New software eases analysis of insect in motion

Cockroaches serve as models for rescue robots.

Cockroaches can skitter through a crowded under-the-sink cabinet, eluding capture or worse, making the insects a model for rescue robots that would creep through the debris of disaster in search of survivors.

But learning how they use all six legs at the same time to walk, run and turn has been a difficult and time-consuming task. Until now.

Using a pair of high-speed cameras and a custom computer program, researchers at Case Western Reserve University are able to simultaneously extract three-dimensional movement of a cockroach’s 26 leg joints. They report their findings in the online journal PLoS ONE.

“Each leg does something a little different but in concert,” said John Bender, a postdoctoral research associate in the department of biology and lead author of the study.  A cockroach doesn’t inch ahead on the push of one leg. So, to understand just one step requires a synchronous picture of what each joint in each leg is doing as the insect is propelled forward.

Bender, biology professor Roy Ritzmann and undergraduate researcher Elaine Simpson, who has since graduated, used synchronized digital high-speed cameras to produce 3-D images of the leg joints of a moving cockroach. The cameras shoot 500 frames per second for 8 seconds.

Bender led development of software that enabled them to analyze in hours 106,496 individual 3-D points, with about 90 percent accuracy. He estimated that to analyze the 3-D movement of all 26 joints frame-by-frame would take at least a couple of weeks. Read more.

Campus News

Just as pumpkin pie is part of the Thanksgiving tradition, the Election Night Party hosted by Case Western Reserve University Department of Political Science, the Case Republicans, the Case Democrats, and Alexander Lamis’ Midterm Election class, is traditional November fare.

Students from Lamis’ political science classes will gather tonight in the first floor of Mather House, 11201 Euclid Ave. (next to Church of the Covenant) on the Case Western Reserve University campus from 7 to 11 p.m. to watch the midterm election results. Lamis’ students have followed campaigns across the country. The election party is one of the big events for the class.

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Because your feedback is important to Bon Appétit, please fill out the 2010 Campus Dining Online Survey between today and Nov. 9. To show Bon Appétit’s appreciation, two winners will receive an Amazon Kindle; two winners will receive an iPod nano 8GB set;  and Starbucks gift cards ($10 value) will go to the first 75 and last 75 survey participants. The survey is sponsored by Bon Appétit Management Company, CWRU Student Food Committee and Campus Dining.

For Faculty and Staff

During this week full-time faculty who were hired before April 2010 will receive an invitation from Provost Bud Baeslack to participate in the Faculty Climate Survey. The survey is a follow-up to the 2007 faculty survey and is designed to help the university learn more about faculty members’ assessment of the quality of the academic community. A subset of questions will also be asked of students and staff in separate surveys. Results will allow comparison of how each campus constituency perceives the environment for inclusion and diversity. Questions about the survey can be directed to the Office of Institutional Research at

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The program Comfortable Seating:  Wine, Cheese, Chat, for Faculty Women has been canceled.  The programs were scheduled for Dec. 2, Feb. 24, March 31 and April 21.  Watch for other programming through the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women.

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The seventh annual Provost’s Leadership Retreat, Building Cooperative Capacity in Academic Departments, takes place noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Room 115.  President Barbara Snyder and Provost “Bud” Baeslack will kick off the retreat with opening remarks.

The keynote speaker will be Ronald Fry of the Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management. The Deans’ Session led by Provost Baeslack this year will summarize the day’s discussion and develop consensus on the lessons learned to create action plans for the year. Information about ACES+ initiatives available to faculty is available online. Opportunity Grants are available for all faculty members. The application deadline for Opportunity Grants is Dec. 15.

For Students

Many study abroad opportunities are available to students over winter, spring and summer breaks.  All are three-credit courses open to all undergraduate and graduate students.  An information meeting will take place 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Thursday in meeting room C at Thwing.

Programs offered through the Department of Bioethics include the following: Winter break in San Jose, Costa Rica (includes an optional week of service learning through the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning before the course) and spring break courses in Paris, Amsterdam, Salamanca and Buenos Aires.  Go online  for more information or contact Michelle L. Champoir, director of International Education Programs for the Department of Bioethics, at 368.5377 or by email.

Programs offered through the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences include the following:  spring break in Guatemala, Turkey, Sub-Saharan Africa/Kenya, Netherlands and Ecuador (May).  With the exception of Netherlands, all are approved as global and cultural diversity electives.  Go online for more information or contact Deborah Jacobson, director of International Education Programs for the Mandel School, at 368.6014 or by email for details.

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The Jolly Scholar will be the site of a charity concert and open mic night Friday, co-sponsored by the Gender and Sexuality group of the American Medical Student to raise money for Pride Clinic at Metro Hospital. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. featuring Evil Elite, Edgewater Lights and The House Band. The Jolly Scholar will donate a portion of proceeds from each plate and drink to the Pride Clinic. A $10 donation at the door entitles you to an appetizer. Email if you would like to reserve a spot in the open mic or just show up and sign up. Drums, mics, amps, chords, speakers, and techies are available.


For two sequential UCITE sessions, Sarah de Swart (from UCITE) will discuss some of the central elements that go into making good presentations. The first session will cover important points such as voice and body language, and the second will give participants a chance to try out their skills on a presentation of their own. Being able to give good presentations is an important skill. Apart from simply being a way to influence how other people view you, preparing a good presentation helps to sharpen one's ideas, be more concise and pointed in one's message, and improve one's awareness of the power of language to persuade. Part one of this discussion is at noon Thursday in the Herrick Room on the ground floor of the Allen building (at Adelbert and Euclid). Pizza lunch and sodas will be provided at the sessions. To help us estimate the amount to order, please let us know if you plan to attend each session by email. More information is available online.

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The open forum, Your Online Identity: Who’s in Charge? When Does Free Speech Become Harassment? What Happened to Privacy? will be 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Nord 310, and will provide an opportunity for members of the Case Western Reserve community to engage in a dialogue about how rapid changes in technology have affected social norms and how our campus has reacted. The program is open to faculty, staff, and students, and audience participation will be encouraged. The open forum will be moderated by Shannon French, director of the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence. Panelists will include Don Kamalsky, Student Affairs; Joel Kraft, Student Affairs IT; Peter Poulos, University Attorney’s Office; and Jared Hamilton and Disha Haque, CWRU students. The panel will begin the program. The Open Forum is co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Student Affairs, Spectrum, Interfraternity Congress, Panhellenic Council, and Hillel.  Cider and doughnuts will be served. More information is available online

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Cleveland Arts Prize winner Peter van Dijk, a renowned and award-winning architect, is the invited speaker for the 2010 Richard N. Campen Lecture in Architecture and Sculpture, sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University. The free, public talk, OK, So You’ve Always Wanted to be an Architect?, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in Thwing Ballroom, 11111 Euclid Ave. Registration is recommended. For more information, contact Maggie Kaminski, administrative director of the Baker-Nord Center, at 368.2242, or visit the website.

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Professor Peter G. Bubenik, Department of Mathematics, Cleveland State University,  present a colloquium, Topological Data Analysis, Statistics and Brain Imaging, in Yost Room 300 at 3 p.m. Friday. Refreshments will be served at 2:30.  More information is available online.  


The views and opinions of those invited to speak on campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.

Et al.

CWRU students and faculty at the interfaith conference.

On Oct. 22, a delegation of student leaders and faculty adviser attended the Interfaith Youth Core Leadership Conference at the White House and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The conference consisted of a 100 students from all over the United States and 50 faculty members to represent the various faiths of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism as well as atheists/agnostics. The delegates had a chance to meet with President Obama's senior policy advisers and the members of the president's advisory council on the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

In Memoriam

The Department of English will hold a memorial service in honor of Frederica Ward 3-5 p.m. Friday in the Parlor of the Guilford House, 11112 Bellflower Road. Please notify of plans to attend by email.

Nov. 2, 2010

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In the News

Cleveland Solo Takes His Civ Pro Case Before the Justices, Nov. 1, 2010
Case Western Reserve University adjunct professorof law David Mills, who teaches appellate law, had his day before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. Mills was profiled in the November issue of the ABA Journal as “The Long Shot.”

Election Day 2010:
Which Way will Ohio ‘Swing?’, Nov. 2, 2010
Andrew Lucker, associate director for the Center for Policy Studies, Case Western Reserve University, says Ohio gets a lot of attention for its “swing state” status and the outcome of this year's election could be a signal of how the 2012 presidential election will go.

Outdoors: CWD has outdoors experts on guard

The News-Herald, Nov. 2, 2010
Qingzhong Kong, associate professor of pathology with Case Western Reserve University's National Prion Disease Surveillance Center, said he understands the biologists' concerns about chronic wasting disease among deer herds. “CWD is very difficult to contain once it's established, especially in the wild,” Kong said.

Higher Ed News

Tomorrow's College

Chronicle of Higher Ed, Oct. 31, 2010
More than half of the University of Central Florida’s 56,000 students will take an online or blended (along with traditional lectures and labs) class this year, and trends at other universities suggest this will soon be the norm.