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John Tarduno and other members of his lab collected zircon crystals—the oldest known terrestrial materials—at sites in Jack Hills, Australia. The zircons contain magnetic particles that lock in the magnetization of the earth at the time the zircons were formed, allowing researchers to construct a timeline of Earth’s magnetic field. Here, Tarduno poses with the exact outcrop of rocks with the oldest zircons. (University of Rochester photo / John Tarduno)

Unlocking clues about Earth’s magnetic field

Deep within Earth, swirling liquid iron generates our planet’s protective magnetic field. This magnetic field is invisible but is vital for life on Earth’s surface: it shields the planet from harmful solar wind and cosmic rays from the sun.

Given the importance of the magnetic field, scientists have been trying to figure out how the field has changed throughout Earth’s history. That knowledge can provide clues to understanding the future evolution of Earth, as well as the evolution of other planets in the solar system.

New research from the University provides evidence that the magnetic field that first formed around Earth was even stronger than scientists previously believed. The research, published in the journal PNAS, will help scientists draw conclusions about the sustainability of Earth’s magnetic shield and whether or not there are other planets in the solar system with the conditions necessary to harbor life.

“This research is telling us something about the formation of a habitable planet,” says John Tarduno, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Dean of Research for Arts, Sciences & Engineering. “One of the questions we want to answer is why Earth evolved as it did and this gives us even more evidence that the magnetic shielding was recorded very early on the planet.”

Read more here.

University supports sustainable investing

In support of sustainable investing, the University is now the sixth higher education institution in the country to join Climate Action 100+. This coalition of investment firms, pension funds, and institutional investors pushes the corporations that are the world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitters to agree to plans that will lower these emissions, be transparent about their operations, and take necessary action on climate change.

The University’s Investment Office and Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees have committed to this coalition, a move recommended by the University’s Ethical Investment Advisory Committee (EIAC). The EIAC comprises student, faculty, and staff representatives who help ensure that the University’s endowment excludes investments in companies that represent business, labor, social, or environmental practices that are inconsistent with the University’s values.

In addition to joining Climate Action 100+, the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees approved two further recommendations from the EIAC: no direct investments in thermal coal production or in the production of oil from tar sands. Thermal coal is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and is used to generate heat and power in thermal power plants. Tar sands are sedimentary rocks containing the hydrocarbon compound called bitumen, which can be refined into oil. Extracting oil from tar sands generates significant environmental impacts and is a very inefficient way of producing energy because so much fuel is consumed in the process.

Read more here.

Autism guidelines urge intervention even before official diagnosis

Early intervention for symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder – even before the condition is formally diagnosed – is critical for helping families improve outcomes for their children, according to updated recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The new clinical report to guide diagnosis and care of children with autism is the AAP’s first in 12 years and reflects changes in how autism is diagnosed and treated. Specific autism screenings are recommended at 18 and 24 months, at the same time as typical well-child visits. During these visits, pediatricians gauge milestones reflecting social communication, which could provide early signs of autism, according to Susan Hyman, lead author of the report and professor at the Golisano Children’s Hospital.

“Social milestones like eye pointing to indicate interest, pointing to share interest and engaging in pretend play are not milestones that most parents are looking for, and might miss if not specifically asked about in the form of screening,” says Hyman, past chair of the AAP’s subcommittee on Autism.

Read more here.

Introducing a new faculty member

Rita Safariants joins the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures as an assistant professor of Russian. Previously she was at St. Olaf College, where she was an assistant professor in the Department of Russian Language and Area Studies.

Safariants is a specialist in late-Soviet, post-Soviet, and contemporary Russian literature and media—and the ways in which they engage the Russian literary canon—and in imperial and Soviet performance and film cultures. She has taught courses in Russian language and courses on such subjects as the Russian novel, short story, and drama; Russian women writers; the Russian press; and Soviet rock-and-roll culture.

Safariants’s publications include articles in the volumes MLA Approaches to Teaching the Works of Chekhov (MLA, 2016) and Ruptures and Continuities in Soviet/Russian Cinema (Routledge, 2018) and in the journal Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema.She is completing a study of the role of rock music in the last decade of Soviet cinema and is at work on a project about late Soviet cultural production.

'Early bird' deadline today for applied linguistics conference

The 41st Annual Applied Linguistics Winter Conference will be held at the Warner School on March 7. The theme of the conference is “Identity in the digital age: New explorations for language learning and teaching.”

With the development of technology and globalization in today’s digital age, a new generation has been developing transcultural and translingual identities through language crossing borders and connecting the world together.

Such shifts in the language learning landscape require new explorations into learners’ and teachers’ identities. The time is ripe to revisit and update our knowledge of language learners and teachers’ identity in the digital age, and ALWC 2020 aims to do so in a broad and inclusive sense.

The “eary bird” deadline to register is today.

Online learning workshops are scheduled

Here is the schedule for Online Learning Workshops for the Spring Semester for faculty members, graduate students and other instructors.

In-person workshops are held from noon to 1 p.m. in. the Genrich-Rusling Room, LeChase Hall, River Campus. Zoom sessions are held 4 to 5 p.m. The RSVP link has descriptions of each session. Questions? Email Adele Coelho.

  • Creating an Educational Experience. Zoom Feb. 4; LeChase Hall Feb. 6.
  • Tools for Facilitating Interaction. Zoom Feb. 25; LeChase Hall Feb. 27.
  • Tools for Creating Content. Zoom March 4; LeChase March 5.
  • Tools for Developing Assets. Zoom March 26; LeChase March 26.
  • Tools for Facilitating Synchronous Experiences. Zoom April 13; LeChase April 16.
  • Ensuring a High-Quality Experience. Zoom April 27; LeChase April 30.

Upcoming PhD dissertation defenses

Kyle Blanchette, philosophy, “Bridging the Gap Between Personal Survival and Personal Ontology.” 1 p.m. February 7, 2020. Lattimore 531. Advisor: Paul Audi.

Theodore Marschall, physics, “The Role of Particle Shape in Granular Rheology and Jamming.” 2 p.m. February 7, 2020. Dewey 2110E. Advisor: Stephen Teitel.

Mark your calendar


March 7: The 21st annual Diabetes Conference: Individualizing Diabetes Care—Targets and Treatments, 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the School of Medicine and Dentistry.  Topics include technology, obesity, nutrition, gestational diabetes, and caring for the pediatric or hospitalized patient, as well as updates in research and treatment options.

April 9: Inaugural AS&E Graduate Research Symposium
. Poster presentations, research talks, and an awards reception, where several $500 prizes will be awarded. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wilson Commons. The deadline to submit poster abstracts is 5 p.m., February 14. Sponsored by Office of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs and the Graduate Student Association. If you have any questions about the event or abstract submission process, contact Katie Mott (


Feb. 5: “Managing Your Scholarly Identity,” Future Faculty workshop sponsored by the Office of the Provost. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Feldman Ballroom, Douglass Commons. Register online.  Email Adele Coelho with questions. Lunch is provided.


Feb. 6: Rosenberger Work-in-Progress seminarTom Fleischman  (History) (internal fellow). 12:30 to around 1:45 p.m. in Conference Room D of the Humanities Center. River Campus.  All are welcome to attend, exchange ideas, and have lunch.

Feb. 19: Rosenberger Work-in-Progress seminarSue Uselmann (ESM Humanities) . 12:30 to around 1:45 p.m. in Conference Room D of the Humanities Center. River Campus.  All are welcome to attend, exchange ideas, and have lunch.

Feb. 26: Phelps Colloquium. “Surgery of the Future: 3D-Printed Patient-Specific Organs Guide the Way for Complex Cancer Surgery,” by Ahmed Ghazi, associate professor, Department of Urology. “Structural Engineering to the Rescue of Cultural Heritage,” by Renato Perucchio, professor and chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering, and director of the Program in Archaeology, Technology, and Historical Structures. 4-5:30 p.m. Feldman Ballroom, Douglass Commons, River Campus. Register here.

March 4: Rosenberger Work-in-Progress seminar. Eduardo Herrera (Musicology, Rutgers) (external fellow). 12:30 to around 1:45 p.m. in Conference Room D of the Humanities Center. River Campus.  All are welcome to attend, exchange ideas, and have lunch.

March 18: Rosenberger Work-in-Progress seminar. Elena Bellina (ESM Humanities). 12:30 to around 1:45 p.m. in Conference Room D of the Humanities Center. River Campus.  All are welcome to attend, exchange ideas, and have lunch.

March 26: Phelps Colloquium. “Harnessing Immunity to Fight Cancer: Clues from the Tumor Microenvironment,” by David Linehan, professor and chair, Department of Surgery. “Preparing for the Worst: Portrayal of Downside Risk in Professional Investment Advice,” by Joanna Wu, professor of business administration,  Simon Business School. 4–5:30 p.m. Eisenberg Rotunda, Schlegel Hall, River Campus. Register here.

April 2: Rosenberger Work-in-Progress seminar. Alexandra Lindgren-Gibson (History, Univ. of Mississippi) external fellow). 12:30 to around 1:45 p.m. in Conference Room D of the Humanities Center. River Campus.  All are welcome to attend, exchange ideas, and have lunch.

April 16: Rosenberger Work-in-Progress seminar. Ash Arder (Studio Art) (visiting artist). 12:30 to around 1:45 p.m. in Conference Room D of the Humanities Center. River Campus.  All are welcome to attend, exchange ideas, and have lunch.

April 22: Phelps Colloquium. “Making Fuel and Fertilizer from Sun, Air, and Water,” by Kara Bren, professor in the Department of Chemistry. “A Black Musician in the Court of Henry VIII. You’re Kidding, Right?” by Lee Koonce, president and artistic director of the Gateways Music Festival in association with Eastman School of Music, and senior advisor to the dean, Eastman School of Music. 4–5:30 p.m. Max of Eastman Place, 25 Gibbs Street, Rochester.  Register here.

April 30:  Rosenberger Work-in-Progress seminar. Khan and Sullivan (Public Humanities fellows). 12:30 to around 1:45 p.m. in Conference Room D of the Humanities Center. River Campus.  All are welcome to attend, exchange ideas, and have lunch.


Today: Initial proposal abstracts due for Department of Public Health pilot proposal applications that have a substantial component of, or impact on, public health sciences, practices, or policies.  Applicants may request a maximum of $25,000 for one year and must hold a position of assistant professor or higherLearn more.

Feb. 1: Applications due for River Campus Libraries Data Grants,  available for independent studies and unique data needs to current students from Arts, Sciences & Engineering, the Warner School of Education, and the Simon Business School. Spring 2020 semester applications must be submitted to the River Campus Libraries Data Grant Review Boar. For questions, contact Kathy Wu at

Feb. 3: Deadline to apply for 2020 University Research Awards. The Request for Proposal and application are available here. Questions and completed applications should be directed to Adele Coelho at

Feb. 17: Applications due for NY Public Humanities Fellowships. Interested Rochester graduate students can contact Joan Shelley Rubin, Ani & Mark Gabrellian Director of the Humanities Center, for more information. The Fellows Application is currently open, read the call for 2020-2021 applicants.

Feb. 28: Deadline for new investigators to submit proposals for pilot project funding ($25,000 maximum for one year) from the Resource-Based Center for Musculoskeletal Biology and Medicine for research relevant to musculoskeletal diseases. Proposals must be submitted by email to Kristin Smith (585-275-1397). Learn more.


Feb. 1: Applications due for clinical and translational research training in cancer control and preventive research. Helps postdoctoral MD or PhD researchers establish careers as independent investigators. For more information, contact  Michelle Janelsins, Ph.D., or Gary Morrow, Ph.D., program directors of the UR Cancer Control Research Training Program,  or Kate Kessler, program coordinator. Learn more.

Feb. 14: Applications due for the Wilmot Cancer Research Fellowship program, which funds physicians for up to three years allowing them to investigate the causes, diagnosis, treatment or prevention of cancer. Mentored research training for physicians with MD or MD/PhD degrees who have completed their residency training and intend to pursue an academic career in clinical, translational or basic cancer research. Learn more. For questions and to submit applications, email Pam Iadarola.

Feb. 14: Applications due for Wilmot Cancer Institute Predoctoral Cancer Research Fellowship Program. Contact Thom Fogg with questions.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. You can see back issues of Research Connections on the Newsletters website.

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Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter 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.