Binghamton University's diverse graduate population comes from all 50 states and more than 92 countries, but they share a drive for excellence and an appreciation for learning.
View some videos featuring current and recent graduates, or read below what some of our current and recent students have to say about their experiences as graduate students at Binghamton University.
Materials Science and Engineering, PhD
"My mentor...is a major reason why I'm here at Binghamton."
For Yuxuan Wang, a doctoral student in the Materials Science and Engineering Program, a large part of the decision to pursue research at Binghamton University was the opportunity to focus on functional nano-materials and their potential applications to practical solutions in energy efficiency and independence — specifically through collaborative work with associate professor Jiye (James) Fang. "My mentor, Dr. Fang, whose research is focused on applications of green energy and energy-saving programs, is a major reason why I'm here at Binghamton," Wang says.
One of the greatest benefits to Wang's professional development is the novelty and flexibility of the program itself. "It's the freedom here. The newness of the Materials Science program really encourages and allows for interdisciplinary work ... [it] offers several opportunities to make connections to various applications. I'm able to get a broader view, which I think we need," Wang says. "Rather than focusing just on the synthesis, I can also take courses that focus on the aspects of applying these materials 'in the real world.'" Wang also appreciates the freedom he has to direct his own course of study and take classes in areas such as engineering or chemistry that focus on the tremendous potential for applications that could result from his research.
Wang's research is specifically dedicated to the synthesis of nano-materials: bringing atoms together to construct unbelievably small, microscopic particles, and then constructing and maintaining the materials that are created from them.
"When I saw that materials this small in size had such amazing applications I really wanted to work with them," Wang says. "It's almost magical that something this small can do so much...can have so much potential." (Read complete article)
Biological Sciences, BA-MS Accelerated Degree '10
"Finishing my graduate degree at Binghamton University is the culmination of a fantastic career."
A Wisconsin native, Dawn Lammert came to Binghamton as an undergraduate after being recruited for volleyball and stayed for the accelerated program in Biological Sciences. After finishing her undergraduate work in three years and starting her master's degree in her fourth, Dawn attributes her success to the university's atmosphere. "I like that the campus is set off from the community, giving me an area where I can truly focus on academics and not be distracted by the rest of the city," Dawn says. She also appreciates Binghamton's small size, which "gives you the ability to truly pursue your own goals."
Dawn's experiences at Binghamton University have encouraged her to pursue her own increasingly ambitious goals. When friends and family hear that she wants to earn a MD/PhD in pediatric neurology, they groan. But Dawn simply says she loves learning: "It is an opportunity to make discoveries for myself. There is so much to learn, which is exciting in itself. But, the prospect of contributing to that body of knowledge is even more exciting."
Systems Science, PhD
"The goal is for cheaper, better detection methods using computers."
A host of novelists and movie directors have put a kink in the way bioengineers such as Daniel E. Margolis can describe their work to laymen. Co-opted by the science fiction community, the term "artificial intelligence" now carries too much fantastical baggage. Now, "most work in A.I. is called 'machine learning,'" says Margolis, a doctoral student at Binghamton.
Margolis' machine learning is in the area of "clinical support systems," which are computer programs that can learn to make decisions such as diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of medical conditions. He has collaborated with researchers at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Fla., and at the University of Arizona.
"The goal is for cheaper, better detection methods using computers," he says.
Once he completes his doctorate in systems science, he hopes to work in industrial research. His advisor, Walker Land, predicts success.
"Dan is best described as a unique thinker, one who sees a difficulty as an opportunity rather than a problem," says Land, research professor of bioengineering. "It's just the kind of thinking required for successful bioinformatics/biomedical research." (Read complete article)
"My degree also means passing on the importance of education to as many indigenous students as I can."
Paulette Steeves, a Clark Fellow, has combined her interests in anthropology, archaeology, paleography, and molecular anthropology to turn back the indigenous timeline, proving that indigenous cultures migrated to the Americas 20,000 to 40,000 years earlier than originally believed. The project offers a major innovation in her field—one that challenges historical and political histories and provides a richer understanding of Indigenous histories. Paulette says she's thrilled to be involved—and thankful for all the support she has received through The Graduate School, the Clark Fellowship, and faculty members. Financial support from the University has allowed Paulette to excavate at and carry out research on Late Pleistocene sites, where she has applied modern scientific techniques to test and question previous dating.
However, Paulette is not just changing ancient history. She's also changing the history of her ancestors—a fact that makes her work that much more meaningful. "My graduate degree means that a minority student from a disenfranchised background can gain access to higher education and pursue goals to make the future a better place of the next generations," Paulette says. She hopes her grandchildren and the next seven generations will "find an easier path" through academia than she has, but she's strengthened by the many emails she's received from indigenous people, writing of hope for a brighter future through education. "In this, I feel their joy and support, and I realize that my degree also means passing on the importance of education to as many indigenous students as I can."
Translation Research and Instruction Program, PhD
"I have been given an opportunity many Palestinians, whether women or men, only dream of."
Before attending Binghamton University, Riham Alhossary worked as a translator and project manager in her home city of Gaza, Palestine. She says she had always wanted to continue her studies, but when she received a Fulbright Scholarship for graduate study in the U.S., her choice was easy: Binghamton University is the first and only U.S. university to offer a degree in Translation Studies. The low cost of living for families and welcoming atmosphere also attracted Riham, and she praises her professors: "They have helped and encouraged me a lot during the years to grow and find myself academically. BU is a great learning environment that supports and fosters intellectual success and independence."
In thanks for the opportunities she's been given, Riham makes a point to give back to the community by translating New York state tests and Regents Exams into Arabic for ESL students—a project that Riham calls "a source of great joy." But her biggest motivation is her family. "I feel that I must be a role model to my son and succeed in order to demonstrate the importance of education. I have been given an opportunity many Palestinians, whether women or men, only dream of," Riham says. Juggling family responsibilities with school is never easy, but with the support of her husband and excellent time management skills, Riham believes she's found the balance she needs: "I can watch my son grow, attend his baseball games, be there for him when he needs me and at the same time, succeed as a student."
"Students gain a 360-degree learning experience."
After earning his bachelor's degree in Accounting from Binghamton University and serving as campus ambassador for Ernst & Young LLP, Cody Grant decided to return for a MS in Accounting. He wanted to obtain the 150 credits necessary for the CPA exam and knew that Binghamton's nationally recognized School of Management—ranked 12th in the nation by BusinessWeek—would enhance his skill sets and prepare him for a career in professional services. "Binghamton University offers a learning environment that is collaborative across all aspects of the curriculum," Cody says. "The faculty here are very motivated and always will willing to help students. Students gain a 360-degree learning experience."
In particular, Cody appreciates the valuable insights he's gained while working with faculty, staff and administration, as well as the work he's accomplished with his peers to improve the program's ranking on a national scale. The University's support and the inspiration of his peers have motivated Cody to achieve a level of success he never expected. "I am now well-positioned to enter the professional world, and I am confident that my graduate degree has prepared me across all levels." Indeed, Cody has already lined up a post-graduate job with Ernst & Young LLP in their Financial Services Office. After completing his CPA exam, he plans to attend law school part-time, focusing on the financial services industry and international strategy.
"I have been fortunate to meet many inspirational teachers while working on my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I would like to be able to inspire future generations of students the way my professors have inspired me."
"One of my most inspirational undergraduate professors earned his PhD in Economics at Binghamton and, in addition to inspiring me to go to graduate school, he recommended I look into BU," Clark Fellow Michael Delgado says regarding his decision to attend Binghamton University after earning his bachelor's from The University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.
The quality of the Economics Department hasn't disappointed Michael, who praises his professors for their willingness to devote significant time to their students. Indeed, he considers a positive relationship with professors to be one of the most important components of a higher education, and he's now dedicated to serving the next generation of scholars. "I have been fortunate to meet many inspirational teachers while working on my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I would like to be able to inspire future generations of students the way my professors have inspired me."
Based on his accomplishments, there's little doubt that Michael will make a great mentor. He has already published one academic paper, and his application of recently developed techniques to economic problems has shed new light on the field. Michael is currently developing a theoretical model that he says will explain "why economically rational agents are willing to undertake environmentally friendly projects, when they are not otherwise compensated for doing so."
Translation Research and Instruction Program, PhD '10
"There is an array of unbelievable writers in Latin America that never got the recognition they deserved."
As a Translation Research and Instruction Program graduate student, Nelson Lopez traveled to his native country of El Salvador in order to learn the near-extinct Pipil language from indigenous communities and visit rural areas described by his translations. "I wanted to be there to, in a way, feel what these characters felt almost 100 years ago," says Nelson, whose passion for bringing international writers to a wider audience has only grown with his studies. "There is an array of unbelievable writers in Latin America that never got the recognition they deserved."
Nelson's thirst for connecting global communities through translation carries into his work as program director for the Binghamton-Nicaragua Service Learning Initiatives. Nelson has led a group of students to León, Nicaragua, where they helped rebuild homes and schools and collaborated with universities in Managua and León. He also credits Binghamton for giving him the opportunity to represent his work in the U.K., Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador, along with many other universities in the United States. "People know what Binghamton is and they know about the quality of its graduates," Nelson says.
Social, Political, Ethical, and Legal Philosophy, PhD
"I love dealing with concrete issues or circumstances, so I find it very exciting to be able to look closely, through a philosophical lens, at contemporary political trends and problems."
"I love dealing with concrete issues or circumstances, so I find it very exciting to be able to look closely, through a philosophical lens, at contemporary political trends and problems," says Jessica Kyle, a first-generation college student who, like so many Binghamton University graduate students, passionately connects her academic interests to global issues.
After double majoring in Philosophy and Political Science at York College of Pennsylvania, Jessica came to Binghamton University because her department supported a diverse range of philosophical interests and the University offered many opportunities for civic engagement. "Wherever I am, I like to be involved in student and community organizations," Jessica says—a statement well supported by her graduate career. Not only has she served as Vice President and President of the SPEL Graduate Student Organization, but she is also the Feminist Ethics and Social Theory Grad Student Representative. In addition, Jessica has presented at a numerous prestigious conferences and conventions, earning a graduate student award from the North American Society for Social Philosophy. After graduate school, Jessica intends to continue her research on military humanitarian intervention and become even more involved in related public ethics issues.
Music, MM '10
"When I am standing on the podium conducting a performance, I know that this is exactly what I want to do for a very long time."
During her first year as the pre-K through 8th grade general music and chorus teacher at a nearby public school, inspiration struck Jennifer Easley. "It was while I was conducting my first spring concert that I knew I wanted to pursue choral conducting in the future," Jennifer says of the concert that led her to Binghamton's Graduate School. Not only did the University's music department offer a master's degree in the exact area of music she was interested in—choral conducting—but the program's schedule allowed her to teach music full time during the day and attend classes in the evening. "This proved to be a very convenient schedule for me," Jennifer says.
And like so many of Binghamton's lifelong learners, Jennifer knows she'll continue her studies. One day, she hopes to pursue a DMA in choral conducting and teach in a university setting. Jennifer also praises the small size of the program and the supportive faculty, commenting that she never felt like "just a number on a roster." Indeed, the small size of her choral conducting classes allowed her to have plenty of podium time in front of choirs and orchestras. Jennifer was especially excited to conduct Mendelssohn's Psalm 42 with the Binghamton University Chamber Chorus and the Binghamton University Orchestra—an experience that reinvigorated her call to conduct: "When I am standing on the podium conducting a performance, I know that this is exactly what I want to do for a very long time."
Theatre, MA '11
"The knowledge and experience I have gained while attending Binghamton University mean more to me than the degree and titles I have earned."
After earning bachelor's degrees in both German Literature and Law from the Beijing Institute of Technology in China, Bindi Kang traveled to Binghamton University to pursue her master's in Theatre, quickly falling in love with the trees and her department. "My department feels like home. Binghamton is small and full of beautiful trees," Bindi says, citing the convenient transportation, low cost of living, and supportive environment as other benefits of a BU graduate education. Bindi's biggest challenge was the language barrier, but she says everyone at Binghamton University was helpful and understanding.
In fact, Bindi's global perspective became a huge asset when the Theatre Department took their performance of Arthur Miller's All My Sons to Beijing in the summer of 2010. Not only did Bindi serve as an interpreter during the trip, she also translated the play into Chinese for the Theater department's audience in Beijing. "When I read the Chinese version, I felt that it wasn't what the play was talking about," Bindi says. "There were errors. You can't change the taste or sense of the original play." Due to Bindi's dedication as a translator and the hard work of the entire department, the play was well-received, creating an extraordinary learning experience for all involved—and one of the highlights of Bindi's graduate career. "The knowledge and experience I have gained while attending Binghamton University mean more to me than the degree and titles I have earned," Bindi reflects.
Social, Political, Ethical, and Legal Philosophy, PhD
"My academic studies were not kept separate from my activism. The reason that philosophy became interesting to me was because of its vital connections to understanding and changing the social world."
When Jessica Payson came out as a lesbian in a small, rural Maine town, queer-identified individuals lacked visibility and resources. "My experiences of marginalization forced me to critically reflect on my relations to the community and provoked my interest in creating tools for understanding gender-based and sexuality-based oppression, and working toward change," says Jessica. Her commitment to critical reflection and social change has driven her as an advocate and scholar every since. In 2006, the governor of Maine recognized her activist work in high school with a Certificate of Appreciation. As an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College, she double-majored in Philosophy and Feminist/Gender Studies while organizing V-DAY events and working with the Human Rights Campaign. Now, Jessica is unpacking how the concept of responsibility relates to people's relationships to justice. "My academic studies were not kept separate from my activism," Jessica says of her education. "The reason that philosophy became interesting to me was because of its vital connections to understanding and changing the social world."
Jessica, who has presented at prestigious conferences, earned the Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory's Graduate Student Paper Award, and published her scholarship in an academic journal, credits her success as a Binghamton graduate student to her mentors: "As a first-generation college student, I lacked experience with the academy and the topic of philosophy. Through the encouragement of extremely talented and motivating professors and advisors, I have come to recognize the importance of philosophical analysis for the promotion of social justice." Indeed, the size of her department and the quality of the faculty attracted Jessica to Binghamton University, which she says was her first choice as a graduate school. "I wanted a graduate environment that would take seriously the interdisciplinary fields that were central to my liberal arts education and where I could find opportunities to work closely with highly accomplished faculty members. The faculty members at Binghamton University are highly respected in their fields and my department is small, which allows me to receive individual attention and training geared toward my particular career path." Upon graduating, Jessica hopes to teach at a liberal arts college.
Student Affairs Administration, MS '11
"The most exciting part of my education has been finding out that there is so much more to learn, and that I am not alone in my thought process."
When Willie Everett entered the Student Affairs Administration program as a Clark Fellow, he realized how much there was to discover. Rather than overwhelm him, however, this realization invigorated him. "The most exciting part of my education has been finding out that there is so much more to learn, and that I am not alone in my thought process," Willie says. Willie's Clark Fellowship opened a door to a graduate education, an altogether empowering and eye-opening experience. "Having a master's degree means a seat at the table, but a PhD will mean that I get to choose my meal," Willie observes.
Although Willie doesn't intend to pursue a PhD just yet, he's dedicated to increasing access to higher education for underrepresented populations. "A master's degree allows me to have a platform to speak about issues that continue to plague underrepresented minorities," Willie says. "I am inspired by the quality of research about minority persistence and motivated to add to the discussion in some way."
Social Work, MSW '11
"My MSW degree from Binghamton University means I have learned both theory and practice, and I am prepared to contribute to the profession."
After a twenty-year teaching career, Kathryn Collins changed career plans and decided that a job as a social worker would help her achieve her goal of serving those in need. She chose Binghamton University because of its location, scheduling, and affordability. Kathryn especially likes how the MSW program is located in the downtown campus, in the middle of the community it serves, and the caliber of her colleagues. "My fellow candidates are generous with their time, and I have found some great friends here," Kathryn says. "During lunch breaks, we often find ourselves discussing issues of social justice, diversity and policy. I am inspired by their courage in expressing opinions and emotions, motivated because they encourage me, and challenged by their excellence."
In January, Kathryn and a small group of MSW candidates and faculty traveled to New Orleans to work with St. Bernard's Parish, a community in the Seventh Ward still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Connecting with the local community and learning about long-term disaster social work has been the highlight of Kathryn's program, and she says she's excited to see how nongovernmental organizations can serve populations in need and affect change. As she nears graduation, Kathryn feels well-prepared for her new career. "My MSW degree from Binghamton University means I have learned both theory and practice, and I am prepared to contribute to the profession," Kathryn says. In particular, she hopes to provide mental health services to adults, especially "adults over 50 who have become unemployed or those considering a career to supplement a depleted pension income."
Public Administration, MPA
"I am also motivated by the people served by social service agencies because their struggles to succeed are daunting and they have a great deal of strength."
Marjorie Lawlor had a well-rounded career: She'd worked as a self-employed marketing communications consultant and contractor, as well as the director of marketing and communications for United Way of the Southern Tier. But Marjorie wanted more out of her human services career. "I chose to enroll in the Master of Public Administration program because I would like to re-enter the workforce and expand my scope beyond the communications and toward overall nonprofit management," Marjorie says.
As the only nationally credited MPA program in the region, Binghamton University proved an easy, and ultimately inspiring, choice. Not only has the program given Marjorie the credentials and competencies to lead an agency working with the issues she cares about most—income equity, wellness, and education—but the program also reinvigorated her passion for the field. Looking forward, Marjorie says, "I am inspired by the advocates I know who work to create public policies for a better, more equitable society. I am also motivated by the people served by social service agencies because their struggles to succeed are daunting and they have a great deal of strength."
Public Administration, MPA '10
"Since the MPA has great professors, a great reputation, and offered an opportunity to integrate politics and health, I decided to stay and further my education."
Mariela Salazar was so impressed with the professors she had as an undergraduate at Binghamton University, she decided to continue at BU as a graduate student. Mariela says that the MPA program's "great reputation," diverse student body and "opportunity to integrate politics and health" also influenced her decision to stay a Bearcat, along with Binghamton's location close to New York City. "As a New York resident, I often travel from Binghamton to visit my family and friends on the weekends since it's so close," she says.
Now that she is finishing her Capstone project, Mariela couldn't be more pleased with her choice of graduate schools. All the factors she admired as an undergraduate have strengthened in her graduate studies, moving her closer to her ideal career in a health related governmental agency or nonprofit organization. Mariela is especially proud of her Capstone project, which explores hospital readmission within the Medicare population. "It has been exciting to be able to use all the knowledge I have gained," Mariela says. "My research is the culmination of the MPA program."
Industrial and Systems Engineering, MS '13
"My thesis could be implemented by outpatient clinics to serve more patients in a day and to have patients visit the same day for the appointment rather than waiting for weeks or months..."
When we sit in traffic jams or wait in lengthy lines - when we can never seem to schedule a convenient appointment at the doctor's office, or efficiently coordinate a family event - we're experiencing problems that engineers seek to solve. The field of systems science and industrial engineering "deals with optimization of resources, and is necessary for any sector such as defense, healthcare, manufacturing, etc.," explains Binghamton University graduate student Sharan Srinivas.
An international student, Srinivas attended college in his home country of India before coming to Binghamton to pursue graduate study where he would have "the opportunity to practically apply the theoretical knowledge" he would learn rather than focus on the more theoretical approach offered by most universities.
Instead of simply creating simulation models or equations, Srinivas has seen his research to improve workflow and office operations put into practice. "Initially, I worked on the International Students and Scholar Services (ISSS) office. All the proposed changes were presented to the director, [and were] implemented considering their feasibility and advantages," he says.
In spring 2012, Srinivas also helped solve vehicle routing problems on campus in preparation for move-in week when thousands of new and returning students move into their residence halls in a short period of time. His work helped determine how to minimize wait times and what resources are needed to best route 6,000 vehicles to 22 on-campus destinations. Accomplishing this involved a large amount of data analysis and simulation modeling, but resulted in plans that smoothed the fall 2012 moving-in process.
Srinivas is also developing social networks to analyze research completed by undergraduate STEM students as part of Binghamton's Howard Hughes Medical Institute (BU-HHMI) project. The interdisciplinary HHMI project, funded by a $1.4 million HHMI grant, has been an eye-opening experience for him."Interacting outside my discipline enabled me to think out of the box and generate new ideas for research that could be applicable to my own discipline," he says. He hopes to publish a journal article about his HHMI experiences in the near future.
Under the guidance of Mohammad Khasawneh, associate professor of systems science and industrial engineering, Srinivas is currently hard at work on his master's thesis on how to streamline healthcare patient scheduling. "The objective is to schedule efficiently so that the waiting time for the patients, plus overtime and idle time for physicians, are reduced, thereby providing safe and patient-oriented scheduling systems," Srinivas says. His background in industrial engineering enables him to develop mathematical models to achieve his objectives. If his models are successful, they could be implemented at outpatient clinics to "serve more patients in a day and to have patients visit the same day for the appointment rather than waiting for weeks or months," he says.
Srinivas, who plans on a career in systems science and industrial engineering after graduating, is enjoying his time at Binghamton, a school that has "transformed me into a better individual and a better professional," he says. He has even written about his Binghamton experiences for the Indian newspaper, The Hindu, whose readership is among the highest in India. He lauds the "incomparable" opportunities Binghamton has provided for him "to learn both by coursework and by practical application," and firmly believes the lessons he has learned at Binghamton have equipped him with all the advantages necessary to become a successful professional.
Last Updated: 2/24/15