FLCC marks Black History Month with Underground Railroad talk

Man and woman headshot
Paul and Mary Liz Stewart, co-founders of the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc., will give a free, virtual talk on Thursday, Feb. 25, in celebration of Black History Month.

Finger Lakes Community College will celebrate Black History Month on Thursday, Feb. 25, with a virtual talk on the Underground Railroad by two of its leading researchers.

The free public event, titled, “People of Courage, People of Hope, Seekers of Justice: The Underground Railroad Revisited,” runs from 1 to 2:15 p.m. and can be accessed at this link.

Links for college events are also posted at events.flcc.edu.

Husband-and-wife presenters Paul and Mary Liz Stewart are co-founders of Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc.  They said they will share a “new interpretation of a very old story” and explain the various initiatives in which Underground Railroad Education Center is engaged as it works to connect the public with this local history and its relevance to modern times.

The Stewarts were named scholars in residence at Russell Sage College in 2009. They’ve received numerous citations and awards, including the Sense of Place Award from Historic Albany Foundation, the Black History Month Service and Leadership Award from the New York State Department of Health Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Award and the Community Service Award from the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region. Continue reading “FLCC marks Black History Month with Underground Railroad talk”

FLCC announces Fall 2020 Dean’s List

Finger Lakes Community College announces the dean’s list for the fall 2020 semester. A total of 474 students earned this honor.

To be eligible for the FLCC fall dean’s list, full-time students enrolled in a degree or certificate program must earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and have completed 12 or more credit hours. Part-time students are included in the spring dean’s list.

Below are the students listed by county and town:

ALLEGANY

Angelica: Cassidy Mountain

Belmont: David Holmes, Christian Stuck

Cuba: Jackson Mackowski

Friendship: Calum Ruxton

Wellsville: Brianna Basile, Hunter Kear, Lacey Shuttleworth, Ashley Taylor

BRONX

Brentwood: Maria Arocho

Bronx: Matthew Haye Swainson, Lisa Lawrence

BROOME

Endicott: Mary Mazzarese

Endwell: Joseph Temple

CATTARAGUS

Allegany: Samuel Giardini, John Giardini

CAYUGA

Jordan: John Pritchard

CHAUTAUQUA

Forestville: Brycen Shomper

CLINTON

Plattsburgh: Jaclyn Bennett

COLUMBIA

Hudson: Walter Hill

CORTLAND

Cortland: Madisen Tucker

DUTCHESS

Beacon: Andrew Singh

ERIE

Buffalo: Angela Ballard, Garrett Licht

Orchard Park: Rebecca Kondol

Springville: Jaime Foster

FULTON

Gilboa: Gabrielle Groves

GENESEE

Byron: Rose Hubbard, Daniel Jensen

Pavilion: Nathan Coy

KINGS

Brooklyn: Zakaria Gassab, Lori Labossiere, Teressa Lawrence, Jakia Bell

LIVINGSTON

Avon: Jennifer Clark

Caledonia: Tanner Nothnagle

Conesus: Jennifer Blakemore, Kaylee Chandler

Dansville: Leanne Camuto, Jadyn Rittenhouse, Kevin Roelle

Lima: Benjamin Beckley, Ian Dague, Gretchen Heisinger, Adrian Marcellus, Mariah McGuire, Megan Trezise

Livonia: Susanna Howard, Abby Simmons

MADISON

Canastota: Megan Cretaro

MONROE

Churchville: Katherine Harmon

East Rochester: Timothy Obilisundar-Delaney

Fairport: Madeline Anderson, Emmie Aufderheide, Kathryn Crawford, Paul Gusmerotti, Timothy Janick, Meaghan Knee, Joy-Chi Laneri, Lydia McNally, Christian Olson, Hannah Papke, Lynessa Patterson, Grace Tursi

Hamlin: Tyler Danielak

Hilton: Ryan Beutel, John Pfeffer

Honeoye Falls: Morgan Brunner, Caroline Chudnick, Chester Doskos, Leah Herring, Allissa Merritt

Mendon: William Allen, Amy Slentz

Penfield: Skylar Betts, Johnathan Lupinetti

Pittsford: Josiah Capozzi, Maxx Countryman, Nicole Goodnough, Alexis Rippey, Nicholas Stein

Rochester: Angelica Acosta, Nyaliah Butler, Coral Chovaniec, Tyler Curtis, Abbey DiDuro, Alexis Drake-Alam, DeYonna Goolsby, Delia Hanley, Maria Hubbel, Rebecca Kane, Jonathan Landry, Victoria McKenzie, Geoffrey Medler, Edward Morrison, Dominic Pasquantonio, Grant Rodriguez, Amelia Salerno, Jason Smith, Katelyn Stokes, Rebecca Storto, Shaquanda Stubbs, Ruth Woodin

Rush: Rhett Crooks

West Henrietta: Alex Dickerson, Alexis Garcia

Webster: Bradon Detro, Josh Martins, Ian Palmer, Alessia Paratore, Nicolas Shengulette, Courtney Teeter

NEW YORK

New York: Geoffrey Awinyo, Tyler Boudreaux, Erin Grgas, Elyse Robinson

NIAGARA

Niagara Falls: Jacob Ramos

ONEIDA

Rome: Skyler Donley, Brianna Kelley

ONONDAGA

Baldwinsville: Emily Baird, Nathan Durkin, Jenna Wallace

Fabius: Christopher Wagner

Skaneateles: Matthew Lopez

Syracuse: Leah Hill, Ajeet Samuel

ONTARIO

Bloomfield: Samuel Berger, Austin Bonbrake, Joanne Campbell, Samuel Conlon, Robert Duliba III, Regan Haran, April Iachetta, Jonathan Kornbau, Jayde Langan, Christopher Mathis, Morgan Mitchell, Sarah Nelson, Brittney Starken, Emme Warden

Canandaigua: Sash Bollman, Rachel Boock, Shelby Brennessel, Matthew Brumagin, Kelly Callon, Russell Cammarata, Danielle Catlin, Austin Cayward, Andrew Corley, Sarah Ducar, Ashley Durkee, Olivia Fiero, Sophia Garlock, Cecelia Harris-Maxwell, Aimee Hawkins, Savannah Howard, Malcolm Ivers, Derek May, Amanda Mette, McKayla Moore, Kira Nixon, Alicia Nolan, Erin Norton, Katelyn Oneil, Strider O’Neill, Aaron Pierce, Cierra Pierce, Patrick Pinneo, Jaylea Ransom, Brena Rocca, Lisa Ryan, Matthew Sallee, Susan Schmeer, Nathen Seubert, Emilee Skuse, Faith-Anne Smith, Jacob Stanwix, Mitchell Steedman, Ashleigh Stetzel, Francesca Tiermini, Jadynn Tiffany, Jordan Tipton, Daniel Waldorf, Rebecca Williams, Erik Winarski, Kayla Youngs, David Zabliski

Clifton Springs: Taylor Richards, Shea Carr, Alexis Case, Lydia Garofalo, Christina Hyde, Octavio Mateo, Nicole Watts, Dylan Wong

Farmington: Zachary Bach, Carolyn Bisson, Gabrielle Constantino, Madison Cunningham, Rylee Delaney, Joshua Hall, Jake Harvey, Kaarel Kuus, Samantha LaPointe, Bianca Laudise, Linda Mesick, Allison Riley, Cecelia Santell, Mia Tambasco, Taylor Triou, Emma Wesley, Zachary Winters

Geneva: Olivia Bacon, Aaliyah Beverly, Jason Carle, Jonathan Ferrer, Emma Harris, Lindsey Johnston, Rachael Kurtz, Nicholas Mazzocchi, Angel Ochoa Palma, Nathan Olocki, Shelly Olsen, Amanda Owens, Alejandro Rudas, Shelby Smoker, Bailey Wayne, Rachael Webb, Emma Williams-McIntyre

Honeoye: Matthew Baker

Manchester: Jena Caramazza, Caitlin Hale, MarQuan Jackson, Stacey Swanger, Caitlin Unger

Naples: Madeline Abraham, Mariah Clawson, Jake Cratsley, Kara Cusson, Brianna Faber, Michael Hicks, Kate Livingston, Christina Macaluso-Patterson, Sophia Parshall, Ava Sheedy, Kallyn Stekl, Maeve Wright

Phelps: Nicole Augustine, Hannah Galloway, Morgan Lanich, John Salton, Abigail Sloane, Anna Smith, Erik Verdehem

Shortsville: Sara Clarke, Desiree Dixon, Eliott English, Brandy McNinch, Ryan Wood

Stanley: Gavin Davis, Dylan Howell, Treyci Krenzer, Dominique Robinson, Colby Rowe

Victor: Corey Baiera, Kalin Bailey, Alyssa Baird, William Brady, Ava Breuer, Richard Chute, Jersey Dillman-Hadlock, Tyler Durso, Samantha Farrelly, Timothy Keohane, Gabrielle Landry, Naomi McMullen, Alfonso Montes, Zane Palzer, Liam Richards, Rachel Sears, Cort Sherman, Carina Sulzbach, Katrina Vanorman

West Bloomfield: Gage Wagorn

ORANGE

Monroe: Esther Taub

Otisville: Lucas Bosland

ORLEANS

Medina: Kaylyn Holman

OSWEGO

Mexico: Joshua Hadcock

Richland: Alexander Sawchuck

QUEENS

Astoria: Matthew Burges, Brian Grellner

Queens: Rayad Hardial

Queens Village: Ahaila Mohabir

Ridgewood: Sheerel Abraham

RICHMOND

Staten Island: Adebayo Adewale

SCHUYLER

Cayuga: Samantha Dudgeon

Watkins Glen: Stephen Weldon

SENECA

Interlaken: Julia Diamond

Ovid: Jamie Bruning, Aliyah Reed, Sarah Wech

Seneca Falls Hunter Brignall, Mary Carter, William Chasteen, Regann Fleming, Angel Gonzalez, Dyan Kenkel, Kobe LaPrade, Mitchell Mestan, Paige Montgomery, Kristen Poole, Michelle Poormon, Libby Smith, Brenden Sofo, David Thieringer, Victor Tumbiolo, Jada Winfield

Waterloo: Joseph DiGiovanni, Halie Forde, Kiersten Jones, Abraham Kinney, Electra Laird, Exzavier Mattei, Alicia McKissock, Devon Reese, Clarissa Robson, Sarah Townson

STEUBEN

Bath: Camden Muller, Hannah Vanalstine

Bradford: Justin Deyo

Erin: Jolene Faulisi

Hammondsport: Madison Wright

Hornell: Emily Smith

Prattsburgh: Lydia Lenhard, MeLyssa Stratton, Lena Uthe

Savona: Kalyska Payne

Wayne: Amanda Scotchmer

SUFFOLK

Bohemia: Michaela Gamaldi

Holbrook: Lindsay Doyle

Manorville: Sky Garcia

TOMPKINS

Ithaca: Sean Rillera

WASHINGTON

Salem: Amber Marks

WAYNE

Clyde: Kailey Cole, Kaylee Dunn, Brittney Hayes, Alissa Hughes, Ignacio Mateo IV

Lyons: Janaye Austin, Shantaye Burkholder, Abram Johnson, Sarah Morrison, Martin Rodrick, Jacob Stearns

Macedon: Nigel Butler, Margaret Evarts, Mattia Hofstetter, Robert Kane, Shannon Kirbis, Madilyne Mancuso, Katherine McEwen, Zackary Morrison, Kaitlyn Nichols, Dmitri Novick, Corrin Popen, Kyle Russell, Nicklaus Sapienza, Tanner Thompson, Madeline VanGorden, Laryssa Wise

Marion: Thomas Capozzi, Faith Woodcock

Newark: Tatum Arnold, Cora Barbera, Meagan Belli, Madison Bowman, Benjamin Cepulo, Samantha Compton, Ana Cora, Aleksandra Dewa, Amanda DuVall, Joy Elmore, Jacqueline Furfaro, Elizabeth Henninger, Shaniah Jones, Mercedes Logins, Hoalai Luong, Leanna Murray, Connor O’Brien, Coral Silver, Audrey Smith, Jordan Walker, Abbey Zubb

Ontario:  Treavor Barnhart, Hannah Davis, Autumn Leno, Yelyzaveta Lopatina, Katherine Pierce, Cambrie White

Palmrya:  Katie Hungerford, Irina Chebotareva, Taylor Crane, Kimberly Dey, Natalie Goetz, Dylan Graham, Jordan Huddleston, Kellie Johnson, Alanjay Johnson-Ross, Brandon Moon, Anthony Rampulla, Jessica Ryan, Skylar Scheemaker, Katherine Smyth, Hannah Snelling, Grace Stiner, Brian Tones, Madison Upchurch, Akasha Vecka, Elizabeth Wagner

Red Creek: Kimberly Batz, Abigael Bush, Chloe Coffey

Sodus: Matthew Baker, Miranda Bennett, Noah DeGraff

Sodus Point: Cali Ellis

Walworth: Nicholas Block, Sierra Franco, Andrew Muha, Allison Smith

Williamson: Joseph Belmont, Kayla Brennan, Anna Heckler, Kelly Larock-Boyd, Pamela McCall, Andrew Niles, Heather Ramsdell, Adam Schreiber, Carrie Stubbings, Katlyn Westa

Wolcott: Kensie Graham

WYOMING

Wyoming: Brianna Hirschman

YATES

Dundee: Vivienne Dillon, Tarah Jayne, Hannah Miller, Anthony Thompson

Himrod: Alexa Wilderotter

Keuka Park: Morgan Kingsley-Hunt, Patricia Richardson, Philip Simmons

Middlesex: Alexander Lyons

Penn Yan: Morgan Bayer, Jessica Cintron, Jenna Curbeau, Natalie Dawley,

Holly Davis, Alexandra Hudson, Sydney Hulse, Corey Ledgerwood, Cameron Ledgerwood, Robert Phillips, Joel Pillsbury, Brendan Pinckney, Brittney Shamma, Ian Wachob, Rachel Wheeler, Sydnee Zigas

Rushville: McKenna Campbell-Fox, Nichaela Commisso, Gabrielle Doran, Misty Hill

OUT OF STATE

Davie, Fla.:  Alfredo Hurtado

Pembroke Pines, Fla.:  Jordan Perry

Milford, Maine: Daniel Corcoran

FLCC’s latest wine, Persevere, honors students

Wine label with a grape vine and the name Persevere
Viticulture and wine technology students chose this label, “Persevere,” in an annual contest meant to give their counterparts in the graphic design program real-life experience pitching their work to a potential client.

The name chosen for the wine that Finger Lakes Community College students will bottle next spring reflects the fortitude shown in a semester transformed by the pandemic.

Fine arts and graphic design major Aimée Hawkins of Canandaigua came up with the name “Persevere” and designed the label featuring a pen-and-ink drawing of an abundant grape vine.

The back of the label is adorned with a small quote written by Hawkins: “Savor the drive, the determination and the perseverance that led us down the path to creating this wine.”

Hawkins said the quote seemed fitting for FLCC students this semester, as they’ve pursued their studies with mostly virtual instruction while juggling other demands and challenges caused by COVID-19. Perseverance also happens to be one of FLCC’s four values, shown on a large banner display in the main entrance.

Hawkins and her classmates designed labels for a graphic design course taught by Liz Brownell of Victor, professor of graphic design. In what has become an annual tradition, the labels were revealed during an event – held virtually this year rather than at the college’s Viticulture and Wine Center in Geneva.

Student designers took turns sharing their concepts, touching on themes, color palettes, font choices, as well as the computer programs they used to create the labels.

“I felt it was really important to maintain a clean crisp feel while conveying the unique nature that this vintage represents,” Hawkins said during her presentation.

Students of Paul Brock, associate professor of viticulture and wine technology, took part in the event and voted on the labels. Students Leah Herring of Rush, Leanne Camuto of Dansville and Faith Webster of Palmyra were also finalists in the contest. Continue reading “FLCC’s latest wine, Persevere, honors students”

New director and goals at FLCC Muller Field Station

Woman bending over a shallow sandbox
Alexandria Esposito of Springwater, conservation outreach education coordinator at FLCC, uses a field guide to verify footprints in a trap pit at the Muller Field Station in Canadice, Ontario County.

Finger Lakes Community College has named a new director for the Muller Field Station, a research and education facility at the south end of Honeoye Lake, and begun making plans to further enhance facilities and programming.

Head and shoulders image of John Van Niel
Professor John Van Niel

John Van Niel of Seneca Falls, professor of environmental conservation and coordinator of the fish and wildlife technology degree, began his duties on Sept. 1. He succeeded Professor Emeritus Bruce Gilman of Middlesex, author of “Ontario County Flora,” also known for his research into water quality trends in Canandaigua and Honeoye lakes. Gilman retired after 40 years of teaching in 2018 but stayed on as part-time director of the station through this past summer.

The late Florence Muller donated the 48-acre property to FLCC in 1999 in memory of her husband, Emil, a Swiss immigrant who sought to preserve the biodiversity of the Honeoye valley. Since then, funding from the Emil Muller Foundation and Florence M. Muller Foundation has supported education, research and improvements to property.

Continue reading “New director and goals at FLCC Muller Field Station”

What do fishers eat? There’s only one way to know for sure

Fisher facing forward
A fisher is a carnivorous mammal related to a weasel. Photo courtesy of John Van Niel

A professor and his students collect data on the stomach contents of this secretive mammal for the state Department of Environmental Conservation

A scalpel in her right hand, Chloe Bliss begins cutting into the brownish-pink organ she holds in her left.

This is part of her job as a work-study student at Finger Lakes Community College. Her boss is Professor John Van Niel, coordinator of the college’s fish and wildlife technology program. The work entails studying the stomach contents of fishers, a carnivorous north American mammal related to the weasel.

These solitary animals are fairly small, weighing up to 14 pounds, and have long bushy tails. Trapping for fishers is allowed in the fall in most of New York state, largely in the Adirondacks, Hudson Valley and North Country, with a brief season in the Southern Tier.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) dropped off 500 frozen fisher stomachs at FLCC last year as part of an effort to gather data on New York’s fisher population. Fur trappers provided the carcasses so the DEC could study the teeth (to determine age), uteruses of females (to see how many kits they had) and the stomachs (to find out what they really eat).

Continue reading “What do fishers eat? There’s only one way to know for sure”

FLCC’s ‘Black Death’ course offers pandemic perspective

Man weariong a suit, standing in the grass
FLCC History Prof. Robert Brown is shown in Yorkshire, England, in 2009 while working on an exhumation project to research the Spanish flu. He is standing near the grave of one of its victims, Sir Mark Sykes. Brown took part a PBS documentary titled “Secrets of the Dead” while he was a research associate at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, part of the University College London.

History Professor Robert Brown has taught the same course at Finger Lakes Community College for the past several years, but never has it been so relevant.

Called “The Black Death and Beyond: How Disease Has Changed History,” the course examines the evolutionary struggle between man and microbe and the myriad ways disease has shaped history.

“It offers useful and timely insight for navigating the challenges of COVID by presenting a host of historical scenarios in which the human population was unexpectedly assailed by an unknown or little understood pathogen,” said Brown, who resides in Victor.

The class will be offered again in the spring semester, which begins Jan. 25.

Brown earned his doctorate in history at Syracuse University. One of his main research interests – and a focus of the Black Death course – is the flu pandemic of 1918 that claimed an estimated 60 million lives. He has been featured in articles and television documentaries, including the PBS’s, “Secrets of the Dead: Killer Flu.” Continue reading “FLCC’s ‘Black Death’ course offers pandemic perspective”

FLCC’s ‘Voices in Isolation’ a ‘tapestry’ of perspectives

Cameraman filming FLCC student behind desk in TV studio
Daniel Jackson records a selection written by Jim Rose of Canandaigua as video technician Jeff Kidd ’05 operates the camera in the FLCC TV studio at the main campus.

Early in the pandemic, Beth Johnson knew her theatre students at Finger Lakes Community College might not be able to present their annual production before a live audience.

But she saw an opportunity to try something different while also telling the story of our time.

The result is a recorded show titled “Voices in Isolation: Pandemic and Protest” that will debut online at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19. Offered free to all on the FLCC Visual and Performing Arts Department You Tube channel, it will be followed by a live talk-back session with the creative team of writers and performers. The You Tube link can be found here and at events.flcc.edu.

“We felt it was important to provide the students a way to engage and interact with each other, especially one that allowed them the opportunity to voice their experiences and grapple with the issues our country is facing in an artistic and collaborative way,” said Johnson, professor of speech and theatre and director of the production. “While it would have been much easier to avoid offering a theatrical production this year, it would have been a huge disservice to the students for them to have missed out on a fall show.”

“Voices in Isolation” is written and performed by members of the community, students, alumni, and current and retired faculty and staff. The show contains original music, monologues, and stories exploring the impact of quarantine and issues of racial justice. Some are real life experiences, while others are fictionalized.

Each piece was recorded separately, some by the contributors themselves, others by FLCC Video Technician Jeff Kidd ’05. Kidd and Production Manager Jim Perri have spent the past few weeks editing and weaving together the recordings.

Continue reading “FLCC’s ‘Voices in Isolation’ a ‘tapestry’ of perspectives”

Inspired by challenge, FLCC alumni create George Floyd Scholarship

PHoto of Althea Jones-Johnson
Althea Jones-Johnson ’18

As she sat at her table for the annual scholarship dinner awards ceremony at Finger Lakes Community College in September 2017, Althea Jones-Johnson made a promise to herself: One day she’d do what she could to help future students of color join the list of honorees.

“I was just so grateful,” she said. “I remember saying to myself that I want someone else to be able to experience that.”

Fast-forward to the present: Having recently embarked on a master’s degree program in higher education, Althea has partnered with fellow FLCC alumna and graduate student Samantha Maniscola to establish a new scholarship for African-American students.

The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship awards $1,000 to a deserving student in the memory of the Minneapolis man who was murdered by police during what should have been a routine misdemeanor arrest.

The scholarship is inspired by a desire to bring change and a challenge by North Central University President Scott Hagan who on June 4 announced the creation of the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship at his institution and called on every university president in the country to follow suit.

“I saw that this college had challenged other institutions to do the same things and I called Sam and said ‘We should do something like this for FLCC.’ And now, here we are.” Continue reading “Inspired by challenge, FLCC alumni create George Floyd Scholarship”

Young Entrepreneur Academy student heads to national competition

Brandon Russell headshot
Brandon Russell is a sophomore at Honeoye-Falls Lima High School

A student who participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy last year at Finger Lakes Community College is headed to the 12th Annual Saunders Scholars National Competition for young business owners, hosted online by Rochester Institute of Technology on Oct. 17.

Brandon Russell, 15, is a sophomore at Honeoye Falls High School in Lima. His product, called No Touch Flush, is just as it sounds, a device that can be used to flush a toilet without using your hands.

He will be up against 35 other students from Young Entrepreneurs Academy chapters across the country, including seven others from New York State.

Though he had an interest in starting a business from a young age, Brandon enrolled in the Saturday morning program a year ago without a product in mind. “I was doing YEA and really struggling to find an innovation or idea,” he said.

Continue reading “Young Entrepreneur Academy student heads to national competition”

FLCC awarded $141K in National Science Foundation funds for research into mushroom sugars

Finger Lakes Community College has received $141,000 in National Science Foundation grants to study methods for extracting mushroom sugars with therapeutic properties in partnership with a Henrietta company.

FLCC faculty and students will collaborate with Empire Medicinals to find the most effective way to produce complex polysaccharides, or sugars, from mycelium, the fibrous root-like parts of mushrooms that are often below ground or in trees.

Faculty member in lab coat
James Hewlett, professor of biology, is the founder of the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative.

“This is a great opportunity for students to work with an industry partner and learn how to set up experiments,” said FLCC professor James Hewlett, coordinator of the college’s biotechnology program. “For the college, it could lead to more partnerships and long-term partnerships with industry.”  

Hewlett is also founder of the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI), a national effort to teach scientific principles and skills through research. CCURI promotes collaboration among community colleges on projects to expand the number of students who have an opportunity to engage in research early in their higher education experience. FLCC will work on the mycelium project with faculty and students from Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa.

Package of mushrooms
Empire Medicinals, grower of Leep Foods mushrooms, will work with FLCC on research with mushroom sugars.

The grants will enable FLCC to conduct experiments and pay four to five students as undergraduate researchers. In addition, FLCC scientists plan to learn from members of the Funguschain consortium in Europe, a global leader in developing products from mushroom byproducts.

Empire Medicinals cultivates organic mushrooms for the food and restaurant industry under the brand name Leep Foods. It currently grows the mushrooms on hardwood pellets, much as mushrooms in the wild derive nutrients from trees, explained Christopher Carter, co-founder of the company.

For this project, the company is hoping to use another growing medium: whey. Whey is a waste product of the dairy industry but rich in lactose, another kind of sugar. The goal is to grow the rootlike mushroom mycelium in the milk waste and turn it into a food additive.

“We want to show we can use this waste to create a food product, dry it into mycelial flour and use it in foods,” Carter said. The complex mushroom sugars are prebiotic, meaning they promote beneficial gut bacteria, and could be used to improve the health profile of a wide range of foods.

FLCC and MCCC researchers will conduct experiments to determine the most productive ways to grow and extract the sugars. For example, Hewlett said, they will try producing the sugars with different strains of mushrooms under varying temperatures and nutrient conditions.

“This is called ‘proof of concept,’” Hewlett explained. “A lot of startups do not have large budgets for research and development, so they partner with institutions.”

Sarad Parekh, who teaches Introduction to Biomanufacturing II as an adjunct instructor at FLCC, also works as a consultant with Empire Medicinals. He helped bring the company and the college together. Both Parekh and Carter see potential for biotechnology to grow in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region.

“There is an up-and-coming cluster of companies doing biomanufacturing in the Rochester area,” Carter said. Empire Medicinal’s focus on using biotechnology to innovate within the food industry makes sense in a region with major companies like Wegmans and LiDestri, he added. Involving local colleges is critical to build a biomanufacturing workforce. Major companies, Parekh said, “are very interested in getting students trained in this area.”

FLCC previously collaborated with Cheribundi to help the company learn whether storage conditions such as temperature and light could degrade the beneficial compounds in its tart cherry juice.

Students interested in learning more about FLCC’s biotechnology program or how to apply for a research position may contact Hewlett at James.Hewlett@flcc.edu.

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