Part of the Rutgers Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine, the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank (RCSB PDB) is expanding its storage capabilities.
Amazon Web Services’ Open Data Sponsorship Program will provide RCSB PDB with more than 100 terabytes of storage for no-cost delivery of Protein Data Bank information to millions of scientists, educators and students worldwide. The arrangement, which will benefit those working in fundamental biology, biomedicine, bioenergy, and bioengineering and biotechnology, was announced April 26.
“For more than five decades, the global Protein Data Bank has enabled basic, translational, and clinical research by providing open access to three-dimensional (3D) biostructure information at the atomic level,” said Dr. Stephen Burley, director of the RCSB PDB, founding director of Rutgers Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine, university professor and Henry Rutgers Chair at Rutgers University. “Open access to Protein Data Bank information is central to accelerating scientific discoveries for the benefit of all humanity.”
The AWS Open Data Sponsorship Program covers the cost of storage and egress for publicly available, high-value, cloud-optimized datasets. According to Rutgers, Amazon is working to expand open access to data by making it available for analysis on AWS; developing cloud-native techniques, formats and tools to lower the cost of working with data; and encouraging developing communities that benefit from shared datasets.
“The Protein Data Bank plays an important role in facilitating discovery and development of lifechanging drugs,” added Burley, who also co-leads the Cancer Pharmacology Research Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “Freely available 3D biostructure data constitute a public good with far-reaching impacts on patients and their families.”
The RCSB PDB has operated the U.S. data center for the global Protein Data Bank for over two decades. It is currently home to nearly 190,000 experimentally determined 3D structures of proteins, DNA and RNA, available freely with no limitations for usage, according to RCSB PDB. Its archive is jointly managed by the Worldwide Protein Data Bank partnership.
The U.S. data center is housed at RCSB PDB at Rutgers, in addition to the University of California, San Diego-San Diego Supercomputer Center and the University of California, San Francisco.
“Access to open data sets is improving the way the scientific community can collaborate and accelerate life-changing discoveries,” said AWS Director, US Education, State and Local Government Verticals Josh Weatherly. “The Protein Data Bank provides a vast and diverse repository for researchers in government, academia, and industry to use to develop diagnostics, vaccines, drugs, and other therapeutic treatments.
“AWS can help provide the Protein Data Bank the capacity to scale up to meet the increasing demand to continue to provide free and open access information and unlock the latest analytic capabilities,” he said.
In 2019, the Protein Data Bank was awarded $34.5 million in grants over five years from three federal agencies. At the time, RCSB PDB said the funding marked a 5% increase from the previous five-year period and would cover ongoing operations for the entity, as well as expanding its reach.
When it comes to the nation’s top graduate schools, Princeton makes the grade.
U.S. News & World Report released its 2023 Best Graduate Schools rankings on March 29 and listed Princeton in top 10 rankings for 11 of its graduate programs, included a tie for first place in mathematics with Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
No. 1 in mathematics (tied with MIT)
No. 2 in sociology (tied with Harvard and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor)
No. 2 in history (tied with University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Yale University)
No. 2 in physics (tied with California Institute of Technology, Harvard, MIT and University of California-Berkeley)
No. 2 in political Science (tied with Harvard)
No. 3 in English (tied with Harvard, Stanford University, University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania)
No. 4 in economics (tied with University of California-Berkeley, University of Chicago and Yale)
No. 6 in biological sciences (tied with Johns Hopkins University and Yale)
No. 6 in psychology (tied with University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and Yale)
No. 7 in chemistry (tied with Northwestern University, University of Chicago and University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign)
No. 9 in computer science (tied with University of Texas-Austin)
Rutgers programs also made the top 10:
Rutgers University-New Brunswick: No. 6 in library and information studies programs (tied with Syracuse University and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor)
Rutgers-Newark: No. 7 in criminology (tied with Florida State University)
The U.S. News & World Report rankings are designed for prospective graduate students looking to further their education and includes programs such as business, education, engineering, law, medicine, nursing and science.
U.S. News updated it methodology in a few areas for this year’s rankings, it said, including within the best law school methodology, it included a bar passage rate indicator that accounts for bar passage performance in every state where a school’s graduates first took the bar exam.
“U.S. News continues to update the Best Graduate Schools methodology and add new programs to keep the rankings relevant and valuable for prospective students,” Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, said in a statement. “Utilizing a robust data-collection process – surveying more than 2,100 programs and more than 23,000 academics and professionals – allows us to provide students with useful, quality data to determine the best program for their individual needs.”
Princeton and Rutgers also were the only two New Jersey universities ranking within the top 20 for their programs:
No. 12 in earth sciences (tied with Arizona State University, Brown University, Harvard, University of California–Los Angeles, University of California–San Diego and University of Wisconsin—Madison)
No. 12 in public affairs (tied with Arizona State University; Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz; Georgetown University, McCourt; George Washington University, Trachtenberg; New York University, Wagner; University of California–Los Angeles, Luskin; and University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Humphrey)
No. 20 in engineering
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
No. 15 in nursing schools: doctor of nursing practice (tied with Case Western Reserve University and University of Virginia
No. 18 in nursing schools: master’s
No. 20 in Rehabilitation Counseling (tied with Kent State University, Portland State University, Springfield College, University of Memphis, University of Pittsburgh and Western Washington University
The acronym NIL is rapidly entering the mainstream conversation, while completely changing the dynamics of college athletics as we know it. It is especially relevant right now in New Jersey, with the Sweet Sixteen run by the small, but mighty Saint Peter’s University Peacocks, which turned the team into overnight national celebrities. And with new NIL rules comes an opportunity to attract lucrative branding and partnership deals, which some experts estimate could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not to mention the tens of millions of dollars in publicity for the small Jersey City Jesuit school.
Let’s first start with what NIL is, why it matters, and how we got to this point.
NIL stands for name, image and likeness. For more than 100 years, college athletes were not able to profit off their NIL. But that changed on July 1, 2021.
A June 2021 Supreme Court ruling against the NCAA made clear that restrictions, including on NIL activity, could face future legal challenges. That opened the door, days later, for the NCAA board of directors to adopt a rule change allowing NIL activity, which went into effect on July 1.
While it marked a new era of freedom and opportunity for student athletes, the lack of laws, regulation and guidance also set the stage for a wild west scenario. Rules varied from state to state and policies varied from school to school.
In September 2020, anticipating the NCAA changes, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the New Jersey Fair Play Act, which allowed athletes direct compensation and representation in relation to their NIL rights while prohibiting payment directly from schools and universities.
As all of this was playing out, and during COVID-related lockdowns, Rutgers guard Geo Baker found himself at the center of the debate. In March 2021, Baker was one of the faces of the #NotNCAAProperty movement, which almost led to a protest before Rutgers’ first round NCAA tournament match-up against Clemson. Ultimately, the idea was scrapped to avoid delaying the school’s first March Madness appearance in 30 years.
The issue, though, is personal to Baker. He became a bit of a pioneer in the NIL space, before it was really even a thing, out of necessity during high school. As a senior, his mom was diagnosed with cancer, so he started selling t-shirts with his own likeness and messages to help make ends meet. The shirts caught on around his hometown of Derry, N.H. But once he signed his letter of intent with Rutgers, he had to stop selling the shirts because he no longer owned his name, image, and like-ness. Rutgers did.
Baker did not believe he was a victim, though. “It just shows that there were probably a million stories like that, before me, that were 10 times worse, where kids truly needed that money,” he said.
That sentiment, plus COVID conditions which meant not seeing family, sparked Baker’s activism on the NIL issue. “I think the first thing that kind of got me into talk-ing about NIL was during COVID, when I realized how much college athletes were sacrificing without getting much in return. I don’t say that in a way where you’re not grateful for a scholarship or the opportunity to play for your university or anything like that,” Baker said. “But, you think, in the grand scheme of things, all of the money that’s being made from literally the athletes,” he explained. “If there’s no athletes, there’s no business structure, it’s not there.”
Baker credited Rutgers and especially his coach, Steve Pikiell, for being supportive and understanding the issue was a lot bigger than just basketball. Baker also be-lieves the issue is about more than just money. “I think the biggest difference for me right now is all the networking opportunities that I’ve made with business owners. That’s networking that you didn’t have before. That’s something that’s going to help you in the real world once you’re done with whatever sport you’re playing.”
Peter Schoenthal, CEO of Athliance, a sports management and NCAA software company that has been helping students and schools navigate the new space, said while there is still a lot to figure out, the new rules will help preserve college athletics. “Name, image, and likeness, in my opinion, is going to be something that saves college sports,” Schoenthal said. “It’s going to allow students the ability to bridge the gap, while they’re in school, to profit off of who they are, and not have to work and play under financial hardship.”
While Schoenthal acknowledges that much of the data is incomplete due to a lack of disclosure, he said that the new era of NIL has generated millions of dollars through deals, endorsements, and business endeavors.
And he said it’s not just the big-name athletes. “The everyday athlete that you and I might not know about will have the ability and are actually cashing in, making an extra thousand, two thousand dollars a month, which greatly impacts their life,” Schoenthal explained.
He has also noted some other positive trends as the space evolves. “Seeing the local businesses get involved, the national companies get involved, and seeing student-athletes take on that entrepreneurial spirit that they will be able to take out into the real world that’ll make them successful years after they leave college,” Schoenthal said.
Baker shared that sentiment. “No athlete wants to hear it, but eventually, the ball is going to stop bouncing,” Baker said. “And now you’re getting these professional opportunities where you’re getting in front of real businesses and you’re learning how to operate. This is the time where we get to take risks. This is the time where athletes get to be entrepreneurs.”
Baker, who capped off his senior season with an All-Big Ten Third Team selection, has carried that spirit through these first months of NIL. He said he has tried to focus more on building relationships versus one-off promotional opportunities. And he has focused on forming partnerships with businesses owned by Rutgers people, such as Old Bridge-based Alva Fitness, and LeGrand Coffee House, which is owned by the well-known former Scarlet Knight football player Eric LeGrand.
Baker also believes that because of its location, New Jersey schools, such as Rutgers, are in a particularly good position to capitalize as the NIL space grows. For example Rutgers quarterback and four-star recruit Gavin Wimsatt left high school, took accelerated classes, and enrolled at the college early this fall after reportedly signing lucrative NIL deals with New Brunswick Development Corp. and Edison-based Miller’s Rentals.
Baker and Schoenthal both agreed that the new rules will keep more kids in college. “I think NIL is a great equalizer for student-athletes while they’re in school,” Schoenthal said. “I think you’re going to see NIL really make a positive impact in football and basketball where kids sometimes leave a little too early and make tough decisions based on financial reasons.”
Then, there is the first case of a true Cinderella in this new era, and how Saint Peter’s players stand to gain from NIL. The brand and the athletes’ popularity grew exponentially overnight.
Sharp-shooting guard Doug Edert of Nutley is a prime example of how quickly NIL can change a student athlete’s fortunes. In a matter of days, his Instagram follow-ers multiplied to more than 20,000 and his trademark mustache has gone viral. But the notoriety has also led to a paid partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings. Edert posted his first sponsored ad on his Instagram page, just three days after helping his Peacocks team reach the Sweet Sixteen. In addition, a shirt featuring Edert’s now-famous mustached-tongue-out likeness that says
“Dougie Buckets,” is on-sale at Barstool Sports.
Schoenthal advised the Peacocks players to make a plan and have parents, relatives, and close supporters screen and facilitate deals as they come in. “So you can keep your eye on the prize, which is continuing playing. The more you play, the more you advance, the bigger your brand grows.”
In general, he cautions all athletes and schools proceed with caution, since details are still being worked out to close loopholes and keep out and punish bad ac-tors. “When you have the wild west, you get wild actors,” Schoenthal explained. But he believes the kinks will be fixed in the next 36 to 48 months, and is optimistic about the early progress and trajectory, including how many of the student athletes are using the opportunity for good.
“One of the great stories that I’ve seen are the student athletes using their name, image and likeness, and brand to help charities and get philanthropic,” he said.
Baker, in fact, has used his platform in that way, recently donating proceeds from his Cameo earnings to Choose Love, a nonprofit providing emergency aid and refugee support for Ukraine.
In June, he will attend the very first NIL Summit, being held June 13-15 in Atlanta, Ga. Being billed as “Democratizing College Athletics,” it provides one more example of just how much this very new space is growing and very much evolving. It also emphasizes just how much potential NIL has to benefit student-athletes in the long run.
“That’s the true beauty of it,” Baker said. “It’s going to change people’s lives. And it’s going to keep people in college, which is the most important thing. The ball is going to stop bouncing eventually, so just staying educated and making money while you do it.”
Most low-income parents spent their advance payments of the child tax credit on food, clothing, rent and utilities, according a report by the Rutgers Center for Women and Work in partnership with the New Jersey State Policy Lab released March 16.
The report also finds that nearly half of eligible parents in New Jersey didn’t receive advance payments, which has RCWW Executive Director Debra Lancaster worried that thousands are leaving money on the table as the April 18 tax filing deadline draws nearer.
“The Child Tax Credit lifts families out of poverty,” Lancaster said. “What this research shows is that low-income households in New Jersey are using the money for basic needs like groceries and paying the bills. That’s significant because it means the policy is doing what it’s supposed to do. But it’s also worrisome that so many low-income parents did not receive any payments last year.”
Under the American Rescue Plan, the child tax credit expanded from $2,000 per child in 2020 to $3,600 for each child under age 6. For each child ages 6 to 16, it’s increased from $2,000 to $3,000. The American Rescue Plan also enabled parents to receive half the total in monthly payments from July through December.
The Census Bureau surveyed parents to find out how they used the money, and Rutgers researchers analyzed the data to focus on New Jersey families. Researchers found that food (34%), clothing (17%), and savings (15%) were the most common uses; and donations/gifts (1%), tutoring (1%), and recreation (3%) were the least common.
Low-income households were much more likely to spend the money on basic needs, while higher-income households were more likely to save or invest it.
One in four parents with a child under age 5 spent at least some of the money on child care.
“The fact that so many parents of young children used the payments on child care really raises a red flag,” said Sarah Small, postdoctoral researcher in the Rutgers Center for Women and Work and co-author of the report. “Without financial support or vast improvements in the state’s child care infrastructure, many of these families will continue to struggle.”
Though nearly every parent in New Jersey is eligible for the child tax credit, just over half (56%) received advance payments last year. The number was even lower (41%) for parents whose household income is less than $25,000.
Rutgers reported that the low numbers could be due to underreporting, parents opting for a lump sum in 2022 over monthly payments last year, or limited awareness of the credit among low-income New Jerseyans.
“The Child Tax Credit helped lift countless New Jersey families and their children out of poverty, but this program only works when families receive their payments,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action, in a prepared statement. “We urge all eligible New Jersey residents to make use of the free tax preparation services available to them to ensure they receive all the tax credits they are eligible for. We also call on lawmakers to renew the federal Child Tax Credit and establish a similar law at the state level. Putting cash into the hands of working families has been one of the best weapons against economic insecurity.”
Organizations including New Jersey Citizen Action and the United Way of Northern New Jersey are offering free tax preparation for low-income and moderate-income filers. The Internal Revenue Service website can direct residents to free tax prep in their area.
Big Idea Ventures, an investor in early-stage alternative protein and food technology, is collaborating with several higher education institutions, including Rutgers University, for its Generation Food Rural Partners fund.
Rutgers is one of five new universities added to the list.
“When we designed this investment platform, our goal was to get five universities to collaborate with us. To have secured collaboration commitments from 15 world class research universities is an incredible vote of confidence and a testament to the power of innovation at the university level,” said Tom Mastrobuoni, chief investment officer for Big Idea Ventures.
Innovation Ventures, the technology transfer office within the Rutgers Office for Research, partners with the Rutgers community to encourage deliberate innovation, protect and leverage Rutgers intellectual property, foster collaboration with industry, and enable entrepreneurship. In 2021, Rutgers’ received $907.9 million in funding from federal and state agencies, corporations, and foundations for its research; generated $47 million in licensing revenue; and increased its number of active startups to 87.
The GFRP fund team will evaluate intellectual property developed at Rutgers and other collaborating universities to identify new developments with the strongest commercialization potential. The fund will then invest in new companies formed around research that comes out of the institutions, and the companies will be headquartered in rural communities nearby.
“The GFRP Fund will ignite research innovation at our partner universities in agriculture, food and protein sciences which will create new companies located in rural America,” said Frank Klemens, managing director of the GFRP Fund at BIV. “Rural America has always been the center for innovation in food and agriculture production and this partnership between these world class Universities and GFRP Fund will create the next generational growth in rural America.”
Bank of America is now an investor in the Black and Latino Angel Investment Fund of New Jersey, which came out of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers Business School-Newark in 2020, the university announced March 4.
BOA came on as an investor in February. Less than 1% of all high growth technology startups are led by Black and Latino entrepreneurs, and few secure pre-seed capital for growth. The mission of the fund is to reverse this trend by institutionalizing the friends and family round of capital raising.
“We are thrilled to welcome Bank of America as an investor in the Black and Latino Investment Fund of New Jersey,” said D. Lyneir Richardson, executive director of CUEED and the founder of the BLAIF, in a prepared statement. “Bank of America’s ongoing efforts to address the persistent gap in access to growth capital for underrepresented founders align with our strategy of investing in exceptional Black and Latino entrepreneurs with exceptional business ideas ready for scale. We look forward to expanding our work.”
Fund managers help entrepreneurs by securing additional capital; providing real-time, situational mentorship; introducing prospective customers, suppliers and other growth resources; and stewarding additional capacity building with larger accelerators.
BOA’s investment in the fund aligns with its $1.25 billion pledge to support racial equality and economic opportunity by addressing issues in minority populations related to health, jobs, education, housing and capital inequality.
“Access to capital remains one of the biggest challenges for minority-owned businesses,” said Alberto Garofalo, president, Bank of America New Jersey. “Working together, we can create the conditions that enable new ideas to flourish, thereby ensuring that the opportunities we want for all of our citizens and the strong economy we want for our community are within our reach.”
The BLAIF accepts applications from entrepreneurs in New Jersey and New York, or from those with ties to the area, on a rolling basis.
Rutgers University said it is waiving tuition costs for students whose families earn up to $65,000 a year, and lowering the costs for families that earn up to $100,000 a year.
The new program, called the Scarlet Guarantee, would be available starting in the fall for the New Brunswick-Piscataway campus; it is expected to benefit upwards of 7,600 first- and second-year students, or 20% of the undergraduate student body.
University officials said the program would cost the school $14 million next year.
“These new programs are transformational for our state’s students,” reads a Feb. 21 prepared statement from Francine Conway, the chancellor-provost for the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus.
The program also covers certain expenses like student fees, though room and board is not included.
Rutgers is notorious for having some of the highest tuition costs of any public university in the nation, according to an analysis by USA Today. Tuition for the current academic year clocks in at $15,804, plus $13,402 for room and board, for a total price tag of $29,206 a year.
Tuition for next year has not been set, as that is usually done at a Rutgers Board of Governors meeting in late June.
Worsening Rutgers’ financial woes is its athletics department, which has struggled to break even since its football team joined the Big Ten Conference in 2014, and has frequently depended on bailouts from the university budget, loans and student fees. The school spent nearly $119 million in the prior academic year to prop up the athletics department, and Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway said earlier in February that he doubted the athletics department could ever stay out of the red.
On top of that, Rutgers previously agreed to refund $5 million in student fees as part of a class action lawsuit for charging students mandatory fees while the university transitioned to remote learning in March 2020.
‘Last dollar’ relief
Other colleges such as Stockton University, New Jersey City University and Saint Peter’s University have introduced similar programs to some of their lowest-earning students, who may otherwise be left to scrounge together potentially high-interest student loans to cover costs.
But even with those programs in effect, students are often left with bills for books, housing, food, transportation and other expenses, which could add up to thousands of dollars.
According to Rutgers, the Scarlet Guarantee is designed as a “last dollar” form of financial aid—meaning it only kicks in to cover the gap between state and federal aid, and the remaining balance.
It comes on the heels of a program Gov. Phil Murphy previously rolled out called the Garden State Guarantee. Under it, the state covers the last two years of a four-year bachelor’s degree for certain low-income students.
That program, combined with a community college subsidy, means that the state would essentially cover the entire college costs for some of New Jersey’s lowest-earning students. It provides tuition-free college for families earning up to $65,000 a year, and a sliding scale of state subsidies for anything above that.
Like the state program, the Scarlet Guarantee operates on a sliding scale. Students whose families earn between $65,001 and $80,000 a year in gross income would pay no more than $3,000 a year toward tuition and fees. Students with families earning between $80,001 and $100,000 a year would be responsible for no more than $5,000 a year.
Eligibility is only open to full-time students eligible for in-state tuition who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree, but not a graduate degree. Only the first four years are covered, so students enrolled in a program that might go beyond four years — like pharmacy degrees, which take six years — would still be responsible for those final two years.
Enrollment is automatic for those students who do qualify, the university said. Students are automatically considered based on their income levels once they fill out the annual Free Application for Student Federal Aid. Dreamers — those living in the country illegally — instead have to fill out the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid application.
A series of online webinars will be hosted throughout March and April to outline more program specifics to eligible students.
A team of Rutgers MBA students won first place at the Tepper School of Business International Case Competition at Carnegie Mellon University.
According to the Feb. 7 announcement, The Tepper competition centered on a major business issue for the tech sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were asked to identify how competition sponsor Honeywell could better navigate through a period of troubling semi-conductor shortages.
Teams had eight days to prepare for the competition after receiving the prompt. The event involved 25 teams, including students from Tepper, the McDonough School of Business (Georgetown University), Kelley School of Business (Indiana University), Marshall Business School (University of Southern California) and the National University of Singapore.
In its winning presentation, the Rutgers team — comprising Nicholas Felli, Neil Gajjar, Thomas Parker and Joseph Russomanno — explained how Honeywell could improve its relationships with suppliers. The team looked at what other companies were doing in response to semi-conductor shortages, including one major tech company’s move to refocus business operations until the situation eased, the announcement explained.
In their research, the Rutgers students learned how the company had already responded to the shortages by listening to a quarterly earnings call to hear the CEO’s remarks to investors.
“We didn’t want to go up there and offer ideas that the company already had,” said Parker in a prepared statement. “We wanted to know what Honeywell was already doing. That gave us a leg up.”
The Rutgers team earned a first-place prize of $7,500. Students from the University of Southern California won second, and a team from the National University of Singapore won third.
Case competitions are important experiences for MBA students, the statement said, because they require them to apply their classroom knowledge to solve business problems they may encounter in their careers.
Rutgers University–New Brunswick named a new director for its Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, the university announced Feb. 3.
Curator, writer, art consultant and nonprofit leader Maura Reilly will begin her new position at the art museum Feb. 15.
Reilly has organized dozens of exhibitions internationally that focus on marginalized artists. She is the founding curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, where she developed and launched the first exhibition and public programming space in the U.S. devoted entirely to feminist art, according to the announcement. She also organized several landmark exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, including the permanent installation of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party and the Global Feminisms (co-curated with Linda Nochlin).
She has also served as executive director and chief curator of the National Academy of Design and as senior curator at the American Federation of Arts.
“Maura Reilly’s leadership roles at the Brooklyn Museum and with exhibitions internationally, as well as her expertise on global contemporary art and curatorial practice, will make her an excellent leader for the Zimmerli, one of the largest and most distinguished university-based museums nationwide,” Rutgers University–New Brunswick Chancellor-Provost Francine Conway said in a prepared statement. “We are proud to welcome her to Rutgers–New Brunswick.”
Reilly succeeds Donna Gustafson, who was named Zimmerli’s interim director in 2020 following the death of director Thomas Sokolowski. Gustafson will continue as curator of American and Modern Art/Mellon director for academic programs.
“I am passionately committed to the museum’s essential missions of research, teaching and community engagement,” Reilly said in the statement. “I look forward to collaborating with the museum’s talented staff and board leadership on developing a new vision for the museum – one defined by empathy, compassion, mutual respect, and diversity, equity, access and inclusion (DEAI) principles.
“It is an exciting moment for 21st-century art museums,” she continued, “and the Zimmerli is poised to lead the way amongst its university museum peers in the effort towards creating more equitable museum and campus experiences where everybody feels not only welcome, but also recognized.”
Reilly earned her master’s and Ph.D. in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Among her many accomplishments, she has taught art history and museum studies at institutions in the U.S. and Australia, including Arizona State University, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Queensland College of Arts and Tufts University.
Danielle Dick has been appointed inaugural director of the Rutgers Addiction Research Center at the Rutgers Brain Health Institute, the school announced Jan. 18.
Dick, an internationally recognized expert on genetic and environmental influences on human behavior, will be a tenured professor in the department of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
She most recently directed a research institute on behavioral and emotional health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. There, she was the Distinguished Commonwealth Professor of Psychology and Human and Molecular Genetics.
Upon joining Rutgers this month, her responsibilities will include leveraging the multidisciplinary expertise among scientists and clinicians across the universityto advance understanding of, and develop new treatments for, drug addiction.
The RuARC will be the only comprehensive addiction center in New Jersey to integrate approaches including precision medicine research, treatment and care of individuals and families coping with addiction, public policy innovation and reform aimed at preventing drug use and at more effective avenues for individuals with substance use disorders to obtain treatment, according to an announcement on Dick’s appointment.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Dick join us to lead this important initiative,” said Gary Aston-Jones, director of the Brain Health Institute, in a prepared statement. “Addiction is an international health problem that calls for cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary research to understand its biological and psychological causes, and create new approaches for treating patients. Dr. Dick has extensive and broad-based scientific expertise, as well as outstanding leadership skills. She will facilitate cross-fertilization among many different fields of research that will lead to discovery of answers to this long-standing health problem.”
In her research, Dick focuses on characterizing genetic contributions to substance use disorders and applying basic, etiological research findings to inform prevention and intervention. Projects include identifying genes involved in substance use and related behavioral health challenges; characterizing the risk associated with identified genes, across development and in conjunction with the environment; and translating basic research findings into improved prevention and intervention.
She’s led and contributed to more than 20 grants from the National Institutes of Health, with grant funding totaling over $30 million. Her more than 350 published peer-reviewed studies cover areas including child development, addiction, mental health, genetics and human behavior, and has won numerous national and international awards for her work.
Dick’s first book The Child Code: Understanding Your Child’s Unique Nature for Happier, More Effective Parenting was published by Penguin Random House, and she frequently speaks to parents, families, and school groups about the causes of substance use disorders, and how to prevent or address problems in children and family members.
Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences launched a partnership with Soli Organic Inc., a Virginia-based controlled environment agriculture company that delivers USDA certified organic produce to more than 20,000 retailers.
Rutgers and Soli Organic will work together to select and advance the next generation of commercial organic, indoor-grown produce over the next five years. According to an announcement, Soli Organic and Rutgers experts will use state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation to analyze produce-seed genetics and identify and further optimize flavor, aroma, nutrition and yield traits for indoor cultivation.
The partners will also explore opportunities to bring to market new types of produce that, while not feasible for commercial organic outdoor cultivation, may offer ideal flavor, nutrition and yield characteristics and can be grown organically indoors.
“Soli Organic is relentless in our pursuit of technologies and partnerships that support our vision to offer our retailer partners and consumers nationwide a variety of nutrient-dense, differentiated fresh products in a manner that maximizes profitability while minimizing environmental impact,” said Tessa Pocock, chief science officer of Soli Organic, in a prepared statement.
“Our cost advantage is rooted in superior unit economics tied to growing science and operational know-how – our ‘grow-how.’ The deep expertise and insights offered by … the team at Rutgers University will help us further enhance this cost advantage over time,” she said.
James Simon, director of the Rutgers New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products Program, said that of the over 400,000 plant species on the planet, humans consume less than 100.
“We have not even scratched the surface of the different flavors and textures of plants,” he said. “What will be key to a sustainable future is identifying plants that offer consumers the highest nutrient density combined with flavor, texture and ‘shelf appeal’ and the lowest possible environmental impact.”
Simon said that their partnership is made with the intention of bringing products from breeding concept to produce aisles in the next five years.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Rutgers University is requiring its students and employees to get the COVID-19 booster shot before they can return to campus this spring.
The requirements from New Jersey’s largest university are the latest among COVID-related mandates and delayed openings that the state’s higher education institutions are implementing amid a surge of the omicron variant and holiday-related positive cases.
“The data and the science surrounding the surge in COVID-19 cases, and the dramatic spread of the omicron variant, require that we adapt to the evolving situation without sacrificing our goal of returning to a campus experience that is robust, rewarding, and safe,” Antonio Calcado, Rutgers’ executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a Rutgers-wide letter on Jan. 4.
Total hospitalizations from COVID-19 have risen beyond the winter wave from a year ago, with 5,155 COVID-19 patients as of Jan. 3–the highest since May 2021. At the outset of the pandemic, New Jersey’s 71 hospitals saw more than 8,000 patients in April 2020. This year, state health officials anticipate a mid-January peak of between 6,000 and 9,000 patients.
Daily cases in the latter half of December shattered records from day to day, with nearly 21,000 cases logged as of Jan. 3, and in several instances nearly 30,000 daily cases.
Calcado said the new restrictions are meant to “manage the impact of this virus” at Rutgers. The university plans to reopen the campus to in-person operations on Jan. 31, which includes dining centers and classes. Remote learning for the spring semester will remain in place until Jan. 30. Rutgers initially planned to reopen its campus on Jan. 16 and Jan. 17.
Any eligible students – those who got their second Moderna or Pfizer shot at least six months ago or their single Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago – have until then to get the booster and upload their proof on the university’s online vaccine portal.
Students currently residing on campus are “strongly encouraged” to upload that data by Jan. 15, Calcado added. The announcement does not indicate accommodations for students who do not get the vaccine or abide by the testing and vaccine requirements, but notes that there are religious and medical exemptions.
Attendees for any on-campus events, such as athletics, need to produce a negative test result from within the past 72 hours, or proof of full vaccination. University employees will also have to get the booster, but Calcado did not disclose a deadline in the letter.
According to state health data, more than 6.2 million people in New Jersey are fully vaccinated, while nearly 2.3 million boosters and third doses have been administered in the state. Most hospitalized patients are not vaccinated, but the omicron variant can infect vaccinated individuals with minor symptoms.
In addition to Rutgers, other major New Jersey universities have enacted their own sweeping restrictions and short-term closures.
Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken is also requiring its students to get the booster shot. Felician and Kean universities, as well as the New Jersey Institute of Technology, are beginning their semesters remotely, while Princeton University is staggering its campus reopening for the spring semester later this month.
Students at the Ivy League school in Central Jersey have to register for a return date and get a negative test as soon as they arrive. And they’re bound to travel restrictions that will keep them close to the Princeton University campus, barring them from leaving Mercer County or the nearby Plainsboro campus in Middlesex County “except in extraordinary circumstances.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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