In this Approach blog, the Rensselaer news team spoke with alumnus Paul A. Bleicher, M.D., Ph.D., (B.S. ’76), who is the 2015 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year, and chief executive officer of OptumLabs, about entrepreneurship, resilience in leadership, and his time at Rensselaer.
Q: What drew you to biology at Rensselaer and how has science continued to influence your career?
When I visited Rensselaer as a high school senior, I knew that I wanted to be a physician and/or scientist. Biology seemed to be a great science to prepare me for both. Rensselaer didn’t teach biology as a soft science. Students majoring in biology were required to take a broader scientific curriculum consisting of three semesters of physics and math, a year of physical chemistry, and so forth. The critical thinking skills I developed at Rensselaer have enabled me to comfortably work at the confluence of science and industry. And science – from statistics to computer science to molecular biology – continues to be fundamental to everything I do working for a health care startup.
In a basement lab, Krysia Kornecki reaches into a refrigerator and pulls out a small plastic tub — about half a pint— filled with mud. The mud was skimmed from the bottom of Lake George and in the hands of researchers the information it contains — in the form of microscopic plants and animals, pollen, chemical isotopes, and metal contaminants — will be translated into a biogeochemical history of Lake George.
Kornecki is part of a team of researchers — at Rensselaer and three other institutions — that is using sediment to learn how conditions within the lake have changed over hundreds of years. The team is collaborating with the Jefferson Project at Lake George, and water chemistry information from the project’s sensor network is an integral part of the research. But let’s start with the mud.
Last month, on May 26, Rensselaer hosted a Twitter Q & A with 2015 Commencement honorand Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the 209th Commencement Ceremony held at Rensselaer on Saturday, May 30.
Dr. Gates is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, and cultural critic; he has authored 17 books and created 14 documentary films. His PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, earned an Emmy Award. He serves as editor-in-chief of TheRoot.com, a daily online magazine. The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader, a collection of his writings, was published in 2012. He was awarded a “genius grant” by the MacArthur Foundation, and became the first African-American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and serves on a wide array of boards.
Admiral Michelle Howard, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, originally posted the blog titled “Continue to Reach for Equality and Inclusiveness in All Rights,” in Navy Live on March 18, 2015, to commemorate Women’s History Month. Admiral Howard will be addressing Rensselaer graduates at the Institute’s 209th Commencement and receiving an honorary degree at the ceremony.
On the eve of Commencement, Admiral Howard will be participating with the other honorary degree recipients, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Craig Mundie, and David M. Rubenstein, in the 2015 President’s Commencement Colloquy. Led by Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson, the title of this year’s Colloquy is “Resilient Leadership for a Resilient World.”
The original post by Admiral Howard appears below:
Just in time for swimming season, The Approach wanted to share some information on the current, and changing, state of Lake George. Since 1980, researchers at the Rensselaer Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) have tracked a series of indicators — including temperature, nutrients, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, and transparency — in the waters of Lake George. A landmark 72-page study details the results of the first 30 years of research, which also serve as a research foundation for the Jefferson Project at Lake George, a partnership between Rensselaer, IBM, and the FUND for Lake George.
(In this guest post, Christopher J. Low, a Rensselaer graduate and IBM consultant, explains how business analytics, like a GPS system, has aided him in navigating his career.)
Data has shaped a lot of my life experience so far, and now it’s also an important part of my career. In academics, numbers and information were critical to my Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering degree and my Master of Science in business analytics degree, both from Rensselaer.
In work, information analysis was key to my job at a marketing and communications firm in California. Now, as the project management analyst on an Apple and IBM partnership project in North America for a Fortune 25 client in the health-care industry, data is a huge part of my “solution” navigation system.
Spring is inevitable. And while ice still caps Lake George, data about the water beneath has been flowing into the Jefferson Project at Lake George throughout the cold, long winter. The winter has been a time for testing, de-bugging, and anticipation, as researchers begin working with a network of sensor platforms installed in the waning months of 2014. The sensors include acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs), tributary stations, and weather stations. A pair of vertical profilers – installed last fall – have been decommissioned for the winter and will be returned to their moorings in the spring.
A quick congratulations to RPISEC, the “resident computer security club and CTF team” at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Club president Markus Gaasedelen, a computer science student, confirmed a report that popped up on RPI Reddit claiming a top place finish in the 12th Information Security Talent Search, as organized and hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology’s Security Practices and Research Student Association. In an email, Gaasedelen (who wrote the account for Reddit) wrote:
Yes we can confirm, we crushed it pretty hard this year.
Here’s the account of the event as taken from RPI Reddit:
This past weekend, RPISEC sent one team of five members to compete in the 12th Information Security Talent Searchas organized and hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology’s Security Practices and Research Student Association. Some pictures of the event can be found on our twitter feed.
Ring any bells? Readers of the Approach may remember a 2014 post on the Image-Based Ecological Information System, or IBEIS, an experimental software tool that can identify individual animals pictured in the thousands of ordinary photos taken by tourists in game parks such as Yellowstone National Park, Amboseli National Park in Kenya, or the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. The 2014 post explains how the system works.
As the poster suggests, a test of the system (a collaboration between researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Princeton University, and the wildlife conservation organization Wild Me) will be held March 1 and 2. Chuck Stewart, head of the Department of Computer Science at Rensselaer, and a lead researcher on the project, gave this quickie description of how the event will work:
(In this guest post, School of Science Ambassadors Heili Springsteen (a sophomore mathematics student) and Jeremy Amdur (a sophomore chemistry student) share their experiences — and a few images — from their work visiting area middle and high schools to promote interest in science.)
Looking back at middle school and high school, most of us can think of someone who inspired us, or a moment when we realized “this is cool and I might want to do this for the rest of my life.” As Science Ambassadors, our hope is to push students toward that moment of realization, to encourage them that science is, in fact, cool.