Alumna blog takes home ‘Blog It Home’ award

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Congratulations to Communication alumna Erika Hooker ’13, whose blog documenting her experiences as a Peace Corps agent in Senegal, West Africa, has been selected as a winner in the international organization’s annual ‘Blog It Home’ competition. More than 350 blogs were submitted for consideration, and 11,000 votes were cast on Facebook. Erika’s was one of eight blogs honored.She will be headed to Washington, D.C. next week for a special tour and set of activities.

Since graduating from Cornell, Erika has been working as a sustainable agriculture extension agent, and part of her mission is to bring home the culture of the local communities in which she works to her fellow Americans. She certainly does so in the colorful Senegal Writing Home

"It’s not always easy, but I enjoy every hot, sweaty, dirt-covered day here because the people of my village, and of Senegal as a whole, make it worth it," she writes.

Taste of the season at Mann

Photo by Craig Cramer

Study break options at Mann have gotten a bit healthier thanks to a new addition to the library lobby: an apple machine. Once housed in the Plant Sciences Building, the unique vending machine has been recently relocated to provide crunchy munchies in a more highly trafficked area. As reported in the Horticulture blog, the machine is managed by members of the Society of Horticulture for Graduate Students (SoHo) (including Ph.D. students Jeremie Blum and Annika Kreye, pictured above), who pick the apples at Cornell Orchards and use the proceeds to fund guest speakers, purchase academic supplies, and support education, outreach and other activities.

Speaking of apples, the Orchards store opens for the season today! Hours are Tuesday - Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can read up on which varieties to expect, when, and their best uses, in this handy guide.

As we add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – and we haven’t put the brakes on stopping this – we are weighting the dice for megadrought … This will be worse than anything seen during the last 2,000 years and would pose unprecedented challenges to water resources in the region.

— Toby Ault, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, warns about the chances of the southwestern United States experiencing drought lasting up to 35 years.

Judging an egg by its color

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Another fascinating fact to file away for your next dinner party: White-feathered chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs; red or brown ones with red earlobes lay brown eggs; and the Ameraucana breed, also known as the Eastern egg chicken, lays eggs with blue shells.

Tro V. Bui, a visiting fellow in animal science, shared this and other fun facts with the New York Times in response to a question about whether there is any nutritional difference between brown and white eggs.

Brown eggs in general may have more omega-3 fatty acids, but the difference is slight, Bui said, and there is no difference in yolk color or taste.

Other things we learned:

  • Shell quality does not differ by breed, though younger chickens lay eggs with harder shells;
  • Brown-egg chickens tend to be larger and cost more to feed and raise, so white eggs are more cost-efficient;
  • The type of feed can affect the egg’s nutritional content as well as its yolk color;
  • Pigment is usually added to the outer layer in the last few hours before the egg is laid.

In 2011, FoSheng Hsu, a graduate student in the field of biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, brought acclaim to Cornell by winning best dance video in the chemistry category in Science Magazine’s ”Dance Your Ph.D.” contest, an annual competition that recognizes the finest dance interpretations of scientific doctoral work. Let’s bring the glory back to CALS! We’re calling on CALS graduate students to create and record original dance interpretations of their thesis research. Enter your video at the AAAS/Science Magazine 2013 “Dance Your Ph.D.” Contest website, by September 29. Send a link to your video posted on Vimeo (as contest rules require), along with your name, the name of your lab or thesis advisor, the title of your video and a brief description to cals-socialmedia@cornell.edu and we’ll share it on CALS Notes, Facebook, and Twitter. For inspiration, we’ve included a video about sperm competition by Cedric Tan of the University of Oxford.

A smart way to travel

From tree farming in Indonesia to microenterprise in Lesotho, the Student Multidisciplinary Applied Research Team (SMART) Program offers some amazing opportunities for immersive, hands-on learning in incredible locations. Managed by the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD), the program brings together faculty, undergraduates and graduate students from diverse disciplines across the Cornell campus to work in teams with firms, organizations and community groups in developing countries, on projects that challenge the students to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in a real-world setting.

This year the SMART program will feature 13 projects - seven in Asia, five in Africa and one in South America - to be conducted in trips over winter break. To learn more about the projects, visit the SMART program blog, or attend an upcoming information session:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 2 from 5 - 6:30 p.m., Mann Library Room 160
  • Wednesday, Sept. 3 from 5 - 6:30 p.m., Mann Library Room 160
  • Monday, Sept. 8 from 5 - 6:30 p.m., Mann Library Room 160

Students can apply from Sept. 2 - Sept. 19.

Cornell leadership takes on the challenge…

Sorry, I’m away from…myself.

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As the height of summer vacation reaches its zenith, so too the flood of out-of-office autoreplies. But what if, instead of an “I am not at my desk,” the message came from…a desk?

From the vaults of the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering listserv comes the tale of a modern-day prank involving an historic item: the Riley-Robb desk.

Acquired in 1907, the two-sided desk was one of the first pieces of furniture in the department, then known as the Division of Rural Engineering, for its first professors Howard W. Riley and Byron B. Robb. When the department’s current home, Riley Robb Hall, was completed in 1954, there was a dedication ceremony complete with a re-enactment of Riley and Robb at their first desk (pictured above).

In 2007, the desk took its first vacation. Its disappearance caused great consternation by many within the department, including then chair Mike Walter.

Shortly after, a message was sent out from therileyrobbdesk@gmail.com:

"I’ll be away from myself while on vacation. Please contact the antique plow display in the RR basement should you need any assistance.

Riley-Robb desk

This was followed up with a virtual postcard:

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A curious recipient posed a question to the jet-setting piece of furniture:

"Everyone here wants to know your opinion about modern desk sizes - 60 inches wide is the current standard, but is it too pretentious? 50 inches wide seems more environmentally sustainable, but with modern nutrition, people are bigger than they used to be and just don’t fit as well."

To which the desk replied:

"Thank you for the inquiry. I can’t be bothered with matters of consequence at this time as I am dovetail deep in the Cape Cod muck clamming for my dinner. I hope this finds you environmentally sustainable and not partaking of too much nutrition :-)
 
Yours,
RR desk 

Another virtual postcard, with the subject, “Transported” to a new location, was sent directly to the department chair: 

Hi Mike,

Thought I’d get back to my roots with a couple of my plant pals. Keep grinning!

RR desk

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Then there was this vacation hotspot:

And the final postcard:

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The desk reappeared in the Riley Robb Library before any students even noticed it was missing, and it hasn’t been on any more vacations since.

cornelluniversity:

Interested in connecting with another Cornellian on Campus? Considering participating in CampusConnection! CampusConnection connects new students with upperclassmen with similar interests to help with their transition into Cornell. Whether you are an upperclassmen looking to share your story or a new student looking for tips on campus, please consider participating to help build a stronger community at Cornell. To sign up: http://www.cucampusconnection.com/ 

cornelluniversity:

Interested in connecting with another Cornellian on Campus? Considering participating in CampusConnection! CampusConnection connects new students with upperclassmen with similar interests to help with their transition into Cornell. Whether you are an upperclassmen looking to share your story or a new student looking for tips on campus, please consider participating to help build a stronger community at Cornell. 
To sign up: http://www.cucampusconnection.com/ 

Big Red imprint at New York State Fair

Photo by Michael Okoniewski

From judging milkshake contests to tending goats, nurturing animal births and assembling yogurt parfaits, Cornell is making a Big Red imprint on the Great New York State Fair.

An article in the Cornell Chronicle featured reigning New York State Dairy Princess and new animal science major Casey Porter ’18, of Watertown, N.Y. Porter’s Monday at the fairgrounds started at 5 a.m., appearing live on Syracuse TV, then attending the Dairy Day Breakfast banquet where she addressed 200 industry professionals. Immediately after that she judged the fair’s annual celebrity milkshake contest, attended the cheese auction and the Holstein Show.

“Being the New York State Dairy Princess has been an amazing, rewarding experience,” Porter said. “I get to meet so many wonderful people.”

Cornell Dairy’s vanilla and Greek-style yogurt has been a hit at the Yo2Go stand in the Dairy Building. Gary Repko, Yo2Go’s manager, said Cornell delivered 600 more pounds of yogurt Aug. 22, supplementing the 2,000 pounds provided at the start of the fair, and he expected he would need several more deliveries to meet demand.

Members of the New York State Milk Quality Improvement Program, a dairy farmer-funded program established at Cornell University by Professor Emeritus David Bandler, selected the state’s “best milk” processor, bestowing the honor on Upstate Niagara Cooperative of Buffalo, N.Y. Second place went to Battenkill Valley Creamery of Salem, N.Y. Program officials visit all participating fluid milk-processing plants twice a year to collect fluid-milk samples for rigorous analyses. Microbiological and chemical tests are performed, and trained sensory panelists taste each sample and score it for flavor and odor.

Many Cornell students, faculty and alumni are also among this year’s 400 volunteers at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center, organized by the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition.

And 4-H youth exhibits, run in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension, have been a big hit. More than 100 baby chicks are hatched in a professional incubator, with 4-H’ers standing by to educate fairgoers about the process of raising chickens. The young agricultural and environmental advocates also operate a solar powered blender in front of the main entranceway and show fairgoers how to roast marshmallows using solar energy. There is an interactive GIS exhibit this year, as well as the opportunity to test drive a robot made by participants of a 4-H electronics, computer and mechanical engineering mentoring program.  Aquaculture is also featured, as is a maple production exhibit featuring an energy system that uses willow trees to produce energy that in turn produces maple syrup.  

The fair runs until Monday, September 1, at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

Classes have kicked off with a bang here at CALS. More than 800 students squeezed into Bailey Hall for the first lecture of Introductory Oceanography, which has become one of the biggest, most popular courses at Cornell, thanks in part to enlightening and entertaining teachers Bruce Monger and Charles Greene. A feature in the New York Times’ 10 top picks for college courses that are “not just a credit, but an event” probably helped, too. 
Thanks to our favorite mycologist Kathie Hodge for sharing this great photo!

Classes have kicked off with a bang here at CALS. More than 800 students squeezed into Bailey Hall for the first lecture of Introductory Oceanography, which has become one of the biggest, most popular courses at Cornell, thanks in part to enlightening and entertaining teachers Bruce Monger and Charles Greene. A feature in the New York Times’ 10 top picks for college courses that are “not just a credit, but an event” probably helped, too. 

Thanks to our favorite mycologist Kathie Hodge for sharing this great photo!

You’re the Bee’s Kinesis

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Joanie Mackowski believes poetry is a living thing, an organism that evolves with humans just as orchid moths evolve alongside the flowers they pollinate. According to Mackowski, poetry shares another similarity with living organisms: It’s a form threatened with extinction. She notes that many elementary and high school teachers do not feel confident teaching poetry, while poets and scholars often don’t articulate poetry’s value and purpose.

The Cornell English professor will explore the co-evolutionary processes of nature and poetry that gives us poetry for the Cornell Plantations’ William and Jane Torrence Harder Lecture Sept. 3 at 5:30 p.m. in Call Auditorium. The lecture, “You’re the Bee’s Kinesis: Poetry and Coevolution,” will include readings of poems by Mackowski and others and is open to the public. A garden party at the Botanical Garden will follow the lecture.

Other events as part of the Plantations lecture series:

• Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. Statler Auditorium - Audrey O’Connor Lecture, The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks,” Amy Stewart, author.

• Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. Statler Auditorium -Class of 1945 Lecture, “Founding Gardeners,” Andrea Wulf, author.

• Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m. Statler Auditorium - Elizabeth E. Rowley Lecture,Personal Habitat: Creating a Haven for Wildlife (and Yourself),” Julie Zickefoose, author/illustrator (in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Cayuga Bird Club).

• Oct. 29, 7:30 p.m. Statler Auditorium - Cornell Plantations 70th Anniversary Lecture, “A Living Sympathy with Everything That Is,” Scott Peters, Syracuse University.

• Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m. Statler Auditorium - William Hamilton Lecture, An Introduction to Classical Bonsai Art,” Bill Valavanis, Bonsai Master.

Also mark your calendars for the Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, September 6, from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Plant Production Facility on 397 Forest Home Drive. Take home some of Plantations gardeners’ top picks for your own home landscape, including small shrubs, a wide variety of perennials, and some new additions to the horticulture trade.

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