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HOMECOMING 2013 - OCT. 11-13
Make plans to return to Binghamton and enjoy a wonderful fall weekend. Homecoming is a great time to see your friends, relive treasured memories and make new ones. Visit the Homecoming website to register now and see who else is planning to be here.


Looking to re-enter the workforce after a break? The iRelaunch Return to Work Conference - planned for Wednesday, Oct. 2, at New York University - may be for you. Get insider perspectives on career re-launch strategies and meet other high-caliber professionals. See more information and register by Sept. 3 for a $30 discount.


Take home a piece of Newing College. The Alumni Association and Uncommon Goods (founded by David Bolotsky '85) offer alumni the opportunity to purchase banks made from mailboxes salvaged from the Newing Dining Hall. A Newing bank can be a great keepsake to remind you of your time as a student at Binghamton.  Banks also make great gifts! Find out more and purchase a bank today.


Binghamton University is on iTunes! If you're on campus, you can access the iTunes site using your PODS ID and password. If you are off campus, you can access our video and audio files through Apple's iTunes store. Search for "Binghamton University" and you'll find academic lectures, videos from Alumni Association events and more!


Capital One


Liberty Mutual

Are you looking for ways to save money on your dental bills this year? AlumniDent® provides affordable group dental insurance to alumni and their families, with immediate coverage for preventive, diagnostic and restorative services. AlumniDent also offers budget-friendly payment options to help keep costs low. And best of all, there is no network – so you can keep your family dentist! For online enrollment, or to learn more about this exclusive plan available through the Alumni Insurance Program, visit the AlumniDent website.


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Harpur College names two associate deans
By Eric Coker

Harpur College of Arts and Sciences has announced the appointments of Celia Klin and Florence Margai as associate deans, effective Sept. 1, 2013.

Klin, associate professor of psychology, will serve as associate dean for undergraduate studies and academic affairs. Margai, professor of geography, will serve as associate dean for graduate studies, student success and faculty development.

"We are lucky to have two highly respected researchers and teachers who are equally committed to the development of our academic community," incoming Harpur College Dean Anne McCall said.

Margai and Klin will join Anna Addonisio, associate dean for administration, in leadership roles within Harpur College.

Klin, who received her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, is a recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is a faculty member at the Cognitive and Psycholinguistic Sciences (CAPS) Research Center. Klin specializes in cognitive psychology and her research interests include psycholinguistics, and language comprehension and memory.

"As a former chair of one of Harpur College's largest and most complex departments, Celia brings valuable personnel and curricular experience to the dean's office," McCall said. "In addition to working with many of our faculty governance bodies, Celia will support our involvement in the transdisiplinary areas of excellence (TAEs). Her sizable expertise in the natural sciences will be precious for successful hiring, and she will play a special role in the development of hiring and retention practices that support a diverse workforce."

Margai, who received her doctorate from Kent State University, most recently served as associate dean of the Graduate School. She has been a member of the University's Fulbright Committee and co-chaired the Student Success Road Map Team. Margai's published scholarship focuses on environmental health hazards, environmental justice and equity, and geographies of health and health disparities.

"Florence's career shines a spotlight on international research and teaching," McCall said. "As we embrace our goal of increasing graduate student enrollment, Harpur will benefit greatly from experience that Florence gained in the Graduate School and as department chair. Our students will also benefit from her commitment to developing tools that will support their academic and career development. Florence will also play a lead role in faculty development efforts across Harpur College."

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The ‘dark side’ at work
Interview conducted and condensed by Rachel Coker

The use of personality tests in hiring is both common and controversial. Such tests consistently predict later job performance, though not with sufficient accuracy. Seth Spain, assistant professor and industrial psychologist, says employers should look beyond the characteristics these tests focus on — and consider the power of the dark side.

What traits do employers usually want to learn about before making a hiring decision?
Most personality tests used by hiring managers measure a set of traits that have come to be known as the Big Five: neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience.

If I could choose between knowing whether somebody I was going to hire is really smart or really conscientious, I would take smart. It predicts a lot. But if I could find out about both, it would tell me something that just knowing someone's smart cannot tell me. Testing for what we call "dark-side" traits is far less common, in part because they're so stigmatized.

What traits do you put into that category?
We're talking about traits like psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism. They lie in a middle ground between normal personality traits such as the Big Five and the clinical traits used to diagnose psychological pathologies. In my latest research, we're extending the "dark side" to traits such as excitable, skeptical, mischievous and even dutiful.

These subclinical traits are far more powerful in measuring someone's job success than the Big Five, at least twice as useful in predicting performance. They're doing a lot of heavy lifting. Taken together with the normal traits, we can make predictions that are about three times more accurate. The Big Five paradigm doesn't cover a lot of our social reality.

What are some findings that have surprised you?
Narcissists seem to develop faster as leaders, at least based on one sample we studied. Also, there's something called the corresponsive principle. The best way I can sum it up is to say that people tend to change in the direction of who they are. If you're highly extroverted, you're more likely to seek leadership roles — and then you're likely to become even more extroverted.

How do you hope to see your research applied?
My dad's a mechanic and my mom was originally a hairstylist, so I come to this from a labor background. I'd like to use this work to help individual employees, to fight dysfunction by understanding it.

So your goal isn't to build a better, more comprehensive test for use by hiring managers?
No, I'd be reluctant to use these tests in hiring, given that personality changes over time. Organizations are going to hire people with dark traits, and some industries are going to be dealing with that more than others. We can develop programs and interventions that can help employees.

I use a personnel-selection paradigm in my work, and the workplace is a really great laboratory for studying human behavior. It's a more controlled environment than the world in general. But what I would really like to do is help people understand themselves and perhaps improve and develop in their current jobs or when they change jobs. Some of what we're learning about personality, and especially personality change, can also help the long-term unemployed.

You have worked with the U.S. Army as well as police departments. What motivates those collaborations?
As a soldier, one of your biggest risk factors for being shot is the risk-taking behavior of the person in charge. Leadership has nontrivial consequences. This is true in the military, with cops and firefighters and in other places, like hospitals. Pretty simple leadership interventions can affect how many patients die in a hospital, for instance. That's just by running a tighter, better functioning, slightly more communicative ship. They're not huge effects, but we're talking about life and death. I try to work in domains where I can see the consequences.

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Algorithms satisfy hunger for real-time data
By Sarah Fecht

The world today moves at a fast pace, and most of us don't have time to wait around. Twitter users monitor what's trending now, not last month. Drivers check the road conditions for the morning commute. Air-traffic controllers track the locations of thousands of planes simultaneously, and investors conduct high-frequency trading. Much of the data that's collected can't sit in a warehouse; it requires nearly instantaneous computer processing and feedback.

"Real-time data is very dynamic and unpredictable," says Kyoung-Don Kang, associate professor of computer science at Binghamton University. For example, Kang explains, a traffic-monitoring system might not see much activity at midnight Sunday, but it will generate tremendous amounts of data during Monday's morning rush hour. That data could slow down the processing system, right when it's needed most. "It is very challenging to process this data in a timely manner," he says.

When real-time computing fails, it can compromise safety or lead to financial loss. That's why Kang is working to make this fast-paced data processing more efficient, with help from a National Science Foundation grant of nearly $250,000.

"It is an important research area, especially at this point when we have lots of critical systems depending on continuous streams of real-time data from zillions of sensors deployed in the environment," says Sang H. Son, a computer scientist at the University of Virginia.

Why not just design systems that are capable of processing massive amounts of data all the time? It's not practical, Kang says, because most of the time a system will need to process only sparse amounts of data — and when it sits idle, that's a waste of resources. And data is always increasing in volume, so even today's top-notch system will be outpaced eventually.

Kang says the key to using real-time data applications is to cut your losses. If the amount of data is more than the system can handle, then some of it must be dropped, he says: "Some data is more important than others."

That's why he'll be developing algorithms and software solutions that process the most vital data stream first. Kang will use simple yet powerful rules to prioritize some operations over others — for instance, if an input data stream is important, then the query processing output from that data stream is likely to be important as well — to build more efficient load-shedding and continuous query processing techniques. This approach can be applied to detect important events, such as unusual traffic patterns or homeland security issues, in real time.

More efficient processing of real-time data could one day enable other technological advances, including directing intelligent transportation or managing green buildings and smart grids. "There are many potential applications," Kang says. "The challenge is being ready for anything."

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Online course teaches death investigating techniques
By Devin Kane

For many students, summer school conjures images of hot classrooms, early mornings and burdensome homework. After struggling through finals, summer has traditionally been a time to relax, recover and refresh. The substitution of the computer screen for the blackboard in an online course does little to ease the anxiety of having to study instead of play.

This melancholy of summer school may start to change with a new online course – Medicolegal Death Investigation – taught this summer at Binghamton University by Matthew Lunn.

Lunn, an experienced death investigator and criminologist from Colorado, worked on the 2012 Aurora, Colo., theater shooting. The online course he is teaching presents to students the causes and manner of death and factors of those deaths that require investigation as in the case of violent and unexplained deaths. Common injury patterns present in such deaths and how to work with the victims' family members are also taught.

As an undergraduate student at Iowa State University, Lunn was given the opportunity to assist with autopsies on his way to earning a bachelor's degree in health and human performance. From these experiences, he developed a passion for finding answers for families who suffer the shock and sense of loss inherent in the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one. In his online course, Lunn is sharing his passion with Binghamton University students.

"Being able to provide answers and, in some instances, being able to pass along valuable information to families on things they should discuss with their own primary care provider regarding their health is particularly rewarding," Lunn said.

This summer, the graduate students in his class will become familiar with the current literature in the field. As a class, they discuss pertinent journal articles to better understand the scientific material that is an essential tool of in-the-field practitioners such as Lunn. One of the most important topics covered — the developments brought about by technological advancements in both equipment and technique that are changing the nature of death investigations.

"One new piece of technology would have to be the advancement of DNA testing," Lunn said. "It is now faster, cheaper and requires smaller sample sizes to get a complete DNA profile."

In a course like Medicolegal Death Investigations, one may think that the subject matter is better taught in a traditional classroom/lab format and that the online nature of the course would hinder the learning experience. Lunn and his students don't think this is the case at all.

Carolyn Gaulke is one of those students. She takes a combination of traditional and online courses, and believes that both teaching formats have advantages.

"One of the biggest differences is the amount of work," Gaulke said. "For example, in an online course, discussion and responses may be worth 60 to 70 percent of the grade. I find that with traditional courses, papers and quizzes are worth more than with online courses."

"With the exception of taking the students out on a scene with me, I don't believe there are any disadvantages teaching this material in an online format," Lunn said. "The students have voice-recorded PowerPoint lectures from me, discussion questions that force them to really get into the current literature and quizzes that test their knowledge."

Gaulke is grateful for the access to Lunn and the timeliness of his responses to questions and concerns that she and other students raise.

"Professor Lunn has made himself available to the students and has responded to all the discussion questions with supporting references," she said. "He has made the course very interactive, with posted audio lectures, which have helped make the course similar to a traditional class."

With an experienced and knowledgeable instructor and a fascinating subject, the old notions of summer school are being dispelled by this course. The emergence of online discussion boards, voice-recorded PowerPoint lectures and journal databases are helping online courses rival traditional classroom instruction and offering Binghamton University students opportunities to take courses like Medicolegal Death Investigation that might otherwise not be available to them.

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CCPA professor receives Fulbright
By Christina Pullano

A Binghamton University researcher who hopes to improve the quality of public administration around the world will spend time in Latin America as a Fulbright Scholar.

Nadia Rubaii, an associate professor of public administration, received a Fulbright grant to conduct research beginning in January at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. She will study how accreditation of public administration schools can improve graduate education and, ultimately, build more effective governments.

By conducting her research in Latin America, Rubaii hopes to examine to what extent U.S. standards can be used in other countries, based on whether they make sense culturally, politically and economically.

"What it's forcing us to do is to learn from each other," she said, "and to recognize that our way of doing things, which might be good, isn't necessarily the only way or the best way."

Rubaii believes that better public administration education will lead to more effective government institutions and ultimately increase the quality of life for people. "The real end goal," she said, "is for governments all around the world to have sufficient capacities to engage in sustainable economic development, to promote improved health, education and security and to reduce crime, inequality, discrimination and poverty among their populations."

An intermediate step is to improve the professionalization of government, she noted. She hopes that societies all around the world will value people who have a formal education in public administration as having something to contribute to government — not necessarily as elected officials, but as the people who do the day-to-day work of government.

Schools can seek public administration accreditation in the United States, and now internationally, through the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Rubaii oversaw NASPAA as its president and chaired its accreditation board for two years.

"Accreditation offers a kind of stamp of assessment and approval of quality," Rubaii said. "If you as a student are looking to choose among programs, you know that the ones that are accredited have already been reviewed by somebody."

Accrediting bodies evaluate a program's curriculum quality, faculty credentials, student experience, placement record, admission standards and what knowledge and skills students have after graduating. Rubaii's research focuses on how those standards differ internationally.

"Accreditation now from this organization is available to programs outside the United States, but the standards for accreditation are based on how we think about quality in the U.S.," Rubaii said. "Those are not necessarily universal values or measures of quality."

Sebastian Lippez De Castro, a graduate of Binghamton's public administration graduate program and member of the faculty at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, worked with Rubaii in Binghamton researching the possibility of applying NASPAA standards to graduate public service programs in Latin America.

"She was always genuinely interested in listening, on both our experiences with Colombia's higher education system and what we were able to learn about other Latin American countries' systems," De Castro said. "Her leadership style includes her cultural sensitivity."

De Castro said he and other faculty members at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana look forward to working with Rubaii.

"We not only expect to learn from her knowledge and experience regarding specific public administration topics, but also expect her research will help or graduate public service programs improve their quality," De Castro said.

Other research of Rubaii's, centered on the role of local governments in helping immigrants assimilate in the United States, helped shape a philosophy on diversity that drives her research.

"It increasingly has been expanding to a focus on international diversity and cultural diversity, and so it's an appreciation for diversity that connects the two," she said. "It also reflects a genuine commitment to a notion of being part of a global community."

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Alumna honored with state-level teaching award
From the Virginia Education Association

Earlier this year, the Virginia Education association recognized Erlynn Kirsch '05, MAT '06 with an Award for Teaching Excellence. This was part of a program to recognize the efforts of individuals and organizations that have fought for the Commonwealth's public schools, students and educators.

Around King George Middle School in King George, Va., Erlynn Kirsch '05, MAT '06 is famous not only for her creative teaching methods, but also for her complete willingness to share them.

Kirsch takes expanding the horizons of her rural students very seriously, coordinating a trip to Greece and Italy last year, leading an earlier trip to China, maintaining an interactive blog/website, discussing class activities on Twitter and publishing a bi‐monthly "World History" newsletter.

In addition, she serves as a mentor for new teachers and an instructor at county‐wide professional development workshops.

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Last Updated: 11/12/13