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Adventures of an Idalionite: My Final Week in Cyprus

By Bethany Montague ’18

In case you missed the previous posts: 
Post One: Can You Dig It? An Archaeology Student’s Adventures in Cyprus
Post Two: Adventures of an Idalionite: Week Two in Cyprus
Post Three: Adventures of an Idalionite: Week Three in Cyprus
Post Four: Adventures of an Idalionite: Week Four in Cyprus
Post Five: Adventures of an Idalionite: Week Five in Cyprus

This week was spent closing up the site of Lower City South at Idalion. After 25 years of digging, the sites time has finally come to an end. While we are walking away from the site, we want to protect and record as much information as possible so that if archaeologists come back one day in the future they can know as much as we do now. To achieve this, we drew walls and baulks, took measurements on the walls and various stones, covered some walls and structures with mesh, and then covered them in dirt. We also backfilled pits and trenches after filling them with tarp. The process was long and exhausting, but it’s good to know that the site is somewhat protected.

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Our Trip to the League of Women Voters Maryland State Convention

By Brielle Rozmus ’19 and Nailah Russell ’18

In case you missed the previous post:
Democracy in Action | Students Study League of Women Voters of Frederick County

Dr. Zaki’s research project on the League of Women Voters of Frederick County, Maryland has taken us to places we never could have imagined. We have traveled to dusty archives in multiple libraries, and to League members’ homes to interview them on their participation. The one place we never expected to go when we signed onto this project was the Eastern Shore of Maryland to the historic Chestertown, Kent County. But, that’s where we ended up for a beautiful weekend in June observing and participating in the League of Women Voters of Maryland’s State Convention. The weekend was full of adventures for our trio, from first rides over the Bay Bridge to becoming voting delegates representing Frederick County’s League.

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GIS Expert Contributes to DC Policy Center

Randy Smith, a lecturer at Hood College, is a senior fellow at the D.C. Policy Center (DCPC) where he produces interactive maps that illuminate emerging patterns of how the city functions.

As the geographic information systems specialist in the Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies (CCWS) at Hood, Smith compiles data using R, a programming language for statistical computing and graphics, and then he creates interactive maps using ArcGIS to present the data in a visually easy-to-understand way.

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Democracy in Action | Students Study League of Women Voters of Frederick County

Some students are getting a jump on their future this summer as participants in Hood’s Summer Research Institute. The SRI is a competitive program which allows selected students to work one-on-one with a faculty adviser on a research project. Students are provided free housing and a stipend while they conduct research in the laboratory or in the field for eight weeks. Pictured: Students Brielle Rozmus ’19 and Nailah Russell ’18 (standing) and Hoda Zaki, Ph.D., Virginia E. Lewis Professor of Political Science, Director of African American Studies, and Coordinator of the Nonprofit and Civic Engagement Studies minor (far left) with a panel of former and current presidents of the Frederick chapter of the League of Women Voters.

By Brielle Rozmus ’19 and Nailah Russell ’18

This summer, we’ve joined Dr. Zaki in her research on the League of Women Voters of Frederick County. Our objective is to understand the impact this organization has had on Frederick politics and civic life, and its connections to Hood College.  We’re using a number of different techniques to do so. We’ve reviewed literature, including a Ph.D. dissertation, to give us the historical and theoretical contexts necessary to understand the League’s influence. In addition to our own Hood archives, we’ve visited the Maryland Room at the Public Library, the Historical Society of Frederick, and plan to visit the University of Maryland archives. We’ve also stepped outside of the library to interview important County politicians. Recently, we spent the weekend in Chestertown, Maryland as delegates observing the League of Women Voters of Maryland. They decided on which policy issues to take action and discussed the current political climate with vigor. Some days later, we attended a heated Frederick town hall meeting at which the County Sheriff and ICE officials discussed the controversial 287(g) program. We witnessed the Frederick League president alert officials to her plans of researching and acting on local immigration policy.

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Students Use DNA to Learn about Local Freshwater Toxins

Some students are getting a jump on their future this summer as participants in Hood‘s Summer Research Institute. The SRI is a competitive program which allows selected students to work one-on-one with a faculty adviser on a research project. Students are provided free housing and a stipend while they conduct research in the laboratory or in the field for eight weeks. Pictured: Students Brianna Fragata ’18 (left) and Jessica Roderick ’19 (right). 

By Susan Carney, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology

When it comes time to plan summer research, it seems that nearly anything goes in my lab. My area of expertise is molecular ecology, which means that I use genetics as a tool for addressing broad-scale (usually population-level) questions. Because DNA is DNA, the methods are (mostly) the same regardless of what organisms are being studied. In previous summers, I’ve had students use genetic methods to investigate crayfish distributions, sea anemone salinity stress, cownose ray population genetics and to identify the sources of host-specific fecal bacteria in freshwater systems. From discussions with colleagues in the Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies, it became apparent that they had some questions about toxic freshwater algae that lent themselves to genetics projects. So, I recruited two students eager to learn genetic methods and, with support from the Summer Research Institute, we entered new territory.

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Krishanti Vignarajah

Krishanti Vignarajah’s Commencement Address Transcript: “The Progress, Plight & Promise of Women in America”

At the May 20 undergraduate Commencement ceremony, Kristhanti Vignarajah, First Lady Michelle Obama’s former policy director, congratulated Hood’s 282 graduates and asked for their help in promoting gender equity as they head out into the world to make a difference, delivering “a call to action on behalf of a generation that desperately needs you.”

“Today, I want to talk with you about the historic progress and modern plight of women in this country, about the journey that remains from citizenship to leadership, from having a seat at table to being at the head of it,” she said.

“To the men in the audience, this movement is about the mothers who brought you into this world, the daughters you will one day help bring into the world, and the women who are or will become your partners and best friends in everything you do. I don’t say this simply because the fate of women impacts the future of men, but because we need your help. Achieving true equality may be the one thing women cannot do alone.”

Following is a full transcript of Vignarajah’s remarks. Watch the video.

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ABET Accreditation

Hood College Receives ABET Accreditation for Computer Science

Hood College’s Bachelor of Science program in computer science has received ABET accreditation, demonstrating its commitment to providing students quality education.

ABET accreditation is a voluntary peer-review process requiring programs to undergo comprehensive, periodic evaluations. The evaluations focus on program curriculum, faculty, facilities and institutional support and are conducted by teams of professionals from industry, academia and government with expertise in the ABET disciplines.

“The faculty in the department feel that the accreditation reaffirmed our belief that the programs we deliver are high-quality programs,” said Xinlian Liu, Ph.D., co-chair of the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology. “The accreditation also serves to position our students well in the job market and for acceptance into graduate programs in computer science.”

One of the key elements of ABET accreditation is the requirement that programs continuously assess and improve program quality. As part of this continuous improvement process, programs set specific, measurable goals for their students and graduates, assess their success at reaching those goals and improve their programs based on the results of their assessments.

“For more than two decades, our undergraduate computer science program has produced outstanding technical professionals and leaders in the field of computing,” said John Boon, co-chair of the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology. “Accreditation of our computer science degree by ABET is a substantial achievement for the department. Accreditation assures students that our degree meets internationally recognized quality standards for computer science education. The accreditation also assures employers that Hood’s computer science graduates have the educational background they need to enter the computing profession.”

This is the College’s initial accreditation by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (CAC ABET), the global accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology. Hood’s next comprehensive review will be during the 2021-22 academic year.

Hood’s computer science department offers a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science; minors in computer science and web development; master’s degrees in computer science, information technology and management of information technology; and a certificate in cybersecurity. For more information on Hood’s computer science program, visit

Rachel Mankowitz
Rachel M in lab
Ian Sellers
Ian S. in lab
Jose Sanchez
Jose S in lab

Hood College students and faculty have been assisting in a process to create renewable biofuels by converting energy beet polymers into ethanol for jet fuel.

The energy beet to bio-jet fuel project aims to create a new industry of advanced renewable transportation fuels. The manufacturing of biofuels will lower the dependence on oil and lower the carbon footprint of the transportation industry.

This is a multi-college and multi-company project. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Purdue University, Atlantic Biomass, Advanced Biofuels USA, Plant Sensory Systems and Vertimass all have critical parts.

The project involves growing energy beets and converting the cell wall structural biomass into simple sugars that can then be converted into ethanol, and in turn, jet fuel.

In order to efficiently create biofuels through this process, Plant Sensory Systems—a company in Baltimore that engineers plants to meet market needs—is developing non-food, low-nutrient input energy beets. These energy beets will grow in a wider range of climates than is traditional for sugar beets and will grow with more biomass than sugar beets. UMES is growing the energy beets in test plots. Beets were chosen largely because of their significantly higher yield compared to other crops.

“The ultimate goal is to have a crop that is low-maintenance, low-cost to produce, and high in biofuel/bioproduct sugars,” said Bob Kozak, president of Atlantic Biomass, a Frederick company that works to create a sustainable source of sugars for biofuels.

After the energy beets are grown, Hood College professor Craig Laufer leads a team to assist Atlantic Biomass with converting the beets into usable simple sugars. They have created enzymes and a unique process that breaks down the entire biomass of the energy beets, including biomass ignored during conventional sugar production, without costly pretreatments.

Purdue University, in conjunction with a U.S. Department of Agriculture lab in Illionis, is developing and testing bacteria that convert all the sugars into ethanol. Finally, Vertimass, a biofuels company in Massachusetts, converts the ethanol into jet fuel.

The USDA recently awarded a $16,893 grant to Advanced Biofuels USA to complete a feasibility study for the commercialization of the whole project. Advanced Biofuels is a nonprofit located in Frederick that was established to promote the understanding, development and use of advanced biofuels in the U.S. and around the world. The feasibility study will strive to determine if the UMES pilot crop of energy beets and commercial simulation processing show a high enough yield for commercialization.

“We are pleased that the Maryland USDA Rural Development Office sees the value of a feasibility study,” said Joanne Ivancic, executive director of Advanced Biofuels. “We expect this will be useful to everyone along the value chain from landowners and farmers to banks and financers, from experts in the sciences to experts in transportation and distribution. We are pleased to put to work Advanced Biofuels USA’s years of experience in this unique field.”

A number of Laufer’s graduate and undergraduate students have also been involved with work related to this project.

“Our long-standing collaboration with Atlantic Biomass has provided opportunities for dozens of undergraduate and graduate students to apply what they learned in classes such as microbiology, genetics, cell biology and biochemistry to the real-world problem of making biofuels,” Laufer said. “It has brought external funding for equipment and supplies as well as stipends for Hood students. Working on these projects has provided the experience and training to help propel many Hood graduates into exciting careers in research and onto post-graduate training in medical and doctoral programs.”

Hood became involved because of Laufer’s expertise and the availability of the College’s modern instrumentation for molecular genetics and biochemistry research. Hood also uses its high-pressure liquid chromatography equipment to analyze how the enzymes perform. All of this gives students real-world experience in a classroom setting.

Currently, Rachel Mankowitz and Ian Sellers are working on the project for their Departmental Honors papers. Mankowitz is using a technique to engineer more active enzymes, which is the first step in the process of biomass digestion. The more active the enzymes, the fewer of them are necessary, and the lower the cost. Sellers is investigating the community structure of soil bacteria growing on pectin as a sole carbon source. His research may help to find synergies between the various enzymes that break down this polymer and aid in putting together cocktails of enzymes for the energy beet digestion.

Over the summer, Elizabeth Slick worked on cloning novel pectin methylesterase genes, which are being used by Mankowitz.

Kendra Laster is using the research as an independent study for her capstone experience. She is characterizing the activities of strains that students in microbiology isolated and identified in class. This could help to find novel enzymes to add to those that can digest the energy beet pulp.

Jose Sanchez, a graduate student, is developing a temperature tunable carbohydrate binding domain that would aid the recycling of the enzymes used in the energy beet’s pulp digestion as a part of his thesis research. Through the recycling of the enzymes, the cost of the process could be significantly reduced.

Other recent graduates who participated in this research include Mariam Ashraf, Lauren Brand, Jonathan Bullard-Sisken, Alessandra Emini, Ian McDonald, Ammarah Spall and Britni Uhlig.


Frederick, Md.–A mini-D.C.

Many of us here on campus have experienced the awesomeness of downtown Frederick. But for Hood students or for the locals it wasn’t always the go-to place to hang out. In recent years, thanks to revitalization efforts by the city’s leaders, new shops, restaurants, bars and art venues have not only opened for business but they are thriving.  People are flocking to live within walking distance of the flourishing night life and cultural scene. In an October 31 article that appeared in the Washington Post, a reporter wrote about this trend in Frederick and in small cities across the U.S. Read about what is being called the mini-boom.


Frederick Makes Top 100 List

Frederick is one of the top 100 best towns in which to live according to’s 2014 survey.

Although big cities usually comprise top 100 lists, Livability chose to focus on small- and mid-sized cities (it’s time to share the limelight, Pittsburgh!) and what makes them a great place to live and work. The website drew information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leading private-sector sources and nonprofits, and partnered with a research team at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Selected from more than 1,700 small and medium cities from across the country, Frederick was ranked in the top half of the 100 cities that were honored with the title of “Best Places to Live.”

Ipsos Public Affairs, one of the leading global market research firms, conducted the exclusive survey and scored cities based on eight different criteria—amenities, demographics, economics, education, health care, housing, social and civic capital, and transportation and infrastructure.

While it’s been obvious to us for a long time that Frederick has all that to offer and more, we are grateful that others recognize it as well! Congratulations to our great city and all its residents!