5 Questions for … Norwich Neuroscience Professor Megan Doczi

Norwich University Office of Communications

September 9, 2015

Assistant Professor of Biology Megan Doczi, PhD, arrived at Norwich in 2011, shortly after receiving her PhD from the University of Vermont. She directs the neuroscience program at NU and teaches neuroscience and anatomy and physiology classes in the Department of Biology. Her research into the developmental regulation of potassium ion channels in avian hypothalamus neurons is funded by the Vermont Genetics Network. Outgoing, energetic and very busy, Doczi spent the summer writing research papers, supervising lab work, planning courses, and mentoring two undergraduate research fellows. We spoke to her recently in her second-floor office in Bartoletto Hall, amid the odd piece of lab equipment and quirky science art.

What sparked your interest in neuroscience?

The easiest and most heart-felt answer is high school psychology, I took this psych course with a few friends of mine as an elective. The instructor was a practicing psychologist and really, really interested in her discipline. Chapter two of our textbook was the neuron, and I just got stuck on that second chapter. I was like, “Wow, these neurons are amazing. I didn’t even realize how complicated these cells were. They’re so different than any other cells in the human body and I want to learn all I can about them.” So that was it. High school. I’ve been on the neuroscience track ever since.

What excites you about the field today?

The speed at which the technology is developing. We now have technology that we didn’t have ten or even five years ago, which is so much better at attacking the questions: How is consciousness even a phenomenon? How can neural networks communicate with each other? How are individual neurons able to metabolize different nutrient sources like glucose as a readout of their activity? We now have the capability of asking a patient a question and seeing what part of their brain lights up. The technology is just phenomenal and beyond what we could have imagined in the field decades before.

What questions do you explore in your research?

Personally I’m interested in ion channels, the small little proteins in the membranes of neurons that allow ions to flow through at different rates. They control the way neurons communicate with each other. So you can imagine if you have more or less of these channels, it will affect the function of the neuron itself.

The set of neurons that we’re interested in looking at are part of feeding behaviors and the circuitry for food intake and energy expenditure in animals. So the main question of the lab is, If the expression and function of these individual ion channels changes in that population of neurons, will it actually change the behavior downstream of the animal? We’re looking at developmental time points. The model system we use in the lab is the embryonic chicken, which is really nice. Because what we can do is study early, mid and late gestational time points and see if the channels are changing. There’s a lot of evidence in the literature today that what happens during development impacts what happens as an adult. So if these organisms are exposed to high levels of hormones or metabolic factors, they might actually develop the neuronal circuitry in a different way that could even result in disease in adulthood.

What’s your pitch to students? Why study neuroscience?

There’s a lot known about most systems in the human body. We’re pretty comfortable explaining how the cardiovascular system works and developing pharmaceuticals to change blood pressure, etc. You can use that analogy for other similar systems. But we still don’t understand what actually happens in the nervous system to create things like consciousness or to instill survival skills in today’s society, for example. What makes someone more resilient than someone else? Or personality characteristics? All those things are still unknown. You can’t just give a pill and fix the nervous system like you might be able to with other systems of the human body.

I think that unknown component of the nervous system and the brain, in particular, is kind of what draws me to the discipline. And I hope I communicate that enthusiasm to my students as well. I just love when they ask questions that I can’t answer. Because nobody can answer some of the questions that they’re asking, and those are the questions that need to be asked.

Any parting thoughts?

It’s important for students to be scholars and lifelong learners. It’s important to our society to have curious thinkers, free thinkers who don’t take information at face value but know how to critically analyze that information, fact-check that information. And that goes beyond neuroscience. That’s just making an informed citizen. There are so many hot topics today. Climate change is one of them. Vaccination is another. If we can just basically graduate students who know how to think about information, challenge information, and even create new information based off of researching topics, then we’ve done our job, regardless of discipline.

So when you graduate from Norwich, I don’t care if you’re a neuroscientist, a chemist, a literary scholar, or a historian, as long as you know how to really analyze information, ask the right question and move society in a positive direction, I think that’s really what I’m interested in as a professor and what a lot of other faculty members are interested in here.

Norwich University to Host Madeleine Albright for November Todd Lecture Series Event

Norwich University Office of Communications

September 2, 2015

Norwich University continues its Todd Lecture Series with “An Evening with Madeleine Albright,’’ a presentation by the former United States Secretary of State on Tuesday, November  3, 2015, at 7 p.m. in Plumley Armory.

This lecture is free and open to the public.

Albright served as the 64th Secretary of State. President Bill Clinton named her to the post in 1997, making her at the time both the first female Secretary of State and the highest ranking woman ever to serve in U.S. government. As Secretary of State, Albright reinforced America’s alliances, advocated democracy and human rights and promoted American trade and business, labor and environmental standards abroad.

From 1993 to 1997, Albright served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a member of the President Clinton’s Cabinet.

Albright speaks with humor, insight and eloquence about her life and career as a young refugee who rose to become for a time the world’s most powerful woman. Albright sketches a vivid portrait of her years as Secretary of State and offers candid descriptions of the leaders she encountered in Washington and overseas. She also discusses America’s global role and the many challenges facing President Obama and other world leaders today. While in office, Albright was renowned for her courage in “telling it like it is.” Now, as a best-selling author and successful businessperson, she offers a unique and always lively account of service at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

In addition to the 7 p.m. public lecture, Albright will spend the afternoon on campus engaging with Norwich students in the classroom, offering her insight about her life and career.

Albright currently serves as chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets.

She is also a professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She chairs both the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the Pew Global Attitudes Project and serves as president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation. Albright serves on the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Policy Board, a group tasked with providing the secretary of defense with independent, informed advice and opinion concerning matters of defense policy. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Aspen Institute. In 2009, Albright was asked by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to chair a group of experts focused on developing NATO’s New Strategic Concept.

On May 29, 2012 President Barack Obama awarded Albright the U.S. Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, citing the inspiration her life provides to all and the contribution of her scholarship and insight toward making the world a better, more peaceful place.

Albright is the author of five New York Times best-sellers: her autobiography, Madam Secretary: A Memoir, (2003); The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs, (2006); Memo to the President: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership, (2008); Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box, (2009); and, her most recent book, Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948, (April, 2012). In it she recalls her own and her family’s experiences during and immediately after World War II, providing a fresh lens through which to view some of the modern era’s most tumultuous years.

Norwich University’s Todd Lecture Series is named in honor of retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Russell Todd and his wife, Carol, in gratitude for their dedicated service to the university. Todd ’50, serves as Norwich President Emeritus. With this series, Norwich brings the nation’s foremost thought leaders drawn from business, politics, the arts, science, the military and other arenas to its Northfield campus. All lectures are free and open to the public.

For more information please visit the Todd Lecture Series website or call (802) 485-2633.

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Service” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu    

Media Contact:

Daphne Larkin
Assistant Director of Communications
(802) 485-2886; (m) 595-3613
dlarkin@norwich.edu
Follow us on Twitter @NorwichNews

 

Norwich University School of Architecture + Art Receives $10k Grant to Fund Free Lecture Series

Norwich University School of Architecture + Art will receive $10,000 from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation to fund the upcoming 2015-2016 lecture series.

For more than 10 years the Byrne Foundation has partnered with Norwich University to support the School of Architecture + Art’s Lecture Series. Through these lectures—which are free to students and the local community—the School of Architecture + Art brings well-known architects, designers, artists and writers to campus from around the country.

The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation is a philanthropic organization that supports cancer research, education and volunteerism, among many charitable endeavors.

Norwich University’s School of Architecture + Art is the only National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited architecture school in northern New England. In the United States, most state registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The NAAB is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in architecture.

The Norwich curriculum offers a minor in architectural studies, two art minors, a four-year bachelor’s degree in Architectural Studies and a one-and-a-half-year Master of Architecture degree. Combined, the bachelor and master programs form a five-year professional degree accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), a prerequisite for licensure in most states. All are designed for practical people who want to immerse themselves in an experiential academic lifestyle. The School of Architecture + Art is challenging, fun, and dedicated to producing architects who will serve the needs of people.

With approximately 200 students, the School of Architecture + Art is one of the smallest programs of its kind in the country, fostering a natural and effective mentoring relationship between faculty and students. Courses take a balanced approach to both the art and science of architecture and embrace environmental sustainability as part of Vermont’s ethos.

A highlight of the upcoming 2015-2016 lecture series program will be a lecture on Wednesday, October 14, by Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Galvez. The event will be presented in conjunction with the Department of Modern Languages and the College of Liberal Arts’ organized Hispanic Heritage Celebration and include an exhibit of photographs.

“This lecture series is an opportunity for the School of Architecture + Art to not only enhance the education of our students but to also offer ourselves as a resource to the surrounding community as experts in the field and world-class talent,” according to Director Cara Armstrong.

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Service” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu.  

Media Contact:

Daphne Larkin
Assistant Director of Communications
(802) 485-2886; (m) 595-3613
dlarkin@norwich.edu
Follow us on Twitter @NorwichNews

Undergraduate Research: A Glove That Helps Teach Sign Language

Senior Maggie Cross was one of 28 Norwich University undergraduates awarded Summer Research Fellowships to explore diverse topics across the arts, sciences and professional fields. Developed by the university’s Office of Academic Research, the competitive, six- and ten-week fellowships are funded by university endowments dedicated to supporting student academic investigation.
Norwich University Office of Communications

August 31, 2015

Overlapping worlds often spark innovation. Engineering major Maggie Cross knew she wanted to pursue an NU Summer Research Fellowship. Her advisor Prof. Michael Prairie suggested she explore haptics, the use of tactile feedback to speed learning.

Cross proposed that she develop a glove that could help wearers learn the sign language alphabet more quickly. Her inspiration: a sign language interpreter she observed while volunteering at a Vermont state LEGO robotics competition last fall.

Ideally, the glove would analyze and respond to the hand movements of wearers, activating embedded buzzers when students bent individual fingers incorrectly.

Such haptic feedback has been used to cue surgeons when they slice the wrong tissue during surgeries with obstructed views. More recently, engineers at Georgia Tech developed a “piano glove” that helps wearers learn the first 45 notes of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” more quickly.

Cross emailed the PhD student involved in that project to float ideas about her own project.

In June Cross began work in the lab. Early experiments involved attaching bend resistors, accelerometers and gyroscopes to a white cotton glove to track hand motions.

She soon abandoned that approach after discovering the Leap motion controller, an off-the-shelf device that senses and plots natural hand motions in real time. Think Wii game station controller or the Matrix sci-fi film.

Cross then moved on to increasingly complex challenges of programming, wireless integration, database comparison, and sensor feedback.

For each sign letter attempt, her glove needed to capture the wearer’s gestures; compare them against a database of proper letter signs; and send, receive and activate the correct tactile feedback between the computer-based database and the glove.

Never a strong coder, Cross says the project forced her to dive deep into a number of programming languages, including C++, Objective C, JavaScript and Xcode, the coding language behind Apple iPhone aps.

The rising senior observes that there are nearly 70 million deaf people in the world and that sign language is important not only to the heard of hearing, but to their friends and family.

“Mastering sign language takes dedication and, above all, time. Using haptic feedback to learn sign language would reduce the amount of time required,” Cross notes.

“It could make bridging the gap between the hearing and hearing impaired communities more accessible.”

Cross says she was inspired to apply for her 10-week summer research fellowship by a friend, Ryan Fecteau ’15, who conducted social science research on binge drinking at military colleges as a Norwich University undergraduate summer research fellow last year.

“He said it was a good experience and he learned a lot—not just learned technically, but learned how to do research,” Cross says.

Cross has had a similar experience this summer. “I’ve worked all weekend before on a lab project. But at the end of the weekend, it’s always finished,” Cross says.

“Whereas with this, you’ll work five [or] six … seven or eight hour days and then get nothing. So you have to take a step back and realize that you’re learning how not to do it. So you are still learning, even though you don’t have anything to show for it.”

Cross had made significant progress on her glove over the course of her fellowship.

“In a way our engineers are working with the languages of machines—but many machines, many languages,” says Norwich University Professor of Electrical Engineering Ronald Lessard. “They’re trying to find out [how] to communicate with these machines so that they can get them, the machines, to work together to do what they need.”

Cross says she may continue her work as a senior thesis project, expanding the scope of her initial summer research fellowship. “Instead of just being the hands and the alphabet, you could make a sleeve out of it [to promote haptic learning of the] full sign language alphabet with all the gestures.”

Related Articles on Undergraduate Summer Research Fellows:

Undergraduate Research: Digging into Geology Fieldwork to Learn Science

This summer, geology major Christopher Eddy (pictured center) spent 10 weeks as a Norwich University Summer Research Fellow investigating the boundary between two ancient mountain formations. He describes it as a “non-stop learning experience.”
Norwich University Office of Communications

August 26, 2015

Where some see ordinary rock or stone, geology major Christopher Eddy sees clues. Clues that reveal titanic clashes of the earth’s crust or date bedrock to eras long before the dinosaurs.

This summer, the rising junior spent 10 weeks in the field and lab investigating the boundary between two ancient mountain building events in central Vermont.

Known as the Richardson Memorial Contact, the region separates the 480 million-year-old Taconic mountain building event, or formation, from the younger 320-million-old to 330 million-year-old Acadian mountain building event.

Geologists have puzzled over this complex boundary for nearly a century, trying to understand its geologic backstory.

Seeking to add more data to the science debate, Eddy and his faculty advisor, Assistant Professor of Geology G. Christopher Koteas, performed detailed geologic mapping and lab-based microstructural studies of rocks along the boundary structure.

“My research project really stemmed from an urge to do science and really dive into the field,” Eddy says.

He applied to the NU Undergraduate Research Program to become a Summer Research Fellow. Administered by the Office of Academic Research, the program awarded 38 Norwich undergraduates stipends up to $4,000 to cover six- and ten-week research projects across the arts, sciences and professional fields this year.

Fellows are paired with faculty advisors and meet regularly over the course of the summer with fellow student researchers to share findings and the highs and lows of their research experience.

The program is entirely funded by university endowments from alumni dedicated to supporting academic student investigation.

Over the summer, Eddy and Koteas visited 86 field sites along transects of the boundary in central Vermont to gather map data and field samples. Rock samples in hand, they returned to the lab to analyze and interpret their data.

“Geology is pretty great in that everything that happens on a grand scale also happens down to the grain scale, and you’re going to see every mineral preserving those motions,” Eddy says.

Preliminary data revealed the presence of rocks under very high strain, indicating a shear zone, Eddy says.

The rising junior arrived at Norwich after spending six years in the Air Force, where he served as an inflight cryptologic Arabic linguist largely based at Offutt AFB near Omaha, Neb.

At Norwich, he’s been passionate about geology ever since his first intro class. Faculty describe him as a mature, driven and highly capable student

Eddy says the summer has been a nonstop learning experience. His biggest insight: “Sometimes you just don’t know. But that doesn’t mean you haven’t contributed something useful. Just that there is more work to do.”

He adds that working with Prof. Koteas has been an honor, describing him as a excellent scientist, mentor and friend.

Eddy says his project is in the final stages of initial research. Together with Prof. Koteas, he has submitted a poster to the Geological Society of America. If accepted, it would be presented at the Society’s national meeting in Baltimore this coming November.

Related Articles on Undergraduate Summer Research Fellows:

Student Research: A 3,000-Mile Architectural Journey Through the Desert Southwest

In June, senior architecture major Keith Stipe joined 27 other Norwich University undergraduate Summer Research Fellows who undertook in-depth research projects across the arts, sciences or professional fields. Awarded by the university’s Office of Academic Research, the competitive, six- and ten-week fellowships are funded by university endowments dedicated to supporting student academic investigation.
Norwich University Office of Communications

August 24, 2015

This summer, senior architecture major Keith Stipe toured the desert southwest to explore ancient and modern examples of earthen and rammed earth architecture and to speak to leading architects in the field.
keith_stipe_portrait

Beginning in Denver, Colo., Stipe drove some 3,000 miles over the course of three weeks, exploring sites in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

Building styles ranged from thousand-year-old kivas built by the Pueblo peoples at Chaco National Historic Park in Chaco, New Mexico, to modern sculptor Paolo Soleri’s Cosanti home and studio in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

“One of the reasons this research is relevant and important is that even in our current day, a third to half of the world’s population lives in earthen buildings,” Stipe says.

“There’s a huge population of the world that relies on the availability and the easy use of earthen building materials. So it’s something that’s worth continuing to explore and develop in the future.”

His first stop was the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., designed by I.M. Pei, a concrete structure that uses soil and pigment to make a visual connection to the surrounding Colorado landscape.

Other sites included the 30,000-square-foot PERA office building in Sante Fe, the largest rammed earth building in the southwest; Georgia O’Keefe’s Abiquiu, NM, home and studio; and the Lemuria Earthship, an off-the-grid rammed earth home near Taos, New Mexico.

At each site, Stipe studied the architecture’s technical and aesthetic qualities. He sketched site layouts, photographed architectural elements, and measured wall thicknesses to estimate thermal mass and passive heating and cooling abilities.

The aspiring architect also observed the buildings’ relationships to place and landscape, noting how the structures earthen building materials provided a poetic connection to the landscape.

In Arizona, Stipe interviewed influential rammed earth architect Eddie Jones.

Danny Sagan, an associate professor of architecture and program director for NU’s School of Architecture + Art, served as Stipe’s research advisor. “Architecture is uniquely difficult to study in that many of the examples we use to teach the principles of the subject are not located in Vermont,” he says.

He adds that architecture of place must be derived from regionally appropriate building technologies. Stipe’s trip into the arid Southwest allowed him to explore architecture informed by different influences.

“By traveling into an new environment, Keith was able to see the subject of architecture with new eyes,” Sagan says. “Every architecture student should travel to see architecture in a place very different than the places they know. It makes their studies much broader and therefore much more relevant.”

Stipe documented his trip via social media and photography. He plans to produce a book as his final research product, one that synthesizes his visual impressions with research findings and analysis.

Stipe’s research budget of $3,940, which covered food, lodging, travel expenses, and a new digital SLR camera, were covered by his Summer Research Fellowship stipend.

“Architecture is an art which arises not only from an instinctual need for warmth or shelter, but also from a human desire to synthesize and create at a level which is in harmony with landscape and environment,” Stipe notes.

Modern building approaches often involve demolishing a landscape, building suburbs, then replanting trees—a process that doesn’t acknowledge place, he says. “We try to change the environment to fit our perceptions or needs, rather than using the environment as a tool [for] showing us how to live in an area.”

His fellowship now complete, Stipe will spend the fall semester studying architecture and design in Berlin, Germany, at Norwich University’s City Lab: Berlin micro campus.

Related Articles on Undergraduate Summer Research Fellows:

Student Research: Visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace to Study Religious Tolerance

Senior Jesse Abruzzi was one of 28 Norwich University undergraduates awarded a Summer Research Fellowship to investigate diverse topics across the arts, sciences and professional fields. Nurtured by the university’s Office of Academic Research, the competitive, six- and ten-week fellowships are entirely funded by university endowments dedicated to supporting student academic investigation.
Norwich University Office of Communications

August 20, 2015

Jesse Abruzzi, a senior history major, has long been fascinated by the intersection of religion and politics. So as a 10-week Norwich University Summer Research Fellow, he chose to study the lives of English Catholics during the Protestant Reformation in the second half the 16th century.

Abruzzi focused on the small English market town of Stratford-upon-Avon in the Catholic hotbed of Warwickshire. While practicing Catholicism could be a capital offense, a number of Catholics held seats of power in town government.

To conduct original research, Abruzzi used funds from his $4,000 fellowship stipend to visit two storied archives in England: the British Library in London, the world’s largest, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Record Trust Office in Stratford-upon-Avon.

In Stratford, Abruzzi spent days pouring over ancient manuscripts full of details about village life in the 1500 and 1600s. A main source was the Minutes and Accounts of the Stratford Corporation, or town government.

Notes recorded in the 16th century tome describe an array of ordinances that illuminate the concerns of the growing market town. Decrees ranged from efforts to control dogs, trade, and firearms to rules that sought to advert religious tensions or keep tavern owners from watering down their beer.

“Everything I was looking over slowly began to change the questions I was having,” Abruzzi says. “My question changed from a religious one to a more political one.”

He refocused his scholarship on the central issue of how Stratford-upon-Avon formed an autonomous government in such a religiously charged era.

Abruzzi found that despite anti-Catholic rhetoric and actions by the monarchy in London, religion took a back seat to political and economic interests in Stratford-upon-Avon. “[This] fostered an environment that allowed a stable town to form,” he says.

“What I just found really interesting was how a religious reformation that began in Europe resulted in a political reformation in this small English town. [One] that ultimately created, oddly, this religious diversity” imperfect though it was, he says.

Norwich University Assistant Professor of History Emily Fisher Gray advised Abruzzi on his project.

“This is a story that has been investigated by other historians relating to the larger rural county of Warwickshire, but Jesse [is] the first to ask these questions of the town of Stratford,” Gray says.

To help him with his project, Gray visited the British Library and the Shakespeare Birthplace Record Trust Office ahead of time to secure research access and canvas source material on his behalf.

“Jesse was interested in researching the experiences of ordinary people,” Gray says. “I was excited because the stories of regular folks rarely get told, and they are often the most interesting.”

Of his research, Abruzzi says, “I was doing work that I’ll probably be doing at the PhD level one day. So it was great practice actually being in the ‘field’ on my own and getting firsthand experience having to solve certain problems without help.”

He says his greatest takeaway from his fellowship experience this summer was a greater sense of personal and academic independence. “I had some help in the archives the first few days,” he says. “But after that, I was on my own.”

Related Stories on Norwich Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships:
Photograph courtesy Emily Fisher Gray, PhD

Undergraduate Summer Research: Museums, Brains, Proteins and Murder

Norwich University undergraduates are hard at work this summer investigating diverse research topics across the arts, sciences and professional fields. Their competitive, six- and ten-week paid summer research fellowships are funded by university endowments dedicated to supporting student academic investigation.
By David Westerman, PhD
Norwich University Office of Academic Research

 
June 30, 2015

Editor’s note: Charles A. Dana Professor of Geology and Associate Vice President for Research David Westerman is blogging about Norwich undergraduate student research projects underway this summer in field sites, labs and libraries on campus and around the globe.

This week’s lunchtime research presentations on campus featured Undergraduate Research Fellows and faculty from multiple disciplines, inviting lively discussion on museum design, chicken brains, pilot response times, proteins, and serial murder.

Fellow Sarah Bedard ‘17 (Architecture) kicked off Tuesday’s discussion, explaining the code of ethics for adding architectural additions onto an existing art museum. This summer, she will evaluate two museums in Toronto and one in Massachusetts built by well-known architects. She plans to assess the circulation paths, overlapping spaces, and private vs. public usages. She will present her work as a series of case studies and a final poster.

Stacia Melick (Biology) described her work on voltage-gated potassium ion channel expression in the embryonic chicken hypothalamus. She is testing the hypothesis that the specific Kv1.3 gene is expressed in a similar fashion as the Insulin Receptor gene, due to a known interaction of these proteins elsewhere in the nervous system. The interaction of the Kv1.3 and Insulin Receptor proteins has been known to alter neuronal excitability in the olfactory bulb, and she is testing the hypothesis that this interaction may also play a role in the hypothalamic regulation of food intake and energy homeostasis.

Next up was Tim Smeddal (Mechanical Engineering), who is investigating how pilots are able to perceive and interact with aircraft instruments. For this project, Tim will survey approximately 100 aircraft pilots to determine which gauge is more accurate for certain altitudes by testing them on fixed points as well as trends in altitude. He is currently working out of Burlington International Airport, but also hopes to incorporate military pilots into his survey.

Thursday’s Brown Bag discussion featured Fellow Devon Lindner (Molecular Biology) and faculty member Assistant Professor Elizabeth Gurian (Criminal Justice). Devon is investigating a novel protein binding relationship between Fyn, a Src family kinase, and MCM6, a protein involved in cell division. To test the hypothesis that there is a relationship between Fyn and MCM6, Devon is conducting literature reviews and running laboratory experiments under the mentorship of Associate Professor Karen Hinkle (Biology) to understand their interactions. Devon hopes that her findings can eventually lead to contributions in cancer research.

Finally, Prof. Elizabeth Gurian provided a glimpse into her ongoing work on serial murder. She explained how the lack of scientific papers on female perpetrated homicide and serial murder is attributable, in part, to the rarity of these incidents, which does not permit ordinary research methods to be easily employed. The examination of these offenses is further limited due to definitional issues, complex rationales for committing criminal homicide, and gendered perceptions of homicide and serial murder, or inclusion under generalized findings on male homicide offenders. Prof. Gurian talked about her methods and approach to her project and explained that by dispelling stereotypes and gendered perceptions we may achieve a better understanding of female homicide offending.

About the Author: David S. Westerman, PhD, is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Geology at Norwich University and the Associate Vice President for Research in the university’s Office of Academic Research.

Photograph by Keith Stipe

Norwich University welcomes high school students to GenCyber cybersecurity camp

Today, Norwich University kicks-off a week-long pre-college cybersecurity program for 20 high school students called GenCyber@NU. Funded by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation, participants will learn, explore, experiment and apply basic concepts of programming, forensics and cryptography, through a series of gaming, modeling, and simulation activities with peers and faculty mentors in a university setting.

The week-long overnight camp is offered at no cost to the students and includes building a computer for each student to take home. All classes are taught by faculty and alumni of Norwich University’s nationally recognized cybersecurity program.

GenCyber summer camps will be held on 29 university and college campuses in 18 states this year – exposing largely middle and high school students and teachers to subject matter and cyber problem solving that will help prepare them for college coursework. The camps, some of which are overnight, are free for participants.

This is the second year of the program. The goal is to expand GenCyber from the current 43 camps to 200 by 2020.

About GenCyber:

“GenCyber” is a new partnership between the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation to help young people learn about cybersecurity and how skills in that area can pay off for them in the future. Educating the next generation of cybersecurity experts is a priority for leaders in both the public and private sectors. Cyber threats are only growing, and improving defenses to better protect the nation is a must in this digital era.While the program, launched in 2014, focuses on raising awareness among students, camps for teachers are also available to help educators build curricula for their own schools.

About Norwich University:

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

Norwich University is recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has received designation as a Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3). Ranked #2 by the Ponemon Institute for cyber security in the U.S., Norwich University programs are consistently ranked among the best in the nation for cyber security education.

Editor’s note: Pictured above, Jake Poretsky, 17, of Northborough, Mass., checks into GenCyber@NU, a weeklong cybersecurity camp held at Vermont’s Norwich University and funded by the NSA and NSF.

Photo credit: Norwich University/Mark Collier

College of Graduate and Continuing Studies holds 3rd annual Leadership Summit

On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 70 of 575 students on Norwich University’s Northfield, Vt. campus for the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies’ (CGCS) annual Residency Conference week participated in the Third Annual Leadership Summit. Students spent the day split up into cross-disciplinary groups and paired with partner business representatives, who brought organizational leadership challenges to the group in a think tank problem-solving event.

Read a story about the 2013 inaugural event here. In 2014, CGCS awarded scholarships to employees of participating businesses. Read about those here.