Research & Innovation

CAL Faculty Research Updates

Learn about the exciting work that some of the CAL faculty have been conducting

Music teacher is a master mixer of roles in music department

Music Teacher Rob Harari with fellow musiciansWhether he’s mixing sounds and music or just mixing it up, Rob Harari, Industry Associate Professor, Music & Technology, is a professional multi-tasker.

With roles and responsibilities that span teaching sound recording and sound and vision, sitting on the Board of Trustees for the United Jazz Federation and serving as a Clinical Researcher at Hackensack University, Harari found time in December to serve as the front of house engineer for a United Jazz Federation benefit concert on the island of St. Thomas.

Harari created the sound design and worked with the lighting designer to create a stage ambiance for the Triumph of Trumpets concert. He worked with Billy Banks, Director of Production for Jazz at Lincoln Center, to pull off a fiery and energetic show that featured renowned performer Jon Faddis, Terrel Stafford, Sean Jones and Rashawn Ross, who serves as Musical Director for Dave Matthews and Usher. The soulful sounds benefited the United Jazz Federation’s Artist Mentorship program at the Antilles School in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“It was an amazing performance,” says Harari, who, separately, has co-produced an album with Ross that features Dion Parson, a spokesperson for the United States Virgin Islands program and former drum instructor from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Playwright Tony Pennino pens play about police brutality crisis

Snapshot from Tony Pennino's ChokeholdCompelled by the headlines of police brutality stories over the past two years, Tony Pennino sat down to craft a written response following the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. In less than a month, the Assistant Professor of Literature completed Chokehold, submitted it the next month, and it was accepted for performance at Planet Connections Festivity, a New York socially-conscious arts festival.

“I had gone on peaceful marches and prayer walks and was still very frustrated by it,” said Pennino. “I sat down and it took a short time to write it. I was very motivated to write it.”

The play ran last June and won Outstanding Overall Production of a new play and will be included in Theater Now’s 2016 Plays and Playwrights Anthology. The 15th Street Y in Manhattan will also give it a four-week run in September.

Despite the activity around Chokehold, a commute from Princeton, N.J., and his teaching responsibilities, Pennino has still found time to pen yet another play. Iron Tongue of Midnight, a dark comedy set in Moscow in 1939, will be finished and ready for performance in May at the Neighborhood Playhouse. The full-time professional conservatory for actors which has graduated Robert Duvall and Joanne Woodward.

Nicholas O’Brien explores tools and woods in separate works

The exhibit Four Tools at Baruch CollegeAssistant Professor, Visual Arts & Technology, Nicholas O’Brien, explores the past through the use of contemporary technologies in Cross Timbers, part of the Space Between the Skies exhibit; a virtual reality experience produced in collaboration with three other CAL professors. By using generative and procedural systems to create an endless simulated forest, O’Brien rediscovers lost stories of travelers who populated the Cross Timbers, a forest that stretches from central Texas into southern Kansas.

O’Brien is also showing an exhibit, Four Tools, at Baruch College in Manhattan. The exhibit uses the simple tools of a broom, erasure, coat rack and church key, to explore simple object creation and its role in labor. “As I continue to develop video game work, I’ve been interested in the way we make objects, what they signify,” he said. “Games objects don’t typically have practical use or value, they are just props in the game environment.”

But in the actual world, O’Brien saw an opportunity to explore their history, legacy and timeline. “I have a personal history and narrative with them and I adapted them into a short series.” O’Brien situates the brightly colored tools in a stark environment in order highlight their specificity. The show runs through May 2 at the New Media Artspace Gallery in the Baruch College Library and Information Building.

Yu Tao Tackles Minority Issues in Engineering

Photo of Yu Tao on park benchInside and out of the classroom, Yu Tao, Assistant Professor Sociology, examines the impact, influence and still prevalent gaps of minorities in engineering. She recently co-edited a book, Changing the Face of Engineering: The African American Experience, which examines the experience of African Americans in engineering. Tao also co-authored a chapter in the book, which includes writings by four members of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor for engineers. Separately, she is co-organizing an invitation-only workshop, sponsored by the Sloan Foundation. The workshop will discuss and evaluate solutions to the underrepresentation of African Americans in engineering with researchers and policy makers from academia, industry, and government.

Tao’s work was also recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, the top journal in her area of research. In the article, she employs multinomial logistic regression and investigates sex segregation in engineering. Tao finds that women doctoral engineers are more likely than their male counterparts to be in academic research, teaching, government research, and non-research government positions, but not non-faculty academic or non-research industrial positions, relative to industrial research. The findings highlight sex segregation in several positions, especially industrial research and confirm sociological literature in sex segregation that men and women are sorted into different positions based on the status and pay of the positions. The article also provides new insights in the context of a highly educated engineering workforce.

Adding to her full roster of projects, Tao is also the co-PI on a National Science Foundation project that is developing an educational game for the general public to use to enhance online privacy awareness and skills.

Greg Morgan Pursues Virus Studies Through a Philosophical Lens

Photo of Greg MorganRecently tenured Associate Professor of Philosophy, Greg Morgan, published an article titled "What is a virus species? Radical pluralism in viral taxonomy” in a special issue of the journal Studies in the History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences. The issue is devoted to the philosophy of virology, an area of study that is coming of age. Morgan’s article explores the existence of prolific horizontal genetic transfer (HGT) among various groups of viruses and how they present a challenge to traditional definitions of viral species.

Morgan argues that the proper response to this mode of evolution is to allow for radical pluralism. Some viruses can be members of more than one species; others don't form species at all and should be classified using new reticulate categories.

Additionally, Morgan has received a $40,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to complete a book, Cancer Virus Hunters.  This historical book will cover a century of research into the idea that certain cancers are caused by viruses. The book takes readers on a journey from the opening narrative about the discovery in 1911 of a tumor in chickens that was transplantable from one chicken to the next to the closing chapter, which highlights the FDA approval in 2006 of a vaccine for cervical cancer caused by human papillomavirus. The book discusses the discovery of oncogenes and other Nobel Prize winning research.

Pianist Aysegul Durakoglu releases new CD

New album Dances Through the Keyboard by Aysegul DurakogluPerforming and recording are just part of the multi-faceted jobs CAL faculty member, Aysegul Durakoglu.

The Turkey-born pianist and professor recorded her latest album, Dances Through the Keyboard, in just four hours thanks to the latest mixing and engineering technologies deployed by CAL. The album was recorded at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

In a recent performance at the Samuel C. Williams Library, Durakoglu played interpretations of Debussy, Chopin and Bach from the album, which features stylized dance forms such as the Waltz, Mazurka, and Tarantella.

“The recording includes the foundation and basic principles of classical music but technology is a very important part of it,” she says. “This is a perfect blending of traditional classic music with the newest technologies.”

After Durakoglu recorded all of the tracks, two sound engineers examined the tracks for the perfect sounds that balance the lower and higher registers and cleaned the tracks to mix and master them.

Durakoglu, who has been playing since she was 5-years-old, enjoys using piano as a teaching tool. It allows you “to talk about recording and technology but also to give insights to students about the story of the music and show examples.”