Fordham Notes: September 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

President's Ball is a Bright Night for Students

Photos by Bruce Gilbert

It's the dance that brings students from the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses together each fall. Fordham’s own version of a homecoming dance, the annual President’s Ball was held the Lombardi Field House on the Rose Hill campus on Sept. 24. The party, which drew nearly 3,000 students decked out in stylish, semiformal attire, included music, dancing, refreshments and fun.

Gina Vergel

Freshman Convocation at Fordham College at Rose Hill

The second annual freshman convocation was held at Rose Hill on Monday, August 30, 2010, welcoming the Class of 2014 to Fordham College at Rose Hill. The faculty speaker was J. Alan Clark, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences.

Friday, September 24, 2010

FordhamScience: Pigeons Lead the Way in Teaching Language Skills

At Rose Hill a couple of pigeons are looking into ways to help learning disabled children and stroke victims learn (or relearn) vocabulary. Of course the pigeons don’t know that’s what they’re doing: they’re just pecking at keys to get food rewards, but Jim MacDonall, Ph.D., and his undergraduate researchers are watching them, and they’re taking notes.

MacDonall, a professor of psychology at Fordham, has recently started a new line of research in animal cognition, so-called “concept formation,” an essential precondition for language.

“For example, seeing the word 'dog,' hearing someone say 'dog' and seeing a picture of a 'dog' are all equivalent,” says MacDonall. “Language-able adults and children can readily substitute for one another. Only if pressed do we say the specific stimuli are different but the 'concept' is the same.”

Top: (L to R) Peter Sanneman, Jim MacDonall and Anne Neuendorf with some experimental subjects.
Middle: The experimental apparatus.
Bottom: A White Carneaux takes a spin in the apparatus.

MacDonall’s pigeons, like young children, stroke victims and children with autism or learning disabilities, can’t readily connect the stimuli to the label. In experimenting with how pigeons can be trained to make certain associations, MacDonall believes researchers can develop strategies to better teach language skills to children and adults who otherwise have difficulty learning them.

MacDonall uses pigeons (White Carneaux, from the Palmetto Pigeon Plant in Sumter, S.C.), because they’re hardy, long lived, have excellent eyesight and see colors. The pigeons are set up in their own room, with a separate ventilation system, as required by the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. The equipment and part of the renovation to animal room funded by a faculty grant through the office of Michael Latham, the interim dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill.

The experiment is simple: three circles can either be lit red or green. MacDonall trains the pigeons to peck the right- or left-hand circle that matches the color of the center circle (the birds aren’t actually matching the colors, in this case, but the pattern of colors). Each correct peck gets a food reward of mixed grain from a slot beneath the lighted circles.

Normally pigeons will make several hundred errors learning to peck the correct match, and their steady performance will be 85 to 95 percent correct. But preliminary results from MacDonall’s training scheme seem to show that pigeons can learn correct matching with fewer than 20 errors, and with a steady performance rate of about 97 to 100 percent correct.

What’s the difference? When the pigeons begin their training, they are only given the correct choice to peck (and of course rewarded when they do so). Once the pigeons reliably peck the target circle, the researchers introduce the wrong choice, but only for a fraction of a second. The bird has time to see the incorrect choice, but not time enough to peck it. Over time, the duration of time the incorrect circle stays lit is increased until it matches that of the correct choice.

MacDonall’s work has implications for how stroke patients who lost language ability should be retaught, and for teaching language skills to autistic children who have never had the ability to begin with. For adult stroke victims, relearning language can be very frustrating, and instruction is frequently delayed by outbursts of temper at getting the wrong word for an object the patient feels he or she should know.

The inherent frustration aside, MacDonall says the research on stroke recovery shows that the more quickly language skill is reacquired, the more complete it will be. Diminishing the time lost to aggressive outbursts increases the number of language lessons a patient can complete in a day. And that’s where MacDonall’s work comes into play: by giving stroke victims a more painless learning curve, they can potentially reacquire language more quickly and completely.

In teaching language skills to autistic and otherwise learning disabled children, MacDonall says if we can offer them an easier path to acquiring the skills, why shouldn’t we? “Kids don’t like to be frustrated, either,” he says.

The obvious question is, why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? MacDonall pauses for a long minute before answering.

“I think a lot of investigators don’t pay close enough attention to the details in the stimulus,” he says. “You need to pay very close attention to exactly what’s happening in the environment, and to the consequences of responding—to the reinforcement you’re offering.”

As for why techniques developed on pigeons should work as well in humans, MacDonall says “Most of the time it does. Conditioning applies across species, though you may find parameter differences: pigeons may require thirty seconds between trials, and humans only two.”

The next step, according to MacDonall, is to try and replicate his early findings with four more pigeons, then publish the results.

“Individuals who do not have language ability (developmentally disabled children and autistic children) and those who have lost language (some stroke victims) are in a very difficult situation,” MacDonall says. “We need to do everything we can to speed their learning or relearning of language.”

The current undergraduate assistants in MacDonall’s lab are:

  • Anne Neuendorf, FCRH, psychology, junior
  • Peter Sanneman, FCRH, theology, junior
  • Caitlin Nosal, FCRH, undeclared, sophomore
  • Eileen Moran, FCRH, psychology, senior
  • Jessica LaRusso, FCRH, psychology, junior

Over the summer, Sanneman and Neuendorf helped with the research discussed above, and were supported by an Undergraduate Summer Science Fellowship from FCRH. Nosal, Moran and LaRusso joined the lab this semester. Funds for equipment used in this research were provided by the Office of the Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill.

CBA Alumna: From the Peace Corps to the Diplomatic Corps

Keondra Bills, CBA ’06, has been named a 2010 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow, one of 40 new fellows named this summer who “have demonstrated promise across a range of areas crucial to United States Foreign Service Officers.”

Bills, a student at Columbia University’s MPA program in development practice, served in the Peace Corps as an environment/business volunteer in Fiji from May 2008 to June 2010.

Administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for the U.S. Department of State, the Pickering Fellowships develop a source of well-prepared men and women from academic disciplines who fulfill the skill needs of the United States Department of State and who are dedicated to representing America's interests abroad.

The Fellowship will provide support for Bills’ graduate work at Columbia University in preparation for her entry into the U.S. Foreign Service. The 14th class of graduate fellows receive financial support towards a two-year, full-time master’s degree program in a related field such as public policy, international affairs, public administration, or other academic fields such as business, economics, political science, sociology or foreign languages.

Fellows in both graduate and undergraduate programs participate in one domestic and one overseas internship. They commit to three years of service as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State, contingent on their passing the Foreign Service examinations. The Foreign Service, a corps of working professionals who support the President of the United States and the Secretary of the United States Department of State in pursuit of the goals and objectives of American foreign policy, are “front-line” personnel who can be sent anywhere in the world, at any time, in service to the diplomatic needs of the United States.

The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program is named in honor of one of the most distinguished and capable American diplomats of the latter half of the 20th century. Mr. Pickering held the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service. He served as Ambassador to Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, India, and the Russian Federation, finishing his career as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

GSE Conference to Focus on Catholic School-Higher Ed Partnerships

Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) will co-sponsor a conference to explore how Catholic educators at all levels can collaborate and leverage resources to create better schools.

“Catholic Schools as Schools of Academic Excellence: How Can Catholic Higher Education Help?” is co-sponsored with Boston College’s Lynch School of Education from Sunday, Sept. 26 to Tuesday, Sept. 28. The event will take place at Boston College.

“This is an opportunity for K-12 and higher-education Catholic educators across the country to come together to discuss how Catholic schools are maintaining their strong scholastic tradition and demonstrating academic excellence,” said James Hennessy, Ph.D., dean of GSE.

“It’s also a way to explore ways in which we can strengthen our schools to improve the academic experiences of students,” he said. “The Graduate School of Education is very pleased to be able to co-sponsor the event in order to provide this opportunity, which coincides with our mission and the goals of the University."

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, and William P. Leahy, S.J., president of Boston College, will discuss creating and sustaining successful school-university partnerships focused on the Catholic intellectual tradition on the second day of the conference.

Mark S. Massa, S.J., dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College, will give a keynote address on the opening day. His talk will center on the culture of Catholic education and expectations for academic excellence in all Catholic education institutions.

Hennessy will participate in the conference with Gerald M. Cattaro, Ph.D., director of the Center for Catholic Leadership and Faith-Based Education at GSE, and Joseph M. O’Keefe, S.J., dean of the Lynch School.

Gina Vergel

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

For One Alumnus, Fordham Is a Pain in the Thigh

Photos by Gina Vergel

Mitchell Dingwall (GBA ’10) loves Fordham.

In fact, he loves Fordham so much that he decided to show his allegiance to his graduate school.

On his body.

After three hours of searing pain, Dingwall, a brand-spanking-new graduate of the executive master’s of business administration (EMBA) program, now sports a Fordham tattoo on his right, upper thigh.

And no, he’s not a tattoo enthusiast. The Fordham logo bearing the University’s name and ram’s head is his very first.

“I want to remember this experience for the rest of my life because I’m proud I finished a master’s program, especially at a great university like Fordham,” he said.

Dingwall, 34, got the tattoo at a shop in his home city of Philadelphia just before his EMBA cohort’s capstone trip to Beijing, China.

“It was very painful, but I was reminiscing about all the classes and hard work I did during the pain,” he said. “It was worth it.”

Dingwall, an executive chef and food scientist in the Innovation Department at Campbell Soup Company, applied to the EMBA program to differentiate himself.

“I found in Corporate America that if you make great products—but don’t understand business—then your work is really for nothing,” he said. “I wanted to understand the financials and the ‘why’ behind what we do in product development and research and development.”

Dingwall’s job is one that thrives on insight into consumer preferences, and he said the EMBA gave him the tools he needs to excel.

“The courses I had in innovation were really helpful,” he said. “I learned how companies differentiate themselves, especially in a market like canned soup. People aren’t eating it very much these days, so how do you disrupt things?”

The Campbell Soup Company is about to find out, as Dingwall continues to travel the country, conducting focus groups and developing new soups. And through it all, he’ll have his Fordham tattoo.

“It’s a reminder that no matter what happens, just keep working hard and you’ll get through it in the end,” he said.

Fordham’s EMBA is designed for business professionals and managers on the fast track toward challenging managerial and global assignments. The program focuses on building each student’s personal portfolio in management development with tools that can be implemented immediately in the workplace.

The program was ranked 26th in the world by The Wall Street Journal in 2008 and 20th in the Return on Investment category. It includes an international study trip lasting five days as a capstone pedagogical experience. The most recent study trip was to China, but other potential destinations include South Africa, Turkey, India and South America.

Despite Dingwall’s act of devotion, GBA administrators say there are no plans to make a tattoo artist available at next year’s diploma ceremony.

For more information about the EMBA, visit the Fordham website.

Gina Vergel

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

UPDATED: FCRH Student Lobbies Congress for Research Funding

Video update: Saturday, October 16, 2010.

Stacey Barnaby, a Fordham College at Rose Hill senior majoring in chemistry, participated in “Hill Day,” in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, September 20, 2010, in which young scientists engage policymakers on current research challenges and communicate the importance of supporting scientific discovery.

“It is scientists who spend many hours in the laboratory and come up with leading breakthroughs toward the cure for a disease, or vaccines, or build new materials for solar cells, or biofuels, to perhaps one day make us independent of foreign oil,” said Barnaby, who met with the staff of U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, among others. “The nation is at a turning point in its history and that it is natural for scientists to play leading roles in helping to determine what’s to come.”

The event, sponsored by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), featured undergraduate and graduate researchers from universities across the nation, including Fordham, Brown and Yale Universities, and New York Medical College. The ASBMB is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with more than 12,000 members worldwide.

“This is one of our most important activities,” said Thomas Baldwin, dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, and a member of ASBMB’s public affairs panel. “Not only does it afford us an opportunity to talk with our elected representatives in Congress, which itself is a critically important activity, but it is an opportunity for young scientists to engage in the process of public debate. These are our scientific leaders of the future. Getting them involved now will pay dividends to the science community for years to come.”

Most ASBMB members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, at nonprofit research institutions and in industry. The Society’s student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions.

Up, Up and Away

Known as Mr. Everything, Tad Kornegay, CBA ’05, is a defensive specialist for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. Kornegay, who played defensive back at Fordham, appeared in the CFL All-Star Game last season and was named one of the 50 best players in the league, as his Roughriders captured the Western Division en route to a trip to the Grey Cup, the Super Bowl of the CFL. “Any way I can help my teammates out and the team, I'm going to do it,” said Korengay, seen here trying to block a kick in a game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. “Wherever they put me, I want to be at my best."

Read more about Kornegay’s success in the CFL.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Artist-in-Residence is an 'Emcee First and a Scholar Second'

Akua Naru
Photo by Gina Vergel

Fordham has had many artists and poets-in-residence, but Akua Naru may be the University’s first-ever “rapper-in-residence.”

A doctoral student at the University of Cologne, Germany, Naru was brought on as a visiting scholar and artist for the Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP). The 27-year-old, who hails from New Haven, Conn., will complete a four-week stint at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus on Sept. 27. So far, she has performed at a couple of cultural events, sat in on select classes and even lectured in Dr. Mark Naison’s “From Rock and Roll to Hip Hop” class while he was in Berlin, leading a group of Bronx youth on a hip-hop exchange trip.

“I was so excited about her research on women in hip-hop and also about her music, which I see as up there with Lauren Hill,” said Naison, professor and chair of the African and African American Studies department. “Listening to her lyrics, you get a vision of history and a real juxtaposition of language and imagery, and I thought we would benefit greatly from having her here.”

It was Naru’s musical career that inspired her to pursue an advanced degree with the goal of one day joining the world of academia, she explained.

“I’m an emcee first and a scholar second. I’m actually just a poet,” she said. “I figured, who better to tell the story than people like us?”

Naru is in the North American Studies program at the University of Cologne. Her dissertation will focus on women in hip-hop.

“In the scholarship you don’t find much on women in hip-hop. It’s more so about how men construct women within hip-hop discourse,” she said. “I’m a woman in hip-hop and I started thinking, if I were ever to have the opportunity to be noticed in the same way these [well-known] women [in hip-hop] are, then I would probably also be overlooked because of the same thing.”

Naru has set out to change that by focusing her research on the issues surrounding female rappers, from sexual liberation versus sexual objectification to the notion of female sexual agency, and whether it is even possible within a patriarchal context.

“I definitely want to teach about this, but I just finished an album, so I’m trying to balance,” Naru said. “I sort of put the research on the back burner while working on my album, hoping to come here and gain inspiration from the discussions I’m having with the faculty here. And that has definitely happened.”

Gina Vergel

Part of the following video for Akua Naru's song, Tales of Men, was shot while she was on a month-long trip to Ghana. For more information on Naru, visit

FCLC Alumna on the Power of Play

Jane McGonigal, FCLC '99, has made the 2010 O Power List, published in the September 14 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

The Berkeley Ph.D. and game designer knows something about the power of play, and she says "There's a misconception that people play video games to relax. Nothing could be further from the truth."

See Jane McGonigal: The power of play, and her FORDHAM Magazine profile, "Jane McGonigal: Real Gamer" (downloadable PDF).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beth Knobel and Mike Wallace: Advice to New Journalists

Beth Knobel, assistant professor of communication and media studies at Fordham, and broadcast legend Mike Wallace have written a book for beginning journalists, Heat & Light. The book also has its own website:

Knobel is the former Moscow bureau chief for CBS News, and has won Emmy and Edward R. Murrow awards for her reporting. Follow her on Twitter at FordhamCMS.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ph.D. Candidate at Congressional Conference

Photo with First Lady Michelle Obama at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Conference. Judith Perez (front row, third from right) is one of the Graduate Housing Fellows at the Institute for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Perez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Fordham University, where she also obtained advanced certification in Latin American and Latino Studies. Her dissertation is a qualitative analysis on the residential outcomes and housing options of middle-class Caribbean Latino, non-Hispanic Black and ethnic White native New Yorkers. In her research, she examines racial and ethnic differences in the road to becoming middle class, exploring issues pertaining to residential mobility, segregation, discrimination, gentrification and homeownership.

Perez recently completed an Alumni Dissertation Writing Fellowship at Fordham and will soon defend her dissertation. She received additional fellowships that supported her research on housing and residence from Howard University's Summer Institute for Race and Wealth in Washington, D.C., funded by the Ford Foundation, and a dissertation fellowship provided by The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College-City University of New York. Other fellowships include her selection as a summer fellow for the Smithsonian Latino's Center's Museum Studies Program in Washington, D.C.

Publications related to housing include encyclopedia entries: "Segregation and Latino/as," "Residential
Segregation," and "Barrio" in two scholarly volumes: Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society (Russell Sage) and Latinos/as and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press). Perez also published an article in the Fall 2006 volume of The Bronx County Historical Society Journal, entitled: "Movin' on Up": Pioneer African-American Families Living in an Integrated Neighborhood in the Bronx, New York."

She is currently working on a chapter centering on migration and community/cultural formation in The Bronx for an edited volume, tentatively titled: Blacks and Puerto Ricans in the Bronx: Hidden Histories of Culture, Community and Politics in New York's Northern Borough, edited by Brian Purnell, Ph.D., Bowdoin College.

Perez has served as an assistant faculty member for the National Equity Center's Summer Civil Rights and Social Justice Training Institute, held at UCLA. She also taught as an adjunct lecturer in the Latino and Latin American Studies department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice-CUNY and Fordham University's College of Liberal Studies, teaching courses in both sociology and Latino/Ethnic Studies.

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., and her Master of Arts degree in College Student Personnel Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York. Perez says she is a proud native New Yorker, born and raised in The Bronx, New York.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Art in Small Spaces

Photos by Gina Vergel

The Fordham College at Lincoln Center community participated in Park(ing) Day NYC on Sept. 17. Park(ing) Day is an international event in which parking spots are reclaimed and turned into people-friendly spaces for one day.

Fordham students from the theater, architecture and urban studies departments collaborated to design a public par
k and outdoor theater in two parking spaces on the corner of Columbus Avenue and W 60th Street.

The set, made of cardboard, was built by Colin Cathcart's Architecture class. Students from Matthew Maguire's acting class performed a bit of Shakespeare in the park(ing) space.

—Gina Vergel

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CBA Students Learn What It Takes to Be Leaders

A willingness to take risks. A keen understanding of a company’s culture. A true sense of ones’ own strengths and weaknesses.

These, said John P. Lionato (FCRH, ’85), are some of the traits that Fordham College of Business Administration (CBA) students need to learn to be successful in business.

Lionato, Global Leader of Operational Excellence at San Antonio, Texas-based Rackspace Hosting, Inc., spoke to undergraduate students at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus on Wednesday, Sept. 15. His hour-long lecture and Q&A session, “Being A Leader,” was one of six in Access Your Future, a week of programming for CBA students featuring industry leaders talking about life outside of academia.

To give a fuller sense of what it means to be an effective leader, Lionato went back to his own career, citing eight leaders who he’s been fortunate enough to work with. Just as they mentored him, students should seek out mentors too, and when the time comes, they should take others under their wing. One of the lessons he learned was to not fear occasional setbacks.

“More than anything else, it isn’t really whether the situation fails. It’s whether you did the best you could in the situation,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that you work so hard, and it didn’t do any good; it means that you worked smart and good, and made the best decisions you could, but the thing was just against you.”

He also told students to not be afraid to try different jobs if those jobs give them a better understanding of the company as a whole, but not to settle on one that doesn’t speak to their strengths. When they learn to recognize this in others, they will earn the loyalty of their fellow workers.

“We call people at Rackspace, ‘Rackers.’ They will kill for the company. Time has no meaning,” he said. “Why? It is all wrapped in who you are. We look at people who want to come to work at Rackspace, and the first thing question is, do they fit culturally? We’ll figure out what job they can do next.”

—Patrick Verel

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bronx Youths Let the Beat Drop in Berlin

Fordham GSAS sudent Kathleen Adams, left, in Berlin with students from CUNY Prep
(Photo courtesy of GangwayBeatzBerlin)

Youths from the Bronx will experience hip-hop culture in Berlin as part of a trip organized by a Fordham professor.

Mark Naison, Ph.D., professor of African and African-American studies, and about 10 students from Bronx-based CUNY Prep are in Germany’s largest city this week for the final leg of Bronx-Berlin Connection
—a transatlantic hip-hop project.

Hosted by GangwayBeatzBerlin, a music association in which young people experience hip-hop culture on the streets of Berlin, the Bronx-Berlin Connection engages young people from Bronx and Berlin in a year-round cross-cultural exchange program. They use music
particularly, rap and hip-hopto explore and express the experiences of urban youths globally, the critical challenges they face and the solutions necessary to enact change in their communities.

The project will culminate in a full-length, multi-lingual, cross-cultural rap album to be released later this year.

An online diary by GangwayBeatzBerlin mentioned, “The crew from the hip-hop capitol of the world arrived today,” referring to Naison, Fordham Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) student Kathleen Adams, three CUNY Prep teachers and, of course, the students.

Likewise, Naison is reporting on the experience through the social media. In a Facebook message posted on Saturday, he wrote, “We are having an amazing time in Berlin! We met up with people from GangwayBeatzBerlin, who took us to dinner at a great Turkish restaurant and then took us to a community hip-hop jam in Wedding, an immigrant neighborhood in Berlin, where our kids produced a freestyle cipher. Great chemistry between GangwayBeatz and the CUNY Prep kids.”

A “cipher” occurs when two or more rappers freestyle together in an informal context. But hip-hop is not all Bronx youths have in common with their Berlin counterparts, Naison explained.

“Kids from the Bronx think that their situation is unique. When they get to Berlin, they’ll see lots of kids from immigrant families experiencing similar things
—employment struggles, family problems, race issuesand who look at hip-hop as a way to express their feelings about the world they are in,” he said.

Immigrants in Berlin hail from Turkey, the Middle East and various parts of Eastern Europe, said Naison, who previously traveled to Berlin to lecture on the “Multicultural Roots of Bronx Hip-Hop.”

Thanks to GangwayBeatzBerlin, youths from Berlin visited Fordham and the New York City area in November 2008 and again a year later. Many of the young poets and rappers performed at Rose Hill.

“The students for CUNY Prep are going to think they are in the Bronx when they arrive in Berlin. They’ll see ethnic enclaves, graffiti, street food vendors and, of course, hip-hop music,” Naison said before he left.

The trip was subsidized by donations, many which came from Fordham alumni.

“We had an amazing outpouring of support from alumni. Without it, this trip wouldn’t be taking place,” he said.

The CUNY Prep students will perform on Sept. 13 at the United States Embassy in Berlin. They’ll visit and be interviewed at radio stations and a television news crew will be following them as they visit clubs and community centers, Naison said.

GSAS student Kathleen Adams is accompanying the group as a chaperone. A student in the urban studies master’s program, Adams said she hopes to teach youths in Berlin about women in hip-hop, which she researched for her thesis as an urban studies undergraduate at Fordham College at Rose Hill.

Gina Vergel

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bridging The Christian-Muslim Divide on NPR

Patrick J. Ryan, S.J., Laurence J. McGinley, S.J. Professor of Religion and Society, was interviewed at length on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation," on Monday, September 6, 2010. He and author Eliza Griswold spoke with host Jennifer Ludden about tensions between Christians and Muslims in light of the proposed Islamic Center in Manhattan. Listen here: "Bridging The Christian-Muslim Divide."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NPR on Move-In Day at Rose Hill

National Public Radio national correspondent Richard Gonzales aired a story on “All Things Considered” on Labor Day about dropping his son off at Fordham's Rose Hill campus last week.

Gonzales interviewed his son, Fordham upperclassmen, parents of other Freshmen, and Father McShane. Listen here: "When the Kids Go Away to School."

Center Gallery Presents Exhibition on Captivity

"Testimony" by Kara Walker

Fordham University’s Center Gallery kicks off the academic year with a two-part group exhibition on the theme of captivity.

“The Art of Captivity: Part One,” curated by Leonard Cassuto, Ph.D., professor of English, is on display from Sept. 22 to Oct. 28, in the Center Gallery, on the first floor of Lowenstein Center on the Lincoln Center campus. Gallery hours are Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

An opening reception will take place on Oct. 5, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with the artists.

The exhibition features work by seven contemporary artists chosen by Cassuto for their approaches to the theme of captivity: Paul Karasik, Fernando Molero, Alyssa Pheobus, Anne Sherwood Pundyk, Peter Scott, Kara Walker and Karen Yama.

Using range of media, the works depict a variety of struggles set on different stages: physical, psychological, cognitive, sexual, racial and political.

This exhibition dovetails with Cassuto’s classes, “The Art of Captivity” and “Captivity and Conflict,” offered through the English Department at Fordham. His students respond to different depictions of captivity in poetry, fiction, and memoir by writers such as Art Spiegelman, Sylvia Plath and Oliver Sacks.

Selected writings from students inspired by the exhibition will be available to those visiting the exhibition. A catalogue of the exhibition featuring essays by Leonard Cassuto, Susan Eley and Anne Sherwood Pundyk and Casey Ruble will be available online and in print.

"The Art of Captivity: Part Two,” curated by Susan Eley, will be on display from Oct. 26 to Dec. 3, at Susan Eley Fine Art, 46 West 90th St., on the second floor. For more information on this part of the exhibition, call (917) 952-7641.

For information about the exhibition at Fordham, call (212) 636-7461.

—Gina Vergel

Friday, September 3, 2010

Junior Helps Analyze Spacecraft's High Speed 'Homecoming'

On June 13 of this year, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa reentered the Earth’s atmosphere in a brilliant fireball of light, after a seven-year journey collecting samples from the asteroid Itokawa.

One lucky Fordham University junior was there to see it.

Erin Leidy, a physics major at the Rose Hill campus, was part of a team of international scientists aboard NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Observatory, a plane equipped specifically to observe and record reentry data. The team, which included scientists from the U.S., Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands, traveled to the Australian outback to witness the high-speed homecoming as the spaceship fell to the earth at a speed of 12.2 kilometers per second, or over 25,000 miles per hour.

As the only intern on board, participating through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, Leidy not only witnessed the spectacle, but collaborated with NASA scientist Dr. Petrus Jenniskens on analyzing the ships’ re-entry spectra, or light waves, for the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.)

NASA’s flying laboratory has been used to study re-entry during the returns of the 2004 Genesis, the 2006 Stardust, and the 2008 ATV-1 missions. It is equipped with optical windows and an instrument known as ASTRO, a special spectrograph camera that can record high ranges of visible light spectra. That data is then analyzed to measure (through color and wavelength analysis) chemical elements present when the capsule streaks into the earth’s atmosphere, and ultimately to measure the effectiveness of the capsule’s heat shield and the conditions that ships are subjected to.

When a ship re-enters the earth’s atmosphere, its capsule typically separates from the main, larger “bus” of the spacecraft, which burns up in the atmosphere. A hot “shock wave” of energy is created on the capsule’s surface, compressing the free stream of air and resulting in tremendous heat buildup on the capsule’s shield.

Leidy’s part in the operation was to maintain ASTRO, keeping it in focus and saving images to a laptop. ASTRO was limited in what it could capture in a spectral photo of because it has a fixed mounting in the airplane and the Itokawa was traveling too fast to be in the field of view for long. But ASTRO was able to capture one image of the re-entry when it was at its “hottest,” that is, a spectral image of the capsule as it caused a shock wave and as material coming off the surface of the capsule penetrated that shock wave. It also got five separate spectral readings on the disintegrating bus as it plunged toward the earth.

The color photograph at the top of the page, taken by Leidy and Ron Dantowitz, shows the spectral images of the capsule (left) and bus fragments (right).

In addition to working on the research, Leidy was able to witness the event through a window on the plane: “It was spectacular – one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

The preliminary results from the images showed the presence of sodium, lithium from batteries on the ship, oxygen, calcium and a carbon plus nitrogen compound which Leidy says helps analyze the heat from the re-entry. The data will eventually help researchers reconstruct how objects interact in the upper atmosphere and even help build better heat shields.

“I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to work with an international team of established scientists, as well as being given the responsibility of the instrument like ASTRO,” said Leidy, who hopes for a career in astrophysics and planetary science. “It taught me so much more than an experiment in a laboratory could have.”

In fact, said Leidy, this type of re-entry research is hard to recreate in a laboratory because of the incredible speeds involved.

"These airborne observations are rare occurrences,” she said.

And as for the material collected inside the capsule during the seven-year journey to an asteroid that orbits somewhere between Earth and Mars? It’s back to Japan for analysis.

- Janet Sassi

Fordham Students Win Case Study Contest

Fordham College of Business Administration (CBA) seniors Chen Lina and Yujing (Eugena) Feng were among the members of a team of students who won an inaugural national case competition sponsored by Ascend and KPMG.

Ascend, the organization for accounting and finance professionals of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, and KPMG, a audit, tax and advisory firm picked the team, which also included students from Drexel University, Queens College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, during its third annual conference in New York City.

Their team beat five others in a competition that pitted 30 students from 16 colleges and universities from around the country. They were tasked with analyzing technical accounting issues and addressing managerial, corporate, operating and sustainability concerns and developing an implementation strategy for a new retail store concept in China.

The teams presented their analysis and recommendations in a 20-minute presentation to the panel of judges. As part of their win, each student received a $500 prize.
—Patrick Verel

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fordham Westchester Offers Free Learning Series

Fordham University will offer series on learning, discovering and serving on the third Thursday of each month this fall at the Westchester campus.

The "Fordham Forum at Westchester" is open to the public and is free of charge.

"I am truly excited that Fordham Westchester is able to present our new Fordham Forum series to the communities we serve," said Ron Jacobson, Ph.D., associate vice president for academic affairs and executive director of the campus. "The programs are meaningful and very relevant to the challenges we face locally, nationally and globally. They support Fordham's ongoing mission is to engage the world and promote social justice."

Dale Williams, executive director of the Midnight Run, Inc, kicks off the series at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16, with “Home is Where the Heart Is.” For this forum, Williams will describe the inspiration for Midnight Run, which he founded in 1984 by organizing volunteers to deliver food and supplies at the midnight gathering places of New York City’s homeless population.

Also at the Sept. 16 forum, Dale Lindquist, associate director of the Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty at Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service, will discuss model food pantry programs in New York City and will show clips from his documentary film.

The October 21 forum on “Haiti: How to Love Our Neighbor” will feature Maureen H. O’Connell, assistant professor of theology at Fordham, and other panelists who will discuss the crisis in Haiti and explore our responsibility as compassionate citizens of the world.

For a complete schedule of the Fordham Forum at Westchester or for more information, email, call (914) 367-3202 or visit the Fordham website.

—Gina Vergel