Biology Department works with mutant proteins

Tim Caplan – News Editor

Assistant Professor of Biology at Rhode Island College (RIC) Bill Holmes and his team of six student researchers have been working with mutated tau proteins in an attempt to discover their cause. Tau proteins have an abnormal chromosomal makeup, which is the cause for a mutation.

According to “Science Daily” neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease have a buildup of tau proteins which damages the enzymes that the brain uses for learning and memory.

Professor Holmes received his Ph.D from Brown University and has published several articles for academic biology journals. He and his student researchers run experiments using the tau protein. The goal of the research on this particular mutant protein is to come to a better understanding of “tau misfolding and aggregation.”

This can be a confusing concept for people unfamiliar with the vernacular of a cell. In a RIC press release, one of the members of the research team, Senior Matt Schiavo, explained this process:     

Tau protein, Graphic courtesy of ric.edu

“When proteins are made by our cells, they consist of a long string of amino acids that all have to fold into a specific 3D shape in order to function properly. That folding happens with the aid of little chaperone proteins, little helpers, who help get that protein in the exact shape it needs to be to do its job. When the protein tau is healthy, it helps hold the cell in its proper shape, like scaffolding supports a building. When the protein misfolds it doesn’t get into the correct 3D shape, which can cause the protein to stick together with other misfolded proteins, forming clumps. These clumps of misfolded proteins are called aggregates and it’s a common feature in neurodegenerative diseases.”

Holmes and his team will continue to run experiments until they figure out the underlying cause to this mutation.

 

A new wave of sustainability on campus with Sustainability Coordinator Jim Murphy

Marisa Lenardson – Online Media Manager

Making a change could be as simple as shutting lights off when you leave a room, using a metal straw, or throwing food you don’t eat into compost bins. Small changes to our daily lives may seem insignificant, but in large numbers, are substantial to maintaining a sustainable environment.

Jim Murphy is the first person at Rhode Island College to have the title of “Sustainability Coordinator.” He oversees green initiatives on campus. “I’m definitely having fun” he says, noting that this is his sixth or seventh year in the position. He eagerly provided information about the progress RIC has made.

There has been an addition of new trash, recycling, and compost receptacles in Donovan Dining Center. Murphy describes Donovan as “a great partner to green initiatives.” One of the biggest challenges to come is changing behavior in Donovan to nurture people into separating their food waste. Starting in January, a team of students will be employed to advise other students, faculty and staff on what items go in each receptacle.

From our compost bins, food waste will be supplied to an anaerobic (without oxygen) digester that will start running in January/February. This machine will convert waste into a slurry which a certain bacteria consumes and thus emits methane. The methane gas is captured and converted into electricity. Food waste collected from the college will create enough renewable energy to power 5,000 homes. Additionally, this also eliminates food waste from going into the landfill which will free up about 20% of space.

Food prep scraps–all fruits and vegetables that Donovan uses for the salad bar–are also being composted in a bin at the greenhouse. In addition to these scraps, leaves, dead plants from the campus garden, and shredded old Anchor newspapers are used in the compost. The Environmental Club hopes to use that compost in the campus garden next year.

Overall, Donovan is very keen on being green. Donovan switched to paper straws in September and are slowly transitioning to compostable cutlery. The paper plates in Donovan are compostable and brown bags used for take-out meals are made from recycled materials.

While recycling is critical, the elimination of waste is a greater task. Plastic water bottles are one of the most notable examples of this problem. Across the campus, 25-30 water bottle filling stations have been installed and continue to be any time a water fountain needs to be replaced. All stations feature a counter to keep track of bottles saved. So far, 500,000 water bottles have been saved on campus.

Donovan has been a big proponent of solar panels placed on top of the building which were connected to power sources last Friday, Nov. 23. A final inspection and sign off from utilities are all that is left before the panels go live in a week. The 110 Kilowatt array will produce about $25,000 a year in electricity.

RIC’s campus captured via drone, photo courtesy of Dr.Charles McLaughlin

Jay Jerue, the Director of Facilities and Operations, explained the need to leverage savings in order to pay for energy conservation projects. This compensates for the installation of LED lights, motion sensors, solar panels and more which has around a four and a half year payback. RIC has spent $15 million in energy projects in the last two years.

The Environmental Club aspires to turn the campus into an Arbor Foundation Tree Campus. This recognition of dedication to campus environment would consist of having a tree advisory committee and a plan for placing, maintaining, and removing trees. Many of the facets need for an Arbor Foundation Tree Campus have already been developed by green initiatives.

Murphy lit up with excitement while talking about the incredible year with RIC’s bees. There are three hives: Queen Latifah, Queen Beeatrice, and Queen Elizabeeth.

At their lowest population per hive, there are normally about 10,000 bees. However, when they came out in April this year, they were about 20,000 strong, the healthiest Murphy has ever seen them. Around 275 lbs of honey have been pulled from these hives. Some of the honey has been given to Donovan, which they use to make a honey mint salad dressing for the salad bar. (The mint comes from the garden behind Fogarty Life Science.)

Dean Faiola is executive chef at Donovan and co-advisor to the Environmental Club. He was involved in pilot study with other colleges in state to test a software called “Phood.” This program allows Donovan to track what food they’re making at specific times and what is left over. The data can be reviewed and used to reduce food waste. For example, on Thursday mornings, Donovan was making a surplus amount of scrambled eggs. Now they make less. It is about the prevention of creating excess and saving money on food and labor.

Students need to know about sustainability. “When you graduate, the information that you have acquired in your major is going to be very useful for whatever job you have. But also, being sustainability minded is also a factor,” Murphy says. “Students right now don’t necessarily need to worry about what kind of lights they have or what that temperature set point is – but when they start paying that bill,” he laughs, “it becomes extremely important to them.”

Women’s Swimming continues to tread water

Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor

Rhode Island College Women’s Swimming sustained their 3rd team loss of the season Friday night in a 130-61 defeat at the hands of the 2-2 Western New England University Golden Bears.

The loss did not come without bright spots however, with Athena Sampalis continuing her strong freshmen season. The Toll Gate product earned individual victories in both the 100-yard individual medley and 50-yard freestyle with times of 1:17.2 and 28.87 respectively. She also took second in the 50 yard backstroke with a time of 35.69 and swam the final leg of RIC’s first place 200-yard freestyle relay team.

The Anchorwomen also got a strong performance from Senior Madison Lane who recorded second place finishes in both the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyles with respective times of 2:34.75 and 6:55.04.

The RIC swim team will fall to 0-3 on the season as a result of this loss. The team will take a brief reprieve for the thanksgiving holiday before looking to rebound Saturday, December 1st when they will take to the road to face off against the 1-1 Plymouth State University Panthers.

Jimmy Butler and the NBA’s boldening Eastern Conference

Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor

There have been two adages going around in the National Basketball Association’s circles for the better part of the last half decade. First, toppling the Golden State Warriors as champions is going to be nigh impossible until ether their current core breaks up or one of their key players sustains a significant injury. Secondly, the eastern conference pales in comparison to the west.

Since the offseason two moves in particular have reflected a shift in mindset among certain teams in how they have chosen to deal with the mountain of Golden State and the futility of the eastern conference, a conference many were handing to the Boston Celtics following the exodus of Lebron James to Los Angeles.

The first of these was the trade that sent Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors took a large risk trading for the disgruntled former finals MVP. Toronto had won 48 plus games each of the last five seasons with their Kyle Lowry-Demar DeRozan core. However the organization recognized that they were most likely never going to have a chance at a championship with this iteration of the team and thusly they risked alienating fans by trading DeRozan, a homegrown four time all star, for Leonard, a player they could not guarantee would even suit up for the Raptors. Early returns on this gamble have been excellent, the Raptors currently hold an Eastern Conference best 12-4 record and look to be contenders in the conference down the stretch.  

Secondly, and far more recently, was the Nov. 12th trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers sent the Timberwolves two starters in Dario Saric and Robert Covington as well as a regular rotational piece in Jerryd Bayless in exchange for Butler. While none of the players Philadelphia traded would be considered building blocks they have also taken a sizable risk, gutting their rotation in exchange for an all star caliber player.

These moves both involve teams being unwilling to accept the status quo and their standings in the leagues hierarchy. Both represent risks, the trading of valuable assets in exchange for a single season of a talented player. However within the current landscape of the NBA these sorts of risks are necessary and the teams willing to take them are possibly deserving of praise.

It is easy for a franchise to accept being a perennial playoff team, never quite good enough to truly contend for a championship but good enough to always be in the mix once playoffs roll around. For many organizations, especially those in small markets this is a profitable position to be in, a solid team will draw sizable crowds and playoff games bring in significant extra revenue.

The Raptors could of easily rested on their status as such as team but instead they opted to swing for the fences and bring in Leonard. Similarly the 76ers could have chosen to wait for their young stars to develop but instead opted to bring in Butler to enhance their team now. They recognized bringing in a player of Butler’s stature is multiple times harder than replacing a few above average starters or rotational pieces. For teams hoping to contend with Golden State and it’s assortment of all stars and MVP caliber players engaging in a talent arms race is necessary to have a chance at success.

These teams taking a more aggressive approach to team building has radically improved the quality of competition in the eastern conference. Now while it still does not look like there is a team ready to challenge Golden State set to emerge from the east it is hard to deny that bolder NBA personal departments help to improve the quality of the product for all basketball fans.

The Payment to College Athletes

Joshua Percy – Anchor Staff

Colleges across the country house some of the premier sporting talent around the world, however none of them receive payment for playing. The conversation on whether or not they deserve to be paid has been constant for the last two decades. While top college athletes receive scholarships from colleges to come play for their school, however those who don’t really don’t receive any type of payment for playing.

The argument is that these college athletes put their careers on the line by playing in college, due to the fact that a career-ending injury could happen at any time. With that type of risk, should these athletes get paid from the start of their careers in college, or is scholarships and full rides through college enough to compensate these athletes?  

Graphic courtesy of NCAA

Injuries are always a risk no matter what you do, however, if you are a top 10 ranked athlete maybe you deserve more than just a scholarship, or maybe you should not have to go to college. The possibility of high school seniors going straight to the NBA and skipping college could solve the problem of college athletes wanting to get paid, it gives them the ability to choose if they want to go to college or go to get paid. Other sports faces challenges in solving the issue in the payment of college students, however, this type of conversation will always be a topic until some type of a solution is given in all sports, not just the NBA.

College football players should have similar a option to skip college and go straight to the NFL or possibly get bigger scholarships then they originally got. For baseball players, if they are drafted while in college, and they opt to stay in college but are connected to a major league team, they should get some type of payment or salary on top of scholarships.

Is Tuukka time over?

Joseph Griswold – Anchor Staff

One of the most polarizing figures in all of Boston sports is Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. Throughout his career, Rask has shown periods of absolute dominance and complete disarray. The start to this season has been no different, as the Bruins net-minder has limped through the first month of the National Hockey League season with a 4-4 record and a dismal .901 save percentage.

Photo courtesy of ESPN

Rask; however, has never had a true challenger behind him on the bench, until this year. This offseason, the Bruins went out and acquired veteran goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The former New York Islander ranks in the top 10 among active goaltenders in goals-against-average and shutouts. This season, Halak has gotten off to a sweltering start and has led the Bruins to a 5-1-2 record in his eight decisions, boasting a .941 save percentage and two shutouts. It is evident that Halak has been, by far, the superior goalie.

This is not the first time that the Bruins have faced a goalie controversy, it was just last year where young goaltender Anton Khudobin, lead the Bruins on a winning streak and prompted talks of a goalie controversy. However, Khudobin is not a definitive number one goaltender and Rask soon rounded back into form. However, after losing in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning and a lackluster start, Rask seems to be on thin ice.

The only difference this year is the support of competition from Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who time and time again last year dismissed any talks of a goalie controversy. This year Cassidy said, “If one separates himself from the other like every other position here then we’ll allow that to evolve.” Thus far, Halak has shown the ability to facilitate competition. Whether or not Halak will be able to continue to play at a high enough level to displace Rask remains to be seen. What is certain is that the Bruins believe that they are a championship caliber team and will do whatever is necessary to compete including bringing the end of Tuukka time in Boston.

Kick plastic water bottles to the curb (just kidding, please recycle them)

Lauren Enos – Assistant opinions editor

Everyone knows how easy and convenient plastic water bottles are. You’re in line after shopping for an hour and there’s a cooler full of ice-cold, refreshing bottled beverages right there for you. You’re in the dining hall and know that a water bottle would be so much more convenient than an open cup. You’re on your way out the door and the pack of water bottles is on your way out. It’s so easy to just grab plastic bottles in these situations. You drink them, toss them, and don’t think about the consequences.

We all know that when you’re done with that plastic bottle, you’re most likely putting it in the next trash receptacle you see, recycling or not. There are some people that will hold onto it until they can recycle it, which is great. But that’s not the majority of people, myself included. Yes, sadly, I’m guilty of this heinous crime.

But there’s a solution! If you know that you’re not going to hold onto your plastic bottles until you can recycle them, then don’t buy them! Reusable water bottles are a lifesaver for the planet and your wallet. They come in every color, size, shape, and material you could ever want. There are even thermal ones that will keep your drink hot or cold for hours. Pro tip: use a Yeti to sneak ice cream into a movie theater or class, I’m not judging.

The point is, it requires almost no extra effort to utilize a reusable bottle to bring drinks with you wherever you go. If you know that you like to have soda after you go shopping, then bring some in a reusable bottle. Take two extra seconds to fill a reusable bottle instead of grabbing a plastic one from the case at the front door or the dining hall. Plus, drinks in plastic bottles are too expensive – both for you and the planet.

I get it though, sometimes it just happens. You didn’t prepare, you’re in a bind, or that Dr. Pepper just looks too good to refuse at that moment. For the times when it does, just make sure to recycle!

The importance of independent study and experiential learning

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

As a senior in college, the prospect of having a career or going to graduate school (or any other post-undergraduate program) in the near future can be intimidating. How do I know what I’m going to do in the future? Where do I want to start a career? The action I took to achieve these answers was to conduct an independent study in one of my majors.

In the fall of 2016, I switched one major from biology to political science. Academically, this was the best decision I ever made. There’s never a boring day in political science. Since then, however, I’ve been struggling with deciding what I want to do after college. I knew that I didn’t go into this major wanting to be a politician, nor was I interested in working in an administrative position. For me, it’s always been between law school or graduate school. I’ve gone to school tours, read books and copious amounts of student accounts on “what law school is like” or “what graduate school is like,” but these are all subjective. So I decided to work on an independent study.

I’m only a semester into the project (about halfway through), but I’m glad that I made this decision. Although an independent study is probably not very similar to graduate-level studies and won’t show me the exact experience of graduate school, it’s helped me take a closer look at the areas I find interesting.

The experience has also shown me that I really enjoy learning. When you’re doing an honors project, you have an advisor who guides your work but, ultimately, a student has to have enough interest and self-discipline to go forward with the project and get things done. It’s a different experience from a typical lecture.

It’s also an experience that reflects well on the student conducting the project, the department the project comes from, and the college as a whole. Rhode Island College has this great (albeit inescapable) reputation as a college for educators, but has been trying to expand its image as a university for decades. These type of experiential learning projects, such as independent studies and internships, create graduates that go onto careers in which they may be leaders in their fields.

How great would it be if RIC was known as both a great teaching school and a great research school? Perhaps the answer to “rebranding” RIC is in encouraging students to participate in experiential learning.

Video games are losing their artistry

Derek Sherlock – Anchor staff

In my honest opinion, I feel that video games are becoming a dying art. I grew up in the era when videogames changed from being 2D (often side scrolling platformers) to the extremely blocky 3D masterpieces. I witnessed games go from the Sega Genesis/Super Nintendo era of games to the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64, as well as the often-forgotten Sega Saturn/Dreamcast. While the graphics are getting better and better as the years go on, they have become a shell of what they were when I was a child.  

I remember when games didn’t rely on flashy graphics but instead put a lot of emphasis into the story. A few such games are: Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil one to three, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Star Fox 64. They gave gamers a story that either toyed with their emotions or caused them to marvel at the virtual world in the game. The creators made these worlds for us to live in for a certain amount of time each day to escape our own physical lives.

Today’s games, while they can give us an escape, are not based on any story. They’re usually online multiplayer and there is such an emphasis on the graphics and game play that the sense of escapism.

Photo courtesy of The Motley Fool

As someone who grew up in an uncaring environment, I would escape into video games. I would pretend that I was running for my life in a zombie-infested midwestern town or pretend I was swimming in sub-zero Alaskan waters on my way to take down a group of terrorists who took over a nuclear disposal facility. Some days I was even a hot ace pilot in space defending the galaxy from a scientist who was bent on destroying planets.

I got sucked into these stories. When my house became too much for my young mind, I would escape into these games and find comfort in them. It is safe to say that without video games I don’t know if I would truly be here right now. They really helped me through some dark points in my life. With the games today, I don’t get that same sense of comfort or escape. In games like Fortnite, Black Ops Four and Fallout 76, there is no overarching story to escape to, time and time again. I am able to play with other players and do a bit of player versus player, but without any story I can’t get lost in a fantasy world that is often caring and comforting. Getting lost in a story is what makes video games an art form and these stories are dying, taking video games along with it.

Oversaturation is not the answer

Sophia Guerrier – Anchor Contributor

There is too much music being released in rap this year. This may seem like a crazy statement considering every fan wants to hear new sounds from their favorite artist, but sometimes we all need a break.

It cannot be ignored that this year in particular, there have been an overwhelming amount of new album or mixtape releases from artists. The year is not even over, and the rap genre has given us over one hundred mixtapes and albums, ranging from new to old school artists for listeners to consume and “enjoy.”

It is not a coincidence that all rappers are deciding to drop their albums in the same year, but it is definitely a sense of urgency and competitiveness to stay relevant in this fast paced era of music. The biggest problem is oversaturation, which is not the answer.

Chief Keef and NBA YoungBoy are the two major culprits of this issue where both artists dropped more than three projects this year alone. How much more different are the sounds and content being presented by them in each of these projects? None. Listeners are getting the same product but with different packaging which devalues the excitement and expectation for their releases in the future.

The same effect is happening to groups as well. Migos is a group in which its three members essentially offer the same thing as far as sound goes. They already released “Culture 2” containing 24 songs, and Quavo has recently released a nineteen track album while Takeoff came out with an album right after him as well (literally two weeks apart). There is no time for their fans to truly digest their music especially when their releases are high in number and they are coming out in short periods of time. Too much music eventually leads to loss of creativity and repetitiveness, which we see with Quavo’s album and even with Rae Sremmurd’s triple album release.

What makes this year even more inflated is that some artists claim to still not be done. Drake announced that he has another album following “Scorpion” to come in the near future. Kanye, Lil Baby & Gunna, Meek Mill, and more have pending projects for this year, all of whom have already released albums.  

Fans only have two ears, and artists are starting to forget this with their quantity over quality approach instead of the other way around. This method can surely be to blame for the many subpar, easily forgotten projects that have come out this year — “Lil Boat 2,” “Beast Mode 2” and “WRLD on Drugs,” just to name a few. Releasing a large amount of music is not accomplishing fan satisfaction but instead contributing to the exhausting amount of unoriginal music filling the air. Release days are being overloaded with five or six new projects at a time which has to be unprecedented.

Rap needs to go back to the slow release approach where artists drop an album every one to two years with a mixtape in between. This gives fans time to actually miss the artist’s music and appreciate their music more when it is given to them. It will also allow artists to take their time creating great music and potentially outdoing themselves since there is an emphasis on progressing their craft.

Only then will we see more meaningful and well put together projects instead of the arguably seven or eight that are currently out.