Research Magazine 2009


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Binghamton Research presents a sampling of the latest research and scholarly contributions of faculty at Binghamton University. This edition of the magazine, published by the Office of Research Advancement, addresses topics ranging from Parkinson's disease to experimental economics.

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Research Magazine 2009

  1. 1. Binghamton ReseaRch B i n g h a m t o n U n i v e r s i t y / S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y o f N e w Yo r k / 2 0 0 9 sound strategy: a symphony of finely tuned ideas helps raise the curtain on big breakthroughs In thIs Issue: Youth violence in the post-columbine era self-interest and the economY helping parkinson’s patients
  2. 2. pg. 20 Earnest money: Experimental economics puts the world of finance under a microscope
  3. 3. Binghamton ReseaRch B i n g h a m t o n U n i v e r s i t y / S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y o f N e w Yo r k / 2 0 0 9 co Nt eN t S 2 20 54 about Binghamton Research earnest money aging gracefully Experimental economics puts Binghamton University leads the 3 the world of finance under a way in meeting growing demand microscope for social workers who specialize messages in geriatrics 36 4 58 search smarts the Parkinson’s predicament a new dream New technology could leave for 21st-century science The side effects of treating Web ‘crawlers’ in the dust this devastating disease can It’s time to abandon the 40 be almost as awful as the search for a single principle illness itself cultivating entrepreneurs to explain the world 10 Binghamton proves to be fertile 62 ground for technology transfer merchants, moneylenders in Brief 44 and middlemen New view of Jewish history Whole lot of shaking offers understanding of going on capitalism, anti-Semitism Tiny devices may lead to advances for technology ranging from cell phones to air bags f e at U r eS 14 24 30 48 Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 From social Sound strategy Partnering with Industry allies networking to parents cover story: Composer The Center of Excellence swarm intelligence dissects his creative process turns corporate partners into Nurse on a mission to catalysts for discovery ‘rescue childhood’ Research shows how complex systems rule everyday life 1
  4. 4. ABoUT BINghAmToN RESEARCh new York state center of excellence Center for the Teaching of American History (CTAH) Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center Director Thomas Dublin Director Bahgat Sammakia Center for Writers (CW) organized research centers Director Maria Mazziotti Gillan Center for Advanced Information Technologies (CAIT) Clinical Science and Engineering Research Center (CSERC) Director Victor Skormin Director Kenneth McLeod Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM) Institute for Materials Research (IMR) Director Bahgat Sammakia Director M. Stanley Whittingham Center for Advanced Sensors and Environmental Systems (CASE) Institute of Biomedical Technology (IBT) Director Omowunmi Sadik Director John G. Baust Center for Applied Community Research and Development (CACRD) Integrated Electronics Engineering Center (IEEC) Co-Directors Pamela Mischen and Allison Alden Director Bahgat Sammakia Center for Cognitive and Psycholinguistic Sciences (CaPS) Linux Technology Center (LTC) Director Cynthia Connine Director Merwyn Jones Center for Computing Technologies (CCT) Public Archaeology Facility (PAF) Director Kanad Ghose Director Nina Versaggi Center for Development and Behavioral Neuroscience (CDBN) Roger L. Kresge Center for Nursing Research (KCNR) Director Norman Spear Interim Director Ann Myers Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender (CHSWG) institutes for advanced studies Co-Directors Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, Center for Integrated Watershed Studies (CIWS) and Civilizations (FBC) Director John Titus Director Richard E. Lee Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture (CPIC) Institute for Asia and Asian Diaspora Studies (IAADS) Director Maria Lugones Director John Chaffee Center for Leadership Studies (CLS) Institute for Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) Director Francis Yammarino Director David Sloan Wilson Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) Institute of Global Cultural Studies (IGCS) Director Karen-edis Barzman Director Ali Mazrui Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (CSMTE) Watson Institute for Systems Excellence (WISE) Director Thomas O’Brien Director Krishnaswami Srihari Editorial Staff Binghamton University editor Lois B. Defleur Rachel Coker President art Direction and Design Gerald Sonnenfeld Martha P. Terry Vice President for Research Photography Marcia r. craner Jonathan Cohen, iStock Images Vice President for External Affairs contributing Writers Rachel Coker, Eric Dietrich, Merrill Douglas, Katherine Karlson, Binghamton Research is published annually by the Division Anne Miller, Kathleen Ryan O’Connor of Research, with cooperation from the office of University communications and marketing. copy editing Katie Ellis, John Wojcio PostmasteR: send address changes to: Binghamton Research, office of Research advancement, Po Box 6000, Illustrations Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 Binghamton, new York 13902-6000. iStock Images Binghamton University is strongly committed to affirmative action. We offer access to services and recruit students and employees without regard to race, color, gender, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or national origin. 2
  5. 5. mESSAgES a message from the president When scholars from different fields collaborate in deep and meaningful ways, they often arrive at new perspectives and challenge commonly accepted views. At Binghamton University, these efforts include partnerships of engineers and management experts as well as poets and musicians. It requires commitment as well as time for faculty members with such varied backgrounds to develop meaningful projects and a certain kind of LOIS B. DEFLEUR courage to go beyond the familiar terrain of one’s own discipline. The University’s goal is to nurture the initial phases of these projects with campus grants because we believe in the potential and rewards of multidisciplinary work. At their best, these collaborations reward the risk-takers with unexpected innovations and even artistic breakthroughs. This was the case last year, as faculty composer Paul goldstaub and martin Bidney, professor emeritus of English, worked to set poetry to music. They allowed the research magazine to follow them through the creative process, from basic recordings of martin reading poems he had translated to Paul’s revelation that the poems could be performed in song as a dialogue between people in a relationship. The composition will come to life in a concert of new music on campus this year. I hope you will enjoy the opportunity to accompany them on their musical journey, just as I hope you will enjoy the sampling of other faculty research and scholarly work presented in our magazine. a message from the vice president for research Creative people and innovative ideas come together every day at Binghamton University, resulting in a symphony of discovery that’s making itself heard across New York state and around the world. our faculty members are conducting research that may one day ease the troubling side effects of Parkinson’s disease treatment, protect your laptop computer from damage if it falls and revolutionize the way you search for information on the Web. other experts are challenging commonly accepted views of topics such as economic history, youth violence and caring for the elderly. one especially exciting interdisciplinary collaboration promises to change the way we understand decision making and teams. Through the office of Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships and our unique industry collaborations — as well as through publishing, teaching and performing — the University community brings these breakthroughs to a wider audience. on that note, I’m pleased to say that our Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 faculty members received a record number of new patents last year. We also recorded a nearly 60 percent increase in licensing revenue. Binghamton research expenditures grew by 3 percent in 2007-08, bucking a national trend of flat or even falling figures. In addition, awards to our researchers rose by more than 20 percent last year. It’s all evidence of our sound strategy at work. GERALD SONNENFELD 3
  6. 6. Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 4
  7. 7. The Parkinson’s predicament ThE SIdE EffECTS of TREATINg ThIS dEvASTATINg dISEASE CAN BE AlmoST AS AWfUl AS ThE IllNESS ITSElf. oNE BINghAmToN Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 RESEARChER hoPES To ChANgE ThAT. 5
  8. 8. Christopher Bishop christopher Bishop has a novel theory about how to suppress the involuntary movements associated with Parkinson’s disease. his idea could revolutionize the way patients respond Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 to the drug that has been the gold standard in treating the disease for more than 50 years and lead to vast improvements in the quality of life for the roughly 1 million americans who suffer from Parkinson’s. 6
  9. 9. ThE SITUATIoN IS AN INCREASINglY URgENT mEdICAl CoNCERN; 50,000 moRE AmERICANS ARE dIAgNoSEd WITh PARkINSoN’S EACh YEAR. Parkinson’s disease patients have trouble this deficit of dopamine can be reversed with movement. they move slowly. they with treatment using a compound called have rigidity in their limbs. they have L-DoPa. balance problems and tremors. the brain converts L-DoPa into these cardinal symptoms are a result of dopamine, which is why it’s an effective a deficit of dopamine in the brain. replacement therapy for patients. and for five to 10 years, this treatment works Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s well. essential for movement; it also plays an important role in behavior, cognition “the problem is that Parkinson’s is a and sleep. progressive disease,” said Bishop, as- sistant professor of psychology at Bing- in Parkinson’s patients, neurons that hamton University. “You lose more and make dopamine die. scientists still aren’t more of these neurons as time goes on, sure why; genetic factors are believed to so therapeutically, doses of L-DoPa play only a small role. must increase.” 7
  10. 10. many patients suffer troubling side it’s not always at the forefront of your effects as the dosage increases. mind, but it’s something you can get to if you need to,” Bishop said.“in the same “By year 10,” Bishop said, “as many as way, your ability to produce a movement 90 percent of patients will start to suffer is a memory. it’s a motor memory, but from motor fluctuations and something it’s a memory nonetheless. called L-DoPa-induced dyskinesia. so you go from a state of no treatment “We are beginning to believe that where you’re not moving well, to a state dyskinesia is actually the inability to where the drug is working well and suppress motor memories as a result of you’re moving fluidly, to a point where the drug’s stimulation. these abnormal L-DoPa doses are very high and you’re movements may be an expression of producing these abnormal, involuntary motor memories that can’t be shut movements.” down.” think of the actor michael J. Fox’s recent one possible treatment relates to glu- television appearances. the excessive tamate, a neurotransmitter in the brain movements he displays aren’t a result that can play a role in these memory of his Parkinson’s disease, but rather a processes, helping to lay down new symptom of the L-DoPa therapy. pathways for motor memories. “it’s this inability to suppress movement Bishop has developed a way to look at that’s a real problem for patients later dyskinesia as it’s occurring and measure on in the disease’s progression,” Bishop glutamate levels in different parts of said. the brain. “that is a huge leap forward,” he said, “because now we can make an and patients can’t simply stop taking association between the behavior and L-DoPa, Bishop said. if they do, they the glutamate levels. and we’re doing it face a nearly “frozen” life with incredibly in a very specific area of the brain. it’s a limited ability to move. very powerful technique.” it’s unusual that there hasn’t been a Kathy steece-collier, an associate change in the primary treatment for professor in the Department of neurol- Parkinson’s in five decades, Bishop ogy at the University of cincinnati, said. in that time, there have been huge said “surprisingly little” research effort advancements in the ways other neuro- to date has taken the direction Bishop logic disorders are treated. is pursuing. treatment. Bishop hopes to find out how With Parkinson’s, there are still a number “chris’ approach has been to delve these compounds work — and what of big unanswered questions. the cause into novel molecular mechanisms,” she dyskinesia really is. of the disease is one; how dyskinesia said. “these mechanisms have a strong develops is another. potential to provide insight into new early experimentation has supported clinical approaches that could prolong Bishop’s theories, showing a reduction in Bishop and colleagues at Wayne state therapeutic treatment and lessen side dyskinesia as the serotonin compound is University’s medical school and the Vet- effects associated with L-DoPa therapy administered. erans administration hospital in chicago in Parkinson’s disease.” Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 hope to find a way to reduce dyskinesia “Dr. Bishop’s research is important be- and suppress these movements. in 2008, Bishop and his team received cause he has focused on a brain chemical a $1.33 million, five-year grant from transmission system that may represent “We’re asking, ‘is dyskinesia abnormal the national institute of neurological a new therapeutic target for treatment learning?’ there are parts of the brain Disorders and stroke (ninDs), part of of L-DoPa-induced dyskinesias,” said that allow us to store memories. and the national institutes of health. the Beth-anne sieber, a program director that involves laying down new neuronal funding will allow Bishop and his team at the national institute of neurologi- pathways that become permanent. You to study serotonin compounds that cal Disorders and stroke. “his ninDs- can now go and retrieve that information. reduce glutamate following L-DoPa funded studies suggest that activation of 8
  11. 11. About PArkinson’s diseAse Parkinson’s disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor- system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The four primary symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. a receptor for the neurotransmitter sero- Parkinson’s usually affects people over the age of 50. Early symptoms tonin can block overactive brain signals are subtle and occur gradually. The diagnosis is based on medical history and dampen involuntary movements.” and a neurological examination. The disease can be difficult to diagnose accurately. Roughly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every Bishop said he believes L-DoPa treat- year. ment will remain in the mix of therapies, even if other advances such as stem-cell There are many theories about the cause of Parkinson’s disease, but none transplants advance to a point where has ever been proved. At present, there is no cure for Parkinson’s, but they can be used regularly. Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 medications provide many patients dramatic relief from the symptoms. the situation is an increasingly urgent The disease is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, medical concern; 50,000 more americans and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. Although are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year. “that’s only going to increase as some people become severely disabled, others experience only minor motor our population ages,” Bishop said. “this disruptions. is not something that’s going away.” Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke — Rachel Coker 9
  12. 12. erchants, oneylenders iddlemen NEw viEw of JEwiSh hiStory offErS UNdErStaNdiNg of capitaliSm, aNti-SEmitiSm in developed countries today, people argue over the roles and rights of low-skilled foreign laborers. “they’re crucial to our economy,” some maintain. Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 others say, “We need them, but just as guest workers.” or: “Kick them out before they drain our economy and destroy our way of life.” 10
  13. 13. At the Usurers, Edgar Bundy For hundreds of years, europeans waged Political thinkers through the years have similar debates, but not about the pros debated the economic role of Jews. Yet and cons of allowing poor immigrants to Jews who study Jewish history have long scrub floors and harvest tomatoes. they avoided the subject of economics, said argued about the benefits and dangers of Jonathan Karp, associate professor of allowing Jews to serve in their countries history and Judaic studies at Binghamton as merchants, moneylenders and other University.“these historians didn’t want kinds of economic middlemen. Did Jews to contribute to the stereotype, to the take those roles because they were at negative image of Jews as merchants or Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 heart a commercial people, or because Jews as shylocks,” he said. in the past, they weren’t allowed any other kind of when historians did address the subject, work? Was capitalism a progressive force they approached it as marxists and or a corrupting one, and what did the Zionists who hoped to transform Jews growth of a market society imply about into workers and farmers. the Jews’ purported flair for commerce? if a country let Jews run businesses, however, Karp said, it’s impossible to should it also let them own land and understand the history of anti-semitism, hold political office? or of capitalism, without taking a non- 11
  14. 14. Jonathan Karp ideological look at political theories on trade, keeping control out of the hands which to explore capitalism. Dohm felt Jewish economics. of foreign merchants. although trade that a commercial society promised might make Venetian Jews wealthy, greater equality and freedom, but he also Karp does just that in a new book, he said, unlike other alien groups they feared that capitalism might undermine The Politics of Jewish Commerce: posed no threat to the state because they traditional values. Economic Thought and Emancipation in wanted no political rights. Europe, 1638-1848. examining writings Karp’s book is significant, in part because on politics and economics published in contrast, British writer John toland he tackles a subject that many scholars throughout the period, he traces argued in 1714 that Jews should be have avoided and in part because his Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 evolving ideas about Jews’ traditional allowed to work in many spheres research is so broad in scope, said functions in the economy and, based on beyond commerce. Jews were inclined adam sutcliffe, lecturer in early modern those functions, what rights they should by heritage to make good citizens, he history at King’s college London. “he have in society. said, and they should be naturalized as ambitiously takes on a long period of British subjects. more than two centuries, straddling For example, simone Luzzatto, a the early modern/late modern divide,” Venetian rabbi and scholar, argued in in 1781, the Prussian christian Wilhelm sutcliffe said of Karp’s book. “this is an 1638 that local Jews were willing and Dohm wrote a book sympathetic toward important strength of his study, enabling able to take on the risks of foreign Jews that used them as a lens through him to provide a deep exploration of 12
  15. 15. arp’S Book iS SigNificaNt, iN part BEcaUSE hE Jews, commerce And culture tacklES a SUBJEct Jonathan Karp is delving further that maNy ScholarS into historical thought on Jewish economics this academic year havE avoidEd aNd as a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. iN part BEcaUSE hiS Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Each year, the rESEarch iS So Broad center assembles scholars iN ScopE. from throughout the world to research and discuss an aspect — Adam Sutcliffe, King’s College London of Jewish culture. Collaborating with two other researchers, Karp helped write the proposal for the current topic, “Jews, Commerce and Culture.” the roots of the emergence of the more the holocaust. and it’s important to familiar economic associations with Jews understand the debate, because it points While in residence during in the period since 1848.” to the fact that anti-semitism didn’t 2008-09, Karp is studying the spring only from religious prejudice or Protestant Reformation, which Karp said he focused on the years 1638 distaste for moneylenders, Karp said. occurred just before the period to 1848 because that period marks it also grew out of ambivalence toward an important transition in thought capitalism. he covers in his recent book. about the economic roles of Jews. “at His aim is to look at how that the beginning,” he said, “writers and Because Jews gravitated to commerce, Christian reform movement debaters were saying, ‘sure, bring the and because people weren’t sure changed the discourse on Jews in. Let them do their magic. they whether commerce was a good or Jewish economic identity. neither want, nor will we give them, any bad force, even when Jews seemed to Other scholars in the program political rights.’ Jews were a safe bet as assimilate, people weren’t sure they specialize in a wide range of long as they remained non-citizens.” could trust them. “they’d say, ‘aha! they subjects, such as Jews in 16th- are behaving as Jews, because they are century Mediterranean trade, But the French Revolution changed the behaving commercially. these people American business history, rules. Under the new order, in many may share our language and culture, but economic life in Israel and the countries, a person who followed lo- their predominance in commerce shows cal customs and pledged loyalty to the that they have their own agenda, that economic aspects of the Hasidic state could become a citizen. in theory, they are a fifth column.’” it did not occur movement. Jews could gain political rights, but not if to people who thought this way, Karp It’s about time Jewish historians they still stood apart as a merchant class. said, that Jews’ commercial orientation “the fact that Jews were anomalous in was the result of centuries of habituation gave more thought to economic their occupations was a serious obstacle, and restriction. life, Karp said. “One scholar in the minds of many statesmen and described Jewish history as a philosophers, to their acculturation, or For this reason, the focus on traditional Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 head without a body,” he said. their subordination to the discipline of roles and stereotypes also makes “It’s as if the material, physical, citizenship,” Karp said. society faced a Jewish economics a perilous area for life-sustaining part has been dilemma: “either we have to kick them scholarship today.“it’s very tricky to talk generally ignored, and only the out, or we have to transform them and about the subject objectively, without stuff that goes on in the head reform them, so that they’ll no longer be giving perceived ammunition to anti- is what anybody pays attention a commercial people.” semitism,” Karp said. “that’s why it’s to. We’re trying to recover the such an explosive topic.” Jewish body.” that dilemma lasted well beyond the — Merrill Douglas period of the book — in fact, until 13
  16. 16. From social networking to intelligence research shows how complex systems rule everyday life a new area of research — fittingly called “complexity science” — embraces the notion that an ant colony and the human brain, Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 the stock market and Facebook all have something in common. all are complex systems, basically huge networks made up of individual components whose behavior is difficult to predict. 14
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  18. 18. a deeper understanding of these sys- of course there are plenty of computer tems’ role in nature — and the emer- science- and engineer-types in coco, gence of computer science tools sophis- but they work alongside faculty such as ticated enough to analyze them — offers shelley Dionne, an associate professor scientists a more realistic framework for in Binghamton’s school of manage- solving today’s most vexing problems, ment. she’s an mBa-PhD who got her from global warming to ethnic conflict. first taste of management not as a bud- ding Wall streeter, but during a dietetic “the rise of complexity science is not management rotation toward a degree driven by researchers, but actually from in nutrition. the complexity in people’s lives,” said hiroki sayama, an assistant professor “each one of us is a unique mix,” she in the Department of Bioengineering at said. Binghamton University. “ten years ago, a network didn’t make much sense.” she was eager to join the group, but quickly discovered that when they finally today networks and complex systems got face to face, all that interdisciplinary are everywhere, and there are several joie de vivre didn’t come baggage-free. university-based centers and journals devoted exclusively to their study. “We had no idea how to talk to each other,” Dionne said. “it’s a fundamental conceptual shift,” sayama said. in other words, they had swarm intelli- gence while she had sWot, that classic It’s a different world business tool of identifying strengths, at Binghamton, an interdisciplinary weaknesses, opportunities and threats. group founded in 2007 to study the collective dynamics of complex sys- other members came to the table with tems goes by the name coco. Perhaps similar diversity: Research interests in- the most striking characteristic of the clude public administration, biomimet- group is that instead of talking about an ics and environmental toxicology. interdisciplinary approach, it lives and breathes it. it took time, Dionne said. and, it turned out, a lot of office supplies. “Week after “there are many people who claim to week, drawing pictures on white boards be interdisciplinary — it’s the computer until we were out of ink,” she said. scientist working with the electrical en- gineers,” sayama, coco’s director, said What emerged was a shared passion with a laugh. for understanding group dynamics. the Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 Hiroki Sayama 16
  19. 19. computer scientists might be happily creating swarm simulators or explain- ing the latest in agent-based modeling, “the rise of complexity but, she too, could dive headfirst into creating ways for businesses to survive the shift from Dilbert days to dynamic science is not driven by global leadership. researchers, but actually “gone are the days i sit in my cubicle alone for eight hours a day,”she said, de- scribing today’s corporate environment. from the complexity “gone.” in people’s lives.” it is exactly that rapid-fire change of today’s business climate that has shown the pressing need for a new framework, — Hiroki Sayama said Ken thompson, a United Kingdom- based expert in the area of bioteaming, swarming and virtual enterprise net- works and teams, which draws heavily on the understanding of complex sys- responsiveness are king,” he said. “We tems in nature. his most recent book is urgently need to find a new model Bioteams: High Performance Teams Based which recognizes that organizations are on Nature’s Most Successful Designs. not predictable systems, like clocks, but unpredictable ecosystems, like living traditional business teams rely too things. the natural place to look for this heavily on a single dominant struc- model is nature itself with its numerous ture — command and control, also examples of self-organizing systems and known as individually led teams, he teams in ants, bees, dolphins, wolves, said, drawing from the military. such an geese and many more.” approach “served us well in the era of mass production when costs, consistency one of sayama’s research goals is to cre- and compliance were everything,” ate some way to self-organize heteroge- thompson said. neous swarms with several distinct types of particles into specific spacial patterns But that model falls well short in today’s so one can evolve the internal mecha- world full of “networks, dynamic alli- nism. he envisions a system in which, ances, virtual collaborations — where collectively, robots can spontaneously agility, innovation, added-value and create behaviors. Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 17
  20. 20. From ‘fringe’ to center stage David schaffer, a member of coco and a visiting research professor in the De- “Gone are the days partment of Bioengineering who also works as a research fellow at Philips Re- search, connected with sayama through i sit in my cubicle their shared belief that the concepts from modern complexity theory have alone for eight hours something to offer societal problems. it’s an idea that didn’t seem to get much traction in the wider world until recently, a day. Gone.” he said. so it must be satisfying for scientists — Shelley Dionne such as schaffer, whose dissertation was on genetic algorithms — something once considered on the “lunatic fringe,” he said — to see their ideas get so much respect. today evolutionary computation is seeping into every aspect of engineer- “that’s the key idea of any complex ing and more applications are on the system,” sayama said. “it’s very hard to horizon, he said. predict.” “i’m kind of the utopian thinker,” schaf- But what’s not difficult to envision, es- fer said. “i think we can do better than pecially for the younger generation, is we are doing.” the concept that groups react differently than individuals when part of a network, coco’s research focus is both “new and he said. old,” said Yaneer Bar-Yam, professor and president of the new england complex think of today’s college students, saya- systems institute, a cambridge-based ma said. they get up, check Facebook, nonprofit research and education insti- send e-mails. their lives are all about tute. sayama did his post-doctoral work connection. there and they still collaborate. “they are already aware that everything it’s as old as the groundbreaking is networked,” he said. “they already economic theory of adam smith’s understand they are part of something “invisible hand,” put forth in the bigger.” 1700s, and evolution itself, which of Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 18
  21. 21. course didn’t happen by one piece, Bar- infrastructure, both physical and social, Yam said. and see the consequences unfold, some unforeseen. What’s new are the computer science- based tools available for understanding it’s much the same in the real world. and analyzing these ideas. “Patterns develop within cities based on “and hiroki is one of the pioneers in the people making personal decisions — field,” Bar-Yam said. leaving neighborhoods if they can, or staying if they can’t,” Wilson said. a recent national science Foundation “We are all interacting with each other.” grant of more than $550,000 confirms that view and provides coco at Bing- the neighborhood Project has been hamton with the resources the group able to map seemingly intangible — but will need to explore and expand its utterly familiar — neighborhood charac- evolutionary perspective on collective teristics. one part of its research found a decision making. correlation between high marks for car- ing neighbors and the level of holiday David sloan Wilson, a distinguished decorations in a neighborhood. professor of biology and anthropology at Binghamton, a member of coco the juxtaposition of high science and and the director of the interdisciplinary holiday displays is nothing new. “Bing- evolutionary studies (evos) program hamton has always valued integration,” at Binghamton, said it is coco’s Wilson said, mentioning the University’s “combination of evolutionary theory and Languages across the curriculum pro- complexity theory that is so special.” gram.“i think it’s one of the great things about the University. in order to have so, too, is its emphasis on using its integration, you have to have a com- research to solve real-world problems. mon language — one is the common language of evolutionary theories and Wilson is part of the Binghamton neigh- complexity.” borhood Project, a collaboration among Binghamton faculty and community and that relatively new addition of partners that uses coco to help make evolutionary theory to the study of com- neighborhoods stronger. plexity science means a great deal more landscape for great thinkers to explore think of simcity, Wilson said, referring together. to the popular computer game that chal- — Kathleen Ryan O’Connor lenges users to create a city. You create Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 Shelley Dionne 19
  22. 22. earnest money: experimental economics puts the world of finance under a microscope Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 20
  23. 23. What happens when economics steps into the lab? can you test it? touch it? Poke it? of course. the result is experimental economics, the financial crisis has left many 401(k)- a growing discipline that reaches into watchers wishing they could go back to nearly every aspect of life, from the school to learn more about terms such best auditing standards to how much as credit default swaps and “naked” candy an 8-year-old might share short selling, or understand better the with a classmate. Researchers use accounting wizardry at work behind the reproducible, scientifically rigorous massive federal bailout of Wall street. experiments to test fundamental economic questions. it also has served to bring into sharp relief the role of self-interest in financial steven schwartz, associate professor of transactions. accounting in Binghamton’s school of Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 management, is gaining notice from top self-interest takes center stage in “the academic journals for his work in the effect of honesty and superior authority field, including a recent investigation on Budget Proposals,” a paper schwartz into the interplay between authority and researched with colleagues Frederick W. honesty in the budgeting process. Rankin of colorado state University and Richard a. Young of the ohio state and his work comes at a good time for University. their findings were recently economics, if also a bad time for the published by The Accounting Review, a economy. top-three journal in the field. 21
  24. 24. Steven Schwartz here, they take previous research that the design of the experiments. the idea schwartz and his colleagues discovered shows subordinates have differing is to strike a balance between the relative that the most honesty came from giving degrees of honesty in the budget- simplicity of a controlled laboratory subordinates final say over the budget. ing process and move it several steps setting and all the messy motivations that is, when employees are trusted to further — manipulating interactions that make up human nature. do the right thing, they tend to do it. to see what produces incremental differences in honesty. For example, in order to recreate a one- this is not to say that employees should shot exchange between a manager and be trusted entirely. schwartz’s results Does it matter if the subordinate or a worker over a budget in a lab setting, also suggest that while having the superior has final say over the budget schwartz and his colleagues found a way superior set the budget may be resented approval? Will employees be more or to give participants enough experience by employees, it does benefit the firm less honest when they have to state to “get” the idea of the experiment, but through greater control. the true cost of the budget versus not skew results by having them get too something more akin to an offer? all comfortable with each other. Participants taken together, this research shows that of these, schwartz and his colleagues interacted for 20 rounds, but were companies must be careful in choosing discovered, affect honesty. and often randomly re-matched after each round. just the right amount of authority for the smallest difference in control has the their managers. give them too much biggest impact — a more finely tuned that same attention to detail was and employees will act with resentment; understanding than can be gleaned from maintained when it came to money. too little, and they will run roughshod Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 mountains of data. over corporate policies. as the budget communication schwartz, like all experimental manipulation played out, the subordinate it’s in this way that experimental eco- economists, must find creative ways either proposed an allocation of the nomics can trump traditional economic to simulate the real world — he project’s profit to the superior — they models: it is better at capturing human has also researched the best way to tagged this the “no factual assertion” behavior that isn’t always rational. teach experiments in the accounting treatment — or reported the project’s management classroom — so an exact cost to the superior — the “factual and accounting, like human nature, is incredible amount of attention goes into assertion” treatment. a natural application for the methods 22
  25. 25. steven schwartz and his colleagues discovered that the most honesty came from giving subordinates final say over the budget. that is, when employees are trusted to do the right thing, they tend to do it. of experimental economics, said shyam schwartz was attracted to experimental “You are not going to lie for a nickel,” he sunder, a professor at the Yale school of economics for its hands-on approach explained. management and a noted experimental and its respect for the enduringly popu- economist. as a largely institutional lar game theory, or how people react But boost that reward to a quarter and discipline, even small changes to ac- strategically in situations where com- all of a sudden fibbing emerges — or so counting can have large consequences. peting strategies are at work. schwartz the experiments said. describes it all simply as “fun.” “of course no experience in the labora- “But we found that’s not really the tory will give you a perfect prediction. that sense of fun has translated into case,” he said. he has seen firsthand that doesn’t happen even in science, but all sorts of creative approaches, from how subjects forgo all types of selfish it gives you some idea, on a small scale, finding a way to measure cooperation behavior in favor of more benevolent what might happen if you made this mathematically to pondering eBay’s social norms. change, and that gives you a little more feedback mechanism. schwartz has also confidence on which path to choose,” discovered that he shares a passion for so we’re not just servants of our own sunder said. the motivations of honesty and altruism self-interest? with top names in the field such as sunder recently attended a conference ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich in not at all. where a group of researchers wanted to switzerland, who recently published a know whether auditors choosing their provocative paper on the roots of sharing “People,” he said, “are much more will- Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 own standards or norms would lead to by testing children and candy. ing to return a kindness with a kindness an increase in compliance. than you think.” schwartz also shares an interest in “they found, yes, it makes a significant — Kathleen Ryan O’Connor showing how economics can turn difference,” he said. “if you have a chance conventional wisdom on its head. he to participate in deciding the norms and recalled a famous experiment, some 20 standards, you stick to them more, even years ago, in which researchers found if, in auditing context, it means personal that if lying would net you only a paltry sacrifice.” sum as a reward, you wouldn’t do it. 23
  26. 26. Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 24 CovER SToRY
  27. 27. CovER SToRY soun strategy compoSEr diSSEctS hiS crEativE Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 procESS 25
  28. 28. CovER SToRY paUl goldStaUB rUNS a laBoratory of SortS the Binghamton University professor the poems, a series of spanish folk lyrics translated into Russian by K.D. Balmont does extensive reading and research, about a century ago, were translated into english by martin Bidney, a professor delves into the history of his field, emeritus of english at Binghamton. When Bidney first shared them with jots down ideas in a journal, performs goldstaub in 2005, there were more than 350 short poems addressing a variety of experiments and tests his theories with themes. the help of sophisticated software. then By may 2008, goldstaub had committed he watches as it all comes together in a to writing a piece inspired by this poetry in time for a premiere at the 2009 edition live concert performance. of musica nova, the annual concert of new music that he directs each February. goldstaub, an award-winning composer who joined the music Department’s “i’m very fortunate in that almost faculty in 1998, sees numerous everything i write gets performed,” similarities between his work and that said goldstaub, whose work has been of the scientists whose labs are in the played at Lincoln center, carnegie hall building next door. and as far away as Japan. “sometimes i’m writing for a specific occasion or “although we all hope for the lightning situation and that in some ways helps bolt of inspiration, whether you are a me decide the style. here at Binghamton scientist or an explorer or an artist, there with the musica nova concerts, it’s is a lot of what i call pre-compositional an atmosphere that seems to invite thinking and research going on,” he said. experimentation. People have trusted “a scientist might spend years studying me to make interesting concerts and the available literature, doing sample ex- i’m delighted to say, ‘We’re going on a periments, designing problems that lead musical journey. come along.’” up to the big question. he might spend weeks, months or years walking around harold Reynolds, a trombonist and the outside of the problem, deciding professor at ithaca college, has worked first of all: What is the question? that is Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 with goldstaub for more than 20 years. a process similar to what i go through. he has commissioned works from Before writing a note comes years of goldstaub, both as a soloist and for an general research on the topic.” ensemble. take goldstaub’s major project in 2008, “it’s really exciting to get a piece that’s for example. he spent much of the year written for you because it’s something composing a 25-minute piece inspired brand new that no one else has,” by a group of poems he first read three Reynolds said. “it’s an organic process years earlier. 26
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  30. 30. CovER SToRY when you work with a composer. i find it exhilarating.” he said goldstaub has attended early rehearsals and worked with the performers, occasionally making changes in the piece. “Paul is so close to the work that he does,” Reynolds said. it’s so integral to his being that he feels like part of the piece itself. he has a built-in interest in being right in the middle of it.” Reynolds said he appreciates the personal, even spiritual quality of goldstaub’s compositions. “Paul’s works are always introspective. often they reflect deep-seated emotions he’s going through at the time. i like that because it’s really genuine. he gives a lot of thought to what he wants to say.” in 2008, that process brought goldstaub to western new York, where he sought inspiration on a working vacation near a lake. “several hours were spent just reading the poems over and over and deciding which ones spoke to me,” he said. While there, goldstaub whittled down the number of poems he was considering for the piece to about 50. he also kept a journal about the process. “it’s filled with my thoughts Baritone Timothy LeFebvre, left, about structure, questions i wanted to ask myself and references to music will perform the composition from other composers,” he said, citing featuring poetry translated by schumann, Britten and Berlioz as well Martin Bidney, center. Paul as some contemporary composers. Goldstaub, right, wrote the music. During the summer, goldstaub recorded Bidney reading many of the poems aloud and thought about how the poetry would interact with the music. “that’s a great miracle,” goldstaub said. “music Binghamton University / Binghamton ReseaRch / 2009 expands the emotion of the text.” By June, goldstaub was seeing recur- ring themes in the poems and they were beginning to coalesce into groups. after one breakthrough, he made a diagram in his journal. “i drew a picture of how i wanted the overall piece to sound,” he said. “Usually i go with a more intuitive 28