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Keuka College News

Keuka College Receives More Than $160,000 for Energy Conservation Efforts

Robert Schick, chair of the Keuka College Board of Trustees and president of the Lyons National Bank, will accept a $168,351 check on behalf of the College for energy and conversation measures undertaken in campus facilities. He will accept the check during the College’s June 24 Board of Trustees meeting.

The measures are part of a $4 million campus-wide modernization project that will reduce Keuka College’s environmental impact while increasing the productivity and comfort of students, faculty, staff, and guests to the campus. The upgrades will leverage new technology, including LED lighting and adaptive energy management strategies, and ultimately reduce Keuka College’s operational expenses by more than $6 million over 20 years.

As a result of the project’s plans, the College has earned the $168,351 efficiency rebate provided by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA).

“Environmental sustainability is an important component of Keuka College’s long-range strategic plan,” said Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, president of Keuka College. “We are committed to investments in sustainable technologies, and this project will reduce the main campus’ carbon footprint by more than 14 percent each year.”

“The 14 percent reduction is equivalent to 709 metric tons of CO2, the same emitted by more than 79,700 gallons of gasoline,” added Jerry Hiller, vice president for finance and administration.

Keuka College’s leadership team evaluated numerous investment options, ultimately selecting the best blend of financial and technical performance. Funding for the project was obtained through a financing program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development assistance program.

The project will be delivered by Trane and includes new natural gas-fired heating plants to service 12 buildings, several high-efficiency heating, ventilating, air conditioning (HVAC) systems, exterior LED lighting, complete renovation of Harrington Hall’s comfort systems and a comprehensive, web-based energy management platform to maximize performance and efficiency.

Snapshots of Our Graduates: 2015

KEUKA PARK, N.Y.— Marching forward fearlessly into the future are several young men and women recently awarded diplomas from Keuka College. They hail from a host of different majors and home countries. Their interests are as varied as their personalities. But they all have two distinct qualities in common: a Keuka College education and the professional life-learning experiences of the annual Keuka College Field Period™, a 140-hour personalized experience that may take the shape of a professional internship, a cultural study, artistic endeavor, service project or spiritual exploration. Here, each one shares the primary benefits of his or her collegiate experience:

Danielle Alred
Major: Organizational communication, with a minor in digital design
Hometown: Horseheads, N.Y.

What she’s up to now: Graphic designer for the Elmira Jackals East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) hockey team.

Notable parts of her KC journey? Designing her own minor after falling in love with graphic design her sophomore year.

Designing a minor in digital design and having the skills in Adobe design programs helped me stand out on campus and at Field Period™ sites. I wouldn’t trade my Keuka College education for anything because of the personalized attention that I have received from professors and staff. I had amazing experiences here that helped me earn awards, scholarships, and my degree.”

Jamie Allen
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Canandaigua, N.Y.

Where she’s headed next: Roger Williams University for a master’s degree in forensic psychology.

“I will forever be grateful for the education I received and the people I met while a student at Keuka College. One of the greatest benefits was Field Period™. I gained a lot of great experience and made professional contacts that are extremely valuable.”

 

Julia Coryell
Major: Management with a concentration in accounting
Hometown: Phelps, N.Y.

 What she’s up to now: Cost accountant at G.W. Lisk

How’d she get her job? “I started as a math major, but after completing my first Field Period™ at G.W. Lisk, I changed my major. I loved it at Lisk: the atmosphere, the work, everything. I returned to Lisk to work summers and breaks, so I have been working there part-time for the last four years.”

Best part of her KC degree program? “Each Field Period™ was a huge learning experience, and each experience helped shape my goals and dreams. It is by far the most valuable aspect of my education at Keuka College”

Tom Drumm
Majors: Organizational communication and political science
Hometown: Oswego, N.Y.

What he’s up to now: Working for Catholic Charities of Oswego. Oh, and campaigning for a seat on the Oswego County Legislature.

Notable parts of his KC journey? Played baseball for the Wolfpack, which taught him how to manage his time and multitask. Completed Field Period™ internships at the offices of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Rep Dan Maffei (D-NY), and the NYS Democratic Committee.

“The Field Period™ is what sets Keuka College apart. I was able to build real-life connections starting my freshman year. The Field Period™ allowed me to cultivate meaningful relationships and helped me reaffirm that politics was my passion. I am very grateful.”

Brittany Gleason
Majors: Mathematics and management
Hometown: Carthage, N.Y.

Where she’s headed next: Rochester Institute of Technology on a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in computational finance. She’ll learn how to analyze big data through math, finance, and programming. Ultimately, she wants to enter the insurance industry.

Notable parts of her KC journey? Multiple extra-curricular activities and earning a Judith Oliver Brown scholarship that helped pay for two Field Period™ experiences abroad.

“By coming to Keuka College I received more than just valuable education—I also received a promising future. I could not have done it without the help of my supportive professors. If there were one thing I encourage future students to take advantage of, it would be the small class sizes and interpersonal relationships. Develop these professional relationships because they will help you succeed.”

Brandon Jones
Major: Social work
Hometown: Sodus, N.Y.

Where he’s headed next: Marywood University for a master’s of social work degree.

Notable parts of his KC journey? Brandon was named one of six 2015 Student Social Workers of the Year for the Genesee Valley division of the state National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

Notable people? “Professors Stephanie Craig and Jen Mealey supported me and encouraged me to do my best. They’re absolutely wonderful people and wonderful social workers and I don’t know where I’d be without them, to be honest.”

“In grad school, I have to complete a 518-hour internship, but I’m so ready because of Field Period™. I’m definitely prepared academically and I’m not worried about the internship at all.”

Kelsey Morgan
Major: Biology
Hometown: Lakeview, N.Y.

Where she’s headed next: Duke University Graduate School on a $28,000 fellowship to  pursue a Ph.D. in bio-organic or synthetic organic chemistry.

Notable parts of her KC journey? A co-publishing credit for a research study published in the Journal of American Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS), an article “Why People Mistrust Science” published in local newspapers, and a 10-week study of enzyme kinetics at the University of Buffalo through a program funded by the National Science Foundation.

Best part of her KC degree program? “I really appreciate the size of Keuka College and the hands-on experience I gained. I’ve been able to work with professors one-on-one or in small groups for independent studies and research projects. They know me and care about my interests and where I want to go. Field Period™ was instrumental in helping me figure out what I want to do. I was able to gain experience both in a career I realized I didn’t want to go into and one that I do want to pursue.”

Sini Ngobese '15

Sini Ngobese
Majors: Organizational communication and marketing, with a concentration in human resources
Hometown: Durbin, South Africa

What she’s up to now: HR Coordinator for Biogen Idec, a Fortune 500 biotechnology company in Boston.

Notable parts of her KC journey? Two paid Field Period™ experiences in different branches of Biogen Idec paved the way for a job offer before graduation.

“Keuka College offered so many outlets for developing myself in a multitude of ways. Field Period™ scholarships enabled me to engage in a life-changing spiritual/cultural journey in Thailand, and the emphasis the College places on experiential learning through Field Period™ helped me land my dream job at a Fortune 500 company.”

Zip Nguyen '15

Diep Anh “Zip” Nguyen
Majors: Management and organizational communication, with a concentration in marketing
Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam

Where she’s headed next: Pace University in NYC for an MBA in marketing management.

Notable parts of her KC journey? Two Field Period™ experiences at the Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Tokyo, Japan offices of Dentsu, Inc. – the fifth-largest ad agency in the world.

Best part of her KC degree program? “Keuka College provides an environment that encourages you to discover the world through hands-on experience, which is a better fit for me than only sitting and listening to lectures. I’m so thankful for the support from not only my friends around the world, but also the faculty and staff at the school. My professors not only cared about my performance in class, but also helped me figure out my next steps and how to achieve my goals.”

Eva Ryan '15

Eva Ryan
Major: Social work
Hometown: Manlius, N.Y.

What she’s up to now: Working with families and children as a family advocate at Peace, Inc., where she conducted a Field Period™ during her sophomore year.

Best part of her KC degree program? “I have come to realize how great Field Period™ actually is. In the end you walk away with so much experience and even potential jobs. I am grateful to the professors I had — they truly care about their students and how they are doing. The small classes and great teachers were the reasons for my success at the College and I am thankful to have had the experience I did!”

Freshman Presents Research at Yale University

George Kotlik at the Yale University campus.

KEUKA PARK, N.Y.—When George Kotlik came to Keuka College, he never imagined he’d end up at Yale University. But thanks to a paper he co-wrote with Dr. Angela Narasimhan, assistant professor of history and political science, that’s exactly where he was this April.

It’s rare for even seniors to present their findings at a scholarly conference attended by experts in the field. But Kotlik did so —as a freshman.

Kotlik brought a research proposal to Dr. Naraminhan last fall. Here’s where the interests of student and professor intersect. The question? When students in the U.S. study the American Revolution, is the story told through a purely American point of view? What’s the British take on the American War for Independence? To search for an answer, they decided to examine how American government textbooks address that era and why.

Dr. Angela Narasimhan

The resulting paper, titled “Colonial Controversy: Examining Critical Perspectives on the American Revolution in Undergraduate American Government Textbooks,” was presented at the New England Political Science Association conference, held this year at Yale.

Fascinated with early American history since childhood, Kotlik said discussion on early forms of government in Narasimhan’s American Government class piqued his interest further.

“The paper examines the American Revolution and outlines, in depth, the British perspective on the Revolution. We took a look at five different American government textbooks and examined the Founding Era in each. What we found was really interesting,” Kotlik said. “The books that leaned more towards a pro-British standpoint offered more factual information than those that leaned more towards the American standpoint.”

George and fellow political science major Abdul Qumsani at the conference. Poli sci major Emily Black also attended.

According to Narasimhan, it’s extraordinary for an upperclassman to co-author a paper with a professor, let alone a freshman, “and it was a terrific experience for us both,” she said. “George quickly distinguished himself from his peers this year, with outstanding academic achievement across the board.”

Beyond the process of research and writing the paper, Kotlik said he gleaned experience in understanding the process of peer review that paper proposals receive before they can be accepted for publication in a scholarly journal.

“Attending the conference was a very exciting time,” Kotlik added. “Overall, it was a unique experience that I am so thankful for and wouldn’t trade for the world. It’s all thanks to the wonderful professors at Keuka College.”

 

Discovering Periodic Table Elements Throughout Penn Yan

Keuka College Associate Professor of Chemistry Andrew Robak has used fine art and photography to educate others about the intricacies of science, and his latest student collaboration showcases another new perspective.


In 2012, Robak collaborated with Kat Andonucci ’13 to produce “The Art of Chemistry,” a unique exhibit featuring chemical experiments often photographed by Andonucci at slow speeds or in low light to highlight the array of colors, shapes and textures within a variety of chemical solutions, reactions and even optical illusions. This time, Robak’s collaboration with biology major Phil Longyear ’14, a Rushville resident, explores the variety of natural elements from the Periodic Table found in and around the Penn Yan area.

Dr. Robak, left and Phil Longyear '14, right, on Main Street, Penn Yan.

Together, the duo visited manufacturing plants like Abtex and Ferro, artisan studios and even retail shops such as Pinckney’s Ace Hardware to document in photographs the elements in their natural or manufactured forms. The resulting images —with each name, two-letter scientific abbreviation, and a brief description of its characteristics and uses —are now on display in many storefront windows along Main Street, Penn Yan, effectively turning Main Street itself into an art gallery for “Elements of the Finger Lakes.”

Nearly 60 elements of the Periodic Table’s full 118 elements were found; the full collection of images can also be viewed at the Lightner Gallery at Lightner Library on the campus of Keuka College. An opening reception will be held from 4 – 5:30 p.m. at Milly’s Pantry, 19 Main Street on Wednesday, June 10. Milly’s is one of many local shops featuring works from the “Elements of the Finger Lakes.” The exhibit will continue through July on Main Street and through August on campus.

A welder at Coach and Equipment works with special tools, producing plasma from the reaction of (O) oxygen with the fuel in the tool (most likely acetylene gas).

“The project really helps people understand what chemical elements are, where they come from, how we use them and where they are [found],” Longyear said. “I like the fact that it will bring science to the masses in a way that they can understand.”

According to Longyear, the “field trips” he and Robak took last fall to companies like Ferro or Coach and Equipment proved how common many of the elements truly are. Ferro, the former Transition Element Company (TransElCo), manufactures an array of pigments, powders used to make computing materials, polishing applications for lenses, polymers, plastics and more. Coach and Equipment produces small to mid-size transit buses using elements including lead (Pb), Fluorine (F), lithium (Li) and argon (Ar) in its engineering process.

At Ferro, workers take basic elements like carbon (C), titanium, (Ti) and tungsten (W), and refine them for an industrial use. So the up-close-and-personal views offered at Ferro for the exhibit educate participants beyond just a logo or company tagline, Longyear said.

“This is more than the sign on the front and [the product] that comes out the door. This is what’s in-between and that was really interesting,” he described.

According to Robak, a project such as this serves to merge science with the community. Not only will participants learn a little more about chemistry, but they’ll learn more about the community where they live and work too.

“The Periodic Table can be hard to relate to … but in its simplest sense, it’s a list of the essence of every material that we can touch, see or interact with in our daily lives,” Robak said, adding that many people may not realize just how many elements could be in their own homes, too.

A classic Periodic Table wall chart, found at Ferro.

“This project would not have happened without those willing to let us ask questions, give tours or shoot photography inside their businesses,” Robak said, noting that many company staffers actively tried to find elements in use or suggest others for Robak and Longyear to document. Community participation for the exhibit has also been high, Robak added, thanking the numerous business owners along Main Street who agreed to display the poster-size images in storefront windows or indoor displays. A trifold brochure will also be available at many participating businesses so pedestrians can learn about the project as they stroll Main Street.

Dr. Robak examines a brick near the kiln at Peter Knickerbocker's Spider's Nest Pottery Studio.

Artisans such as Pete Knickerbocker of Spider’s Nest Pottery or Keuka College Professor Emeritus Dexter Benedict of Fireworks Foundry were also part of the exploration. Benedict sculpts works of bronze, using oxygen (O), aluminum (Al) and lots of copper (Cu) in the process. Meanwhile, Knickerbocker makes use of elements including cobalt (Co), iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), and also copper (Cu) in his pottery.

“I had no idea that a potter could tailor and design not only his or her own glazes, but the clay itself, and (Pete) was able to manipulate those elements in order to set himself apart in his field,” Longyear described.

While Longyear served as primary photographer, a few elements, such as hydrogen, posed a challenge to shoot because they can only be seen when reacting with another element, he said. In those cases, it was a challenge to “tell the story,” he said.

But Mother Nature also offered a few elements as well, which the duo incorporated into the project, including images of bones for calcium, the night sky (space) for hydrogen, and a sunset at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge to represent helium, Longyear explained.


“Every day we use elements from the earth. You can look at the Periodic Table and see a number and a name, but if you really dig into it, it’s really cool,” Longyear said.

Why People Mistrust Science

An editorial by biology major Kelsey Morgan ’15

It is largely undisputed that advancements in science and technology are extremely important to life as we know it. However, with the way science and technology are represented in the media and popular culture, it can be difficult to distinguish between science and science fiction. Will the Ebola virus become an airborne super plague and kill us all? Are GMOs really safe? Should we be worried about climate change? And who can we trust to give us the answers?

The answer to this last question should be science, because it is designed to help us answer questions in a systematic, evidence-based way. Unfortunately, people often take a cynical attitude toward science, unfoundedly rejecting its discoveries. A Pew Study published in January reports that while people think science is a good thing, there is often a gap between scientists’ attitudes regarding hot-button issues and those of the general public. While a strong majority of scientists agree that genetically modified foods are generally safe to eat, global warming is a serious problem, and vaccines are safe, only a small part of the general public tends to agree. These gaps in understanding show that despite people reporting that they trust science, there is a large amount of disbelief and mistrust surrounding scientific consensus.

While there are many factors that determine whether or not a person accepts scientific evidence, general mistrust in science can be boiled down to three categories: religious and political affiliations, confirmation bias, and the need for an emotional appeal.

Religious beliefs or political associations can have a profound effect on whether or not a person accepts scientific principles. Some people refuse to accept theories such as the Big Bang and evolution because these theories go against religious doctrines. Politicians also likes to take sides regarding science, often debating issues when there aren’t even two different sides to the issue. For example, the original source of the idea that vaccines cause autism and other harm was an extremely flawed and unethical study that was later retracted. However, this idea gained momentum when it was supported by U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana). Burton and other public figures allowed the “debate” on the MMR to spread, which was a factor that led to a serious mistrust in vaccinations in general.

The “Badge of Membership” principle—membership is more about wanting to belong than what you believe— can help us understand how these affiliations shape our view of science.  It’s like we are still in high school; no matter how old a person gets, he or she still feels the need to agree with his or her peers, and many times the need to fit in trumps science.

A study performed by Dan Kahan of Yale University found that understanding science results in polarization rather than consensus. This finding can be explained by confirmation bias. When people have an opinion about a scientific issue, showing them a collection of facts won’t change it. Shouting a bunch of complicated astrophysics and Darwinian natural selection theory at them isn’t likely to get them to believe in the Big Bang or evolution. Instead, people tend to pick out evidence that supports their preconceived notions.Anecdotal evidence that appeals to our emotions often holds more weight than facts, regardless of the source. We don’t like to rely on cause and effect because true causes can be hard to find and understand, and therefore we rely on people’s personal stories to come up with our own explanations and create meaning where there is none. A case in point:  the causes of autism are not well understood, and science provides little reassurance, in terms of treatment, to parents of autistic children. Therefore, in spite of the understanding that vaccines do not cause autism, the public often turns to parents and grandparents who blame vaccines rather than trusting medical professionals because it gives them something to blame, too.

Life today depends heavily on complex science and technology that only a small group of experts can thoroughly understand, and it is therefore important that people trust and support these experts. While there is certainly reason to be skeptical when looking at new scientific findings, Science editor Marcia McNutt said it best in an interview for the March 2015 edition of National Geographic: “Everybody should be questioning… But then they should use the scientific method, or trust people using the scientific method, to decide which way they fall…”

Looking at science with skepticism is not the same as unwarranted distrust and rejection of consensus. In order for advancement in science to continue, the public must step away from scientific cynicism and put its trust in scientific consensus.

Editor’s Note: Kelsey Morgan ’15 of Lakeview, N.Y., holds a biology degree from Keuka College and has received a $28,000 fellowship stipend to attend Duke University Graduate School in the fall of 2015 to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. A research study she co-wrote with Dr. William Brown, assistant professor of environmental science and biology, was published in the Journal of American Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS) in the spring of 2015. She is one of three science majors featured in the spring 2015 edition of Keuka College Magazine as an “academic all-star” for earning the unique distinction of publishing in an academic journal as an undergraduate student.