News: CEE

In toxic microbial warfare, study finds strength in numbers

A new Cornell-led study battled strains of yeast manipulated to release different toxins at tunable and controlled rates, finding that the strain with the stronger toxin can only defeat another if its initial invading population exceeds a critical frequency or size. Read more

Cayuga Lake

A closeup view of Cayuga Lakes HABs: Citizen scientists pilot test use of inexpensive microscopes for rapid on-site HABs screening

By: Associate Professor Ruth Richardson, Cornell students: Valerie Aubley, Illana Hill, Lydia LaGorga, published in "Cayuga Lake Watershed Network News"

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been on the rise in New York State, and Cayuga Lake experienced more blooms than any other NY waterbody in 2020. In fact, 10% of the HABs reported to the NYS DEC statewide in 2020 (94 out of 930) were from Cayuga Lake. Algalblooms are triggered by the presence of excessive nutrients like phosphorus, which spur the growth of the naturally occurring microbe cyanobacteria that congregate into colonies, creating the appearance of “pea soup” at the surface of the water. However, not all algal blooms are classified as HABs: only some types of cyanobacteria produce... Read more

Bird's Eye View Of City During Dawn, photo by Alex Azabache, Pexels

Long commutes, home crowding tied to COVID transmission

By: Blaine Friedlander

Long commute times and household crowding may be good predictors for a higher number of transmissible coronavirus cases in metropolitan settings, according to Cornell urban planning, architectural and public health researchers, in a July study published in the journal Buildings and Cities. Neighborhoods that had populations with predominantly longer commute times to work – from about 40 minutes to an hour – were more likely to become infectious disease hotspots, the research said. “We are trying to determine how the built environment influences coronavirus propagation,” said senior author... Read more

Ken Hover smiling

Hover to play key role in Surfside collapse investigation

By: Chris Dawson

Concrete expert Ken Hover, Ph.D. ’84, professor in the College of Engineering’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will play a key role on an expert team assembled by the federal government to investigate the June 24, 2021, partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on Aug. 25 announced the composition of the team, which will be led by Judith Mitrani-Reiser, associate chief of the Materials and Structural Systems Division in NIST’s Engineering Laboratory. Read more

moving cars with blur light through city at night

Transportation innovations could boost public health

By: David Nutt

Researchers say the future of transportation will be shaped by three “revolutions” – vehicle electrification, driverless cars and ride-sharing – that could result in fewer automobiles on the road, less fossil fuels extracted from the Earth and less pollution in the air. While the environmental gains may seem self-evident, the health benefits are difficult to quantify. Now for the first time, a Cornell-led team has used transdisciplinary systems modeling to calculate those health benefits in the United States. By 2050, these innovations could potentially slash petroleum consumption by 50% and... Read more

Colorful agricultural fields at spring, aerial drone view

Interdisciplinary research team receives Atkinson Academic Venture Fund

"Accelerating Carbon Removal Through Enhanced Weathering by Capturing Heavy Metals From Alkaline Sources" is the title of this recently awarded Atkinson Center Academic Venture Fund research project, which is being led by faculty members from CEE and CALS. The PI of the project, Greeshma Gadikota said, “this proposal is exciting because it brings together engineers and scientists from COE and CALS to leverage our understanding of how engineered and natural processes work to create hybrid carbon removal solutions. To have a truly positive impact on responsible resource utilization and on the... Read more