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Digital security expert finds hidden messages

Not only is Jessica Fridrich, professor of electrical and computer engineering, a wiz at solving the Rubik’s cube (in 17 seconds), she’s developed ways to detect hidden messages in digital images.
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In the News

May-June 2003

Siddhartha Mitra, assistant professor of geological sciences, was interviewed by local ABC affiliate, Channel 34, about the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE). Amounts of TCE's have been found in basements of local residents and can be detrimental to the health of humans and animals. Mitra's bio, which includes his areas of research, can be found here.

Sydney Pollack, director, producer and recipient of an honorary degree at Binghamton University’s Commencement, had a portion of his address excerpted in The New York Times: "W all live rather prescribed and narrow lives. I’m just this one white guy, 60 something years old. I’ll never be anything else except older. I’ve got one set of kids. I’ve got one wife. That’s it for me. But then there’s this great, great library of experiences that’s housed in the liberal arts. Fictional worlds created that I can put on like this gown or coat, eyes I can borrow through which to see the world. I can be a black housewife. I can be a king. I can be a 19th century fur trapper. I can be a CIA spy. I can be a warrior. I can learn what it feels like to be tried and convicted, to confess, to win the beautiful girl, lose the beautiful girl. It’s a way of understanding the world that functions beyond intellect and it teaches and touches through feeling and experience even when the experience is purely that of the imagination. Compassion finally is the great gift of literature. Fiction, and by that I mean the aesthetic creation of all artificial worlds, must persuade you to interpret the world through compassion."

Bernard Rosenthal, professor of English, was featured in an Associated Press article about updating transcripts from the Salem witch trials to add new information. The project began when Rosenthal discovered he had inadvertently used incorrectly transcribed court data in his book "Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692." He has assembled a team of 10 historians and linguists to review the transcripts. The project is expected to be completed next year.

G. Philip Rightmire, distinguished professor of anthropology, was quoted by the Associated Press in an article about the discovery of three skulls in Ethiopia that date to about 160,000 years ago that scientists believe are the oldest known and best-preserved fossils of modern man’s immediate predecessors. Rightmire called the find "spectacular." Rightmire was also quoted in similar articles in the Baltimore Sun. The AP article also ran in the St. John’s Telegram (Ethiopia), Star Phoenix (Saskatoon), Times Colonist (Victoria), Vancouver Sun (British Columbia), The Mercury (Australia) and CBSNews.com.

G. Philip Rightmire, distinguished professor of anthropology, was quoted in Time about the discovery of 160,000 skulls in Ethiopia and what the discovery means about the origin of modern man. Rightmire said "the key point is that they are from the right place at the right time to be, broadly speaking, the ancestor of modern people. It’s as near as we’re going to get."

Diane Richardson, associate professor of music, was featured in an article about her role as the longtime vocal coach of the Spoleto Festival USA. Richardson began her association with the festival when it began 27 years ago. "She was brought in as a vocal coach to work with the performers in "The Queen of Spades," by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and "The Consul" by Gian Carlo Menotti, one of Spoleto’s founders. "And I just kept coming back," she says.

Florenz Plassman, assistant professor of economics, was referenced in an article about a debate on a report in the Stanford Law Review that indicates the "more guns, less crime" thesis is based on flawed statistical design. Plassman and a collegue from the University of Adelaide in Australia, wrote a response that also appeared in the Stanford Law Review as charging that the authors of the report "have simply misread their own results.".

Nkiru Nzegwu, associate professor of Africana studies, was quoted in an article about the opening of an exhibition in Nigeria that celebrates creativity. Nzegwu said the exhibit, "Olokoto: Songs of Chima" was about beauty, as well as a need for renewal. "It speaks simultaneously about the plenitude of artistic resources in Onitsha: and it calls on indegenes and residents to renew their pride in their city and to spearhead its physical and rural transformation. In short, in calling for the renaissance of Onitsha, "Olokoto, Songs of Chima" is issuing a call for the urban renewal of the city," she said.

Lynn Gamwell, director of the University Art Museum, was quoted in an article in Newsday about the discovery in 1953 of DNA by Francis Crick and James Watson and an art exhibit, "Genetic Expressions: Art After DNA," that offers a look "at the wonder of it all." Gamwell said "the double helix simply becomes a modern icon that pops up in a lot of places, from car ads to fine art."

Liz Rosenberg, professor of English, reviewed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the Boston Globe. Writing that author J.K. Rowling has created an alternate universe, Rosenberg added that "I know of no other writer simultaneously so domestic and so untamed, so full of tiny beauties and panoramic effects. How lucky we are, really, to live in a time whensuch works are coming to us fresh and new."

Zhongfei "Mark" Zhang, assistant professor of computer science, filed an invention disclosure on his prototype for improved content-based image retrieval with his student Ruofei Zhang. The system can rapidly and effectively identify and retrieve images from very large data bases or the Internet. The system, dubbed "FAST" -- for Fast And Semantic-Tailored image retrieval -- also "learns" from user feedback about the relevance of images retrieved, telling which ones bear the closest resemblance to what you were looking for. It continues to improve its performance with each new search based on your feedback.

C.J. Zhong, assistant professor of chemistry, has a patent on a chip-sized pump with no moving parts that could enhance the quality of life for diabetics within the next three to five years. Zhong’s device has significant potential in the treatment of diabetes because it is small enough to be inserted into and remain in the body where it would conduct microfluidic analysis, constantly measuring the need for insulin and, then, delivering precise amounts of insulin at the appropriate times. The device could eliminate the need for regular blood tests.

Binghamton University has developed a new master of science in biomedical anthropology, the first of its kind, to offer a multi-disciplinary approach to studying the transmission and spread of infections, cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease and the interaction of biological and socio-cultural factors that shape health outcomes. Ralph Garruto, research professor of anthropology and neuroscience, oversees the 43-credit program,which requires an internship and a laboratory practicum. The program will admit 24 full-time and six part-time students from disciplines as diverse as nursing, anthropology, psychology, social work, biology and other health-related fields next fall.

Scott Oliver, assistant professor of chemistry, has been awarded a $100,000 per year National Science Foundation Career Award for his work to develop an entirely new class of microporous inorganic materials used in petroleum refining, water treatment, air purification, chemical processing, manufacturing, environmental control and gas processing.

Susan Bane, professor of chemistry, was recently published in Biochemistry for her research into the anticancer drug Taxol. With $406,835 from the National Institutes of Health, Bane and her team, in collaboration with researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, are continuing studies to learn why the naturally occurring part of Taxol actually does most of the drug’s cancer-fighting work, not the synthetic portion as scientists had originally thought. Her work was also featured in July issues of Drug Week, Biotech Week and Cancer Weekly.

William MacDonald, professor of geology, was quoted in the Dallas Morning News about a report in the journal Science that asserts a meteorite that hit Earth 380 million years ago caused a great extinction among marine animals. MacDonald commented on the use of magnetic clues in rocks that can help researchers hunt down extraterrestrial impacts. "It’s another tool to help you focus in and find impact horizons," he said. MacDonald was also quoted in the Baton Rouge Advocate about the same story.

David Sloan Wilson, professor of biological sciences, had his most recent book, Darwin’s Cathedral, reviewed in the Christian Century. The reviewer found Wilson’s account of Calvin’s Geneva to be most interesting, writing that Wilson used it as a test case of his theory that "human beings are significantly a product of group selection and that we are psychologically driven to religious beliefs because they promote group commitment and self-sacrifice."

Nancy Paul, director of the career development center, was quoted in an article regarding efforts to preserve a local wooded glen, which is up for sale. Owned by IBM, the sale is being monitored by Andrus and local environmentalists who view the glen as a precious resource area. Andres noted ‘It’s a very attractive place. But plenty of people could buy the land and not care about the future."

Gerry Johansen, coordinator of the Alcohol and Other Drug Program, was quoted in an article regarding heavy drinking. Johansen discussed some of the measures college campuses are offering to heighten awareness of the dangers of drinking. These include freshmen orientation sessions and campus wide marketing initiatives. He noted: "Many students don’t drink at all or drink moderately when they do."

Subimal Chatterjee, associate professor of marketing, was quoted in an article regarding marketing strategies that target cost-conscious consumers who shop at the Wal-Mart. The success of the strategies, which in this case are aimed at tents, will depend on the quality of the product, noted Chatterjee. "Consumers have to be convinced the superior quality is worth the price premium. Otherwise, the occasional camper may not buy the top of the line brand."

Doug Boyce, regional director of the Small Business Development Center, was quoted in an article regarding the optimism of the unemployed in Southern Tier. Many are developing informal and formal networks and furthering their education will others have decided to start their own businesses. Boyce cautioned that starting a business isn’t for everyone and urged small businesses to seek and utilize the free resources offered through the SBDC.

Jennifer Wegmann and Sarah Thompson, health and physical education lecturers, were quoted in an article regarding walking as a form of exercise. Wegmann noted that many people don’t often realize how easy a walking program can be. "People are surprised when you tell them about walking. I tell my students that even if it’s just an extra lap around campus, it’s still an additional activity." Thompson suggested that walkers should maintain moderate intensity so that the activity is effective. She noted: "One way to add to the challenge, depending on your fitness level, is possibly shortening the stride of your walk." Gary Truce, professor of health and physical education, was also quoted in the article. Truce offered tips on starting a walking exercise program. "I recommend walking on flat ground to start with, until the legs and body become conditioned to the walking."

Subimal Chatterjee, associate professor of marketing, was quoted in an article regarding the frequent changes in New York’s sales tax. Chatterjee noted that sales-tax changes may slow spending on big-ticket items such as automobiles and refrigerators. He noted that the increase could amount to a substantial dollar increase in price.

Randy Specterman, a counselor at BU’s Counseling Center, was quoted in an article related to bulimia in teens. Specterman noted that there has been a significant increase in the number of adolescents – male and female – who struggle with eating disorders. She also said that since eating disorders are commonly classified as mental diseases, health insurance coverage is not as extensive as for physical diseases.

Mark Blumler, associate professor of geography, was quoted in an article related to the spring rain totals in the Southern Tier. Although for many Southern Tier residents spring 2003 has seemed to be a particularly wet season, Blumler noted that the perception could be due to the frequent light rainfalls. "We haven’t had many intense storms," he said. "Those gentle rains can really last a long time without adding to your total too much."

Ralph Garruto, research professor of anthropology, was quoted in an article about BU’s new master of science in biomedical anthropology program. The goal of the program is to build a bridge between biomedicine and social sciences, "bringing everything into a single academic framework," said Garruto. The program will offer a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the transmission of disease, social and cultural factors related to health outcomes, and cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease. J. Koji Lum, an associate professor of anthropology, was also quoted in the article. Lum noted that treating disease ‘is more than looking at individuals. It’s knowing the culture context. And to have that dimension in the medical field, you need to communicate between different disciplines." Gary James, research professor of nursing and anthropology, was also quoted in the article. James noted that the program will look at how lifestyles and other factors lead to the development of diseases. "We’re interested n what people do and how that influences diseases," he said.

C.J. Zhong, assistant professor of chemistry, was quoted in an article about a ‘pumpless pump’ he has developed that could simplify insulin delivery and blood-sugar monitoring. There are no mechanical components to the pump and it uses about as much electricity as a watch battery.

Wixie Skellett, a counselor for the TRIO Educational Talent Search program, was quoted in an article about the changing attitudes of society regarding homosexual teens. Skellett, who helps run a group offering support for local gay high school youths called A Gay Affirming Positive Environment, or AGAPE, noted: "What I think has changed over the years is that some kids are not hiding it. They don’t pretend to be something they aren’t."

Laurie Miroff, project director for the Community Archaeology Project (CAP) was quoted in an article regarding a Vestal archeology site that is estimated to be about 4,000 years old. Miroff noted that the site has been orgnally uneartherd in the 60’s but had remained untouched until BU staff, students and faculty returned to the site in May. Nina Versaggi, director of the Public Archaeology Program (PAF), was also quoted in the article. "If you go to Egypt, those pyramids kind of hit you. You go to the Southwest, those pueblos are there. Our history is hidden."

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Last Updated: 6/22/10