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.”

Summer Plans Series: Saroyah Mevorach Experiences the London Fashion World

By Blake Silberberg ‘13
University Communications

University of Rochester senior Saroyah Mevorach recently returned from an internship in London, England, with the Fashion and Textile Museum. The art history major participated in the Educational Programmes Abroad (EPA) Internships in Europe. The program is offered through the College Center for Study Abroad.

Mevorach grew up surrounded by a family of art collectors, in homes filled with Chinese and European art collections. After taking every art course available to her in high school, she was certain she wanted to pursue a degree in art at Rochester. During the spring of her sophomore year, she participated in the University’s Art New York program, where she worked as an editorial intern for Town & Country magazine in Manhattan. As an intern, she helped prepare information and photos for upcoming spreads, fact checked for fashion, lifestyle, or social articles, and helped out in the fashion closet, prepping for shoots and unpacking as well as organizing inventory.

“Since it is a very elite and fashionable magazine, I was able to see designers, models, socialites, and other relevant figures coming in and out of the office and was also able to work with and observe extraordinary people,” explained sm1Mevorach, “I was able to see how the runway is translated to the page and then distributed to the public. It was a very comprehensive learning experience and I really loved it.”

Building on that positive opportunity, Mevorach embarked this summer on the EPA program in London. The program sponsors semester-long study programs in London, Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Brussels, Edinburgh, and Madrid and combine eight-credit internships with coursework throughout the semester. It also provides solid work experience for the students involved.

Mevorach describes London as “A great city for fashion, contemporary art, and multicultural experiences, and an excellent place for someone involved in art to intern.” She interned at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, which is owned by Newham College, and was founded by Zandra Rhodes, a famous British designer. Because the organization’s staff is only 8 people, she was able to experience what she describes as “nearly all aspects and roles within the museum.”.

“I helped plan curatorial approaches and layouts, organize exhibition lists, and even worked in the shop and gallery once or twice.” Mevorach also helped create and maintain a social media campaign for the museum, as well as helping to draft press releases. Being part of such a small staff also allowed her the opportunity to work with high profile designers.

“The best day was probably when I worked with David Sassoon, designer for the notable fashion label Bellville Sassoon, who created dresses, gowns and outfits for the Royals, including Princess Diana,” recounts Mevorach. “I smhelped him organize his upcoming exhibition at the show and was able to see all of his original sketches. He is so sweet and amazingly talented.”

Mevorach describes living and working abroad as eye opening. “Our world and all of its industries have gone global, and I think it’s extremely important to experience any field outside the borders of the United States.”

“After working and living in London, I have a greater appreciation for and understanding of what it takes to make it in the creative industry. I have learned to be more independent and met people who have inspired me. This program offers a growing experience for anyone willing to go and accept a new challenge.”

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!

Summer Plans Series: Ansley ’14 Grows by Leaps and Bounds

By Rei Ramos ’15
University Communications

Working as a summer intern is not always all fun and games. However, according to Emily Ansley ’14, employment at LeapFrog Enterprises comes with quite a few perks. A developer and manufacturer of technology-based learning products for children, the company incorporates innovations in software to create educational toys for young children, which are, as the rising senior has found, surprisingly entertaining. “I’ve gotten to play with many of the toys–some of which aren’t even on shelves yet.” Working at the company’s main office in sunny California, Ansley likewise gets to enjoy a warm, West Coast summer.

Serving as a software engineering intern working with a team of mainly post-baccalaureate interns to create and update software tools to be utilized by the company’s professional developers. One of her first projects involved revamping an outdated audio mechanism. “The current tool was made when LeapFrog had only one or two different platforms. LeapFrog has grown tremendously since, and we need a new, easier tool that accommodates all the current platforms and has the ability to be extended for future ones.” As such, her code-writing efforts impact both the company and the development of its educational products.

Majoring in computer science, Ansley is already familiar with electronic coding and software. Through LeapFrog, however, she is able to see firsthand how they are used by a large scale corporation. With this, she is acquiring valuable skills that will remain beneficial even after her graduation in the coming spring semester. “For me, this internship is my first step into the corporate world. I’m learning many of the techniques they use to meet deadlines and get projects finished on time.” Through weekly collaborative meetings with different departments and the mentorship of company employees, Ansley is gaining valuable experience that simply can’t be taught in a classroom.

After graduation, Ansley hopes to partake in an English teaching assistantship. She aspires to work closely with young children in the near future. “I’m applying for a program in Taiwan where I’d help teach English to elementary kids for a year. After that, I’m not sure yet,” she admits. But even with her future seeming a bit uncertain, Ansley is sure that her current internship will truly help her to develop professionally and grow by leaps and bounds. “Although LeapFrog is a very unique company, I’m finding that I will be able to carry over many of the skills I acquire here to every other job.”


This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!


Summer Plans Series: Sander ’14 in a League of His Own

By Rei Ramos ’15
Univ. Communications

Baseball is more than just a simple hobby for Ethan Sander ’14. Starting early with an organized t-ball league at the age of five, his involvement with the sport has continued even into his college years. Now, after scoring a marketing internship with the local Rochester Red Wings, the rising senior has the opportunity to experience his favorite sport on a completely different playing field.

For the last three years, he has served as a heavy hitter on the University’s varsity baseball team. A business major with a marketing focus, Sander was lucky to have found an internship that catered to two of his very different interests, granting a glimpse of the commercial side of baseball. This summer, he will be taking a break from stealing bases on the field and will instead try his hand at selling out the stadium seats, among other duties. Throwing promotions instead of pitches, he works as an intern with the Red Wings’ marketing and sales department, formulating strategies to sell group tickets and ticket packages to the stadium suites and also personally coordinating with minor league athletes during mascot and player appearances for the public.

”I hope to work in baseball for a career and I think interning for the Red Wings is a great start and learning experience for that. The sales aspect of my job is beneficial as I have never really done that before, and that is a very important part of working in the front office of a baseball team,” says Sander. Stepping out of his usual role as an athlete, he is gaining a different experience from this internship by switching his focus from playing the game to selling it through measures like ticket promotions and fan giveaways. According to him, the position has introduced him to the importance of “fan interaction, especially when selecting and explaining to contestants how promotions are run.”

Moving from the dugout to the office for the summer term, Sander has been offered a unique and valuable perspective on baseball.  Involving many of the topics and subjects that he has encountered in his business and marketing classes, this internship has served as a beneficial experiential supplement to his field of study. That’s not to say that working in the less hands-on sector of the sport has dulled his interest. ”Being around baseball and a good group makes everything a lot more enjoyable,” says Sander.

While the rising senior is currently unsure whether his post-grad plans involve the pursuit of a playing career, he foresees a continued involvement in athletics in his future. Sanders says, “I would like to work in sports, especially baseball after graduation but we will have to see what opportunities present themselves.”

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!

Summer Plans Series: UR Student Lands Columbia Internship, Among Other Activities

By Caitlin Mack ’12(T5)
Univ. Communications

Se Hoon Kim ’16 likes to be a busy guy. The rising sophomore brought Tiananmen protest leader Baiqiao Tang to campus last fall, founded the East Asian Affairs Association, and made time for Model UN, Taiwanese American Students’ Association, Japanese Students Association, and Korean Percussion Group. Now Kim, who intends to major in international relations, has a full line-up of summer activities ahead.

In mid-May, Kim began a three-week internship at a New York City marketing group, where he will assist in contacting companies to work out marketing deals.  “I am looking forward to interacting with various types of people and learning about business interactions,” said Kim of the experience.

In June, he will then begin an internship in Building Community at Columbia University, where he will serve as a residential advisor for a group of 10 high school students taking not-for-credit college courses. The two-month internship is geared toward gaining real-world perspective on leadership skills while mentoring American and international high school students.

­­­Kim will receive two weeks of training and attend seminars led by professionals in the field of community building. Following training, he will serve as a live-in resident adviser and a program assistant for six weeks at Columbia’s Summer Program for High School Students.

Using skills developed during the seminar, Kim will be responsible for creating a cohesive, lively, and respectful student body and organizing social events for his students, such as study breaks and trips to New York City attractions.Throughout the practicum, interns meet to discuss their experiences, challenges, and accomplishments, and write short reflective essays about their experiences at the end of the program.

Kim participated in the program during his high school years and wanted to come back as a residential advisor. “I wanted to give back,” he says.

Despite having some time off in August, Kim doesn’t plan on relaxing. “I’ll probably do some independent studying when I’m home,” he says. Also in the works for fall 2013: an event featuring author and Forbes contributor Gordon Chang that will spotlight the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Koreans.

In the Photo: Kim ’16 with Forbes columnist Gordon Chang.

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!

A Vision Scientist In The Making

By Blake Silberberg
Univ. Communications

Aaron Levi, a brain and cognitive sciences (BCS) major and current senior at the University of Rochester, is taking part in exciting research being done at the Flaum Eye Institute in the University’s Medical Center. Levi works with Dr. Krystal Huxlin on research to develop rehabilitation techniques for individuals who have lost visual perception due to stroke.

Read More About Rochester’s Vision Scientists

Levi became interested in BCS after taking the introductory courses in his freshman year. “I thought all of the course material was so interesting and often so relevant to everyday life,” he says. “It was really amazing to see how important your brain is to every function of your body and mind, and how it can build such complex behaviors from such basic functions.”

Levi became involved in research after attending a job fair and reaching out to his professors for information about ongoing projects. Before joining his current lab, Levi had the opportunity to work in a glial cell lab that focused on molecular neuroscience. “The University has such a large amount of research happening, which makes it pretty easy to try things out and find your own interests,” he explains. “Being able to participate in different types of specialized research within neuroscience has been an extremely valuable experience and allowed me to find where my own interests lie.”

Currently, Levi’s role involves testing the rehabilitation techniques on volunteers, and analyzing the effectiveness of the training programs. The program involves testing the subjects on simple visual stimuli, such as moving dots and bars. These exercises are conducted repeatedly throughout a training program, where Levi collects and analyzes how the subject’s responses improve over time. Additionally, the lab uses fMRI equipment to help map out the visual processing activity occurring in the subject’s brain.

After graduation this year, Levi hopes to continue to work in BCS research while applying to graduate programs. “Participating in research as an undergraduate has let me apply the things I’ve learned in class in a hands-on manner,” he says. “Learning new lab techniques also has given me an advantage in classes, and will certainly be valuable in applying for a graduate degree.”

Article written by Blake Silberberg, an intern at University Communications and a member of the Piggies. Silberberg is a senior majoring in political science. Photos courtesy of Aaron Levi.

Nate Mulberg: Focused on Sports Broadcasting

Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center – English major Nate Mulberg ’14 is building a résumé focused on sports broadcasting experience he hopes will eventually lead to a position as the host of his own sports radio talk show.

Mulberg is the sports director and a talk show host for WRUR, and a sportswriter for the Campus Times. This fall he interned for a local sports radio show, and he has secured another related internship for this summer.

“Doing an internship gives you a taste of whether this is really something you want to do,” he says.

Working with Rochester radio host John DiTullio on 1280 WHTK this fall, Mulberg arranged weekly guests and managed the Twitter page during the show.

“I’d interact with fans,” he said. Mulberg would get the opportunity for on-air experience when DiTullio would turn to him and ask “What’s going on on Twitter, Nate?’”

He gained less tangible work experience when the station experienced a round of layoffs. Seeing first- hand the effect on the work environment and on his coworkers “was a valuable lesson,” he said.

Mulberg advises his peers to start looking for internships early, “There are so many opportunities, you just have to put in the work to find them.”

He says he used a network of professors and coaches including English Professor Curt Smith, Head Baseball Coach Joe Reina, and Head Golf Coach Dan Wesley to connect with DiTullio.

Once he’d made contact, he sent a résumé and then shadowed DiTullio for a day before being offered the internship.

Mulberg credits his Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center Counselor Dale Leyburn with helping him focus his goals and write his résumé.

Mulberg says he is looking forward to interning at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia this summer, where he will interview professional players in the area and write articles for the website.

“It’s fun,” he says of the field. “It might not be the most lucrative, but you can make a living doing what you love.”

Article courtesy of the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center and was originally published in the Career & Internship Digest.

Encoding Secrets in Mathematics: Junior hired as an intern at the NSA

Univ. Communications – Not many people are able to make it through the whole application process of becoming an intern at the Director’s Summer Program at the National Security Agency. It starts with hundreds of applicants who have superb math backgrounds — a tenth of the pool are offered a conditional acceptance, out of which a third will be hired. These candidates face hours of background checks and security clearances. In-person interviews to judge personality traits and on-the-spot math are taken, as well as polygraph and psychiatric tests. Just 24 students are offered a position.

Sean Al-Gattas ’13 is one of them. A junior majoring in mathematics, he was recently hired to spend the summer working at the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

The National Security Agency is responsible for providing intelligence services to the Department of Defense, the CIA, and various industry partners. In conflicts, it processes strategic and tactical information to war planners. It is the nation’s largest employer of mathematicians, who figure out ways to protect sensitive domestic information and intercept foreign communications.

Al-Gattas will be working on a daily basis on a project with other NSA mathematicians. It will be confidential and rigorous, and at the end of the summer he is expected to deliver a presentation to the director of the NSA. It not only requires advanced mathematical reasoning, but also the ability to work in a discrete environment.

Much of the work involves cryptography, an ancient science that intersects the disciplines of mathematics, engineering, and in modern times, computer science. “I think of cryptography as the mathematics of keeping secrets,” says Al-Gattas. More than an exclusive language, it’s the technique of keeping a secret in plain sight. Early forms of keeping secrets often involved ciphers, like the scytale, a device used by Spartans involving a message on a strip of parchment that can only be read when wound on a stick. Cryptography is often most important in wartime: World War II saw a massive rise in the numbers of codebreakers devoted to understanding the communications of the other side. In modern times, cryptography has reached into the life of ordinary Americans, providing security for computer passwords and ATM cards.

Although he has sat in on Professor Amanda Beeson’s class, MTH 233: Cryptography, Al-Gattas has never formally received credit for cryptography. As a freshman coming to Rochester from Syracuse N.Y., he intended to major in physics before settling on mathematics. One of his favorite topics is Graph Theory, and he spent the last semester at Penn State studying Ramsey Theory; both require heavy use of abstract reasoning and mathematical modeling. These skills will be useful when Al-Gattas starts working on developing cryptography and related mathematics.

Al-Gattas loves this kind of work, and his enthusiasm for both advanced mathematics and NSA experience is hard to miss. “I’m really excited to do work with the other students in the program. It’s going to be incredible to be working with really talented students and scholars who are among the best at what they do.” Al-Gattas is also active in the campus community. He has been elected to Phi Beta Kappa, works as a TA for various math classes, and plays tuba in Brass Choir. Paul Fili, one of the math professors at Rochester who wrote a recommendation for Al-Gattas for the NSA says that Sean “is both a friendly person and a talented young mathematician with a sharp mind. I’m very pleased to hear he received this opportunity and I’m sure he will do an excellent job.”

Does he have any advice for other undergraduates? “Do your research, and use Google to your advantage. Nobody told me about working at the NSA before, and I sort-of just stumbled on it. It’s a really weird thing that I was able to get this opportunity, but it just goes to show that plenty of things are possible if you try.”

Do you have an interesting internship or job offer this summer? Tell the Rochester community by emailing the editor of The Buzz at

Article written by Dan Wang, a sophomore at Rochester, who studies philosophy and economics. Photo courtesy of Sean Al-Gattas.

Internship Leads to Career Ambition for Rochester Senior

Univ. Communications – Jonathan Grima is an ambitious young man. The pre-med neuroscience major is not only doing a Take 5 year in environmental economics, he also is completing a senior thesis using research from his continued work in Dr. Kim Tieu’s neuroscience lab.

Grima, originally from New York City, graduated from LaGaurdia High School, where he studied drama. He visited the University of Rochester after hearing about it from his high school mentor. Grima was struck by the willingness of students and faculty from different disciplines to sit down and work together.  “It wasn’t cut throat here and I really liked that,” he said.

His interest in drama got him thinking about the mind which led him to minor in clinical psychology. When Grima heard about the neuroscience program, which combined his interest in the mind with science, he decided to make it his major. In early 2010, after reading about the work being done at the U of R Medical Center on the neurobiology of disease, Grima became particularly interested in Dr. Tieu’s lab and emailed him expressing his interest.  “[H]e was in the process of interviewing candidates for an undergraduate position. Just my luck; I was just in time,” Grima said. “I was lucky enough to receive the position and I have been working with him ever since.”  Using his research from Dr. Tieu’s lab, Grima has been working on his thesis since May 2011.

Grima’s research focuses specifically on the treatment of Huntington’s disease, which is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder passed down through families. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Huntington’s disease comes in two forms, early-onset Huntington’s disease, which is a rare form of the disease that begins in childhood or adolescence, and adult-onset Huntington’s disease, the more common form, which typically manifests itself during a person’s mid-30s and 40s.  Physical symptoms include jerking and uncontrollable movements that become progressively more exaggerated.  Cognitive problems also worsen over time, and ultimately lead to dementia and death.

The lab in which he works is testing Dr. Tieu’s theory that by suppressing the function of a certain protein they can provide a restorative effect for individuals with Huntington’s disease.  His research focuses on two methods of suppressing the protein and treating Huntington’s disease.  One method aims to treat the condition using gene therapy, while the other method treats it through the use of drugs.  In May, Grima will present his thesis and findings to a committee gathered together by his thesis adviser and mentor, Dr. Tieu. The experience of researching treatments for the disease has been transformative for Grima. “It has given me an interest in research,” he said. “I would like to continue with it in the future if I can.”

In March he will present preliminary findings to his peers at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Utah.  Grima is one of several University of Rochester students in many disciplines to be invited to the conference.  “It should be great,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what students from other disciplines are presenting.”

After graduation in the spring, Grima plans to take a gap year to continue his research in Dr. Tieu’s lab full time.  He is currently studying for the MCAT and hopes to get into the University of Rochester Medical School where he would like to continue his research and earn an MD/PhD.  Like I said, Jonathan Grima is an ambitious young man.

Article written by Daniel Baroff, a senior at the University of Rochester and an intern at University Communications. He is majoring in religion with a minor in Jewish studies.  His main area of study is the involvement of Jews in the American comic book industry, for which he keeps an infrequently updated blog (

In the Photo: Phillip Rappold (left), a doctoral degree student in the neuroscience graduate program, has acted as a mentor for Rochester undergrad Jonathan Grima (right) in Dr. Kim Tieu’s lab. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Grima.