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Singer is a leading thinker on the the future of warfare in the 21st century

NORWICH UNIVERSITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS

May 25, 2017

Norwich University continues its 2017 Todd Lecture Series with “NextTech: The Future of Technology, Security, and Threats,” a presentation by best-selling author and futurist Peter Warren Singer on Wednesday, June 21 2017, at 7 p.m. in Plumley Armory.

This lecture is free and open to the public and will be streamed live at tls.norwich.edu. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Singer is a strategist and senior fellow at the New America Foundation, the author of multiple books, and a contributing editor at Popular Science magazine. He has been named by the Smithsonian Institution-National Portrait Gallery as one of the 100 "leading innovators in the nation;" by Defense News as one of the 100 most influential people in defense issues; by Onalytica social media data analysis as one of the 10 most influential voices in the world on cybersecurity and 25th most influential in the field of robotics; and to Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers List.

Described in the Wall Street Journal as "the premier futurist in the national security environment," Singer is considered one of the world's leading experts on changes in 21st century warfare, with more books on the military professional reading lists than any other author, living or dead. He has consulted for the U.S. Military, Defense Intelligence Agency, and FBI, as well as advised a range of entertainment programs, including for Warner Brothers, Dreamworks, Universal, HBO, Discovery, History Channel, and the video game series, Call of Duty. He served as coordinator of the Obama 2008 campaign's defense policy task force and was named by the President of the United States to the U.S. Military's Transformation Advisory Group. He has provided commentary on security issues for nearly every major TV and radio outlet. In addition to his work on conflict issues, Singer served as a member of the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy.

Singer's award-winning books include “Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry;” “Children at War;” “Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century;” and “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.” His latest book is “Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War;” a techno-thriller crossed with nonfiction research.

Previously, Singer has served as the founding Director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution. He was the youngest scholar named Senior Fellow in Brookings' 101-year history. He also served as the founding Director of the Project on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic World, where he was the organizer of the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, a global leaders conference. He has also worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard.

He received a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard and a BA from the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton.

Singer’s lecture is the keynote presentation for this year’s annual residency conference of 755 students representing 11 online graduate programs and two bachelor’s degree completion programs at Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies. Gathering from across the country and around the globe under the theme of “Leading Today, Inspiring Tomorrow,” these Norwich students will come together for a week of capstone and culminating academic work and conferences.

Norwich University’s Todd Lecture Series is named in honor of retired U.S. Army Major General Russell Todd and his late wife, Carol, in gratitude for their dedicated service to the university. General Todd, a 1950 graduate of the university, also serves as president emeritus. With this series, Norwich brings national thought leaders from business, politics, the arts, science, the military and other fields and endeavors to its Northfield campus. Lectures are streamed live at tls.norwich.edu.

For more information, please visit the Todd Lecture Series website (tls.norwich.edu) or call (802) 485-2633.

About Norwich University˜

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).www.norwich.edu 

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Norwich University will celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Transformation” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu.    

Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS) builds upon the institution’s 198 year academic heritage with innovative online programs. CGCS offers master’s degrees in a variety of areas; bachelor’s degree completion programs; a certificate in teaching and learning and continuing education opportunities. The programs are recognized throughout the industry for their rigor, small class size, high student satisfaction and retention. online.norwich.edu

NORWICH UNIVERSITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS

June 23, 2017

Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies graduated over 580 students representing 11 online master’s programs and three online bachelor’s degree completion programs at a commencement ceremony held Friday, June 23, at 10 a.m. in Shapiro Field House.

The ceremony concludes a weeklong annual residency conference full of culminating academic work, including capstone presentations, several programmatic and interdisciplinary sessions and experiential learning activities. The students gathered from across the country and around the globe under the theme of “Leading Today, Inspiring Tomorrow.”

Nazanin Afshin-Jam, an award-winning international human rights activist and Master of Arts in Diplomacy graduate, delivered the university’s 2017 Commencement address.

Afshin-Jam illuminated the week’s theme of leadership and inspiration by recalling the story of her quest to save the life of a young girl, also named Nazanin, who was sentenced to death in Afshin-Jam’s home country of Iran. “I empathized with her story so much it moved me to action,” she said. The Herculean effort, involving petitions, meetings, marketing campaigns and even a song written for and about the girl and performed by the speaker, eventually led to the girl’s retrial, release, and the founding of an organization to focus exclusively on the issue of child executions.

Afshin-Jam urged the graduates to ignore “the negative voices that say you can’t,” to “be the leader you were meant to be,” concluding: “If you have a dream, make it a goal.” As a fellow CGCS graduate, she also reminded graduates to stay in touch with each other.

Winner of several human rights awards, Afshin-Jam is co-founder of the Stop Child Executions to halt the practice in Iran and in the handful of other countries where it still continues. She is also the co-author of “The Tale of Two Nazanins,” and she has released a multilingual album “Someday,” charting hits in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. She was appointed to the board of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to help eliminate racism and discrimination in Canada.

Prior to graduation, over 300 students were recognized and inducted into eight professional honor societies. Other ceremonies recognized students receiving their master’s hoods from staff and faculty and graduates receiving their Norwich University class rings.

This residency conference also marked the 5th Annual Leadership Summit, an event that pairs a multi-disciplinary group of students with an organization to confidentially tackle leadership challenges identified by each organization. The Leadership Summit was developed as the first offering of the Norwich University Leadership and Change Institute.

The keynote presentation for the week was delivered from best-selling author and futurist Peter Warren Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at New America. The author of multiple award-winning books, he is considered one of the world’s leading experts on 21st century security issues.

Singer presented his address on Wednesday, June 21, on the Norwich campus as part of Norwich’s Todd Lecture Series, a program that invites distinguished speakers to campus to engage the Norwich academic community in diverse dialogue.

Students attending the residency conference represented all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and nine international countries. Forty-two students earned their second degree from Norwich. From serving their communities and the nation to leading organizations, the 2017 graduating class exemplifies the Norwich guiding value of service to others. The Class of 2017 graduates include 30-year veterans of the military, CISOs, founders of non-profit organizations, published authors, law enforcement leaders and special agents, vice presidents of companies, individuals actively serving in the armed forces, educators, healthcare professionals, and CEOs. Norwich University is a nationally recognized leader in online graduate and undergraduate education and its residency conference, often cited as a highlight by CGCS graduates, is unique among online programs. About Norwich University˜ Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).www.norwich.edu  In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Norwich University will celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Transformation” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu.     Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS) builds upon the institution’s 198 year academic heritage with innovative online programs. CGCS offers master’s degrees in a variety of areas; bachelor’s degree completion programs; a certificate in teaching and learning and continuing education opportunities. The programs are recognized throughout the industry for their rigor, small class size, high student satisfaction and retention. online.norwich.edu

Localization of the Insulin-sensitive Kv1.3 Ion Channel During Brain Development

Ion channels are membrane proteins that control neuronal activity. Kv1.3 is a specific ion channel that is sensitive to the hormone, insulin, suggesting that this channel may play a role in regulating metabolic function. The purpose of this Charles A. Dana Research Fellowship was to localize Kv1.3 ion channels in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain specialized in regulating energy homeostasis. These experiments confirmed that Kv1.3 is expressed in specific hypothalamic areas governing food intake and energy expenditure during development, suggesting a role for this channel in the early patterning of metabolic circuits. Overall, understanding the role of insulin-sensitive Kv1.3 channels in brain development may provide a target for therapeutic intervention for metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity.

Dana Research Fellowships
These fellowships, supported by endowed funds from the Charles A. Dana Foundation, are awarded to tenure-track faculty on a competitive basis to support research, creative, or scholarly projects.

BY SEAN MARKEY | Office of Academic Research Annual Report

Summer 2017

It’s a Friday lunch hour, and seven Army veterans filter into a second floor gym at a Vermont National Guard armory on the Norwich campus. Many of the men and women have served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all have been wounded or injured while on duty.

Athletic trainer Carrie Beth Pine, a 36-year-old Army veteran and mother of two, writes the day’s workout in black magic marker on a mirrored wall. As her smartphone pumps out a 30-year pop playlist on portable speakers, the wounded warriors chat and ease into Pine’s workout.

As the hour progresses, Pine—a Norwich triple major—offers encouragement over kettle ball squats and inverted rows. “Is that an extra [rep]? Are you doing something extra?” she says, keeping a sharp eye on her charges.

A middle-age Army vet (name withheld for privacy) pulls up during a Hungarian lunge. After 20 years of active duty, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is 50 days from retirement. He shares that his knee is sore. “How about we do front raises instead?” Pine says, suggesting he switch to a weightlifting arm exercise. “That way you’re not aggravating the hell out of your knee.” If not for the Army t-shirts and tight haircuts, the workout could resemble any lunch-time corporate wellness program. But there’s some serious science behind the sweat.

The wounded vets are participating in a study called the Collegiate Warrior Athlete Initiative. The protocol is designed to learn whether a “buddy system” that partners college athletes with wounded warriors can effectively engage veterans to improve their physical and mental health and help them reintegrate into civilian life.

Today’s group, the third and final cohort of the year-long study at Norwich, is one month into their 12-week program. The volunteer subjects have signed up for 150 minutes of exercise per week, Fitbit activity tracking, and weekly TED-talk-style lectures to spark their minds. Topics range from nutrition and meditation to plate tectonics and love poetry.

NU researchers are also recording benchmark physical and mental health indicators at the one, six, and twelve-week mark. These include BMI (body mass index); a self-report RAND sleep survey; and the 21-question Beck Depression Inventory to assess mood.

Norwich School of Nursing Director Paulette Thabault, DNP, APRN-BC, FAANP, is leading the study with help from nursing faculty colleagues Llynne Kiernan, PhD, RN-BC, and Lorraine Pitcher, PhD, RN. Their work is part of a broader study developed for Boston College by retired Army Col. Susan Sheehy, PhD, RN, and led by principal investigator Ann Burgess.

“We have a lot of military, who come back from deployments… with a variety of injuries,” Thabault says, speaking in her basement office in the NU Bartoletto science complex. “Historically, there have been some challenges around reintegrating them into society.”

For many veterans, those challenges extend beyond physical injuries. Thabault says many experience post-traumatic stress, sleep disorders, anxiety, and difficulty reestablishing their relationships.

The Wounded Warrior Project, a national nonprofit founded in 2003 to help injured servicemen and women, estimates that more than 54,000 U.S. service members have been severely wounded in conflicts since 9/11.

An additional 300,000 service members have suffered traumatic brain injuries during that period, while 400,000 experience some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The nonprofit awarded a $250,000 research grant to support the Collegiate Warrior Athlete Initiative study, which Boston College investigators invited Norwich to join.

A large and growing body of research continues to highlight the link between exercise and improved physical and mental health. Part of the work of the wounded warrior study at Norwich and Boston College explores needs matching.

“We have warriors all over the country,” Thabault explains. “We have universities and colleges all over the country” with workout facilities and potential volunteer pool of student athletes.

“If this could be a national model, it would be just a great opportunity for us to really address our warriors.” That is the vision of the study’s principal investigator Ann Burgess.

Kiernan, an assistant professor at the Norwich School of Nursing, says she and her study colleagues are looking to foster engagement. “We’re trying to get the warriors engaged in a weekly workout routine. With that, we’re hoping that improves their mood and maybe other aspects of their life.”

Early signs suggest the program has already helped many participants. Thabault says warriors set personal goals at the beginning of the program, and many have achieved them. “That’s been really important,” Thabault says.

One warrior in the Boston College program, for example, had trouble with his back. “His individual goal was to be able to lift up his small child,” Thabault says, adding that by the end of the twelve-week program, he could.

While Norwich researchers have enlisted two to three NU students as volunteers for each study cohort, there haven’t been enough for a true 1:1 “buddy system.” So they modified the protocol to create a group circuit workout model. The change appears successful, with vets working out as often as five times a week.

Back in the Vermont National Guard armory gym, the wounded warriors gather to share a few thoughts at the end of their Friday workout. “It’s easier with the group motivation,” says one female Army captain. “Otherwise, I’d be like [stuff] it.”

“I have less aches and pains than when I started,” says the male vet with the sore knee. He adds that some lecture topics didn’t sync with him, meditation in particular. But a middle-aged Army colleague disagrees. He says he’s already applied some of the meditation tools discussed to improve his sleep.

The warriors also talk about the general wear and tear that active duty in a war zone imposes on a human body. Performing as many as two to three daily missions “outside the wire” of their base, soldiers carry 120 pounds of body armor and rucksack gear.

Then there are the countless hours spent slamming over war-torn, third world roads in military vehicles with rough suspension.

“Without looking at the specific data results, we have noted that our warrior athletes are able to recover from some of the wear and tear of the battlefield,” says retired Air National Guard Lt. Col. Kim Swasey, who was forced to end a 26-year-military career after breaking her neck.

Swasey participated in the first cohort of the Collegiate Athlete Warrior Initiative at Norwich last summer and has since stayed on as a workout buddy and research assistant. Swasey says the program helped her recovery. “[It] put [me] back on a path toward physical and mental fitness,” she says.

Norwich and Boston College researchers gave a podium presentation on their research and findings at the April 2017 Eastern Nursing Research Society Conference in Philadelphia.

“By shifting my focus to include Alzheimer’s, I am placing myself at the forefront of current research, especially that which uses mathematics to better understand this disease.” – Joe Latulippe, PhD

When associate professor of mathematics Jocelyn (“Joe”) Latulippe first submitted his research proposal as an application for the 2016 Board of Fellows Faculty Development Prize, he didn’t anticipate that he would win. Nor did he imagine that his proposed investigations would yield potentially game-changing ramifications in the field of Alzheimer’s research.

But he did. And they have.

Latulippe’s specialty is mathematical neuroscience: a branch of the discipline that uses computational methods to advance researchers’ understanding of the human nervous system and the mechanisms of neuron activity. In outlining his winning project, titled Modeling the effects of synaptic plasticity on the firing patterns of neurons, Latulippe proposed three key objectives: to develop a working mathematical model that could explain how the brain’s synapses transmit signals from one neuron to the next; to more firmly establish an interdisciplinary community of neuroscientific researchers at Norwich University; and to actively engage undergraduate students in cutting-edge research.

Today, he has not only made significant progress toward those goals—he has also opened a broader investigation into how neurons communicate under the influence of specific organic diseases. The early results of this work place him, and Norwich University, at the vanguard of research into a universally devastating illness.

An Unexpected Tangent

For Latulippe, arriving at this point was a somewhat happy accident. Although he had earned his PhD studying mathematical neuroscience from the University of MontanaBozeman in 2007, he had drifted away from it in the years since.

After spending four postgraduate years as associate professor of mathematics and statistics at California State Polytechnic in Pomona, he joined the Norwich faculty in 2011 as a generalist. Which is not to say he eschewed scholarship; on the contrary, he has submitted more than a dozen peer-reviewed papers on diverse topics such as differential equations, dynamical systems, perturbation methods, inquiry-based learning and writing in mathematics.

“I came to Norwich because it was a place I knew I could advance my scholarship, and grow as a teacher and a researcher,” Latulippe says.

As it turned out, the Board of Fellows competition reignited his first scholarly passion in ways that have already demonstrated significant promise.

“I’ll be honest; when I considered the proposal I might write, I first thought of my dissertation,” he recalls. “And when I thought about that, I got really excited. There are so many unanswered questions in neuroscience, and so much potential in applying mathematical models to the study of neurons and how they function. I realized that I was ready to jump back in.”

Mathematical Modeling and Organic Disease

In order to understand the connection between Latulippe’s work and Alzheimer’s disease, it is first necessary to understand the applications of mathematical modeling in normal neuronal function.

“Biologically, the process of this reaction is extremely complex,” Latulippe explains. “But from a mathematical perspective, it’s simple: a signal arrives at the synapse; something happens; and then a new signal travels to the next cell.”

At its base level, then, a synaptic transmission model is a quantitative tool for describing exactly what happens when neurons fire—and allows researchers to study the effects of certain stimuli, such as light patterns, on that process.

Latulippe’s original intent was to improve upon existing synaptic transmission models through incorporating the idea of plasticity—a term that describes a synapse’s ability to adapt to specific signals. More simply put, he sought to devise a tool that could help explain what variables might strengthen or weaken a synapse over time, and how.

Drawing upon hypotheses originally proffered in his dissertation (A Non-autonomous Phenomenological Bursting Model for Neurons), and with the assistance of a Norwich undergraduate, Latulippe succeeded in developing a “validated model”—one based on known experimental data—that enables researchers to test the behavior of neurons and synaptic transmission under the influence of specific conditions.

And this is where things got interesting: because the link between synaptic transmission and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s is inextricable.

“Alzheimer’s is the manifestation of breakdowns in memory, learning, and cognition,” Latulippe explains. “In other words, Alzheimer’s patients experience a progressive loss of synaptic plasticity. We know that one of the hallmarks of the disease is the development of plaques and fibrils known as amyloidbeta (Aß) peptides; what we don’t know is what triggers their development in the first place.” Latulippe’s newly developed model enables investigators to simulate exactly what happens to neural pathways and synaptic transmission at the very onset of Alzheimer’s disease—before the imminent proliferation of plaques and fibrils.

The benefits of such an approach are clear. With the click of a mouse, mathematical models can change the conditions of an experiment by controlling for individual mechanisms, such as the effect of calcium on Aß peptides, at will. Unshackled by the limitations of time or the bureaucracy of human trials, such simulations provide reams of data in the few short minutes—or seconds—it takes to run them.

“By shifting my approach to include Alzheimer’s,” Latulippe says, “I am putting myself at the forefront of current research, especially that which uses mathematics to better understand the evolution of the disease.”

At the conclusion of his project, Latulippe expects to submit two peer-reviews articles for publication: the first, based on a mathematical model that captures synaptic plasticity; the second, characterizing the firing patterns of single neurons.

Engaging the Norwich Community

Along with the student who helped Latulippe develop his model, he has involved four undergraduates in his Board of Fellows project— with plans for more, thanks to continuing support from the Vermont Genetics Network.

“Although mathematical modeling comprises many advanced topics, undergraduate students with a basic understanding of differential equations can become active researchers,” he says. “In my opinion, opportunities like this—to interact across the spectrum of theory and practice—is what undergraduate research is all about.”

Noting the significance of Norwich’s recent addition of a neuroscience major, Latulippe is also working with resident neuroscientist and biology professor Megan Doczi to organize a collaborative community of faculty and students in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and math. Although a work in progress, Latulippe’s vision for its mission is clear.

“To do this kind of research, you need broad-based expertise,” he says. “Working together through interdisciplinary interactions will put Norwich’s programs at the forefront of desirability for students, and will contribute to a vibrant scholarly environment for our faculty. The way this work is unfolding, there will be plenty of ongoing research opportunities here at Norwich for years to come.”

In addition to his current investigations in mathematical neuroscience, Latulippe teaches undergraduate courses across the mathematical spectrum, including calculus, discrete mathematics, computational theory, statistics and operations research. He serves as assistant coach of the men’s lacrosse team; holds a 2nd-degree black belt in Akido; enjoys painting and drawing (some of his work is on display at Norwich); and makes time for “fun” side projects with colleague Dan McQuillan. Currently, the duo is preparing a paper, How to shovel snow all winter without lifting, that demonstrates, through physics, a safer approach to moving the white stuff.

“I value being well-rounded, and am always seeking opportunities to grow as a person, teacher, and scholar,” he says.

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    Cadet Joseph Marsh learns from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Walla Walla, Washington.

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    Norwich to hold 28th Annual Military Writers’ Symposium

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    Norwich welcomes 650 new students to begin the 22–23 school year

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    NU dedicates Senator Patrick Leahy School of Cybersecurity and Advanced Computing

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