No. 397: In which the shrew fits, SBU grad students soar and Northwell knuckles down at the NUMC

Mock 1: After 29 days, 11 hours, 59 minutes and 23,103 miles, Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock touched down at Port Columbus Airport in Ohio on April 17, 1964, becoming the first woman to fly solo around the world.


Half full: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, and the clubhouse turn of another exciting week of socioeconomic progress.

Checking in: It’s April 17 out there, and first off we’d like to welcome new newsletter subscribers Zachary, Estelle, James, Brian, Lisa and Francesco.

If any of you had two sons of Chulabi nobleman Kiya Afrasiyab murdering Hasan II in his bathtub – effectively ending Mazandaran’s Bavand dynasty – on this date in 1349, well done! Your voucher for 200 silver dirhams is redeemable at any of our restaurants or giftshops.

Back in the day: Speaking of what was once Ancient Persia, today is Food and Agriculture Organization Day in Iraq and Evacuation Day in Syria, celebrating Syrian independence from France in 1946.

In the States, it’s National Bat Appreciation Day – not an homage to the Caped Crusader, but a bouquet to the winged rodents, which keep insect populations in check (munching up to 1,000 mosquitoes an hour, for instance).

Poetry in motion: On April 17, 1397, “father of English literature” Geoffrey Chaucer introduced his “Canterbury Tales” to the royal court of Richard II.

Print lives! The first U.S. patent for a cylinder-and-flatbed printing press was issued on this date in 1844 to inventor Robert Hoe.

Other U.S. patents issued on April 17 include one in 1810 for Pennsylvania innovator L.M. Norton, who came up with “pineapple cheese” (pineapple not included).

Muscling up: Launching a new automotive era, Ford rolled the first sporty Mustangs off its assembly lines on this date in 1964.

Technically a 1965 model, auto aficionados recall the first “pony car” as the “1964 1/2.”

Sky queen: Housewife and rookie pilot Geraldine Mock became the first woman to complete a solo airplane flight around the world on April 17, 1964, landing her single-engine Cessna Model 180 in Ohio, where she’d taken off 29 1/2 days (and 21 stopovers) earlier.

Houston, we have a solution: And it was this date in 1970 when the aborted Apollo 13 moonshot ended safely with a tense splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Nun better: As the Catholic Church reels from this week’s devastating fire at the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, we remember Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700), the French-born founder of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal and the first Canadian saint, born on April 17.

Other April 17 innovators include Italian astronomer Giovanni Riccioli (1598-1671), the first to observe a binary star system; blood-pumping English physiologist Ernest Starling (1866-1927); Alexander Cartwright (1820-1892), considered by some the “father of modern baseball”; famous financier J.P. Morgan (1837-1913); and Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1916-2000), three-time Sri Lankan prime minister and that country’s first female head of state.

It’s duck season: And take a bow, Daffy Duck – the Warner Bros. character, who debuted in “Porky’s Duck Hunt” on this date in 1937, turns 82 today.

Wish the saint, the cartoon duck and the rest all the best at We’ll take the presents – story tips, calendar suggestions, all shapes and sizes, please and thank you.


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Look it up: Today will be a busy and enlightening day at Adelphi University, which hosts its 16th Annual Research Day Conference – a smorgasbord of critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity starring Adelphi undergrads, graduate students and their mentors.

This year’s submissions – presented in ePosters and group chats inside the Nexus Building and the University Center Ballroom beginning at 8:30 a.m. – cover a gamut of disciplines, ranging from life and physical sciences to humanities and the arts. The conference aims to “celebrate the efforts of students and their faculty members to expand the classroom learning experience through research,” according to the university.

Jon Contino, Adelphi alumnus and founder of independent branding studio CONTINO, is slated to deliver this year’s keynote address, with awards announced in the University Center Ballroom beginning at 1:30 p.m. More information on the Research Day Conference right here.

Just a taste: A slate of new Taste NY Markets helped Albany’s eat-local, drink-local initiative cook-up a modest annual revenue increase in 2018.

Though nominal, the $1.7 million improvement (compared to 2017 totals) pushed annual Taste NY revenues to a total of $17.8 million, a new record for the circa-2013 program. The total includes gross sales from Taste NY events – designed specifically to connect New York farms and food/beverage businesses with restaurants, retailers, distributors and other buyers – and Taste NY locations, including the Long Island Welcome Center on the Long Island Expressway.

Located between eastbound LIE exits 51 and 52, the 15,200-square-foot Long Island Welcome Center (which opened in 2016) includes a Taste NY Market showcasing a selection of freshly made breakfast and lunch items, all locally sourced. The Taste NY program added similar markets in 2018 to Welcome Centers in the North Country, Adirondacks, Finger Lakes, Western New York, Hudson Valley/Catskills and Capital regions, as well as statewide airports and train stations and other strategic locations.



Fine fellows: Stony Brook University snagged 11 of 18 SUNY nods as the National Science Foundation announced its 2019 nominees for Graduate Research Fellowships.

Framing of the shrew: With a distant eye on human degenerative diseases, a Stony Brook University evolutionary scientist is zeroing in on an incredible shrinking mammal.

Pass it on: Like this newsletter? So do we! Help us help you by sharing it with your innovation-minded colleagues – and maybe suggest they subscribe for free, too, because you’re not, like, the mailman.



Economic driver: Political affairs ace Jeff Guillot says if Albany wants to speed up the regional economy, lawmakers must issue driver’s licenses to undocumented residents.



Losing strategy: Forbes explains a stinging lesson being learned by many big corporations – that true innovation requires more than just throwing money into R&D.

Winnie strategy: Newsday checks in on Northwell Health Senior VP Winnie Mack, who stepped in this week to lead a Nassau University Medical Center revival.

Aussie strategy: ZDNet visits Queensland, Australia’s second-largest state, which has enacted a statewide plan to commercialize startups and create a future workforce.



+ Phoenix PharmaLabs, a Utah-based company developing a non-addictive opioid for pain relief, raised more than $1.1 million in funding via Netcapital, an SEC-approved equity funding portal.

+ Embark Veterinary, a Massachusetts-based canine genetics company, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by F-Prime Capital, Slow Ventures, Section 32, Third Kind Venture Capital, Freestyle Capital, FJ Labs and Anne Wojciciki, CEO of 23andme.

+ Cityblock, a New York City-based healthcare company focused on care in low-income communities, raised $65 million in Series B funding led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from 8VC, Echo Health Ventures, StartUp Health, Sidewalk Labs, Thrive Capital, Maverick Ventures, Town Hall Ventures and EmblemHealth.

+ Intelligent Fiber Network, an Indiana-based commercial fiber broadband provider, raised nearly $13 million in its third equity funding. Backers included Wabash Valley Power, Heartland Innovations, Rochester Telephone Company, LightStream, Monon Telephone Company, Citizens Telephone Corporation, NineStar Connect and Enhanced Telecommunications.

+ Back Office, a Florida-based automated bookkeeping platform for small businesses, raised $1.8 million in seed funding led by Active Capital, followed by other early-stage investors including 500 Fintech, PlugNPlay Ventures and various angel investors.

+ Fauna Bio, a California-based biotechnology company leveraging the science of hibernation, raised a total of $4.1 million in seed funding led by True Ventures, with participation from Longevity Fund, Pacific 8 Ventures, Boom Capital and Beagle Ventures.



That smarts: Tech analyst Canalys predicts a busy future for “smart speakers.”

That’s smarter: Philadelphia is getting serious about becoming a “smart city.”

Smartest yet: Please continue to support the great causes that support Innovate LI, including the Town of Islip’s multifaceted economic-development effort, where brains meet business.