Lake E-ffect Newsletter banner SUNY Oswego logoJune 2012 • Vol 8 • No 3

Alumnus Coughlin Honored at 151st Commencement

Joseph Coughlin '82, who is internationally known for his work in gerontology and public policy, received an honorary doctor of science degree from the State University of New York May 12 at Oswego's 151st Commencement.

Joseph Coughlin '82

Coughlin, the founding director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, shared with some 1,700 graduates the wisdom he learned from his older subjects: to focus on humor, agility, purpose, people and youth.

"That spells H-A-P-P-Y for a lifetime- to not just live longer but to live better," he said.

The words of an Oswego professor who deflected Coughlin's gratitude toward future generations made a lifelong impression on the honoree. "Perhaps the best advice I still carry with me from Oswego - give thanks to those who invested in you by being generous with others tomorrow," Coughlin said.

"Being at Oswego and the years that follow is about inventing who you are and basically paying forward those values you have learned so far," he told the graduates.

Grads like computer science and applied mathematics major Earl Bellinger '12 are inventing exciting futures for themselves thanks to their Oswego experience.

This summer, he will work for NASA at CalTech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"I'm going to be developing software for the Cassini spacecraft, which is orbiting Saturn and its moons," Bellinger said. "In particular I will be writing software to manage the memory of the spacecraft and creating a telemetry emergency alarm system for mobile phones."

Bellinger is working with Oswego professor Shashi Kanbur and fellow Oswego student Chad Brooks '13, who will be at the Switzerland observatory this summer, to have Bellinger's 3-D imaging software, PlotPourri, classify the stars that the Gaia satellite sees.

In August, Bellinger will start work on his doctorate in computer science at Indiana University under a full scholarship.

"I will specifically concentrate on scientific computing, artificial intelligence, data mining and machine learning" while teaching as an associate instructor and supported by a National Physical Sciences Consortium fellowship from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where he may do an internship the following summer, Bellinger said.

His time at Oswego has included publishing five research articles in peer-reviewed journals, two Global Laboratory summer internships in Brazil related to astrophysics and computer science and developing Chimera remote control software for astronomical observatories as well as PlotPourri. He said the support from "excellent professors" and range of opportunities made it all possible.

"I think SUNY Oswego has been the best institution in the world for me," Bellinger said. "I don't think any place else provides opportunities for undergraduates like the SUNY Oswego Global Laboratory. I have received excellent mentorship and feel that I am really well-prepared for the next step in my journey."

SUNY Oswego has put a spotlight on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, in recent years with the Possibility Scholarship, Global Laboratory and development of the Science, Engineering and Innovation Corridor, which is targeted for a fall 2013 opening.

Plenty of alumni like Coughlin already carved out niches in STEM fields.

The Oswego Alumni Association honored Coughlin, who spoke at morning and afternoon Commencement exercises, with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2003, and he has been the keynote speaker at Quest, the college's annual symposium of scholarly research and creative activity.

Jeff Rea '71 and Michele Reed

Joseph Coughlin '82
received an honorary degree from the State University of New York during Oswego's commencement exercises May 12.

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