Professor Delves Into Discussion of Science and Religion
Can a devoutly religious person believe in the
theory of evolution? Can he or she support stem cell research
or the creation of genetically modified food?
Or perhaps turn the question around: must a scientist
leave his or her religious convictions at the laboratory door,
so to speak, when engaged in research?
Scientists' dependence on bare facts and their
insistence on basing conclusions on replicable evidence lead
some people to believe scientists are atheists. Can a scientist
believe in a supreme being or the power of prayer?
Prof. Michael, who has a PhD in
genetics and specializes in the reproductive endocrinology
and immunology of female mammals, says science and
theology can indeed mix and the cross-disciplinary
dialogue takes place at many research universities.
Sandra D. Michael, professor of biological sciences
and the department's director of graduate studies, says yes.
She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement
of Science (AAAS) and recently finished a four-year term on
their Program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER),
a committee established in 1995 that seeks to increase the level
of scientific understanding in religious communities and promote
multidisciplinary study of the ethical and religious implications
of developments in science and technology.
Philosophers and theologians have traditionally
been the ones to discuss ethical issues. DoSER, however, provides
opportunities for members of these disciplines to converse with
scientists about the religious and moral implications of scientific
discovery and technological advancement.
"There's a high level of belief in a higher
being among scientists," Michael contends. "You don't
have to be a scientist or a person of faith."
DoSER facilitates collaboration among scientists, ethicists
and religious scholars by organizing conferences and publishing
books, videos and other informational material.
Members of DoSER discuss scientific issues with
moral implications such as reproductive cloning, population
control, genetic testing, space exploration, environmental policies,
and robotics. They hold PhD's in fields ranging from Judaic
Studies to Physics and come from research universities such
as Binghamton, theological seminaries, medical schools, and
"The committee, while I was on it, had Jews,
a Muslim, a Buddhist, an Atheist, and a number of people from
different Christian faith traditions," Michael said, adding
that DoSER members may come from any of the 24 different scientific
disciplines within the AAAS.
DoSER holds monthly public lectures throughout
the country. In November 2002, Harpur College's Professor David
Sloan Wilson spoke at one about his controversial book, Darwin's
Cathedral: Evolution, Religion and the Nature of Society,
which suggested morality and religion gave humans a survival
edge because they rewarded behaviors conducive to community
The intersection of science, ethics and religion
isn't just a "fringe" interest. Michael says many
top ranked universities have institutes dedicated to studying
such matters, such as the Center for Theology and the Natural
Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.
The issues are on the minds of students as well.
Michael teaches Contemporary Issues in Biological Sciences,
a requirement for students in BU's Early Assurance Program,
which she coordinates and which grants acceptance into SUNY
Upstate Medical School for those who meet the academic criteria.
Having the opportunity to discuss topics such
as ethics, evolution, and biomedical research is especially
important for future medical students because they'll need to
be able to talk about them with their patients.
Students in Michael's Contemporary Issues seminar
must give two 40-minute presentations on scientific topics that
have been in the media and the nation's collective consciousness.
"The first day of class, the students make a long list
of possible seminar topics. Creation and evolution are always
on their list," she said.
For some, Michael's Contemporary Issues class
is the first opportunity they've had to explore not only these
subjects, but their own feelings as well. "Some students
will come to see me to talk about it in my office." It
is often their first step into the ongoing dialogue, which may,
for some, continue to grow at the pace of science.
Outside of the lab, Michael is very active
in promoting the dialogue among science, ethics and religion
in the Episcopal Church. At the national level, she was recently
elected Convener for the Episcopal Church's Network for Science,
Technology and Faith. The Network is co-organizing an April
2005 meeting at M.I.T. with AAAS, "Our Brains and Us: Neuroethics,
Responsibility and the Self."
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Bridges Students to Research Experience
Monroe Community College student Tia Washington
spent the summer working in Karl Wilson's lab studying
the aminopeptidases of soybean seedlings. She says
Bridges helped her to learn more about herself and
reinforced her goal of going to medical school.
Washington hopes to transfer to the University of
Rochester in the Fall of 2006.
Junie Bertrand and C. Antoine Brown are
helping determine the effect of stress on behavior. But they're
not observing BU students during finals week.
Bertrand and Brown have spent five weeks
working in Professor Terrence Deak's lab in the Psychology Department
where they assisted in a study of the social behaviors of sick
and healthy rats.
They recorded their responses to a newcomer
rat, speculating that sick rats would not show much interest
in an unfamiliar animal. This is a small piece of a much larger
study Deak is conducting to show how stress' effect on the immune
system changes behavior, and not just health. It is a very timely
study, considering how much stress related illnesses cost our
Bertrand, from Rockland Community College,
and Brown, from Monroe Community College, are part of the SUNY
Upstate Bridges to Baccalaureate program. The students and their
14 faculty mentors displayed posters showing their research
on Friday, July 2 in the University Union.
Now in its sixth year at BU, 105 students,
including this year's group, have graduated from the Bridges
program. Funded for three years with a $1.6 million grant from
the National Institutes of Health, Bridges is designed to increase
the number of underrepresented minority students in the biomedical
sciences, including biology, chemistry, psychology and mathematics.
Junie Bertrand and C. Antoine Brown examine data from
their study of stress and social interaction. "I
love research," said Bertrand. "You keep
going until you answer the question, so you never
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Harpur
College, Don Blake, who is also the Bridges Program Administrator,
said the program’s strong reputation has spread more widely
among our partnering community colleges, resulting in increased
competition for admission into Bridges.
Of all the students who have gone through the
program, 10 have already graduated from BU. Twenty are expected
here in the fall semester. Thirty-two have transferred to other
" With each succeeding year, it is heartening
to see more students persisting in school, more students helping
each other reach their educational objectives, and more students
choosing to come to Binghamton," Blake said.
Our faculty are catching on to the program's
success as well. Deak said that at a recent national neuroscience
conference, one of the main points of interest was about recruiting
minority students into the field "I think the Bridges program
fits very well with that," he commented.
Besides the satisfaction of helping to increase
the number of minority students embarking upon research careers,
the faculty simply finds participating in the program enjoyable.
"This is my third year working with Bridges students and
it's been a lot of fun seeing them become budding young scientists,"
Beth De Angelo, who coordinates the program,
said overall 69% percent of the students who complete the program
transfer to four-year colleges, a much higher rate than the
national average for minority students. She credits the success
to giving students the support and feeling of inclusion they
need to do well in college. "One student told me Bridges
made her feel like she really belongs in college," De Angelo
The students range in age from late teens
to late twenties. Some are already parents. Nearly half are
not U.S. born. They are from Haiti, Columbia, the Philippines,
Jamaica and Peru.
De Angelo said Bridges' success largely
stems from hands on research as an undergraduate, contact with
the faculty, and contact with the grad students. "They're
great mentors for these students," She said.
Hands-on research is exactly what Carlton
Campbell from Monroe Community College enjoys about Bridges.
He has been working in Professor C.J. Zhong's chemistry lab,
helping find a faster way to detect homocystine in a solution
of gold nanoparticles. "Homocystine has become an important
diagnostic factor for threat of cardiovascular disease,"
Campbell said. Finding a more efficient way of detecting it
could lead to better treatment for, and possibly fewer deaths
from, heart disease.
Campbell had originally planned to transfer
to Morgan State University, where many of his relatives are
alumni, to study industrial engineering and eventually earn
an MBA. However, he said that because he had such a positive
experience with Bridges, he plans to apply to BU.
"Bridges gives community college students
the chance to experience firsthand what life would be like as
a researcher," Campbell said. "It gives us an upper
hand on the future."
His faculty mentor agrees. "Working with
Bridges students like Carlton, I am indeed optimistic about
recruitment of our future researchers," Zhong said.
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Student Searches for Clues in Crows
Professor Anne Clark and Becky
Heiss `04 next to the poster that won first prize
at the American Field Ornithologists Meeting at
Cornell in April. They are now studying the effect
of West Nile Virus on the crow population.
A Harpur College senior's research poster recently
won first prize at the annual meeting of the Association of
Field Ornithologists (AFO). Becky Heiss `04, now a graduate
student in biology at Binghamton, presented her research to
the AFO on determining the age of Corvus brachyrhynchos,
American Crows, by their tail shapes and mouth coloration.
She was part of a research team led by Harpur Professor Anne
Clark and Kevin McGowan from Cornell. They hope to track and
prevent the spread of the deadly West Nile Virus.
Heiss became interested in studying crows during
her junior year when she took Clark's animal behavior course,
which looks at the biological basis for, and diversity of, animals'
behavior. Clark noticed Heiss’ enthusiasm for the subject,
and, after reading a paper Heiss wrote about play behavior,
invited Heiss to join her crow research group that summer.
It was a perfect match. "She plugged right
in, getting up extremely early to watch nests and crow families
before it got too hot to work," Clark said, who admired
how readily Heiss would contribute her ideas and energy to the
Heiss worked as a field assistant to Clark and
McGowan as they studied crow populations across several acres
in Cayuga Heights. For the last 20 years, McGowan has been
tracking crows by placing an ID band on their ankles at birth.
"Before West Nile, they lived about 13 years," Heiss
said. "They’re very social and families stay together and
sometimes in the same place," Heiss said. The crows’ offspring
stay with their families and establish a territory they defend
from other birds.
Clark and her team needed a way to determine crows'
ages when they were unable to tag the birds at birth. Heiss
said they can guess by the color of the inside of the crows'
mouths and the shape of their tails. "Crows start with
a perfectly pink mouth but, gradually, their mouths turn gray
and by the time they’re adults, they have black mouths,"
Heiss said, adding that younger birds have pointed tails while
adults have square ones.
The researchers' solution was to build upon existing
literature and develop what Heiss called mouth and tail codes. "Zero
is an entirely pink mouth," she said."Four is an entirely
black mouth, and there are intermediates between that." With
tails, a pointed tail is one and as the tails square out, the
number goes as high as three. The team hopes to publish these
new age determinants in the Journal of Field Ornithology.
Heiss found doing research so rewarding that she
remained with Clark's team for the rest of her senior year,
earning an Undergraduate Research Award to support her work
during the spring semester. Their new project involves installing
cameras "the size of a Reese's cup" in crows' nests
to watch their feeding patterns and determine if it has any
role in the transmission of the West Nile Virus. "I'm
anxious to see what we'll find," she said.
Her work will continue in the fall, this time
at the graduate level. Heiss is interested in all aspects of
crows' biology, from development to cooperative behaviors.
She's thrilled by how much she's learned through hands-on experience
in the field. "Being so involved in research," Heiss
said, "feels like you're contributing to something greater
than just writing papers for class."
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College to join the free books and entertainment at University
Make room on your bookshelves!
Free books will again be the draw at Binghamton
University’s annual University Fest from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday, August 28, when the University welcomes the community
onto campus and students back for the fall semester. All events
will take place in front of the University Union. Harpur College
will have a table with giveaways and academic information from
our departments and programs.
The book giveaway will include books on many different
subjects and office supplies. Visitors can load up on as many
free books as they can carry.
The family-friendly event will also feature kid’s
games; giant inflatables including a rock-climbing wall, slide
and moon bounce; face painting; a caricaturist; crafts and vendors;
food and more. Entertainment will be provided throughout the
University Fest is sponsored by Binghamton University,
the Student Association and the Division of Student Affairs.
There is no admission and parking is free.
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and friends, mark your calendar for the best campus event of
Click the logo above
for detailed information on reunions
for the classes of 1999, 1994, 1979 and 1954, a schedule
for the weekend, a list of who's attending,
how to get involved, and
so much more!
Don't miss Homecoming 2004 - it's a tradition
worth coming back for.
Friends & Family
In response to
your much-appreciated feedback, the Harpur Hotline has developed
a regular feature of alumni news. Please
send us anything you want: publications, promotions, marriages,
babies, graduations, retirements, etc. Many thanks to everyone
who shared their stories! Here's what some of your fellow Harpur
alumni and friends are doing:
|1968: Art Nudell took
a Saturday off from fly fishing to represent the Alumni
Association Board at Harpur College's Recognition Ceremonies
in May. In honor of Professor Emeritus John Casparis, Nudell
helped establish the Casparis Prize, which is given to a
graduating senior sociology major who has written the best
assigned paper as judged by a committee of Sociology professors.
He is semi-retired and substitute teaches at the Martin
Luther King High School of Art and Technology in New York
City. Nudell and his wife, Ginny, have three adult children:
Josh, 29, Hannah, 28, and Matt, 26. For more information
about fly fishing in New York, write to email@example.com.
||1976: Robert Hoover
is Operations Supervisor at Hearst Magazines in New York
City. He's a member of P3, a service organization for the
publishing industry and the 1997-98 past president of the
Assocation of Publication Production Managers before it
merged with Women In Production and became P3. Hoover is
a member of the Alumni Board of Directors and offers many
years of magazine expertise to the Binghamton Alumni Journal's
advisory committee. He represented the Board of Directors
at Harpur College's Recognition Ceremonies on May 15, 2004.
Hoover also is a volunteer for the Alumni Career Network
and has helped many young Binghamton graduates find their
first job in magazine work. In his spare time and weekends,
he has a flourishing painting career.
Shelley Haven is exhibiting her paintings at
two shows currently:
WATER SHOW is located at Art at the Pier, 499 Van Brunt
St.. Red Hook, Brooklyn. The show will run 12:00p.m. to
6:00p.m. every weekend until August 22, 2004. For more
information, call (718) 596-2507 or see the Brooklyn Waterfront
Artists Coalition's website at http://www.bwac.org.
HORIZONTAL WAVES: New Takes on Landscape is at Gallery
Boreas, 133-A Roebling St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The
show runs until August 1, 2004. Gallery hours are Fridays
12:00p.m. to 9:00p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 12:00p.m.
to 6:00p.m. For more information, call 718-782-7755 or
go to http://www.nurtureart.org.
Haven's painting at right is one of four images in Punta
Morena, Variations. They are made on copper plates
using contemporary and traditional etching and printmaking
processes. It appears with other pieces of her work at
|1978: Jeffery Lyle Segal
(M.A.) has returned to the theater stage as an
actor-singer after a long absence, performing new musical
theater works with members of the Actor's Repertoire Company
of the Academy for New Musical Theater in Los Angeles, where
he is a composer/lyricist member. His original one act musical,
"The Scout," was presented in June to a strong
audience response. Segal has a national reputation as one
of the country's leading permanent makeup artists, with
offices in Chicago and Beverly Hills, and recently arranged
to spend a few days a month in New York City as well. However,
he still works periodically as a special effects makeup
artist, and prides himself on creating makeup illusions
"from gore to gorgeous!" He told the Hotline
that he is now polishing his cabaret act on the frustrations
of dating in L.A.
||1980: Janice Endresen,
editor of the Binghamton Alumni Journal,
has accepted a new position as editor of Enterprise,
the alumni journal for Cornell University's Johnson School
of Management. She began working at BU in December 1999
and earned rave reviews for her talent and creativity. During
her tenure, Endresen designed and edited the first alumni
association online newsletter and spearheaded a readership
survey of the Binghamton Alumni Journal. She communicated
with the families of the alumni who died on September 11
and wrote an exceptional tribute to them. Endresen also
created an alumni editorial advisory committee and shifted
the focus of Journal articles by adding stories with multiple
interviewees, including BU alumni, faculty, staff and students.
"I've met a lot of wonderful people working here,"
Endresen said at a farewell party in her honor at the Office
of Alumni and Parent Relations. "It's been amazing
to see the variety of Binghamton alumni and write about
them." Endresen and her partner, Bob Crowley, have
a 13-year-old daughter, Kiera and live in Ithaca.
|1991: Angela Santaniello
Wartell and her husband, Richard, are delighted
to announce the birth of their son, Tristan Royce, on Nov.
8, 2003. The family lives in Willits, California.
||2000: David Berkowitz,
who is very active in campus and Metro New York alumni activities,
returned to campus in May for Harpur College's Recognition
Ceremony as a representative of the Alumni Association Board.
He is currently working in New York City in the internet
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Look at a Harpur Alumni Legacy: The Penna Family
A whole family of alumni: Carmen
Swoffer-Penna `69, `92, Jonathan Penna `97, J.J.
Penna `93, Albert Penna `77, and Elizabeth Penna
For many, choosing a college is a difficult decision.
But for the Penna family of Binghamton, Harpur College is a
tradition. The faculty, classes, friendships, and opportunities
at Harpur College touched each of their lives and prepared them
for graduate school and exciting careers.
It started in 1968. Carmen Swoffer-Penna,
then a junior at Harpur College, recalls she was taking
a walk at MacArthur track in Binghamton. She struck up an aquaintance
with Syracuse University student, Albert Penna,
whom she married in 1970. More than 30 years later, all three
of their children are now Harpur alumni.
Albert Penna earned an M.A. in
Biological Sciences from Binghamton in 1977 and went on to earn
a doctorate in education from Syracuse University in 2001. He
is the principal of Binghamton High School.
Carmen Swoffer-Penna studied
French at Harpur, earning a B.A. in 1969 and an M.A. in 1992.
She is an adjunct lecturer at Harpur College, teaching French
in the Department of Romance Languages and French diction in
the Music Department.
J.J. Penna earned a Bachelor's
of Music from Harpur in 1993. He earned a doctorate in music
from the University of Michigan in 1996. He is associate professor
of voice and accompanying at Westminster Choir College and teaches
part time at Yale University. J.J. travels frequently as an
accompanist to professional musicians. Penna married fellow
voice instructor, Aurora Micu Penna, in 1998. They reside in
Franklin Park, NJ.
Jonathan Penna, who received
a B.A. in political science in 1997, also graduated from the
University of Buffalo Law School in 2001. He is an associate
at Nixon Peabody LLP in Rochester, as is his wife, Lori Stone,
whom he married last month. They live in Spencerport, NY.
Elizabeth (Penna) Clarke followed
in her mother's footsteps and majored in French, getting her
B.A. in 2000 and a Master's of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) from
BU in 2002. She is a French teacher at Vestal High School. In
April 2004, she married Patrick Clarke, who
graduated with a double major in history and Latin American
and Caribbean area studies in 2000 and earned an M.A. in History
in 2001 and an M.A.T. in 2002. He teaches Social Studies at
Susquehanna Valley High School. The Clarkes live in Binghamton.
Patrick's mom, Linda Clarke, received a B.S.
in human development in 2002.
"Each one of us had somewhat different reasons,"
Swoffer-Penna said of her family members' decisions to attend
Harpur, "but it's an amazing education for very little
money. It was the right choice for all of us."
For more alumni legacy stories, check out the
11, 2001 Alumni Connect. Want to share your story?
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Association Offers Home Loan Discount Program
Faulty, staff, students,
parents and alumni can now get discounted home loans through
Binghamton University's Alumni Association.
Through the Home Loan discount program created
by the Alumni Association and IndyMac Bank, applicants will
save $250 on closing costs for new first mortgages and benefit
from a streamlined application and approval process while supporting
the Alumni Association. IndyMac Bank is one of the nation's
largest home lenders. In addition to home purchase or refinancing
loans, IndyMac Bank offers fixed and adjustable rate loans,
limited documentation loans, vacation and second home loans
and jumbo loans of up to $3 million. The Alumni Association
receives revenue from inquiries made through its dedicated website
or from toll-free calls to 888-207-5230.
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Harpur students Hye Jin
Oh `05, Erica Weinstein `07 and Stephina Dansoh `06 kick
back in Harpur gear.
Shop the campus bookstore from
the comfort of your PC or Mac. Want to pick up a copy of the
new Harpur history book The Cornerstone? Visit The
more Harpur College merchandise, such as hats, shirts and window
stickers, contact the bookstore at 607-777-2745.
Issues of the Harpur Hotline
an issue? Want to read more? Check out: http://harpur.binghamton.edu/hotline
College Development Team Mission Statement:
Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Development Team encourages
alumni, students, faculty and friends to identify with Harpur
College's past, present and future by engaging them in events
and programs that connect them to the college. We facilitate
ways for our constituents to enrich Harpur College through their
financial contributions and personal talents and resources.