Campus Update

Fri Apr 03, 2015
Honors Convocation to celebrate students, feature successful alumna

SUNY Oswego’s annual Honors Convocation will celebrate student academic achievement at 3 p.m. Friday, April 17, in the Marano Campus Center arena and convocation hall, with a keynote by 1987 graduate Stephanie Pianka, treasurer and vice president of financial operations at New York University.

Fri Apr 03, 2015
Farm to SUNY internship, Go Green help sustain Peterly Jean Baptiste

In this issue’s Spotlight, meet Peterly Jean Baptiste, a freshman dual major in language and international trade and French. Already working with the Sustainability Office under a grant with the American Farmland Trust and co-president of a campus environmental club, Jean Baptiste aims to return someday to his Haitian homeland to see what he can accomplish.

Peterly Jean BaptisteQ. Can you tell us the heritage of your last name, Jean Baptiste?
I’m originally from Haiti. I lived in Port-au-Prince, the capital. I moved to Long Island just about five years ago.

Q. Were you still in Haiti at the time of the 2010 earthquake?
A. I was fortunate enough to have moved to the United States before the earthquake. I am very grateful for that, and grateful that my family members made it out safely, without injury. My prayers go out to everyone who is still suffering from the consequences of that.

Q. Why did you choose to attend SUNY Oswego?
I would love to say that I visited (before enrolling) and came back because I fell in love with the campus. But that wasn’t the case. When I came up here on moving day, I really liked the atmosphere. It was a beautiful summer day, the lake was gorgeous and the campus was very green. I didn’t regret my decision at all ... until winter came. (Laughs.) I really wanted someplace affordable without compromising quality. I heard about the business program; it’s got a good reputation. Oswego was the best option when I was weighing all of the other schools. I feel like I am getting a worthwhile education here, and I wouldn’t go anywhere else. 

Q. Why did you choose to major in language and international trade?
I knew I wanted to be in a business field, but I did not want a traditional desk job. I wanted something that incorporated travel and work where you interact with other people. It’s a good major that incorporates business, language and economics—it’s like three majors in one.

Q. You already speak French; why choose it as a second major?
Creole is the native language of Haiti, and French is the official language in institutions, schools. Ever since I got to the United States, I’ve been trying to capitalize on that. In high school, the first thing I did was take AP French. I didn’t want to lose that part of my culture.

Q.  You speak excellent English for someone who’s lived here only five years.
Thank you. I don’t like being left out. When I first got here, I knew I’d have to deal with a different culture, a different way of living and a different language. I had to learn English, but I wanted to learn it very fast because if I couldn’t understand my friends, I would be missing out. I didn’t want to be that person. Learning French at a very young age, in my country, undoubtedly helped with my language adaptability. I attribute learning English as fast as I did to that.

Q. What do you think of your SUNY Oswego professors?
I’ve enjoyed every one of them. They’re really available. The ones that I’ve encountered so far, I feel that they care about your success and they do their best to help you out if you’re struggling with anything. I have yet to encounter anyone who wasn’t supportive and helpful.

Q. What else do you like about SUNY Oswego?
It’s a very diverse student body, and I like that. Diverse also in terms of interests. I enjoy meeting new people and making friends. I really enjoy the extracurricular activities, the organizations, the clubs. I’m very involved with the ALANA organizations, which are the ASO, the Caribbean Student Association and others. I’m also involved with the Go Green Team—I’m the co-president this semester. I went to a meeting with the chancellor of SUNY recently, it was a bit of a conference. SUNY Oswego students brought up different programs we have here—programs like CSTEP and EOP that give minority students a bit of a push to their destination.

Q. What do you do with the internship for the American Farmland Trust grant?
To let students know exactly what the Farm to SUNY program is, which is encouraging local purchasing of produce. The economic and environmental benefits of that are huge. Since it’s local, it’s a lot fresher. I’m the bridge between this office and the Farm to SUNY program. It involves tabling, putting out signage, letting people know about Food of the Month. This month it’s maple syrup. Last month, it was potatoes. I’m also the SA coordinator for sustainability.

Q. Are you taking part in Quest on April 15?
Yes. It’s for my business French class with Miss Lenuta Giukin. She is a wonderful lady. We have a presentation on American companies in Moldova. It’s going to be my first Quest, and I’m a little shy ... well, not shy, I’m just not the best public speaker.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like hanging out with friends. I do a bit of photography. I’m thinking of minoring in that. I’m big into film, as well. I like watching different genres. TV, music—just about everything you think a teen does in his spare time, I do.

Q. Can you tell us a bit more about your family?
My Dad lives in Uniondale. He is a registered nurse in a hospital. I also have two sisters and one brother on Long Island. One of my sisters is actually very old—she’s 25. (Laughs.) My other sister is 14, and my brother is in high school doing the same thing I was doing a year ago, looking at colleges.

Q. Have you been back to Haiti? Do you think you’ll return there to work?
It’s been five years since I’ve seen my mother, so I’m planning to go back this summer. It’s mostly my Dad’s family that’s in the U.S. I do see myself going back and working there, very definitely. I did a research paper for my English class last semester, and found out that most people who emigrate to the U.S. don’t go back to their native countries, whether they’re from Haiti or different parts of the world. I do want to go back. I want to make a difference.

Mon Mar 23, 2015

Since March 9, University Police have made nine arrests.


An 18-year-old Funnelle Hall resident was charged with third-degree criminal trespass and petit larceny. She is accused of breaking into the residence hall’s main office and taking a master key to get into her room.

Motor vehicle misdemeanors

A 21-year-old commuter student was charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated DWI, and an infraction. A 22-year-old Manlius man was charged with DWI and operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08, plus infractions.

A 25-year-old commuter student was charged with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended registration, and an infraction: operating a motor vehicle without insurance.

Five others were also charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended registration: a 21-year-old commuter student and a 26-year-old commuter student, who were also each charged with an infraction of operating a motor vehicle without insurance; and a 23-year-old Fair Haven man and two Oswego women, one 19 and the other 27.

Mon Mar 23, 2015
College launches 'Shine the Light on Oz' diversity campaign

A diversity awareness initiative this spring titled “Shine the Light on Oz” is the latest in a series of projects nurtured over the past year by the college’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

Fri Mar 20, 2015
Blackboard Learn team poised to assist online learning migration

As more than 500 faculty members transition their assignments, handouts and syllabi—and sometimes classroom workflows and academic performance information—to the Blackboard learning management system over the next five months, a cross-campus team will be there to help.

Student showing Blackboard Learn interfaceThe migration to Blackboard Learn comes as Angel, the college’s learning management system since 2007, nears its end of life on Sept. 1, according to the team from Campus Technology Services, Extended Learning, Penfield Library, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, and Open SUNY. Angel will not be available after that date.

“Faculty can either migrate their content from Angel to Blackboard or start from scratch,” said Nicole Decker, associate director of CTS for client support and communications.

To assist the transition, the migration team trained and has received feedback from 56 faculty members teaching 147 courses with an estimated 3,400 students (including overlap) this semester, with a second group of at least that many faculty in a second wave of migrations for summer courses.

“A lot of the work is training faculty and making sure they have the knowledge to do what they want to do in Blackboard,” said Sean Moriarty, the college’s chief technology officer. Faculty training classes for Blackboard Learn will be available during Spring Breakout in May and prior to fall semester this summer, and the team is putting together online informational materials for students and faculty.

CTS’ Kathi Dutton, project leader for the transition, said that most of the tools developed to assist the migration of teaching materials from Angel to Blackboard are intuitive and straightforward. The long-term teaching-and-learning benefits promise to far outweigh the short-term work.

“For example, for faculty who do a lot with having assignments submitted to drop boxes, Blackboard Learn allows for inline grading and markup,” Dutton said. “There is no need to first transition assignments to Word. The faculty are really liking that—it saves a lot of time.”

Versatile interface

Blackboard Learn has also kept pace with other trends: shifting student use of computers—the software strives for a display-agnostic interface on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones; a more seamless transition to a four-year college for students who transfer from community colleges—sometimes even high schools—using industry-leader Blackboard; a collaborative network of 26 other SUNY colleges and universities that have or will make the transition to the new learning management system; more and better possibilities for global interaction among classrooms; and a feature set that moves the classroom closer to a paperless ideal.

Peter Newell of the biological sciences faculty, a first-cohort Blackboard user, said he started using the new learning management system from scratch.

“I was primarily driven by the fact the McGraw-Hill textbook I was using had features that could be enabled in Blackboard,” he said. The publishing company is among those that have integrated their own assignment and assessment systems with Blackboard Learn, so that grades can be imported directly to the learning management system.

James Early of computer science found that migrating documents from Angel to Blackboard was “fairly efficient. I didn’t spend too much time doing that.” Comparing the two systems side by side, he likes Blackboard’s interface and configurability, but he has a wish list of features that “are not quite there” in the new learning management system.

“I want to be able to randomly generate teams of ‘n’ number of students in a class, and I want to be able to see who’s on what team,” Early said. “I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that in Blackboard, so I still have a spreadsheet in Google Docs that randomizes.”

Similarly, he has yet to see Blackboard randomly generate lists of different questions to create quizzes that are dynamic, to push even further the concept of the flipped classroom, where testing can occur outside of class time. Yet considering the advent of, Google Drive and now Blackboard Learn, Early said, “It’s a tremendous set of resources the college has made available to faculty and students.”

Dutton said the transition team also is testing a long list of other classroom resources, from Panopto lecture capture to iClicker, to ensure they work in tandem with Blackboard.

The move to Blackboard gained momentum after Blackboard bought Angel in 2009 and SUNY signed a system-wide licensing contract. Oswego is in the fifth of nine groups of about three colleges each to make the transition under the Open SUNY (formerly SUNY Learning Network) online-learning umbrella.

Greg Ketcham of Oswego’s Division of Extended Learning, who has had an integral role in Open SUNY, said the collaborative tools in Blackboard help move the needle on open content, open educational resources, classes across multiple institutions and “sharing some of the brightest minds out there.”

“In many ways, we’re preparing students for the future of how they’ll work and learn,” Ketcham said.

PHOTO CAPTION: Blackboard to go—Freshman computer science major Tariq Johnson, a student in James Early’s “Principles of Programming” class, demonstrates that Blackboard Learn’s interface is responsive to screens large and small, including the large one in Room 211 of Culkin Hall and the small one on his iPad Mini. “The GUI (graphical user interface) of Blackboard is pretty easy to understand,” Johnson said. “People who are not computer-technical can look at it and know what to do.”

Fri Mar 20, 2015
Bridget Smith earns first-ever women's ice hockey All-America nod

Senior goaltender Bridget Smith earned the Oswego women’s ice hockey program’s first-ever All-America honor, as she was named to the American Hockey Coaches Association’s first-team All-America East roster at the NCAA Division III women’s championship banquet.

“I’m so happy for Bridget,” said coach Diane Dillon. “To see this reward for all the hard work I witness every day, I’m thrilled for her and so glad she’s our first.”

In 20 appearances for Oswego, the goaltender from Hamburg compiled a 13-5-1 record and a 13th-ranked goals-against average of 1.69. She ranked in the top five nationally in several categories, including third in save percentage (.946) and a tie for third in shutouts (6). Smith also held the 11th spot in the country for minutes played (1172:35).

Noting that Smith also stands out in the classroom—she is an Honors Program chemistry major and past recipient of several top student-athlete accolades—Dillon said the goaltender’s achievements will have an impact on future Lakers hockey players.

“I think she sets a standard of excellence,” Dillon said. “The effort she has put in in the classroom and on the ice has been outstanding. To be an All-American, you have to put it all together every day ... (The honor) sends a message to future players that this is what you want to strive for.”

A pivotal tone-setter as a co-captain, Smith anchored a defense that was also among the country’s best. Oswego ranked eighth in Division III in team defense, holding opponents to just 1.67 goals per game. Even more impressive was the squad’s ability to kill penalties, ranked in the top spot in the country for allowing just six goals in 91 power-play chances for Laker foes.

Smith averaged 28.9 saves per game, boasting three 40-save outings, including a season-high 48 saves in a close 4-2 loss to Plattsburgh in the ECAC West Semifinal.

Campus Update last month published a Spotlight interview with Smith that speaks to her work ethic and motivation.

—Michael Bielak, sports information director, contributed to this report

Fri Mar 20, 2015
Physics, communications graduates chosen for honorary degrees

SUNY trustees recently approved awarding honorary doctoral degrees to two outstanding members of SUNY Oswego’s class of 1977: a media industry leader and the U.S. commissioner of patents.

Margaret A. Focarino speaks to physics facultyMargaret A. Focarino, now commissioner of patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is to receive an honorary doctor of science degree at the college’s spring commencement May 16. Focarino, pictured right with physics professors Alok Kumar and Ram Chaudhari, will be the featured speaker at Oswego’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduation ceremony at 9 a.m. in the Marano Campus Center arena and convocation hall.

An honorary doctor of humane letters degree will be bestowed on Louis A. Borrelli Jr. at Oswego’s winter commencement at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 in the Marano Campus Center arena and convocation hall. He will be the principal speaker at this college-wide graduation ceremony.

“We are immensely proud of these two accomplished graduates of SUNY Oswego and thrilled that the State University has chosen to honor them in this way. They are inspiring role models for our new graduates,” President Deborah F. Stanley said.

“A trailblazer for women in the sciences, Peggy has devoted her career to work that helps propel our nation forward technologically and economically,” she added. “Lou has been a change agent influencing our society’s information and entertainment media landscape and has used his experience to add luster to our programs in communications.”

Scientist, leader

When Focarino graduated from Oswego in 1977 with a degree in physics, she was the only woman in her major. She immediately began her 38-year career at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, working her way up the ranks from patent examiner. In 2012, she became the first woman to be named commissioner for patents.

She now helps lead a federal bureau with an annual budget of $3 billion and a well-educated, diverse workforce of more than 10,000 engineers, scientists and public servants. She brought a new level of order, collaboration and effectiveness to a 225-year-old federal agency that boosted it to the No. 1 “best place to work” out of 300 federal agencies in 2013.

She has many awards and recognitions to her credit. Among them, Managing Intellectual Property magazine named her one of the “World’s 50 Most Influential People in Intellectual Property.” And American University’s School of Public Affairs recognized her with its Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership.

Oswego is Focarino’s hometown, and she has returned to her alma mater several times to meet with students and faculty.

Media mentor

Louis A. Borrelli Jr.Borrelli has worked in, led and founded many media enterprises in the past 38 years. He was most recently chief marketing officer of NimbleTV, a service designed to allow subscribers to access television programs from any device, and chief executive officer of NEP Broadcasting LLC, the leading international provider of outsourced teleproduction for major live sports and entertainment events around the world.

As senior vice president at America Online, he developed AOL’s high-speed broadband business plan and distribution partnerships across the cable television and telecommunications industries. He led Marcus Cable Co., where he was founding partner, executive vice president and chief operating officer, to become the nation’s largest privately held cable company, with 1.3 million customers.

At Oswego, Borrelli is well known as the founder of the college’s Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit, which began in 2005. He joined with celebrated Oswego alumnus Al Roker to name the summit in honor of their faculty mentor at Oswego in 2007. The event has brought to Oswego such media luminaries as Ben Bradlee, legendary editor of the Washington Post during Watergate, and world-renowned broadcast interviewer Charlie Rose.

In addition to his extensive involvement in the O’Donnell Media Summit, Borrelli has maintained strong ties to SUNY Oswego as a mentor and coach for students and alumni in the communication industry, master of ceremonies at the traditional Torchlight Ceremony, and member of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts advisory board and Oswego College Foundation board of directors. He received the SUNY Oswego Presidential Medal in 2014.

More on Margaret A. Focarino
More on Louis A. Borrelli Jr.

Fri Mar 20, 2015
For Liz Schmitt, students have 'unlimited capacity to surprise, delight'

In this issue’s Spotlight, meet Elizabeth “Liz” Schmitt, professor of economics and recent co-chair of the Middle States accreditation review, as well as the faculty lead for a student-retention project and often involved in other part-time administration tasks—but satisfied, for now, that the classroom is “exactly where I should be.”

Liz SchmittQ.  What is your academic background?
I was born and raised in St. Louis, the daughter of an English professor, so it runs in the family a little bit. I went to Truman State in Missouri for my bachelor’s in economics, then went on to the University of Iowa. I was finishing as a graduate student at Iowa when I was hired by SUNY Oswego.

Q.  When and how did the SUNY Oswego offer come about?
The summer of 1995. In the market for economics professors, every January the American Economics Association has its annual meeting, and there’s a job market associated with it. I had probably 25 interviews that January, and Oswego was one of them. It clicked; it was a good interview. Later in January, I flew out to Oswego. Everything about the campus and the department (showed) a collegiality, a sense of humor. The area reminded me of the Midwest—students that are sincere, thoughtful, genuine.

Q. So you’re almost at the 20-year mark with the college.
I’m at the big 2-0 this year. It went so fast. All of a sudden you’re the veteran as the younger faculty come in, and you wonder, “How did that happen?”

Q.  What is your area of expertise within economics?
I was hired and mostly specialized in what we call monetary economics. The course I teach most is “Money and Banking.” I’ve taught a variety of other courses to support the department, but that would be the bread and butter.

Q.  You’re in a field that constantly gives you fresh teaching material.
It’s been an exciting ride the past six or seven years. I taught “Money and Banking” in the fall of 2008 as institution after institution was failing, and the students were thinking, “I’m never going to get a job.” The field has really changed; the text has substantially altered to talk about how the Federal Reserve handles these crises, why the existing regulation wasn’t enough and what was the core problem of financial institutions. So it’s a matter of getting students to understand that no system is truly safe.

Q.  Have you nurtured students to careers in economics?
I’ve seen many students go on to financial analysis, financial planning. There are a couple that are vice presidents at investment firms who once upon a time took courses from me, others that have gone on as traders in the futures and options markets. Others have gone off to graduate school.

Q.  How do you fit in with the current emphasis on experiential learning?
I’ve supervised a number of internships, sometimes through local brokerage houses and in banking. I really like the experiential learning because it helps reinforce soft skills that I’ve been telling them about. By soft skills, I mean you need to write well. You can’t send me an email where “u” is one letter, because it’s not. By practicing professional communications with me, it becomes second nature when you’re on the job. Professional behavior also reflects on you. So does how you deal with setbacks. Those soft skills behind economics or any other discipline that we teach can be the hardest to drive home. But that’s what distinguishes those who move up from those who stay put.

Q.  What are your current research interests?
One thing I ‘ve liked in this career is my research interests have become eclectic. Often I’m partnering with other faculty and I’m doing things that weren’t necessarily what I pursued in graduate school. Currently, I work as faculty lead on the Starfish (student retention software) project. I’m also working on a data set involving police discretion, a rich data set of student interactions with police, gathered in psychology, so I’m working with someone in that department to see if we can test a model about factors that affect police discretion.

Q.  What are you proudest of in your academic career?
I received the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2008. I was nominated by a former student, and I think that was really a proud moment. I am also very proud of the Middle States review, what we were able to do as a campus. It’s a group effort. You cannot have a successful accreditation without all hands on board, inside academic affairs and outside. I thought the report evolved into a tone that was confident about what we do and what we have to offer, but also very candid about what we can do better.

Q.  What characterizes the students you’ve met at SUNY Oswego?
Earnest. Friendly. I mentioned that they’re thoughtful. Sometimes people degenerate to a “kids today!” lecture. I remember in my early days on campus when I would have a baby in a stroller on campus—and this was long before the disability buttons (for doors)—and students would never fail to stop their conversation, walk to the door and open it for me. Just yesterday, I was carrying a big box of exams and the same thing happened. Those kinds of things tell you about someone’s thoughtfulness and character. ... The increasing diversity of this campus is very exciting. Students today show just a wealth of different experiences. At Commencement, the students all walk across the stage, but some climbed a mountain to make that walk. It’s an honor and a privilege to be the Sherpa for those who had to climb the mountain. Our top students, I’d put them against students anywhere—Harvard, MIT. I try to tell students that polish and sophistication does not make others smarter.

Q.  What are your off-campus interests?
I’m much of a homebody. But I’ve volunteered a lot through my kids’ schools. I’ve actually written the questions and been the quizmaster for trivia-night fundraisers through the school. At home, I really love to read, and my kids love some board games, so I love family night with board games. It’s just a beautiful night.

Q.  What can you tell us about your family?
I’ve been married for 19 years this summer to Ed Schmitt, who works at Time Warner Cable—I married the cable guy. (Laughs.) We have two sons, Patrick and Timothy, 12 and 16. Once a year we go back to St. Louis. We both come from large families, we’re each one of five siblings. We always try once a year to have everybody in the same place.

Q.  What’s next for Liz Schmitt?
It’s shocking to be mid-career. I joke with my students and say, “I’ll be here all week ... and another 20 years after that.” (Laughs.) We begin to think about administrative opportunities. My nest is not empty and I just can’t imagine not being with students in the classroom every week. I embrace a lot of these part-time administrative opportunities, but I’ve pushed away at a full-time administrative position, because I just think I would miss teaching too much right now. I don’t know how I can describe to you how much different it can be each semester—the unlimited capacity of students to surprise and delight. Midcareer, you look at this classroom and you step back with some satisfaction and say, “I’m exactly where I should be. I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.”

Fri Mar 20, 2015
College awards $96,000 for scholarly work in coming months

The campus Scholarly and Creative Activity Committee this semester reviewed faculty projects proposals, and the president and provost recently approved 27, with funding totaling nearly $96,000.

Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activity Grants

In the spring round of funding for faculty scholarly and creative activity, 10 proposals amounting to $23,409 were funded.

Receiving SCA grants are:

* Kathleen Blake of anthropology for “Points of Interest in Sex Determination: A Metric Assessment of the Pubic Bone to Determine the Accuracy of Known and Novel Data Points”

* Richard Bush of technology for “The Ins and Outs of Iron Casting”

* Nin Dingra of chemistry for “Carbon Monoxide Effect on Redox Status of Mitochondria”

* Jacob Dodd of English and creative writing/cinema and screen studies for “Navigators of the Shadow Ring: Chapter 2, ‘The Dangerous Connection’”

* Cristina Dragomir of political science for “Nomads and Criminals: Construction of Marginality of the ‘Gypsy’ in Europe and India”

* Paul Leary of music for “Studio Recording: Perfume, Music for Piano and Stereo Electronics”

* Peter Newell of biological sciences for “Investigating the Impact of Bacteriophage on Gut Microbiota Composition and Function”

* Michael Schummer of biological sciences for “Using Go-Pro Video Cameras to Estimate Differential Susceptibility Among Species-sex Cohorts of Ducks to Capture in Montezuma Confusion Traps”

* Lyudmyla Sonchak of economics for “The Impact of WIC on Infant Outcomes and Health Care Utilization”

* Sofia Windstam of biological sciences for “Why There but Not Here? Role of Endemism and Environment on Chytridiomycosis Epidemics.”

Challenge Grants

Seventeen Challenge Grant awards totaling $72,439 were approved. Challenge Grants are for student-faculty collaborative projects to be completed during the summer following the award of the grant or during the following academic year, with primary funding allocated to student summer stipends.

Faculty, their student assistants and the title of their projects are:

* Christopher Chandler of biological sciences with student Karen Alvarado, “Experimental Evolution of Y Chromosomes in Caenorhabditis Elegans

* J. Graham Bradley of atmospheric and geological sciences with student Jeremy M. Fontaine, “Rediscovering the Forts of Oswego”

* Fehmi Damkaci of chemistry with student Abdulkhaliq Alawaed, “N-phenyl Picolinic Amide Ligand in C-O Bond Formation”

* Damkaci with student Jason Biasini, “Total Synthesis of Fimbricalyz B, a Novel Natural Product with Medicinal Properties”

* Nin N. Dingra of chemistry with student Erasmo M. Santos Silva, “Testing Protein Interaction Between Oca1 and Oca2”

* David A. Dunn of biological sciences with student Erick X. Benavides, “Genetic Modification of Pig Cells as a Model for Enhanced Safety in Pig to Human Organ Transplantation”

* Marianne Hromalik of electrical and computer engineering with student to be determined, “FPGA PAD 16x16 AISC Prototype Board 2”

* Carolina Ilie of physics with students Martin Dann, Dylan McIntyre, Nicholas Jira and Marie Romano, “Thin Film Fabrication of Solar Cells: Improving Efficiency Using Monolayer Assembly”

* Mario Bkassiny of electrical and computer engineering with student Max Robertson, “Cognitive Radio Applications Using Software-defined Radios”

* James MacKenzie of biological sciences and James Pagano of chemistry with student Abigail Ellert, “Using Eastern Elliptio Mussels (Elliptio complanata) to Study Environmental Toxicants”

* MacKenzie and Pagano with student Dana Mitchell, “Gene Expression in S. namaycush Livers in Relation to PCB and Dioxin Exposure”

* Richard Metzgar of art with students Caitlin Roberts and Cody Doran, “Tunnel Vision(s): A Site-specific Ceramic Wall Drawing for Fort Stanwix National Monument”

* Vadoud Niri of chemistry with students Timothy Jones and Geoffrey Peterson, “Determination of Chemicals in Both Liquids and Vapors of E-cigarettes”

* Niri with students Hilda Posada and James Calvert, “Analyzing Heavy Metal Contents of Fruits and Vegetables Collected from Local Farmers Market”

* Geetha-Loganathan Poongodi of biological sciences with student Snowitta Anaston, “Expression Pattern of KRT15 During Chick Embryogenesis”

* Casey Raymond of chemistry with student Emily Yerdon, “Exploratory Hydrothermal Synthesis of Metal Homo- and Hetero-polychalcogenide Compounds”

* Elizabeth Wilcox of mathematics with student Julia Martin, “Bats, Ecology and Public Health.”

Fri Mar 20, 2015
Record cold produces record work for plumbing responders

Plumbing emergency response team showcasing tools of the tradeA responsive facilities crew has answered the challenge of more than triple the water main breaks than the season average, caused by heavy frozen ground from this long, cold winter above campus water pipes.

“It’s a record year for breaks,” said Mitch Fields, associate vice president for facilities services. “The frost is at record depths. Some of our pipes are old and brittle.”

There have been 10 breaks this season compared with the usual three, he said. Record-cold temperatures in February and extended bone-chilling weather this month have kept the college’s plumbing emergency response team on the go.

Fred Matteson, who leads the team for Facilities Engineering, said that even though some water pipes on campus may be set as deep as 16 to 20 feet, an increase in the frost line to between 4 and 5 feet below ground—state building codes expect a maximum of 4 feet—exerts pressure that can move dirt and gravel so that a pipe can crack or even move off its line and snap.

Towing a trailer that the team custom-made for the task, the crew gathers at any hour of the day or night to shut off water service to a broken pipe, locate and dig down to the leak, pump out the icy cold water, insert an anti-cave-in trenching box, and fix the problem with a heavy-duty saw and a variety of collars, sleeves and other fittings. The crew doesn’t go home until the break is repaired, the trench is filled in and the water is back on for nearby buildings, Matteson said.

Fields said that when buildings go offline for longer periods, such as for renovations, the college replaces aging pipelines. Yet a lot of water lines, especially on the west end of campus, are original equipment, he said.

Replacements ongoing

In the last decade or so, contractors have replaced lines for the Marano Campus Center (formerly Poucher and Swetman halls); Rich, Park and Wilber halls; Piez Hall as it grew to the Shineman Center; and Johnson and Riggs halls and adjacent Lakeside Dining Center. Tyler and Waterbury halls’ renovations are underway now, with Scales Hall to come in fall 2016.

Fields pointed out that while the water main outages this winter have resulted in inconveniences, no one has had to move, unlike in the city of Oswego where similar issues with frozen ground and pipes forced some people from their homes for several days while repairs took place (including to a temporary shelter the college and local Red Cross set up in Laker Hall).

The plumbers—who all have other projects and regular maintenance to do—talk with pride about staying until emergency jobs are complete and buildings have water again, but they acknowledge that the inevitable exhaustion calls for extra precautions.

“We are all about safety,” said steamfitter-plumber Mike Bareham.

PHOTO CAPTION: Water rescues—Facilities Engineering’s plumbing emergency response team shows off some of the tools of the trade—an abrasive-wheel cut-off saw, collars and sleeves—that reside on the custom-made trailer in the background that includes a trenching box for safety. The team has responded to three times the usual number of water line breaks this winter. From left are Dustin Barbera, Daniel Come, Jeff Seymour, Mark Sierson, crew leader Fred Matteson, Mike Bareham and Fred Rose. Missing from the photo are Tim Sherman and William Graham.

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