Visual Ecology, Tom Cronin

A new book written by Tom Cronin and colleagues — the publisher’s note says:

“Visual ecology is the study of how animals use visual systems to meet their ecological needs, how these systems have evolved, and how they are specialized for particular visual tasks. Visual Ecology provides the first up-to-date synthesis of the field to appear in more than three decades. Featuring some 225 illustrations, including more than 140 in color, spread throughout the text, this comprehensive and accessible book begins by discussing the basic properties of light and the optical environment. It then looks at how photoreceptors intercept light and convert it to usable biological signals, how the pigments and cells of vision vary among animals, and how the properties of these components affect a given receptor’s sensitivity to light. The book goes on to examine how eyes and photoreceptors become specialized for an array of visual tasks, such as navigation, evading prey, mate choice, and communication.”

LA Times: Mantis shrimp wear tinted shades to see UV light, Tom Cronin and Michael Bok

“When you look at a mantis shrimp, you see a vivid lobster-like crustacean whose forearms can strike with the force of a .22-caliber bullet. But when a mantis shrimp looks at you, we have no idea what it sees. That’s because the mantis shrimp possesses one of the most complex eyeballs on the planet, an organ that allows it to perceive a rainbow of colors in both the visible and ultraviolet spectrum without the massive brainpower required for human vision,” so writes Julia Rosen of the Los Angeles Times.

Rosen’s story, Mantis shrimp wear tinted shades to see UV light, tells of Tom Cronin and Michael Bok’s paper. Cronin is a professor of biology and Bok a graduate student who has now moved on to a post doc at Lund University.

The paper, which was recently published in the journal, Current Biology, reported that, “that that mantis shrimp use a set of filters to separate ultraviolet light into discrete colors that get picked up by the animals’ photoreceptors.”

U.S. News, Colleges Work to Engage Women, Minorities in STEM Fields, Penny Rheingans

Delece Smith-Barrow of U.S. News & World Report, recently wrote about the importance of engaging women and minorities in STEM fields. Smith-Barrow interviewed UMBC’s Penny Rheingans, director for the Center of Women in Technology (CWIT).

Smith Barrow wrote: “If students struggle in class and have few peers and faculty that look like them, it’s easy for them to think, “maybe I’m not supposed to be here, either,” says Penny Rheingans, director for the Center for Women in Technology at the University of Maryland—Baltimore County.

Prospective college students who are women or underrepresented minorities can determine if a school can help them in their STEM endeavors by finding out what resources colleges offer these kinds of students.

The Center for Women in Technology at UMBC​ provides mentoring services, ​seminars that discuss topics such as networking and time management and a number of other resources, Rheingans says. A living and learning residence community provided through the program caters to women and men in STEM, but the former group dominates.

“Eighty-five percent of students who live on our floor are women,” she says.

Rheingan encourages prospective students to keep an eye out for school environments that have structures in place that support women. “You’re looking for a community,” she says. Visiting the college and talking to current students is one way to find out about the community, she says.”

 

 

Say Something: Jesse Smith

The Chronicle has just featured math major and Meyerhoff Scholar Jesse Smith in their Say Something audio series.

Smith talks about his experience with the Meyerhoff program and how peer
connections through the program have given him a sense of confidence and
what is possible to achieve in his career. The article also links to the
HHMI story about the Meyerhoff Replication Project.

President Hrabowski in Chronicle of Higher Education “On Leadership” Video Interview

The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Sara Lipka speaks with President Freeman Hrabowski in a new video interview that focuses on how universities can help students succeed.

Dr. Hrabowski discusses the success and replication of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, as well as similar programs across the disciplines, including the arts, humanities and social sciences. He emphasizes the importance of helping students build supportive peer communities and learn to collaborate with one another.

“We believe the work should be very rigorous, whether in literature or in biochemistry,” Dr. Hrabowski says. “And we believe that we, as professionals, as educators, should be as supportive of those students as possible.”

Click here to watch the video.

Visual Arts Welcomes First Long-Term, Artist-in-Residence, Neja Tomšič

imageThe first long-term, artist-in-residence for UMBC’s Department of Visual Arts, hosted by IMDA and the Visiting Artists Lecture Series, is Slovenian artist Neja Tomšič. Tomšič will be in residence for five weeks this fall, from October 9 until November 12. There will be several public events and many opportunities to interact with Neja Tomšič.

Neja Tomšič co-founded the Museum of Transitory Art (MoTA) in 2008 and has been involved in strategic planning, international collaborations and development of an artist residency program. MoTA is a multidisciplinary platform dedicated to the research, production and presentation of transitory, experimental and live art forms. For the past two years Tomšič has also been in charge of MoTA’s educational programming and has developed an online platform, together with various Polish organizations, to archive and share public programs such as artists talks, workshops, discussions and symposia. She hopes to research practices of archiving transitory works and strategies for audience development and engagement.

This residency was made possible by CEC ArtsLink. ArtsLink Residencies offer artists and arts managers from 37 overseas countries five-week residencies at non-profit arts organizations throughout the US. The program enables artists and communities across the US to share artistic practices with artists and arts managers from abroad and engage in dialogue that advances understanding across cultures.

Please contact Lisa Moren, Visual Arts, for more information on exchanges with her this fall.