Ithaca College Faculty Score Two In A Row in Science Magazine

ITHACA, NY— Two faculty members at Ithaca College have had their research published this month in Science, the world’s leading journal of original scientific research, news, and commentary, published by The American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Jack Rossen, associate professor of anthropology, and Susan Swensen, associate professor of biology, each had the results of their team’s research findings published in Science May 9 and May 16, respectively.

Rossen was part of a team identifying human artifacts from a site at Monte Verde, Chile, to determine how and when people reached the tip of South America. The paper, “Monte  Verde: Seaweed Food, Medicine and the Peopling of South America,” shows that people settled the Pacific coast of South America some 14,000 years ago; samples of marine algae from the hearths at the site showed these early inhabitants used seaweed from distant beaches and estuaries for food and medicine. The paper provides evidence to support the idea that the first Americans came from Asia by boat along the Pacific coast.;320/5877/784

Swensen’s team (which got the Science cover) examined the extraordinary diversity in a group of tropical herbivorous fruit flies in their paper, “Hidden Neotropical Diversity: Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts.” Scientists have explained the diversity of herbivorous insects as a direct function of plant species diversity and insect specialization. These flies live on plants in the pumpkin family and specialize on different parts of the plant; some species feed and lay eggs on male flowers and other species feed on female parts of the plant and lay their eggs there. 

After analyzing the DNA of 2,857 flies from 24 species of plants in the neotropics, the scientists discovered 52 species of flies, many of them indistinguishable in form.  The paper reports that while plant diversity and architecture play an important role, geography and time also have a strong impact on the flies’ diversity.  The scientists highlight that much of the fly biodiversity they found was hidden in the genes: this means that tropical diversity could actually be underestimated in such species.

Coeducational and nonsectarian, Ithaca College is a nationally recognized independent college of some 6,200 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. Located in Ithaca, New York, it combines the individual attention of a small institution with the resources and offerings of a large university. The college was founded in 1892 as a music conservatory and today continues that emphasis on performance and active learning—both inside and outside of the classroom—with over 100 degree programs offered through the Schools of Business, Communications, Health Sciences and Human Performance, Humanities and Sciences, and Music as well as the Division of Graduate and Professional Studies and Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies.

Originally published in News Releases: Ithaca College Faculty Score Two In A Row in Science Magazine.

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