Pre-Med Student ‘Takes 5’ to Appreciate Art

By Joseph Bailey
University Communications

Billal Masood ’13/T5 ’14 came out of his years as an undergraduate last spring with a degree in biology and all the right qualifications for medical school…but he decided to spend a fifth year at Rochester to pursue an interest in fine art. He is finishing up his Take 5 year as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he works under the supervision of Michelle Hagewood, as a spring gallery and studio programs intern in the Education Department of the Met. He serves as a teaching assistant for studio programs, and also does research for the museum’s Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art grant. He learned of the internship in 2012, when visiting the Met, and is in the “Big Apple” through the University’s Art NY program

While Masood’s undergraduate career has seen him earn a degree in biology, with a minor in English and a cluster in psychology, he sees potential in developing new art-based therapies, where he hopes to apply what he has learned during the Art New York experience with what he will learn at medical school.

This year’s program attracted a variety of majors, including biology, business, and economics majors, etc., but they all shared a common interest in art. The program seeks to help students gain insight into the marriage of art theory and practice. His internship duties include serving as a T.A. for studio art programs, educating the general population of museum-goers, and lining up specific tours for the class he assists.

With regards to theory and practice of art, interns in the Art New York program take three classes: their individual internship, a colloquium, and a new media course. For the colloquium, the professor, Elizabeth Cohen, gives many lectures, and invites frequent guest lecturers as well. The program exposes students to the art scene in NYC, through immersion as well as instruction. Masood says, “I’m proud to have been a participant.”

Masood credits his family and Rochester faculty members for nurturing his love for art and academia. It’s a passion that his Met internship is deepening. He is constantly exploring the two million square feet of galleries the Met has to offer; often taking short lunch breaks to maximize his time seeing the art. These excursions have even taken him to the Guggenheim, which has piqued his interest in the relationship between art and architecture.

Some of the pieces Masood has spent the most time appreciating are The Temple of Dendur, Shiva as Lord of Dance, and a painting, Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies. The Temple of Dendur is a massive piece that includes inscriptions of many ancient Egyptian gods, including Isis, Osiris, and Horus. In Masood’s opinion, Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies reflects nature’s beauty and peace. He noted how his time at the museum has helped mature his appreciation of art.“I’m constantly involved in both behind-the-scenes and readily visible preparations,” he said. “I really hope to increase my understanding and appreciation of art each day.”

Student Researchers Recognized at the Annual Undergraduate Research Exposition

By Blake Silberberg ’13
Univ. Communications

 

On April 19, the University of Rochester held its annual Undergraduate Research Exposition.  The Expo included a speaker’s symposium, poster fair, and awards ceremony. Awards were given to the top symposium and poster participants and were chosen by a panel of faculty judges.

The Undergraduate Research Exposition is a College-wide event that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to present the academic research they’ve conducted throughout the year. The Expo showcases the passion that both professors and students have for investigative, creative research.

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The symposium allowed 17 students representing the four distinct disciplinary sections of the College: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and engineering, to present their research topics and take questions from fellow students. The poster presentation fair then served as a venue for all presenters to showcase their findings to the College community. It was immediately followed by the awards, ceremony, which included the presentation of the President’s Prize, the Deans’ Prizes, the Professor’s Choice Awards, and the Visual Art in Undergraduate Research awards.

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“It was a great experience being able to learn about the work of my peers in very different fields, as well as being able to showcase my own work for the intellectual community at the University,” says Lucian McMahon ’13, whose research focused on the transformation of how masculinity was conceptualized from Paganism to Christianity in the Eastern Mediterranean. McMahon and fellow senior Gabrielle Cornish were given the President’s Award for their research in the Humanities Discipline.

 

The following Rochester students were awarded the President’s Prize, given to the top four presentations from the four disciplinary areas of the Symposium:

 

  • David George ’13, Chemistry major, Catalysys & Synthesis: New Method towards Catalytic Cyclization & its Role in Synthesis. Natural Sciences.

 

  • Ian Marozas ’13, Biomedical Engineering major, Development of a Targeted Drug Delivery System for the Treatment of Osteoporosis. Engineering.

 

  • Sandra Rodgin ’13, Psychology major, From Contemplation to Action: Self-Regulation’s Effect on Decision Making and Interpersonal Impressions. Social Sciences.

 

  • Gabrielle Cornish ’13, Russian and Music double major, The Impassioned Symphonist: Unity, “Russianness,” And Self Expression in Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony. Humanities.

 

  • Lucian McMahon ’13, German and Classics double major, Transformations of Masculinity in Late Antiquity. Humanities.

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The following students were presented with the Deans’ Choice Award:

 

  • Leah Conant ’13, Pre-Med, Cancer Anxiety & Patient Selection of Mastectomy over Breast Conservation Therapy.  Natural Sciences.

 

  • Michael David ’13, Biomedical Engineering major, Effect of High Fat Diet-Induced Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes on Tendon Repair. Natural Sciences.

 

  • Maritza Gomez ’14, Psychology and Linguistics double major, Role of Parental Labeling in Language Acquisition. Social Sciences.

 

  • Kuhu Parasrampuria ’13, Economics and Business Strategies major, Effects of the 2008 Financial Crisis on Developing vs. Industrialized Countries. Social Sciences

 

  • Prishanya Pillai ’14 and Priyanka Pillai ’14, Microbiology and Public Health majors, Social Ecological Approach to HIV/AIDS in South Africa and the Power of Hope in Community Recovery. Social Sciences.

 

  • Ruobing Qian ’14, Biomedical Engineering major, Interferometric Measurement of Organelle-Sized objects. Engineering.

 

  • Laurel Raymond ’13 English and Brain & Cognitive Sciences double major, Literature and the Field between: A Study of Discourse. Humanities.

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The following students were presented with the Professors’ Choice Awards:

 

  • Scott Lucchini ’13, Physics and Astronomy major, Jazz Dance and the Integration of America.  Humanities.

 

  • Marius Kothor ’13, African and African-American Studies, Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Female Genital Cutting in Togo. Social Sciences.

 

  • Morgan Preziosi ’13, Biochemistry and Physics double major, Erbb3 Is Important for Melanoma Metastasis. Natural Sciences.

 

  • Ka Lai Tsang ’13, Biomedical Engineering major, Determination of Effective Masses and Parametric Study of the Organ of Corti. Engineering.

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The following students were presented with the Visual Arts in Undergraduate Research Award:

 

  • Josh Geiger ’13, Chemistry and Biochemistry major, Epigenetic Maintenance & Regulation of the Antioxidant Response by the Nrf2 Dimerization Partner Maf-S. Natural Sciences.

 

  • Scott Lucchini ’13, Physics and Astronomy major, Jazz Dance and the Integration of America. Humanities.

 

OMSA: Celebrating Student Achievement for 40 Years

During the 1981-82 academic year,  the newly established Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) was created to provide proactive advising support, initiate programs and serve as a liaison with other departments and divisions of the university to enhance the environment in which minority students at Rochester live and learn.

In 1973, OMSA started a tradition of inviting the graduating seniors that they served along with their families to a dinner on commencement weekend to celebrate their achievements. This tradition has continued, growing each and every year to include more students and families, as well as the broader university community. It has become one of the highlights of the weekend for those involved and it embodies the university’s commitment to support and encourage an increasingly diverse campus community.

During the 2013 dinner, OMSA presented awards to the following seniors: Oladoyin Oladeru, The Francis Price Student Leadership Award; Maxine Humphrey, The Frederick Jefferson Award for Outstanding Student Achievement; Marius Kothor, The Olivia Hooker Academic Achievement Award; Ani Nguyen & Olufemi Watson, The Kesha Atkins Citation for Student Leadership; Adrian Elim, Edward Chafart Award for Civic Engagement. Additionally, the Family Pillar Award, which honors family members of a graduating senior, was given to Marius Kothor’s parents.

A new video shares the history of the OMSA and its senior awards dinner:

Rochester Students Compete in Engineering Competition

By Leonor Sierra
Press Officer for Engineering and Science, Univ. Communications

Two groups of Rochester students were among the 30 design teams from 18 institutions that showed off creations at the Intel Cornell Cup on May 3-4, 2013 at Walt Disney World.

One of the groups won an honorable mention for their work on the URead Braille project. Their concept was a refreshable braille display that acts as a computer screen for the blind. The braille display would be able to read in text and .pdf files and output the result on the screen through a tactile display.

The UV Swarm team modified some robots, similar to a Roomba hoover robot, incorporating a UV light that could sanitize large surfaces quicker than is currently possible.  These could be used in medical or sport facilities. They also programmed a central hub that would automatically oversee the operation so that these ‘bots’ are all synchronized with each other, ensuring the full floor is covered and limiting overlaps.

The teams worked for months on their projects, with the support of their advisers Randal Nelson, Ted Pawlicki and Chris Brown all from the Computer Science department. The teams were comprised of students from different majors, including computer science, electrical and computing engineering, and biomedical engineering, and from different years, from freshmen to seniors.

The goal of the Cornell Cup is to challenge engineering college student design teams to create embedded technology devices that address real-world needs and that might just catch an investor’s eye.

Senior Design Day Video Features UV Swarm:

The members of the teams were: Doug Miller (CSC ’15), Christina Kayastha (CSC/ECE ’14), Nate Book (CSC ’14), Ben Ouattara (CSC/ECE ’16), Samantha Piccone (CSC ’14), Erick Frank (CSC ’13), Morgan Sinko (ME ’16), Alex Kurland (CSC ’13/T5), Ben Vespone (BME ’14) and Andy Hevey (ECE ’14).

For more info about the Cornell Cup, visit http://www.systemseng.cornell.edu/engineering2/se/intel/

In the Photo: University of Rochester student design teams, UV Swarm and URead Braille, pose for a group portrait. From left to right: Doug Miller, Christina Kayastha, Nate Book, Ben Ouattara, Samantha Piccone, Eric Frank, Morgan Sinko, Ted Pawlicki, Alex Kurland, Ben Vespone, Randal Nelson, and Andy Hevey.

Congratulations to the Class of 2013!

Congratulations to the more than 2,300 students who received degrees as part of this spring’s commencement ceremonies. In the words of Arts, Sciences & Engineering commencement speaker and former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu ’70, “Take some chances and do something that matters.” Meliora! Check out more pictures and video from the ceremony here!

Student Filmmakers Recognized at 8th Annual Gollin Film Festival

By Caitlin Mack ’12(T5)
Univ. Communications

A diverse group of 12 student films were presented at the 8th annual Gollin Film Festival at the University of Rochester on Wednesday, May 1, with the top three films winning $1,000 in cash prizes. The festival, which is open to all undergraduate students at the University, is sponsored by the university’s Film and Media Studies Program with generous support from Studio Art.

“The film festival is an event of great importance because it highlights student artistic and academic work,” said Jason Middleton, assistant professor of English. “It also gives students (and their friends and family) a chance to see their films on the big screen, which makes for a thrilling experience.”

In Skyline, first place winner Sheldon Agbayani ’15 coded a program in Processing, a programming language built for creating visual art such as colorful 2-D buildings. The program produced buildings of varying heights and textures against natural horizons to construct a randomly generated geometric skyline.

“For my film, I tried to convey my own idea and perception of what city skylines look like, how they rise and how they fall,” said Agbayani, who won $500. “It’s somewhat a simulation of city growth as I see it.” Agayani, an optical engineering major from Aiea, Hawaii, explained, “What makes my film unique is the fact that I didn’t ‘choose’ exactly how the film played out; I let the program do most of the thinking.”

Brynn Wilkins ’14 received second place and $300 for her film Contemporary Ballet, a performance art piece which features a lone ballet dancer encircled by women riding horses. “Contemporary Ballet focuses on the performer’s ability to carry out actions in atypical and distracting environments,” said Wilkins, a film and media studies major from Fairport, N.Y. “In a stable, the dancer is taken out of her element when she must perform with horses trotting around her, dust flying in the air, and even while sitting on horseback.”

Hayle Cho ’13 placed third for My Flow Story, a documentary about a man who tries his hand at b-boying to find meaning and happiness in life. “Through b-boying, a dance of hip-hop culture, the young man finds purpose,” said Cho, a film and media studies major from Fort Lee, N.J, who won $200.

Students were allowed to submit a maximum of two film submissions created using a variety of media including cell phones, .gif animation, video, 16mm film, Hi-8, or Flash. The winners were determined by a panel of university professors including Jason Middleton, Cary Peppermint, and Evelyne LeBlanc-Roberge.

The festival was established in 2005 in honor of Professor Emeritus of English Richard Gollin, who founded the film studies program at the University in 1976 with the assistance of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Gollin, who retired in 1989, authored A Viewer’s Guide to Film: Art, Artifices, and Issues, and received recognition for his research and writings on Romantic poetry and the Victorian novel. For additional information about the Gollin Film Festival visit http://www.rochester.edu/College/FMS/.

Undergrad Juggles Physics, Astronomy, And … Rings

By Melissa Greco Lopes
Univ. Communications

As a Take 5 scholar at the University of Rochester, Adam Lanman augmented his education in physics and astronomy with the study of equilibristics and manipulation. While these may sound like terms heard in a science lab, they’re actually the nomenclature of a different venue: the circus stage. And, thanks to Take 5, a program that allowed Lanman to spend a fifth year at Rochester tuition free conducting an independent study with the Department of Dance and Movement, he was able to immerse himself in the art of circus performance. His work culminated on Saturday, April 27, during No Elephants Allowed, a performance of skills and tricks he acquired during his year-long study.

A four-year member of the University’s Strong Jugglers, Lanman parlayed his interest in juggling into a research project that sent him to Bristol, UK for fall 2012. There, he studied with Circomedia, a school that specializes in four areas of circus performance: physical theater, partner acrobatics and tumbling, aerial skills including the trapeze, ropes, and silks, and equilibristics and manipulation, which includes juggling and balancing on unicycles and stilts. During his three months at Circomedia, he trained extensively to prepare his body for the twists, turns, and balancing moves required of a circus performer. After five weeks on basic skills, he focused on juggling, equilibristics, and manipulation.

For Lanman, the connection between circus performance and dance was obvious. “There’s a movement in contemporary circus performance that has shifted from the spectacle and awe you might see in Barnum & Bailey to a more aesthetic, artistic appeal that has similar goals to dance,” says Lanman, noting the rise in popularity of shows like Cirque du Soleil. When he returned to Rochester for the spring semester, he enrolled in courses that taught choreography, improvisation, and playwriting.

During Lanman’s performance on Saturday, he showcased a variety of juggling tricks, including a two-stage pirouette, in which he tossed three objects into the air, spun once, caught two of the objects, spun again, and caught the third. He also performed acrobatics and dance routines and showed off some newly acquired clowning skills.

A native of White Plains, N.Y., Lanman will finish his Take 5 year this May, and head to Brown University to pursue a doctoral degree in physics.

Rochester Undergrads Raise $20K for Rare Disease Research

University of Rochester student Sarah Gelbard is on a mission to raise awareness of Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), a debilitating neuromuscular disease. Her best friend, Laura Ferrarone, struggles daily with the effects of FA, while Laura’s sister, Sara, also suffered from the disease and passed away in November at the age of 26. The strength of the Ferrarone family, and their work raising thousands of dollars for FA research inspired Gelbard to do the same. She found a powerful ally in senior YellowJacket Galen Dole, whose younger sister Marlise was diagnosed with FA at the age of eight. Together, they set a goal of raising $10,000 for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).

All proceeds from the YellowJackets’ April 5 concert were donated to FARA, as well as money raised through the sale of limited edition YellowJackets fan t-shirts. Gelbard and Dole also started a page through GoFundMe, which allows visitors to make online donations.

“Like Sarah, I have watched someone I love lose her mobility and confront hardships that no one should have to confront—all with the sunniest of dispositions,” says Dole. “In honor of Sara and Laura Ferrarone and Marlise, the YellowJackets are proud to raise funds for and awareness of this rare, devastating, and life-shortening disease.”

A nonprofit organization dedicated to curing Friedreich’s ataxia, FARA grants and activities provide support for research, pharmaceutical/biotech drug development, clinical trials, and scientific conferences. FARA also serves as a catalyst, between the public and scientific community, to create worldwide exchanges of information that drive medical advances.

“I know that the curing of a tremendously complicated genetic disease is, well, tremendously complicated—but I also know that it is possible,” Gelbard says, pointing to the Ferrarone family’s work creating a worldwide patient registry for the disease as an important first step. “Sara was the first person to be entered into the worldwide patient registry in Rochester, and perhaps Laura will be the first person to see the benefits of a cure.”

In a little less than two months, Gelbard, Dole, and the YellowJackets have raised more than $20,000 through GoFundMe and concert proceeds. But, their work isn’t done yet. This week, they are making one last push to raise funds through GoFundMe before closing the page on Wednesday, May 1.

“We hope members of the Rochester community will continue to answer our call to action by giving a small amount or by passing this story along,” Gelbard says. “For these efforts to be meaningful for the 15,000 people across the globe living with FA, they have to be continued, and for that, we need your help.”

Computer Science Undergrads Embark on Weekend of “Extreme Programming”

By Blake Silberberg ’13
Univ. Communications

Over the weekend of March 15th, “Hacklemore”, a team of 10 undergraduate Computer Science students from the University of Rochester traveled to Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada to participate in the CS Games. The team, led by captains Julian Lunger ’14 and Emily Danchik ’13, took 7th place out of 22 teams, thanks to strong showings by the team of Charlie Lehner ’15 and  David Bang ’14 who took 2nd place in Web Development,  and the team of Dan Hassin ’16 and Joe Brunner  ’14 who took 3rd place in Extreme Programming.

CSUG-3The CS Games, an annual competition held by Canadian universities, is attended by over 300 students. Although most of the student participants are Canadian, both the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology have sent teams in recent years. In 2011, the University of Rochester team won the competition. This year, the University of Rochester was the only American university to send a team to the event.

Teams consist of a maximum of 10 people, and compete in 15 to 20 different competitions from Friday to Sunday. These competitions are in different programming areas which range from programming theory, which deals with designing algorithms,  to embedded programming, which deals with writing programs which run on small devices. In addition to the programming competitions, there also are competitions in a few unrelated areas, such as sporting competitions and even a campus-wide scavenger hunt.

Throughout the games, teams must also be on the lookout for “Puzzle Hero” challenges, which are timed “mini-games” that cover a variety of topics and are emailed to the teams at random times. During this year’s games, Team “Hacklemore” had to do everything from solving chess puzzles to identifying pictures and diagrams of obscure plugs and wires. “One challenge even had us listen to a highly modified soundfile and figure out what it meant. The file sounded like a short, high-pitched blip–but we eventually figured out that it was three consecutive Iron Maiden song outtakes,” says Captain Julian Lunger. The team also had the opportunity to participate in “Hacking Questions,” where team members were given a limited amount of time to access websites designed for the competition.

CSUG-2In addition to the challenges, the event also featured large social gatherings for all of the participants.”The social aspect is an important and sometimes surprising one at the Games. Some people typically think of CS majors as unsocial; however, the exact opposite is true at the CS Games,” says Captain Julian Lunger. “The teams of computer geeks there are fun, they are wild, and they stay up til 2, 3, 4 a.m. every night.” The Rochester team also had the opportunity to interact with Computer Science students from different backgrounds. “Meeting French-Canadian students was really cool because they have a different culture and think about things in a different way– it’s almost like they are Europeans in North America,” says Lunger.

This years roster included Emily Danchik (leader) ’13, Julian Lunger (leader, captain) ’14, Thomas Swift ’13, Emily Ansley ’14, Joe Brunner ’14, Nate Book ’14, Shuopeng Deng ’14, Dan Hassin ’16, Charlie Lehner ’15, and David Bang ’14.

The Rochester team already has next year’s competition in mind. Captain Julian Lunger encourages any interested students to contact him through email at JLunger@u.rochester.edu.

Undergrad Research Recognized at National Conference

By Dan Wang ’14
Univ. Communications

In the last week of January, four Rochester undergraduates traveled to Harvard University to give a presentation at the National College Research Conference. The four participants created posters of their research and presented to panels of judges. Student Anaise Williams ’13 took home an Award of Excellence, the second place prize awarded to five out of 250 student presenters and is the top prize for the social sciences.

“I examined how rural low-income pregnant women in Northeastern Thailand negotiate traditional beliefs of prenatal precaution and biomedical prenatal recommendation. I really wanted to figure out how pregnancy is culturally scripted. How do people decide between listening to their moms and doctors?” says Williams, winner of the Award of Excellence.

This is a natural topic for someone who majors in anthropology with a focus on public health and has an interest in Asian culture. Williams conducted her research as she studied abroad in Thailand last spring. By taking part in the CIEE Development and Globalization Program arranged through Rochester’s Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs, Williams conducted interviews with Thai women to determine how they reconciled traditional and modern views of pregnancy.

“This is an interesting way to investigate how global forms of information are understood at the local level,” Williams explains. “The project adds to the anthropological discussion of how to make biomedical globalization more culturally conscious.” She concludes that the women have a Western and traditional hybrid view of pregnancy in which they have autonomy over their bodies and incorporate traditional Thai views of pregnancy. Her extensive fieldwork interviewing pregnant women through translators gave her a nuanced view of the topic.

Alisa-Johnson-'14-and-URMC-Research-Mentor-Dr.-S-VijayakumarAlong with fellow undergraduates Alisa Johnson ‘14, Siddhi Shah ‘14, and Shilpa Topudurti ‘14, Williams attended the three-day conference with 250 students from around the country. Through funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research and various academic departments, the students were able to present their research to peers and students. They also were able to listen to professors discuss their own work; lecturers this year included development economist Jeffrey Sachs and psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker.

“I learned a lot from the keynote speakers and was exposed to a variety of topics from fellow presenters from all over the country,” says Alisa Johnson. “It was a great opportunity to connect and network with other students who share a similar interest in research at the undergraduate level.”

Johnson, Shah, and Topudurti are biology majors who presented on topics ranging from kidney disease to melanoma progression.

Shilpa-Topudurti-'14These four participants condensed their findings into 15-minute presentations and a poster board. Each gave a presentation to panels of judges that included professors and their fellow peers. A second, more formal presentation determined the prizes.

The Award of Excellence prize comes as a capstone for an already accomplished academic career. Outside of her major in anthropology Williams is president of the Undergraduate Anthropology Council; a coordinator at GlobeMed; and a tutor for 5th grade students at School 29, an elementary school in the 19th Ward. And she sees her project going still further; Williams is working on fellowships that will allow her to study maternal health in Asia next year.

NCRC-2013-participants

In the Photos: First: Anaise Williams ’13 and Siddhi Shah ’14 at the National College Research Conference.  Second: Alisa Johnson ’14 and URMC Research Mentor Dr. S. Vijayakumar discuss Johnson’s research with conference participants. Third: Shilpa Topudurti ’14 presents her research during the conference. Fourth: Held at Harvard, nearly 250 students from around the country attended the National College Research Conference.  All photos courtesy of Alisa Johnson.