In this edition of Research Connections, find links to researchers in the news, updates on important deadlines, and more news for University of Rochester researchers. Email not displaying correctly?
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Chunlei Guo, Professor of Optics, at left, and Anatoliy Vorobyev, Senior Scientist in Guo's group, use powerful, ultra-short laser pulses to transform metals, most recently to repel water. (Photos by J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester)

World takes notice of water bouncing off metal

2 million and counting. That's the number of views for two University videos showing how Chunlei Guo, Professor of Optics, and Anatoliy Vorobyev, a Senior Scientist in Guo's group, continue to transform metals in incredible ways. Now they've used their extremely powerful, but ultra-short laser pulses to make metal surfaces extremely water repellent. Water droplets literally bounce off the surface. There could be any number of applications: rust prevention, anti-icing, even latrines that are more sanitary. This is making headlines in such major media outlets as ABC-TV news, BBC online, USA Today, Huffington Post, Newsweek and the Daily Mail. You can read more here, and see a main video and short video as well.

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Grant will help move UR innovations from bench-top to bedside

The University has received a three-year $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to further its efforts to encourage the commercialization of its discoveries. As many as 90 teams of faculty and students will receive awards ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 each to "catalyze" innovative technologies that are deemed likely candidates for commercialization.

The funding, provided through NSF's Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Site program, will help the teams learn first-hand about entrepreneurship and explore the transition of their ideas, devices, processes or other intellectual activities from bench-top to bedside.

The University's Center for Entrepreneurship, UR Ventures (the University's recently rebranded technology transfer office) and High Tech Rochester, a University subsidiary that provides training and incubator space for start-ups, will be key partners in the grant. The Principal Investigator is Duncan Moore, the University's Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship. Co-PI is Patrick Emmerling, Licensing Manager with UR Ventures.

A key goal is to create a replicable and efficient university-based model to commercialize innovations based on proven I-Corps tools "Product/Market Fit" and the "Business Model Canvas."

Rochester Institute of Technology has received a similar grant from the I-Corps program, which may lead to collaboration with the University.

Basics of IP: Cloaking device merited headlines — but what about a patent?

(This is one in a series of articles about the importance of intellectual property and its commercialization to the University and its researchers. It is based on a current UR Ventures lecture series, "Intellectual Property and Commercializing Technology" being offered by the office of the AS&E Dean for Research. The next presentation, "Working with Third Parties," will be at noon, Feb. 10, in the Gowen Room of Wilson Commons. Lunch provided. RSVP to

The Rochester "cloaking" device generated headlines around the world when Optics PhD student Joseph Choi and Physics Prof. John Howell demonstrated they could build one with inexpensive, off-the-shelf materials.

As described in previous segments of this series, not every innovation like this necessarily merits filing a patent. So how did the cloaking device fare?

Patrick Emmerling, a University licensing manager, provided the answer last week when he described some of the steps taken by himself and other specialists at UR Ventures to assess the cloaking device's commercial potential.

Defining the technology: In this case, the cloaking device "creates a volume or area that can be obscured, so that something put in that area is hidden from view, not just from one viewing angle, but a range of angles," Emmerling explained. "The really exciting thing about this: it doesn't require a lot of new materials or electronics. It uses simple, off-the-shelf optical components that are put together in a novel way."

Identifying market needs: "You could very easily see military applications for a technology that allows you to hide something," Emmerling said. This could extend to protecting non-military telecommunications satellites and drones as well. At sufficient scale, cloaking technology might "hide" wind farms, making them less objectionable to surrounding residents. It might even eliminate "blind spots" in an automobile that would otherwise obscure a driver's view.

Are other researchers doing competing work? The military has worked for decades on camouflage technology and already has solutions "on the ground." Researchers at Duke, MIT and Berkeley have demonstrated progress with "metamaterials" that have unique optical qualities. The University of Tokyo is developing cloaking technology that uses a camera placed behind a person to project images in front, creating the illusion of invisibility.

What sets this invention apart?

1. The Rochester device continues to cloak objects as line of sight shifts up to 15 degrees in three dimensions. "Most technologies that do optical cloaking are very good as long as you look at them from a specific line of sight. But if you move your head to a different viewing angle you not only see the objects that are supposed to be cloaked, but the entire device," Emmerling noted.
2. Because it uses relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf components, the Rochester cloaking device will be easier to "scale up" to larger size.
3. The Rochester device overcomes problems with background discontinuity (in the viewing area where the cloaked item is hidden). which is encountered with other cloaking devices.

Bottom line: UR Ventures has filed a patent on the Rochester cloaking device. A lot of work remains to be done — for example, pinpointing specific market needs that this technology could address, and getting investors interested.

"The inventors are continuing to work in this area," Emmerling noted. "A lot of exciting work is being done in their lab right now, and that is having a profound impact on what we do and who we talk to about it, but we're definitely actively working on it."

(Next: A wealth of cutting edge technology at your fingertips — for free.)

Visit to Seward House helps students 'connect' to history

Prof. Thomas Slaughter's students recently stood in the Diplomatic Gallery of the Seward House Historic Museum in Auburn, N.Y. — and heard words that are guaranteed to set a researcher's heart racing.

"They saved everything and they labeled everything," explained Grace Wagner, '15, as she glanced upward toward more than 120 portraits hanging in the house where William Henry Seward — former New York Governor, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State under presidents Lincoln and Johnson — lived with his family. (Click here to see photos of the visit.)

One of the portraits, in particular, resonated with Sophia Lorent, a film and media studies graduate student, who, like most of the other students on this trip, was visiting the museum for the first time.

Now, finally, she has met face to face with a 19th-century foreign diplomat she read about in one of the letters she transcribed from the University's collection of Seward family correspondence. The transcriptions, part of her coursework for Slaughter's class entitled "Seward Family's Civil War, will be part of an online archive that the University's Seward Project hopes to launch as early as 2016.

"I had so little to work on in trying to figure out who this person was, so to see a portrait of him hanging on the wall was sort of a light bulb moment: He really did exist."

Slaughter makes a point of bringing students from each of his Seward classes to the museum because of the "opportunity for the students to connect with the material objects they've read about in the letters, and the perspective you get in the museum that you don't get just from reading the letters."

The collaborative relationship between the Seward Museum and the Seward Project bears fruit in other ways. The museum, for example, has let the project digitize various manuscripts that are not in the University's own collection. It has shared notes on lesser known members of the household — servants, for example — who are mentioned in the letters Slaughter's students are transcribing. And they've shared an inventory of the 5,000-plus books the family collected, a particularly valuable database.

In exchange, "everything we've digitized, they can have to put up on their website," Slaughter said. He would like to crosslink the eventual Seward Project website with the museum's site. He's also trying to interest students in spending summer internships at the museum with funding from the Seward Project.

"They (museum staff and trustees) have been extremely welcoming and accepting of us," said Slaughter, who now serves on the museum's board.

"The essence of the Seward House Museum's mission is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about 19th century America through the lens of the Seward family by providing engaging and unique experiences," said Billye J. Chabot, Executive Director of the Seward House Museum. "The partnership between the Museum and the University of Rochester provides students with behind the scenes access to the Museum and its collections. This unique and authentic experience brings the Seward family alive in the most compelling of ways, thereby creating the training ground for the next generation of museum professionals and historical scholars."

Next: The Seward Project breaks new ground.

Organ concert helps launch book, commemorates UR Press

German composer Felix Mendelssohn's relationship to the music of the past, explored in a newly published book from the University of Rochester Press, will be further celebrated in a concert featuring the Eastman School's organ department faculty members at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6, at Christ Church, 141 East Ave.

The event will not only help "launch" the book but also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the University of Rochester Press.

The book, Mendelssohn, The Organ, and the Music of the Past: Constructing Historical Legacies, was edited by Jurgen Thym, Professor Emeritus of Musicology. It explores such topics as the significance of Bach's music for the Mendelssohn family, homages to Bach in Mendelssohn's organ compositions, and Mendelssohn's use of Handel's oratorios. The chapters, which include lectures from the 2009 Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative Festival on "Mendelssohn and the Contrapuntal Tradition" as well as additional essays from prominent Mendelssohn scholars, shed light on the growing awareness of a distinct German culture following the Napoleonic Wars.

The concert will be a rare opportunity to hear faculty members Edoardo Bellotti, David Higgs, Stephen Kennedy, Nathan Laube, and Anne Laver all performing organ music of Mendelssohn. A reception and book signing will follow the concert, which is free and open to the public.

The University of Rochester Press was founded in 1989 as a unique collaboration between the University and British publisher Boydell & Brewer Ltd. The Press has published more than 600 books across an array of fields while maintaining a focus on selected areas of scholarship, including musicology, African studies, medical history, and European and American history.

CTSI offers guidance on NCHS, CDC data collections

The Clinical Translation and Science Institute (CTSI) offers consultations to researchers who would like to use publicly-available data collections offered by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dongmei Li, Interim Associate Professor of Clinical and Translational Research, is adept with the data sets, which can be challenging to navigate and analyze. Click here to view a listing of data sets.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, visit the Research Request Dashboard.

Ebooks help guide now available

The River Campus Libraries has created a new website for users seeking support with ebook collections. The site features suggestions for finding ebooks, troubleshooting tips, security recommendations, and more. Access the guide here.

Introducing a new faculty member

Yena Park has joined the Department of Economics as an assistant professor. She is a macroeconomist whose current work focuses on issues in public finance — in particular questions of tax policies — and uses tools from the theory of contracts. A former economist at the Bank of Korea, she received her PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014.

Congratulations to . . .

Elika Bergelson, a Research Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, who was selected for the 2015 list of "30 Under 30" in Science in the Jan. 19 issue of Forbes. That prompted this article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Read more...

University researchers in the news

A research team led by Richard P. Phipps, Professor of Environmental Medicine, and Patricia J. Sime, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care, has early data showing that a group of compounds derived from omega-3 fatty acids, called pro-resolving lipid mediators, have anti-inflammatory effects on human lung cells and can stop cigarette smoke-induced lung damage seen in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. They believe that additional studies, which will take place over the next four years, will demonstrate that these mediators can be used to prevent inflammation and speed the repair of lung injury from short and long-term cigarette smoke exposure, as well as other forms of lung injury. The work is funded with a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Read more . . .

Why does a mint make your mouth feel cool? It has to do with a receptor protein called TRPM8 that is found in all cold-sensing nerve cells. As Anwesha Ghosh, a PhD student in Biology, explains at The Conversation, TRPM8 is a voltage gated ion-channel protein — meaning it allows entry of calcium ions on sensing change in temperature. "Falling temperatures is not the only factor that switches on TRPM8, though. A waxy crystalline organic chemical, called menthol, found in peppermint and other mint oils, can somehow bind to TRPM8 directly and activate it. In fact, TRPM8 was first discovered as a protein that responds to menthol and later acknowledged for its role in sensing temperature fall," Ghosh writes. Read more . . .

Astronomers at the Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, and the University of Rochester have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407b is of enormous proportions, much larger and heavier than the ring system of Saturn. The ring system — the first of its kind to be found outside our solar system — was discovered in 2012 by a team led Eric Mamajek, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy. "The star is much too far away to observe the rings directly," said Leiden's Matthew Kenworthy, who led the new analysis, "but we could make a detailed model based on the rapid brightness variations in the star light passing through the ring system. If we could replace Saturn's rings with the rings around J1407b, they would be easily visible at night and be many times larger than the full moon." Adds co-author Mamajek: "This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn's rings are today. You could think of it as kind of a super Saturn." Read more . . .

PhD dissertation defenses

Shweta Tiwary, Biomedical Genetics, "ERBB3 and FRIZZLED7 Regulate Metastatic Properties in Melanoma and can be Potential Therapeutic Targets." 11 a.m., Jan. 30, 2015, K-207 Auditorium (2-6408). Advisor: Lei Xu.

Jordan Leidner, Optics, "Spatial and Spectral Brightness Enhancement of High Power Semiconductor Lasers." 2 p.m., February 19, 2015, Goergen 108. Advisor: John Marciante.

Click here for a chronological listing of PhD dissertation defenses since April 2014, by discipline.

Mark your calendar

Today: A CRISPR Transgenic Service. Seminar offering practical guides for using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to generate novel mouse strains. 2-3 p.m., Ryan Case Method 1-9576, Contact Joe Miano for more information.

Today: Deadline for submitting information sheets for students to participate in the 2nd annual "America's Got Regulatory Science Talent" competition. Click here for more information. Questions? Contact

Today: Deadline to apply for Drug Discovery Pilot Awards to help drug discovery projects at the Medical Center overcome specific hurdles standing in the way of future research, funding, and commercialization. Click here for more information about submission criteria and guidelines.

Feb. 2: Applications due for PumpPrimer II funding to support AS&E innovative and high-risk projects that need proof of concept and/or pilot funding to get off the ground. Read more . . .

Feb. 2: Applications due for University Research Awards to support new research with a high probability of leveraging future external funding. Applications are due via email to Vini Falciano.

Feb. 3: Helping patients talk to their primary care providers about their day-to-day challenges: Overview of a randomized trial. Presented by Paul Duberstein, Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Family Medicine, and Marsha Wittink, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry. CTSI seminar series. Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304)

Feb. 6: Organ Music of Mendelsson, performed by faculty of Eastman School at 8 p.m. at Christ Church, 141 East Ave. Commemorating new book, Mendelssohn, the Organ, and the Music of the Past, and the 25th anniversary of University of Rochester Press. Reception and book signing to follow; free and open to the public.

Feb. 10: "Working with Third Parties," part of UR Ventures lecture series, "Intellectual Property and Commercializing Technology." Noon, Gowen Room of WIlson Commons. Lunch provided. RSVP to

Feb. 10: ACO, ACA and FFS: New Motivation for Cross-Disciplinary Research. Presented by Ekaterina Noyes, Professor of Surgery, Research and Public Health Sciences. Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304)

Feb. 12: "Integrity Matters: Protecting Patient Privacy is Everyone's Job," presented by Diane Healy, Privacy Officer for Research. A Study Coordinators Organization for Research & Education (SCORE) event. Noon to 1:30 p.m., K-207 Auditorium (2-7520).

Feb. 16: Deadline for AS&E faculty and investigators to file annual reports of outside compensated activity, as required by the University of Rochester Faculty Policy on Conflict of Commitment and Interest and their College. A web-based reporting system supported by the College can be found at

Feb. 17: Exempt Research. Presented by Kathleen Buckwell, Senior Specialist, Office for Human Subject Protection (OHSP). Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304)

Feb. 20: Applications due from new investigators for pilot project funding from the University's Core Center for Musculoskeletal Biology and Medicine. Click here for the full RFA.

March 1: Deadline for most faculty and other investigators to file annual reports of outside compensated activity, as required by the University of Rochester Faculty Policy on Conflict of Commitment and Interest and their School/College. Eastman School, School of Medicine and Dentistry, and School of Nursing faculty and investigators should use a web-based reporting system supported by their School/College. Links can be found at Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and Warner and Simon school faculty and investigators should use this form. Questions? Contact Gunta Liders or your School/College administrator.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. You can see back issues of Research Connections, an index of people and departments linked to those issues, and a chronological listing of PhD dissertation defenses since April 2014, by discipline.

Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter for all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.