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>>COMMENTS
April 28, 2005 Volume 26, No. 27
>>BACK ISSUES
Headlines

>>Grant renewal strengthens support for underrepresented graduate students

>>Decker student moves forward with plan to open clinic in Iquitos, Peru

>>Students gain practical experience working with prisoners

>>Yong-Soon Kang, associate professor, dies

>>Students win Wasson leadership awards

>>Students place first in Russian competition

>>University’s Division of Research announces recent promotions

 
Graduate Student Excellence Awards, 2004–05
SERVICE/OUTREACH RESEARCH cont.

Elizabeth (Nikki) Austin
Decker School of Nursing

Elizabeth (Nikki) Austin is in her second year of doctoral studies in nursing. She has worked in the critical care environment for 20 years, including five
Tracy R. Curtis
Biology

Tracy Curtis’ research focuses on the ecology of North American paper wasps and how to explain the increasing population of an introduced species over what once was the
as flight nurse on Guthrie One, an emergency transport helicopter flight team based in a remote rural area of Pennsylvania. She has volunteered in numerous health ministries in New York, Pennsylvania and the Czech Republic. Dean Sarah Gueldner has written that “Nikki has just completed a delightfully relevant pilot study involving a community gardens intervention with residents in a senior center and will use her findings to refine her research design for her dissertation. Nikki is a community treasure.”

Indeed, as a result of her work on the Community Gardening Project at the Northern Broome Senior Center in Whitney Point, “Nikki touched the seniors’ lives more than she will ever know.”

This is “the type of student that educators dream of and remember forever.”
dominant native species. This matters because paper wasps are beneficial as agents of biological control in agriculture.

Her progress towards a significant career and her commitment to scholarship is “nothing short of amazing,” a faculty member said. She is “a truly gifted researcher, and an exemplary role model for undergraduates and graduates. She has a flair for communicating science and is a serious scholar.” She has three published papers and nine presentations in the course of earning her MA in one year, and the MAT and PhD within three more years, all with a GPA of 4.0.

“She is one of those remarkably successful people who seems to do everything right. She barely needs a committee… Tracy is characterized by full engagement at full throttle.”

In short, wrote her mentor, “she epitomizes the highest level of research excellence that a research university can expect in a graduate student.”

Mary Ann Lahaszow Baron
Decker School of Nursing

“While Mary Ann Lahaszow Baron was in her master’s program, she volunteered to accompany a faculty member on a trip to rural Virginia for the purpose of
Oguz Ergin
Computer Science

Oguz Ergin reminds us in his research statement that “performance improvement does not come for free.”
His research area is in developing microarchitectural techniques for reducing the power consumption in superscalar microprocessors. He has published over 15 papers in top venues. For example, he has two papers in the MICRO con-ference, which is rated among the top 1 percent in terms of impact among all computer science conferences and journals. Some of these papers show more than 25 citations each.

His faculty advisor observed that “whatever limited success my research group has nationally and internationally, I will attribute a significant part of that to be a direct result of Oguz’s research efforts. Last year, I was approached by the director of Intel Corporation’s research lab in Barcelona, and he expressed a keen interest in hiring a strong researcher from my group. Oguz was successfully recruited by Intel as a result and he started his career in this lab early this fall.”

research data collection and providing cardiovascular screening for rural women. She was so excited about this experience that she volunteered her services to Decker’s O’Connor Office of Rural Nursing,” wrote her nominators. Last year, she presented the Facts for Action to Stroke Treatment pro-gram (FAST) 10 times to over 400 residents of Delaware County, where stroke mortality rates are 30 percent above the state average.

The director of New York’s Healthy Heart Program wrote that, “We applaud the efforts of Ms. Baron in working to increase knowledge of stroke awareness in rural upstate New York. I also applaud your efforts in mentoring such a promising doctoral student.”

Guruprasad Madhavan
Systems Science

“Guruprasad Madhavan is without question, more involved in program, University, community, national and international service activities than any graduate student I have worked with in my 20 plus
Gabriela Castro Gessner
Anthropology

Gabriela Castro received her BA and MA degrees from Binghamton, with a 4.0 and 3.97 GPA, respectively. It is no surprise that faculty think “her exams and term papers sparkle.”
As an archaeologist, she has partici-pated in two major excavation projects in Turkey and has been a contrib-uting author to three publications.
She is now studying the cultural transmission practices that shaped painted pottery production in Neolithic contexts more than 8,000 years ago in Turkey. The methodology for this research draws on elements from archaeology and art history, especially those studies involved in identifying forgeries, thus bridging different technological disciplines through time.
“Ms. Castro is a truly exceptional researcher,” wrote her nominator

years in academia,” wrote his advisor. “He organized our students and led them to form a student chapter of the IEEE’s Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. He organized a campus lecture series, bringing in professionals from industry and other profes-sions (such as law) whose activities relate to technology in medicine and biology. This lecture series has been a huge success.”

Madhavan’s doctoral research is on chronic disease and he has been making an outreach effort to the UHS and Lourdes health systems to obtain local physician involvement. He was invited to sit on an advisory panel for the American Heart Association, as well as on the healthcare committee of the Binghamton Rotary Club.

In the eyes of the national IEEE-Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, “Truly, Mr. Madhavan is a treasure to our bioengineering profession.”

Haroldo Lledo
Geology

Haroldo Lledo’s advisor writes that, “Haroldo is the most outstanding graduate student that I have worked with in the last 20 years. I suspect that he may become a geologic ‘super-star’ when he returns to Chile.”

He already has two publications and 12 reports and abstracts. For his PhD, he has made some interesting and extremely controversial findings about how actinolite, a metamorphic mineral, is formed. The results of this project are important for geological exploration, because there are often copper and gold deposits in association.

A faculty member wrote, “I am confident that Haroldo’s research will be welcomed by the geological community at large, even if not everyone will agree with his interpretations. Haroldo will report these results of his dissertation for the first time at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.”

Robert J. Quiggle
Anthropology

“Robert Quiggle has distinguished himself by his participation and leader-ship in the public outreach programs of the Public Archaeology Facility (PAF) of the Department of
Anthropology,” his nominators wrote. He has given presentations at Glenwood Elementary School in Vestal and at the Susquehanna School in Binghamton. He was one of the first volunteers to come forward for a major PAF community outreach project — Spanish Hill History Days — a three-day celebration of a significant archaeological site associated with the Susquehannock Native American village in Waverly, N.Y.

As a once-and-always Eagle Scout, Quiggle also serves as liaison with any Boy Scouts pursuing the new merit badge in archaeology.

Elizabeth Schultz
Anthropology

Elizabeth Schultz has worked exten-sively with children on projects ranging from the Glenwood Elementary Science Fair to the Public Archaeology Facility (PAF) Community
Mathew M. Maye
Chemistry

Matthew Maye has 76 publications and presentations dealing with the discovery, fabrication and use of novel nanomaterials for applications in fuel cells, chemical and biological sensors, quantum computation and drug del-ivery, as well as energy conversion and storage.

He is a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellow (2002-05), which was awarded for conducting research in advanced nanostructures and catalysts relevant to national defense applications. This is a nationally competitive fellowship that had never been awarded to a Binghamton University student. The Materials Research Society has also recognized Maye’s research accomplishments. He received the undergraduate award twice and also the 2002 Gold Award for outstanding graduate student, which is one of the most prestigious inter-national awards for graduate students in materials research. Nominators wrote that they hardly need to point out the obvious — “One of these awards is an outstanding achievement for any student, but receiving this type of award three times is phenomenal.”

Archaeology Program. At Glenwood in Vestal, more than 300 students and their families enjoyed the hands-on activities she presented.

PAF ran a field school at the nationally-recognized Mills Mansion near Mount Morris, N.Y. Schultz facilitated relation-ships between PAF, the Mount Morris Historical Society and the Mills Mansion site managers during the spring meeting of the New York State Archaeological Association. She then contributed by serving as a field supervisor, presenting archaeological techniques as part of the field school, and single-handedly created an exhibit dedicated to the prehistoric research findings at the Mills Mansion site.

She is also volunteering at the Roberson Museum and Science Center while working on her degree.

TEACHING
Letitia Lehau Moffitt
English

Letitia Moffitt has published fiction, poetry and criticism in national, peer-reviewed literary journals inclu-ding Critique, one of two top journals in the field of contemporary literature, and MacGuffin and Black Warrior Review, considered among the most competitive publications for literary prose.

She is preparing a creative dis-sertation about mixed ethnicities that is already under consideration for publication at a major university press. The dissertation consists of 12 original works of creative fiction concerning a girl coming of age in an ethnically mixed family in Hawaii. The Asian-American protagonist grows up in a world of complex ethnic identities and differences.

A faculty member wrote that, “Ms. Moffitt is a gifted, original writer. She is truly exceptional, one of the very best doctoral students I have worked with over the past thirty years.”
Another doctoral student wrote that their “experience as a graduate student at BU has been incredibly enhanced by sharing it with a person of such high ambitions.”

Adrianne Virginia Finlay
English

Her nominators wrote, “Adrianne Finlay may be the department’s most wide-ranging undergraduate teacher. Every aspect of Adrianne’s portfolio argues an experienced, dynamic and caring teacher.”

Describing her teaching philosophy, she wrote that, “As much as possible I treat the classroom as a workshop, where students both talk and write together… to help ‘shrink’ the class in effect and give everyone a chance to be actively involved. By breaking down the learning process into a series of progressive, recursive stages — prewriting, reading, discussion, drafting, peer review and revision — the workshop/forum model allows both students and teacher to see just where the most help is needed, for the class as a whole and for each student.”

“She is self-disciplined, conscientious, hard working, on-time, well-organized and remarkably together. Better yet, she is generous in spirit, brave, funny and pleasant to others. She is a productive team member, a gentle and constructive critic of students’ work and a widely respected leader,” wrote her nominators.

Kaustubh Ravindra Nagarkar
Systems Science

Kaustubh Ravindra Nagarkar’s research thus far has led to more than 20 technical reports and nine papers presented at national and international conferences. He has been actively involved in applying industrial engineering techniques (such as simu-lation) in optimizing the performance of emergency and operating rooms in the healthcare system in the Binghamton area.
His manager on an optoelectronics project at IBM/Endicott Interconnect recalls that Nagarkar was a de facto leader of other BU students on the project, in part because his knowledge in the field was “simply outstanding. I have had the privilege of working closely with about 50 graduate students and Kaustubh is by far the best I have ever met both in terms of technical skills and people/communication skills.”

Nagarkar is now working on a multi-million dollar National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and General Electric Silicones program to develop material solutions for thermal management problems.

He is a “perfectionist” and “an assiduously optimistic individual” and we are very proud of his accomplishments, nominators wrote.

Alexandre M. Olbrecht
Economics

Alexandre Olbrecht has been involved in 14 undergraduate courses, including large lectures with his own teaching assistants to supervise. “There is nothing he cares about more than seeing his students learn and succeed,” wrote a fellow graduate student.

He makes it a point to be available to answer questions his students may have when they are most willing to ask them, which means late at night. “While I am not usually in my office at that time, my students have my instant messaging screen name and communicate frequently via this technology while I am online at home,” he said.

As part of the department’s routine in-class assessment, the faculty observer wrote that “Alex’s presentation was so confident and relaxed and the interaction so natural that I felt completely comfortable contributing my own two cents to the discussion every now and then, an intrusion in which I have never engaged before as a classroom observer, either of students or colleagues.”

Olbrecht’s research passion is investigating some of the determinants of major league baseball player salaries, so we expect he will always have some very interesting consulting work in the off-season.

Rolf Michael Quam
Anthropology

Nominators wrote that “Rolf Michael Quam has already estab-lished himself as an internationally recognized researcher on the place of Neanderthals in human evolution. He is the recipient of a Fulbright pre-doctoral grant, a grant from the Leakey Foundation and another from the Fundacion Duques de Soria in Spain.”

For several summers, he has been invited to join a team of excavators at Atapuerca in northern Spain. They have offered Quam the opportunity to describe — using three-dimensional CT reconstructions — a series of fossilized ear bones recovered from the important and fabulously rich [pre-Neanderthal] site, which dates to around 400,000 years ago. Based on this research, he has constructed and maintained extensive fossil databases and has published 10 scientific papers and reports.

“He was invited to present the results and implications of this study to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. The results have important implications for the evolution of human speech, and this study represents the first time that an aspect of sensory capacities has been measured in a fossil human. Rolf’s relationship with the Atapuerca Research Team has been a model of international scientific collaboration,” nominators wrote.

Anne Rashid
English

At the end of Anne Rashid’s first semester of graduate study, a faculty member evaluating her progress came right out and said, “get this woman into a classroom — she’s a natural teacher.” She is the English Department’s coordinator of teaching assistant training and development, which suits her “limitless energy and positive spirit.”

“She’s a person of uncommon probity, and an imaginative and discerning communicator. She has a real knack for drawing students into discussion, a gift for developing their interest in unfamiliar material and for creating an environment that advances learning for all,” her nominators wrote.

In her teaching philosophy, she said she knew she wanted to become a college professor while she was still in high school, in part because of this dynamic environment where “youthful spontaneity must not be suppressed but must be allowed to give what it can” (Martin Buber)

Karen L. Rogers
Art History

Karen (Wren) Rogers is an “out-standing student and an excellent colleague,” wrote her nominators.

“Wren has had an extraordinary career as dean of the School of Architecture and Design and director of the Undergraduate Studies Program at the University of Los Andes, Bogota, Columbia. This year, she received a prestigious and highly competitive Henry Luce/Council of Learned Scholars Dissertation Fellowship in American Art. Her dissertation project, “Checkerboard: Complexities of the Grid and Making of Place in the American Southwest,” will make a significant contribution to the study of mapping and creating the spaces for colonial domination and expansion,” wrote her nominators.

“Her dissertation project is an intellectually generous one, asking how various populations in New Mexico from the Spanish through the post-colonial periods have come to inhabit the grid at different scales, from the house to the city and beyond, and one that depends upon a sophisticated combination of archival research and phenomenological investigation. It is to my mind a model of scholarship.”

Douglas A. Robinson, Jr.
Biology

“Douglas Robinson is a natural teacher,” writes a faculty advisor. “He has treated our undergraduates as fellow researchers… Doug always takes much time to train such students, taking them into the field, having them practice data recordings, letting them be the ones to fumble with field equip-ment until they get more proficient.”

Several students from his courses in ecology, zoology and general biology, have written that Robinson has been “a great inspiration” and that the “experience [of fieldwork and research] directly influenced my decision to begin a career in research… However, what I think may have been even more important than the advice, was the genuine enthusiasm, excitement, support and confidence I received from Doug when I first mentioned my interest in an advanced degree.”

A faculty mentor wrote that “Doug stands out as the graduate student most involved in the teaching process I’ve ever worked with over the past 27 years.” Another faculty member said that “no other teaching assistant has so eagerly provided me with so much feedback, both positive and con-structive,” which created “an exceptional working relationship, largely because of Doug’s initiatives and vital interests in teaching.”

Quang T. Su
Mechanical Engineering

In the words of his advisor, “Quang Su has developed into an expert in acoustic testing of miniature micro-phones. He is also responsible for training other members of my research team. This effort has required solving an extremely wide range of problems dealing with instrumentation design, fixture design, software programming, acoustical modeling and analysis, mathematics and signal proces-sing. In each challenge he has faced he has produced outstanding and effective solutions with uncommon initiative and ability.”

From off-campus, another researcher wrote that, “He has been instrumental in the success of our major multidisci-plinary, multi-university research effort by becoming an expert in signal processing as well as acoustical measurement and mechanics and then generously lending this expertise to the support of more limited collaborators such as myself.”

Natasha Shanker
Chemistry

Her nominators wrote “Natasha Shanker is a born teacher. She is in high demand among our faculty to serve as head teaching assistant in the large classes — hundreds of students. She has been called ‘by far the best head teaching assistant I have had since coming to Bingham-ton 16 years ago.’ Given the number of excellent teaching assistants we’ve had in our program, this is high praise indeed.”

An undergraduate student who took Chemistry 107, 108 and 111 from her — all required courses for chemistry and engineering majors — wrote, “I learned the most I have ever learned in a laboratory setting due to Natasha’s excellent instruction and clear direction. I feel confident working in a laboratory after having this experience.”

A senior faculty member wrote that, “She is an outstanding role model for what a teaching assistant should be, just the right amount of classroom presence with no shouting, just a ‘magical’ touch.”

Sameer S. Tilak
Computer Science

Sameer Tilak is an “extremely valuable and productive research group member who makes his colleagues — both students and faculty — better,” wrote his nominators.

He has been able to carry out suc-cessful research at the highest level in several areas of mobile computing and networking. He already has 10 publications in international confer-ences and journals with several others under review or in preparation. He has published in highly competitive confer-ences with very low acceptance rates (e.g., his paper for the International Conference on Network Protocols was one of only 30 papers published out of 230 submissions — 13 percent). His work has been referenced 15 times by many papers appearing in top publishing venues.

“Sameer is highly self motivated and creative… he is a person of boundless passion and creativity,” wrote his nominators.

Lisa A. Solowiej
Political Science

Lisa Solowiej has been the instructor of record eight times for courses such as American Politics, American Pluralism and Introduction to American Government. “She is the best graduate student
instructor in our department,” wrote a faculty member. “Her perfor-mance has been and continues to be stellar. She sets rigorous standards but is equally rigorous in fulfilling her commitment to students to help them meet and exceed those standards.”

A former student wrote that, “The critical thinking skills that I learned in Lisa’s class have served me well in my other classes and even beyond the academic environment.” In her statement of teaching philosophy, she wrote: “I hope that my students will be able to draw their own conclusions about politics and policy, instead of relying on what the media, their family and their peers are telling them they should believe. I do want to compel them to think about why they believe what they believe.”

Daniel S. Wheeler
Psychology

Daniel Wheeler’s research inter-ests involve the study of learning, memory and decision-making as mechanisms that occur during the acquisition of new information or during the retrieval of old information.

His research advisor wrote that, “He is the first author on five papers reflecting a consistent programmatic line of research to the theoretical models that have driven all of the research in our laboratory for the last three years. His contributions have been invaluable. He has a very productive career as a cognitive scientist in front of him. He has taken advantage of what Binghamton has to offer, and has repaid Binghamton by significantly contributing to both our research and teaching missions.”

Another faculty member found his research productivity “astonishing in a person just beginning his fourth year of graduate study. The combination of quantity and quality is remarkable.”

Kiril Tochkov
Economics

“Kiril Tochkov has taught 14 different courses (including 12 as instruc-tor)… from small sections to lectures ranging up to 200 students and involving the supervision of his own teaching assistants. This diversity of experience reflects not only our confidence in him but the relish with which he welcomes teaching and its challenges,” wrote his nominators.

An undergraduate student wrote that, “Overall, Econ 362 [Macroeconomic Theory] was one of the most rewarding courses I have taken at BU. He is a terrific instructor.”

Economic statistics may be the most challenging to teach of all courses in the undergraduate economics curriculum. But a faculty observer noted that Tochkov created extraordinary student interest, involvement and comprehension. “Any full-time instructor with years of experience could have been justifiably proud of what Kiril achieved in this class.”

Liang Yin
Materials Science

Liang Yin’s work addresses a key environmental issue facing the elec-tronics industry: how to get lead out of solders and other electronic com-ponents, using detailed understanding of oxidation kinetics, precision thermal control, ion milling and plasma etching. He has been a valued contributor to the mission of the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center.

From a faculty letter of support: “Liang has evolved into a complete scientist and exhibits great enthusiasm and commit-ment for his research. He is an accomplished experimentalist and has developed a high level of competence in an unusually broad number of different materials characterization tech-niques including optical microscopy, optical profilometry, scanning electron microscopy, auger electron spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, microprobe wavelength dispersive spectroscopy and sputtering and evaporation depos-ition. Liang has also developed a strong expertise in vacuum system technology and metallographic cross-sectioning. He has mentored two undergraduate research assistants under the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program, contributing greatly to both of these students’ exposures to University research. One of his published papers appeared in Acta Materialia, a very highly rated materials science/engineering publication.”

RESEARCH
M. Rodwan Abouharb
Political Science

“In my 26 years of University teaching, I have worked closely with over 100 doctoral students, and M. Rodwan Abouharb is one of the best,” writes his advisor. The subject of his research is how structural adjustment loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund may actually worsen the human rights practices of loan recipients, especially for unstable governments. This can disrupt fragile domestic harmonies and lead to cutbacks in social and welfare spending and increased probability of civil war.
“His research is particularly compelling in how he links theoretical ideas and literatures not commonly linked together, and in how he joins his theoretical claims with empirical tests… This research has the potential to make contributions to policy making and could be very consequential to how economic liberalization is pursued in the future.”

Silas Zobal
English

Silas Zobal’s writing is “dazzling” and “exceptionally moving,” wrote his nominators. As with other great writers, he takes on experiences of life and death and writes about the struggle to make meanings. He has won two prestigious recognitions within the English Department, the Newhouse Award for best new fiction author in 2002 and the Link Fellowship for creative writing in 2003. A distinguished faculty fiction writer observed that Silas is “one of a very small handful of the very best PhD students I’ve taught in the last thirty years… one of the most original writers I’ve worked with.”

Zobal’s dissertation is a collection of stories, some of which have already been published, all in different literary journals with excellent reputations. For example, the editors of Glimmer Train and Iron Horse have chosen his work for awards for new writers. He is a “generous good citizen” in the department, and has served as fiction editor and reader of the literary journal Harpur Palate. He has also served as the co-director of this year’s writer’s conference, and he has been active in the creative writing reader’s series.