10 Facts About Binghamton Research That Might Surprise You

Posted by Rachel Coker on February 19, 2015

At Binghamton University, our professors and students are contributing to research in more ways than you can imagine! Here are 10 facts about Binghamton research that might surprise you.

1. Electronic devices are becoming faster, smaller and greener

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Binghamton’s Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging (S3IP), which recently moved into a new $30M facility, has contributed to breakthroughs in flexible glass and solar cells and to advances that make mobile phones more robust. S3IP’s Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems, a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, partners with leading technology companies to develop “green” data centers.

2. Undergrads learn just as much outside the classroom

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At many schools, undergraduates are expected to soak up knowledge while grad students and researchers do the work hands-on. Our undergrads conduct research with real implications for environmental science, Parkinson’s disease patients and more. Nearly a third of seniors say they’ve participated in a research project with a faculty member. 

3. Professors make headlines

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Chemist M. Stanley Whittingham, father of the lithium-ion battery, teaches at Binghamton, where he directs a federally funded Energy Frontier Research Center focused on perfecting the next generation of batteries. "Within 10 years, every vehicle will be hybrid or electric,” he recently told Newsweek magazine. He has recently been featured in a video on our YouTube channel.

4. Experts are changing your view on teenage drinking

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The Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Center, led by neuroscientist Linda Spear, recently won an $8.2 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. The funding will advance our understanding of the effects of alcohol on brain development. Already, Spear’s research has shown that alcohol changes the young brain in ways that may cause problems throughout a person’s life.

5. Faculty novelist Liz Rosenberg is a best-selling author

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Liz Rosenberg’s latest novel, The Moonlight Palace, enjoyed a period atop the Kindle best-seller charts this fall. The novel, from Lake Union Publishing, was released in October 2014. Thanks in part to a special “Kindle First” promotion, it reached more than 100,000 readers in the first month of pre-publication. The book, set in 1920s-era Singapore, is a departure for Rosenberg, better known for two novels set in modern New York state, as well as poetry and children’s books.

6. One of our labs is among the quietest places on earth

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Binghamton has an anechoic chamber (a room without echo) built to the specifications of acoustics researcher Ronald Miles, a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering who has pioneered the development of tiny microphones inspired by the ears of a fly. The specialized lab in the Engineering & Science Building is one of the quietest places on earth. “If you got locked in, you could scream and no one would ever hear you,” Miles said.

7. Biologists could have a cure for acne

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Binghamton’s biology department boasts some of the world’s foremost experts in biofilms. (You can call them the Sleuths of Slime, as the University magazine recently did.) These scientists say that the stability and invulnerability of biofilms — that is, communities of single-cell bacteria — may hold the key to treating chronic diseases and conditions such as sinusitis, acne, Crohn’s disease and atherosclerosis. 

8. Seth Spain can explain your coworker’s bad behavior

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Are you mystified by the success of someone at work who seems like a jerk? Binghamton’s Seth Spain, an industrial psychologist, studies the “dark side” in the workplace. He recently told The Wall Street Journal that there are things we can learn from corporate climbers. Narcissists, for example, often make a good first impression on clients and bosses.

9. You might be able to predict the future

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Our scientists can predict the future using nothing more than social media posts — and really powerful algorithms. Binghamton University systems scientists Sarah Lam and Sang Won Yoon have been working with Binghamton alumnus Nathan Gnanasambandam, a senior researcher at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), a division of Xerox Research. They used 500 million tweets to develop algorithms that not only paint a picture of everyday human dynamics, but can predict an individual’s behavior hours in advance. 

10. Even freshmen are doing research

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An initiative launched in fall 2014 introduces undergraduates to research from the time they arrive at Binghamton. The Freshman Research Immersion program provides training in research methods and laboratory techniques. The first FRI students, pursuing research in biofilms, neuroscience or smart energy, have already taken on subjects ranging from the effects of dehydration on the brain to the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing. “What we offer students through the Freshman Research Immersion is a deeper educational experience that gets them beyond textbook knowledge and helps them learn about the excitement of discovery,” Provost Donald Nieman said.

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