CSI Researchers Work to Restore Local Waterways

Dr. William Wallace and his team at CSI are investigating ways to restore the area's waterways. (Photo by Dr. William Wallace.)

A few years ago, a laboratory group led by Dr. William Wallace, Professor of Biology at CSI, had a project funded through the New York Sea Grant (NYSG), which focused on, according to Wallace, “understanding the processes involved with the trophic transfer of cadmium and mercury in marine ecosystems.” 

The approximately $100,000 grant marked the first time that the NYSG funded a project from CSI. During grant’s one-year tenure, the research team, led by Dr. Wallace and Sea Grant Scholar Daisuke Goto, looked at how toxic metals move up the levels of a food chain. “We gained some great traction and produced a good variety of datasets that helped form the basis of D. Goto’s PhD project,” Wallace said.    

The project, which focused on the Arthur Kill, involved the research team using techniques ranging from intensive field studies to elaborate experimental systems to study how the toxic metals cadmium and mercury move from prey to predators in model esturine food chains. According to Wallace, “The toxic metals released into the environment first stick to sediment, [and] critters, like worms and clams, eat that sediment and accumulate the metal. Then predators eat these prey items and can, themselves, accumulate this metal.” The team found that cadmium is typically not readily available to predators (although in some cases it can be) but mercury was readily transferred up the food chain, which is in line with previous studies on this toxic metal. 

The funding was invaluable because it allowed the research team to not only gain experience in working with mercury for ongoing projects but it also allowed them access to the instruments for working with mercury. “If it wasn’t for the funding, we could never have acquired that equipment,” said Wallace. “Being able to include mercury in our studies is quite exciting.”  

The project ended up being so successful that, in composite, the research team produced a good many journal articles based on this research. The funding agency was so impressed with that level of productivity that they invited Wallace to help pen an article for the spring 2011 issue of Sea Grant’s newsletter, CoastlinesWallace is quick to point out, however, that the students in the team deserve most of the credit. “They did the work,” he said. “I was just the manager making sure they stayed on task. We squeezed every last drop of data out of that project and it was quite rewarding. To be approached by the funding agency because they themselves felt that our efforts and productivity were atypically on the high end was certainly an endorsement of how I have always viewed myself and my lab group.” 

Wallace believes CSI is the perfect venue for projects such as this one because of its proximity to vulnerable waterways. The data gathered from this project may be of interest to municipalities doing habitat restoration work or aid in planning restoration efforts for many waterways.   

He also credits CSI with sharing his enthusiasm for adding mercury to the types of pollutants on which his research group works. Initially, Wallace’s lab facilities could not accommodate this additional research component, but the CSI administration helped facilitate renovations to laboratories under his auspices.  Wallace continues, “The ability to include mercury in our projects has really opened to door to not only graduate students but also undergraduates as well…”

Always looking to expand and build upon previous successes, Wallace is now working in collaboration with researchers from Rutgers University investigating atmospheric mercury in New York/New Jersey area. Because mercury is such a ubiquitous pollutant, first entering the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels and then making its way to local waterways, Wallace believes that this new effort is the first step in forging a long-term collaboration between the two institutions.

While it is true that local environments are vulnerable to mercury as well as other pollutants, Wallace stresses that current conditions are much better than in years past, although that improvement is the result of education, proper regulations, and continued research on how these pollutants interact in the environment.

“CSI is in a unique position in the Tri-state-area,” said Wallace. “Staten Island waterways are vulnerable to these pollutants.” While this may sound ominous, it is fortunate we have professors like Dr. Wallace and students like Goto to help protect our waterways from these pollutants. 

For more information on the NYSG or to read a copy of the newsletter visit the NYSG Website.

CSI Professor Highlights Conservation Biology at CUNY

An undergraduate version of the Conservation Biology class that Assistant Professor Eugenia Naro-Maciel teaches at the CUNY Graduate Center is coming to CSI this spring.

There is no doubt that the loss of biodiversity, or life on Earth from genes to ecosystems, is a multifaceted and complex issue. While it is safe to say that we are all affected by biodiversity loss, relatively few of us truly understand why this is occurring or what we can do to prevent it.

One place where CUNY students can now make headway in their understanding of biodiversity is at The Graduate Center (GC), CUNY. In a class brought to the GC for the first time by Assistant Professor of Biology Eugenia Naro-Maciel, one of CSI’s talented professors, students can learn what biodiversity and conservation biology are all about. This class, Conservation Biology, covers the applied, integrative, and multidisciplinary science of maintaining the Earth’s biological diversity. Offered by Naro-Maciel with Mark Hauber of Hunter College this fall, the course covers the value of, threats to, and strategies for maintaining the Earth’s biodiversity.

Professor Naro-Maciel is teaching an undergraduate version of her conservation class, BIO 523, at CSI this spring. The course falls under the Biology Department as an elective, and there is a prerequisite that students pass Introduction to Biology (BIO 180) before they can take the class. Professor Naro-Maciel hopes that this class will some day be “the first step” of many to include several different disciplines in a full Conservation Biology program. “We will focus on biology,” she said, but in the future, additional classes could also delve more fully into the politics of the issue and laws, as well as sustainability and anthropology. Professor Naro-Maciel established the course in an effort to one day make Conservation Biology a mainstream program within the CUNY system.

Professor Naro-Maciel calls the topic a “passion of mine” and “my favorite course to teach.” She encourages open discussion about biological conservation and takes her classes on field trips such as the recent excursion to Freshkills Park, site of the former landfill. “The students were very excited,” she said about their visit, as she encouraged them to question if it “is it okay to destroy an area and then turn it into a park?” While Naro-Maciel gave the park positive reviews, she also wanted her students to understand the processes that went toward transforming the area from a garbage-filled wasteland into a thriving park planned to benefit humans and wildlife alike.

In her classes Naro-Maciel also uses real-world conservation examples such as Projeto Tamar, the Brazilian Sea Turtle Conservation Program, which successfully reversed the decline of marine turtles in Brazil. This example, as well as many others, helps Professor Naro-Maciel’s students to understand that “everyone can do something.”

“There is no doubt that biodiversity is being lost,” said Naro-Maciel.  “We are in a major extinction crisis. Ecological processes are being disrupted. The Professor, who was hired by CSI as a conservation biologist, aims to not only raise awareness of this crisis but to show CSI students that they are more than capable of contributing to the conservation of our vulnerable ecosystems. “This is very exciting” said Naro-Maciel. “We are really building something good here at CSI and CUNY.”

Dr. Naro-Maciel’s lab currently has openings for excellent PhD, Master’s, and undergraduate students.

35th Annual Commencement Celebrates Student Achievements [video, photo galleries]

A beautiful sunny day set the tone for the College of Staten Island’s 35th Commencement, which honored the scholarly accomplishments of the graduating class of 2,534 students. CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales underscored the common bond that those student share, “the desire to improve your lives, and in the process change the world through higher education. And you chose to do it here–at this great institution.”

View the Commencement Photo Gallery and
the Dolphin Awards Photo Gallery.

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This year’s valedictorian was Melissa Horne, who graduated summa cum laude from The Verrazano School at CSI with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a concentration in Writing. She is a recipient of the CSI Scholarship, the Belle Zeller Scholarship Trust Fund Award, the Phi Beta Kappa Associates Award, among others. Ms. Horne is also a Dean’s List student who was featured in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Her accomplishments at CSI include extensive work with the Bertha Harris Women’s Center and the Campus Activities Board, and she has won several awards for writing, including the English Department Creative Writing Award and the Women’s Center and “My Staten Island” essay contests. Ms. Horne is also the founder of the Heads Up Awareness Program and has volunteered at the New York State Office of Family and Children’s Services.

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Although she began her address with some campus-based humor about being late for class, Ms. Horne focused on the importance of CSI in her life and how it expanded her horizons. “I believe place determines identity and the College of Staten Island has been instrumental in establishing who I am. The relationships I developed here, most notably with the professors who profoundly broadened my vision, as well as the guidance from The Verrazano School, have added great depth to my character. This place has instilled in me the desire to curiously and continually search for knowledge, and to fully understand what it is to identify. The cannots are replaced by confidence through learning to speak eloquently and listen carefully…It was on this beautiful campus that my heart learned to soar. I learned that resilience is a choice, integrity grants respect, and passion lies within even the smallest daydream.” At the end of her address, Ms. Horne fired up the crowd by singing part of the refrain from “Empire State of Mind” from Jay Z, “New York…the concrete jungle where dreams are made of…there’s nothing we can’t do.”

President Morales, in his comments, discussed the transformation that the College is undertaking, including a new Mission Statement; a faculty “who continually redefine the standards of excellence”; an increasingly exemplary student body that contains “record numbers of high school valedictorians and salutatorians [who] have reflected increases in college admissions averages and SAT scores,” and the College’s first Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship recipient; the growth of the College’s selective programs, the Macaulay Honors College, The Verrazano School, and the Teacher Education Honors Academy; and an increase in students studying abroad, including the first class of students, faculty, and staff who have been inducted into the Phi Beta Delta Society for International Scholars. Near the close of his remarks, Dr. Morales noted that a number of graduates at today’s ceremony had already been accepted into prestigious professional and graduate institutions.

Also on hand for the festivities was keynote speaker New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, whose speech was both humorous and inspirational.

In addition to the presentation of the degrees to CSI students, Dr. Morales; Dr. William Fritz, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; and CUNY Trustee Kay Pesile bestowed the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on Denis M. Hughes, President of the New York State AFL-CIO. Drs. Morales and Fritz also bestowed honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters on Professor Diane Kelder, a prolific and accomplished author, educator, and curator for the Art Gallery of The Graduate Center, CUNY, and John Noble Wilford, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times science reporter.

The day’s events concluded in the afternoon in the CSI Library with the annual Dolphin Awards ceremony that honored outstanding contributions to the College by faculty, staff, and students. View the CSI Today Dolphin Awards Photo Gallery.  This year’s honorees included:

-Outstanding Scholarly Achievement by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Michal Kruk.

-Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Tracey Jones.

-Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Adjunct Faculty: Shah Jayman.

-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Thomas Tellefsen.

-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Non-Teaching Instructional Staff in HEO Title: Donna Gerstle and Doriann Pieve-Hyland.

-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Non-Teaching Instructional Staff in CLT and OIT Specialist Titles: Joanne Nierkrash-Camhi.

-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff in Clerical Function: Jean Coombs.

-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff in Maintenance, Operations, Security, Service, and Support Function: Marilyn Ulrich.

-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Part-Time, Non-Teaching Staff: Barbara Uszacki.

-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Currently Enrolled Student: Michael Maslankowski and Jolanta Smulski.

After emcee Terry Mares, College Writer/Editor, introduced the honorees, President Morales recognized Professor Emeritus Stamos Zades, who was in attendance. He also commended the hard work and dedication of everyone who helped to make the 2011 Commencement a success, including a special thank you to his staff for supporting the Office of the President and other College operations.

CSI Post-Master’s Grads Impact Education Citywide

Marquitta Speller, Principal of Promise Academy Charter High School in the Harlem Children’s Zone

“The training that I received in the leadership program at CSI has helped prepare me for success in a demanding educational environment. After completing the program, I became a more reflective educator and leader.”

Those are the words of Marquitta Speller, Principal of Promise Academy Charter High School in the Harlem Children’s Zone, which seeks to break the cycle of poverty for all 10,000 children in a 97-block zone of Harlem.

“CSI teaches you how to lead with purpose and with vision. When your mission in life is to change the lives of children, these are the tools that you need to experience success.”

Speller, Promise Academy Principal since January 2010, completed her certification requirements at CSI in 2003. The skills that uniquely qualified her for her important position in a groundbreaking charter school environment can also be found in every high school on Staten Island.

That’s right; every high school on Staten Island currently employs at least one administrator who has honed his or her skills with a Leadership in Education Certificate from CSI. However, graduates from CSI’s Leadership in Education program aren’t a well-kept secret.

“These high-quality candidates go on to careers as administrators throughout New York City and the region as Assistant Principals, Principals, and Superintendents,” noted Ruth Powers Silverberg, EdD, coordinator of the Post-Master’s Advanced Certificate Program for Leadership in Education at CSI. “We currently have over 120 educational leaders in the system.”

“The students who are accepted into this highly competitive program join a cohort of fellow students, which helps foster a community of learning,” Silverberg said. “This learning community of highly qualified and motivated students moves through the program together so that they can provide a support system for each other in the program and beyond.”

“The CSI program focuses on how school leaders create conditions in schools that support high-quality teaching and learning for all students,” commented program alum Frank Giordano, Principal of Brooklyn’s MS 443. “At the same time, the CSI program is intensely personal, focusing on the leadership development of each participant.”

Courses include curriculum to human relations, as well as research and practice in educational leadership. Along with theory-driven coursework, students also gain valuable field experience through fieldwork projects focused on school and district level issues. Unique to CSI, students in the program also complete full-time internships in a New York City summer school program.

“These program components better prepare the candidate for a highly competitive career in the New York school system and also provide the opportunity to network with current leaders, many of whom are also fellow graduates,” Silverberg stated. “This further positions them to be the strongest possible school leaders.”

The next class of the Post-Master’s Certificate in Leadership in Education begins in July. Applications are currently being accepted. For questions, please contact the CSI Office of Graduate Admissions at 718.982.2019. The College of Staten Island, located at 2800 Victory Boulevard, is a senior college of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s leading urban university.

Leadership Graduates at a Glance

-Approximately 320 graduates in 19 graduating classes since 1997
-Every High School on Staten Island employs at least one program graduate
-6 District Supervisors
-2 Agency Directors
-44 employed on Staten Island
-51 employed in Brooklyn
-10 employed in Manhattan
-2 employed in Queens
-2 employed in Parochial schools
-5 employed in New Jersey

What Do Leadership Graduates Have to Say?

“I found the Leadership in Education program at CSI to be a thought-provoking, rigorous, and in-depth experience. The learning environment is collaborative, innovative, and reflective. The summer internship is an invaluable training experience and great networking opportunity. As a result, I felt thoroughly prepared and confident in my administrative abilities.”

-Philip J. Carollo, Assistant Principal, PS 22, Staten Island

“I am a graduate of the Leadership Program at the College of Staten Island. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is planning to go into an educational leadership role. All of the instructors are highly knowledgeable about what an educational leader needs, and are clearly in touch with the recent practices that are used in public schools. Sound strategies were provided and multiple opportunities were given in which we were able to explore, create, devise, and reflect on what an effective leader needs.

I am currently a principal of an elementary school and I have utilized many of the skills that I gained from my experiences at the Leadership Program at CSI.”

-Sophie Scamardella, Principal, PS 65 (The Academy of Innovative Learning) Staten Island

“I am a graduate of the Leadership Program of the College of Staten Island from nine years ago. The program has given me the foundation necessary to lead in New York City’s complex and dynamic educational system.”

-Joseph Scarmato, Principal, High School for Medical Professions, Brooklyn

“My course work in CSI was an experience that allowed me to collaborate with other professionals and to gain insight from professors who modeled the elements of effective leadership. I thank CSI for focusing my vision toward a constructivist-based leadership style”

-Malky Plutchok MS, CCC-SLP, SBL, SDL, Supervisor of Speech, Cluster 5

“Taking part in the CSI Leadership Program provided me with the opportunity to make great connections in all areas of the school community, as well as develop my skills as an administrator. I recognized that a school’s structure should be set up where every person has an active and equally important role in setting high expectations of clear academic goals for all students. In addition, it became clear that a leader can change or improve the climate of a school by exemplifying qualities of support, appreciation, recognition, and honest leadership to brighten the tone of a school environment and promote learning.”

-Maria Bender, Assistant Principal of Mathematics, IS 72, Staten Island

U.S. International Trade Commission Invites CSI Professor for Talk on Counterfeit Goods

Professor Alan Zimmerman and Professor Peggy Chaudhry

CSI Professor Alan Zimmerman was invited to speak before the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) last month to discuss the economic impact of the sale of counterfeit goods in China.

In his talk entitled “Protecting International Property Rights: The Special Case of China,”  Zimmerman focused on how the counterfeit market in China adversely affects sales of genuine goods in the U.S. The talk, based on the book, The Economics of Counterfeit Trade: Governments, Consumers, Pirates, and Intellectual Property Rights, co-authored by Zimmerman and Prof. Peggy Chaudhry, pinpointed specific issues of counterfeit trade, namely the level of consumer complicity and extent of the host country’s enforcement of intellectual property (IP) laws.

The size of the Chinese counterfeit market is vast, 93% of the potential market for the film industry is lost to counterfeiting as well as 25% of health care goods.  The most damage is done through business software piracy, which accounts for nearly 100% of software used in China. “The Chinese government recognizes this issue as a major problem and they are working hard to improve the situation,” says Zimmerman who is currently visiting China to continue his research.

At the USITC, Zimmerman primarily focused on his findings from a researcher’s lens, but he also defined certain situations in China that helped breed the sale and consumption of counterfeit goods, such as the lack of enforcement of IP laws. Zimmerman also touched on Chinese history and philosophy in pinpointing the obstacles that legitimate brand holders must overcome, outlining one major historical pillar of Chinese belief, “individual inventions draw on past knowledge, which belongs to all citizens.”

The USITC is an independent, quasi-judicial Federal agency with broad investigative responsibilities on matters of trade. The agency investigates the effects of dumped and subsidized imports on domestic industries and conducts global safeguard investigations.  The Commission also serves as a Federal resource where trade data and other trade policy-related information are gathered and analyzed. The information and analysis are provided to the President, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), and Congress to facilitate the development of sound and informed U.S. trade policy.

Alan Zimmerman is a Professor of Business and Area Coordinator for the International Business program at CSI. He teaches Global Strategy and Business-to-Business Marketing for the Master’s program.  He has co-authored three books on international business.

Grad Student Participates in KASF Panel

Leo Song, a graduate student studying Physical Therapy at the College of Staten Island, recently participated in a postgraduate and career strategy panel hosted by the Northeastern Chapter of the Korea American Scholarship Foundation.

Leo Song recently participated in a panel hosted by the Northeastern Chapter of the KASF.

“I felt proud to represent the CUNY Graduate Center/CSI,” Song said. “Although CSI is not a private school, I wanted to show to the community that anyone can receive a world-class education in a CUNY institution without breaking the bank, especially during this [difficult] economic time.”

According to a KASF statement, the goal of the panel was “to create a public forum to engage a broader audience in the New York metropolitan area…[providing] productive dialog amongst the panelists to share their reflection and advice regarding graduate school studies and professional careers.”

The panel, moderated by Soojin S. Oh, a Doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was divided into two sections. The first consisted of KASF scholarship recipients, who are studying law, physical therapy, social work, and education, discussing how their commitment to and participation in community and civic service impacted all aspects of their graduate school experience, from the application process, through graduate studies, to their career goals.

Students from Columbia and Harvard universities also participated in this portion of the panel.

Section two of the panel featured KASF Board members William Y. Kim, JD, Partner, Ropes & Gray; and Dan Pyo, Physician, MD, Plastic Surgery Center of New Jersey, who offered their professional insights regarding career choices in medicine and law, as well as their commitment to serve not only the Korean American population but the community at large.

According to the KASF statement, the organization was “founded in 1969 as a nation-wide, non-profit, and volunteer-managed organization [and] seeks to provide financial assistance to those Korean American students in higher education who have demonstrated rigorous academic and personal achievement and strong commitment to community and civic service in developing their leadership skills.”

As for Song, he hopes to further his community-minded efforts, once he graduates. “My plan after graduation is to help people as a physical therapist,” he noted. “As of now, I am not sure which physical therapy setting I’d be working in. However, no matter where I end up, I will always strive to pursue excellence and reach the pinnacle of my field.”