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Binghamton Research Binghamton University / State University of New York / 2010

Earth on our minds A surprising way to curb teen pregnancy 26 • An Rx for what ails alliances 54 • Is climate change making us sick? 74


Diving into the data Computer scientists empower citizen scientists

Binghamton Research Binghamton University / State University of New York / 2010

c o n t en t s




About Binghamton Research

Cool model for a hot planet

Probing public policy


Economist explores how international cooperation can mitigate climate change

New ideas about networks may reveal why programs succeed or fail



Diving into the data

Is climate change making us sick?


4 Honors for early-career scientists and engineers

18 Clinic sets course for a cure Psychologist aims to eliminate social anxiety disorder, OCD

Computer scientists empower citizen scientists

50 Origins of the culture wars

The answer is yes, and a geographically based approach can help fight diseases such as malaria and swine flu

Dispute over evolution in the 1920s paved the way for ongoing debate


A revolutionary idea



Historian’s new book breathes life into debates of 1790s

Historian revisits a battlefield of Cold War medicine

In Brief

Gerald Kutcher walked away from a career in cancer care to delve into military experiments, nuclear threats and informed consent



26 Well connected Nurse finds that girls are less likely to be teen moms if their parents get involved in the community



f eat u r es




On the fly

Earth on our minds

Biologist’s work may lead to ways of controlling insects that spread disease or harm crops

Cover Story: Innovations in sustainability could save money, reduce greenhouse gases, boost national security and protect our water supply from pollutants

An Rx for what ails alliances

Cultivating the next generation of innovators

Partnerships built on innovation lead to better results for drug companies

In labs and far beyond, graduate students are vital to campus ecosystem


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About Binghamton Research Editorial Staff Editor Rachel Coker Art Direction and Design Martha P. Terry Photography Jonathan Cohen, iStock Images, Paul Shulins Contributing Writers Eric Coker, Rachel Coker, Merrill Douglas, Karen Hoffmann, Florence M. Margai, Todd R. McAdam, Kathleen Ryan O’Connor Copy Editing Diana Bean, Katie Ellis, John Wojcio Illustrations iStock Images

Binghamton University Lois B. DeFleur President Gerald Sonnenfeld Vice President for Research Marcia R. Craner Vice President for External Affairs Binghamton Research is published annually by the Division of Research, with cooperation from the Office of University Communications and Marketing. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Binghamton Research, Office of Research Advancement, PO Box 6000, Binghamton, New York 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.

New York State Center of Excellence

Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center (S3IP) Director Bahgat Sammakia

Organized Research Centers

Center for Advanced Information Technologies (CAIT) Director Victor Skormin 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 Seshu Desu Center for Cognitive and Psycholinguistic Sciences (CaPS) Director Cynthia Connine Center for Development and Behavioral Neuroscience (CDBN) Director Norman Spear 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 Weixing Zhu 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 Karen-edis Barzman Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (CSMTE) Director Thomas O’Brien Center for the Teaching of American History (CTAH) Director Thomas Dublin Center for Writers (CW) Director Maria Mazziotti Gillan Clinical Science and Engineering Research Center (CSERC) Director Kenneth McLeod 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

Institutes for Advanced Studies

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Printed on paper that contains 50 percent recycled content with 25 percent post-consumer waste.

Printed at a facility that is 100 percent wind powered.

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 K. Hari Srihari


From the president

From the vice president for research

Binghamton University has made a commitment to leverage its academic excellence, global awareness and green initiatives to benefit New York state and the nation through its advanced research and economic development partnerships. These and other initiatives are part of our larger Think Green. Think Global. Think Binghamton advocacy efforts.

The economy of the future will be fueled by environmentally sound practices — and “green” jobs — in numerous disciplines. Binghamton University researchers are expanding the possibilities for this new era of sustainability with innovations in solar energy, batteries, fuel cells, electronics packaging technologies, environmental sensors and power-aware computing. Multidisciplinary collaborations and partnerships with industry are helping to ensure that ideas developed on our campus have an impact far beyond New York.

Green has long been more than just a school color at Binghamton. It’s also a key philosophy in much of our research and in campus activities in and out of classrooms. We are proud that we are listed on the Princeton Review’s “  green honor roll” and also one of the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools.” Our faculty members’ voices are heard in some of the world’s most vital conversations, including the ongoing negotiations about climate change. Economist Zili Yang was among just 21 experts worldwide invited by the Copenhagen Consensus Center to help examine the costs and benefits of different solutions to global warming.

Binghamton’s creativity and innovation are also evident in our continued research growth and in the expansion of our efforts in technology transfer. In this issue of Binghamton Research, you’ll learn more about what we can achieve when we have earth on our minds. Gerald Sonnenfeld

Lois B. DeFleur


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Binghamton’s commitment to discovery is also visible in the accolades our faculty members received during the past year. Scott Craver, an expert in cryptography, is one of 100 young researchers who received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. It’s the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on young professionals in the early stages of their research careers. The University is also proud to have three faculty members chosen for National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards. Their research stands to advance technologies ranging from smart sensors to cloud computing.

Our graduate students also carry this pioneering and collaborative spirit into the next chapters of their lives, whether in industry or in academic pursuits. These outstanding scholars are making their mark in fields ranging from history to materials science. Their presence creates new possibilities for Binghamton researchers while enriching our vibrant intellectual community.

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Presidential early career award for scientists and engineers 4

At work on the next frontier of security Scott Craver’s research could help stop a terrorist attack — or lend privacy to people living under an authoritarian regime.

Information security expert Scott Craver’s core research interest is in digital watermarks, which can be used to provide proof of ownership, as copy protection devices or to send covert messages. Watermarks are commonly used in movies, music and images; they could also be used to protect scientific data, software and other types of information. Craver and his team of students develop algorithms to break watermark systems. “We need to think like an attacker in order to be certain of what types of attacks are available,” he said. “The attacks we come up with aren’t useful tools for a criminal. That’s part of the point in finding attacks on security systems: If you find an attack, you’re preventing it from being useful to an adversary because now people know how to protect against it.” Last year, Craver was among 100 recipients of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award includes a grant of $200,000 a year for five years. Craver said the funding will allow his team to continue to pursue a unified theory of detection. “All of our hard security problems these days are really detection problems,” he said.“This is the last frontier, or at least the next one. These problems have applications to all possible adversaries. You’re talking about anything from kids who want to make trouble to organized crime.” Craver earned his doctorate in electrical engineering from Princeton University in 2004 and came to Binghamton that year as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. He is the first Binghamton researcher to receive a PECASE since the program began in 1996.

“We’re not trying to figure out how to score a win for one side or the other, but to find out in these sorts of situations who will win.”


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“The person who is trying to evade detection is not necessarily the bad guy,”Craver noted. “If Alice and Bob are trying to communicate secretly and a third party is trying to catch them, who’s the bad guy? It depends. If the person doing the detection is in law enforcement and trying to uncover a terrorist plot, that’s one possibility. If Alice and Bob live in a country where the Internet is highly censored and they’re just trying to communicate with a normal level of privacy, the person doing the detection is not necessarily the good guy.

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National science foundation career award


Algorithms harness power of cloud computing Kartik Gopalan’s research enables companies to capitalize on cloud computing, resulting in lower costs for businesses and revolutionizing everyday tasks such as shopping and browsing the Web. Kartik Gopalan’s work focuses on “virtualization” in cloud computing, large clusters of computers used by organizations of all sizes. Virtualization allows a single computer to do the work of multiple machines. It also allows information technology managers to pool the resources of multiple computers on a network to perform large or complex tasks. “Virtualization helps people use their hardware resources more efficiently,” he said. “You can consolidate multiple services on a single machine. You have less hardware, it costs you less, it uses less power and it gives you a better return on investment.” The technique is already commonly used. However, IT managers don’t have good tools to manage the hundreds or thousands of virtual machines that could be running in a cluster. Gopalan’s team develops algorithms that can be used under different circumstances, whether running a Web server or a database server or providing some other service. Gopalan, an assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton since 2006, received a nearly $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program to support his research. The work, including an algorithm that helps large-memory applications run efficiently on a network, has already generated commercial interest. If cloud computing seems difficult to understand, consider what happens when you run an “app” from an iPhone.


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“Where are these applications actually running? They are often running in the back end, in a cluster or a data center,” Gopalan said. “And the IT manager needs the right tools to satisfy the user’s performance requirement while minimizing cost. These are two conflicting requirements. I develop algorithms to try to bridge that gap.”

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

National science foundation career award


Research may deliver ‘greener’ computers Qinru Qiu aims to reduce the power demands of microprocessors while maintaining performance. Her work could lead to smaller, more reliable computers that require less energy.

Step into Qinru Qiu’s lab at Binghamton University and you’ll see what appears to be a teenager’s fantasy: Rack after rack of sleek, black PlayStation 3 game systems. And while she’s quick to explain that the PS3s are set up to emulate a multiprocessor, not for an epic showdown in Resident Evil, Qiu’s work may one day fuel new adolescent dreams. Her work on lowpower computing could lead to smaller computers that function more efficiently and use less power. The work holds such promise that Qiu received a five-year grant of more than $400,000 from the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious program for young faculty. Qiu’s project focuses on reducing the power demands of multiprocessor system-on-chip designs, which are becoming more popular. A single processor can be very fast, but as its performance improves it requires more and more power. A multiprocessor, on the other hand, can deliver the same performance as numerous single processors at much lower power. Benefits of cutting power demands include reduced energy consumption and manufacturing costs. Low-power designs can also improve reliability, since high power consumption increases the temperature of a chip, which harms its reliability. Qiu, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Binghamton since 2003, said microprocessors are designed to deliver peak performance, even though users don’t need peak performance all the time.


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“The basic idea is to slow the microprocessor down or put it into lowpower mode when we’re not using it,” Qiu said. “Before, people just tried to minimize the power consumption of a chip when they designed it. Nowadays, more and more devices have many power modes, like a hard disk has a sleep mode, so we can have more control.”

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National science foundation career award


Tiny devices have big potential as smart sensors Mohammad Younis’ research could lead to new ways of safeguarding the environment as well as protecting electronics.

Mohammad Younis designs, models and characterizes miniscule microelectro-mechanical systems, or MEMS, and even tinier ones called nano-electro-mechanical systems, or NEMS. He’s especially interested in aspects of their mechanics and motion. Younis, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Binghamton since 2004, received $440,000 through the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. That project will focus on MEMS and their potential as smart sensors. Younis has already received a patent for a MEMS device that would detect acceleration and mechanical shock. The device would be able to recognize when something crashed with a high level of force. It would then perform a desirable task. Applications range from protecting the hard disk of a laptop computer to deploying a side-impact air bag. He’s also working with Binghamton colleagues to develop hybrid sensors and actuators to detect gases and harmful substances in the environment based on novel electro-mechanical principles. These devices could act as electric switches upon the detection of a harmful material to inform authorities of the problem. Younis said he expects to devote at least the next decade to studying the dynamics of MEMS and NEMS.  “I think with the increasing demand for sophisticated sensors and actuators, MEMS will remain a soughtafter technology for many years to come,”  he said.  “Also, with the emergence of applications where extreme specifications need to be met, such as having ultra-sensitive sensors and very high-frequency electronics, scaling down structures from the micro to the nano regime seems to be another avenue of significant future research.”


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Last year, Younis and colleagues at Cornell University received a grant of more than $357,000 from the National Science Foundation. That initiative is designed to provide a basic understanding of the dynamic behavior of carbon nanotubes when used as devices, or in NEMS applications.

e h t On

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y l f ist’s g o l Bio may k r o w to lead of ways lling o r t con ts insec pread s t a th se or a e s i d rops c m r ha


Dozens of vials — each containing a male and a female fly as well as a small amount of food — are lined up for observation. It’s 8 a.m. on the day of an experiment in which 800 such pairings will be arranged.

Fiumera, an evolutionary biologist, believes this experiment and others like it will lead to techniques for reducing agricultural pests and bugs that spread disease. “In theory,” he said, “you could design very specific biological-control

Fiumera’s lab specializes in large-scale experiments with the model system Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as fruit flies. His findings are in some cases easily extended to non-model systems, such as the insects that are vectors for malaria and other diseases, which could have a significant impact on human health and agriculture. “The interaction between the tricks males use to manipulate females for the male’s best interests and the techniques the female uses to limit that male’s ability to manipulate her is wonderfully exciting,” said Fiumera, whose work is funded by the National Science Foundation. “We have good evidence that this dynamic interaction is being controlled by proteins that males are transferring to females and


Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

An old boom box plays ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” as Anthony Fiumera and his students watch to see if the flies mate. The classic rock provides an amusing undertone in a Binghamton University laboratory that’s focused on finding new insights into male and female insects’ interactions.

mechanisms such that you could target one species or even a subset of that population and have no impact on other species.”

“Our lab’s unique contribution to this field is that we’re focusing proteins that females are producing in their reproductive system. It sets up this amazing co-evolution, almost an arms race between males and females of the same species.”

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populations and natural

Males vs. females To understand Fiumera’s work, it’s essential to know that female fruit flies can mate with multiple males and that females have the ability to store sperm.

variations to

“We’re interested in trying to understand the forces that are driving these interactions between males as they’re trying to encourage a female to mate or competing to fertilize her eggs,”  he said. “  And, from a female’s perspective, why is she choosing to re-mate and whose sperm is she going to use? We’re trying to go after and identify the genes that are involved in these interactions.”

genes that are

There are proteins produced by males that are secreted in the seminal fluid and transferred to the female during mating, Fiumera explained. It is only in the female where many of these proteins are physiologically active. His lab has shown that polymorphisms — natural variations — in one protein can affect female re-mating rates. Some of these male proteins are toxic to females; they increase the fitness of the male but at a cost to the overall fitness of his mate. Other proteins influence such factors as female egg-laying rates and sperm storage. “We have a good understanding of individual roles of some of these proteins,” he said. “What we’re able to do now is take our understanding of the function of these genes and put them in the broader context of their evolutionary potential.” It appears, he said, that the success of a male depends not only on his genetic makeup but also the genes of the females with whom he mates.


on natural

identify these male and female interacting with each other.” It’s an exciting time for this research, Fiumera said, in part because of the variety of researchers attacking these questions: molecular biologists, behavioral ecologists, evolutionary geneticists and others. Looking to the future Fiumera said he recognizes that these male-female interactions are not going on within a static population. Males are not always competing against the same type of male or mating with the same type of female. “Our lab’s unique contribution to this field,” he said, “is that we’re focusing on natural populations and natural variations to identify these male and female genes that are interacting with each other.” One ongoing project is designed to test how the reproductive success of a male changes when he mates with different females under competitive conditions. Fiumera said he has found variations in male reproductive genes that show strong interactions with the genotype — or genetic makeup — of the female.

“That’s interesting,” he said, “because the fitness of a male depends on the genotypes in the female population.This suggests that some form of balancing selection could be operating.” Evolutionary biologists are interested in balancing selection because it appears to preserve genetic variations in a given population. Mariana F. Wolfner, professor of developmental biology and a Stephen Weiss Fellow at Cornell University, said biologists want to know why there’s so much variation in nature, and what keeps it there. “You would think that if there were a variant in nature that’s important, it would just sweep through the population, whether it’s fruit flies or humans,” she said. “But instead of that we see lots of variation, and we don’t understand why.” Fiumera’s focus on natural variation and important traits sets his work apart and may help to answer key questions about why so much variation is maintained, she said. Some of the theories Fiumera is developing about cooperation and conflict may also have implications for host-pathogen evolution, in which the genetic makeup of a disease, and the population affected by it, changes over time. Other experiments Fiumera has planned will examine how wild populations adapt to changing environmental conditions and investigate how changing food sources affect the potential for adaptation. Step into the laboratory The laid-back atmosphere in Fiumera’s lab belies the quiet efficiency with which his team works.

Evolutionary biologist Anthony Fiumera studies the “arms race� between male and female insects. Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010


A graduate student observes fruit flies during an experiment in Anthony Fiumera’s lab.

Glossary Balancing selection: A form of natural selection that preserves genetic variations in a population. Genome: All the DNA contained in an organism or a cell. Genotype: Genetic identity of an individual.

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Mutation: A permanent structural alteration in DNA. Some mutations can improve an organism’s chance of surviving and passing the beneficial change on to descendants. Phenotype: Visible traits of an individual, such as eye color. Polymorphism: A common variation in the sequence of DNA among individuals. Definitions provided by Anthony Fiumera and by the National Human Genome Research Institute.


Students scurry back and forth between the “  fly room” and lab benches, carrying armloads of vials. Others stare intently at the pairs, ready to label a vial and move it to a waiting tray as soon as a mating has been confirmed.

jokes about colleagues flipping to the last page of his papers to check out the sample size. “In a full experiment,” he said, “we might do 2,000 to 4,000 matings and score the paternity of several hundred thousand offspring.”

After a pair mates, the male is removed from the vial. The females will have an opportunity to mate with another male in a few days. The second round of males will also be removed and Fiumera and his team will wait for the resulting progeny.

Wolfner called Fiumera’s experiments enormous. “They have a statistical power much greater than they would otherwise,” she said. “You can pick up subtle effects that you wouldn’t be able to see in a smaller experiment. They are heroic.”

That’s when the results of an experiment become clear: The researchers check the paternity of each of the young flies to determine which male succeeded in producing the most offspring. They then examine the males’ genotypes to determine if successful males share similar polymorphisms, or genetic variations. When successful males share a particular polymorphism, it suggests that gene is important for reproduction.

The sheer scope of the work means that graduate, undergraduate and occasionally even high school students can play a role. “A small army of undergraduates works in the lab,” Fiumera said. “  We can involve students

The lab specializes in large-scale experiments, to the point that Fiumera

Visit Anthony Fiumera talks about his research.

early in meaningful science. They are making useful contributions; we couldn’t do this work without their assistance.” Why Drosophila melanogaster? Fiumera’s own path to evolutionary biology and to working with Drosophila melanogaster was anything but direct. He became an animal trainer at the Columbus Zoo after studying zoology as an undergraduate. That led to an interest in conservation and conservation genetics, which in turn brought him to genetics and then to Drosophila melanogaster. He joined the Binghamton faculty in 2006 as an assistant professor of biology.

• The flies are easy to maintain and have a short generation time. • It’s relatively easy to set up massive experiments. • A huge amount of background work enhances researchers’ ability to move forward. • The species has large numbers of mutants, and many mutations are phenotypic markers. (This means, for example, that researchers can use eye color to determine a fly’s paternity.) • There are full genome sequences for 12 closely related species.

Fiumera said fruit flies make an ideal model system for numerous reasons:

Drosophila biologists do band together, Fiumera said.

• The species is native to and abundant in the Northeast, which allows researchers to study variation in natural populations.

“We have tools that a lot of other systems don’t have,” he explained. “We can answer questions that can’t be answered with other systems.”

Wolfner said understanding Drosophila may be a vital first step in reducing the harmful effects of other insects. “When we figure out what molecules are important in controlling fly reproduction, then we can go and look for similar molecules in disease vectors like mosquitoes and other insects,” she said. “And from the fruit fly data, we’ll have a handle on how those molecules might work and thus how we might control those insects’ reproduction biologically. For this, it would be important to know if the level of variation Anthony sees in fruit flies exists in these other insects. For a disease like dengue fever, there is no vaccine and no cure. The only way to control it is to control its vector.” — Rachel Coker

Fly facts Drosophila melanogaster (aka the fruit fly) has been a favorite model system for more than a century. The flies can live in the lab for about two months; in most of Anthony Fiumera’s experiments, they live for two weeks or less. Females can reproduce when they’re 10 hours old. Flies are about a couple of millimeters long.

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010


Clinic sets course for a cure Psychologist aims to eliminate social anxiety disorder, OCD

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

When it comes to dealing with anxiety disorders, Meredith Coles has no interest in modest goals.


“How grandiose do we want to be?” she said when asked about her dream for the field. “I don’t want anyone to have obsessive-compulsive disorder, ever again. That’s pretty grandiose.” But Coles, director of the Binghamton Anxiety Clinic and an assistant professor of psychology at Binghamton University, has mapped out an ambitious plan that just might do it. She envisions a combination of focused research projects to promote better outcomes and large-scale policy analysis to help set goals. Her work may lead to treatments for obsessivecompulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder that are cheaper, more effective and more widely available. OCD and social anxiety disorder have similar pathologies. The patient feels increasingly acute anxiety that’s alleviated either by avoiding social contact or through a ritual. A classic example of OCD is perpetual handwashing. Patients with social anxiety disorder often avoid situations such as giving speeches or interacting with strangers.

Coles and her staff have already looked at some of the roots of the disorders, including research that

“We have treatment, and it works,”said Coles, whose treatment focuses on cognitive and behavioral methods. But the current treatment can’t cure everyone. In fact, most patients continue to experience symptoms of the disorders. Early diagnosis and treatment becomes critical, Coles said, because it prevents years of suffering and impairment. And the longer a patient has OCD or social anxiety disorder, the more likely he is to develop additional problems such as depression or substance abuse. This is where her latest project — a large-scale quantitative study — takes the next step. Coles received a twoyear, $400,000 grant from the National Institute for Mental Health to survey 500 people about barriers to seeking treatment for anxiety disorders. Her preliminary data suggest most people delay treatment because they think they can cope without help. They can’t. Others may fear real or imagined stigma for seeking psychological help. Many people may not understand the disorder or may lack access to appropriate care. In fact, some of Coles’ patients travel three hours across upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania to get to her campus clinic. “There are so many people suffering and not seeking help,” Coles said. “I want to bring that up a step. Therapy helps. I want people to get it.”

About the Disorders People with obsessivecompulsive disorder (OCD) suffer from unwanted and intrusive thoughts that they can’t seem to get out of their heads (obsessions), often compelling them to repeatedly perform ritualistic behaviors and routines (compulsions) to try to ease their anxiety. OCD is one of the 10 most debilitating illnesses in the industrialized world, according to the World Health Organization. It affects about 2.5 percent of the population — roughly 40 million Americans. Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, can wreak havoc on the social and romantic lives of the 15 million American adults who suffer from the disorder, leaving them isolated, ashamed and, in some cases, misdiagnosed, according to a survey commissioned by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. For more information about these and other anxiety disorders, visit the Anxiety Disorders Association of America online at


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A certain level of anxiety is normal and perhaps even healthy. A person who fears a social faux pas may pay attention to avoid making one. Fearing flat tires may encourage a driver to check tire pressure regularly. The problem is when the anxiety is associated with dysfunctional behavior. And the difficult part of both ailments is that, left untreated, they rarely go away on their own. In fact, strategies people employ to cope with the disorders may offer short-term relief but ultimately reinforce the anxiety: You get out of giving a speech, let’s say, but the next time you have to prepare one, you’ll be even more anxious.

points out the difficulty patients have in perceiving the reality around them. One paper by a graduate assistant showed that people with social anxiety disorder often focus on less emotive parts of the face, so they have problems perceiving reaction to social interaction. Other research suggests a difficulty assessing the legitimacy of threats.

“There are so many people suffering and not seeking help. I want to bring that up a step. Therapy helps. I want people to get it.”

About the Clinic The Binghamton Anxiety Clinic is like many psychological treatment facilities at a medical university: a complex of offices, meeting rooms and treatment areas in a small building in a quiet corner of campus. There’s one difference: Binghamton University doesn’t have a medical school. Binghamton University was Meredith Coles’ target when she was looking for a place to set up a clinic after she earned her doctorate from Temple University in 2003. She liked the data-driven research focus she found.

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

“I’m a clinical psychologist,” Coles said, gesturing out her office door to the complex she runs. “Integrating science and practice is important to me.” The location also was rich in people who needed help. Some of her patients drive up to three hours to seek treatment — a range that covers communities from Philadelphia to the outskirts of metropolitan New York and to Rochester and Albany, N.Y.


But psychologists lack details of how different factors play into the delay, and how influential each factor is. “The majority of people never access treatment for anxiety disorders,” Coles said. “Can they recognize something is wrong? What do they know about anxiety disorders? Do they even know what they are?” Her survey hopes to answer some of those questions. “We’re putting a lot of weight on getting people to recognize the symptoms,” Coles said. The survey might help set a course toward reducing the effect of OCD and social anxiety disorder. “It’s hard to say what the next step is, but education is a likely first step,” said Gail S. Steketee, dean of the Boston University School of Social Work.“How to get the right message across will take some thoughtful analysis of the findings. We also have to keep in mind that education does not always change public opinion when other contextual or personal factors are at work.” Understanding what people know and think about OCD and anxiety disorders can help treatment at the personal and community levels, Steketee said. “The beginning part of any good therapy is education about these psychological issues,” she said. “We can also do this on a more mass-media level and it has been pretty successful when you consider that the stigma of seeking help is much less today than a generation or two ago, thanks to magazines, newspapers, the Internet and so forth.” In particular, Coles is interested in pediatric diagnosis and education. It’s an exercise in math: Almost all cases of OCD or social anxiety can be diagnosed by the time the patient is 21 years old.

— Meredith Coles

Many cases begin in childhood or adolescence. Yet previous research suggests that patients will delay treatment an average of nine years after they recognize they’re having trouble. And they don’t recognize they’re having trouble for a good five years following the point where they would receive a diagnosis. “The younger we educate kids, the better off they’ll be,” said Coles, who serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. “We need to prevent mental disease in kids.” Australia already has programs in place to educate and screen children as young as 4 for anxiety disorders. Coles has looked into its health-care system to see what lessons America can learn. Steketee hesitates to suggest that 4-year-olds need to be targeted for education, but certainly younger people in general must be. “It is reasonable to try to get education into the hands of parents and teachers of grade-schoolage children, as early intervention is most likely to be helpful and to prevent worse problems,” she said. “But many people do not develop a serious OCD or social anxiety problem until their teenage years or their early 20s.” The good news? They are older and can be more “rational” about the need for help. However, they are also in the throes of concern about what their peers would think if they knew about the problem. “This and other factors delay the treatment-seeking process,” Steketee said. “Education that targets this young adult group would be especially helpful and is most likely to occur through the media.”

Meredith Coles, director of the Binghamton Anxiety Clinic, hopes to improve access to treatment for anxiety disorders.

That brings Coles full circle: back to the focused research on outcomes and progression of OCD and social anxiety that constitutes about 90 percent of her work to date. If programs can be put in place to screen and educate children as young as 4, can that same mechanism be used to identify the predictors that lead to the diagnosis? And if the cause can be pinned down, can ways be developed to prevent OCD and social anxiety disorder? These are big questions, and Coles completed a study last year to begin answering them.

Further, she said, her study showed that combining those tendencies with a heightened self-consciousness

But awareness is only one aspect behind recognizing and treating OCD and social anxiety disorder, Steketee said. Stigma takes more time to address, especially because it’s a cultural factor. “Slowly but surely, we are breaking this barrier down,” she said, “and every famous person or person of power who stands up and admits a problem and how they are seeking help moves this effort forward.” Steketee said informing mental-health professionals about effective treatment methods is also a challenge. “Most clinicians want to do the right thing to help their patients/clients, but adopting new methods seems harder than it should be,” she said. “Moving mental-health research into practice is a major goal of nearly every national mental-health professional organization and of the federal government.” Overcoming those stumbling blocks will have major implications for people

with anxiety disorders and publicpolicy makers. Early intervention, Coles said, can mean: • Less dysfunction with the incumbent loss of productivity • Less expertise needed to treat the disorder • Less money spent to provide that treatment At least that’s the assumption, Coles said. Proving it is another question. “There’s always another question,” she said. “I’m always asking another question.” And Coles isn’t afraid to ask the grandiose one, too. — Todd R. McAdam

Visit Meredith Coles talks about her research.


Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

The data supported the hypothesis that cognitions are important in the development of OCD, Coles said. “Specifically, particular types of beliefs such as a heightened sense of personal responsibility to prevent harm, the likelihood of threat and the importance of and need to control one’s thoughts were related to increased levels of OCD symptoms over time.”

proved to be useful in predicting OCD symptoms later on. She and her staff are continuing this research with a larger study examining multiple risk factors.


revolutionary idea

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Historian’s new book breathes life into debates of 1790s


You think you know the story:

American political leaders and state delegates gather in Philadelphia in May 1787 to draft a new government design following the failures of the Articles of Confederation. The convention members debate and negotiate over the summer before completing a Constitution that establishes the federal system of government and defines its three branches. The necessary nine states ratify the document by June 1788, a Bill of Rights is included, and the new government takes effect in March 1789. The basic rights of the citizenry are laid out and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution ends the Revolutionary Era. Not so fast, said Douglas Bradburn.

“The 1790s are the crucially forgotten moment to understanding the real creation of the United States,”  Bradburn said.  “When you read the debates and the newspapers of the 1790s, you understand quickly that there was no consensus at that time about what the Constitution meant.

“The ratification of the Constitution makes for a nice, easy end to the story of the American Revolution,” said Bradburn, who joined the Binghamton faculty in 2005. “You have a break from Britain, a period of warfare and then a struggle to figure out what the shape of independence will look like. … The 1790s are left for the historians of the 19th century. I find that unsatisfying. You have the same people involved. In every revolution, you have to watch the whole arc of the political actors.” Telling the story Bradburn’s narrative arc begins in the fall of 1774, when the first Continental Congress convened. These meetings marked the transformation of British colonial resisters into American revolutionaries and ensured that political struggle would help feed the citizenship issue.


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In his new book, The Citizenship Revolution, the associate professor of history at Binghamton University extends the revolutionary timeline by emphasizing the political fights over citizenship. The Constitution did not define who was a citizen in 1789, Bradburn said, nor did it clarify who would settle disputes between the states and the nation. These issues would not begin to be resolved until the 1790s.

As the former British subjects became “we the people” by excluding Indians, reinstating Loyalists and leaving the issue of blacks unresolved, a new question emerged. Who ruled America: the “people” of the new nation or the separate “people” in all of the states? The problem of citizenship became entangled with the problem of the growing nation-state. Bradburn found answers in the decade-long battle between the Federalists, who sought to create a national, centralizing state, and the Jeffersonian Republicans, who called for states to define the rights of citizens.

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

“These are two groups who had forward-looking visions for what the country should be,” Bradburn said. “It’s really a fight over two different modern states. All great revolutions are a contest between two competing, modern visions. In the 1790s, the story wasn’t conservatives vs. progressives or good guys vs. bad guys. It was about people fighting over what they thought was the meaning of the Revolution.” The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, demanded a unified citizenry and a strong government that spoke for the nation. They even cultivated a national spirit after the XYZ Affair, circulating petitions of support for President John Adams. This homogeneous vision of America culminated in the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. But those laws only unified an opposition that had gained momentum by overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in Chisholm v. Georgia. (The 11th Amendment, which Bradburn calls the most important pre-Civil War amendment, protected states from


lawsuits in federal court.) Mobilization against the Alien and Sedition Acts included meetings, petitions, the planting of “liberty poles,” newspaper stories and protest songs. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison observed the popular response, put politics in motion and drafted Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions that called for the Alien and Sedition Acts to be overturned. The common citizen worked with the elite (along with immigrants) to hold national politics together and form a shared idea about the Constitution that knocked Federalists from power in 1800 and 1801. Most important, a union of states triumphed over the nation. “The Federalists of the 1790s were beaten back and failed,” Bradburn said. “It was the people who wanted a decentralized union, where the states were in charge of the rights of citizens and in control of municipal regulations of their own populations. The decentralized union was a compromise. The emphasis on locality was a way to deal with diversity. You didn’t have a homogeneous population. That was the way the Union could continue and people could live together.” The ultimate political settlement and the end of the American Revolution, as Bradburn sees it, came with Jefferson’s presidential re-election in 1804, the passage of the 12th Amendment and the Electoral College and the recognition of a two-party political system. “You saw a transition from revolutionary politics to one that accepted parties, an acceptance of the federal, decentralized nature of the Union and an acceptance of the racial limits of American citizenship,” Bradburn said.

Citizenship did not see revolutionary change again until the Union was rejected by Southern slave owners and collapsed during the Civil War, Bradburn added. Bradburn’s work has drawn praise from historian Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation professor at the University of Virginia, co-host of the NPR show Backstory with the American History Guys and author and editor of 11 books. “What in effect had been ratified in state constitutions and the federal Constitution was a potent new conception of citizen power,”Onuf said.“What form it took was up for grabs and the subsequent debates reflected that. “Doug does a nice job of articulating both the emerging opposition view of the Jeffersonian Republicans and the Federalist position. I think it sheds new light on the period.” Onuf called Bradburn “one of the smartest people writing in the (early America) field today.” “It’s terrific: You take 1787, blow it up, and ask, ‘What is the founding?’ Doug gives us a new version,” Onuf said. Connections to today Although the book does not address current politics, Bradburn said today’s political fights over rights are similar to the struggles of the past. “The story of citizenship is one that has dominated American history to the present,” he said.“The citizenship revolution — people having equal rights, being members of a community, having a Constitution — these things were all created out of the American Revolution.”

Bradburn points to the gay marriage debate. Supporters will say it is a right, while the opposition will say it has never been a right and stress that traditional marriage has been standard for centuries. A similar framework was crafted in the Alien and Sedition Acts debates, Bradburn said. “You get the same kind of dynamic with people asserting these aggressive rights,” he said. “They are ultimately played out in politics: The ones who win the elections decide what’s a right and what isn’t a right. This revolutionary rhetoric of rights is something people continue to appeal to.” Bradburn also parallels the power of local and state governments in rejecting the Alien and Sedition Acts with local and state groups that fought the Patriot Act of the Bush administration. Opponents of each made use of citizen petitions. Bradburn said he hopes people who have read books by Joseph Ellis or John Adams by David McCullough will enjoy The Citizenship Revolution, which was published by University of Virginia Press. “I want them to come away feeling like they understand this better than they did before and that it’s a satisfyingly rich picture of a period that’s very distinct from today but still struggled with a lot of the issues that we continue to fight over in our fundamental political disagreements,” he said. Bradburn also wants academic readers to re-examine the chronology of the American Revolution.

— Eric Coker

What’s next for Bradburn Douglas Bradburn’s examination of the Revolutionary Era is far from over. Bradburn is undertaking a long-term project that looks at the origins of the American Revolution and the causes for the collapse of the British state.

Gordon becomes what Bradburn calls a “witness to empire” by providing firsthand accounts of what the British Atlantic looked like as the Revolution neared. Gordon also played a supporting role in the conflict by taking the Stamp Act resolves back to Britain.

“There’s no consensus among academic historians about why it happened,” said Bradburn, who anticipates the book being a fiveyear project. “There are compelling arguments, but there’s no debate. That’s what I am trying to re-ignite: interest in that moment.”

“He’s staying with people and writing about who they are,” Bradburn said. “He contrasts Jamaicans, South Carolinians, New Englanders and Virginians. He’s bright in his portraits of these regions.”

In the interim, Bradburn is planning a book about Lord Adam Gordon, a Scottish aristocrat who traveled the British Atlantic in the American colonies, Canada and West Indies in 1763 following the Seven Years’ War.

Bradburn also is editing with John C. Coombs of Hampden-Sydney College a book of essays by young scholars about 17th- and early 18th-century Virginia called Early Modern Virginia: New Essays on the Old Dominion.


Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

“I want them to understand that the way the academic world thinks about this period is wrong,”he said.“The overemphasis on the ratification moment is misplaced. We need to understand the politics of the 1790s to understand the American Revolution. These are the bigstakes arguments that I want to last.”

Historian Douglas Bradburn in his latest book invites readers to rethink the American Revolution and debates over citizenship.

Nurse finds that girls are less likely to be teen moms if their parents get involved

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in the community


If it takes a village to raise a child, what about that village works best? Are there qualities at work in certain neighborhoods that help point youngsters toward success in life? Susan Seibold-Simpson, clinical assistant professor in Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing, hopes that by learning to understand the influence of neighborhoods, nurses can help reduce a major risk that limits opportunities for girls — teen pregnancy. One of her most tantalizing findings suggests that when parents get involved in community organizations, their daughters may be less likely to become young mothers. As a nurse practitioner in reproductive health since 1988, Seibold-Simpson has too often seen early motherhood shut doors in the faces of adolescent girls.

While caring for individuals, SeiboldSimpson came to realize that she also wanted to make a difference on a larger scale. And she wanted to prevent problems, not just deal with them

Seibold-Simpson took inspiration from social psychologist Peter Benson’s work on positive youth development, which stresses giving children assets to help them succeed. As a public health professional, she also seized on the concept of social capital, which looks at relationships among people in communities. “A lot of the teenagers I work with come from difficult families,” SeiboldSimpson said. As mothers struggle to raise their kids, she wondered, what can the neighborhood contribute to help launch children in a positive direction? To find answers, Seibold-Simpson examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a survey of about 90,000 adolescents in grades 7-12 conducted in 1994 and 1995. She chose about 2,000 girls from this sample, based on several criteria: they were sexually active; they answered survey questions about sexual activity, use of condoms and use of contraceptives; and the mother or father (usually the mother) had responded to a separate survey for parents.


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“Once a young woman becomes pregnant, whether it was planned or not, it appears to substantially alter her prospects of continuing in school and going to college,”said Seibold-Simpson, who still works several hours a week at a clinic near campus. The young mother often stays involved with the baby’s father, even if he makes a bad partner, limiting her chances for other, healthier relationships. And early motherhood might doom her to a life of low-paying jobs, with little time and few resources to devote to her children.

after the fact. “What can we do at the community level,” she asked, “to make a teenager feel she has more options in life than becoming a teen mom, so she might choose to delay childbearing until she’s a little older?”

What does social capital mean? Susan Seibold-Simpson breaks the idea of social capital into three components:

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Norms of reciprocity: If you saw your neighbor’s child getting into trouble, would you tell the neighbor? Would your neighbor tell you about your child? Network membership: Do you go to religious services? Do you belong to the PTA, a sports group, civic group, labor union or other organization? (This component is the key in terms of teen pregnancy, SeiboldSimpson found.) Trust: Do you know and talk to the people in your neighborhood?


For each girl, Seibold-Simpson examined the socioeconomic status of her neighborhood and family, her attitudes toward pregnancy and contraception, her reported use of condoms and contraceptives, and her parent’s level of social capital. She broke social capital into three components: parents’ norms of reciprocity (“If you saw your neighbor’s child getting into trouble, would you tell the neighbor? Would your neighbor tell you about your child?”) and network membership (“Do you go to religious services? Do you belong to the PTA, a sports group, civic group, labor union or other organization?”) as well as teens’ perception of trust (“Do you know and talk to the people in your neighborhood?”). Researchers already knew that many girls in poor neighborhoods regard early pregnancy as no great disaster, and therefore are less likely to use

condoms and other contraceptives. For Seibold-Simpson, the big question was whether the right kind of neighborhood can overcome the influence of poverty. As she analyzed the data, SeiboldSimpson was surprised to learn that, contrary to expectations, reciprocity, trust and social networks don’t work hand in hand to form a single factor called social capital. High levels of trust and high levels of network membership instead pull girls in different directions. If women in a poor neighborhood believe that teen motherhood is fine, and they stand ready to help pregnant girls, the teens who trust those women probably will adopt the same belief. “That was not what I initially anticipated, but it does make sense,” Seibold-Simpson said. Those girls are likely to neglect contraception. But the study showed that network membership has the opposite effect,

“What can we do at the community level to make a teenager feel she has more options in life than becoming a teen mom?” — Susan Seibold-Simpson Susan Seibold-Simpson, a researcher and longtime nurse practitioner, searches for ways to curb teen pregnancy.

for nursing sciences and assistant dean for research at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s School of Nursing.

“So nurses have an opportunity to connect with a variety of adults and serve as a bridge or link to facilitate group memberships.”

Seibold-Simpson speculates that networking does the most good when it takes parents out of their usual surroundings, exposing them to people from a variety of backgrounds. “It modifies their norms, and it modifies their sense of horizon with their teenagers,” she said. If, at a meeting, a parent talks with a woman whose daughter is doing an internship, that parent might encourage her own daughter to pursue the same opportunity. And girls who have opportunities are less likely to jeopardize their futures by neglecting birth control.

“To think that what happens with the parents, and the types of networks they have, moves down a layer in the family to impact girls and improve their health was a big find for her,” Morrison-Beedy said. “We don’t have a lot written about this.”

In her current research, SeiboldSimpson is further exploring her theory of wider horizons, trying to pin down exactly what kinds of groups exert the most helpful influence. She cautions that along with network membership, it’s also important to examine how broader issues, such as politics and economics, influence neighborhoods and adolescent girls. But she is especially intrigued by the notion that parents can point their daughters toward a brighter future by getting involved in community life.

This hypothesis is one of the most interesting aspects of SeiboldSimpson’s work, said Dianne MorrisonBeedy, professor in the endowed chair

The notion that involving parents in community activities can help keep their daughters healthy has big implications for nurses. “Nurses understand the ins and outs of how to get into programs, how to get into networks, that parents might not have had experience with,” MorrisonBeedy said. People in insular neighborhoods tend to trust nurses more than they do other outsiders, Seibold-Simpson said.

“If you belong to more groups, you have a broader perspective,” she speculates. “That’s what I’m interested in following up on.” — Merrill Douglas


Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

she said. “If your parents belong to more networks, your positive attitudes toward adolescent pregnancy decrease.”

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Earth on our minds Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Binghamton researchers take a broad view of sustainability, applying it to alternative energy, “green� computing and even nanotechnology. Their innovations could save money, reduce greenhouse gases, boost national security and protect our water supply from pollutants.


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At Binghamton University, faculty members across the disciplines think green when they go to work. Some of them drive hybrid cars; others ride bicycles. And for many researchers, this environmental consciousness permeates their work day. They’re applying the concept of sustainability to topics ranging from computing to nanotechnology as well as advancing important concepts in alternative energy. Computer scientist Kanad Ghose and mechanical engineer Bahgat Sammakia see an emergency on the horizon in terms of the ever-larger carbon footprint left by data centers. They’re looking for a way to manage both workload and cooling in these installations, which are at the heart of so much of what all of us do online every day.

Engineer Seshu Desu looks out the window and sees the potential for solar energy to power our homes and our businesses. Why work on solar energy in the sometimes-gray Northeast? He’s quick to point out that the grass grows in upstate New York as well as in the South.

Putting data centers on a low-energy diet A holistic approach to data centers could result in millions of dollars of savings and a far smaller carbon footprint for the ever-expanding universe of information technology. That’s the promise of research conducted by Binghamton colleagues Kanad Ghose, a professor of computer science, and Bahgat Sammakia, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the University’s New York State Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Packaging and Integration, or S3IP. “The amount of energy we spend on running our data centers in the U.S. is about 2.5 percent of the total national energy expenditure,” Ghose said. “That doesn’t sound like a big number, but it’s enough to power a couple of good-sized cities for most of the year.” The statistics are “sobering,” Ghose said. The number of data centers is growing rapidly because of increasing demand for online services for everything from medical records to shopping.


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Materials scientist M. Stanley Whittingham envisions a day in the not-too-distant future when we’ll plug in our cars after parking them in the garage for the night. He believes the latest green movement is the strongest yet, and hopes that the political and social desire for change will not be squandered this time around.

Chemist Omowunmi Sadik is enthusiastic about the potential of nanotechnology to solve some scientific puzzles, but she’s careful to weigh that promise against the possible environmental impact of these tiny particles. She goes to work having taken to heart the United Nations’ definition of sustainability: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

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“It’s a test facility, but at the same time it’s a real, operational data center. It will allow companies to showcase their energy-efficiency projects.” — Bahgat Sammakia

“The unfortunate fact is there’s a lot of waste in this,” Ghose said. “All data centers are ‘overprovisioned.’ They’re designed to handle the peak loads. And most of the time, they operate at 40 to 60 percent of that. When data centers run at a lower than peak load, the energy efficiency is very poor.” There are also inherent inefficiencies, in part because most servers run on the Linux operating system, which doesn’t have good power management solutions for servers.

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

That’s just the bad news from the information technology side. Then there’s the cooling.


5 degrees. New York state alone spends close to $600 million on utility costs for running its data centers. Half goes to power the computers; the other half is spent on cooling. And utility costs continue to rise. Most researchers focus on smart workload management when they talk about “green” data centers, but Ghose and Sammakia say that’s not enough. They’re looking for a comprehensive solution. That will mean finding a way to spread the workload across all the machines, planning in advance for the workload allocation and the cooling budget. Ultimately, it means exercising cooling activities and workload activities synergistically.

“The cooling solutions are also overprovisioned,” Ghose said. “Data centers run hot because a lot of machines are packed into a small space. The loads in a data center fluctuate, and you cannot track that changing load fast enough in a cooling system, so you end up playing it safe. There’s an enormous amount of waste.”

Just-in-time provisioning of IT resources and just-in-time cooling are the keys here, said Ghose, who expects to set up an experimental data center with Sammakia and other collaborators soon. Companies such as Emerson Network Power and IBM have already expressed interest in the project.

Most of the facilities use chilled water, and it takes some time to lower or raise the temperature of the water by

Sammakia, who’s also the University’s executive director of economic development, said the test facility will give

a boost to companies in the region and beyond. “Over the next five years, this will help us create hundreds of local jobs and attract companies to the area,” he said. “It will allow New York state and national companies to showcase their energy-efficiency projects. “It’s a test facility, but at the same time it’s a real, operational data center. Each company will come in with its latest and greatest equipment.” Ghose said an innovation that results in an energy reduction of, say, 15 percent could make a big splash. He believes their solution could result in savings of more than 25 percent. And the lessons drawn from data centers could pay off for desktop computers as well. “The writing’s on the wall,”Ghose said. “Unless we address this now, things will become worse. Most server vendors are trying to pack more into the same space and making the problem worse. What makes it worse is the amount of heat you produce in one cubic foot of space. That’s going up significantly because things are becoming smaller and faster. And of course there’s a carbon footprint, the more energy you spend.”

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Building a better battery, and not only for cars M. Stanley Whittingham sees a place for batteries in the green economy of the future. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will be a piece of that, sure, but he expects that the rise of solar and wind power will create a new demand for batteries, which can smooth out the natural variations in sunlight and breezes. Whittingham, professor and director of Binghamton’s Materials Science and Engineering Program, helped to develop the lithium-ion battery while working at Exxon in the 1970s. These batteries are used in devices such as cell phones, laptops and iPods. Now he’s leading Binghamton’s efforts as associate director of the Northeastern Chemical Energy Storage Center, one of five energy frontier research centers established in 2009 with funding from the Department of Energy. “The science has been cranking along,” Whittingham said. “We haven’t been able to make real breakthroughs because there hasn’t been enough funding. But now there’s a political recognition that we’ve got to solve global warming and petroleum is going to run out. There’s more money in this whole area than there ever has been.” Researchers with the new energy frontier center will focus on boosting the efficiency of existing materials as well as looking for new materials. They’d like to make the chemistry more productive and make the reactions go faster.

Finding that sort of structure is a crucial aspect of hybrid electric cars because consumers would expect a battery to last 10 years or so, Whittingham said. The less battery materials change as they recharge and are used, the longer they’ll last.

“The goal in the end is to get totally new materials that are lower in cost, environmentally friendly and store more energy than we can today.” — M. Stanley Whittingham


Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

“We’re looking at the fundamental chemical reactions in the storage materials,” Whittingham said. “We want to understand how they work and how to make them work better. The goal in the end is to get totally new materials that are lower in cost, environmentally friendly and store more energy than we can today.”

Intercalation reactions are the key to his current research on lithium-ion batteries. Such reactions will require materials that remain structurally the same even as lithium ions are put into them and taken out of them. These materials would work much like a sponge, which retains the same basic structure even as it absorbs water and as that water is squeezed out of it.

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Giving solar devices a way to mimic nature Solar energy research at Binghamton takes its cues from nature. The Center for Autonomous Solar Power, or CASP, aims to capitalize on the sun’s energy as a flexible, large-area and low-cost power source. “In nature, everything is replenishable,” said Seshu Desu, executive director of CASP. “Trees manage to produce leaves and discard them each year. In fact, leaves are less than 1 percent efficient as a means of producing energy.” Desu hopes to mimic some of these qualities with large-area, lowcost, roll-to-roll processing of solar technology. If the manufacturing costs are small enough, he said, then a device that’s not even 50 percent efficient would still be a viable product. CASP has two major goals: • Develop its own technology, which can then be licensed to local firms.

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

• Help solar companies in the region become competitive.

“We want to go a little bit beyond nature. Our devices will work at very low light, even in the night.” — Seshu Desu


Of course, whether plug-in hybrids are actually better for the environment than gas-guzzling SUVs depends on how the electricity is produced. If it’s from inefficient coal plants, then that’s a problem, Whittingham acknowledged. But if it’s from nuclear, wind or solar energy, then it should be more environmentally friendly. Whittingham emphasized that he doesn’t see any easy answers to the challenges posed to sustainability by Americans’ demands for comfort and convenience. Rather, a combination of scientific and technological advances must be combined with political and social will for change, he said.

The center, which has received millions of dollars in federal funding, is part of S3IP. Binghamton technologies will use sustainable materials, which Desu defines as materials that are both plentiful and easy to extract from the earth with relatively low energy. CASP is concerned with the entire supply chain, from the energy and processes used in manufacturing to the storage element. And for solar power to work, Desu said, storage is a key concern. Energy collected during the day must somehow be stored for use at times when there’s less light.

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“Society has a duty to not only consider the positive sides of science and technology but also the not-so-desirable sides of technology itself.” — Omowunmi Sadik

CASP will work to develop supercapacitors, carbon-based storage devices with high power density that may eventually provide an alternative to batteries as energy-storage devices. Research now is focused on improving the devices’ energy density. For a solar device to be “autonomous,” it must be able to store its own energy. A capacity to absorb light even in challenging conditions would also be an advantage. Desu said researchers at Binghamton are working to down-shift ultraviolet light and up-shift infrared light, with films that can convert all light to the visible spectrum. “We want to go a little bit beyond nature,” he said. “Nature only uses the visible light. Our devices will work at very low light, even in the night.”

He believes supercapacitors as well as the first low-cost solar cells will be available commercially in three to four years. For that to happen, a variety of

Solar technologies are relatively expensive for now, Desu said, but so were the first Ford automobiles. If demand and production rise, then costs will go down. Incentives or subsidies will likely be needed at first to bring solar power costs in line with traditional technologies, Desu said, but he believes that in the long run consumers will make the change. He sees three central reasons that the United States will eventually come to rely far more heavily on solar energy: • Supplies of natural gas, oil and coal will eventually run out. • Carbon-based power sources harm the environment with greenhouse gases. • National security concerns dictate that the United States find ways to be more independent when it comes to energy production. “I think a lot of people are really committed to solar power,”he said.“It is the

cost that is holding people back. Even if the cost is 10 percent higher, a lot of people will flip to renewable energy. If it’s cost-equal, a tremendous number of people will shift.” Monitoring nanotechnology’s impact on the environment Interest in “green” innovation means not just thinking big but also very, very, very small. At least that’s the way Omowunmi Sadik, director of the University’s Center for Advanced Sensors and Environmental Systems, sees it. She’s working to develop sensors that would detect and identify engineered nanoparticles. Her research will advance our understanding of the risks associated with the environmental release and transformation of these particles. “Society has a duty to not only consider the positive sides of science and technology but also the not-sodesirable sides of technology itself,” said Sadik, a professor of chemistry at Binghamton.“We need to think not just about how to make these nanoparticles but also about their impact on human health and the environment.”


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With this technology in mind, Desu envisions devices that work as well in upstate New York as they do in Nevada.

technological, political, economic and social issues must be resolved.

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[Q & A: sustainability] Peter L.K. Knuepfer, associate professor of geological sciences, serves as director of Binghamton University’s Environmental Studies Program.

Q: How do you define sustainability? A: Can we maintain the kinds of things we like to do and allow for the next generation to do them as well? What we do now is not sustainable in energy, in agriculture, in a huge number of areas. Q: What’s the biggest issue facing the “green” movement now? A: The single largest issue that faces our global society in terms of sustainability is answering the question of how can we maintain, improve or reorganize our standard of living? How can we become a renewable society? That’s what sustainability is ultimately all about.

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Q: What sorts of changes can people make that are both doable and meaningful? A: We have to make some real sacrifices, but if everybody does a little thing, it starts becoming significant. Changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs and driving more fuel-efficient cars are examples of the little things that, added up, can make a big difference. Q: What role can a research university play in this area? A: Universities can lead by example. For instance, we could put more solar panels up, or develop green roofs. Showing that we can generate electricity with approaches that are sustainable in the long term is important. We also have roles as educators. We have to challenge students to understand the difference between being “green” and being truly sustainable.


Q: What does that mean for individuals? A: We are going to run out of the resources we are using. We can either adjust and go about our lives totally differently or face the collapse of society. We’ll hit some point where what we do not only isn’t sustainable in the long term, it isn’t sustainable in the short term. Q: How do you compare this “green” movement to others? A: There’s a sea change in terms of how people are thinking. Is it enough? No. People are still buying SUVs, mining coal, looking at exploiting other fossil fuel sources. Those are not sustainable things. I think we are going to see a continued high level of interest, desire and demand in this area. It has been cyclic over 40 years, and I do expect we’ll see a peak and a trough. But I don’t expect the trough to be as deep as the last one was in terms of interest. Q: What about student engagement in sustainability? A: We’re seeing a big growth in student activism across the country. The students who are engaged in environmental issues are more engaged than any I’ve seen since the late 1970s. At Binghamton, we have more than doubled the number of environmental studies majors in two years. These students want to change the world. I am, at heart, an optimist. I see a change in the last five years or so among our students and in society as a whole. I really trust, hope and have faith that we will figure it out.

Cover Story

“We haven’t been able to make real breakthroughs because there hasn’t been enough funding. But now there’s a political recognition that we’ve got to solve global warming.” — M. Stanley Whittingham

A survey by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies found that nanoparticles — particles less than 100 nanometers in size — are now used in more than 1,000 consumer products ranging from cars to food. Silver nanoparticles are widely used as coating materials in cookware and tableware and as ingredients in laundry liquids and clothes because of their antibacterial properties. You can even buy socks infused with silver nanoparticles designed to reduce bacteria and odor. “But what happens if we buy those socks and we wash them?”Sadik asked. “The nanoparticles end up in our water system.”

Sadik and a Binghamton colleague, Howard Wang, have received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency to design, create and test sensors for monitoring engineered nanoparticles and naturally occurring cell particles.

Her lab has already created a membrane that will not only trap a single nanoparticle but also provide a means of signal generation. It uses cyclodextrin, whose molecular structure resembles a tiny cup.“It can be used not only as a sensor, but also for cleanup,” Sadik said. That discovery and others make Sadik believe that nanotechnology may also prove useful in the remediation of environmental pollutants. Green nanotechnology could even reduce the use of solvents and result in manufacturing protocols that produce less waste, she said. Sadik has used nanoparticles to transform Chromium 6, a known carcinogen, into Chromium 3, which is benign.“I do see the positive side of it,” she said. “We want to be able to develop nanomaterials while avoiding the unintended consequences of such developments,” Sadik added.“We don’t want to stop development but we do want to encourage responsibility.” — Rachel Coker


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Little is known about how these and other engineered nanoparticles interact with our water systems, the soil and the air. Some are known toxins; others have properties similar to asbestos. And it’s difficult, if not downright impossible, to monitor them. Current techniques rely on huge microscopes to identify nanoparticles, but the devices are not portable and do not provide information about the toxicity of materials.

“We need to understand the chemical transformation of these materials in the ecosystem so we can take action to prevent unnecessary exposure,” Sadik said.

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Cool model for a hot planet Economist explores how international cooperation can mitigate climate change

Zili Yang brings a logical mind and an elegant economic model to a topic that often draws overheated rhetoric. In his new book, Strategic Bargaining and Cooperation in Greenhouse Gas Mitigations, the Binghamton University professor of economics suggests ways governments might realistically work together to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. He also makes a case for curbing the use of fossil fuels — whether they contribute to climate change or not.

Yang uses game theory to create a cost-benefit analysis of actions countries could take to curb global warming. His stance is not political — he is neither liberal nor conservative — but rather applies modeling and logic to the issue. “Advocates make the argument, sometimes without justification, and are quite emotional,” he said. “My approach shows the incentive to do something.”


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“If global warming is factually true — and I’m not making a scientific judgment here — then a rational government should do something,” he said. “And suppose, hypothetically, that climate change is not true. You can burn fossil fuels all you like. Sooner or later you will still run into a situation that requires you to adopt a new technology. If we use climate change as an excuse for arriving sooner at alternative energy, it does not hurt anybody.”

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A look at Yang’s research methods Yang believes that the economic issues associated with climate change must be considered in tandem with the natural sciences. Researchers who work from this multidisciplinary perspective have created “integrated assessment,” or IA, models, which take into account climatology, ecology, regional sciences and engineering as well as economic concerns. There are several IA models, including an influential system that Yang had a role in developing while he was a graduate student at Yale University in the 1990s. That model, named RICE (the Regional Integrated Model of Climate and the Economy), is fairly simple and small, said Yang, who has also worked on much larger models at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “My approach is I never trust a model,” he said. “The model reflects the modeler’s viewpoint and what that person wants to study. If you get a conclusion that’s totally contradictory to common sense, people will question your model. But I think a good model reflects what’s compatible with real life.” Yang said he thinks a small model such as RICE is “  beautiful,” though the algorithm and simulation scenarios might seem


complex to non-experts. “A simple model can tell more stories,” he explained. That’s exactly what he does with his book: He tells stories. Yang takes the RICE model and brings it to bear on another hot area in economics: game theory. Game theory allows economists to examine the decision-making process in a scenario in which there are multiple people making decisions and those actions affect the other people. Although game theory is “  a pillar”of microeconomics, Yang said, it’s not often applied in the context of real-life phenomena. Yang writes in Strategic Bargaining and Cooperation in Greenhouse Gas Mitigations that he observed integrated assessment and game theory as “twin peaks in economic research on climate change” unconnected by any bridge. He set out to change that, with a powerful computer and research funding from the Department of Energy. Kyoto won’t work, and other findings Among the book’s most important conclusions is that the Kyoto Protocol — an international environmental treaty adopted by many countries in 1997 — probably will not succeed. It’s simply not fair to put constraints on Europe

and the United States that won’t be shared by, for example, China and India, Yang said. “With climate change, everybody contributes to the problem,” he said. “Everybody emits CO2. And the environmental damage will be felt by everybody. So in that situation, it is not efficient to have only some countries shoulder the burden.”

In fact, that’s a flaw of many possible schemes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If the agreements require too much of industrialized nations or too little from the rest of the world, they are essentially unfair and are thus unlikely to be accepted. The cap-and-trade concept advanced by President Barack Obama’s administration is a more efficient and effective


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Yang said he wasn’t optimistic the Kyoto Protocol would work when he first reviewed its structure, but his research proves it doesn’t make sense in terms of incentives. “From an economic point of view, altruism has very little to do with people’s decisions,” he said. “Nobody is rich enough to just give things up without benefiting from it in the international arena.”

“With climate change, everybody contributes to the problem. And the environmental damage will be felt by everybody. It is not efficient to have only some countries shoulder the burden.”

Building consensus

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way to achieve a reduction in carbon dioxide — to a point, Yang said. “If the initial quota allowance is not given fairly, then people will not join,” he said. “For example, you emit CO2, I emit CO2. But I was given 100 percent of quota and you were given none. So you have to purchase your quota from me if you need to emit CO2. Now I can earn something through my production and from selling my quota to you. That is not fair to you.

Binghamton University economist Zili Yang was one of 21 climatechange experts from around the world invited by a Danish think-tank called the Copenhagen Consensus Center to submit papers that examine the costs and benefits of different solutions to global warming. Read his analysis, which focuses on technology transfer, and see the others at

“If the initial quota allowance is given in an incentive-compatible way, then everybody will be happy with what they already have. If they really need more, they can buy additional quota at market price. The cost will be minimal.” Looking to the future Yang said he’s concerned about leaders and countries that seem to think, “If other people have done something, why should I bother?” “It’s a self-serving mentality,” Yang said, “and if everybody thinks this way, the whole thing will collapse. We should


cooperate on this issue. Nobody can question this from a logical point of view.” If political leaders are to consider the ideas of Yang and other environmental economists, the theory must be translated into plain, commonsense language, he said. He hopes that his book, which was published by MIT Press, will be widely read by graduate students in the field who will eventually be in a position to apply its concepts.

The book, and Yang’s research more generally, is already attracting international attention. Yang spoke last summer at a climatechange conference in Venice and spent the fall 2009 semester on sabbatical at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. “Zili Yang’s book provides a clear explanation of important analytical tools that are crucial to understanding and analyzing a country’s incentive to control climate change,” said Carlo Carraro, an environmental economist who is rector of the University of  Venice and was an organizer of the conference there. He noted that RICE is the first and most widely used

Economist Zili Yang uses game theory to perform a cost-benefit analysis of actions countries could take to slow global warming.

Glossary integrated assessment model of the relationship between climate and economic systems worldwide. “This model has been used recently to quantify the future economic impacts of climate change and to estimate the cost of climate policy,” said Carraro, who added that Yang’s model provided “crucial information” to policymakers who participated in the climate negotiations held at the end of 2009 in Copenhagen.

“Fifteen years from now, from a science point of view, everything about climate change should be clear,” he said. “But at that time, will human beings still be able to do something? It’ll probably be too late. Now people debate whether global warming is true. What economists can do is to suggest some kind of reasonable policy approach.” — Rachel Coker

Game theory: The analysis of a situation involving conflicting interests (as in business or military strategy) in terms of gains and losses among opposing players. Global warming: An increase in the Earth’s atmospheric and oceanic temperatures widely predicted to occur due to an increase in the greenhouse effect resulting especially from pollution. By the end of the 21st century, some experts estimate that global surface temperature could rise by 1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius, with wide-ranging consequences. Definitions provided by Zili Yang and Merriam-Webster


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Influencing such discussions is at the core of Yang’s ambitions for his work. Conservatives and liberals alike polarize the national and international discourse about curbing greenhouse gases, Yang said. He wants those on both sides of the political divide to recognize that the United States and the rest of the world must transition away from fossil fuels and toward alternative energy sources because the resource is finite.

Integrated assessment: The name given to a research field in which models are used to study climatology, ecology, regional sciences and engineering as well as economic concerns.

Diving data into the

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Computer scientists empower citizen scientists


On its clear blue surface, Lake Sunapee appears calm, but there’s a lot of science going on in its depths.

Binghamton’s Kenneth Chiu and his students set out to change all that, putting their expertise in computer science to work for the good of the community. Chiu, his students and other collaborators teamed up to build a website that allows people to harness tremendous amounts of information and learn what’s going on in those waters. In the process, both the computer scientists and the citizen scientists learned a lot about designing technology for users in the real world.


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Everything about the New Hampshire lake, from its blue-green algae to water quality to general limnology (lake science), is fodder for researchers from universities and government agencies. But though much is learned about the lake every day, it wasn’t always filtering through to the general public and the people who live and play by the lake.

The Lake Sunapee Protective Association (LSPA), the oldest environmental association in New England, has had a long and active history since 1898. Its first president, Colonel W. S. B. Hopkins, called Lake Sunapee “the one jewel that calls us all here.” Back then, water-quality issues were tied to sawdust and trash in the lake and the level of the lake water. Now, the organization has become increasingly science-based in order to better advocate for the environmental vitality of the lake and its watershed. To that end, it built a water-quality buoy, which collects and transmits data every 10 minutes on weather and lake conditions. Part of a global network called the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network, the buoy’s instruments record air temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, sunlight energy, water temperature and dissolved oxygen in the water. “It quickly became clear that a buoy can generate an awful lot of data in a short period of time,” said June Fichter, executive director of the LSPA.

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As part of its educational mission, the LSPA was looking for a way to present that data to the public.


“Part of our mission is to explain it to kids in preschool, adults and everybody in between,” Fichter said. “How to appeal to all those people was tricky.”

association, asking, “How can sensor information about the lake be presented in a way that is informative and appealing to you?”

Kathleen Weathers, an ecosystem scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, spent summers at Lake Sunapee growing up and is now head of the LSPA’s science advisory committee.The project got its start when Weathers sent a group that included Chiu a request for proposals from the National Science Foundation. They tossed around a few ideas, eventually writing a proposal for a project to engage nonprofit organizations in the design, development and deployment of advanced computer technology.

After many meetings and design iterations, the team created drafts showing the buoy data in various configurations. The LSPA worked through each of the presentations, reacting and making suggestions.

One of the NSF’s major goals is to have nonprofits learn how to use various types of cutting-edge computer technology, Chiu said. In addition to creating a website for the LSPA, another aim of this project was to develop a process of co-design that could be used in similar situations in the future. To get the ball rolling, the researchers held workshops for members of the

There were moments of confusion in the workshops. For example, the LSPA uses the term “scalable” to mean how easily a piece of software can be reused for other sites. For a computer scientist, however, “scalable” usually refers to whether a system can handle data at very high volumes, Chiu said. “This was one example of how people speak different languages,” he added. “It’s important to foster an environment where people feel comfortable enough with each other that they can struggle through these issues without feeling offended or frustrated.” Both sides gradually learned to communicate what they were looking for, and the site they created together is now online. It graphically displays indicators such as water temperature, wind speed and dissolved oxygen, which can indi-

Computer scientist Kenneth Chiu has helped an environmental group harness the power of weather data gathered at a New Hampshire lake.

Kenneth Chiu, assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton University, collaborated with a team of graduate students as well as Barbara Benson at the University of Wisconsin, Ann Zimmerman at the University of Michigan and David Richardson of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies on the Lake Sunapee project. The researchers worked with the Lake Sunapee Protective Association to make the data it collects about the lake available to the public and to citizen scientists. To see the Binghamton team’s work, go to the LSPA’s website,, and click on “programs,” then “GLEON buoy.”


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On the Internet

An integrated approach to ecosystem modeling Kenneth Chiu’s research at Lake Sunapee deepened an interest in ecosystem modeling that he’ll pursue with support from two new grants.

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Essentially, ecosystem modeling involves coming up with a set of equations and rules for how an ecosystem behaves. “Let’s say that someone wants to build a golf course next to a lake,” Chiu said. “Scientists know rain runoff from the golf course will affect water quality, but how much, and in exactly what way? Will it change the water color yearround, or just in late summer? Will it change the kind of fish in the lake? Or will it cause the lake to be more susceptible to algal blooms?


“Well, if we can build a model of the lake in the computer, then we can simulate the lake. We can build a simulated golf course, simulated fertilizer, have some simulated rain and so on.” Ecosystem modeling doesn’t have to be done by computer, but many sophisticated models have too many calculations to do by hand. Many scenarios involve complex, multiple processes. For example, an algal bloom — when there is sudden explosion of algae in a lake — is the result of water circulation as well as biological and chemical processes. The models for these processes are usually developed independently by different

scientific communities. To answer current questions relevant to society, these models need to be coupled so that they are all running together in one giant system. That’s challenging from a computer science perspective because of differences between the models. The National Science Foundation gave Chiu and his collaborators a grant of more than $1 million, with $238,000 going to Chiu. He and several colleagues have also received a grant from Amazon Web Services in Education to use its system to do ecosystemmodeling research in cloud computing.

cate the presence of organic matter and pollution. The information is for the public and local school use. The team’s work was displayed at the 2009 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Chiu’s students also created a more interactive mapping site. It allows people to post photos and videos and pinpoint areas of importance, such as places where loons were observed. As many as 40 yodeling loons have been known to arrive at the lake at once. The students also marked danger zones, where levels of contaminants are higher than normal, and ice-out (thaw) data. An interaction with Google Maps allows visitors to plot locations of water sampling sites and weed-watch teams. There’s even a way for users to upload and stitch together photos of the lake into 3-D models. Creating this more complex site introduced some new communication issues, said Saurabh Mantri, one of Chiu’s graduate students. For example, members wanted to be able to mark two things — say, a loon sighting and water sampling site — at the same place on the map. Mantri and the other students weren’t

sure it would work. In technical terms, they would have to do layering, since the markers required different code. They went to Chiu and said,“We have a technical difficulty over here!” Chiu sat with them and together they worked to understand what the user would want and then how to implement it. Chiu said the project has provided meaningful opportunities to teach his students how things work in the real world. Most entry-level programmers are given detailed instructions on what to code. In this case, nobody could tell them exactly what to do. “The typical complaint of a programmer is ‘Users don’t know what they want. They keep changing their minds,’ but it’s not the user’s fault,” Chiu said. “Users don’t know what’s possible, they don’t know how difficult it will be and often they can’t really conceptualize it until they see it. “I think this was a good introduction for the students in how to interact with real users,” he added. “It gives them a head start.”

Chiu, whose research area is distributed systems, acknowledges the project isn’t pushing the envelope in terms of what’s technologically possible in computer science. But when it comes to finding ways that his field can benefit science and society, the Lake Sunapee work has been tremendously rewarding. “This project provides a broad context for the research that I do,” he said. “It also provides a degree of reality check for computer science, in that it helps us understand better what people really want out of technology.” Fichter said the project energized many people in the Lake Sunapee group as well. “When you have somebody who’s 80 years old saying, ‘That’s cool,’ it’s great,” she said. “At the other end, we also showed everything to some future teachers, younger people, and they also thought it was cool. “What’s exciting is that this will be easy to use, and it will draw people in to the science,” Fichter added. “Of course, our ulterior motive is that it will be a new tool for them to learn about lakes and watersheds and how it all works. And, in the end, they as voters can influence public policy toward preserving watersheds.” — Karen Hoffmann

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“Another Pied Piper,” E.J. Pace (from William Jennings Bryan’s Seven Questions in Dispute, 1924)

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Origins of the culture wars

Disputes over evolution in the 1920s

paved the way for ongoing debate


It did not take long for educational historian Adam Laats to look to the past for answers while teaching high school in Wisconsin. “I was amazed at how naïve I was: I thought everyone was basically the same as me,” said Laats, now an assistant professor in the School of Education at Binghamton University. “But parents were hawks, as they should be, about what was being taught in the classroom. Things I thought we agreed on, such as evolution, still raised their ire.” During graduate school, Laats turned his attention to Protestant fundamentalism in the 1920s. He found that the movement has had a major effect on the American school system through the years and also helped lay the foundation for today’s culture wars. “The trenches were dug in the ’20s for the fights that still go on today,”he said. “The positions and even the names — including ‘fundamentalist’ — began in the ’20s.”

“The fundamentalist movement came about in part because people felt their basic beliefs had been dismissed by educators,” said Laats, who considers himself secular. “Fundamentalists worried that students were being taught dangerous ideas. In the 1920s, two ideas of what schools should be doing came into conflict. All of a sudden, schools seemed to be teaching ideas that were turning students away from their faith.” Laats pointed to a political cartoon from the era that hangs on the wall of his office. In it, a piper is seen leading students down a path of education while performing “The Darwinian Hypothesis of Evolution.” The students are headed for a cave called “Disbelief in the God of the Bible.” “In the 1920s, parents, pastors and everyone concerned reached a tipping point where they said, ‘The schools are teaching our children to be atheists.’”

The Scopes Trial In 1925, Tennessee passed the Butler Act, prohibiting the teaching of evolution in place of the Bible’s account. Teacher John Scopes agreed to challenge the law by violating it in the classroom. The so-called “monkey trial” drew a firestorm of publicity and featured two of the nation’s leading orators — William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow — on opposite sides. Scopes was convicted and the anti-evolution movement sought similar laws in other states. But fundamentalists lost the battle for public opinion. Darrow’s questioning of Bryan’s biblical views on the witness stand helped the media and evolutionists portray fundamentalists in stereotypical terms, such as barbarians, bigots and ignoramuses, that resonated across the nation. The trial and its aftermath proved to be “a shock to the fundamentalist system,” Laats said. Fundamentalists were especially stunned that they were not seen as having the moral high ground of the debate. “They expected to be fought against, but what I think took them by surprise was that they weren’t just fought against, but were ridiculed as hillbillies,” Laats said. “They were ridiculed as people who didn’t understand the basic ideas of science. That’s what led many of them to retreat from the label of fundamentalism.”


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Laats was one of 20 scholars to receive the prestigious National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2009.  A book based on his research, Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin and the Roots of America’s Culture Wars, will soon be published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Evolution vs. creationism Unlike other movements of the period, fundamentalism did not arise in the 1920s because of new ideas. Instead, Laats said, it was a reaction to new ideas in schools, religion and culture, such as Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The confrontation came to a head in a courthouse in tiny Dayton, Tenn.

“There are a lot of people who assume anti-evolution and Protestant fundamentalism are fringe beliefs. They really aren’t: They are mainstream.”

— Adam Laats

A retreat … and influence In the wake of the trial, the fundamentalist movement became a smaller group that cared little about what mainstream America said. In fact, Laats said, fundamentalists embraced the fact that they would not win over the opposition. “If they wanted to have control over education, they had to start their own subcultural institutions,” he said. Fundamentalists did just that by founding Bob Jones University, now in South Carolina, becoming active at schools such as Wheaton College in Illinois and forming Bible schools and radio stations across the country. “It’s that environment,” Laats said, “that nurtured people like Billy Graham, who re-emerged in the 1940s and 1950s and said, ‘We hold our beliefs, but we need to re-engage with mainstream America.’” Bob Jones University became instrumental in the rise of Christian day schools and home schooling when it started a series of textbooks in 1973 written from a Bible-based perspective.

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These influential books brought the work of 1920s-era fundamentalists into the latter part of the 20th century, Laats said, energizing a new generation. “If you had not had this turning inward of fundamentalists and the building of educational infrastructure, you couldn’t have had the explosion of home schooling and Christian day schools in the 1970s and 1980s,” he said. “You can’t have schools without books; you can’t have Christian schools without Christian books.”


The dissension and debates that exploded in the schools and communities of the 1920s are still a part of today’s public schools and society, whether focused on evolution, sex education or saying the Lord’s Prayer in the classroom, Laats said. “Some of the venom of today’s culture wars comes from this divide in basic beliefs about who humans are and how humans fit into the universe,” he said. “If you think what’s being taught in schools is hurting children, it’s difficult to say  ‘It’s more important that we all get along’ than to do something about it.’” Still making an impact That divide was on display in the 2008 presidential race, in particular with Republican Mike Huckabee’s views on evolution. “He was a serious contender who explicitly and loudly disbelieved in the materialistic evolution of humans,” Laats said. “There are a lot of people who assume anti-evolution and Protestant fundamentalism are fringe beliefs. They really aren’t: They are mainstream. In some cases, such as during the George W. Bush presidency, they can be leading voices in educational policy in the federal government.” William Reese, a professor of educational policy studies and history at the University of WisconsinMadison, credits Laats’ background in the high school classroom with his ability to place the Scopes trial and other fundamentalist-oriented events and activities in the context of educational battles throughout the century.

“(Teaching) gave him a good feel about schools as institutions, ideas about curriculum and the breadth of things that go into making a school system,” said Reese, author of such books as Power and the Promise of School Reform and America’s Public Schools: From the Common School to ‘No Child Left Behind.’ “He’s a very impressive person: He has both the practical experience of a teacher and the skills and training of a historian.” After the release of his book, Laats hopes to delve into conservative school policy in the 20th century. Examples include the American Legion trying to preserve patriotism in schools in the 1930s and re-segregation “citizens’ councils” becoming active in schools in the 1950s. “I want to look at what conservatives were doing across the century for schools,” he said. “My goal is to end with people like (former Secretary of Education) William Bennett, who had distinct ideas that would’ve resonated with people in the 1920s.” Whether it is in schools or society, Laats believes the impact of fundamentalism in the 1920s cannot be overestimated. “I sensed this was a story that hadn’t been fully explored,” he said. “Most of the literature that looks at the roots goes back to Billy Graham in the 1950s instead of the 1920s, where a lot of the direct beginnings come from. I thought the topic would be interesting, provocative and important not just for historians, but for all kinds of Americans.” — Eric Coker

Adam Laats, a historian of education, believes the impact of fundamentalism in the 1920s on society and schools cannot be overestimated.

Research brings some surprises Adam Laats said he was surprised by how much he came to like the fundamentalists of the 1920s while doing the research for his first book. One example is James M. Gray, president of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago from 1904 to 1934, who also fought racism in the city during that period.

“I don’t agree with his beliefs on evolution, but you have to respect that he applied that standard of starting with the Bible across all

Laats also was surprised by some of the laws that states tried to pass after the Scopes trial. Many went far beyond the teaching of evolution. One West Virginia bill proposed in 1927 would have banned “any nefarious matter” from schools. “That’s extraordinarily broad,” Laats said. “You had people who weren’t just saying, ‘Get evolution out of schools.’ They were saying, ‘We reserve the right to say that schools are places where children are not taught anything that might take away their faith.’”


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“He risked a lot by saying to other white people, ‘There can’t be any difference of race,’” Laats said. “It’s the same thing that drove him to think that evolution was horrible. He said, ‘We can’t be separated by race because the Bible is clear on that point.’

of his views and ideas. He had the courage in every case to say, ‘That can’t be true’ and ‘I don’t care what you call me.’”

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for what ails allian ces


If Danielle Dunne’s theories regarding learning in research alliances can be refined, tested, proven and applied, high-technology companies could foster a new level of innovation. The cost of research and development could drop and the number and quality of products that come out of a strategic alliance might increase. But don’t be too hasty, Dunne said. “I’m just building that theory; I haven’t tested it yet.” At the moment, she’s still examining learning in strategic innovation alliances. And she’s focused on one industry: pharmaceuticals.

Dunne, an assistant professor in Binghamton’s School of Management, has spent more than five years studying and interviewing biotechnology and pharmaceutical researchers across the country. She has data from 99 interviews that puts existing research, frequently based on patent studies, in a new context. The other studies may be accurate, she said, but the number of patents alone isn’t a good measure of the value of the products. You can patent a soda, but that doesn’t make it taste good or mean it’s marketable. Patent studies cannot, by their nature, measure the missed opportunity inherent in the alliance. “Most studies end up looking at outputs — patents or sales from new products — or inputs — R&D expenditures,” said Helena Barnard, an expert in innovation and strategic management at the Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. “The studies about the actual process of innovation all rely on subjective responses from people involved in the process — whether through qualitative or survey-based methodologies.”


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Here’s what frequently happens in the pharmaceutical industry now: Two or three or a handful of competing companies will create an alliance to develop a product. The alliance will be rigidly defined to allow for cooperation, but restrict access to other technologies or processes to preserve the competition. The alliance may be one of several — or several dozen — collaborations undertaken

by the company. The result, ideally, is a product that can be brought to market.

“Most truly innovative results seem to be processes, not products. So the question for me is: How and why did this work in this case?” — Danielle Dunne

However, Dunne has developed a way to place learning in alliances into four categories based on how the companies work together. Her 99-interview dataset is small, but it hints that alliances designed to increase innovation do produce consistently better results. “Danielle’s work is beginning to fill the void,” said Paul Carlile, associate professor of information systems at Boston University School of Management. “Process studies are plentiful in looking within organizational boundary learning and knowledge processes; she is applying that logic to strategic alliances.”

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That, he said, is at the crux of what makes Dunne’s work so interesting. “Alliances are basically the backbone of this industry,” Dunne said. “And looking at some research on these alliances, you might think that magic comes out of them.” But it’s not magic, and while the alliances allow competitors to work together, they often don’t allow them to work together efficiently. “Is the type of truly innovative learning I’m talking about even possible in alliances?” Dunne asked.


At least one example that cropped up in her data suggests it is: Company A, Dunne said, wanted to develop a new drug to treat cancer. Company B had a process of using fruit flies for tests. Under current methods for creating alliances, the two companies would work together to use that process, and ignore any new directions their collaboration might suggest. But they didn’t do that. Principals at both companies realized A’s research goals dovetailed nicely with B’s testing methods. The alliance gradually expanded until the two companies developed a new process applicable to any number of new products: drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, for example, or arthritis. Or maybe something else entirely. “Most truly innovative results seem to be processes, not products,” Dunne said. “So the question for me is: How and why did this work in this case?” If she can answer that question, it may suggest new ways managers can enable learning in strategic innovation alliances. “Especially in an industry with so many problems on the R&D side, there’s so much opportunity if they can work together better,” she said.

But there’s a practical hurdle for companies to overcome, Barnard said. “There is inherently a cooperation/ competition tension, and it needs to be managed,” she said. “What types of access are needed to cooperate and to retain a competitive advantage? If a specific alliance requires certain skill sets for cooperation that are also those that need to be safeguarded for competitive purposes, the alliance is bound to fail.” At the core of Dunne’s research is understanding how these organizations develop new knowledge. For now, she’d rather limit her direction to fields in which basic research can lead in multiple directions for innovation. Traditional engineering fields, she said, benefit from innovation processes that can isolate the knowledge they need to acquire, and design tests and processes to acquire only that knowledge. They know what they know; they know what they don’t know. And they know how to learn what they don’t know. Biological fields, on the other hand, are more complex systems — as different as one person is from another. They know what they know, but they may not be aware of what they don’t know. And

Truly innovative learning in alliances Innovation generates new ideas that are integral to creating new products. And truly innovative learning in alliances, Danielle Dunne said, involves generating new ideas by bringing together unique knowledge from each partner to create new understandings.

in the pharmaceutical industry to other industries, she thinks it unlikely that the innovative process Dunne is defining is unique to drug companies.

Research in those fields can yield knowledge that suggests developments in directions that weren’t originally intended. Under current strategic alliance practices, those directions would be ignored, even if they are potentially more useful or profitable than the initial goal.

The logical direction of Dunne’s theory would lead to new, more-flexible management techniques that could capitalize on unexpected innovation breakthroughs.

While Barnard appreciates Dunne’s caution about applying lessons learned

For now, Dunne is trying to focus on first things first. She’d like to collect more data to help her refine her theory. She may examine the personalized medicine field or

nanotechnology. Essentially, she wants to examine fields in which research is so cutting edge that processand product-developers have to develop the knowledge to gain the essential technology, rather than simply create products based on existing technology. “How can these alliances work better?” she asked. “How do they work best? I have a lot of ideas about that, but right now I’m trying to figure out the next best question to ask.” — Todd R. McAdam


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they may not know how two pieces of knowledge may interact. It’s a little like trying to understand why a medication creates an adverse side effect in one patient but not another.

Historian revisits a battlefield of Cold War medicine

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Gerald Kutcher walked away from a career in cancer care to delve into military experiments, nuclear threats and informed consent

It’s hard to imagine now the specter of cancer in the late 1950s. There was no Lance Armstrong: cancer survivor as elite athlete. No breast cancer survivors pumping fists in victory on sunny weekend walks for the cure. And certainly nowhere near the kind of genetic and preventive understanding employed by medicine today. 58

Add to that the Cold War threat of nuclear attack and only nascent ideas of informed consent and you have the environment in 1960 when Dr. Eugene Saenger, radiologist and an expert in nuclear medicine, began his nownotorious clinical trials. Using patients with advanced cancer at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Saenger tested for the U.S. military the effects of total-body irradiation, sometimes with fatal results. To the shock of those investigating his work, the patients — about 90 between 1960 and 1971, a majority black — served as proxies for soldiers, in part to better understand radiation effects from nuclear attack. In his new book, Contested Medicine: Cancer Research and the Military (The University of Chicago Press, 2009), Gerald Kutcher, associate professor of history at Binghamton University, re-examines Saenger’s work in a new context. Kutcher reinterprets the events through his unique experience as a noted radiation oncology physicist, a Cambridge-educated historian and through the application of the science studies approach, which seeks to delve into the cultural and ideological framework around scientific practices. 

“I don’t judge the characters,” Kutcher said. “What’s more interesting to me is why they were accepted by colleagues.”

That Saenger was not immediately or universally vilified after such disclosures reveals something fundamental about the character of medical research itself, Kutcher said: It was dynamic and very much a part of the world in which it existed. A new perspective In addition to his lauded scholarship, Kutcher was well versed in the world of clinical trials and cancer treatment as chief of the clinical physics service at Memorial SloanKettering Cancer Center, the premier cancer center of the United States, if not the world, before pursuing his doctorate in the history of science. Dr. Samuel Hellman, a former colleague of Kutcher’s at Sloan-Kettering, where he was physician-in-chief, said Kutcher’s professional evolution could not be more unusual. “He has a remarkably different career than most people,” said Hellman, who is also a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he served as dean of the Pritzker School of Medicine. Kutcher started in medical physics and became a senior figure in that field,

making contributions such as maximizing radiation to tumors while saving as much healthy tissue as possible. It was a great advance, Hellman said, and when computer technology linked ever more precision to radiation therapy, “Jerry was one of the most important people doing that.” Kutcher, leading a clinical service of about 50 physicists who were responsible for the planning and delivery of radiation treatments to more than 3,000 patients per year, contributed to changing much in the field, including how prostate cancer is treated with radiation. It is with that experience that he confronts a central point in the book — a detailed accounting of the emergence of informed consent. A turning point, Kutcher writes, came in the mid-1960s when James Shannon, director of the National Institutes of Health, pushed through a program that required all research funded by the NIH to go through local peer review. Around the same time, a 1966 New England Journal of Medicine article by medical researcher Henry Beecher revealed 22 cases of unethical experimentation, which included injecting mentally disabled residents at Willowbrook State School in New York with hepatitis to see how it was spread. No effort at consent was made. “It’s interesting,” Hellman said. “Most of the examples came from very prestigious professors at very prestigious institutions and published in very prestigious journals. They did not create a great ethical outpouring, most of them, and they were so egregious. Another involved injecting elderly people with live cancer cells.” Uncovering the Cincinnati trials Saenger’s trials were halted in 1971 by the University of Cincinnati, but the troubling nature of Saenger’s work was first questioned much earlier, in 1966.


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He wrestles with a question that has vexed many who have studied Saenger and his work for decades: Was this one of the most outrageous examples of ethically flawed medicine in the 20th century or a product of its times? Kutcher does not let the reader come away with such neat conclusions.

No one is absolving Saenger of responsibility, Kutcher said, but there is much we can learn in viewing past clinical trials not through a lens of today’s bioethical standards and concepts of informed consent — simply not fully formed during Saenger’s day — but in the context in which they operated at the time. All these decades later, judgments against Saenger remain ambiguous, despite the deaths and, by Kutcher’s count, nine investigations into his program. Families say their loved ones may have consented to the radiation, but they were not told of its deadliness or the military’s role.

Documents released later detailed concerns by university faculty about the level of radiation and how Saenger was informing his patients, but it was not enough to stop the work from going forward. In fact, the Department of Defense had not only funded the research through March 1972, according to congressional testimony, it approached the university with an offer to renew the contract for another term. The university refused and the experiments ceased. It was also in 1971 that the press began to write about Saenger’s work. That proved the initial tug in unraveling the fabric of Saenger’s legacy and led to scores of investigations, some within the university and others in Congress. Martha Stephens, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Cincinnati, became aware of the trials through a short article in the Village Voice, published in October 1971. She was stunned to learn that radiation experiments were happening so close to home. She began pressing the university for more details, made her findings public, and continued investigating. Those efforts culminated in a 2002 book, The Experiment.

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What laypeople may see as black and white, Kutcher views as another gray area of medicine, tinged by his own experiences in the field. “You are treating people right on the edge,” he said. “Scientists tend to rewrite their own history. They never tell you about all of their failures. No one is even close to typical idealized versions of science in the making.” During Saenger’s experiments, patients were subjected to massive doses of full-body radiation. And they weren’t told of the military’s involvement until after outsiders started questioning the experiments. Yet his work, Saenger believed, was part of developments in total-body radiation that by today have led to a nearly


“One of the ethical tenets of clinical trials is that often the most aggressive and certainly the most experimental of trials are tested in the sickest patients who are often the most vulnerable.” — Gerald Kutcher 85 percent survival rate among those diagnosed with childhood leukemia. He was among the first to discover that irradiation in children for benign conditions caused tumors and authored a 1968 study that proved radioiodine therapy didn’t increase incidences of leukemia. Saenger was also considered a leader in establishing radiation safety standards for medical workers. A career of twists and turns Kutcher’s career has followed a most unusual path. “Toward the latter phase of my career at Sloan-Kettering, I became more and more convinced that I wanted (indeed, I seemed to need) to look at medicine from a more historical and social perspective,” Kutcher writes.  He recalled an incident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He noticed one patient lying on a gurney when a distress code sounded. The patient died. “Later, I learned that the patient had advanced cancer and was a subject in a clinical trial testing partial-body radiation to alleviate the painful effects of distant metastases.  I remember thinking at that time: Who was looking out for this patient? Why was a patient on the verge of death participating in a clinical trial? Later, I would begin to

appreciate something that perhaps I should have understood at the time, namely, that one of the ethical tenets of clinical trials is that often the most aggressive and certainly the most experimental of trials are tested in the sickest patients who are often the most vulnerable.” However, that was not the central force in his career change. Rather, he said, it showed that his fundamental approach and interest in medicine would always extend beyond the scientific into broader social and ethical contexts: Where one person saw a patient or device, he would be connecting the dots. Saenger’s legacy Dr. Eugene Saenger died in 2007, at the age of 90. His legacy is mixed at best, lying somewhere between an “American Mengele” and misunderstood pioneer. In 1999, a federal judge awarded his patients’ families $3.6 million, to be paid by the government, the University of Cincinnati, researchers and the city of Cincinnati, former operator of the hospital. Despite the investigations and ongoing criticisms, Saenger continued for years after the experiments ended to write articles in his defense, Kutcher said. In the mid-1990s, Saenger was investigated by a number of government bodies, including the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, established by then-President Bill Clinton. “The political and cultural climate in which he was judged differed substantially from that of the early 1970s,” Kutcher writes. Bioethics had established itself as the most authoritative voice of ethical conduct, yet the committee was badly split.“When the committee attempted to compare Saenger’s research to that of his contemporaries, it could not distinguish his practices from his peers’ and could only reach an ambivalent judgment.” — Kathleen Ryan O’Connor

Historian Gerald Kutcher re-examines the research of radiologist Eugene Saenger in his book, Contested Medicine: Cancer Research and the Military.

An unlikely historian In every person’s life there are times when clarity comes without warning, when some seemingly intractable problem is solved in a fleeting moment. Such was the case for Gerald Kutcher, author of the book Contested Medicine: Cancer Research and the Military, as he struggled with the idea of leaving his post as chief of service in clinical physics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York to study at the University of Cambridge in England. Before him was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore his passion for understanding medicine through culture and history with Simon Schaffer, a leading figure in the history of science.

After 3½ years at Cambridge, where he earned his doctorate in 2002, he returned to the United States as vice-chairman of radiation oncology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. But he was once again pulled away from a soughtafter post. He began teaching at Binghamton in 2004, joining the History Department as a full member two years later. Is he surprised at how his career turned out? “Yes!” he said, laughing. “I never thought I’d wind up in a historian’s role.” He also didn’t think he would actually do it.

Instead, Kutcher chose the bolder — and more difficult — journey.

“I drove myself crazy and my friends and family to distraction making lists of the pros and cons,” he said. At one point, he decided he would stay at Sloan-Kettering, but his spouse, Marilynn Desmond, a distinguished professor of English at Binghamton, suggested a getaway in the Catskill Mountains to make sure he had made the right decision. He recalled stopping unexpectedly at a precipice.

Sweating over a dissertation in Cambridge. Traveling back and forth to Belgium to help a cancer center

“It was like a switch going off,” the Brooklyn native said. “I said to her, ‘I’m going.’”


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“I know of no one who has done this (type of career change) in physics,” said Dr. Samuel Hellman, a former colleague of Kutcher’s. Kutcher’s career at the time was “very distinguished,” Hellman said. He could have easily continued down that path, earning more accolades for his work until retirement, where he could putter with getting his ideas down on paper in his spare time.

there advance its medical physics. Tackling the subject matter that became Contested Medicine.

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In each of two cities, a team of local agencies launches a campaign to keep children from joining gangs. The two use similar tactics, combining counseling, tutoring and recreation. One initiative shows great results; the other makes barely a dent. Why the difference?


Pamela Mischen’s research demonstrates that one program may have failed because the right people weren’t talking. Traditional scholars of public policy trying to figure out what went wrong with program number two might study the legislation behind it, or look into whether that program needed more money. But researchers largely have ignored the dynamics inside the agencies that carry out policy, said Mischen, assistant professor of public administration at Binghamton University. That’s a mistake, she said. “Those turn out to be the most important things.” To understand why policies fail or succeed, it’s essential to learn how people form networks within an organization, or among groups that collaborate, Mischen said. The tools she uses to explore those communication pathways come from a discipline that public-policy scientists haven’t called upon in the past — complexity theory. Mischen looks at service agencies in the same way that other scholars look at ant colonies, hurricanes or human cells.

Complexity theory examines complex systems — networks of interconnected agents that depend on one another. The agents might be ants, meteorological events or proteins.“In an organizational network, those agents are individuals,” Mischen said. In a coalition, they’re organizations. Members of a publicservice network perform different tasks toward a common goal, and the work of each member affects the work of all the others. Also, agents in a complex system share feedback that helps to shape future activity. When a case worker tells a supervisor that a client is battling a landlord over lack of heat, for instance, the supervisor might warn other employees not to send other clients to that landlord. When a school nurse notices that fewer second-graders are getting sick after their teachers launch a “wash your hands” campaign, she might urge the principal to expand that program to other grades.

Finding information pathways To learn how a new organization forms network pathways, Mischen worked with two Binghamton colleagues, Kristina Lambright, assistant professor of public administration, and Craig Laramee, assistant professor of bioengineering.


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Negative feedback discourages change; positive feedback spurs successful innovation, Mischen said. “Somebody is saying, ‘That really worked. I’m going to make the conditions such that you can continue to do that.’”

Pamela Mischen’s research into public policy uses complexity theory to shed light on why programs succeed or fail.

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In 2007, they gave a social networking survey to 37 case workers who gathered in Binghamton for a program on self-injury among adolescents. The researchers chose this group in part because they expected that the case workers, who came from throughout Broome County, N.Y., might one day form a coalition. The survey focused on trust and information flow. Asking each subject about his or her relationship with every other person at the meeting, it tried to determine who trusted whom and why. It also asked whom the subjects turned to for information about their work. One surprise that emerged from the study was that trust didn’t define how the case workers formed information networks.


“We started with the assumption that the people they trust would be some of the most important people they would go to for information,” Mischen said. Instead, the study found that people seek information from: a) the people they communicate with most, regardless of whether they trust them; b) people who have given them information before; and c) people they consider experts, leaders or the most active members of the network, assuming they have access to those people. Trust plays a role only in whether one person considers another an expert. Among other things, the study suggests that people in an organization seek information from the same sources again and again. “Over time, we build information pathways within networks that are independent of perceived expertise,” Mischen said. “They’re probably

there because they’re convenient. That doesn’t bode well for good information sharing.”  The easiest sources of information aren’t necessarily the best ones, and they certainly don’t offer fresh insights. “This is an explanation for why a group of people may not produce good decisions. Information tends to get recycled, rather than having a lot of new information come in,” Mischen said. Agencies can steer clear of these kinds of ruts by periodically redefining people’s jobs, Mischen said. “You make them feel unstable and make them feel that they have to resettle, ideally into new and productive relationships.” A major shift in government policy, such as the federal welfare reform legislation of 1996, also can shake up local networks in productive ways, she said.

Putting the data to work Mischen’s research helps her advise local organizations in her work as director of Binghamton University’s Center for Applied Community Research and Development. For instance, she is helping the Broome County Youth Bureau transform itself into a network-administering organization. In that capacity, rather than simply redistribute state funds to local organizations, the Youth Bureau will coordinate the work of local agencies and not-for-profits that serve young people.

“Over time, we build information pathways within networks that are independent of perceived expertise. They’re probably there because they’re convenient. That doesn’t bode well for good information sharing.” — Pamela Mischen

To help promote better collaboration, the Youth Bureau is conducting a social network analysis of local agencies. “We want to know how networks are communicating,” said Beth Roberts, the Youth Bureau’s executive director. “Once we know that, we can see where the potential challenges, gaps and barriers are.” It’s important to know, for example, whether employees at all the agencies know about the full range of youth recreation programs available in the county, so they can refer young people to the programs that will serve them best. There’s an urgent need to make these connections, as a forum the Youth Bureau sponsored in 2007 pointed out. Discussions among the 125 youth services practitioners in the room uncovered significant gaps, Roberts said.“It was surprising to see how many people didn’t know what services and opportunities existed for young people in Broome County.”

—Merrill Douglas

A unique center Binghamton University’s Center for Applied Community Research and Development connects the University and individuals and organizations seeking community-based research partnerships. The center matches faculty with organizations and sees to it that both parties benefit: the organization through the information collected and the researcher by publishing the results. Recent projects have paired faculty members with organizations ranging from the School Readiness Project of Chemung County to the Center City Weed and Seed Initiative, a Department of Justice project to reduce crime in the city of Binghamton.


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That situation should improve as Mischen helps the Youth Bureau get the right people talking to each other. “Pam’s work in the center has really influenced how the Youth Bureau looks at its mission, and how we are implementing programs in the community,” Roberts said. “We’re looking at things through a different lens.”

Cultivating the next generation of innovators

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In labs and far beyond, graduate students are vital to the campus ecosystem


Kristin Dupre, a PhD candidate in psychology, received a National Research Service Award through the National Institutes of Health.

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Most days around 8:30 a.m., Kristin Dupre arrives at a Binghamton laboratory that focuses on Parkinson’s disease research. She performs behavioral tests, prepares slides, examines samples, reviews recent literature and writes. Her favorite work, though, is crunching the numbers.

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“The best part is analyzing the data and seeing what all your hard work has given you,” said Dupre, who expects to receive her PhD in psychology in 2011. Dupre received a highly competitive National Research Service Award in 2009 through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health. The two-year grant of about $40,000 annually has provided her with more freedom to test possible ways to reduce the abnormal movements associated with Parkinson’s disease treatment. The project will advance her career even as she continues to make contributions in the laboratory of her mentor, Christopher Bishop, an assistant professor of psychology at Binghamton. Dupre’s experience illustrates just a few of the many reasons that graduate students are keystones of any serious research institution. They serve


important roles in laboratories and classrooms, become mentors to undergraduates and are essential to the process of transferring knowledge to the wider world. “Graduate students play a crucial role in moving research forward,” said Gerald Sonnenfeld, vice president for research at Binghamton.“Their spirit of inquiry and the work they do with their mentors keeps things moving.” Sonnenfeld noted that post-doctoral fellows and technicians also are essential to this process. “The research enterprise doesn’t come together without all of these groups working with each other,” he said. “Everybody’s role is different and unique, but everybody has a role.” Graduate students’ contributions vary widely, of course. A PhD candidate in history is gathering oral histories,

while her peer in the psychology department spends much of every day in the laboratory. One graduate student is driven by a desire to cure a disease, another by a wish to improve living conditions in a distant country. A doctoral student in engineering has already applied for a patent; in the nursing school, students juggle ongoing careers as clinicians with their research. There’s field work, data analysis and writing to be done, too. “Graduate students become junior colleagues,” said Nancy Stamp, dean of Binghamton’s Graduate School. “They are able to intellectually engage in discussions and collaborations and often contribute in insightful ways.” Krishnaswami “Hari” Srihari, dean of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, has worked with graduate students for more than 20 years through what’s now called the Watson Institute for Systems Excellence, or WISE. Its students work on sponsored research projects at large and small companies as well as in hospitals from coast to coast and in Greater Binghamton. Increasingly, WISE’s students are PhD candidates. “Twenty years ago, you could work in a research-anddevelopment environment with a bachelor’s,” Srihari said. “By the mid1990s, you needed to at least have a master’s. Today if you’re going to work in R&D, a PhD is a must.”

“It’s impossible for a person who grew up in a developing country not to try to understand why people struggle the way they do without anything changing.”

A passion for human rights Paola Fajardo traces her interest in human rights to her childhood in Colombia, which has endured more than 60 years of armed conflict. Her time at Binghamton has given her new tools to study the issue and her homeland. “Human rights has always been my passion,” said Fajardo, a doctoral student in political science. “It’s impossible for a person who grew up in a developing country not to try to understand why people struggle the way they do without anything changing. I really want to put my mind to understanding these problems and helping people have a better way of life.”

At Binghamton, Fajardo has worked closely with Professor David Cingranelli, one of the creators of the Cingranelli-Richards Human Rights Dataset, which

“My interests revolve around foreign aid and the impact it has in the developing world,” she said. “I have never thought it was positive. In my dissertation, I’m looking at this ‘unearned revenue,’ as I call it. It has, I think, a negative impact on developing countries’ human rights conditions.” Governments that depend on taxes paid by their citizens are more responsible and more accountable to the public, she said. They also have more respect for citizens’ human rights. Fajardo plans to pursue a career in teaching at an American university, though she’d also like to return to Colombia frequently “so I can return a little bit of what I have been so lucky to receive.”


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As a teenager, Fajardo was appalled by the poor quality of life outside her home city of Bogotá. As an undergraduate, she studied Colombian conflicts over coffee and bananas. “That opened my eyes,” she said. “It made me think that social science needs to address these inequalities and help government institutions to solve these problems.”

emphasizes a quantitative approach to measuring human rights around the world. She helps supervise the small army of undergraduates who read through reports from the U.S. State Department and generate the information in the dataset.

“I hope to motivate and inspire the students in my classes the way my undergraduate mentor did for me.”

A dedication to mathematics Quincy Loney’s research focuses on vertex operator algebras, a type of mathematics that has applications for string theory, an area of theoretical physics.

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Late last year, he chaired the second-annual Binghamton University Graduate Conference in Algebra and Topology. The two-day event, which brought together more than 150 graduate students in mathematics from schools around the country, received funding from the National Science Foundation and drew more than 40 speakers from as far away as Moscow and Albania. One speaker, a NASA employee, discussed the mathematics used in her job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories. Loney called the experience invaluable and said he hopes to see the conference continue for years to come. “The networking opportunities are important; the mathematics is important,” he said. “It’s good to know what people are doing elsewhere. These people are going to be our colleagues.” Loney, who grew up in New York City, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SUNY Potsdam.


He received a Clark Fellowship to support his studies at Binghamton. He expects to receive his doctorate in 2011 and hopes to become a professor. Loney said his own positive experiences in the classroom, especially taking calculus as an undergraduate, have helped him develop a passion for teaching. Students learn more and make better progress when their teachers engage them personally, he said. Loney has already taught calculus at Binghamton, and he is the head proctor for the calculus screening exam taken by many incoming freshmen. “I hope to motivate and inspire the students in my classes,” he said, “the way my undergraduate mentor did for me.”

Research experiences during graduate school are an important component of career preparation, Srihari said. Students need to see what it’s like to work in a dynamic, culturally diverse environment, he said, so that when they graduate they’re prepared to work with partners around the world. “The student is both our customer and our product,” he said. “We have to make sure that he or she finds excellent opportunities to go forward.” David Sloan Wilson, director of Binghamton’s unique Evolutionary Studies program and author of several books about evolution, said his goal as an adviser is to create “a fertile environment where people can grow.” In evolution, he said, the work is conceptually oriented and students can make an immediate impact by applying an idea to new domains. When one of Wilson’s former students published a paper in the prestigious journal Science late last year, it was a triumph for them both. Lead author Omar Tonsi Eldakar received his PhD from Binghamton University in 2008. He worked with Michael J. Dlugos, then also a Binghamton graduate student, on the experiment that made its way into Science. They demonstrated that, given a choice, female water striders will group themselves around well-behaved males rather than their more aggressive counterparts. “The original title of the paper was ‘Nice Guys Don’t Always Finish Last,’” Eldakar said. “I find that statement to be quite descriptive of the project.”

Laura Warren Hill isn’t only writing history; she’s preserving it. Hill, a doctoral student at Binghamton, studies the black freedom struggle in Rochester, N.Y., from 1945 to 1975. The mid-sized upstate city saw a huge influx of AfricanAmericans during that period. And while there were race riots there in 1964, Rochester eventually became a model for economic development in the black community. Hill interviewed dozens of people for her project and secured several important collections of personal papers for the archives at the University of Rochester. The oral histories are available online. It’s gratifying to develop a repository for other students, she said. “You have kids in Rochester studying the civil rights movement as if it only happened in Mississippi and Alabama,” she said. “This allows students to have a more complete understanding of their own community’s history.” Hill was one of just 29 students in the country chosen to receive the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in 2009-10. The $24,000 award from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation supports projects with ethical or religious value. Her dissertation, to be titled “Strike the Hammer while the Iron Is Hot: the Black Freedom Struggle in Rochester, N.Y., 1945-1975,” includes a new perspective on the black ministers who drove the black power movement in Rochester. Hill, 33, has a 5-year-old. She said her life experience has been an advantage in her research, in part because she considers how the oral histories could be used in her son’s classroom when she’s gathering them. As a parent, she said, “You have a different sense of how your work matters.”


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Eldakar brought an understanding of altruism to the project; Dlugos had experience working with water striders. “In Binghamton we have a close community of graduate students,” Eldakar said. “They’re not too busy competing with each other; they’ll actually work together and collaborate. There’s a lot of innovation.”

A devotion to history

Eldakar said Wilson’s passion for the study of evolution and egalitarian approach to working with students made a huge difference in his education. “What David gave me is that theoretical foundation,” Eldakar said. “He gives you the evolutionary toolkit. Once you understand evolution — and not just the nuts and bolts, but how it applies to virtually everything — the world opens up. That’s where we take off.”

A Quest in materials science Liwei Huang said environmental concerns drive his research in materials science. “We really have to consider that our planet is suffering because of old technologies,” said Huang, citing lead pollution and other issues. Huang, who expects to receive his PhD in 2012, did his undergraduate work in physics at Peking University in China. He came to Binghamton to work with Associate Professor Howard Wang on flexible electronics and nanomaterials. Applications for their work range from sensors and transistors to flexible displays and printed electronics. Huang is also fascinated by solar energy and how to harvest it, and by the potential for organic-based light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. “There are so many interesting materials with such good properties that could do such great things for everyday life,” said Huang, who envisions LED wallpaper and other energysaving devices.

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One of Huang’s early research triumphs at Binghamton was demonstrating the remarkable elongation of a silver nanoparticle film, stretching a 3-inch sample to 9 inches without the metal breaking. No one else in the world has done that yet, he said. That research was made possible in part by the world-class equipment — especially a scanning electron microscope — available in the Analytical and Diagnostics Laboratory at the Innovative Technologies Complex. Huang’s goal is to stretch the film by 300 percent. Huang isn’t sure whether he’ll pursue an academic career or go into industrial research and development, but he has no doubt that what he’s learning will allow him to make an impact. “The earlier we can find good materials,” he said, “the more good we can do for humans.”


Wilson said evolution lends itself to these collaborations. “The only reason I can study as many things as I do is I have superb graduate students who take an executive role in their research,” he said. “I facilitate but they are definitely their own decision makers.” Stamp sees graduate students as a core part of the campus ecosystem. They become role models for undergraduates and may be more approachable than senior faculty members when a student has a question or problem. “Part of our training of them is that they learn to supervise other people and how to train them, coach them, mentor them,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what their career track is; that’s really important.” Of course, graduate students also help the University hire and retain the best faculty. And those faculty are part of attracting the best possible undergraduates. Each part of the system depends on the others. Even after graduate students earn their degrees, they have one last vital mission for the University as they embark on careers in education, industry, government and nonprofits. “They are,” Stamp said, “one of the major mechanisms by which the University transfers its knowledge and discoveries out into the world.” — Rachel Coker

“One of the best ways I can make a difference for vulnerable populations and improve outcomes for rural women is to be at the table for national discussions about health policy.”

A commitment to public health “If we immunize both boys and girls in the next 10 years, we can profoundly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer,” Rouhana said. “We might also reduce the rate of head and neck cancers in men that are attributed to certain strains of the virus. There are health benefits to both genders in using this vaccine.”

“One of the best ways I can make a difference for vulnerable populations and improve outcomes for rural women is to be at the table for national discussions about health policy,” she said. “And the way to get invited to that table is to have an advanced degree.”

One challenge for public-health experts is that the vaccine offers the best opportunity for immunity against HPV if it’s given before a person becomes sexually active, but many parents are reluctant to immunize their adolescents against a sexually transmitted infection.

Rouhana, a student in the Decker School of Nursing’s unique PhD program focused on rural-health nursing, is the director of programs in nurse-midwifery and perinatal/women’s health at Stony Brook University, where she is also a clinical assistant professor.

Her study will follow 300 parents of 8- to 17-year-old boys who live in three rural counties. Half will receive the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s standard literature about the vaccine; the other half will receive that information and a verbal review of the same material about HPV. Rouhana hopes to see an increased willingness to vaccinate in the second group and an increase in knowledge about HPV in general. She believes she’ll be among the first researchers to focus on the complexity of parents’ attitudes about the vaccine and its use with young men.

She is exploring parental attitudes about immunizing young men with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The vaccine protects women from the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers; it was approved for use in men in 2009.


Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

In more than 25 years as a nurse midwife, Nichole Rouhana demonstrated the depth of her commitment to women’s health by caring for women and their families and by educating other midwives. Her decision to return to school for a doctorate demonstrates her determination to do more to advance public health.

faculty essay

Is climate change making us


The answer is yes, and a geographically based approach can help fight diseases such as malaria and swine flu

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

An essay by Florence M. Margai

Climate change and its anticipated health effects vary by place, with broad regional impacts and disproportionate risks among various populations. Emerging diseases are among the most far-reaching consequences of global warming. In the decades ahead, we need to develop a geographically based framework to identify vulnerable places and at-risk populations. That will require partnerships with health professionals and policymakers. 74

What’s an emerging disease? Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, or ERIDs, are infectious diseases that have increased in incidence or geographic range, recently moved into new host populations, recently been discovered or are caused by newly evolved pathogens. Noteworthy also is their timeline; diseases have been classified as ERIDs if their incidence in humans has increased since the 1970s or threatens to increase in the near future. ERIDs have received a lot of public attention due in part to recent pandemics and how rapidly they are diffusing globally. For example, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was the first pandemic to emerge in the 21st century. Following its initial diagnosis in November 2002 in Guangdong,

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China, it spread to more than 30 countries within six months. About 8,450 cases were diagnosed globally, with a 10 percent fatality rate.

Commenting on this worrisome trend, epidemiologist Larry Brilliant noted that we might be entering the age of pandemics. This certainly may be the case since more than 30 new diseases have emerged or expanded

The climate change connection Scientists are beginning to piece together the causal links between ERIDs and global warming. The underlying factors, the routes and the pathways of disease transmission, however, are complicated with potentially long latency periods. Alongside climate change and environmental disturbances, the underlying factors include the changing demographics of communities and human behaviors (urbanization, migration, risky behaviors); increasing global trade and travel; changes in industrial and agricultural practices (including food production,


Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Within a couple of years, concerns about SARS were overshadowed by the emergence of the H1N1 virus, which originated in Mexico and the southern United States in April 2009, and then spread to more than 206 countries in less than seven months. As of November 2009, H1N1 — also called swine flu — had infected 526,060 people, killing at least 6,770.

their geographic territories during the last three decades. Some, such as the drug-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum malaria and tuberculosis, pose significant global health risks.

Florence M. Margai is associate professor in the Department of Geography at Binghamton University, where she teaches courses on geo-statistical techniques, environmental justice, environmental health hazards and disparities. Her current research projects include pediatric lead poisoning and hazardous health exposures in the United States, malaria burden and treatment approaches in Sierra Leone and food insecurity and childhood nutritional health outcomes in Burkina Faso. She is the author or co-author of three books and numerous journal articles and is working on a new manuscript titled “Environmental Health Hazards and Social Justice: Geographic Perspectives of Race and Class Disparities.”

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processing and distribution); the breakdown of public health measures in many countries; the overuse of antibiotics; and the development of resistant or new strains of disease pathogens. More recently, some diseases have re-emerged because of bioterrorism (as in the case of anthrax), conflicts in world regions and persistent inequities among populations. Human susceptibility to ERIDs has also increased due to the aging population (longer life expectancies) and the adverse and synergistic effects of HIV/AIDs and other autoimmune diseases.

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

The spatial variability of climate change, the regional differentiation of its impacts and the rapid and intense spread of emergent diseases all suggest the need for a geographically based framework to identify vulnerable places and at-risk populations. Such a framework will require a deeper level of understanding of the biophysical changes that are occurring in these places, the demographic characteristics of those areas and the range of social, institutional, technological and behavioral adaptations that are — or, in some cases, are not — being put in place to alleviate these challenges. Like the anticipated changes in climate, the potential for loss of life as a result of exposure to these hazards varies. Some places, particularly low-lying coastal areas and floodplains, urban heat islands and disease vector border regions, are more likely to bear the brunt of these hazards than others. Societal impact will also vary from place to place, with disparate risks among different populations depending on pre-existing disadvantages such as racial/ethnic disparities and income inequalities. Within the United States, for example, Hurricane Katrina uncovered the deep divide by race and class in New Orleans. Our study of the hazardous exposures arising from this 2005 cata-


Emerging diseases are among the most far-reaching consequences of global warming. strophic meteorological event showed that the most vulnerable populations living in the maximum inundated areas were minorities and low-income populations. This study confirmed that the biophysical attributes, socio-demographic characteristics and the local context of communities are key drivers of vulnerability when evaluating the health impact of climate change. A recent call for public health preparedness for global climate change published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine underscores the need to formally incorporate a placebased approach in developing health strategies for these environmental threats. A focus on place, the authors argue, would emphasize the local nature of both human exposures and responses to these hazards. A spatial perspective would bring attention to the local areas that would be most affected by these events. The geographically based approach will showcase the strengths of the local people, enabling the collective participation of local stakeholders in environmental health planning to promote sustainable and livable communities.

Why look to geographers for answers? Geographers bring numerous tools to the table to work with public health professionals and policy makers. Geographers can offer a number of analytical approaches and technologies for disease surveillance and intervention, including geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, geostatistics and cartography. One such example can be drawn from the landscape epidemiology approach, which relies on geospatial methodologies to delineate the geographic territories of transmissible diseases. Using this approach, the ecological niche of a transmissible disease can be delineated by overlaying the spatial distribution of the pathogenic agent with the distribution of the disease vectors and host populations. Within this distribution range, one can determine the biophysical and social conditions that favor the survival and transmission of the disease pathogen. This approach has been used to monitor vector-borne ERIDs such as the West Nile virus and Lyme disease in the United States.

faculty essay

Another example of geography in action can be seen in the fight against malaria, another ERID. The disease is now endemic in 109 countries, with nearly 3.3 billion people at risk, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change, poverty, armed regional conflicts and the scourge of HIV/AIDS have all contributed to the persistence of this disease. These conditions, along with increasing globalization and international migration, have heightened concerns about its potential emergence or reemergence in temperate regions. In the United States, for example, malaria is now the most commonly imported disease, with more than 1,000 cases reported each year. With the anticipated changes in temperature, rainfall and humidity, there’s a real possibility of reemergence in the United States. The use of geospatial models to predict malaria risk and transmission has been quite informative, with projected net increases in the global at-risk population to 8 billion by 2080. Though these models have been criticized for using coarse spatial resolutions and overly

emphasizing temperature changes, the results provide a valuable starting point for countries to develop public health strategies. Along with the development of the predictive models, geographic fieldwork and site-specific activities have been beneficial in assessing the social, economic and behavioral factors that influence disease transmission, and the treatment or preventive practices used in high-risk communities. One such study was recently undertaken in a low-income community in Sierra Leone, in which we assessed the prevalence, severity and duration of malaria episodes among 731 residents; their risk factors; knowledge, access and use of reliable treatment options; and the efficacy and benefits of alternative therapies. Chloroquine was still the most widely used therapy for malaria in this community despite the growing resistance of p falciparum parasites to this drug. The research findings provided a useful context for developing a health intervention program for the community. Educating residents about the environmental risk sources of malaria, in addition to promoting the

use of bednets, homeopathic methods and artemisia-based therapies, offers hope for reducing the malaria burden in this community. These efforts demonstrate the importance of scholarly engagements to develop and advance meaningful and sustainable approaches for dealing with environmental risks and health challenges that affect the livelihoods of residents in vulnerable communities. As the threats from global climate change continue to emerge, the need for scientific networks that bolster such initiatives and collaborative partnerships across disciplines such as geography and public health becomes even greater.

Visit You’ll find links to journal articles and other resources on the subject of emerging diseases and climate change.

The consequences of global warming Global warming is now a widely accepted phenomenon among domestic and international policymakers. Historical records, together with more recent indisputable evidence of rising temperatures, changing sea levels, retreating glaciers and extreme weather events, all point toward a warming trend. Scientists have predicted that this warming trend will continue, and by 2100, average global temperatures could rise from 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Global warming is expected to induce a series of environmental health hazards, including thermal stress, extreme events and meteorological disasters, air pollution and hazardous exposures, food insecurity, nutritional health disorders and emerging diseases.


Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Evidence garnered so far suggests an uneven distribution in this trend, with distinct daily, seasonal and regional differentiations. The warming appears to be twice as fast in winter and at night and more prominent in high latitudes than in tropical regions. Precipitation levels are also spatially uneven, with heavier levels in the tropics.


Novelist writes a ‘hymn to Binghamton’ English Professor Liz Rosenberg, a longtime poet and children’s book author, can now be filed under “adult fiction.” Home Repair, her first book in the genre, was released last year by Avon/Harper Collins. The novel generated national attention for Rosenberg: Publishers Weekly praised it as an  “engaging, often touching story of survival” and Target designated it a  “Breakout Book” in June, giving the paperback prominent display at stores across the country. Home Repair is a year in the life of 40-something Eve, whose husband walks out on the family during a garage sale. Eve has to deal with the heartbreak while taking care of her elderly mother and two children. Along the way, Eve finds healing and comfort in unexpected places, becoming a stronger person in the process.

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Eve is an administrative assistant at Binghamton University and she and her family live in Binghamton. The community plays a major role in Home Repair. “It was always a Binghamton book,” Rosenberg said.“I say it’s my hymn to Binghamton. I’ve lived here now 30 years. I really wanted to pay homage to the place. You make something regional, but the universals are always there,” she said.“Anybody who lives in a small city is dealing with at least some of the things that Eve is.”


Book offers fresh take on Billy the Kid John Vernon, distinguished professor of English, has given new life to an Old West icon. Vernon’s historical novel Lucky Billy humanizes a figure often regarded as a ruthless renegade by placing him against the backdrop of the Lincoln County War of the late 1870s in New Mexico. Readers are able to have mixed emotions for the outlaw: They see a tragic figure caught up in a conflict that spirals out of control, find sympathy for a shattered family life and have disgust for Billy’s revenge killings. Lucky Billy, which was published by Houghton Mifflin, was featured as the lead review in the New York Times Book Review and also was an “Editor’s Choice.”The Seattle Times named it one of its top 10 fiction books of the year. Several years ago, Vernon researched some of the Old West places in New Mexico, including Lincoln County. A Newman Travel Grant from the English Department helped him get a feel for the area. “Lincoln is still very much the same,” Vernon said.“Many places in the West have become ‘condo-ized’ to death. But that place is so magical. It’s still cattle country with ranchers and small towns.”

In Brief

Journal of Women’s History coming to Binghamton

New equipment leads to new possibilities for chemist

The premier journal in the field of women’s history now calls Binghamton home. The University is the editorial host of the Journal of Women’s History from 2010 to 2015.

Eriks Rozners is looking for ways to chemically modify ribonucleic acid (RNA), a biopolymer that is essential in the creation of proteins and plays a role in gene regulation processes.

Jean Quataert, professor of history (above right), and Leigh Ann Wheeler, associate professor of history (above left), will co-edit the journal. The editorial team also includes Elisa Camiscioli, associate professor of history, as book review editor; Benita Roth, associate professor of sociology, as associate editor; and two graduate assistants. “What’s exciting about this is that it gives us an opportunity to shape the field and nurture new scholars,”Wheeler said.“It’s an incredibly important tool that will bring a lot of visibility to the program.” Binghamton University has a long commitment to women’s history. It has one of the oldest PhD programs in women’s history, founded in 1974, and features a women’s studies program with more than 30 faculty members. Quataert is a pioneer in the field, bringing German women’s history into focus during the 1970s. The Journal of Women’s History, a quarterly publication founded in 1989, is published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

“We want to encourage authors to think about the international context of their work,” Wheeler said.  “We want people whose scholarship is on the other side of the world to read the piece and suggest ways for the author to connect what they are doing to other areas of the world.”

Rozners, an associate professor of chemistry at Binghamton, is the lead investigator on a collaborative grant of $550,584 from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation Program that will fund the purchase of powerful nuclear magnetic resonance equipment. The new instrument, which makes it possible to do advanced structural studies on biopolymers and materials, will allow Rozners and his colleagues to expand their research in new directions. RNA, a multifunctional molecule that can come in different shapes and lengths, copies information from DNA and then transfers it to proteins, adding unique amino acids to the proteins in the process. In the 1990s, researchers discovered that RNA can catalyze chemical reactions. “The question now is: How do you control this process?” Rozners asked. “  There are many possibilities of how and where we can interfere.”


Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Quataert and Wheeler hope to stress online content and broader thinking. They also plan to highlight the work of younger scholars.

“It’s a relatively new concept,” Rozners said. “Many of our genes are regulated by small RNA molecules. Can we design our own and use them as drugs? Can we modify them to make them more drug-like? RNA has totally different properties than traditional drugs and it’s not so simple, but chemically altering RNA may ultimately lead to new therapeutic measures such as antibiotics or perhaps even anticancer drugs.”


[on our minds] Binghamton University researchers received millions of dollars through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in the program’s first several months. Four projects undertaken by faculty in the Psychology Department could lead to major advances in our understanding of the brain and the mind. For more information about the federal stimulus at Binghamton, visit

Alcohol abuse Michael Nizhnikov’s research on the kappa-opioid system in the brain could explain why infants who are exposed to alcohol have a much higher incidence of alcohol abuse later in life than they would have had otherwise.

Learning and memory Lisa Savage’s research on the neurotransmitter acetylcholine has revealed that stimulating one critical brain region, the hippocampus, can lead to complete or partial recovery of behavioral function in patients with amnesia.

How neurons communicate

Binghamton University / Binghamton Research / 2010

Patricia Di Lorenzo’s studies of temporal coding in the brain may hold answers for patients with diseases of neural transmission such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Her work could also help in the development of brain-machine interfaces such as artificial limbs.

Childhood depression Brandon Gibb is leading a five-year study that will examine the genetic, environmental and psychological variables that contribute to depression in children.


Cool model for a hot planet Economist explores how international cooperation can mitigate climate change


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