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Hajim memo 0423

April 23, 2018

Dear members of the Hajim School community,

It is always gratifying to welcome members of our Deans Advisory Committee to campus, especially when the visit includes an opportunity to honor one of its members. On Saturday, I was proud to present Jeanine Hayes ’92 with this year’s Hajim School Distinguished Alumnus Award. Jeanine, a graduate of The Institute of Optics, is chief IP officer at NIKE Inc., and former vice president and deputy general counsel at Yahoo. She’s been a great role model, returning to campus to talk to students — as she did on Friday — and has served our school well on the advisory committee. Congratulations, Jeanine!

Computer science alumnus Rick Rashid ’80 (PhD), who founded Microsoft Research and built it into a truly remarkable engine of innovation, was also on campus recently, providing fascinating, firsthand insights on how data science has transformed basic research within academia and in companies like Microsoft. His talk was in conjunction with the naming of three Wegmans Hall conference rooms in honor of his generous gift to the Goergen Institute for Data Science. I especially appreciated Rick’s advice to PhD students: You need to be really excited by what you’re doing every day; if you’re not, find something that will excite you. Don’t be deterred when someone tells you “Oh, we tried that 10 years ago and it didn’t work.” When challenged by naysayers, stand your ground. Learn from your mistakes — but don’t dwell on them. Keep taking risks!

Congratulations to:

  • Anisha Khosla ’18 of biomedical engineering, who recently received a Gwennie award from the Gwen M. Greene Center for Career Education and Connections. The award honors partners who exemplify the Greene Center’s values—respect, collaboration, diversity and inclusion, betterment, and purpose. Read more here.
  • Ramon Nieves ’19, Crystal Kim ’19, and Christopher Seely ’19, all of mechanical engineering, and Javon Walker ’19 of electrical and computer engineering. All four have received scholarships from the Rochester Engineering Society (RES). Students, please note: Multiple merit-based scholarships, sponsored by a variety of organizations and administered through the RES, are awarded annually at a minimum of $1,000 each to recognize outstanding engineering, engineering technology, science, or technology students. I would like to see more of our students take advantage of these awards. Read more here.
  • Rasoul Shafipour, a PhD student in Gonzalo Mateos’s lab in electrical and computer engineering. Rasoul received a Best Student Paper Award at IEEE’s International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing, for “Digraph Fourier Transform Via Spectral Dispersion Minimization,” coauthored by Gonzalo in collaboration with Ali Khodabakhsh, a PhD student at UT Austin, and his advisor Evdokia Nikolova.
  • Parker Riley, a PhD student in computer science, who placed second in the University’s Three Minute Thesis Competition with his presentation: “Can a computer learn to translate without being taught?”
  • Ninoshka Fernandes, a graduate student in biomedical engineering; Colton Hardy ’20 of engineering science; and TEAM masters students Pooja Bansal, Ivanah Tannica Desoloc, and Abikunola Osho, all of whom are members of teams selected to advance to the statewide finals of the New York Business Plan Competition, to be held this Friday in Albany.

Here’s a great example of how Hajim School faculty and students, working with the Kearns Center, can play a big role in helping underrepresented minority high school students gain confidence in STEM fields, and experience what it is like to attend college.

Last summer, Fidele Nibiz, a student at Rochester School District’s Early College International High School, spent four weeks interning in the lab of Mark Buckley, assistant professor of biomedical engineering. This was part of the Kearns Center’s Upward Bound summer research program, funded through NSF-INCLUDES. Fidele designed  “A Rapid-Use Tissue Biopsy Mechanical Testing Device for Disease Diagnosis”  — a device for measuring tissue stiffness that is faster than traditional mechanical testing methods. Her device is in regular use in the lab.

Fidele’s involvement with the Buckley Lab did not end last summer, notes Danielle Daniels, the Kearns Center’s director of diversity in STEM. “Mark and Ibrahima Bah (a research assistant in the lab) have been supporting Fidele throughout the academic year,” Danielle said.

And when Fidele signed up for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Junior Explorer Technical Innovations Competition, the lab helped her hone her presentation and prepare a poster. All of which contributed to Fidele’s impressive second place finish at the NSBE 44th annual conference, held in Pittsburgh.  Congratulations all around:  to Fidele, to the Buckley lab, to the Kearns Center, and to our NSBE undergraduate chapter, whose members also helped prep Fidele and other Upward Bound students for the convention.

Faculty members, please note: The Kearns Center offers plenty of opportunities to teach STEM courses or mentor a student in your lab, as part of the summer Upward Bound program. This not only helps us address the under-representation of women and minorities in STEM, but can bolster the broader impact/educational outreach components of CAREER and other grant applications. Interested? Contact Danielle at ddaniel6@ur.rochester.edu

Students interested in an international educational experience during spring break next year can drop by Meliora 218 at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday to learn about Athens: Ancient City, Modern Capital. This new short-term Education Abroad program for Rochester students will be led by faculty members in the Department of Religion and Classics. It makes use of the city’s many museums and archaeological sites, but also its layout and architecture to provide students with a hands-on introduction to the history of Athens and the culture of its people, ancient and contemporary.

Have great week!

Your dean,
Wendi Heinzelman