German Scholarship Offers Lessons Beyond Academics

By Alayna Callanan ’14
University Communications

Nine undergraduate students, Kristin Abramo ’15, Kevin Allan ’14, Alexandra Born ’15, Sarah Koniski ’14, Louis Papa ’14, Robert Rietmeijer ’15, Jamie Strampe ’15, Zhongwu Shi ’15, and Qianli Sun ’15, spent up to three months this summer throughout Germany with the DAAD-RISE program. The program allows undergrads to pursue research in the natural sciences and engineering with advanced doctoral students at universities and research institutions within Germany. The students conducted their research individually but many met up for weekend trips and the group convened at the annual RISE conference in Heidelberg.

Allan spent 11 weeks in Langen, Germany at the Paul Ehrlich Institute, continuing prior research on HIV, specifically studying gene therapy and vaccines preventing infection.  Allan’s research this summer led him to Dr. Harris Gelbard’s Lab at the University’s Medical Center, where his current work with neuroAIDS is a perfect culmination of his neuroscience studies, lab work, clinical interests, and research in immunology and virology. He’s hoping these experiences will help him prepare for Medical School. Allan also is currently enrolled in a German language course, and has hopes to return to Germany through the DAAD-RISE Professional Program.

DAAD-RISE 1Many students, like Allan, wish to study abroad but struggle to make the time for an entire semester abroad. As an active member on campus with a busy semester, a summer in Germany was perfect opportunity to gain an international perspective. He was able to visit many European cities including Paris, Munich, Berlin, and Amsterdam using the convenient EuroRail during his busy program. Cultural differences ranged from day to day experiences like language barriers between colleagues in the laboratory—Allan used a mix of German, English and even drawing for communication—to other experiences like a German waiter being shocked at an American male not finishing his French fries at a meal. Everywhere we travel we are faced with cultural differences as well as being representatives for our country.

Other differences Allan noticed were how the German researchers he worked with were more detail oriented, rather than focusing on the process within their research. It may have been largely in part to working at a public institution, but Allan found that the Paul Ehrlich Institute had very strict regulations, though their facilities are top-of-the-line.

Robert Rietmeijer agreed. “There is a joke that a German scientist does not begin an experiment until he has considered as many reasons to conduct it as to not conduct it,” he said.

The rigidness of experiments in Germany was not a damper for students though; Allan, Rietmeijer, and Alexandra Born were highly impressed with the research facilities. A joint human MRI-PET machine, one of just three in the world, resides at the Radiopharmaceutical Cancer Research Institute at the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, where Born studied.

The students had some unconventional benefits from their time abroad. “I was able to overcome was my own speech DAAD-RISE 2impediment: I talk way too quickly,” said Born, who was forced to speak slowly so Germans and other non-native English speakers could understand her. Her family and friends noticed a difference in the pace of her speech upon her return to the States. She gained both confidence and independence during the program and is more certain in her post graduate plans to pursue pharmaceuticals.

Louis Papa, a Rochester native, feels he will be more confident going to graduate school next fall because this program forced him to adjust to a brand new environment in the city of Jena, devoid of familiar faces. Rietmeijer experienced some culture shock upon arrival but enjoyed the challenges and overall experience so much that he is considering post-doctoral studies or beginning a start-up company in Germany.

Fellowship Prepares Rochester Student for Career in International Affairs

By Melissa Greco Lopes
Univ. Communications

University of Rochester undergraduate Jonathan Johnson ’14 has been selected as a 2013 Public Policy & International Affairs Fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s Junior Summer Institute. He is the second Rochester student to be named a PPIA Fellow in the last two years and is among the 20 recipients selected from a national pool of candidates to participate in the program at Carnegie Mellon.

As a PPIA Fellow, Johnson will spend seven weeks at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College—their graduate school focusing on public policy—in this highly selective summer program designed to prepare students from diverse social and economic backgrounds for graduate study and careers in public policy and international affairs. As a political science and anthropology major, Johnson has studied refugee populations and policy effects on war and genocide. His interest in the intersection of identity and policy, specifically how disadvantaged populations overcome obstacles, led him to apply for the PPIA Fellowship, which will help hone the skills required to conduct policy analysis.

“The fellowship looks at how policy affects individuals, states, and countries in nuanced ways—both on micro and macro levels,” Johnson said, “and understanding these complex relationships will help me gain the intellectual background needed to further my goals in affecting real-world change in the future.”

At Rochester, Johnson has been an active member of the campus community. He has served as a resident advisor for three years and as a Meridian, an ambassador for the Admissions Office. A perennial member of the Dean’s List, he participated in the Compass to Personal Success and Urban Fellows programs, two leadership and civic engagement initiatives through the University’s Rochester Center for Community Leadership. Johnson also is president of the men’s volleyball club.

While in Pennsylvania, Johnson will study economics, statistics, policy analysis and management, writing, and public speaking. The Junior Summer Institute is a blend of classroom coursework and workshops that address a variety of domestic and international issues. Carnegie Mellon’s program provides career-planning workshops that include GRE prep and one-on-one meetings with admissions and program staff members from graduate school. Fellows also will have opportunities to meet with public affairs practitioners and take a networking trip to Washington, D.C.

Johnson, a native of Crystal River, Fla., is a graduate of Lecanto High School in Lecanto, Fla. After graduation, he hopes to spend a year teaching English as a second language in Malaysia before pursuing both a juris doctorate and master’s degree in public policy.

The Carnegie Mellon Junior Summer Institute is part of the 30-year-old Public Policy & International Affairs Fellowship Program. A national consortium of top public policy and international affairs graduate schools, PPIA seeks to prepare college juniors for advanced degrees and careers serving the public good. In addition to Carnegie Mellon, there are four other schools that host a summer institute, including the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and Princeton University. For additional information, visit PPIA Program’s website.

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.

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.

Undergrad’s Research Presentation Receives Conference Honors

Univ. Communications – In November, junior Sierrah Grigsby, along with three other University of Rochester students, traveled to St. Louis, Mo to participate in the 11th Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). This month, Grigsby learned ABRCMS recognized her presentation with an interdisciplinary research award.

For Grigsby, a microbiology major from Beaumont, Texas, ABRCMS was her first research conference experience. “It was really nerve racking, but I felt that my lab had prepared me for the presentation,” Grigsby explained. “When it comes down to it, I just really enjoy telling people about the frogs that I work with and how beneficial they are to the scientific community. Without them my labs tumor model would not exist.”

Grigsby’s research experience began in summer 2011, when she participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship through URMC. She was placed as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Jacques Robert’s Lab, as it aligned with her research interests. Her project focused on validating the results of a current study underway in the lab. “I was looking to validate the results found by my mentor, so we could continue the experiments with confidence that the results were caused by our experiment,” explained Grigsby. After the summer ended, Grigsby stayed on in the lab as a volunteer, where she is trying to duplicate her previous results.

For Grigsby, the work in the lab is preparing her for her future academic goals, which include pursuing medical and doctoral degrees, with the hope of finding a career that combines clinical care and research. “I really enjoy research and delving into the unknown,” she said. “But, I also find satisfaction in helping others in times were they may feel the most vulnerable.  Having both degrees would allow me to work on the two things that I find enjoyable.”

Article written by Melissa Greco Lopes, editor of The Buzz and student life publicist in University Communications. Photos courtesy of Sierrah Grigbsy.

Students, Alumnus Awarded Fellowships to Study Abroad

Univ. Communications – At the University of Rochester, April and May mean more than the beginning of spring. It’s also national fellowship selection season, and again this year, some of Rochester’s brightest are learning that they’ve been selected as for prestigious awards. As of today, with more announcements likely in the weeks ahead, two Rochester seniors, Nathaniel Lindsey and Hannah Watkins, and one alumnus, David Liebers, have been named 2011-12 Fulbright Scholars. This highly selective program provides college graduates the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research abroad.

David Liebers also was recently selected to receive the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the scholarship provides one to three years of graduate study at the University of Cambridge, England. Liebers is one of the 30 U.S. students, and is the first University of Rochester student or alumnus to receive this award since the program began in 2001.  After careful consideration, Liebers has accepted the Gates Cambridge Scholarship and will pursue a master’s degree in history and philosophy of science.

Read more about the Lindsey and Watkins here. Read more about Liebers here.

Nathaniel Lindsey

Hannah Watkins

David Liebers (Photo Credit: Joey Kolker)

U of R’s Jessica Horton Wins Visual Arts Fellowship

Univ. Communications – University of Rochester doctoral student Jessica Horton has been named a 2011 Wyeth Fellow by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). Horton, a doctoral student in Visual and Cultural Studies (VCS) in the Department of Art and Art History, has earned one of nine predoctoral fellowships awarded each year.

“Jessica’s dissertation project is well-researched, beautifully written, and promises to be a paradigm changer not only in Native American art history but in the broader study of contemporary art and visual culture,” according to Joan Saab, associate professor of art history and visual and cultural studies, and chair of VCS.

Horton studies 20th-century Native American art, particularly the work of artists influenced by the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. She is interested in how their work now circulates internationally. “Showing how native artists work internationally can give us a broader picture of how globalization has occurred historically,” says Horton. “Native people have been traveling overseas for centuries because of colonial exhibitions and missionary projects, and contemporary artists are interested in investigating the links between then and now.” Horton’s dissertation advisor and mentor in the VCS program is Professor Janet Berlo, who said, “Jessica is multi-talented, vibrant, an exceptional writer and scholar,” and added that her “commitment to scholarship is informed by ethics and intellectual inquiry of the highest order.”

Wyeth fellowships are awarded annually, for 24-month terms, to outstanding students in the dissertation phase of their graduate work. As a Wyeth fellow, Horton will spend a year of the fellowship in the United States and abroad doing research, and a year in residence with CASVA, the research branch of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Horton plans to conduct research in Santa Fe, N.M., and to spend time in Venice, Italy, and Sydney, Australia. She will spend the second year of the program in Washington, where she will have access to the professors and curators at the National Gallery of Art and other affiliated institutions, including the National Museum of the American Indian. Horton has done research in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum archives in the past, and received a 2008 Fellowship for Historians of American Art to Travel Abroad from CASVA, which she used to visit indigenous women’s weaving cooperatives in southern Mexico and Guatemala.

Horton will be one of 10 spending the summer with the Terra summer residency program in Giverny, France, home of painter Claude Monet, during the summer of 2011. The Terra Foundation for American Art supports artists and scholars from the United States and Europe with lodging, study, and studio spaces for eight-week terms, and also offers a series of seminars and independent studies with senior artists and scholars in residence.

She also has written an article titled, “Alone on the Snow/Alone on the Beach: ‘A Global Sense of Place’ in Atanarjuat and Fountain” which will be published in Journal of Transnational American Studies, in a special forum on “charting transnational Native American studies.” She also has forthcoming publications in The Visual Culture Reader, and CAA Reviews.

Originally from northern California, Horton earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at San Diego in art history and political science. Local communities, including the reservations and independent nations in both areas of California, feature “incredibly rich artistic traditions that have a lot more to offer to expand art history,” according to Horton.

The visual and cultural studies program is an interdisciplinary doctoral program, housed in the Department of Art and Art History. The program draws from coursework and faculty expertise in several University of Rochester humanities departments. Because the primary faculty work in art and art history, film studies, modern languages and cultures, and anthropology, students are able to relate literary and cultural theory to visual culture, and to investigate the connections among cultural productions, critical theory, and society.

(Story courtesy of Valerie Alhart, University Communications)