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.

Rensselaer Professor Karyn Rogers wrote this guest post while cruising at 30,000 feet aboard a Boeing 737 on a flight from Albany to Managua, Nicaragua. After landing, hopefully without delay or lost luggage, she will travel to the colonial city of Leon, jumping off point for the expedition to the Cerro Negro volcano (pictured above) which she describes below.

My name is Karyn Rogers and I am a professor in Earth & Environmental Sciences (E&ES) in the School of Science at Rensselaer, and also a member of the New York Center for Astrobiology. Depending on the day, and the expedition, I am a geochemist or geomicrobiologist or astrobiologist. On this expedition, I am all three! Our research team includes a geochemist and a planetary geologist from the University of Colorado, a graduate student from the University of Colorado, and our very own Diana Parios, a graduate student with me in E&ES.

The college application deadline is fast approaching and within a few short months, it will be decision day for millions of students who must declare where they plan to go to college. Students will take many factors into consideration when making their decision –including size of the student body, location of the institution, availability of preferred major, success of those who have graduated from each school, and financial support –among the variables that differentiate the more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, which includes all private and public four-year and two-year institutions.


Images of plankton identified using IBEIS

Images of plakton captured with CPICS. Courtesy of

Among my favorite research projects at Rensselaer are two – the Jefferson Project at Lake George, and the Image Based Ecological Information System (IBEIS) – that use data and computation to understand and protect our environment. So my interest was piqued when I heard researchers involved with the two projects were planning a collaboration. A collaboration that, for the purposes of this blog post, I’m calling “Plankton Cam.”

The CPICS camera developed at Wood Hole Oceanographic Institute

The idea behind Plankton Cam is to: tow a specialized camera through the waters of Lake George, capturing more than 100,000 images per day; use advanced pattern recognition software to sort resulting images of phytoplankton by species; and then develop tools to visualize the distribution patterns of the animals at the base of the Lake George food web. The camera, pictured to the left, was developed at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.