spacer
2022 SUNY GREAT Award Winners

2022 SUNY GREAT Award Recipients

Twenty-eight students have received the SUNY Graduate Research Empowering and Accelerating Talent (GREAT) award in 2022. The award provides $5,000 to each student from the SUNY Office of Research and Economic Development. All recipients of the SUNY GREAT Award have received national recognition from the National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship Program or the National Institutes of Health, National Research Service Awards.

Andrea J. Arreguin headshot
Andrea J. Arreguin
Stony Brook University
Neuroscience / Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Andrea J. Arreguin

Although Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is primarily studied in the context of muscle pathology, there is a need to investigate the function of dystrophin in the brain as DMD patients can present with cognitive and behavioral disorders. My project aims to understand the role of dystrophin in neurodevelopment, specifically in the ventricular-subventricular zone (VZ-SVZ). The VZ-SVZ is the forebrain's major neural stem cell niche that controls postnatal neuro- and gliogenesis. These studies will lead to a greater understanding of neurodevelopmental abnormalities in DMD patients.

Noele Doreen Certain headshot
Noele Doreen Certain
Stony Brook University
Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Noele Doreen Certain

Communication in the human brain is heavily reliant on receiving and sending messages. My research efforts are focused on AMPA receptors, one of the most abundant receptors in the brain, that receive these messages. AMPA receptors mediate healthy brain function, including learning and memory, but also drive the process of brain disease (e.g., addiction, depression, and Alzheimer’s). My investigation is centered on how small regulatory proteins, known as auxiliary subunits, partner with the AMPA receptor to regulate receptor assembly. This regulation can affect both how the message is received and if it is received at all. My work will provide a more comprehensive understanding of AMPA receptors and contribute to the new dimension of drug therapy for neurological disorders.

Cristian Cleary headshot
Cristian Cleary
Stony Brook University
Genetics / Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Cristian Cleary

My thesis research is centered around the pediatric cancer rhabdomyosarcoma. This cancer is the most common extra-cranial solid tumor in children. There are no targeted therapies for rhabdomyosarcoma, and children have been receiving the same chemotherapy regimen to treat this disease for the past 50 years. The goal of my research project is to understand the genetics and molecular biology of this cancer to further our understanding of how it is driven and to lay the foundation for developing targeted therapies against this disease.

Kayla Donaldson headshot
Kayla Donaldson
Stony Brook University
Clinical Psychology
Kayla Donaldson

Broadly speaking, my research interests are in integrating neural and psychophysiological, behavioral, and computational methods to investigate the mechanisms underlying cognitive and emotional dysfunction in psychotic disorders. I am particularly interested in how these mechanisms inform the course of psychotic symptom progression. My NRSA project capitalizes on a well-replicated, biologically-based measure and theoretical framework in order to elucidate computational and neurobiological mechanisms underlying psychotic and cognitive symptoms, as well as to provide insight into their trajectories over time in chronic psychotic illness. In terms of impact, though bidirectional causal relationships are often assumed to exist between clinical and neurobiological constructs in psychosis, the mechanisms linking the two are not always clear, limiting the clinical utility of this knowledge. Through my research, I hope to provide insight into such measures and mechanisms of symptom progression across psychotic disorders. By furthering our understanding of the development and maintenance of such symptoms over time, I hope ultimately to contribute to a body of work that may inform the development of effective assessments and treatment.

Marlee Harris headshot
Marlee Harris
Stony Brook University
Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences
Marlee Harris

My research focuses on the origins of stone tool technology roughly 3.5-2 million years ago and characterizing the relationship between behavioral and biological evolution in early hominins. I am particularly interested in investigating how processes behind the production of early stone tools relates to specific aspects of cognitive evolution. Evolution associated with the sophistication of toolmaking behaviors in hominins is connected to the evolution of exceptional capabilities in modern humans, including manual dexterity, language, social learning, and complex planning, goal-orientation, and decision-making processes. Unravelling the deep past can provide insight into the "why" and "how" of human brain evolution by illuminating critical connections between behavior and biology.

Joshua Kogan headshot
Joshua Kogan
Stony Brook University
Neuroscience / Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Joshua Kogan

My research studies how plasticity in the brain's taste system can impact taste-related decisions. This work will improve our understanding of taste circuitry, which could have broad impacts on taste- and feeding-related disorders.

Angus Koller headshot
Angus Koller
Stony Brook University
Chemistry
Angus Koller

My research is in the development of Titanium-45 complexes for use in cancer imaging. Titanium-45 is an unutilized isotope in the medical field but has high potential in cancer imaging. It’s easy to produce and gives high imaging resolution. However, 45Ti is very hard to stabilize in the body. By working to resolve this instability, we can develop cheap, easy to formulate, and high-quality cancer imaging tracers.

Michael Martinez headshot
Michael Martinez
Stony Brook University
Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology / Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Michael Martinez

My dissertation research focuses on how the cell cycle is regulated during cell invasion of basement membrane, which is the first event that occurs during cancer metastasis. My work can provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms of metastasis, one of the major causes of cancer-related deaths.

Alicia Mendoza headshot
Alicia Mendoza
Stony Brook University
Microbiology and Immunology
Alicia Mendoza

My research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanism of how the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa establishes biofilms and leads to infections. The most at-risk patients are those on ventilators, a problem intensified by increased ventilator use during the ongoing Sars-Cov-2 pandemic. Because prevalent P. aeruginosa strains are becoming more multidrug resistant, it is essential that we understand the underlying molecular mechanisms of these infections in order to one day find better treatments for these patients. My work understands the distinct function of histidine kinase,

NahK, in pathogenicity, as I have found that NahK plays an important regulatory role in controlling expression of virulence factors such as Pseudomonas exotoxin and quinolone production.

Philip Moresco headshot
Philip Moresco
Stony Brook University
Genetics / Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Philip Moresco

My research is focused on understanding how epithelial cancers protect themselves with what we call the "CXCL12 coat." This coating prevents the body's killer immune cells from penetrating the tumor and eliminating it. I am studying how this coating forms at a biochemical and cell biological level, with the goal of identifying pathways we can block to prevent the formation of the CXCL12 coat. If we

can "uncoat" the cancers that utilize this system to protect themselves from immune attack, they will be controlled and eliminated by the immune system, providing a new way to combat cancer.

Ki Oh headshot
Ki Oh
Stony Brook University
Biomedical Informatics / Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Ki Oh

Despite advances in treatment for many malignancies, pancreatic cancer remains a devastating diagnosis with a 5-year survival of ~10%. It has become clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to cancer treatment is not always effective. Recently, molecular subtyping of cancers, such as breast cancer, has proven to be a promising path towards personalized therapy and improved patient survival. My research leverages single-cell RNA sequencing data to model unique cell-to-cell interactions that exist within each of the two pancreatic cancer subtypes. We identified both pro-tumor and anti-tumor features between the two ecosystems that may explain the variability in patient prognosis and response to therapy. Additionally, the novel therapeutic targets highlighted in this work may help bring us a step closer to patient-tailored treatments with improved efficacy against pancreatic cancer.

Sekine Ozturk headshot
Sekine Ozturk
Stony Brook University
Clinical Psychology
Sekine Ozturk

My overarching research goal is to elucidate how emotions impair or facilitate cognitive processing in transdiagnostic populations. I use neuroimaging, computational, and behavioral methods to answer my research questions. Better understanding the underlying mechanisms of cognitive and emotional processing may inform evidence-based clinical interventions.

Daniel Radin headshot
Daniel Radin
Stony Brook University
Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology / Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Daniel Radin

I study the interaction between glioblastoma tumor cells and the immune system. Specifically, I investigate ways in which we can turn on anti-cancerous properties of the innate immune system and associated targetable axes.

Aziz M. Rangwala headshot
Aziz M. Rangwala
Stony Brook University
Molecular and Cellular Biology / Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Aziz M. Rangwala

My research is on kinetics mechanisms of drug resistance in cancer. I study imatinib, the seminal achievement of rational drug design and the first-line treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia, as a model system to explore how changes in the rates of drug binding and unbinding to its target could cause patients to stop responding to therapy. Our results have far-reaching ramifications for the design of targeted therapeutic compounds for patient treatment.

Natalie Anselmi headshot
Natalie Anselmi
University at Buffalo
Oral Biology
Natalie Anselmi

Treponema denticola, Treponema maltophilium, and Treponema lecithinolyticum are three understudied bacterial species abundant in the polymicrobial biofilm associated with severe periodontal disease. Neutrophils are key innate immune cells that protect oral tissues from pathogenic bacteria by coordinating cellular signaling, structural elements, and cell function. Msp inhibits neutrophil function by disrupting the balance of phosphoinositides, cellular lipid metabolites key for intracellular signaling. My research aims to characterize how these Treponema species and their surface proteins manipulate neutrophil cytoskeleton signaling pathways and granule release to promote survival. Focusing on how these proteins affect actin branching and antimicrobial properties to promote survival is an essential first step in the development of novel therapeutics that specifically target bacterial proteins impacting the immune system, thereby improving treatments for PD and oral health.

Liam Christie headshot
Liam Christie
University at Buffalo
Electrical Engineering
Liam Christie

My research is focused in the development of human-like test phantoms for photoacoustic applications. The phantoms mimic components of the human body such as vasculature, skin, and bone. I hope that my research will have an impact on improving the current status of healthcare. As I develop test phantoms, I am aiding in the overall development of photoacoustic technology. This technology can be applied to spaces that improve cancer treatment, medical imaging, and home-based healthcare.

Narayan Dhimal headshot
Narayan Dhimal
University at Buffalo
Neuroscience
Narayan Dhimal

I am studying the roles of autophagy and TFEB transcription factor in Krabbe disease. My findings may help understand the mechanisms of disease initiation and progression of not only Krabbe

disease, but other lysosomal storage disorders as well. It may also open therapeutic avenues to reduce disease burden.

Dennis Fedorishin headshot
Dennis Fedorishin
University at Buffalo
Computer Science
Dennis Fedorishin

I am currently focusing on acoustical artificial intelligence in the computer science field. Specifically, I am collaborating with Buffalo's ACV Auctions to revolutionize the way vehicles are understood and sold. I am developing a system with ACV Auctions to automatically diagnose and identify car issues from sound. We place a microphone on the engine and immediately diagnose its issues from the sound it emits. I am further working on some unique use cases of audio-based artificial intelligence, for example echolocation (using sound signals and echoes to understand the layout of physical spaces). I believe my work can fundamentally advance the way computers understand audio. With that, we can revolutionize many aspects of our lives: from instantly diagnosing your car or any system from your phone to helping the audibly impaired understand the sounds happening around them by letting computers hear for them.

Kyle J. Hunt headshot
Kyle J. Hunt
University at Buffalo
Industrial and Systems Engineering
Kyle J. Hunt

My primary research utilizes mathematical optimization techniques to address problems in homeland security. In my dissertation work, I focus on the adoption of new technologies and optimal information disclosure strategies to deter terrorist attacks. This work will help to strengthen the security of countries throughout the world by providing operational insights and decision support tools.

Grant Iraci headshot
Grant Iraci
University at Buffalo
Computer Science and Engineering
Grant Iraci

My research involves improving the design of programming languages used in embedded computers. From coffeemakers to medical implants, computers have permeated our lives. In many places, such as aviation and space exploration, we entrust our lives to their correct operation. My work focuses on enabling people to rapidly create safe software in these domains where reliability is paramount. Leveraging the mathematical formalism of type theory, I can provide guarantees that changes to code do not compromise its correctness.

Steven Gregory Alan Lewis headshot
Steven Gregory Alan Lewis
University at Buffalo
Computational Cell Biology, Anatomy and Pathology
Steven Gregory Alan Lewis

My research is focused on the development of physical and computational tools to enhance and extract meaningful information from cadaveric samples, especially utilizing artificial intelligence algorithms. To do this, we define 3D models of anatomical structures from CT scans using deep learning, perform shape analysis, and establish diagnostic and prognostic information. Our research aims at drastically improving the teaching of gross anatomy education with meaningful quantitative definitions of anatomical structures, and to provide anatomical and radiological researchers with tools to assist in the understanding of normal and pathological variation, analyzing the level of meaningful contrast enhancement, and creating methods to improve said contrast.

Lindsey J. Mattick headshot
Lindsey J. Mattick
University at Buffalo
Epidemiology and Environmental Health
Lindsey J. Mattick

A significant gender disparity exists in the disease burden of osteoporosis; on average, women have younger onset of bone loss and experience fracture 5-10 years earlier. In elderly women, the incidence of bone fractures is greater than that of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer combined. My research will explore the independent effects of estrogen and follicle stimulating hormone on age-related bone loss in women. This work has the potential to shed light on future development of therapies to preserve bone health.

Katie Paige headshot
Katie Paige
University at Buffalo
Clinical Psychology
Katie Paige

I am a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology working under the mentorship of Dr. Craig Colder. My research focuses on the intersection of substance use and psychopathology across the developmental period of adolescence. Specifically, I am interested in the mechanisms by which early socio-environmental experiences impact developmental trajectories of executive functioning and how these pathways predispose psychopathology. My research aims to advance our understanding of how substance use, problem behavior, and social adaptation impact trajectories of executive functioning development. My work may help identify important intervention targets to promoting healthy psychological adjustment.

Caleb Walcott headshot
Caleb Walcott
University at Buffalo
Geology
Caleb Walcott

My research is focused on reconstructing the history of the Greenland Ice Sheet to contextualize its present and future melt. Accurate reconstructions of ice sheet size in the past provide important benchmarks for ice sheet and sea level rise models. Predicting future ice sheet retreat and subsequent sea level rise is essential to mitigating these negative effects, especially for states with substantial populations in coastal areas, such as New York.

Megan Gauck headshot
Megan Gauck
Binghamton University
Anthropology / Biological Anthropology
Megan Gauck

Humans have been co-existing, co-evolving, and competing with infectious disease for thousands of years. My research explores the relationship between iron regulation and infectious disease susceptibility in northeastern Tanzania. Furthermore, I am investigating the risk factors and health consequences associated with co-infections of intestinal parasites and tuberculosis. This research aims to improve the understanding of iron regulation as a potential adaptation for minimizing infectious disease risk and to inform public policy on reducing rates of active tuberculosis and intestinal parasites.

Trevor Towner headshot
Trevor Towner
Binghamton University
Psychology / Behavioral Neuroscience
Trevor Towner

My research is oriented around understanding the neural mechanisms underlying social impairments elicited by exposure to binge-level alcohol during adolescence. I aim to identify specific neuronal ensembles within the prelimbic cortex of the rodent brain that mediate social deficits induced by our model of adolescent intermittent ethanol exposure. Using a transgenic rat line, we are able to use a chemogenetic approach to silence neurons within this brain structure to causally determine their contribution to social deficits. In addition, I am assessing the consequences of adolescent ethanol exposure on the expression of extracellular matrix components, specifically perineuronal nets. Perineuronal nets are critical modulators of inhibitory signaling in the brain and have been shown to be attenuated following exposure to ethanol. I intend to determine if adolescent ethanol exposure alters perineuronal net expression and how this may produce aberrant signaling within the brain. We currently have a limited understanding of the neural contributions to social deficits following adolescent ethanol exposure and my research findings will expand our knowledge on this topic. Overall, I hope to identify novel targets for future studies to explore further and open new areas of research for our lab.

Amber Altrieth headshot
Amber Altrieth
University at Albany
Biology
Amber Altrieth

My research is focused on identifying factors produced by the cells that line your blood vessels in the salivary gland, which may promote fibrosis or regeneration. This will hopefully lead to targets for regenerative therapies in patients with decreased saliva production.

Jordan Jessamy headshot
Jordan Jessamy
SUNY ESF
Environmental Science
Jordan Jessamy

My research studies the relationship between socioeconomics and urban tree community composition and function. There are two foci in my study: the first is to determine how urban forests change across a socioeconomic-urban gradient, and the second is to know how the health and ability of these trees to provide environmental benefits changes along the gradient as well. My work will help better inform urban design and urban forest management by identifying priority areas and incentivizing development in areas of the city that have been historically marginalized.