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Summer researchers

Posted: 08/04/2011

From ecotourism branding to school enrollment trends to mold-inhibiting bacteria, a bumper crop of research projects has involved more than 30 faculty members and 50-plus students for several weeks of intensive work this summer. This week they offered public talks, Q & A’s, and poster sessions. Here is just a sampling.

In Skidmore’s newest academic program—arts administration—faculty member David Howson and Kate Imboden ’13 have been working “hand-in-hand with the staff” of the Depot Theatre in Westport, N.Y. Imboden designed a marketing survey and collected data about donor behaviors. The small, seasonal, nonprofit playhouse relies on community and patron fundraising, so she and Howson hope tooptimize procedures and build predictors to help the staff “better forecast and maximize contributed revenues.”

Computer scientist Mike Eckmann and Adam Steinberger ’12 knew that digital cameras use internal software to create complex, full colors from pixels that sense just red or green or blue. And that this software varies in each model of camera, leaving a “fingerprint” on the images it creates. Gathering some 5,500 images from 20 cameras, Steinberger wrote and optimized computer code to analyze how their pixel colors were arrived at—“a good diagnostic” for which camera created them, and a good step in perfecting the science of forensic image analysis.

In other projects, Lubin Professor Amy Frappier worked with Alena Chubet ’12 and Maryann Countryman ’13 to study stalagmites, which, since they preserve the chemistry of the dripping water and eroding minerals that gradually form them, can reveal a lot about climate in the distant past and over time. Field work was key for neuroscientist Rob Hallock and partners Carolyn O’Connor ’12 and Janel Schietzelt ’13 as they hunted and analyzed toxic mushrooms in Skidmore’s North Woods, and also for environmental-studies professor Cathy Gibson and partners Andrea Conine ’13 and Sondra Lipshutz ’13 as they measured how Catskill-area streams take up and retain phosphorus and ammonium.

Sociologist John Brueggemann and Willa Jones ’12 explored civic and social movements that operate outside of, and sometimes against, market and government forces. They focused on groups working for safety, health, sustainability, and justice relating to food issues. And artist Sang-Wook Lee and his student Katherine Humphreys ’12 took the term “mixed-media” to a new extreme, developing a way for music to affect the mechanisms of a loom and help shape the textile it creates.

Click here for a full list of projects and participants. 

Photos by Sam Brook ’12, Gary Gold, and Depot Theatre