Dr. Bonnie Bassler, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, will deliver the inaugural Sharon Cosloy-Ed Blank Lecture 4 p.m. Thursday, November 2, in Room 95, Shepard Hall. Her topic will be “Tiny Conspiracies: Cell to Cell Communication in Bacteria.” One of the world’s leading researchers in her field, Dr. Bassler’s work focuses on the molecular mechanisms that bacteria use for intercellular communication. She is an editor for Molecular Microbiology and Annual Reviews of Genetics, and associate editor for the Journal of Bacteriology. Her honors include selection as a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2002. The Cosloy-Blank lecture series was established in memory of Professor Cosloy, former Chair of CCNY’s Biology Department, by her husband Ed Blank, and is presented by President Gregory Williams and the Biology Department. A nationally renowned researcher in Prokaryotic Genetics, Professor Cosloy had served as Chair from 1995 until her death in September 2001. She joined the CCNY faculty in 1971 after finishing her Ph.D. at NYU. In addition to her research, Professor Cosloy for many years spearheaded the undergraduate biology curriculum in Cell and Molecular Biology (Bio209).
Professor Buffenstein Seeks Longevity Clues in Mole-Rats
Perhaps Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon should have been searching for naked mole-rats instead of that mythical fountain of youth. “The naked mole-rat, with its surprisingly long life span and remarkably delayed aging, seems like the perfect model to provide answers about how we age and how to retard the aging process,” CCNY Biology Professor Rochelle Buffenstein told participants at the American Physiological Society conference held October 8 – 11 in Virginia Beach. An eco-physiologist, most of whose research focuses on mole-rats and bats, Professor Buffenstein and six of her students presented papers on their work at the meeting. Studies presented by Blazej Andziak (Ph.D.) and undergraduate student Mario Pinto were singled out for special recognition. Dr. Andziak also received a prestigious travel award. According to their findings, naked mole-rats, creatures no bigger than a stick of butter, not only outlive similar-sized rodents and continue to reproduce until death but they also show very low thyroid hormone levels and surprisingly high levels of oxidative damage. Their secret to longevity appears to be their ability to deal with the kind of cellular damage that life normally brings about rather than any specific mechanism to reduce damage accrual. “This animal may one day provide the clues to how we can significantly extend life,” said Professor Buffenstein.
CCNY Chemist Developing New Plant-Based Products That Can Cut Oil Use
Apricots and cashews can be found in recipes for all sorts of tempting dishes, but CCNY Professor of Chemistry George John is using their byproducts to cook up new ways to reduce petroleum consumption. In his laboratory, Professor John and Praveen Kumar Vemula, a post-doctoral fellow, are using these byproducts to produce soft nano-materials that can serve as the buildings blocks for a wide array of products now made from petrochemicals. He expects these byproducts and other plant-based materials as renewable resources for producing raw materials that will take on growing importance as crude oil stocks dwindle. Professor John uses the byproducts to produce amphiphiles – molecules that have both hydrophilic (attraction to water) and hydrophobic (repulsion to water) parts – that can readily form gels. He has demonstrated the use of gels made from amphiphiles as a delivery vehicle for the drug curcumin, a well-known anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer drug. While plant-based materials can replace petrochemicals used in many products, Professor John notes they need to become economically competitive. Further, scientists need to learn more about plant genetics, he added, while calling for collaboration among experts in organic synthesis, soft materials research, green chemistry and drug discovery. More on Professor John’s research. Link to journal article.
CCNY Names Jacqualyn Meadow Athletic Director
Jacqualyn Meadow, who has five regional coach-of-the-year honors in women’s basketball to her credit, has become CCNY’s new Athletic Director. She joins from Hunter College, where she served as Associate Athletic Director responsible for Recreation and Intramurals since 1990. At Hunter, Ms. Meadow coached the women’s basketball team, winning CUNY Athletic Conference championships in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004, and earning entry to four NCAA Division III tournaments. Her coaching success earned her Coach of the Year honors from CUNYAC in 1995, 1996, 1999; from the Metropolitan Writers Association in 2003 and from the Skyline Conference in 1998. Ms. Meadow succeeds Robert Coleman, who left to become Director of Athletics at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif. More on this story.
Mayor Ed Koch, ’45, Returns to Meet His Scholars
Former New York City Mayor and CCNY alumnus Edward I. Koch, ’45, stopped by campus last Tuesday to meet with President Williams and the recipients of the Edward I. Koch Scholarships in Public Service. The scholarships provide a $5,000 stipend, renewable for four years, to students with strong grade point averages who have demonstrated an interest in public or community service. Currently 10 students are in the program, which was established through an anonymous gift given two years ago in honor of Mayor Koch’s 80th birthday. Mr. Koch served as mayor from 1978 to 1989 and was a member of Congress from 1969 to 1977.
Distinguished Lecturer Carmen Boullosa Celebrates 13th Novel
Carmen Boullosa, one of Mexico’s most preeminent writers and Distinguished Lecturer in CCNY’s Foreign Language and Literature department, gave a reading last Thursday at the Libreria Lectorum bookstore in Manhattan to celebrate publication of her 13th novel, La Novela Perfecta (The Perfect Novel). Set in Brooklyn, where Boullosa now lives, and Mexico City, La Novela Perfecta tells the story of a lazy writer whose neighbor has invented a device that will write for him by capturing signals emitted by his brain through a small sensor planted under his tongue. An award-winning novelist, poet and playwright, Boullosa published credits also include five plays, 14 books of poetry as well as book reviews, op-eds, essays and children’s books. Her work has been the subject of 10 books and 50 doctoral dissertations and her works have been translated into more than seven languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese and Chinese. An English translation of Chapter Five of The Perfect Novel can be found at Words Without Borders, an on-line magazine published by the PEN American Center.
Jewish Studies Students Headed to Dominican Republic
Ten CCNY Jewish Studies students will travel to the Dominican Republic next month to visit the Jewish communities in Sosua and Santo Domingo. During World War II, Sosua, a village on the country’s north coast, became the home to approximately 800 European Jews who fled the Nazis and settled there at the invitation of Dominican President Rafael Trujillo. They were deeded land for farming and established an agricultural products company there that is still in operation. Many of their descendants still live in the area. During the four-day trip, which begins November 15, the students will meet with Rabbi Chicole Ghitas, the chief rabbi of the Dominican Republic as well as the widow of Professor Alfonso Lockward, who wrote La Presencia Judia en Republica Dominicana, the definitive book about the Dominican Jewish community. They will also visit the colonial cemetery in Santo Domingo, which has Jewish graves dating to the 17th Century. Adjunct Professor Manny Viñas, who is also Rabbi of Lincoln Park Jewish Center in Yonkers, is leading the trip.
Julie Feinstein Keeps Tissue ‘On Ice’ for American Museum of Natural History
Julie Feinstein, ’05 MA, works as Collections Manager for one of the newest and most unusual collections at the American Museum of Natural History – seen by few members of the public. It is the Ambrose Monell Collection for Molecular and Microbial Research, part of the museum’s extensive research operation, and consists of over 50,000 frozen animal tissue samples that include some from some of the world’s most exotic or rare creatures. “It’s a global archive for animal tissue used in systematics,” she says. Systematics is a field of biology that deals with the evolutionary relationships among groups of organisms. The “frozen tissue” collection is especially useful for addressing questions about conservation of Earth’s biodiversity. Genetic material taken from samples can be to determine whether the specimen was a subspecies or a unique species, Feinstein notes, adding sometimes elevation to full species status can result in more protection funds. Feinstein’s work is featured this month in Science World, a Scholastic Inc. publication for middle school and high school students. She is currently working toward her Ph.D. at the CUNY Graduate Center with CCNY Professor of Biology Amy Berkov as her advisor.
Gary Benenson to Develop Materials for Algebra Project
CCNY Professor Gary Benenson has been awarded $101,270 over three years to develop curriculum materials for The Algebra Project, a program to raise understanding of and participation in mathematics among underrepresented groups. The award is part of a three-year $2.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation, of which $802,559 was appropriated in the first year. Professor Benenson will develop curriculum materials around mechanisms – everyday devices such as scissors, nutcrackers and nail clippers – that are physical implementations of algebraic functions. The goal is have students use the devices to help understand such concepts as independent and dependent variables, domain, range, function representations, inverse and composition. The materials will be based on the Mechanism module developed by City Technology, a curriculum development center at CCNY directed by Professor Benenson. The Algebra Project is a nationwide mathematics program aimed at helping low-income students and students of color successfully achieve mathematical skills. It was founded by Robert P. Moses, a civil rights leader who has become a national leader in math education. Understanding the concept of functions is critical to success in college math, science and engineering. Dr. Moses was Professor Benenson’s junior high math teacher.
Edgar Summerlin, CCNY Jazz Program Founder, Dies at 78
Edgar E. Summerlin, the celebrated tenor saxophonist and pioneer of liturgical jazz, who founded City College’s jazz program in the early 1970s, died October 10 in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He was 78. “We owe Ed a debt of gratitude for starting a program that has become so stellar,” said Music Department Chair Professor Stephen Jablonsky, who shared an office with Mr. Summerlin. Professor Ray Gallon, who studied under the composer at CCNY and later joined the faculty, called Professor Summerlin “a larger than life kind of guy, very enthusiastic and passionate.” Professor Summerlin was hired to set up the jazz program in 1971 and served as director until he left in 1989. A major figure in the avant-garde jazz scene of the 1960s, he brought to the music department such big names from the jazz world as John Lewis, founder of the Modern Jazz Quartet; Bob Norden, Ron Carter and Sheila Jordan. In his own distinguished career, Professor Summerlin was a pioneer in the field of jazz music for church services. Born in Marianna, Fla., Professor Summerlin graduated from Central Missouri State University and received a master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester.
A report on a new encryption product developed by Secure RF Corp. omitted Alumna Iris Anshel’s graduation year. She is a member of the Class of ’84.
Princeton University; Bill Summers, The City College of New York; Mihaly Des, carmenboullosa,net; wikipedia.org; Craig Chesek, American Museum of Natural History
From the PresidentCongratulations to Don Jordan and The City College Alumni Association on a very successful annual dinner last Thursday. More than 500 were on hand at the Marriott Marquis to honor Finley Award recipients Terrence McNally and Dr. Muriel Petioni and Townsend Harris Medalists Martin Cohen, ’70; Terrence Elkes, ‘55B; Jane Tillman Irving, ’69; Dr. Walter Orenstein, ’68; Dr. Eva Pell, ’68, and Dr. Alfred Posamentier, ‘66MA.
Thursday was a hectic evening for me. Not only was I privileged to salute the Alumni Association’s honorees, but I also attended a dinner in a packed Great Hall to celebrate the 110th Anniversary of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, where I accepted an award for the College on behalf of you all.
Finally,I certainly hope to see you this Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. in Room 95 of Shepard Hall for the Inaugural Sharon Cosloy-Ed Blank lecture. Dr. Bassler’s lecture on the ways our cells communicate with each other will be pitched to a general audience – and it will be a wonderful way to honor not only the memory but also the great effect Professor Cosloy, a beloved teacher and mentor at CCNY, had on our students and our College.
Gregory H. Williams
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