European Expert George Marshall Discusses Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change

George Marhsall during his presentation at the Cook Campus Center.

George Marhsall during his presentation at the Cook Campus Center.

On September 23, George Marshall, one of Europe’s leading experts on climate change communication, gave an engaging talk to a gathering of 200 Rutgers students, faculty, staff and members of the public at Rutgers Cook Campus Center about his latest book, Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.

Marshall, a British citizen, has been on a quest to discover why people are inclined to ignore climate change even when presented with scientific facts. His research involved discussions with Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and the activists of the Texas Tea Party; the world’s leading climate scientists and the people who denounce them; liberal environmentalists and conservative evangelicals. One of his conclusions is that climate change is difficult to accept and that humans therefore construct a narrative that enables us to ignore it, reject it or shape it in our own image. [Read more...]

Rutgers Students Help Transform Part of Downtown New Brunswick in PARK(ing) Day 2014 Celebration

Video: Rutgers Students Help Transform Part of Downtown New Brunswick in PARK(ing) Day 2014 Celebration

On September 19, members of the Rutgers Student Chapter of the New Jersey American Society of Landscape Architects (NJASLA), working with its parent organization, helped in the design and installation of PARK(ing) Day 2014 in downtown New Brunswick. This annual event, which takes place on the third Friday in September, temporarily transforms metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces, i.e. temporary public places to enjoy a variety of activities.

This year, officials with Middlesex County Planning and the City of New Brunswick, Rutgers students from the Department of Landscape Architecture and the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, along with several citywide civic organizations and businesses worked together to transform four parking spaces between 40-55 Bayard Street into public parklets.

Holly Nelson, instructor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and a practicing landscape architect, guided the students in rendering a park design for the Bayard Street parking spaces. “Events like PARK(ing) Day not only offer our undergraduates a unique opportunity for civic engagement; they also provide a serious design opportunity that reinforces our curriculum focus on urban and public spaces.”

[Read more...]

NSF Grant Awarded to Rutgers to Support Research on the Sustainability of Fisheries

Malin Pinsky

Malin Pinsky

Most of us enjoy eating fish and plan to continue eating fish into the future. But which local fish will be available in New Jersey? How will summer flounder and hake populations on the northeast continental shelf change as our climate warms and fisheries practices adapt? We currently do not know the answer to these questions, but we plan to learn more over the next four years thanks to a new grant announced by the NSF.

A Rutgers team, led by Malin Pinsky, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS), will soon begin its research on fisheries and coastal communities in the northeastern United States under a $1.1 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This award is one of only nine national awards for the year by the Coastal SEES Research Program at NSF. [Read more...]

Ken Able Honored with NOAA Fisheries Habitat Conservation Award

Ken Able addressing a local group with a focus on fish and fisheries research at the Rutgers University Marine Field Station.

Ken Able addresses a local fisheries group at the Rutgers University Marine Field Station in Tuckerton, NJ.

Ken Able, distinguished professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences and director of Rutgers University Marine Field Station (RUMFS) at Tuckerton, NJ, was chosen as the 2014 recipient of the Dr. Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award from NOAA Fisheries, Office of Habitat Conservation.

“The Dr. Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award is the most prestigious award in the country given in recognition of an individual’s contributions to the restoration and conservation of marine and coastal habitats,” said Rich Lutz, director of the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers. “What a wonderful honor it is for Rutgers to have one of its most sterling scientists recognized as the worthy recipient of this year’s Dr. Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award.”

Able’s research at RUMFS focuses on the life history and population dynamics of larval and juvenile fishes in the relatively undisturbed Mullica River–Great Bay estuary and along the east coast of the U.S. In 1989, Able introduced weekly monitoring of larval and juvenile fishes in the estuary. This weekly monitoring, which continues today by RUMFS, is part of a broader analysis of issues of habitat quality for estuarine fishes in natural and impacted estuaries that stretches from New York Harbor to the Gulf of Mexico.

“Habitat conservation and restoration are increasingly important issues in the management of the nation’s coastal resources and for that reason, my colleagues and I from the Rutgers University Marine Field Station feel particularly honored by this award,” said Able.

[Read more...]

Student Discovery Changing the Way We Study Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease

Rutgers graduate students launch biotech start-up that has the potential to significantly alter the way tissue research is conducted.

In 2012, Tom Villani, a Rutgers student pursuing a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry, set out to create a clearing agent for plants to replace the highly regulated chemical chloral hydrate. After months of development, Villani discovered a novel chemical clearing formula that he called Visikol™, which made plant tissues entirely transparent and performed better than chloral hydrate.

Tom Villani, who discovered Visikol™.

Tom Villani, who discovered Visikol™.

The next step for Villani and his colleague Nick Crider, vice president for process development at AL-G Technologies Inc., a startup biofuels company based in South Jersey, was to apply for a patent for this new chemical compound. To do so, they founded their own biotech startup, Phytosys, LLC., and began to market Visikol to academic institutions for use in lab experiments. They are still awaiting a patent, but have since secured over 100 Visikol customers, in both academia and industry, and across the United States, Europe and Asia.

In early 2014, Villani and Crider, now joined by Michael Johnson, a doctoral student in environmental sciences at Rutgers, began investigating additional applications for Visikol. They discovered that it had enormous potential in rendering whole animal tissues transparent, performing significantly better than competitive technologies like CLARITY, Scale, BABB and Focusclear®. [Read more...]