Monthly Archives: July 2015

*Jim Tait, professor of science education and environmental studies, was interviewed July 30 onWNPR’s “Where We Live” talk show. He was part of a panel discussion talking about the condition of Connecticut’s beaches and coastlines.

*The New Haven Register ran a photo in its July 30 edition from the Materials & Manufacturing Summer Teachers Institute at Southern. The program is designed to show area teachers how STEM is used in industry, with the intent that those teachers will share the information and create learning opportunities for their students. Southern is a co-sponsor of the event.

*The Meriden Record-Journal ran a July 22 article on the recent hiring of two Wallingford residents as assistant basketball coaches at Southern. Michael Papale was chosen as an assistant men’s basketball coach, and Stephanie Hiriak was hired as an assistant women’s basketball coach.

*Kate Lynch, the newly hired women’s basketball coach, was interviewed on the July 20 edition of Channel 8’s SportzEdge.

*North Haven Patch ran a July 15 feature on Mike Kobylanski, associate athletic director/communications, after being selected as a “Volunteer 15” honoree by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Mike volunteered more than 50 hours of his time toward community service.

*The July 13 press conference announcing the hiring of former UConn and NBA basketball starScott Burrell as the new men’s basketball coach at Southern received considerable media attention. Scott, who previously served as an assistant coach at Quinnipiac, received a warm welcome after being introduced by Athletic Director Jay Moran.

Media coverage included the New Haven Register, Hartford Courant, Channel 8, Meriden Record-Journal and the Waterbury Republican-American. Also covering the announcement were Channel 61 and Channel 30. Scott also was interviewed on July 14 on WTIC radio (1080 AM).

The Register and Courant also posted photo albums from the announcement.

*Lisa Rebeschi, chairwoman of the Nursing Department, was quoted in a story published July 9 in the New Haven Register about the recent tragedy in East Haven in which two children died from diphenhydramine – a drug found in many over-the-counter medications. Lisa, who is also a pediatric nurse, discussed use and misuse of the drug, as well as its potential toxicity.

*Miranda Dunbar, assistant professor of biology, and Chris Wisniewski, a biology student, were interviewed July 8 by Channel 8 about White Nose Syndrome – a fatal disease affecting bats, particularly in Connecticut and throughout much of the Northeast.

Miranda and Chris were interviewed for the noon newscast by WTNH’s Kent Pierce.

Chris was interviewed live during the station’s 6 a.m. newscast.

Miranda also was interviewed July 1 by Channel 61 regarding White Nose Syndrome and how it is killing a significant portion of the bat population in Connecticut. The segment aired during the station’s 4 p.m. newscast. Christopher Wisniewski also interviewed for the story.

*Tim Parrish, professor of English, was interviewed July 1 on CNN about racism and its link to the recent shooting in Charleston, S.C.

*A photo of David Pettigrew, professor of philosophy, was included in the July edition of New Haven Living magazine for delivering a recent lecture at Temple Beth Tikvah in Madison about Varian Fry, who rescued many Jewish artists and intellectuals from the Nazis during World War II.

NASA’s Kepler Mission may have found Earth’s ‘older cousin’ some 1,400 light years away. The planet is currently called Kepler 452-b, and scientists are optimistic that it might harbor some forms of life. Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech/T.Pyle

In one of our first posts in Wise Words, we examined the Kepler Mission — a NASA project to search for Earth-like planets in the Milky Way Galaxy outside of our solar system. At the time — two and a half years ago — an estimated 105 planets had been confirmed as orbiting their sun in the “habitable zone,” a distance considered to be neither too close, nor too far, to sustain life.

Today, the Kepler Mission has identified about 1,030 such planets. And the most recent development is the discovery of a planet named Kepler-452b, located some 1,400 light years away, which astronomers say is likely to harbor some forms of life.

The planet has been dubbed as Earth’s cousin because of many similarities, including the apparent ability to host life. Scientists estimate that it is composed of about 60-percent water, comparable to Earth’s 71 percent. It orbits its sun in 385 days, compared with our 365 days. Kepler-452b is about 60-percent larger, but it is far from a massive planet like the outer planets of our own solar system. And it is an “older cousin” to Earth, having existed for about 6 billion years vs. Earth’s 4.5 billion years.

Another similarity is that it orbits only one star, according to Elliott Horch, an astronomer and associate professor of physics at Southern. He has assisted on some of Kepler’s projects.

“We just observed this exoplanet’s host star last week at the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii,” Horch says. “My colleagues and I were trying to see if there is a close stellar companion in addition to the planet. But like our own solar system, it would appear from our observations that this system has just the one star at the center.”

The observation was made with a telescope that includes a DSSI (Differential Speckle Survey Instrument), a device developed by Horch that sharpens cosmic images many times over. He built it for the National Science Foundation in 2008.

Horch will participate in a panel discussion as part of an astronomy forum planned at Southern on Monday, Nov. 16. The program will examine Kepler, as well as the possibility and challenges associated with a manned mission to Mars. Guest speakers will include Steve Howell, Kepler project scientist, and Jennifer Stern, a space scientist and Martian expert at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. More information about the forum will be forthcoming.

Additional information about the recent discovery can be found in a recent NASA press release.

    During the summer, area science and math teachers got a lesson from manufacturing experts in how those disciplines are intertwined with the needs of business and industry.

    The third annual Materials and Manufacturing Summer Teachers Institute – a three-day program that brings together academic and industrial leaders in an effort to better prepare students for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers – was launched at Southern, where about 20 teachers participated in a day of activities. The next two days were conducted at other locations.

    State Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell delivered the keynote address. Other speakers included James Gildea, a representative of Bigelow Tea; Christine Broadbridge, SCSU director of STEM initiatives and co-director of the summer institute, and Bob Klancko, co-director of the summer institute, and chairman of the New Haven Manufacturing Association Workforce Development Committee. Stephen Hegedus, dean of the SCSU School of Education, and Robert Forbus, associate professor of marketing and assistant to the dean of the School of Business at SCSU, also were among the array of speakers throughout the day.

    Industry product demonstrations were conducted to show how STEM is applied in manufacturing. The demonstrations included taking a hunk of zinc and turning it into a cast/machined product, and converting a steel cylinder into a high tech bolt/screw.

    “It was a terrific learning opportunity for teachers to see just how valuable STEM is in 21st century manufacturing,” Broadbridge said. “One of the primary objectives of the institute is for those teachers to take this knowledge and awareness, and develop innovative teaching methods to help inspire and prepare middle and high school students for STEM-related fields.”

    The institute was a collaborative effort that included SCSU; the New Haven Manufacturers Association; Platt Technical High School in Milford; the Southern Connecticut chapter of ASM; the SCSU Office for STEM Innovation and Leadership (STEM-IL); CRISP (Center for Research on the Interface Structures and Phenomena at Yale University and SCSU). Peter Dimoulas, a science teacher at Career High School in New Haven, was presented an award from the institute for his efforts to promote STEM. He participated in the first year of the program.

    “He has exemplified what our institute is all about – learning more about the practical applications of STEM in industry, and then taking that awareness and creating opportunities for students to see for themselves the possibilities available to them using STEM,” Broadbridge said.

    “Peter is also linking manufacturing with important life science fields, including biotechnology. STEM-IL is pleased to be sponsoring his work this summer.”

    Dimoulas has created a half-year course at Career called “STEM Careers,” in which students will be able to go to local businesses to see what life is like for chemists, biologists, machinists, engineers and other science-based professionals.



    While America celebrates its independence on July 4, historians often point to July 2, 1776, as the date when the nation was actually founded.

    Two years ago, Wise Words dispelled some of the myths and shared a few surprising facts about Independence Day.

    Marie McDaniel, assistant professor and Southern’s resident expert on colonial and early American history, addressed some of these misunderstandings in a blog post about our nation’s founding.

    Now that the fireworks, parties and other celebrations are over, you might want to check out that piece.

    Sarah Brochu, who recently concluded a stellar career with the Southern Connecticut State University women’s soccer team, has been named as one of 480 student-athletes nominated for the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year award.

    The Woman of the Year award honors graduating female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership.

    Previously named a nominee for the 2015 Northeast-10 Conference Woman of the Year award and the 2015 Northeast-10 Conference Outstanding Female Scholar-Athlete Award, Brochu capped her Owls’ career with All-America laurels, just the fourth player in program history to earn such an honor.

    Regarded as possibly the finest defender in school history, the three-year team captain was named the Northeast-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year and the ECAC Defensive Player of the Year. Brochu earned All-New England, All-Region and All-Conference honors four times in her career.

    Brochu, of Wilbraham, Mass., was also honored extensively for her work in the classroom, where the nursing major maintained a cumulative grade point average of more than 3.6. She was selected as a Division II Athletic Directors Association Academic Achievement Award recipient, a three-time NE-10 Women’s Soccer All-Academic Team selection and as a NSCAA Academic All-Region honoree.

    Adam Cohen, women’s soccer coach, said Brochu was a strong role model for the younger players during her Owls’ career.

    “She exemplified what we want our program to be about at Southern,” he said. “She is driven, motivated and extremely intelligent. She has a way of not only getting herself motivated, but motivating the people around her. She was a leader from the moment she stepped on campus.”