Education: DoubleB.S. (2017) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Environmental Science (concentration: Geology) and Sustainability Studies. M.S. (2018) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Biological Sciences. Currently pursuing a PhD in Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University. Research: My research focuses on improving the predictive performance of species distribution models by incorporating hurricane data and field-collected competition data into the models. I am using all ten species of Puerto Rican Anolis lizards as my study system. Future goal(s): Following my PhD, I would like to complete a postdoc focusing on tropical lizard conservation. I hope to secure a postdoc that allows me to conduct field work in the Caribbean or in South America (most ideally in Ecuador’s Amazon because there are so many little-studied lizard species there!). My ultimate goal is to secure a professor position.
Join Stony Brook’s #1 group for female-identified grad students in STEM!*
We are holding an info session over zoom on March 9th at 7pm EST.
The GWISE e-board plans events to build community and bring scientists together. We host brownbag lunches, field trips to parks and arboretums, game nights, and an annual research showcase! We also run a vibrant mentoring program and active social media accounts + this website/blog.
Join Students with Children for their first meeting!
GWISE member and Genetics PhD Candidate Kelly Hills-Muckey is also the president of a new organization: Students with Children. Join them for their first meeting on Friday, February 12 at 1pm. More information is here.
It’s that time of year where blogs are abuzz with gift guides so I thought I’d give a go at it. Here are my suggestions for some awesome women in STEM gifts to give to not only the women in STEM in your life but those who support them. Or to just buy for yourself.
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with any of these products and receive no compensation. The gift ideas listed are just suggestions that the author has liked.
NAME: Roshni Patil EDUCATION: B.S. Physics ‘18, UCLA; Will be graduating with Masters degree in Physics from SBU in December 2020 and start the masters program in Electrical Engineering in Spring 2021.
NAME: Amani Ebrahim EDUCATION: Chemical and Molecular Engineering, Department of Chemical and Molecular Engineering RESEARCH INTERESTS: Materials Science, Energy Conversion and Storage, Toxic Chemical Decontamination CURRENT RESEARCH: I study the processes involved in the filtration and decomposition of chemical warfare agents on uniquely engineered nanoporous materials at the atomistic scale. These new materials could be the state-of-the-art technologies to rid the world from the hazards of chemical warfare agents. FUTURE GOALS: I have many future goals, but they all encompass my love of science and that fact that I want to enrich students and encourage them to pursue studies in the STEM fields.
NAME: Shreyoshi Chakraborti EDUCATION: I have graduated with a Bachelors and Masters in Chemistry and Biochemistry with a minor in Mathematics and Physics from University of Calcutta, India, In 2018. The same year I came to Stony Brook in a PhD program in Biochemistry and Structural Biology. Currently I am a third year PhD student in Prof Nicole S Sampson’s lab in Department of Chemistry. RESEARCH INTERESTS: Finding out novel drug targets CURRENT RESEARCH: I am working as a PhD student in Dr. Nicole S Sampson’s lab. My project comprises of the Biochemical aspects of cholesterol catabolism by Tb bacteria and finding out novel targets to inhibit virulence and infection of Mtb. FUTURE GOALS: I want to be an author and scientist. I want to take up writing as a major part of my career.
NAME: Cynthia Converso EDUCATION: I received a B.S. in Biochemistry with a minor in Mathematics from SUNY Geneseo in 2016. I started at Stony Brook as a Masters student in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and promptly switched to the Molecular and Cellular Biology PhD program in 2018. I have since chosen the Biochemistry and Cell Biology track. RESEARCH INTERESTS: I am interested in understanding how DNA sequence plays a role in relaying which genes should be actively read or silenced. CURRENT RESEARCH: I work with Budding yeast cells in order to decipher the role of DNA sequence in the site-specific deposition of a histone variant, H2A.Z, by the enzyme SWR. This plays an important role in telling the cell when and where to start transcribing genes. Miscommunication in this pathway can lead to multiple disorders, including cancer. FUTURE GOALS: I plan to branch out in my research to include new organisms to study. After graduation, I plan to join a Postdoctoral program and eventually, become a professor!
NAME: Taylor Medwig-Kinney EDUCATION: I received my B.S. in Biology (Developmental Genetics) and Health Science (Public Health and Community Health Education) from Stony Brook University in 2016. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Genetics at Stony Brook University as well. RESEARCH INTERESTS: I am interested in the process of cell differentiation, or as I like to describe it, how cells decide what they are going to be when they “grow up.” I am particularly interested in how regulation of gene expression can give rise to many diverse cell types, despite these cells having identical genetic material. CURRENT RESEARCH: I study how cells become invasive during development of the nematode C. elegans in the Matus Laboratory. This work can provide insights into how cancer cells metastasize and spread to other parts of the body. FUTURE GOALS: My ultimate goal is to pursue a career in academia as a professor with my own research group, where I can teach and mentor future generations of scientists.
NAME: Greeshma Balabhadra EDUCATION: PhD Second year, Applied Mathematics and Statistics. Bachelors in Technology, Mathematics and Computing, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. RESEARCH INTERESTS: Quantitative Finance, Deep learning CURRENT RESEARCH: My current work focuses on High frequency Trading data identifying volatility patterns and their predictive performance using deep learning methods. My work also includes exploring different approaches of Information Geometry to learn the geometrical structure of families of probability distributions and its applications in Geometric deep learning. FUTURE GOALS: I want to pursue my research interests on Sustainable Finance which focuses on financial services integration and investment in environmental, social and governance (ESG) into the business or investment decisions for the lasting benefit of both clients and society at large.
NAME: Tori Peña EDUCATION: I earned a B.S. in Biological Anthropology and Psychology from SUNY Binghamton University in 2018. Currently, I am a third-year Cognitive Science doctoral student at SUNY Stony Brook University under the advisement of Dr. Suparna Rajaram. RESEARCH: My primary research interest is social memory, specifically how collaborating with others to remember information shapes memory at the individual and collective level. FUTURE GOALS: My ultimate goal is to become a professor at an R1 university so I can mentor undergraduate students and conduct research. Hopefully I can work for a CUNY or SUNY university so I can mentor undergraduate students from a wide range of backgrounds.
NAME: Alexia Smith EDUCATION: B.S. in Chemistry at University of Oregon RESEARCH INTERESTS: Inorganic medicinal chemistry CURRENT RESEARCH: I currently study the chemistry behind molecular imaging with lanthanides and radiometals, with the application toward novel cancer imaging and treatment strategies. FUTURE GOALS: I hope to work in academia one day; I love to teach and mentor, but I also love exploring a problem inside and out, which has drawn me toward chemistry research.
NAME: Payal Mehta EDUCATION: Current: Masters in Computer Science at Stony Brook University; Prior: Bachelors in Computer Engineering at KJ Somaiya College Of Engineering, India CURRENT RESEARCH: I study computer science. I am working as a software engineer intern at Amazon this summer. I am building a tool that will allow other developers of my team to have a near real time view of the application, without which there is a limited if any visibility into what actually happens inside the application. FUTURE GOALS: I want to open up my own company someday. I know this might sound crazy as I am 25 and nowhere close to even doing it but I like managing people and I think am pretty good at it, I am basically a people person and even though I am in a field where people don’t do much talking (except with their code) and are not that into “soft” skills, I have always been the one to bring this aspect into the team and I like carving a path and driving it.
GWISE in collaboration with WISE is proud to announce the WISE mentorship program for the academic year 2020-21. This program will connect undergraduate women in science and engineering with experienced women mentors in similar areas who can share their unique student perspective. The goal of the program is to help both mentors and mentees with their professional and personal development, and to provide both academic and social support to WISE students.
NAME: Jiayang Yan EDUCATION: B.S., University of Science of Technology of China (USTC); MA & PhD (ongoing) in Physics, Stony Brook University RESEARCH INTERESTS: Accelerator Physics (Plasma Wakefield Acceleration) CURRENT RESEARCH: In 2012, physicists were exciting when the Higgs boson particle was discovered at CERN on Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and highest-energy particle collider lying in a 27-kilometer tunnel in circumference. Future high energy research requests a much more powerful machine than LHC, however the construction of which is constrained by its giant size (hundreds of kilometers in circumference). I’m working on beam driven plasma wakefield acceleration (PWFA), a novel technique to accelerate charged particles to extremely high energy (GeV) level within meter-scale, which promises to make future colliders more compact and affordable. My project focuses on getting a collider-quality accelerated electron beam using a method called beam-induced ionization injection (BIII), in which the accelerated beam is ionized by the space charge field of the drive beam then trapped and accelerated at the back of the plasma bubble. FUTURE GOALS:I want to keep working on research at labs.
NAME: Veena Krish EDUCATION BSE/MSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, currently enrolled in a PhD program in Computer Science at SBU RESEARCH INTERESTS: Security and Machine Learning CURRENT RESEARCH I’m interested in the security of machine learning systems, especially those applied to emerging medical technologies. FUTURE GOALS: I hope that my work will help our society have more trust in critical systems (such as those used for healthcare) that are based on complex algorithms.
Born on February 21st, 1954, Cynthia Kenyon is an American molecular biologist and bio gerontologist known for her 1993 pioneering discovery that a single-gene mutation could double the lifespan of healthy, fertile C. elegans roundworms. This sparked an intensive study of the molecular biology of aging. She is presently a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Her findings denied the idea that aging happens in individuals in a random way and established the genetic basis for it. She identified the downstream genes that are involved for the cause of aging and provided an idea that is serving several biotechnology firms now, “how to reverse the aging process.”
Kenyon’s findings have led to the realization that a universal hormone-signaling pathway influences the rate of aging in most species, including humans. She has identified many genes involved in lifespan, and her lab was the first to discover that neurons can control the lifespan of the whole animal.
Kenyon graduated valedictorian in chemistry from the University of Georgia in 1976. She received her Ph.D. from MIT in 1981 where in Graham Walker’s lab she looked for genes on the basis of activity profiles thereby discovering DNA damaging agents that activate a cluster of DNA repair genes in E.coli. She was a postdoctoral fellow with Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner in the MRC laboratory in Cambridge, England studying the development of C.elegans .
In 1986 she joined the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, where she became the Herb Boyer Distinguished Professor and an American Cancer Society Professor. She cofounded the Elixir laboratory in 1999, with Leonard Guarente, with a hope of discovering and developing drugs that would reverse or slow the process of aging. In April 2014, she joined Calico, a new company focused on health, wellbeing and longer life span. Kenyon is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she is a former president of the Genetics Society of America. She has received many scientific honors and awards.
Born in the Bronx, New York City in 1954, Wanda M Austin served as a former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation and a leading architect for the nation’s national security space programs. She was both the first woman and the first African American to hold this position. She retired from the position on October 1, 2016. Today she serves as a consultant and a member of the Board of Directors of the company. Austin also served as an interim president for the University of Southern California. She continues to serve as the board of directors of the Space Foundation and Chevron Corporation and a member of the board of trustees for the University of Southern California and the National Geographic Society.
Austin graduated from Bronx High School, following her B.S in mathematics from Franklin and Marshall College. She obtained her Master’s in systems engineering and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh. After completing her degree, she worked at Rockwell International before joining Aerospace Corporation in 1979. Her work in applied mathematics during master’s involved modeling traffic systems.
In Aerospace Corporation she worked in several projects involving satellite communications and defense. In 1988, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California working on Natural Language in Application of Systems Dynamics Modelling. She served as a senior vice president before becoming the CEO of the Aerospace Corporation. In 2015 she was elected by President Barack Obama to serve as the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In 2009, she was elected as a member of NASA Advisory Council and U.S Human Space Flight Plans Committee.
In 2010 Austin was appointed to the Defense Science Board. She also became a member of the California Council of Science and Technology, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2016, Austin published a book called Making Space: Strategic Leadership for a Complex World.
She is the recipient of the National Intelligence Medallion for Meritorious service; the Air Force scroll of Achievement. In 2010, she received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Braun Award of Excellence in Space Program Management. In 2012 she was awarded Horatio Alger Award, NDIA Peter B Teets Industry Award. She also received the USC Presidential Medal in 2018.
GWiSE is in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement. #BLM
First, we want to acknowledge all our Black peers: we love you and your lives matter. You belong here and have the right to have your voices heard. We are devastated that the Black members of our community are murdered and mistreated either directly at the hands of those who claim to serve and protect or due to the systematic racism that makes up the infrastructure in our society. We acknowledge that systematic racism fails Black people at every single step from access to education to proper healthcare to daily stigmatizing interactions.
We acknowledge that every Black student, Black graduate student, Black faculty member in academia has never had the freedom to exist without facing extreme racial duress. As a community, we will continue to fight for the day when that is no longer true. We acknowledge that racial oppression is intersectional, and that Black students may be multiply marginalized by their gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, etc.
We acknowledge that we cannot champion diversity and equity in academia without confronting inequalities more broadly in our society.
To our non-Black peers: Speak up. When you see an injustice say something. Now is not the time to be quiet. Now is the time to be loud. That may mean confronting your colleagues, friends, and family members. Have hard conversations.
Please be mindful to not talk over those who are Black and instead think of using your privilege and your platform to LISTEN and AMPLIFY their voices and their experiences. Please use your research skills to educate yourself on our history of racial inequality, rather than asking your Black peers to explain it to you. Check on your Black friends, labmates, professors and listen.
Lastly, Stony Brook University we are watching you and we are disappointed. Like many institutions of higher education, you make grand claims of promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity but where is the real action? A pledge is not enough. We need to do better.
Stony Brook has set up a Coronavirus Information website with press releases and lots of information on the virus and how the school is handling it. Perhaps the best section for getting your questions answered is the FAQs, which are frequently updated with new information: https://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/coronavirus/faq/index.php
Here are 10 Questions and Answers we found the most relevant for graduate students at SBU.
Say hello to Krithika, a graduate student and mother who is pursing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Stony Brook University! Keep reading to learn more about her work on computer and electronic safety as well as the advice she has for new moms!
EDUCATION: M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Stony Brook University
CURRENT RESEARCH: Fun fact: There are literally 250 million battery disposals a day! What do I do? : Harvesting ambient energy to power electronic devices is gaining a lot of momentum over battery powered devices.My team has designed an encryption circuit using a novel energy harvesting technique and my research work in specific focuses on making this hardware trusted and secure from getting hacked. FUTURE GOALS: Be a major contributor to make technology safe and secure for people to use by joining organizations such as the NSA. Just aiming 🙂
Following up on our last post, here are potential funding opportunities for graduate students with disabilities. Note: These resources were collected and summarized with Stony Brook University graduate students in mind. Your results may vary.
Note: These resources have been organized for graduate students at Stony Brook University. If you have questions or concerns about your rights as a student with a disability, please contact SASC or the GSO.
BY: Donna L. Buehler, Stony Brook University Ombuds
What is Managing UP?
“Is about learning how to work within the confines of an organization to get what you need, while helping your boss and the organization meet their objectives. It’s about using influence and acting with integrity and purpose.”
From Suddenly in Charge by Roberta Chinsky Matuson
“Is simply a conscious approach to working with your supervisor toward goals you both care about.”
“The aim is to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship.”
From Managing Up, 20 Minute Manager Series, Harvard Review Press
Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics, National Academy of Sciences member, MacArthur Fellow
Born in August 17th, 1954, Ingrid Daubechis, a Belgian physicist and mathematician, revolutionized signal processing with her work on orthogonal bases of compact support, which has impacted audio, image, video devices and communication systems. Her ‘Daubechis wavelets’, are used for signal coding and data compression, are now an crucial tool for signal processors.
Thanks to Donna Buehler for talking to us today about the role of a University Ombudsman. For more information about how an Ombuds can help you with academic, interpersonal, and professional concerns (and much more!) please visit their website Stay tuned for our next brownbag!
Name: Sayantani Sikder Education: I earned a B.Tech. in Biotechnology at the West Bengal University of Technology, I also have a master’s degree with one year research experience from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India. Right now, I am pursuing a PhD in Chemical and Molecular Engineering. Research: Studying bimetallic catalyst system for different catalytic reactions Future goal(s): Immediate goal is to graduate and obtain a post doc but in general I want to be a successful STEM educator and inspire more women to take up STEM as career.
You were recently featured by the Staller Center for the Arts. How did that feel? It felt dreamy actually, I submitted the video very casually on a Sunday afternoon. But when I got the email that my piece was going to get featured my heart skipped a beat. In the past, whenever I performed it hasalways been for a certain audience but now my performance will be out there for anyone. I was scared, anxious but at the same time I was very excited, happy and thrilled.
Tell us about your background in classical Indian dance. I started dancing before I even went to school but my formal Kathak training started when I was 7 years old under my first guru, Mrs. Mistu Chaterjee. I also had the opportunity to betrained by the famous Indian Kathak dancer, Erika Nandi for several years and it was under her guidance I received mygraduate degree in Kathak. I also explored the Uday shankar style dance under the guidance of Tanushree Sankar for around a year.
What is Kathak? The word kathak pronounced “kah-tahk” is derived from the Sanskrit word katha, which means stories or kathakar which means a storyteller. It is the amalgamation of music, dance and drama. It originated within Hindu temples to portray stories from Mahabharata or Ramayana (these are the two major Sanskrit Epics). Poetry was combined with movement to aid in the worshipful storytelling. During the medieval period, kathak became an established part of court culture, performed under the patronage of India’s Persian kings and Muslim moghuls. This sealed kathak’s transition from colloquial entertainment to classical art form. Kathak is one of the eight major Indian classical dances.
Tell us more about why you choreographed this dance. This piece was originally choreographed and taped for my fiance as a gift for his birthday. I haven’t seen him in awhile now (precisely three years); the pandemic has been really hard on both of us. Around that time(July 2020), although I was in India there was no chance for us to even see each other because we are situated in two different states and there was a travel ban. But dance always rescues me and gives me solace. I love being in the state of dance, it helps me in letting go. For me dance is more than just moves, it is a way to express emotions and feelings with the help of the lyrics or the music we choose for the background and as the lyrics of the song goes, “My path is destined to meet yours” I feel the same for him. And this piece got even more special all thanks to the Staller Center for featuring it.
How does dancing help you as a grad student? Being a graduate student is hard. It is a lot of work and effort to sustain in the very competitive and uncertain world of academia. It gets more difficult when you don’t have anyone from the family in the same time zone to support you at that moment. As I mentioned earlier, for me dance is a type of letting go. It is a form of meditation for me, I would say, when I dance I can forget for that moment that I am so far away from all of my loved ones. It is a rescue not only on a lazy Saturday afternoon but also after a crazy hectic day when nothing goes as planned. Dance has been an integral part of me since childhood. I feel it makes my life a little easier, helps me in thinking clearly and makes me feel loved and special in some way or the other. See, I am doing this interview just because of dance 😉 Lately, I have been through a very difficult phase in my career. I had to rethink my career options. But everyday I used to come home to my practice, it made me feel normal like nothing had happened. It always boosts my confidence.
What do you think needs to happen for there to be more women in science?First and foremost, there should be a safe workspace for women at all times. Men in the scientific community should have the guts to stand up against any kind of harassment going on; this would increase the sense of security in the workplace. I feel simple acts of kindness in the workspace can also make a huge difference. Sometimes simply the act of listening to a woman’s science and promoting their work can be helpful.