Victoria Lily blooms in Cornell's Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium

Vibrant Victoria Lily Blooms on Campus

With packed schedules consisting of back to back lectures, studying for prelims, clubs, sports and part-time jobs, Cornell students are always on the move. Among this hustle and bustle of campus life, a moment of serenity is immensely valuable. Sometimes considered a zoo of plants, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium is a special oasis to escape the busy life on campus and appreciate the biodiversity of the world. Maintained by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, the hortorium consists of several conservatory houses in the Plant Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. This past summer, a plant in the Nymphaeaceae family, commonly known as the Victoria lily, was moved the Palm House and is now a waterfall feature.

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Department of Energy Grant Boosts Cornell’s Power Systems Research

Cornell has been chosen to play a leading role in the push to update America’s crumbling infrastructure. Patricia A. Hoffman, the Assistant Secretary at the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability — a branch of the Department of Energy — announced in late August that Cornell was one of five universities chosen to receive a grant for research into how to  mend America’s beleaguered power systems.

An aspect of the Department of Energy’s Grid Modernization Initiative — which, on top of striving to make baseline improvements to the nation’s energy grid also seeks to make the system more open to renewable energy sources and energy efficient structures — the grant totals $1.8 million to be split between the schools. Alison Kennedy, senior advisor at the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, summed up the GMI as “a comprehensive DOE effort to help shape the future of our nation’s electric grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources with energy storage and smart buildings, while ensuring that the grid is resilient and secure to withstand growing cyber security and climate challenges.”

As stated in 2015’s Quadrennial Technology Review — a report on the nation’s energy needs produced by the DOE — recent natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy have made the need for an updated, more reliable and more responsive energy grid all the more prescience. Kennedy pointed to this need and numerous other problems currently facing America’s power systems.

“Factors include a changing generation mix, evolving consumer needs, and growing recognition of expectations for a resilient and responsive grid in face of natural, or man-made, events,” he said. He also mentioned other issues pointed out in the QTR, including the need for new manners of detecting failures in the system, as well as the adoption of smart grid technologies.

Courtesy of BigRed Hacks' Facebook page

Students Come Together to Code, Solve Problems at BigRed Hacks

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Have you ever found yourself with friends, in need of a stereo system to play music, but with none in sight? Problem solved. A group of University of Buffalo students took up their weekend to design Goofy, an app which creates a loudspeaker system from your phones, syncing the same song across a number of devices and thus amplifying the sound.  All you have to do is take a picture, wait for the system to randomly choose a song based on your mood, and sync it across your friends’ phones. Where was this and so many other cool apps and websites designed?

An image of Titan from NASA's Cassini Orbiter

Saturn’s Moon, Titan, Might Be Able to Support Life

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The presence of life on Earth is tied in multiple ways to the presence of one substance — water. Water is the biggest component in most living organisms and has the power to leave a long-lasting impact on the environment. It is no surprise, then, that astrobiologists have long focused on understanding how exoplanets could develop the right conditions for life. What happens when dynamic cycles of activity are present without water? That is the question that first arose in the mind of one Cornell scientist.

Genevieve Sullivan

PEER REVIEW | Genevieve Sullivan: Bacteria and Food Packaging

Genevieve Sullivan grad never thought that a case of food poisoning in would spark her interest in public health. During a study abroad program in Myanmar, the food science student thought she was “invincible” until she ate a dish that had unpasteurized milk in it, ironically prompting her to reflect on how lucky she was. “We’re so used to food safety, but in some developing nations they don’t necessarily have that — the expectation of safe food. This got me interested in public health,” Sullivan said. Last summer, Genevieve Sullivan,  placed second in the Institute of Food Technologists’ undergraduate research competition, where she presented her paper ‘Physicochemical Factors Affect Bacterial Attachment on Food Packaging Surfaces: A Theoretical And Experimental Study.’ The IFT research competition not only judges students based on their research results, but also on their ability to communicate their research.

Samantha VanWees presents her poster at IFT's undergraduate research competition

PEER REVIEW| Samantha VanWees: Bacteria, Light and Milk Processing

Imagine winning an internationally renowned competition just six weeks after graduation — the excitement and the happiness. For 22-year-old Chicago native Samantha VanWees’16, this was what happened. VanWees’s research, entitled, “Inactivation of Bacillus Licheniformis Vegetative Cells and Spores in Milk Using Pulsed Light Treatment,” considered how pulsed light — a technique used for food decontamination using short, intense pulses of a broad spectrum of light — is able to reduce bacteria during milk processing. Her achievement won her top honors for her poster and presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ undergraduate research competition in Chicago. During her time as an undergraduate student at Cornell University, VanWees majored in food science, saying it was her love of cooking and her mother’s influence that sparked her interest in food not only nutritionally but also chemically.

Brittney Chew/ Assistant Photography Editor

Kroch Library Hosts Exibition on 50 Years of Electronic Art

Before the advent of the Internet television and radios were all the rage. But just like memes, videos, blogs and articles are used to question the role of mass media in today’s society, individuals have been using television and radio broadcasts to do the same for over 50 years. Ruth Kohn Goldsen was one such critic. Once a Professor of Sociology at Cornell, she used her radio show, ‘The Show and Tell Machine: How Television Works and Works You Over’ to critique the culture of mass media. Named in her honour and featuring artwork that explores such critiques, ‘The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art’ was founded by Prof. Timothy Murray, comparative literature and english, in 2002.

Photo Courtesy Diane Sempler

Cornell Offers Online Course on Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically Modified Organisms have been a topic of much controversy, even though they have been transforming the way we produce and consume food. Cornell is now offering a Massive Online Open Course on EdX, called ‘The Science and Politics of GMO’, to help students understand why “the GMO is politically contentious.”

Starting September 13, 2016 this five week interdisciplinary course will provide an introduction to genetic engineering and biotechnology in the context of GMOs and help study the politics of GMO at both an individual and a societal level, according to the course website. The course is taught by professors across disciplines,and that is what makes it unique. Prof. Sarah Evanega, plant breeding and genetics, Prof. Ronald Herring, government, Prof. David Just, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Jaron Porciello, Associate Director, Research Data Engagement and Training in International Programs and Rebecca Harrison, grad come together to comment on and explain this issue in a multifaceted manner. Just rightly describes the course as a “marriage of science and social science.”

“The GMO issue consists of a new technology with great promise, and the social movements and consumer reactions to that new technology,“ he said.

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Cornell Alums Create App to Help Dementia Patients Remember

Dementia can be truly debilitating. Categorized by the World Health Organization as a syndrome “in which there is deterioration in cognitive function,” it is a major cause of dependency in the elderly. However, a team of Cornell alumni hopes to ease this process and help dementia patients have meaningful interactions with their loved ones. Over 47.5 million people suffer from dementia, with numbers expected to grow to 135.5 million by 2030. However, the true economic and social cost to individuals and their families is incalculable.