Film history: The lasting impact of The Godfather—50 years later

Francis Ford Coppola’s epic crime film The Godfather, which premiered in New York City on March 24, 1972, will be returning to theaters beginning Feb. 25, 2022. To celebrate the anniversary, all three films in The Godfather trilogy have undergone a meticulous restoration and will be released in 4K Ultra HD March 22, 2022. The Godfather is widely regarded as a cinematic masterpiece and one of the best films of all time. Upon its original release, it was well received by both critics and audiences. It broke box office records to become the highest-grossing film of 1972 and, for a period of time, the highest-grossing film to date.

Andy Smith, associate professor of film and media studies, who teaches a course on American Cinema of the 1970s, can share insights on the film’s history and lasting legacy:

  • What makes “The Godfather” such an enduring classic and example of excellence of American filmmaking?
  • In the era of straight-to-streaming films, what is the significance of having the experience of seeing “The Godfather” on the big screen?
  • What is the potential impact of a restoration on a film that was originally composed with dark and murky undertones?
  • What is the significance of 1970s filmmaking, an era that brought a new group of young filmmakers (Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg) who are still revered today?
  • Learn more.

Genetics: Why are cancer tumors more aggressive in African Americans?

Ahead of National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month (March), learn how a faculty-student team is working to uncover the genetic link between race and kidney cancer. Biology professor Khadijah Mitchell and her team of student research assistants have found that lung and kidney tumors in African American and European American patients are molecularly different. In other words, certain genes are turned off (or on) in a tumor in an African American patient while those same genes are turned on (or off) in a tumor in a European American patient. The ultimate goal of Mitchell’s work is to create cancer therapies targeted to an individual’s needs. This is called precision medicine, which considers genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. For example, as Mitchell has seen, tumor growth can be caused by genetic changes, and what happens in one person’s cancer may not be the same as someone else’s even if they have the same type of cancer.

Khadijah Mitchell, Peter C.S. d’Aubermont, M.D., Scholar of Health and Life Sciences and assistant professor of biology, is a human geneticist with a focus on health disparities and epigenetics. She studies the links among genetics, the environment, and cancer. In 2020, she served on a Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine joint task force, which had the goal of sharing information and communicating issues and solutions to the two branches of state government to improve the state’s vaccine rollout.

Learn more.

Psychology: Does class time impact grades?

There has been significant research into the benefits of later school start times at the middle and high school levels. Students who attend schools with start times between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. get more sleep, resulting in improved motivation, reduced daytime sleepiness, better mood, greater focus, decreased tardiness, and fewer disciplinary issues. However, there has not been much research about later class start times at the college level. Susan Wenze, associate professor of psychology, is contributing research to this developing area of study. She’ll present her findings this month at the Eastern Psychological Association conference in New York City. Her research reveals that students who take a 10 a.m. class have better engagement, less sleepiness, and an easier time waking up and staying awake than students taking the same class two hours earlier. However, class time didn’t impact grades. Nevertheless, this study has implications for school administrators, educators, and parents who are interested in optimizing student well-being and learning.

Susan Wenze is an associate professor of psychology. She teaches courses related to psychopathology and applied/clinical psychology. Her research interests center on the assessment and treatment of mood disorders and related concerns. She is particularly interested in cognitive and emotional processing in mood disorders, perinatal mental health (especially among new parents of multiples), and the development of psychosocial therapies to address depression, bipolar disorder, stress, and anxiety.

Technology: Improving PPE design with 3D printing

During the height of the pandemic, 3D printing was a godsend technology that allowed for the rapid design and production of personal protective equipment (PPE). Rohan Prabhu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is leading research to improve 3D printing by helping designers balance opportunities afforded by the technology against its restrictions. Almost anything can be replicated with 3D printing. But sometimes there’s a lot of waste in terms of material and time involved when using a system that was not intended for large volume manufacturing of equipment, particularly personal protective equipment, Prabhu says.

Rohan Prabhu is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. His areas of specialization and research include the intersection of design cognition and design education, with ongoing projects on individual differences, sustainable design, and design for additive manufacturing. His teaching interests include engineering design and creativity from a cognitive perspective

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