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 announces fall athletics: Cross country, logging sports, eSports

logging sports team member chainsawing log
FLCC’s men’s and women’s logging sports teams will return in the fall semester. Their season will be determined by participation among competing institutions.

Cross country, logging sports and eSports will be offered at Finger Lakes Community College in the fall semester under an amended athletics plan that has been approved this week.

The plan aligns with the safety guidelines set forth by state officials as well as the National Junior College Athletic Association. FLCC is a Division III competitor in the NJCAA’s Region III.

Logging sports does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NJCAA, as FLCC’s men’s and women’s teams compete against mostly four-year institutions from across the Northeast. The teams’ fall competition schedule will be determined largely by participation among competitors.

Men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball will be moved to the spring semester in adherence with the NJCAA’s plan announced earlier this month. The teams, however, will be permitted to hold a limited number of low-density practices during the fall semester. The men’s and women’s basketball season is slated to begin in January.

“This has been a challenging time for college athletics as we balance the need to keep our student athletes safe while also trying to develop a plan to return to play,” said Samantha Boccacino, FLCC’s director of athletics. “This path forward allows for engaging opportunities for our student athletes while prioritizing their health and safety. We are looking forward to seeing our Lakers return.” Continue reading “FLCC announces fall athletics: Cross country, logging sports, eSports”

Scholarship will allow Midlakes grad to complete college, debt-free

Head and shoulders of Katelyn Roland
Katelyn Roland of Phelps is the recipient of the Farash Foundation First In Family Scholarship.

A recent Midlakes High School graduate has been selected to receive the Farash Foundation First In Family Scholarship, enabling her to attend Finger Lakes Community College at no cost.

Katelyn Roland of Phelps is planning to study nursing and will be the first in her immediate family to go to college.

“Katelyn demonstrates a high level of maturity and determination, and we are confident in her ability to excel at FLCC,” said Brie Chupalio, director of development at FLCC. “It is obvious that graduating debt-free will have a tremendous impact on her career endeavors, and we anticipate her taking full advantage of all this scholarship offers.”

Chupalio said Roland’s application was a standout because of her extensive list of volunteer and extracurricular activities. She was a student council leader, served on school committees and belonged to the peer support club Youth to Youth and the Interact Club, which, among other things, has student members serving as Salvation Army bell ringers and food cupboard helpers. She also played varsity softball and belonged to the racquet and chess clubs.

Those activities and good grades earned Roland placement in the National Junior Honor Society. She will start FLCC this fall having already earned credits for Advanced Placement and several Gemini courses offered by the College in her junior and senior years.

“I took these challenging courses because I am going into the health field, where education level is important to provide the best possible care for patients,” said Roland, who aspires to eventually transfer to St. John Fisher College and become a nurse practitioner or doctor in a family practice.

In 2012, the Farash Foundation First in Family Scholarship Program began providing scholarships for students who are first in their family to attend college at institutions of higher education in Monroe and Ontario counties. In addition to FLCC, participating colleges include Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Monroe Community College, Nazareth College, Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John Fisher College, SUNY Brockport and the University of Rochester.

The Foundation supplies all funds needed to pay for the Farash Scholar’s tuition, room and board, textbooks and fees. The Foundation’s support continues over the course of the recipient’s college careers, for up to five years.

“This scholarship will help me tremendously,” said Roland.  “I am proud to be the first generation in my family to go to college, and I will push through any obstacles I come across and try my absolute hardest, not only for myself, but for my family and my community.”

FLCC announces fall plan for student courses, classes start Aug. 31

Reporter speaking on camera in front of FLCC main campus
Tanner Jubenville of 13WHAM in Rochester reported on FLCC’s opening plans on July 20. Click on the image to watch the video on the 13WHAM website.

Finger Lakes Community College has finalized its fall course schedule to maximize faculty and student interaction in a low-density environment by converting traditional in-person classes into live remote and hybrid classes.

Remote classes, also referred to as synchronous online classes, are held via the web conferencing software Webex, allowing professors and students to interact in real time. Hybrid classes are partly online and partly in person. Classes will be divided into small groups that take turns meeting in person with their instructor. Details are available at flcc.edu/covid.

“We know people come to FLCC for small classes and personal engagement, so we looked for ways to maintain that tradition in this new environment,” said FLCC President Robert Nye.

Signs like this one are going up at the FLCC main campus and campus centers as FLCC prepares for fall operations.

Forty-six percent of FLCC course sections will be live remote classes, while 28 percent will be hybrid classes. The remaining 26 percent are traditional online classes, in which students work independently on their own schedules. Before the pandemic, about a quarter of all FLCC classes were already online, given its rising popularity with students. In 2019, 42 percent of all FLCC students took at least one online course.

Students will be able to visit the library, computer labs, academic support centers, One Stop Center and other offices — though hours may be more limited and appointments may be necessary. The college will begin accepting walk-in traffic on Monday, Aug. 17.

“Overall, we expect the main campus to feel a bit like a traditional summer: fewer in-person classes going at any given time, fewer employees around and more informal interactions – albeit, with masks, social distancing, and lots of handwashing,” Nye said.

Continue reading “FLCC announces fall plan for student courses, classes start Aug. 31”

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”

556 FLCC students named to spring semester dean’s list

A total of 556 full- and part-time students were named to the Finger Lakes Community College dean’s list for spring 2020.

To be named to the dean’s list, students must have a 3.5 grade point average and meet other criteria as follows:

Full-time students are eligible if they are matriculated – meaning enrolled in a degree program – and achieve a 3.5 grade point average for the semester (12 or more hours of earned credit) with no grade below passing and no incompletes.

Part-time students are eligible if they are matriculated, have completed a minimum of 12 credit hours at FLCC, earn a combined total of at least 12 credit hours for a given year and achieve a 3.5 grade point average with no grade below passing and no incompletes. The student must be part-time for both semesters. The dean’s list for part-time students is compiled at the end of the spring term only.

Below are students by county and town:

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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.