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The Year in Pictures

University photographer J. Adam Fenster shares some of his favorite photos from around the University during the past year.

man's fingers around the eye of an elephant

Eye of the Beholder: Jeff Wyatt, attending veterinarian for the University and for Seneca Park Zoo, examines 35-year-old African elephant Genny-C.
One of Fenster’s favorite assignments this year was photographing at the zoo. “This photo is a crop of a larger original,” he explains. By cropping in on the elephant’s eye and the vet’s hands, he creates a more captivating image.

Rush Rhees Library in the snow at sunset

The Iconic Campus Shot: Rush Rhees Library is probably the most photographed building on the River Campus. Professional and amateur photographers capture stunning photos of the edifice all year round. Fenster notes that it’s interesting to compare different versions of the same subject.

In this case, Fenster happened upon some “found light” from the setting January sun. “It was an overcast evening, with heavy clouds, but then there came this spear of sunlight. It created a dramatic effect and I just happened to be there to document it.”

woman walks around a prayer rug shaped like a labyrinth

Walk This Way: Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Denise Yarbrough walks a labyrinth in the University’s Interfaith Chapel.

For this picture, according to Fenster, “it was essential to photograph it from above and to make the most of the natural light.”

Spiderman atop police car in front of Eastman Theater

Spidey Sense: In May, stunt actors and movie crews shot scenes in front of Eastman Theatre for the upcoming movie The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

When Fenster learned that filming was occurring in downtown Rochester, he took the initiative to document the occasion. “It’s Hollywood in Rochester—what a unique and important moment for both the city and the school. And this photograph puts Spiderman right next to the Eastman sign.”

smiling student with his mom points to his diploma

The Future Is Bright: Marcus Burrell, holding his diploma, celebrates with mother Beverly following the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s commencement ceremony.

“The best photos are the ones that show emotion,” says Fenster. “They’re also the hardest to get. In the aftermath of commencement though, you see a lot of real emotions from the graduates and their families.”

small brass sculpture atop Memorial Art Gallery

Statuesque: The photo depicts a figure from Tom Otterness’s Creation Myth, which is perched above the Memorial Art Gallery entrance.

“More than anything, this picture demonstrates how the chance confluence of weather and light can help to create a striking image,” Fenster says.

hand holds a glowing cube of ice

Ice Age: Vasilii Petrenko, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, holds a 50,000-year-old ice sample from a glacier in Antarctica.

“For this photo, I had in my mind what I wanted to capture,” explains Fenster. “As the demonstration ice started melting, it took on the appearance of translucent glass. So I lit it from behind to create the image you see.”

students standing on the shore of a lake

Lake Effect: Warner School students and Rochester city schoolchildren obtain water samples from Lake Ontario during the school’s Get Real! Science summer camp in July.

“I’ll take any excuse to get into the water,” says Fenster, “and it’s always great to document the outreach that our students do. In this case, the weather worked to our advantage. Because it wasn’t too sunny, you’re able to see more details in the subjects’ faces.”


Where the Wild Things Are: Pictured is a male Henkel’s leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus henkeli). Geckos are among some of the species studied by Daniel Scantlebury, a Rochester PhD student in biology.

According to Fenster, “This was one of my favorite assignments. We could have just used stock photography, but I love photographing critters and had some ideas for this shoot. After a lot of setup and testing, we managed to collect a great series of gecko images to help illustrate the research.”

welding torch

Heavy Metal: Rochester sculptor Albert Paley works on Soliloquy in his studio. The piece was later installed in the Memorial Art Gallery's Centennial Sculpture Park.

According to Fenster, “Sometimes detail shots are more interesting than wider ones. They give us a chance to show viewers a subject in a completely different way.”

crowd of students gathers around a bonfire

Fired Up: University students attend a bonfire behind Susan B. Anthony Halls during orientation.

Fenster’s take? “This was the first bonfire on campus in about 15 years. Fire is always a fascinating subject for a photographer, both evocative and primal. I also enjoy capturing students in non-academic settings.”

George Eastman statue

The Man, the Myth, the Legend: Pictured is the statue of University benefactor George Eastman overlooking the Eastman Quad.

“This is probably the second most photographed object on campus,” says Fenster. “I had to do some dodging and weaving to get the statue’s outline against the sky. By exposing for the dramatic clouds you get a nice, contrasting silhouette.”

large crowd in the main hall of the Eastman School of Music

In Memoriam:  A remembrance gathering convened for Douglas Lowry, the former Eastman School dean, on the morning he died of cancer. The school’s main hall was officially renamed Lowry Hall.

“An event like this is always hard to cover,” explains Fenster. “How do you capture raw emotion in a way that’s respectful and tells a story? Here I held the camera above my head and used a long lens to compress the scene, creating a narrow plane of focus on the faces of Douglas Lowry’s mourners.”

large crowd in the main hall of the Eastman School of Music

Bring Up the Bodies: After 23 years, Commerce, a long-lost statue, was reacquired from former English professor James Carley. It lies in storage awaiting its reunion with the four other statues near Rush Rhees Library.

“When I arrived at the storage company I had to get a guy on a forklift to move the statue to an area where I had enough room to light and photograph it properly,” Fenster reports. “Then I spent a couple of hours positioning lights and changing camera angles to get something that worked. I enjoy using available light whenever possible, but sometimes you need to bring your own to augment or overpower what is already there in order to create a more dramatic photo.”

The end result juxtaposes the statue’s artistic details with the warehouse’s ordinariness.

student wearing an eye-traching device on her head and waving her hand in front of her face

Eye Spy: Former study subject and Rochester graduate Lindsay Bronnenkant wears an eye-tracking device as she reenacts a study on synesthesia and “seeing” in the dark.

“I’m often called upon to help illustrate stories promoting the research at the University. In this case, the research was about motion, so I wanted the photo to show movement,” Fenster explains. By slowing down the shutter speed, he was able to blur the hand to convey movement in a still photograph.

The Best of Photo Friday

Every Friday, the University homepage is taken over by photos submitted by Rochester students, alumni, faculty, and staff. And every week, visitors to the page select their favorite photos. Here are this year's favorites, as chosen by you.

  • November 22, 2013
    Eastman Quad with snow and orange-leafed treesfrom Saikat Chakraborty, chemistry graduate student
    Rush Rhees - a library for all seasons.
  • November 15, 2013
    Eastman Quad with snow and orange-leafed treesfrom Rachel Yarnold '14
    First snow of the Season.
  • November 1, 2013
    sunlight on colorful leaves on the quadfrom Crystal Cusimano, Dean's Office
  • October 25, 2013
    close-up of leaffrom Sara May, University IT
    Morning dew on an autumn leaf.
  • October 18, 2013
    building lit pink by the sunsetfrom Grayson Honan '16
    View of the Science Quad from Gavett.
  • October 4, 2013
    George Eastman statue holding a camerafrom Yuchuan Zhuang, graduate student
    We all love photography!
  • September 20, 2013
    group of students posing on top of a mountainfrom Katherine Wegman '15
    Rochester students conquer Mt. Marcy, the tallest peak in New York State.
  • September 6, 2013
    student in t-shirt reading Learn, Discover, Heal, Create holds a toy minionfrom Akira Neng Chun Wong '14
    My Minion and I, together we are gonna make the world ever better. (On Top of Europe)
  • August 30, 2013
    women in ♥UR shirts, standing in mountain meadowfrom iola Spahiu '15
    Viola Spahiu '15 and Lindsey Brown '15 on Mt. Rainier in Washington.
  • August 23, 2013
    UofR logo on a mountainfrom Alec Girten '17
    Taken in the Yoloshin Valley on the Tibetan Plateau.
  • August 16, 2013
    student at a wind farm wearing a Rocky t-shirtfrom Thomas Hollowell '14
    Thomas Hollowell '14 perches 220 ft up while installing gearbox monitoring sensors at Puget Sound Energy's Wild Horse Wind Farm.
  • August 2, 2013
    moon over Rish Rhees Libraryfrom Maria Salas '15
    Students Helping Hondurus Leadership Summit 2013. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi
  • July 26, 2013
    student proposing to another student in front of Rush Rhees Libraryfrom Ruolan Han '07 (Ph.D)
    Warner School graduate student Dwayne Campbell getting engaged with URMC alumnus (now Duke grad student) Saintedym Wills.
  • June 28, 2013
    moon over Rish Rhees Libraryfrom Anthony Wan '13
    SuperMoon over Rush Rhees.
  • June 21, 2013
    student holds sign saying MELIORA on top of Machu Picchufrom Kathryn Flaschner '14
    After a four day trek in the Inca Jungle, here is rising senior Kathryn Flaschner in Machu Picchu, paying tribute to the place that got her there.
  • June 14, 2013
    Bausch and Lomb Hallfrom Jordan Schilling '15
    Bausch & Lomb Hall in springtime.
  • June 7, 2013
    muses statuesfrom Crystal Cusimano, Dean's Office
    Spring and the Muses.
  • May 31, 2013
    graduate blowing bubblesfrom Devin Embil '13
    Evalyn Gleason '13 blowing bubbles during commencement.
  • May 24, 2013
    mom adjusting son's graduation capfrom Lisa Norwood, Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Putting on the finishing touches before the 9 a.m. Commencment Ceremony.
  • May 3, 2013
    Rush Rhees Library tower under the full moonfrom Zhiyuan Ma '16
    Rush Rhees under Full Moon.
  • April 26, 2013
    photo of the quad taken from the Rush Rhees Library balconyfrom Anthony Wan '13
    Rush Rhees balcony in the sun!
  • April 12, 2013
    hand holding Rush Rhees photo up against actual Rush Rhees Libraryfrom Brent Gerstner, alumnus
    Spring time at the University.
  • April 5, 2013
    the Writing Fellow pose for a picturefrom Nicolas LeClaire '14
    The Writing Fellows, undergraduates trained to help other students with all stages of the writing process.
  • March 22, 2013
    ultimate frisbee teamfrom Kathleen Cusack '13
    The University of Rochester Men and Women's Ultimate Frisbee Teams at High Tide in Brunswick, GA.
  • March 08, 2013
    snowy walkwayfrom Lauren Levine, parent
    Nemo 2013: The pathway between the bookstore and Georgen.
  • March 1, 2013
    icy riverfrom Jared Nesvet '13
    The Genesee River after the snow storm.
  • February 8, 2013
    glittery balloonfrom Yuanyun Zhang '14
    Winter Fest in Wilson Commons.
  • February 1, 2013
    walking trail and snow near campusfrom Sukanya Roy '16
    Walking in a winter wonderland...
  • January 25, 2013
    rainbowfrom Patti Walker, Memorial Art Gallery
    Touch the rainbow. (behind Memorial Art Gallery)
  • January 18, 2013
    gingerbread house in shape of Rush Rhees from Melissa Hewson '11
    Gingerbread Rush Rhees designed by URSMD '15 students Michael Feldman ('11), Melissa Hewson ('11), Maura Tappen and Josef Bartels as part of the First Annual Polk Gingerbread Competition.
  • January 11, 2013
    snowy frat quad from Dan Watts, Residential Life
    Snowed under, over break.
  • January 4, 2013
    view of library tower from Wilson Commons from Ya Gao '16
    Rush Rhees library.

Top 10 Stories of 2013

Based on web traffic to our news sites, we’ve compiled a list of this year’s top stories. The range of subjects—local and national, pop culture and living history, viral videos and scientific discoveries—reflects the diversity of the University itself.

Here, briefly reviewed and with links to the original stories, is UR news in 2013.

(1) Motion Quotient

May 23, 2013

one student sits still while others swirl around her

Using a visual test, a Rochester research team found an unexpected link between IQ and motion filtering. As a person’s IQ increases, so does his or her ability to filter out distracting background motion.

The vision test—simple and non-verbal—could remove some of the limitations associated with standard IQ tests, which have been criticized for cultural bias. This would enable researchers to better understand neural processing in individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Read the story, view the data, and watch a video >>

(2) Cracking Suffrage History

June 25, 2013

an open safe

It’s Storage Wars for history buffs.

In June, the University’s Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership joined the National Council of Women of the United States in New York City to open a “Woman Suffrage Party" safe. The safe had been linked to Susan B. Anthony, the feminist and civil rights leader.

To solve the mystery of its contents, the Anthony Center hired a professional safecracker. The safe included:

  • Tax documents dated 1931
  • A boxed Smithsonian replica of Susan B. Anthony’s gavel, presented to her in 1888
  • A box with six mounted replicas of murals from the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago featuring historical women figures
  • A credit card that expired in 2002

Read about what else was in the safe, and see photos and a video of the safe being opened >>

(3) Men are from Mars Earth, Women are from Venus Earth

February 1, 2013

Contrary to popular belief, men and women aren’t so different after all—at least not psychologically. Rochester researchers found that the dichotomy of the sexes falls apart under statistical scrutiny.

The vast majority of psychological traits defy sex- or gender-based categorization. For example, it is not unusual for men to be empathic and women to be good at math, characteristics that some research has associated with the other sex.

So no matter how strange and inscrutable your partner may seem, their gender is probably only a small part of the big picture.

Read more, view the data, and watch a video >>

(4) Researchers Optically Levitate a Glowing, Nanoscale Diamond

August 12, 2013

nanodiamond particle levitating between two diamonds

Diamonds are a physicist’s best friend?

Maybe not, but by using a technique known as laser trapping, Rochester researchers caused nanodiamonds to levitate in space and emit light at given frequencies. This marked the first time that light emitted by photoluminescence from a nanodiamond levitating in free space was measured.

Using lasers to trap ions, atoms, and (more recently) larger particles is a well-established field of physics. Nanodiamonds, however, had never been levitated. With these new findings, the researchers can start considering systems with possible applications in the field of quantum computing.

Read the story, see photos, and watch the video >>

(5) Legacy of Slavery Still Fuels Anti-Black Attitudes in the Deep South

September 18, 2013

Slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago, but its political legacy endures and continues to influence views in the 21st century.

A team of political scientists at the University of Rochester found that white Southerners who currently live in the Cotton Belt—where slavery and the plantation economy dominated—are much more likely to express more negative attitudes toward blacks than fellow Southerners who live in nearby areas that had few slaves.

This new data underscores the importance of considering institutional and historical legacy, as well as contemporary influences (such as education, income, or degree of urbanity), when understanding political views.

Read the story and view the data >>

(6) Father-Son Team Demonstrates Simple Optical Cloaking of Large Objects

June 7, 2013

teenager and young boy standing behind a clear glass plate, appears to be invisible from neck down

From Harry Potter to military stealth technology, cloaking is a common topic in popular culture and in the scientific community.

To cloak an object is to hide it from view at specific frequencies. Different types of cloaking have been demonstrated in labs around the world.

At the University of Rochester, a professor of physics—with the help of his son—built three simple, yet surprisingly effective optical cloaking devices with inexpensive, off-the-shelf materials.

Read the story and watch the video >>

(7) First Group of College Town Tenants Unveiled

November 1, 2013

artist rendering of College Town

Not surprisingly, the Rochester community is interested in the building of College Town. The plan is to redevelop 14 acres of University-owned property with new retail and dining space, hotel and conference facilities, parking and housing.

The first tenants of College Town were announced in November. In addition to Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Hilton Garden Inn, they include Corner Bakery Café, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Flight Wine Bar, and more.

College Town is slated to open in fall 2014.

Learn more and see a rendering >>

(8) Biologists Identify the Chemical Behind Cancer Resistance in Naked Mole Rats

June 19, 2013

naked mole rat

Cancer research often focuses on animals that are prone to cancer. But at the University of Rochester, researchers believe there is also much to learn by studying animals that are cancer-proof.

Case in point: the naked mole rat.

Naked mole rats are small, hairless, subterranean rodents that have never been known to get cancer, despite having a 30-year lifespan. A Rochester research group discovered that these rodents are protected from cancer because their tissues are rich with high molecular weight hyaluronan.

The findings represent an important step in treating and preventing cancer.

Read more and see photos >>

(9) How to Prank a Freshman Chemistry Class

September 2013

student standing in front of a blackboard in a lecture hall

There’s nothing like getting pranked and then having it go viral. The students in one of Rochester’s chemistry classes know this all too well.

On the first day of the semester, a Rochester upperclassman pretended to be Chemistry 131’s Professor Hafensteiner. The “professor” proceeded to give his new pupils quite the lecture, warning that most of them would likely fail the course and that using laptops and cell phones in class would have “severe repercussions” on their grades.

The real "Doctor H" appeared in time to reassure the first-year students that the hoax was just that. Within hours of posting the video of the prank on YouTube, it had received nearly 500,000 hits.

Read more and watch the video >>

(10) The Amazing Spider-Man Films in Rochester

May 2013

spiderman atop a polic car in front of Eastman Theatre

This past spring, downtown Rochester—including the area around the Eastman Theatre—served as the backdrop for chase scenes being filmed for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. University photographer J. Adam Fenster (and paparazzo for the day) captured images from the last day of filming.

Check out the photos and see if you can spot Spidey >>