer behavior.

lenges. The most significant risk is a lack of understanding of the emerging market’s laws and business culture. “If they perceive a large opportunity in a developing country, they have to spend a lot of time studying the environment,” Wang says. “This is because the system in a developing country is constantly changing, which makes it hard for them to learn and to adapt.” American executives can’t take it for granted that the foreign country respects property rights, including intellectual property. Laws governing mergers and acquisitions may differ. Formal or informal barriers to foreign investment may exist. Officials may expect bribes.

“In the Chinese market, it’s not easy to learn,” Wang says, “because their whole system can change a few months later.” — Dom Yanchunas

it’s a niche market just targeting a small group of consumers, they don’t have to worry because there is no harm in releasing this type of information.”

Wang studied the effects of user comments and sales statistics that accompany products offered on e-commerce sites. While the impact of positive and negative feedback has been well understood, much less was known about socalled “observational behavior” data.

The findings were published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Observational behavior refers to a person’s tendency to adopt the same habits as his or her peers. “Households make decisions by following what they see their neighbors doing,” Wang says. “People learn from their peers what to buy.” For online marketers, word-ofmouth recommendations are displayed in the form of customer reviews. If the site also reveals statistics on how many users purchased the product, the shopper also can be influenced by observational behavior. Wang’s research analyzed data on 90 brands of digital cameras from, which includes a section disclosing the percentage of people who bought the product after viewing it. She and her co-authors found that positive observational behavior data boosted sales, while negative observations had little influence. The results dispel a myth in e-commerce that consumers are likely to be discouraged if they see a low percentage of peers following through with the purchase. “It’s good news for manufacturers who haven’t had a lot of people buy their product,” Wang says. “If

Juanjuan Zhang, assistant professor of marketing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has cited Wang’s findings in her own research exploring the observational learning phenomenon. “This is a new, interesting and important result, which could be highly valuable to companies that want to manage the market consequences of word-of-mouth and observational learning,” Zhang says. The research, Zhang says, “disentangles the effect of word-of-mouth and observational learning using a very clever natural experiment.” Wang also identified a synergy between the two concepts. “What’s most surprising is the interactions of word-of-mouth and observational learning,” Wang says. “They strengthen each other.” Previous market research indicated that consumers often dismiss highly positive product feedback, realizing that a person writing favorable comments may be biased. Highly critical product feedback is viewed as more reliable. For observational learning, the opposite is true. “Negative word-of-mouth affects people more than positive word-ofmouth. This is not new,” Wang says. “With our study, we are the first to show the influences of observational learning. This is very important to companies thinking about what types of information can be posted on their websites. Our study gives them the evidence.”


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One example is China, where the Communist Party controls the political system and the overall economic policy. Though they are often based on market forces, top-down economic reforms can transform the business climate dramatically, with little public debate. This poses a challenge for non-Chinese executives who are accustomed to greater transparency and a slower pace of systemic change.

Online retailers have long wondered if trumpeting consumer-behavior statistics on their websites could hurt business. Qi Wang’s new findings should ease their fears.

Nkiru Nzegwu says the goal of her award-winning website was simple: Shift stereotypical views of African culture. She says she was dismayed by the images of Africans as poor people searching for food and living in trees that have dominated Western imagination about the continent for more than a century. It is mind-boggling with the level of communication we have today that this type of caricature of Africa exists,” says the professor of Africana studies. Music may be the universal language, but drama seems to run a close second for Thomas F. Kremer, a professor in Binghamton University’s Theatre Department. For a decade, Kremer has been integral to an exchange program with the Duoc Universidad Católica in Chile. In 2001, Rodrigo Nunez, director of Duoc’s professional acting program, came to Binghamton to pursue a master’s degree. The relationship quickly transcended that of student/teacher to that of colleagues eager to collaborate. “He found my approach to actor training intriguing and exciting and wanted to find a way to introduce it to his faculty and students,” Kremer says. “My first trip to Santiago was to give a two-week workshop to his faculty. His university came up with the funds to send a group of English-speaking Chilean acting students here.”

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Together they created a scene festival with one-on-one pairings of Duoc and Binghamton students. “It was a great success,” Kremer says, adding that seven more such festivals have been arranged since 2001. There also have been full-scale joint productions of West Side Story, directed at Binghamton by both Nunez and Kremer, and The Threepenny Opera, directed first in Santiago and then in Binghamton by Binghamton’s Anne Brady and Duoc’s Sebastian Dahm. A third joint production is planned for the 2012-13 season. Summer 2011 found Kremer directing Glengarry Glen Ross in Duoc’s new professional theater for its alumni in downtown Santiago. Besides having a translator available, Kremer collated two copies of the play, one in Spanish and one in English, so that he could — so to speak — always be on the same page as his actors. He also relied on facial expressions and body language. “You can watch actors,” Kremer says, “and it doesn’t matter what language they’re speaking. You can tell if they are telling the truth.”

24, an educational website, features content that raises awareness of conversations taking place in African communities on topics ranging from feminism to economic development. “My goal is for this type of information — and access to this information — to become available for everyone,” she says. “If you don’t understand the generosity of the spirit that Africans have to offer, then you don’t understand the society.” Nzegwu, former chair of the Africana Studies Department, joined Binghamton’s faculty in 1990. A native of Nigeria, Nzegwu received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Ife before earning a doctorate from the University of Ottawa in Canada. has had more than 10 million visitors from more than 90 countries since its first posts in 1999. Today, more than 110,000 people visit it every week. The site received a “Best of the Web” citation from PBS and has been cited by other media for its expertise. Five online scholarly journals and a building in Endicott, N.Y., called the Africa House, support the effort. “It began to grow in ways we never envisioned,” Nzegwu says. Nzegwu’s latest project focuses on U.N. Dispute Tribunal Judge Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako, whose rulings against those in power have led to attempts on her life. Nzegwu has traveled to Kenya to study Izuako’s moral framework, in order to understand why she is willing to risk her life to uphold the law. “This African woman has done tremendous things, but no one knows about her,” says Nzegwu, who plans to include Izuako’s story in a book on African women achievers.

These binghamton scholars have a global reach

The exchange of introductory gifts can be crucial, a key that opens doors between disparate cultures or locks them forever. For Binghamton University art historian Nancy Um, studying the “grammar of exchange in cross-cultural gift giving” has been a natural outgrowth of two decades of research on Indian Ocean rim trading communities of the 17th and 18th centuries.

For Michael J. Pettid, who had never been “anywhere significantly abroad,” traveling to South Korea 30 years ago was more than an overseas business assignment; it was the beginning of taking his life in an entirely new direction. “I really loved the country,” recalls Pettid, a professor in the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton. “It was so much different from anything I had imagined — food, dress, personal interactions.” He quit his job to learn Korean and earn a doctorate. His interests evolved from history to literature to culture, focusing on the premodern period. But cultural studies often are limited to the upper class, Pettid says: “I was always interested in the nuts and bolts.” He wanted to look at all strata of society and chose to do so through food. By describing how people ate, he has been able to show more clearly how people lived. Although there have been Korean cookbooks before, his Korean Cuisine: An Illustrated History (Reaktion Books, 2008) is probably the first English work on the history of Korean food. (It does include 20 recipes.) Pettid disproved widely held beliefs about the “timelessness” of classic dishes. Even kimch’i, Korea’s signature pickled cabbage, underwent dramatic transformation when, in the 17th century, peppers first were imported from the Americas.

Pettid’s studies have moved from food preparers to food suppliers. He now is researching Korea’s agrarian history. He also recently co-edited Women and Confucianism in Choson Korea, which will be published by SUNY Press in November.

Research has carried the globe-trotting researcher from Yemeni villages that “look like they’re falling off” hillsides to Dutch and British libraries that house detailed records of European trade ventures. “I use a lot of different sources,” says Um, who has been praised for her innovative merging of archival and architectural materials to recount the glory days of a city whose commercial center now lies mostly in ruins. She is returning to those sources for her latest research into commercial exchange and merchant tribute in Yemen from 1600 to 1750. Essentially, local rulers expected gifts before granting trade privileges. “Gift exchange was much more than a simple exercise of good manners or polite gestures,” Um writes. “Rather, gifts were serious and necessary aspects of merchant protocol.” Um says that although other scholars have acknowledged the importance of gift-giving, “they often cast this preoccupation … as examples of the insatiable appetite that fickle oriental despots had for trinkets.” She, however, has seen the opposite. “I’ve been intrigued by how totally prosaic most of the gifts were,” Um says, listing trade items such as firearms, textiles and porcelains. Although her current research focuses on the Dutch and British East India companies, Um stresses the Europeans “were minor players in Red Sea and Indian Ocean trade whose importance has been blown out of proportion.” They were, however, better record keepers, carefully documenting each gift given.



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The book has made Pettid the “go-to” guy for commentary about Korean cuisine, quoted everywhere from The New York Times to Wikipedia. A Korean publication featured a chapter by Pettid about how to globalize Korean cuisine. His recommendation? Serve traditional meals — “lots of items, lots of flavors” — just as they would be found in Korea. No fusion cuisine; no Westernizing.

Her monograph The Merchant Houses of Mocha: Trade and Architecture in an Indian Ocean Port, published in 2009 by the University of Washington Press, explores how maritime trade saturated Mocha, a major player in Yemen’s coffee trade.

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Have we reached the end of an era?


At Binghamton University’s Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations, scholars view the world through a unique lens. Where others see individual, independent nations or, say, clusters of countries making up an economic region such as the Third World, these scholars see one world-system. Where others take note of what appear to be dramatic developments in history, for instance the Industrial Revolution or the Space Age, these scholars view such change as rooted in a set of fundamental structures that have remained recognizable for 500 years. And where others consider recent recessions to be detours on a path toward continued worldwide economic growth, these scholars observe a crisis that may mean the end of historical capitalism as we know it.

“An important aspect of what we do is that we see the world on the largest scale not as a collection of states, but rather as a single and historically unique system,” says Richard E. Lee, professor of sociology and director of the Fernand Braudel Center.  “It makes

A core principle of this perspective, Lee explains, is that what we see and experience in the world is formed by our relationships. “World-systems analysis,” he notes, “is just a special case of the very largest of these sets of possible relationships.” Take, for instance, married people.  “You became a different person when you got married,” he says. “Not because you’re different, but because the relationship, manifested in legal and social constraints, remade or ‘restructured’ you. Relationships are what make us who we are.” A port city offers another example of this way of thinking. A port must have a deep harbor, protected in such a way that wind doesn’t batter the ships. “But if you don’t have ocean-going trade, you’re not going to have a port city,” Lee says.  “The harbor and the buildings could all look the same, but the day that there’s no trade, it’s not a port city.” World-systems analysis deploys this way of thinking by focusing on longterm processes rather than short-term events. Its proponents argue that the current world-system arose during the

Seeing history with this long-range vision reveals how unsettled life is at the outset of the 21st century. Indeed, Lee says, the world appears to be going through a shock equivalent to the one last experienced 500 years ago. “The globalization perspective that everybody hears so much about suggests that there is a way to a future that would look much like the world of today, that things are bad now but they could get better,” he says. “Alternatively, we see enormous, probably insurmountable, difficulties in restructuring the political economy of the world to keep it growing over the long term in the same way it has for the last five centuries.” The kind of accumulation and concentration of wealth that was possible in the past can’t continue, in part because there are no new pools of low-cost labor outside the system to be brought

? Scholars at Binghamton’s Fernand Braudel Center say that capitalism as we know it is not going to be around much longer.


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This perspective, called world-systems analysis, was advanced in the 1970s by sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein, founder of the Fernand Braudel Center, and is today the subject of intense debate around the globe.

it both easier to understand the world and more difficult to study it.”

16th century, in part because they see the structures of geopolitics, economics and knowledge as fundamentally similar during the past five centuries. “Although I may disagree with him on many counts, I do feel I live in the same ‘world’ as Descartes,” Lee says. “He is a man of my own time, whereas the philosophers 200 or 300 years earlier inhabit a different social universe.”

Richard Lee writes about changes in the production of knowledge.

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in at the bottom of the international wage hierarchy. Everyone’s in already. And as the poorest classes clamor for a bigger share, there’s no way to put off responding to those claims. Charles Lemert, a senior fellow with Yale University’s Center for Comparative Research, says this insight sets world-systems analysis apart. “ There is no other social scientific tradition — or figure for that matter, besides Wallerstein and the world-system group — that understood, almost immediately, that the world was changing in dramatic ways right around 1990,” Lemert says. “Now it’s almost commonplace.” Arriving at that conclusion before the rise of the Internet and global finance as it’s now known was the result of a rigorous approach to studying the previous halfmillennium, he says. “The system in which we live is the only system in all of world history that has expanded to cover the whole world, and that’s why we say it is a singular system,” Lee notes. “If you see


one of the key driving forces of that system as expansion, then it follows that when there’s no place left to go, you’re going to have a crisis, one that leads to the demise of the system itself.” Fundamental ruptures are happening in every arena that worldsystems analysis addresses, including the structures of knowledge as well as geopolitics and economics, he says. There is a fundamental structure shaping knowledge production during the past 500 years, an epistemological division based on the separation between “facts” and “values.” Today this separation has become untenable, both in theory and in practice. If this seems esoteric, think just for a minute about your computer or even your cell phone. “More important than any progress in communications that we have experienced over the past generation, as a result of advances in search-engine technology, every thing on the Internet is equidistant from every other thing in cyberspace, as well as from every single individual user,” Lee says. “The scholar no

The system in which we live is the only system in all of world history that has expanded to cover the whole world. If you see one of the key driving forces of that system as expansion, then it follows that when there’s no place left to go, you’re going to have a crisis. — Richard Lee, director of the Fernand Braudel Center

longer inhabits a privileged space in the world of knowledge. No literature can remain proprietary; academics and non-academics alike can and do access literature, and intervene directly in debates, without regard for scholarly discipline or institutional status. The disciplines themselves, indeed all institutions and the ‘status’ they enjoy, are thus deprived of much of their gate-keeping function and thereby destabilized.”

What’s next, then, from the vantage point of world-systems analysis? Wallerstein wrote years ago of a period during which individuals would have an opportunity to influence the next historical system through their ethical and political choices. He calls this process of imagining and evaluating various courses of action “utopistics.” Lee and other scholars in world-systems analysis contend that we are living through this period now. “We need to find new ways of thinking about the future, indeed, of ascertaining what scenarios for the future are actually possible,” Lee says. “We are all searching for an understanding of the reality of the world and are moral — and thus political — agents obliged to work for the making of a better world as we see it.” — Rachel Coker

Binghamton’s Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations was established in 1976. Named for French historian Fernand Braudel, it was directed by sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein until 2005. Today, the center publishes a journal called Review of the Fernand Braudel Center, sponsors research and hosts visiting scholars, workshops and lectures. Learn more about the center and read commentaries by Wallerstein in more than 30 languages at


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This situation is the focus of Lee’s latest book, Knowledge Matters: The Structures of Knowledge and the Crisis of the Modern World-System, published earlier this year. Lemert sees the new book and Lee’s other scholarly work as filling in what many considered to be a gap in world-systems analysis: the role of culture. “In effect, what he has shown is that knowledge or the production of knowledge is both constituted by the world system that goes back to the 16th century and a constituent of it,” Lemert says. “That’s to say that knowledge isn’t just an afterthought. … He has shown how

modern culture really is tied to the global economic system.”


heart of the matter Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

Educating women about heart attacks could save lives


At the end of a long day spent moving to a new home, a woman felt a pain in her chest so severe that she dropped to the floor. A man might have called 911, but the woman assumed that this could not be a heart attack. “Women don’t have chest pain like men,” she later told Pamela Stewart Fahs. So she just stretched out until she felt better. But chest pain can signal a heart attack in a woman. Women also may experience a range of other symptoms, not all of them easy for the typical sufferer to identify.

In hopes of shortening women’s time to treatment, Stewart Fahs is collaborating with Melanie Kalman, associate professor and director of research in the College of Nursing at SUNY Upstate Medical University, on a project called  “Matters of  Your Heart.” The goal is to develop an effective program to educate women about heart attack symptoms and also

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. In fact, 1 in 4 women in the United States dies from heart disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. The most recent national study on the subject, however, found that 49 percent of women don’t realize that they need to be concerned about heart disease, Stewart Fahs says. That number is lower than in past years, and the medical community has gotten out the word that women’s heart attack symptoms may differ from men’s. However, as the story of the woman on the floor points out, there’s still room to improve education about women’s cardiovascular disease. Intense pain might be the first obvious sign of an impending heart attack, Stewart Fahs says. But many women who look back on the period before an attack report that they first felt pressure

Kalman and Stewart Fahs conducted the first phase of their project under an intramural research grant from SUNY Upstate. Their first task was to develop a questionnaire to measure a woman’s knowledge of heart attack symptoms and warning signs. They then created a pilot version of an educational presentation. Working with 141 post-menopausal women, Stewart Fahs and Kalman held small-group sessions to administer the questionnaire, present the program and then give the questionnaire again. “We did find that the educational program increased knowledge,” Stewart Fahs says. The researchers based the presentation in part on a program that Stewart Fahs developed several years ago to teach rural residents about symptoms of a stroke. That program employed an acronym created by the American Heart Association — FAST, for Face, Arm, Speech and Time.

! Pamela Stewart Fahs’ efforts to educate women about heart attack symptoms may help save lives.


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“We believe that heart attacks in women go unrecognized 30 to 55 percent of the time,” says Stewart Fahs, professor and Decker Chair in Rural Nursing at Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing. Women who miss the warning signs fail to get help, or they head for the hospital only when the problem grows acute, increasing the risk that they will die or be gravely disabled.

to teach about the early warning signs that a heart attack might be on the way.

or discomfort. “Some women will say, ‘It’s like I had a big knot up here,’” she explains, pointing to her upper chest. “‘Like I swallowed an orange whole.’” Overwhelming fatigue or pain that radiates into one or both arms or the neck or jaw are other common warning signs.

“The more aware you are of the signs and symptoms, and the more aware you are of the risk of heart disease for women, the better able you are to take a proactive stance.” — Pamela Stewart Fahs, professor and Decker Chair in Rural Nursing

? Certain factors make it more likely that you’ll develop coronary heart disease and have a heart attack. You can control many of these risk factors. Major risk factors for a heart attack that you can control include: Smoking High blood pressure High blood cholesterol Obesity An unhealthy diet Lack of routine physical activity High blood sugar due to insulin resistance or diabetes Risk factors that you can’t control include: Age. The risk of heart disease increases for men after age 45 and for women after age 55 (or after menopause). Family history of early heart disease

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Preeclampsia, a condition that can develop during pregnancy Although many people think of heart disease as a man’s problem, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. It is also a leading cause of disability among women. The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. It’s the major reason people have heart attacks. Prevention is important: Twothirds of women who have a heart attack fail to make a full recovery. Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


The new program uses a similar mnemonic device, and Stewart Fahs says the method has proven effective, especially when women practice putting it to use. “We have periods in the presentation when they work in groups of two to four and come up with different symptoms for heart attacks and the female warning signs,” she says. Members take turns naming the symptoms. As a specialist in rural nursing, Stewart Fahs gave the questionnaire and program to women in rural areas, while Kalman concentrated on urban Syracuse. The population they have studied so far is too small to reveal whether the program works better for one demographic or the other, Stewart Fahs says. In a second phase of their research, Kalman and Stewart Fahs plan to give the presentation to many more women over a broader geographical area. Eventually, they hope to do a longitudinal study to discover whether their program improves the way women respond when they experience signs of a possible heart attack. “Having knowledge doesn’t necessarily change your behavior,” Stewart Fahs says. “But if you don’t have the knowledge, you’re unlikely to change.” Once they’ve perfected the program, the researchers will share it with hospitals, community health agencies and other healthcare organizations. Besides offering the PowerPoint slides for classroom use, they might someday use communication technologies to give the presentation a broader reach, Stewart Fahs says. “There should be a

way, through cell phone apps or some kind of Internet application, to get this message out to women once it’s fully developed and tested.” While looking for new ways to educate women about heart attacks, Stewart Fahs also continues helping to advance the discipline of rural nursing. In May, she became editor of the Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care. She also serves as an external advisor to the Interdisciplinary Healthy Heart Center: Linking Rural Populations by Technology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her combined expertise in rural nursing and cardiovascular issues makes Stewart Fahs especially valuable as an advisor to the Healthy Heart Center, says Professor Carol Pullen, principal investigator on the project. One striking aspect of Stewart Fahs’ work is that, along with publishing articles on cardiac risk among rural women for academic journals, she also writes for media that reach a wider audience, Pullen says. “I think it’s important not only to get your work in scientific journals, but also to get it out to lay publications for everybody to enjoy the results of your research.” Stewart Fahs hopes that the results of her latest research will include better outcomes for more female victims of heart attack. “The more aware you are of the signs and symptoms,” she says, “and the more aware you are of the risk of heart disease for women, the better able you are to take a proactive stance.” — Merrill Douglas

Pamela Stewart Fahs specializes in rural health issues.

Leveling the field for rural patients Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing is the only school in the United States to offer a doctorate in rural nursing. The program was established in 1999.

Nurses in rural communities usually operate more autonomously than their colleagues in cities and suburbs, and they need to understand a broader variety of

Rural nurses often have fewer resources to help their patients, says Margaret Wells, a 2007 graduate of the PhD program and assistant professor of nursing at SUNY Upstate Medical University. And rural hospitals are lightly staffed during off-hours. “You have to call the attending physician in the middle of the night and wait for referrals,” she says. Wells’ research at Binghamton focused on resilience in older rural adults. Another recent graduate, Nicole Rouhana, investigated what rural parents think about a vaccine to protect boys against the human papillomavirus (HPV). “She has some very exciting data about parents’ willingness to vaccinate, and how you can educate people

about the risk, the susceptibility, the severity, the barriers, to improve their ability to make informed decisions,” Stewart Fahs says. Through projects like these, students and graduates of the Decker School are doing their part to eliminate the non-metropolitan death penalty. “I hope the work they’re doing will broaden the avenues of what’s possible in rural healthcare,” Stewart Fahs says.

Pamela Stewart Fahs talks about the importance of rural nursing. Visit or scan this code to watch the video.


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Rural nursing is an area of special interest because rural populations are underserved, and because illness often takes a greater toll in rural communities, says Pamela Stewart Fahs, professor and Decker Chair in Rural Nursing in the Decker School. This effect is known as the “non-metropolitan death penalty,” she says. Rural populations tend to be older, they have fewer healthcare services available close to home, and often they are underinsured, or not insured at all.

health issues, Stewart Fahs says. “I call them the consummate generalist.”

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Tracking childhood depression to its source Psychologist explores roles of nature, nurture 34

It’s called a critical window: a point in time when intervention might make the biggest difference in the life of a child at risk for depression. Brandon Gibb is hunting for that window.

“We’re trying to integrate cognitive and genetic theories and figure out how they work together to protect children or put them at risk for depression,” he says.

It wasn’t too long ago that the very idea of childhood depression was dismissed outright. As recently as the 1980s, many experts believed children didn’t have the cognitive skills to experience depression. Today, some say depression can be diagnosed even in preschoolers. “Depression interferes with children’s emotional, social and cognitive development and can interfere with school performance,” Gibb says. “Because of this, we worry that depression during childhood can negatively alter children’s developmental trajectories and have long-term negative consequences.” Gibb’s interest in childhood influences dates back to his undergraduate days

Since joining the Binghamton faculty in 2003, he has spearheaded research into the interplay between genes and environment in influencing children’s information-processing biases. For instance, he examined whether children with depressed mothers pay increased attention to sad faces, while children of critical mothers pay increased attention to facial displays of anger. The short answer: Yes, they tend to. But it is not only the mother’s behavior that affects children. He and his team also checked the children for the presence of genetic variants — polymorphisms  — believed to play a role in how humans react to emotional stimuli and stress. Though these genetic studies are still in their infancy, Gibb and his colleagues found that variation


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Gibb, associate professor of psychology at Binghamton University and director of its Mood Disorders Institute, leads a large-scale study that tracks the progress of children and their mothers. Through this research, Gibb and his team explore how the interplay between children’s genetic makeup and various environmental influences — inside and outside the home — affects children’s style of attending to, interpreting and remembering things. These “information-processing biases” may play a role in depression.

at the University of Georgia. While there, he helped with a study of suicide attempts in African-American women. He found a history of childhood adversity was important in determining risk, and he carried this line of research into his doctoral studies at Temple University.

Brandon Gibb, director of Binghamton’s Mood Disorders Institute, explores how the interplay between children’s genetic makeup and environmental influences may play a role in depression.

in a gene known to affect serotonin transmission moderated this influence. That is, children with a specific polymorphism were more strongly influenced by their mothers’ depression or criticism than were children carrying a different polymorphism.

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However, researchers know that there is no single gene that can be pinpointed as having an impact on mental health. Rather, it is likely that a collection of genes acting together influence risk through specific biological pathways. “We are just beginning to understand how specific groups of genes impact neural functioning,” Gibb cautions. “At this stage, it is still much too early to use a genetic profile to predict absolute risk for a psychiatric disease.”

Information-processing bias: A tendency to focus on negative things in one’s environment, interpret ambiguous or neutral situations as negative and remember negative experiences more readily than positive experiences. Polymorphism: Natural variations in a gene, DNA sequence or chromosome. Sources: Brandon Gibb, National Institutes of Health


Now Gibb is taking his research a step further. In his current $2 million study, partially funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, he is evaluating 250 children ages 8–14 and their mothers over a two-year span. The children and their mothers, drawn from Greater Binghamton, are undergoing extensive assessments every six months. These assessments cover topics such as how they’re feeling, what types of stress they’ve been experiencing, levels of social support, various informationprocessing biases (attention, interpretation and memory) as well as a number of genetic influences. The mothers include women with a history of major depression during their children’s lives, and those without. Gibb’s collaborators include geneticists John McGeary and Valerie Knopik of Brown University and Andrew Smolen of the University of Colorado and psychologists Constance Hammen of UCLA and David Cole of Vanderbilt University. Hammen cited the integrative nature of Gibb’s approach to the study of childhood depression as a significant contribution to the field. “His study of children of depressed mothers is, unfortunately, an excellent laboratory

for helping to clarify some of the mechanisms that put such families at risk for the children developing disorders including depression,” she says. The cognitive theory Gibb is examining holds that children of mothers who are depressed or critical will be more prone to develop information-processing biases — tendencies to focus on negative things in their environment, interpret ambiguous or neutral situations as negative and remember negative experiences more readily than positive experiences — which in turn may lead them to be less resilient in the face of stress. But why only mothers? “We know fathers are important,” Gibb says, but the decision was a practical one: Because the study focuses, in part, on genetic influences, only biological parents are allowed in the study. Given the high rates of divorce in the United States, combined with the fact that children often live with their mothers rather than fathers following divorce, it made more sense to start with a focus on mothers and their children. Gibb and his colleagues do recognize the important role played by fathers and plan to focus on fathers in future research.

“This study will allow us to better determine why some children grow up to be particularly resilient to life’s stresses while others have more difficulty coping with this stress.” — Brandon Gibb, associate professor of psychology

Gibb targeted the 8–14 age range because it spans the transition from childhood to adolescence. This is a period during which rates of depression increase dramatically, making it an important time to study. “It’s a critical time for a lot of developmental transitions,” he says. “We want to find out what happens during this period of risk.” The study will allow Gibb and his colleagues to determine which risk and protective factors may develop during childhood and how these may operate during the transition to adolescence to increase or buffer risk for the development of depression.

The practical legacy of this line of research may lie in its ability to help clinicians develop methods to aid patients with problem-solving and coping skills. These patients may also need help reinterpreting negative views of events, themselves and

The ultimate aim of this research is to determine how nature and nurture combine to influence children’s development and how specific influences may be most pronounced within certain developmental windows. “This study will allow us to better determine why some children grow up to be particularly resilient to life’s stresses while others have more difficulty coping with this stress,” Gibb says. “Ultimately, this will lead to more targeted interventions for at-risk youth so that we reduce their vulnerability to depression.” — Kevin Singer

! A better understanding of what puts children at risk of developing depression could lead to targeted interventions for at-risk youth.

People have long assumed that childhood is a carefree period of life, one in which a person couldn’t possibly be depressed. “They used to call it ‘masked depression,’” says psychologist Constance Hammen of UCLA. “But it really isn’t masked if the right questions are asked.” Symptoms in adults and children tend to be similar — sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, lack of motivation and energy and suicidal thoughts. Children, however, may also be irritable, which isn’t a trivial symptom. “Rather than a child simply being labeled as obstinate or difficult, the irritability may signify the presence of clinical depression,” Gibb says. At any given point, 1 to 2 percent of children meet the criteria for a clinically significant depressive disorder. By age 18, approximately 15 percent of youth (about 1 out of every 6) have experienced a depressive episode. Suicide is the fourth-leading cause of death among children ages 10– 14, and the third-leading cause of death in 15- to 24-year-olds.


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For the genetic angle, the researchers will examine whether, and to what degree, children’s genetic profiles predict how strongly they are affected by the negative events in their lives. They will also examine potential cognitive and interpersonal mechanisms of this risk. This, Gibb hopes, will help clinicians predict which children are more susceptible to depression.

others. “Then, if we know that someone might be genetically vulnerable,” Hammen says, “we can help provide them with some skills that will help them deal with threatening situations better.”

Depression in children

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simulation offers

new solutions

for industry, medicine


Binghamton University engineering researchers use simulation to model the behavior of systems ranging from the heart to factories, with an eye toward saving lives as well as money. One scholar, who worked on the Apollo space program, continues to find novel applications for simulation, moving from airplanes and spacecraft into the operating room. In other laboratories, simulation adds to scholars’ understanding of tumor growth, weather systems and even electronics packaging.

simulation. And every day researchers at the University use simulation to answer new questions. Better pilots, better doctors? Many simulations these days — models of plate tectonics, for example — happen in a computer and without a human “in the loop.” Frank Cardullo’s work is different on both counts; he specializes in real-time simulations with human operators. Cardullo, then a Link Simulation and Training employee, worked on the Apollo program and has decades of experience in simulation for flight and aerospace applications. Since joining Binghamton’s faculty in 1980, he has explored some of the underlying principles of simulation, including mathematical models and signal processing.

If that’s true, then it’s fair to say that nowhere else in the world has that art and science been practiced for so long and with such dramatic results. Binghamton, where Edwin A. Link built the first flight simulator, is still home to numerous companies focused on flight

In recent years, flight and driving simulators have grown increasingly realistic, with significant improvements in motion cues. Cardullo notes that physiology and biology play a growing role in simulation, as do new ideas about cognition and learning.


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Indeed, simulation is a uniquely powerful piece of equipment in the engineer’s toolbox these days, providing a way to test challenging hypotheses and compress long periods of time. “Simulation is an art and a science,” Binghamton bioengineer Jacques Beaumont says.

“Space simulators are unique, particularly the Apollo simulators,” Cardullo says. “You can train people to fly airplanes and drive cars by having them fly airplanes and drive cars. But you couldn’t train an astronaut to go to the moon by going to the moon. So you had to have a very sophisticated simulator to do that. The astronauts often said ‘just like in the simulator’ as they encountered events.”

“Simulators, I think, are creating better pilots. They’re better able to handle complex situations.” — Frank Cardullo, professor of mechanical engineering

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“Simulators, I think, are creating better pilots,” he says. “They’re better able to handle complex situations.” Engine failure, like the problem in the 2009 socalled Miracle on the Hudson flight, is a prime example. Most pilots experience engine failure only in simulations. Nevertheless, they are often able to identify it and to respond appropriately because of that training. Cardullo, a professor of mechanical engineering whose work has been supported by NASA as well as the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Research Laboratory, sees applications for his work wherever he goes. A decade ago, he explored the possibility that data from simulators could be used to identify specific pilots, which could be useful in determining whether a pilot had been disabled or was impaired in some way. An avid Red Sox fan, he has also considered taking what he knows about brain waves to see whether they are the reason that some athletes respond faster than others to visual information. Perhaps, he says, there was some scientific truth behind the  “fast eyes” of the late Boston great Ted Williams.


Cardullo is also interested in medical applications of his field, especially in the idea that surgeons benefit from simulation training in much the same way pilots do. Simulators can present malfunctions and difficulties to doctors so that they can become more experienced in dealing with them. (Standard training now often relies on the use of pigs.) Cardullo hopes to build a simulator that would provide tactile sensation to surgeons. “  My hypothesis is that tactile feedback will improve the surgeon’s performance,” he says. Simulation technology may also lead to improvements in the design of surgical robots, Cardullo says, just as it has led to better aircraft. He wants to examine the complications surrounding robotic surgery done

remotely, including questions about satellite and phone connections. “The up-down time can be two seconds,” he says. “ A lot of simulation research that I’ve done over the years is looking at the effect of that communication delay on human performance. Once you get over about 70 or 80 milliseconds of delay, it affects performance. You can’t have that if somebody’s cutting out someone’s liver.”

! Simulation research at Binghamton University saves lives, reduces costs and is essential to the training of pilots and doctors.

Sarah Lam’s simulations help companies see how they can improve processes and save money.

Faster factories Sarah Lam’s research in discrete event systems simulation involves modeling the flow of products and product components through factories and other areas of an enterprise system. She has partnered with high-tech manufacturers including IBM and Endicott Interconnect Technologies as well as with healthcare-oriented firms such as Innovation Associates.

This kind of simulation is especially good for exploring what-if scenarios, says Lam, an associate professor of systems science and industrial engineering at Binghamton. “Building an imitation of how a system and its components work so you can actually see things moving adds depth to the planning stage,” she notes. “That lets you test out an idea and see if you get

the benefits you expected. You see what isn’t going to work and how deadlines will be affected. Then you can make changes in the simulation world to see if you can get better results.” Lam’s simulations allow her to compress time, too. Once a model has been built, using time studies and historical data as well as the relevant physical details, she can simulate how a system will work over the course of a year in just minutes. “Simulation results not only can assist with planning but also often can tell us something new,” she says.  “We can see results faster.” Visuals, even a simple 2D model, can make a huge difference and are increasingly common in the software Lam and her students use. In fact, newer software packages often include 3D modeling. Such simulations help people visualize the entire system and focus on what’s moving, whether it’s patients moving through a hospital’s emergency room or a printed circuit board moving through an electronics

manufacturing line.  “Companies like to see animation,”  Lam says.  “They say,  ‘Show me how it runs.’ Animation is a big deal for communicating.” She and her students can create simulations in as little as a couple of weeks or, for more complex models, in as much as several months. A typical project takes two to nine months. “It allows companies to see what they’re not doing so well and where they can improve,” she says. “The bottom line is important. We provide the tools to help them get there.” Lam’s primary motivation is in seeing a system work more smoothly. “As industrial engineers, we don’t make things, but we try to improve on how things are done,” she says. “Seeing an improvement is gratifying. We have seen significant improvement in return on investment. That’s very important. That’s one of the ways we can maintain the research relationship year after year.”


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When Lam and her students build a model of a production line or an entire system, they’re able to see where there are bottlenecks and idle resources and even where there are activities that aren’t adding value. Such simulations often lead to a company relocating materials or reallocating operators to reduce travel time or materialhandling time as well as to new designs for product flow and facility layout. “Activities that don’t add value should be eliminated,” she says. “Inventory should be minimized. We want things to move smoothly and quickly through the system.”

Bioengineer Jacques Beaumont’s simulations of the heart may lead to a new therapy for patients with cardiac arrhythmia.

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Healthier hearts Beaumont’s work could point the way to a medication or device to aid patients with cardiac arrhythmia, which affects at least 1 in 2,500 people. Experts do not understand what makes a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, fatal to some patients with this condition and not to others. For now, most patients with arrhythmia — an irregular heartbeat — receive an implantable cardiac defibrillator. Medications work well for some but not others. In the particular condition that Beaumont studies, inherited arrhythmia, scientists know that some three dozen proteins play a role in the defect. Simulation enables Beaumont to test potential procedures in a model pig’s heart before attempting to extrapolate the results for the human heart. “Naturally, you cannot do experiments in the human heart,” he says. “An animal model is not the same as a human’s, but the animals that are closest are the pig and the dog. What we try to do is take advantage of the data gathered from an animal model. We can build a simulation that parallels the animal model and then validate that our procedure works.”


Beaumont, an associate professor of bioengineering, creates visual models with underlying mathematical models in his search for the mechanism of arrhythmia. He hopes to link the molecular aspect of cellular excitation to the phenomenon at the microscopic level. The simulation doesn’t yet include the application of possible therapies, though that’s a dream of his. Scientists can identify those at high risk for arrhythmia, but they don’t know how it occurs or what triggers it. “It’s almost impossible to study this solely on the basis of experimentation,” Beaumont says. “Simulation is very useful. We have tremendous technology at our disposal in bioengineering. Among other things, we can get imaging of tissue and organs at high resolution and even map the distribution of protein expression. The decoding of the genome is allowing us to easily determine whether an individual is harboring defective proteins. All of this constitutes a massive amount of information. The future of medicine lies in better ways to integrate and exploit this data to develop cures.”

In cardiac modeling, there are many interrelated bits of data involved in the computation and differential equations to be solved along the way. That’s why — even with a supercomputer — it can take one to four days to run one of Beaumont’s simulations. “The exchange of information during computation is like circulation on a very congested highway,” he says. “If you have a bottleneck somewhere, a lot of other things are affected and it becomes hard to control traffic.” He compares the moment that a simulation delivers a particularly surprising or amazing result to his childhood experiences of athletic victory.  “You are traversed by a wave of satisfaction from toe to head,” he says, grinning. Beaumont says he and his colleagues are motivated by an opportunity to save lives, to put their model into the hands of clinicians and develop a therapy. “There is,” he says, “no better way to study a multi-scale problem like this.” — Rachel Coker

Clockwise from top left: Edwin A. Link; Link Trainer; E.A. Link at the controls of a 1-CA-1 Link Trainer; man in Link Trainer with Marilyn Link.

THE BIRTHPLACE OF FLIGHT SIMULATION Edwin A. Link, whose flight trainer (the “Blue Box”) led to the development of the field of flight simulation, founded Link Aviation Inc. in Binghamton. The inventor and industrialist left his papers to Binghamton University, as did his wife and the Link Foundation. The collections’ roughly 25,000 items include photographs, journals, charts and maps. Several thousand items are available online; visit and click “Link Digital Archives” to search the database.


Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

All images are from the Edwin A. Link, Jr. Collection, Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives, Binghamton University.

For nearly 30 years, Binghamton’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science has offered a Simulation Short Course in cooperation with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Modeling and Simulation Technical Committee. The weeklong program of lectures draws industry, research lab and university participants from the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Offerings include a five-day flight and ground vehicle simulation main course and shorter, specialized courses in visual database design and visual system specification and acceptance tests. It’s another way that Greater Binghamton nourishes its role as the birthplace of flight simulation. For details, visit

Undergraduate research

Goldwater scholar, a young chemist, seeks to publicize undergrad research Junior William Marsiglia plans to draw attention to his peers’ work by starting a science journal for Binghamton University undergraduate researchers. The journal, which Marsiglia hopes to publish annually and online, would also provide undergraduates with an opportunity to do science writing and experience the peer-review process.

Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

“Even if students’ papers aren’t published by a major journal, the research is still worth showing to others and saying, ‘This is what the students do here,’”  he says. Marsiglia, for example, has worked with Christof Grewer, associate professor of chemistry at Binghamton, on the study of transport proteins in the brain. The work could one day contribute to treatments for stroke and diseases such as ALS. Last spring, Marsiglia received the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which honors exceptional undergraduate researchers who intend to enter math, science or engineering. High-level research at an early age is nothing new for Marsiglia. He won first place at the New York State Science and Engineering Fair as a high school student for a project that


examined wound healing and regeneration rates in worms. The project later earned him a third-place award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Marsiglia also received a fellowship as a high school student for research at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he studied how brain receptors are involved in inflammation response. A double major in biochemistry and music, Marsiglia also plays trombone with the University Orchestra. He plans to pursue a doctorate in organic chemistry and pass on his knowledge of the subject as a university professor. Pursuing his love of music while continuing his research and taking a variety of science classes is part of what Marsiglia calls a “holistic approach” to education. “  If you are going to do something, you might as well learn everything you can about it,” he says. “  Ten years down the road, I don’t want to say, ‘I wish I had taken that extra class and done the major.’”

graduate research

Alzheimer’s study may shed light on link between blood pressure and wandering A doctoral student in Binghamton’s Decker School of Nursing hopes her research will resolve questions related to blood pressure and wandering in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

than women — aren’t looking to go anywhere; they just seem to need to move. She has seen patients get up and walk when they’re in pain, even soon after having surgery.

Olympia Berger is a family nurse practitioner at the Greater Binghamton Health Center, where she cares for patients with severe mental illness.

Working with her advisor, Carolyn Pierce, an assistant professor of nursing and of bioengineering, Berger is following a small group of patients using an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring device. They hope to identify peak times for wandering to see if there are connections to mealtimes or blood pressure.

“Some of my geriatric patients wander,”  Berger says. “  I noticed that as their blood pressure dropped, I saw some cognitive changes.”

One idea they’re exploring is that senior citizens may need a higher blood pressure than younger people. If that’s true, it may suggest changes in blood-pressure medication and diet for this population. For Berger, there’s no question that psychiatric and medical issues are related. “  You need,”  she says, “  to look at the whole person.”

Berger notes that not all Alzheimer’s patients wander. Those who do — more often men


Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

That led her to studying the effects of hypotension (for these purposes, a systolic reading of 140 or lower) on cognitive function, and to a theory that low blood pressure may trigger wandering. Decrease in regional cerebral blood flow is common in individuals with Alzheimer’s. In fact, patients who wander may have more advanced pathology and a more pronounced decrease in cerebral blood flow. “  No one has looked at changes in blood pressure before, during and after an episode of wandering,”  Berger says. “  Is that the body’s mechanism to increase cerebral blood flow?”

In Brief

Teeth raise new questions about mankind’s origins Eight small teeth found in an Israeli cave raise big questions about the earliest existence of humans, Binghamton anthropologist Rolf Quam says. Quam is part of a team of researchers, led by Tel Aviv University, that examined the discovery and published findings in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Excavated at Qesem cave, a pre-historic site in central Israel that was uncovered in 2000, the teeth are similar in size and shape to those of modern man, Homo sapiens, which have been found at other sites in Israel, but they’re a lot older than any previously discovered remains.

Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

“The Qesem teeth come from a time period between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago, when human remains from the Middle East are scarce,”  Quam says. “  We have numerous remains of Neandertals and Homo sapiens from more recent times, that is, around 60,000 to 150,000 years ago, but fossils from earlier periods are rare.” Anthropologists believe modern humans and Neandertals shared a common ancestor who lived in Africa more than 700,000 years ago. If the Qesem remains can be linked directly to Homo sapiens, it could mean that modern man originated in what is now Israel or may have migrated from Africa earlier than now thought. Quam says it’s unclear what species is represented by these teeth. Still, they tell researchers a lot about the past. “  Teeth are evolutionarily conservative structures,”  he says. “And so any differences in their features can provide us with interesting information about an individual. It can tell us what they ate, what their growth and development patterns looked like as well as what their general health was like.”


Engineering and Science Building nears completion The $66 million Engineering and Science Building, which opens this year, will allow for the expansion of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science. The facility houses the departments of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering and the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center as well as the dean’s office. The building joins the Biotechnology Building at Binghamton University’s Innovative Technologies Complex, where a third research facility is under construction. Laboratories in the Engineering and Science Building were designed with utilities in “sky caps”  so that they can be rearranged quickly to accommodate new researchers. Core areas will enable researchers in related fields to share equipment and expertise. Rooms throughout the building have been designed to maximize opportunities for collaboration. Space has also been set aside for start-up companies with roots in University research. And the building’s three-tiered computing system, which features water-cooled racks for servers, is a living application of Binghamton’s expertise in energy-efficient electronic systems. The facility was designed to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, with a number of green features, including a photovoltaic solar wall as well as geothermal heating and cooling. It also has a green roof, which will absorb rainwater and provide insulation year-round. For a video tour of the 125,000-squarefoot Engineering and Science Building, visit or scan this code.

In Brief

This dad’s a real dinosaur Scientists collect ancient DNA from tiny ‘time capsules’ Binghamton researchers have revived ancient bacteria trapped for thousands of years in water droplets embedded in salt crystals. For decades, geologists looked at these water droplets — called fluid inclusions — and wondered whether microbes could be extracted from them. But there has always been a question about whether the organisms cultured from salt crystals are ancient material or whether they are modern-day contaminants, says Tim Lowenstein, professor of geological sciences and environmental studies. Lowenstein and J. Koji Lum, professor of anthropology and biology, believe they have resolved this doubt.

To watch a video Lowenstein’s team, which related to this topic visit has been pursuing the problem for years, began or scan this code. by examining the fluid inclusions under a microscope. “  Not only did we find bacteria, we found several types of algae as well,”  he says. “  The algae actually may be the food on which the bacteria survive for tens of thousands of years.”

The samples are drawn from Death Valley as well as other sites where temperatures may have reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the past. The environment is among the most extreme on Earth, but the creatures that survive there are tough. And the conditions inside these salty water droplets are ideally suited to preserving DNA.

The 40-foot-high, 15-foot-long, necktiewearing, workaholic title character was inspired by her father-in-law. “My father-in-law was an incredibly tough guy,” says Rosenberg, a professor of English at Binghamton University. “  He was a longshoreman. He was in special ops in World War II. He was 6’4”, built like a truck, worked two or three jobs and would wear this Russian hat that added a foot to his height. The first time I met him he was an intimidating guy. In his later years, he got much gentler, as I think ferocious people often do.” Rosenberg says the dinosaur dad also has characteristics of her own larger-than-life husband. The book, published in May by A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press, is dedicated to both men. Featuring strong visuals from illustrator Matthew Myers, Rosenberg’s story resonates with children and adults. “A great children’s book grows with the child,” Rosenberg says.“And I know that as a parent, if you have to read the same children’s book over and over to a child, you owe it to the parent to give them something that’s not going to make them crazy.”

“They’re like time capsules,”  Lowenstein says.

In the book, Tyrannosaurus Dad’s son Tobias is trying to get his hard-working father to pay attention to him and take part in Field Days at his school. T-Dad surprises Tobias by showing up for Field Days and umpiring a baseball game.

The researchers sequence the DNA and culture the bacteria they find. Then it’s time to think big. Lum’s most optimistic view goes like this: “It’s possible that we can observe organisms evolving and see how they’re reacting to climate change over geologic time.”

“Picture books are like poems,”  Rosenberg says, “  because they are about the essentials: friendship, independence, family, loss, first love, things like that.”


Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

When Lum got involved, the researchers began to wonder about the DNA of the organisms they found.“You have a little trapped ecosystem,”  Lum says.  “Some of these guys are feeding on other ones trapped in this space. The things that aren’t alive in there, their DNA is still preserved.”

More than a decade after honoring her mother in the children’s picture book Monster Mama, Liz Rosenberg has returned with another outof-this-world family story: Tyrannosaurus Dad.

Binghamton University • Binghamton Research • Fall/Winter 2011

A new Facebook app tracks Binghamton University research around the world. Check it out now to see existing international research projects; faculty, students and alumni are invited to add brief descriptions of their own work. Put Binghamton research on the map by visiting Not a Facebook user? No problem. Visit to see where Binghamton scholars are making their mark.


To see where Binghamton scholars are having an impact, visit onthemap or scan this code.

Hidden in plain sight Beth Kilmarx, curator of rare books at the Binghamton University Libraries, made an exciting discovery one afternoon last winter. She found a hidden painting on a nearly 200-yearold book’s fore-edge, the side opposite the book’s spine.“I saw the discolored gilt edge,” Kilmarx says,“and when I bent the leaves to find the cause of the coloring, I saw the painting.” The rare watercolor, on an 1818 edition of The Book of Common Prayer, is only visible when all of the pages

are bent at once. The painting (below) shows the ruins of Byland Abbey in North Yorkshire, England. The ruins are still standing, as you can see in the photograph above, taken this year by Philip Edmondson. (Visit to see more of his work.) The book was published in London by J. Cook and S. Collingwood at the Clarendon Press, though it’s unlikely the painting was done there. In fact, Kilmarx guesses that the book was

painted and given a new binding in the 1840s or 1850s. It boasts a red morocco binding with single gilt fillets on both covers. The spine is in gilt compartments with the title stamped in gilt. Along the inside edges of the book are decorative gilt lace patterns. And inside the cover, there’s a plate bearing the name F.H. Baker, along with his coat of arms.  “Books back then,”  Kilmarx says,  “were made to be one-of-a-kind.”

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