New York City, NY, United States
New York City, NY, United States

Barnard College is a private women's liberal arts college and one of the Seven Sisters. Founded in 1889, it has been affiliated with Columbia University since 1900. Barnard's 4-acre campus stretches along Broadway between 116th and 120th Streets in the Morningside Heights neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, in New York City. It is directly adjacent to Columbia's campus and near several other academic institutions and has been used by Barnard since 1898. Wikipedia.

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Halpin-Healy T.,Barnard College
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2012

We examine numerically the zero-temperature (2+1)-dimensional directed polymer in a random medium, along with several of its brethren via the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang (KPZ) equation. Using finite-size and KPZ scaling Ansätze, we extract the universal distributions controlling fluctuation phenomena in this canonical model of nonequilibrium statistical mechanics. Specifically, we study point-point, point-line, and point-plane directed polymer geometries, scenarios which yield higher-dimensional analogs of the Tracy-Widom distributions of random matrix theory. Our analysis represents a robust, multifaceted numerical characterization of the 2+1 KPZ universality class and its limit distributions. © 2012 American Physical Society.

Bauer E.P.,Barnard College
Behavioural Brain Research | Year: 2015

This review describes the latest developments in our understanding of how the serotonergic system modulates Pavlovian fear conditioning, fear expression and fear extinction. These different phases of classical fear conditioning involve coordinated interactions between the extended amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortices. Here, I first define the different stages of learning involved in cued and context fear conditioning and describe the neural circuits underlying these processes. The serotonergic system can be manipulated by administering serotonin receptor agonists and antagonists, as well as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and these can have significant effects on emotional learning and memory. Moreover, variations in serotonergic genes can influence fear conditioning and extinction processes, and can underlie differential responses to pharmacological manipulations. This research has considerable translational significance as imbalances in the serotonergic system have been linked to anxiety and depression, while abnormalities in the mechanisms of conditioned fear contribute to anxiety disorders. © 2014 .

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: MODULATION | Award Amount: 200.50K | Year: 2015

Puberty is a significant stage of development marked by transitions in both physiological and neural function. Though most people appreciate the hormonal changes that occur during this period, the types of experiences that an adolescent encounters also change dramatically. These experiences can result in increased exposure to stressors in the environment. A growing body of research indicates that how an individual responds to stress changes substantially during this stage, but we know little about the biological mechanisms that underlie these shifts. It is important to address these gaps in our understanding, because stress can disrupt body and brain systems that are developing into their adult-like patterns during this time. Using an experimental animal model that combines studies at the neuroanatomcial and biochemical levels, these experiments will begin to reveal the neural mechanisms that mediate the pubertal changes in stress responsiveness. The results of these studies will extend our understanding of how puberty and stress interact to affect both the brain and body. Importantly, these studies will be undertaken at Barnard College, an all womens liberal arts college. Thus, in addition to leading to advances in our understanding of neurodevelopment, support of this proposal will provide many female undergraduates with educational opportunities to take part in all aspects of experimental research.

The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) plays a pivotal role in integrating information from brain areas that coordinate the stress response. Greater levels of neural activation have been found in the PVN of prepubertal compared to adult animals in response to stress, leading to the hypothesis that developmental changes in the connectivity and/or function of the PVN contribute to pubertal alterations in stress reactivity. This project will test this hypothesis by assessing pubertal differences in the connectivity, phenotype, and activation of brain areas that project to the PVN. Specifically, neural tract tracing combined with immunohistochemical markers of excitatory or inhibitory neurons will be used in prepubertal and adult rats exposed to stress. This project will also examine pubertal changes in excitatory and inhibitory signaling in the PVN by assessing receptor expression and measuring hormone levels following site-directed delivery of excitatory or inhibitory receptor modulators in the PVN of prepubertal and adult rats exposed to stress. These studies will probe neural mechanisms responsible for the pubertal transitions in stress reactivity, and provide information on how the adolescent and adult nervous systems differentially process stressful stimuli.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: LAW AND SOCIAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 250.00K | Year: 2015

The explosion in American oil-and-gas production, made possible by fracking technologies and high prices, has drawn significant attention to government regulation. There is also an enormous private-law side of the energy boom. Property rights -- both to the land (surface rights) and to the oil and gas underneath (mineral rights)-- are required to get oil and gas from the underground to markets. This project studies how the industry acquires property rights in the oil-and-gas booming (and busting) states of North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. These rights are extremely fractured, so land acquisition needed to install a single well or pipeline can involve hundreds or thousands of individuals, companies, and governments.

The focus of this research is on the people who make deals to lease and buy property, and compensate for damages: landmen, brokers paid by energy companies; mineral and surface owners and renters; and attorneys. This project will use ethnographic observation and interviews, supplemented by archival and quantitative analysis, to find out how brokers, mineral and surface owners, and third parties
secure or prevent property deals (mineral leases, mineral sales, and right-of-way and other surface agreements), how they define fairness, and how they attempt to change the rules to accommodate these transactions.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: LAW AND SOCIAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 193.80K | Year: 2015

The Responsibility of Judges to Assure Due Process: Tension Among Neutrality, Rights Protection, and Role
PI - Larry Heuer
Co-PI - Steven Penrod

The decision of the US Supreme Court in Turner v. Rogers (2011) has prompted consideration of the role of judges in cases in which a party, or parties, are not represented by counsel. In Turner, the Court held that judges in child support cases have a specific duty to ensure that judicial processes are fair to parents who are not represented by counsel. Turner has given rise to debate about how judges can fulfill the duty to ensure that judicial processes are fair to parties without counsel while at the same fulfilling the duty to apply the law neutrally to all parties. The question has considerable currency. In communities across the country, state courts are inundated by millions of people unable to afford private counsel and unable to secure the limited free services made available by the civil legal aid bar. Communities are therefore weighing a range of options to helping to assure the fair resolution of cases for people without lawyers. Many states have modified their respective codes of judicial conduct, or have developed other guidance for judges, to provide that a judge may take steps to ensure that judicial processes are fair to unrepresented parties without violating the judges duty to apply the law neutrally to all parties. Yet, how these changes will be realized on the ground is a complicated matter. Two studies carried out by this project will examine different aspects of the question of whether and how judges can fulfill their duty to ensure that judicial processes are fair to unrepresented parties while at the same fulfilling their duty to ensure that the law is applied neutrally to all parties. The research findings are expected to advance theory on procedural justice and inform practice and policy on judicial education. The project also has a broader educational impact, including training and mentoring of undergraduate students, law students, and a postdoctoral fellow.

Both studies will be carried out in the New York City Housing Court, specifically focusing on the role of Housing Court Judges in reviewing the fairness of proposed stipulations of settlement in cases in which a landlord has brought an action seeking recovery of an apartment from an unrepresented tenant based on the tenants alleged nonpayment of rent. The first study--a courtroom experiment--asks whether training judges to preserve procedural fairness in cases involving unrepresented parties can a) increase judicial engagement with the unrepresented party, b) help the unrepresented party understand the information needed in the case, and/or c) increase the unrepresented partys perception of procedural fairness and of the legitimacy of the court. The experiment will train 40 judges in procedural fairness and survey the judges (and litigants and attorneys in their cases) on five trials prior to the judges training and five trials after training (thus permitting controlled testing of training effects). Four hundred target cases will be observed and the behaviors of the participants and outcomes systematically coded (with the above dependent variables in mind). A team of trained law students will code the case files. The second study--a controlled experiment--asks whether educating all the parties about the role of judges in preserving procedural fairness for unrepresented parties can minimize the parties possible perception of judges as biased in favor of unrepresented parties. The experiment involves a 3 (Party Representation Balance: Balanced, Neither party represented vs. Imbalanced, tenant represented vs. Imbalanced, landlord represented) x 2 (Judge is engaged as per training vs. passive) x 2 (Party: Tenant vs. Landlord) x 2 (Outcome: Favors landlord vs. favors tenant) x 2 (Procedure Overview: Present vs. absent). The two studies are expected to cast light on additional underlying questions, including the following: a) do unrepresented parties views on the treatment they deserve have a bearing on their perceptions of whether the judicial processes are fair, and b) is procedural fairness as important to the parties as it is to the judges?

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ANIMAL BEHAVIOR | Award Amount: 395.02K | Year: 2015

Important changes in behavior occur with the transition to parenthood. For animals that exhibit parental care, raising offspring successfully involves transitioning from aggressive and sexual behaviors to more caring and nurturing ones. However, it is not clear how the brain brings about this transition. In a rapidly changing world, understanding how the environment affects the brain and how the brain affects the behavioral transition into parental care will shed light on how changes in environment can ultimately affect how all organisms reproduce. In an interdisciplinary collaboration between Drs. Calisi-Rodríguez and MacManes they will characterize changes in gene expression and specific protein levels in important tissues essential for reproduction, namely the hypothalamus, pituitary, and gonads, in the rock dove (Columba livia) during the transition into parental care behaviors. Like most birds, rock doves incubate eggs, but are also unique in that they lactate to feed their young, showing stereotypical avian and mammalian parental behaviors. This makes doves a potentially powerful theoretical bridge to understand the neurobiology of transitions into parenting. Drs. Calisi-Rodríguez and MacManes will generate a large genomic dataset and identify critical genes involved in important stages of parental care. The results will have broad potential applications including the management of captive breeding for conservation or agricultural purposes, and to inform the study of neural deficiencies in parent-offspring bonding. In addition, the researchers will develop and host an annual summer program, Summer City Science, to expose high school students from low-income neighborhoods and underrepresented backgrounds who excel in the sciences to a range of scientific fields. This will provide students the opportunity to work closely and personally with faculty, and their research and labs. Students in both the Calisi-Rodríguez and MacManes labs will help to serve as mentors and instructors for Summer City Science to increase the scope of the training of all parties involved. The overall wider objective of this program is to broaden participation in science, creating a more efficient and diverse workforce.

Previous research has implicated specific hormones that play a role in the maintenance of parental care behavior in vertebrates, including oxytocin and vasopressin (avian homologs: mesotocin and vasotocin), vasoactive intestinal peptide, and prolactin. However, very little is known about when and how the brain transitions into parental care behavior in any vertebrate, and this knowledge is fundamentally important to understand the mechanisms that mediate parental care. The Principal Investigator, during her tenure as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, discovered that the hypothalamic neurohormone, gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH), caused significant changes in abundance of GnIH containing cells in both birds and mammals during the transition to parental care. Here, the researchers propose to expand this knowledge using classic offspring removal and replacement manipulations to uncover the role of GnIH during the transition to parental care behavior. In addition to this targeted approach, they propose a powerful untargeted approach to explore what other changes in the brain may be occurring during this transition. They will use high-throughput sequencing technology and immunohistochemistry to uncover all genetic and specific proteomic changes in the brain, along with their relationship to GnIH, which occur during the transition to parental care. This project will build on previous work, and the data gathered will yield the most complete characterization and understanding of changes in neural transcription and translation reported to date in any vertebrate during the transition to parental care. All data and computer code will be made publicly available in established repositories and shared with the scientific community.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Chemistry of Life Processes | Award Amount: 110.64K | Year: 2015

In this Research at Undergraduate Institutions project, funded by the Chemistry of Life Processes Program of the Chemistry Division, Dr. Rachel N. Austin from Bates College will test the hypothesis that Pb(II) binds to metallothionein-3 (MT3), a brain specific isoform of metallothionein, with greater affinity than Zn(II) binds to the same protein. Furthermore, the project will test the correlated hypotheses that Pb(II) can displace Zn(II) on physiologically-relevant timescales and that Pb(II)-saturated MT3 has a different unfolding energy than Zn(II)-saturated MT3. Studies will determine the binding affinity of lead to MT3, the kinetics of metal exchange, and the temperature at which Zn7MT3 and Pb7-saturated MT3 unfold. Quantitative information obtained from the work will provide an intellectual foundation for hypotheses about the role of MT3 in lead exposure.

Lead exposure, especially during childhood, has many profound effects on development and learning. Yet the chemistry that occurs when lead enters the brain remains poorly understood. Metallothionein-3 is a small, brain-specific protein that is closely related to other proteins whose function is understood to be, in part, to bind to toxic metals to detoxify them. It is not known whether MT3 performs this function in the brain or whether it can bind lead ions tightly. This work will determine whether lead does in fact bind to MT3 and whether it does so in a manner that would imply that this chemistry is important in biological systems exposed to lead. New information on the fundamental chemistry between MT3 and Pb(II) may help elucidate the biological basis of leads impact on development. The project also provides a vehicle for involving undergraduate students in high-quality research that connects to larger societal concerns. This project overlaps directly with community outreach efforts centered at Dr. Austins home institution, which is located in an old mill town with a heavy burden of lead-containing housing stock.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: TOPOLOGY | Award Amount: 69.87K | Year: 2016

Three-manifolds are spaces closely related to the universe we live in. To develop a better understanding of such spaces one calls upon methods from several research areas, such as geometric topology, algebra, number theory, and theoretical physics. An invariant of a manifold is an associated object that depends only on the manifold type, and carries useful information. This NSF funded project addresses several important, unsolved problems related to classification of three-manifolds and realization of number-theoretic manifold invariants.

Bi-Lipschitz geometry is a natural framework for the geometric study of universal covers of compact manifolds, where it connects geometric topology with geometric group theory. It is also the natural framework for the study of the local geometry of algebraic sets. In both situations, three-dimensional manifolds play an important role. One aim of the project is to complete the quasi-isometric classification of 3-manifold groups, a project on which a large number of researchers have been working for two decades, and on which the PI and Behrstock made very significant progress over the last several years. Another is to apply Lipschitz geometry of complex singularities to significant open questions, such as the geometric meaning of Zariski equisingularity in higher dimensions (the PI and Anne Pichon recently resolved the 2-dimensional case), the Zariski multiplicity conjecture, classification of complex map germs and more. At the other end of the spectrum, for hyperbolic manifolds there are also postulated connections between geometric, arithmetic, representation-theoretic and quantum based invariants of manifolds, on which the PI and his students have made progress, and which is continuing.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Particle Astrophysics/Cosmic P | Award Amount: 489.26K | Year: 2015

Gamma-rays are the highest energy form of electromagnetic radiation. Observations of astrophysical gamma-rays serve as probes of physical conditions and processes in the most extreme environments throughout the Universe, and can be used to test fundamental physics. The Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS), located in southern Arizona, is a ground-based observatory designed to study high energy gamma-rays. VERITAS has unique capabilities, providing high sensitivity pointed observations of both galactic and extragalactic sources. This award supports scientists at Barnard College to carry out research with VERITAS. The group will participate in both technical operations in support of the observatory and scientific investigations with a focus on studying emission from active galaxies, pulsar wind nebula, and gamma-ray bursts. The Barnard College group is heavily engaged in education and outreach efforts. They involve undergraduate students in astrophysics research with an emphasis on broadening the participation of women. They are also involved in outreach efforts to high-school students in the New York City area.

VERITAS has embarked upon a broad program of Galactic and extragalactic source observations, as well as studies of signatures for new physics such as dark matter. With this award the Barnard College group will participate in VERITAS observing and calibration campaigns and work on code development for improvements to VERITAS analysis techniques. Their scientific program includes searching for high energy emission and variability in blazars, using pulsar wind nebula and multi-messenger approaches to investigate the origin of cosmic rays, and studying gamma-ray bursts.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Chemical Catalysis | Award Amount: 375.00K | Year: 2016

The majority of waste streams, including industrial timber by products and municipal solid waste, are generally environmentally and economically burdensome; yet they have the potential to serve as starting materials from which fuels, medicines and other consumer products can be made. However, a number of chemical reactions are required to transform these waste materials into something useful. Among the most challenging chemical changes needed are reactions that remove excess oxygen atoms from the waste material. Our team designs catalysts, materials that aid in a reaction by improving speed, selectivity and/or energy requirements, but do not themselves become consumed in the reaction. We are actively developing, characterizing and testing catalysts that use hydrogen gas to remove excess oxygen from oils made from these waste streams. Our team combines expertise in making catalysts and controlling their structure at the molecular level, identifying the type of reaction products that result, optimizing the reactor process for greater efficiency, and theoretical modeling to understanding the behavior of solid catalysts and the reactions they control. Together, we are able to design and study a wide range of catalysts selected to test specific ideas about how optimal catalysts for this reaction work and also to lead us towards the design of better and more environmentally friendly catalysts that use earth-abundant metals. Broader impacts of the research include environmental benefits of eliminating waste and economic benefits of producing a chemical fuel and feedstock source from waste products. All members of our team are committed to diversifying the scientific workforce and are engaged in activities to recruit and retain in our laboratories members of groups historically underrepresented in scientific fields. We engage in active curriculum reform, and cases drawn from current scientific efforts to improve the sustainability of energy production form the foundation of the newly redesigned General Chemistry course at Barnard College, an all-womens college in New York City.

In this research program, Drs. Austin, Frederick, Grabow, and Schwartz are supported by the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program at NSF to test the hypothesis that catalytic materials suitable for highly selective hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) reactions that cleave C-O bonds require: (1) a metal that can adsorb and split H2; and (2) an amphoteric support that can serve as a proton shuttle from the metal to the substrate to weaken the C-O bond. If confirmed, the results from this work could alter the current paradigm invoking support reducibility rather than its amphoteric character. A series of supported metal catalysts is being synthesized and characterized using a variety of experimental and computational methods. These catalysts are used to catalyze HDO reactions of phenol-derived model compounds, including some isotopically-labeled substrates, with hydrogen gas. The products of the HDO reactions are analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) measurments. Density functional theory (DFT) is used to calculate reaction energy profiles, which are then compared to experimental data to propose detailed catalytic reaction mechanisms. Broader impacts of the research include environmental benefits of eliminating waste and economic benefits of producing a chemical fuel and feedstock source from waste products. Student exchange between four very different labs: a computational lab at the University of Houston, a chemical engineering lab and a physical chemistry lab both at the University of Maine, and an inorganic catalysis lab at an all womens liberal arts college in New York City, will facilitate the broad development of students working on this project. Significant curriculum development, using cases from this work and from other research on sustainable energy development, forms the basis of a problem-based general chemistry course that serves approximately 150 female Barnard College students each year.

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