The Elusive Geomechanics Major

By Dan Wang ’14
Univ. Communications

Out of the more than 4,500 full-time undergrads at the University of Rochester, exactly three are pursuing a major in geomechanics. Just who are these brave few?

The trio is made up of very different students: a freshman from Kingston, Jamaica who emphasizes her environmentalism; a junior who went to high school in Rochester and would like to work on an oil platform or for an oilfield services company; and a Take 5 scholar from outside of New York City who would like to do fieldwork to study seismology and geothermal energy.

But first, what kind of degree are they pursuing? The bachelor of science degree in geomechanics is a program run jointly between the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. An interdisciplinary major, completing geomechanics also means taking classes in math, physics, and chemistry.  Lisa Norwood ’86, ’95, assistant dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and a former geomechenics major, describes the program this way, “The curriculum emphasizes the application of the principles of mechanics to problems associated with the atmosphere, the oceans, and the solid earth.”

Kayon Ellis ’16 has not yet declared her geomechanics (geomech) major, but she’s quite set on pursuing it. Ellis comes by way of Jamaica, and this is her first year living in the United States. A commitment to environmentalism and an analysis of basin sediments in streams prior to coming to Rochester propelled her to study geomechanics. “I find the study of the earth fascinating,” says Ellis. “You just can’t study anything in isolation; you have to analyze the whole system.”

Two years ahead, Michael Grotke ’14 has different goals in mind. Grotke grew up in Tucson, Arizona and attended high school in Rochester. On campus, he works part-time for the Earth and Environmental Science Lab, and is a member of the SA Appropriations Committee. What does he see himself doing? “I hope to use this degree towards a career in the oil and natural gas industry, most likely shale-gas and crude oil exploration.” The companies he’d like to apply his geomech training to include Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Shell, and Halliburton.

Skipping two more years ahead, the final geomech major is Brian Castro ’12 (T5). Though he had a hard time deciding between studying physics and mechanical engineering, he has embraced the geomech major with vigor. Castro also has extensive experience in fieldwork. Research on geothermal energy took him to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and, as part of an NSF-sponsored program, to work at a geosciences research company in New Zealand. He also conducted seismic research at the University, in Professor Cynthia Ebinger’s lab. Castro’s interests are more academic, and he’d like to further study seismology, geothermal energy, and planetary science.

The major is robust enough to accommodate all of these interests. Dean Norwood sees no shortage of ways to use the geomech major. “Career opportunities include work with the U.S. Geological Survey and with departments of natural resources or environmental protection at the federal, state, and county levels; with the oil and mineral resources industries; and in multidisciplinary private consulting firms engaged in geological engineering.”

New Todd Production Puts Two In Spotlight

by Benjamin Mitchell ’13
Public Relations Intern, International Theatre Program

This fall’s production at Todd Theatre, Ubu Roi, has a large cast, which includes Stella Kammel ’12 (T5) and Lydia Jimenez ’13, playing Mama and Papa Ubu, respectively.  Jimenez is majoring in English with a concentration in theatre, and Kammel also is an English major.  Both have been active in the UR’s theatre community.

“During my four years in the program, I’ve assistant stage managed, assistant directed, acted, worked on the props design and construction and scenic painting crew, and participated in the Theatre in England seminar under Russell Peck,”  says Jimenez. “I am profoundly grateful for the endless opportunities afforded to me by the UR International Theatre Program and English Department.”

Kammel has also been heavily involved on campus.  She’s been cast in various plays at Todd Theatre and is member of the campus student theatre company, TOOP (The Opposite of People).  She also is a member of the Masters Swim Club (not to be confused with the Bachelors Swim Club).

Both students have favorite (and memorable) moments and roles.  For Kammel, one was the playing the role of Mitzi in An Absolute Turkey, a flamboyant bawdy Swiss-German woman.  “She was crazy!” exclaims Kammel.  “She had to wield an axe, and was required to impale it in a square board where [the props makers] had painted a Swiss cross.”

Luckily, Kammel hit the mark, bull’s-eye, every single performance.  “I love stage fright,” she says. “That’s the closest I’ve gotten to it here.”

Kammel also is a fan of accents and remembers diligently practicing her German accent during auditions, hoping to get the French sound out of it.  The character of Mitzi was particularly easy to understand, so rather than having to figure out the character, she was able to play with moments and go beyond what she would have been able to do otherwise.  On top of that, Nigel Maister, artistic director of the UR International Theatre Program, was directing. Kammel said she finds him “a lot of fun to work with.”

Jimenez notes that assistant directing Adding Machine: A Musical and closely watching professional actors in more than 25 plays in England has greatly informed her acting.  “I’ve gained an audible and visible understanding of directions and acting notes.  I take a bit of time to process and internalize, and when I’m given a direction, I initially understand it theoretically,” she explains. “Watching actors in rehearsal from the other side of the table in Adding Machine allowed me to see why things don’t work—I was able to hear when they were not being spontaneous in their continually downwardly inflected lines, and see how the actor’s gestures when performed devoid of impulse ‘look only like moves.’”

One might wonder where such a great passion for theatre might originate, and Jimenez explains that there are a lot of reasons why theatre is so important to her and why she is interested in it.  “For one, the theatre is one of the few venues I know of where wholehearted and uninterrupted storytelling can happen nowadays.  I can’t remember the last time I was able to tell a story without a listener being distracted by a text message or other media device.  In the theatre, listeners commit undivided attention to the actors, and actors communicate without disturbance.  It’s refreshing,” she says.

Jimenez also notes that she is “always moved and astonished to witness the enlivening of words on a page: on the actor’s side as they internalizes and vocalizes the text, and on the production side by the lighting, staging, sound and, often, video added to the text in production—all of the aspects that are not present in the little black marks on the page, but that the actors, director and designers conceive.”

Jimenez says that working under visiting guest artist Peter Karapetkov has taught her that these concepts are limitless.  “We are leaps and bounds now from where we were at our first table reading of the show.  Peter continuously changed the blocking, motivations and through-lines of the characters throughout the entire rehearsal process, up until the day before opening, and even slightly after the first performance,” she explains. “Some approaches worked better than others, and even though the constant reworking was frustrating and uncomfortable at times, these limitless interpretations are a celebration of textual ambiguity.”

In Ubu Roi, Kammel’s character, Ma Ubu, was difficult because it was the first time she’s had to sing, which was at first terrifying to her, but has subsequently become a really fun and exciting experience.  Furthermore, because she likes to have the audience like her, it’s very tough with this character, which is quite unsympathetic.  “I don’t like her [Ma Ubu] … well, I do like her, but I wouldn’t want to have lunch with her,” she says.

Kammel also remarks that there are many times in Ubu Roi when there isn’t a specific action the actors are required to perform and so they can just improvise with the space on stage, allowing new things to come out every show.  Additionally, everyone sings and is crazy at the end “which is a lot of fun and super exciting.”  As an added benefit, she gets to eat a lot of chocolate in the show; five pieces a night, and sometimes even six!

“Todd is so much fun and I’ve learned so much being part of the International Theatre Program,” Kammel says. “I feel like it’s not under-appreciated, but also not as well known as it deserves to be.  It should be a real source of pride on campus because everyone puts so much work into it, and at the end the productions are so beautiful. Come see the show! Go Todd!”

Ubu Roi runs through Saturday, Oct. 20, in Todd Theatre on the University of Rochester’s River Campus. Tickets are $7 for UR students; $10 for UR alumni, faculty and staff, and for seniors (55 and over); and $13 for the general public. Tickets may be purchased up to an hour before each performance at the box office. They also are available online at rochester.edu/theatre or by calling 585.275.4088.

In the Photo: Stella Kammel and Lydia Jimenez performing in Ubu Roi. Photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester.

UR Astronomy Club: Hands-On Observing

Univ. Communications – Living in a city like Rochester, N.Y., can put a damper on most nighttime astronomical observing because of light pollution and the seemingly always present cloud cover. However, the Astronomy Club at the University of Rochester offers students the opportunity to enjoy observational astronomy as well as a look into all aspects of astronomy and physics. Also, the club is perfect for those who merely want to know more and enjoy astronomy without the tedious task of trying to solve mathematical equations.

“We try to explain phenomenon qualitatively, so there’s virtually no math,” states club president Alexandra Kuznetsov ’14, astronomy major and founding member of the Astronomy Club. Because of this, club members can thoroughly appreciate the physical beauty of the cosmos.

The club plans trips one or two times a semester to CEK Mees Observatory in the Bristol Hills of Naples, N.Y., where they get hands-on experience observing through a 24-inch Cassegrain telescope. Kuznetsov said that at the last observation, the club members were able to observe Saturn, its rings, and some of Saturn’s moons. She says the club hopes to schedule three visits in the upcoming fall semester.

“There’s always exciting things going on,” said Kuznetsov. When asked about what students look for while observing, she said they “usually have a list of things [they] want to see.”

For those especially enthusiastic about observing, the University offers sanctuary to budding astronomers near Mees Observatory at Gannett House. Gannett has several bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and more, making it a comfortable location for students and amateur astronomers to set a spell.

Recently, the club has been trying to implement “Quad Astronomy” into their activities by setting up a telescope on UR’s Academic Quad. Marissa Adams ’14, a physics major who is the secretary and a founding member of the Astronomy Club, believes bringing a telescope or solar scope to the Quad would be a fun activity.

“On a hot day, why not bring this aspect to the Quad when everybody is out lounging? I’m sure anyone on campus would love that,” she said.

If this becomes implemented into the club’s activities, observing could happen more frequently and be overall easier to plan and more accessible for students.

A known fact about observing is how incredibly cold astronomers can get while sitting in frigid observatories on top of mountains. Because the members want to survive an observation session, they take a break during the winter season.

During the cold months, the club plans bi-weekly events called “Astro Major Presents,” where they bring in astronomers and professors to talk about a characteristic of astronomy they know particularly well. Often after the talk, the floor opens for discussion while participants enjoy the occasional tea and cookies. Last semester, the club held a special event where several professors spoke about astronomy and then screened Steven Hawkins’s Into the Universe.

While founded only two years ago, the Astronomy Club offers as a great outlet for any night gazing enthusiast.

Furthermore, Mees Observatory holds weekly tours over the summer. For students who are on campus during the summer, the Astronomy Club is interested in going! Contact them as soon as possible to capitalize on this fun opportunity to get out of Rochester and experience the depths of the universe.

Learn more about the club and how to become a member by visiting https://sa.rochester.edu/clubs/AstroClub/about.

Article written by Cody McConnell, an English and philosophy dual major and member of UR Men’s Rugby, The Uglies. In McConnell’s free time, he plays bass and is the lead vocalist in a signed, touring death metal band.

In the Photo: Jeffrey Vankerkhove ’13, a physics and astronomy major, views the sky from the Mees Observatory. Photos are courtesy of Marissa Adams ’14.

Sorcha Dundas Awarded Fulbright to Nepal

University of Rochester student Sorcha Dundas ’12 has been awarded a 2012-13 Fulbright Scholarship to Nepal, where she will serve as an English Teaching Assistant. Dundas, a native of Rutland, Vt., is the first Rochester student to be accepted into the Nepal program. In the past five years, 35 Rochester students and alumni have received a Fulbright Scholarship, which is among the most prestigious and competitive fellowship programs.

Rochester senior Edith Hanson, who will graduate with dual majors in Japanese and computer science and a minor in history, was named a Fulbright alternate to South Korea. Rising junior Adam Russak was chosen to participate in the 2012 Fulbright US-UK Summer Institute, where he will spend six weeks studying at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Russak, a native of Agoura Hills, Calif., is completing a bachelor of science degree in applied math and also doing a minor in classical civilization.

Dundas, who will graduate on May 20 with a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology from the College, will spend a month in Katmandu, undergoing extensive training in the Nepali language and honing her teaching skills. During her eight-month stay in Nepal, she hopes to volunteer in a local health clinic or assist in research and community projects, in addition to her teaching assistantship.

For Dundas, the Fulbright is an opportunity to build upon experiences she had working with and studying Nepali refugees in America during summer 2011. Dundas, who was awarded an Anthropology Undergraduate Research Grant, worked with newly settled Bhutanese refugees during an internship with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. Dundas lived with a Nepali family originally from Bhutan, serving as an in-home English tutor. During the summer, she also used her research grant to study newly formed agricultural projects that help refugees and immigrants acclimate to the United States. Both experiences will help inform her honor’s thesis, which explores the American experience of Nepali refugees.

For Dundas, traveling to Nepal as a Fulbright is not her first international education experience. She also studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, as a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar and also received an IES Africa Scholarship. During her time in South Africa, she worked in impoverished Cape Flat communities, teaching English as a Second Language to nine through 12-year-olds.

At Rochester, Dundas was involved in the campus chapter of GlobeMed, a student organization that is committed to improving the conditions of global health and advocating for social justice. As a tutor with UReading, she spent nearly 10 hours each week helping preschool children develop their language, literacy, math, and social skills at Rochester City School District School 29. She also served as a resident assistant for four semesters.

The Fulbright program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, offers opportunities for career-launching study, teaching, and research abroad and are designed to promote education and cultural exchange between the United States and other nations. Postgraduate scholars pursuing study or research design their own programs and arrange institutional affiliations in the host countries. The grants cover expenses such as travel and health insurance, and also provide a monthly stipend. Established by Congress in 1946, Fulbright is the largest federally sponsored international educational exchange program.

Tinkerer, Scholar, Hacker, Innovator

Rochester Review – For more than a week in May, Andrew Tomich ’14, Jared Suresky ’12, and other members of the Midnight Ramblers will hole up in makeshift recording booths in the basement of Spurrier Gym. There, over the course of back-to-back, 12- to 15-hour days, they will haul into the building their own microphones, their own portable recording system, computers loaded with professional software, and other equipment to record up to a dozen new songs.

At the end of the marathon sessions, the members of the a cappella group will emerge, bleary-eyed—maybe a little hoarse—but with a laptop containing the gist of their 10th “studio” album. The do-it-yourself method is how the Ramblers have recorded all nine of their albums over the last decade: on their own, late into the night, with their own equipment.

They have no faculty members to guide them, no tech support crew to troubleshoot problems, and no formal training in how to record digital music. They have just their own desire to create a collection of music they can share with their fans.

“We keep teaching ourselves how to do it,” says Tomich, a biomedical engineering major from Cleveland. “A lot of what we’ve learned is through experimentation, and through one generation of Ramblers handing off the knowledge to another generation.

“We kind of make do,” he says.

And make do very well. With albums regularly selected as among the best in the collegiate a cappella world, the Ramblers are something of an ongoing digital media enterprise. In addition to recording their own tracks (they rely on a professional engineering company to mix the albums), they conceive, record, and produce their own videos, and they oversee their own advertising and communications effort. All done digitally on their own equipment.

As the tools—the cameras, computers, software—that used to be available to only the most sophisticated professional have become practically standard on introductory laptops, if not on smartphones, students at Rochester and across the country are teaching themselves how to create their own artistic, personal, and professional digital portfolios.

And they take on the projects because they want to, regardless of their majors or whether they’ve taken classes or been formally trained in digital media. It’s not just for film geeks or photo mavens or computer jocks any more.

Couple that ubiquity with the 24/7, can-do, let’s-make-something-cool spirit that’s contagious among college students, and academic leaders say the University is poised not just to make advances in the world of digital media and art, but also to help rekindle a spirit of innovation.

Tom DiPiero, dean for humanities and interdisciplinary studies, says one of the hallmarks of students who have grown up in the Internet era is that they’re immune to the notion that creativity is bound within individual disciplines. Riffing on the British scientist C. P. Snow’s famous critique of academia and the danger of compartmentalization, DiPiero says students don’t think in terms of “two cultures” any longer, if they ever did.

“Any of us who are older still think in terms of the divides—the arts and humanities side and the science and engineering side,” says DiPiero. “That’s not how kids think today. They might have a predilection toward one or the other side of things, but they don’t think in those kinds of boxes.”

In an effort to further strengthen the connections among intellectual interests, Arts, Sciences & Engineering is launching a multipronged initiative this spring with the goal of providing students with an academic and cocurricular home for their multidisciplinary interests.

The clearest manifestation is a new building, which campus planners hope to break ground on later this year, that will house state-of-the-art space for students to explore, create, and study digital media, including video and audio production, website technology, and mobile applications.

Built to connect with Morey Hall, the new building will provide much of the technologically equipped studio space for two new majors designed to give students an academic structure to channel their interests in the arts, humanities, and digital technology. One major, in digital media studies, has begun enrolling students for the fall; the second, in audio and music engineering, is expected to be approved soon.

DiPiero says the new major in digital media is designed to give students a liberal arts grounding in perspectives about narrative, analysis, video production, film history, media, technology, and other humanistic approaches, complemented with production-oriented classes in video, audio, Web, and other technologies.

Such a program will not only improve the digital skills of students, but will also provide them with a broad perspective to think critically about the technology around them, he says.

“If you know the history, if you know the aesthetics, you are much more likely to be able to produce something that people will want to watch,” says DiPiero. “But we also want to address the fact that every educated adult needs to be both a critical reader of media—that is, they need to know how to look at media, how to understand them historically, socially, and even aesthetically—and at the same time, they need to know something about how to produce these forms of media.”

Tomich of the Ramblers says having a broader sense of the history and aesthetics of media production would only improve the quality of the group’s productions.

“As a non-major, I’m interested in those things; as a user I’m interested in those things,” he says. “If it was a major, I’d still be interested in those things. Knowing where things have come from enables you to create better work.

“I would have no qualms about taking a history class to understand why we have what we have, and how it has progressed to this point. I think that’s really cool.”

The idea of channeling student inquisitiveness and innovation guides a second main component of the new building—a state-of-the-art “studio for engineers”—known as the fabrication center, or “fab lab,” where students can fabricate prototypes and work with materials for shaping ideas into products.

Rob Clark, dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, says the design of the fab lab and its placement within the new building acknowledges that innovative ideas come from across the spectrum of students.

He, too, has seen a trend among students to bridge what traditionally have been seen as distinct disciplines. For example, last year, when a computer-aided design course required for mechanical engineering students was mistakenly listed in the course schedule as having no prerequisites, the first 25 to 30 seats were filled with arts and sciences students. The Hajim School had to offer a second section to accommodate the additional demand.

Clark attributes the enrollment to students’ interest in the gaming industry and the growth of virtual online worlds, but he says it’s a fitting example of how students approach new technologies.

“Students here and at other institutions are less driven by the requirements and constraints put on any particular discipline,” Clark says. “They are interested in learning what they’re curious about at the time. They’re less interested in the boundaries between disciplines. I think this space creates an opportunity to say, ‘We encourage that.’”

Bradley Halpern ’12, president of the Students’ Association, says students have long been tinkering with media production, particularly campus performing groups who produce video and audio projects. Regardless of major, students think nothing of drawing on other disciplines to figure out how to solve a problem.

“People are starting to realize that you need crossdisciplinary study to solve the world’s problems,” says Halpern. “It’s a way of thinking that makes us, as students, more capable and more likely to take that approach when we’re in the workforce.”

An engineer, Halpern is focusing his major on human-computer interaction, a field that explores the social, cultural, and psychological ways that people interact with technology and how to improve that experience. He draws on his interests in computers, political science, music, and other fields as he explores ways to make technology more user-friendly.

Halpern works with Jeff Bigham, an assistant professor of computer science who helped draft the new major in digital media studies. Bigham says technological fields like computer engineering are just beginning to recognize how much artists, psychologists, and humanists can bring to the design of technology.

The new initiatives can only spark more collaboration among students, who, he agrees, no longer think in terms of “us” and “them” when it comes to digital culture.

“We older people might think that there are two groups,” he says. “Younger people are just thinking, I’m a digital media person and I might sample from computer science or I might sample from art and art history. They’re already doing it; why not just formalize it?”

Bigham notes that the willingness of students to explore the potential of technological tools is not new. Such creativity lies at the heart of what most people think of as “hacking,” or the nonmalicious approach of taking a gadget apart, figuring out how it works, and using its concepts and parts to create something new. In that sense, the arts and humanities are particular hotspots right now, he says.

“It used to be the computer scientists who were going off and gluing together hardware, and they were writing their own software to do stuff that they thought was cool, to get stuff done,” Bigham says. “Now, we’ve matured as a discipline; we have all this stuff. Now it’s the artists, who don’t have formal training in computer science or in electrical engineering, who are taking whatever they can find, gluing it together in whatever way they want to be able to achieve whatever art they want to create. They are the ones who are doing the hacking that really started with computer programming.”

For his part, Clark wouldn’t mind rekindling the idea that being a good engineer means being a good tinkerer.

As do other engineering administrators around the country, Clark notes that the profession’s success in making sure that students are mathematically prepared and comfortable working with computer technology has lessened the likelihood that incoming engineering students have experience in developing, producing, or improving physical products.

“Our students come in with great math and science skills,” he says. “That’s true across the field of engineering. It’s generational. But part of education is always to find the components of the things that someone needs to learn to succeed in a particular career. In engineering part of what you need to succeed is to understand how things work. To do that, you need to be able to take things apart or put them together and to conceive design.

“I want to encourage engineering students to use the space as an art student would use an art studio. If you’re a sophomore and you have an idea of some widget you want to build, then you should be able to figure out what tools you need to use to build the device and be able to go into the lab and build it.”

Cary Peppermint, assistant professor of art and art history, says artists have traditionally been willing to do exactly that—go into a studio and use the tools at hand to pursue an artistic vision. What’s new is that the technology is different and the approaches to art tend to be more collaborative and interactive than they’ve been in the past.

He’s the founder of an artistic collective that uses technology such as GPS programs, Web interfaces, and social media to analyze and question modern society’s connections with nature.

In his classes, he and his students explore ways to repurpose technologies to create new artistic works and to develop interactions between artists, viewers, and art.

“The collaborative and interdisciplinary component is different from an artist’s perspective,” he says. In contrast to the stereotypical image of the lone artist, most digital art requires a group of programmers, graphic designers, artists, digital video, and sound producers.

“No one can be an expert in all those things,” Peppermint says. “It’s a new way of working. That’s very exciting.”

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One of the students in Peppermint’s introduction to digital art class, Nicolette Howell ’13, says she’s used to tinkering as a studio arts major interested in photography. The brooding images in a recent portfolio of her work hide a menagerie of menacing shapes and shadows within swirls of computer-enhanced smoke. All created with imagination, vision—and software.

Like generations of photographers and artists before her, the junior from Dacula, Ga., is learning to experiment with her medium and her equipment to get the results she sees in her mind’s eye.

She’s already acquainted herself with Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, and other commercial-level image and design programs. In the course on digital art last winter, she used software to animate her images so that they moved as viewers clicked them on a computer screen.

The project was her first effort at interactive art, and it piqued her interest in improving her skills with increasingly advanced technology. She doesn’t want to be a computer programmer, but she does want to know enough about software to help express her artistic ideas.

Says Howell: “I always think that learning about more things will make my work better.”

Article written for the May-June issue of Rochester Review by Scott Hauser, editor of Review.

In the Photos:

ROLL ‘TAPE’: Setting up their own equipment in practice rooms in Spurrier Gym, Jared Suresky ’12 (singing), Kevin Layden ’13 (left), Noah Berg ’12, Andrew Tomich ’14, and the rest of the Midnight Ramblers have recorded nine CDs, teaching themselves how to use new technology.

DESIGNING TIMES: Computer science professor Jeff Bigham says technologists have begun to recognize the contributions of humanists and social scientists in making technology more user-friendly.

STUDIO ARTIST: Nicolette Howell ’13, a studio arts major from Dacula, Ga., says an introductory class on digital art piqued her interest in learning more about how she can use technology to broaden the range of artistic expression she can bring to her photographic work.

Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Communications.

Modern Languages & Cultures Department Honors Book Award Recipients

Dept. of Modern Languages and Cultures – On May 3, 2012, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures hosted the 2012 Book Awards where they lauded students studying a variety of languages. The students that were presented with the book awards are as follows:

French: Kriti Thapa ’14, Emma Alperin ’15, Rebecca Herlich ’14, Christopher Nishimura ’15

Japanese: Jonathan Budnik ’14, Cameron La Point ’13, Valerie Mueller ’14

German: Kathryn Conheady ’15, Leslie Gordon ’13, Veronica Price ’13

Comparative Literature: Hannah Chute ’14, Laura Dolan ’13, Olivia Earle ’13

Russian Studies: Kathleen Dickson ’14, Eric Hand ’14

Italian: Philip Sutera ’14, Ke Xiang ’14, Simone Zehren ’14

Chinese: Carolyn Magri ’13, Quinlan Mitchell ’13, Cihangir Okuyan ’12, Emily Slack ’12

Russian: Zhao Li ’14 May Zhee Lim ’14, Yiyang Zhu ’14

Spanish: Samuel Beckwith ’14, Amelia Engel ’14, Marjorie Grace Van der Ven ’14, Victoria Zhou ’14

Article and photo courtesy of Yick Chong Lam ’13. In the Photo: Kriti Thapa ’14 is given a 2012 Book Award

Campus Leaders Recognized During Student Life Awards Ceremony

Univ. Communications – Each spring the Office of the Dean of Students and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership recognize undergraduate students and organizations that have made significant contributions to campus life. Nominated by faculty, staff, and peers, Student Life Award recipients represent diverse interests, talents, and accomplishments.

This year, the awards, also known as the Rockys, were presented to 18 students and four organizations.  “I think the winners represent a large demographic that follows their passions and give back to others in all sorts of ways,” said Ed Feldman, associate director of leadership programs at the Rochester Center for Community Leadership and chair of the selection committee.  He added that he felt inspired by the winners whose “values center around an inherent desire to better themselves and in return make a positive social change in the campus and Rochester community.”

Friends, family, and colleagues of the honorees were invited to an intimate awards reception, which was also attended by University administrators and campus leaders. All the winning students and organizations received engraved glass trophies and certificates.

Awards ranged from recognizing leadership in the freshman class, athletics, Greek life, and student government. There also was an award given to an outstanding transfer student.  New this year was the Communal Principles Award, recognizing a student for the promotion of fairness, freedom, honesty, inclusion, respect, and responsibility on campus.  One of these six principles will be highlighted annually. This year’s recipient, Jay Liriano ’12 was selected for demonstrating qualities that exemplify the Communal Principle of Respect in his leadership as president of the Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity.

The Ballet Performance Group was honored as the Outstanding Student Organization.  The 90-member dance group was nominated by Lydia Crews and Wilson Commons Student Activities. Among its performances and programs this year were the Uncommon nights during orientation, a benefit show for Golisano Children’s Hospital, and an alumni reunion performance. BPG, who took first place at the DU Dance for Charity, also collaborated with the Eastman musicians, incorporating live music in its performances. During Meliora Weekend, BPG usually performs with two other dance groups, but they enhanced this year’s program and collaborated with six other dance groups for the “Diversity of Dance” production. In addition, BPG started a new community outreach program called “Dare to Dance.” Members went to Rochester’ Francis Parker School 23 to teach different styles of dance as an after school program.  At the end of the semester, the elementary school students had the opportunity to perform on stage in Strong Auditorium at BPG’s show.

“The award is reflective of the culmination of efforts from the group’s recent history,” said Laura Chess ’12, BPG’s president and a biomedical engineering major. “It was of course a fantastic surprise, though I believe the group was more than deserving.”  With all of its new programs, Chess hopes that BPG will continue to be a vibrant and inclusive community on campus. The group strives to give all students who are passionate about dance a chance to participate and help shape the programming.  “I’m excited to return and see how the group continues to develop after I’m gone,” Chess added.

Another student honored was economics and political science major Nathan Novosel ’12. As the recipient of the Seth H. & Harriet Terry Prize, he was recognized for his “industry, character and honorable conduct, having done the most for the life and character of the undergraduate community.”  Novosel, who received the Award for Athletic Leadership last year, has been one of the three captains for the Men’s Basketball Team for the past two years.  Novosel also is the vice president of the College Democrats, head captain of the Saint Sebastian Society (a community service group of varsity student athletes which is part of the Catholic Newman organization), a member of the Varsity Student Advisory Committee, the Alexander Hamilton Institute, and associate justice for the All Campus Judicial Council.

“One of my lifetime goals is to get involved in politics and work with public policy and some way,” said Novosel. “So, especially with the AHI and the College Democrats, I’ve really tried to just inform students and to get people more politically active. And that’s not necessarily going out and campaigning, more of just reading a newspaper every day or having a professor panel where we go in and talk about an issue.”

Novosel has started an inequality seminar with the AHI which engages students in discussion and analysis of socioeconomic problems in America.  He will participate in the Teach for America program in Washington, D.C. after graduation, before preparing to apply to law school.

Sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students and organized by the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, the 2012 Student Life Award recipients are:

Andrew Fried Prize: Mehr Kashyap  ’15
Established by frienda and family in 1961 in memory of Andrew Norman Fried, class of 1961. This prize is awarded to the man who, upon completion of his freshman year, has shown outstanding qualities of character, superior moral judgment, and interest in serving his fellow students.

Delno Sisson Prize: Taylor Watson ’15
In 1957, this award was established by a gift from Delno Sisson, class of 1966. This prize is awarded annually to the freshman who has shown the most improvement not only in academic work, but also in adjusting to college life and the student body.

Award for Freshman Leadership: Humma Sheikh ’15
This award recognizes an exceptional man or woman of the freshman class who has motivated his or her fellow classmates to become actively involved in the campus community.

Eli & Mildred Sokol Prize: Kelly Scull ’14
This award was established in 1985 by a gift from Eli and Mildred Sokol, class of 1933. This prize is awarded to a sophomore who has emerged as a leader who can be expected to contribute significantly to the welfare of his or her fellow students in the next two years.

Award for Campus Contributions: Kyle Coapman ’13 and Lucas Piazza ’12
Two awards, one each presented to a junior and senior class member who has made significant contributions to the University community, including, but not limited to, campus life, academic achievement and leadership, and community service. The award winner will have promoted and demonstrated excellence in all aspects of their college experience.

Seth H. & Harriet Terry Prize: Nathan Novosel ’12
Established in 1928 as a gift from Seth H. Terry, class of 1883 in memory of his parents. This award is given to the male member of the senior class who, by his industry, character and honorable conduct, has done the most for the life and character of the undergraduate community.

Percy Dutton Prize: Trevor Baisden ’12
This prize was established in 1946 as a gift from Percy Dutton. This award is given to the male member of the graduating class who has excelled in “wholesome, unselfish and helpful influence” among his fellow students.

Transfer Student Award: Ahmed Faisal ’12
This award, recognizing the unique role of transfer students to the campus community, is given to a student who transferred with sophomore standing or above, and has completed a full year of study at the University. The recipient will have demonstrated a quick, successful, and seamless transition to the institution and will have taken full advantage of his or her time spent at the University.

Award for Outstanding Fraternity and Sorority Leadership: Neftali Morales ’12
This award recognizes the positive contributions fraternities and sororities make to the campus community. It is awarded to a fraternity or sorority member who has led with integrity within their fraternal organization while also making significant contributions to the greater campus community.

Simeon Cheatham Award: Brittany Lewis ’12
Established in the 1970s by the Office of the Dean of Students to recognize outstanding University of Rochester students. This award is given to a student who has outstanding qualities in devotion to community service and to growth and development of children.

Logan Hazen Award for Outstanding Contributions to Residential Life : Becky  Donnelly ’12
This Award is given annually to the student who has “made significant contributions to the community and experience of students living in undergraduate residence halls. This student, through his or her actions, leadership, and innovation has promoted community through respect, fairness, and inclusion.”

Award for Athletic Leadership: Jamie Bow ’12
This award recognizes the positive contributions athletes make to the campus community. It is awarded to a student athlete who has demonstrated leadership within their club or varsity sport while also making significant contributions to other aspects of campus life.

Presidential Award for Community Service: Emily Hart ’12 and Garrett Rubin ’12
Established by the Dean of Students in 1990 to recognize University students who are committed to community service. Given to a senior for outstanding participation and leadership in service to the community beyond the campus, this award recognizes a student who has worked selflessly and effectively in addressing social causes.  Areas of focus include, but are not limited to, improving literacy, reducing hunger and hopelessness, providing legal or medical assistance to the needy, and serving as a mentor.

Entrepreneurship Award: David Bendes ’11/KEY
The award for entrepreneurship is given to a student, or group of students, who has turned an idea into a venture that benefited others. The recipient will have demonstrated individual initiative and knowledge through awareness of markets and attention to the needs of others.

Michael Lowenstein Memorial Award: Alykhan Alani ’12
This award, named for Michael Lowenstein, class of 1960 is presented to the University of Rochester River Campus undergraduate who deepens student, faculty and community awareness of existing social, racial, or political inequities. This undergraduate through his/her words and actions has endeavored to promote the ideals which Michael cherished. Michael sought to give a fresh view of things around us, to focus upon issues, to probe deeply using fact and objectivity and to open a dialogue with the community to find some answers.

The Communal Principles Award: Jonell Liriano ’12
Established by the Office of the Dean of Students during the 2011-2012 academic year, this award is given annually to the student(s) or organization that best promote(s) the Communal Principals, as adopted by The College. These principles include Fairness, Freedom, Honesty, Inclusion, Respect, and Responsibility. One of these six principles will be highlighted annually and the recipient will have demonstrated qualities that exemplify the principles and/or created programming and activities related to this year’s Communal Principle – Respect.

Student Organization and Programming Awards

Excellence in Programming: Program: “Rochester’s Yellowjacket Invitational Mock Trial Tournament” Organization: Mock Trial
This Excellence in Programming Award recognizes a student organization or group, either formal or informal, for its exceptional creativity, planning, and execution of a University program. Criteria upon which decisions are based include appeal to a broad cross-section of the University community, originality, and participation by members of the organization during all phases of the effort.

Outstanding Student Organization Award: Ballet Performance Group
Awarded to a student organization that has gone beyond the bounds of their membership by helping to create a positive campus environment for all students.

Award for Excellence in Creative Co-sponsorship: Program: “Rock Out for Leukemia Research” Organizations: Vocal Point & Renaissance Scholars
This award recognizes a program that was co-sponsored by a minimum of two organizations or groups. The cosponsored program should have been a new effort, one that brought together different facets of campus, and which served to build and strengthen the campus community.

Article written by Maya Dukmasova, a Take 5 Scholar at the University of Rochester and an intern at University Communications. She majored in philosophy and religion and focused her Take 5 year on researching the way American media covers current events in the Muslim world. An aspiring journalist, Dukmasova has freelanced for Rochester Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, and the Daily News Egypt in Cairo. She also maintains two blogs, one devoted to culture and society in Russia (www.out-of-russia.com) and the other to photography (www.myorientalism.com).

Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Communications.

Shianne Chatarjee Selected as Student Employee of the Year

Univ. Communications – University of Rochester senior Shianne Chatarjee has been named the 2011-2012 University of Rochester Student Employee of the Year. The award, which is given annually by the Student Employment Office, recognizes an outstanding student employee who has made valuable contributions to the department in which he or she works. Chatarjee, who works for the Office of Alumni Relations as the Meliora Weekend Student Program Assistant, was nominated by Donna Colline, Assistant Director of Operations.

“I’ve been working at the Office of Alumni Relations for about 2 years now and I absolutely love it.  The award means a lot to me, especially because I’m working in a field in which I hope to enter professionally,” said Chatarjee.

As a member of the Alumni Office’s Regional Events and Operations team, Chatarjee’s responsibilities include conducting research for venues, preparing promotional materials, managing several small events on Meliora Weekend, and recruiting student volunteers for the weekend’s events.  In fact, she was promoted to her current position after performing her duties  as a general office assistant remarkably well.

In a letter nominating Chatarjee for the award, Colline says, “She brings her intelligence and zest for life to the workplace each and every day.  Whether on an independent project or a member of a team, she provides nothing but excellent work and a positive attitude.”

“I can honestly say that my experience in this position is the largest contributing factor to not only my professional, but also my personal growth during my time at UR,” said Chatarjee.  “It has allowed me to build my organizational and leadership skills, as well as meet great people who were extremely supportive and helped me prepare for a future in event planning.”

Chatarjee, who is an economics & business strategies major, has been involved with the Office of Alumni Relations as a Student Alumni Ambassador since spring 2011.  She also is a residential adviser and serves as an officer for several student organizations.

“She is the quintessential ambassador. She loves her university and demonstrates that bond each and every day through her work assignments,” Colline wrote in her nominating letter.

After graduation, Chatarjee plans to move to New York or Washington, D.C. to seek out full-time employment in the event planning and public relations field.

“Prior to working at the Alumni Office, I did not know what I wanted to do in my future, but now I have no doubt that I am going in the right direction and pursuing a career that fits both my skills and my personality and will make me very happy,” Chatarjee said.

In celebration of Student Employee Week, the Student Employment Office recognized Chatarjee, along with all of this year’s nominees, at a private reception. As Employee of the Year, Chatarjee will have the opportunity to compete at regional and state levels through the National Student Employee Association’s awards program.

This year, the following 22 students were nominated for the Student Employee of the Year award: David Aguila ’13, Naomi Ahsan ’12, Shianne Chatarjee ’12, Christina Cordell ’12, Courtney Diamond ’12, Douglas Done ’13, Amanda Gaboriault ’14, Ian Gauger ’12, Rebekah Goldstein ’14, Devin Granahan ’12, Kaitlyn Karpenko ’12, Janixa Mejias ’13, Byron Miller ’12, Andrew Moran ’12, Craig Pais ’12, Danyel Quackenbush ’14, Bo Reynolds ’12, Nick Runeare ’12, Shamara Saffore ’15, Erin Slocum ’12, Annamarie Spielmann ’12, Alana Valvo ’13.

Article written by Maya Dukmasova, a Take 5 Scholar at the University of Rochester and an intern at University Communications. She majored in philosophy and religion and focused her Take 5 year on researching the way American media covers current events in the Muslim world. An aspiring journalist, Dukmasova has freelanced for Rochester Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, and the Daily News Egypt in Cairo. She also maintains two blogs, one devoted to culture and society in Russia (www.out-of-russia.com) and the other to photography (www.myorientalism.com).

 

Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Communications.

Rochester Senior Finds Success on the Stage

International Theatre Program – “I came into school thinking I was going to be pre-med,” Andrew Polec, KEY ’12, said when asked about his interest in pursuing an MFA in acting.  After his short-lived science kick, he became interested in business. It wasn’t until his sophomore year that he fully realized his passions for English, theatre, and music. Since then, Polec has finished two clusters in biology and psychology, doubled majored in music and English with a concentration in theatre, and completed an honors thesis on families in American drama. He also sang for four years in the dreamy, all-male a cappella group, the Midnight Ramblers. But these days he’s known on campus for his roles in nine UR International Theatre Program (URITP) productions, and as the lead singer in the popular band, Khat House. No longer looking forward to a career in medicine, Polec is finishing up a fifth year as a KEY Scholar, and performing in the final play of his undergraduate career, Adding Machine: A Musical, at Todd Theatre.

Polec has been busy this year. In October, he starred in URITP’s production of An Absolute Turkey just as his Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year was getting underway.  His project: starting a student-run record label at the University of Rochester, signing a band, recording an album, and releasing the record.  Polec and his colleagues were successful in all of these aims.  The label is called “yoUR Record Label,” and they signed Polec’s own band, Khat House.  They released their EP, “Welcome to Khat House,” at a sold-out concert on April 14. They also performed on April 27 as part of Dandelion Day’s performance line-up. They have sold a lot of albums, Polec said, and they hope to sell many more. “The life lessons that I’ve learned while being with that band have been nothing short of tremendous,” Polec said, reflecting on his time with Khat House.

The future of the band is currently up in the air as this coming fall Polec will pursue an MFA in acting at Brown University. Unsure of the extent to which the program will prepare him for dealing with the business of being an actor, Polec expressed his gratitude for all he has learned at UR about the arts industry. “Learning the process of how to get gigs, how to fund recording and album and all the nit-picky stuff in between has showed me that business managers are really important.  And agents.  No matter who you are as an artist, you better know the business, or you better have a friend who knows that business cold.”

Having had a good deal of experience learning the nitty-gritty about show business as a Key Scholar, Polec is eager to start learning the artist trade this fall. The undisputed star of URITP, he’ll be entering into a group of peers that will undoubtedly be made up of 15 other college theatre program stars. “It’s good to be with a bunch of talented people, because then you can see how you are able to improve and grow,” he said.

“Andrew is a born performer and he’s also a wonderful singer.  I’ve watched him grow over the years as his range has expanded,” said Nigel Maister, artistic director of URITP, who has been working with Polec since his freshman year. “I think that an MFA program will be able to hone—on a technical level—his skills as a general performer and deepen his understanding of the process and needs of acting and character development.”

Polec’s undergraduate acting career has come full circle in the past few months.  He performed in URITP’s first musical production, Hello Again, his freshman year and he ends his tenure here starring in its second. He leads a focused ensemble of remarkably mature and talented performers in what is a visually alarming, intellectually challenging, and genuinely entertaining production.  Maister said of Polec’s performance as Mr. Zero in Adding Machine, “[He] shows a more controlled and dramatically focused side of his abilities.”

Polec said that the role has “been a great final note to go out on” as he looks forward to working towards his dream of performing on Broadway.  The future of this soon-to-be-UR-graduate, it would seem, promises to “add up” to quite a lot.

Article written by Leah Barish ’12, a public relations intern with the International Theatre Program and a member of theater troupe, The Opposite of People.

In The Photos: Jacob Goritski ’14 (back) and Andrew Polec appear in Adding Machine: The Musical. Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Photographer.

Rochester Student Wins Study Abroad Facebook Photo Contest

Center for Study Abroad – University of Rochester junior Mary Pilarz was recently selected as the winner of an IES Study Abroad photo contest.  From March 30 through April 5, IES Abroad asked their Facebook fans to help them choose the 2013-14 comprehensive catalog cover photo. Five cover options were posted to Facebook and fans voted by “liking” their favorite.

Pilarz’s photo of students riding camels in the Sahara Desert during a field trip with the IES Abroad Rabat program in Morocco received the most votes, with 487 likes. A native of Buffalo, NY, Pilarz spent the fall 2011 semester on the IES program in Rabat. She is double majoring in music and biology.

One Facebook user commented that “just seeing this on the cover of IES brochures would make me study abroad!” Another student who participated in the Rabat program shared a fun fact about Pilarz’s attempt to take the winning photo, noting that a sandstorm damaged her camera as she snapped the picture.

Another University of Rochester student, Nicole Socash, also was one of the five finalists in the competition for a photo she took while studying with IES Abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand.

IES Abroad is one of the nation’s oldest and largest study abroad providers and enrolls more than 5,500 students from 185 U.S. colleges and universities annually. With nearly 100 high-quality academic study abroad programs and internship opportunities in 34 cities, the organization is dedicated to fostering cultural immersion and intercultural development. Since its founding in 1950, nearly 80,000 students have participated in IES Abroad programs around the world in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Article courtesy of Jacqueline Levine, director of the Center for Study Abroad & Interdepartmental Programs. Photo courtesy of Mary Pilarz.