As weather warms, get outside - but stay safe in gorges

May 25, 2017

Two gorges run through the Cornell campus – Cascadilla and Fall Creek – representing more than 10,000 years of beauty and helping to make Cornell one of the world’s most iconic campuses. While the gorges are wonderful for recreation and hiking, they can be very dangerous.

Cornell encourages the community to visit the natural places that make Ithaca “gorges,” but asks that visitors practice respect and safety at all times when hiking or using the trails. Please follow all caution and regulation signs, which change throughout the year depending on weather and trail conditions. Swimming is strictly prohibited in Cornell’s gorges at all times.

The Nathaniel Rand ’12 Memorial Gorge Safety Education Program, Cornell’s gorge safety educational effort, is named in memory of a student who died in a gorge drowning accident in 2011. The program’s goal is to prevent future tragedies by informing visitors about safe and responsible use of the gorge trails.

The program includes educational initiatives such as gorge stewards, orientation hikes for new students and programming for orientation leaders and residence advisers. Watch the program's gorge safety video above, read its brochure and visit the Gorge Safety website.

To find 240 miles of safe hiking trails in the gorges and beyond, visit For a list and directions to safe swimming areas, visit

How nature is healing Joplin, Missouri, after 2011 tornado

May 23, 2017

The short film "Butterfly Angels" shares a previously untold story of healing in Joplin, Missouri, in the aftermath of the tornado that struck the city six years ago on May 22. While nature caused the devastation, nature is playing a key role in the city’s recovery through a healing garden built at Joplin’s historic Cunningham Park.

Keith Tidball, a Cornell senior extension associate in the Department of Natural Resources who studies how nature can be a source of resilience for communities, is featured. In addition to working on the park, Tidball has used green spaces to heal returning veterans.

New literary magazine features diverse voices

May 23, 2017


Death in the Afternoon (DITA), a literary magazine launched May 7, aims to feature the voices of students and nonstudents from across the globe and in any language. The magazine’s international, intercollegiate and interdisciplinary focus represents the intersection between cultures, genres and mediums featuring diverse talents.

“As comparative literature students, we all spoke multiple languages and we all loved literature,” said Christopher-James Llego ’17, co-editor-in-chief.

A majority of current members are bilingual. Death in the Afternoon accepts submissions in any language and from any university. Non-English pieces will be accompanied by a translation by the author or a collaborator.

“Our goal is simply to publish fantastic writing from diverse voices,” said co-editor-in-chief Emma Craven-Matthews ’17. “We’re confident that we’ve been able to accomplish that in our first issue and we’re so grateful to the talented people who have submitted to us and made it all possible.”

Death in the Afternoon is named after a cocktail with champagne and absinthe, a cocktail that editors said is a combination of tradition, elegance and offbeat edge.

“In the next few years, we’d love to see an increase in the number of translation pieces. We’re really proud of the ones we have, but our goal is for 50 percent of the published pieces to be originally written in a language other than English,” Llego said.

- Yvette Lisa Ndlovu

Pups flee veterinary college to go shopping

May 18, 2017

Six dogs break out of their kennels and catch a TCAT bus to the Cortland CountryMax pet store, where they shop for beds, dog treats and toys in “Mission: Im-paw-ssible: Escape from Cornell Animal Hospital."

Life gets better with CRISPR

May 18, 2017

Blaine Friedlander

Let us tell you about CRISPR, the newly discovered genetic editing tool.

Let us. CRISPR. Get it?

Let’s move on: Guillaume Lambert, assistant professor in applied and engineering physics, took a technical topic and clarified to local residents – mostly nonscientists – this fresh sensation in genetic research.

In his May 16 Science Cabaret talk, “The CRISPR Revolution: Building a Better Life Using Synthetic Biology,” Lambert illuminated synthetic biology and explained programmable bacteria “that will work for us … and we can teach it what we want,” he said.

Lambert held rapt the large crowd at Coltivare as he compared genes to interchangeable Lego parts. By using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), scientists can mix and match DNA/RNA segments to improve health and agriculture.

“For synthesizing DNA, it used to be very expensive just to create a gene; now it costs a few dollars,” Lambert said. “A lot of companies have improved this. You can go online and enter a genetic sequence and a company will synthesize it within days.”

Let us put CRISPR into perspective: Because of this new tool, the Zika virus, malaria and E. coli may soon find their way into medical history. Lambert quoted CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley: “We may be nearing the beginning of the end of genetic diseases.”

Blaine Friedlander

Cornell on the map in NYC

May 17, 2017


From greening Harlem to unlocking art’s mysteries at the Met to staging Tony-winning works on Broadway, Cornell students, researchers and alumni play a vital role in the fabric of New York City.

A new interactive Cornell in NYC Story Map shows these and other examples of Cornellians who are improving lives, enhancing industries and transforming the cultural and social landscape throughout the city’s 300 square miles. 

After 3 decades, Cornell returns to national dairy contest

May 16, 2017

Mike Roemer/Roemerphoto
Libby Brown ’19 judges milk products at the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest in April.

With a sniff, savor and a sip, Cornell’s Dairy Products Sensory Evaluation team returned to the century-old National Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest after a 30-year hiatus.

Students from colleges across the country tested their palates against professional judges in the fluid milk, butter, yogurt, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese and ice cream categories.

Libby Brown ’18 scored yogurts, and said she was surprised at the varying textures and tastes. She evaluated milks and used her trusty twisty cheese trier to carve cylindrical chunks of cheddar. “I love cheddar cheese, which made it a little hard to rate it for defects since it all tasted delicious to me,” she said. “I then moved on to my favorite – ice cream.”

This year, Cornell was one of 14 colleges at the 96th competition, held in mid-April in Madison, Wisconsin. Other team members are Thomas Reis ’19, Brendon Horigan ’17, Ana Chang, M.S. ’17 and Sofia Lara, M.S. ’18.

Established in 1916, the contest was designed to find quality defects in dairy products so they could be corrected, said Cornell coach Carmela Beliciu, of Cornell Cooperative Extension. The contest gives students the opportunity to showcase their evaluation skills and prepare for careers in the dairy industry.

The competition was once called the “Students Butter Judging Contest,” and Brown tasted butter, too. “I like butter on things, but eating chunks of butter is a little difficult to do,” she said. “Unlike store-bought stick butter, these giant blocks were not oxidized and some tasted delicious.”

Blaine Friedlander

Feeding the masses on Slope Day

May 11, 2017

Blaine Friedlander
Slope Day volunteers feeding breakfast to revelers at the Schwartz Performing Arts Center in Collegetown, clockwise from left: Laurel Southard, Eve Abrams, Laura Santacrose, Kimberly Taulbee, Nadine Porter, Jennifer Austin, Paula Shuster, Catherine Thrusher-Carroll, Marin Cherry.

Volunteers from across campus pitched in to help students stay healthy on Slope Day, handing out 3,000 free breakfasts May 11.

Breakfast sandwiches (with vegan and gluten-free options) and fresh fruit provided by Cornell Dining were given away starting at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts in Collegetown and 626 Thurston Ave., the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, on North Campus.

Volunteers working the Collegetown location had run out of bananas, bottled water and 1,500 sandwiches by 10:10 a.m.

The initiative is a “harm reduction strategy” for students on Slope Day morning, said Laura Santacrose ’11, health initiatives coordinator in Cornell Health’s Skorton Center for Health Initiatives.

“The Slope Day breakfast idea came about as a way to really try to target those we know are moving and up and about at 8, 9 or 10 a.m., going to various parties,” she said. “We wanted to meet them where they’re at, give them some food in their stomach to slow down the absorption rate of alcohol.”

Santacrose added: “Last year was our first year doing it and it was a huge success; we handed out almost 2,500 sandwiches.”

Cornell Police, Cornell Health, the Interfraternity Council and Campus and Community Engagement units also provided “Party Safe, Party Smart” printed guides with tips and information on alcohol safety, local and state laws, and being a good Samaritan when someone needs medical or other assistance.

- Dan Aloi and Blaine Friedlander

Redheads take World Series of Birding cup

May 10, 2017


Cornell fielded four teams of undergrads in the annual World Series of Birding in New Jersey May 6. (They are collectively called “The Redheads” because of the Cornell Big Red association; a redhead is also a type of duck.)

The Redheads State team won their division, taking home the Urner Stone Cup with a total of 212 species tallied. Rare sightings of little gull, red-necked phalarope and little egret were among the highlights.

The Cape May County team came in second in that division with 160 species. Their best birds were common nighthawk, red-necked phalarope, yellow-throated vireo and barn owl.

The Carbon Free team (no motorized vehicles used) earned second place in their division with 130 species. Their highlights were black skimmer and brown pelican.

The Redheads Big Stay team (teams remain in one location at Cape May Point State Park and tally only birds they can see or hear from that spot) finished second in their division with 81 species. Their best birds were brown pelican and royal tern.

Supporters pledge an amount for each species the teams found, and you can still donate at All funds raised go to student research.

Spring Ezra: Cornell in New York City

May 8, 2017


The spring issue of Ezra, Cornell University’s magazine, looks at Cornell’s vital connections to and impact on New York City. While Cornell's Ithaca campus and its iconic upstate setting may be what many envision when they think of the university, Cornell has long had a presence on the cosmopolitan stages of New York City. With campuses, programs and engagement, Cornell is an integral part of New York City's past – and through research, outreach and imagination, a steadily growing part of its future.

Also in this issue: The developing ecosystem of entrepreneurship of, through and beyond Cornell; The Cornell Tradition’s silver thread; spotlights on recently hired faculty who embody the university’s collaborative vitality; a look at the living collections that make up the Cornell Botanic Gardens; and more.

To subscribe to the print edition of Ezra magazine, email Managing Editor Joe Wilensky.