Monthly Archives: September 2016

ESF Hosts NYS Education’s Smart Scholars Regional Meeting

ESF proudly hosted the recent New York State Education Department’s Smart Scholars Early College High School Western-Central Regional Meeting

Organized and hosted by Evelyn Maclutsky, Smart Scholars ECHS Program, NYSED, along with Lynanne DeTore, Vice Principal at Nottingham High School (Syracuse City School District), and Dr. Valerie Luzadis, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President at SUNY ESF.

Along with Evelyn Maclutsky, Jill Lansing, Assistant Vice Chancellor of SUNY, and teams from Buffalo NYSED2.jpgCity School District,  Buffalo State College, Erie Community College, Niagara Falls City School District, Niagara University,  Rochester City School District, Monroe Community College, St. John Fisher College, Syracuse City School District, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, and Onondaga Community College gathered to share program highlights, best practices, and next steps in this incredibly important and successful initiative.

As part of the program, Dr. Tom Amidon, Professor of Paper and Bioprocess Engineering at ESF discussed biofuels and biotechnology, and Fil Larosa, Plant Utilities Engineer at ESF, provided a tour and discussion of the Gateway Center’s innovative combined heat and power system.

All of us at ESF are proud of our partnership with the Syracuse City School District and of all our Smart Scholars colleagues.  Thanks and congratulations to everyone involved and to Katherina Searing and the ESF Outreach staff for their leadership and support!

Dr. Chuck Spuches, ESF Outreach

NYC Students do SCIENCE in Syracuse

For the second summer, high school students from New York City spent a week at ESF this immersing themselves in hands-on science.

The students co08-05-seome to ESF through the New York City-based non-profit organization, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Scholars (SEO).  Participating students investigated a number of topics including renewable energy, participated in a nature hike at Clarks Reservation paying particular notice to the history and geology of the park, learned about the ecology of Onondaga Lake and area streams, and discussed the impact of invasive species on native plants and animals.

The SEO scholars worked with the ESF SCIENCE (Summer Camps Investigating Ecology in Neighborhood and City Environments) program, and the ESF Science Corps who offer a series of weeklong camps through the summer in collaboration with various public, private and community-based organizations. Along with the Science Corps’ undergraduate and graduate student staff, SEO students worked with Professor Emanuel Carter and other ESF faculty and staff.

Visit the ESF Outreach web to learn about ESF SCIENCE and read a related article here.

Dr. James Gibbs: Restoring the Giant Tortoise Dynasties of the Galapagos

Dr. Don Leopold has announced this Fall’s exciting Dale Travis Lecture featuring ESF’s Dr. James Gibbs.


eCybermission Virtual Science Fair

I am honored that ESF is one of three SUNY campuses to be invited to partner with the SUNY system and the New York Academy of Sciences in a pilot project funded, in part, by the Army Educational Opportunity Program (AEOP) and the Battelle Memorial Institute.

Consistent with our longstanding commitment to engage middle school students in STEM education and career pathways, the eCybermission program is a virtual science fair that engages students in STEM fields by asking them to identify and propose a solution to a problem in their own community.

Syracuse City School District (SCSD) 8th grade students will work in teams of 3 or 4 students, under the Chrissupervision of their teacher and a team mentor (graduate student), to develop and submit a project.  That project, submitted online, will be judged and will compete for state, regional, and national recognition and rewards.

Our goal is to engage seven ESF graduate students to volunteer as mentors for these teams.  Mentoring will entail 1.5 – 2 hours generally every other week from the beginning of October to the end of February. Mentors will visit our partner school to work with the students and provide guidance on their projects. On non-school visit weeks, mentors may, for example, respond to e-mails, and direct students toward appropriate resources.

Teams and projects will be registered in December and submitted by mid-February 2017.  This will result in a time commitment of approximately 30-35 total hours.  Transportation costs will be provided (or we will help to arrange transportation to the school and back to campus).

Some examples of successful projects from previous years include: Designing a hearing device to notify hearing-impaired people of danger; Removal of mosquitoes without chemical pesticides; and Treating wounds in a post-antibiotic-resistant world.

I am very excited for this opportunity to engage and inspire SCSD students in STEM, along with the opportunity to have our graduate students serve as part of the ESF Science Corps and to work as front-line role models and mentors for young people in our community.

Thanks go to the ESF Graduate Student Association (especially Tyler Shields and Caitlin Slife), Dr. Beth Folta (EFB), Tim Pede (environmental engineering Ph.D. student), the SCSD, and the Outreach team for all of their thoughtful, capable and active support – Thank You!

Dr. Chuck Spuches, ESF Outreach


ESF Graduate Students:  As a first step, please e-mail me ( and Dan Collins ( to let us know of your interest. We will hold an information session(s) in the next week.

ESF Open Academy: Fall 2016 Update

As we embark on a new academic year, this is an update on the status of ESF’s Open Academy (Announcing the ESF Open Academy and Teaching & Learning Collaboratory, Posted on May 12, 2016).

OAOur efforts are supported, in part, by a SUNY Investment Fund grant (Chancellor Announces Funding in State of University Address, Posted on January 25, 2016).  An important dimension of this grant and related activities entails working through a SUN-facilitated “Open SUNY Institutional Readiness” process.  This process is a system-wide effort designed to assist campus leadership teams to assess and improve resources, processes and policies necessary to successfully meet our own and SUNY’s aspirations strengthen online-enabled learning opportunities for current and future students. Among our next steps, we will reconvene the ESF leadership team to discuss our progress and to prepare for the third phase of this process.

We are also pursuing several projects that have emerged as pilot Open Academy initiatives. These projects will both inform and advance our Open Academy efforts, and include

  • SUNY Grand Challenge: Water Course.  This SUNY-led initiative is envisioned as a collaborative online-enabled course intended to serve students throughout SUNY and beyond.  Faculty from several SUNY campuses (currently Binghamton, Buffalo, Stonybrook, Albany, and ESF) are collaborating.
  • Advanced Certificate: Leadership for Environmental Problem-Solving and Public Engagement. This is a new fully online advanced certificate based upon the College’s long-standing advanced certificate in Environmental Decision Making (EDM) offered by the Environmental Studies Academic Department.
  • SUNY SPARE (Solar Power as Renewable Energy). We developed SPARE, with support from a Congressional Earmark grant, and have offered it as a four-day face-to-face workshop for over a decade.  This project entails adapting this non-credit professional development program, with its focus on system design and applications for grid-connected and off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems, to an online-enabled approach.
  • eCybermission Online Science Fair.  Consistent with our longstanding commitment to engage middle school students in STEM education and careers, eCybermission is a virtual science fair that engages students in STEM fields by asking them to identify and propose a solution to a problem in their own community. See related post.
  • COIL (Center for Collaborative Online International Learning).  ESF has committed to re-engaging in the COIL program that supports international co-teaching opportunities.

I welcome and look forward to your further thoughts and questions – thank you.

Chuck Spuches

N.Y. Lt. Governor debuts ESF’s Biofuels and Analytics Labs at Syracuse COE

New York Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul joined ESF President Quentin Wheeler, Syracuse  Center of Excellence (COE) Executive Director Edward Bogucz, Syracuse University Vice Chancellor Michael Haynie, and others for the official opening of  ESF’s Biofuels Pilot Lab and Analytics Lab at the COE, .

SU Photo & Imaging Center Photos

From left to right (in the foreground) are Lt. Gov. Hochul, SUNY ESF’s Dr. Tom Amidon, and President Wheeler.

Dr. Wheeler said, “When great scientists and engineers are given great facilities and support by state and federal government agencies, along with great partners in academia and the private sector, great things can happen.”

Read the full story here.

INUKSUIT: Music & Nature Remix

Here’s an opportunity that may not come your way very often! You may want to participate in or attend a performance of

INUKSUIT: Music & Nature Remix, 3:00 PM, Sunday, September 25, on the Syracuse University Quad (rain site: Hendricks Chapel).

INUKSUIT is a composition by Pulitzer Prize winner John Luther Adams for 99 percussionists. This performance is part of a Syracuse University Music & Nature Conference.

14241519_10154519547988256_252406311007106869_oThe title of this ritualistic outdoor piece refers to a type of stone sentinel constructed by the Inuit over centuries in the expanses of the Arctic. Listeners discover their individual listening points as they, too, move freely during the performance in this site-specific piece.

Intergenerational percussionists from CNY, led by professionals, will perform on Javanese gamelan, African, Native American & Indian drums, gongs, cymbals, shakers, conch shells, glockenspiels, and more.

Here is a short version of the piece for you to watch and listen:

Interested performers please send your name and email address to

Dr. Chuck Spuches, ESF Outreach

Congratulations Tim Shaughnessy of Rapid Cure

Congratulations to our colleague Tim Shaughnessy, who was featured in a recent column on leadership.   Tim and his partner, Dan Montoney, pooled $8,000 to start Rapid Cure Technologies in 2011.  Rapid Cure “creates customized chemical formulas that dry quickly when they are exposed to light, usually wavelengths in the ultraviolet range. The rapid curing dramatically lowers the energy needed to dry a product and it releases fewer compounds into the atmosphere.”


October 02, 2012-Syracuse-Governor Andrew M. Cuomo along with Dan Montoney of Rapid Cure discuss energy curing.

Tim and Dan have been instrumental in the creation and launch of the Radiation Curing Program (RCP), an education and training program that helps both students, industry professionals and organizations capitalize on the emerging energy curing technologies opportunities.

Read the complete article, Tim Shaughnessy on leadership: Ask questions, be direct and decisive, get your hands dirty at

Read more about the Radiation Curing Program here including these   American Chemical Society, Green Chemistry blog posts: Low Energy Radiation Curing Program Offered at SUNY and Industry/Academic Collaboration Advances Low-Energy Radiation Curing

Dr. Chuck Spuches, ESF Outreach

ESF Receives National Recognition

In 400-sierraa recent letter to campus, Dr. Wheeler shared some impressive campus achievements.  As President Wheeler explained,

“…we were recently notified that ESF has been identified as number #2 in the Country in Sierra Magazine’s “Cool Schools” issue, which recognizes campus sustainability efforts!  Also, Princeton Review just identified a list of 21 schools on their “Green College Honor Roll”—we are the only New York State school on that list!  More about these can be found click here and here.”

 “A foundational piece driving these elevated rankings is the fact that we have received a STARS Gold Rating (73/100), the second highest distinction of STARS, in recognition of our sustainability efforts from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS measures performance in all aspects of higher education. This currently places ESF among the top 20 performing colleges and universities in the nation. To read the full STARS story, click here.”

Congratulations to all who contributed to and/or led these efforts.  As Dr. Wheeler goes on to explain, our work is not finished, “We will continue to develop and implement ways for ESF to be more sustainable.”

I hope you know about SEEC

If you don’t, you need to!  I had the privilege recently to meet leaders of ESF’s Student Environmental Education Coalition (SEEC).  SEEC focuses on teaching inner city students both at the elementary and high school level about the importance of urban agriculture and environmental stewardship through weekly hands on lessons. In addition to their work in schools, SEEC works with the Brady Faith Center and Syracuse Grows on community gardens, an urban farm in Syracuse, and at Greyrock Farm in Cazenovia.

SEEC hopes that by connecting students with the community they will be able to form relationships


Members of SEEC receiving the 2016 SUNY ESF Student Organization of the Year Award

that help build a bridge between our campus and the city of Syracuse. As most of their work is done off campus, they  make sure to host events on campus too.

One of SEEC’s most popular events on campus is the Apple Bash Insomniac Event located in Nifkin lounge every October. They celebrate fall by having an apple themed event consisting of our whole apple pie eating contest, Apple Jax bracelet making, apple cider donut eating competitions in addition to many more apple themed fun activities.

SEEC also held two “firsts” on campus last year. One was a CNY Girl Scouts Day in which they taught environmental lessons with the help of other clubs on campus.  The second was a Farmers Market in which students were able to sell their homemade goods and show off their talents. In addition, Greyrock Farms came to campus and sold fresh produce to our campus community.

Although SEEC received the 2016 SUNY-ESF Student Organization of the Year Award, we all can do more to “shout out” the value they add to our campus community and to our larger community.  Please join me in recognizing and celebrating the outstanding individuals involved in SEEC and the great work they are doing. Connect with SEEC on Facebook

Thanks, SEEC!  Have a great year.

Dr. Chuck Spuches, ESF Outreach