Department News

Business Insider ranked Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute among the top 50 computer science and engineering schools in the United States. ...read more
Nature Geoscience today featured news of a climate board game and downloadable teaching module developed by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students and faculty in collaboration with Troy High School.  ...read more
Peter Fox, director of the interdisciplinary Information Technology and Web Science program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), has been elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. ...read more
Rensselaer Professor Francine Berman is featured in the July 27 issue PLOS Biology in an article titled “Let’s Make Gender Diversity in Data Science a Priority Right from the Start. ...read more
The Datathon was an early indicator of the potential of an NSF-sponsored initiative to teach basic data analytics to most math majors.  ...read more

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Announcements

  On Friday, May 18th, 2018 the School of Science hosted a graduation brunch for the graduating students in the undergraduate and graduate programs in all School of Science departments.  We would like to congratulate the graduates and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.  Please, find pictures of the event here.
Symposium on the Cell Biology of the Neuron: A Symposium in Honor of the Career of Gary Banker, PH.D. Sponsored by the Vollmer Fries Lecture Series, the Frontiers in Biotechnology Lecture Series, the School of Science and the Department of Biological Sciences.Friday, October 6th, 20172:00pm - 5:00pmReception to Follow
The new School of Science Advising Hub (The Hub) is a resource for School of Science students during their time at RPI and is a resource for all advising purposes. Staffed by experienced advisors, The Hub assists students in achieving their academic goals.
On Friday, May 19th, 2017 the School of Science hosted a graduation brunch for the graduating students in the undergraduate and graduate programs in all School of Science departments.  We would like to congratulate the graduates and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.  Please, find pictures of the event here.
Lee Ligon, Associate Professor in Biological Sciences, has been invited to serve as a panelist in a Workshop on Responsible Communication of Basic Biomedical Research: Enhancing Awareness and Avoiding Hype, hosted by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) in cooperation with the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) being held at the Natcher Conference Center on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland on June 22, 2017.

In the News

  • ‘Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss

    October 15, 2018 -

    Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.

  • FIFTH FORCE OF NATURE: THE HUNT FOR A HIDDEN REALM THAT COULD CHANGE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE UNIVERSE IS ABOUT TO BEGIN

    October 2, 2018 -

    A team of physicists based at a lab near Rome, Italy, are about to switch on an experiment that could fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe.

  • Pushing the Boundaries of Learning With AI

    October 1, 2018 -

    At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, students are immersing themselves in Chinese culture without setting foot outside their classroom.

  • Manned mission to Mars discussed at RPI panel

    September 27, 2018 -

    It was an evening with trailblazers and space innovators at RPI Wednesday, where a panel of guests discussed the logistics of a manned mission to Mars.  

    Dr. Ellen Ochoa, a retired astronaut, was the first Hispanic woman in the world to go into space. She explained that while we have rovers on the red planet now, there are human risks associated with sending people into space.

  • Virtual learning: using AI, immersion to teach Chinese

    September 7, 2018 -

    To learn Chinese in this room, talk to the floating panda head. The Mandarin-speaking avatar zips around a 360-degree restaurant scene in an artificial intelligence-driven instruction program that looks like a giant video game. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students testing the technology move inside the 12-foot-high, wrap-around projection to order virtual bean curd from the panda waiter, chat with Beijing market sellers and practice tai chi by mirroring moves of a watchful mentor.

  • Students Get Immersive AI Boost to Learn Mandarin

    August 31, 2018 -

    Imagine the process of going into a restaurant and ordering food. Simultaneously, you could be glancing through the menu while also listening to and speaking with the waiter or your companions. When you're in a place where people are speaking a different language, the complexity of those activities increases multifold. A project taking place at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) hopes to understand how the use of an immersive environment and artificial intelligence can help students practice foreign language skills and increase their confidence when speaking. The researchers are using simulated experiences to test out their ideas.

  • 'The Jefferson Project' aims to solve water problem in Syracuse

    August 28, 2018 -

    In 2013, the FUND for Lake George came together with IBM and RPI to create a sophisticated network of sensors designed to keep what Thomas Jefferson dubbed as the most beautiful water he ever saw, well, beautiful.

    “The Jefferson Project is really a springboard to the future as to what we need to understand about this lake in order to protect it," said Eric Siy, FUND executive director.

    The project tests the lake’s water quality using over 50 platforms and more than 500 sensors.

    “We’re collecting thousands of data points every day," said Rick Relyea, RPI director.

  • Skaneateles Lake gets help in fighting toxic algae -- from a robot

    August 28, 2018 -

    A robotic buoy bristling with scientific instruments has joined the fight against toxic algae in Skaneateles Lake. Scientists from IBM and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute installed the buoy, called a vertical profiler, on July 30. The algae quickly cooperated: A bloom that closed beaches and infiltrated water intake pipes started Aug. 4.

  • Scientists are developing greener plastics – the bigger challenge is moving them from lab to market

    August 16, 2018 -

    Synthetic plastics have made many aspect of modern life cheaper, safer and more convenient. However, we have failed to figure out how to get rid of them after we use them.

  • The Milky Way galaxy may be much bigger than we thought

    May 25, 2018 -

    It's no secret that the Milky Way is big, but new research shows that it may be much bigger than we ever imagined.

    The research, described May 7 in the journal "Astronomy & Astrophysics," indicates that our spiral galaxy's vast rotating disk of stars spans at least 170,000 light-years, and possibly up to 200,000 light-years.

  • Smart Lake, Healthy Ecosystem: The Jefferson Project at Lake George

    April 6, 2018 -

    The Jefferson Project was begun by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY three years ago. The team has gradually transformed Lake George into what is arguably the world’s smartest lake, equipped with a tremendous range of sensors and equipment that collect more data points every week than researchers had been able to gather in the 30 years prior to the project’s beginning. Project leader Rick Relyea corresponded with EM about the endeavor.

  • How One University Wants to Teach Students to Use Data

    April 6, 2018 -

    Data is an increasingly pervasive force in American life, with the power to shape perception and policy. And so it makes a certain amount of sense that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently adopted a new "data dexterity" requirement for its students, starting in fall 2019.

  • RPI Adds New 'Data Dexterity' Requirement

    March 27, 2018 -

    TROY, N.Y. (AP) — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will be requiring all of its students to be able to use diverse datasets to solve complex problems.

    RPI says its "data dexterity" requirement will ensure that all students graduating for the school in Troy, New York are prepared for an increasingly data-driven world.

  • The Andromeda Galaxy Is Not Nearly as Big as We Thought

    February 21, 2018 -

    The closest galaxy to our own is the majestic Andromeda galaxy, a collection of a trillion stars located a “mere” 2 million light years away. New research suggests that, contrary to previous estimates, this galaxy isn’t much bigger than the Milky Way, and is practically our twin. This means our galaxy won’t be completely devoured when the two galaxies collide in five billion years.

  • Turning to beet juice and beer to address road salt danger

    February 2, 2018 -

    Experiments at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute aquatic lab in Troy, New York, have found that higher salt concentrations reduced growth rates in rainbow trout and decreased the abundance of zooplankton — tiny animals or larvae that are critical to the aquatic food chain and play a role in keeping lakes and streams clean.

    Other studies have shown that salinization of lakes and streams reduces the numbers of fish and amphibians, kills off plants, and alters the diversity of these freshwater ecosystems.

    “At high road salt concentrations, you can see reductions in growth, reduction in the diversity of species within a system and you can also see effects on reproduction of certain species,” said William Hintz, of Rensselaer Polytechnic.

  • Inner Workings: Smart-sensor network keeps close eye on lake ecosystem

    February 2, 2018 -

    New York’s Lake George may be the most high-tech lake in the world. By year’s end, a network of 41 sensor platforms will monitor the 32-mile long body of water. Its tributary stations and vertical profilers measure the chemical and physical properties of water at varying depths. Acoustic sensors measure the direction and speed of currents in three dimensions. What’s known as the Jefferson Project, named after US President Thomas Jefferson who once marveled at the lake during a visit, is run by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. Started three years ago, the project is already collecting more data points in one week than Rensselaer researchers collected at the lake over the past three decades, says project leader Rick Relyea.

  • NPR's The Academic Minute

    January 19, 2018 -

    From circadian rhythms to corporate financing reporting, Rensselaer research was featured all week on NPR's Academic Minute on WAMC.

  • Can road salt and other pollutants disrupt our circadian rhythms?

    January 12, 2018 -

    Every winter, local governments across the United States apply millions of tons of road salt to keep streets navigable during snow and ice storms. Runoff from melting snow carries road salt into streams and lakes, and causes many bodies of water to have extraordinarily high salinity.

    At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, my colleague Rick Relyea and his lab are working to quantify how increases in salinity affect ecosystems. Not surprisingly, they have found that high salinity has negative impacts on many species. They have also discovered that some species have the ability to cope with these increases in salinity.

  • The Remarkable Career of Shirley Ann Jackson

    December 21, 2017 - Shirley Ann Jackson worked to help bring about more diversity at MIT, where she was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate. She then applied her mix of vision and pragmatism in the lab, in Washington, and at the helm of a major research university.
  • The Jefferson Papers - Changing forests, insecticides, and wetland ecosystems

    November 9, 2017 -

    The Jefferson Project at Lake George is conducting research into how human activities may affect the lake, which include attached wetlands and the surrounding watershed. Here, we summarize research on the combined effects of changing forests and a commonly applied insecticide on wetland ecosystems, which was published recently in the journal Environmental Pollution.

  • The Jefferson Papers - Forests, Road Salt and Wetlands Ecosystem Research Published

    November 9, 2017 -

    The Jefferson Project at Lake George is conducting research into how human activities may affect the lake. Here, we summarize research on the effects of road salt and changing forest composition on wetland ecosystems, which was published recently in the journal Freshwater Science .

  • Picture of the Day: Can environmental toxins disrupt the biological clock?

    November 7, 2017 -

    Can environmental toxins disrupt circadian rhythms -- the biological clock whose disturbance is linked to chronic inflammation and a host of human disorders? Research showing a link between circadian disruption and plankton that have adapted to road salt pollution puts the question squarely on the table. The research builds on recent findings from the Jefferson Project at Lake George, showing that a common species of zooplankton, Daphnia pulex (shown here), can evolve tolerance to moderate levels of road salt in as little as two and a half months. That research produced five populations of Daphnia adapted to salt concentrations ranging from the current concentration of 15 milligrams-per-liter of chloride in Lake George to concentrations of 1,000 milligrams-per-liter, as found in highly contaminated lakes in North America.

  • WE’RE POURING MILLIONS OF TONS OF SALT ON ROADS EACH WINTER. HERE’S WHY THAT’S A PROBLEM.

    November 7, 2017 -

    Despite the ever-greater use, road salt’s effects on streams, lakes and groundwater have been largely ignored until recently. As recently as 2014, when biologist Rick Relyea began studying the effects of salt-laden runoff at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “the world of science didn’t pay very much attention to the impacts of road salt on water,” he says. “Now we’re paying much more attention.”

  • The scientific swerve: Changing your research focus

    October 10, 2017 -

    Many scientists alter their research focus, at least slightly, over their career, according to studies by Boleslaw Szymanski, a computer science professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Szymanski’s group followed the work of more than 14,000 scientists from 1976 to 2009, using data from American Physical Society journals. The results showed that most researchers tend to stay in their field, but that those who don’t progress along a related path. In describing their findings, Szymanski and colleagues use an analogy inspired by Isaac Newton’s reflection on his own research: They describe a scientific career as a walk along the beach, moving from one interesting shell (in this case a research topic) to another. 

    These findings support a similar analysis that Szymanski’s group performed on data from journals and from U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) grants in computer science. In this field, scientists tend to shift research focus roughly every 10 years. Some make once-in-a-career moves to substantially different areas. The field itself changes with technological advances, Szymanski says, so even researchers who stay in one area at least change methods over time. 

  • Hackers converge on RPI campus

    July 6, 2017 -

    Hundreds of students spent their weekend hacking away, competing in the third annual HackRPI marathon. The 24-hour, two-day event drew about 300 students from a wide range of schools to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute campus. The campus’ Darrin Communications Center served as the central hub — and temporary home — for avid student hackers focused on creating projects in areas of technology that address hardware, web, data, mobile, video game and virtual reality, and the humanitarian fields, among others.

  • Alexa, What's The Future Of AI?

    July 6, 2017 -

    Once upon a time, we dreamed of artificial intelligence in outer space, in a sci-fi future, far from home. Now, we’re talking with computers in our kitchens.  Asking them anything. “Alexa, what’s the Inaugural Oath?” “How big is a blue whale?” “What’s the square root of seven trillion forty two?” Does this ambient, ask-it-anything-anytime AI give us superpowers? Make us great? Make us lazy? And what comes next? This hour On Point,  talking with Alexa, and humans, about the AI future. — Tom Ashbrook

  • The Internet of Things Needs a Code of Ethics

    July 6, 2017 -

    In October, when malware called Mirai took over poorly secured webcams and DVRs, and used them to disrupt internet access across the United States, I wondered who was responsible. Not who actually coded the malware, or who unleashed it on an essential piece of the internet’s infrastructure—instead, I wanted to know if anybody could be held legally responsible. Could the unsecure devices’ manufacturers be liable for the damage their products?

    Right now, in this early stage of connected devices’ slow invasion into our daily lives, there’s no clear answer to that question. That’s because there’s no real legal framework that would hold manufacturers responsible for critical failures that harm others. As is often the case, the technology has developed far faster than policies and regulations.

    But it’s not just the legal system that’s out of touch with the new, connected reality. The Internet of Things, as it’s called, is also lacking a critical ethical framework, argues Francine Berman, a computer-science professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a longtime expert on computer infrastructure. Together with Vint Cerf, an engineer considered one of the fathers of the internet, Berman wrote an article in the journal Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery about the need for an ethical system.

  • The Hidden Dangers of Road Salt

    May 30, 2017 -

    “It has a really widespread number of effects on the whole food web or ecosystem,” says Rick Relyea, a professor of biological sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Relyea has studied how road salt runoff impacts lakes as part of the Jefferson Project at Lake George in New York state. Recently, he found that road salt can reduce the size of rainbow trout hatchlings by about 30 percent, influencing their ability to elude predators and decreasing the number of eggs they lay. One experiment he worked on found that higher levels of salt could change the male-female sex ration of wood frogs.

  • Opinion: Saving Our Heritage

    March 28, 2017 -

    The Trump administration's new budget blueprint proposes the effective elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, write Francine Berman and Cathy N. Davidson. Is that the value we place on our cultural inheritance and its future?

  • Road Salt Alternatives May Harm Environment, Researchers Report

    March 13, 2017 -

    Alternatives to road salt are markete as environmentally-friendly substitutes because they allow highway crews to maintain ice-free roads while applying less salt. But the alternatives and additives may not be without environmental consequences, according to Rick Relyea, the director of the Jefferson Project.

  • The Jefferson Papers - Road Salt and Wetlands

    March 13, 2017 -

    The Jefferson Project at Lake George is conducting ongoing research into how human activities may be affecting the lake. Among its studies: impacts of road salt on wetlands. Here, we summarize recent research published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 

  • Are Lake Species Becoming Salt-Tolerant?

    February 2, 2017 -

    Among  its  many  other products and by-products, the Jefferson Project is teaching scientists more than has ever been known before about the effects of road salt on fresh water ecoystems.

  • The Future Called, it Wants its Cloud Back

    January 5, 2017 -

    “Cloud telephony is a new name for something called Voice Over IP, except in a business context,” said James Hendler, director of the Institute for Data Exploration and Applications (IDEA) and the Tetherless World Professor of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. “It’s been used by consumers for 10 or 15 years,” he said, mostly by people who wanted to make long-distance calls on their computers to avoid phone bill charges.

  • New Boat Helping RPI Survey Lake George's Fish Population

    December 13, 2016 -

    “The food web is a key to water quality,” says RPI professor Rick Relyea, the director of the Jefferson Project. And at the top of that web is the  fish  population,  which  shapes the size and the distribution of the organisms that sustain it.

  • Invasion of the Aliens: Body Snatching Worms, Cold Winters May Rout Lakes’ Enemies

    November 30, 2016 -

    Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) in Bolton Landing, N.Y., are studying a worm, named Chaetogaster limnaei, that has a taste for Asian clams. It’s the first species in Lake George known to prey on Asian clams. The work is funded by the LGA and the LGPC.

  • Study: Road salt skews future frog, amphibian generations

    November 28, 2016 - Tainted water can skew population toward males, study reveals
  • RPI's Hendler On What We Are Learning From Election Data

    November 15, 2016 -

    The numbers from the election are still coming in, but one analysis indicates that despite what many of the pundits believe, the Trump victory was not driven as much by the white working class, but more by the fact that Democrats stayed home. Jim Hendler is the Director of the Institute of Data Exploration and Applications at RPI. He says while the numbers are still preliminary, it is clear that the Clinton campaign failed to get enough Democrats to the polls.

  • Research pair outlines new field of 'web science'

    November 11, 2016 -

    A pair of web scientists has written a Technology Perspective piece for the journal Science outlining the newly developing field of "web science." In their article, James Hendler with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Wendy Hall, with the University of Southampton, also offer some arguments for the importance of social sciences regarding the internet as technology continues to change our world and the way people interact.  

  • Insight into Pseudomonas aeruginosa survival mechanism

    November 11, 2016 -

    The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa can thrive in environments as different as the moist, warm tissue in human lungs, and the dry, nutrient-deprived surface of an office wall. Such adaptability makes it problematic in healthcare.

  • RPI researchers use nanoparticles to treat influenza in mice

    November 4, 2016 -

    Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute demonstrated in a paper published last month how they successfully treated immune-compromised mice exposed to the influenza virus with a new nanoparticle drug.

  • Lake George Sensor Network to Be Completed With $917K National Science Foundation Grant

    November 2, 2016 -

    A high-tech sensor network for Lake George is on track for completion with a $917,000 National Science Foundation grant.

  • Lake Science: Water Clarity As Important as Air Temperatures in Respond to Climate Change

    November 2, 2016 -

    A new paper released this week demonstrates how even small changes in water clarity  over time can have big impacts on water temperatures.