ARRAY | The 5 Cornell Reasons to Study Abroad

I spent last semester studying in the far-off land of New Zealand. Now I’m back and it’s time for that self-hatred inducing study abroad post where I tell you how I made meaning out of fleeing the country for a little bit. When I left, I told myself that I wasn’t going to be one of those obnoxious people who went on and on about how study abroad changed them, but then my publishing deadline came a knocking and I realized that I had nothing to write about, and suddenly putting out my experiences seemed like too easy a topic to pass up. I’m hoping that I can say a couple things about my time that go beyond the usual self-discovery stuff though, and instead tell you about how studying abroad shifted my perspective on Cornell life. 1) Pretty much every other place outside of the arctic circles is nicer than Ithaca.

OFFICE HOURS | Professor Lena Kourkoutis Discusses Her Research

For this semester’s first installment of “Office Hours,” a series of interviews with prominent personalities on Cornell’s campus, Sunspots writer Gabriel Ares sat down for a chat with Applied Engineering Physics Professor Lena Kourkoutis. In the interview below, which has been edited for clarity, Kourkoutis talks about a range of topics, from electron microscopy–a technique that allows her to see the atomic structure of objects–to outreach to women in STEM.  

There’s only a handful of people working in your field, and even fewer thinking about it at such an advanced level. So, to kick things off, can you tell us how you got into this field of study? As a child, I was brought up to ask questions, and for me that goes from when you start playing with toys or looking at the sky, to research where you’re wondering how a battery works or how a biological object or a cell works.

ITHACA WEEK | Blue Balls

There are so many great things to do in Ithaca and I’ve certainly collected my fair share of memories and moments that have helped me to call this place home. I remember going to Taughannock Falls as a kid; I’ve been to the Ice, dog, and apple festivals; and I’ve spent days studying in the little coffee shops in The Commons and going to poetry readings at Buffalo Books (often because I was forced to trek down there when a professor didn’t want to support the Capitalist Pigs at the Cornell store). Each of these, in their own way, are indicative of this beautiful and weird place that we live in – the intense seasons, the amazing natural beauty, the weird, artsy-fartsy townies who got lost on the way back from Woodstock and never managed to get home. But I think that my own personal relationship with Ithaca is defined by one story. I was preparing to go visit my at-the-time long distance girlfriend in Atlanta for Valentine’s Day.

ARRAY | “That’ll Never Happen To Me”

When I teetered into my dorm room on the first day, weighed down by three bags I had lugged across the country, I wasn’t inspired by any sense of new beginning despite all the people offering me their collegiate wisdom and telling me that my life had just begun. I missed home, I missed Mom, I felt like I was still just me, packed up and shipped 3000 miles away. By that point, sitting in my dorm room, I believed, with one-hundred percent certainty, that I had taken all those pieces of advice I had  received left and right to heart. I had been told I deserved this, and I believed I did. I had been told to wear sunscreen and to find a path and stick to it, but to keep looking for other ones, and be okay with switching destinations in the middle, so long as I had a goal in sight.

ARRAY | Over the Dreamwall

Usually I try to write something with facts, figures and opinions, but this time around I’m going to do something a little bit different. I’m going to talk about my personal experience with mental health. Take from it what you will. You can choose to extrapolate from my voice and the voices of people I met along the way, or you can view us as exceptions. But before I begin, I want to put out a bit of information.

ARRAY | The Soft Power of the CIA

On March 7th the CIA made headlines across the nation when Wikileaks released 8,761 sensitive documents and several hundred million lines of code from the CIA’s cybersecurity division. Many of these leaked documents were fairly mundane viruses and malware, the type you might get from torrenting media, but a few were much more impactful. It turns out the CIA has been able to break into nearly every major tech firm’s phones, applications and operating systems, and can turn these smart devices into bugs and recording technology by accessing their microphones. Wikileaks also revealed a CIA program that copies the “fingerprints” of other hacking groups, raising questions over the investigations surrounding Russian influence in the elections. Outside the international community though, there has been relatively little hubbub about the leak.


It’s Oscar time and once again actors are using the awards show to make points about American culture. From the wage gap to racial issues, the Oscars were packed with political and social commentary this year. But with these impassioned speeches, there always comes backlash. It always begs the question, should these people who are not politicians or by any means experts in their issues of choice, be talking about these issues at all? Many discredit them because they’re actors.

ARRAY | We Still Need Arts

Kids in the liberal arts and social sciences get a bad rap. They are derided for their “easy” majors, lack of relevant job opportunities after college or for ending up in careers that aren’t related to their degree. Engineers and other “skilled” workers, on the other hand, are increasingly valued in our culture, and many economists claim that the future of America lies in technical jobs that require specialized degrees. This is reflected in the fact that the number of business, engineering and health degrees received has exploded since 1970, while the number of history and liberal arts graduates has remained relatively stagnant, or in some cases dropped. This fits quite well with the way Americans perceive themselves.


We’ve all heard stories from our friends and family members about their reactions to Donald Trump’s election. Election Night 2016 has already, in our imaginations, reached the status of a defining cultural event, a “where were you when such-and-such happened” question along the lines of “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” or “Where were you on 9/11?” or “Where were you when Obama was elected president?” These are the types of questions by which we measure our personal histories. I was in my dorm; after shelling out ten or so dollars to view Stephen Colbert’s broadcast on Showtime, I watched as the comedian failed to find anything witty to say as the results poured in. My own emotions before and after Trump’s declared victory were the same: frustration, distaste and a mild indifference towards the election. Some people cried, a few people in the suite next to me were rejoicing, but there was little else anyone could say or do.