(In this guest post, one of a series on monitoring and experimentation in the Jefferson Project at Lake George, Bill Hintz, a post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory of project director Rick Relyea, explains how researchers survey the fish of Lake George, and how that effort fits into the overall strategy of the project.)

A thorough understanding of the Lake George ecosystem necessarily includes the study of its fish. Fish strongly influence the abundance and distribution of the organisms they eat, such as other fish species, macro-invertebrates, zooplankton, and aquatic plants. In that way, fish directly or indirectly affect most elements of the Lake George ecosystem. Further, fish are also good indicators of the impacts pollution and invasive species have on aquatic ecosystems, which are critical sources of the water we drink, and our food and recreation.

Undergraduate J.J. Hu collects a leaf bag, which is used to determine rate of decomposition.

(In this guest post, one of a series on monitoring and experimentation in the Jefferson Project at Lake George, Aaron Stoler, a post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory of project director Rick Relyea, explains why and how researchers monitor tributaries to Lake George, and how that effort fits into the overall strategy of the project.)

Nature is slowing down for the winter. Over the next several months, an icy tapestry will blanket the mountain peaks and valleys. Within this frozen landscape, streams are an exception. Because streams do not freeze, aquatic life in their reach thrives. Finding shelter in cracks between rocks and in the crevices between packed leaves, fish and insects slowly consume the leaf litter from last autumn, and steadily grow while awaiting warmer temperatures.

(In this guest post, Brian Mattes, a senior research specialist in the laboratory of Rick Relyea, Rensselaer professor and director of the Jefferson Project at Lake George, explains how experiments help us make sense of observational data gathered by the Jefferson Project’s observational platform.)

A lot of what’s been written about the Jefferson Project at Lake George focuses on the project’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform: linking the lake with a network of smart sensors, collecting data on current flow from an instrument mounted on the Minne-Ha-Ha, or using image processing software to automate plankton identification.

Eric Ameres and Gordon Clement (center of shot) working with the Campfire

When we need to consider information as a group, most of us turn to a computer projector and a mouse. The world may be round, but our only digital option for exploring it in a meeting is on a flat screen. Surpassing that limitation – by creating new computer interfaces that allow people to intuitively share and manipulate data – would vastly expand the power of computers in collaborative decision-making situations (think business, medicine, and design).

Developing those new interfaces is one of the goals at the newly established Cognitive and Immersive Systems Laboratory at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (CISL@EMPAC), a partnership between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and IBM Research. And one of the first tools in the lab is the Campfire.

In a Cognitive Space

by Mary Martialay on November 18, 2015

You’re in a meeting making a plan. Everyone is taking notes, but the conversation roams, going from one item, and one speaker, to another, and as the hour comes to a close, it’s hard to remember who said what and which assignments were doled out to whom. Some of the questions that came up went unanswered. Worse than that, despite all the smarts in the room, several complications were overlooked and nobody noticed.

It doesn’t have to be this way, say the researchers in the newly formed Cognitive and Immersive Systems Laboratory at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, aka CISL@EMPAC. A  collaboration between IBM Research and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to pioneer new frontiers in immersive cognitive systems as an aid to group problem-solving and decision-making.

Sean Wilson '16, B.S. in Business Management

In this Approach blog post, the Rensselaer news team spoke with Rensselaer Lally School of Management student Sean Edward Wilson ’16 about his work in the classroom and the community.

Q: What drew you to majoring in business management at Rensselaer and how has this influenced your future career interests?

I transferred to Rensselaer from a college in New York City. My major is business management with a concentration in computer information systems. What drew me to management at Rensselaer was the world-renowned faculty and the location. Rensselaer also has a strong research background, which was lacking at my former school. Learning about research influenced my career goals as well. I am interested in working in a public or private sector organization (or business, etc.) regardless of size. My main interests are becoming a professor, researcher, and owner of a nonprofit organization.

For more than a year, the Jefferson Project at Lake George has been collecting electronic data from sensors mounted in stream beds, platforms moored on the water, and the depths of the lake bottom. A tour boat plying the southern basin of the lake may be an unexpected next step for sensor deployments, but it’s actually an ideal perch for scientific instrumentation, according to researchers Mike Kelly and Jeremy Farrell.

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.