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Research Connections 0422

 Research Connections :: University of Rochester

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During a visit to the University of Rochester, National Science Foundation director Sethuraman Panchanathan (left) met with researchers and students and toured several of the University’s facilities, including the Laboratory for Laser Energetics. Accompanying him on his visit were (starting second from left) Sen. Charles Schumer, President Sarah Mangelsdorf, and Rep. Joseph Morelle. (Matt Wittmeyer)

Rochester ‘a crucible of innovation’ says NSF director during visit

During a visit here, National Science Foundation director Sethuraman Panchanathan said the University is a “phenomenal place of innovation,” noting Rochester’s crucial role in advancing scientific research.

Panchanathan, along with US Senator Charles Schumer and US Representative Joseph Morelle, visited Rochester recently. As part of the visit, Panchanathan met with researchers and students and toured several of the University’s facilities, including the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, to learn more about how NSF investments at the University are pushing the frontiers of science and helping drive America’s technological leadership.

This is the number one place. Why? Because of the ideas, innovation, talent, and the environment all coming together,” Panchanathan said. “This is a crucible of innovation, and I saw that firsthand today.”

He continued, “It was just unbelievable watching the amazing ideas, the amazing talent, the amazing impact, the amazing innovation that is coming out through every one of those students, postdocs and faculty members, and researchers.”

In addressing a group in Goergen Hall on the River Campus, Schumer discussed pending US competitiveness legislation currently being considered by Congress. The Senate’s US Innovation and Competition Act and the House’s America COMPETES Act would make significant investments in federal research and development, entrepreneurship, STEM education and workforce training, and domestic manufacturing. Schumer and Morelle are pushing federal officials to invest in Rochester and position the Finger Lakes region as a next-generation growth center.

Schumer said the acts would “significantly scale support for research hubs like Rochester to ensure the nation remains on the cutting edge of new innovation” and that the investments would “supercharge work by the regions’ key economic drivers, including UR and RIT, two of the premier science universities in the entire nation.”

A bibliometric system tailored for humanities scholarship

In the world of academia, there are widely accepted metrics used for tracking and analyzing published scholarship. Yet, even though academia is a vast and diverse ecosystem, where scholarship—both in what it is and how it’s published—varies greatly across disciplines, the generally agreed-upon metrics are based on STEM-focused publishing practices.

And that model doesn’t fit the humanities.

For instance, most citation tools do not index monographs or books, the primary publishing format for many humanities scholars. Also, since humanities researchers tend to produce single-author, long-form works, they generally publish less often than their colleagues in the STEM fields, further skewing the data. The primary concern here is data around humanities scholarship is being dismissed, misinterpreted, and possibly misrepresented.

A group of humanities librarians from the River Campus Libraries (RCL) aims to give humanities scholarship a clearer footprint. Eileen Daly-Boas ʼ00 (MA), Lara Nicosia, Pauline Schwartzman, and Kristen Totleben are building a humanities publication analysis toolkit (HPAT) to identify meaningful humanities metrics and provide a methodology for collecting and analyzing data for faculty publications.

“People want data,” Nicosia says. “And disciplines from the humanities are sometimes inadvertently omitted from important conversations because the data just isn’t there. So, this is about ensuring the humanities have a voice in the conversations that can be really important to services and collection-building.”

With support of a History Research and Innovation Award from the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, the HPAT team will examine the publishing practices and contributions of Rochester’s scholars in the humanities, starting with the Department of History. The ultimate goal is to create an open access toolkit that can be used for any discipline within the humanities at any institution. Learn more.

Study links fracking, drinking water pollution, and infant health

The pollution of public water supplies caused by shale gas development, commonly known as fracking, and its negative impact on infant health has been documented for the first time by researchers.  These findings call for closer environmental regulation of the industry, as levels of chemicals found in drinking water often fall below regulatory thresholds.

“In this study, we provide evidence that public drinking water quality has been compromised by shale gas development,” says Elaine Hill, an associate professor of public health sciences, economics, and obstetrics & gynecology.  “Our findings indicate that drilling near an infant’s public water source yields poorer birth outcomes and more fracking-related contaminants in public drinking water.”

The new paper, which appears in the Journal of Health Economics, is co-authored by Hill and Lala Ma with the University of Kentucky.  Hill’s previous research was the first to link shale gas development to drinking water quality and has examined the association between shale gas development and reproductive health, and the subsequent impact on later educational attainment, higher risk of childhood asthma exacerbation, higher risk of heart attacks, and opioid deaths.  Her research brings an important perspective to the policy discussion about fracking which has often emphasized the immediate job creation and economic benefits, without fully understanding the long-term environmental and health consequences for communities in which drilling occurs.

This new study is a complex examination of the geographic expansion of shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania from 2006 to 2015, during which more than 19,000 wells were established in the state.  Hill and Ma mapped the location of each new well in relation to groundwater sources that supply public drinking water, and linked this information to maternal residences served by those water systems on birth records, and U.S. Geological Service groundwater contamination measures.

This data set allowed the two to pinpoint infant health outcomes – specifically preterm birth and low birth weight – before, during, and after drilling activity.  Preterm birth and low birth weight are associated with a range of negative outcomes, including higher risk for developing behavioral and social-emotional problems, and learning difficulties. Learn more.

Barnard Fellowships announced

The Donald M. and Janet C. Barnard Fellowships recognize outstanding achievement by PhD students in engineering or the natural sciences, as evidenced through their coursework and dissertation research work, and their leadership qualities, outreach and mentoring experience, and strong research portfolio.

This year’s recipients are:

Himanshu Ahuja, brain and cognitive sciences, who studies how the brain infers motion information on the skin under posture modulation at the Haptics Lab. He is advised by Manuel Gomez-Ramirez, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences.

Katherine Gregory, earth and environmental sciences, who studies methane in riverine systems, including its sources, sinks, and contribution to atmospheric flux. She is advised by John Kessler, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Mihirangi Kumari Medahinne, physics and astronomy, who studies superconducting quantum circuits, specifically developing high impedance superconducting Niobium cavities for coherent spin-photon coupling. She is advised by Machiel Blok, assistant professor of physics and astronomy.

Alyson March, biomedical engineering, who is fabricating a hydrogel that can mimic the native periosteum that surrounds bone. This synthetic periosteum can then aid in healing of allografts used to treat critical size bone defects. She is advised by Danielle Benoit, professor of biomedical engineering.

Hannah Swerbenski, developmental psychology, who studies how early experiences of childhood maltreatment impact parenting in the next generation and how to disentangle physiological and psychological mediating mechanisms of this association. She is advised by Melissa Sturge-Apple, professor of psychology.

Congratulations to . . .

Brian Brent, the Earl B. Taylor Professor at the Warner School of Education and Human development, who has been selected as a 2022 Distinguished Research and Practice Fellow by the National Education Finance Academy. His research focuses on the micro-level resource allocation practices, local revenues, and the cost-effective use of education dollars. Learn more.

Joanne Larson, the Michael W. Scandling Professor of Education at the Warner School of Education and Human development, who has received the 2022 Henry T. Trueba Award for Research Leading to the Transformation of the Social Contexts of Education from the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Larson focuses her research and teaching on language and literacy, how young people develop literacy practices, and how schools and teachers can adapt and implement change to improve the development of those practices. Learn more.

Mary G. Carey, an associate professor at the School of Nursing and director of the Clinical Nursing Research Center at Strong Memorial Hospital, who has been selected as an honoree of the Sigma Theta Tau’s 2022 International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. Carey has been recognized for her significant achievements in nursing research, specifically contributions to the understanding of electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring to help detect cardiac arrhythmias and myocardial ischemia and infarction, and on the ECG’s use in predicting cardiac events and sudden cardiac death. Learn more.

Webinar showcases biopsychosocial innovations in research

The Department of Psychiatry’s 75th Anniversary webinar will explore “Biopsychosocial Innovations in Research” from 6 to 7:15 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 26.

Panelists across disciplines and programs within psychiatry will discuss the impact of the biopsychosocial model on research. Learn more and register here.

Seminar features experts in regulatory science, FDA review process

The Regulatory Exchange Program seminar series provides University at Buffalo and University of Rochester students, researchers, faculty, and clinicians with the opportunity to hear from experts in regulatory science and in the regulatory review process to better understand the FDA.

A session from noon to 2 p.m. next Tuesday, April 26, will focus on drugs (including pediatric drug development) and medical devices. Learn more.

Reception on April 28 honors University authors

Please join President Sarah Mangelsdorf and Interim Provost Sarah Peyre from 3-4:30 p.m. next Thursday, April 28, in the Hawkins Carlson Room of Rush Rhees Library as they honor University faculty and staff from all fields who have authored major scholarly achievements.

The Celebration of Authorship Reception features printed and electronic books, articles, grants, and published compositions.

Authors will be on hand to sign copies of their works and discuss their inspiration. Copies of many of the works will also be available for purchase.  For more information, contact

Deadline for population health research postdoctoral fellowship is May 16

Apply now for the Population Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship offered by the University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UR CTSI).

Over the course of one year, postdocs will develop and complete a population health research project within one of the following tracks:

  • Electronic Health Record as a Resource for Research.
  • National, Regional and Local Database Analytics.
  • Population Health Behavior Change.

Applicants must be within three years of completing their doctoral degree and have a solid track record of published research. Apply by Monday, May 16.  Learn more.

Applications open for Del Monte pilot funding

Apply today for the 2022 Del Monte Pilot Program. Up to 20 novel basic, clinical, and translational projects in the neurosciences will be supported. Five programs support these awards including, for the first time, the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. Learn more and apply by Monday, May 23.

Advanced certificate in data science available

Working professionals can learn data science skills–or refresh them–through the advanced certificate program offered by the Goergen Institute for Data Science. University of Rochester employees Brooke Brehm and Sarah Siddiqui describe how they have benefited from the graduate-level, part-time program. To learn more or find out about sitting in on a class session, contact Lisa Altman.

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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.