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2023 SUNY GREAT Award Winners

2023 SUNY GREAT Award Recipients

The 2023 SUNY Graduate Research Empowering and Accelerating Talent (GREAT) award has been awarded to 33 students. Each student is provided $5,000 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.

Zacchariah M. Apolito headshot
Zacchariah M. Apolito
University at Buffalo
Social Sciences - Biological Anthropology
Zacchariah M. Apolito

My research addresses the effects of terrain types on human evolution and tests if the introduction of footwear engenders different walking biomechanics over uneven terrain. The main purpose of this study is to understand what techniques humans use to maintain balance when walking on uneven surfaces, and to determine how the use of shoes affects these walking strategies. My research will allow us to understand whether shoes affect the movement patterns used to maintain stability when walking on uneven surfaces, and if there are any associated effects on muscle activation patterns.

Zacchariah M. Apolito headshot

Zacchariah M. Apolito

University at Buffalo

Social Sciences - Biological Anthropology

My research addresses the effects of terrain types on human evolution and tests if the introduction of footwear engenders different walking biomechanics over uneven terrain. The main purpose of this study is to understand what techniques humans use to maintain balance when walking on uneven surfaces, and to determine how the use of shoes affects these walking strategies. My research will allow us to understand whether shoes affect the movement patterns used to maintain stability when walking on uneven surfaces, and if there are any associated effects on muscle activation patterns.

David Arnot headshot
David Arnot
Stony Brook University
Engineering - Chemical Engineering
David Arnot

Global decarbonization will require a drastic transition towards renewable energy sources and an electrified energy economy. My research focuses on developing batteries that will provide the energy storage capabilities needed to fully integrate intermittent renewables like wind and solar. I work on novel electrode materials with the goal of increasing the energy content and rechargeability of lithium-ion batteries. Such improvements will be essential for several growing industries including electrical grid-level energy storage, electric vehicles, and advanced electronic devices.

David Arnot headshot

David Arnot

Stony Brook University

Engineering - Chemical Engineering

Global decarbonization will require a drastic transition towards renewable energy sources and an electrified energy economy. My research focuses on developing batteries that will provide the energy storage capabilities needed to fully integrate intermittent renewables like wind and solar. I work on novel electrode materials with the goal of increasing the energy content and rechargeability of lithium-ion batteries. Such improvements will be essential for several growing industries including electrical grid-level energy storage, electric vehicles, and advanced electronic devices.

Alexander Baez headshot
Alexander Baez
Stony Brook University
Functional study of the role of SAPAP3 postsynaptic density protein on dorsolateral striatal cholinergic interneurons
Alexander Baez

The Striatum brain region integrates signals from different brain areas to inform important behavioral processes including action selection, and habitual motor reinforcement. I research how disruptions to Striatum circuits can lead to functional changes in specialized populations of cells and cause Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD)-like symptoms in mice. My results show that the normal release of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine is disrupted in the Striatum of our OCD-like mouse model. My research contributes to a pre-clinical understanding of how OCD develops, the pharmacological/circuit determinants of an OCD-like brain state, and finally the potential use of Acetylcholine-related drugs to treat OCD-like symptoms.

Alexander Baez headshot

Alexander Baez

Stony Brook University

Functional study of the role of SAPAP3 postsynaptic density protein on dorsolateral striatal cholinergic interneurons

The Striatum brain region integrates signals from different brain areas to inform important behavioral processes including action selection, and habitual motor reinforcement. I research how disruptions to Striatum circuits can lead to functional changes in specialized populations of cells and cause Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD)-like symptoms in mice. My results show that the normal release of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine is disrupted in the Striatum of our OCD-like mouse model. My research contributes to a pre-clinical understanding of how OCD develops, the pharmacological/circuit determinants of an OCD-like brain state, and finally the potential use of Acetylcholine-related drugs to treat OCD-like symptoms.

Clare Beatty headshot
Clare Beatty
Stony Brook University
Psychology - Developmental Psychology
Clare Beatty

Uncertainty is an inevitable part of life (from small things, like the weather, to big things, like a global pandemic!). However, some people are more sensitive to uncertainty than others. Beatty’s research explores how people think about and anticipate the future, particularly when it is uncertain and unpredictable. Her program of research uses affective neuroscience to better identify individuals who are at increased risk for psychopathology because of an increased sensitivity to unpredictability.

Clare Beatty headshot

Clare Beatty

Stony Brook University

Psychology - Developmental Psychology

Uncertainty is an inevitable part of life (from small things, like the weather, to big things, like a global pandemic!). However, some people are more sensitive to uncertainty than others. Beatty’s research explores how people think about and anticipate the future, particularly when it is uncertain and unpredictable. Her program of research uses affective neuroscience to better identify individuals who are at increased risk for psychopathology because of an increased sensitivity to unpredictability.

Samantha R. Benjamin headshot
Samantha R. Benjamin
Binghamton University
Mitigating ADA Through Site-specific Conjugation Technology
Samantha R. Benjamin

I grew up in Media Pennsylvania, but I now consider Oneonta New York to be my home.  My research centers around Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADC), a targeted drug delivery technology. I attach therapeutics, including cytotoxic drugs, immune modulating drugs, and modified strands of DNA, to a specific location on the antibody. My new F31 grant looks at the benefits of this specific attachment site in its ability to protect and mask the drugs from the body. This site-specific conjugation system can increase the efficacy and safety of many pharmaceuticals and imaging technologies.

Samantha R. Benjamin headshot

Samantha R. Benjamin

Binghamton University

Mitigating ADA Through Site-specific Conjugation Technology

I grew up in Media Pennsylvania, but I now consider Oneonta New York to be my home.  My research centers around Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADC), a targeted drug delivery technology. I attach therapeutics, including cytotoxic drugs, immune modulating drugs, and modified strands of DNA, to a specific location on the antibody. My new F31 grant looks at the benefits of this specific attachment site in its ability to protect and mask the drugs from the body. This site-specific conjugation system can increase the efficacy and safety of many pharmaceuticals and imaging technologies.

Kiana T. Bynum headshot
Kiana T. Bynum
University at Buffalo
Cooperativity of Oral Microbes in Evading Neutrophil-Mediated Killing
Kiana T. Bynum

Neutrophils are abundant leukocytes that serve as the first line of defense against invading microbes and infection. As the primary immune cells present in periodontal tissue, neutrophils are an integral component of the host response in periodontal disease (PD). Characterized by chronic inflammation, PD is initiated by a dysbiotic microbiome increasing inflammation, which leads to further microbial dysbiosis in a positive feedback loop. Microbial dysbiosis is promoted by cooperative interactions between keystone periodontal pathogens such as Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) and accessory pathogens such as the normally commensal Streptococcus gordonii (Sg). My research focuses on investigating how interactions of Pg and Sg can affect, and respond to, neutrophil changes during activation. By examining neutrophil activation phenotypes, including phagosome maturation and bacterial killing, I hope to better understand any collaborative survival of normally oral commensal and keystone pathogens. Focusing on these areas will greatly add to understanding the role neutrophils play in oral bacteria survivability and evasion of the innate immune system. Overall, this research will help improve our ability to better control periodontal disease and its systemic effects in humans.

Kiana T. Bynum headshot

Kiana T. Bynum

University at Buffalo

Cooperativity of Oral Microbes in Evading Neutrophil-Mediated Killing

Neutrophils are abundant leukocytes that serve as the first line of defense against invading microbes and infection. As the primary immune cells present in periodontal tissue, neutrophils are an integral component of the host response in periodontal disease (PD). Characterized by chronic inflammation, PD is initiated by a dysbiotic microbiome increasing inflammation, which leads to further microbial dysbiosis in a positive feedback loop. Microbial dysbiosis is promoted by cooperative interactions between keystone periodontal pathogens such as Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) and accessory pathogens such as the normally commensal Streptococcus gordonii (Sg). My research focuses on investigating how interactions of Pg and Sg can affect, and respond to, neutrophil changes during activation. By examining neutrophil activation phenotypes, including phagosome maturation and bacterial killing, I hope to better understand any collaborative survival of normally oral commensal and keystone pathogens. Focusing on these areas will greatly add to understanding the role neutrophils play in oral bacteria survivability and evasion of the innate immune system. Overall, this research will help improve our ability to better control periodontal disease and its systemic effects in humans.

John Chen headshot
John Chen
Stony Brook University
The role of cortical D1R-expressing neurons in taste-based sensorimotor transformations
John Chen

I am interested in understanding how dopaminergic signaling in the cortex is involved in sensorimotor transformations during gustation. This research will help better understand the neuromodulatory mechanisms involved in taste-related decision-making. 

John Chen headshot

John Chen

Stony Brook University

The role of cortical D1R-expressing neurons in taste-based sensorimotor transformations

I am interested in understanding how dopaminergic signaling in the cortex is involved in sensorimotor transformations during gustation. This research will help better understand the neuromodulatory mechanisms involved in taste-related decision-making. 

Elizabeth Clippard headshot
Elizabeth Clippard
College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Life sciences - Ecology
Elizabeth Clippard

I work in the Climate and Applied Forest Research Institute (CAFRI), where I am currently in the very early stages of a project on remote sensing of emerald ash borer. Emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle that has decimated ash trees along the eastern United States. Ash death is relatively fast as the beetle larvae girdles the tree, and this decline could have a distinct spectral pattern over time. Analysis could impact future invasive species detection and management, as well as errors in forest carbon estimation.

Elizabeth Clippard headshot

Elizabeth Clippard

College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Life sciences - Ecology

I work in the Climate and Applied Forest Research Institute (CAFRI), where I am currently in the very early stages of a project on remote sensing of emerald ash borer. Emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle that has decimated ash trees along the eastern United States. Ash death is relatively fast as the beetle larvae girdles the tree, and this decline could have a distinct spectral pattern over time. Analysis could impact future invasive species detection and management, as well as errors in forest carbon estimation.

Dylan Galt headshot
Dylan Galt
Stony Brook University
Mathematical Sciences - Topology
Dylan Galt

In the past, my research has focused on the computation of Hecke operators on the cohomology of arithmetic groups. This is still an active research area with many interesting outstanding problems, and with important theoretical connections to modern lattice-based cryptography. Currently, I do research in gauge theory with a focus on gauge theory in higher dimensions. The geometry involved in this field is of central importance to string theory and contemporary physics. Although I am not a physicist myself, my hope is that my work will be relevant to the continued mathematical collaboration between modern mathematics and theoretical physics.

Dylan Galt headshot

Dylan Galt

Stony Brook University

Mathematical Sciences - Topology

In the past, my research has focused on the computation of Hecke operators on the cohomology of arithmetic groups. This is still an active research area with many interesting outstanding problems, and with important theoretical connections to modern lattice-based cryptography. Currently, I do research in gauge theory with a focus on gauge theory in higher dimensions. The geometry involved in this field is of central importance to string theory and contemporary physics. Although I am not a physicist myself, my hope is that my work will be relevant to the continued mathematical collaboration between modern mathematics and theoretical physics.

Kenneth Hanson headshot
Kenneth Hanson
Stony Brook University
Social Sciences - Linguistics
Kenneth Hanson

My research uses computational methods to better understand the abstract patterns found in natural language and how they can be learned. This knowledge will better connect linguistic theory to the broader world of cognitive science and assist in the development of efficient practical applications.

Kenneth Hanson headshot

Kenneth Hanson

Stony Brook University

Social Sciences - Linguistics

My research uses computational methods to better understand the abstract patterns found in natural language and how they can be learned. This knowledge will better connect linguistic theory to the broader world of cognitive science and assist in the development of efficient practical applications.

Grant Hecht headshot
Grant Hecht
University at Buffalo
Engineering - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
Grant Hecht

My research is on the computation of optimal spacecraft trajectories in cislunar and interplanetary space. My research will help facilitate the next generation of space missions by reducing mission costs while increasing the derived scientific knowledge.

Grant Hecht headshot

Grant Hecht

University at Buffalo

Engineering - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering

My research is on the computation of optimal spacecraft trajectories in cislunar and interplanetary space. My research will help facilitate the next generation of space missions by reducing mission costs while increasing the derived scientific knowledge.

Erich Horeth headshot
Erich Horeth
University at Buffalo
Transcriptional Regulatory Mechanisms of Salivary Gland Branching Morphogenesis
Erich Horeth

My work uses next-generation sequencing technologies to explore the transcriptional and epigenomic mechanisms underlying salivary gland development, homeostasis and regeneration. My work strives to ultimately result in novel treatment options for patients who suffer from currently irreparable salivary gland damage. 

Erich Horeth headshot

Erich Horeth

University at Buffalo

Transcriptional Regulatory Mechanisms of Salivary Gland Branching Morphogenesis

My work uses next-generation sequencing technologies to explore the transcriptional and epigenomic mechanisms underlying salivary gland development, homeostasis and regeneration. My work strives to ultimately result in novel treatment options for patients who suffer from currently irreparable salivary gland damage. 

Isys Johnson headshot
Isys Johnson
University at Buffalo
Comp/IS/Eng - Algorithms and Theoretical Foundations
Isys Johnson

My research focuses on applying structured linear algebra to machine learning methods. My overall aim is to use algebraic and analytic techniques to increase transparency in machine learning models.

Isys Johnson headshot

Isys Johnson

University at Buffalo

Comp/IS/Eng - Algorithms and Theoretical Foundations

My research focuses on applying structured linear algebra to machine learning methods. My overall aim is to use algebraic and analytic techniques to increase transparency in machine learning models.

Armond June headshot
Armond June
University at Buffalo
Oral to Gut Microbiome Transmission in Periodontitis and Type 2 Diabetes
Armond June

The relationship between periodontitis and type II diabetes (T2D), co-occurring diseases that are among the most prevalent chronic illnesses in the US, is characterized by the former’s ability to increase the risk of severe diabetic complications, including death, in patients with both diseases. My research aims to understand the effect of periodontitis, and its associated mouth microbiome dysbiosis, on metabolic dysfunction in T2D. This should have an immediate impact on the understanding of periodontitis pathophysiology in systemic metabolic dysfunction.

Armond June headshot

Armond June

University at Buffalo

Oral to Gut Microbiome Transmission in Periodontitis and Type 2 Diabetes

The relationship between periodontitis and type II diabetes (T2D), co-occurring diseases that are among the most prevalent chronic illnesses in the US, is characterized by the former’s ability to increase the risk of severe diabetic complications, including death, in patients with both diseases. My research aims to understand the effect of periodontitis, and its associated mouth microbiome dysbiosis, on metabolic dysfunction in T2D. This should have an immediate impact on the understanding of periodontitis pathophysiology in systemic metabolic dysfunction.

Abe Leite headshot
Abe Leite
Stony Brook University
Psychology - Cognitive Neuroscience
Abe Leite

I study how neural systems encode information and how they process information over time to perform adaptive behaviors. I believe that deciding to take actions, without being compelled by stimuli from the environment, is key to what makes us alive, and I use simple computational models to study this ability on a theoretical level. In my current project, I apply this general approach to the particular question of object-based visual attention, analyzing data from non-human primates performing a visual search task to understand and model the neural processes that underlie the decision to look at one object rather than another.    While there are a number of areas my work connects with, I anticipate that one impact of my work will be in robotics. My computational work in attention and action will enable the creation of robots that can ignore distracting stimuli and prioritize objects according to their relevance to the robot's specified goals. It will also allow engineers to understand what visual objects a robot was paying attention to when it took a certain action. This will ultimately lead to more reliable and understandable robots, and a safer world for the rest of us.

Abe Leite headshot

Abe Leite

Stony Brook University

Psychology - Cognitive Neuroscience

I study how neural systems encode information and how they process information over time to perform adaptive behaviors. I believe that deciding to take actions, without being compelled by stimuli from the environment, is key to what makes us alive, and I use simple computational models to study this ability on a theoretical level. In my current project, I apply this general approach to the particular question of object-based visual attention, analyzing data from non-human primates performing a visual search task to understand and model the neural processes that underlie the decision to look at one object rather than another.    While there are a number of areas my work connects with, I anticipate that one impact of my work will be in robotics. My computational work in attention and action will enable the creation of robots that can ignore distracting stimuli and prioritize objects according to their relevance to the robot's specified goals. It will also allow engineers to understand what visual objects a robot was paying attention to when it took a certain action. This will ultimately lead to more reliable and understandable robots, and a safer world for the rest of us.

Kimberly Louisor headshot
Kimberly Louisor
University at Buffalo
Life Sciences - Evolutionary Biology
Kimberly Louisor

My research is about identifying the genomic mechanisms underlying differences in life span across species. My organism of interest is the Bigmouth Buffalo, which lives up to 127 years and is the longest living freshwater fish in the world. Bigmouth Buffalo is in the family Catostomidae (sucker fish), which includes members with vast differences in life span. I am using genome sequencing and other methods to identify specific genes potentially contributing to these differences. The results from this research will add to our the knowledge of aging and longevity research, with implications for other species, such as humans.  

Kimberly Louisor headshot

Kimberly Louisor

University at Buffalo

Life Sciences - Evolutionary Biology

My research is about identifying the genomic mechanisms underlying differences in life span across species. My organism of interest is the Bigmouth Buffalo, which lives up to 127 years and is the longest living freshwater fish in the world. Bigmouth Buffalo is in the family Catostomidae (sucker fish), which includes members with vast differences in life span. I am using genome sequencing and other methods to identify specific genes potentially contributing to these differences. The results from this research will add to our the knowledge of aging and longevity research, with implications for other species, such as humans.  

Edelmy Janice Marin Bernardez headshot
Edelmy Janice Marin Bernardez
Stony Brook University
Chemistry - Sustainable Chemistry
Edelmy Janice Marin Bernardez

As a member of the Institute for Energy, Sustainability and Equity, my research focuses on addressing basic scientific questions through the investigation of materials for energy storage (battery) applications. The objective is to contribute to the foundation of knowledge that would allow us to face the current and future challenges of our society. Advancements in the field of energy storage could facilitate the widespread use of renewable energy sources, mitigate environmental problems caused by carbon emissions, and improve the electric grid within the U.S. Moreover, I envision my research contributing to making energy more equitable and available, especially for developing countries like Honduras. 

Edelmy Janice Marin Bernardez headshot

Edelmy Janice Marin Bernardez

Stony Brook University

Chemistry - Sustainable Chemistry

As a member of the Institute for Energy, Sustainability and Equity, my research focuses on addressing basic scientific questions through the investigation of materials for energy storage (battery) applications. The objective is to contribute to the foundation of knowledge that would allow us to face the current and future challenges of our society. Advancements in the field of energy storage could facilitate the widespread use of renewable energy sources, mitigate environmental problems caused by carbon emissions, and improve the electric grid within the U.S. Moreover, I envision my research contributing to making energy more equitable and available, especially for developing countries like Honduras. 

Nicole Maurici headshot
Nicole Maurici
Upstate Medical University
Elucidating the mechanism of MBD protein LLPS and its role in transcriptional repression
Nicole Maurici

My research involves investigating the forces that drive the formation of protein-based LLPS condensates. This will give us insight into how LLPS-mediated organization of biomolecules leads to cellular function. Additionally, understanding how disease-related mutations lead to aberrant formation of condensates or the inability to form condensates will provide novel therapeutic targets.

Nicole Maurici headshot

Nicole Maurici

Upstate Medical University

Elucidating the mechanism of MBD protein LLPS and its role in transcriptional repression

My research involves investigating the forces that drive the formation of protein-based LLPS condensates. This will give us insight into how LLPS-mediated organization of biomolecules leads to cellular function. Additionally, understanding how disease-related mutations lead to aberrant formation of condensates or the inability to form condensates will provide novel therapeutic targets.

Riley McDanal headshot
Riley McDanal
Stony Brook University
Psychology - Social Psychology
Riley McDanal

I am a clinical science PhD student at Stony Brook University working under the mentorship of Dr. Jessica Schleider and Dr. Nick Eaton. My work focuses on using psychopathology classification research to inform the creation and dissemination of scalable interventions. My hope is that such research will help connect individuals to accessible supports that are informed by the best available evidence. 

Riley McDanal headshot

Riley McDanal

Stony Brook University

Psychology - Social Psychology

I am a clinical science PhD student at Stony Brook University working under the mentorship of Dr. Jessica Schleider and Dr. Nick Eaton. My work focuses on using psychopathology classification research to inform the creation and dissemination of scalable interventions. My hope is that such research will help connect individuals to accessible supports that are informed by the best available evidence. 

Seth Moore headshot
Seth Moore
University at Buffalo
YAP/TAZ in Schwann Cells as potential therapeutic targets in CMT1A and HNPP.
Seth Moore

My research is focused on exploring novel treatments for the most common inherited peripheral neuropathies, which have no cure. An area of particular focus is modulating the activity of transcriptional cofactors to rescue the deficits in myelination observed in PMP22-related peripheral neuropathies. This research has the potential to identify a druggable target for the treatment of these diseases.  

Seth Moore headshot

Seth Moore

University at Buffalo

YAP/TAZ in Schwann Cells as potential therapeutic targets in CMT1A and HNPP.

My research is focused on exploring novel treatments for the most common inherited peripheral neuropathies, which have no cure. An area of particular focus is modulating the activity of transcriptional cofactors to rescue the deficits in myelination observed in PMP22-related peripheral neuropathies. This research has the potential to identify a druggable target for the treatment of these diseases.  

Christopher Allen Osborne headshot
Christopher Allen Osborne
University at Buffalo
Life Sciences
Christopher Allen Osborne

I am studying variation in vitamin B1 deficiency in lake charr (Salvelinus namaycush) populations using pan-genomics. I am also investigating how hatchery environments may alter the epigenetic characteristics of lake charr used for restoration stocking efforts in the Laurentian Great Lakes.    Collectively, my research will aid in restoring self-sustaining populations of lake charr to the Great Lakes of North America.  Lake charr is a member of the salmon family that is of conservation concern in the Great Lakes.

Christopher Allen Osborne headshot

Christopher Allen Osborne

University at Buffalo

Life Sciences

I am studying variation in vitamin B1 deficiency in lake charr (Salvelinus namaycush) populations using pan-genomics. I am also investigating how hatchery environments may alter the epigenetic characteristics of lake charr used for restoration stocking efforts in the Laurentian Great Lakes.    Collectively, my research will aid in restoring self-sustaining populations of lake charr to the Great Lakes of North America.  Lake charr is a member of the salmon family that is of conservation concern in the Great Lakes.

Akshay G. Patel headshot
Akshay G. Patel
Upstate Medical University
Rab4A Control of Liver Dysfunction in Mouse Models of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Akshay G. Patel

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a devastating autoimmune disease with a poorly understood etiology that affects 20-150 per 100,000 people worldwide. We study HRES-1/Rab4 (Rab4A), a GTPase involved in endosomal trafficking and the maintenance of mitochondrial membrane potential. Injury to the liver, the largest metabolic organ of the body, is present in about 20% of patients, but a gap exists in our knowledge in understanding its role in disease pathogenesis and its relationship to T cell dysfunction in SLE. Preliminary studies have shown that while T cell-specific deletion of Rab4A in mouse models of SLE prevents the development of autoimmunity, these animals exhibit increased liver inflammation, marked by regulatory T cell dysfunction, T and B cell infiltration, and fatty acid accumulation. The aim of this research is to elucidate a novel and concise mechanism linking Rab4A-mediated endosomal trafficking to the development of liver inflammation and fatty liver in autoimmunity. This may ultimately yield Rab4A as a druggable target for human lupus and/or fatty and inflammatory liver disorders.

Akshay G. Patel headshot

Akshay G. Patel

Upstate Medical University

Rab4A Control of Liver Dysfunction in Mouse Models of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a devastating autoimmune disease with a poorly understood etiology that affects 20-150 per 100,000 people worldwide. We study HRES-1/Rab4 (Rab4A), a GTPase involved in endosomal trafficking and the maintenance of mitochondrial membrane potential. Injury to the liver, the largest metabolic organ of the body, is present in about 20% of patients, but a gap exists in our knowledge in understanding its role in disease pathogenesis and its relationship to T cell dysfunction in SLE. Preliminary studies have shown that while T cell-specific deletion of Rab4A in mouse models of SLE prevents the development of autoimmunity, these animals exhibit increased liver inflammation, marked by regulatory T cell dysfunction, T and B cell infiltration, and fatty acid accumulation. The aim of this research is to elucidate a novel and concise mechanism linking Rab4A-mediated endosomal trafficking to the development of liver inflammation and fatty liver in autoimmunity. This may ultimately yield Rab4A as a druggable target for human lupus and/or fatty and inflammatory liver disorders.

Sarah Payne headshot
Sarah Payne
Stony Brook University
Linguistics
Sarah Payne

My research focuses on how children learn their native language, with a specific focus on word structure (morphology) and sound structure (phonology). Children learn much of the structure of their native language(s) on vocabularies of under a thousand words, but modern language models require orders of magnitude more data and still do not yield human-like performance. A key goal of my research is thus to uncover the mechanisms underlying language learning by humans and use these to develop faster, more accurate, and more sustainable language technologies.  

Sarah Payne headshot

Sarah Payne

Stony Brook University

Linguistics

My research focuses on how children learn their native language, with a specific focus on word structure (morphology) and sound structure (phonology). Children learn much of the structure of their native language(s) on vocabularies of under a thousand words, but modern language models require orders of magnitude more data and still do not yield human-like performance. A key goal of my research is thus to uncover the mechanisms underlying language learning by humans and use these to develop faster, more accurate, and more sustainable language technologies.  

Gretchen Perhamus headshot
Gretchen Perhamus
University at Buffalo
An examination of peer socialization processes in the development of callous-unemotional traits
Gretchen Perhamus

Broadly, my research applies a developmental psychopathology framework to examine the interplay between affective, social-cognitive, and psychophysiological factors in the development of externalizing problems in youth. I am particularly interested in disentangling theoretically distinct pathways to externalizing problems characterized by hyper- vs. hypo-arousal, as well as examining the potential overlap across these pathways. To this end, my NRSA project examines how negative peer experiences, such as peer victimization and aggression, may lead children who are irritable to develop callous-unemotional traits, and considers the moderating role of HPA-axis functioning. This research may identify important targets that could directly inform future prevention and intervention efforts targeting youth externalizing problems.

Gretchen Perhamus headshot

Gretchen Perhamus

University at Buffalo

An examination of peer socialization processes in the development of callous-unemotional traits

Broadly, my research applies a developmental psychopathology framework to examine the interplay between affective, social-cognitive, and psychophysiological factors in the development of externalizing problems in youth. I am particularly interested in disentangling theoretically distinct pathways to externalizing problems characterized by hyper- vs. hypo-arousal, as well as examining the potential overlap across these pathways. To this end, my NRSA project examines how negative peer experiences, such as peer victimization and aggression, may lead children who are irritable to develop callous-unemotional traits, and considers the moderating role of HPA-axis functioning. This research may identify important targets that could directly inform future prevention and intervention efforts targeting youth externalizing problems.

Chantelle A. Roulston headshot
Chantelle A. Roulston
Stony Brook University
Psychology - Social Psychology
Chantelle A. Roulston

Through my research, I aim to develop a generalizable theory about what motivates racial minority individuals to volunteer for research studies. My research project involves building and evaluating theory-driven approaches to increasing racial minority individuals’ participation in psychological research. My goal with this work is to increase representation of diverse racial groups in research studies across disciplines and, in turn, to potentially increase the validity and generalizability of research findings.

Chantelle A. Roulston headshot

Chantelle A. Roulston

Stony Brook University

Psychology - Social Psychology

Through my research, I aim to develop a generalizable theory about what motivates racial minority individuals to volunteer for research studies. My research project involves building and evaluating theory-driven approaches to increasing racial minority individuals’ participation in psychological research. My goal with this work is to increase representation of diverse racial groups in research studies across disciplines and, in turn, to potentially increase the validity and generalizability of research findings.

Harsimranjit Sekhon headshot
Harsimranjit Sekhon
Upstate Medical University
Molecular Devices for the Detection and Treatment of HCMV Infection
Harsimranjit Sekhon

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the leading cause of transplant related mortality. This project aims to combat CMV by developing 1) a point-of-care diagnostic method to detect active CMV in transplant patients, and 2) a toxic protein that can eliminate infected cells while leaving the healthy cells unharmed. Current methods for diagnosing CMV require expensive equipment and trained personnel to perform. The diagnostic test developed in this project is based on an engineered luminescent protein that changes its color from green to blue in the presence of CMV DNA; it only requires a cell phone camera to determine and quantify the color. This simplicity allows for testing at low-resource settings like the patient's home, enabling earlier diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The goal of the second part of this project is to reduce transmission of CMV from an infected transplant donor to the recipient. A toxic protein is engineered to stay off in its native state, but turn on if CMV's genetic material is found inside a cell. Currently used antivirals stop CMV from replicating; however, CMV establishes latency with low levels of replication in specific cell types, and therefore cannot be targeted by the available antivirals. Our unique method kills the cells in which CMV establishes latency, preventing any future replication of the virus in those cells. The engineered components will be introduced into donor tissue, killing latently infected cells before transplantation into the recipient. 

Harsimranjit Sekhon headshot

Harsimranjit Sekhon

Upstate Medical University

Molecular Devices for the Detection and Treatment of HCMV Infection

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the leading cause of transplant related mortality. This project aims to combat CMV by developing 1) a point-of-care diagnostic method to detect active CMV in transplant patients, and 2) a toxic protein that can eliminate infected cells while leaving the healthy cells unharmed. Current methods for diagnosing CMV require expensive equipment and trained personnel to perform. The diagnostic test developed in this project is based on an engineered luminescent protein that changes its color from green to blue in the presence of CMV DNA; it only requires a cell phone camera to determine and quantify the color. This simplicity allows for testing at low-resource settings like the patient's home, enabling earlier diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The goal of the second part of this project is to reduce transmission of CMV from an infected transplant donor to the recipient. A toxic protein is engineered to stay off in its native state, but turn on if CMV's genetic material is found inside a cell. Currently used antivirals stop CMV from replicating; however, CMV establishes latency with low levels of replication in specific cell types, and therefore cannot be targeted by the available antivirals. Our unique method kills the cells in which CMV establishes latency, preventing any future replication of the virus in those cells. The engineered components will be introduced into donor tissue, killing latently infected cells before transplantation into the recipient. 

Courtney Shafer headshot
Courtney Shafer
University at Buffalo
Ice Sheets and Climate Change
Courtney Shafer

My research is in the field of glaciology and I'm interested in how ice sheets and glaciers change over time and the impact they have on global sea level rise. I do both computational modeling as well as fieldwork on the ice to investigate the impacts of climate change on the dynamics of ice sheets and glaciers. Specifically, I'm interested in the formation and evolution of moulins on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Moulins are large tunnels that transport meltwater from the surface all the way down to the bedrock that the ice sheet sits on. The water that reaches the bed then lubricates the overlying ice and causes the ice sheet to flow faster, which in turn increases sea level rise. I work on a computational model to predict where moulins will form in the ice sheet to better understand how the ice sheet will respond to changes in the lubrication of the bed. The model that I work on is one small part of a much larger subset of models called "ice sheet models" which are used to predict how ice sheets respond to changes in the climate to estimate their overall impact on sea level rise. More accurate modeling will provide more accurate and reliable estimations of sea level rise which is crucial for supporting policy change to reduce global emissions and for crisis management of coastal communities, which will experience heavier flooding and stronger storms as global temperatures continue to rise.

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Courtney Shafer

University at Buffalo

Ice Sheets and Climate Change

My research is in the field of glaciology and I'm interested in how ice sheets and glaciers change over time and the impact they have on global sea level rise. I do both computational modeling as well as fieldwork on the ice to investigate the impacts of climate change on the dynamics of ice sheets and glaciers. Specifically, I'm interested in the formation and evolution of moulins on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Moulins are large tunnels that transport meltwater from the surface all the way down to the bedrock that the ice sheet sits on. The water that reaches the bed then lubricates the overlying ice and causes the ice sheet to flow faster, which in turn increases sea level rise. I work on a computational model to predict where moulins will form in the ice sheet to better understand how the ice sheet will respond to changes in the lubrication of the bed. The model that I work on is one small part of a much larger subset of models called "ice sheet models" which are used to predict how ice sheets respond to changes in the climate to estimate their overall impact on sea level rise. More accurate modeling will provide more accurate and reliable estimations of sea level rise which is crucial for supporting policy change to reduce global emissions and for crisis management of coastal communities, which will experience heavier flooding and stronger storms as global temperatures continue to rise.

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Jenny Shen
Stony Brook University
Psychology
Jenny Shen

My research interests include (1) elucidating the impact of minority stress on mental health disparities among gender and sexual minorities, racial and ethnic minorities, and their intersections; (2) ameliorating the effects of such minority stressors through accessible, transdiagnostic interventions; and (3) identifying potential implications for policy. My hope is that this research will result in more accessible interventions for minoritized communities, and contribute to policy changes that address disparities on a larger-scale level as well.

Jenny Shen headshot

Jenny Shen

Stony Brook University

Psychology

My research interests include (1) elucidating the impact of minority stress on mental health disparities among gender and sexual minorities, racial and ethnic minorities, and their intersections; (2) ameliorating the effects of such minority stressors through accessible, transdiagnostic interventions; and (3) identifying potential implications for policy. My hope is that this research will result in more accessible interventions for minoritized communities, and contribute to policy changes that address disparities on a larger-scale level as well.

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Samantha Stettnisch
Stony Brook University
Cell Cycle Regulation of Cell Fate and Morphogenesis in D. rerio
Samantha Stettnisch

I use the zebrafish model to understand how the cell cycle can regulate cell fate and behavior during early development. Cancer cells often hijack developmental processes to grow and spread throughout the body. My research draws parallels between cancer and development and can provide new insights into the regulatory mechanisms of cancer metastasis.  

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Samantha Stettnisch

Stony Brook University

Cell Cycle Regulation of Cell Fate and Morphogenesis in D. rerio

I use the zebrafish model to understand how the cell cycle can regulate cell fate and behavior during early development. Cancer cells often hijack developmental processes to grow and spread throughout the body. My research draws parallels between cancer and development and can provide new insights into the regulatory mechanisms of cancer metastasis.  

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Dillon M. Voss
Stony Brook University
Inducing PKM splice-switching with antisense oligonucleotides as an approach to treat hepatocellular carcinoma
Dillon M. Voss

My research focuses on the use of antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) as a therapy to alter expression of potentially oncogenic proteins in cancer. For example, I have been able to switch the expression of the cancer-associated glycolytic enzyme, pyruvate kinase (PKM2), to the “normal” counterpart (PKM1). In doing so, I have shown that this significantly reduces liver cancer growth. My hope with this research is to improve upon the current therapies for liver cancer by increasing treatment efficacy and reducing toxic side effects. 

Dillon M. Voss headshot

Dillon M. Voss

Stony Brook University

Inducing PKM splice-switching with antisense oligonucleotides as an approach to treat hepatocellular carcinoma

My research focuses on the use of antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) as a therapy to alter expression of potentially oncogenic proteins in cancer. For example, I have been able to switch the expression of the cancer-associated glycolytic enzyme, pyruvate kinase (PKM2), to the “normal” counterpart (PKM1). In doing so, I have shown that this significantly reduces liver cancer growth. My hope with this research is to improve upon the current therapies for liver cancer by increasing treatment efficacy and reducing toxic side effects. 

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Kristin Walker
Stony Brook University
Psychology - Developmental Psychology
Kristin Walker

My research focus is the intersection of autism and deafness. Specifically, I am interested in exploring how language, audition, and cognition impact deaf, autistic, and deaf autistic individuals’ social functioning and overall developmental well-being. From a diverse, intersectional lens, this work contributes to our understanding of experiences that affect social outcomes and developmental trajectories. By furthering our understanding of what contributes to differences in developmental trajectories, this work will ultimately contribute to a severely underrepresented body of work to inform the development of effective assessments and interventions for deaf autistic individuals. 

Kristin Walker headshot

Kristin Walker

Stony Brook University

Psychology - Developmental Psychology

My research focus is the intersection of autism and deafness. Specifically, I am interested in exploring how language, audition, and cognition impact deaf, autistic, and deaf autistic individuals’ social functioning and overall developmental well-being. From a diverse, intersectional lens, this work contributes to our understanding of experiences that affect social outcomes and developmental trajectories. By furthering our understanding of what contributes to differences in developmental trajectories, this work will ultimately contribute to a severely underrepresented body of work to inform the development of effective assessments and interventions for deaf autistic individuals. 

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Abby Webster
College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Life Sciences - Environmental Toxicology
Abby Webster

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) threaten the use of freshwaters and coastal environments worldwide. Most of the research on HABs has focused on planktonic algae, despite our knowledge that benthic algae can also produce harmful toxins and are increasing in proliferation. Where certain types of benthic cyanobacteria exist and their potential for toxin production remains largely unknown. My research aims to characterize the benthic cyanobacteria community in the Finger Lakes of New York State where HABs are common during summer months. This work will inform scientists, citizens, and stakeholders of the potential risk associated with toxic benthic cyanobacteria in lakes that are important for recreation, food sources,  and residential water use. 

Abby Webster headshot

Abby Webster

College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Life Sciences - Environmental Toxicology

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) threaten the use of freshwaters and coastal environments worldwide. Most of the research on HABs has focused on planktonic algae, despite our knowledge that benthic algae can also produce harmful toxins and are increasing in proliferation. Where certain types of benthic cyanobacteria exist and their potential for toxin production remains largely unknown. My research aims to characterize the benthic cyanobacteria community in the Finger Lakes of New York State where HABs are common during summer months. This work will inform scientists, citizens, and stakeholders of the potential risk associated with toxic benthic cyanobacteria in lakes that are important for recreation, food sources,  and residential water use. 

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Lucas Williams
Binghamton University
Mathematical Sciences - Topology
Lucas Williams

My research uses techniques from homotopy theory to study problems involving points fixed under a self-map of topological spaces. Fixed point problems are ubiquitous throughout both mathematics and the physical sciences. However, certain classes of problems tend to be extremely difficult to approach using the tools of topology and dynamics. Some of these problems can more easily be approached using the techniques and machinery of homotopy theory (often in the equivariant and/or parameterized settings). My research focuses on the construction of fixed point invariants, often taking the form of trace maps, and how these invariants can be used to study fixed points.

Lucas Williams headshot

Lucas Williams

Binghamton University

Mathematical Sciences - Topology

My research uses techniques from homotopy theory to study problems involving points fixed under a self-map of topological spaces. Fixed point problems are ubiquitous throughout both mathematics and the physical sciences. However, certain classes of problems tend to be extremely difficult to approach using the tools of topology and dynamics. Some of these problems can more easily be approached using the techniques and machinery of homotopy theory (often in the equivariant and/or parameterized settings). My research focuses on the construction of fixed point invariants, often taking the form of trace maps, and how these invariants can be used to study fixed points.