Union College News Archives

News story archive

Navigation Menu

College closing early due to weather

Posted on Dec 19, 2008

A note from Human Resources:

Due to extreme weather conditions, the College has decided to close administrative offices and all non-essential service areas at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19.

Employees who chose not to come in today should be charged a full vacation or personal day.  Employees who came to work this morning will receive regular pay for all hours worked and excused. Employees requested to remain at work by their supervisor will receive compensatory time that should be used, if possible, by December 31.

Please exercise extreme caution when driving or walking, and dress appropriately for the weather at hand.

If you have any questions please contact Human Resources at 388-6108.

Read More

ECCO to play Memorial Chapel Jan. 4

Posted on Dec 18, 2008

The exciting, young musicians of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, who made their Union College debut in April 2007, return Sunday, Jan. 4 at 3 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.

General admission tickets cost $20; area students will be admitted for half that price.

ECCO (East Coast Chamber Orchestra)

The show, part of the annual Chamber Concert Series, will feature selections from Wolfgang Mozart’s Divertimento for Strings in F major, Bela Bartok’s Divertimento for String Orchestra, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s “Battalia,” Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite,” and Astor Piazzolla’s “Four for Tango.”

ECCO is made up of accomplished artists who have soloed and played with the top orchestras and chamber ensembles in Europe and the United States. Members of the group are also graduates of highly-respected institutions, which include The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute of Music, the New England Conservatory and The Peabody Institute.

The ensemble, which made its U.S. debut tour in April 2006, includes violinists Meg Freivogel, Nicolas Kendall, Jessica Lee, Nelson Lee, John Marcus, Tai Murray, Annaliesa Place and Michi Wiancko. ECCO also features violists Maurycy Banaszek, Beth Guterman, Melissa Reardon, and Jonathan Vinocour; cellists Na-Young Baek, Denise Djokic, Thomas Kraines, Earl Lee and Daniel McDonough; and bassists Nate Farrington and Tom van Dyck.

For more information, call 388-6080 or click here.

Read More

Understanding a world in motion

Posted on Dec 18, 2008

 The black-capped chickadee preens its feathers with care. A chilly wind rustles the fallen leaves below its perch, and the fat house cat slinks closer. Momentarily ceasing its daily hygiene routine, the bird looks up. Caught in mid-slink, the tabby cat freezes, but it’s too late. The chickadee takes flight and vanishes into the woods.

Dr. Leo Fleishman, biology professor

Like many creatures, the chickadee pays strict attention to everything that occurs around it. But how exactly does the bird know the cat’s movement is dangerous, rather than welcome or simply inconsequential?

Here at Union, biology Professor Leo Fleishman is working to answer this very question using a computer model called a visual motion detector.

Fleishman first began work on the program after visiting The Australian National University in 2004.

“I spent six weeks there and they introduced me to some of this basic kind of modeling,” Fleishman said. “We had to develop our own version, though, as we weren’t able to use the version originally introduced to me.”

“Most of that work was done by former student Adam Pallus, who graduated in 2005,” he added. “Adam started with the basic principals and wrote a version of the model we could use to study natural motion patterns.”

Once complete, the model was put to work.

“One of our focuses early on was the problem of how an animal sorts out things that matter – like food and predators,” Fleishman said. “How can they sort those out from wind-blown vegetation?”

“This idea of a motion detection model mimics the way the animal’s nervous system detects motion,” he continued. “We make simple adjustments in the model to see if we can make it pay more attention to certain things.”

The motion detection model used by biology Professor Leo Fleishman produces 3-D images of movement. This one is from a moving bird.

While making fine adjustments in the model does indeed cause it to respond differently to various kinds of movement, that’s not enough to really answer the question of how animals tell one kind of motion from another.

“We have this model, but we don’t know if it means anything,” Fleishman said. “We’re doing behavior studies now with lizards to see if their behavior matches up with how the model responds to movement.”

“We take some kind of motion and test it on the model, and then try running it on the lizards to see if they respond the same way,” he added. “So far, everything has matched up.”

The real-world applications of a motion detector that mimics a living creature’s natural response to movement are many-fold.

“On the most extreme sort of pragmatic side, human visual systems work much the same way, so this model might be helpful in building roadside signals,” Fleishman said. “How do you get movement to draw attention? That’s a big part of our focus.

“Much closer to the reason we really do it, though, is our quest to understand how an animal’s nervous system is designed to relate to the ecology it must work in.”

To see a demonstration of how the visual motion detector works, or to learn more, click here.

Read More

A stitch in time: Unity quilt to bring together Union folks

Posted on Dec 16, 2008

Union will turn 215 years old next year, and the offices of Multicultural Affairs and Campus Diversity have got the event covered – so to speak.

In the works is the Union Unity Quilt, a project that entails stitching together little pieces of personal history from the campus community to make a large quilt that will hang in the Unity Lounge on the third floor of Reamer Campus Center.

“We all come to Union and bring our family histories with us. Our diversity goes beyond skin color, religion and gender,” said Karen Ferrer-Muñiz, director of Multicultural Affairs and Campus Diversity. “I hope people will leave little pieces of themselves behind in the quilt.”

Ferrer-Muñiz is inviting students, faculty, staff and alumni to donate pieces of fabric for the quilt. Each swath of cloth should contain a little piece of the giver’s own history, be it a recipe, song, family crest or a picture ironed on the fabric. Other ideas: a country’s flag, custom or ceremony, special proverbs, music lyrics or colors. 

Beginning this month, Ferrer-Muñiz is accepting fabric pieces that measure 18-by-18 inches, or ready-made patches measuring 12-by-12-inches. Non-quilters who want to contribute will have an opportunity to take lessons on campus throughout this year.

Union was founded in 1795. In honor of the 215th anniversary in 2010, Ferrer-Muñiz plans to hang one large quilt in the Unity Room and several smaller ones in other notable places around campus.

“I think this is going to be something awesome to keep for years and years and years,” she said.           

Working with Ferrer-Muñiz on the project is Judi Gordon, experiental education coordinator at the Becker Career Center and a quilter. For more details and guidelines, contact Ferrer-Muñiz at ferrermk@union.edu.

Read More

Musicians from Marlboro concert still on tonight

Posted on Dec 15, 2008

Violinist Jessica Lee, a Musician from Marlboro

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – While the area continues to recover from Thursday’s ice storm, select Musicians from Marlboro will perform tonight at Memorial Chapel at 8 p.m. as scheduled.

Violinists Jessica Lee, Yonah Zur, Miho Saegusa and Scott St. John will perform with violists Maiya Papach and Mark Holloway, and cellists Susan Babini and Na-Young Baek. The group will present Janacek’s String Quartet No. 1, portions of Mozart’s String Quartet in E flat, and portions of Mendelssohn’s Octet in E flat.

For information on tonight’s performance, which is part of the Union College Chamber Concert Series, call 388-6080 or visit www.union.edu/ConcertSeries. General admission tickets cost $20, though area students will be admitted for half that price.

Read More