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Provost's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research 

Past Recipients

2016 

Caleb Donovick

Caleb is a senior from Vestal, NY pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics.  He has received multiple recognitions including Honorable Mention for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship in 2015.  He is also a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. 

Mr. Donovick serves as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for Drs. Ponomarev and Abu-Ghazaleh in the Department of Computer Science at Binghamton University.  He initially acted as the lead designer of hardware support for malware detection, and more recently, his focus has shifted to cache-based side channel attacks – or attacking cryptographic algorithms by measuring cache activity.  Caleb was successful in implementing an algorithm to reconstruct Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) keys from noisy sets of measurements of cache activity and is currently working on a proof that will correlate the amount of noise in a set of measurements to the probability that an AES key can be recovered.  

Mr. Donovick has greatly impacted the Computer Science Department, and was even sought after to assist with specific projects because, according to Professor Abu-Ghazaleh, “he had both the expertise and technical skills to be a valuable contributor”.  Caleb is a co-author on publications in top-tier journals of computer architecture and computer security and has presented his work at professional conferences. 

Caleb will pursue a PhD in Computer Science at Stanford University beginning in the fall.  He credits his undergraduate research experience with providing him the skills necessary to succeed in a prestigious PhD program.  His ultimate goal is to become a professor of Computer Science.

Robert Clark

Robert, a senior from Liverpool, New York, will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Science degree. He is a double major in Economics and Mathematical Sciences. He has served as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the Economics Department and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. 

Robert completed an honors thesis in Economics titled, “Accounting for Racial Test Score Gaps across Differing Tests.” The thesis investigates the differences in cognitive test scores between racial and ethnic groups and examines how they change over time based on changes in cohort attributes and changes in specific test questions asked from one period to the next. He found the similarity of the results using comparable tests taken a decade apart, and the dissimilarity of results taken contemporaneously, suggest that the nature of the test can greatly affect measured differences by race. 

Faculty in the Economics Department, wrote, “Rob’s thesis required painstaking compilation of data for analysis and the use of sophisticated research methodology and resulted in professional-level scholarship.” His thesis advisor, Professor Polachek commented, “… that Robert is impressive: certainly smart, certainly mathematical, and certainly meticulous in the way he is willing to get his hands dirty by painstakingly going through data.” Professor Wolcott wrote in her letter of support, that Robert’s thesis, “… is the strongest I have ever seen. The work would be an excellent third year paper for a student in our graduate program.” 

His goal is to teach and continue his research as a tenure-track professor. He will attend the University of Pennsylvania next fall to pursue a PhD in Economics. Robert acknowledges that undergraduate research played a key role in preparing him to enter a competitive graduate program. He is certain that he wouldn’t have been admitted top programs if not for his independent research project.

2015 

Ray Futia

Ray, a senior in Harpur College, will graduate this month with a major in Cell and Molecular Biology. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. Ray’s hometown is Delmar, New York. 

An active researcher in Professor Heather Fiumera’s lab since his sophomore year, he is now completing his senior honor’s thesis on mitochondrial functions in yeast.  He pursued his research as a participant in Binghamton’s 2013 Summer Scholars and Artists Program and received research grants from his department and the Undergraduate Research Center to support his work.  He has presented his findings at department and campus research events and last summer at a national conference in Seattle.  He recently received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Since 1952, NSF has awarded these nationally-competitive fellowships to individuals selected early in their careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. 

Among his activities outside of course work and research, he is a four year member of the Pep Band, serving as the group’s president this academic year. He is an active member of WHRW, our campus radio campus.  The station broadcasts over a 30 mile area around campus providing programming for students and local residents. He is the station’s Program Director and a DJ.  One program he developed and hosts is “This Week in Biology” where he and a graduate student bring in researchers to discuss their current work and biology-related topics in a way that is understandable to a general audience. As a member of Binghamton’s Science Club he has taught kindergarten and third grade students through hands-on science activities at local elementary schools. 

Caitlin Gotimer

Caitlin is a senior majoring in Music: Vocal Performance from Nassau, NY.  She is a seasoned performer after only four years of formal voice training, having participated in numerous programs, events, masterclasses, and mainstage productions at Binghamton University and beyond.  One particularly notable experience was her National Anthem solo performance for the President of the United States during the President Obama Town Hall Meeting in 2013. 

Caitlin is also the recipient of multiple national and University awards recognizing her excellence in and commitment to voice.  She was the first ever undergraduate winner of voice in the Binghamton University Concerto Competition in 2014 and received First Place two years in a row at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Eastern Regionals competition.  This past summer, Caitlin was selected to attend the prestigious Chautauqua Institution School of Fine Arts and Performance.  She was the recipient of a 2014 Summer Scholars and Artists Fellowship which allowed her to prepare for her time at the Institution under the mentorship of Professor Thomas Goodheart.  During the summer, Caitlin was one of only eight vocalists selected to sing at a concert produced by the Head of Department at Curtis Institute.     

Goodheart summarizes Caitlin’s talent succinctly: “Her voice and musical instincts set her apart from the most talented singers.  She is already a professional caliber singer.  Caitlin Gotimer has and will continue to represent herself and Binghamton University as the best of the best”. 

Caitlin has been accepted into two renowned Music Conservatories and is a finalist for admission at the Curtis Institute of Music.  After completing her graduate education, Caitlin plans to become a professional singer, specifically as part of a Young Artist Program, and then to sing opera, oratorio and recital music. 

2014 

Manar Alherech

Manar graduated with a major in Chemistry and multiple research experiences, presentations and publications. He joined Professor Wayne Jones's laboratory in his sophomore year and completed distinguished honors in Chemistry under his guidance. His research pertained to conjugated polymers and their application as sensors to detect toxic metals in environmental waters. Jones states that "Manar has been designing new molecules which minimize solid state aggregation effects to make these materials more applicable as low cost, disposable environmental sensors."
In addition to receiving a fellowship to continue his research at Binghamton University through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), Manar was a summer researcher in 2012 and 2013 with the National Science Foundation's Sanford Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He presented his research results at two national conferences, three regional meetings and two summer research conferences. He was also third author of a publication in the Polymer Pre-Prints proceedings of the Polymer Division at the American Chemical Society.
Manar is currently pursuing a PhD in Chemistry at Wisconsin-Madison and hopes to continue working in Chemical academia and industry.

Ilana Ben-Ezra

Ilana graduated from Binghamton with a double major in History and Political Science. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she received the Norah B. Harcave Scholarship for academic excellence in History and was an Undergraduate Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities. In summer 2013 she pursued research with the support of a fellowship from Binghamton's Summer Scholars and Artists Program.
Working under the supervision of her faculty mentor, Professor Elizabeth Casteen of the History Department, Ilana undertook three major independent research projects. Each of them was related to her interest in relations between medieval Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Western Europe. Through examining underlying tensions and triggers of conflict, she explored how religion, politics, and social pressures influenced interactions between and perceptions of the three faith groups. She studied medieval interfaith relations to gain insight into how and why tolerance and conflict occurred.
While commenting on Ilana's last research project, Professor Casteen wrote of the incredibly complex, esoteric literature on medieval eschatology she mastered and the impressive array of medieval texts and images she examined.

Her paper, Merlin: The Medieval Embodiment of Overcoming the Devil, was published in the Binghamton Journal of History. Ilana presented a poster, A Medieval Identity Crisis: An Exploration of Jewish Identities in Light of English and French Expulsions, at the Binghamton Research Days poster session.
She is currently pursuing a masters degree in History here at Binghamton, after that she is considering a PhD in History or a JD-PhD program.

Read More: Harpur Perspective Article
Read More: Discover-e Article

2013 

Anthony Frachioni

For every unit of energy generated in the US, more than 60% of that energy results in waste heat. Anthony's research has identified a promising path to improve the efficiency at which waste heat could be scavenged from the environment. The results of his research could lead to dramatic improvements in the fuel efficiency of automobiles, solar cells, and potentially to the replacement of the combustion engine with heat powered electrical engines.

Anthony, a senior in Harpur College, will graduate this month with a major in Physics; he is interested in computational physics. He joined Professor Bruce White's research team in the spring of his freshman year. In addition to his work here at Binghamton, during the summer of 2012 he participated in a research experience at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

He has presented his research results at four national conferences and three New York State meetings of the American Physical Society, at two of these meetings he won a best poster award, while at the other he presented an invited paper. He is sole author of two publications to date and is the second author on another submitted to Applied Physics Letters that is currently under review.

Anthony plans to apply to The International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy to pursue a PhD in Physics.

William Marsiglia

William started his research career in high school testing the effects of herbal and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents on the regeneration rate of a freshwater worm; he also conducted research at Brookhaven National Laboratory supported by a grant from the Arthritis Foundation. A winner at the New York State Science and Engineering Fair, he was also recognized at the Intel International Science and Engineering Competition. When he entered Binghamton University he was well prepared and extremely interested in pursuing research. He joined Dr. Christof Grewer's laboratory in his freshman year.

As part of Dr. Grewer's research team he has synthesized novel molecules used to study the structure of certain proteins located with the brain. These molecules have the potential impact to become drugs to treat disease states such as Alzheimer's and stroke. Some of his compounds, which are amino acid derivates, are used in labs at Cornell, and universities in Germany, Israel, and Australia.

An article he co-authored with other members of the Grewer team was published last year in a peer-reviewed journal, Molecular Pharmacology.
William is a Harpur senior majoring in Biochemistry and Music. He was named a Goldwater Scholar in his sophomore year – he held the scholarship for both his junior and senior years. Next fall, in preparation for a teaching and research career, he enters the doctoral program in Chemistry with a concentration in Chemical Biology at New York University.

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2012 

Emily Elliott

Emily's research explores the space race of the 1960s. Her honor's thesis, "Cosmonauts and Astronauts as Ambassadors of Their Nations", offers a comparative analysis of Soviet and American cosmonauts as cultural ambassadors. To research this topic, she interviewed Russian citizens during summer study in Moscow and translated articles from the Soviet press from the early years of the space race. Her objective was to discover how cosmonauts were represented and received in both the Soviet Union and the United States. Her research draws on both English- and Russian-language sources with a focus on the news reports broadcast domestically and internationally by both superpowers. Professor Heather DeHaan, Emily's thesis advisor, wrote of her research, "Emily has worked enthusiastically, showing creativity in uncovering sources and self-motivation in moving forward with her research, she has produced a fine thesis."

During the Summer of 2011, she was a research intern at the Moscow Higher School of Economics studying American, European and Russian opinions on the creation of a joint Russian-NATO missile defense shield. An article she wrote on this topic will be published in an edited volume on missile defense.

Emily has also volunteered with the Center for Technology and Innovation in Binghamton. She interviewed and created transcripts of interviews related to technology in our local area. For instance, she researched the history of Link Aviation, a local company, and the role it played in the Creation of the Command Module and Lunar Module simulators for Project Apollo.

Emily is a Harpur senior majoring in History. She will graduate this May – next fall she enters the doctoral program in Russian History at Michigan State University.

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Gene Nolis

A member of Professor Stan Whittingham's research group since his sophomore year, Gene has worked on understanding the thermodynamic stability of a class of material that is a key component of many lithium batteries. Gene has published this work in the Materials Research Society Proceedings in 2011. He has presented five research papers and three poster presentations before statewide and national audiences. A paper given at the Western New York American Chemical Society Chapter Annual Student Symposium in 2011 earned him the award for most outstanding oral presentation.

During the summer of 2011, he worked at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under a Department of Energy Internship. His research project focused on the design of materials for higher energy density batteries.

He worked for the Northeast Organic Farmer's Association of New York as a summer intern in 2010, and then as a part-time materials reviewer. He obtained information on the materials organic farmers would potentially use in crop and livestock production, and evaluated these ingredients for compliance with USDA National Organic Program Standards.

Gene is a Harpur senior majoring in Chemistry with a specialization in Materials Chemistry. He will graduate this May – next fall he will enter the European Commission's ERASMUS MS program in energy and materials. During this two year program he will take classes at three different universities in three different countries, among them – France, Poland and Spain and then pursue research for six months.

Read More: Chemistry Times Article

Read More: Harpur Perspectives Article

Past Provost's Award Recipients

2016

Robert Clark

Robert Clark

Harpur College, May '16
Research interest: Accounting for Racial Test Score Gaps across Differing Tests
Research mentor: Solomon Polachek and Susan Wolcott

Caleb Donovick

Caleb Donovick 

Watson School, May ’16
Major: Computer Science
Research interest: cache-based side channel attacks 
Research Mentors: Dmitry Ponomarev and Nael Abu-Ghazaleh

2015

Ray Futia

Raymond Futia
Harpur College, ’15
Major: Biology
Research interest: characterizing the effect of mitochondrial DNA variation on cellular well-being within a single population
Research mentor: Assistant Professor Heather Fiumera 

Caitlin Gotimer

Caitlin Gotimer
Harpur College, ’15
Major: Music: Vocal Performance
Research interest: voice, classical music, music theory, and opera
Research mentor: Asst. Professor of Voice Thomas Goodheart

2014

Ilana Ben-Ezra

Ilana Ben-Ezra
Harpur College, May '14
Majors: History & Political Science
Research interest: Religious tolerance among Christians, Muslims & Jews
Research mentor: Asst. Professor Elizabeth Casteen

Manar Alherech

Manar Alherech
Harpur College, May '14
Majors: Chemistry & Arabic
Research interest: Synthesis & structural characterization of fluorescent chemosensing trimers
Research mentor: Professor Wayne Jones

2013 

Anthony Frachioni

 

Anthony Frachioni
Harpur College, May ’13
Major: Physics
Research interest: Anderson localization of phonons
Research mentor: Assoc. Prof. Bruce White


William Marsiglia 

William Marsiglia
Harpur College, May ’13
Majors: Biochemistry and music
Research interest: Synthesizing molecules to probe cellular pathways
Research mentor: Prof. Christof Grewer

2012

Emily Elliott

Harpur College, May '12
Major: History Research interest: Soviet and American cosmonauts as cultural ambassadors
Research mentor: Associate Professor Heather DeHaan

Gene Nolis
Harpur College, May '12
Major: Chemistry
Research interest: Thermodynamic stability of lithium battery material
Research mentor: Distinguished Professor M. Stanley Whittingham

 

Last Updated: 5/11/17