Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Sarah Lazer-Gomez

lazerName: Sarah Lazer-Gomez

Occupation: Psychologist, New York City Police Department

Education (UR and additional): Undergraduate – University of Rochester (’07): Major, Brain & Cognitive Science, Minor; Psychology and American Sign Language
Graduate School – Long Island University, C.W. Post; Clinical Psychology, Psy.D.

Current city/state/country of residence: New York, NY


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I chose to attend the University of Rochester because it had the feel of a smaller campus with a close-knit community. I also liked the idea of having to take clusters in various academic areas rather than having specific course requirements.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I chose my major after my first semester. I took the introductory Brain and Cognitive Science class and really enjoyed it, so I decided to make it my major. I originally thought I might want to be a biology major, but I realized that BCS combined two of my interests; psychology and biology. 

What did you do immediately after graduation?  How did you decide to take this path?

After graduation, I spent the summer living in Rochester. In September, I went to graduate school to get my Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. This was not an easy decision, but after attending a career fair at U of R I realized that I was always leaning toward a career in social service. I had done research in a Neuroscience lab at the University of Rochester, and while it was fascinating work, I did not think that being a researcher was the right career for me. I was looking for a hands-on experience and training in conducting therapy with patients with a range of mental disorders, and I felt the best way to do this was get my Psy.D.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am currently employed as a psychologist for the New York City Police Department. I conduct psychological evaluations on candidates who want to be police officers, and other various positions within the department. I chose this job after I completed my doctoral internship year because I was interested in the forensic aspect of Clinical Psychology.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

I use knowledge that I learned in BCS classes on a daily basis. On example is the biology of certain mental disorders and how they are treated with various psychotropic medications. This knowledge came in very handy while working on a psychiatric inpatient unit at Jacobi Hospital during my internship year, where most patients require medications. In addition, I recently had to take the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP), in order to get my license. There were several questions on this test that went right back to my introductory BCS courses! 

Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years I hope to be seeing patients privately, and hopefully be affiliated with a hospital either doing evaluations or treatment part-time.

What is your fondest memory of the University?

The way campus looks in the fall, and being in a place where everyone is exciting about learning.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Kate Kelliher

kelliherName: Kate Kelliher

Occupation: Graduate Student

Education (UR and additional): University of Rochester, class of 2011: Brain and Cognitive Science, Linguistics, American Sign Language. Beginning Fall 2013 Bowling Green State University, Masters (2015?) and Ph.D. (2018?) in Speech Language Pathology

Current city/state/country of residence: Bowling Green, OH

Current Community activities: Rowing, bicycle touring, young adult group at church, swing dancing (none of these are in OH as I will be starting there next week but they are some highlights from Baltimore where I have been for the past 2 years)


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I chose to come to UR for a variety of reasons, but the freedom to take the classes that interested me was certainly a huge factor. The BCS major intrigued me from my first visit and I wanted the chance to explore it further, an opportunity not available at many schools. The deciding factor, however, was probably the friendliness I encountered when visiting campus. That was what let me know this was a place I could not only get a wonderful education and build a strong foundation but also be truly happy.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I started out thinking I might be a BCS major which led me to take two classes in this field my first semester. I liked them well enough that I loaded up on the classes I would need for a major that spring which not only held my interest in BCS but introduced me to linguistics. I loved that too so took a few more classes and then didn’t want to choose so avoided the decision by working out a plan to major in both. Tweak that a bit to add in an ASL major, I had planned to take at least a few classes from day one, and you have a rather full schedule for a girl who just doesn’t like to pick just one of the things that interests her. So I chose my majors relatively early and they seemed to fall into place without my giving it too much thought, the choice was just clear. 

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was a member of the women’s rowing team and that shaped my experience at UR from my third day on campus. It took a large chunk of time every week and forced me to be organized and budget my time. It honed my discipline, commitment, teamwork, and ability to push past perceived limits. These skills spilled over into my academic life and I firmly believe I would not have had the same level of academic success, nor have been as well equipped upon graduation, without being a varsity athlete. It also introduced me to a second family and the majority of friends I have kept in touch with post graduation have been rowers. The other group that was essential to my experience at UR was the Catholic Newman Community. Whereas rowing gave me a place to push myself Newman gave me a place to relax and reflect. This was my place where I could shed pressures and forget about the cares that build up, where I could refocus on what is important in life and put things in perspective. Newman gave me opportunities to give back through St. Sebastian Society, chances to get away with Kairos, and the weekly opportunity to sit down for a nice family style dinner among friends. It is the balance between these two groups that allowed me to keep myself on track.

What did you do immediately after graduation?  How did you decide to take this path?

After graduation I began working as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins University in the Language and Cognition Lab. I worked in a lab for three years during my time at UR, but before committing to grad school I wanted to try on full time research and see how I liked it. I HIGHLY recommend doing something similar to all new graduates, I have learned more than I ever could have imagined.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am starting grad school in speech-language pathology this fall. I picked this field because I believe it will allow me to balance my passions for research and helping people on an individual basis. Fingers crossed it goes well!

Where would you like to be in five years?

Graduating with Ph.D. in hand.

What advice do you have for current students?

Have fun and follow your heart. Do something that makes you feel happy and fulfilled, that matters far more than what the world thinks.

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Michele Gruen

gruenName: Michele Gruen’07

Age: 29

Education (UR and additional): BA (American Sign Language), University of Rochester, 2007; Ed.M (Deaf Education), Boston University, 2010; M.Ed (Special Education: Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities), Northeastern University (currently)

Current city/state of residence: Brighton, MA

Employer: Boston Public Schools

Community activities: In 2012 I ran the Boston Marathon for Boston’s Children’s Hospital and raised over $4500 for charity.


 Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

When I was a senior in high school I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I was interested in math and science, so I wanted to attend a school with a good reputation in those subjects, but also one that offered a wide variety of other courses.  When I came for a visit to the University and heard all about the Cluster system, I knew it would be a great fit for me—I could take courses in a particular area but did not have to take the mandatory core courses that other colleges and universities required of their freshman and sophomores.  I loved the atmosphere on the campus from my initial visit, and the people I met were very welcoming and friendly.

When and how did you choose your major?

As an incoming freshman and even as a sophomore, I was undecided about my major.  I took a bunch of courses in different areas to try out new things, but ultimately decided to major in a subject that was fun for me: American Sign Language.  The first course I took was during the beginning of my sophomore year, and I enjoyed it so much that I continued to take courses in that area.  Because I still did not know what I wanted to major in, and I was so intrigued by the courses that the American Sign Language department had to offer, I decided to continue on that track and ultimately I majored in it.  It was such a unique and eye-opening experience for me.   The cluster system also allowed me to continue with other courses I enjoyed and I ended up having minors in Spanish and Linguistics by the time I graduated.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was a member of the varsity swim team for all four years of college, and I loved being involved with UR athletics.  For me, participating in a sport was a way for me to get into a daily routine and have some structure in my day.  The swim team was an immediate group of friends for me when I started college freshman year, and I gained a lifelong group of friends from spending so much time together for four years.  I think my class underwent some unique challenges, for example we had three different head coaches in four years of swimming, but through it all we stuck together.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

Since I loved learning American Sign Language so much during college, I wanted to find a way to continue using it so I would not lose it after college.  I also decided that I wanted to become a teacher—since I was fourteen years old I worked at a camp every summer in my home town.  I decided the best way for me to combine these two interests would be to teach children who are Deaf.  After graduation, I moved to Boston to attend Boston University for graduate school where I earned my Master’s Degree in Deaf Education.  During grad school I worked as a Teacher’s Aide at a school for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing where I could practice and improve my skills in American Sign Language and be fully immersed in Deaf culture.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I work at a unique Boston Public School for students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  The students who I work with are high school students who are new to the country and Deaf.  They are learning American Sign Language and English for the first time.  It is challenging but rewarding for me everyday.  They teach me about their cultures and experiences growing up in other countries while I teach them about this country.  My students are motivated to come to school everyday, which makes it a blast for me!

By definition, the students I work with are English Language Learners and fall under the category of Special Education.  I am currently working towards a second Master’s degree in Special Education: Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities, so that I can continue to learn and apply the best teaching practices to the student population that I work with.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Everything!  I am using the skills in language and culture I learned from my courses in American Sign Language everyday.  My teachers from college were fabulous and I formed a special bond with them throughout my years at UR.  If I had not taken an ASL class for fun I do not think I’d be doing what I’m doing today.

How are you still connected with the University?

I am still good friends with the people I met during my undergraduate years—from swimming, classes, and dorm life.  There are also a lot of UR graduates who live in the Boston area, and when I first moved here it was really nice to have some familiar faces.  I attend the alumni events in Boston where I continue to meet new people!

What advice do you have for current students?

Be open-minded about your future career and take classes in areas you enjoy!  Don’t take courses because you think you have to—there is flexibility in your schedule so be creative!

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Jennika Stamm

Name: Jennika Stamm ’10
Age: 23
Education (UR and additional): B.A. in American Sign Language, University of Rochester, 2010
Current city/state of residence: South Brunswick, NJ
Family: Married to another UR 2010 graduate (he graduated with a BS in Computer Science and a BA in Linguistics)
Community activities: Volunteering at local wildlife rehabilitation centers


When and how did you choose your major?

I wanted an extra class my sophomore year, and my friend suggested I take ASL 101. Since I knew a few signs and most of the alphabet, I figured there was no reason not to. I almost immediately fell in love with ASL—both as a language and as a large part of Deaf culture—and it evolved into a major from there.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

I knew quite a few professors and staff on campus when I was there because I worked on campus. All of the ASL professors were very helpful, and they were definitely my strongest mentors. Unfortunately, because of things at home, I lost contact with them after graduation, but I wish I kept in contact.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

I learned so much from the University of Rochester, and so much of it is still in play and useful in my life. I’d say that the most important of them, since I don’t want to list all the things I learned and still use, is the interpersonal skills and cultural knowledge I learned from all of my ASL classes and teachers. The Deaf community is very different from how I grew up, but a lot of things from my education are applicable, even outside of the Deaf community.

What advice do you have for current students?

Do what you love. I know it sounds kind of corny, but if there’s a class you really want to take or a club you’re really interested in, make sure to take it or join it! My biggest regret is that I didn’t take more science or art courses and didn’t participate in more clubs while I was at the U of R… and, as a college graduate, you just don’t get those kinds of opportunities to learn and experience things that you get from college. So, take the great opportunities available to you while you can!


Spotlight on Natural Sciences and Humanities Alumni: Matt Hall


Name: Matt Hall

Education (UR and additional): BA (Brain and Cognitive Sciences & American Sign Language), University of Rochester, 2003; MA, UC San Diego, 2008; Ph.D. UC San Diego, 2012.

Current city/state of residence: Storrs, CT

Job Title: Postdoctoral researcher

Employer: UConn

Community activities: I just arrived in Connecticut as fall turned into winter, so to date it’s mainly been raking leaves and shoveling snow!  In time, I look forward to becoming more involved in local choral, Christian, LGBT, and recreation groups.


When and how did you choose your major?

I came to UR specifically because the Brain & Cognitive Sciences department offered a track in psycholinguistics.  Coming out of high school, I knew that I loved both biology and language, and I thought I was going to have to choose between them.  Studying the biological basis of language was even better!  I had also been curious about sign language in high school but never had an opportunity to learn.  Imagine my surprise -and delight- at discovering that my psycholinguistics professor was Deaf and giving lectures in ASL (with a voice interpreter for the sign-impaired)!  The rich interconnections between psycholinguistics and ASL were apparent to me from day one of my freshman year, and I quickly became a BCS-ASL double major.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I knew that grad school was likely for me at some point, but before diving into a PhD program that required 60-80 hours of studying & research per week, I thought I’d start by looking for a research assistant position at 40 hours per week.  I applied to several labs around the country and received offers from leading researchers at Columbia and Harvard.  However, I decided to stay at UR to continue the research I had begun for my senior honors project, thanks to generous support from two BCS professors.  I worked full-time doing behavioral and neuroimaging research for three years, during which time I refined my ultimate research goals and assured myself that I was prepared for grad school.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am in the final stages of obtaining a PhD in cognitive psychology from UC San Diego, where I take advantage of the diversity of human communication (speech, writing, sign language, gesture) to ask questions about how communication and cognition interact with and mutually constrain each other.  I am fortunate to follow the pioneers whose life’s work convinced scholars that sign languages are full human languages; now, my generation has the opportunity to ask what sign languages can teach us about how all human language works.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

It’s hard to imagine what skills, tools, or knowledge might not have been useful!  The work that I do now is a direct outgrowth of my undergraduate education.  The coursework laid an appropriate foundation for further study, and prepared to me to teach broadly about cognition.  My research experience in labs and in through the honors research program set the stage for my current research pursuits.  My sign language skills have also proven to be a highly marketable asset, and that has been true for my first job after graduating, for admission to graduate programs, and even now in my postdoctoral job search.

Where would you like to be in five years?

Five years from how I hope to have secured a faculty position at a research university where my work would focus on establishing evidence-based best practices for maximizing both language and cognitive development in deaf children.  Many medical professionals continue to recommend that deaf children not be exposed to sign language, especially if they receive a cochlear implant.  My goal as a researcher is to first determine whether there is any empirical justification for this practice, and if not, to pursue what other approaches most fully maximize a deaf child’s potential.  I predict that early exposure to natural sign language will be chief among these, but at present it remains an empirical question.


Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Beth Goldstone

Name: Beth Goldstone
Age: 28
Education (UR and additional): B.A. in American Sign Language, University of Rochester, 2005; Ed. S (School Psychology-in progress)
Job Title: Substitute teacher, graduate student
Employer: Rocky Mountain Deaf School


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I visited Rochester and loved the charm of a small intimate campus. Also, I’m a big fan of the snow and cold weather.  What better place than Rochester, New York?  Also, I thought the Take Five program was a great idea, and that if a school valued education for the purpose of pursuing intellectual creativity, it seemed like a great fit.

What activities were you involved in as a student, and what did you gain from them?

I was active in the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team.  They were a great group of girls who stuck together, worked hard, and had fun while doing it. Captaining that team helped me with leadership skills, time management, and organization.  Not to mention that it kept me in great shape and introduced me to a great group of friends.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

While in school, I worked in Vermont at Austine School for the Deaf’s summer program.  I loved the kids, the community, the challenge of living within a different culture, and using a new language right here in the US.  After graduation, I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and worked as a teacher’s aid in the elementary school at New Mexico School for the Deaf.

What do you do now, and why did you choose this career?

I am currently finishing up my first year as a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Denver.  I’m working towards an Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology.  Since leaving NMSD (New Mexico School for the Deaf), I worked in a preschool center in Vermont where I taught sign language to a Down ’s syndrome boy one-on-one. Then, I moved to Colorado and worked one-on-one with a behavioral Deaf student at Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Golden, Colorado.  That experience made me realize how important appropriate services for special needs Deaf children are.  I decided to pursue a degree in School Psychology with a bilingual concentration in American Sign Language. In the future, I hope to be a School Psychologist either at a school for the Deaf or within a district that serves Deaf students in their mainstream programs.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Not only did learning American Sign Language help propel me into the career I am seeking today, but knowledge regarding the community’s culture has greatly impacted where I am today.  Through the wonderful professors I had, I truly understood what it means to be deaf and not deaf.  I learned how having a language and culture of your own can impact how a student feels about themselves.  Understanding the principles taught to me at UR helped me assimilate into the Deaf culture better than many other hearing people I encountered along the way.  Because of these lessons, I feel able to advocate for Deaf students and qualified to become a School Psychologist serving this population.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

I love to play.  I still play Ultimate Frisbee and use it as a great way to keep in shape and meet new people.  Staying active through Ultimate, trail running, climbing, and yoga keep me sane when working with kids!

Where would you like to be in five years?

I hope to be the School Psychologist at Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Golden, Colorado.
Learn everything you can and don’t stress over grades…remember to have fun! Also, I highly recommend taking advantage of the Take 5 program as well.  It is truly a unique experience and the best time of your life.


Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Dana Mittelman

Name: Dana Mittelman
Age: 28
Occupation: American Sign Language/English Interpreter
Education (UR and additional): B.A. in American Sign Language, University of Rochester, 2005. M.A. in Interpretation, Gallaudet University, 2009.
Current city/state of residence: Washington, DC
Family: Drew Mittelman (’68), father
Community Activites: I’m a member of the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) as well as the Potomac Chapter of RID. I play on a kickball team here in DC, am an active member of my book club, and am taking my first class through the Smithsonian Institution–Introduction to Calligraphy!



When and how did you choose your major?

I took an American Sign Language class my freshman year on a whim, while I debated between Psychology, English and Art History as a major. I fell in love with ASL immediately, and continued to take classes into my sophomore and junior year, eventually picking Linguistics with a focus in ASL as a major. My senior year, one of the required Linguistics courses conflicted with an ASL elective (ASL Poetry and Storytelling) that I had been waiting to take for four years. I realized that while I loved linguistics, my true passion was ASL, so in the fall of my senior year, I officially switched from Linguistics to ASL and have never regretted that decision for one second.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was heavily involved with theatre, both the UR International Theatre Program as well as independent/student directed work—I loved the camaraderie that came from the student directed pieces. I wrote for the Campus Times—it was fantastic to have a platform for my writing, and I was grateful for the opportunities to learn more about many different aspects of the University through the CT. I was in a sorority, and had the chance to meet a diverse group of women through the Greek system. I worked for the Admissions Office which allowed me to chat about the University and attempt to instill my love for the school into prospective students and their families.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I worked for the Admissions office as an Admissions Counselor—what began as a “no more than 9 month” position (as I told myself then), quickly turned into two wonderful years. Not only did I get to speak of my highly positive experience at the University all day every day, I worked with a wonderful group of people and had the opportunity to really develop my interpersonal and public speaking skills. While it wasn’t a career for me, it was a perfect “transition” job away from the University, and I will always be fascinated by the college admissions process as a result.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am a sign language interpreter. I work, full-time, for an interpreting agency in Washington, DC—I have the opportunity to work with Deaf individuals in the government, in universities, at hospitals, and everywhere in between. I knew that it would be a waste to fall in love with ASL at U of R and then never use it in my career. So I returned to graduate school (at Gallaudet University) to get my Masters in Interpretation, and have been working since I graduated in 2009. I was able to parlay the rock-solid foundation I received from the ASL program at the U of R into a career where I get to interact with people and analyze language, culture and their intricacies on a daily basis. I can’t imagine a more ideal job.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Of course everything I learned in the ASL program (especially the Deaf culture studies and linguistics emphasis) has benefited me in my current career. But the University’s emphasis on quality writing has benefited me the most overall. From the Admissions Office, to graduate school, to my current job, I have always been comfortable with and proud of my writing abilities, and it was a huge advantage to me once I graduated from the U of R. People respect writing skills, and it’s one of the easiest ways to impress in the professional world.

How are you still connected with the University?

Of course, because of my time in the Admissions office, I am a “UR Involved” alumna volunteer—I conduct interviews and represent the University at local college fairs. I am also heavily involved with the U of R Young Alumni Council, and have met a myriad of fantastic young alums in the DC area through our local events. I am also a member of the Rochester Career Advisory Network (although I have yet to receive a single inquiry of my work in the ASL/Deaf culture field! Any day now!)

What advice do you have for current students?

I originally majored in Linguistics partly because I enjoyed it, but partly because I thought it would provide me with more work opportunities after graduation than ASL would. When I sat down with a counselor in the career center when I was a senior, he asked me which of the two I truly loved, which classes I looked forward to. I replied, unequivocally, “ASL.” While I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to use a degree in ASL, I knew that I would be able to speak about it with absolute conviction and passion in any situation after graduation. And making that decision certainly worked in my favor. So, that’s my advice: there isn’t a “bad” department at U of R, so major in what you love. Don’t get bogged down with what you “think” will happen after graduation. If you do what you love now, it will more likely land you a career that you can imagine yourself in for a lifetime.


Nine Rochester Students Awarded Fellowships for Graduate Research

Univ. Communications – Nine University of Rochester students and six alumni have been named recipients of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Additionally, 18 current students and recent alumni also were given honorable mentions by the NSF. The fellowship, which is part of a federally sponsored program, provides up to three years of graduate study support for students pursing doctoral or research-based master’s degrees. Since the program’s inception in 1952, it has supported nearly 50,000 students conducting research in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and selected social science disciplines. Of the more than 12,000 applicants, only 2,000 were awarded fellowships and 1,783 were given honorable mentions. The fellowship includes a three-year annual stipend of $30,000, a $10,500 educational allowance to the institution, and international research and professional development opportunities.

The following graduating seniors received fellowships:

  • Emilia Sola-Gracia ’12, bachelor of science in ecology and evolutionary biology
  • David Kaphan ’12, bachelor of science in chemistry
  • Sharese King ’12, bachelor of arts in linguistics, minor in American Sign Language
  • Mark D. Levin ’12, bachelor of science in chemistry, minor in mathematics
  • Susan Pratt ’12, bachelor of arts in mathematics and bachelor of science in physics

The following graduating seniors received honorable mentions:

  • Chad Hunter ’12, bachelor of science in chemical engineering, minor in mathematics
  • Matej Penciak ’12, bachelor of science in physics and bachelor of arts in mathematics
  • Benjamin E.R. Snyder ’12, bachelor of science in chemistry and bachelor of arts in mathematics

The following graduate students received fellowships:

  • Michael Baranello, doctoral degree candidate in chemical engineering
  • Ellie Carrell, doctoral degree candidate in pharmacology and physiology
  • Jason Inzana, doctoral degree candidate in biomedical engineering
  • Vijay Jain, doctoral degree candidate in physics

The following graduate students received honorable mentions:

  • Esteban Buz, doctoral degree candidate in brain and cognitive sciences
  • Dev Crasta, doctoral degree candidate in clinical and social sciences in psychology
  • Adam B. Johnson, doctoral degree candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Patrick S. Murphy, doctoral degree candidate in microbiology & immunology
  • Ian Perera, doctoral degree candidate in computer science

The following recent alumni, who are currently pursing advanced degrees elsewhere, received fellowships:

  • Molly Boutin ’11, bachelor of science in biomedical engineering
  • Caitlin Hilliard ’10, bachelor of arts in brain and cognitive sciences and American Sign Language
  • Patrick Sheehan ’11, bachelor of science in physics & astronomy and bachelor of arts in mathematics
  • Raisa Trubko ’10, bachelor of arts in physics and bachelor of science in optics
  • David J. Weinberg ’11, bachelor of science in chemistry
  • Hannah (Geswein) Williamson ’08, bachelor of arts in psychology

The following recent alumni, many of whom are currently pursing advanced degrees elsewhere, received honorable mentions:

  • Samuel Anderson ’11, bachelor of science in chemistry
  • Isthier Chaudhury ’11, bachelor of science in chemical engineering and bachelor of arts in interdepartmental programs
  • Emily (Grzybowski) Dennis ’11, bachelor of science in molecular genetics and bachelor of arts in studio arts
  • Aaron Gorenstein ’11, bachelor of science in computer science
  • Seth Kallman ’09, bachelor of science in brain & cognitive sciences
  • Kathleen Mulvaney ’10, bachelor of science in molecular genetics
  • Alison Ossip-Klein ’10, bachelor of science in ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Camillia Redding ’10, bachelor of arts in political science
  • Maria Strangas ’10, bachelor of science in ecology & evolutionary biology
  • Adam Williamson’08, bachelor of science in electrical & computer engineering and bachelor of arts in physics

Article written by Melissa Greco Lopes, editor of The Buzz and student life publicist in University Communications. Photo courtesy of  the NSF website.

American Sign Language Meets American Idol

Univ. Communications – In a clever play on American Idol, University of Rochester undergraduates and high school students from the Greece Central School District showed off their knowledge of American Sign Language during Sign Idol, a competition in which students interpret the lyrics to songs using sign language. The event took place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, in room 101 of the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics (located on the River Campus).

Watch the Sign Idol video!

Sponsored by undergraduate student group, American Sign Language Club, Sign Idol gave students a chance to practice English to ASL interpretation in an innovative, fun way. In the past, students have interpreted pop hits like Aretha Franklin’s classic Respect to poetic songs like Jeff Buckley’s Halleluiah.

“We’ve had students select a broad variety of songs to interpret,” says Justin Gumina ’12, ASL Club president. “And, after they perform, a panel of judges provides critiques on how they can improve their interpretations.”

Before the event began, members of the ASL Club spent the afternoon with high school students from Greece Olympia and Greece Arcadia. In small groups, the high school students visited an introductory American Sign Language class and then met with professors and current undergraduates. The activities were part of a larger partnership with the school district; each week Rochester students spend an hour at the schools doing a “silent signing” session.

The American Sign Language Club was formed to promote cultural awareness of the deaf community on campus and in the city of Rochester. The group holds “silent coffees” at the campus Starbucks twice a week, where students can practice finger spelling and increase their vocabulary. They have hosted deaf comedians and storytellers on campus and hold a parent-student event during Meliora Weekend.

(Homepage Photo courtesy of Stock.Xchng)