Graduate Excellence Awards

Each year, the Graduate School recognizes the important contributions of graduate students to the excellence of the University with four renowned awards:

See deadlines and helpful hints for nominating students for awards.

Excellence in Teaching

The Award for Excellence in Teaching honors graduate teaching assistants and instructors of record who have demonstrated exceptional service to Binghamton University’s undergraduates. Nominations are invited from all graduate programs, and recipients of the award represent a variety of teaching approaches in diverse subjects.

Awards are given once a year to 10-15 graduate students who have been nominated by their department and selected by a panel consisting of faculty and a representative of the Graduate School. Teaching excellence awardees receive a gift and a certificate of achievement. They are also recognized in Inside Binghamton University and, if graduating in the academic year, in the Commencement program.

Nominations are made by the program’s graduate director. Each program may nominate only 2 graduate students per year.

Nomination packets must include:

  • A cover sheet with the name of the nominee, phonetic pronunciation of the nominee's name, the graduate program, degree sought, and a narrative paragraph of 100-150 words that highlights the nominee's achievements and is suitable for distribution to Inside Binghamton University
  • A current curriculum vitae of the nominee
  • A single-page statement (maximum 250 words) of teaching approach and philosophy written by the nominee

Nomination packets may also include:

  • Letters from faculty who have supervised the graduate student's teaching
  • Sets of teaching evaluations
  • Letters from students or former students of the graduate student
  • A representative sample of handouts, assignments and exams designed by the instructor as appropriate

Graduate directors will receive nomination information from the Graduate School. Submit nomination packets electronically to the Graduate School by the deadline listed in the awards calendar.

Excellence in Research

The Award for Excellence in Research honors the important contributions graduate students make to research at the University and the wide variety of approaches they take to the advancement of knowledge.

Awards are given once a year to 10-15 graduate students. Awardees are nominated by their department and selected by a panel consisting of faculty and a representative of the Graduate School. Research excellence awardees will receive a gift and a certificate of the achievement. They are also recognized in Inside Binghamton University and, if graduating in the academic year, in the Commencement program.

Nominations are made by the program’s graduate director. Each program may nominate only 2 graduate students per year.

Nomination packets must contain:

  • A cover sheet with the name of the nominee, phonetic pronunciation of the nominee’s name, the graduate program, degree sought, and a narrative paragraph of 100-150 words that highlights the nominee’s achievements and is suitable for distribution to Inside Binghamton University
  • A current curriculum vitae of the nominee
  • Justification for the award such as:
    • A concise statement (from nominee) of research interests, including the goal and subject of research
    • Letters from faculty who have directed the student’s research specifying its original contribution to knowledge in the field or exceptional collaboration with a research team
    • Offprints of publications or other material illustrating the quality of work and productivity of the student’s research/scholarship/creative endeavors
    • Letters from other graduate students regarding departmental presentations, seminars, etc., given by the nominee

Graduate directors will receive nomination information from the Graduate School. Submit nomination packets electronically to the Graduate School by the deadline listed in the awards calendar.

Excellence in Service/Outreach

The Award for Excellence in Service/Outreach honors graduate students who distinguish themselves in service to their departments, academic programs, schools and/or the University. The award also recognizes students who have used their graduate education to make outstanding contributions to the community beyond the University. While outreach activities of all types represent important contributions to society, the service/outreach excellence awards are intended to honor outreach of a professional nature. Nominations are invited from all graduate programs, and recipients represent a variety of service and outreach activities across the University and community.

Awards are given once a year to 10-15 graduate students. Awardees are nominated by their department and selected by a panel consisting of graduate students, faculty and a representative of the Graduate School. Excellence in service and outreach awardees receive a gift and a certificate of achievement. They are also recognized in Inside Binghamton University and, if graduating in the academic year, in the Commencement program.

Nominations are made by the program’s graduate director. Each program may nominate only 2 graduate students per year.

Nomination packets must contain:

  • A cover sheet with the name of the nominee, phonetic pronunciation of the nominee’s name, the graduate program, degree sought, and a narrative paragraph of 100-150 words that highlights the nominee’s achievements and is suitable for distribution to Inside Binghamton University
  • A current curriculum vitae
  • A single-page summary (maximum 250 words) of the nature and extent of the service and/or outreach activities
  • A single-page statement (250 words) of service approach and philosophy written by the nominee. In the case of outreach activities, the statement must indicate how this outreach reflects or depends upon the student’s knowledge, skills and abilities that result from their graduate education
  • Other justification for the award, including some or all of the following:
    • Letters from students, staff, faculty or others familiar with the nominee’s work
    • Statements from those affected by the service/outreach efforts
    • Any other documentation of the impact of the service/outreach efforts

Graduate directors will receive nomination information from the Graduate School. Submit nomination packets electronically to the Graduate School by the deadline listed in the awards calendar.

Distinguished Dissertation Awards

The Distinguished Dissertation Award is for PhD and EdD dissertations defended and submitted to the Graduate School in each calendar year (e.g., 2015). The selection process will occur in the following spring semester (e.g., spring 2016). The Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline. Both methodological and substantive quality are judged.

Awards are given each year in 4 broad disciplinary areas:

  1. mathematics, physical sciences, and engineering;
  2. social sciences;
  3. humanities and fine arts; and
  4. biological and life sciences.

Note that education, management and some nursing topics fall in social sciences, and other nursing topics, in life sciences. The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) uses these categories for its annual national dissertation awards. Recipients of the Distinguished Dissertation Award will receive an honorarium of $500 and may be nominated by the University for national dissertation awards, such as the CGS national award.

The process described below is designed to identify dissertations that make unusually significant contributions to their discipline. The procedures are aligned with those of national competitions for dissertation awards. In that way, Binghamton University's Distinguished Dissertation Award Committee also vets dissertations for submission to national competitions.

Each department/program/unit may nominate only 1 dissertation. Units are requested to nominate dissertations of truly superior quality and unusual distinction. A minimal qualification would be that at least part of the dissertation is of publishable quality in its submitted form.

Nomination for the award must be made by the unit's graduate director. It is expected that the unit's graduate committee has vetted the dissertation being nominated. The nomination must be sent to the Graduate School via by 5:00 p.m. on the first Friday of March for the year's competition. Students are eligible if they graduated with the PhD or EdD degree in the calendar year prior to the spring competition. Prior to nomination, the dissertation must have been completed and submitted electronically to ProQuest via the Graduate School.

Checklist for Nomination Packet

  • 3 letters of support – supporters are advised to read the "helpful hints" sheet below
    • From the graduate director of the unit
    • From the dissertation/faculty advisor
    • From another appropriate evaluator (e.g., committee member, another faculty person from Binghamton University or elsewhere)
  • Abstract re-written for lay audience – students are advised to read the "for the public" sheet below
    • Maximum of 5 pages, double-spaced Times New Roman 12 pt font, 1 inch margins
    • In addition, may have maximum of 5 pages of illustrations (e.g., tables, figures, drawings, photographs) provided that these add value
  • Curriculum vitae – maximum of 4 pages, Times New Roman 12 pt font, 1 inch margins
  • Dissertation – do not send unless the committee requests this

Nominees: The re-written abstract should frame the work in terms of the "big picture," and the ideas, examples and conclusions should focus on how the dissertation significantly addresses the problem or question. If the dissertation consists of several published papers or manuscripts, there should be an introduction in the dissertation that frames the chapters within a larger objective or question, and a final synthesis in the dissertation. If there are co-authors on any of the chapters, the role of each author should be explained in a preface, introduction or appendix of the dissertation.

Letter writers: The letters of support should explain the original and substantial contribution to the discipline made by the dissertation. Letters should avoid jargon and explain the value of the work in a way that passages would be suitable for publication in Inside Binghamton University. If portions of the dissertation have been published, letter writers should indicate the tier of the journal. If there are co-authors on any chapters, letter writers should address the contribution of the nominee.

The distinguished dissertation awards committee is drawn from graduate council members and is chaired by the associate dean of the Graduate School. The committee will review the nomination packets. It will then select a subset as finalists. The finalists will be asked to submit their dissertations electronically. From the finalists, the committee will make its recommendations for the awards.

Recent Awardees

  • 2024

    2024 Graduate Student Excellence Award Winners

    Excellence in Research

    John Antonacci
    John Peter Antonacci is a PhD candidate in sociology. He is currently working on a dissertation entitled, “Climates of Coercion, Climates of Capital: Military Revolutions in the Capitalist World-Ecology, 1492–1815.” He has published articles on several themes, including the environmental history of oyster fishing on Long Island, N.Y., the ideological underpinnings of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and on the environmental and military history of Columbian invasions of the 16th century and on Nazi Germany’s conceptions of ecology. He currently has a manuscript under review exploring the environmental history of the Seven Years’ War. His article, “Periodizing the Capitalocene as Polemocene: Militarized Ecologies of Accumulation in the Long Sixteenth Century,” won the 2022 American Sociological Association’s Political Economy of the World-Systems’ Terrence K. Hopkins Graduate Student Article Award.

    Nazila Bazrafshan
    Nazila Bazrafshan is a PhD candidate in industrial and systems engineering. Her research interest involves applications of operations research and machine learning in healthcare. Her prior studies involved cancer treatment planning and designing clinical trials, and her dissertation focuses on the optimization of outpatient appointment scheduling templates in infusion centers. She has served as a teaching assistant and spent two and a half years as a research graduate associate at the Watson Institute for Systems Excellence (WISE) within Cooper University Healthcare in N.J. Bazrafshan has received summer research fellowships and the 2022–23 Srihari Scholarship. She has presented at numerous conferences and seminars and contributed as a peer reviewer for two conferences. Her contributions to her field include a book chapter, three peer-reviewed journal articles and four peer-reviewed conference papers. She has two manuscripts under review, with six more in preparation.

    Ali Forougi
    Ali H. Foroughi specializes in designing, optimizing, fabricating and mechanically testing bone scaffolds for tissue engineering. The PhD candidate in mechanical engineering recently introduced a novel microstructure, modified face-centered cubic (MFCC) scaffolds, resulting in superior mechanical and biological scaffold performance compared to previous designs. His innovative design improves orthopedic scaffolds and enhances the lives of those with significant bone loss due to aging, injury or cancer. Foroughi’s accomplishments include winning the People’s Choice Award in Binghamton University’s 2023 Three Minute Thesis competition. Beyond the University, he extends his dedication to public outreach at the Roberson Museum and Science Center, utilizing his additive manufacturing skills to create 3D models of the brain to familiarize the public with the intricate world of biomedical engineering research. Moreover, his microscopic photograph of bone scaffolds was chosen for the 2024 Art of Science at Binghamton University desk calendar. Foroughi has authored five top-ranked peer-reviewed journal articles, with additional manuscripts in preparation.

    Elana Israel
    Elana Israel is a PhD student in clinical psychology who is studying risk factors for depression in youth using a multi-method approach. Israel’s dissertation project examines whether neural measures of social and monetary reward processing predict real-world levels of pleasure and mood in adolescents who are at risk of developing depression. This project may have important implications for the detection and prevention of major depressive disorder in youth. Israel has received numerous awards to fund her research including an American Psychological Foundation Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Fellowship, a Harpur College Graduate Investment Initiative Award, and a Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research Award. She has two first-author publications and a recently accepted book chapter.

    Chetan Joshi
    Chetan Joshi is an organic chemist with expertise in the study of reaction mechanisms utilizing a combination of experimental and computational methods. His doctoral research focused on the mechanistic studies of various transition-metal, organocatalytic, and photoredox systems using a combination of experimental 13C kinetic isotope effects and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Joshi’s research has already resulted in three publications that address challenging mechanistic questions in classical and contemporary catalytic transformations. He was selected for the Merck Future Talent Program 2022, where he had the opportunity to work in Discovery Chemistry as an intern at Merck & Co. (Kenilworth, N.J.). In January 2024, Joshi began his postdoctoral work with Professor Donald Watson at the University of Delaware, where he will continue to apply his physical organic chemistry expertise to address mechanistic questions in nickel metallaphotoredox catalysis.

    Mercia Kandukira
    Mercia Kandukira is a PhD student in English with a concentration in creative nonfiction. She studies the shifts that have occurred in the Namibian public memory space to grasp how post-apartheid Namibia remembers post-German Southwest Africa and to what extent national public memory practices embrace and comfort communities who have suffered tremendously resisting racist European incursions. Her project, “Being When Meant Not to Be ‘’ is a work of literary-historical nonfiction which de-essentializes racial categories imposed upon Africans to divide and conquer. She has been invited to be a guest lecturer for multiple Africana Studies classes and has performed several readings of her work on and off campus. She has been the public relations officer since the inception of the Binghamton Fulbright Association. In this role, Kandukira worked alongside other Fulbright scholars to obtain registration under the Graduate Student Union (GSU). As the creative nonfiction co-editor for Binghamton University’s Harpur Palate, she represented the literary journal at the 2022 AWP conference in Philadelphia with her cohort.

     Bryce Kingsley
    Bryce Kingsley has worked on several major projects as a graduate student researcher in the Department of Mechanical Engineering under the mentorship of Professor Paul Chiarot. These have included projects on electrospray deposition of PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) films for the healthcare industry, electrospray deposition of PI (Polyimide) films for electronics packaging, and physical unclonable functions (PUFs) manufactured using electrospray deposition. This work has led to four first-author publications in American Chemical Society (ACS), Applied Polymer Materials, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Electronics Packaging Society, and Wiley Journal of Applied Polymer Science. Kingsley has attended numerous scientific conferences across the country to present his work, among them the American Physical Society and American Chemistry meetings. Additionally, he is the co-inventor, with Professor Chiarot, on a U.S. patent application for a polymer printing technology developed at SUNY Binghamton under funding from the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) for applications in electronics packaging.

    Xiaotian Li
    Xiaotian Li is a member of Binghamton University’s Graphics and Image Computing (GAIC) Laboratory whose research aims to extend the study of computer-based automatic human emotion recognition across various knowledge domains in affective computing. As a PhD candidate in computer science, Li focuses on developing algorithms, datasets and systems for the automatic detection and analysis of human affective behaviors. He has innovatively designed novel algorithms and new deep learning models to detect and recognize facial expressions using multimodal data. These works have contributed to applications in AI, healthcare, security and human computer interaction. It has resulted in nine publications, including five first author papers and four additional collaborative papers. He has presented at top conferences, served actively as a committee member, and contributed three benchmark databases to the research community.

    Sam Olin
    Sam Olin is a physicist who explores the frontiers of exotic quantum phenomena and strives to leverage cutting edge theory with high performance computation to make devices of the future a present-day reality. A PhD candidate in physics, he has participated in multi-university collaborations to study novel conduction in twisted materials. He has worked on building models for groundbreaking circuit devices capable of mimicking human memory. He was awarded a student fellowship with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Summer Faculty Fellowship Program, and has authored several papers in multiple journals, including a feature on the inside front cover of Advanced Quantum Technologies.

    Ahmed Gailan Qasem
    Ahmed Gailan Qasem is a PhD candidate in industrial and systems engineering at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He received his BSc and MSc in industrial engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan, in 2013 and 2017, respectively. Currently, he is a health systems quality engineer at Atrium Health Navicent (AHN) in Georgia. Prior to joining AHN, Gailan Qasem was a graduate research associate at Watson Institute for Systems Excellence (WISE) in Watson College of Engineering at Binghamton. He worked on several simulation, process improvement and data analytics projects in mail order pharmacy systems and healthcare for Innovation Associates and Navicent Health companies. He has published five peer-reviewed research articles in major reputable journals and a couple of conference papers. His research interests are in operations research and optimization, machine learning, simulation modeling and lean manufacturing.

    Zahra Rafiee
    Zahra Rafiee’s research is centered around the development of a paper-based biosensor platform for antibacterial susceptibility testing, which represents a significant advancement in the realm of biomedical science. A PhD candidate in electrical and computer engineering, her primary objective is to enable the early detection of infections and optimize antibiotic treatment, ultimately contributing to the mitigation of antibiotic resistance, a pressing global health concern. The utilization of a fully paper-based platform in her work is a notable innovation, as it aligns with the current emphasis on environmentally sustainable and biodegradable technologies. Rafiee has created paper-based circuits and components suitable for portable and point-of-care health devices, potentially revolutionizing diagnostics, especially in resource-limited settings. Her research output consists of nine publications, with five of them featured in journals such as Biosensors and Bioelectronics and Advanced Energy Materials. Rafiee is devoted to making contributions which will help reshape the landscape of infection detection and treatment in the field of biomedicine.

    Anna Rebrii
    Anna Rebrii is a PhD student in sociology. Her work examines state repression of revolutionary movements in the cases of the Zapatista movement in Mexico and the Kurdish movement in Syria. Her research is a unique combination of a multi-sited ethnography with a historical sociological approach. She has presented this research at numerous conferences in her field, including the American Sociological Association, the Middle Eastern Studies Association and the American Anthropological Association. Her writing has appeared in such magazines as The Nation, Jacobin, Jadaliyya, Truthout, and openDemocracy. Rebrii is also a recipient of the 2020-23 Provost’s Doctoral Summer Research Fellowship and has been a teaching assistant for several courses in her department.

    Guojun Shang
    Guojun Shang joined the materials science and engineering program in 2017 and is pursuing her PhD under the supervision of Professor Chuan-Jian Zhong. Her research focuses on investigations of the preparation and characterization of functional nanomaterials and thin films and the understanding of the basic mechanism of such materials in sensing processes. She was a co-entrepreneur-lead in an NSF I-Corps project on technology translation. Shang has played an important role in an advanced sensor prototype development and a U.S. patent application. She has presented her work at numerous conferences and authored/co-authored nine publications in peer-reviewed journals such as Advanced Sensor Research, ACS Sensors and ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, as well as two book chapters. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant in chemistry, Shang has been an active research assistant in several research projects and has mentored several undergraduate and high-school student researchers in honors thesis works and summer research programs.

    Kaushik Tekur Venkata 
    Kaushik Tekur Venkata is a PhD candidate in English. He studies police power in the eighteenth-century and the politics of literary forms, with a particular interest in colonial and capitalist structures. His peer-reviewed article, “Police Time: Equiano, Blackness, and Custody”, was just published in the Spring 2024 issue of Eighteenth-Century Fiction. He has a forthcoming publication on Instagram stories as an emerging cinematic form in Literature/Film Quarterly. Venkata was runner-up for the Keats-Shelley Essay Prize in 2022 for his work on Shelley and interpellation, which was then published in The Keats-Shelley Review. His public-facing writing has appeared in various magazines including the LA Review of Books. His work has been awarded several fellowships and grants, both within and outside of Binghamton University.

    Jianyu Wang
    Jianyu Wang is an avid researcher in materials science whose work involves probing surface and interface dynamics influenced by environmental stimuli. The work of this PhD candidate in materials science and engineering has allowed for insights at the atomic level, which enhance fundamental comprehension of dynamic material behaviors, a realm that is otherwise inaccessible through conventional experimental approaches. Of his eight total publications, Wang is first author and co-first author on five articles published in peer-reviewed journals such as The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of American Chemical Society, and Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

    Zihan Xu
    Zihan Xu is a PhD candidate in chemistry whose work investigates the mechanism, inhibition and application of hedgehog family proteins – a group of polypeptide hormones necessary for embryo development and implicated in the growth of several cancer types. Xu has co-authored seven peer-reviewed papers, five research papers and two reviews. He recently submitted an eighth paper as first author that is currently under review at Bioconjugate Chemistry. In that manuscript, Xu reports the use of hedgehog proteins as bioconjugation catalysts to prepare innovative turn-on biosensors for viral DNA and RNA detection. Over the course of Xu’s training in the program, he has accumulated a wide panel of technical expertise, including synthetic chemistry, 1H and 13C NMR, recombinant protein expression and purification, protein bioconjugation, and enzyme kinetics. His final project resulted in the development of additional expertise in mammalian cell culture, flow cytometry and confocal microscopy.

    Excellence in Service & Outreach

    Hannah Carr-Murphy
    Hannah Carr-Murphy is a poet and musician from Waterloo, Iowa. A PhD candidate in English with a focus on creative writing, Carr-Murphy has served as managing editor, co-editor in chief, and editor in chief of Binghamton University’s student-led literary magazine, Harpur Palate. This magazine publishes the best in fiction, nonfiction and poetry twice yearly. She is also the founder and head of the Harpur Palate Archiving Project. This project is supported by a partnership of the Digital Initiatives team from the library and the assistance of undergraduate interns from the English Department, and preserves back issues on the Open Repository @ Binghamton (ORB) to allow for open-access digital preservation. The full twenty-three years of back issues will be available during spring 2024, uncovering the work of over two decades of student editors. Carr-Murphy also works with the Binghamton University Flute Ensemble as assistant conductor and facilitates free adult poetry workshops in the community with the Binghamton Poetry Project.

    Melissa Gates
    Melissa Gates has been dedicated to working with underserved and marginalized communities during her 3.5 years at Binghamton University. A doctoral student in the clinical psychology program, her clinical involvement has included serving as a behavioral health provider embedded within primary care for harder-to-reach patients and high-risk veterans. Gates is also committed to improving access to and the adequacy of mental health services and works to reduce barriers and tailor treatments to meet the unique needs of marginalized populations. More specifically, she engages in outreach and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community through her research and clinical work. She has presented her research findings, which outline ways to provide culturally informed treatment for LGBTQ+ individuals, at multiple national conferences. She is also an active supervisor and mentor for her peers and undergraduate students, providing knowledge from her experience working with high-risk populations clinically and in a research setting.

    Alyssa Miville
    A PhD candidate in clinical psychology, first-generation student Alyssa Miville has made noteworthy contributions to her department and the broader community. Drawing from her passion for mentorship and 10 years of experience in community settings, her work as a Psychology Graduate Student Organization’s (PGSO) undergraduate mentorship program coordinator and NextGen Psych Scholars Program mentor increases higher education access for tens of underrepresented scholars. In addition to her work on campus, Miville fosters an active network of relationship researchers around the globe as a newsletter editor for the Association for the Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Couples Special Interest Group. She is a 2023–24 LGBTQ+ Community Health Scholar and is working to improve psychological services available to LGBTQ+ individuals processing religious trauma.

     Kelli Moseman
    Kelli Moseman, a PhD candidate in chemistry, has served her community in many different capacities. She joined the Chemistry Outreach Program (ChOP) after transferring to Binghamton University in 2016 as an undergraduate student and continues to be a leader in this program as a graduate student. With ChOP, Moseman visits local elementary schools to bring hands-on experiments to children in hopes of inspiring a diverse next generation of chemists. She has taken on a leadership role for ChOP by organizing and helping lead outreach events. Moseman has further proven to have an outstanding sense of community by serving as a graduate student representative on the chemistry department’s Wellness Team, the Graduate Program Committee, and as treasurer and president of the Graduate Chemistry Club (GCC). As GCC president, she oversees the coordination of election board meetings, plans and executes events for her constituents, and serves as a liaison between the chemistry graduate students, faculty members, administration, and department teams and committees.

    Zunaira Yousaf
    Zunaira Yousaf is a PhD candidate in the English Department and an instructor in the Writing Initiative Program. She has received Humanities New York’s (HNY) Public Humanities grant for her project, “Unheard Stories of Invisible Migrants,” a digital web archive which preserves the stories of Pakistani Migrants in Broome County. The project foregrounds the migrant community’s financial struggles, discrimination at public spaces, and how linguistic and cultural barriers limit their voices. She has served and collaborated with the American Civic Association (ACA), the Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier (IOST), and the Binghamton City School District to address the issues related to migration, immigrants and cultural diversity. She organizes a working group, Engaged Digital Humanities, made up of both faculty and students, that is dedicated to projects of social justice. She also worked with the Graduate Recruitment and Admissions Office to represent Binghamton University in an information session organized by Education USA for the prospective students in Pakistan.

    Excellence in Teaching

    Stefano Calabro
    Stefano Calabro is a doctoral student in biomedical engineering with a steadfast dedication to helping his students develop both inside and outside of the classroom. His dissertation work consists of 3D printing biomimetic, functional arterial tissue grafts and investigating the mechanisms of the metastatic cascade of breast cancer. Outside of the lab, Calabro has been a teaching assistant for seven sections of several courses, including: Introduction to Biomedical Engineering, Biofluid Mechanics, and Emerging Methods and Applications in Biomedical Engineering. With experience in teaching both undergraduate and graduate students, he strives to help his students thoroughly understand material, often employing analogies to assist with comprehension of more complicated material, like comparing blood vessels to highways and insulin to cars. His student-centered approach to teaching is bolstered by his infectious love for the field and the program, and he encourages his students to think critically and completely immerse themselves in the biomedical sciences.

    Andrey Darovskikh
    Andrey Darovskikh’s work demonstrates his concern for the relevance of Ancient Greek philosophy in the present day. His research focuses on Aristotle’s biology and naturalistic approaches to ethics. Over the last seven years, Darovskikh has taught philosophy courses that have spanned ancient and modern philosophy; intro to philosophy; logic; applied ethics, including medical ethics, markets and ethics, and environmental ethics. Darovskikh had ample opportunity to teach classes on some foundational topics, such as Plato’s theory of form, Aristotle’s metaphysics, Stoic ethics, Descartes Meditations, and Kant’s First Critique. Given the special focus of the department on ethics, social, and political philosophy, many of the courses he has taught engaged with questions of justice, well-being, resource distribution, law, and the like. Darovskikh aims to conduct his teaching by designing an atmosphere that allows all students to be engaged. He supplements the Socratic Method with simulations devised to trigger intuitions in students regarding the practical application of philosophical principles.

    Liyang Dong
    Liyang Dong prioritizes her students’ intellectual and personal growth by encouraging the development of non-binary world views and the finding of their voices as writers. Dong, a doctoral candidate in English, has been an instructor for eight writing classes for WRIT 111: Inquiry and Academic Writing, an instructor of record for three literature courses on Asian diaspora, and has worked as a teaching assistant for British Literature II. Her teaching centers on decolonizing presumptions, fostering independent thinking and multiple perspectives. To this end, she creates assignments which enable students’ scholarly interventions from their cultural background and connection to selfhood. She hones her pedagogy to help students love learning, inquire critically, and evolve into self-driven and rigorous scholars, as well as empathetic human beings.

    Julia Eggleston
    Julia Eggleston conducts interdisciplinary research on birdsong recording and the geopolitics of media flows, research she intimately weaves into her teaching practice. A PhD student in Comparative Literature, Eggleston has been an instructor of record for courses on world literature, literature and society, and pulp fiction. In each of these courses, she encourages her students to recognize and forge meaningful links across disciplinary lines. She fosters an ongoing dialogue in the classroom that enables students to take their own ideas seriously. Her goal as an instructor is to equip students with the tools they need to think critically about concepts that sustain institutions of power beyond the classroom. Eggleston has also participated in the Comparative Literature pedagogy group and as a guest lecturer in collaboration with peers in her department.

    Harun Ercan
    Harun Ercan is a PhD candidate in sociology whose research focuses on the enduring legacy of counterinsurgency institutions in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan. As an instructor of record, he has designed and taught numerous courses, including, Critical Criminology, Social Change: Introduction to Sociology, Civil Resistance and Change, among others. With more than a decade of interdisciplinary teaching experience in university classrooms, Ercan aims to help his students develop their sociological awareness into an empowering force that enables them to gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their surroundings, and the historical forces that shape our shared present. He has been awarded the Clifford C. Clogg Scholarship by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), as well as the Nesar Ahmad Memorial Scholarship by Binghamton University. His research has also been published in journals such as Dialectical Anthropology and South Atlantic Quarterly.

    Shruti Jain
    Shruti Jain is a doctoral candidate and an instructor in the Department of English. She has designed and taught her own courses such as, British Women Write the World, Build Podcasts, Produce Listening, and Sharing in Sound: Art of Podcasting. She has worked as an instructor at the Writing Initiative as well as in the EOP’s Binghamton Enrichment Program. She has also been a teaching assistant for Globalization and Literary Culture as well as Race, Gender, Indigeneity, Migration. Having taught in both the U.S. and India, Jain has found that institutions of higher learning can be abundantly instrumental in helping us overcome the societal structures that hinder our progress. Her approach to teaching is driven by a commitment to nurturing democratic relationships among students, instructors, and the larger world that we are constantly engaged in. She works to facilitate a safe space for community building and critical thinking in her classroom. She has been awarded the Teaching Development Fellowship by the Cinema Department.

    David Kaminsky
    David Kaminsky is PhD candidate in history with extensive experience teaching and presenting in Russia, Serbia and the U.S. He taught as a senior lecturer at Tyumen State University in Tyumen, Russia, and led workshops at the Petnica Summer Program in Serbia. At Binghamton University, he has been an instructor of record for, Soviet GULAG, a Summer Session course which he designed to discuss historical memory and mass atrocity prevention. He has also been a teaching assistant for numerous courses in the Department of History, including, Race and Racism in Modern Europe, Sex Trafficking in History, and Borderlands of Eastern Europe, among others. He teaches his students to be critical of narratives they encounter in the past and now, and to think ethically and empathetically about how these are used to shape our understanding today. He was awarded a Dissertation Research Grant from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) and an American Councils Title XIII Research Grant, which allowed him to conduct extensive archival research in Serbia and Croatia.

    James Lavelle
    James Lavelle’s passion for teaching is rooted in his undergraduate education, where he received his BA in history and adolescent education. As a doctoral candidate in history, Lavelle draws on his education background to explore cultural institutions of republican education and inculcation in the latter half of the French Revolution. Lavelle’s teaching has revolved around early modern European history. He has been an instructor of record for European Violence, and a teaching assistant for countless courses for his department, ranging from French Revolution and Napoleon to England and Its Empire: 1485-1715, among others. In his teaching, Lavelle stresses the importance of history as an interpretative discipline that teaches students critical thinking, interpretive text-based analysis, practical research skills and argumentative writing. He currently serves as the head editor of the Binghamton Journal of History.

    Natalie Lipari 
    Natalie Lipari is a PhD candidate in behavioral neuroscience. She has been an adjunct instructor for General Psychology and Developmental Psychology, as well as a teaching assistant for courses such as Research Methods, Drugs & Behavior, and Evolution & Behavior, among others. Lipari conveys concrete ideas with diverse, multisensory explanations and paints a picture, rather than giving bland definitions – a tendency she seeks to cultivate in her students. She keeps her students engaged by “making the material come alive” to enhance understanding. Lipari aims to engage students in the classroom by conveying her genuine enthusiasm about the dynamic and evolving field of behavioral neuroscience or psychology more broadly. She emphasizes her passion for her research and the implications that it may have for the larger community. This has an impact on her students, who, inspired by this, become actively involved in on-going research projects within laboratories at Binghamton University.

    John Piccarella 
    John Piccarella comes to Binghamton University’s graduate program in comparative literature with over 30 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in K-12 public education. The doctoral candidate has taught as an adjunct in graduate-level programs in education at multiple colleges and universities. At Binghamton, he has taught both in-person and online undergraduate courses, including multiple sections of Literature and Psychology, Literature and Society, and The Philosophy of Horror since 2019. Picarella’s approach to teaching includes developing close critical reading and academic writing skills through intensive classroom practice and graduated individualized feedback. He strongly believes that it is the responsibility of instructors to begin at students’ individual skill levels, and to provide detailed instruction and feedback in response to submitted assignments. Picarella is completing his dissertation on the relationship between textual approaches to constructions of subjectivity in literary theory and experimental literature.

    Lynn Terry 
    Lynn Terry is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry. She has been a teaching assistant for a wide variety of chemistry lab courses for 10 academic semesters and three summer semesters. She was also an instructor of record for Introduction to Basic Laboratory Skills during the Binghamton Enrichment Program (BEP) for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Terry cares deeply about her students’ overall experience and seeks to foster a sense of belonging in STEM among them. She takes an interest in each student as an individual while regularly orchestrating collaborative activities. Terry is also a long-time participant in Binghamton University’s Chemistry Outreach Program (ChOP), where she travels to schools within the greater Binghamton community to bring hands-on educational chemistry experiments to students.

    Council/Foundation Award for Service to the University

    Mackenzie “Mack” Ottens
    Mackenzie “Mack” Ottens is a PhD candidate in the Community Research and Action program. He earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Keuka College in 2019 and received master’s degrees in Student Affairs Administration and Public Administration from Binghamton University in 2021. Ottens has served as a graduate research assistant for several units at Binghamton University: the Department of Student Affairs Administration, Binghamton University Community Schools, and the Institute for Justice and Well-Being. His supervisors praise him for his intellectual curiosity, flexibility, collaborative spirit, and advocacy for students with disabilities. Ottens has presented research papers at conferences in the United States and India. He received a Provost’s Doctoral Summer Fellowship and, since 2022, has been a member of the American Educational Research Association.

  • 2023

    2023 Graduate Student Excellence Award Winners

    Excellence in Teaching

    Jason Bond
    Jason Bond is a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of Philosophy’s program in social, political, ethical and legal philosophy (SPEL). His dissertation considers how concepts in moral philosophy can inform judicial cases of genocide and mass atrocity perpetration. He has been a teaching assistant for six different courses in his department and an instructor of record for two. In both roles, Bond fosters a classroom atmosphere that allows for meaningful connections with his students and effective communication of, at times, contentious material in an accessible manner. Upon completion of his degree, he hopes to teach courses at the post-secondary level on both philosophy and genocide studies.

    Kelly Buchanan 
    During her time as a PhD student in psychology, Kelly Buchanan has been both a teaching assistant and an instructor of record for PSYC 344 Research Methods, as well as other courses. Most recently, she has held the role of practicum training supervisor for PSYC 493. She is passionate about sharing her experience and knowledge in the classroom and strives to make her classes engaging, supportive and interactive environments where students can hone their skills as scientists. As a fourth-year PhD student in clinical psychology, Buchanan conducts research focused on understanding the quality of life for autistic youth and their families, including how to improve support and training for those who serve neurodivergent populations. 

    Zachary Deibel 
    Zachary Deibel taught high school social studies for seven years, during which time he worked to develop rigorous, project-based and inquiry-driven learning opportunities for his students. As a doctoral candidate in history, Deibel applies his experiences with civic education and his study of early United States history to explore the interconnected history of learning and state formation in revolutionary America. As both a teaching assistant and an instructor, Deibel has designed and led instruction of courses on early American history and the history of education. By designing his material around contemporary, observable phenomena, his students can critically apply lessons learned about the past to their engagement with the present. He currently serves as the chair of the History of Education Society’s Graduate Student Council and the Graduate Student Associate for the New York History Journal.

    Pheobe Deneen 
    Pheobe Deneen is a PhD student in biology whose dissertation addresses the evolutionary divergence in phytophagous insects speciating by host plant shifts. She has served as a teaching assistant for lectures and labs in general biology, a 300-level core course on evolutionary biology, and a joint undergraduate/graduate course in biostatistics. Deneen has also designed and implemented a new curriculum for teaching students how to use the statistical computing language R. At present, she is designing the analytical portion of her department’s research-based general biology lab.

    Zeynep Dursun
    Zeynep Dursun is a PhD candidate in history whose dissertation focuses on Soviet Muslim émigrés from West Turkestan. She investigates the making and materiality of the transnational identity and networks of these émigrés. Her research, which also addresses WWII deportation and repatriation by the Soviet Union, has been supported by several institutions, among them the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Summer Graduate Student Research Fellowship (2019) and the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies 2020 Dissertation Research Grant. During the last five years, she has served as an instructor of record for three courses (one graduate, two undergraduate) and a teaching assistant for eight courses. In the classroom, Dursun aims to challenge the Eurocentric narratives that have too long defined history-writing by assigning readings on different geographies, cultures and groups whose voices were silenced and need to be heard and learned.

    Megan Gauck 
    As a PhD student in anthropology, Megan Gauck researches human adaptation and infectious disease. She serves as a member of two separate laboratories (the Lyme and Tick-borne Disease Research Center and the Laboratory for Anthropometry and Biomarkers). Gauck has helped to mentor a multitude of undergraduate students, assisting them in improving their technical skills, research projects and professional presentations. She has been a teaching assistant for eight different semesters, for courses including, but not limited to, Medical Anthropology: Human Biology and Health, Epidemiology, and Native American Culture and History. She has also been an instructor of record for Medical Anthropology: Human Biology and Health. She strives to create course content that is encouraging, engaging and enriching so as to provide her students with meaningful and lasting experiences.

    Tara Riggs 
    Tara Riggs is a PhD candidate in political science, focusing on the ways in which identity affects behavior. More specifically, her dissertation addresses the ways in which sexism affects voting behavior at the national, state and local levels. Riggs has presented work on the role of gender stereotypes and politicians, candidate evaluations and public opinion. She has been a teaching assistant for multiple courses and an instructor of record for courses including Identity and Political Behavior, Political Sexism, Experimental Political Science and Politics of Pop Culture. As an educator, Riggs encourages her students to ask questions and discover the mechanics and mechanisms that drive political behavior and action.

    Debarati Roy 
    Debarati Roy is a PhD candidate in English who has taught both undergraduate students as well as adult learners. In the case of the latter, Roy has taught three Lyceum courses, including Love, Family, Nation; South Asian Diasporic Cinema; and Cinema of India. She has also been a teaching assistant for two courses and an instructor of record for several courses, including From Inquiry to Academic Writing and Oral Communication (Rhetoric), among others. Roy encourages her students to interact informally to build trust and camaraderie. For instance, via guided "meet and greet" and other reflection activities, students learn about their peers’ strengths and skills. This established camaraderie contributes to a collaborative and inclusive classroom environment. A former Public Humanities Fellow, Roy recently received an IASH Dissertation Fellowship to complete her project on film production houses in neoliberal India.

    Ryan Stears 
    Ryan Stears is a doctoral candidate in English and has accumulated a wide variety of teaching experience. He has served as a teaching assistant for Shakespeare, Globalization and Literary Culture, and British Literature II. Stears was also an instructor for From Inquiry to Academic Writing in 2019, Let’s Talk About K-pop! for five consecutive Winter/Summer sessions beginning in 2021 and, most recently, Early American Literature to 1865, which he designed himself. He endeavors to guide his students to think critically about literature and its relationship to political and cultural history, so that they learn to question the why rather than the what. In 2022, he was awarded the Alfred Bendixen Prize for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student in English.

    Faith Wachira 
    Faith Wachira is a PhD candidate in chemistry and a two-time recipient of her department’s Summer Research Fellowship award. She has been an instructional assistant and teaching assistant for general and organic chemistry labs and courses, a discussion coordinator and head teaching assistant for organic chemistry, a head teaching assistant for organic chemistry labs, and the instructor of record for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) introductory chemistry course under the Binghamton Enrichment Program (BEP). Wachira has partaken in several outreach programs to capture student curiosity by bringing fun to science. She is resolute in her belief that her students possess the inherent aptitude to excel and eagerly works to help them reach their full potential.

    Excellence in Service & Outreach

    Ezer Castillo 
    Ezer Castillo is a PhD candidate in chemistry who earned the American Chemical Society (ACS) Outreach Volunteer of the Year Award in 2022. During the past two years, he has been heavily involved in Binghamton University’s Chemistry Outreach Program (ChOP), in which he volunteers to visit local elementary and middle schools, educating young students about chemistry with hands-on demonstrations and experiments. He has been a track leader and mentor for the Go Green Summer Institute, where local Binghamton School District students participate in a two-week STEAM camp to learn about environmental sustainability. Castillo has also served on the executive boards of both the Graduate Chemistry Club and the Binghamton local section of the ACS. He has been a teaching assistant for both sequences (I and II) of Introduction to Chemical Principles, as well as head teaching assistant for these same courses for the 2019–20 academic year. 

    Kelley Cook
    A doctoral student in the Community Research and Action program, Kelley Cook has improved Binghamton University and Broome County by combining her 15 years of experience as a clinical social worker with her passion for mental health education and improvement. During and following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cook assisted the Binghamton University Community Schools and Department of Social Work by developing a telemental health training model, which created opportunities for pre-service social workers to hone essential skills while simultaneously providing much needed assistance to local students. She is currently assisting Kim Brimhall, assistant director of the Institute for Justice and Well-Being (IJWB), with the creation of a research lab for the IJWB. 

    Shruti Jain 
    An international PhD student from India, Shruti Jain is actively involved in service and outreach activities for the Department of English, the campus community and the Broome County immigrant community at large. She co-hosts and co-produces the podcast "Immigrants Wake America," which features conversations with storytellers about immigrant women in their lives. This project, in partnership with the Tenement Museum in NYC, is funded by the HNY Public Humanities grant. Jain has also worked closely with the American Civic Association and the Center for Civic Engagement to conduct events for the Broome County immigrant community. She is currently the president of the Graduate English Organization and has been involved in conference organization, reading groups and the consecutive graduate student recruitment events.

    Victoria Kompanijec
    Victoria Kompanijec is a PhD student in inorganic chemistry and has dedicated herself to giving back to her community and department. She has worked with the Chemistry Outreach Program to bring science activities to local schools, working to inspire an interest in chemistry in school-age kids and promote a more diverse future of the scientific community. She has served on the ACS local eboard, the graduate recruitment committee and the outreach committee, in which she became involved behind-the-scenes and aided in planning events. Kompanijec has served as both vice president and president of the Graduate Chemistry Club and is especially adept at adapting outreach to the unusual circumstances during the pandemic — as exemplified by her organization of the virtual undergraduate research conference, Zoom sustainability events and the creation of demonstration videos. She was awarded the Outstanding Outreach and Service Award for the chemistry department in 2022. 

    Ziyana Lategan
    Ziyana Lategan is a final-year PhD candidate in comparative literature and a Fulbright Scholar from Cape Town, South Africa. She has organized several graduate student workshops, including a Work-in-Progress series, a publishing workshop and a conference preparation workshop. She is a founding member of Binghamton’s only anti-profit community-run bookstore, Riot Act Books, and has organized several talks and film screenings at the Bundy Museum of Art and History. As a member of Riot Act Books, she has worked with several other community organizations, including Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier (JUST) and Binghamton Food Rescue (BFR). She also sits on the alumni advisory board of the Kay Mason Foundation, an educational NGO based in South Africa, where she advises the board of trustees and mentors young students of color from underserved communities in the Western Cape.

    Excellence in Research

    William Arnuk 
    William D. Arnuk is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies. His research focuses on the paleo hydrologic study of the Eocene Green River Formation lake deposits, which were deposited in the western U.S. during the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO) 50–52 million years ago. Arnuk assesses the evaporite deposits and chemical sediments from the ancient lakes of the Green River Formation in order to enhance our understanding of what these lakes looked like chemically and how they evolved through time. This research is part of a larger National Science Foundation-funded project that aims to create well-constrained age models and records of climate and landscape evolution during the EECO. Arnuk made several presentations at the 2022 Geological Society of America Annual Meetings alone, and has an accepted first-author publication in Applied Geochemistry and one in Geology.

    Jay Spencer Atkins 
    Jay Spencer Atkins is a PhD candidate in philosophy who studies the ethics of belief and specializes in the intersection of ethics and epistemology. His dissertation focuses on the relationship between knowledge and morality — namely that moral rightness partially determines what we know. He has presented at more than a dozen conferences and has worked at numerous journals as a referee. He has published peer-reviewed articles in Environmental Ethics, Episteme, Social Epistemology and Logos and Episteme.

    Corinne Black
    Corinne Black was awarded a PhD in comparative literature in December 2022. Her dissertation, "Elastic Aberration: Exploring Imagined Experience in Speculative Fiction." analyzed contemporary speculative literature and film through the philosophic theories of speculative realism, mainly within a philosophical context of philosophers like Deleuze and Meillassoux. Black has presented her work at national conferences and given five presentations for the Binghamton University community, including the TAE graduate working group and the IASH workshop. She has served as the instructor of record for 10 courses and was awarded the IASH Doctoral Fellowship (2020), the Comparative Literature Department Dissertation Fellowship (2021) and the Graduate School Excellence in Teaching Award (2021).

    Yiding Cao 
    Yiding Cao is a PhD candidate in systems science and industrial engineering. Her research focuses on the effects of social network structure and constituents’ task-related diversity on the performance of collaborative design and innovation processes. Her research integrates advanced computational methods, including machine learning, natural language processing, data science, data visualization and computer simulation, into experimental social/organizational studies on human group dynamics, organizational networks, creativity and innovation. She has presented at a multitude of conferences and published five articles in journals, including Complexity and Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience.

    Michael Catalano 
    Michael Catalano is a PhD candidate in political science. His dissertation explores the motivations for and implications of court curbing in the United States. His work focuses on how majoritarian democratic institutions interact with courts and the implications of those interactions, as well as policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe. Catalano's work has been published in a number of journals, including Justice System Journal, Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Political Parties and Political Institutions and American Journal of Preventive Medicine. He has also written book chapters on political parties and the U.S. Constitution and political parties in New York.

    Poorya Chavoshnejad 
    As a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering, Poorya Chavoshnejad is interested in building more realistic and detailed biomechanical models using numerical simulation, programming languages and machine learning methods to study and analyze the complex mechanical behavior of biological tissues or organs. His dissertation research focuses on the cortical folding of the human brain. He has created novel multi-scale computational models that illustrate how a smooth brain grows and forms folds during the fetal stage of development. These models will provide a promising tool for the early-stage diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders. Chavoshnejad’s work has been published in nine peer-reviewed journal articles, and he has three more manuscripts under preparation.

    Xiaobo Chen
    Xiaobo Chen is a PhD candidate in materials science and engineering and is interested in investigating the surface and interface dynamics driven by environmental stimuli. His dissertation research employs in-situ environmental transmission electron microscopy in combination with atomic modeling. This work investigates the dynamic behaviors at the atomic scale under the gas environment and has provided atomic-level insight into the fundamental understanding of the dynamic behaviors — that which is unapproachable by means of other experiments. He is first author on four articles published in peer-reviewed journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Advanced Energy Materials. He has published 27 articles, with an additional two in preparation and one under review.

    Busra Sati Doga 
    Busra Sati Doga is a PhD candidate in sociology and a doctoral fellow at IASH. Her research investigates the history, politics and culture of labor in both the U.S. and Turkey. It further specializes in examining the intersections of productive and reproductive factory labor among factory workers and the formation of food culture among American workers of the 20th century. Her dissertation, “Working-class Foods & Foodways in the U.S. Industrial Belt,” looks at food consumption of the working class as a contested terrain of class struggle during the first half of the 20th century. Doga has published an article in International Labor and Working-Class History, and a forthcoming book chapter in Through the Prism of Gender and Work: Women’s Labour Struggles in Central and Eastern Europe and Beyond, 19th to 20th Centuries. She was awarded the IASH Public Humanities Fellowship in 2020, for which she conducted research on Binghamton’s food history through the lens of migration.

    Anwar Elhadad
    Anwar Elhadad has focused on furthering green energy technology, specifically bio-photovoltaic systems, to enable the next generation of smart, standalone, always-on wireless sensor networks that are designed to collect real-time information for human safety and security. Bio-photovoltaic systems are an emerging technology designed to harness Earth’s solar irradiation and self-sustainably produce electrical power from microbial photosynthetic and respiratory activities. Elhadad, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering, has contributed to the understanding of exoelectrogenic activities in photosynthetic microbes, through his plug-and-play modular bio batteries with microbial consortia and his bio-fabrication and characterization of multispecies electroactive biofilms in stratified paper-based scaffolds. He has four published articles in journals, including Advanced Energy Materials and the Journal of Power Sources, and five conference proceedings for conferences such as the Hilton Head Workshop and the IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems.

    Daimys Garcia 
    Daimys E. Garcia is a PhD candidate in comparative literature. Her dissertation, “Coalitional Ancestries, Coalitional Futures: Making Relation in Literature by Cuban-American Women Writers,” examines the shifts in contemporary Cuban-American fiction from issues of exile, longing and nostalgia to a politics of liberation through community and coalition. Garcia argues that Cuban-American women writers resist traditional narratives of the exiled migrant by using literature to imagine themselves as women of color in coalition with other minoritized groups. Her print publications, work in podcasting (MALCS Radio!, part of Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social) and conference presentations each demonstrate her commitment to feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonial knowledge production. She has been awarded a dissertation fellowship in comparative literature at Binghamton University and the Marilyn Yarbrough Dissertation Fellowship at Kenyon College, among several other awards.

    Md Shahadath Hossain
    Md Shahadath Hossain is a PhD candidate in economics with a research interest in applied microeconomics. He studies development economics, labor economics and health economics, with a focus on health and human capital in early childhood. His current work documents the effect of parental illness on child health in rural Bangladesh. To date, he has found that removing the effects of parental illness shocks would close 3.5% of the gap in height between Bangladeshi children and the global average. In another project, he shows that early childhood interventions, such as vaccination, increase child survival, educational attainment and labor market earnings. He has published five papers in journals, including the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, IZA Journal of Development and Migration and the Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition.

    Dayue Jiang 
    Dayue Jiang is a PhD candidate in industrial and systems engineering  and is working on a dissertation titled “Theoretical, computational, and experimental study of extrusion-based additive manufacturing of metal materials.” Jiang’s research interests are focused on multi-scale mechanistic understanding of the printing, debinding and sintering (PDS) process, advanced structures manufacturing and the effects of microstructure on the resultant performance. He has mentored four master’s and three undergraduate students in his department, assisting the students with experiments and presentations. Jiang has published a total of seven journal articles and conference papers as a first author. He was awarded NSF student travel awards in 2021 and 2022. During the pandemic, he also participated in the 3D printing of medical devices (ventilators, face masks and other PPE) — work that received coverage by FOX40 and Binghamton University news.

    Dylan Jones
    Dylan Jones is a PhD candidate in biology. A broadly trained ecologist who performs large-scale field studies, community and network analyses in R, and molecular work and analyses, Jones' research addresses questions about how biodiversity and species interactions are altered under climate change. Jones’ dissertation research aims to reveal biogeographical patterns in oak gall wasp-enemy interactions to uncover if patterns create altered interactions and high niche opportunities for poleward range-expanding species. He is first author of a paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology, with additional first-author publications in preparation. He is an active undergraduate mentor, including 20 mentees at Binghamton University. He has helped these undergraduates with presentations and publications. Jones received the Clifford D. Clark Diversity Fellowship from 2018–22.

    Minjun Kim 
    Minjun Kim is a PhD candidate in systems science who has been a professional data scientist, system developer and entrepreneur working in the startup business community. His dissertation, “Applications of Network Science to Machine Learning: Stock Market Forecasting and Text Classification Problems,” and related work demonstrate that the consideration of “systemhood,” i.e., the interrelationships between components, significantly improves the prediction/classification accuracy of machine learning algorithms in stock market prediction and natural language processing tasks. He has published two journal articles, two conference proceedings papers and one single-authored book. Kim also has two U.S.  patents, both of which are related to his technological inventions on chatbots.

    Josh Kluever
    Joshua Kluever is a PhD candidate in history, focusing on U.S. politics and American Socialism. His dissertation, "Hiding in Plain Sight: American Socialists at the State Level, 1899-1945," explores how socialist state legislators gained and retained political power during the early 20th century. He has presented this research at various conferences, including the American Political History Conference and the Organization of American Historians. Kluever has been a graduate fellow at IASH and has been awarded research grants and fellowships from Binghamton University, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the New York State Archives. He has also received research awards from the Wisconsin Labor History Society and the Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference. Kluever’s first journal article will be published in The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

    Junpeng Lai 
    Junpeng Lai is a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering who specializes in acoustic microelectromechanical sensors and characterizations. He works on developing bio-inspired miniaturized acoustic flow detectors to sense faint airflow in the human ear canal to help eventually improve the accuracy of human ear otoacoustic emission measurement. Lai has designed experiments to show that orb-weaving spiders sense sound using their webs as eardrums. The outsourcing and supersizing of auditory function in spiders provides unique features for studying extended and regenerative sensing and designing novel acoustic flow detectors for precise dynamic acoustic measurements. His work on this, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is among the top 5% of all research output tracked by Altmetric. He has several manuscripts in preparation and also has had his work featured in Scientific American, in The Washington Post and on BBC News.

    Luis Midence 
    Luis Midence is a PharmD candidate in the research track of his program and is interested in patient-oriented health outcome research. He has been involved in work that examines the effects of legislation aimed toward opioid-prescribing practices and their effects on opioids prescribed. This endeavor is intended to help determine whether such laws and the reduction in opioid prescribing have resulted in significant differences in patient-oriented outcomes (opioid burden, opioid deaths, hospitalizations). Most recently, Midence’s work on opioid prescribing patterns in the U.S. has been accepted as a poster presentation at the 2022 American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting and has been submitted for publication. Midence aspires to have a research-oriented career combining the realms of public health and pharmacy.

    Christopher Ryan 
    Christopher Ryan is a fifth-year PhD candidate in chemistry with an interest in synthetic organic chemistry and nucleic acids research, focusing on RNA targets. He has published four journal articles, on which he is first-author, in journals including Chemical Communications, Biochemistry and ACS Omega. One such publication was on the synthesis of a new nucleobase, called V, for use in triplex-formation of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) against duplexed RNA. Recently, Ryan assisted his advisor in securing funding from the NIH to assess the ability of PNAs to bind to parts of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. The goal of this project is to inhibit key biophysical processes necessary for coronavirus function. Ryan has received the Shimadzu Chemistry Summer Research Grant (2021), the Eisch Grant to Foster Graduate Chemical Research Beyond Expectation (2022) and the Eisch Fellowship (spring 2023).

    Michael Shaw 
    Michael Shaw is a PhD student in clinical psychology who is preparing his innovative interdisciplinary dissertation project to study sexual assault prevention. His proposed project is an experimental manipulation of emotional affect regulation via the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to test a pathway between personality-level factors (e.g., hostile or toxic masculinity), state-level affect and the self-reported likelihood of engaging in sexually aggressive behavior. This project will have implications for the field regarding the utility of targeting affect regulation through interventions. Shaw has received various awards and fellowships, including The Trust Grant in Honor of Eric A. Harris, EdD, JD (2022), the Center for Development and Behavioral Neuroscience Fellowship (2022), the SUNY GREAT Award (2021) and the Clifford D. Clark Diversity Fellowship from fall 2019 to present, among others. He has regularly presented his work at numerous conferences and authored more than 20 publications.

    David Thomas
    David Thomas was awarded his PhD in art history in fall 2022. His dissertation, "Turn On, Tune In, Don't Drop Out: Pulsa’s Computer Based Ecologies," devoted careful archival attention to Pulsa, an American art collective comprised of artists and engineers who were responsible for a powerful series of art objects and installations during the late 1960s and early 1970s. This group pursued a range of investigations into sensory environments, city planning and communal living between their home in rural Connecticut and their positions at Yale University. Thomas’ dissertation makes use of public and private archives and extensive interviews with Pulsa’s surviving members to reconstruct their history, major projects and complex dialogue with art, culture and politics during the years of the group’s existence. Thomas has begun a book-length project that expands on his dissertation.

    Trevor Towner 
    Trevor Towner is a PhD candidate in behavioral neuroscience. His dissertation, "Role of Neural Activity and Perineuronal Nets in Adolescent Intermittent Ethanol-Induced Social Anxiety," broadly focuses on understanding how alterations to medial prefrontal cortex function and circuitry contribute to adolescent intermittent ethanol (AIE) exposure-induced social deficits, and employs a distinct chemical genetic model. Towner has been awarded the NIH Outstanding Scholars in Neuroscience Award (2022), the Linda P. Spear Graduate Student Excellence Fund (2022) and the NIAAA NRSA F31 Training Fellowship (2021), among other fellowships. He has nearly 30 poster presentations, seven publications (five as first author) and three more articles in preparation. Towner’s ultimate goal is to develop an independent research laboratory focused on the long-term consequences of exposure to drugs of abuse on reward-related behaviors and neural circuitry.

    Ronghua Xu 
    Ronghua Xu is a PhD candidate in electrical engineering whose research is focused on cutting-edge technologies in Internet of Things (IoT) and Edge-Fog-Cloud Computing paradigm. His work aims at novel approaches to integrate blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies based on heterogeneous IoT networks to enable seamless smart applications and public safety and privacy-preserving services to be deployed for sustainable urban environments. Xu’s major contribution thus far is a secure-by-design federated lightweight blockchain fabric called microchain, which balances trade-offs on performance, scalability and security when applying blockchain for IoT scenarios. To date, he has published five book chapters, one book, 10 journal papers and 23 conference papers. He won the 2019 Computers Best Paper Award of MDPI. Xu’s algorithm is being implemented in urban air mobility (UAM) networks to secure data accessing and sharing among aircraft and Air Traffic Service (ATS) service providers.

  • 2022

    2022 Graduate Student Excellence Award Winners

    Excellence in Teaching

    Mert Can Bayar
    Mert Can Bayar is a PhD candidate in political science who uses teaching as a platform for democratic engagement and advancement of democratic ideals
    while advocating for a scientific understanding of politics. He is a recipient of the Lyceum Graduate Student Teaching Award and has been an instructor of record for three courses and a teaching assistant for six courses over eight years. His dissertation focuses on conspiracy theories and their impacts on democracy. Bayar has presented works on the formation of political beliefs and attitudes, conspiracy thinking and democratic erosion.

    Cullin Brown 
    Cullin Brown specializes in ethics and meta-ethics and is currently developing
    his dissertation on the topic of “fitting evaluative attitudes.” A PhD candidate in philosophy, Brown has been a teaching assistant for several different courses and an instructor of record for Logic, Environmental Ethics & Policy, and Introduction to Ethics. Upon completion of his degree, he hopes to obtain a position teaching philosophy at the university level.

    Esol Cho
    Esol Cho is a PhD candidate in political science who has designed and taught
    Aid, Poverty and Development, Computational Text Analysis with Python and Analyzing Politics Using R. In these classes, Cho emphasizes data analysis techniques so as to better solidify course material and nurture problem-solving skills. She enjoys mentoring her students and helping them to make the most
    out of their college experience. Cho is also a two-time recipient of the Richard I. Hofferbert Best Paper Award in both 2019 and 2020, for her working papers in her dissertation titled, “Foreign Aid Allocations: The Role of Domestic Constituencies.”

    Gabreella Friday
    Gabreella Friday is a former Clifford D. Clark Fellow and current IASH Doctoral Fellowship recipient. This PhD candidate in sociology has worked as a community organizer, an adjunct professor, a teaching assistant and a researcher. She is currently working to complete her ethnographic research and dissertation manuscript, which focuses on the narratives of incarcerated women and their experiences of time while imprisoned. More specifically, she seeks to understand how time is utilized as both a means of social control by the state and a means of resistance by incarcerated women. 

    Justine Gordon 
    Justine Gordon is a PhD candidate in chemistry. During her first year, Gordon was awarded the Lois D. Mackey Award for first-year graduate students who demonstrate excellence in teaching. She has been the head TA for General Chemistry, the first ever TA for Analytical Chemistry and has both created and facilitated her own course. Gordon has mentored nine undergraduate students within the Zhong research lab, one of whome she advised through an honors thesis. 

    Hannah Jones
    Hannah Jones is a teaching assistant and instructor in history. Jones provides her students with the tools necessary to construct their own historical narratives rather than simply consume them. The PhD candidate has been awarded the Binghamton University Provost Summer Fellowship, the Forey Doctoral Research Grant, multiple foreign language acquisition grants and a departmental fellowship to conduct archival research in Italy. Jones is also active in the Binghamton University History Graduate Student Organization, serves on the Community Citizen Review Board, and has presented her work at two international medieval conferences.

    Nathan Klembara
    Nathan Klembara is a PhD candidate in anthropology. His research and teaching interests include Ice Age archaeology, queer theory and philosophy of science. Klembara has taught Inquiry & Academic Writing, Introduction to Anthropology, Introduction to Archaeology, Stone Age Archaeology, Men and Masculinities and Queering the Past at Binghamton University, Ithaca College and Kansas State. His pedagogical approaches nurture a community of learners, whether the classes
    are in person or online, synchronous or not, or a combination thereof. Klembara strives to ensure that his classes are inclusive, creative and rigorous. He works to make visible the connections between current students and our sometimes distant ancestors. 

    Savisesh Malampallayil
    Savisesh Malampallayil has excelled at teaching quantitative-based coursework
    in marketing. This PhD candidate has taught undergraduate courses in Digital Marketing, Marketing Research, and Social Media Analytics, and graduate courses in Marketing Research. Malampallayil is an effective and impactful instructor who works to help his students navigate a challenging business analytics curriculum. He enjoys cultivating in them a stronger sense of confidence and purpose. 

    Daniela Monge Navarro
    Daniela Monge Navarro is a PhD candidate in economics whose dissertation addresses economic policy and access to medicines and healthcare. She seeks
    to make the complex more accessible for her students and prioritizes creating an inclusive environment where students feel safe to express themselves. She has taught Microeconomics at Binghamton University, Behavioral Economics for Johns Hopkins University CTY and Macroeconomics at Ithaca College. Monge Navarro has also led health campaigns in Costa Rican primary schools, as well as programs of local development in Peru. 

    Razieh Ramani
    Razieh Ramani is a graduate student in comparative literature. She has taught World Literature and Literature and Psychology for three semesters and has
    also taught at several institutes and universities in Iran over the course of many years. Ramani has published numerous articles in both national and international journals, including Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. Additionally, she has translated two novels and one short story collection from Kurt Vonnegut from English into Persian.

    Michael Stephens
    Michael Stephens is a PhD candidate in sociology. Stephens has designed several courses, including Tourism: Consuming the Exotic and Latin American Sexualities for the Sociology Department and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, respectively. He also designed Sociology for Everyone, a course which introduced EOP students to scientific social concepts and theories in preparation for transitioning to Binghamton University. Stephens has also been a teaching assistant for the Writing Initiative, Introduction to Sociology, Sociological Theory, and Social Science Research Methods. A 2019–20 U.S. Fulbright Student Award and IASH Fellowship recipient, his dissertation research is on the experiences of LGBTQ+ workers in the rapidly growing tourist industry in Cartagena, Colombia. 

    Sarah Otieno
    Sarah Otieno believes all her students possess an innate capacity for success. The PhD candidate’s encouraging attitude and active class discussions are central to her teaching theory, and earn her much praise from her students. She has served as an instructor of record and teaching assistant for upper-level and introductory chemistry courses at Binghamton University. Otieno is an active volunteer in the Greater Binghamton community, giving presentations at many local elementary schools. She received both the Dissertation Fellowship Award from Binghamton University Chemistry Department and the 61st Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference Travel Fellowship in 2020.
    Otieno has two publications to her name, and has given nearly a dozen presentations across the United States.

    Jason Tercha
    Jason Tercha encourages his students to develop a deeper and more critical understanding of the past. He has been a teaching assistant for 10 introductory and upper-level courses in American history, as well as an instructor of record for
    a hands-on course in Digital History and an online introductory course in American history. Additionally, Tercha taught data visualization as part of the Harper Edge Crash Course workshop series and for the 2019 Digital Humanities Research Institute. He is passionate about the digital humanities and conducts research which employs digital methods of study in order to investigate the social effects of railroad development in antebellum northern Virginia. 

    Stephanie Zhang
    Stephanie Zhang has been teaching first-year engineering students in the Engineering Design Division for over three and a half years. She is a fourth
    year PhD candidate in biomedical engineering under Gretchen Mahler. Zhang
    is especially enthusiastic when it comes to teaching in laboratory settings. She seeks to instill critical thinking skills with an instructional style which encourages problem solving and fosters in-depth comprehension of material. Zhang’s research focuses on recreating kidney function in a microphysiological system for rapid toxicology testing. She has published one original research article and one book chapter, and presented at multiple international biomedical engineering conferences.

    Excellence in Research

    Damla Aksen 
    Damla Aksen’s interest in researching serious mental health disorders was first ignited by her volunteer work with those with schizophrenia-spectrum and substance use disorders. Her time in graduate school further cultivated this interest by providing her with the opportunity to research emotional and cognitive dysregulation, as well as brief interventions for the enhancement of self-regulation. Employing methods such as psychotherapy and testing and assessment, Aksen has worked with a number of diverse populations. These populations include those with serious mental illnesses such as PTSD, as well as disorders of schizophrenia-spectrum, substance use, mood, personality and psychosis. Now a PhD candidate and clinical psychologist in training, Aksen has grown most passionate about utilizing research findings to enhance clinical practice. She aspires to serve those with severe mental illness in an academic medical setting. 

    Eileen Barden 
    Eileen Barden’s research investigates the effects of emotion regulation, physiological response and relationship functioning as they relate to PTSD and substance use. A graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program mentored by Christina Balderrama-Durbin, Barden has presented her work at national conferences and contributed nine peer-reviewed publications to date. She has also received a fellowship in the Enhancing Diversity in Alcohol Research training program, supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Upon graduation, Barden plans to continue conducting research on trauma and substance use in a VA medical center. 

    Ezer Castillo
    Ezer Castillo is a PhD candidate in chemistry whose enthusiasm for his field
    is evident both in and out of the classroom. A member of Professor Nikolay Dimitrov’s research group, Castillo investigates electrochemistry and material science. His publications include three papers as first author in journals such as Electrochimica Acta and the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, one co- authored work, and one currently in preparation. In addition to being awarded a graduate summer fellowship from the chemistry department for three consecutive years, he was also awarded the Clifford E. Myers Research Grant for one year. Castillo has been granted travel awards to present his research at both national and international conferences, including the Electrochemical Society meeting and the International Society of Electrochemistry meeting. Outside of his research endeavors, Castillo participates in the chemistry instructional program and volunteers in local chemistry outreach events. 

    Daniel Ciulla
    Daniel Ciulla utilizes the tools of mechanistic enzymology and cellular biology to investigate the cancer-causing activity of hedgehog proteins. A PhD candidate in chemistry, Ciulla is currently involved in a collaboration with scientists at the National Center for Advancing Translational Science which seeks to discover a new class of anti-cancer agents that target human hedgehog proteins. He has authorship on six peer-reviewed publications, including a first author paper which appeared as the cover feature of the Journal of the American Chemical Society

    Andrey Darovskikh
    Andrey Darovskikh’s work is a testament of the relevance of Ancient Greek philosophy to the present day. Darovskikh’s research focuses on Aristotle’s biology and naturalistic approaches to ethics. He examines how irregularities and deviations challenge essentialist accounts, and centers his arguments in the philosophy of biology on foundational debates concerning the “determinate account” of human nature in Aristotelian philosophy. Darovskikh is interested in how empirical research regarding human nature relates to ethical issues. A PhD candidate who has been either an instructor of record or teaching assistant for more than 10 classes in political and moral philosophy, Darovskikh has also presented at eleven professional conferences. He has authored papers in multiple peer-reviewed journals, as well as a book chapter in an edited volume (forthcoming). 

    Xiang Deng 
    Xiang Deng is a PhD candidate in computer science. His research focuses on machine learning and deep learning methods, including knowledge distillation, model compression, supervised learning, computer vision, causal inference applications and metric learning. Deng endeavors to design simple yet effective approaches to address different problems in these areas. His work has been presented at international conferences and published in journals including NeurIPS, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), International Conference on Pattern Recognition (ICPR) and Neural Networks. He also serves as a reviewer for journals and conference-submitted papers including the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), AAAI, IJCAI, International Conference on the Theory of Machines and Mechanisms (TMM) and IEEE Trans. on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology (TCSVT), and is a program committee member for several international conferences. 

    Neil MacLaren
    Marine and PhD candidate Neil MacLaren’s research on both small group psychology and complex systems science provides a unique perspective. His examination of leadership roles in small groups has been presented at 17 conferences around the world in under three years, and his work has been published in psychological, organizational, and system science journals. He also serves as a mentor to junior PhD students, and is praised for his ability to help break down complex concepts for his peers. As a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, MacLaren is also active in the veteran community. He has presented at a local school’s Veterans Day Assembly, and participated in a local Veterans Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement.

    Mariia Koskina
    Mariia Koskina is a scholar of Soviet environmental history whose research focuses
    on the coproduction of exploitative and preservationist practices and discourse in the industrializing late-Soviet Siberia. Koskina is a recipient of the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Research Grant (2021–22) and of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies 2019 Dissertation Research Grant. In addition to authoring three peer-reviewed articles and one book chapter, Koskina has presented her work at conferences and workshops in North America and Europe. She has participated in: the University of Illinois Russian, East European and Eurasian Center 2020–21 Summer Research Laboratory (as an associate), the 2020–21 Stanford U.S.–Russia Forum (climate and environment working group, as a fellow), and the 2015–17 Fulbright program (as an alumna). She has interned at the UN’s Department of Public Information in N.Y. and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C, as a multimedia archivist and Russian language specialist, respectively. Since 2020, she has been a regular contributor to the Russian environmental newspaper Ecosphere. 

    Dillon Ludemann 
    Dillon Ludemann is a PhD candidate in anthropology who specializes in linguistic anthropology as it relates to political discourse within the online, anonymous forum known as 4chan. Ludemann has focused on the expansion of field knowledge of the importance of 4chan as it relates to political and digital discourse. He seeks to reconfigure past theoretical frameworks into new, digital contexts. Ludemann has presented at domestic and international conferences, and has published original works in New Media & Society and Discourse, Context & Media. He has also contributed an original work to an edited volume: Corruption and Illiberal Politics in the Trump Era

    Melissa Mendoza 
    Melissa Mendoza aims to understand the progression of cardiovascular disease through the use of microphysiological systems. A PhD candidate in biomedical engineering, Mendoza’s research is supported by the Clifford D. Clark Diversity Fellowship, the LSAMP Bridge to Doctorate program and a two-year American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. She has presented at more than 16 conferences, several for which she was granted travel awards. She has also authored four publications and has one under review and two in preparation. Moreover, Mendoza has been awarded the Biomedical Engineering Society Career Development Award, as well as a first-place oral presentation award. In addition to her role as an active mentor in both her lab group and department, Mendoza serves as an ambassador for the Graduate School and an advocate for underrepresented minorities in STEM through the Diversity Committee of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the LatinXinBME community. 

    Garima Nagar 
    Garima Nagar received her PhD in December 2021. She worked in Professor Bonggu Shim’s Femtosecond Laser Spectroscopy Lab, where she studied the experimental physics of high-intensity laser matter interactions. Nagar has performed high-profile numerical simulations in her collaborations with multiple external research groups from MIT, the University of Central Florida and other institutions. In addition to several conference papers, she has published seven articles in journals such as Communications Physics and Science Advances. Nagar has presented her research at multiple international conferences, including the 30th annual Electronics Packaging Symposium in 2018, where she won first prize in the poster competition. She intends to pursue a career as a researcher in nonlinear optics. 

    Nicola Satchell 
    Nicola Satchell is a Fulbright scholar pursuing a PhD in sociology. Her research unpacks the issues of crime and social justice in the anglophone Caribbean from an ecological perspective. Satchell has conducted work funded and published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on persons deprived of their liberty in Jamaica. She has presented at conferences and published several articles, book chapters and technical reports. Satchell published a book chapter with a colleague in Jamaica which examines the challenges of the “post truth narrative” and the proliferation of the Internet as a source of political information. She has also designed and carried out a sociology graduate student survey which benefited the Binghamton community. 

    Preeth Sivakumar 
    Preeth Sivakumar’s research entails working with conformal coatings to avoid failures in the pure tin or tin-rich alloy surfaces found in high-reliability electronics. He developed a novel nanocomposite-based conformal coating that can effectively eliminate/entrap whiskers within its coating by 99% and designed a strategy for developing new conformal coatings that can eliminate whisker activity. Sivakumar has published several peer-reviewed journal articles and presented at international conferences such as the Materials Research Society and Surface Mount Technology Association. As a student of Professor Junghyun Cho, he played a key role in the Advanced Materials and Mechanics Laboratory while working with Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies in Department of Energy-funded research. 

    Xianhu Sun 
    A PhD candidate in mechanical engineering, Xianhu Sun’s research employs state-of-the-art electron microscopy to identify redox processes taking place at metallic and oxide surfaces during their interactions with the outside environment. This work offers new insight regarding the understanding of surface structural dynamics at the atomic level in the reaction conditions — an unfeasible achievement for other methods. Among his 12 publications, Sun is first author of eight articles published in journals which include Nature Communications and Advanced Functional Materials. 

    Elisa Taveras Pena 
    Elisa Taveras Pena is a recipient of the 2020 Graduate Student Excellence Award for Excellence in Teaching, as well as a Fulbright scholarship for postgraduate studies in the United States. She is interested in applying empirical techniques to study the impact of individuals’ characteristics, such as education and skills, on household and labor market outcomes. A PhD candidate with four working papers, Taveras Pena’s research has been accepted and presented at several conferences. These include the annual meeting of the Society of Economics of the Household (SEHO), Southern Economic Association (SEA) 90th Annual Meeting, Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) 46th Annual Conference, Western Economic Association International (WEAI) 96th Annual Conference and others. 

    Shan Wang 
    Shan Wang is a PhD candidate studying material science and engineering under the supervision of Professor Chuan-Jian Zhong. She is Entrepreneur-Lead in
    an NSF I-Corps Award and has co-authored eight peer-reviewed publications. Wang has worked as the Materials Research Society secretary in the Binghamton University chapter for two years, where she assists with the organization of smart energy symposium conferences and poster sessions. Additionally, she has volunteered as an experimental demonstration instructor at the University Day. 

    Yue Zhou 
    Yue Zhou, a member of the AM Square lab, has worked to print medical devices to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. She received the NSF student award to present her research at the International Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) Conference in August 2021. She has published four journal articles, with an additional three under review. She has presented papers at several conferences, given three academic seminars, and mentored multiple undergraduate and masters students in the Systems Science and Industrial Engineering department. 

    Excellence in Service/Outreach

    Rachael Anyim 
    Rachael Anyim is a Clark fellow and PhD candidate in anthropology. Early on, she recognized that communities need people who truly care and advocate for their prioritization. She was the first-ever graduate student to help establish a new equity committee for her department. Anyim headed the social committee for the Anthropology Graduate Organization (AGO), for which she worked to bring people together by constructing new, creative ways to enjoy company over Zoom during the pandemic. She is currently a member of the AGO’s Steering Committee. 

    Yahya Bouhafa 
    Yahya Bouhafa is an engaged volunteer whose journey first started in Morocco, serving in various community service clubs. Yahya has been a part of the TLEL Graduate Student Organization for the last four years, serving as its event coordinator, vice president and president. He is a recipient of the Clark and Couper fellowships, as well as the third-place winner of the spring 2021 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. Yahya finished the Leaders in Engagement Advocacy and Democracy (LEAD) program and has volunteered with the American Civic Association, helping new immigrants through tutoring and translation. Yahya served on the Student Advisory Committee, as well as the Ethics and Integrity Committee. He has taught five classes, presented at eight conferences, and published three journal articles and one book chapter. 

    Madeline Gottlieb 
    Madeline Gottlieb is a doctoral candidate in English who has taught numerous writing and literature courses. She received the Graduate Award for Excellence
    in Teaching in 2021. She has edited the student-centered textbook Binghamton Writes, organized university faculty writing retreats and served on the Writing Initiative Grade Appeal Committee. Additionally, Gottlieb was on the search committee for the Harpur dean, represented Binghamton University for the Middle States Accreditation and volunteered for undergraduate admissions-related initiatives 

    Maggie Parker 
    Maggie Parker is the founder, coordinator and a mentor of Binghamton University’s Psychology Department’s Undergraduate Mentoring Program, which has served nearly 75 students to date. A first-generation university student, Parker is especially motivated to “pass the torch” and proactively mentor, guide and advocate for undergraduate students to achieve their goals. A PhD candidate in clinical psychology, Parker has also been an instructor of record for multiple courses in her department and worked as a graduate research assistant for the Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Intimate Relationships since 2017. 

    Kathryn Przybysz 
    Kathryn Przybysz is passionate about improving accessibility and equity in
    science and has long been involved in multiple community outreach activities
    that function to further this cause. She has served on the Women and Gender
    in Academia Committee and participated in both undergraduate and graduate mentorship programs. A PhD candidate in behavioral neuroscience, Przybysz’s research focuses on the long-term impact of developmental alcohol exposure on the brain and anxiety-related behavior. She has received three national awards in recognition of this research. She has presented at eight conferences and published five peer-reviewed articles. 

  • 2021

    View the recording of the 2021 Graduate Student Excellence Awards Ceremony.

    2021 Graduate Student Excellence Award Winners

    Excellence in Teaching

    Corinne Black
    Corinne Black’s work examining film and speculative fiction has appeared at national conferences, and appeared in national publications. The PhD candidate was recently awarded Binghamton University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities Doctoral Fellowship, and has served as the instructor of record for nine courses at the University. Her students praise her dedication and compassion, and speak highly of their classroom experiences. Black’s goal as a teacher is to give students strong critical thinking and analytical skills, and help them take ownership over their learning. She has given five presentations for the Binghamton University community as well, including the TAE graduate working group and the IASH workshop.

    Aqib Chowdhury
    Aqib Chowdhury’s passion for psychology is evident through his work in the Binghamton University community. Along with serving as a researcher in the Binghamton Anxiety Clinic, the PhD candidate has served as a teaching assistant or instructor for nine courses. Chowdhury mentors many undergraduate students through the Graduate Student Mentorship Initiative and the Psychology Department Mentoring Program, the latter which he helped create. He believes the student-mentor relationship is key, and helps students with both academic and professional development. He has also led workshops on mental health both in Binghamton University and the community. Chowdhury was also previously nominated for the Graduate Student Excellence Award in Teaching in 2019.

    Umur Ciftci
    As computer technology advances, research into facial analysis and deepfake detection becomes even more relevant. Umur Ciftci’s many contributions to Binghamton University’s computer science community include serving as a lecturer, research assistant, teaching assistant and research educator in the First-year Research Immersion program. Along with having eight publications to his name, the PhD candidate also submitted patent applications for his “FakeCatcher” last year. Ciftci works to instill resilience and a desire for academic excellence in his computer science students, and provides them with guidance and flexibility. His students praise his passion and understanding in his teaching, and his breadth of knowledge. 

    Büşra Sati Doğa
    Büşra Sati Doğa has been impacting students at Binghamton University for four years through her roles as an instructor and teaching assistant. Many of her students have cited her as the source of their interest in sociology. Colleagues praise her respect for students’ diverse needs and learning styles. The doctoral candidate was awarded the Public Humanities Fellowship by Humanities New York for her project exploring migration and food history in Binghamton. Her work on the politics of gender and labor unions in Turkey is under review for publication in International Labor and Working-Class History.

    Madeline Gottlieb
    Madeline Gottlieb believes she can learn just as much from her students as they can from her, and strives to inspire deeper thoughts in the classroom about the writing process. Over a dozen students from Gottlieb’s three First-Year Writing classes and Binghamton Education Opportunity Program summer session have written letters praising her enthusiastic and caring teaching style. The PhD candidate has published three literary criticism publications. Gottlieb has presented her work at five conferences across the country, and has given four lectures at Binghamton University. She also serves the University by organizing campus events and working closely with Undergraduate Admissions and has worked as an editor for the Chancellor’s Award Nomination Report since 2019. 

    Emily Iekel
    As the world becomes more interconnected, the need for multilingualism grows. Doctoral student Emily Iekel brings the critical tool of language learning to the students in her Spanish class, who praise her level of engagement and willingness to help. Iekel brings years of freelance translation experience to her classroom, and skill with various computerassisted teaching tools. She has also presented at nine international conferences over the last four years alone, and had various prose and poetry works published. Iekel has recently received two awards from the Northeast Modern Language Association, including the Contingent/Adjunct/Independent Scholar/Two-Year Caucus Travel Award in 2020 and the 2021 CAITY Caucus Conference Paper Prize.

    Roya Izadidastgerdi
    Roya Izadidastgerdi has helped many Binghamton University political science students through her experience as a teaching assistant and instructor. As an instructor, she aims to properly guide students in how to engage in social science and policy-relevant issues, and gain lifelong learning skills. Colleagues praise her ability to engage students, and students’ evaluations highlight her ability to explain complex concepts. Izadidastgerdi has received multiple grants and awards, including the 2021 Patricia Weitsman Award from the International Studies Association and the 2020 Stuart A. Bremer Award from the Peace Science Society. Izadidastgerdi is now a pre-doctoral research fellow at Cornell University’s Gender and Security Sector Lab, working on the UN’s Elsie Initiative Fund for women in peace operations.

    Courtney Kleeschulte
    Courtney Kleeschulte works to create self-directed learners in her undergraduate biology courses. The doctoral candidate has experience teaching more than 200 students per class, and has mentored undergraduate and graduate students in several microbiological and molecular techniques. Along with contributing to teaching workshops, Kleeschulte has organized panels and symposiums for the Binghamton University community, and held demonstrations for local elementary schools. She has given eight presentations and won seven fellowships, awards and travel grants over the last four years.

    Joshua Kluever
    As a history instructor, Joshua Kluever’s goal is for his students to connect their studies to the modern world. Student evaluations laude his enthusiasm and ability to foster discussions in his classes. He incorporates pop culture and contemporary music into his lessons and encourages creativity in his students through assignments like creating political cartoons. Kluever has attended five conferences in the last two years alone, and has been awarded the Binghamton University Provost Summer Fellowship and the Forcey
    Doctoral Research Grant multiple times. His paper on Minnesota political history was awarded Best Paper at the Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference in October.

    Nicholas Kreuder
    As a teacher, Nicholas Kreuder believes in having discussions with his students rather than lecturing them. The PhD candidate has been exploring ethical issues with his students as both a teaching assistant and instructor at Binghamton University for over six years. Kreuder is also active in the Binghamton University Philosophy Graduate Student
    Organization, in graduate student colloquiums and conferences, and served as a guest lecturer for his Binghamton colleagues. Kreuder has been praised by his students for making the material accessible, his caring attitude and engaging teaching style. Colleagues have praised his confident classroom presence and dedication to improving his students’ critical thinking skills.

    Allison McKinnon
    Allison McKinnon has extensive experience serving the Binghamton University community. Along with acting as instructor and teaching assistant to undergraduate classes at the University, the PhD candidate has also given over a dozen professional conference presentations. She has also published three manuscripts in psychological journals, with three under review. Her students have praised McKinnon’s enthusiasm and passion for psychology, evident in her dedication to mentoring students in the Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Intimate Relationships. She recently received the Kaschak Institute Fellowship from Binghamton University, and a Faculty Commendation for Excellence from the University’s Department of Psychology.

    Sarah Otieno
    Sarah Otieno believes all her students possess an innate capacity for success. The PhD candidate’s encouraging attitude and active class discussions are central to her teaching theory, and earn her much praise from her students. She has served as an instructor of record and teaching assistant for upper-level and introductory chemistry courses at Binghamton University. Otieno is an active volunteer in the Greater Binghamton community, giving presentations at many local elementary schools. She received both the Dissertation Fellowship Award from Binghamton University Chemistry Department and the 61st Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference Travel Fellowship in 2020.
    Otieno has two publications to her name, and has given nearly a dozen presentations across the United States.

    Andrea Tóth
    Andrea Tóth has been assisting students critically engage in the complex fields of sociology, history and politics during her time at Binghamton University. Tóth’s classes promote to confront reproduced inequalities and privileges and understand those in historically bound and socio-culturally constructed origins. Colleagues praise her dedication and pedagogical skills in university teaching, as well as her ability to work with students from diverse backgrounds. Students applaud Tóth’s student-centered and engaging teaching practice, attentiveness and compassion. Her teaching philosophy highlights a strong emphasis on critical thinking, active student participation, an individual
    approach to students’ needs, and the application of empathy and pedagogy to identify, address, and overcome students’ obstacles to learning. The PhD candidate’s dissertation focuses on the intimate and intertwined relationships between nationalism studies, memory studies and historiography.

    Huei-Jyun Ye
    Huei-Jyun Ye works as a teacher to cultivate empathy in her students, and believes that education involves shaping attitudes as well as delivering knowledge. The PhD has served as an instructor and teaching assistant for nine courses at Binghamton University, including two PhD seminars. Ye’s students praise her understanding, accessible nature and ability to make the courses interesting. Along with producing five working papers, Ye has also given four conference presentations and hosted professional trainings. She has received many awards, including the EITM Certification Scholarship from the Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models, and a study abroad fellowship from the Taiwanese Ministry of Education.

    Excellence in Research

    Alan Adelman
    PhD candidate Alan Adelman examines prescient topics through his research on the economics of stress, and the health of retirees. Adelman’s publications, which have been featured in Journal of the Economics of Ageing, the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, and the Forum for Health Economics & Policy. His study of cognition in rural Chinese retirees is relevant even in the U.S., as the youngest American Baby Boomers reach age 55. Adelman’s work has also been presented at conferences hosted by the American Society of Health Economists and the Eastern Economics Association. Fellow students praise his
    research skills, friendly nature and outside-the-box thinking.

    Mushtaq Bilal
    Mushtaq Bilal is a Fulbright doctoral fellow in the Department of Comparative Literature. Bilal’s research examines the politics of Pakistani anglophone fiction and his scholarship has appeared in the Journal of World Literature. During his time at Binghamton, Bilal has
    taught Pakistani literature to undergraduate students and the members of the Lyceum program for which he received the Bucali Manav Huseyin Skerecisoy Award. He has also worked as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Commonwealth Literature and English: Journal of the English Association. Bilal has organized and presented at several conference panels and seminars. His writing has also appeared in popular publications like the Washington Post, the LA Times, and Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English daily.

    Matthew Brown
    Matthew Brown’s biomedical engineering research has already been published in impactful journals and presented at nearly a dozen conferences. The PhD candidate’s dissertation work focuses on engineering permeable, nanofibrous, bio-integrated sensors for wound care electronics. Brown has collaborated with experts at General Electric, and served as a reviewer for many professional journals. He has been recognized twice by the National Science Foundation, and has helped bring science to the general public through showcases at Binghamton University and local schools. Brown is also an active collaborator in several biomedical and physics labs at the University. In addition, he collaborates with outside groups like United Health Services of Binghamton, and Dr. Yeon Sik Noh of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

    Yiming Che
    PhD candidate Yiming Che hopes to apply his study of the growing machine learning and data analytics fields to manufacturing and energy production. Che has produced four journal publications since 2018 and has four under review. His work has also examined issues in healthcare, including using machine learning in abnormal heartbeat detection. Che has previously been invited to the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers’ Doctoral Colloquium, and Northwestern University’s Midwest Dynamical Systems Conference. Outside of his academic achievements, Che currently serves as the vice president of the Binghamton University chapter of the American Society for Quality.

    Harun Ercan
    Harun Ercan’s work concerning the politics of his native Turkey has been presented at conferences across the world. The PhD candidate’s examinations of political violence, uprisings, and regime change has taken him to protests and war zones, and the courtroom trials of political dissidents. Ercan, a recipient of the Turkish Fulbright Commission award, even served in local government in the city of Diyarbakir. He has recently been awarded the Clifford Clogg Scholarship from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, and the Quantitative Research Fellowship from Binghamton University’s Sociology Department. Ercan has published nearly a dozen
    articles, book chapters, and papers in both Turkish and English.

    Sebastian Freeman
    Sebastian Freeman’s work in biomedical science examines the exciting new world of 3D bioprinting, and contributes to the growing body of research on UV light and COVID-19. The PhD candidate co-created a bioprinter, which was used to print blood vessel tissue. His work with UV light helped disinfect PPE for healthcare workers fighting COVID. Along with his work in the lab, Freeman has published four research papers and has one in preparation. He was awarded the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Advanced Biomanufacturing Graduate Research Award in 2018. Freeman is very active outside the classroom as well, giving research demonstrations at local elementary schools and chairing Binghamton University’s Biomedical Engineering Student Advisory Board.

    Neil MacLaren
    Marine and PhD candidate Neil MacLaren’s research on both small group psychology and complex systems science provides a unique perspective. His examination of leadership roles in small groups has been presented at 17 conferences around the world in under three years, and his work has been published in psychological, organizational, and system science journals. He also serves as a mentor to junior PhD students, and is praised for his ability to help break down complex concepts for his peers. As a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, MacLaren is also active in the veteran community. He has presented at a local school’s Veterans Day Assembly, and participated in a local Veterans Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement.

    Patricia Markert
    PhD candidate Patricia Markert’s unique work in both archaeology and linguistic anthropology helps preserve and honor historical places, communities, and their stories. Her commitment to bringing history to the general public through conferences, workshops, and museum exhibits – along with field and lab work – has brought her many honors and awards. She has been awarded the Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellowship in 2020–21, the first graduate student from Binghamton’s Department of Anthropology to earn the $43,000 prize. Her dissertation focuses on the influence of Alsatian and German immigrants in Texas, and incorporates different methods like oral history, narrative analysis, 3D visualization and community-based mapping to study place and historic migration.

    Elias Ndaru
    PhD candidate Elias Ndaru’s work on the development of clinically relevant cancer drugs is already on its way to being patented, and under review for publication in one of the country’s top natural sciences journals. He also has four publications already to his name, including two as first author. His research on creation of small molecules with therapeutic cancer targets has been presented at two conferences in 2019 and featured in Binghamton Research Discover-e news. Ndaru is a recipient of the Binghamton University Chemistry Department’s Dissertation Fellowship Award for the spring 2021 semester, and a winner of the Provost’s Four-year Doctoral Fellowship Summer Program.

    Kristian Olson
    As many communities in the western United States continue to deal with drought and other pitfalls of climate change, Kristian Olson’s research becomes more relevant. His research specifically examines the mineral remnants of extinct lakes, and how they can be used to better understand hyper-arid climates of the past. Along with having two publications to his name, Olson has given presentations at three Geological Society of America conferences and an International Union for Quaternary Research conference. He has previously received a Chateaubriand Fellowship from the French government, a Provost’s Doctoral Summer Fellowship from Binghamton University, along with research grants from three separate professional geoscience organizations.

    Danielle Schwartz
    Danielle Schwartz examines identity and politics in popular cinema, and has presented this work at five conferences in the U.S. and Canada. In particular, her work deconstructs the relationship between where international films are shot, their settings, and their intended audiences. Along with publishing three papers, the PhD candidate has also received five grants and fellowships during her time at Binghamton University. Schwartz has acted as an instructor and teaching assistant for nearly a dozen classes at the school, and served as the president of the Graduate English Organization. During her time as a Public Humanities Fellow, she helped organize a community-driven film screening series for Binghamton-area locals.

    Junyang Shi
    As the world becomes more reliant on the internet, Junyang Shi’s work on improving wireless networks becomes even more relevant. The PhD student has nine publications to his name, and conducted five research projects on wireless internet while at Binghamton
    University. He was awarded first place in the University’s Association for Computing Machinery chapter coding competition, and received two student travel awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Shi has served as a reviewer for three professional journals, and acted as both an undergraduate and graduate teaching assistant. Student colleagues praise his talent as a researcher and the quality of his presentations.

    Andrew Vore
    Andrew Vore’s work in neuroscience examines critical structures in the brain, and the effects of alcohol on those critical structures. Hoping to determine the neurobiological roots of substance abuse with his work, the PhD candidate has co-authored seven published peerreviewed papers, and has four under review. Along with his academic accomplishments, Vore is a significant presence in the Binghamton University community. He has served as a graduate mentor to 10 students since beginning his graduate career, and helped with public outreach for Binghamton’s Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Center for several years. Vore has been previously awarded both a training grant and fellowship from the National Institutes of Health.

    Mebrahtu Weldeghebriel
    PhD candidate Mebrahtu F. Weldeghebriel’s research on fluid inclusions in halite examines which global processes control long-term variations in ancient seawater composition. He has given five presentations at annual earth science conferences and published his methods paper in a peer-reviewed journal; three more manuscripts are under review or in preparation. The American Geophysical Union recognized Weldeghebriel’s work in 2020, when he was featured in their Early Career Researcher Spotlight. He received the student research award from the Mineralogy, Geochemistry, Petrology and Volcanology division of the Geological Society of America. Weldeghebriel has mentored hundreds of undergraduate students in Binghamton and his native Eritrea through his work as a graduate teaching assistant.

    Robert Whelan
    Robert Whelan’s work examines some of the deepest moral questions the global community must deal with. The PhD candidate’s study of the amnesty process for war criminals has been published and presented across the world. Along with publications and presentations in his native Ireland, Whelan’s work has appeared in the Critical Review
    of International Social and Political Philosophy, Res Publica, and at conferences in New York City, Albany and Philadelphia. He has works under review which explore the link between moral philosophy and moral psychology. He is also active outside his graduate research, with experience as an instructor and teaching assistant for several Binghamton University courses and organizing conferences for oncampus groups. 

    Yunxiang Xie
    Yunxiang Xie’s electrochemical research has already been published in four major journals, with another publication under review. The PhD candidate’s work on nanoporous materials has also been presented at two Electrochemical Society conferences, and earned him a Binghamton University Dissertation Semester Fellowship for fall 2020. Xie has received five total travel and research grants during his time at Binghamton, and served as a student assistant on projects involving 3D printing and energy conversion. He has helped generate interest in science in the local community by volunteering at Binghamton University’s outreach day, and is an active member of the Electrochemical Society and the Material Research Society.

    Ruohao Zhang
    Ruohao Zhang’s work on environmental economics deals with the ever-relevant topics of environmental regulation policies, air quality and environmental justice. He began researching COVID-19 early in the pandemic. Using cellphone GPS data, Zhang found that stimulus checks had encouraged recipients to stay home and reduced virus transmission.
    He also used satellite information to document the impact of New York’s lockdown on air quality. Zhang has published six papers since 2019, and had his work presented at eight national and international academic conferences. His collaborative study with Professor Neha Khanna on air pollution and hydraulic fracturing even received popular media
    coverage. As an economics student, Zhang’s work presents an interesting perspective in the field of applied economics.

    Excellence in Service/Outreach

    Liam Lane
    Liam Lane’s dedication to public health is evident through his biomedical anthropology studies at Binghamton University and his involvement outside the classroom. His research projects have focused on lead exposure among Broome county residents, stress among international students at the University, and public health concerns in Thailand and Vanuatu. Currently, Lane serves as a student director for Harpur’s Ferry Student Volunteer Ambulance Service and the graduate assistant for the Healthy Campus Initiative, and previously interned with the University’s Health Promotion and Prevention Services. Lane, a graduate student, has also worked as a contact tracer for NYC Health
    + Hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, and provided student input for Binghamton University’s fall 2020 reopening plan.

    Seo Yeon Paik
    For years, Seo Yeon Paik has been enriching the Translation Research and Instruction Program at Binghamton University through her dedicated volunteer work. Paik has held offices for the TRIP graduate student organization and served as the program’s admissions ambassador. As the president of the TRIP graduate student organization, she hosted many on-campus events including film screenings, guest speakers and bilingual reading events in collaboration with the Comparative Literature department. Fellow PhD students and University staff alike have praised Paik’s dedication to TRIP, and her creation of a robust student organization. Along with her work as a professional translator and language tutor, Paik has presented her work on German and Korean language popular fiction at three different conferences.

    Andrew Pragacz
    Andrew J. Pragacz has been active in Binghamton’s criminal justice community since 2014. In that time he helped found Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier, a nonprofit bookstore and a community radio station. The PhD candidate has also raised over $80,000 for criminal justice and advocacy programs, and helped produce statistics on deaths in local jails. Pragacz has served as both an adjunct professor and teaching assistant at Binghamton University, and currently sits on the boards of the Bundy Museum and the American Civic Association. He is a visiting assistant professor at SUNY Cortland. His work is nationally known, appearing in Decarceration and Justice Disinvestment: Criminal Justice in the 21st Century, and 15 conference presentations.

    Coleen Watson
    Coleen Watson is active in and outside of the classroom, serving the Binghamton University community and the city as a whole. Most recently, the PhD candidate acted as a poll worker for Broome County in the 2020 November election, and as the president of her department’s Graduate Student Organization for two years. Watson has acted as an instructor and teaching assistant for nine different courses at Binghamton, and given four conference presentations during her time at the University. She has been awarded her department’s Dissertation Assistantship for spring 2021, and published her essay as a chapter in the upcoming book “Engaging Populism: The Epistemic Virtues and Vices of Democracy.”

  • 2020

    2020 Graduate Student Excellence Award Winners

    Excellence in Teaching

    Nilüfer Akalin
    Nilüfer Akalin’s sociological work examines two key issues in modern America, immigration and healthcare. Akalin, a doctoral candidate, has taught courses at Binghamton University covering subjects like social deviance and social theory, and given five conference presentations on capitalism and gender. Her teaching philosophy encourages students to apply sociology to themselves and the world around them. Akalin recently received the Sociology Department’s Workshop Participation Award, and began research on the opioid crisis in Upstate New York.

    Marc Davignon
    Marc Davignon seeks to help his students better understand their sociopolitical world, and develop diverse perspectives. Davignon, a doctoral candidate, has taught five political science courses at Binghamton University and had his work presented at two political science conferences. He has also written five working papers and dissertation chapters. Davignon’s current dissertation explores the economic incentives for global human rights improvements. Evaluations from his students reflect his willingness to help in the classroom and in office hours, and praise class discussions.

    Katrina England
    Katrina England encourages students to develop powerful dialogues among themselves and sharpen their critical thinking skills. England, a doctoral candidate, has served as instructor or teaching assistant for over a dozen Binghamton University courses and given nine conference presentations. Her Critical Thinking Lab, which trains select seniors to help fellow students with analytical writing projects, is currently in its third year. Student feedback reflects an enthusiastic, constructive teacher who encourages her students to think of philosophy in new ways.

    Qifei Kao
    Qifei Kao’s use of technology and media in both her Chinese language courses and translation studies courses develops a new level of enthusiasm in her students. The doctoral student, who also has two master's degrees in translating and interpreting, has served as an interpretation intern at the United Nations and given multiple conference presentations. Kao brings this international perspective to her teaching strategy, hoping to give students an open mind. Student evaluations praise her deep knowledge of the subject and thought-provoking classroom discussions.

    James Lethbridge
    James Lethbridge’s teaching principles aim to help his students understand philosophy in an ever-changing world. Lethbridge, a doctoral candidate, is described by his students as passionate, knowledgeable, and insightful. He is the current director of Binghamton University’s Critical Thinking Lab, and has served as an instructor at Binghamton, Bloomfield College, and the University of Toledo. Lethbridge has presented eight papers on religion, pacifism and capitalism, and authored a textbook chapter on comic books during the Cold War.

    Sepehr Maktabi
    As a teacher and scholar, Sepehr Maktabi’s goal is to promote a love of science and a spirit of collaboration. His work on biophysics and microfluidics has been published in three peer-reviewed journals, and been given at eight conferences. Maktabi is currently a doctoral candidate at Binghamton University and a visiting scholar at the University of Southern California. He has served as an engineering instructor at Binghamton since 2015, and was previously awarded Instructor of the Year by the Pi Tau Sigma Society.

    Hannah Morton
    Hannah Morton’s dissertation on the bullying experiences of children with autism touches an especially relevant issue today, with bullying being increasingly recognized as an epidemic. Since 2015, Morton has worked in the Autism Lab in the psychology department and in affiliation with the Institute for Child Development. Prior to coming to Binghamton University, Morton conducted research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Morton has published seven textbook chapters and journal articles and has given almost two dozen professional presentations on children’s mental health. Her scientific acumen and overall enthusiasm leads to an engaging classroom environment resulting in high praise from her students.

    Deeraj Nagothu
    Doctoral student Deeraj Nagothu’s work focuses on key issues in today’s world, such as forensic video analysis and network security. His work has appeared in seven publications and conferences, including those affiliated with the prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. As an instructor, Nagothu encourages creative problem solving among his students, and challenges them to learn from their mistakes. His willingness to help students and deep knowledge of the subject earns him high praise in class evaluations. 

    Rebecca Pearce
    Rebecca Pearce wants the students in her biology classes to approach science with a sense of discovery. The doctoral candidate has served as a teaching assistant for two biology courses since 2016, and even taught English in Brazil for two years. Her enthusiasm for animals and teaching goes beyond the classroom, as the Cambridge graduate also helped injured sea turtles through an internship in a Brazilian nature center. Pearce’s students praise her creativity, general love of learning, and thoroughness.

    Mariah Postlewait
    During her time at Binghamton University, Mariah Postlewait has touched the lives of countless students through her teaching experience. Postlewait, a doctoral student, has served as a teaching assistant or instructor for over a dozen art courses at Binghamton. Her love of art and photography extends beyond the classroom, helping curate five exhibits at museums in Michigan and New York. Along with creativity and collaboration, she emphasizes critical thinking and compassion in her students. Postlewait has also given eight lectures on art and nine conference presentations.

    Odilka Santiago
    Odilka Santiago has taught a wide variety of courses during her time at Binghamton University, including those touching key issues like urban poverty and human rights. Santiago, a doctoral candidate, is a previous winner of the Latin American Student Union’s Supportive Faculty Award. She has given over a dozen conference presentations on race and homelessness, and served as both a GA and instructor for the Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies program for several years, teaching about Latin and Caribbean history and contemporary issues.

    Erica Schumann
    Erica Schumann encourages her students to develop their own interests in the many different subjects she teaches. Their evaluations praise her enthusiasm and ability to cultivate a genuine interest in the subjects. Schumann, a doctoral candidate, has served as a teaching assistant for four years, and has given two presentations on the historical significance of cookbooks. Her classes cover topics such as Food in American Culture and Foundations of America. In 2019, Schumann was awarded three fellowships to support her research on early American women’s mathematics education, and their use of measurement within the household.

    Christine Sylvester
    Christine Sylvester values her students’ critical thinking skills and encourages them to sharpen their minds in her classes. She has taught six political science courses at Binghamton University and published two journal articles on integrating technology into the classroom. Sylvester, a doctoral candidate, has also served as a research assistant for the British and European parliaments, and given six talks on agenda-setting in governments. Student evaluations praise her enthusiasm and deep knowledge of political science.

    Elisa Taveras Peña
    Fulbright scholar Elisa Taveras Peña brings her real-world experience in finance to the classes she teaches at Binghamton University. She also brings a teaching philosophy centered around being an approachable educator. Student evaluations laud her ability to distill even the most complex economic principles in a meaningful way to those who struggled with math. Taveras Peña is also active in the Economics Department Graduate Student Organization, having served as both senator and president.

    Özge Yol
    Özge Yol’s teaching philosophy centers around creating a welcoming environment for all students in the classroom while encouraging discussion and self-reflection. Her extensive experience in education covers both university and k-12 settings in various countries. Yol, an Ed.D. candidate, has also presented over two dozen papers, and published in prominent journals, with five more under review or in progress. She is a two-time recipient of the Graduate Student Employees Union’s Professional Development Award, and was named New York State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Member of the Month in May.

    Excellence in Research

    Burak Başaranlar
    Doctoral candidate Burak Başaranlar’s work on his native Turkey provides a fascinating look at non-Turkish segments of the Turkish Republic, specifically Kurds and Jews. Başaranlar has published three articles in his field of study and reviewed a book on the history of Kurds in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. He has given presentations at Columbia University and the Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference. Başaranlar has also served as a research assistant in various publishing and translation projects, and an editor for the Journal of Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association.

    Nicholas Buss
    Ph.D candidate Nicholas Buss’ research examines how environmental pollutants affect disease in wildlife, a critical topic as concern about climate change grows. His work has been published in three journals, and presented at eight different conferences. Buss has served as a graduate teaching assistant for introductory science courses at Binghamton University, and helped judge local school science fairs. He has also helped bring fun and learning to people with intellectual disabilities through live animal interaction at ACHIEVE.

    Tak Ian Chio
    Doctoral candidate Tak Ian Chio's research encompasses multiple areas at the interface of chemistry and biology. She has published in five scientific journals, and presented at over a dozen national conferences. Her recent publication on antibody-drug conjugates, which appeared in the April 2019 issue of Bioconjugate Chemistry, was one of the most-read papers in the journal for over a month. Chio works hard outside the classroom too, volunteering at Binghamton University’s Go Green Institute and at the annual Binghamton Science Olympiad.

    Daniel Cunha
    Ph.D. candidate Daniel Cunha’s work on the interaction between society and nature has been published in six languages and in journals covering a myriad of subjects. His background in chemical engineering and environmental science helps him bring a unique interdisciplinary approach to sociology. In addition to helping with 15 translation projects, Cunha has spoken at nearly two dozen events across the world. He has helped educate the world on the environment through his work with UNESCO’s Delft Institute for Water Education.

    Riya Das
    Ph.D. Riya Das’ work presents its audience with a new perspective on women in Victorian-era literature. She has given presentations on the works of authors like George Eliot and Bram Stoker at eight conferences, and helped translate Bengali literature. Das has taught eight Binghamton University classes and moderated two panels for the school, along with a panel at the British Women’s Writers Conference. Her article on Eliot’s Daniel Deronda is expected in the spring edition of Texas Studies in Literature and Language.

    Yang Gao
    With eight articles in scientific journals to his name, Ph.D. candidate Yang Gao has already made major contributions to the field of biological microelectromechanical systems engineering. His focus on green energy is especially relevant in today’s environmentally-conscious world. Along with his articles, Gao also has two patents, and has given presentations at ten microsystems and sensory conferences across the country. He has also served as a teaching assistant in Binghamton University lab courses.

    Ioannis Giannakis
    Ioannis Giannakis’ work on quantum materials has resulted in four publications, including one in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science Advances journal. Giannakis, a doctoral candidate, has given talks at American Physical Society conferences. He also worked as a graduate teaching assistant at Binghamton University for four years, and has worked as a research assistant in Dr. Pegor Aynajian’s Scanning Tunneling Microscopy and Spectroscopy Lab. Giannakis has previously worked as an engineer for Seagate data storage.

    Jonathan Jones
    Jonathan S. Jones’ work connects the Civil War era to modern American issues through his discussion of the opioid crises in both time periods. Jones, a doctoral candidate, has had his works published in both popular media and peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of the Civil War Era, the premier journal in Civil War studies. He has given over a dozen presentations on life after the American Civil War, and served as a co-editor for the Binghamton Journal of History. Jones has also taught three Binghamton University classes, and served as a teaching assistant for six classes.

    Hongya Lu
    Ph.D. candidate Hongya Lu’s work in machine learning and data mining proves especially relevant in today’s data-centric tech world. Lu, a graduate research associate in the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center, hopes to develop predictive machine modeling for smart manufacturing and medical research. She has published six articles in three peer-reviewed journals, and given eight presentations at engineering conferences across the country. Lu has also served as a graduate teaching assistant, and helped create data mining course materials in international course programs.

    Seyed Yahya Nikouei
    Seyed Yahya Nikouei’s work aims to make security smarter through machine learning. His work has been showcased in professional journals and conferences alike, and his report on smart surveillance was awarded “Best Paper” at the 2019 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Consumer Communications and Networking Conference. Nikouei, a doctoral candidate, has also served as a project advisor and teaching assistant in Binghamton University’s special Engineering and Design Division program for first-year college students.  

    Craig Polizzi
    Doctoral candidate Craig Polizzi’s work seeks to unlock the mysteries of the human mind and help those afflicted with trauma. Polizzi has served as the graduate research coordinator at Binghamton University’s Lab of Consciousness, Cognition, and Psychopathology, and had his work published in multiple peer-reviewed journals. He has also spoken at 18 conferences on post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions and is a previous recipient of the Binghamton University Faculty Commendation for Excellence.

    Christopher Singh
    Doctoral candidate Christopher Singh’s work plays a key role in building the future of computers by combining physics and artificial intelligence. His essays have appeared in several physics journals, and his work was awarded “Best Presentation” at the New York State American Physical Society conference. In addition to his work as a research assistant, Singh helps run a self-sustaining condensed matter journal club at Binghamton University, which fosters scientific excellence for graduate students in the physics department.

    Excellence in Service/Outreach

    Summer Bottini
    Ph.D. candidate and certified behavioral analyst Summer Bottini’s work seeks to improve the lives of children with autism and their caretakers. Currently an intern at Emory University’s Marcus Autism Center, Bottini has also worked in various capacities at Binghamton University’s Institute for Child Development since 2015. She has given twenty presentations on children’s mental health and published six manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, with nine more under review or in preparation.

    Jennifer DeGregorio
    Jen DeGregorio’s work promotes engagement with literature among Binghamton area residents and University students. A Ph.D. student, DeGregorio is Assistant Director of The Binghamton Poetry Project, which offers off-campus community poetry workshops. As Co-Director of the Literati Reading Series and the Writing by Degrees conference, DeGregorio has also brought nationally-recognized writers to Binghamton for public readings. Additionally, she serves as Poetry Co-Editor of Harpur Palate, the University’s nationally recognized literary magazine. DeGregorio’s poems, essays, reviews, and journalism have appeared widely in journals and newspapers.  

    Gabreélla Friday
    Clark Fellow and doctoral student Gabreélla Friday has focused her work on those who are often ignored by society. Her research and conference work has focused on the opioid epidemic in Upstate New York and the effects of incarceration on women, especially women of color. Friday is the graduate advisor for the Black Student Union and advises their U-TURN program, which helps mentor incarcerated youth. Along with serving as a teaching assistant, she has also helped prepare students for college through the Binghamton Enrichment Program.

    Joshua Gonzalez
    Graduate student and Clark Fellow Joshua Gonzalez’s dedication goes beyond the classroom. His work with the special Johnson City Redevelopment Research Team examines urban revitalization, and his volunteer work has focused on populations like underprivileged youth and vulnerable tenants. Gonzalez is also active in organizations like the Black Student Union, and has served on the planning committee for the 2019 Men of Color Conference. His service on campus includes the Underage Drinking Prevention Committee and the Town Gown Advisory Board.

    Seigie Kennedy
    Seigie Kennedy’s passion for helping those afflicted with mental illness is evident in both her academic and professional achievements. Kennedy, a doctoral candidate, has served as an intern for Veterans Affairs offices, hospitals, and youth facilities throughout Upstate New York. Her work on trauma and PTSD has been presented at six conferences, and generated four studies in Binghamton University’s Couple Adjustment to Stress and Trauma Laboratory. Kennedy has also served as a classroom and laboratory instructor for four undergraduate psychology courses at Binghamton.

    Anthony Norberto
    Graduate student Anthony Norberto’s work in and out of the classroom seeks to improve the world around him. His work as a research assistant examines the economic conditions of Johnson City and engages residents in community improvement initiatives, as does his work with the Binghamton Planning Department. Norberto presented his work on Johnson City’s economy at the Binghamton University Community Engagement Showcase in April 2019, and discussed economic disparities in Queens at the 2018 Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference. 

    Siara Rouzer
    Siara Rouzer’s work seeks to improve the lives of those affected by substance abuse. She has given eight presentations on prenatal alcohol exposure, and has two research grants on the subject completed or in progress. Rouzer, a doctoral candidate, has also published her work in two peer-reviewed journals and was awarded “Best Poster” for her presentation at the 2018 Gordon Research Seminar on Alcohol and the Nervous System. She is also a member of the American Psychological Association’s Student Science Council.

    Rebecca Warshofsky
    Rebecca Warshofsky’s work explores literature across time and culture and makes connections between literature and philosophy. Along with serving as an instructor and tutor, the doctoral candidate has contributed to her department's Pedagogy & Professionalism Workshop here at Binghamton and has given a variety of conference presentations on thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche and concepts like language and identity. Warshofsky has also served in various positions in the Comparative Literature Graduate Student Organization and helped introduce incoming graduate students to the department as an orientation counsellor.  


  • 2019

    2019 Graduate Student Excellence Award Winners

    Excellence in Teaching

    Irem Ayan
    Doctoral candidate Irem Ayan brings a literal world of experience to her students at Binghamton University. Ayan, a native of Turkey, has used her language interpretation skills at both NATO and the United Nations. She has taught almost a dozen translation and French language courses at Binghamton since 2015, and has given four conference presentations on translation and language. Her goal as a teacher is to help students develop intellectual curiosity, and to encourage them to incorporate sociological and philosophical theories into their translation careers.

    Laurel Anne Braun
    Doctoral candidate Laurel Anne Braun has taught a wide variety of courses during her eight years at Binghamton University, focusing on women in art, Medieval art as well as introductory art courses. Braun, a longtime member of the Art History Graduate Student Union, Medieval and Early Modern Society Club, and seven other professional art history societies, describes her role as a teacher “to facilitate each student’s engagement in a way that acknowledges their own interests, beliefs, ideas and experiences.”

    Allison Bugenis
    Doctoral candidate Allison Bugenis’ experience with political science is far from typical. Along with serving as an instructor for three courses at Binghamton University, she has worked as a coder for the Mass Mobilization Protest Dataset and a researcher into judicial elections. Bugenis is a recipient of the George L. Hinman Doctoral Fellowship in Public Policy and has given 10 conference presentations on topics ranging from biodiversity to LGBTQ protection. Her goal as a teacher is to help her students develop critical thinking skills and help them understand that there is more than one right answer.

    Madhi Farahikia
    Doctoral candidate Madhi Farahikia has developed an impressive résumé of experience in both the laboratory and at the conference podium during his time at Binghamton University. Along with working in the Mechanical Engineering Department’s Vibration and Acoustics Laboratory for over four years, Farahikia has presented at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ International Mechanical Engineering Conference & Exposition. He considers knowing students personally to be a critical part of the classroom teaching experience, and has incorporated this philosophy into the seven online and in-person courses he has taught at Binghamton. 

    Jonathan Jones
    Doctoral candidate Jonathan Jones brings years of experience to Binghamton University and is currently working on a dissertation about an American opioid epidemic. His research into the crisis following the Civil War is especially relevant today, and has been featured on the WBUR CommonHealth series. Jones is also dedicated to helping develop quality online education at Binghamton University, and has taught an online, introductory-level American history class five times. During his three years as a teaching assistant, both his instructors and students have given Jones enthusiastic endorsements.

    Deirdre Riley
    During her time at Binghamton University, doctoral student Deirdre Riley has assisted the University’s Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in operating its lecture series and editing Mediaevalia, its interdisciplinary journal. She published her first scholarly article in 2016 and has twice taught English classes in the Binghamton Enrichment Program (BEP), a summer program that prepares historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged high schoolers with the tools to succeed as Binghamton University students. Riley strives to encourage a sense of inclusion, accessibility and open discussion in her Medieval literature classes.

    Lynn Schmitt
    Doctoral candidate Lynn Schmitt believes that teachers can be lifelong learners. She has taught seven chemistry classes at Binghamton University and has two papers in preparation. Schmitt also participated in several community activities to encourage young people’s interest in science, including two Science Olympiads and two public chemistry demonstrations. Her dedication to future generations is apparent both in her love of teaching and her work with Binghamton’s Go Green Institute. Schmitt has two pending patents from her research involving negative ions in water.

    Aaron Schultz
    Doctoral candidate Aaron Schultz’s philosophical style of discussion has proven popular with the students in his philosophy classes. Schultz has been awarded a dissertation assistantship and has served as a teaching assistant at Binghamton University for three years. Along with being on the executive board of Binghamton University’s Social, Political, Ethical and Legal Philosophy Graduate Student Organization, he has served as a group meditation facilitator at the OASIS after-school program, the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier and the Binghamton chapter of the Wake Up mindfulness group.

    Elif Sendur
    Doctoral candidate Elif Sendur’s examination of popular culture and film through a political lens is especially important today, as the film industry and mainstream media in general grows more aware of its own internal political issues. Her interest in gender and LGBTQ equality goes beyond teaching. Sendur has also served as an educator, consultant, and eventually program coordinator, for Binghamton University’s Lesbian and Gay Family-Building Project. Students have called her knowledgeable, enthusiastic and compassionate.

    Alison Twang
    Doctoral candidate Alison Twang’s passion for engagement goes beyond her love of classroom discussion. Twang has served as the associate director for Binghamton University’s Center for Civic Engagement for over a year, helping to develop a strong town and gown relationship with the greater Binghamton area. Along with teaching two classes on civic engagement, she has given six presentations on the subject. Her teaching philosophy of embracing complexity and ambiguity as well as challenging assumptions is well-received by students, who have called her a high-quality and inspiring instructor.

    Victor Wambua
    After teaching for eight consecutive semesters, doctoral candidate Victor Wambua is still looking for ways to improve his instructional style and skills. With a strong background in organic chemistry, he believes teachers have a duty to never stop learning. He shares his passion for chemistry, not only in the five classes he has taught at Binghamton University, but with young students in the greater Binghamton area. Wambua provided three science club demonstrations to elementary schools in Binghamton and Vestal, has presented at six conferences and workshops and has published a manuscript in the Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

    Kai Wen Yang
    Doctoral candidate Kai Wen Yang believes teachers can learn from their students. Yang, who has taught almost 20 courses at Binghamton University since 2012, believes students should be able to apply their in-class learning experiences to their everyday lives. An alumnus of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Yang has an extensive research background and has presented at seven professional conferences on sociology, capitalism and Asian-American studies. He has also helped organize four Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies conferences at Binghamton and a conference for the school’s Comparative Literature Graduate Conference.

    Excellence in Research 

    Olga Blomgren
    Doctoral student Olga Blomgren’s research has long sought to bring the works of Caribbean poets and authors into the mainstream literary discussion. Her dissertation on the works of Puerto Rican author Rosario Ferré and Haitian novelist Edwidge Danticat shows the importance of language in literature and how it relates to the historical questions of identity. Along with her fellowship and teaching experience at Binghamton, Blomgren has earned a fellowship with the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Department of Black Studies.

    Jenn Dum
    Doctoral student Jenn Dum’s work shows her dedication to social justice in education. Dum has presented at over a dozen conferences and received a Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching. She teaches four undergraduate courses at Binghamton and has received three fellowships for her work in education and ethics. Her research also looks at analyzing and evaluating issues in education, such as school discipline policies, the human right to education and post-migration education.

    Kiera James
    Doctoral student Kiera James’ research into adolescent psychology has been published in seven journals and she has six additional manuscripts under review and four in preparation. She has served as a graduate clinician at the Binghamton University Psychological Clinic and the Binghamton Anxiety Clinic and as a diagnostician at Binghamton’s Mood Disorders Institute. James most recently acted as the instructor of record for three University psychology courses and worked on four projects covering stress, depression and anxiety in women and children.

    Shaojie Jiang
    The world of science is always changing, and doctoral student Shaojie Jiang’s research into supercrystal structure has him involved in one of the most “hot topics” in the nanoscience world. Jiang has authored or co-authored six papers, presented at the Materials Research Society Fall 2017 meeting in Boston, and has served as an instructor in Binghamton University’s General Physics Lab.

    Nusrat Jimi
    Doctoral student and Bangladesh native Nusrat Jimi’s work in the Department of Economics addresses important social and financial issues in South Asia and Africa. The study she co-authored on educational policy in Tanzania was published in the celebrated journal Applied Economics. Nusrat designed the study of the Bangladeshi school lottery system and collected the data herself from school administrators, teachers and students. Her study of micro-finance and agriculture is especially relevant today given the need for farmers’ access to non-traditional forms of financial services in the Global South, a metaphor for underdeveloped countries.

    Sarah King
    Doctoral student Sarah King’s research into celebrity anti-war activism provides a look at a fascinating intersection of political and popular culture. King’s dissertation, which features firsthand interviews with musician Pete Seeger and actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, has received both internal support from Binghamton University and external grants from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. King has served as an instructor at SUNY Brockport, Alfred University and Binghamton University. Her work on historian and author Gerda Lerner was published in the Journal of Women’s History.

    Kathryn Lanza
    Doctoral student Kathryn Lanza is dedicated to helping others, from mentoring undergraduate Psi Chi students and those in the Bridges to Baccalaureate program to her time as an instructor for 300-level psychology courses. Lanza helped her fellow psychology researchers seek funding from the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke on a brand-new topic, has published five manuscripts and has given over a dozen conference presentations.

    Duong Le
    Doctoral student Duong Le has published four working papers and given six conference presentation in his six years at Binghamton University. His work has examined the impacts of micro-finance and environmental disasters in India and Vietnam and he is praised as an effective teacher by students in his Labor Economics and Industrial Relations class. Le’s paper on the Formosa disaster was produced in less than two months and his findings in his paper, “Infrastructure Grants and Microenterprises,” produced important conclusions about the effectiveness of infrastructure spending.

    Zachary Lebens-Higgins
    Doctoral student Zachary Lebens-Higgins’ work is helping to make a greener future. His research into improving the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries was published in the Chemistry of Materials journal, and an essay published during his first year in the PhD program has been cited by over 50 other researchers. Lebens-Higgins has also given several presentations on oxide-coated cathodes and even chaired a session on the subject at the 60th annual Electronic Materials Conference in Santa Barbara, Calif.

    Nathan Lipps
    Creative writing instructor and doctoral student Nathan Lipps’ work has been published in literary and poetry magazines across the country, including the Best New Poets anthology. His work examines life on an American farm and the nuances of the rural lifestyle. Lipp’s first book, the body as passage, is scheduled to be published this year by Open Palm Press. 

    Yancy Luan
    During his time at Binghamton University, Yancy Luan’s work with advanced nano-alloy fabrication has been published in the Materials Research Society’s Advances journal. Luan and advisor James Fang have also filed a patent on mass-producible nickel catalysts. With a focus on creating something new, he is the first person to enable carbon monoxide to etch the Pt-Ni nanocatalysts by extracting the Ni-component through a gaseous mixture. He has presented at the American Chemical Society’s Northeast Regional Meeting and the Materials Research Society conference.

    Maedeh Mohammadifar
    Doctoral student Maedeh Mohammadifar’s work has exciting implications for the world of renewable energy. Her work, including her research into a blood-glucose monitoring patch, has been published in journals such as Micromachines and Renewable Energy. Her research into bio-batteries and green technology has also been published in Advanced Science News, which was then reported on by ScienceDaily, Techxplore, Newswise and others. Mohammadifar scored among the top .01 percent of students to take the University Entrance Exam in her native Iran.

    Roberto Ortiz
    Doctoral student and Clark Fellowship alumni Roberto Ortiz’s award-winning work on the environment and politics has been published in two peer-reviewed journals and presented at over a dozen conferences. Ortiz’s focus on the history of capitalism, global inequalities and environmental degradation are especially relevant today with the current global focus on environmental preservation and inequality. His dissertation and his paper, “Late Capitalism Unbound,” were given awards by the Binghamton University Department of Sociology and the American Sociological Association, respectively. Ortiz has served as both an adjunct professor in two departments at Binghamton University and as an advising associate at Harpur College.

    Mark Pallay
    Doctoral student Mark Pallay works to help create the next wave of technological advances. His understanding of both theory and practice has allowed his work to be published in the prestigious journal, Applied Physics Letters. Pallay has twice presented his work at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ International Design Engineering Technical conference. His research interests include electrostatic levitation and micro-electro-mechanical systems. 

    Kevin Revier
    Doctoral student Kevin Revier’s work has covered many of today’s most relevant social issues, from drug laws to race and justice. His current work on the opioid crisis is especially relevant for communities like Binghamton dealing with such issues. His essays have been published in the journals Contemporary Justice Review and Crime, Media, Culture. In addition, Revier has given nearly two dozen research presentations at conferences.

    Shabnam Sabounchi
    Shabnam Sabounchi already had an impressive career as a public health scholar in her native Iran when she came to Binghamton University in 2016. Sabounchi, a dental surgeon, has given over a dozen presentations and published over a dozen peer-reviewed papers in her career. While her research has covered a diverse array of public health issues, her current focus on the opioid epidemic has earned Sabounchi a grant from Binghamton University’s Poverty and Inequality Transdisciplinary Working Group.

    Zohreh Soltani
    Zohreh Soltani’s experience as a trained architect has been invaluable to her current work at Binghamton University. Her dissertation on the impact of the Iranian Revolution on its capital city’s architecture draws on political science, urban studies, history and art. Soltani has published five articles and given seven professional presentations, in addition to designing and/or teaching almost a dozen courses at Binghamton. She is currently a Dissertation Diversity Fellow at Ithaca College.

    Kellam Throgmorton
    Doctoral candidate Kellam Throgmorton’s extensive work on early Native American societies has been presented at universities and archaeological societies across the country. Throgmorton is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, and is currently researching the politics and landscapes of the native peoples in Chaco Canyon, N. M. As an archaeologist, he has also written about current affairs such as the dispute over the Bears Ears National Monument. In 2017, Throgmorton led a symposium at the Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

    Haifeng Wang
    Doctoral student Haifeng Wang’s research may one day help improve medical diagnoses and machine learning. Over four years as a research associate at Binghamton, Wang has investigated topics like 3D medical imaging, manufacturing technology and using data analysis in pharmacies. He has also chaired sessions at two Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conferences and been on five ad hoc review committees.

    Shanana Yan
    Doctoral candidate Shanana Yan’s extensive work goes beyond research. Yan has served as a teaching assistant for four years at Binghamton University and for three years at Xiamen University in her native China. Yan has submitted four patent applications for her work with nanomaterials and synthesis, and published over a dozen academic papers. She has also given over a dozen presentations at chemical society conferences, including several on her work with wearable biosensors. Yan’s presentation at the American Chemical Society’s Fall 2018 meeting made her a finalist in the ACS’s Graduate Student Award Competition.

    Siyin Zhao
    Doctoral student Siyin Zhao hopes his research will help the world better understand the ancient culture of his native China. Zhao’s work aims to use the history of the global superpower to understand it today, through ritual. He has written extensively about ancient China and has presented at both the Rochester Institute of Technology and Columbia University.

    Jian Zhou
    Inspired by hair-based flow receivers in small animals, doctoral student Jian Zhou works on miniaturized flow sensing. With the guidance of his advisor, Distinguished Professor Ronald Miles, Zhou has created a flow sensor made from spider silk that can detect airflow in the infrasound to ultrasound range. Zhou has first-authored three papers and holds an international patent application. He has also given various presentations in Massachusetts, Illinois and China.

    Excellence in Service/Outreach

    Mohammed Rabiu Abubakari
    Doctoral candidate Mohammed Rabiu Abubakari brings his international perspective and background to his work on food deserts in Binghamton. The Ghana native  has been a key member of the Binghamton community since beginning his master’s program in 2015. In just four years he has served on the Binghamton University Town and Gown Advisory Board, the Binghamton Food Steering Committee and Binghamton University’s Poverty and Inequality Working Group. He has given presentations on food deserts, education and urbanization at Binghamton and Kent State. His paper was awarded first prize in 2016 at Kent State’s Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference.

    Victoria Brown
    Doctoral candidate Victoria Brown’s position as a labor organizer within the Graduate Student Employees Union has allowed her to keep a pulse on issues affecting workers in both Binghamton and rural Spain, where Brown completed two international university certificates. Her doctoral dissertation on austerity, female migrants and industrial agriculture in the Andalusia region of Spain provides a unique look at the intersection of immigration, gender and workers’ rights. Brown served as a member of the negotiating team that helped the Communication Workers of America Local 1104 establish a new contract after six years without one.

    Daimys García
    Doctoral student Daimys García’s work uses literature to discuss gender and race and shows a dedication to inclusion and to a deepening understanding of the human experience. She furthered her interest in community-building during her time as president and secretary of the Comparative Literature Graduate Student Organization. Integrating her academic interest with her need to serve others is the driving force behind her involvement in the Binghamton Poetry Project, which aims to teach youth and adults how to write and read creatively. 

    Frank Tolbert
    Master’s student Frank Tolbert’s background in urban planning allowed him to develop a detailed understanding of issues affecting Broome County families. His research helped create reports for the county Department of Social Services, and his findings from the Johnson City Redevelopment Project were presented at the Race, Ethnicity, and Place ninth edition conference. Tolbert, a Clark Fellow, is also both a graduate research assistant and teaching assistant, as well as the president of the Geography Graduate Student Organization.

    Vanessa Wuerthner
    Doctoral student Vanessa Wuerthner is dedicated to increasing public interest in science, especially in children. Wuerthner has extensive involvement with the local Binghamton community, including the Roberson Museum and Science Center and the local Boards of Cooperative Educational Services. Her Gemma Jones Visits Nuthatch Hollow children’s book is currently in review for publication, and lesson plans she has created have been used in dozens of local high schools.

  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011