Building the theoretical and experimental sciences

PRIORITY 2: Building the theoretical and experimental sciences

Building the theoretical and experimental sciences

The Graduate Center will strengthen its commitment to the sciences, building a scientific enterprise based on the talents of faculty and students whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries and whose energy sparks collaboration across campuses.

In past decades, investment in the sciences at CUNY has been spotty, and cross-campus collaboration the exception, rather than the rule. Recently, however, the situation has improved on both fronts. In 2008, for the first time, five-year funding packages were made available each year to entering students in the biology, biochemistry, chemistry, and physics programs. Although the doctoral faculty members in these four programs are almost exclusively located at other CUNY campuses, this initiative normalized funding across the programs, and increased faculty and student interaction and collaboration. What was a consortium in name only has become a true consortium in practice.
ASRCIn 2014, CUNY launched its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), and in fall 2016, the ASRC joined the Graduate Center. The Graduate Center is now positioned to advance the CUNY-wide priority of enhancing scientific research across the campuses. The science faculty at CUNY campuses now have access to state-of-the-art ASRC facilities critical to their research and have helped recruit world-class faculty and promising post-doctoral scientists to laboratories housed in the ASRC’s 200,000-square-foot building. Meanwhile, the Graduate Center has committed itself to growth in the sciences by founding the CUNY Neuroscience Collaborative, securing approval for its first Master of Science degree, launching the Initiative for the Theoretical Sciences, and founding a Center for Digital Scholarship and Data Visualization.

2.1 We will match the material and financial resources required to undertake outstanding scientific research with intellectual resources that are broad and deep.

Eleanore Wurtzel
Professor Eleanore T. Wurtzel (GC/Lehman, Biochemistry/Biology) has identified a new enzyme in plants that shows promise for ending vitamin A deficiency—a life-threatening health issue that affects 250 million children worldwide.

From recruiting faculty to ensuring access to laboratory space and hosting seminars and chalk talks, we will support outstanding science and foster a rich culture of collaborative scientific research by:

  • Recruiting leading scientists, with a view to advancing and complementing the research strengths of the CUNY campuses, the Initiative for the Theoretical Sciences and the ASRC’s five research areas (neuroscience, nanoscience, environmental science, structural biology, and photonics).

  • Convening meetings, workshops, seminars, and public programs to promote a ‘connected CUNY,’ thereby encouraging collaboration between campus-based faculty and ASRC faculty, and between theorists and experimentalists across New York City.

  • Partnering with all CUNY scientists to develop innovative curricula to train graduate students in cutting-edge techniques, positioning them at the forefront of scientific discovery.

  • Promoting our emerging profile in the sciences with a view to recruiting outstanding faculty and students from diverse backgrounds, keeping in mind that women remain severely underrepresented among the ranks in the sciences.10

2.2 We will work to remove barriers among the sciences and between the sciences and the humanities, social sciences, and the arts.

ASRC StudentsThe 21st century has ushered in a host of new directions in interdisciplinary scholarship, including research that breaks down the traditional barriers that separate the sciences from each other, as well as the sciences from the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Scientific discovery increasingly requires advances in both the theoretical and experimental disciplines, with the most significant achievements often resulting from the integration of the two.
Medical humanities, science writing, bioethics, philosophy of science and data visualization are a sampling of interdisciplinary work that has recently been invigorated by fresh thinking and funding on a national level. We will promote interdisciplinary work between the sciences and other fields by: 

  • Establishing student and CUNY faculty fellowships at the ASRC and in the Initiative for the Theoretical Sciences, on the model of the Advanced Research Collaborative, and building an integrated network of experimentalists and theoreticians.

  • Developing new interdisciplinary master’s programs in the sciences. 

  • Providing resources to faculty and students who wish to pursue interdisciplinary work in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and the experimental and theoretical sciences.

2.3 We will enhance pedagogy in the sciences and raise the visibility of the sciences at the Graduate Center, across New York City, nationally, and internationally.

ASRC MicroscopeCutting-edge scientific research fascinates: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) educators seek inspiration; the curious wish to understand their changing environment, the workings of the world, and the cosmos; the ill hope for new treatments; and parents want to understand the developing brains of their young children. Above all, promising students must be encouraged to pursue science through engagement with world-class research. We will respond to these imperatives by: 

  • Creating innovative teaching practices that will enhance STEM education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, in partnership with the CUNY campuses where doctoral students work and teach.

  • Increasing awareness of the research undertaken in our science programs in the local, national, and international arenas through promotion, communications, and public events in the complementary venues of 365 Fifth Avenue and the ASRC building at 85 St. Nicholas Terrace.