Research News

Eight UB students receive SUNY GREAT awards

SUNY GREAT award recipients: (front row, from left) Dennis Fedorishin, Lindsey Mattick, Narayan Dhimal; (back row, from left) Kathleen Paige, Steven Lewis, Liam Christie, Kyle Hunt. Not pictured: Natalie Anselmi. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published February 28, 2022

“SUNY graduate students are not simply researchers. They are creating innovative solutions, and whether it be measuring the impacts of climate change or improving homeland security, our talented young minds are dedicating their intelligence to improving the lives of others. ”
SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley

Eight UB students are among the recipients of the state’s second annual Graduate Research Empowering and Accelerating Talent (GREAT) awards, an honor that provides $5,000 in flexible funds for research expenses, professional development and supplemental stipend support.

The eight UB students are among 22 SUNY students receiving the GREAT awards; all award winners have also been recognized nationally for their research by prestigious graduate fellowship programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health.

This includes the NIH F31 Individual Fellowships and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).

“This SUNY award elevates the prominence of these external fellowships for graduate students,” says Elizabeth A. Colucci, assistant dean for graduate professional development in the Graduate School. “We at UB have been working diligently to increase awareness of the NSF GRFP and NIH individual awards, such as the F30 and F31.

“External awards provide not only funding support, but also career-enhancing recognition,” Colucci says. “As UB moves to Top 25 recognition, having graduate students win these prestigious awards will support this goal.”

Among the UB’s award recipients’ research topics are defending the country against terrorism, understanding anatomical structure imaging with an eye toward improving gross anatomy education, and understanding how artificial intelligence and machines interpret audio and images.

“SUNY graduate students are not simply researchers,” notes SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. “They are creating innovative solutions, and whether it be measuring the impacts of climate change or improving homeland security, our talented young minds are dedicating their intelligence to improving the lives of others.”

The eight UB students receiving SUNY GREAT Awards and their research topics are:

Kyle Hunt.

Kyle Hunt: Industrial and Systems Engineering; NSF GRFP award winner

“My dissertation work focuses on identifying optimal strategies to combat terrorism. Specifically, I focus on questions surrounding information disclosure (i.e., how should homeland security and/or defense-related information be released to the public), technology adoption/deployment and resource allocation. To address these challenges, I utilize techniques such as game theory, decisions analysis and machine learning.”

Steven Lewis: Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award

Steven Lewis.

"My research is focused on the development of a pipeline to improve and analyze anatomical structure imaging toward improving gross anatomy education. Since 2014, UB has been collecting whole-body, non-contrast enhanced CT scans from the Anatomical Gift Program. This allows the anatomical information from these gifts to be preserved far longer than the physical specimens, and to be analyzed for significant, distinct structural characteristics that can help gross anatomy students understand natural and pathological human variation much better. In addition, as normal cadaveric imaging is non-contrast enhanced, it is possible that, either through physical or computational means, substructures can be defined that would otherwise not be present in the imaging, which enables future uses for cadaveric and normal non-contrast enhanced imaging to be enhanced.”

Kathleen Paige.

Kathleen Paige: Psychology; NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award

“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 promote healthy psychological adjustment.”

Narayan Dhimal.

Narayan Dhimal: Biomedical Sciences; NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award.

“I am studying the role of autophagy in Krabbe disease (KD). Krabbe is a demyelinating disorder of the central and the peripheral nervous system caused by lack of GALC enzyme function. GALC is a lysosomal hydrolase. As a result, abnormal lysosomal storage is seen in KD. I hypothesize that the autophagy process, the major degradation/recycling cellular mechanism, in myelinating cells may be slowed down or backed up in Krabbe patients and may be contributing to the lysosome storage. From my work, I hope to find a therapeutic strategy where pharmacologically increasing or modulating the autophagy process might be beneficial and may serve as a combination treatment, along with bone marrow therapy.”

Dennis Fedorishin.

Dennis Fedorishin: Computer Science; NSF GRFP Honorable Mention

“My research focuses on a variety of artificial intelligence and machine learning areas to fundamentally advance the way systems understand audio and images. Specifically, I work on audio and image recognition, sound event detection and localization, sound-based echolocation, real-time video and image inpainting, and fundamental methods in deep metric learning.

“My research extends into industry applications as well. I am currently collaborating with ACV Auctions to develop and deploy an artificial intelligence system to diagnose faulty vehicle engines based purely on sound. Advancing the way systems understand sights and sounds allows us to automate and aid various aspects of life, whether it’s diagnosing a faulty engine from your phone, creating automatic sound surveillance systems, or fundamentally improving the construction of deep neural networks that are used in a variety of ways in our daily lives.”

Liam Christie.

Liam Christie: Electrical Engineering; NSF GRFP Honorable Mention

"My research involves the use of test phantom metrology in multiple different photoacoustic medical applications. Test phantoms are recreations of physiological components of the human body. Phantoms provide a controlled testing environment with known parameters such as arteries of specific size, human-like blood pressures and realistic tissue. This accelerates the development of a technology by eliminating the need for human tests and providing application specific phantom metrology. Through this work I have progressed photoacoustics in the fields of blood pressure, biometrics and medical imaging.”

Lindsey Mattick.

Lindsey Mattick: Epidemiology; NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Award

“My research will explore the independent effects of estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone on age-related bone loss in postmenopausal women. Decreased bone density and quality following menopause pose a significant public health burden. In women over 50, the incidence of bone fractures is greater than that of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer. This work has the potential to shed light on new factors related to bone health and future development of therapies to preserve bone health in women.

Natalie Anselmi.

Natalie Anselmi: Biomedical Sciences; NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award

“Periodontal disease is a bacterially induced inflammatory condition affecting 47% of adults in the United States that destroys tooth-supporting structures, resulting in tooth loss and serious systemic health issues. Treponema maltophilum and Treponema lecithinolyticum are two bacterial species abundant in the polymicrobial biofilm associated with severe periodontal disease that remain largely unstudied. A better understanding of how these bacteria impair neutrophil signaling responses and interfere with the immune response will aid in the development of new, more effective therapeutic strategies for periodontal disease and improved oral health.”