Spring 2008 Colloquium Series

All Colloquia are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. More colloquia may be added, so please check back.

passing the torch

January 30, 2008
Student Center Ballroom
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Passing the Torch of Knowledge
Networking with Alumni

The Colloquium offers honors students an unusual and valuable opportunity to interact face to face with individual alumni of the Dorman Honors College.

Why unusual and valuable? Because we have invited Honors alumni and alumnae who would like to share their wide experience with you and whose professional careers are in fields of interest to a whole number of you:  medicine, law, engineering, science, management and architecture. These men and women who studied at NJIT will each sit at a separate table with their names and areas of specialty clearly posted. So, it is completely up to you to choose at which table you would like to start networking – there will also be opportunities to move around to other tables during the event. 

You can ask the alumnus or alumna at your table of choice, for instance, to explain how their education at NJIT has helped them personally in their professional development and careers.  You may also want to ask their advice on what would in their view be the best steps you should take now  while still a student to enhance your own career prospects.  Whether there are certain other outside interests you should cultivate and whether experience in other countries and knowledge of other languages would make you more attractive to future employees are other examples of the many subjects you could discuss with them.  Incidentally, the Colloquium can also help you to widen your network of professional contacts for the future, another advantage not to be underestimated.   

jon plaut

February 25, 2008
Student Center Ballroom
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Technology and Development: Sustainability and Society's Priorities
Jon Plaut, President of Global Learning, Inc., former Director of Environmental Quality at Allied Signal

Jon Plaut is president of Global Learning, an educational, environmental NGO in New Jersey. He was Corporate Director of the Environment at AlliedSignal until he retired in 1996. He was appointed to the NAFTA Environmental Commission by President Clinton in 1994, and served on its Joint Public Advisory Committee for eight years (three times as its Chair). He was Vice-Chair of the U.S. EPA NACEPT (National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology) trade and environment committee in the early 1990s and was Chair of the U.S. Council for International Business Environment Committee over the same time period. He was a Senior Advisor to the United Nations Environment Committee in New York in the late 1990s. Mr. Plaut is widely published, and has taught environmental studies and management at Ramapo College, Rutgers, Penn State (where he was visiting professor for twelve years). He has a JD and an MA in Law (Georgetown and N.Y.U), and an MA in Film Studies (from N.Y.U).

The introduction will focus on the antecedents to society’s concern with sustainability, including the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions and increasing population. From this a discussion of “the commons” will ensue. The current critical problems of assuring a sustainable environment in the face of society’s other priorities will then be explored, including economic, social and political aspects. Global, regional and local pressures and opportunities will be assessed, including the particularly critical problem of carbon deposition and global warming. The responsibilities of the individual, industry, universities and government will be emphasized, focusing on the university community’s responsibilities and the urban environment. The talk will include references to specific real-life situations. Questions and comments will be taken at the conclusion of the talk.

Co-Sponsored by The Technology and Society Forum.

graduate study

March 3,2008
GITC Room 1100
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Graduate Degree Opportunities: BS/MS and BS/PhD
Dr. Ronald Kane, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Clarisa Gonzalez-Lenahan, Associate Director of Graduate Studies

The Colloquium provides Honors Students with an overview of the combined and accelerated program possibilities offered at NJIT. Expert answers to key questions will help them decide whether this is the direction their own undergraduate studies should take ─ questions like:

Why take a combined Bachelor’s/Masters Degree program?

Graduate degrees are often required for many types of positions in the technological fields, particularly in the more advanced sub-specialty areas. Applicants with master’s degrees are highly sought-after in industry. According to the National Association for Colleges and Employers, among the graduates in highest demand in 2006 were MBAs and those with Master’s degrees in accounting, electrical, computer and mechanical engineering. Starting salaries are also higher for those with graduate degrees - a master’s degree adds an average of $10,000 to potential starting salaries, and a doctorate adds about $25,000.

Why take an accelerated degree program at NJIT?

  • Time-effective program accelerates progress toward achieving both degrees in as little as five years
  • Cost-effective program maximizes value of tuition dollars (savings of approximately $4000 to as much as $10,000)
  • Advanced education strengthens credentials and career opportunities
  • Students with high undergraduate GPA (3.5 or better) may wish to consider doctoral study (BS/PhD) immediately upon completion of the bachelor’s degrees.

lisa nocks

March 10,2008
Student Center Ballroom
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

The Android Initiative in Fiction and Science
Lisa Nocks, PhD, University Lecturer, Federated Department of History

In the Homeric epic, The Iliad, the deformed god Hephaestus is assisted by humanoid robots he has forged from gold “in appearance like living women”, with intelligence, speech, and strength, who have been "taught by the gods to do many things". By the late nineteenth century fictional humanoid robots were no longer described as deriving from the gods but as products of human ingenuity. A few decades later, primitive mechanical men began to be used to promote innovations in electrical engineering, and eventually in computing and speech synthesis. Soon the humanoid robot or android had not only become a staple character of science fiction, but a symbol for the technological Future.  Today the potency of the android is felt not only in its persistence as a cultural icon, but as an engineering objective:  in 2005 researchers in at least ten countries had ongoing android projects, and several major manufacturing companies in Japan were exhibiting prototypes.  The Honda Motor Company has announced in its print and television ads that they are "building a dream, one robot at a time". Other companies refer to their prototypes as "partners" and "friends”. Like Hephaestus’s robots, they have intelligence, speech and strength, and are being taught to do many things.

The public is being primed to anticipate the imminent emergence of androids on the order of Star Trek’s DATA or the child David of AI: Artificial Intelligence via both increasingly sophisticated sci-fi depictions of humanoid robots and splashy photo displays in magazines and on television. Meanwhile, the historical continuity that humanoid robots in development share with their fictional counterparts is different than the one suggested by the popular media.  Mid-twentieth century science fiction writers, many of them scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, wrote about the practical obstacles to producing and using such sophisticated androids, often in terms strikingly similar to those articulated in engineering reports today.  Dozens of stories addressed the mundane challenges of getting androids to grasp without hurting anyone, to see well enough to distinguish one person from another, to work without getting distracted, to have enough power to survive long periods without human supervision, or to be built of materials that could withstand harsh environments. In this presentation, I show how science fiction writers speculated about such issues as control, energy monitoring, perception, motivation, situated and imitative learning, and human/machine socialization. I will also discuss stories that deal with the social and economic implications of integrating intelligent machines that possess a sense of self-preservation into human society. I encourage the audience to bring their own questions about the future of this research to the Q&A that follows.

Dr. Lisa Nocks is a lecturer in the Federated Department of History NJIT/Rutgers Newark who writes on the intersection of science, technology, and popular media. Her research is inspired by the question of the possible cognitive link between imagination and invention. She has presented papers on what she calls the “android initiative” at a number of international conferences, and has published essays on the history of media technologies. She also writes on the reception of evolution theory in the 19th century, most recently, “T. H. Huxley: The Evolution of the Bulldog” in Icons of Evolution v. 1 (Greenwood 2007).  Her current book, Robot: The Life Story of a Technology (Greenwood 2007), is listed as a 2007 Outstanding Academic Title by the Journal Choice.  Her remarks for this colloquium are drawn from a book she is completing on the comparative history of the humanoid robot in science fiction and engineering. 

prudential center

March 18,2008
Details to be Announced

From Drawing Board to Finished Arena ─ An Inside Look of Prudential Center, Home of the NJ Devils 

Prudential Center is the cornerstone in the revitalization and renaissance of downtown Newark. In addition to the arena, Newark will soon add scores of condominiums, restaurants, themed bars, and mixed retail establishments. Prudential Center will be recognized among the finest arenas in the country and is New Jersey’s home for hockey, college basketball, indoor soccer, concerts, family shows and special events. A public/private partnership between the City of Newark and Devils Arena Entertainment made the $375 million Prudential Center a reality that is changing the face of downtown Newark and making it a destination place for sports and live entertainment in the region. The Prudential Center hosts the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, Seton Hall Men’s Basketball, MISL’s New Jersey Ironmen indoor soccer team, concerts, family shows, and special events as well as other professional, collegiate and amateur sporting events.

Tour Agenda includes:

  • Tour of the facility with a focus on the architecture, construction, amenities, and technology.
  • Discussion of the business plan-capital, facility and operational expenditures, and revenue.
  • Why did the Devils’ organization choose Newark and how do they envision the Devils’ future and its impact on the greater Newark community?


March 20, 2008
(during Spring Break)

Study Tour of FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, Atlantic City, NJ        

The FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center is the nation’s premier aviation research and development, and test and evaluation facility. The Technical Center serves as the national scientific test base for the FAA. Programs at the Technical Center include testing and evaluation in air traffic control, communications, navigation, airports, aircraft safety, and security. They also include long-range development of innovative aviation systems and concepts, development of new air traffic control equipment and software, and modification of existing systems and procedures. The Technical Center not only serves as a cornerstone for aviation advancements, but is also a key focal point for Homeland Security. You can learn more about some of the programs at the Technical Center by viewing videos at:  http://www.tc.faa.gov/TC_videos.html and to learn more about last year’s visit to the FAA Technical Center see the article published in Inside the Fence.

Here are a few comments by students who took part in the Study Tour:

  • “I think the tour was excellent and have no suggestions on how to improve it.  The people there were very nice and very welcoming.  No matter how many questions we had, they were always helpful and genuinely wanted us to enjoy ourselves.”
  • “I was surprised how much I learned on this tour.”
  • “The experience in a nutshell was one of a kind.”
  • “I actually never knew the Government did so much work to protect the citizens of the U.S.  It was very reassuring as well as informative.”
  • “The study tour gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to personally experience what it is like to work with new and cutting-edge technology.  The study tour gave me an idea of life after years of study.”
  • “Even though my future career plans are related to medicine, I found viewing the lab testing equipment used by the FAA exciting.”
  • “After the tour of the FAA, I became aware that the government not only conducts research but is a pioneer in some of its research.  I am definitely considering a career doing research for the government upon graduation.”

As space is limited, please register for the course early. (honors@njit.edu and pjdine@adm.njit.edu)

March 26, 2008
2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Fenster Room 425




Podiatry as a Career
Representatives of the New York College of Podiatric Medicine

Do you know that Podiatry (the study and medical treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and lower extremities) offers careers in various fields such as orthopedics, reconstructive surgery and sports medicine? With the growing demand for podiatric doctors, one podiatrist for every 20,000 Americans, podiatric medicine is becoming one of the fastest growing professions within the medical field. It is also the fifth-highest paid profession (median salary $127,000) in the U.S., listed behind surgeons, dentists, CEO’s, and airline pilots.

The presentation will include:

• An overview of podiatry and its various subfields

• A presentation by a Student Ambassador

• Admissions Q & A

March 26, 2008
3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Jim Wise Theatre, Kupfrian Hall
Space Weather
Prof. Philip R. Goode, distinguished professor of physics at NJIT and director of the Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research

Prof. Goode will receive the first NJIT Excellence in Research Prize and Medal and will deliver a lecture about his recent work.

Prof. Goode is leading the project to build the world’s most capable solar telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), Big Bear Lake, CA. Goode has been director of BBSO since NJIT took over the facility from California Institute of Technology in 1997.

Prof. Goode has for many years studied the oscillating waves of the sun’s atmosphere. His other areas of interest include working to place a lower limit on solar irradiance and to probe the solar interior. Such studies impact scientists’ understanding and ability to predict space weather.

In recent years, industry, government and scientists have begun placing increasing attention upon space weather to learn more about how solar magnetic storms can have deleterious effects on satellites, the terrestrial power grid and telecommunications.

Since 1998, Goode has also focused on climate studies in which the Earth’s large-scale reflectance has been measured using earthshine. He and BBSO researchers have spent time modeling the Earth’s reflectivity using satellite cloud cover and found appreciable decadal variation of reflectance due to cloud changes. BBSO is building a global network to measure the Earth’s global reflectance and spectrum.

This award is presented in recognition of a sustained record of contributions that have enhanced NJIT’s reputation.


March 31, 2008
Student Center Ballroom
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.        

Evolution of Life: Sex and Other Mergers
The Lillian Gilbreth Colloquium
Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor in the department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Lynn Margulis was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983. She received the National Medal of Science in 1999 from President Clinton. The Library of Congress, Washington, DC, announced in 1998 that it will permanently archive her papers. Margulis was president (2005-2006) of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society from which she received the Proctor Prize for scientific achievement in 1999. On her move to the Botany Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1988, she had been a biology professor at Boston University for 22 Years.

Her publications span a wide-range of scientific topics, mainly in cell biology and microbial evolution. Probably best known for development of the theory of symbiogenesis, she challenges a central tenet of neoDarwinism: little significant inherited variation comes from random mutations in DNA. New organelles, tissues, organs, and even new species evolve primarily through the fusion of genomes in symbioses followed by natural selection. Symbiogenesis leads to increasingly complex levels of individuality. Beyond Contributions to evolution, Dr. Margulis is acknowledged for her microbiological work with James E. Lovelock on his gaia concept. Gaia theory posits that the Earth’s surface interactions among living beings in sediment, air, and water have created a vast self-regulating system.

Professor Margulis, who participates in hands-on teaching activities at levels from middle to graduate school, is the author of many articles and books. Recent publications include Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution (1998), Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species (2002), Dazzle Gradually: Reflections of Nature in Nature (2007) both co-written with Dorion Sagan, and Luminous Fish: Tales of Science and Love (2006) is her first work of fiction. Indeed, over the past decade and a half, Professor Margulis has co-written a number of books with Sagan, among them What is Sex? (1997), What is Life? (1995), Mystery Dance: On the Evolution of Human Sexuality (1991), Microcosmos: Four Billion Years Evolution from our Microbial Ancestors (1986), and Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination (1986). Her book Five-Kingdoms: An illustrated guide to the phyla of life on Earth, first with K.V. Schwartz (1998), and now with Michael Chapman (4th edition in progress for 2009), provides a consistent, formal, illustrated classification of all life (phyla) on earth. Based on international work, it encompasses life’s immense diversity from microbes to reef building corals. The logical basis for it is summarized in her single-authored book Symbiosis in Cell Evolution: Microbial Communities in the Archean and Proterozoic Eons (Second Edition, 1993).The bacterial origins of both chloroplasts and mitochondria are established. She works now with a few close colleagues on the origin of cilia from spirochetes

Co-Sponsored with The Murray Women's Center and The Technology and Society Forum


April 2, 2008
Student Center Atrium
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.

In Concert [I]
Schubert Octet

Performed by Members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

The Schubert Octet is one of the crowning works of the chamber music repertoire.
It could be described as chamber music that has been stretched towards a symphonic form. A great composer can make a small musical formation sound like a much larger ensemble. In almost all the movements the music is developed in complex polyphonic themes where each of the eight instruments is playing a different musical line. It often sounds like 10-15 musicians are playing.

See the website.

The eight members of the NJSO who will be performing are:

Na-Young Baek: Korean born Cellist Na-Young Baek made her American Debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2000. She appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras such as Hudson Valley Philharmonic, DuPage Symphony Orchestra, World Symphony Orchestra, Suwon Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, and Korean Chamber Ensemble. As an active recitalist, one of her most recent recitals included the Dame Myra Hess concert that was broadcast live in Chicago. Ms. Baek is currently an active member of the Sejong Soloists and has just joined the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Neeme Jarvi. Na-Young performs on a cello by Johanned Gagliano, c.1800, Naples, Italy, which is on loan from Sara Sant’ Ambrogio and Sejong Soloists.

Frank Foerster: Principal Violist of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra since 1988, studied at the music schools of Hanover and Berlin, and with Yehudi Menuhin in Gstaad, Switzerland. He came to America to study with Killian Fuchs and Karen Tuttle at the Juilliard School, where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree. At Juilliard he was principal violist of the Juilliard Orchestra and recipient of the prestigious Alice Tully Scholarship. After winning numerous competitions in Europe, he became the first solo violist to win the Artists International Auditions in New York recital debut in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. Mr. Foerster has performed under Herbert von Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic. Under the baton of Zdenek Macal he was the soloist in five performances of Bartok’s Viola Concerto with the New Jersey Symphony.

Karl Herman: Principal Clarinetist of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended Carnegie-Mellon University as a student of Jerome Levine and received his Master of Music degree with Honors from the New England Conservatory of Music, studying with Peter Hadcock of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Since joining the NJSO in 1979, Mr. Herman has performed with many other ensembles based in the New York area. These have included the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur, Yuri Temirkanov, Valery Gergiev, Leonard Slatkin and Andre Previn; the Concordia Chamber Orchestra; American Composers Orchestra; and the American Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia. Mr. Herman has also been a frequent concerto soloist with the NJSO and other ensembles.

Rebekah Johnson: began learning the violin at 3 years of age with llza Niemack in Ames, Iowa. Her first public performance was at age 6 on a CBS television special playing the first solo part in Bach’s Double Violin Concerto. She also won the Minneapolis Young People’s Competition that same year with a performance of the Mozart 4th Violin Concerto. She left Iowa at 16 to study with Ivan Galamian and Sally Thomas at the Juilliard School. Her chamber music coaches included Josef Gingold and Leonard Rose. Johnson has been a member of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra since 1993. She currently plays the Guarnerius del Gesu ex Serdat (one of the symphony’s Golden Age Collection instruments).

Andrea Menousek: joined the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 1991 where she plays the position of Second French Horn and frequently performs with the NJSO Brass Quintet and the NJSO Woodwind Quintet. Andrea has also been a member of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic since 1994 where she holds the principal Horn position and where she has performed as a concerto soloist. Ms. Menousek, a native of Northampton, Massachusetts, began studying the French Horn at the age of 12.

David Ross: bass player, graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music where he studied with Ed Barker, Principal Bass of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Rosi joined the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 1984, and in 1988 was a Tanglewood Fellow. He is also a member of Musica Sacra, the Collegium Chorale, and the Chatauqua Orchestra, as well as a substitute player for the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera.

Brennan Sweet: born in New York City and NJSO Associate Concertmaster began his violin studies at two years of age in Edmonton, Alberta, enrolling in one of Canada’s first Suzuki violin programs. Performing as Concertmaster for several regional Indiana orchestras since 1986, including the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, he was a founding member of the Evansville String Quartet. Mr. Sweet joined the NJSO as Associate Concertmaster in 1994 and has served as the Acting Concertmaster. His recent engagements have included an appearance as soloist with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra and a recital as guest at the University of Illinois School of Music in Campaign- Urbana

Mark Timmerman: A native of Davenport, Iowa, is a member of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and spent last season as Principal Bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and also studied at Temple University and the University of Michigan. An accomplished orchestral player, he has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic and Hawaii Symphony. Music festival appearances have taken Mark to Japan, the former Soviet Union, Italy and Brazil, and he participated for three summers in the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, including several Music from Marlboro U.S. tours and an appearance on the St. Paul Sunday Morning radio program.

Co-Sponsored by The Technology and Society Forum.

April 7, 2008
Jim Wise Theater, NJIT Campus
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

In Concert [II]
Sonata in A for Violin and Piano, by César Franck
Performed by Rieko Kawabata and Eri Kang

Another towering chamber music classic, the Franck sonata makes extraordinary demands on both violinist and pianist to the delight of audiences.