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

The City College of the City University of New York is a senior college of the City University of New York in New York City. It is the oldest of City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning. City College's thirty-five acre Manhattan campus along Convent Avenue from 130th Street to 141st Street is on a hill overlooking Harlem; its neo-Gothic campus was mostly designed by George Browne Post, and many of its buildings are landmarks.CCNY was the first free public institution of higher education in the United States and is considered the flagship campus of the CUNY public university system. The college counts 10 winners of the Nobel Prize among its alumni, the latest being Harlem native John O'Keefe . Wikipedia.

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Morone F.,City College of New York | Makse H.A.,City College of New York
Nature | Year: 2015

The whole frame of interconnections in complex networks hinges on a specific set of structural nodes, much smaller than the total size, which, if activated, would cause the spread of information to the whole network, or, if immunized, would prevent the diffusion of a large scale epidemic. Localizing this optimal, that is, minimal, set of structural nodes, called influencers, is one of the most important problems in network science. Despite the vast use of heuristic strategies to identify influential spreaders, the problem remains unsolved. Here we map the problem onto optimal percolation in random networks to identify the minimal set of influencers, which arises by minimizing the energy of a many-body system, where the form of the interactions is fixed by the non-backtracking matrix of the network. Big data analyses reveal that the set of optimal influencers is much smaller than the one predicted by previous heuristic centralities. Remarkably, a large number of previously neglected weakly connected nodes emerges among the optimal influencers. These are topologically tagged as low-degree nodes surrounded by hierarchical coronas of hubs, and are uncovered only through the optimal collective interplay of all the influencers in the network. The present theoretical framework may hold a larger degree of universality, being applicable to other hard optimization problems exhibiting a continuous transition from a known phase. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Manassah J.T.,City College of New York
Advances in Optics and Photonics | Year: 2012

A landmark in the development of quantum electrodynamics was the discovery that emission-reabsorption of virtual photons modifies the value of energy levels in an atom from those computed by using Dirac's equation (Lamb shift). An early result of statistical quantum electrodynamics was that the exchange of virtual photons in an ensemble of identical atoms leads as well to a change in the frequency of the radiation emitted from this system (cooperative Lamb shift). Dicke's discovery that coherence effects lead to the shortening of the emission lifetime from a small sample by a factor equal to the number of atoms in the ensemble (superradiance or cooperative decay rate) was an early landmark in quantum optics. Both cooperative decay rate and cooperative Lamb shift were shown to have the same physical origin-the exchange of virtual photons, a process described by the Lienard-Wiechert dipole-dipole interaction. This effective potential is the kernel of the integral equation describing the dynamics of the system. This complex long-range kernel gives, for both cooperative quantities, strong dependence on the geometry of the atomic cloud. I summarize the known expressions for the initial cooperative decay rate and the cooperative Lamb shift in different geometries. The results for both the scalar photon and the vector photon (electrodynamics) theories for experimentally realizable systems of either uniform or phased polarization are given. © 2012 Optical Society of America.

Rodriguez-Boulan E.,City College of New York | Macara I.G.,Vanderbilt University
Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology | Year: 2014

Epithelial cells require apical-basal plasma membrane polarity to carry out crucial vectorial transport functions and cytoplasmic polarity to generate different cell progenies for tissue morphogenesis. The establishment and maintenance of a polarized epithelial cell with apical, basolateral and ciliary surface domains is guided by an epithelial polarity programme (EPP) that is controlled by a network of protein and lipid regulators. The EPP is organized in response to extracellular cues and is executed through the establishment of an apical-basal axis, intercellular junctions, epithelial-specific cytoskeletal rearrangements and a polarized trafficking machinery. Recent studies have provided insight into the interactions of the EPP with the polarized trafficking machinery and how these regulate epithelial polarization and depolarization. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 318.37K | Year: 2016

The Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biodesign (B3) REU site award to City College of New York (CCNY), located in New York, NY, will support the training of 9 students for 10 weeks during the summers of 2017-2019. This project is supported by the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) in the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) and the Division of Chemistry (CHE)in the Directorate for Mathematics & Physical Sciences (MPS). The B3 research program is comprised of faculty mentors from five different departments housed together in the new Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) which fosters a strong collaborative environment. The program features state-of-the-art research training for students at the interface of biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering, including the use of advanced techniques in NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, and molecular dynamics simulations. Exciting projects available to students address the structural biology of signaling, DNA damage repair, engineering of biomimetic assemblies, and the design of novel enzymes. The B3-REU will primarily train CCNY undergraduates and students from community colleges at the City University of New York (CUNY) system, but will also accept applications from other community colleges or schools with limited opportunities for research. Experimental science will be supplemented with workshops and seminars, ethics training, STEM career discussions, and field trips to enable students, especially those from under-represented and underserved groups, to develop an identity as a scientist that will motivate the pursuit of advanced degrees and careers in science. Students will submit applications to, and be admitted by, the program steering committee.

It is anticipated that a total of 27 students, primarily from CCNY and CUNY schools with limited research opportunities, will be trained in the program. The program will broadly impact three areas: 1) attracting and retaining students, including underrepresented and economically disadvantaged groups, to STEM pursuits, 2) providing multi-disciplinary training of students in Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biodesign, and 3) increasing retention and graduation rates in STEM disciplines at CCNY and CUNY. Students will learn how research is conducted, and many will present the results of their work at scientific conferences.

A common web-based assessment tool used by all REU programs funded by the Division of Biological Infrastructure (Directorate for Biological Sciences) will be used to determine the effectiveness of the training program. Students will be tracked after the program in order to determine their career paths. Students will be asked to respond to an automatic email sent via the NSF reporting system. More information about the program is available at or by contacting the PI (Dr. David Jeruzalmi

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Cellular Dynamics and Function | Award Amount: 591.84K | Year: 2016

The ability to maintain pH stability is critical for all living cells since proteins maintain their natural structure and function only within a narrow and optimal pH range. This ability is especially critical for single-celled bacteria that experience a far larger range of stress conditions compared to a typical cell from a more complex organism. Bacteria largely rely on membrane transport proteins to counter rapid changes in environmental pH. However, little is known about how cell morphology is modulated under stress conditions to support the transport function. The genetically tractable E. coli will be used as a model system to develop a molecular understanding of how bacterial membrane integrity, cell shape, and transport processes are integrated, and the overall impact these processes have on bacterial survival during environmental fluxes. To generate interest and excitement in fundamental aspects of microbial biology relevant to our understanding of physiology, ecology, medicine, and industry, early-stage undergraduates will be incorporated into several aspects of the project both in the classroom and in the research laboratory. Many of these students are likely to belong to communities currently underrepresented in the STEM disciplines.

In order to counteract pH stress, bacteria utilize multiple strategies, chief among which is the expression and activation of cytoplasmic membrane-spanning proton transporters, which play essential roles in the maintenance of proton motive force across the cytoplasmic membrane and aid in pH homeostasis. An auxiliary property of a class of these transporters is their ability to pump out numerous unrelated drugs and provide resistance to biocides. Often, pH stresses overlap with salt and cell envelope stresses due to the increase in sodium cytotoxicity at high pH, and the susceptibility of certain cell wall biosynthetic enzymes to altered pH. While much is known about individual strategies of pH responses in bacteria, the integration and overlap of these responses with salt stress and cell envelope integrity, is poorly understood. To address this gap, this research will identify as yet uncharacterized cellular factors involved in the interplay between stress responses and morphogenesis. The repertoire of powerful genetic tools in E. coli in combination with molecular, cell biological, biochemical experiments, and microscopy techniques, will be exploited to define the specific function of each protein, and determine how they interact with known cell morphology factors. These studies are expected to enhance our understanding of how bacterial cell morphology and membrane integrity are maintained in response to multiple stresses.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: CENTERS FOR RSCH EXCELL IN S&T | Award Amount: 1.00M | Year: 2016

Center for Interface Design and Engineered Assembly of Low-Dimensional Systems (IDEALS)

With National Science Foundation support, CUNY City College, will establish the Center for Interface Design and Engineered Assembly of Low-dimensional Systems (IDEALS). The Center will address the national need for accelerating the pace of discovery and deployment of advanced materials to address critical needs and grand challenges, such as clean energy, national security, and human welfare. The goal of the Center is to design and discover materials with new and enhanced functionalities to further technology, energy and health applications.

Twenty two researchers from Chemistry, Physics, and Chemical, Biomedical and Electrical Engineering departments from partner institutions will employ experimental, analytical and numerical modelling tools to design and discover complex novel materials with new and enhanced functionalities, and integrate education and research to enhance both enterprises within the Center. Along with the research goals, the Center will enhance the educational experience of students, and use proven and innovative approaches to recruit and retain students from underrepresented groups in order to produce a diverse workforce of materials science and engineering leaders trained for careers in academia or industry, including high-tech manufacturing jobs.

Center research efforts are organized into three interdisciplinary and cross-pollinating subprojects: (1) Low-Dimensional Functional Materials and Nano-Heterostructures (2) Bio-inspired Re-Configurable Materials; and (3) Novel Materials Probes and Design Formalism. Synergy among the three subprojects stems from their thematic overlap and complementarity. Similarities in approaches of material synthesis, characterization and theoretical/computational methods also serve to ensure that links will be forged, leading to new discoveries.

Two frontier materials systems will be investigated in the Center: crystalline layered materials and engineered superlattices and aggregated bio-molecular or hybrid materials. A suite of sophisticated tools and theoretical approaches will be developed and deployed to investigate the materials and explore their functionality and potential applications in areas as diverse as energy generation, sensing, quantum computing, and medical diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ECOSYSTEM STUDIES | Award Amount: 544.16K | Year: 2016

Tidal wetlands are among the most productive, diverse and economically important ecosystems on Earth. They are also especially vulnerable to human pressures and environmental change. Wetlands contain large reservoirs of soil organic matter, an important source of carbon and nitrogen to estuaries and coastal oceans, but very little is known about the processes involved in the translocation of these nutrients. This project will advance understanding of tidal marsh-estuarine interactions by linking processes between tidal wetland soils and estuaries, and assessing where, when, and how dissolved organic compounds are retained, released and transformed within the marsh soil-estuarine system. Results from this study will be integrated into enhanced monitoring and management efforts through partnerships with the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The project will improve models that predict the influence of wetlands on estuarine and coastal biology, geochemistry and pollution response. In collaboration with the Smithsonian Citizen Science program and teachers from middle schools serving minority students, the team will develop K-12 educational materials. Specialized training will be extended to undergraduate students, as well as graduate and postdoctoral researchers, with a particular focus on underrepresented groups in science.

This study will test three key research hypotheses that are critical for understanding the role of marsh soils and tidal wetland-estuary margins as buffers, reactors, and transformers of dissolved organic C and N, and that could transform our ability to predict the influence of wetland ecosystems on estuarine biology, biogeochemistry, and ecology. An integrative approach will be used to test hypotheses that combines rich datasets, process-focused experiments, and a novel coupled hydrodynamic-photo-biogeochemical model to investigate three understudied aspects of marsh export that likely control the seasonality and fate of dissolved organic matter in estuaries: (i) soil and porewater organic matter composition, (ii) adsorption-desorption on soil surfaces, and iii) photo- and bio- degradation in estuarine waters. Proposed activities incorporate a system perspective and cover a broad range of marsh environments (i.e., different marsh vegetation characteristics, soil type, surface area and salinity regimes) providing the ability to scale up and assess tidal marsh biogeochemical fluxes and processes across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Results from this research will increase understanding of the contributions of wetlands and estuarine systems to coastal carbon and nitrogen budgets, and improve predictions of the influences of natural and man-made stresses on ecosystem processes, biogeochemical cycles and exchanges along the continuum of wetlands, estuaries and the coastal zone. This information is highly valuable to managing the coastal zone in the face of accelerated environmental change and continued human pressures and, in particular, to evaluating the potential for managed restoration of wetlands to mitigate climate change impacts.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: EFRI RESEARCH PROJECTS | Award Amount: 2.00M | Year: 2015

The exceptional properties of the purely two-dimensional (2D) sheet of carbon atoms, graphene, has spurred the discovery of a whole host of 2D material systems with exceptional electronic, mechanical, optical and thermal properties. These new 2D materials promise a new generation of technologies such as flexible displays, ultrafast computing, high-efficiency low-cost solar cells, and quantum information processing. Specifically in the context of optoelectronics, the unusually large strength of light-matter interaction of 2D materials has made them highly attractive for practical device applications. However, single-layer graphene has no direct bandgap, which limits its use in a range of optoelectronic applications. The recent discovery of 2D atomic crystals based on transition metal dichalcogenides, many of which have large bandgaps in the visible and infrared spectrum, now opens entirely new areas of investigation in optical and optoelectronic devices.
In this program, building blocks for next generation classical and quantum information processing will be developed based on precise control of electronic excited states, hybrid half-light half-matter quasiparticles (exciton-polaritons), and collective excitations in 2D transition metal dichalcogenides. The motivation is to develop next generation photonic and electronic systems and sub-systems that exploit the unique advantages of 2D semiconductors such as large interaction strength with light, mechanical flexibility, and low fabrication cost. Specifically, (i) low energy consuming, ultrafast logic gates will be developed using neutral and charged excitations (ii) Quantum nonlinear devices where even a single photon can alter the state of the system will be investigated using polaritons and (iii)Exotic phases of matter that rely on ideas from mathematical topology will be explored using collective excitations will be developed
In addition to the technological impact on society, the program will include extensive Educational and Outreach. CCNY, the lead institution, is a minority-serving institution and through close collaboration with MIT expects both graduate and undergraduate students from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds to become part of the proposed cutting-edge research. The program will also provide educational opportunities for local underrepresented minority high school students/teachers and will engage them in summer projects. Outreach efforts for bringing the science to the general public is another targeted effort under the program.

This program will develop excitonic and polaritonic (exciton-photon quasiparticles) devices that operate in the visible and near infrared spectral range based on 2D atomic layers of transition metal dichalcogenides (MoS2, WS2, WSe2 etc). The 2D materials have an inherently strong interaction with light and other attractive properties such as valley polarization and strong spin-orbit coupling. These unique properties open up avenues for the development of heretofore inaccessible device features with tremendous potential applications in classical and quantum information processing. Devices that rely on control of exciton and polariton transport and localization as well as approaches to emergent topological phases in 2D materials will be the focus of this program. Specifically, the following devices/ device concepts using 2D transition metal dichalcogenides and their heterostructures will be developed: (i) transistors and logic gates that utilize neutral and charged excitons, (ii) quantum nonlinear optical devices and light emitters based on exciton polaritons, and (iii) exploratory optoelectronic device concepts based on topological phases that can be realized in 2D semiconductors. The device development will be closely guided by growth and synthesis efforts as well as theoretical efforts to better understand exciton and polariton transport and for realizing novel topological phases and strain engineering for electronic band structure manipulation. Development of excitonic and polaritonic devices based on 2D semiconductors that have the potential to operate at room temperature presents a unique opportunity to develop practical devices using previously unexplored fundamental physical concepts.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: GoLife | Award Amount: 850.99K | Year: 2016

The world is crawling with insects, many of which play crucial roles as pollinators, prey, mutualists, and critical components of ecosystem health. Despite their significance, insects remain understudied, imposing major limitations on our understanding of the patterns and processes in insect ecology and evolution. Butterflies are the exception, however, thanks to the efforts of centuries of collectors and enthusiasts who have appreciated their beauty and fascinating biology. More is known about their morphology, species distributions, behavior, and larval resources than any other insect group. However, this information needs to be synthesized, placed in an evolutionary context, and made available for research. This project will achieve these two goals by reconstructing the evolutionary history of the approximately 18,800 described species and assembling a database of biological information about each species using field guides, social media, collections, and other sources. All of this information will be made available to the public via a website with the goal of catalyzing synthetic research and comparative studies. In addition to public outreach and education, the members of the research team will train graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in systematics and bioinformatics.

This project will produce a set of online tools and databases for comparative studies of butterflies. At the heart of the project is the assembly of a molecular phylogeny incorporating all known butterfly species. A hierarchical approach will be used to reconstruct butterfly relationships. To create a robust backbone phylogeny, approximately 500 loci will be captured from a single exemplar species from within each of the ~1,800 genera using anchored enrichment prior to sequencing. Genetic data from public databases and from our own sequencing efforts will then be collected to include remaining known species and complete the phylogeny. Model-based inference will examine the complexity of speciation, extinction, biogeography, and trait evolution. Existing locality data will be assembled from museum collections, inventories, citizen science monitoring networks, and expert knowledge to model species distributions using the integrative Map of Life framework. Species trait data have already been assembled for some groups and regions, but this project will create a consistent, harmonized trait database while also closing major gaps to create a globally comprehensive compilation of trait data on species life history, interactions, ecology, and distributions. All of these data layers will be made available through the Map of Life online platform, thus delivering community vetted and curated data and tools to catalyze comparative research.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Chemical Synthesis | Award Amount: 450.00K | Year: 2016

The Chemical Synthesis Program of the NSF Chemistry Division supports the research of Professor Barbara Zajc in the Department of Chemistry at the City College of the City University of New York. Professor Zajc and her students develop novel methods for synthesis of fluorinated organic compounds. Organofluorine compounds are of importance in diverse fields, including agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, materials sciences, and as biological probes. Approximately one in five pharmaceuticals contains a fluorine atom. Fluorine-18 (18F) labeled organofluorine compounds are often used in medicine (for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging). As an example, 2-deoxy-2-(18F)-D-glucose is commonly used in brain imaging. Organofluorine compounds are also rapidly gaining importance as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) contrast agents - also used in the diagnosis of disease. 19F MRI is being studied for brain imaging, for instance, visualizing amyloid plaque formation in Alzheimers disease. Development of novel methods for the efficient synthesis of organofluorine compounds, which is the focus of this funded project, is therefore of strong interest. Students in Professor Zajcs research group are of diverse ethnicity and from an international community. Research projects are designed for training students at all educational levels, in order to provide experience in an area of societal relevance.

The unique and valuable properties of organofluorine compounds make them important in a range of scientific areas. However, selective introduction of fluorine atoms into organic molecules continues to be challenging. This project develops novel chemical approaches to various classes of regiospecifically fluorinated compounds - those containing chiral centers. Some of the molecules developed may have a direct impact on studying neurodegenerative disorders. The approaches undertaken here focus on modular assemblies using new fluorinated building blocks. Where applicable, the role of fluorine on reactivity is studied. Due to the widespread importance of organofluorine compounds in medicinal and biological chemistry, including diagnostics such as the study of brain disorders using 19F MRI imaging, this research may have impact in areas beyond chemical synthesis. The research activities involve education and training of students from diverse ethnic groups, including those that are underrepresented in the sciences. The City College of New York has a large minority student population, and their education and training has an impact on a diversified workforce.

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