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Researchers of the Month
Here are some of the graduating seniors we will miss. . . . We wish them all well with their future endeavors and pursuits!
Richard Anger Mechanical Engineering major, Nanotechnology Studies minor Research Mentor: Dr. Chad Korach, Mechanical Eng.
Yaseen Eldik Psychology & Sociology majors Research Mentor: Dr. Susan Scheckel, English
Sean Hoffman Applied Mathematics & Statistics; Economics majors Research Mentor: Dr. Wilbur Miller, History (with assistance from Wilbur Farley, Program in Writing and Rhetoric)
McKinny Kwok Biology major, Business minor Research Mentor: Dr. William Collins III, Neurobiology& Behavior
Hillary Moss Biochemistry major, minor in Anthropology Research Mentor: Dr. Robert Haltiwanger,Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Sasha Seroy Biology major, Marine Sciences minor Research Mentor: Dr. Dianna Padilla, Ecology & Evolution
Hillary Moss this fall will be beginning the first year curriculum at Stony Brook's School of Medicine.
A graduating senior in the Honors College, Hillary has worked in the laboratory of
Dr.Robert Haltiwanger, in the Department of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, since her
junior year of high school. In her senior year at Ward Melville HS in East Setauket,
Hillary received an Intel semifinalist award for her work in the Haltiwanger lab,
focusing on the glycosylation of Human Factor IX a prominent clotting factor that
is often mutated in Hemophilia B. After coming to SBU, and pursuing a major in Biochemistry
and a minor in Anthropology, Hillary continued to show considerable academic distinction—
being selected for the Sei Sujishi prize for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry;
then in the following year, being selected for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Summer Research program (2010). Her research has also been funded by the URECA Summer program
(2009, 2011). In her junior year, Hillary earned national recognition as a Goldwater
Scholar (2011). This year, she was awarded the 2012SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student
Excellence and the Provost's Award for Academic Excellence, and the Outstanding Future
Alumni award. Hillary's research on "O-Fucose Modifications on Drosophila Notch" has
been presented at URECA's campus wide research poster symposium for the past 3 years;
as well as the Honors College Senior Symposium. Hillary plans to continue doing research
in the Haltiwanger lab as a medical student!
McKinny Kwok, a graduating senior majoring in Biology with a minor in Business, and a member of the University Scholars program, is headed for Australia! After settling there, in a year's time or so, she plans to pursue graduate studies (M.D. or Ph.D.). Born in Hong Kong, McKinny moved to the US at the age of 15 and attended Great Neck South HS in Long Island. She joined Dr. William Collins’s lab in spring 2010, hired as a lab assistant to assist in post-operative animal care and experimental preparations. In 2011, McKinny presented her project, "Effect of L-type Calcium Channel Blockade on External Urethral Sphincter Activity during Micturition in the Adult Female Rat," at the on-campus URECA poster symposium as well as the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington D.C (supported with funding from Dr. Collins and a URECA Travel Grant). McKinny recently participated in the 2012 URECA symposium and will have an additional poster presentation later this month at theCellular and Network Functions in the Spinal Cord meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. McKinny is currently writing up her honor thesis, and will be graduating with departmental honors from Biology.
Richard Anger will be staying at Stony Brook a 5th year to complete a Master’s degree. He came to SB as a transfer student in fall 2009, and will be graduating with a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering, and a minor in Nanotechnology studies. Since Spring 2009, Richard has worked in the Nanotribology and Wear Mechanics Laboratory with Prof. Chad Korach of the Mechanical Engineering Dept. A recent project in the Korach group, presented recently at the URECA poster event, “Materials characterization for displacement of heating oil usage in legacy fuel pumps” was also singled out in the Mechanical Engineering graduate student poster symposium for “best poster". Richard also won first place design award for a liquid metering device in December 2010. He has participated in summer research programs, including the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) REU program at Cornell University (Summer 2010) where he studied, designed, and fabricated advanced carbon electrodes for use in vanadium redox microfluidic fuel cells; as well as the NJCEP REU program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (Summer 2009) where he researched Nanocomposites containing functionalized carbon nanotubes de-agglomerated by RESS. Recently Richard received a grant supporting his use of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory, for his master’s thesis project at Stony Brook in 2012-2013 in the Korach Laboratory.
Sasha Seroy, a Biology major and Marine Science minor, is a graduating senior with the University
Scholars program. Deferring graduate studies for a year while she travels abroad,
Sasha hopes to incorporate research and international conservation into her future
career plans. Sasha has worked as an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of
Dr. Dianna Padilla in the Department of Ecology and Evolution for two years. Sasha
has presented at the URECA research celebration for the past two years, first presenting
a field study on whelk predation rates on clams in Great South Bay, then her own experiment
about phenotypic plasticity and inducible defensive in select bivalves. She has also
worked as a conservation volunteer assisting in sea turtle research in Costa Rica.
After studying abroad in Tanzania, Sasha completed an independent research project
on conservation and sustainable development in East Africa. Sasha has been recognized
for her research efforts with a Research Achievement Award from the University Scholars
program and the Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence; and is currently writing
up her honor thesis, and will be graduating with departmental honors from Biology.
Sean Hoffman has enrolled at Stony Brook's Applied Mathematics and Statistics graduate program, to pursue a Masters in Operations Research. Currently a graduating senior in the Honors College at Stony Brook University, majoring in Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Economics, Sean is the Past President of the Stony Brook University Athletic Bands and a Stony Brook Student Ambassador. He was awarded the 2012 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence and the Provost's Award for Academic Excellence. For his Honors College senior thesis "The American Nightmare: What the American Dream Has Done to Higher Education and What We Can Do to Fix It" , conducted under the mentorship of Prof. Bill Miller of the History Department, Sean investigated the effects of the push for more Americans to attend college. Collecting data on rising student debt and the effect on the U.S. economy, the decline of learning on college campuses, the loss of workforce mobility among graduates, and the rising pressure faced by high school students, Sean's thesis proposes ways to increase the value of our higher education system, as well as cut costs for students: by diversifying institution types across higher education, focusing teaching methods and curriculums towards 21st century skills, encouraging student involvement in campus communities, providing increased merit scholarships, and ensuring that both students and institutions use enhanced selection metrics, Sean argues that we can help to produce well prepared graduates who will become active and beneficial members of the U.S. economy. Sean hopes to continue his research in the fall by examining what metrics can be used to predict success at institutions, and how institutions can make more efficient decisions in the admission process.
Yaseen Eldik will soon be in Washington, D.C. this summer, working for the Obama Administration's Office of Faith Based Initiatives and Neighborhood Partnerships at the USDA (and plans to continue in fall 2012 with the Truman-Albright Fellows program). Yaseen has explored Islamophobic sentiment through three different venues. A Humanities Institute Research Award to Yaseen in his freshman year helped support the filming of a documentary titled "Islamophobia: Am I a Terrorist" analyzing residual 9/11 sentiment between non-Muslim and Muslim college students. Yaseen continued work on this topic at the Harvard Divinity School in summer 2010 where he linked widely disseminated western media images of Muslim women to current Islamophobic sentiment in the U.S; an article is forthcoming in the Harvard Islam in the West Online Journal. The following summer as a research fellow at Harvard Law School, Yaseen co-authored a law review article which argues that the lack of interfaith dialogue in public schools contributes to phobic sentiment; the article is forthcoming publication in Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties). Yaseen gained national recognition in 2011 when he was awarded the Truman Scholarship, the first student from SB to win this award! Yaseen's Truman Scholarship policy proposal suggested specific measures to foster conversations about Islam in New York City schools. A recent essay, in which Yaseen argued that bullying fuels social barriers between groups, received the first place award in the 2012 Benjamin and David Scharps legal essay competition. Yaseen tells us that a primary inspiration for his work comes from his mother, Chaplain Sanaa Nadim, who is Stony Brook's Muslim Chaplain. He also credits his SB mentor, Dr. Susan Scheckel of the Department of English, with providing tremendous support with all his endeavors and success at Stony Brook—from freshman year onwards when he took her 102 class. Yaseen is graduating with a dual major in Psychology & Sociology, is a recipient of the Provost and the SUNY Chancellor's award for Student Excellence, the Joseph N. Campolo award for Legal Studies, and has served as a Student Ambassador.
Below are excerpts of their conversations with Karen Kernan, URECA Director.
Karen. You've explored a sustained research topic, from many perspectives, during your
time here at SB. What role did your mentor have on your research topic?
Yaseen. I would not be where I am if it wasn’t for this university and the faculty that have supported me. SB provides the seeds necessary for academic growth. I particularly want to recognize Dr. Susan Scheckel who has mentored me since freshman year. I think she helped me realize my potential and the complexities of the issue itself and how far-ranging the effects of Islamophobic sentiments were. Because she has expertise in civil rights and civil liberties, and her research has primarily been done on the mistreatment of natives American and African-Americans, she helped me apply similar theorems on Islamophobia so I could understand more fully the complex effects that it’s had on relationships between non-Muslims and Muslims in this country. I think SB has tremendous resources for students that are willing to explore.
Karen. What did you learn from doing a senior capstone project?
Sean. I’ve learned how to handle an extreme amount of work, on a very cumbersome project. It took the entire year to bring it together, as well as collaboration with a lot of people in different departments. How to organize my time, how to talk to people, how to figure out what direction I wanted to go, and bring in the facts to support it. Prof. Miller really helped me along. I would not have been able to bring it all together without him. He kept me on the right track. On a personal level, he’s just one of my favorite people that I’ve met here. He’s a really great guy! ...Working on this project really opened my eyes to how expansive the debt problem is for students. It makes me really appreciate that I got the education I got here at Stony Brook – which is top notch – and I can come out debt free!
Karen. How has being involved in research shaped your experience of SB?
Sasha. Developing a relationship with Dr. Padilla has really been great. She’s definitely my go-to person for anything science-related, or career-related. She’s always there for me when I need help. I can’t ask for a better mentor! Also, research has been a really interesting experience for me because I started by helping Dr. Padilla with a project - and after being exposed to the reserch process I got my own project. Seeing an experiment from its inception to analysis and the implication of our findings, really puts it into perspective: you see what it actually means to see a whole experiment evolve. You learn so much. I want to write it up now!
Karen. How has being involved in research shaped your educational experience?
Richard. I came here as a transfer student, and have been able to get experience on a broad range of research projects and different topics, and acquire a wide range of skills—which has helped me i n pretty much every imaginable way. I’ve always been interested in learning. There’s something a lot more interesting and exciting about being in the laboratory researching things that nobody knows as opposed to things are told to me in a classroom. One of my favorite things about doing research is the independence you have. And Prof. Chad Korach has been great to work with. Since joining on…I’ve had opportunities to work on different projects, and have had that freedom. He’s been helping me a lot. We just put in a grant proposal to Brookhaven National Lab, Center for functional Nanomaterials, that just got approved. So we’ll be going over there to do some of the manufacuturing. I'm doing my thesis for the 5- year program, so I'll be continuing to work with him. Sometimes when you are so involved with the research, you feel like you have no free time. I’m happy when I can get 5 whole hours of sleep. But it’s worth every minute of it. And when things don't work, I remember what Albert Einstein said— that if we had any idea of what we were doing it wouldn’t be called research.
Karen. What role has research played in your education?
McKinny. I think doing research is an application of what you learn in class. You really have to explore more in research than you would do in a lab course. You are self-motivated. You pick the research questions. You get to design how you do the experiments. You have to read more literature to know the topics. I think it really is a major extension of your education. Also, being involved in URECA's poster really prepared me for the Neuroscience meeting. ....which was a great experience too.
The people I've met through research have also been amazing—Professor Collins, Dr. Stephen D'Amico. I want to thank them both. I consider myself very fortunate for having a chance to work with them. I was always interested in science and I am grateful for having direct involvement in research at Stony Brook - it provided me the opportunity to step out of classroom and discover new knowledge. And I feel that my involvement in research has really prepared me for graduate or medical school.
Karen. What has research done for you?
Hillary. Everything that I’ve accomplished has been related to being in that research lab and doing research—the Goldwater award, the HHMI fellowship. Even before coming here…winning the Intel semifinalist award, and getting a full scholarship to come here, which has opened up my options tremendously in that debt isn’t my main concern when I’m picking medical school—that all goes back to being involved in the lab...But even beyond that, beyond learning techniques, you learn so many other things from being in the lab for so long, from how to deal with people in a professional environment, to how to approach life. Research is fussy; it’s not always going to work. You learn to take the bad days with the good. You can go months trying things, having things not work. But with research, you have the thought that maybe tomorrow will be better, and something will work. Research has taught me to be determined, resilient. Also, my mentor, Prof. Haltiwanger, has always been there for me, even though he’s been really busy. If you ever need something, he’s always there. He’s always supportive— someone who believes in your abilities even when you’re not sure. That's been really great.