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Itai Cohen contributes to the development of programmable 2D transformable synthetic tissue.

A group led by Rob Shepherd, assistant professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is using the cephalopod as inspiration for a method to morph flat surfaces into three-dimensional ones on demand.

Shepherd has teamed up with Itai Cohen, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and former postdoctoral researcher James Pikul, to devise a method for precisely transforming stretchable 2-D objects into 3-D shapes. Their method involves the use of rigid mesh, laser cut in a way that, when attached to a stretchable material, would constrain the material to form targeted shapes when inflated.

The group’s paper, “Stretchable Surfaces with Programmable Texture Morphing for Synthetic Camouflaging Skins,” will be published Oct. 13 in Science. Pikul, who did his research at Cornell under Shepherd and Cohen, is an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Natasha Holmes focuses on how to measure critical thinking in lab pedagogy

Walk into the lab section of any science course and you’ll see students busy with beakers, microscopes, calculators and more. But what’s really going on in their minds?

“Although one may think that labs are inherently active, there’s some research showing the traditional ways that labs are structured – following rote procedures to get a proscribed outcome at the end – means students may be active with their hands but they’re not really active with their brains,” says Natasha Holmes, assistant professor of physics.

But no one really knows. While there have been lots of studies showing how active learning helps students in big lecture courses, there’s not much research on lab pedagogy. That’s where Holmes comes in. She’s the first researcher who focuses on educational practices hired within a discipline as a tenure-track professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. Using a recent Active Learning Initiative (ALI) grant, she and her team will redesign all lab courses for two introductory physics sequences.

Holmes also has a National Science Foundation grant with Carl Weiman of Stanford University to design an assessment for learning in labs. She asks, “Especially when we think about trying to teach students how to make sense of data and models and think critically and have them do some experiment, how do you test that? How do you actually measure whether what you’re doing is helpful?” The assessment’s goal, she explains, is to measure how well students assimilated the information during lab and can reproduce it in another context.

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Paul McEuen: 2017 Clarivate Analytics Citation Laureate

Since 202, Clarivate Analytics Web of Science has researchers whose work is worthy of Noble recognition based on their high citation tallies. This year, Paul McEuen with Phaedon Avouris and Cornelis Dekker have been chosen for their contribution to carbon-based electronics.

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Eun-Ah Kim Talks Electron Behavior

In CornellResearch's article by Caitlin Hayes, Eun-Ah Kim shares how she perceives and studies the secretive interactive behaviour of electrons.

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The Social Life of Electrons

Tsevi Beatus and Itai Cohen study how a spider uses locomotion to mimic an ant

Humans aren’t the only actors on the planet. To avoid being eaten, the ant-mimicking jumping spider pretends to be an ant, according to Cornell research published July 12 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Ants are aggressive at defending themselves: They are well-armed with bites and stings and formic acid. Ant-mimicking jumping spiders (Myrmarachne formicaria), in contrast, can’t do much more than run on their eight legs when attacked. Not surprisingly, insect predators tend to prefer spiders over ants, so appearing to be an ant confers significant protection.

Protective mimicry is a remarkable example of adaptive evolution: Moths can be colored like butterflies, and grasshoppers may look like tiger beetles. While most mimicry studies focus on traits like color and shape, the researchers used multiple high-speed cameras and behavioral experiments to pinpoint how the spider’s movements mimic ants.

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Jeevak Parpia's research group look for new phase transitions

When Cornell physicists Robert Richardson, David Lee and Douglas Osheroff received the 1996 Nobel Prize for their discovery of the superfluid state of liquid helium, it was only the beginning. Now a new team of Cornell researchers, building on that work, have found new complexities in the phenomenon, with implications for the study of superconductivity and theoretical models of the origin of the universe.

“We wanted to see new phase transitions,” said Jeevak Parpia, professor of physics. As it turned out, he saw a more “efficient” transition compared to any observed before in helium.

The results are published July 3 in the journal Nature Communications. Parpia and his research group collaborated with a group led by John Saunders, professor of physics, at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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