Located in Tifft Nature Preserve along the Lake Erie shoreline in South Buffalo, “Bat Cloud” is a high-tech habitat for bats.
Our favorite superhero Batman is always scouring the streets, searching for crimes to stop and people to save.
However, this time it’s the bats that could use some help.
A fungal infection known as “White Nose Syndrome” hit upstate eastern New York in 2006. The fungus, which afflicts brown bats, causes them to emerge from hibernation early and, as a result, starve and freeze to death.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that the disease so far has killed nearly 7 million bats, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.
White Nose Syndrome — named for the white fungus encircling the noses of some of the afflicted bats — generally falls within the purview of biologists and mycologists.
But Joyce Hwang, assistant professor of architecture at the University at Buffalo, thought there was a need for an architectural intervention and began designing wildlife habitats that could exist within areas populated by humans.
Her solution: the “Bat Cloud”.
While it sounds like one of Batman’s expensive toys, it is actually a group of self-sustaining pods — homes for the bats — that hang together from cables. Each pod is made of stainless steel mesh in an all-weather insulating blanket. They collectively form a “cloud” that resembles a cluster of roosting bats.
The upper portion of the pod serves as the bats’ roosting area and the lower portion is filled with soil and native plants. Bat guano (dung) collects in the bottom of the pods and fertilizes the plants, which attract insects, a principle food source for bats. The pods also allow for slow water drainage.
Hwang’s first design of unique living environments for bats was “Bat Tower,” installed in 2010 in Griffis Sculpture Park in East Otto, Cattaraugus County. Bat Cloud, she says, is a natural extension of her first project.
The cloud hovers above a stand of eastern cottonwood trees in Tifft Farm, a 264-acre woodland nature refuge on Lake Erie. It was installed at the refuge in May to provide a habitat for bats, and help the public see their plight as crucial, not only to the bats’ well-being, but to their own as well.
“Bats are seen as ‘bad’ animals, but they are very helpful,” Hwang says, pointing out that the loss of bats, which eat a vast number of disease-carrying insects, weakens ecosystems and provokes an increase in the use of chemicals for insect control.
Smokers who ate more fruit and vegetables smoked fewer cigarettes per day, waited longer to smoke their first cigarette of the day and scored lower on a common test of nicotine dependence.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables may help you quit and stay tobacco-free, according to a new study by University at Buffalo public health researchers.
The research is the first longitudinal study on the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and smoking cessation.
The UB study found that smokers who consumed the most fruit and vegetables were three times more likely to be tobacco-free for at least 30 days than those consuming the lowest amount of fruits and vegetables. These findings persisted even when adjustments were made to take into account age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, household income and health orientation.
Researchers also found that smokers who ate more fruit and vegetables smoked fewer cigarettes per day, waited longer to smoke their first cigarette of the day and scored lower on a common test of nicotine dependence.
Several explanations are possible, such as less nicotine dependence for people who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Or the fact that higher fiber consumption from fruits and vegetables make people feel fuller, since smokers sometimes confuse hunger with an urge to smoke.
And, unlike some foods which are known to enhance the taste of tobacco, such as meats, caffeinated beverages and alcohol, fruits and vegetables may worsen the taste.
The UB researchers caution that more investigation is needed to determine if these findings replicate and if they do, to identify the reasons why fruit and vegetable consumption may help smokers quit. They also want to research how other aspects of one’s diet affect smoking.
Unlike traditional housing which separates students by sex, gender-neutral housing will allow male and female students to live within the same resident halls and campus apartments. UB is the only university in Erie County to implement this housing option.
For the first time, students of the opposite sex at the University at Buffalo will be able to live together in on-campus housing. UB Campus Living will introduce gender-neutral housing into student campus residence halls and apartments in the fall.
The new program will set aside two floors in Ellicott Complex on the North Campus as gender neutral, in addition to several apartments in Hadley Village and Creekside Village, also on the North Campus. The designated housing will be available to all UB students, including incoming freshmen.
Unlike traditional housing which separates students by sex, gender-neutral housing will allow male and female students to live within the same resident halls and campus apartments. UB is the only university in Erie County to implement this housing option, though many colleges and universities throughout the U.S. have offered gender-neutral housing for several years.
Norma Nowak, director of science and technology at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, founded local company Empire Genomics
Local life sciences start-up Empire Genomics has gone global thanks to a partnership with the University at Buffalo. The firm has grown the business from a concept, to product, to a company wit
h rapidly growing revenues and a significant global customer base.
Formed in 2006, Empire Genomics provides businesses from around the world with products and services that detect genetic aberrations, including those correlated with diseases such as cancer.
The company’s founder and chief science officer, Norma Nowak, is a professor at UB and the director of science and technology at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. Nowak was also a key researcher in the international Human Genome Project, a study that successfully identified and mapped almost 25,000 genes that make up human DNA.
University entities such as UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and the UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT) help to facilitate these connections in the life sciences.
Until 2011, Empire Genomics was headquartered in the UB Center of Excellence, where the firm had access to specialized equipment in UB labs including microscopes and DNA sequencers.