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Interdisciplinary collaborations bring Cornell’s strengths to the forefront of COVID-19 research. (Photo Credit: Elizabeth Nelson; Dave Burbank)

by J. Edward Anthony

Bacteria that churn out a COVID-19 vaccine like mini pharmaceutical factories. An antibody test that not only indicates whether you’ve been exposed but also measures the strength and progress of your immune response. A friendly giant of a molecule, harmless to humans, that once injected into the bloodstream will bind like Velcro to the outside of SARS-CoV-2, keeping it from doing harm by holding the virus in a relentless molecular bear hug.

To people anxious for practical help, these ideas might sound far-fetched, but to Cornell researchers working at the forefront of their fields, these outside-the-box, collaborative approaches are full of possibility. All are based on concepts and technology that were previously developed at Cornell to address other engineering, diagnostic, and clinical challenges. Now Cornell researchers are re-examining and adapting their innovations to develop the tests, treatments, and knowledge we need to end the COVID-19 pandemic. …


Ivan Bazarov, who uses the Cornell Electron Storage Ring to manipulate bright particle beams, pushes boundaries to make new physics discoveries. (Illustration Credit: Elizabeth Nelson)

by Jackie Swift

Ivan V. Bazarov, Physics, doesn’t just like to solve problems; he likes to create them, too, and accelerator physics gives him a chance to do both. …


Why is there more carbon in soil than in the atmosphere and all plants combined? Johannes Lehmann turns soil science on its head with the answer. (Photo Credit: Jason Koski)

by Jackie Swift

Johannes Lehmann, School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, Soil and Crop Sciences, is leading a revolution. Over the past two decades, he has been instrumental in overturning a long-held scientific belief regarding the fundamental nature of soil, while at the same time exploring innovative ways to mitigate climate change.

“There is much more carbon in the soil than in the atmosphere and in all the plants together on the globe,” he says. “It’s a conundrum why there is so much. …


The things we keep shape our behavior — and history — in powerful ways. An archaeologist reconsiders the stuff the Roman Empire was made of. (Illustration Credit: Elizabeth Nelson; Provided)

by J. Edward Anthony

“In a complete stranger’s house, I could probably find a toothbrush pretty easily,” says Astrid Van Oyen, Classics. “The spatial specificity in our houses tends to be echoed by the material objects we store in that space.” Dishes go in a kitchen cabinet, pajamas in a bedroom dresser. “In Roman houses, in the time of the Roman Empire, that wasn’t the case,” she explains. “It would be a nightmare for any modern-day organizer.”

Van Oyen is a classical archaeologist who asks questions like an anthropologist. The two disciplines are more closely linked in her native Belgium, where archaeology encompasses all study of human beings through things. …


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Sumanta Basu uses data to understand the structure of a complex system and to predict what will happen to the system at a future time point. (Illustration credit: Elizabeth Nelson)

by Jackie Swift

“Statistics is unique; it’s like a language of science,” says Sumanta Basu, Statistics and Data Science/Computational Biology. “It gives researchers a rigorous framework to clearly present the logic behind their algorithms and analyses, as well as the assumptions they are making, and helps them communicate their findings to their peers in the scientific community.”

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Photo credit: Patrick Shanahan

Basu focuses on high-dimensional time series analysis, which looks at nonlinear interaction through time. He works with colleagues from a range of disciplines whose research demands the analysis of large amounts of data. …


Environmentally friendly or no? Ricardo Daziano models the economic variables that influence whether consumers choose energy-efficient technology. (Illustration Credit: Elizabeth Nelson)

by Jackie Swift

Cutting back on energy use in the face of climate change means we need to make some important choices in the marketplace: Do we buy a gasoline-powered car or an electric one? Do we replace our old furnace with a gas furnace or an electric heat pump? Do we opt to get our energy from solar panels or coal-fired power plants?

“Environmentally friendly products like electric cars and solar panels have benefits not only for the user, who saves money because the products are energy efficient, but also for society because they produce less emissions,” says Ricardo A. Daziano, Cornell University. Daziano is a choice modeler, an economist by training who focuses on energy efficiency — mathematically modeling the economic variables that underlie individual choice in an effort to understand how people make decisions regarding the purchase of energy-efficient technology. …


For 37 years, Martha Haynes has studied the evolution of galaxies. Now she leaves behind a groundbreaking new telescope for the next generation. (Photo credit: Courtesy of the Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the NSF)

by Jackie Swift

Martha P. Haynes, Astronomy at Cornell University, has achieved many milestones in her 37-year career at Cornell. …


Is social media getting us to work more for less? Brooke Erin Duffy examines digital platforms and labor. (Illustration Credit: Elizabeth Nelson)

by J. Edward Anthony

Stories abound of so-called social media influencers who earn thousands of dollars for a single post. The New York Times reported in July 2019 that the YouTube star du jour, Emma Chamberlain, made as much as $2 million a year from her videos alone. Being a social media influencer is glamourous, and it seems that anyone can do it — not just teenagers. Recent college grads, aspiring entrepreneurs, and work-at-home mothers have amassed huge followings and garnered advertising deals through their social media personas.

Social media platforms have opened new channels for self-presentation, artistic expression, and marketing. But Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok are doing far more than creating new career opportunities. “These platforms are reconfiguring how people think about preparing themselves for the labor market,” says Brooke Erin Duffy, Communication. “So many of us are compelled to engage in social media self-promotion. I hear about these demands from the people I study, but I also hear about it from students and colleagues. In the social media age, we’re all expected to cultivate a marketable, commodified, visible self-brand.” …


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Cornell is one of the top 10 academic innovators in the world according to Reuters News Agency. (Photo Credit: Elizabeth Nelson; Dave Burbank)

by Jackie Swift

From its founding, Cornell University has emphasized real-world impact through cutting-edge innovation and breakthrough discoveries in its labs. …


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To understand the metabolic mechanisms behind diabetes, Bethany Cummings explores the positive impacts of bariatric surgery on diabetes remission. (Photo Credit: Provided)

by Jackie Swift

Even if you don’t know much about diabetes, you’re probably aware that a crucial component of the disease is lack of the hormone insulin, which lowers blood sugar. …

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