Virtual Harrington STEM Lecture Series opens Sept. 29 with data scientist and New Paltz alumnus Robin Thottungal ’08

The Harrington STEM Lecture Series is going virtual this fall, with three online presentations from some of the nation’s most respected scientists, who will share cutting-edge research in a style that is compelling and accessible to experts and non-experts alike.

This semester’s Harrington schedule kicks off on Tuesday, Sept. 29, with Robin Thottungal ’08 (Computer Engineering).

Since graduating from New Paltz a little more than a decade ago, Thottungal has established himself as one of the leading data scientists in U.S. government. He currently serves as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Data Scientist at the National Gallery of Art.

His Harrington address will focus on how advanced data science methodologies can help us better understand the relationships between our environments, our health and our public services.

Thottungal’s presentation begins on Sept. 29 at 5 p.m., and will be broadcast via WebEx. In keeping with Harrington STEM Series tradition, it is free and open to all members of the public.

Read on for more information about this and other lectures coming to the SUNY New Paltz community this fall.

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 5 p.m.
“Building a Data-driven Government Focusing on Citizen Services”
Robin Thottungal ’08, Chief Technology Officer Chief Data Scientist, National Gallery of Art

Click here to access the broadcast on WebEx when it begins. Password: m7S43y2udhP

Abstract: Data science is key to addressing national challenges with greater agility. Thottungal will discuss how this digital transformation has become the driver behind a better understanding of the complex interdependencies between our air, water, land and public health. By embracing emerging technology strategies such as microservices-based architecture and user-centered design, we can better capture the relationships and detect anomalies in the terabytes of data that we intake each year.

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 5 p.m.
“The Tangle Method: A Mathematical Model for Protein DNA Interactions”
Candice Price, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Smith College

Abstract: Topological techniques applied to DNA topology have thrived in the last 50 years with the characterization of two-string rational tangles, the discovery of new knot invariants, and computer software such as KnotPlot, which provide access to high-quality visualizations and new ways to verify experimental and analytical results. The characterization of two-string rational tangles led to the development of the tangle method, which models the mechanism of the action of certain proteins on DNA. In this presentation, we will take a journey together through the description of the tangle method and apply it to an example of protein action on DNA in order to discover the mechanism of this protein.

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 5 p.m.
“Primordial Black Holes, Dark Matter, and the Post-Inflationary Universe”
Scott Watson, Associate Professor of Physics, Syracuse University

Abstract: LIGO has detected several gravity wave signals from black holes with masses around 30 times the mass of the sun. Whereas, direct and indirect dark matter detection experiments have so far failed to detect any sign of dark matter particles. In this talk, we will explore whether the primordial formation of black holes — with properties like those detected by LIGO — could be part or all of the cosmological dark matter. It turns out the prediction of such black holes could be intimately connected to addressing the puzzle of a quantum theory of gravity and the end of cosmological inflation. That is, string theory may predict exactly such a dark matter candidate.

The School of Science & Engineering colloquium series is named for John Harrington, the School’s founding Dean, in honor of his years of dedication to science, education and collaboration across the STEM disciplines.

For more information please contact the School of Science & Engineering at or 845-257-3784.