(For some 2016 is the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web (more about the veracity of that milestone below). In this post, Rensselaer professor James Hendler answers some questions about the evolution of the web in its first 25 years, and what we can expect in the next quarter century. Hendler, one of the originators of the Semantic Web, is the director of the Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications (IDEA) — a campus wide institute that supports data-centric, interdisciplinary activities — and the Tetherless World Professor of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences at Rensselaer.)

How has the World Wide Web changed since it was first conceived?

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(In this guest post, Aaron Stoler, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Rensselaer biologist and Jefferson Project at Lake George director Rick Relyea, discusses research results recently published in the journal Environmental Toxicology. The research tests the effects of road salt alone and in combination with a common insecticide on wetland communities. This research is part of the Jefferson Project – a collaboration between Rensselaer, IBM Research, and The FUND for Lake George – founded to develop a new model for technologically enabled environmental monitoring and prediction to better understand and protect the Lake George ecosystem and freshwater ecosystems around the world.)

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Zooplankton, the smallest animals in the food chain, are critical to the ecology of lakes like Lake George. But studying them in the wild – by measuring biomass, species composition, behavior, and diet – is a challenge. How do you track a borderline microscopic animal in the vast volume of water (an estimated 550 billion gallons) that fills the Lake George basin?

Typically, a researcher like Alex Pezzuoli relies on data that he collects by hand – visiting five different sites on Lake George twice a week, and using a fine net to collect samples of zooplankton and water for analysis. For each sampling event, he gets about 20 data points across the whole lake.

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This summer, on July 4, all eyes were up in space as Juno successfully entered into orbit around Jupiter, where it was scheduled to perform measurements and transmit the data back to Earth. The environment there has very high levels of radiation, and thus the instruments on Jupiter were designed to withstand these radiation levels, thanks in part to the role that Rensselaer researchers played in the flight that has made history.

 

Mission to Jupiter

Juno is only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter and the first solar-powered craft to do so, following behind the nuclear powered Galileo probe, which orbited from 1995 to 2003.

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The Winning Algorithm

by Mary Martialay on October 17, 2016

(In this post, Rensselaer graduate student Salles Viana Gomes de Magalhães talks about his First Place Overall Award in the 2016 TripAdvisor programming challenge, held September 17. Graduate and undergraduate students from 18 select universities in the United States and Canada were invited to compete in the event, with cash prizes awarded to top two students from each school, and additional prizes to the top three students overall.

Prior to this win, Gomes de Magalhães had already racked up an impressive trophy case within his field. His wins include: second place in GISCUP 2015, and fourth place at GISCUP 2014 – the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) focused algorithm competition, a programming competition co-located with the Association for Computing Machinery SIGSPATIAL GIS conference; three first place and one second place win in Upsilon Pi Epsilon honor society contests hosted at Rensselaer; first place as part of a two-person team competing in the Microsoft College Code Competition, and a recent first place win in the Bloomberg CodeCon competition, both of which were held at Rensselaer.)

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[Curt Breneman, dean of the School of Science, recently sat down with News Channel 13 reporter Benita Zhan for a report on the safety of personal care products. The topic has been in the news as Congress considers legislation that would authorize Food and Drug Administration oversight of cosmetics, against a backdrop of recent accounts of cosmetic and hair care products with adverse effects. Breneman is a chemist. He earned his doctorate from the University of California at Santa Barbara in chemistry, with an emphasis on physical organic and computational chemistry. His research is in the field of computational chemistry and predictive cheminformatics, with emphasis on computational drug discovery methodology and materials informatics methods. This guest post summarizes the key points Breneman made in his interview, and some of the advice he has for consumers.]

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(The challenge: Create a mechanism that makes it possible for instructors to track students and for student to earn credit for their attendance or participation in activities like theatrical events, concerts, exhibitions, or lectures, regardless of whether they are on or off campus. The answer: “Venue,” an attendance validation app and web platform being developed by the Rensselaer Center for Open Source (RCOS). In this post, Severin Ibarluzea, an RCOS mentor, core Venue developer, and senior in computer systems engineering, discusses the process of building Venue.)

First a word from our sponsor, the Rensselaer School of Science, which is supporting the development of Venue. Curt Breneman, dean of the School of Science, came up with the idea, and here’s what he said about his original vision, and how he hopes the Institute will use the platform.

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In this Approach blog post, the news team spoke with Rensselaer Lally School of Management Associate Professor Qiang Wu’13 about the value of experiential learning, development, and community in research and the classroom.

Q: What drew you to becoming an empirical researcher? How has this driven the discovery process in your research and teaching in finance and accounting?

I completed my Ph.D. program at Rensselaer and while doing so, I realized how to understand, examine, and analyze transformations in different fields that affect our lives. I chose to be an empirical researcher as the discovery process is guided by more than just theory alone; rather, it builds a foundation for new insights and awareness through verifiable observation or experience. This process allows me to stretch a given notion about why something may occur, and give it a real-life platform for it to be studied.

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(Sherese Morgan, an enthusiastic undergraduate from Yonkers, NY with interests in the field of environmental science, contributed this guest post on her summer research with the Jefferson Project at Lake George. In her junior year, Sherese started working in the laboratory of Rensselaer professor and Jefferson Project director Rick Relyea. Recently, she was awarded a School of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Program grant. As a recipient of the grant, she will be conducting an independent project to study how humans influence and disturb freshwater ecosystems.)

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(In this post, Robert Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, answers questions about a Perspective he co-authored in the June edition of Nature Biotechnology with a team including Janet Woodcock, the Director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Drug Evaluation (CEDAR), and Roger Williams, the former head of the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). The Perspective— titled ”The US regulatory and pharmacopeia response to the global heparin contamination crisis” —discusses how the FDA, the USP, and international stakeholders have responded to a 2007 crisis in which contaminated heparin – a critical anticoagulant obtained from pig intestines – killed several patients in the United States and caused hundreds of adverse reactions worldwide.)

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