Mika Matera-Vatnick ’21 in the Wolfner lab, where she conducts her undergraduate research.

Student Spotlight on Mika Matera-Vatnick ’21: Researching Insect Reproduction Genetics

When Mika Matera-Vatnick ’21 received President Martha E. Pollack’s email in March announcing the closing of campus, her first thought was, “What am I gonna do with my flies?” Matera-Vatnick, like many other undergraduate student researchers on campus, had to abandon her honors thesis research project as classes transitioned online for the remainder of the semester.

The Curious Case of a Virus

Viruses are puzzling. These tiny parasites aren’t really alive, but they aren’t inactive either. They’ve flourished and mutated throughout the years, achieving astounding rates of diversity yet are surprisingly simple in structure. Despite being the main perpetrator of some of the world’s largest pandemics, such as COVID-19, there is still much that is unknown about a virus’s transmission and method of infection.

Plastic carryout bags are now banned from distribution in New York State.

How helpful is New York’s Plastic Bag Ban?

New York State put into effect a new plastic bag ban on March 1 that aims to reduce high levels of plastic consumption and mitigate environmental hazards, such as water and air pollution from plastic disposal. The new ban prohibits any distribution of plastic bags by any establishment that collects New York State tax unless it is an exempt bag — bags used for pharmacy prescriptions or produce bags used for fruits and vegetables. Although many states like New York have policies in place to limit the overuse of single-use plastics, the production of plastic still continues to be a looming issue. It is projected that by 2028, the mass production of plastics will increase by more than 40 percent. “Until we are talking about limiting plastic production, we still are going to be pushing the problem around into different places without really addressing what’s going on here,” said Ph.D. student Bethany Jorgensen, department of natural resources.

Team AgPal - the winning team that received the $2000 grand prize.

Innovation and Creativity Abound at Cornell’s Second Digital Agriculture Hackathon

Over 150 students from Cornell, the U.S. and the world came together at the Cornell Vet School for 36 hours from Friday to Sunday afternoon to modernize one of the world’s oldest industries — agriculture.

By invoking technologies like AI, and innovations in computer science the organizers hope to address the shortages in agriculture predicted to manifest in the next decade.

Christopher Alabi’s Polymers and the Keys to Academic Success

With the help of Prof. Christopher Alabi, chemical and biomolecular engineering, our cracked cell phone screens may one day heal themselves. Alabi’s research focuses on polymers, molecules formed from smaller subunits that can be found in many aspects of our daily lives — ranging from almost any kind of plastic to the proteins in our bodies.