The Martians are Coming!

On August 27, 2003, the planet Mars will be 34,646,418 miles from Earth – the closest it has been in more than 73,000 years. Mars will be brighter than Jupiter and all the stars in the sky – a red planet 8 times brighter than normal.

Celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime planetary opposition with Mars: A Close Encounter, hosted by NYC’s most sophisticated public observatory.

Irving Robbins, director, and Keith Rowan, astrophysical technician of the Astrophysical Observatory of the College of Staten Island.

* $10 Admission, $5 for kids ages 6-12
* enjoy a fact-filled multi-media presentation about Mars by expert astronomers
* meet members of the American Association of Amateur Astronomers (AAAA) and view celestial objects through their field telescopes
* explore exhibits from NASA on space technology, space food, and the Space Station
* enjoy a children’s activity zone featuring crafts, coloring, and other child-centric activities
* mingle with Athena Mars Rover Project members
* view Mars through the main telescope of CSI’s Astrophysical Observatory
* savor Martian delicacies, view Martian movies, and browse Martian souvenirs

Wednesday, August 27, 2003, 8:30 p.m.

Ongoing: exhibits, refreshments and programming in CFA
8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. check-in and registration
9 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. presentation: About Mars
10 p.m.– 10:45 p.m. repeat of presentation
10 p.m. – Midnight observatory and field telescope viewings

College of Staten Island Center for the Arts
2800 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island NY 10314

Mars: A Close Encounter is presented by the CSI Foundation. For more information on attending the event, call the College of Staten Island Advancement Office at 718-982-2365. Event sponsors include Coca Cola, Con Edison, Northfield Savings Bank, PerfectHealth, and SI Bank & Trust.

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.

The summer of science at CSI CSI’s national research reputation attracts students for ten weeks of hands-on investigations in the college’s state of the art laboratories

The National Science Foundation (NSF) annually funds summer research opportunities for undergraduate students through its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. This is the third consecutive year that the College of Staten Island has been an NSF-sponsored REU site for students seeking to build their hands-on research skills in the study of polymers and biopolymers.

The NSF-sponsored REU program is a winning opportunity for highly motivated students who are not afraid of hard work and want to break new ground for advances in science and technology. This year, a dozen students from across the country get to work closely with CSI faculty, experiencing first-hand how basic research is carried out, as well as its importance.

At CSI, these students fulfill critical roles in the faculty members’ research teams, build impressive content for their resumes, establish prestigious contacts, and can become coauthors on published research reports in international journals.

For instance, Allen Fung, a freshman from Long Island University (LIU) in Brooklyn, is working with chemistry professor Ruth Stark. Stark is co-director of the college’s REU program this year, and with help from Fung, she is examining a species of potato from Israel which suffers from “hard-to-cook syndrome.”

“When these potatoes are cooked,” Fung said, “they’re very hard, and instead of mashing them, you have to smash them, with a hammer.” Fung and Stark will be using CSI’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometers to track down the biochemical molecules that create this particular tuber’s troubles.

Professor Stark, a veteran researcher at CSI, recently received funding from New York State’s Gen*NY*sis (Generating Employment for New York Science) program to create and direct the college’s CUNY Institute of Macromolecular Assemblies, which will undertake research and education related to the underlying causes of plant and animal diseases.

Dr. Ruth Stark“I think the purpose of the [REU] program is to give the students a concrete picture, as well as an intangible flavor, of what it is like to do science, not just learn science,” commented Stark, noting that for budding scientists, it is “important to get into the lab and see if this activity excites you.”

It is this hands-on experience with mentors in the laboratories at CSI that will give students “a real sense of whether or not they want to do this as a career, and to discover new things in the way that scientists do,” continued Stark.

The REU program also reinforces the importance of collaboration with fellow scientists according to Stark, because it “allows students to not only present their results, but to ask questions of others’ results. Since there is no college in the country where chemistry majors are a big majority, getting together like this is really quite marvelous.”

Another student, Raj Vasnani, originally from Chicago, will be a junior this fall at Duke University in North Carolina. He is summering at CSI because he wanted to do “something more productive than earn traditional summer school credits.”

Vasnani decided to pass on Columbia University’s REU program, New York City’s only other REU site offering chemistry research, saying that he finds CSI’s program more suited to his interests. Calling Columbia’s program “the chemistry of engineering,” Vasnani is excited about studying at CSI because he will be investigating “the chemistry of life.”

Working in the lab with chemistry professor Shuiqin Zhou, Vasnani is eager to elucidate the macromolecular structure of polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates made up of sugar molecules) by analyzing how these structures scatter monochromatic light. While out of the lab, Vasnani is eager to discover the culture of New York City.

Heading farther south, Clare V. LeFave, a chemistry major with an emphasis in biochemistry at Eckerd College in Florida, comes to CSI as a veteran of the REU program, knowing that undergraduate research is often a criterion that graduate schools use to determine who will be accepted into their programs.

Last year, LeFave participated in an REU program at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. This year, she broadens her REU experience at CSI by working with chemistry professor Chwen-Yang Shew to develop computer modeling programs that may explain the structure of membrane proteins in biological cells. Moreover, the results of this modeling may also be applied to the movement of viruses and their interactions with cells.

The opportunity to build their resumes and participate in important research is not just for the out-of-towners. Local students know how to seize the opportunity as well.

Franklin Bright, a native of Massachusetts, will be a senior at Wagner College on Grymes Hill this fall semester. Bright, a biology major and one of three captains of the college’s awarding winning football team the Seahawks, attends Wagner on an athletics scholarship.

This “jolting” defensive tackle brings more to the gridiron than a knack for gaining possession of the fabled pigskin for his team; he has his sights set on graduate school and attaining his Ph.D.

Bright, working at CSI with biology professor Valerie Pierce studying cell membrane permeability, is confident that the research experience available to him “down the road” at CSI will give him the edge he needs to succeed.

Professor Pierce was recently awarded a Merck/AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Undergraduate Science Research Program (USRP) grant and as Principal Investigator, she is engaging undergraduates in research to synthesize unique nanomaterials.

Undergraduates from CSI are also taking advantage of this year’s REU program.

For example, Hanako Hirose grew up in a household of medical doctors in Tokyo, Japan. She received her B.A. in sociology from Beloit College in Wisconsin and spent three years working on Wall Street as a financial recruiter.

Hirose then decided that it was time to change professions, and that meant returning for another undergraduate degree. She contemplated attending Brooklyn College and Hunter, but “didn’t like their campuses.”

Her boyfriend, Robert P. Pitera, a 1985 CSI graduate who is now a medical doctor specializing in mesotherapy and recently opened a private practice on Park Avenue in NYC, gave Hirose some encouraging words about how CSI prepared him for medical school. Hirose, a resident of the Huguenot section of Staten Island during the academic year, decided to attend CSI with a music major and chemistry minor.

Like Bright, she knows that working with CSI’s nationally recognized faculty will give her an edge to succeed when it comes time to enter the workforce or attend graduate school.

After a full day of research work, students and mentors also have many opportunities to discuss their work, their lives, and the world. Seminars, lunch meetings, and social functions have been scheduled throughout the ten week REU program to bolster the interaction among undergraduates, faculty, and research professionals.

Student stipends and lodging are sponsored directly by the NSF. This year, students are living in the dormitories at Wagner College.

Professor Stark noted the possibility of “a unique collaboration with CSI’s Discovery Institute – they [high school students] may attend our interim oral presentations in early July, and we [REU students] may help judge their [research] posters in late July.” Stark stressed that these arrangements are still tentative.

CSI’s REU program culminates with a poster symposium of research results on August 7 in CSI’s Library rotunda.

CSI leads the way in preparing teachers 98 percent of students pass state licensing exams

Nearly 17,000 students took one or both of the examinations for teacher certification in New York State in the 2001-2002 academic year. These tests include the Liberal Arts and Science Test (LAST) and the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written.

While almost all of the public and private colleges preparing students to be teachers met the state’s requirement that at least 80 percent of the students taking the exams pass them, a few institutions have attained perfect, or near-perfect pass rates.

The College of Staten Island (CSI), a long-time leader in teacher education was ranked best in The City University of New York (CUNY) with 98 percent of CSI students passing both exams according to State Education Department data released June 10, 2003.

Other leading colleges where students passed both exams include Fordham (with a 100 percent pass rate), Columbia (with a 99 percent pass rate), and New York University (NYU; with a 98 percent pass rate).

“We are justly proud of the fact that our CSI students, who pay a public school tuition, can compete so successfully,” said CSI President Marlene Springer.

Some of the above information was adapted from reports by the NY Post and the NY Times.

CSI professor wins Guggenheim

Zoe Beloff, an adjunct professor with the College of Staten Island’s recently formed department of Media Culture, was named a Guggenheim Fellow in the 2003 competition.

Beloff joins an elite group of CSI professors who have earned this distinction: Rafael Herrera, assistant professor of mathematics; Sarah Schulman, assistant professor of English; Patricia Passlof, professor of art; George F. Custen, professor of communications; Ira Shor, associate professor of English; and Phil Niblock, professor of performing and creative arts.

Guggenheim Fellows are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. The new Fellows, which were announced by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, include writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, film makers, choreographers, physical and biological scientists, social scientists, and scholars in the humanities.

Beloff, a Fellowship winner for 2003 was one of 184 awardees who were selected from over 3,200 applicants for awards totaling $6,750,000 according to the Guggenheim Foundation. The Foundation grants these awards based on recommendations from hundreds of expert advisors, which are approved by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Beloff’s work includes a variety of cinematic imagery, film, stereoscopic projection performance, and interactive media. She will use her Guggenheim funding on a 3D video installation entitled “The Ideoplastic Materialization of Eva C,” which will be shot at the MCA studio at City College of New York, where Beloff is also an adjunct professor. The video crew will be comprised of CCNY film students and alumni.

“It’s based on a true story about a medium who lived in Paris in the early 1900s and was investigated by a number of famous doctors and scientists,” said Beloff. “Many photographs of her séances were taken. I will use these as an inspiration to conjure up the séances.”

As an artist Beloff considers herself as an heir to the 19th century mediums whose materialization séances evoke unconscious desires in a theatrical fashion.

Her work has been exhibited internationally at such venues as MoMA, The New York Film Festival, the Rotterdam Film festival, the Pacific Film Archives, and the Pompidou Center. Her first interactive video installation, “The Influencing Machine of Miss Natalijaa A,” was exhibited in Dusseldorf and the ZKM in Karlsruhe, both in Germany, in fall 2002.

Recently, Beloff has been presenting “Shadow Land or Light From the Other Side,” a stereoscopic film based on the life of the 19th century medium Elizabeth D’Espérance, and “Claire and Don in Slumberland,” in New York and around the United States.

Raised in Scotland where she studied painting and art history at Edinburgh University and College of Art, she moved to New York in 1980 and earned an MFA in Film from Columbia University in 1983.

She has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships by foundations and organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts (co-recipient with John Cale); the New York State Council for the Arts; The Jerome Foundations, Inc.; The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts; Art Matters, Inc.; The New York Foundation for the Arts; and The Applebaum-Kahn Foundation.

Beloff is a three-time recipient of the Experimental Television Center’s Finishing Funds Award (1996, 2000, 2002). She won the Best Multimedia Project, Best Show prize in the 1998 Apple QuickTime VR competition, and was awarded two residencies (1996, 2000) by Harvestworks Digital Media Arts.

She lives in Manhattan.

Willowbrook: 1972- 2003, The Case Continues The Status of the Willowbrook Consent Judgment

Over thirty years ago, parents of residents at the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island and their lawyers marched into federal court to file one of the most historic cases regarding civil rights for persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

The resulting consent judgment obligated the State of New York to provide appropriate housing and programs for the more than 6,000 residents known as the “Willowbrook Class.”

Hailed as a “Declaration of Independence” for the developmentally disabled, the consent judgment was the model not only for closing other institutions in the state, but also across the country, and indeed, inspired the closing of notorious institutions around the world.

The Willowbrook Case was never closed, however. Although the consent judgment remains the guiding instrument in the care of the Willowbrook Class, it continues to be a subject of debate in and out of court.

A public discussion on the status of the historic consent judgment.

Katie Meskell, sister of a Willowbrook resident; Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy of Westchester; and executive producer of “The Unforgotten: 25 Years after Willowbrook”
Beth Haroules, Esq., New York Civil Liberties Union
Ann Nehrbauer, parent of a Willowbrook resident
Ronnie Cohn, Independent Evaluator for the Willowbrook Class
Dr. David Goode, College of Staten Island, moderator

Wednesday, May 7, 2003
6:30 p.m. reception
7:00 p.m. program begins

College of Staten Island Library
Archives and Special Collections, 1L-216
2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island NY 10314

The program is free and open to the public. It will be recorded and the tape will become part of the Willowbrook Collection in the CSI Library Archives.

This public discussion is part of the CSI Staten Island Project initiative. CSI-SIP uses the expertise and resources of the college to study issues such as transportation, the environment, business, and health, serving as a non-partisan public affairs interface between borough officials and community leaders.

For additional information, contact Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler in the CSI Library at 718-982-4021, or visit the CSI-SIP Web site at

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.

Researcher develops new tool to diagnose and evaluate neurological deficiencies

Recent research and technological breakthroughs provide the medical profession with a new tool in evaluating and assessing the Parkinsonian population, as well as facilitating early diagnosis, according to Dr. Arthur Nelson, who recently published his findings after conducting a five-year research study with the Physical Therapy Program at The City University of New York’s College of Staten Island.

Dr. Nelson’s findings were based on results acquired while using his previously developed GaitRite system, which is a sophisticated data acquisition model that integrates specific components of walking (gait) to generate a Functional Ambulation Performance (FAP) score.

Dr. Nelson points out the graphical user interface displaying a persons footfallsThe system operates on the principle that a condition that affects the central nervous system will have latent manifestations in a person’s gait, such as a shorter than usual step length that takes longer to complete as seen in persons with Parkinson’s disease, or an asymmetrical footfall pattern as seen in persons who suffered a stroke with paralysis.

“Our research has demonstrated the reliability and level of evaluation that this dramatic new tool provides to clinicians,” said Dr. Nelson, “and is a major addition to the functional toolset that will improve the accuracy with which disorders are diagnosed and confirmed.”

GaitRite mat in useThe GaitRite system uses a series of switches on a grid pattern embedded into a mat that a patient walks on. The mat captures the footprints electronically, much like footprints in sand along the beach. The mathematical modeling outputs a standardized and objective FAP score after evaluating the person’s walking motion.

Once a FAP score is generated, a clinician is able to accurately determine a patient’s ambulatory mobility, that is, how well they walk. This assessment may alert the clinician to a possible diagnosis of Parkinson’s, or confirm a preliminary diagnosis.

For patients with a confirmed case of Parkinson’s or another neurological deficiency such as Downs Syndrome, the GaitRite system will accurately determine the effectiveness of the drug or physical therapy program that the patient may be undergoing.

Screenshot of GaitRite software interface“The GaitRite system accurately assesses gait abnormalities which may not be apparent to physical therapists, but which the GaitRite system will detect and alert us to,” said Dr. Nelson, “and being aware of this condition, which may have been the cause for serious harm, allows us to tailor a therapy program that will address that abnormality while greatly enhancing the patient’s quality of life.”

The GaitRite system is currently being used by over 150 rehabilitation centers throughout the United States and in many countries in Europe and the Middle East and Asia with dramatic results.

Currently, Dr. Nelson is conducting a study with researchers in Holland using a treadmill that provides feedback of footfalls. This treadmill places patients into a safety jacket suspended from a frame which eliminates the risk of falling, and allows a unique approach to the physical therapy training of patients with strokes, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsonism, and joint replacements.

As well, this approach involves testing of motor power, coordination of muscle pairs, balance testing, and training. Dr. Nelson acted as consultant to Biodex Medical Systems in the developmental stages of this innovative treadmill. The results of this new venture are not determined yet, but Dr. Nelson says the early feedback appears very promising, and will greatly enhance a patient’s confidence and ability during physical therapy, which will result in an improved and sustained recovery.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact Ken Bach, 718-982-2328. Color photography available.

Chancellor Announces "" A New Jobs Web Site for CUNY Students

Chancellor Matthew Goldstein announced today that The City University of New York is launching a quick, comprehensive and easy-to-use employment web site to help undergraduate and graduate students find full-time and part-time jobs on and off campus while they are pursuing their degrees. is a one-stop employment site that consolidates postings from the 19 CUNY campuses and also provides information on jobs at metropolitan-area companies and agencies that are offered to CUNY students.

The creation of the Internet job site is part of CUNY’s ongoing program to help students receive a high-quality higher education while meeting the costs of attending college.

“Just as every penny counts, every student needs to know about available job opportunities and financial aid,” Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said. “By making available this site, we are renewing our efforts to let them know all available ways to defray the costs of their college education.”

The CUNY site also makes it easy for employers: They can post jobs directly via an electronic form and target particular jobs to students at the appropriate colleges.

CUNY, the largest urban university in the United States with 19 campuses, 208,000 degree credit students, and more than 208,000 professional and continuing education students, established this site to make it easier for students of all economic levels to continue their education without interruption.

Key components of include:

The CUNY Metro Job Bank lists hundreds of part-time and full-time jobs offered to CUNY students by government agencies and private companies in the New York metropolitan area. Recent postings included listings for a part-time photo cataloger at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; a full-time registered nurse for Covenant House; a part-time mailroom clerk for the Educational Alliance; a part-time receptionist for the New York Society for the Deaf; and a full-time account representative for Metropolitan Life.

In an exclusive arrangement with the city’s Department of Information Technology, CUNY/311 Project offers CUNY students part-time jobs with New York City’s new Customer Service Call Center, which provides city residents with an easy-to-remember number, 311, to dial for access more to city agencies for non-emergency information. Students answer incoming calls, enter data into a computer bank and do clerical work.

Poll Worker Initiative recruits and trains hundreds of CUNY students to be poll workers for citywide primaries and general elections, where they earn $200 per day, plus a bonus and training stipend.

CUNY College Job Bank lists the entry-level jobs at the CUNY
colleges, everything from tutors and college assistants to custodial assistants and lab technicians.

In addition to links to state and national employment sites, the CUNY website includes information on opportunities for disabled students, financial aid, job fairs, internships, literacy, vocational training and the Federal Work-Study Program.

The site, which is being launched on April 2, highlights specific CUNY job-related programs, including:

Counseling Assistantship Program or CUNYCAP, through which graduate students work at CUNY’s senior and community colleges and several New York City high schools in various positions in admissions, financial aid, career development, counseling, academic advisement, health services and student activities.

Teaching Opportunity Program or TOP, where highly qualified baccalaureate program students who want a teaching career are recruited to teach in public schools. Undergraduates, recent graduates and those career changers with academic majors that have been identified as current and future areas of teacher shortage are targeted. The program is run in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education.

College Opportunity to Prepare for Employment or COPE provides information and support services, including education counseling, child-care referrals, social services liaison and job-placement assistance to students receiving public assistance.

CUNY Literacy Education and Employment Program or LEEP offers participants the chance to improve their basic academic skills to qualify them for better jobs or training programs.

CUNY Individual Vocational Education and and Skills Training Program or InVEST offers participants the chance to learn new skills that help qualify them for better jobs.

CSI announces new public affairs initiative – the Staten Island Project

The College of Staten Island recently announced the creation of a dynamic new initiative that will integrate the work of the college with the public affairs concerns of Staten Island. The venture is appropriately named the College of Staten Island–Staten Island Project, or CSI-SIP.

The inauguration the CSI-SIP, followed by a reception. There will be a roundtable discussion of the future goals of the CSI-SIP.

John J. Marchi, NY State Senator; Marlene Springer, President, CSI; Mirella Affron, Director, CSI-SIP. There will be representatives from city and state government, as well as CSI faculty representing the four main policy domains.

Friday, April 11, 2003; 4 p.m.

College of Staten Island Library (1L) Archives and Special Collections
2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island NY 10314

Building on a solid foundation of conferences and programs already in place, the CSI-SIP will become the umbrella organization to expand the college’s role in the Staten Island community.

The CSI-SIP will serve as a non-partisan public affairs interface between borough officials and community leaders. The expertise of CSI faculty and staff will be at the service of community needs.

The CSI-SIP will be a dynamic forum that encourages and facilitates debate and discussion on controversial issues crucial to the community, while attempting to resolve the issues before they become urgent problems.

“As the only public institution of higher education on Staten Island, CSI is ideally positioned, through the newly established CSI-SIP, to play an even more central role than it has in the past in public affairs debates that affect the borough, its relationship to the city, and its link to the immediate region,” commented Marlene Springer, president of CSI.

CSI-SIP will interface with the community in four main policy domains:

Governance: will increase the stock of knowledge about Staten Island’s institutions and how they work, as well as expand participation in local civic and political life.

Civic Education: this initiative will present new programs that combat cynicism and apathy while strengthening the community’s connection with city administration.

Health, Environment, and Land Use: the management of urban growth is a critical problem on Staten Island. This initiative will focus on the rapid expansion of the Island’s economy and population while recognizing opportunities and overcoming challenges.

Economic Development: the educational resources offered by the college will strengthen education in the training-intensive fields of the post-industrial economy that attracts productive workers and successful firms.

The CSI-SIP initiative is inspired by Senator John J. Marchi’s historic service to the Staten Island community and the college, and his pivotal role in establishing the CSI Archives and Special Collections with a gift of his papers in 1999. For more information visit the CSI-SIP Web site at

EDITOR’S NOTE: You are invited to send a reporter and/or camera crew to cover this event. If you plan to attend or send a representative, please contact Ken Bach, director of public relations, to make arrangements.