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?
View it in your browser.
carlson Artist's rendering of the new Carlson Student Research Space.

New Carlson student space propels undergraduates along research path

Mackenzie Lee '19 faced a familiar dilemma as a freshman. He wanted to get involved in research. "The problem was that, as a freshman, I had no idea where to start," Lee said.

He found the answers he was looking for at the new Carlson Student Research Space. The Research Space, located on Carlson Library's ground floor, is a collaborative hub for aspiring student researchers that supports and showcases work in all phases of research, equipping students with the skills, understanding and networks they need to participate in more advanced research.

The River Campus Libraries are currently piloting and prototyping programs in advance of further construction.

"The goal of this approach is to provide a locus of activity to support undergraduates' aspirations toward research and to develop partnerships with groups on campus, not usurp their roles," said Mary Ann Mavrinac, the Vice Provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries.

Lee attended a "Taking Control of Your Research Path" workshop at the Research Space last fall, led by Sue Cardinal, Chemistry Librarian, and Tyler Dzuba, head of the Physics-Optics-Astronomy Library and Interim Coordinator of the Research Space. Cardinal and Dzuba worked in partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center, and the College Center for Advising Services to provide a fuller perspective on undergraduate research.

Over eight weeks, the workshop taught freshmen how to process information, develop independent ideas, contact and interview professors, and research scholarly publications and databases. A second iteration of the workshop is in progress this spring.

"In one session I learned how to use academic databases, in the next session I was able to explore a research topic I was interested in, and in the following session I contacted the professor who conducted the research," Lee said.

Lee is currently interning in the lab of Amanda Larracuente, Assistant Professor of Biology, learning about selfish genetic elements. He plans to work with Larracuente through the spring, and then transition to a Data Science major.

Last October's two-day Data Dive, another event hosted by the Research Space, allowed 20 undergraduate students to interact with representatives of two local nonprofits — Lollypop Farm and NeighorWorks Rochester. The students analyzed the groups' data from different angles and presented their findings to the sponsoring non-profits. This program, led by Kathleen Fear, Data Librarian, was made possible by a grant from the Rochester Center for Community Leadership.

Research Space lunch talks have featured Henry Kautz, the Robin and Tim Wentworth Director of the Goergen Institute for Data Science, who covered the broad strokes of data science's emergence as an interdisciplinary field and gave advice on preparing for success in the field's research, and Joe Testani, Director of the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center, who explained how undergraduate research plays into developing our interests and fosters crucial skills and competencies sought by employers.

For now the Research Space occupies the eastern half of Carlson's ground floor, in and around the VISTA Collaboratory. The goal is to eventually convert the entire ground floor into a flexible, technology-rich environment with targeted programming to help students prepare for and access curriculum-based and independent, faculty-directed research.

Faculty interested in learning more about opportunities to work with undergraduates in the Research Space can contact Dzuba at Learn more about Research Space events and upcoming programs here.

Upcoming discussions at the Carlson Research Space

These discussions over lunch will cover different aspects of the research process.

1. Getting Published, Learning the Ropes, March 24: Three journal editorial board members will discuss publishing practices and what to expect in different disciplines. Register here.
2. Cultures of Collaboration, April 5: Four researchers across science, medicine, social science, and humanities will compare notes on how research collaboration works in different disciplines. Register here.
3. When Experts Disagree, April 21: Three faculty members will address the challenges in balancing the opinions of conflicting authorities and finding your own voice among them. Register here.

All panels will be directed toward undergraduates pursuing research and those who work with them. All members of the University community are welcome.

Do you have an interesting photo or other image that helps illustrate your research? We would like to showcase it. Send a high resolution jpg or other version, along with a description of what it shows, to

Falling Walls competition could be your ticket to Berlin

Attention master's students, PhD candidates, post-docs, junior faculty and young entrepreneurs: Would you like to take the stage in Berlin, Germany this fall to tell the world about your research?

If so, register by April 15 to participate in the Falling Walls preliminary contest, which will be held on May 18 in Sloan Auditorium. The winner of this contest will directly qualify for the Lab Finale on Nov. 8 in Berlin with costs of travel and accommodations covered.

The conference consists of a series of rapid-fire presentations. Each presenter will have just three minutes and three slides to summarize their ground breaking idea.

Last November, University of Rochester student Ryan Trombetta stood on a stage in Berlin, Germany, and pitched his research project to some of the world's top scientists and innovators at the internationally renowned Falling Walls conference. Ryan's compelling description of using 3D printed bone grafts to treat osteomyelitis enabled him to finish a very respectable 12th among 100 competitors (see video here).

To learn more about this event, please visit the official Falling Walls website or contact Adele Coelho, Faculty Outreach Coordinator, at for additional information.

RocHackHealth will be held April 8-10

University faculty, students, staff and other "techies" will collaborate on solutions to healthcare related data problems at the RocHackHealth: Rochester Healthcare Data Hack-A-Thon on April 8-10.

As a follow up to the ROCHD3 event last fall, "hackers" will form teams to solve specific problems using the following data sets: hospital readmissions, identification of physician prescribing patterns, and identification/visualization of physician teaming practices.

Click here to see the schedule of events, to register or to find additional information.

Registration now open for Global Health Symposium

This year's 2nd Annual Rochester Global Health Symposium will bring together leaders in global health research from Upstate New York and around the world to promote research collaboration, provide networking opportunities and help new researchers begin a career in global health.

Students, trainees, junior faculty and senior faculty are all invited to attend the symposium, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 21, in the Saunders Research Building.

The call for posters and registration portal are now available here.

University researchers in the news

Compounds derived from omega-3 fatty acids — like those found in salmon — might be the key to helping the body combat lung infections such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to study by Richard Phipps, the Wright Family Research Professor of Environmental Medicine and Director of the Lung Biology and Disease Program, and toxicology graduate student Amanda Croasdell, the lead author. They found that omega-3 derivatives were effective at clearing a type of bacteria called Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), which often plagues people with inflammatory diseases. COPD, which is most often caused by years of smoking, is characterized by inflammation and excessive mucus in the lungs. Smokers who quit their habit can slow the progress of COPD, but it doesn't halt the disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs are the most common treatment. However, they suppress the immune system, which can put people with COPD at risk for secondary infections, most commonly NTHi bacterial infections. In their study, which was featured in the top ten percent of the March 15 issue of The Journal of Immunology, Phipps and Croasdell tested the effectiveness of an inhalable omega-3 derivative to prevent NTHi lung infections in mice. Unlike other anti-inflammatory drugs, the specialized agent used in this study reduced inflammation in the lungs of mice without suppressing the ability to clear the bacteria. In fact, it could actually hasten the process of clearing bacteria. Phipps and his colleagues believe they are the first to show that this special compound can improve lung function in the face of live bacteria. Read more . . .

The Wilmot Cancer Institute is part of a national clinical trial for an innovative new therapy that involves engineering a patient's own immune cells to attack cancer, in this case lymphoma. Called CAR T-cell therapy, the approach is touted as one of the most powerful cancer treatments to emerge from research laboratories in years. Ed Foster, 64, of Elmira, who has diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, is the first person in upstate New York to receive the therapy at Wilmot. His treatment began this week and he'll remain hospitalized for several days in anticipation of serious side effects, some of which can be life-threatening. Jonathan W. Friedberg, Director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute who holds the Samuel E. Durand Chair in Medicine, and Patrick M. Reagan, a senior instructor, are leading the study at Wilmot. Read more . . .

Congratulations to . . .

Robert Boyd, Professor of Optics, who is recipient of the Optical Society's 2016 Charles Hard Townes Award, named in honor of a pioneering researcher whose contributions to masers and lasers led to the development of the field of quantum electronics. Boyd's citation is for "fundamental contributions to the field of nonlinear optics, including the development of methods for controlling the velocity of light, of quantum imaging methods, and of composite nonlinear optical materials." Boyd said he is "deeply honored to have been accepted to receive this award, especially in that Charles Townes was my own thesis supervisor."

PhD dissertation defenses

Valerie Marsh, Warner School, "New Literacies Ethos in a High School English Class: A Case Study." 1 p.m., March 18, LeChase Hall 215. Advisor: Jayne Lammers.

Meilin Zhang, Electrical Engineering, "Reliable Ultra-Low-Voltage Cache Design for Many-Core Systems." 3:30 p.m., March 24, 2016. Computer Studies Building, Room 426. Advisor: Paul Ampadu.

Amanda Preske, Chemistry, "Programmed Synthesis of Metal Chalcogenide Semiconductor Nanocrystals Using Secondary Phosphines." 1 p.m., March 25, 2016. 108 Goergen Hall. Advisor: Todd Krauss.

Tomas Boatwright, Warner School, "What's The 'T'?: Stories of Queer Youth of Color Navigating School and Negotiating Their Education." 12:30 p.m., March 28, LeChase Hall 215. Advisor: Edward Brockenbrough.

Puji Astuti, Warner School, "'I Can Teach Them; They Can Teach Me': The Role of Individual Accountability in Cooperative Learning in Indonesian Secondary School EFL Classrooms." 9 a.m., March 29, LeChase Hall 215. Advisor: Jayne Lammers.

Mark your calendar

Today; Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC) symposium. Cynthia Ebinger, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, will discuss results of using big data analytics in the investigation of earth structure and dynamics from earthquakes. The on-going research talk will feature an update on a benchmark study for genome-wide transcriptomic analysis for studies of respiratory illness. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Computer Studies Building (CSB) 209.

Today: Social Supports and Health, presented by Ann Marie White, Associate Professor of Psychiatry. Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304). Public Health Grand Rounds.

March 22: Hub Research Capacity, presented by Nancy Bennett, Director, Center for Community Health; Steven Barnett, Director, National Center for Deaf Health Research; and Giovanni Schifitto, Professor of Neurology. Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304). CTSI Seminar Series.

March 29: Network Science/Regulatory Science, presented by Martin Zand, Co-Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and Scott Steele, Director, Government and Academic Research Alliances and Deputy Director, Goergen Institute for Data Science. Noon to 1 p.m. Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304). CTSI Seminar series.

March 31: "Seeing Stars: How Astronomy has enabled New Visions of the Living Eye," presented by Jesse Schallek, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurobiology and Anatomy and the Center for Visual Science. Phelps Colloquium, 4-5:30 p.m., Meliora Grand Ballroom, Frederick Douglass Building. Register here by March 25.

April 1: Palliative Care, Hospice, and End-of-Life Options of Last Resort, presented by Timothy Quill, Professor of Medicine. Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304). Public Health Grand Rounds.

April 7: Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences (CEIS) 16th annual University Technology Showcase, 1 to 5 p.m., DoubleTree Hotel, 1111 Jefferson Road. An opportunity for university researchers to present their work to industry as well as other researchers and organizations that promote economic development. Register here by March 29.

April 8-10: RocHackHealth: Rochester Healthcare Data Hack-A-Thon. University faculty, students, staff and other "techies" form teams to collaborate on solutions to healthcare related data problems. Click here to see the schedule of events, to register or to find additional information.

April 15-16: Harded Coded Humanities, a two-day interdisciplinary conference organized by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellows in Digital Humanities, will challenge traditional distinctions between software and hardware in scholarly contexts. All events are free to attend. Register to secure your spot in a workshop and to stay in the loop. More info can be found on the conference site.

April 21: 2nd Annual Rochester Global Health Symposium. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saunders Research Building. The call for posters and registration portal are available here.

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.

University of Rochester Logo
Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter 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.