Baruch associate biology professor David Gruber was at a National Geographic Explorers meeting showing video of deep sea coral reef research when a fellow Explorer wondered if he had heard of soft robotics and whether that tool could be used in Gruber’s work. “There’s no biologist who’s using squishy robot fingers to go underwater,” Gruber says. He changed that by trying out the technology during a weeklong expedition on reefs deep in the Red Sea using Baruch’s remotely operated submarine. With the soft robotics, one can “work delicately with deep coral reef organisms,” Gruber says. And who knew Baruch has a submarine?
Hashtag politics gives people who don’t have big money to donate to candidates a way to compete with big donors, or so says social media guru Alan Rosenblatt in a talk at Baruch. Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter aggregate conversation and opinion, creating “powerful social capital” to compete with financial capital, Rosenblatt says. The hashtag has made it easier for likeminded people to affiliate across physical distances and interact, says assistant professor Katherine Behar, who noted that this presidential race has been called the first social media election. “One thing we are seeing as never before,” Behar says,” “is the strange sight of news media covering social media.” The hashtag makes interaction with the candidates easier. When Donald Trump is tweeting, says Rosenblatt, he’s “actually interacting directly with a voter who might not have had any opportunity to meet the candidate.”
The cyber currency created in 2009 as “a plaything for hackers,” will be used by governments by 2023 and consumers by 2027 by some estimates, Nathaniel Popper, author of Digital Gold: Bitcoin and theInside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money, tells a Baruch audience. The digital dough wasn’t worth anything until 2011, adds Popper, when it was adopted by users of the now defunct Silk Road website — to buy and sell heroin and marijuana without the transactions being trackable. Bitcoins, which exist as entries on a digital ledger, had an exchange rate value of more than $500 in September 2016. “Most of the general public still thinks of this as some sort of weird Tamogatchi pet or Pet Rock or something, but this is something that basically every Wall Street bank has a team working on right now,” Popper says.
In the Coast Guard, Richard Larrabee oversaw the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the search for JFK Jr. after the Kennedy prince crashed his plane. He joined the Port Authority and was in 1 WTC on 9/11 and was port commerce director when Hurricane Sandy hit. “Always take advantage of a good crisis” to effect change, he tells a Baruch College audience.
Hedge fund manager and activist investor Whitney Tilson thought Lumber Liquidators’ profit margins were was too high. Tilson tells an audience at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business how his suspicions led him to accuse the company of using cheap Chinese lumber containing potentially unsafe levels of formaldehyde.
Recent satellite images document the scale of destruction from organized looting to thousands of vital archaeological sites in the region known as the “cradle of civilization.” During a lecture at Baruch College, “Looting the Past, Destroying the Future: Revolution, Terrorism, and Archaeology in Egypt and Syria,” Baruch College archaeology professor Anna Boozer and John Jay College of Criminal Justice art crime professor Erin Thompson discuss the extent of the damage and the significant impact it will have on the cultural heritage for future generations.
Along with nosy food bloggers and pesky health inspectors, New York City’s restaurateurs find that they have something else to deal with — social media. “Within seconds, a chef’s new idea is on Twitter,” says Danny Meyer, head of the Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes, along with other restaurants, Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and the Shake Shack chain. “That’s the shelf life of innovation — two seconds.” At an event sponsored by the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, one of the trade tips of his that Meyer served up that wasn’t about recipes: “It’s how you make your customers feel that will set you apart.”
Dov Waxman, associate professor of political science at Baruch College, says Arab Israelis, a minority in the Jewish state, face opposition from a Jewish majority who see themselves as an “insecure and at risk” minority in the region. The author of Israel’s Palestinians: The Conflict Within, Waxman explains that while Jews represent approximately 80% of the Israel’s population, their anxieties resemble that of a minority “when they are faced with their own minority” of Arab Israelis in an overwhelmingly Arabic region.
With approximately 79 million baby boomers facing retirement age, the country should be looking at the immigrant work force as a much-needed boost to the economy. “We need immigrants to help us balance the senior ratio,” says Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California. In a Baruch College lecture, “Finding the Keys to Consensus on Immigration by Looking Ahead: Old Myths and New Realities,” Myers urged lawmakers to help clear a legal path for the estimated 11.2 immigrants living here. “We need to cultivate the people who we’ve been neglecting — especially their kids, the future workers, taxpayers and homebuyers.”
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Seeking compensation for the thousands of victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, court-appointed trustee Irving Picard, so far has recovered about $11.5 billion — through “clawback suits” — of about $17 billion in principal lost, according to Peter Henning, New York Times White Collar blogger. “No one is getting all their money back,” says Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University School of Law. “The idea is to see that the victims share their losses equally.” At an event at Baruch entitled, “The Madoff Clawbacks: Whose Money Is It?” Hennings was joined by Seth Lipner, professor of law at the Zicklin School of Business.
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