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.

Outpouring of support to help #FLCC students with food insecurity

Area food pantries answered a call to help FLCC students dealing with food insecurity – in a big way.
To prepare for the start of the fall semester, Student Corporation leaders recently reached out to local pantries. Just a few days later, Student Affairs staff were busy sorting more than three college van loads of food and necessities, everything from peanut butter and green beans to shampoo.
“To state that these organizations showed up to help FLCC and this initiative in spades is stating it mildly,” said Student Life Director Jennie Erdle, who spent Aug. 11 collecting and delivering the donations to the main campus.
The Salvation Army of Geneva and Twin Cities of Manchester each donated hundreds of items. A third organization, the Canandaigua-based Community Churches in Action, donated 28 pre-packaged bags filled with snacks, canned goods, free milk coupons and more.
Teresa Daddis, student services counselor, joined Jennie to sort and inventory the donations, which will be offered to students who participate in the free drive-in chicken barbecue at the main campus on Sept. 9 from noon to 5 p.m.
To learn more about emergency student support services, click here.
To make a monetary donation to the FLCC food cupboard or other emergency student support services, visit this link: https://give.flcc.edu/page.aspx?pid=298.

FLCC trains 100 high school teachers in online learning

Finger Lakes Community College has provided free training in online teaching to about 100 educators from 20 school districts in Ontario, Seneca, and Wayne counties as well as Monroe and Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.

With the switch to remote learning in the spring and local districts’ plans for remote and hybrid learning this fall, FLCC began planning training for high school faculty who teach FLCC courses in their home districts via the Gemini program. Gemini allows high schoolers to earn college credit before high school graduation, thereby reducing the total time and expense of college.

FLCC’s training in course design and best practices for remote learning was then expanded to include other teachers.

“FLCC’s willingness to provide training sessions on best practices in remote learning is evidence of the strong partnership they share with area districts, such as Seneca Falls. Working with an institution that has experience in connecting with students virtually, sharing pedagogical practices and planning techniques is a huge benefit to teachers who are moving forward quickly to provide the best instruction possible for K-12 students,” the Seneca Falls Central School District said in a statement following the trainings. “These training sessions not only helped individual educators progress, but strengthened our existing collaborative efforts in educating the whole child and achieving at a high level regardless of the instructional model.”

Continue reading “FLCC trains 100 high school teachers in online learning”

FLCC reading event supports racial justice

Finger Lakes Community College will host a silent reading event in support of racial justice on the birthday of Ida B. Wells, a black journalist and activist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

FLCC Pages for Peace will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 16 in the Arboretum and Serenity Garden on the grounds of the main campus at 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, Canandaigua.

Attendees are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing. Restrooms will not be available due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells

The event will begin with brief opening remarks by organizers and FLCC Student Corp. President Erik DiPasquale.

Then, attendees will quietly read books, poems and other works about racism and the African-American experience written by and about people of color.

“Our plan is to sit quietly and read,” said Maureen Maas-Feary of Rochester, a professor of humanities at FLCC. “Those who would rather not attend are encouraged to join us by reading a book, poem or other work from the comfort and safety of home.” Continue reading “FLCC reading event supports racial justice”

FLCC, Empire State College announce cybersecurity transfer agreement

A screen shot of the online ceremony to mark the new transfer agreement.

Finger Lakes Community College and SUNY Empire State College today announced a new agreement allowing guaranteed admission of graduates from FLCC who have earned an associate degree in networking and cybersecurity to SUNY Empire’s new bachelor of science in security studies program. SUNY Empire’s bachelor of science in security studies will help prepare qualified professionals to meet the national and global security challenges of the 21st century in high demand areas such as homeland security, emergency management, disaster relief, and law enforcement.

The agreement was celebrated with a online signing ceremony that included FLCC and Empire faculty and staff as well as SUNY administrators.

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Double your donation: SUNY offers $50,000 match on emergency funds

The SUNY Impact Foundation recently announced it will match every donation the FLCC Foundation receives for student emergency funding by June 30 up to $50,000.

FLCC began its COVID-19 Emergency Response campaign in April to help students through the financial crises that came with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Logo for SUNY Impact FoundationTo date, the combined support of alumni, faculty, staff, and community members has raised over $25,000. If the campaign gets to $50,000, the FLCC Foundation will be able to max out this challenge grant to make a total of $100,000 available for student emergency needs.

FLCC’s student emergency funds include the food cupboard and emergency loans, as well as specially designated funding for students facing crises as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the last academic year, 54 students borrowed over $26,000 in FLCC Foundation emergency loans and 171 students used the Food Cupboard at least once. In addition, FLCC students have received a combined total of over $8,000 in emergency grants and COVID-19 response funds thus far.

The Foundation welcomes both new and repeat donors in the final days of this campaign.

Click here by June 30 and your gift will be doubled!

The intent of the SUNY Impact Fund’s emergency program is to help students experiencing temporary set‐backs such as: medical emergencies, job loss, housing changes or threats of eviction, backup transportation, backup child care and computer repair.

Messages in support of Black Lives Matter

The FLCC and SUNY community share the following messages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

A Message from FLCC President Robert Nye

Dear FLCC Community,

Over the past several days our nation and our communities have experienced the anger, rage, sadness and grief as a result of the terrible loss of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The inhuman and callous treatment of George Floyd is not an isolated incident, but a long continuation of sad
and unnecessary loss of human life that lays bare the social inequities and social injustices that linger across America.

FLCC President Robert Nye in front of main campus
Robert K. Nye

We cannot ignore it, and we must address this issue. Since 2016, I have asked our College community to treat everyone we encounter with dignity
and respect. Dignity helps us to value individual identity and self-esteem. Respect helps us value others for who they are as individuals. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, in our world today, and even at times on our own campus, this does not always happen or hold true.

It is the reason that all across America and even in our own communities in the Finger Lakes, we are observing not just peaceful demonstrations, but also civil unrest as a result of years and years of both pernicious and outright visible social inequity and social injustice.

Our College serves as a dynamic learning resource, empowering all our students, and all of our faculty and staff to succeed as unique individuals who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. When we do so, it is only then, that we may truly contribute to both the cultural vitality and economic vitality within our community. We educate students from all walks of life,
from all races, origins and gender.

By recognizing and appreciating diversity at FLCC, we can make ourselves stronger and provide an example for others throughout the Finger Lakes to
emulate and to counter social inequity and social injustice.

Diversity is strength – I believe this, and I ask that all of us at FLCC dedicate ourselves to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in everything we do at the college, and to never look away when we see acts of social inequity and social injustice, because substantive change will not come until we stand together, support each other, account for each other, and learn from each other. Now more than ever, we must join together to make a difference, to engage our students, to engage each other, to help bring an end to the despair of social inequity and social injustice wherever it is present in order to make a difference for our College, our community, and our society.

Sincerely,Robert K. Nye signatureRobert K. Nye, Ph.D.

A Message from SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson

To the SUNY Community:

As so many of you have, I viewed the killing of George Floyd by the police—without reason, without due process, and without a shred of humanity—with a sense of both outrage and helplessness.

While we mourn this senseless cruelty to one man, protestors around the country are reminding us that what we just have witnessed is, in fact, an example of systemic racism in the United States.

Portrait photo of Kristina Johnson
Kristina Johnson

Despite the beauty of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the force of law is still regularly applied unequally and with malicious and disproportionate impact on people that are black, brown and LGBTQ. The injustice is intolerable, and it is compounding the anguish being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that has followed. It is easy to feel that our nation is experiencing an existential crisis.

What, can we, as an academic community, do in this moment of horror? Let me assure you that together and with a little focus on an unyielding moral compass, we are neither hopeless nor helpless.

We can’t instantly remake our divided society or divisive politics.
But we can demonstrate some of the same resolve and sheer focus on what’s right that this community has demonstrated in such abundance during the pandemic.

In fact, the compassion, bravery, and ingenuity SUNY people have recently shown in battling COVID-19 gives me hope that there might be answers to our societal miseries.

At SUNY, we were founded in 1948 in part to eliminate discrimination in higher ed, and our mission requires us to be “fully representative of all segments of the population.” When we see something that disadvantages students on the basis of race, ethnicity, economic hardship or gender, we
fix it—including a huge gap between the demographics of our students and the faculty who teach and mentor them. With PRODiG—Promoting Recruitment Opportunities for Diversity and Inclusive Growth—we set a goal last year of hiring 1000 underrepresented minority faculty and women in STEM by 2030, and we are off to a great start.

We are a community that does its best to welcome all, to offer opportunity to all, and to understand that there is power in embracing our differences and joining forces to do great things. At its best, the United States, too, stands for equality of opportunity. At its worst, it refuses to recognize and
repair the history of slavery and the mistreatment of minorities of all kinds.

As an academic community that educates hundreds of thousands of young people every year, we have an opportunity to explore and communicate both the worst and the best of history, and to shape new generations of citizens whose impulses to solve problems, to use their knowledge to help
others, and to serve the greater good no matter the personal costs, can help us to build a more just and caring world and ensure that George Floyd will not have died in vain.

Sincerely yours,
Kristina Johnson signatureKristina M. Johnson, Ph.D.

Students’ ‘out of this world’ and retro designs impress CMAC

Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center has again partnered with Finger Lakes Community College to give graphic design students experience creating images for a prospective client.

The partnership has students in Prof. Liz Brownell’s Graphic Design II class creating poster and T-shirt images for the neighboring venue’s summer concert series. For the past two years, the students have presented their proposals to CMAC’s board of directors and venue supporters during an end-of-semester reception.

An in-person gathering wasn’t possible this year, so Brownell and her students came up with a way to share the designs virtually using the program Mindmeister. CMAC’s judging panel received an email link that allowed them to view and weigh in on the projects from the comfort and safety of their homes.

They were impressed with all of the submissions, but two proposals stood out, said Tracy Williams, community and guest services manager at CMAC. The first, created by Quinn Howell of Palmyra, features an astronaut playing the guitar.

CMAC poster design by Quinn Howell
Summer concert series poster and T-shirt design by student Quinn Howell.

Howell said the design is inspired by the concert venue’s name, Constellation Brands, with an “out of this world and interstellar mockup.”

Continue reading “Students’ ‘out of this world’ and retro designs impress CMAC”

Local band helps FLCC grads celebrate in song

Members of a local band with several ties to FLCC have come together to create a virtual celebration in song for the Geneva Campus Center and 2020 graduates.

Four of the seven members of the Geneva-based band, The Cool Club & Lipker Sisters, recently recorded themselves performing several songs while safely masked. The video was created initially to serve as a virtual end-of-semester celebration for the Geneva Campus Center; it was shared earlier this week with the center’s students, faculty and staff.

“This is a special gift for our students, especially the graduating class of 2020, and an opportunity to bring joy during this time where we all feel challenge, uncertainty, and struggle,” said Leigh Pitifer, assistant director of the Geneva Campus Center.

Three of the performing band members are sisters Marilla, Elizabeth and Grace. Elizabeth is a May FLCC human services graduate, while Grace recently earned her high school equivalency diploma after taking preparatory classes at the Geneva campus. Marilla also has a connection: She is married to the son of Tomas Gonzalez, director of academic advising, career and transfer services, and Dawn Langdon, director of financial aid. The sisters were joined in song by guitarist Rick Hoyt, husband of Anne Hoyt, adjunct instructor and tutor at the Geneva center.

The Cool Club and the Lipker Sisters have performed in numerous Finger Lakes venues, including Club 86, but have been sidelined due to the pandemic. They’ve put on a few socially distanced “porch” performances and a few virtual shows, including one to raise funds for the Geneva Center of Concern.

The FLCC video features three songs: “Blue Skies,” “We’ll Meet Again,” and a version of “I Will Survive” reworked for FLCC by Elizabeth ’20.

“I Will Survive,” FLCC-style

At first I was afraid I would flunk my class

That I’d work so very hard and just wind up in last

And how I spent so many nights thinkin’ about graduation time

How I was tryin’

And how it would be so sublime

But then it hit

And that was it

The covid 19 turned the world into a giant pit

And now I can’t walk the stage I can’t shake anyone’s hand but we still plan

And we will hug when it’s not banned

So you see me

Still got a degree

While some things may be different now they won’t stop me

Though I ain’t got no party time and I ain’t got now fancy talk

I don’t balk

And you know I’ll still walk the walk

So here you are

You made the cut

you can’t get your photo op but you got what you want

You did what you had to do

We all worked hard to get through

So here’s to you

Grads of 2020, WOO!

So you see me

Somebody new

All of FLCC is so proud of you

Take it right up to the line

And work hard and keep on tryin’

And you’ll do fine

We ain’t got no time for cryin’

Oh I

I will Survive

As long as I have my degree I know I’ll stay alive

I’ve got all my life to live and I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll stay strong

And I’ll learn how to get along

And we’ll come back

From social space

We can’t wait till we can see you with that smile upon your face

Keep on keepin’ on

And you’ll never go wrong

You’ll stay strong

 

FLCC provides training for downstate COVID unit workers

Finger Lakes Community College is providing online training to home health aides in New York City and Long Island so they can fill a critical need for nurse assistants in COVID-19 units.

United Healthcare Workers East, 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, has hired FLCC to provide the training based on the college’s reputation for online education and experience training certified nurse assistants in the Finger Lakes region.

Nurse assistant students watching demonstration at patient bed
Students in an FLCC training class for certified nurse assistants watch a demonstration.

Classes began Tuesday, April 21, for a pilot class of 22 home health aides, chosen because they have some health care experience. During a state of emergency, federal law allows many health care workers to work outside their normal scope of practice, provided they have training in a critical set of skills.

FLCC curriculum designers moved those skills, largely involving the use of personal protective equipment, or PPE, to the beginning of the 10-week class. This will allow the students in the pilot class to go to work in four weeks in COVID-19 recovery units while completing the course components that can be taught online.

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