No. 285: A DNA anniversary, an IPS milestone and connecting Old Westbury to Cuba

A walk in the park: Green space is the most valuable resource in any urban environment. Now, we have one more reason to not just protect it, but to create more of it.

Well, that was quick: Can it be? Two months of 2018 in the books already? Be it can, dear reader, as this Wednesday, Feb. 28, finishes off one-sixth of the not-so-new-year.

It also marks the 10th anniversary of international Rare Disease Day, as well as National Science Day in India, Peace Memorial Day in Taiwan and Kalevala Day, the day of Finnish culture.

Word search: According to the story, Feb. 28 was also the date, in 1939, when a studious editor noticed a made-up word in Webster’s New International Dictionary. Turns out the dictionary had been including the phantom noun “dord” since 1933 (defined as a chemistry term for “density”), although no such word existed.

Dear Watson: The date is replete with all the historical trappings – a bloody slave revolt on Long Island (1708), Nixon goes to China (1972), etc. – but most pale to the red-letter work of Cambridge University molecular biologists Francis Crick and James Watson, who on Feb. 28, 1953, discovered the chemical structure of the double-helix polymer DNA molecule.

Deoxyribonucleic acid was first identified in the late 1860s by Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher, but in finally nailing down its double-helix structure, Crick and Watson – who would become the longtime director, and a great philanthropic supporter, of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory – and their collaborators ushered in a new era of DNA-based science and discovery.

Speaking of influential scientists: Happy birthday two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling (1901-1994), an American chemist who basically invented molecular biology and, later, was an ardent nuclear-disarmament activist.

And many more: Gangster Bugsy Siegel (1906-1947), character actor Charles Durning (1923-2012), “Love Boat” captain Gavin MacLeod (1931), Italian-American racer Mario Andretti (1940), actresses Bernadette Peters and Mercedes Ruehl (both 1948) and Philadelphia Flyers great Eric Lindros (1973) all age a year today.

By any other name: So does professional wrestling great Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, who turns 65. His real name is Rich Blood. Guess that wasn’t flashy enough.

For the record, we say Steamboat vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage at 1987’s Wrestlemania III is still the single greatest match in the history of the squared circle. Prove us wrong at, and please share a story tip or calendar item, too.

Shooting themselves in the foot? Before we dive into the innovation pool, breaking news from Albany, which might not land Amazon’s ballyhooed second headquarters but would be happy to welcome Georgia-based Delta Airlines, which found itself in the crosshairs of the national gun debate this week.

In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy, Delta discontinued its discount program with the National Rifle Association. Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle quickly noted on Twitter that he would “kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA,” prompting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to release a statement Tuesday congratulating the airline for “sending a clear signal that it opposes the NRA’s dangerous agenda” – and directly challenging Cagle’s bluster.

“While Georgia politicians may disagree with the airline’s principled stand, we here in the Empire State welcome Delta with open arms, and invite them to move their headquarters here,” Cuomo said.



Viva la Butts: The State University of New York at Old Westbury and the Universidad de Matanzas in Cuba are collaborating in ways that would have been unimaginable just four years ago.

Diplomatic relations between the United States and its Communist Caribbean neighbor were officially restored in 2015, and despite President Donald Trump’s attempts to roll back those Obama-era efforts, various educational and commercial factions in the two countries have actively sought new partnerships. A new memorandum of understanding between SUNY Old Westbury and Universidad de Matanzas provides for academic collaborations, study-abroad programs and other cultural exchanges, including online teaching programs and shared research.

SUNY Old Westbury President Calvin O. Butts III, who traveled to the historic Hotel Palacio in Havana to sign the agreement, said he was proud to partner with Universidad de Matanzas as “our world continues to grow smaller every day, through the development of technology, communication, business and culture.”

“To truly compete in the global community and marketplace, our students must learn of, and be exposed to, the history, culture and practices of nations around the world,” Butts added.

Help found: Committed to finding jobs and internships for students and alumni, Farmingdale State College has cut the ribbon on its Nexus Center for Applied Learning and Career Development.

The groundbreaking initiative adds career-development protocols to Farmingdale State’s “applied learning” approach, which puts students in hands-on, real-world environments – ranging from laboratories to hospitals to Wall Street boardrooms – to enrich their education experience. The Nexus Center takes it a step further, setting up participants for future employment with local, regional and national businesses and industries.

“Applied learning is key to our continuing goals of preparing students for the workforce and meeting the needs of employers,” noted Nexus Center Executive Director Rena Varghese. “The new Nexus Center allows us to offer a unified front for external partners to engage with the college and connect with our students, which satisfies mutually beneficial interests.”


About our sponsor: Hofstra University is an engine for research and innovation, combining a Center for Entrepreneurship, a Center for Innovation, the expertise of its faculty, the energy of its students and the state-of-the-art resources of its schools of engineering and applied science, business, law and medicine to drive and transform the region’s economy. Visit us.



As real as it gets: Stony Brook University Dean of Journalism Howard Schneider saw the “fake news” problem coming a decade ago. Now, he says training students to spot the real deal may be the truth’s last hope.

The music man: He might be best known as an award-winning composer, but Adelphi University’s new chief academic officer is a master innovator in his own right – especially when it comes to teaching.

A decade of innovation: Ten years, three offices and one corporate takeover later, Hauppauge product-design ace Intelligent Product Solutions is still breaking new ground.



Insta success: Sam’s Club said Tuesday it would offer home deliveries through Instacart, making the Walmart subsidiary the latest retailer to call on the red-hot startup.

Greater outdoors: A surprising link between brain volume and “green space” – think parks and woodlands – is strengthening the case for getting back to nature.



+ FalconStor, a Melville-based software maker, closed a $3 million private placement-funding round led by HCP-FVA, an affiliate of Hale Capital Partners LP.

+ Industrious, a New York City-based premium workplace platform and coworking solution, closed an $80 million Series C funding round co-led by Riverwood Capital and Fifth Wall Ventures along with Alrai, Outlook, Rabina Properties, Schechter Private Capital and Wells Fargo Strategic Capital.

+ Nomad Health, a NYC-based online marketplace for healthcare jobs, raised $12 million in Series B financing led by Polaris Partners with participation from existing investors First Round Capital, RRE Ventures and .406 Ventures.

+ Joberate, a New Hampshire-based global platform of talent insights, raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by Falmouth Ventures LP.

+ PawnGuru, a Michigan-based online marketplace connecting pawn shops and consumers, closed a $2.5 million Series A funding round led by Impact America Fund and Invest Detroit Ventures, with participation from angel investors.

+ ZenBusiness, a Texas-based provider of free business-formation services, raised $4.5 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau, with participation from Greycroft, Slow Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund and Founders Fund.

+ Food by Rail Logistics Holdings, a logistics and transportation company for frozen and refrigerated protein, produce, packaged food and beverages, raised $5 million in Series A funding.



Have guns, will travel: Massachusetts, Delaware and Puerto Rico have joined New York/New Jersey/Rhode Island’s States for Gun Safety coalition.

Say something: From Meghan Markle to #MeToo, ranking social media’s most-commented-on topics of 2017.Gu

The most remote village in America: Explore the tiny village hidden inside the Grand Canyon.

Gentle reminder: The search continues for “free news.” Until we find it, please support the great institutions that support Innovate LI – like Hofstra University, where entrepreneurship shines.