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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UR researchers used a new technique called compressive direct measurement to reconstruct data for the images above, which show the amplitude and phase of a Gaussian mode illuminating a custom phase mask (the initials of the University of Rochester).

Images of Research

Researchers at the University of Rochester have combined direct measurement with an efficient computational technique to reconstruct a quantum state at 90 percent fidelity (a measure of accuracy).

The new method, called compressive direct measurement, used only a quarter of the measurements required by previous methods. "We have, for the first time, combined weak measurement and compressive sensing to demonstrate a revolutionary, fast method for measuring a high-dimensional quantum state," said Mohammad Mirhosseini, a graduate student in the Quantum Photonics research group at the University of Rochester and lead author of a paper in Physical Review Letters.

The research team, which also included graduate students Omar Magaña-Loaiza and Seyed Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Robert Boyd, Professor of Optics and of Physics, initially tested their method on a 192-dimensional state. Finding success with that large state, they then took on a massive, 19,200-dimensional state. Their efficient technique sped up the process 350-fold and took just 20 percent of the total measurements required by traditional direct measurement to reconstruct the state.

The new method has important potential applications in the field of quantum information science. This research field strives to make use of fundamental quantum effects for diverse applications, including secure communication, teleportation of quantum states, and ideally to perform quantum computation. This latter process holds great promise as a method that can, in principle, lead to a drastic speed-up of certain types of computation. All of these applications require the use of complicated quantum states, and the new method described here offers an efficient means to characterize these states. Read more . . .

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

Doran explores the concept of the 'sublime'

After traveling through Italy in 1699, Joseph Addison wrote how "The Alps fill the mind with an agreeable kind of horror."

His observations, along with those of other Englishmen who crossed the mountains as part of their continental Grand Tours, helped spark an intense interest in the "sublime" as an aesthetic concept -- distinct from and even surpassing "beauty" in its paradoxical power to simultaneously overwhelm, occasionally terrify, but also elevate us.

Robert Doran, Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature, explores how and why this distinction became important in his forthcoming book The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

"The concept of the sublime allows us to conceive of a certain kind of experience that normally would only be accessible using theological concepts," Doran explained in an interview. "It's a secularized version of religious experience. It's the experience of transcendence, but transcendence in the arts or in the aesthetic appreciation of nature."

The concept also allows us to give voice to experiences that are shared across the barriers of class and distinction.

"One of my arguments is that the concept of the sublime provided a way for the bourgeois subject to appropriate a kind of heroic subjectivity, the kind that was in earlier times the province of the aristocracy," Doran said. "The ordinary individual can experience this kind of nobility of mind, as it were, this heroic feeling that seemed to be only possible for certain classes before."

Is the concept of the sublime still relevant today? Absolutely, Doran contends.

We can experience it when we stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. We can experience it listening to great music. We can even experience it when witnessing technological advances -- if we are moved to introspection and reflection.

"When Neil Armstrong says those words, 'That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,' it was a sublime moment, a sublime statement -- not because the words are necessarily as poetic as Shakespeare's but just because of the moment, the context," Doran said.

"There's an anthropological dimension to this," he added. "It is part of what it means to be human, to have this desire for transcendence, this desire to go beyond. The human being is in some sense defined by its desire for transcendence."

Seventh annual Celebration of Authorship

Provost Peter Lennie will host the Celebration of Authorship on Wednesday, Dec. 10, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Hawkins Carlson Room in Rush Rhees Library. The event, in its seventh year, will feature printed and electronic books, edited volumes, and texts as well as published compositions and recordings produced by University faculty and staff from all fields.

Individual authors and artists will entertain us by telling a story about what motivated their project or what inspired them or will give credit to their muse -- all within a concise two-minute time limit!

If you are the author of a work published or recorded between May 1, 2013, and October 31, 2014, contact the Provost's Office at to be included in the December 10 event.

Information about the conception of the celebration can be found here.

Speaking of which . . .

Emil Homerin, Professor and Chair of Religion, can personally attest to the value of this celebration -- and other such opportunities for faculty to share their work. In 2012 he was awaiting his turn to make his presentation at what was then called the Celebration of the Book when Matthew Brown, Professor of Music Theory and author of the recently published Debussy Redux: The Impact of His Music on Popular Culture, stepped forward.

Brown spoke not about his book but how excited he was about an upcoming production of Pélleas and Mélisande, using as backdrop illustrations by Craig Russell as part of the Eastman School's Prismatic Debussy festival that year.

"I thought, did he really say that?" Homerin recalls. Homerin had never met Brown, but he was a big fan of Russell, whose comic books and graphic novels have received critical acclaim.

So he walked over and introduced himself. And so began a collaboration that led to this fall's Veils of Salomé conference, Oct. 8-10, at which Russell's illustrations will again be used during two Table Top Opera performances of Richard Strauss' opera. (For more about the Salomé conference, click here to link to last week's Research Connections.)

"It is a great example of how you can really interact with faculty you may not even know at these kinds of university wide events," Homerin said, "and you all of a sudden make connections. And I think that's really quite wonderful."

Rochester '64 and Ferguson '14: A discussion about inequality, race, and rebellion

The well-publicized urban unrest in Ferguson, Missouri this summer occurred just as the city of Rochester was commemorating the 50th anniversary of its own urban unrest of July, 1964.

These events, separated by 800 miles and 50 years, raise ongoing questions about racial inequality, urban space, police force and militarization, and the role of media in shaping political protest.

The Humanities Project of the University of Rochester, the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies and the Department of Anthropology will sponsor a panel discussion on these events from 6-8 p.m., Sept. 15 in the Hawkins Carlson Room, Rush Rhees Library. It will ask how reflections on Rochester in 1964 can help us understand the unfolding situation in Ferguson in 2014. For more information contact

CIRC hosts its first symposium of the new academic year

Ehsan Hoque, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, will discuss and demonstrate the possibilities of using computers to help improve human social skills when the Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC) hosts its first symposium of the 2014-2015 academic year on Friday, Sept. 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Computer Studies Building (CSB) 209 on the River Campus.

In addition, Massimo Rivolta from the Department of Medicine, Cardiology will discuss calibrating a model of the left ventricle of the human heart.

Pizza and soda will be served.

Competition encourages Eastman student entrepreneurs

The New Venture Challenge is a contest to encourage new thinking and innovative ideas in music. It gives students an opportunity to develop a project proposal that could result in the launch of a new entrepreneurial initiative. The first prize award is $2000 and second prize is $500.

This year, students will have several opportunities to learn about the structure of the competition. The Institute for Music Leadership is hosting three workshops at its office to help students develop projects before proposals are due. The workshops, all of which start at noon, are on these topcis:

Monday, Sept. 15: Idea Generation

Monday, Oct. 13: Project Feasibility

Monday, Nov. 3: Business Plan Writing

This process is an opportunity for students who may not already be business-inclined or who may not know about the New Venture Challenge to gain insight into the non-performance side of the music industry.

Discussion to focus on the use of scholarly articles

"From Reading to Writing: Reading Like a Researcher," the first in a series of faculty conversations about the intersections of research, writing, and teaching, is scheduled for 3:30 to 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, in the Gamble Room at Rush Rhees Library.

Panelists Sue Gustafson, the Karl F. and Bertha A. Fuchs Professor of German Studies and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures; Stuart Jordan, a Senior Lecturer of Political Science; and Dan McNabney, a graduate student in Biology, will share how they read scholarly articles and help their students with scholarly readings. Click here to find more information and to RSVP by Sept. 19.

Introducing a new faculty member

Bryan Gopaul has joined the Warner School as an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership. Gopaul's research interests focus on the experiences of graduate students and the changing nature of faculty life and work. He employs critical theories of education and qualitative methodologies to explore issues of access and equity in graduate education, the employment of graduate students, the pipeline to the professoriate, and academic labor. His previous research has focused on the socialization of doctoral students in different disciplines. Currently, his research emphasizes student mobility, conceptions of civic engagement to academic life and work, and international higher education. Specifically, he explores mobility among doctoral students and early-career faculty members moving through doctoral study and into the academic profession. His interest in civic engagement focuses on graduate/doctoral education and broader reward structures within faculty work. His focus on international higher education examines Canada, the U.S., Kazakhstan, Morocco, and other jurisdictions. He received a PhD in Higher Education from the University of Toronto in 2012.

UR research in the news

UR biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov have discovered one reason for the increasing DNA damage that occurs with aging: the primary repair process begins to fail and is replaced by one that is less accurate. The findings have been published in the journal PLOS Genetics. "Scientists have had limited tools to accurately study how DNA repair changes with age," said Gorbunova. "We are now able to measure the efficiency with which cells in mice of different ages repair DNA breaks at the same place in the chromosome." Gorbunova explained that when mice are young, the breaks in DNA strands are repaired through a process called non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), in which the damage is repaired by gluing the DNA together with no or very little overlap. However, Gorbunova and Seluanov found that NHEJ began to fail as the mice got older, allowing a less reliable DNA repair process -- microhomology-mediated end joining (MMEJ) -- to take over. With MMEJ repairs, broken ends are glued together by overlapping similar sequences that are found within the broken DNA ends. This process leads to loss of DNA segments and the wrong pieces being stitched together. Read more . . .

One challenge in killing off harmful bacteria is that many of them develop a resistance to antibiotics. Researchers at the University of Rochester are targeting the formation of the protein-making machinery in those cells as a possible alternate way to stop the bacteria. And Gloria Culver, Professor of Biology. has, for the first time, isolated the middle steps in the process that creates that machinery -- called the ribosomes. "No one had a clear understanding of what happened inside an intact bacterial cell," said Culver. "And without that understanding, it would not be possible to block ribosome formation as a new means of stopping bacterial growth." Read more here about how Culver and graduate student Neha Gupta used genetic tags as markers inside E. coli cells to capture a piece of ribosomal RNA in one of the intermediate stages of the process. Their work has been published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

Researchers from the University of Rochester are collaborating with the Delphi Drug and Alcohol Council in Rochester to evaluate Delphi's batterer intervention program. Participants in this program undergo 26 weeks of group therapy designed to increase their sense of accountability and responsibility. "Many people believe that programs like this are effective, but treating this population is very complicated. Many batterers have witnessed family violence or were victims of abuse as children. Many have personality and substance abuse problems that complicate treatment," says Marc T. Swogger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. "We plan to generate data regarding the effectiveness of Delphi's program, as well as begin to find evidence indicating for whom the program works best." Read more . . .

An international team of researchers has identified a new inherited neuromuscular disorder that results from a genetic mutation that interferes with the communication between nerves and muscles. The new disease was diagnosed in two families -- one in the U.S. and the other in Great Britain -- and afflicts multiple generations. The discovery, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, "gives gives us new insight into the mechanisms of diseases that are caused by a breakdown in neuromuscular signal transmission," said David Herrmann, Professor in the Department of Neurology and co-lead author of the study. "It is our hope that these findings will help identify new targets for therapies that can eventually be used to treat these diseases." Read more . . .

For years the laboratory of Chawnshang Chang, the George Hoyt Whipple Professor of Pathology, has been studying the role of the androgen receptor (AR) in prostate, bladder, and liver cancer. Now Chang has discovered that AR plays a key role in promoting kidney cancer as well. In data published by the journal Cancer Research, Chang demonstrated the first evidence in cell cultures and in mice that targeting the androgen receptor might be a new way to suppress kidney cancer progression. He's also developing a drug compound known as ASC-J9, a chemically modified derivative of ginger, which can degrade the androgen receptor. Read more at the Research @ URMC blog.

PhD dissertation defense

Amir Abdolahi, Public Health Sciences, "Insular Cortex Damage from Stroke and Disruption of Nicotine Dependence: The MINDS Study." 9 a.m., Sept. 17, SRB 1416. Advisor: Edwin van Wijngaarden.

Mark your calendar

Sept 15: Electronic Lab Notebook Interest Group, 2 p.m., Carlson Library Room 313. Are you using an electronic lab notebook (ELN), either in your research or your teaching? Are you interested in trying one out? Join the River Campus Libraries for a roundtable discussion about ELNs. Please RSVP to Light refreshments will be served.

Sept. 15: Deadline for initial abstracts for CTSI Novel Biostatistical and Epidemiologic Methods pilot projects. Click here to learn more.

Sept. 15: Inequality, Race, and Rebellion: Rochester '64 and Ferguson '14 symposium, 6-8 p.m., Hawkins Carlson Room, Rush Rhees Library. Sponsored by the Humanities Project, co-sponsored by the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies and the Department of Anthropology. For more information contact

Sept. 19: Public Health Grand Rounds. Howard Beckman, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences will present "Regional Healthcare Planning and Blood Pressure Initiatives" from noon to 1 p.m. in the Helen Wood Hall Auditorium, 1W-304. Lunch will be provided. Please bring your own beverage.

Sept. 19: CIRC symposium. Ehsan Hoque, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, will discuss and demonstrate using computers to help improve human social skills. Massimo Rivolta from the Department of Medicine, Cardiology will discuss calibrating a model of the left ventricle of the human heart. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Computer Studies Building (CSB) 209 on the River Campus.

Sept. 26: "From Reading to Writing: Reading Like a Researcher," first in a series of faculty conversations about the intersections of research, writing, and teaching. 3:30 to 5 p.m. Gamble Room at Rush Rhees Library. Click here to find more information and to RSVP by Sept. 19.

Sept. 26: Deadline for letters of intent for CTSI KL2 Mentored Career Development program proposals, which provide two years of support for new investigators interested in a career in clinical or translational research. Click here for more information.

Oct. 8-10 Veils of Salomé Conference. Symposium presentations starting 9 a.m. Oct. 9 in the Hawkins Carlson Room of Rush Rhees Library; dance workshop 2-4 p.m. Oct. 10 at Spurrier Hall; exhibition of Salomé' images in Rare Books and Special Collections; two Table Top Opera performances of the Strauss opera, 8 p.m., Oct. 8 at Kodak Hall, Eastman Theatre and at 8 p.m., Oct. 10 at Interfaith Chapel. Free and open to the public.

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.