Electric Snowmobile Earns Trip to Greenland

spotlight1What was first just a snowmobile competition has for Clarkson's Clean Snowmobile Team turned into the opportunity to watch their innovative design tested in the real world.

As one of the top two zero emissions entries in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, Clarkson was invited to bring their snowmobile to the Summit Station in Greenland, where the National Science Foundation (NSF) is doing atmospheric research.

The zero emissions category for battery-powered sleds is sponsored by the NSF, which uses electric snowmobiles while conducting research in pristine arctic locations. The need for emissions-free transportation is essential, as any emission could affect the results of precise data being taken by NSF researchers.

In the competition, held at Michigan Technological University, the sleds must be able to withstand arctic temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius, pull a heavy load and have as long a range as possible.

The Clarkson team received the CH2M HILL Polar Service Range Event Award, the Keweenaw Research Center Draw Bar Pull Award (pulling nearly 100 pounds more than the second-place team), and took first place in the endurance run. Their sled was also found to be the quietest in the competition, measuring in at only 63 decibels, or the equivalent of an average conversation.

Clarkson Students Make History at EPA Awards

spotlight2Two Clarkson University student teams recently used Clarkson's cold weather climate to their advantage - in projects to win awards from the Environmental Protection Agency for environmental innovation at the Annual National Sustainable Design Expo.

The teams' wins made Clarkson the first school ever to win two awards in one year.

Proving that they developed sustainable projects that help protect the environment, encourage economic growth and efficiently use natural resources, both teams were awarded the People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Awards for sustainability.

The first team presented "Farm Waste to Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Small-Scale Farms," which involved developing and optimizing viable anaerobic digester technology for dairy farms in cold climates with fewer than 50 cows.  The team was advised by professors Stefan Grimberg, Shane Rogers and Rick Welsh and also earned the P3 Student Choice Award.

The second team presented "Sustainable Year-Round Food Production in Cold Climates." The students, advised by Prof. Sue Powers, worked on the design, feasibility, analysis and impact assessment of a pilot scale, controlled environment high-rise farm. 

Live Birth as a Strategy for Survival

spotlight4Live birth (viviparity) may be associated with mammals, but they aren't the only animals who develop as embryos inside their mothers and are born live.

Although most species of lizards hatch from eggs, some are born live. To understand this divergence, Professor of Biology James Schulte studied the family tree of Iguanian lizards, which include iguanas and chameleons.

Schulte and his team looked at 14 species groups, nine of which branched off from their egg-laying relatives and adopted live birth. Their findings suggest that viviparity has independently evolved at least 20 times in this single group of closely related lizards over the last 66 million years.

Their research also places the origins of live birth between 35 million and 50 million years ago, much earlier than has been previously thought. This earlier timeframe coincides with the beginning of a gradual cooling-off period in Earth's history.

"Lizards have been on Earth for over 250 million years and survived great climatic fluctuations over this time," says Schulte. "Our study shows that one of the best ways for them to survive is to evolve live birth rather than lay eggs during periods of global cooling."

Wilton Named Goldwater Scholar

spotlight5Honors student Katelynn M. Wilton '11, a computer science and biology double major from Syracuse, has been named a Goldwater Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Wilton has been a presidential scholar for all six of her semesters at Clarkson.

Wilton's Goldwater essay was based on the idea of adjusting portions of the immune system as a therapy for autoimmune diseases and transplant rejection within model organisms and was performed under the advisement of Prof. Illona Gillette-Ferguson. Wilton currently works in the laboratory of Prof. Craig D. Woodworth on the effect of the human papillomavirus on the body's innate immune system. She intends to enter a medical scientist training program after completion of her degrees at Clarkson.

The scholarship program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. It is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.