2014 Graduate Excellence Award winners
March 20, 2014Tweet
David Biddle – Mathematics
David Biddle is someone who wants to engage his class and wants his students to go beyond mastering the technical aspects of a subject to see the beauty writes his nominator. Whether he is mentoring high school math clubs or writing courses in mathematics, he reflects deeply about all teaching matters. He is a firm believer that everyone has the ability to perceive mathematics as a dynamic subject, and his students consider him something of a ‘rock star.’ His communication skills are stellar, allowing him to communicate mathematics in clear and interesting ways, and his empathic, patient style and constant availability for individual help has turned a number of struggling students around. A student writes that she was “taken by his deftness in teaching” and by the classroom environment he created where stories were told and laughter was in abundance. “I would have never thought that math could be so much fun.”
Rochelle Duford – Philosophy
Extremely well organized and well prepared, Rochell Duford establishes a relaxed yet focused classroom atmosphere that encourages congenial, inclusive, intense and serious conversations in which students see themselves as stakeholders in how the entire class wrestles with complex and ethically charged materials writes her nominator. She effortlessly switches back and forth between lecture and question-and-answer, and judiciously uses new learning technologies in an unobtrusive way that clearly expands and deepens students’ learning. She designs her courses with the diversity of students and philosophical perspectives in mind, and students eagerly participate in class discussions. Students note that she makes them feel at ease and is very easy to understand, which creates a give-and-take process that brings students to a deeper understanding of difficult issues or texts. “Her skills and talents will only deepen with time and experience, and we have before us the early career of a deeply successful teacher,” writes her nominator.
Megan Fegley – Chemistry
Megan Fegley serves as a perfect example of a nurturing, multi-faceted professional educator writes her nominator. She has taught from entry level teaching assistant to instructor of record for an introductory level class of non-chemistry students. Known by faculty as an exceptionally strong teacher in both the classroom and the lab, she is simultaneously earning her Master of Arts in Teaching as well as her PhD in chemistry to further refine her pedagogical skills. She shares her passion for science and discovery with students at all levels, who note that she helps them see chemistry in a different light, not as a loathsome subject. She has also mentored and taught students in the Go Green Institute and Binghamton University Upward Bound program. A student writes that she succeeds in demonstrating that “the best way to manage a classroom is to keep students on-task with material that was both interesting and challenging.”
Elizabeth Macaluso – English Literature
Elizabeth Macaluso is a warm, enthusiastic and engaging teacher known for her ability to encourage to students to participate in class discussions no matter how shy they may be. Her nominator writes that she is adept at drawing every student in her class into discussions and she also sets high standards for her students, and for herself. Her lesson plans are meticulous and set the stage for collaborative exchanges that help her students achieve excellence in expository writing and literary analysis. Students write of being able to thoroughly discuss their personal views about an umbrella topic or question of the day in a comfortable atmosphere. She makes difficult material understandable through a variety of activities and strategies, and is generous with her time outside of class for students who wish to meet with her. A graduate student leader as well, she is a model of what a student-centered teacher should be.
Kevin Murphy – History
Known as an exceptionally skilled and dedicated teacher by his nominator and faculty members, Kevin Murphy teaches by connecting historical topics to situations that are relevant to students today, creating what he terms a “usable past” for them as they relate historical events to the world they live in today. Using a variety of techniques, as well as technology, he often e-mails his students in advance with an agenda for class that includes guided reading and discussion questions. He engages students in brainstorming and utilizes both small group and whole group discussions. His students write of his obvious love for teaching history as well as his thorough preparation and organized class structure, and they note that he is always available during and outside of class to answer questions. His teaching receives heavy praise from nominators, and one faculty member writes that when he observed Murphy’s class, it “was the single best-taught class that I have ever observed.”
Reynaldo Ortiz – Sociology/Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies
Reynaldo Ortiz structures his class in an elegant manner, creating an effective balance between substantial student participation and straightforward lecturing, frequently with very demanding course material. Always on time and well prepared for class, he is also remarkably able to work with students from all backgrounds. His skill as a teacher led to his selection to teach his own classes – a rare occurrence, and, to date, he has taught 31 courses as an adjunct. Always concerned with student progress, he works closely with those who need help and is available to students outside of the classroom to answer questions, and to mentor and advise them. His students praise him for being a “determined educator whose aim is to awaken the subconscious mind of his students” and for his passion for the subject matter he teaches. He challenges his students, treats them as intellectually equal and show respect for them as individuals.
Daniel Parisian – Economics
Daniel Parisian believes that merely passing along knowledge is secondary to teaching. His primary goal is to ensure that students enhance and master the abilities and skills that will be pivotal in helping them achieve success in the future. He also believes the teacher must be interested in being in the classroom and excited about watching students change when they see that economics is not a set of boring, abstract ideas, but a practical way of thinking about the world. He comes to class well prepared and presents information in clear and interesting ways. His students write that he has courage to recognize there can be many approaches to solving a problem, that he shows genuine interest in teaching, and that he goes above and beyond in the classroom. He also offers additional office hours on a regular basis and is willing to work one-on-one until a student grasps a concept.
Angelique Szymanek – Art History
Angelique Szymanek is an inventive, engaging and rigorous mentor to her students writes her nominator. Challenging students through her commitment to experimental art practices at the intersection of visual culture and performance, and to feminist methodologies, she asks them to reconsider their presuppositions about the nature of art and its place in contemporary society, and by doing so, makes a tremendous contribution to the Department of Art History’s curricular mission. Having taught survey courses, subject-specific courses, online courses and courses she has conceptualized, she has enriched her experience as a teacher and further cultivated her personal style and approach to communicating complex and multiple histories of art production and dissemination. Her nominators call her extremely gifted at reaching students and inviting them into discussions, and her students praise her for her confidence, her intelligence, her open mindedness, her passion for her discipline and her ability to motivate them to achieve at the highest levels.
Mei-Yi Zheng – Biological Sciences
Mei-Yi Zheng uses investigative research to improve student learning and immerse students in the process of science. She succeeds by utilizing cooperative learning exercises that encourage students to exchange knowledge and ideas. She believes that, by allowing students to help each other dig below the superficial, they assist each other in developing analytical skills to troubleshoot problems and find their own answers to questions. In this manner, students “own” their learning and retain it better. Always willing to demonstrate proper techniques for new procedures and give valuable advice and insight, she is known by her nominators to be instrumental in course development, working to design, pilot and improve learning exercises. A student writes that she created a constructive environment and was “open to discussion of the material and was willing to accept valid points made by the students,” allowing them to learn a new set of skills instead of just be exposed to the field.
Natalia Andrievskikh – Comparative Literature
Natalia Andrievskikh’s main research focus offers original and thought-provoking work that lies at the intersection of literary, anthropological and gender studies, and her work on feminist re-visitation of fairy tales stands out for its richness and the relevance of its central arguments. She has presented papers and organized panels at several conferences including the Northeast Modern Language Association and the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association annual conventions, and the annual international conference at the University of Bucharest. She has garnered grants from the highly selective Harvard Summer Institute in World Literature, Central European University’s Summer Institute in Documentary Studies and as a Fulbright exchange student. With publications including three book chapters, one book review, two manuscripts under review and several other publications, she is lauded by her nominators for the elegance she brings to her field, as well as for her generosity to share her experiences in research, teaching and creative writing.
Faisal Aqlan – Industrial and Systems Engineering
Faisal Aqlan’s research constitutes a novel theoretical contribution to the field of supply chain risk management, with development of a comprehensive
framework for modeling and managing supply-chain risk in global enterprises. Working within the Watson Institute for Systems Excellence (WISE), he led and participated in numerous projects relating to transportation, assessment of ergonomic occupational risks, inventory management and more. The ergonomics project he worked on is considered a best practice by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He has nine journal articles published or under review, six conference publications, and several more in preparation. He has five technical reports to his credit, as well as two patents filed and four under evaluation. His nominator writes that “he has been an integral component of the research activities in our research group,” and is clearly able “to work on multiple research projects at the same time and produce outstanding results.”
Vadim Bromberg – Mechanical Engineering
Called a truly extraordinary experimentalist by his nominator, Vadim Bromberg plans and executes very complex experiments in the fields of fluid dynamics and materials science, and then processes and interprets the data at a level that is world-class. A complete researcher, he possesses a mature and fundamental knowledge of fluid dynamics and transport science, as well as strong knowledge of chemistry and materials science. He has five peer-reviewed publications, with four more in review or in preparation. Among his projects, he conceptualized and developed a fast, material-efficient and fully scalable “drop-on-demand” inkjet printing process that allows precise deposition of small droplets of functional ink in a variety of patterns on a given substrate surface. This process has exceptional advanced imaging and data acquisition capabilities, with 90 percent improvement over current state-of-the-art inkjet printing capability, and has resulted in one patent filing. His work holds significant potential in the emerging additive manufacturing field.
Katie Burkhouse – Psychology
Katie Burkhouse focuses her research on gaining a more fine-grained understanding of the factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of depression in youth. Her nominator, who notes that he strongly recruited her to work in his research group, calls her “question focused” rather than “method focused,” and writes that she already has an impressive start to her career with two, first-authored publications in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, and two more under review. She is also an ad-hoc reviewer for the Journal of Biological Nursing. She has presented at more than a dozen symposia and poster presentations, and garnered a scholarship to participate in the 2013 National Institute of Mental Health Funded ERP Boot Camp at the University of California-Davis. She willingly teaches others about pupillometry – using pupil dilation as an index of emotion processing – and is a highly sought-out collaborator.
Xiaoming Chen – Mechanical Engineering
Xiaoming Chen’s research focuses on investigating the mechanical properties of carbon and boron nitride nanotubes and their polymer nanocomposites, part of a broad effort to develop next-generation, light-weight and high-strength multifunctional engineering materials, particularly for aerospace applications. In collaboration with NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace, and financially supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, he tackles very challenging problems and has made several breakthroughs using state-of-the-art nanomechanical testing techniques. His research findings help to better understand the mechanical strength of nanotube structures and the local stress transfer on the nanotube-polymer interfaces, both critical for design and optimization of innovative nanotube-based material systems. He has first-authored three journal articles and has nine published articles to his credit. He has made nearly 20 conference presentations and holds one patent. His nominator writes that his research achievements clearly show his capability of delivering cutting-edge research in the emerging fields of nanoscience and engineering.
Andrew Fagal - History
Andrew Fagal is charting a new direction in the political and economic history of the United States during its founding by exploring the emergence of war-making in a country deeply suspicious of standing armies, centralized power and political corruption. His nominator writes that “what he finds challenges much simplistic thinking about the community of American ideas concerning the relationship of their governments to the problem of military preparedness.” His publications include an article in revision for the prestigious New England Quarterly, a book chapter and an article in process, and two book reviews forthcoming. He has presented at over a dozen conferences including one in Dublin, Ireland, and has received numerous academic honors including selection as one of two graduate students to attend the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers in Philadelphia, and a dissertation fellowship from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.
Benjamin Farrer – Political Science
Benjamin Farrer is a talented and productive scholar with a diverse set of skills and strong professional background writes his nominator. His research is generally on parties and pressure groups, with a specific focus on environmental politics and organizational strategies of that niche constituency. His nominator writes that “during his years in a graduate program, he acquired a broad range of methodological skills and is rightly regarded as our strongest student in quantitative and formal methods in several cohorts,” so much so, that faculty who teach advanced graduate methods have competed for him to be their teaching assistant. He is also considered a popular co-author due to his precise, yet flexible thinking and his creativity. He has completed summer institutes at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of California-Berkeley and Fordham University, and has two academic publications, three papers under review and a number of manuscripts in the pipeline.
Josh T. Franco – Art History
Josh T. Franco is researching the complex ethnic and aesthetic topographies of Marfa, Texas, home to the Chinati Foundation, which preserves and exhibits the estate of American sculptor Donald Judd, and also home to a significant Chicano/a population, including members of his own family. He holds a Publicly Active Graduate Education Fellowship from Imagining America and is currently a predoctoral diversity fellow in the Department of Art History at Ithaca College. He serves as an artist-guide at the Judd Foundation in New York City and has co-founded 7STOPS Magazine, an online monthly that publishes seven variations on a theme. He has published four book chapters and two scholarly periodicals, has contributed to two websites and has presented four exhibitions. In addition, he has a dozen conference presentations and papers to his credit. His nominator writes that he is an outstanding student whose scholarly work is informed by, and informs, his personal experiences.
Mehmet Kayaalp – Computer Science
Mehmet Kayaalp has made significant contributions to the field of architectural and hardware support for computer security, Specifically, he proposed two hardware-based techniques for protecting computer systems against an emerging class of code reuse attacks. He is the lead author on 10 publications in the most selective and prestigious journals and co-author on two more. He has also given four conference and seminar presentations. He has served as a journal and conference review for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Transactions on Computers, International Symposium on Computer Architecture and International Conference on Computer Design. For the past three-and-a-half years, he has been a research assistant on National Science Foundation- and Air Force-funded research projects. His nominator writes that he is a talented researcher whose study of attacks against computer systems will have a long-term impact and “the quality of the work and the significance of his contributions are remarkable.”
David Lindenbach – Psychology
David Lindenbach’s nominator writes that he has become the “go-to” individual in the laboratory, and is an exceptional and increasingly independent scientist. Intelligent and motivated, he has played a central role in the technical and conceptual training of new students, has a keen and curious mind, shows remarkable ingenuity and patience, and has mastered an incredible cadre of techniques for the study of behavioral pharmacology, neuroplasticity and neurodegeneration. Instrumental in optimizing the laboratory’s approach in vivo microdialysis, he nearly singled-handedly initiated the development of a new research direction regarding the motor cortex in Parkinson’s disease, allowing him to uniquely examine questions from multiple levels of analysis. He has made 13 poster presentations and has three lead-authored publications and two others published in journals including the high-impact, peer-reviewed Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, as well as Neuropharmacology; Psychopharmacology; the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics; Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior; and the Journal of Brain Research.
Emir Malikov – Economics
A promising young economist, Emir Malikov aims to provide regulators with sound and reliable analysis of the structure of the financial intermediation sector, such as banking and credit union industries, to help them design adequate macroeconomic policies. He contributes to the literature by advancing the existing econometric methods to surpass limitations of traditional modeling tools by relaxing strong and unrealistic assumptions commonly made in empirical analysis. His nominators write that “his passion combined with innate ability makes his research stand out above that of his peers.” They add that he is clearly an exception for a PhD student because he already has one article published in the Journal of Economic and Social Measurement and has five more sole-authored or co-authored currently under review. He has also presented at several seminars and conferences and serves as a referee for Empirical Economics, the Journal of Economic Surveys and the Journal of Productivity Analysis.
Kristie McHugh – Organizational Behavior
Through her work on collective intelligence and collective decision-making, Kristie McHugh has the potential of being a thought leader in her field. Traditional research has focused on the study of dyads and groups. Her research is not only novel, writes her nominator, but important from the standpoint of innovations, since some of the breakthroughs of our times have emerged from the work of collectives. With very little idea of how collectives are formed and what it takes for them to thrive, her work begins to ask and answer some of these questions. She has an impressive publication record, including four journal articles in highly respected journals including Leadership Quarterly and Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice; four conference posters and presentations; as well as six articles in progress. She has been recognized as a National Science Foundation Fellow and was selected for the Southern Tier Opportunity Coalition “20 in their Twenties.”
Fredrick Omenya – Chemistry
Fredrick Omenya shows the drive, maturity and patience of a passionate, successful researcher, and a colleague notes that “his humor an understanding” bring the entire research group together. He has already made a major mark in materials chemistry and battery reactions and has provided the key experimental showing the single-phase reaction mechanism for the olivine compound. He has published a dozen peer-reviewed papers about his pioneering work in leading chemistry journals, including Chemistry of Materials, the Journal of Materials Chemistry, the Journal of the Electrochemical Society and the Journal of Physical Chemistry. He has also made more than a dozen presentations at national conferences. His nominator writes that he “is an extremely dedicated and hard worker” and “an outstanding team player” who sought out sophisticated facilities to conduct his research at Brookhaven National Laboratory, allowing him to better follow the chemical reactions occurring as a battery was charged and discharged.
Chenyu Wang – Chemistry
Chenyu Wang has demonstrated his outstanding performance in materials chemistry synthesis. His original contribution to the field of nanomaterial preparation is having successfully prepared platinum-cobalt and platinum-iron concave nanocubes with high-indexed crystallographic facets. This is a worldwide breakthrough in shape-control synthesis using a solution phase synthesis strategy. He has also identified a new research direction, hydrogenation catalysis, where his novel nanocrystals can be applied, demonstrating an improved turnover frequency and superior catalytic stability. He has nine publications to his credit in journals including Nanotechnology, Nanoscale and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. He also “possesses a high interest and exceptional ability in establishing research networks,” actively disseminating his research to the chemistry community, writes his nominator. This effort has resulted in a recently established collaboration with a catalysis research group at Columbia University. “Such activity of connecting and co-working long-term with research teams from a different area” is essential for success as a scientist.
Robert Wright – Computer Science
Robert Wright’s primary research interests are in machine learning and distributed artificial intelligence. He is working to develop technologies enabling robust, autonomous intelligent systems that are capable of making intelligent decisions and learning from new experiences in order to adapt to ever evolving domains. He is making a significant impact in those fields. He has authored and published a dozen conference papers at leading venues and one journal article. One of his papers received the Best Paper Award at the European Conference on Machine Learning, a top international conference in his field. At the Air Force Research Laboratory, he has participated in several multi-million dollar research projects, and is the principal investigator for three Air Force Office of Science and Research grants totaling $250,000. His research “contributes to the one of the holy grails in artificial intelligence: software agents that can learn to make optimal and adaptive decisions in complex, real-world environments,” writes his nominator.
Joshua Zingher – Political Science
Called “virtually indistinguishable from a colleague” by a faculty member, Joshua Zingher was presenting papers at national conferences as a second-year graduate student. Interested in the role that ethnic, racial, class and gender groupings play in the political process, he has made eight conference presentations to date, and has two articles in peer-reviewed journals and several others under review, including one that won the “Best Paper in the Racial and Ethnic Politics Section” award at the 2012 American Political Science Association National Conference. “His ideas are good; his analysis is always strong; and the ideas he has and the analysis he works on get turned into real outcomes for the political science scholarly community at large,” writes his nominator. Others note that his strength as a scholar comes from his ability to “ask and answer interesting, original research questions, even in areas that might seem at first to have been worked to death.”
Service and Outreach
Jason Johnson – Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies
Jason Johnson has used his research skills to gather background data on surface and ground waters in the Southern Tier, in collaboration with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition, whose mission is to protect and improve water quality and natural resources with the involvement of citizens and agencies. His work filled a critical gap in the SRBC’s monitoring program and also enhanced its community education mission by making several award-winning presentations at the local, regional and national levels. In these presentations, he educated the public about how road salting and natural brine sources can influence water quality conditions and can have implications for potential future shale gas extraction. His nominator writes that he “managed to meld research on a controversial and environmentally important topic from an assessment perspective, and then informed the general public, community stakeholders, and watershed professionals about his findings through several presentation modes.”
Sarah Marcus – Biological Sciences
Sarah Marcus is enthusiastic about sharing her love of science with kids, and about making it fun and cool for them as she encourages them to keep learning about the natural world. Working with counselors at a 4-H camp for young people ages 8 to 15, she developed an experiment she called “The Fruit Fly Experiment.” She then trained the counselors to follow the scientific method, while providing campers with opportunities for self-directed, autonomous learning as they worked through the experiment. Her nominator writes that the response to her lesson was dramatic and students who participated in the experiment “were more excited about science and more interested in learning” after the experiment. She has also participated in other outreach programs, including “Out of the Box Science that Rocks” at Roberson Museum and Science Center, helping children ages 5 to 12 extract DNA from strawberries while teaching them about DNA and what it does.
Angela Runciman – Comparative Literature
Angela Runciman is that rare student whose unlimited energy is devoted to both co-curricular and community involvement, as well as to professional advancement, writes her nominator. An adjunct faculty member at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, she also devoted enormous time and energy to teaching and mentoring at Binghamton and SUNY Broome Community College. She has worked on graduate student publications including Inquire, The Harpur Palate, and as primary editor for Crossings. She has served on the Graduate Policies Committee and on numerous conferences and panels including the Ervene Gulley Memorial Committee and the Freshman Orientation Reading Program, and helped develop website content to ease new graduate students’ transition to Binghamton. Most recently, she proposed the idea of hosting and was selected to serve as chair of the organizing committee for the British Women Writers Association Annual Conference, to be hosted in June 2014 at Binghamton University, which will bring hundreds of scholars to campus.
Jennifer Sweeney – English, General Literature and Rhetoric
Jennifer Sweeney has put much of her intellectual energy and time into cultivating an active community of scholars, but also looks beyond academics to serve Binghamton University. Her nominators write that improving the communities she lives within remains a crucial aspect of her graduate education. As president of the Graduate English Organization, she developed and coordinated a professionalization conference. She helped organize three “Shifting Tides and Anxious Borders’ graduate student conferences, helped establish a reading group to extend conference discussions and coordinated a book swap for the Broome County Library. For two years, she served as assistant debate coach for Binghamton University’s highly successful debate team, also helping to plan and organize an annual tournament that drew 700 people to campus. Her service extends well beyond the academic arena, as proven by her work with the Office of International Programs to orient exchange students, and with University Police to offer self-defense classes to women.
Dianne Thornhill – Psychology
Dianne Thornhill has performed unusually demanding service for the Department of Psychology as president of the Psychology Graduate Student Organization writes her nominator. In addition to the basic duties as president, such as organizing and hosting events for graduate students, arranging funding for food during weekly colloquia and coordinating a finals week breakfast for faculty, staff and students, she has helped to improve and streamline the method for graduate students to provide input on faculty promotions. As the graduate student representative to the Junior and Senior Personnel committees, she is the sole person to administer, collect, compile and write graduate student reports on every faculty member who is evaluated. To date, she has done this for six promotions to full professor, three third-year evaluations and one tenure evaluation. She has also served on the Graduate Student Organization Budget Committee, the Graduate Women’s Association and is the current Graduate Student Employees Union liaison for her department.