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“Hot” Science Discovery Lands Chem Prof in Fashion Mag

Turn the pages of Tipsy Magazine’s Summer 2013 edition and you’ll find the latest trends in high-fashion nail and manicure art.

The Summer 2013 cover of Tipsy Magazine (Courtesy: Tipsy Magazine)

Tipsy caters to salon owners, manicure artists and nail divas nationwide who turn to the 9×12 glossy for up-to-the-minute articles and photos on polish products, fingertip designs and the edgy nail jewelry that celebs like Lady Gaga have catapulted to fame. Its touted trends take the traditional acrylic manicure (Only one shade of polish? Puh-lease!) to a color-and-jewel-crazed, punk rock-level.

Which is why it should come as no surprise that Dr. Andrew Robak, associate professor of chemistry, has landed in the pages of a Tipsy article. Robak, who holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, has self-described “wacky interests” in chemistry or science as art. His expertise was sought by writer Erin Hart, who started her own design business, Nail Pop LLC, just over a year ago, working on location doing photo shoots, nail parties and fashion shows. Hart endured a nasty chemical burn after she tried to mix fake gold leaf, a decorative metallic, with nail glue to create her own quick-dry polish.

“The gold leaf is so popular right now because it just looks so decadent and when you’re having your nails done, you want to go all out,” said Hart, noting the element comes in either sheets or flake form and can be found at craft or art stores. Hart said she was at home with a friend, experimenting with the fake gold leaf by gluing a big piece to the tip of her finger when “decadent” turned into “drama.”

Tipsy illustration by Jennyfer Maria for the original article. (Courtesy: Tipsy Magazine)

“The burning started immediately and as I was trying to peel away the [gold] leaf, my skin blistered and came off. I didn’t lose too much skin, about the size of an eraser head, but boy did it hurt!” Hart said, adding it reminded her of burning her finger on a marshmallow stick when she was a kid.

“It took about a week for it to heal using your standard first aid burn care.”

Hart’s article, “Burn, Baby, Burn” was illustrated with this image by Jennyfer Maria. (Courtesy: Tipsy Magazine)

According to Hart, staying ahead of the trends in nail art happens most often by experimenting with different materials, so to best inform other nail artists of any potentially dangerous combinations, she packed up the gold leaf and glue and shipped them to Robak for a thorough chemical analysis and explanation. The two are cousins and Hart had no problem asking for a family favor, she said.

“He was the first person I thought to call after I burned myself and I knew he’d be able to figure it out, which he did immediately after receiving the samples I sent,” Hart said. “I was really impressed with how quickly he was able to compose an explanation that I could actually understand.”

It turns out the fake gold leaf flakes are essentially a combination of tin, zinc and shiny copper. The tin and zinc prevent the copper from tarnishing, Robak informed Hart. The nail glue, known as ethyl cyanoacrylate, is a polymer that will cure, or dry rapidly, once exposed to small amounts of moisture in the air or on surfaces. What non-scientists like Hart think of as “glue drying” is really the substance changing from liquid to solid form, Robak said.

Dr. Robak

Ordinarily, a tiny, almost imperceptible amount of heat is released as the glue hardens, but when mixed with the fake gold leaf, the tin and zinc become catalysts, speeding up the process such that there is an excess of heat energy, Hart learned. The gold-glue mixture can’t hold as much heat energy as the liquid glue alone, and not only causes chemical burns but can even produce small tufts of smoke, Robak informed Hart.

So what’s a nail artist to do?

Well, one solution would be to use real gold, Robak suggested, noting the pure element is one of the least reactive substances and won’t require tin to protect it from tarnish. According to the New York Mercantile reported on CNNMoney.com, real gold is currently retailing for about $1,391 an ounce.

If you can’t afford that option but seeing a shiny, metallic gleam at the end of your fingertips is still a must-have, then switching to a simple, clear polish and mixing that with the fake gold leaf will produce the same ritzy look without the Ritz-Carlton price tag. The clear nail polish won’t dry as fast as the glue, but it won’t create an exothermic reaction either, Robak advised.

And that was the advice Hart chose to share with fellow Tipsy readers after she came across a call for submissions for upcoming issues. As it turns out, her unexpected science revelation became her first “big” article for a magazine.

“I’m hoping to do more writing in the future, but I think this first attempt went pretty well,” Hart said, noting she called her cousin for permission to include him in the article. “Most of what you mix with nail glue won’t create an exothermic reaction, but I’ve also experienced heat from nail glue when it comes in contact with cotton fibers. It’s something I’ll need Dr. Robak’s expertise to explain further.”

Hart's hand, all-out bedazzled in current nail art trends. (Courtesy: Nail Pop LLC)

 

Honoring Hands-on Learning

A semester spent a traveling the Atlantic Ocean while visiting countries in Europe and South America, and daily observations of veterinary work garnered the top awards in experiential learning for senior Erica Rusio and freshman Lydia Watkins at the annual Honors Convocation ceremony May 4 at Keuka College.

Erica Ruscio

During the fall semester,  Ruscio sailed around the Atlantic Ocean on the MV Explorer, an 836-passenger floating classroom, as part of the Semester at Sea program.

“I went to 12 countries, took classes, attended seminars, navigated through unfamiliar cities and new experiences, and discovered new understandings of what it means to be human. It was the coolest thing I have ever done,” said Ruscio.

It also earned Ruscio, an English major from Rushville, the Upperclass Experiential Learner of the Year Award, which recognizes learning from Field Period, co-curricular involvement, and community service.

Nominated by Allison Schultz, international student adviser in the Center for Global Education, Rusico said she has taken learning far beyond the traditional four-walled classroom.

“As an English major, I love books, but they only tell half of the story,” she said. “The concrete experiences can’t be replicated, and can’t be doubled in a book.”

Ruscio said Keuka College and the Semester at Sea program share the same philosophy when it comes to learning: you learn more by doing.

For example, Ruscio said she didn’t just read in a book what South Africa was like, “I explored it myself and made friends there. I didn’t just see a picture of the native people of the Amazon; I spent the night in the jungle with them. I didn’t just read a statistic about poverty in Latin America; I played with the kids in the Argentine slums.”

Ruscio said that she now has more faith in the opportunity to try, take chances, make mistakes, and try again.

“Experiential learning, which embraces the whole person, is what I received from Keuka College and the Semester at Sea program,” she said. “I haven’t just ‘done’ this experience, I’ve become it.”

An active participant in the College’s Arion Players Drama Club and the Women’s Center Advocacy Club, Ruscio also serves as a TeamWorks! facilitator, editor of Red Jacket, and is a writing tutor. She also lends her time and talents to the Literacy Volunteers of Ontario and Yates Counties.

Lydia Watkins

Watkins’ January Field Period at Southtown Veterinary Hospital in Montrose, Pa., solidified her career choice.

The Field Period also helped earn Watkins, a biomedical major from Springville, Pa., the Freshman Experiential Learner of the Year Award. The award recognizes learning from Field Period, co-curricular involvement, and community service.

Watkins, who has known since she was 10 that she wanted to be a large animal veterinarian, was nominated for the award by Andy Robak, assistant professor of chemistry.

“I nominated Lydia because she had a great first Field Period,” said Robak. “She had her first experience working in a small animal veterinary clinic, and built relationships with the people with whom she was working.”

And while the vets at Southtown Veterinary Hospital care for small animals, Watkins still “learned a lot of information about the veterinary field, and I cannot wait to have the V.M.D. in front of my name. By watching the vets, I expanded my knowledge and fine tuned my interests.”

Watkins was able to watch several procedures, including spays, neuters, ACL repair, bone surgery, and a splenectomy. Shortly after her Field Period ended, she was hired as a veterinary assistant. Watkins will work weekends, summers, and other times when classes are not in session.

Watkins said she “loved my Field Period, and now my job, but I still want to work with cows.”

Said Robak: “A lot of students will do similar Field Periods in vet offices, but rarely does it end up in a great relationship like she found. Lydia is also an excellent student, excelling in sophomore chemistry as a freshman, and is well on her way to veterinary school when she graduates.”

Painting with the (Periodic) Elements

Junior Kat Andonucci helped put Keuka on the scientific map last fall after her year-long independent study, a photographic portfolio of various chemical elements and experiments, became an art show in Lightner Gallery, was presented to regional chemists, and landed in a national scientific magazine.

Andonucci paints the symbol for lead.

Now, Andonucci has reteamed with Dr. Andrew Robak, associate professor of chemistry, to conduct a new artistic study of some 11 elements of the Periodic Table, creating the letter code for each scientific element with a paint created from the element itself.

Lead in powder form, which Andonucci used to make the paint for the symbol (Pb).

“The overall image is an abstract kind of 3-D Periodic Table and we want it to serve as a permanent reference source in a classroom or lab—it will be a huge art piece,” said the junior visual and verbal art major from Chestertown (near Lake George).

They symbol for carbon, painted with ... carbon.

Using stand-alone 12×12 canvas squares painted with each element, Andonucci will arrange them to hang so that some of the squares appear to be raised and some depressed, creating a more dynamic artwork.

Carbon in particle form.

While some elements, such as arsenic or mercury, would be dangerous to paint with, others, such as barium sulfate, iron oxide, and cadmium have been created already and painted, she said. For example, titanium has been mixed with linseed oil to create the scientific code letters (Ti) for that element  on the table.

According to Robak, all of the pigments Andonucci used to paint the periodic table symbols contain the elements, but are not made from the pure elements. For example, the cadmium pigment utilized a cadmium compound, while the titanium pigment was made from titanium oxide, which is used to make all modern white paints

Egyptian blue in solid form.

Granted, Andonucci has run into a few challenges, such as the three attempts to create the synthetic pigment Egyptian blue, which will be used to represent copper in the table. Historically, pigments were derived from naturally occurring minerals and/or plants. While Egyptian blue was one of the first synthetic pigments made in history, the age of the product and process made it hard to track down anything resembling a specific recipe over the Internet.

“It was on Wikipedia and it wasn’t exact measurements, just percentages, so it was hard to get it exactly right,” she explained. Directions suggested a mixture of sand, natron and copper oxide be baked in an 800 to 900-degree kiln over three to four days. “The first time we [tried,] the oven got above 900 degrees and fried it and it came out black and actually charred. It was a lot of trial and error. We’re up to our third try, but I may try again because it’s not as blue as I wanted it to be.”

Egyptian blue in powder form.

To support her creative work, Andonucci received a $500 Academic Excellence Initiatives grant from the Office of Academic Affairs. Last year, her Art of Chemistry project was also funded $560 from the same competitive grant process.

In September, the Art of Chemistry exhibit was formally presented to members of the Corning Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) by Robak, who commissioned Andonucci for the project. In addition to the American Chemical Society, Andonucci and Robak’s work drew the attention of Chemical & Engineering News in Washington, D.C., which published a story on the exhibit in its Oct. 1 issue and website.

 

Experiential Learners: Keuka’s Dynamic Dozen

Editor’s Note: The 2013 Experiential Learner of the Year award nominees will be recognized at a May 2 luncheon. The freshman and upperclass winners will be announced at Honors Convocation. May 4. Here is a capsule look at the nominees:

Josh Beaver

 Josh Beaver, a senior political science/history major from Terre Haute, Ind., nominated by Chris Leahy, associated professor of history:

Beaver said he has had numerous chances to explore potential career paths though Field Period, and he knows firsthand that it works.

“I came to Keuka knowing I wanted to be a doctor, but through coursework and Field Period, I figured out that was not the path for me right now,” said Beaver. “At the end of my junior year, I changed my major to political science/history, a passion second to science. What a difference. My grades are better, I feel less stressed, and have a smile on my face.”

Beaver completed his January Field Period at Vigo County Historical Society Museum in Terre Haute and it helped him realize he made the right choice switching his major.

“I was an assistant curator during my time at the museum” said Beaver. “I conducted research to help prepare for a new exhibit on the evolution of the transportation system in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley in Indiana.”

He had the opportunity to work as an archivist, working to find photos, newspaper clippings, old documents, and selected items to go into exhibit.

“I also conducted grant research, and realized this Field Period solidified what I want to do with my career,” said Beaver. “In addition, I was able to design the cabinet layout and write the text to accompany the exhibit’s artifacts.”

Beaver participates in Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates, Spiritual Life Advisory Board (SLAB), the Multicultural Advisory Group, and spent three semesters as a member of Student Senate.

Lydia Watkins

Lydia Watkins, a freshman biomedical major from Springville, Pa., nominated by Andy Robak, assistant professor of chemistry:

Lydia Watkins has known since she was 10 that she wanted to be a large animal veterinarian. But for her first Field Period, she shadowed the vets at Southtown Veterinary Hospital in Montrose, Pa., a small animal clinic.

Watkins was able to watch several surgeries, including spays, neuters, ACL repair, bone surgery, and a splenectormy.

“I learned a lot of information about the veterinary field, and I cannot wait to have the V.M.D. in front of my name,” said Watkins. “The practice moved to a larger space and I went home for spring break to help them officially open the doors. While I was there, I was hired as a veterinary assistant.

“By watching the vets, I expanded my knowledge and fine tuned my interests,” she said. “And while I loved my Field Period, and now my job, at Southtown, I still want to work with cows.”

Logan Ackerley

Logan Ackerley, a junior political science major from Liberty, nominated by Sander Diamond, professor of history:

Like many students at Keuka, one of the reasons Logan Ackerley enrolled at the College was Field Period.

“My first two Field Periods were disappointing, and I began to dread having to look for a place for my third one,” said Ackerley. “But then I took Europe in the World with Dr. Diamond, which reminded me why I chose my major. It made learning interesting again, and I once more began to see Field Period as the opportunity it was meant to be.”

So Ackerley thought of possible Field Period sites and found the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City.

“I assisted a museum educator with activities for special needs high school students,” he said. “I was nervous because I had never worked with special needs students, or any students older than elementary school. But this became one of my most significant tasks, especially because I was asked to take over that program while I was there.”

This experience gave Ackerley “great knowledge about how a museum department works. My Field Period allowed me to develop not only professionally, but personally as well. It made me think critically, solve problems creatively, and gave me a level of motivation I’ve never had before. It also confirmed my career goal to become a museum administrator.”

Ackerley is involved with the Arion Players Drama Club, serves as treasurer of the Political Science and History Club and C.H.A.O.S. Club, and performed a monologue from The Diary of Anne Frank during Keuka College’s Fine Arts Night.

Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan, a junior biology major from New Berlin, nominated by Andy Robak, assistant professor of chemistry:

According to Alex Morgan, Keuka College takes the ideas of experiential learning and amplifies its importance with Field Period.

“As a biology major with a concentration in biomedical studies, I plan to become a doctor,” said Morgan. “I have taken the opportunity of Field Period as a path to explore different areas of the medical profession so I can narrow down which I’d like to pursue.”

Morgan spent his Field Period at the Bassett Clinic, a family medicine clinic in Sherburne with Dr. David Haswell, who Morgan said would often quiz him on information pertaining to a patient.

“I was able to see ordinary medical cases, as well as cases of walking pneumonia, Necrotizing fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating disease, infantile projectile vomiting, flu, prostate and testicular exams, suture removals, and pap smears,” said Morgan. “I was also able to listen to a patient’s carotid artery through a stethoscope.”

Morgan serves as president of Rotaract, and is a member of the President’s Leadership Circle, Keukonian, and Chemistry Club.

Crystal Billings

Crystal Billings, a sophomore social work major from Groton, nominated by a former Follett (College bookstore) employee:

Crystal Billings worked at the Red Cross Homeless Services Program in Ithaca for her January Field Period, and said the fast-paced, multi-faceted environment gave her the opportunity to work with a broad spectrum of clients.

“Going into the Field Period, I was not quite sure what to expect,” admitted Billings, who worked at the shelter and Friendship Center, a place where people could drop in during the day. “I thought I would serve food and answer the phone, and learn how a homeless shelter operates and what resources it provides.”

However, the experience was “so much more than that,” she said.

“I did different things each week, including covering for my supervisor in the office, helping with the children’s Christmas party, and working with parolees, including a man who had murdered three people,” she said. “I also provided direct client services, interacted with shelter residents and the chronically homeless, and dealt one-on-one with several clients who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse.”

Because Billings learned she was able to work with those on parole, she now wants to try a Field Period working with adolescent parolees at a school near her hometown.

During her Field Period, Billings saw the great need at the Red Cross, and wondered what she could do to help. An active Zumba participant on campus and at home, she thought a Zumba-thon would be the perfect idea.

“I organized and promoted the Zumba-thon, and I hoped to make $50, but realized $115,” she said. “I was proud of myself and excited to give back.”

Billings said working at the Red Cross Homeless Services Program helped her help others, “which is what I truly want to do with my life. This was an amazing experience and I wish I could have stayed longer.”

An active participant in the Association of Future Social Workers (AFSW), Billings has also been a member of the Arion Players Drama Club.

Courtney Ray

Courtney Ray, a junior social work major from Cato, nominated by Stephanie Craig, associate professor and chair ofsocial work:

Ray has always known she wanted to help people, and why she chose social work. But she was unsure which area of the field to pursue until her January Field Period, when she worked at LCSW Counseling Solutions under Stephanie Gregory, a counselor.

“I believed I would gain more knowledge about counseling, and I did, but the entire Field Period went above my expectations,” said Ray. “Stephanie asked for my opinion and feedback on several functional behavioral assessments, a problem-solving process for addressing student problem behavior. I was also able to sit in on evaluations, counseling and therapy sessions, as well as gain intervention knowledge.”

While Ray was an observer during the counseling sessions, she and Gregory would process what went on after they ended.

“This allowed me to connect and understand what the client may be going through,” said Ray. “It’s what I liked most about my Field Period because it felt like this is where I belonged.”

The process of therapy has always interested Ray, and she said being able to “connect with a complete stranger by helping them through whatever is going on in their life is meaningful. After sitting through these sessions, I can see myself going into the marriage and family side of counseling.”

Ray is active in Peace Club, Up ’til Dawn, Association of Future Social Workers (AFSW), Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and serves as a peer advocate.

Shane Devlin

Shane Devlin, a sophomore childhood studies education major from Manchester, nominated by Pat Pulver, professor and chair of education:

Shane Devlin spent his January Field Period in a self-contained special education classroom of nine students in grades 3-5 at Kelley Intermediate School in Newark. After working with teacher Kristen Nardozzi, he realized one of his Field Period goals: what it’s like to work with students with special needs.

“They don’t always get the right answer the first time, so it takes more time and a better explanation to get those key ideas,” he said. “I found I liked working with smaller groups, as I was able to gain a better understanding of the disabilities each student had. The spectrum ran from ADHD to autism, to speech and hearing impairments.”

He was able to work with students on math assignments, and one particular student with ADHD.

“I worked one-on-one with him and while I found the lessons challenging because he couldn’t sit still for long, I remembered it was not his fault and I learned to be more patient,” said Devlin.

A resident assistant, Devlin also serves as a Student Senate representative, and is a member of the cross country team.

Ashley Larimore

Ashley Larimore, a senior organizational communication major from Horseheads, nominated by Anita Chirco, professor of communication studies:

One of the reasons Ashley Larimore chose Keuka was because of the Field Period experience.

“I trusted that completing an internship five months into my freshman year would give me the opportunity to see if organizational communication was indeed right for me,” said Larimore. “Little did I know at the time that my first Field Period would do much more than reveal I had chosen the right major. It led me to a job offer in the admissions office, three months before graduation.”

Four years later, Larimore’s other three Field Periods have equally had a major impact on her. For her final Field Period, she split the required 140-hours into two 70-hour Field Periods, one in the College’s marketing department and one with Java-Gourmet, a local small business that sells coffee, spice rubs, marinades, and chocolates.

“As a student ambassador in admissions, I am familiar with the arsenal pieces the College sends to interested students,” said Larimore. “But they are outdated and need to be revamped. While in Keuka’s marketing department, it became my job to help create these pieces, both in print and digitally. I learned the importance of editing and developed my design skills as I revamped some marketing pieces. This Field Period experience enabled me to refine my writing skills, and develop my familiarity with InDesign.”

“Working at Java-Gourmet allowed me to refine my social marketing and media skills, as well as learn webpage management and networking skills,” said Larimore. “I also was able to take some of the products home to use in recipes and document my success on social media, as well as update the company website.”

Larimore is involved in Sigma Delta Tau, the international English honor society; Sigma Lambda Sigma, the service, leadership, and scholastic honor society; is president of Lambda Pi Eta, the national communication honor society; and is a member of the President’s Leadership Circle, Students Helping Students, and Center for Spiritual Life. She is also a member of the Student Judicial Panel and mentor.

Erica Ruscio

Erica Ruscio, a senior English major from Middlesex, nominated by Allison Schultz, international student adviser in the Center for Global Education:

During the fall semester, Erica Ruscio sailed around the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Semester at Sea program on board the MV Explorer, an 836-passenger floating classroom.

Ruscio said the philosophy of the Semester at Sea program and Keuka College are one in the same—it all comes down to experiential learning.

“I went to 12 countries, took classes, attended seminars, navigated through unfamiliar cities and new experiences, and discovered new understandings of what it means to be human. It was the coolest thing I have ever done,” said Ruscio.

Through co-curricular involvement, community service, and exploring the world, Rusico said she has taken learning far beyond the traditional four-walled classroom.

“As an English major, I love books, but they only tell half the story,” she said. “The concrete experiences can’t be replicated, and can’t be doubled in a book.”

For example, Ruscio said she didn’t just read in a book what South Africa was like, “I explored it myself and made friends there. I didn’t just see a picture of the native people of the Amazon; I spent the night in the jungle with them. I didn’t just read a statistic about poverty in Latin America; I played with the kids in the Argentine slums.”

Ruscio said that she now has more faith in the opportunity to try, take chances, make mistakes, and try again.

“Experiential learning, which embraces the whole person, is what I received from Keuka College and the Semester at Sea program,” she said. “I haven’t just ‘done’ this experience, I’ve become it.”

An active participant in the Arion Players Drama Club and the Women’s Center Advocacy Club, Ruscio also serves as a TeamWorks! facilitator, editor of Red Jacket, and is a writing tutor. She also lends her time and talents to the Literacy Volunteers of Ontario and Yates Counties.

Amanda Markessinis

Amanda Markessinis, a freshman organizational communication major from Albany, nominated by Anita Chirco, professor of communication studies:

Amanda Markessinis spent her January Field Period at the Times Union newspaper in Albany, and said the hands-on learning experience she acquired from this Field Period went beyond what she expected.

“By being immersed in the journalism industry, I learned how it works, the different jobs at the paper, and whether or not I believed I fit in this job,” said Markessinis. “I worked with Jennifer Gish, a features editor and sports writer, who wanted me to experience the journalism career to the fullest. So every day she would present me with new tasks.”

Gish had Markessinis craft interview questions, write blog posts, work with other reporters on stories, and set up interviews for her own stories.

“I wrote a ‘dos and don’ts’ for exercise in the health section of the paper during my first week,” said Markessinis. “Working and being treated like a professional made me want to do my best, and gave me insight into what I can expect if I were to pursue a career in journalism.”

She said her experience at the newspaper taught her more than just the basics of journalism—it shaped her future.

“Now, not only am I a better writer, I am also more familiar with my strengths and weaknesses,” said Markessinis. “I have not only added to my resume, I have reevaluated my goals and the directions of my career path. This Field Period taught me that while I like aspects of journalism, I don’t want to go into the field.”

Markessinis participates in Enactus, For the Kids, and was a leader at the Center for Spiritual Life’s winter retreat.

Sierra Lynch

Sierra Lynch, a junior psychology major from Watervliet, nominated by Athena Elafros, assistant professor of sociology:

Lynch completed her January Field Period at Sunmount Developmental Disabilities Service Office Center for Intensive Treatment (CIT) in Tupper Lake.

Lynch’s activities included observing people with anger management issues, attending training sessions, writing lesson plans for the sessions, and witnessing the behavior of those on the CIT unit, including sexual assault perpetrators, who may also have been victims.

“This experience taught me about psychiatric examination, the field I wish to pursue, by forcing me to see another perspective,” she said. “I want to work with inmates who have mental health problems, and this Field Period gave me that opportunity.”

She said she came to realize her potential through her experience, which she has used in and out of the classroom.

“I learned about different perspectives and ways to handle situations I came across, and will come across. And, I learned to clearly communicate my ideas,” said Lynch.

But she admits she had a hard time hearing the personal stories of the consumers, which are what those at CIT are called.

“During my last week there, the consumers started to open up and tell me about themselves,” said Lynch. “Some of the stories ripped me apart because of the terrible things they had been through. Even still, this Field Period confirmed I do want to pursue a career in psychiatric examination.”

An Academic Success at Keuka (ASK) notetaker, Lynch also works in the ASK Center, is a member of the Arion Players Drama Club, Psychology Club, and Sociology, Criminology, and Criminal Justice Club.

Thanh Thi Hoang Do

Thanh Thi Hoang Do, a senior management major from Hanoi, Vietnam, nominated by Patricia Speers, ESL academic skills counselor in the Center for Global Education:

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C., served as a classroom for the month of January for Thanh, who served as an intern in the human resources department for the Court.

“Human resource management will require me to deal with many different types of people in my career,” said Thanh, “and luckily, the U.S. is an excellent place for me to get that experience because of its diverse population.”

While she didn’t have much to do with the court cases, Thanh completed research and created a training session with her supervisor’s guidance. In addition, she co-facilitated the session with another intern. She also created and updated personnel files, screened resumes, and scheduled interviews.

“I believe Keuka College has prepared me with the knowledge to help discover the outside world, and I am impressed by the Field Period program,” said Thanh. “It helps me combine my class lesson with the work environment. My last Field Period made me more mature, professional, and experienced. Applying the knowledge that I received at Keuka in the business setting was a great opportunity for me.”

Thanh has a work study position in the Center for Global education, was in the fashion show, serves as treasurer of the International Club, participated in Celebrate Service…Celebrate Yates, and is a transfer student mentor.

Beyond 9 – 5

Carol Sackett and two of her paintings, "Still Waters," left and "Sunrise," right.

By day, Penn Yan resident Carol Sackett manages the circulation desk at Lightner Library, a post she has held for 32 years. But through March 7, visitors to Keuka College can glimpse a different side of her, as seen in three oil paintings gracing the walls of Lightner Gallery.

Sackett’s paintings are on display alongside numerous other works from members of Keuka’s faculty and staff, whose job titles may not necessarily disclose the individuals as creative “artists-in-residence.”

Beyond 9 to 5: The Hidden Talents of Keuka’s Faculty and Staff runs through March 7 in Lightner Gallery,located in Lightner Library. It features  a range of artistic mediums, including painting, photography, ceramics, glass work, digital art, and film.  More than 20 faculty and staff members submitted work for the show, including President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera.

During a special artists’ reception – open to the public – Thursday, Feb. 21 from 4:30 – 6 p.m., the exhibit will also feature select culinary art from four members of the faculty and staff. The exhibit remains open daily during library hours, available online at: http://lightner.keuka.edu

Hand-painted glass by Doreen Hovey

(more…)

Chemists Gather at Keuka

Chemists in the professional field reviewed slides of the "Art of Chemistry" exhibit by junior Kat Andonucci and Dr. Andy Robak at Lightner Library Sept. 25. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

Some 26 members of the Corning Section of the American Chemical Society attended a dinner and lecture in Lightner Library Sept. 25 on “The Art of Chemistry,” the current exhibit in Lightner Gallery featuring color photographs of chemical experiments.

It was the first time Keuka College has hosted a monthly meeting of the local chapter of the organization.

According to Tom Carroll, professor of chemistry, the Corning Section of the American Chemical Society membership includes representatives from a number of colleges and industrial companies. They meet monthly and give special awards given to outstanding college seniors each April. Last spring, Carroll was asked to host a monthly meeting this fall at Keuka, and the new exhibit became an ideal presentation.

The exhibit showcases the work of junior Kat Andonucci, who photographed experiments she conducted as a year-long independent study with Dr. Andy Robak, associate professor of chemistry. Robak has described himself as having “wacky interests” that combine artistic pursuits including photography, sculpture and painting with scientific study. He sought out a student in Keuka’s visual and verbal art program to help carry out the vision and found Andonucci, who had originally enrolled in Keuka as a biology major.

Chemists attending a professional gathering at Keuka engaged in discussion on the "Art of Chemistry" exhibit. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

Robak served as keynote speaker for the meeting, which included time for members to peruse the photography in the gallery, enjoy a catered dinner and hear details of the experiments and exhibit in a discussion facilitated by Robak. In addition to the American Chemical Society, the Andonucci and Robak’s work has drawn the attention of Chemical & Engineering News in Washington, D.C., which published a story on the exhibit in its Oct. 1 issue and website.

According to Carroll, Keuka’s chemistry professors have been keeping busy in recent weeks. Carroll was an invited speaker at the special ICESS 2012 pre-conference workshop held at the SOLEIL Synchrotron south of Paris, France between Sept. 14 – 16.  The workshop was in honor of Prof. T. D. Thomas (Oregon State University), with whom Carroll has done research since 1972.  The workshop commemorated Dr. Thomas’s 80th birthday, and his nearly 50 years of research in the field of electron spectroscopy.

Carroll also reported that Division Chair Mike Keck is attending the Rochester meeting of the American Chemical Society this week.

Lights, Camera – Science!

Junior Kat Andonucci and Dr. Andy Robak, associate professor of chemistry (Photo by Erik Holmes '13)

Start with a science lab. Add one chemistry professor with self-described “wacky interests.” Introduce a visual and verbal art major once obsessed with rocks, especially the minerals that glow under ultraviolet light. Mix up a variety of chemistry experiments under special lights and have the student capture them on camera. What do you get?

Droplets of mercury (Photo by Kat Andonucci '14)

The Art of Chemistry, a year-long discovery in pictures of the beauty and form caused –and  sometimes concocted – with a variety of chemical compounds. The art exhibit runs through Sept. 28 in Lightner Gallery inside Lightner Library at Keuka College, where an artist reception will be held from 4:30 – 6 p.m. Thursday, September 20. The gallery is open daily; hours can be found on the main page at: http://lightner.keuka.edu

Robak's hand pours a luminol solution into a narrow glass tube over a 15-second exposure (Photo by Kat Andonucci '14)

Student photographer Kat Andonucci, a junior from Chestertown, near the Lake George region, did a year-long independent study under the guidance of Andy Robak, associate professor of chemistry. With Robak casting the vision and directing her in each experiment, Andonucci crafted the composition, often using a tripod, a remote shutter and a long exposure to create the images. For example, one image of Robak pouring a luminol solution into a narrow-mouth beaker required the shutter remain open for 15 seconds or more to showcase the intense blues and greens of the liquid.

“Everything we did had to be something visually appealing,” explained Andonucci, describing how the independent study served as her chemistry class for the year.

“I’ve owned my camera since ninth grade, and as a side hobby, I did landscapes and outdoor pictures,” Andonucci said, explaining how she entered college as a biology major, thinking she would pursue a career in forensic pathology. But a film photography course in her first semester got her thinking her high school hobby might turn out to be more than just something to do on the side. So she switched her major to visual and verbal art.

Enter Robak, who contacted Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art, last year in search of a student who could help illustrate experiments that would show “the fun side of chemistry.”

Glycerol makes glass objects dipped into it appear to disappear. (Photo by Kat Andonucci '14)

“I’ve always been interested in chemistry as art or science as art. You can see from the pictures that a lot of stuff I work with is really cool,” said Robak, who holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. He rattled off a variety of compounds, from mercury, with its shiny metallic texture that is “really fun to play with,” to flourescein, which turns neon-green when in contact with water, to glycerol, which refracts light in a way that seems to make objects submersed in it disappear. Images of each of those chemicals appear in the exhibit.

“We wanted to treat as a course, the chemistry of things that are neat to look at, to have a clue what they were,” Robak said, pointing out how many science textbooks use photography to illustrate experiments. The two received a $500 grant from Keuka’s Division of Academic Affairs to help cover costs of printing and framing the images.

For her part, Andonucci said she was “excited and nervous” because shooting under such unusual conditions was outside of her comfort zone with natural, outdoor lighting. Indeed, lighting was the biggest challenge as she would sometimes use a window, a lamp, black lights, or would incorporate the light generated from a chemical itself in different images.

Holmes' hand with burning methane gas, a quick-second experiment (Photo by Kat Andonucci '14)

A secondary challenge was the blink-and-miss-it nature of some of the experiments, such as a shot of flames from methane gas bubbles leaping upward from the hand of Erik Holmes, a senior visual and verbal art major.

Andonucci had to be sure to take several shots of each experiment, capturing several on camera by conducting experiments several times in a row. For another image, Robak directed her to bring glycerol, a liquid, into contact with purple potassium permanganate, a solid, which bursts into purple flames and smoke without any introduction of heat, he said.

“Kat worked on that one for a long time. She tried about 20 times and probably took 150 photographs of the same thing in order to get it right,” Robak said. It’s a good thing she shot in digital, because she kept filling up the camera’s memory card every time, he added.

“More than anything, I think she had a really good eye for these sorts of things. She takes a great picture, but out of many, many pictures that she got, she was great at picking out the right ones,” Robak said.

After a year of translating her chemistry class into images, Andonucci said she would be willing to work with Robak again on similar projects. She is considering posting her images online to see if she could market them to companies for commercial use.

Lead, held in Holmes' palm. (Photo by Kat Andonucci '14)

“There’s so much you can do with forensic photography,” she said, adding that she’s “pretty open to anything [with photography], as long as it’s not taking pictures of people.”

Robak managed to convince Holmes to paint a graffiti mural on a concrete wall last year.  The mural illustrated the chemical structure of concrete itself, and Robak said he has ideas for other special projects involving science and other types of art, whether sculpture, painting or more.

Calcium Carbonate under black light. (Photo by Kat Andonucci '14)

“I’ve got too many ideas and not enough artists,” Robak said. “I’m totally looking for more people to rope into these kinds of things.”

Summing up her year-long experiment and the exhibit, Andonucci said “it’s awesome, it’s pretty and it’s cool. I had fun and learned a ton.”

Scientists in the Making

Chemist Dmitri Mendeleev is credited with developing the first periodic table of the elements, the most important reference in chemistry because it arranges all the elements in an easy-to-read chart.

This table was key for the nearly two dozen St. Michael’s School (Penn Yan) and Penn Yan Elementary School students who visited the Keuka College campus Nov. 19 for the Chemistry Club’s Kids’ Day, held in Jephson Science Center.

Chemistry Club member Richelle Coons adds food coloring to 'elephant toothpaste' as St. Michael's School fourth-grader Sarah Loucks looks on.

The elementary school students used the table to find the atomic numbers of such ingredients as potassium and iodine before creating “elephant” toothpaste, a foam that looks like “human” toothpaste.

Conducted once a semester, Kids’ Day shows elementary school students “how much fun science is,” said Club Secretary Janelle Davidson. “We want to get the kids interested in science at a young age and [Kids’ Day] gives them the opportunity to conduct experiments in a fun and safe way.”

Davidson, a senior biology major from Cortland, showed the youngsters how to use cabbage juice as a pH indicator.

“Acids and bases will make the cabbage juice turn different colors, depending on the pH in the acid or base,” she said.

Chemistry Club president Katie Barnhart, a senior biochemistry major from Warsaw, showed the youngsters what happens to marshmallows, a glove filled with air, and a hard-boiled egg inside a vacuum. The children also dipped cotton swabs in different salts and club member Jason Troutman, a senior biology major from Kirkville, placed the end in a Bunsen burner and, depending on the salt, a different color flame was produced.

Several elementary schoolers poke the 'ooblek' to feel its properties.

Club members also showed their young friends how to make ‘ooblek,’ a type of slime that has properties of both liquids and solids; conducted experiments by combining sugar and fire; and created fireworks with gummy bears.

The highlight of the event was watching Assistant Professor of Chemistry Andy Robak, Chemistry Club adviser, create bubbles by placing a gas-filled hose under water and dish soap. He got his hands and arms wet under the gas bubbles, scooped up the bubbles, and Barnhart set the bubbles on fire.

Other members of the Chemistry Club who took part included: Kyle Morgan, a sophomore biochemistry major from Alfred Station; Steve Stout (treasurer), a senior environmental science major from Locke; Brian DelPineo, a sophomore biochemistry major from Oneida; Ashley Hager, a sophomore biochemistry major from Chemung; Sonya Decker, a freshman occupational science major from Chemung; Kathlyn Parrish, a freshman biochemistry major from Cincinnatus; Caitlin Adams, a sophomore biology major from Redwood; Andrea Burgess, a senior management major from Hemlock; Alex Jones, a senior biology major from Conklin; Chelsea George, a freshman biomedical major from Strykersville; Krystal Russell, a freshman medical technician major from Berkshire; and Richelle Coons, a freshman adolescent biology major from Lyons.

Elves, Witches, and Superman

Although the holiday season is still a few weeks away, Santa Claus and several of his elves made a stop on the Keuka College campus Monday, Oct. 31.

Pat Reape, director of housing and residence life, dressed as the guy in the red suit for the annual Halloween costume contest in Dahlstrom Student Center. His elves, resident directors (RD) Eugene Mont, Tim White, Rebecca Capek, McKala Accetura, and Margeaux DePrez posed with gifts and candy canes.

Reape and the RDs earned first place in the contest—a pizza party for 15 people.

Second place winners were a group of students known as the Average Lows. The students—Isaiah Nalls, Brandon Franklin, Mark Butto, Justin Napolitano, Alex Fiore, Ricky Newton, Nate Smith, Kyle Rivera, Coty Paige, and Anthony Jones—each earned a certificate for a free meal in the Terrace Café for their efforts.

Third place recipient, Andy Robak, assistant professor of chemistry, received a certificate for a free smoothie at the Terrace Café for his portrayal of the Macho Man.

Check out more Halloween photos.