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These images of Japan are from the collection of Joanne Bernardi, Associate Professor of Japanese (Department of Modern Languages and Cultures). From left to right: a Shonen Kurabu magazine New Year's Greeting, a Singer Manufacturing Company trade card from the first half of the 20th Century and, from even earlier, an All Aboard for Sunrise Lands travel book (1882).

Digital Humanities Project turns a lens on pre-war Japan

When Joanne Bernardi, Associate Professor of Japanese, was an undergraduate pursuing a degree in photography and film at the Kansas City Art Institute in the mid 1970s, she entered a national photography competition. It required her to say what she would do with the money if she won. She had recently seen some acclaimed Japanese movies, such as Rashomon and Ikiru, and was taking classes in Japanese literature and history -- so she wrote that she would visit Japan.

"Then I got the money, and I had to go," she says jokingly.

It was a transformative visit, spurring her decades-long interest in uncovering a side of Japan that few Westerners knew about -- a cosmopolitan, modernizing nation that was already making its mark in film and experiencing a boom in tourism well before World War II.

Bernardi has documented this with hundreds of early 20th Century postcards, films, brochures, advertisements and other objects now on display at an interactive online archive and research project developed with the help of the Digital Humanities Center. "Re-envisioning Japan: Japan as Destination in 20th Century Visual and Material Culture" uses travel, education and the production and exchange of images and objects as a "lens to investigate changing representations of Japan and its place in the world in the first half of the 20th Century."

For example, Bernardi uses the material in a University course she teaches called Tourist Japan, in which tourism and tourist culture is used to illuminate "endless ideas, problems, and questions about the relationship between modernization processes and identity formation." Bernardi hopes her project will also be an interactive resource for other scholars.

"What a lot of people have in their minds about prewar Japan is rising fascism," Bernardi notes. "And yes, there was that. But there was also a very vibrant popular culture.

"There's been this assumption, for example, that everything significant in the Japanese film industry happens after the Second World War. There were a lot of articles written about how Americans started the Japanese film industry then because we introduced them to Hollywood movies. That's not true at all."

Japan's thriving film industry, dating back to the silent era, had become one of the world's largest by the 1930s, Bernardi discovered during two subsequent, extended stays in Japan to do her dissertation research and to teach as an associate professor at Ibaraki University. Moreover, Japan was already very familiar with Hollywood movies, which sometimes made their way to Japan because they were shown on ships bringing American tourists to the country before the war.

"People often assume Japan before the war was pretty inaccessible," Bernardi said. "But it was very much on the international map."

The modernization of Japan "is a really interesting topic," Bernardi adds. "It's always been conflated with westernization, but that really doesn't tell the whole story. There's always been a modernization trend in Japan that's really its own, based on indigenous forms of transformation. The war created a kind of artificial point in history; it's taken a long time, but people are now able to see more continuities between post-war and pre-war Japan than they were able to before."

Next: Digital technology was the catalyst that "unleashed" the potential of Bernardi's collections to "make meaning."

Do you have an interesting photo or other image that helps illustrate your research? We would like to showcase it. Send a high resolution jpg or other version, along with a description of what it shows, to

Warner School research abroad: Ethiopia

(Three Warner School faculty and staff members recently discussed the importance of doing overseas research In an era of globalization, in order to make links between research conducted in contexts outside of North America and our understandings of local knowledge and practices in this country. This is one in a series of snapshots of their overseas research experiences, and what they've learned from them.)

"Mogadishu." "Ouagadougou."

Alicia Van Borssum, a project coordinator for the Warner School, describes herself as "that nerd in fifth grade who wanted to learn all the capitals of Africa" -- if only for the exotic sounds of the words.

Like "Addis Ababa."

Forty years later, Van Borssum, by then a teacher of English as a Second Language for the Greece School District, arrived in the Ethiopian capital to help train literacy teachers.

"I ended up going back six more times," she related at a recent talk. "I just got hooked . . . on the people. I met the most fantastic teachers you can imagine."

Her subsequent visits became part of her research for her doctoral thesis at the Warner School. "My great takeaway was that they don't need us to come in and tell them what to do. What they need is each other. There was so much expertise all over, but no opportunities to meet together."

For seven years now, a discussion group that Van Borssum helped establish has given teachers and librarians in Addis Ababa an opportunity to do just that -- at least once a month officially, even more often unofficially. They share ideas, and help each other establish literacy programs and open new libraries, even in remote areas outside the city.

She believes U.S. educators could gain valuable insights from the self-directed way this group functions.

"In the school districts where I've been teaching, the hot new item the last several years has been professional learning circles (PLCs), or collegial circles. We could learn a lot from a professional learning circle like the one in Addis Ababa."

"The ones here are very much driven from above. This completely negates the whole point of that sort of group. There is this expertise among practitioners. When you allow them to get together, to set their own agendas, and define their own needs, they get a tremendous amount done. That's one thing we could learn -- to let professional learning circles be self directed."

Her other takeaway: The quality of teachers really does matter, perhaps even more so than standards and assessments. She saw that in Ethiopia, too, in the way teachers on breaks constantly watch CNN or Al Jazeera, "talking about what's important in the world." Or they read books on subjects new to them -- to improve themselves so they can, in turn, improve their students.

She has not seen this emphasis on self-improvement among many of the teachers she has worked with in this country. Teachers like the ones she met in Ethiopia "are the kinds of people we want to inspire and teach our children, because they are so smart, and so curious. That's what we want to instill.

"That's the takeaway that changed my own practice and made me more aware of what is going on in the schools here."

(Van Borssum is project coordinator for The Western New York Collaboration for ELL Success (Project CELLS), a collaborative partnership among the Warner School; the Rochester City School District; Mid-West Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBE-RN); and the Monroe 2-Orleans, Wayne-Finger Lakes, and Genesee Valley BOCES programs. Project CELLS provides students who are learning English with access to high-quality instruction across academic subjects and prepares them for success beyond high school.)

Eastman School faculty members honored for articles

Melina Esse, Associate Professor of Musicology, has received the American Musicological Society's highly coveted 2014 Alfred Einstein Award, which honors an article of exceptional merit published during the previous year by a scholar in the early stages of his or her career.

Esse was honored for her article "Encountering the improvvisatrice in Italian Opera," which appeared in the fall 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Musicological Society (JAMS), the flagship journal of the field of musicology. The article examines the improvvisatrice, a female improviser of sung poetry, and her representation in Italian operas, particular Pacini's 1840 Saffo. Esse suggests that 19th-century efforts to redefine authorship through resurrecting the ancient figure of the Sapphic poetic genius allows better understanding of the era's shifting balance of power between singers and composers.

The award was presented Nov. 8 at the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society in Milwaukee. At the ceremony, David J. Rothenberg, Chair of the Einstein Award committee and Associate Professor at Case Western Reserve University, called Esse's winning essay an "exceptional article that investigates the significance of the female improviser in 19th-century opera" and "demonstrates that performance and spontaneity played a much larger role in contemporaneous conceptions of musical authorship than has previously been recognized." Read more . . .

Michael Alan Anderson, Associate Professor of Musicology, has, for the second time in three years, been named a winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award. The awards are presented annually by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to authors and journalists for "outstanding print, broadcast, and new media coverage of music." Anderson was recognized for his article "The One Who Comes After Me: John the Baptist, Christian Time, and Symbolic Musical Techniques." This article also appeared in the fall 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Musicological Society.

In his article Anderson explores a set of cases in music that shows how the precursor of Jesus -- John the Baptist -- was ingeniously represented in musical works from the 14th through the 16th century. He demonstrates how John the Baptist inspired late medieval and Renaissance composers as part of a culture of symbolic representation in music. For example, the relationship of John the Baptist (the forerunner saint) and Jesus was reflected in the art of the canon at this period, with its "leader" and "follower" voice. Read more . . .

Basics of IP: UR Ventures takes a new approach

(This is one in a series of articles about the importance of intellectual property and its commercialization to the University and its researchers. It is based on a current UR Ventures lecture series, "Intellectual Property and Commercializing Technology" being offered by the office of the AS&E Dean for Research. The next presentation, "How to Find Inventions, What Makes a Good Invention, and How to Find Prior Art," will be at noon Dec. 9 in the Gowen Room at Wilson Commons, lunch provided.)

A typical university tech transfer office will amass and maintain a large portfolio of patented innovations, then rely on predominantly passive marketing to identify potential licensees.

That's not the game plan at UR Ventures, the University's recently rebranded and reorganized tech transfer program, which has embarked on an aggressive team approach to help promising new inventions reach the marketplace, explains Patrick Emmerling, PhD MBA, Licensing Manager.

And for UR researchers, that means:

1. A more streamlined, less burdensome process for disclosing their discoveries. (See "disclose your invention" at the UR Ventures website.)

2. Increased efforts toward assisting in the internal development of technologies to bring them closer to the market.

"Our mission is to develop UR innovations into valuable products and services to make the world ever better," Emmerling said as part of an ongoing series of lectures on Intellectual Property and Commercializing Technology.

Emmerling identified these key components to UR Venture's new strategy:

1. A more selective approach in seeking patents, concentrating on discoveries that have "real commercial potential," Emmerling explained. "We are not filing patents on everything. We look at each technology that is disclosed, do our due diligence, and determine if there is a good business reason why we should move this forward."

2. More aggressive, targeted marketing of the University's most promising innovations, using a "lean start-up" approach to determine the potential market for each.

3. Working closely with individual faculty and/or student inventors to help develop their technologies to the point industry will be willing to invest in them. That includes connecting inventors to faculty colleagues or outside experts, and identifying potential sources of funding for further proof of concept experiments or clinical trials.

Why should the University of Rochester and its faculty engage in tech transfer?

1. It's the law! Before the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, any innovations resulting from federally funded research belonged to the U.S. government. Now, universities have the option to retain the rights to this intellectual property -- provided they make a good faith effort to commercialize it. In any event, universities and researchers are required to promptly disclose inventions that arise from federally funded research.

2. Tech transfer enables the translation of innovative ideas into goods and services that actually benefit society. This helps fulfill the University's motto Meliora -- making the world ever better.

3. With federal funding increasingly tight, royalties from licensing agreements with industry can be plowed back into the university's research programs.

4. Faculty and student inventors share in those royalties, far more so than might occur in private industry. Inventor shares range from 50 percent of the first $50,000 in university royalties, to 35 percent of royalties that exceed $250,000.

(Next: From bench top to bedside.)

URMC, Cornell to collaborate on inflammation and immune cells

Researchers from the University's School of Medicine and Dentistry are teaming up with scientists from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca to study how immune cells interact and communicate during inflammation, reports the Research@URMC blog.

Failure to adapt to the inflamed environment and the resulting miscommunication between immune cells can lead to chronic inflammation. Understanding how immune cells sense their physical environment and identifying the molecular pathways that allow them to acclimate would help scientists develop new therapies that might mitigate chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases, such as autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease and tuberculosis.

Inflammation plays a role in nine of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. The inflammatory process leads to physical changes in our body's tissues as a result of the release of immune signals that cause heat and swelling. Little is known about how these physical changes affect immune cells, which regulate the inflammatory process.

Deborah J. Fowell, Dean's Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and lead investigator Cynthia Leifer, Associate Professor of Immunology at Cornell, received funding for the work from the Cornell University/University of Rochester Collaborative Trans-Institutional Pilot Award Program in Immunity and Infection. The program was created to promote new inter-institutional, multidisciplinary collaborations between researchers at Cornell and UR in the area of immunity and Infection.

Grant supports study of effective gene delivery

In order for gene therapy to be effective, doctors must discern how to deliver DNA to a cell's nucleus, which requires a comprehensive understanding of how DNA and proteins move through cell cytoplasm. Knowledge of this system could lead to huge leaps in gene therapy effectiveness, and could potentially allow researchers to push forward on research into many currently-untreatable diseases.

Researchers at the Medical Center have received a four-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for their research on which microtubules the DNA can use to reach the nucleus, and which proteins it can bond with to travel most efficiently. This involves studying the more than 300 proteins within a cell to determine which ones drive DNA delivery.

Lead researcher David Dean, Professor of Pediatrics and Neonatology, and his team will also study how the DNA moves around once it is within the nucleus itself. Read more . . .

Center for AIDS Research offers funding for "highly innovative" projects

Researchers interested in receiving pilot funding from the Center for AIDS Research must submit their requests by 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 5. The center will provide up to $50,000 each for one year to "support a broad range of highly innovative research projects and pilot studies [that] address key gaps in our understanding of HIV/AIDS."

Electronic applications should be emailed to Jennifer Lynch by the deadline. Click here for more information.

Study group to meet weekly for research certification exam

A study group for the clinical-research certification exam will meet weekly through mid-February, starting with a session from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7. Those interested in participating should email The group will be facilitated by representatives from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the Office for Human Subject Protection.

Introducing a new faculty member

Erin V. Trakas has joined the Department of Pediatrics, Critical Care, as an assistant professor. Her research interest is focused on outcomes of various patient populations, investigating factors that may significantly impact the mortality of pediatric patients transported with traumatic brain injury. Trakas is also investigating whether various biomarkers of neurologic injury are associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes. Trakas earned an MD from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in 2006.

Congratulations to . . .

Allan Greenleaf, Professor of Mathematics, who has been named to the 2015 class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). The AMS awards fellowships to "members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication, and utilization of mathematics." Greenleaf is being singled out for his "contributions to inverse problems with applications to cloaking, as well as for service to AMS." Recent work by Greenleaf and his collaborators involved designing a state of "excited approximate cloaking." The system -- which they called "Schrödinger's hat," in reference to the famed Schrödinger's cat in quantum mechanics -- would hide a probe, even though it was capable of measuring barely detectable waves that had been amplified. In theory, the idea works for various kinds of waves -- sound waves, electromagnetic waves (such as light), and even matter waves in quantum mechanics. Read more . . .

Warner School of Education alumna Amalia Dache-Gerbino '14 (PhD), who was awarded the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) 2014 Bobby Wright Dissertation of the Year Award. An assistant professor of higher education at the University of Missouri at Columbia, Dache-Gerbino wrote the dissertation, titled "The Labyrinth in the Metropole: A Postcolonial Mixed-Method Study of College Access and Choice," while completing her doctorate at Warner. Her dissertation examined the structural and institutional factors influencing underrepresentation in postsecondary institutions. Read more . . .

UR research in the news

In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, University researchers show that traumatic brain injury can disrupt the function of the brain's waste removal system. When this occurs, toxic proteins may accumulate in the brain, setting the stage for the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. "We know that traumatic brain injury early in life is a risk factor for the early development of dementia in the decades that follow," said Maiken Nedergaard, Co-director of the University's Center for Translational Neuromedicine and senior author of the article. "This study shows that these injuries set into motion a cascading series of events that impair the brain's ability to clear waste, allowing proteins like tau to spread throughout the brain and eventually reach toxic levels." These discoveries are possible due to a study published in 2012 in which Nedergaard and her colleagues described a previously unknown system of waste removal that is unique to the brain which researchers have dubbed the glymphatic system. Read more . . .

PhD dissertation defenses

Rajashri Sridharan, Biochemistry and Biophysics, "Relationship between Receptor Occupancy and Signaling Responses in Ste2p, a G Protein Coupled Receptor in Saccharomyces cerevisiae." 10 a.m., Dec. 16, Neuman Room (1-6823). Advisor: Mark Dumont.

Fen Qiu, Chemistry, "Semiconductor Nanocrystals for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production." 12:30 p.m., Dec. 16, 473 Hutchison Hall. Advisor: Todd Krauss.

Cunming Liu, Materials Science, "Exciton Relaxation and Electron Transfer Dynamics of Semiconductor Quantum Dots." 1 p.m., Dec. 17, Hopeman 224. Advisor: Todd Krauss.

Peter McCarthy, Optics, "Gradient-Index Materials, Design, and Metrology for Broadband Imaging Systems." 9 a.m., Dec. 18, Goergen 108. Advisor: Duncan Moore.

Zexuan Dong, Materials Science, "Electrospinning and Characterization of Composite Membranes for Biomedical Applications." 9 a.m., Dec. 18, Hopeman 224. Advisor: Yiquan Wu.

Konstantinos Menychtas, Computer Science, "Fair, Protected OS-level Scheduling for Fast Computational Accelerators." 9:30 a.m., Dec. 18, 703 Computer Science Building. Advisor: Michael L. Scott.

Li Lu, Computer Science, "Designing for the Simple Case in a Parallel Scripting Language." 10 a.m., Dec. 19, 701 Computer Science Building. Advisor: Michael L. Scott.

Seyed M. Hashemi Rafsanjani, Physics, "Theory of Multipartite Entanglement for X-states." 2 p.m., Dec. 19, Bausch and Lomb 375. Advisor: Joseph Eberly.

Mark your calendar

Dec. 9: Pregnancy Outcomes and Women's Health in Neuromuscular Disorders, presented by Emma Ciafaloni, Associate Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics. CTSI Seminar Series. Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304).

Dec. 9: How to Find Inventions, What Makes a Good Invention, and How to Find Prior Art. Reid Cunningham, IP attorney, UR Ventures. Noon to 1 p.m., Gowen Room, Wilson Commons. RSVP to

Dec. 10: Celebration of Authorship, featuring printed and electronic books, edited volumes and texts, as well as published compositions and recordings produced by University faculty and staff from all fields. 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Hawkins Carlson Room in Rush Rhees Library. Click here for more information.

Jan. 5: Deadline to submit requests for up to $50,000 in funding for one year from the Center for AIDS Research to "support a broad range of highly innovative research projects and pilot studies [that] address key gaps in our understanding of HIV/AIDS." Click here for more information.

Jan. 7: Study group for the clinical-research certification exam, 4-6 p.m. Will meet weekly through mid-February. Those interested in participating should email

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. To see back issues, click here.

Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter for all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.