“I personally am very excited about this idea of brain decoding, this idea that we can measure brain activity and figure out where your thoughts are,” says Lucas Parra, professor of biomedical engineering at CCNY. “I work in the lab with electroencephalography. It records electric brain signals … how we perceive sound, images … speech. We’re looking at what happens when you’re watching movies or when you’re playing video games,” Parra says. “We get a sense of are people engaged, are they paying attention, will they remember what they saw weeks later. … Different modalities allow you to analyze different kinds of neuro processes associated with decision-making and things that are maybe more downstream from the initial perception.”
We are a nation of immigrants, but also of immigration laws rooted in nativism and far less welcoming than Lady Liberty’s plea to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” In his revealing and relevant book, Expelling the Poor, City College historian Hidetaka Hirota traces the nation’s deportation laws and connects them to the emerging policies of the Trump administration.
“There’s a big movement … to change what people do in their yards,” says Peter Groffman, ecosystems professor at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, referring to the use of lawn fertilizer. Fertilizer contains nutrients like nitrogen which washes into waterways, hurting aquatic life. Flower-growing homeowners’ habits may change, Groffman says, if they can keep “the benefits” of having a lawn.
Materials science research needs more minority students and teachers, says City College Chemistry Professor Maria Tamargo, who with colleagues won a $5 million, five-year National Science Foundation grant to create a center to diversify the field of discovering and designing new materials. Recruiting and preparing diverse students and creating a master’s program are part of the strategy to bring more minority students to CUNY’s Ph.D. programs.
Shining a certain kind of light on body tissue produces a glow that shows changes in the tissue, including cancer. The use of such biomedical optics will some day be able “to detect disease directly without taking tissue from the body,” says Robert R. Alfano, a distinguished professor of science and engineering at City College. “It’s sort of like ‘Star Trek,’ ” he says. “They scan your body, and you can get information directly.”
In his 2015 commencement address to City College grads, Nobel Laureate Dr. John O’Keefe fondly recalled his college years when he first began exploring connections between philosophy and neuroscience. “I don’t think my story is unique. I’m just a good example of City College’s gift to youth and to the nation,” O’Keefe said.
Nobel Laureate and City College alum John O’Keefe traces historic findings on the hippocampus and human memory to his recent research on the brain’s cognitive map. O’Keefe, along with two other scientists, won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering an inner GPS in the brain that helps navigate surroundings. His engaging, and often humorous, discussion marked the inaugural Professor Sharon Cosloy-Edward Blank Family Distinguished Scientist Lecture at City College.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell told grads of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership that immigration reform should be “an essential feature” of the upcoming political season. He also urged graduates to get involved in their communities, saying, “If you want to save the world, just start by saving one kid.”
City College political science professor Daniel DiSalvo tackles the contentious issue of public unions, pensions, and political influence in his new book, “Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences.”
Best-selling mystery writer and City College alum Walter Mosley talks about the creative process, major influences in his life, and a myriad other topics, with Terrance McKnight, host of WQXR’s Evening Music. Mosley, best known for his crime fiction featuring black private investigator Easy Rawlins, inspired creation of the City College Publishing Certificate Program (PCP) and was recently honored at the 2014 Langston Hughes Festival.