Yearly Archives: 2015

blogjawbonephoto2
A jawbone (not pictured above), recently discovered in Ethiopia and estimated at 2.8 million years old, is believed to be a link between the ape man and the earliest humans.

Now this jaw bone is a little long in the tooth. Make that a lot long.

An Arizona State University student recently discovered what appears to be the oldest jawbone from man’s ancestors ever found. The fossil was unearthed in the Afar region of Ethiopia and is believed to be 2.8 million years old.

The jawbone – the left side of the lower jaw with five teeth, to be exact – contains elements of both the Australopithecus afarensis, sometimes referred to as the “ape man,” and the genus homo, which is responsible for the human lineage. It most likely involves the species “homo habilis,” an early and primitive human.

The discovery appears to fill in some scientific gaps between the two with fossils dated at 3 million years old and 2.3 million years old having previously been found. The fossils from the latter are more similar to man. The implications for this discovery, published in the journal “Science,” are major.

Michael Rogers, professor of anthropology at Southern, says the anatomical characteristics are consistent with an intermediate between Australopithecus and homo. “The surprise here is that it fits almost too perfectly as a transitional form, exactly what some have predicted would be found,” Rogers says.

Rogers – who has led many Southern student anthropological expeditions to the Afar section of Ethiopia, including a trip two months ago in Gona – says discoveries rarely fit this neatly into scientific hypotheses. But he said the discovery is exciting and potentially enlightening.

“It was found in a drier, more open grassland type of environment than that of any earlier human ancestor, which could mark a significant adaptive shift that began with the origin of our genus,” Rogers says.

“This adaptive shift also eventually included the use of stone tools, the earliest of which are found at the Gona site and are dated to 2.6 million years ago. This new find gives more weight to the suggestion that my colleagues and I have made that evidence of stone tool use will eventually be found earlier than 2.6 million years ago.”

Rogers was part of an international research team credited more than a decade ago with the discovery of those stone tools. The findings were reported in the September 2003 issue of the “Journal of Human Evolution.”

Meanwhile, the search into man’s past continues

April is National Alcohol Awareness month 

National Alcohol Screening Day aims to raise awareness and educate students about the misuse and abuse of alcohol.  We invite all students, whether infrequent or frequent drinkers to come by to take the free alcohol screening and pick up some important information about alcohol and your health.

Please stop by if you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol problem and you would like to learn more about resources and support services on and off campus!

Alcohol Screening Day
Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
11:00am-3:00pm

Student center theatre: plaza level 

FREE food and T-shirts!

Contact the Drug and Alcohol Resource Center for more information: 392-5074/5087

Adanti Student Center Ballroom, 1-4 p.m.

• Meet prospective employers
• Discover career possibilities
• Dress like you mean business!

Each year the Academic and Career Advising Center holds a career fair that bring national and regional employers representing all fields to the Southern campus. The fairs foster student and employer interaction while offering students the opportunity to explore various careers, learn about organizations and industries, and apply for full-time, part-time, internship, and cooperative education opportunities.

*The New Haven Register ran a March 30 story about the partnership between Southern and Gateway Community College regarding the transfer of credits toward the LEP program. The agreement enables those Gateway graduates who earn an Associate in Arts degree in liberal arts and sciences to have most of their LEP requirements waived. The program is designed to streamline the transfer process and to give Gateway students full credit for the courses they take as part of their degree.

*William Lunn, assistant professor of exercise science, was quoted extensively in a March 29story about high-intensity interval training in Sunday’s Waterbury Republican-American. Although not a new type of training – especially among athletes – it has been gaining increasing popularity in health clubs and gyms.

*The New Haven Register ran a March 27 story Friday about the 4 x 400 meter relay teamwinning the national title at the NCAA Division II Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships. The quartet earned the title earlier this month.

*A clip of the “Stuff-a-Shuttle” event at Southern aired March 27 on Channel 3.

*Julia Irwin, associate professor of psychology, was interviewed March 12 on Channel 3’s 5 p.m. newscast about her ongoing study on autism. The segment ran for more than 2 minutes. The study is funded through a $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health and includes Haskins Laboratories. It examines whether the avoidance of eye contact by children with an autism spectrum disorder is the primary cause of the speech and language difficulties that typically accompany the disorder. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 are being tested with the hope that the results will lead to better treatments.

*Miranda Dunbar, assistant professor of biology, was quoted in a Danbury News-Timescolumn published March 9 about the loss of bats due to white-nose syndrome, a disease that has killed an estimated 7 million bats since the fungus was first discovered in the United States nearly a decade ago.

The column was written by Robert Miller called “Earth Matters.”

*A New Haven Registercolumn written by Randy Beach focused on an interview and appearance by humor columnist Dave Barry at the Lyman Center. The column ran on March 8.

*Mike Lee, a senior on the men’s track and field team, was featured in a story in the New London Patch that was published on March 5.

*Michelle Grecni, a senior on the women’s track and field team, was profiled in the Danbury Patch in a story that was published on March 5.

*Southern’s first-generation living-learning community was mentioned recently in the online publication, University Business. The article – which serves as the cover story for the publication’s March 2015 edition — outlined ways that colleges and universities can support first-generation college students, and indicated that Southern was one of the schools that has established this kind of program. It is designed to build relationships among students who share this background.

    New Student Orientation
    Students at New Student Orientation 2014

    A new partnership between Gateway Community College and Southern will enable many students to expedite their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.

    Students earning an associate in arts (A.A.) degree in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway will automatically have nearly all of their general education course requirements waived at SCSU. The general education requirements, known at SCSU as the Liberal Education Program (LEP), require most students to earn 48 credits in courses designed to ensure a well-rounded education.

    Under the agreement, most students with an A.A. in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway will be exempt from at least 39 of the 48 general education credits. Students would still have to earn 3 credits in a foreign language class (200 level at SCSU or third level at Gateway); 3 credits in math above an intermediate algebra level; and a capstone course. The math and foreign language requirements could be earned at Gateway, as well, but the capstone must be taken at SCSU.

    “We are convinced that these students who have earned an associate degree in liberal arts and studies have already attained a level of proficiency in most of the core competencies that we require of our own students,” said SCSU Provost Bette Bergeron.

    “Gateway is our largest feeder community college, and this will dramatically simplify the transfer procedure for many Gateway students with an associate in liberal arts and sciences degree.”

    She noted that students previously would need a course-by-course analysis with an academic advisor to determine how many of their Gateway credits would count toward meeting the LEP requirements at SCSU.

    “These students will know up front what they are getting when they come here in terms of credits,” said Marianne Kennedy, associate vice president for academic affairs. “It will provide these students with a clearer, more transparent road to academic success.”

    Some academic majors require students to take a specific LEP class or two, according to Deborah Weiss, acting chairwoman of the SCSU Undergraduate Curriculum Forum. In those cases, the major requirement would supersede the new agreement.

    Frank LaDore, SCSU director of Academic Advisement and Career Services, said he would urge Gateway graduates who plan to attend SCSU to apply to their specific program as soon as they are accepted to the university. “Students will then know if they need to take a specific LEP course or two to meet the requirements of their major, as well as gain a clear understanding of which courses they should register for during their first semester here.

    Gateway recorded a total of 161 students who graduated with an A.A. degree in liberal arts and sciences last year, and 780 students who were enrolled in the program.

    “The faculty at Southern are endorsing the value of a liberal arts and science degree from Gateway, and acknowledging that students are prepared for upper division studies,” said Lauren Doninger, coordinator of Gateway’s liberal arts and sciences program. “With a Gateway degree, students will get a broad section of courses that will lead them to be successful in majors at Southern.

    “Previously, students who did not make course selections specifically with Southern in mind had to take many additional credits to complete a degree at SCSU. This change will vastly simplify the transfer,” Doninger said.

    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    Southern recently approved a plan that will enable students who earned an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway to expedite their path to a bachelor’s degree.

    Students who have earned an A.A. degree from Gateway will be exempted from most of the required general education courses, known at Southern as the Liberal Education Program (LEP).

    Who is eligible to participate in this program?

    Any student who graduated with an associate in arts degree in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway since 2011 is eligible. At Gateway, it is commonly referred to as the LAS degree.

    How many credits must students earn to complete the LEP requirements?

    Most Southern students must successfully complete 48 LEP credits.

    How many credits could such a student transfer to Southern?

    Generally, at least 39 credits could be transferred to Southern in terms of meeting the 48-credit LEP requirement. In some cases, up to 45 credits could be transferred. But all 61 credits may be transferred to help with earning a bachelor’s degree.

    Which 9 credits would still be required to complete the LEP program? In other words, if the associate degree earns most students at least 39 of the 48 credits, what are these other 9 credits?

    The 9 credits are:

    *3 credits – a course that meets the multilingual communication requirement. In other words, a 200-level foreign language is needed.

    *3 credits – a course that meets the quantitative reasoning (math) requirement. It must be at a level above intermediate algebra.

    *3 credits — a Tier 3 capstone course at Southern

    Is it possible for a student to earn some of the remaining 9 credits at Gateway?

    Yes, a student can earn 6 of those 9 credits at Gateway. The math requirement would be met by successfully completing a math course above the intermediate algebra level. The foreign language requirement would be met by passing a 200-level foreign language course at Gateway (e.g. French 201, Spanish 201). A student could also be waived from the foreign language requirement by passing the Stamp Test at the intermediate low level, meeting the CLEP exam score or meeting the ACTFL exam score.

    The Tier 3 capstone course, however, can only be completed at Southern.

    What if a student decides to major in a discipline that requires a specific LEP course or two to be met?

    In those cases, the major requirement supersedes this agreement, and that specific course – or in some cases, two courses — must be taken at Southern.

    Before this plan went into effect, how did the credit transfer process work?

    Academic advisors would examine each student’s transcript and determine which courses would be transferable – both for the LEP requirements and for graduation purposes.

    Does the new system allow students to transfer more of their credits toward meeting Southern’s LEP requirements than previously was the case?

    Yes. Typically, it enables students to transfer at least 2 to 3 additional courses – thereby, reducing their workload while at Southern. As an example, English classes were often not transferrable to meet the LEP, but they are now. In some cases, a student can graduate a semester earlier now as result of this agreement.

    What else has changed?

    The process is more transparent. Students will know how many credits will be transferable before coming to Southern.

    student and professor in research lab

    Innovative studies and projects from students will be showcased March 28 at the first of what is anticipated to be an annual Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference at Southern.

    “This is a wonderful opportunity for our undergraduates to display what they can do, and in fact, have done over the past year,” says Patricia Zibluk, conference coordinator and director of Southern’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research. “It provides an overview of the types of research opportunities available to students at Southern. In addition, it shows the value of a Southern education – where undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct research under the mentorship of engaged faculty, and in many cases, to partner with them on research projects.”

    Registration and breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. in the Michael J. Adanti Student Center, Grand Ballroom, with opening remarks scheduled for 9 a.m. by President Mary A. Papazian. She will be followed by keynote speaker Jacquelynn Garofano,  an alumna who is now a research scientist at United Technologies Research Center. Garofano earned a B.S. degree in physics from Southern in 2006. She went on to earn an M.S. degree and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Connecticut.

    Garofano conducted extensive materials science research as an undergraduate at Southern, some of which was supported by the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at Yale and Southern. She conducted her research under the tutelage of Christine Broadbridge, who is currently the university’s director of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiatives and the director for the CSCU Center for Nanotechnology.

    “Jackie is a tremendous role model for students – someone who made the most of her opportunities as an undergraduate at Southern and is now doing exciting things in the world of materials science,” Zibluk says.

    She says the upcoming conference is filled with budding talent across the disciplinary spectrum. Various rooms in the Student Center will be used during the day. The program will include oral presentations, poster presentations, an art crawl in Earl Hall, a panel discussion on careers from Southern alumni, and dramatic scenes played out by students who recently competed at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

    Zibluk adds that it is an educational opportunity for students to hear from alumni about career opportunities that may await them.

    Among the career panelists is Dave Paulson, who will deliver a lunchtime keynote address. Paulson is a Southern alum who graduated summa cum laude earned a B.S. degree in anthropology in 2010. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Temple University who is researching the developmental experiences of Cham ethnic minority children as they acquire their endangered language amid Vietnam’s post-socialist transformation.

    For further information about the program, contact Patricia Zibluk, (203) 392-6800, or at ziblukp1@southernct.edu . The deadline for registration is March 20.

     

    student doing a push up
    The focus on student health and wellness is part of a larger culture change that has been taking place on campus in recent years and continues to grow.

    The key to student success is a multifaceted approach to students’ health, says Southern’s new Student Health and Wellness Center coordinator, Emily Rosenthal, MPH, MSW.

    Rosenthal was hired late last year to develop a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to health and wellness education for students.

    Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree envisions Rosenthal’s efforts will bring together the growing number of health and wellness initiatives around campus while boosting overall awareness of programming.

    “While we have a lot of great people and offices who focus on the health and wellness of our students, Emily will help us provide a more integrated and intentional approach,” Tyree says. 

    “Student wellness is a top priority, as it is critical to students’ capacity to learn and be successful at Southern.”

    Since arriving on campus in January, Rosenthal has been meeting with key leaders in these areas. “My goal is to find out how a wellness coordinator can help,” she says. “Where do they see gaps, needs, priorities?”

    In response to her findings, Rosenthal has preliminarily outlined four general priority areas for student wellness: sleep, stress, nutrition and sexual health. She says that tobacco cessation is a priority as well, and she intends to look at student health data, which the university collects every two years.

    Reporting to Diane Morgenthaler, the Center’s director, Rosenthal will head a collaborative wellness team with representatives from Student Health, Counseling, the Fitness Center, Campus Recreation, the Drug and Alcohol Center (DARC), the Women’s Center, the Multicultural/SAGE Center and relevant academic departments.

    Morgenthaler says Rosenthal’s “vision to develop a holistic wellness experience is one that we anticipate will contribute significantly to our students’ overall success.”

    “There’s so much that is already being done here,” Rosenthal says, “and so much we can do. But it’s important that we take the time to focus and see what our priorities are, so that we’re more effective and efficient.”

    With two master’s degrees – in public health and in social work — from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Harvard University, Rosenthal has always worked in health-related fields, mostly focusing on teens and young adults.

    Prior to arriving at Southern, she worked in residence life at Harvard and held a variety of positions over a period of three years. As a resident dean in one of the university houses, she worked closely with students as well as faculty and staff around campus.

    Now, Rosenthal looks forward to applying her health background and student-focused experiences to strategic health and wellness programming.

    “Based on what we see in the student health data, we will come up with a central goal and message that we can collaborate around.”

    A HEALTHY CAMPUS

    The focus on student health and wellness is part of a larger culture change that has been taking place on campus in recent years and continues to grow. As part of this movement towards a healthier campus community, Southern is now considering a campus-wide policy that would prohibit smoking and tobacco use.

    In February 2014, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy asked Connecticut’s colleges and universities to consider going “smoke-free” as part of a federal initiative. In response, the university’s Health and Safety Committee conducted outreach and research to determine the feasibility of such a move. After several months of studying the issue, the committee concluded that the use of tobacco compromises the well-being of the campus community as a whole, and was ready to propose that Southern become a tobacco-free campus following the spring semester of 2015.

    The committee’s proposed policy and timeline has been presented to the campus governance bodies for review and comment before a final recommendation is made to President Papazian. The committee has also encouraged final comments from all members of the community. Read more about the proposed policy.

    In another effort to support health and wellness,  Southern is “going red” for the American Heart Association (AHA) through the 2015 Greater New Haven Heart Walk, taking place on Sat., May 2, under the leadership of President Mary A. Papazian, vice-chair of the event. The university has committed to raising $5,000 in support of the AHA, and several SCSU offices and departments have formed teams and begun fundraising by recruiting walkers and donations.

    The Greater New Haven Heart Walk is a non-competitive three-mile walk that raises funds and awareness for research, education, and advocacy of cardiovascular disease and stroke right here in Greater New Haven. There is no registration fee to participate in the Heart Walk and no fundraising minimum. The walk will take place at Savin Rock in West Haven on May 2, beginning at 10 am. Learn more.

    Pi
    The celebration of Pi Day is becoming more and more widespread, especially among schools.

    In honor of National Pi Day (March 14), we wanted to recall a 2013 post that talks about a few practical uses for America’s favorite irrational number that approximates 3.14159.

    There is an even a website about Pi Day.

    Happy Belated Pi Day!