Fordham Notes: January 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

RecycleMania Back For Second Year

Denizens of the ten residence halls at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus and one at Lincoln Center will once again compete against each other in RecycleMania, which kicked off on Sunday, Jan. 22.

The competition, which runs through March 31, will once again measure the amount of paper, cardboard glass, metal and plastic the members of each building collects, as well as how little solid waste they generate. The event seeks to increase recycling on campuses and highlight the work done by universities’ sustainability programs.

Last year was the first year the University participated in the contest, which began in 2001 and has grown to include 576 schools. As in the past, Fordham will be competing in the “benchmark” division of the competition. Although the University will not be directly competing with other schools, the individual dorms on campus will be ranked against each other.

Weekly updates will be issued by sustainability consultant Great Forest and sent to the residence halls weekly so students can track their progress. At the end of the competition, the winning dorm will receive a trophy, along with the satisfaction that they’re greener than them all.

For more information, visit
—Patrick Verel

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New GSE program aims to benefit both undergrads and struggling schools

Fordham’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) is starting off 2012 impressively.

The school recently launched a new program aimed to help struggling New York City public schools. Last week, the school announced on its blog that the scholarship-funded program, Teacher Residency Scholars Program in Adolescence Education, will combine academic coursework with an ongoing residence in a classroom setting.

The scholars—undergraduates pursuing a career in teaching—will serve as student teachers in four Bronx schools, offering participants a hands-on experience in the classroom while they assist schools in their neighborhood. Following their completion of the program, residency scholars must go on to teach in struggling New York state schools.

The program, funded by a $2.5 million grant from the state Department of Education, will allow participants to pursue a master of science in teaching degree and become eligible for certification in New York.

The Office of Admissions at GSE will hold an online information session Jan. 26.

Find program specifics here.

The school also released its latest edition of GSE: Facts & Figures, which outlines the school’s most recent statistics, including its ranking in US News & World Report’s top 20 private schools of education and its participation in the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate.

Read the full account here on the GSE blog.

-- Joanna Klimaski

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How the FBI Caught the Times Square Bomber

Within hours after a smoking Nissan Pathfinder was discovered in Times Square on May 1, 2010, Linda Walsh, FBI special agent assigned to the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, was hot on the trail of the perpetrator.

In an effort to do extensive damage, Faisal Shahzad had abandoned the explosives-loaded Pathfinder on a Saturday evening in the height of Broadway show traffic. A quick-acting food vendor noticed smoke coming from the car and immediately alerted police.

“Propane tanks in the back of the car is always the first investigative clue that you have a bomb on your hands,” Walsh joked with an audience of securities experts at the Fordham-FBI International Conference on Cyber Security. “And red gas cans? Another very bad sign . . . “

The FBI discovered one VIN number on the Pathfinder that the perpetrator forgot to scratch off, and traced it to a woman in Connecticut.

The woman had recently sold the car on Craig’s List for cash, and had no receipt or name of the buyer. But she did have a phone number.

That number was a prepaid cell, but the FBI was able to find the vendor, get records and link the card owner to a number in Pakistan. Checking U.S. entry records from Pakistanis, they discovered the same number tied to Shahzad.

By May 3, agents initiated surveillance on Shahzad’s Connecticut residence only to discover he was already at JFK Airport boarding a plane headed for Dubai. They arrested him just in time.

From there, the FBI recovered his cell phone and computer and traced Shahzad’s descent into radical Muslim extremism through records. What they found, Walsh said, was an “eye opener.”

Shahzad had been in regular contact with the Pakistani Tereek-e-Taliban (TTP) through a proxy IP and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) at file sharing locations, Walsh said.

Among the sites the terrorists used were, RapidShare and the German-based TeamViewer. In order to avoid detection, Shahzad’s Pakistani contacts had taken great care to choose particular features and to know the laws of the country they were operating in.

In all, the FBI required 700 grand jury subpoenas to access 18 email accounts, 20,000 emails and 10,000 unique telephone numbers, she said. For three years, she said, Shahzad had operated very much “under the radar”— free of dogmatic rhetoric and working within respectable professions. In fact, he became a U.S. citizen in 2009 and held an MBA in finance.

“I have worked terrorist cases with Internet nexus’ since 2004, and the terrorists are getting much better at it,” said Walsh. “As we develop more cloud computing and different storage, we ask ourselves ‘if I were a terrorism subject, what would I use?’ And then we investigate.”

--Janet Sassi

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rams Heed Cantor’s Call (or Yes, But Can He Play Defense?)

Fordham’s Basketball team has had an amazing streak of wins lately, starting with the Dec. 22 game against Texas State and followed by wins against Georgia Tech and nationally-ranked Harvard.

In Monday’s New York Times, Clyde Haberman suggested that Fordham’s winning streak is in part do to a “talisman”—one who is also a man with a talis.

Daniel Pincus, a cantor at Congregations Shaarei Shalom in Riverdale, replaced Fordham’s choir during Christmas break in singing the Star Spangled Banner. It seemed that, whenever he sang before a game, the Rams won the game.

Coach Tom Pecora, however, chalks up the wins to “defense and rebounding.”
“But we’ll include the Cantor if that’s what it takes to win games,” he said in the Times piece. Read it here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Want Better Vision? Eat Grapes, Fordham Study Shows

New research from a Fordham University cell biologist suggests that a diet rich in anti-oxidants and begun at a young age can significantly reduce age-related blindness.

Silvia C. Finnemann, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, conducted the three-plus-year study by comparing the vision of three groups of mice fed differing diets: One group received a diet rich in freeze-dried grapes, a fruit very high in anti-oxidants. Another group received a diet rich in lutein, an anti-oxidant derived naturally from marigolds. The third group, the control group, received a normal diet.

All of the mice used were from the same genetic strain, said Finnemann—one prone to developing retinal damage in old age in much the same way as human beings do.

Results showed that the mice in the control group experienced a 74 percent reduction in retinal function, while the mice fed the lutein-rich diet experienced a significantly lower 29 percent reduction in retinal function.

Those mice fed a grape-rich diet, however, did dramatically well: retinal function decreased by only 16 percent.

“We’re not suggesting that you need to eat grapes like crazy, but that a life of having a healthy diet of natural anti-oxidants makes a difference to changes in the human eye,” said Finnemann.

Finnemann’s study also showed that, in order to be effective, eating anti-oxidant-rich foods should begin before the onset of advanced age, preferably in youth or young adulthood.

Mice who were not fed a grape and lutein-rich diet until they were the equivalent of a human age of 60 showed little or no improved retinal function, she said.

“Once the changes have started to happen, it may be too late to reverse them,” she said.

According to statistics, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness or partial blindness in the elderly, affecting about 25 percent of the population over 70 years of age in the United States. Finnemann said she hopes her study will lead to the development of new ways to prevent AMD, especially among the bourgeoning elderly population of baby boomers.

“Our research shows that, when it comes to AMD, a healthy diet may be better than supplements, and the earlier you begin it, the better the results,” she concluded.

Finnemann was assisted in her research by Chia-Chia Yu, M.S., and Ying Dun, Ph.D., both from her laboratory at Fordham University and Emeline Nandrot, Ph.D., a biologist from the Paris-based Institut de la Vision. Funding was provided by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health and The California Table Grape Commission.

Results of the study were published in December 2011 in Free Radical Biology & Medicine.

--Janet Sassi

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fordham Theatre Director’s Newest Production Debuts

Wax Wings, the production that Fordham Theatre head Matthew Maguire premiered last May at New York’s Wild Project has a new name, and more importantly, a new home, on the Great White Way.

Instinct, as the newest incarnation of the play is known, will make its Broadway debut on Friday, Jan. 13 at the Lion Theatre at 410 West 42nd Street. Directed by Michael Kimmel and featuring Kimberly Blair, Maggie Bofill, Amirh Vann Rosario and Jeffrey Withers, it follows four cohabiting epidemiologists in a race against time.

Science gets personal as they fight to contain a potentially devastating outbreak, while trying to keep their relationships from unraveling. Instinct ultimately reveals that nothing is more contagious than human desire.

The play was born out of Maguire’s attendance at the Science of Evolution Conference at Emory University in 2008. Organizers asked him to write a play based on the science discussed there. He worked closely with Leslie Real, Ph.D., a molecular epidemiologist who was on a team that saved African Great Apes from being wiped out by the Ebola virus.

Performances are Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. through Feb 4. Tickets are $18. Call (212) 239-6200 or visit for more information.
—Patrick Verel