FLCC opens application for local scholarships

The Finger Lakes Community College Foundation is accepting applications for scholarships for current and incoming students for the 2023-24 academic year.

The Foundation awarded more than 170 students a total of $176,000 in scholarships funded by local families, businesses, and organizations for the current academic year.

The Foundation manages more than 100 scholarship funds. Eligibility requirements vary and include criteria such as academic program, veteran status, first-generation college student, hometown location, demonstration of financial need, and successful essay completion. There is one application for all scholarships which filters and qualifies students based on their answers.

Scholarship awards range from $250 to one year of tuition, currently $5,112. One award is larger: the Farash First in Family scholarship covers full tuition, fees, residence hall lodging, and books to one student per year. This special scholarship requires a student to live in Ontario or Monroe counties, be a first-generation college student, demonstrate financial need, and respond to essay questions.

All incoming students should fill out the scholarship application by April 30 to determine eligibility. Students who apply to FLCC by March 1 and submit a high school transcript will also be considered for an early admissions scholarship.

The application is available at flcc.edu/scholarships and closes on April 30. To apply, students must have completed the FLCC admissions application and received an FLCC email address. Students will be notified during the summer if they have been selected to receive a scholarship.

Professor explains mixed reality on Finger Lakes News Radio

Teacher wearing VR headset in front of class
Christine Parker, associate professor of biology, leads a class in the holography lab on the main campus. Photo by Rikki Van Camp

Christine Parker, associate professor of biology, discussed her use of mixed reality to teach anatomy and physiology on Finger Lakes News Radio on Nov. 22 with host Paul Szmal.

Mixed reality is the use of headsets to superimpose an image onto someone’s field of view. Students in Parker’s classes can see and hear the room and those around them. They also see holograms of the body or individual organs in a foundational class for nursing, kinesiology and other classes.

The professor explained how she learned about the technology developed by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic and piloted its use locally. FLCC is the only community college in the country working with Case Western Reserve University on the technology. Listen to the interview below.

Faculty to present research at conference in Spain

Two representatives of Finger Lakes Community College will present their research on the cultivation of mushroom sugars this week at an international conference in Spain.

Head and shoulders photo of James Hewlett
Professor James Hewlett

James Hewlett, professor of biology, and Jessica Halliley, an instructional specialist, were invited to share their work at the 8th International Conference on Bio-based and Biodegradable Polymers, or BIOPOL 2022, in Alicante, Spain, which runs from Nov. 14-16.

Hewlett and Halliley have been working with students since early 2021 on a research and development project for a Henrietta-based company, Empire Medicinals, which grows gourmet mushrooms under the brand Leep Foods.

Empire Medicinals is exploring a faster way to grow the mushroom fibers, or mycelia, via fermentation in tanks for its food business and the aspiration behind its name: the dietary supplement market. Continue reading “Faculty to present research at conference in Spain”

Professor tips: How to make the most of an open house

John Foust, standing, talking to three people
John Foust, chair of the environmental conservation and horticulture department, talks to visitors at a previous open house. Photo by Rikki Van Camp

About 40 professors typically take part in open houses at FLCC so prospective students can meet the people who will teach them, and in some cases, become their advisor.

This includes Michael Van Etten, assistant professor of modern language and coordinator of the esports program, who will be at the next open house on Saturday, Nov. 5.  He encourages students to talk to everyone they meet.

“Ask the administration, faculty, staff, and students – directly – why they are at FLCC instead of working or studying somewhere else?”

Don’t skip the tours, he added.

Michael Van Etten, seated, talking to parent, student
Michael Van Etten teaches Spanish classes and coordinates the esports team. Photo by Rikki Van Camp

“Take a good look at where on campus you would spend the majority of your time for your major, program, or interests.”

For academics, ask faculty about learning modalities and class activities:

  • What percentage of courses in a program are offered online, face-to-face, or only in one modality or another?
  • How much time – per day – should be reserved for homework and coursework?
  • What kind of everyday work does the program require? Reading, essays, lectures, presentations, workbooks, productions, field journals?
Richard Walsh, standing talking to parent, student
Richard Walsh, who coordinates the sports studies program, speaks to a prospective student and parent. Photo by Rikki Van Camp

Richard Walsh, assistant professor of business and coordinator of the sports studies program, suggests students think about end goals.

“Go to every table. Ask what job skills are needed. Ask how many graduates have job offers before they graduate, or shortly after graduating.”

  • Another question he recommends: “Are there additional courses they could add to a program to boost hiring chances?”
  • Find out if a program requires an internship and whether a program or class offers opportunities for on-the-job experiences early in their studies.
  • With so many faculty in one area, he recommends finding out what their expectations might be. “What goals do you, as the instructor, have for this class? What’s your idea of being a successful student in your class?”

John Foust, chair of the environmental conservation and horticulture department, encourages students to share a little about themselves so faculty can provide the most relevant advice. Do they plan to transfer?  Are they transferring credits into FLCC?  Do they have military service?

“I would suggest that students visit all the tables and keep an open mind.  My advice would be to find something that makes sense to them as a vocation but also find something they’re truly passionate about,” he said, adding a few questions he recommends:

  • What is it like to be working as a professional in the field?
  • How do I get started in this field?
  • How do I advance in this field?

Click here to register for the Nov. 5 open house.

Mixed reality vs. virtual reality: What’s the difference?

Teacher wearing VR headset in front of class
Christine Parker, associate professor of biology, leads a class in the holography lab on the main campus. Photo by Rikki Van Camp

FLCC uses both virtual reality and mixed reality in educational programming. The technologies are similar with a few key differences. 

Mixed reality

In 2018, the College began using three-dimensional holography to enhance the teaching of human anatomy and physiology, a required class for several programs: nursing, kinesiology and human performance, health care studies, physical education and exercise science, and nutrition and dietetics.

Under the guidance of Christine Parker, associate professor in biology, students wear Microsoft HoloLens visors in labs. The headset uses the HoloAnatomy Software Suite developed by Case Western Reserve University in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic. This software enables students to view highly detailed, three-dimensional images of human organs individually and as part of body systems.

Image of human torso showing digestive organs
Holograms give the viewer a three-dimensional image while allowing them to see the rest of the room.

The university’s software allows the HoloLens to project a holographic image that everyone wearing the visors – students and their instructor – can see. The instructor can rotate the image, zoom in on a particular section or zoom out to show the class how structures function and interconnect.

In the labs, students work collaboratively in groups and view the same holographic image. Christine moves about the room, joining each group and pointing out features. Students can still see each other and the rest of the room behind the image. 

They cannot manipulate the image though they can walk closer to it and even poke their heads inside to get an internal view of a particular structure. This is helpful, for example, to understand how the flow of blood proceeds through the human heart and then out to the general circulation. This three-dimensional approach helps students visualize key physical relationships between body structures. Continue reading “Mixed reality vs. virtual reality: What’s the difference?”

Cal-Mum grad finds dream job in HMI development

Justin Castronovo in front of NAVSEA building
Justin Castronovo ’19, shown at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) shipyard in Philadelphia, works on the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system.

Naval personnel operating ballistic missile defenses need to know the status of those systems at a glance.

That means someone has to figure out how to collect, aggregate and present a range of data in an easy-to-understand visual format on a computer monitor or touch screen.

Such readouts are called human-machine interfaces, or HMIs. For Justin Castronovo ’19, building them is his dream job.

Justin is a graduate of the instrumentation and control technologies program, now known by a more straightforward name: smart systems technologies. He is a civilian contractor at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Philadelphia where he works on the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system. 

“The human can’t just go to the chilled water system and get all the data from it,” he explained of the complex machinery. “There has to be some in-between way to get all that data in a reasonable format for a human to look at quickly and say, ‘Hey we’ve got a high-pressure alarm at the chilled water system.’” Continue reading “Cal-Mum grad finds dream job in HMI development”

IT alumni say keeping skills sharp is key in this ever-evolving industry

Adam Keuer ’13 is the assistant IT director at the Mozaic human service agency in Waterloo and a 2013 graduate of the networking and security associate degree program, now called networking and cybersecurity. Photo by Jan Regan

As assistant IT director for Mozaic in Waterloo, Adam Keuer ’13 enjoys designing the computer networks that help his colleagues at the human service agency get their work done. 

“I have always been a very logical thinker,” he said, referring to the tasks involved in getting computers to talk to each other efficiently and securely. “It feels like home for me.”

Home took a while to find. Adam logged a years-long trek through three majors at two other colleges and a detour into retail management before finding his way to FLCC’s networking and security program.

His story is not uncommon among the College’s IT alumni, some of whom found their niche in unexpected ways. Continue reading “IT alumni say keeping skills sharp is key in this ever-evolving industry”

Christopher Parker: Reflections on teaching online

Christopher Parker, Jeff Dugan sitting behind TV studio deskJeff Dugan, assistant director of online learning, sat down with retiring humanities professor Christopher Parker to talk about his transition from only teaching in person to becoming a leader of online education. “Teaching online was like the last thing I ever thought I was going to do,” Christopher began. “I don’t know how it happened that I went from being absolutely against it in every imaginable way to now doing it only online … Now that I look back on it, it was a very obvious transition for me.” Click the image above to watch the full fascinating discussion.

502 students named to FLCC spring 2022 dean’s list

A total of 502 full- and part-time students were named to the Finger Lakes Community College dean’s list for spring 2022.

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.

Continue reading “502 students named to FLCC spring 2022 dean’s list”

FLCC trustees honor alumni, student researchers

Three students in science lab
From left, Philip Simmons, Matthew Brooks, and Demetrice Garcia, shown in a Finger Lakes Community College lab in March 2021, were the first to work on a project to determine the conditions that promote the fastest growth of mushroom fibers and the bioactive compounds these fibers produce. They have since been joined by current students Leila Doerrer and Chelsea Patterson.

The Finger Lakes Community College Board of Trustees recognized a group of five current and former students who were chosen to present their research on the cultivation of mushroom sugars for a national conference in April.

The research project is part of an 18-month collaboration between FLCC and Empire Medicinals, a Henrietta company that sells mushrooms and mushroom-blended meats. It sought the college’s help for basic research that could lead to the extraction and commercialization of mushroom sugars as a food supplement.

Three of the students, who have since graduated, and two current students represented FLCC at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), an annual event that involves 3,200 students, faculty, and administrators.

Head and shoulders photo
James Hewlett

“NCUR is the largest showcase in the country of undergraduate research, so it’s all institution types,” James Hewlett of Webster, the professor leading the project, told the board at its May 4 meeting. ”It’s not a given. You have to apply, and the applications go through some pretty intense scientific review before you’re accepted to present at this conference. It’s a huge deal to actually get accepted, and it becomes a published abstract.”

Presenters were Matthew Brooks, a 2021 biotechnology graduate from Canandaigua, Demetrice Garcia, a 2021 biotechnology graduate from Newark, and Philip Simmons of Keuka Park, who has a 2021 associate degree in biotechnology and a 2020 associate degree in viticulture and wine technology.

Head and shoulders photo of Chelsea Patterson
Chelsea Patterson

Current students Leila Doerrer, a biotechnology major from Honeoye Falls, and Chelsea Patterson, an engineering science major from Farmington, also contributed to the development of a poster summarizing the research for the conference.

“It’s a very fascinating study, and I’m very happy to have been a part of it,” said Patterson. “It’s definitely opened my eyes to the detail that research takes, and I absolutely love everything about it.”

Head and shoulders photo of Leila Doerrer
Leila Doerrer

“I have to be honest. This is the most valuable experience I’ve probably ever had in my entire life,” said Doerrer. “I’ve learned so much. I can run a whole bunch of machines, like bioreactors. I’ve learned how to operate an autoclave.”

Hewlett, who has been recognized as a State University of New York distinguished service professor for his work promoting student research, directs the students with adjunct instructor Sarad Parekh of Pittsford and instructional specialist Jessica Halliley of Rochester.

The goal of the project is to determine the conditions that promote the fastest growth of mushroom fibers, called mycelia, and the bioactive compounds these fibers produce.

Mushrooms are well established as a health food; they are low in calories and high in fiber, protein and antioxidants. Sugars they produce, called beta-glucans, are studied for their potential to boost the immune system, lower cholesterol and fight cancer. Isolating the sugars requires growing the mycelia in a broth-like medium, separating the liquids and solids, then filtering the liquid.

The students grew two strains of mushrooms in two different broths – one with glucose and another with lactose. One of the strains produced the highest yield in lactose, a sugar found in milk.

Unlike a carefully controlled lab exercise, researchers can run into problems, Brooks noted.

“If something goes wrong, like one of our batches gets contaminated, it’s not like the professors know the answer right away. It’s a genuine mystery,” he said, adding that it takes collaboration to diagnose the problem.

Trustee George Cushman praised the research program for the range of skills it fosters.

“What I heard … was that you learned a lot of transferable skills, and it’s not necessarily the things that go on a resume all the time, but it’s really what the employers need,” he said. “I heard about working together as a team, solving problems – all these things don’t necessarily translate on a resume, but they really are essential skills.”

Hewlett said the college is seeking more research projects, particularly among small startups like Empire Medicinals that lack research and development capacity.  “They need help and we need projects,” he said.