2024 Wasserstrom Prize for Graduate Teaching Presented to Physics Professor Christian Santangelo

Award given in memory of noted professor of English William Wasserstrom.

Christian Santangelo
Physics Professor Christian Santangelo is the 2024 recipient of the William Wasserstrom Prize.

Christian Santangelo, professor and director of graduate studies in the physics department of the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and member of the BioInspired Institute, is the 2024 recipient of the William Wasserstrom Prize in recognition of his exemplary mentorship of graduate students. A&S Dean Behzad Mortazavi will confer the award on Santangelo at the Graduate School doctoral hooding ceremony on May 10.

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Samuel Herberg wins national research award for his work on glaucoma

Samuel Herberg in lab

Upstate Medical University’s Samuel Herberg, PhD, assistant professor in the Center for Vision Research and the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, has been named the recipient of the 2024 Douglas H. Johnson Award for Glaucoma Research. The award, from the BrightFocus Foundation is presented annually to the top-rated proposal in the National Glaucoma Research program. The award is given in recognition of exceptionally promising and forward-thinking ideas in the field of glaucoma research.

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Aerodynamics of Avian Flight: Kasey Laurant Studying Impact of Strong Wind Gusts

Kasey Laurant and Cody Van Nostrand in lab with machine
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Kasey Laurant (left) and student Cody Van Nostrand ’24 running an experiment in the water channel lab.

Boasting an impressive wingspan of over seven feet, the golden eagle is one of the largest birds of prey in North America. In addition to being cunning, skilled hunters and their ability to soar effortlessly for hours, golden eagles might also utilize strong gusts of wind to assist their flight – an ability that piqued the interest of Kasey Laurent, an aerospace and mechanical engineering professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

During her Ph.D. studies at Cornell University, Laurent conducted research on golden eagles by recording their acceleration as they flew, and the study formed the foundation for her dissertation on bird and drone flight. She also participated in Cornell’s Raptor Program, which provides a home for injured or non-releasable birds for research, training and rehabilitation. This experience gave her valuable insights into bird flight and behavior.

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Syracuse Undergraduate Erin McCarthy Spearheads Study Using Physics Principles to Understand How Cells Self-Sort in Development

Erin McCarthy and M. Lisa Manning in front of poster.
Physics alumna Erin McCarthy ’23, right, was lead author on a study published in Physical Review Letters which uncovered mechanisms that cause particles to sort spontaneously into different groups. Professor M. Lisa Manning, left, was a co-author.

A team of biophysicists identified an unexpected collective behavior among particles and their findings were published in the prestigious journal Physical Review Letters.

Erin McCarthy ’23, physics summa cum laude, is a rarity among young scientists. As an undergraduate researcher in the College of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Physics, she guided a study that appeared in March 2024 in Physical Review Letters. It is the most-cited physics letters journal and the eighth-most cited journal in science overall.

McCarthy and postdoctoral associates Raj Kumar Manna and Ojan Damavandi developed a model that identified an unexpected collective behavior among computational particles with implications for future basic medical research and bioengineering.

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Caller ID of the Sea

Syracuse University biologists use a novel method of simultaneous acoustic tagging to gain insights into the link between whale communication and behavior.

Whale being tagged
A suction cup sound and movement tag being deployed on the back of a humpback whale in Massachusetts. These tags allow researchers to track movement and audio of individual whales. (NMFS Permit # 27272-01/SBNMS/Parks)

For researchers studying the acoustic behavior of whales, distinguishing which animal is vocalizing is like a teacher trying to figure out which student responded first when the entire class is calling out the answer. This is because many of the techniques used to capture audio record a large sample size of sounds. A major example of this is passive acoustic monitoring (PAM), which records audio via a microphone in one location, usually a stationary or moving platform in the ocean. While this method allows researchers to gather acoustic data over a long time period, it is difficult to extrapolate fine-scale information like which animal is producing which call because the incoming audio signals could be from any number of animals within range.

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Garner Describes the Solar Eclipse From an Animal’s Perspective

Cat in the sun with a flower
A solar eclipse can be downright confusing for wild animals and pets who depend on the sun to know what time of day it is.

Awe, amazement and wonder are a few of the reactions humans have to a solar eclipse. The extremely rare occasion of being in the path of totality—where the moon’s disk completely blocks the sun for a few short moments—captivates audiences and inspires a sense of excitement.

While the phenomenon of a total solar eclipse may be fascinating to humans, it can be downright confusing for wild animals and pets who depend on the sun to know what time of day it is. Austin Garner, a biology professor in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), studies animal behaviors in his research on the biomechanics of animal movement and attachment. He recently sat down with A&S Communications to talk about what animals experience in the leadup and aftermath of a total solar eclipse.

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Anupam Pandey’s Nature-Inspired Research on Banned Species

Apple snails are one of the most invasive species on our planet. Consuming several plants that provide food and habitats for various wildlife, and disrupting entire ecosystems, these snails have earned a permanent ban from the United States, only allowed in the country for research. Along with the damage they leave in their slow path of destruction, these shelled creatures also possess an ability unique to their species.

By wiggling its flexible foot underwater, an apple snail can create a flow that brings floating food particles to itself, a process known as “pedal foot collection,” by biologists. Fascinated by the snail’s unique ability, this would inspire the latest research conducted by Anupam Pandey, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Pandey’s findings were published in the high-impact science journal Nature Communications.

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BioInspired Adds Research Subgroup Blending Arts, Sciences, Humanities

A new subgroup focused on the study of posthumanities topics has been formed at BioInspired Institute. It is designed to provide space and funding for research and creative activities that push the boundaries of traditional scientific inquiry and innovation through activities and collaborations between the arts and the humanities and the science-based disciplines that have been the core of the institute’s activities.

Posthumanities is an emerging group of fields in which researchers examine the historical concepts of humans questioning those definitions and adapting them based on contemporary developments and knowledge. Where human thinking, skills and characteristics were once only able to be performed by human beings, today’s technology and scientific advancements, such as robots, artificial intelligence, genetics and bioengineering, are changing the reality of those previous interpretations.

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‘There is a Place for You Here’: Recruiting Local High School Students for Physics Lab Internships

To second-year environmental engineering major Emma Kaputa, one good turn deserves another.

As a student in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD), she was chosen for a six-week summer program that allows high schoolers to work as paid interns in Syracuse University physics labs. Kaputa wanted others to have the same positive research experience she had enjoyed, so, after her first year on campus, she returned to her former high school to recruit more students for the program.

The program that left an impression on Kaputa was Syracuse University Research in Physics (SURPh), which aims to inspire students to take up science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and potentially pursue careers in those areas. About two dozen high schoolers have participated in the program over the past two years. They work on cutting-edge research in University physics labs alongside College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) faculty. Continue Reading

Leaders Redefining the Future of STEM

Historically, women have been underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). But at Syracuse University, many of our award-winning and nationally recognized faculty in the STEM fields are women. They are doing innovative research that will shape our future and, through their mentorship and teaching, supporting the next generation of STEM leaders.

Recently, Syracuse Stories wrote a spotlight on five nationally recognized faculty members from across the university and their groundbreaking research. Two of them are members of the BioInspired Institute.

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