Leading lights

Zoology student Lacey Brown

Leading lights

Students and faculty members demonstrated that they have the drive and the understanding to lead change for a better future. Time and again their informed, steadfast efforts made news as our college achieved national distinction for community service and advanced solutions to shared challenges.

Assisting at the Slade Eastern Equine Encephalitis Field Station

Assisting at the Slade Eastern Equine Encephalitis Field Station

Serving and solving

From strengthening democracy to advancing health and safety, from developing new educational tools to aiding disaster stricken families, members of our college community played constructive roles in the wider world in 2012-13.

WTOP election night broadcast

WTOP election night broadcast

As the academic year began, the 2012 election was on the horizon and the college‘s Civic Engagement Coalition coordinated its first comprehensive voter registration and education campaign. Film and discussion series, a debate and other events built engagement with the democratic process and registered more than 1,300 voters. The project culminated in an election night party in the Campus Center as returns rolled in.

Some 70 students representing student media WTOP-TV, WNYO-FM and the Oswegonian covered election night like never before, filling four hours of live air with remote broadcasts, roundtable discussion and constant updates via social media, providing Oswego County‘s only TV coverage and streaming it online. “There‘s nothing ‘student’ or ‘pretend’ or ‘practice’ about what we just did,” WTOP-TV station manager Ben Gordon said with pride as the marathon telecast wound down.

SUNY Oswego was named to the 2013 President‘s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for the third consecutive year. Oswego was one of under a hundred institutions to achieve the national designation. Highlighted were the college‘s Mentor-Scholar Program, Alternative Break volunteer program and disaster relief projects.

“We just really love helping other people,” student group leader Sophie Marsden told an Alabama TV reporter interviewing her about a Habitat for Humanity project. She led a dozen Oswego students building a house in the Shoals during their alternative spring break. “It‘s just super important to show how much we can actually give back to somebody else.”

Closer to home, the college community mounted a quick response to New Yorkers whose lives and livelihoods were disrupted by Superstorm Sandy. Students and staff held fundraisers and food drives, and the college‘s Small Business Development Center helped business owners apply for disaster assistance.

Solutions

Our students readily apply the knowledge and skill they learn in class to real-world challenges. Oswego‘s increasingly renowned meteorology program, for instance, has spawned the largely student-run Lake-Effect Storm Prediction and Research Center, where students forecast the weather for school districts and other agencies.

Communication Studies Professor Ulises Mejias

Communication Studies Professor Ulises Mejias

Helping to forecast a public health threat, student Stephanie Ciesla spent the summer of 2013 assisting the New York State Department of Health vector surveillance unit. She received samples of mosquitoes and identified them by species at the Shad C. Slade Eastern Equine Encephalitis Field Station in West Monroe.

Our faculty and staff shared solutions for improving teaching and campus communication with colleagues in higher education. Oswego‘s adaptations to students‘ growing use of mobile devices — a website that optimizes for viewing on small screens and mobile apps aimed at students‘ top needs — were the subject of a story in University Business magazine. Two Oswego professors received SUNY support to develop their teaching innovations as templates for similar programs at other colleges. Dr. Ulises Mejias of the communication studies department worked to create a replicable model for his educational use of alternate reality gaming. Dr. Harrison Yang of the curriculum and instruction department shared ways to help future teachers work visual and digital tools into their lessons to serve today‘s visually oriented, technologically savvy learners.

Dr. Peter A. Rosenbaum with a rare bog turtle

Dr. Peter A. Rosenbaum with a rare bog turtle

Environmental activists

Professors and their students championed environmental education and brought their scientific knowledge and zeal to bear on habitat restoration.

Claudia Lifton-Schwerner at the Elephant Forest Reintroduction Project in Thailand

Claudia Lifton-Schwerner at the Elephant Forest Reintroduction Project in Thailand

The third annual GENIUS Olympiad, the college‘s global environmental competition for high school students, welcomed more than 400 competitors and their mentors from 58 countries to campus in June 2013. The contest is the brainchild of chemistry faculty member Dr. Fehmi Damkaci, who received an award from the Center for Environmental Initiatives in Rochester for his leadership in environmental education.

Restoring wildlife and ecological balance in natural habitats was a focus for several members of our college community in 2012-13.

  • A biological sciences professor received a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant to develop a conservation management plan for five populations of rare bog turtles in Oswego, Seneca and Wayne counties. Dr. Peter A. Rosenbaum‘s ultimate goal is to help the turtles thrive enough to be removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened species.
  • Dr. John Laundré, a visiting instructor of biological sciences, carried forward his advocacy of large predators as ecological regulators by promoting the reintroduction cougars in the Adirondack Mountains. “Increasing numbers of studies show that deer are killing the forests,” he said, and the big cats offer a natural solution.
  • Communication studies student Claudia Lifton-Schwerner graduated into a year of environmental service for Global Vision International. She won a national contest to spend 2012-13 traveling the world and blogging about that organization‘s conservation, sustainability and wildlife rehabilitation projects.
Physics student Katharyn Christiana

Physics student Katharyn Christiana

Top performers

Many Oswego students immerse themselves in their academic pursuits, and some excel to a degree that wins them recognition far beyond our college community.

On stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

On stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Our student body includes stellar achievers across the wide range of academic disciplines we offer. Their talent, energy and dedication set them on a select path to professional success with opportunities to have genuine impact in their chosen fields. Some standouts from 2012-13:

NASA JPL Interns

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory interns

  • NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology selected three students in computer science majors and software engineering — Samantha Bielli and Delvison Castillo and Andrew Darwin — to work on the Cassini satellite mission.
  • Six students, along with two theatre faculty members, participated in the world‘s largest performing arts festival, taking their production of ”Desdemona, A Play About a Handkerchief“ to the stages and streets of Edinburgh and its celebrated Festival Fringe.
  • Junior zoology major Lacey Brown spent her summer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program in biology and neuroscience.
  • Freshman Keith Amundsen was among only five students nationwide honored by Learning Ally, a dyslexia support organization. Amundsen, who is majoring in graphic design and operations management and information systems, received the Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Award and a scholarship in recognition of his academic achievements, leadership and commitment to serving others.
  • Paul Rodrigues was the first Oswego State athlete to be named national player of the year in any sport. A senior forward on the men's ice hockey team, Rodrigues received the American Hockey Coaches Association's 2013 Sid Watson Memorial Award as the top NCAA Division III men's hockey player and was named Men's Ice Hockey National Player of the Year by D3hockey.com and USCHO.com.
Dr. John Laundré studies the 'landscape of fear'

Dr. John Laundré studies the “landscape of fear”

Scholars making news

Whether it was to share fun facts and useful insights or to acknowledge real breakthroughs, media turned to Oswego professors, and sometimes their students, to enlighten readers and listeners in 2012-13.

Newsworthy photo by meteorology student Patrick Cavlin

Newsworthy photo by meteorology student Patrick Cavlin

From topical tornadoes to timeless atoms, scholars at Oswego found their areas of expertise in the spotlight. While the sciences came in for the most attention, humane and social disciplines were also represented in the news.

Parade magazine turned to Dr. Scott Steiger of our meteorology program, following a giant, mile-wide tornado in Oklahoma, to explain why the Midwest is tornado alley. Within days, students in Steiger‘s “Storm Forecasting and Observation” course captured a Kansas tornado in photographs featured on the Weather Channel.

On another topic in the national headlines, CNN radio interviewed Dr. Ranjit Dighe, chair of the economics department, as the “fiscal cliff” threatened the nation. Later in the year, Dighe blogged for the Huffington Post on Ireland‘s sputtering Celtic Tiger economy.

“I‘m the nerd that has to know everything
about how things work.” Katharyn Christiana, physics senior

More seasonal than topical was the Washington Post‘s feature on roller coaster dynamics in July. After physics senior Katharyn Christiana made a presentation to the American Physical Society‘s undergraduate division in Baltimore, she was credited as a source for an infographic in the Post, and her mentor and co-author, physics faculty member Dr. Carolina Ilie, was quoted. The two studied the mechanics of thrill rides with the aid of a working model of a roller coaster that Christiana built. “I‘m the nerd that has to know everything about how things work,” Christiana said.

Making news on two continents was Dr. Tracy K. Lewis, a professor of modern languages, who helped bring global attention to Paraguay as it made its way out of dictatorship to parliamentary democracy. As the leading translator of Paraguayan writer and political figure Juan Manuel Marcos, Lewis received some media attention when the Paraguayan Ministry of Education awarded him a medal.

Breakthroughs

Psychology Today prominently quoted Dr. John Laundré of the biological sciences faculty on his pioneering “landscape of fear” research, and Smart Planet, a CBS Interactive website, featured an interview with the ecologist under its “Innovation” section. His innovation is recognizing how animal behaviors and emotions like fear and anxiety shape ecosystems and seeing the potential for human intervention to maintain stable populations of both predator and prey by optimally balancing risky and safe habitats. “This could be one of the most valuable tools we have in conservation ecology,” Laundré said.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Marianne Hromalik

Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Marianne Hromalik

In a breakthrough announced in Science magazine, an international team that includes Dr. Marianne Hromalik of Oswego‘s electrical and computer engineering faculty developed and demonstrated a feasible method of obtaining 3D images of molecules at the atomic level. By showing how the world‘s most powerful X-ray laser could reveal the atomic structure of molecules, they opened new avenues for scientific investigation. A future goal is motion pictures of biological molecules in action.

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