New mineral discovered in NYS to be displayed by NY State Museum and Smithsonian Institute

The Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names (CNMMN) and the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) approved the classification of a new manganese-rich silicic edenite mineral named parvo-mangano-edenite.

The discovery of this new mineral from a talc mine in St. Lawrence County adds more evidence supporting the theory that this area in upstate New York just northeast of Lake Ontario was covered by sub-tropical shallow seas approximately one billion years ago.

Dr. Alan Benimoff, of The City University of New York’s College of Staten Island, is part of an international six-member team of geoscientists that discovered the new mineral in the Grenville Marble section of Fowler, New York, after nearly a decade of research.

“Being a geologist is like being a detective,” said Benimoff. “A rock is not just a rock. It’s a collection of clues that tell us about the formation and history of the earth.”

MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH

So how does one go about discovering a new mineral? “It’s very simple,” states Benimoff. “We have a database of all known minerals, and if you can’t fit your mineral in it, then you have probably discovered a new one.” Benimoff’s new silicate mineral is an amphibole, meaning it consists of double chains of silicon and oxygen molecules joined to manganese and iron, as well as other ions.

The difficult part of Benimoff’s “very simple” process is distinguishing the sample mineral compound from countless others with similar compositions.

X-RAY SPECS

The research involves using powerful and precise electronic microscopes, X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and single crystal X-Ray techniques. The technological advances over the past decade have made it possible for geologists to critically analyze these materials and their composition.

According to Benimoff, XRD equipment effectively creates a “fingerprint” of inorganic matter, allowing scientists and researchers to distinguish minute differences in the material’s structure and composition.

This new amphibole mineral is also metamorphic, as it was altered through intense heat and pressure along a tectonic fault-line when continental plates collided. This particular event in New York State’s history is referred to as the Grenville Mountain Building Episode.

WATER WORLD

The mineral makeup suggests it was formed in shallow water, but the mountainous region found there today hints of dramatic change to the landscape during the last billion years. An odd component of the mineral is its 10 percent manganese content and only 0.3 percent iron content. So much manganese compared to so little iron is “peculiar” for an amphibole of this variety, according to Benimoff.

Further study of this mineral will give geologists more clues of the Precambrian Era, an era long before dinosaurs walked the Earth, when life forms were merely simple, single-celled organisms.

WORLD AS LABORATORY

As an undergraduate student, Benimoff majored in engineering science. A field trip changed the course of his life by igniting his passion for geology and its enduring sense of discovery. He was so taken by the Earth, and the stories it hid within its rocks, that he changed his major to geology.

Today, Benimoff leads the field trips. Recently, he and 14 students studied the fossils found in the floor of the Staten Island Mall, in New York City. Although the age of the floor is still being investigated by Benimoff, it clearly contains ancient sea creatures that lived during the Phanerozoic era.

“What we have here is a living museum,” he said of the 1.2 square-foot shopping center. “There are so many invertebrate remains in this limestone, it’s a budding geologist’s dream come true.”

ROCK SOLID FOUNDATION

Benimoff credits his engineering science background with giving him the knowledge base to really study geology, and he is quick to remind his students that “geologic research [also] involves using calculus, material science, physics and chemistry.”

Other upcoming field trips and research expeditions for Benimoff and his students include the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, and the Pioneer Coal Mine in Ashland, PA, both of which are designed to help give the students a sense of the real-world application and relevance of geology, according to Benimoff.

“Being a geologist is hands-on, dirty work, and very rewarding” said Benimoff, who is also the executive secretary of the New York State Geological Association. “I enjoy my work here at the College of Staten Island. I have a passion for geology and I try to relay that passion to my students.”

MUSEUM MATTERS

Samples of the newly identified mineral will become part of the collections of the New York State Museum and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Photography available. For more information visit www.csinews.net or contact Ken Bach at 718-982-2328. Members of the international team credited with the classification of the new mineral include Dr. Alan Benimoff, adjunct associate professor and chief college laboratory technician with the engineering science and physics department at the College of Staten Island of The City University of New York; Roberta Oberti and Fernando Camara, CNR-Instituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse, Pavia, Italy; George R. Rossman, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena CA; Giancarlo Della Ventura, Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, Università di Roma Tre, Rome, Italy; and Gianluca Iezzi, Bayerisches Geoinstitut, Universität Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany.

Poll results find 9 out of 10 Staten Islanders favor better on-Island transportation and more commuting options to New Jersey, Brooklyn and Manhattan

According to a recent poll, 88 percent of Staten Islanders believe the island is facing “serious problems” related to traffic and mass transportation, with 72 percent of those believing that the problems have reached a “crisis” or “very severe” level.

The January poll of 600 Island residents, funded through the generosity of Con Edison, was conducted under the auspices of the College of Staten Island-Staten Island Project (CSI-SIP), an initiative that addresses issues central to Staten Island public life. The poll has a +/- 4 percent margin of error.

“We have successfully completed our first survey of Staten Islanders and secured their views on a subject crucial to the social and economic vitality of the community,” commented Marlene Springer, president of CSI. “The poll is a service to the borough of which the college is justly proud.”

“The poll data finds that 84 percent of Staten Island residents have personally experienced problems on Staten Island’s roads,” said Steve Johnson, director of institutional research and assessment at CSI, “and while most people experienced problems during the morning or afternoon rush-hour commutes, there were no days or times that were free of problems.”

“Nearly two thirds of Staten Islanders told us that the solution to these problems might be more mass transportation,” Johnson continued, “and 84 percent of these people feel Staten Island ‘urgently’ needs more connections to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey.”

Islanders rate the solutions

The poll asked Staten Islanders to give their opinions on several proposed solutions to the problems plaguing on- and off-island travel.

“We were surprised that 82 percent of Island residents support extending the Staten Island Rapid Transit (SIRT) rail line to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and Perth Amboy, New Jersey,” noted Johnson. Fast-ferry service from mid-Island to Manhattan earned an 81 percent positive rating.

Other projects favored by nearly 75% of Island residents include a High Occupancy Vehicle (H-O-V) lane on the Staten Island Expressway, expanding public and private bus service to New Jersey, and reopening the North Shore Rail Line from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to Cranford, New Jersey.

Solutions involving rail expansion received their strongest support from people living on the north shore of Staten Island according to the poll, while people living mid-Island strongly supported the fast-ferry, expanded bus service to Jersey, a twin Goethals Bridge, and the Expressway H-O-V lane. People living on the Island’s southern end were most positive about the fast ferry and SIRT expansion.

When Islanders were asked which of these solutions they would actually use on a regular basis, over half said that they would use a new bridge to New Jersey, the expanded SIRT, and an Expressway H-O-V lane. In addition, nearly half said they would use fast-ferry service regularly.

“This survey confirms that Staten Islanders strongly support any type of mass transit improvements to get to their work destinations,” commented Jonathan Peters, assistant professor of finance at CSI. “Islanders are especially supportive of investing in rail infrastructure to provide better access to Brooklyn and neighboring counties in New Jersey.”

The poll’s findings support the findings in the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council’s Transit Improvement Program for 2004-2006 report which states that “Staten Island is among New York State’s fastest growing counties, and it is outgrowing much of the transportation infrastructure its residents and businesses rely on for travel within and beyond the borough.”

The polling initiative is a prelude to an upcoming College of Staten Island-Staten Island Project (CSI-SIP) conference entitled “Staten Island Mass Transportation and Traffic: Environment and Economy,” which will be held on Friday, March 19, 2004 beginning at 8:15 a.m. in the college’s Center for the Arts at 2800 Victory Boulevard in Staten Island.

Participants in the all-day conference include policy makers, academics, and members of the political, social, business, environmental, and disabilities communities.

Registration is open to the public at $30 per person. A continental breakfast, lunch and post-conference reception are included. For more information and to register, contact Faith Olzman in the CSI advancement office at 718-982-2365.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Executive Summary with graphs, Topline Report, and expert commentary available. For additional information or to schedule an interview, visit www.csinews.net/traffic or call Ken Bach at 718-982-2328.

21st Century Blackboards for CSI

The College of Staten Island goes hi-tech with the help of Cesar Claro of the Richmond County Savings Foundation. Claro provided $25,000 to help the college purchase an interactive computer-based teaching tool to give a 21st Century boost to the Willowbrook college’s education department.

WHO:
Cesar Claro of the Richmond County Savings Foundation donated $25,000 for the purchase and installation of a new hi-tech 21st Century teaching laboratory that includes a computer-based interactive “blackboard” as the centerpiece of a wireless laptop environment. Also available will be Ken Gold, acting chair of the education department, Richard Truitt, vice president for college advancement and Marlene Springer, president of CSI.

WHAT:
The demonstration of this interactive lab will showcase how it can be used to train teachers in teaching mathematics. Using the “Smartboard” technology, students may access Web based resources, have the ability to teleconference and the option of archiving video and presentation segments. The high resolution display and graphically enhanced modeling capabilities will allow teachers to demonstrate complicated geometric visual concepts.

WHEN:
4:30 p.m. Friday, February 6, 2004

WHERE:
College of Staten Island Education Department
Building 3S, Room 210
2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314

EDITOR’S NOTE: You are invited to send a reporter and/or camera crew. If you plan to attend or send a representative, please contact Ken Bach at 718-982-2328 to make arrangements or for more information.

Group completes poll of Staten Islanders on traffic and transportation issues focuses on possible travel solutions between Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn & New Jersey

The College of Staten Island-Staten Island Project (CSI-SIP) with the generous support of Con Edison, recently announced the completion of a Staten Island-wide polling initiative on traffic and transportation issues.

Staten Island (Richmond County) is not only the fastest growing borough in New York City but also the fastest growing county in New York State. Census data suggest that working Staten Islanders have the longest commute time in the nation, and “it is important to determine what Islanders think of possible solutions to their travel-related headaches,” according to Steve Johnson, director of institutional research and assessment at CSI.

“Determining how much residents know about proposed solutions, whether they like what’s being proposed, and whether they would use new forms of transportation if they were available is an important first step in addressing the challenges facing Staten Island,” he continued.

The survey of 600 Staten Island residents took place January 21-25, 2004 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. According to Johnson, the data are still being analyzed, and the results should be available as early as the end of this month.

The polling initiative is part of an upcoming conference that has scheduled policy makers, academics, and members of the political, social, business, environmental, and disabilities communities to discuss the changing landscape of Staten Island and the region. Its focus will be on mass transportation and traffic, as well as its funding, examining current projects and innovative future directions.

The conference, “Staten Island Mass Transportation and Traffic: Environment and Economy,” will convene on Friday, March 19, 2004 at the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts at 2800 Victory Boulevard. Participants include representatives from state and local government, transportation leaders, noted traffic analysts and industry watchdogs. The conference offers roundtable discussions with question and answer sessions and the chance for attendees to share a table with conference participants during lunch and the post-conference reception. Registration is open to the public at $30 per person. For more information contact Faith Olzman at 718-982-2365 or visit www.csi.cuny.edu/csisip

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information visit www.csinews.net or contact Ken Bach at 718-982-2328.

Casino Night New CSI fundraiser provides an entertaining evening while helping make a difference in the future of CSI students

The Staten Island Mall’s Center Court will be transformed into New Orleans for an entertaining night at Mardi Gras on Sunday, February 8, 2004 from 7 to 10:30 p.m. The event, called Casino Night: A Sure Bet, is a new College of Staten Island Foundation fundraiser chaired by Jim Easley, vice president and general manager of the Staten Island Mall.

Jim Easley has long history of supporting and chairing some of CSI’s most successful fundraisers has been with the Staten Island Mall for the past eight years. He was in mall management for the seven years prior. Easley moved from western Massachusetts to New Jersey with his wife of 20 years, Cathy, and their two children, Britney, age16 and Courtney, age 18. Easley is vice president of the College of Staten Island Foundation board of directors and a part time adjunct lecturer with the college’s business department.

CSI’s Casino Night will feature blackjack, roulette, and other games of chance, as well as a live Dixieland band, tarot card readers, a caricaturist, and culinary delights prepared by the American Grill Restaurant. Players can turn their casino winnings into platinum or gold level prizes, such as a four night vacation in New Orleans, including airfare and hotel, donated by John Mazza,

Other “fabulous” packages which are still being finalized according to event coordinator Donna Lindsey include theater, show and sporting event tickets, an all-day spa package, health club memberships, sports memorabilia and overflowing baskets of cheer, as well as the signature pampering services of Brooklyn’s Pilo Arts Day Spa and Salon for over 100 guests.

The ticket price for Casino Night is $150, and includes $50 of gaming chips, raffle tickets, sumptuous food and beverages, fabulous gifts, and other big surprises, according to Lindsey. Business attire is suggested and valet parking will be available.

For more information or a reservation, call CSI’s advancement office at 718-982-2365 by January 30, 2004.

All proceeds from Casino Night will benefit student scholarship programs and undergraduate research opportunities at the College of Staten Island.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Photography is available.

International conference on China's agricultural issues focuses on world trade, urbanization and peasant population

China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in late 2001 has brought fundamental change to the country by boosting its economic growth to become the fourth largest trading body in the world, advancing the country’s legal and governmental reforms, and creating a “floating population” class of 80 million migrant farmers.

Approximately 800-900 million people (70% of the country’s population) live in rural China, many of whom are family farmers. By bringing the country in line with WTO commitments to consolidate the land and improve efficiency, many of these farmers are being forced from their farms and into the cities.

Tackling the largest issue in the Chinese government today, The Foundation for China in the 21st Century hosts a two-day, two-borough conference that will examine the reforms and challenges China faces from its WTO entry, and the crisis faced by the country’s agriculture industry.

The first day of the conference will be held Friday, December 12, 2003 in the Presidential Conference Room of the Willowbrook campus of the College of Staten Island, 2800 Victory Blvd., Staten Island New York, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Morning sessions on Staten Island include a “Historic Review of Modern China’s Agricultural Issues,” moderated by professor Ming Xia (College of Staten Island) and “Institutional Problems and Reconstruction in Rural China,” moderated by Mr. Song Yongyi (Dickenson University).

Afternoon sessions include “Identity Issues of Chinese Peasants,” moderated by Mr. Hu Ping (Editor-in-Chief, Beijing Spring magazine) and “Reconstruction of China’s Rural Society,” moderated by professor Hu Shaohua (Wagner College).

Many questions will be raised at this conference. For example:

What is the essential reason for of China’s miserable agricultural issues and how is it traced back in history?

What is the root cause of Chinese peasants’ poverty and what are the possibilities of resolving it by abolishing the discriminatory residence laws against them on the basis of identity segregation?

How can villages be autonomously ruled and property rights of the farmland be settled?
Is it necessary to privatize the farmland and if so, how?

What is the impact of China’s WTO entrance on all of the above agricultural issues?

Internationally recognized experts, scholars, and researchers from China, Hong Kong, Macao, Japan, and the United States will address these questions and present to the conference their points of view from different angles and various social levels, and tell us how they think about the past, evaluate the current, and project the future of Chinese agricultural problems.

The second day of the conference will begin with public lectures at 12 noon in the auditorium of the Queens Borough Public Library.

The two-day conference is jointly sponsored by The Foundation for China in the 21st Century, the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island, and the Queens Borough Public Library.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You are invited to send a reporter and/or camera crew. If you plan to attend or send a representative, please contact Ken Bach at 718-982-2328 to make arrangements or for more information. Participant names and photographs available upon request.

Electronic music lab brings high tech audio equipment to campus

The College of Staten Island hosts a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Electronic Music Lab on Tuesday, November 25 at 5 p.m. in the Willowbrook college’s Center for the Arts (1P) room 124.

The event features Miss Staten Island 2002, Ryan Kelly (who is also Miss Gotham 2003), performing in front of an original electronic arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “I’m just a lucky so and so” programmed by Victor Magnani, the technician who set up the lab.

The lab is currently in use by its first class, and students have 4 projects due by semester end.

Ryan Kelly“It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work” said Kelly, “we’re learning how to mix tracks and create original compositions, and I don’t know any other place that can give five-day-a-week access to such a high quality lab.”

Representing the culmination of years of planning and an investment of approximately $50,000, the creation of Electronic Music Lab signals the start of a new era in the history of CSI’s Music Program. The students’ musical education will be enriched by the hands-on training in the use of the latest audio technology, and will prepare them for a wide variety of careers in the field of music.

The lab consists of eight top of the line MIDI PC workstations, offering students the latest software and hardware in support of audio production, music theory, ear training, and electronic music composition.

Inauguration of new biotech research center focus will be on disease, vaccines, and healing

The City University of New York (CUNY) inaugurates a Macromolecular Assemblies Institute (MMA) at the College of Staten Island (CSI) dedicated to biotechnology research and development on Tuesday, November 18.

The CUNY Institute, which last year received a $2.5 million grant as part of New York State’s Gen*NY*sis Program, will help expand the state’s biotechnology research industry by studying the underlying causes of disease. By studying these assemblies, researchers may gain valuable insights into the fundamentals of healing and disease, such as cellular resistance to chemotherapy, and may discover methodologies to fabricate new assemblies, such as vaccines.

One of the event’s guest speakers, Dr. Robert Kurtz, is son of Leonard Kurtz who’s company Deknatal brought the application of technological and scientific discovery to biomedical issues and developed a suture that “revolutionized” the surgical suture field by creating a product distributed by nearly every major suture supplier.

“My father and I suspected that the basic research in peptide science conducted by Fred Naider could have practical ramifications,” commented Robert Kurtz, whose company BioResearch Inc. went on to discover and develop the reagent that is used in the synthesis of Val-gan acyclovir, one of the more effective antiviral drug on the market.

Helping people regain their health and fight disease has been a key motivator in the Kurtz family, and Robert Kurtz strongly believes “that a synthesis between basic academic research and industry leads to advances that ultimately benefit humankind and improves the quality of our lives and I take great personal satisfaction from the fact that my company [was] spurred on by advice and interactions from academic scientists.”

WHO:
John Marchi, New York State Senator
Louise Mirrer, CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Robert J. Kurtz, M.D., President of the Kurtz Foundation
Marlene Springer, President, College of Staten Island
Ruth Stark, Director, CUNY Macromolecular Assemblies Institute

WHAT:
Inaugural Ceremony and Reception

WHEN:
Tuesday, November, 18, 2003; 1:30 p.m.

WHERE:
College of Staten Island
Center for the Arts Recital Hall (1P-120)
2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314

BACKGROUND:
The CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies was originally funded in October 2002 when Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and State Senator John Marchi announced a $2.5 million grant to CSI from the state of New York as part of its Gen*NY*sis Program (Generating Employment for New York Science) initiative. Since then, CSI has matched those funds, and CUNY has established 5 new faculty lines for the college in support of the research.

The Institute will specifically study large molecules which assemble themselves into organized structures. The HIV virus, which has an outer skin made of proteins, is an example of a macromolecular assembly. A cell is also an assembly of molecules, and it is these very “assemblies” that are fundamental characteristics of all life.

As a CUNY institute, the MMA will operate on its home campus at CSI, within the university-wide consortium of colleges, and alongside metropolitan New York scientific research institutes.

According to CSI President Marlene Springer, having CSI as the home campus of this CUNY wide research initiative is formal recognition of the value of the research already underway at CSI, and will help the college expand and extend its fundamentally important research objectives.

Fred Naider, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry/Biochemistry, is one of the founding faculty members of the MMA. He was a part of the BioResearch development team that discovered and developed the new family of reagents that was named UNCAs. This family of compounds was patented world wide and still has great potential, according to Robert Kurtz.

Ruth E. Stark, PhD, Professor of Chemistry, is a veteran researcher at CSI and head of its nuclear magnetic resonance facility. She earned her doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and obtained postdoctoral training in molecular biophysics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. She teaches general and physical chemistry at CSI, and has co-directed The City University of New York’s Center for Applied Biomedicine and Biotechnology.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You are invited to send a reporter and/or camera crew. If you plan to attend or send a representative, please contact Ken Bach at 718-982-2328 to make arrangements or for more information.