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Detail from Santiago Ramón y Cajal in Valencia, Spain, in 1885. Legado Cajal (CSIC). Instituto Cajal. Madrid, Spain.

An 'intellectual labor of love' at the intersection of art and science

Many in the scientific world today recognize Spanish Nobel prizewinner Santiago Ramón y Cajal as a pioneer in cell biology and neuroscience, and a renowned medical illustrator. Now he is being more fully recognized as an empirical observer and dedicated photographer.

In her latest book Lens, Laboratory, Landscape: Observing Modern Spain, Claudia Schaefer, Rush Rhees Chair and Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature and of Film and Media, explores the uses of observation for the acquisition of knowledge about the world in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spain, set within the context of the country's problematic road to modernization and its participation in the European scientific community. For Schaefer, the book represents "an intellectual labor of love and a personal challenge to find a language of intersecting interests between the humanities and sciences."

Schaefer argues that with the independence of the American colonies by 1898, and a consequent end to empire, Spain sought to follow the lead of scientists such as Cajal, whose speech on admission to the Spanish Royal Academy of Science referred to "research [as] a fever." Dedicated scientific research in all areas of life would open the door to modernity, he proposed.

In the transition from scientific drawings to photographic images and experiments with processes of development, Cajal made the Spanish scientist visible and he documented scientific activity (including the practice of photography) as a profession. Schaefer sets the man and his work within a broader historical and cultural context of "scientific laboratories, photographs, artwork, travel writings, urban development, and cultural geography produced in Spain."

To demonstrate how observation pervaded art and science, the public and the private, Schaefer also examines the legacy of Cajal in other fields such as the "retinal vision" of philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, the topographic studies of geographer Manuel de Terán, and the fascination with (and later distrust of) lenses and sight of artist Salvador Dalí.

Ultimately, politics and the civil war from 1936 to 1939 disrupted the momentum of scientific inquiry in Spain, with many scientists going into exile. But moribund intellectual life was counteracted by the continued support for the Instituto Cajal, the oldest research center for neurobiology in Spain. The Institute, founded in 1902, houses both the material legacy of Cajal -- his slides, drawings, and photographs -- and the practical future of scientific laboratories and scientists in Spain.

Schaefer's research demonstrates that modern Spain was part of the conversation about competing modes of observation, the value of the empirical, and the speed of modern life that would challenge the tenets of observation. Ways of seeing, and learning the conventions of sight, formed the focus of debates still present today.

To learn more about Schaefer's work, including the Bridging Fellowship that supported it, click here.

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

Data sharing -- when done correctly -- benefits you and science

(This is the first of three parts.)

"Sure, I will send you those data, but it's like seven computers ago, so it's going to take me some time to hunt them down."

Sound familiar? Many funding agencies and some publishers now require researchers to share their data from funded and/or published projects in a timely fashion.

As the National Institutes of Health notes, data sharing:

1. reinforces open scientific inquiry,

2. encourages a diversity of analysis and opinion,

3. promotes new research, and

4. helps educate new researchers.

Studies have also shown that studies with readily available data are cited anywhere from 9 to 70 percent more, depending on the discipline, notes Kathleen Fear, Data Librarian with the River Campus Libraries.

"This arises from any number of reasons, from just having more ways for people to engage with your paper -- and thus more reasons to cite it -- to the additional credibility it can confer on your research," Fear noted.

But that only happens if you've put your data where other researchers can get access to it. And it turns out that simply storing it on your own computer is NOT the best way to do it.

"Studies have been done on how it goes when you try to request from researchers who say they would share their data. The success rates are pretty abysmal," Fear said. The overall response rate is only about 25 percent. One study found that the odds a researcher could even confirm that a dataset still existed -- much less share that data -- dropped by about 17 percent per year.

"The refusals have less to do with not wanting to share data, but rather with not having the computer anymore, or 'the data's not here', or it's on a floppy disk and the time it will take to retrieve it is not worth it," Fear explained. "That's really the lynch pin in all of this, that if you just leave your data on your computer, over time it gets harder and harder to share it and so it just doesn't happen."

(Next: A better alternative: Put your data in a repository.)

Cybersecurity expert to deliver Wing lectures

Did the release of National Security Agency documents this summer cause irreparable harm, or were these facts that should be publicly examined? What role do mathematicians play in developing important technical and policy issues in cryptography and privacy?

Susan Landau, Professor of Cybersecurity Policy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, will explore those topics in three talks for the Department of Mathematics' 10th G. Milton Wing Lecture Series. "What's Significant in the NSA Revelations?" will be at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22 in Hubbell Auditorium, and the two-part "Cryptography and Privacy -- and the Role for Mathematicians" will begin at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23 in Gavett 202 and continue at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24 in Goergen 108.

Click here for other details.

Lecture explores state socialism and impact on artists' freedom

Rachel Haidu, Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the Program in Visual and Cultural Studies, will examine three generations of teachers and students in her lecture "Abstraction and Authority: 60 years in a Sculpture Studio at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw" at the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies luncheon at noon Tuesday, Oct. 21, in the Gamble Room, Rush Rhees Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Her lecture will explore questions of state socialism and its impact on artists' freedom, artists' responses from the 1960s and the post-Solidarność period, and a new way to link the constructivist avant-garde to contemporary Polish art. Lunch will be provided; to make reservations, call 275-9898 or email

Proteomics symposium features speakers from across WNY

The URMC Shared Resource Laboratories 2014 Regional Proteomics Symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 19, in the Class of '62 Auditorium and the Flaum Atrium. Speakers from a variety of Western New York universities and institutions will be featured, and a poster session will highlight protein identification work at the University of Rochester.

The keynote address, "Innovative Instrumentation and Methods for Sequence Analysis of Antibodies and Post-translationally Modified, Intact Proteins on a Chromatographic Time-scale," will be presented by Donald F. Hunt, Professor of Chemistry and Pathology at the University of Virginia and one of the founders of the field of proteomics. Register here. For more information, contact Mark D. Platt, MSRL Director at or at (585) 276-6804.

Basics of intellectual property: The value of trade secrets

(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 the office of the AS&E Dean for Research. The next presentation, "Patents and the Patenting Process," will be at noon Oct. 21 in the Gowen Room at Wilson Commons, lunch provided.)

People don't always think of trade secrets as intellectual property, but they are often the most important component of IP -- and can definitely enhance the value of a patent.

Reid Cunningham, an IP attorney with UR Ventures, gave this hypothetical example at a recent lecture.

A researcher creates a new material at his lab bench. It has interesting properties of durability and strength that could be applied in any number of products.

Unfortunately, the yield rate when a researcher produces the material at a bench is only 5 percent. No company will be interested in a licensing agreement because it can't afford the 95 percent wastage.

So the researcher's patent on the new material is of limited value.

However, the researcher does additional research to get the yield rate up to 90 percent.

"The researcher hasn't created a new material, but now has a better understanding of how to work with the existing material," Cunningham noted. "That ability to get a 90 percent yield instead of 5 is the trade secret, and that's incredibly valuable because a company will now come in and say, 'with a 90 percent rate, I'm pretty sure I can take this to a controlled setting, get it to 95 percent and have a commercially viable material."

So when UR Ventures licenses University IP to a company, the agreement often involves both the patented material and the confidential know-how -- or trade secrets -- that are critical to creating an actual product. "It's really a combination of the two that is valuable," Cunningham said.

Bottom line: The key to trade secrets is to maintain their confidentiality. Maintain confidentiality about a potentially licensable innovation at all times. Share only as much information as you need to with collaborators. Mark it "confidential." And have confidentiality agreements or nondisclosure agreements in place.

Tech champions needed for High Tech Rochester's Pre-Seed Workshop

High Tech Rochester's Pre-Seed Workshop on Nov. 6, 7, and 14 provides inventors, entrepreneurs, and technology professionals with resources for quickly assessing their specific market opportunities and identifying the next steps to be taken in creating a start-up business around their technology innovations.

The workshop is limited to 12 teams. Each team revolves around a single innovation or new technology and its proponent or "idea champion." Workshop organizers fill out the team with regional technology experts, business and intellectual property attorneys, financial specialists, market researchers, and seasoned entrepreneurs. Click here for the workshop application.

Video tutorials available on navigating NIH's eRA Commons

The National Institutes of Health's eRA Commons is an online interface where signing officials, principal investigators, trainees and post-docs can access and share administrative information relating to research grants.

NIH investigators at UR and those who support them can view a new series of short 3-8 minute video tutorials on navigating the Status screen in eRA Commons, by going to the eRA website or the NIH Grants playlist on YouTube.

The 10-part series provides how-to steps for submitting just-in-time information, no-cost extensions and relinquishing statements, for locating your Summary Statement or Notice of Award, and more.

Introducing a new faculty member

Elaine L. Hill has joined the Department of Health Sciences as an assistant professor. Her research is at the intersection of health, health policy, the environment and human capital formation. Her most recent research utilizes quasi-experimental methods to study the impacts of shale gas development on infant health in the US, which she plans to expand with colleagues at URMC. She is currently involved in early origins research, linking in utero environment to health in late life and educational attainment. She will also support research projects at the University employing "big data", structural modeling and cost-effectiveness assessment. She received her PhD in applied economics from Cornell University in 2014.

Congratulations to . . .

Ching Tang, Professor of Chemical Engineering, who has been named the 2014 recipient of the Nick Holonyak Jr. Award by The Optical Society (OSA) for the discovery of efficient thin-film organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), which has led to novel display and lighting products. The award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to optics based on semiconductor-based optical devices and materials, including basic science and technological applications.

Kathy Metz, head of patron services in Rush Rhees Library, who received the 2014 Messinger Libraries Recognition Award for her years of leadership in enhancing services for students and faculty. The award honors contributions that advance the educational mission of the library or library profession. Metz was recognized for her vision in re-imaging front-line patron services and for leading the team that launched the "Questions and information," or "Q&i," initiative in September. The annual award, created and funded by life trustee Martin E. Messinger, '49, includes a $5,000 prize. Read more . . .

UR research in the news . . .

A five-year study, funded by a $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, will give teens an opportunity to open up and learn about managing their asthma at an interactive day camp with their peers. "Peer-led Asthma Self-Management Program for Adolescents (PLASMA): A Multi-site Study," is the latest project of Hyekyun Rhee, Associate Professor at the School of Nursing, who has been working for more than a decade to develop unique interventions to support teens in managing their asthma. The multi-site, randomized controlled study will test the program in three cities where asthma is highly prevalent among inner city youth: Buffalo, Baltimore and Memphis, Tennessee. The program was first tested in Rochester in 2007 with the support from the NIH and found that the intervention helped to improve the teens' attitudes, their control over their asthma and quality of life, especially for inner-city teens from families with a low-income. Study collaborators include Ding-Geng Chen, Professor of Biostatistics at the School of Nursing, and Yue Li, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences. Read more . . .

The National Cancer Institute has awarded $3.1 million to help the Wilmot Cancer Institute study whether a unique yoga therapy can treat insomnia among cancer survivors just as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, the current gold-standard treatment. The study will be led by Karen M. Mustian, Associate Professor in the Departments of Surgery (Cancer Control) and of Radiation Oncology. The focus of the clinical research is a type of yoga therapy developed at URMC that integrates gentle hatha yoga and restorative yoga postures with strong meditation and relaxation techniques. The flow of each session is designed to assist the body in maintaining a normal 24-hour circadian rhythm cycle and healthy sleep patterns. Read more...

PhD dissertation defenses

Christine Walsh, Clinical Psychology, "How You and I Become We: Examining Partner, Family, and Friend Incorporation in Romantic Relationships." 1:30 p.m., Oct. 31, 221 Meliora. Advisor: Ronald Rogge.

Echoe Bouta, Biomedical Engineering, "The Use of Treatments and Novel Methodologies to Elucidate the Role of Lymphatics in Arthritic Flare in Tumor Necrosis Factor Transgenic Mice with Inflammatory-Erosive Arthritis." 1 p.m., Nov. 6, MC 2-6408. Advisor: Edward Schwarz.

Michael Theisen, Optics, "Polarimetric Properties of Optically Resonant Nanostructures." 9 a.m., Nov. 7, Goergen 109. Advisor: Thomas Brown.

Robert Wells, Music Theory, "A Generalized Intervallic Approach to Metric Conflict." 10 a.m., Nov. 21, OSL 101 (Old Sibley Library Room). Advisor: Robert Morris.

Mark your calendar

Today: The Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC) symposium. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in URMC 2-6408 (K-207 Auditorium). Ronald Wood, Research Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Urology, and Neurobiology and Anatomy, will describe quantitative imaging opportunities at the UR and provide examples. David Condon from the Department of Chemistry will feature results from molecular dynamics simulations of RNA. Pizza and soda will be served. Read more here.

Oct. 20: Deadline for initial applications for Pilot Projects awarded by the Environmental Health Sciences Center. Projects should be relevant to the theme of the EHSC, namely "Environmental Agents as Modulators of Human Disease and Dysfunction." Read more . . .

Oct. 21: Patents and the Patenting Process. Reid Cunningham, IP attorney, UR Ventures. Noon to 1 p.m., Gowen Room, WIlson Commons. RSVP to

Oct. 21: "Abstraction and Authority: 60 years in a Sculpture Studio at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw." Lecture by Rachel Haidu, Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the Program in Visual and Cultural Studies, at the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies luncheon at noon, Gamble Room, Rush Rhees Library. Free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided; to make reservations, call 275-9898 or email

Oct. 22: Morgan Lecture sponsored by Department of Anthropology, featuring Stefan Helmreich, the Elting E. Morison Professor of Anthropology at MIT, discussing "Waves: An Anthropology of Scientific Things," at 7 p.m. in Lander Auditorium, Hutchison Hall.

Oct. 22: "What's significant in the NSA Revelations?" 10th G. Milton Wing Lecture Series, 5 p.m., Hubbell Auditorium. Featuring Susan Landau, Professor of Cybersecurity Policy, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Oct. 22: "Intellectual Property: Opportunities for Residents and Fellows," by Tom Guttuso, Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Buffalo, and Scott Catlin, UR's Associate Vice President of Innovative Technology. Noon, Helen Wood Hall, 1W304 auditorium. Part of a CTSI skill-building workshop series "Good Advice: Case Studies in Clinical Research, Regulation and the Law." Click here for the full schedule.

Oct. 23: "Cryptography and Privacy -- and the Role for Mathematicians (Part 1)." 10th G. Milton Wing Lecture Series, 2 p.m., Gavett 202. Featuring Susan Landau, Professor of Cybersecurity Policy, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Oct. 24: "Cryptography and Privacy -- and the Role for Mathematicians (Part 2)." 10th G. Milton Wing Lecture Series, 1 p.m., Goergen 108. Featuring Susan Landau, Professor of Cybersecurity Policy, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Oct. 28: Growing the Next Generation of Community-based Researchers. Office of Faculty Development and Diversity Fall Research Conference. Noon to 5 p.m., Schlegel Hall. Click here for more information and registration.

Oct. 29: The Stanford Friedman Memorial Conference, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Class of '62 Auditorium, will address gaps related to understanding the impact of child and adolescent development and behavior on engaging youth in health promoting behaviors, and the interface of health and behavior in conditions such as conversion reactions. Click here for a link with more information.

Nov. 2: Applications due in several funding categories for the 2014 Pilot Award Program of the University's Center for AIDS Research. Click here to learn more.

Nov. 3: Deadline for initial abstracts for SMD Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) "superpilot" awards. Click here to read the full RFA.

Nov. 11: Technology Commercialization at the University of Rochester. Patrick Emmerling, Licensing Manager, UR Ventures. Noon to 1 p.m., Gowen Room, WIlson Commons. RSVP to

Nov. 13: "The Co-Evolution of Humans and Machines." Lecture by Paul Horn '72 (MA) '74 (PhD), Senior Vice Provost and Senior Vice Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Entrepreneurship, Polytechnic School of Engineering, New York University. 5 p.m., Hawkins-Carlson Room, Rush Rhees LIbrary. Register by Nov. 3 at or with Meghan Barnhardt at (585) 275-1490.

Nov. 19: 2014 Regional Proteomics Symposium, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Class of '62 Auditorium and the Flaum Atrium. Speakers from a variety of Western New York universities and institutions, and a poster session highlighting protein identification work at the University of Rochester. Register here. For more information, contact Mark D. Platt, MSRL Director at or at (585) 276-6804.

Dec. 9: How to Find Inventions, What Makes a Good Invention, and How to Find Prior Art. Reid Cunningham, IP attorney, UR Ventures. Noon to 1 p.m., Gowen Room, WIlson Commons. RSVP to

Dec. 10: Celebration of Authorship, featuring printed and electronic books, edited volumes and texts, as well as published compositions and recordings produced by University faculty and staff from all fields. 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Hawkins Carlson Room in Rush Rhees Library. Click here for more information.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. To see back issues, click here.

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.