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Nazareth College Nursing Faculty Member Receives IBERO Volunteer of the Year Award

14 Nov

Nazareth College is proud to announce that Marie Bell, assistant professor in the nursing department, was selected as this year’s recipient of the IBERO-American Action League’s Volunteer of the Year Award. Bell is active in IBERO, serving the first and third Wednesday of the month at Centro de Oro, a day center for Hispanic older adults. She provides assessment services such as blood pressure readings, medication reconciliation, and follow up care.

The IBERO Volunteer of the Year Award is presented every year, recognizing an individual who has collaborated with IBERO, supporting the agency’s mission. Bell attended a recognition ceremony at IBERO’s 44th Annual Luncheon held on October 24, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel of Rochester. The event included distinguished guests, as well as more than 500 participants, and honored four members of the community.

IBERO-American Action League, Inc., has provided services to the community since 1968. The agency has established different programs that offer to assist the Latino population within the community. At Nazareth, the nursing program’s goal is to prepare professional nurse generalists who not only possess an in-depth knowledge of nursing, but also provide culturally congruent nursing care to individuals, families, groups, and communities in and across all environments.

Peckham Hall Now Open

28 Sep

It’s official! Peckham Hall, home of the Integrated Center for Math and Science, is now open.

To learn more about the facility and Nazareth’s math and science academic programs, please visit naz.edu/icms.

And for a Flickr gallery of the day’s events, click here.

From the D&C: “Nazareth College to cut ribbon on $30 million math and science building”

27 Sep

Although students, faculty, and staff have enjoyed studying and working in Peckham Hall for a few weeks, today is the official ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating Nazareth’s newest academic building on campus. As reported by the Democrat and Chronicle:

Nazareth College’s new Integrated Center for Math and Science building, which has its ceremonial ribbon-cutting Thursday, is a sign of where this college is heading.

The $30 million facility — called Peckham Hall — features 20 labs along with six classrooms that provide needed space not only for math and science students but also for the growing number of students majoring in health and human service programs, which often require courses with lab work.

It’s the largest new academic building constructed on Nazareth’s 150-acre campus since the college opened in 1924. The new four-story facility is near the Golisano Academic Center and has a Gothic design to fit in with existing structures but has large windows to give it a modern look.

Join us today at 4 p.m. for the ribbon-cutting and celebration reception!

Nazareth and RIT Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

12 Sep

Nazareth College and RIT have been awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support Tech2Teach, a joint program between RIT and Nazareth to support RIT students considering careers as middle school and high school math, science, and technology teachers. As reported by the Rochester Business Journal:

“The Learning Assistant program is the gateway through which RIT students can enter Tech2Teach and should increase the number of students who pursue secondary education careers,” Franklin said. “As a result, public schools will ultimately be able to recruit from a pool of new teachers who have a deep knowledge of a STEM discipline as well as educational theory and practice.”

Franklin is working with Craig Hill, interim dean of the Nazareth school of education, and Patricia Huntington, director of academic support services in the school of education at Nazareth, to develop the two-phase program, most of which will reside at RIT.

“Nazareth College is committed to addressing the decline in the number of college graduates in the U.S. who pursue K-12 teaching careers in science, technology and mathematics,” Hill said. “Nazareth values this creative partnership with RIT that encourages undergraduate students to pursue the further study of education while showcasing a spirit of collaboration among higher educators in our region.”

To learn more about Tech2Teach, please click here.

Astronomer George V. Coyne, S.J., to Present as Part of Shannon Lecture Series

12 Sep

George V. Coyne, S.J.

Astronomer George V. Coyne, S.J., will begin the 2012-2013 Shannon Lecture Series with “The Dance of the Fertile Universe: Chance and Destiny Embrace” on Thursday, September 13 at 7 p.m. in the Otto A. Shults Community Center Forum.

Coyne will present a second lecture, “Scientific Evolution: A Challenge to American Society,” on Friday, September 14 at 1:30 p.m. in the Linehan Chapel of the Golisano Academic Center. Both the Academic Center and the Shults Community Center are on the Nazareth College campus, located at 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618. Both lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Christine M. Bochen at 585-389-2728 or cbochen4@naz.edu.

This year’s program, Integrating Faith and Science: Dilemmas, Debates, and Decisions, celebrates the opening of the Integrated Center for Math and Science in Peckham Hall, where Nazareth students and faculty plumb the secrets of the natural world, and, in a special way, honors the memory of our beloved William H. Shannon, who died on April 29, 2012. Fr. Shannon was instrumental in promoting conversation on science and morality at the college and in the community.  Our distinguished speakers—all well versed in both science and religion, particularly the Catholic tradition—will help us continue the conversation.

Respecting “the richness of both religious faith and scientific research,” astronomer George V. Coyne, S.J., is a participant in and promoter of the dialogue between science and religion. An outspoken critic of creationism and intelligent design, he explores the implications that scientific evolution has for religion.

To learn more about Coyne, Shannon, and the lecture series in general, please click here.

Less Than Three Weeks Until the Grand Opening Celebration

10 Sep

Let’s Celebrate!

Please join us on Thursday, September 27, 2012, as we gather to celebrate the grand opening of Peckham Hall, home of the Integrated Center for Math and Science.

Schedule

4 p.m. Ribbon Cutting
Welcome, special remarks, and ribbon cutting.

4:45 p.m. Celebration Reception
Wine and appetizer reception with the opportunity to explore the new building on your own or with a guided faculty-student led tour. Experience the state-of-the-art labs and classrooms and learn about the new programs and student opportunities that will happen in the building.

RSVP requested by Wednesday, September 19 to Stacey Stehle at 585-389-2409 or mstehle6@naz.edu.

Science TV Show Invites Middle Schoolers to Prove Their World

29 Aug

Prove Your World is not your typical science TV show.

Currently in pre-production, Prove Your World is about active learning and rock-solid science. It’s about teaching 8- to 13-year-olds to think like scientists, to ask questions and to explore ideas.
A team of academics and educational consultants has built the program from the ground up with a robust foundation. Now, they are working with WXXI, the PBS affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., to find a home for the series on public television. An accompanying website will continue the learning online, connecting kids, teachers, and parents with experts and giving kids a science social network.

“Most shows already have a production company and bring in consultants,” says Brian Koberlein, senior lecturer in the department of physics at Rochester Institute of Technology. “We started with the core of educational and scientific knowledge—the experts—and are building a production company around it. When we get to the point of producing a series, we’re going to have a radically different program because we started with a core who knows about education.”

“Our goal is not to make scientists for the world,” says Gail Grigg, professor of inclusive child education at Nazareth College. “Our goal is to increase science literacy—having enough knowledge about the world around us to make critical decisions in day-to-day living—because everyone is a consumer of science.”

The Prove Your World team includes professors from RIT and Nazareth College and like-minded colleagues: Koberlein; Grigg; Grant Guthiel, professor of developmental psychology at Nazareth; Susan Sherwood, educational consultant; and Kevin Schoonover, creative director and RIT alumnus (’86, graphic design). The team taps RIT’s strength in science and technology and Nazareth’s long tradition in education. The series is targeted at middle-school-age children—a demographic with a teetering interest in science, mathematics, engineering and technology, or the STEM disciplines.

Science programming for middle-school children is noticeably absent on TV. “There is literally nothing there,” Grigg notes.

“Current kids’ science television focuses on either pre-school/early elementary or high school,” Guthiel adds. “Eight- to 13-year-olds tend to gravitate toward shows targeted for older audiences that often miss the specific interests, perspectives and developmental needs of later elementary and middle schoolers.”

Inquiry-driven learning differentiates Prove Your World from other programs and allows children’s questions to guide instruction. The scripts and website content follow the inquiry model and the National Science Education Standards developed and published by the National Research Council in cooperation with the National Academy of Sciences. “It’s a question-driven and kid-driven process that we’re deeply committed to,” Guthiel says.

The team is raising $250,000 to cover the pilot and the cost of four custom-made puppets. RIT and Nazareth have signed formal agreements with Prove Your World, opening up opportunities for funding and faculty and student participation in the production of both the TV series and the website. Prove Your World will soon be able to accept direct donations. Funding for the project also can be directed through RIT and Nazareth. Powerhouse 27, a local production company, will shoot the pilot to match the professional quality seen on PBS. Corporate sponsorship from Ward’s Natural Science, a leading supplier of science education materials, will outfit the set with equipment. Action on the show will center around a science supply shop. The store, called “Prove Your World,” is owned by science-enthusiasts “Emmy” (a fox puppet) and “Brian,” played by Koberlein, a computational astrophysicist in real life. Each 30-minute episode will begin with a child entering the store and asking a question pertaining to biology, earth science or the physical sciences. Real scientists and a cast of puppets will seek answers with the child.

“Everyone on the show has skills and knowledge that complement the others, and everyone works as an equal within the group to investigate questions through guided inquiry,” Sherwood says.
The team adapted topics for a first season of 12 to 13 episodes from conversations with sample groups of children. The pilot will focus on one of the most commonly asked questions: How do planes fly? The script explores mechanized flight through questions and experiments to reach an understanding of the basic principles of the Bernoulli effect and Newton’s Third Law. The Prove Your World team presented an abbreviated version of the pilot to a middle-school audience at The Harley School in Brighton, N.Y., in April using puppets from Schoonover’s collection.

“Puppets are a good vehicle,” Koberlein says. “Puppets can talk fast, can say things above their age level. Puppets get a pass—they can be edgy, snarky, and they can reference pop culture.”
Adds Guthiel: “You can use puppets for older kids and investigate real issues and have them be real kids and it works.

“The puppets are going to have real personalities,” he continues. “We’re hoping that a lot of the kids who watch the show are going to recognize part of themselves in the puppet characters and that’s going to keep them watching.”

In addition to Emmy, the shop owner/mother figure, the cast of puppets includes Popper, the experimentalist, the kid who takes things apart without knowing how to reassemble it; Bop, the analytical book learner; and Hopper, the artistic observer.

The puppets were named in homage to Thomas Bopp, amateur astronomer and co-discoverer of the Comet Hale-Bopp in 1995; Grace Hopper, computer scientist; and Karl Popper, philosopher of science. Creative director and puppeteer Schoonover designed the characters in Prove Your World to be as distinctive as their individual personalities. He’s eager to work with artists at Puppet Heap, a design and fabrication studio in Hoboken, N.J., to transform his sketches into three-dimensional Muppet-quality characters. Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop and the Walt Disney Co. have used Puppet Heap creations.
“I’m curious to see how the characters will evolve once we have them made,” Schoonover says.

For more information about Prove Your World, go to proveyourworld.org, or contact Brian Koberlein at brian@proveyourworld.org or Grant Guthiel at grant@proveyourworld.org.

From the D&C and RBJ: Collaboration between Nazareth College and Unity Health Systems

6 Aug

Nazareth College and Unity Health Systems have signed a memorandum of understanding, report the Democrat and Chronicle and Rochester Business Journal*. The goal? To enhance the education of future health care workers:

In a health care environment with ever changing reimbursement and funding challenges, this collaboration will allow the opportunity for Unity Health System patients to be offered programming, such as art, music, play and yoga therapy, while providing practical experience to those developing clinicians.

“Unity Health System is excited to partner with Nazareth College on this significant step forward in the training and education of future health care professionals,” said Unity Health System President and CEO Warren Hern. “Linking Nazareth’s national reputation with Unity’s wide breadth of programs and services will further enhance Rochester’s reputation for high quality, low cost health care.”

Nazareth is the only Rochester-based college or university to offer nursing with a wide array of allied health professional programs. This enables Nazareth to create an educational environment that emphasizes inter-professional collaboration in both learning and delivery of services, which gives Nazareth students a distinct advantage as they enter the health care workforce.

According to Nazareth College President Daan Braveman, this partnership allows the College to “play a prominent leadership role in meeting the health system workforce needs in our community and beyond.”

*Editor’s note:  The RBJ story appears on page six of the Aug. 3 issue of the Rochester Business Journal titled, “Nazareth, Unity Join Forces to Improve Education” (digital link still pending).

From Connections: “Drug Pioneers: Explorations on the leading edge of HIV drug therapy research”

2 Aug

Research students Moudi Hubeishy ’14 (left) and Cara Czechowski ’14 (middle) discuss infrared spectroscopy results with Dr. Stephen Tajc.

The World Health Organization estimates that 34 million people are currently living with HIV worldwide. Approximately 1.8 million people died from AIDS this past year, placing the total number of deaths from the AIDS epidemic at more than 30 million since the disease was first recognized in 1981 (www.unaids.org). Current drug treatments for individuals infected with HIV have dramatically increased the life expediency of HIV positive patients. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to HIV drugs can present additional health problems and complications. It is imperative that new HIV drug targets are explored and understood until a cure for HIV is discovered. My research focuses on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of a new class of HIV drugs and drug targets.

Current HIV Treatment

Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is the current treatment of HIV, which includes a mixture of drugs that target specific parts of the HIV virus. The HAART treatment has been shown to suppress HIV replication to below the limits of detection and consequently slows the progression of AIDS and AIDS-related mortality. Unfortunately, side effects from the HAART treatments undermine its effectiveness. In addition, although HAART greatly reduces HIV replication, it does not completely halt it, and treatment must continue throughout the patient’s lifetime. Long-term exposure to the drugs increases the possibility of both related harmful side effects, such as progressive liver disease, and the occurrence of drug-resistant HIV strains. A patient is required to take 90 to 95 percent of the recommended drug dose to achieve long-term undetectable HIV levels. Any lower level dosage of the drugs greatly reduces the suppression of the virus and enhances HIV mutations. Viral-resistant strains of HIV can complicate treatment, especially if newly infected individuals contract the drug-resistant HIV strains. All of these problems, as well as others, lead to treatment failure rates of as high as 44 percent in patients infected with HIV.

Preventing HIV from Entering Human Cells

The AIDS epidemic has created an urgent need for the development of new HIV drug candidates, which necessitates an understanding of the fundamental binding characteristics of current and developmental HIV drugs. The entry of HIV into a human cell involves the interaction of several proteins, each of which may serve as potential targets for inhibitory drugs. Most interest has been centered on the exterior of HIV, which is made up of a protein complex known as the envelope spike. This outer portion of HIV mediates how HIV first contacts, then enters the human host cell. A small drug with the capability of interfering with the envelope spike can potentially prevent HIV from entering the human cell, thus preventing the spread of the virus within the infected human’s body. These drugs are commonly referred to as HIV viral entry inhibitors.

In 2003, the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb developed a small molecule HIV viral entry inhibitor drug known as BMS-378806 (BMS-806). This drug became an attractive target as a potential antiviral drug and as a probe to study HIV entry, as it is a small molecule that could be taken orally. BMS-806 was identified by screening millions of compounds and was found to be a potent inhibitor of HIV entering human cells. The specific mechanism of how the drug actually works is still not understood. Consequentially, a systematic study of BMS-806 may provide substantial insight toward both the mechanism of binding to the envelope spike of HIV and the development of related HIV inhibitors.

Undergraduate Research at Nazareth College and Beyond

Nazareth students in my research group are focusing on two aspects of BMS-806. The first entails the chemical synthesis of BMS-806 derivatives to determine what functionality allows the drug to prevent HIV from entering human cells. This is achieved by methodically removing functional groups from BMS-806 utilizing synthetic organic chemistry, then sending the newly synthesized drug to our collaborator, Dr. Ernesto Freire’s group in the Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University, to verify if the drug still works. If removing a functional group results in loss of BMS-806 potency, then that functional group is a key component. On the other hand, if a functional group is removed and the drug maintains its inhibition properties, then that functional group could either be eliminated or improved upon to enhance the drug. These experiments allow us to understand how the drug works and give us the opportunity to improve the drug’s binding capabilities.

Goodwell Nzou ’15 conducting a chemistry reaction under inert atmospheric conditions.

The second aspect of our research involves chemically attaching a synthetic linker to BMS-806 with the intent of creating a medical diagnostic device. Right now, all of the HAART small molecule drugs target the inside of the HIV virus. BMS-806 is the first small molecule drug that attaches to the outer membrane of the virus. We can use the binding properties of BMS-806 to our advantage by attaching one end of a synthetic linker to BMS-806 and the other to an optically active surface, such as a porous silicon chip. Our collaborator, Dr. Lisa DeLouise in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has demonstrated using porous silicon chips in the detection of opiates and their metabolites in urine samples. Using similar methodology to the detections of opiates, we can potentially detect the proteins on the outer membrane of HIV with the modified BMS-806 drug. The porous silicon chip technology could allow for an immediate and label-free detection of HIV as opposed to waiting several days for blood samples to be analyzed.

Future Research Benefits

The lifespan of an individual infected with HIV has significantly increased since the early 1980s, when a positive HIV test was widely considered a death sentence. However, the number of individuals infected with HIV continues to increase, and new therapies are always needed. Our research is intended to increase the knowledge of how HIV viral entry inhibition works. In doing so, an entire new class of HIV drug therapy can potentially alleviate many of the current HAART drug resistance and HIV mutation concerns. In addition, the knowledge gained from understanding how small molecule drugs like BMS-806 attach to the outer membrane of HIV can lead to faster and cheaper methods of HIV detection. Through earlier detection, combined with additional treatment options, we can only hope to decrease the HAART failure rate and continue to prolong the lives of individuals infected with HIV.

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Article written by Stephen Tajc, Ph.D., assistant professor in chemistry and biochemistry at Nazareth College. To read more from the this issue of Connections magazine, click here. Back issues of Connections are available at naz.edu/connections.

New York Times Opinion Pages: “Is Algebra Necessary?”

30 Jul

Advanced mathematics: A necessary step?

From order of operations (PEMDAS, anyone?) to calculus, many people can recall struggling with math at some point during their school years. But through hard work, good teachers, lots of homework, extra tutoring, or (perhaps) sheer luck, many of these same people manage to weather those rough math patches.

Many, but not all.

If advanced math is such a thorn in the side of student learning, why do we subject American students to this ordeal? That’s the question posed by Andrew Hacker in a recent New York Times opinion piece.

Hacker, an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York, opines about the necessity and relevance of higher level mathematics such as algebra, calculus, and trigonometry. Hacker’s thoughts are worth reading in full, and his points include the following:

  • “What is needed is not textbook formulas but greater understanding of where various numbers come from, and what they actually convey.”
  • Too often, argues Hacker, math “is used as a hoop, a badge, a totem to impress outsiders and elevate a profession’s status.” His examples? “Certification programs for veterinary technicians require algebra, although none of the graduates I’ve met have ever used it in diagnosing or treating their patients. Medical schools like Harvard and Johns Hopkins demand calculus of all their applicants, even if it doesn’t figure in the clinical curriculum, let alone in subsequent practice.”
  • Math teachers “at every level could create exciting courses in what I call ‘citizen statistics’ … [which] would familiarize students with the kinds of numbers that describe and delineate our personal and public lives.”

The “toll mathematics takes begins early,” contends Hacker, and he goes on to cite numerous (disheartening) statistics about this nation’s high school failure and drop-out rates. “Yes,” he says, “young people should learn to read and write and do long division, whether they want to or not. But there is no reason to force them to grasp vectorial angles and discontinuous functions.”

Mental Floss t-shirt for the mathlete in all of us.

Is Hacker throwing the baby out with the bath water? Or is this the provocative and innovative kind of thinking that the U.S. education system is in dire need of? Alas, there are no simple answers. Read the article (and the insightful comments following) and let us know what you think. And if you’re one of those people who loves math (we know you’re out there!), you may be interested in some uniforms for yourself and fellow mathletes.

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