First Annual Three Minute Thesis Competition

Event Date: April 7, 2017

Winners Finalists Judges Event Photos

Competition Finalists

Mohammad Atif Afzal

Mohammad Atif Afzal headshot.

PhD Program: Chemical and Biological Engineering

Advisor: Johannes Hachmann

Biography: Mohammad Atif Afzal is a PhD student in the department of chemical and biological engineering. Atif's interests lie in the design of new molecular materials with exceptional properties. His goal is to develop innovative new materials that will outperform the ones used in current optical and electronic devices.

At UB, he founded the Computational Sciences Club, which serves as a platform to bring together students who perform computational research, to share their research perspectives, organize seminars/workshops and promote collaboration. Atif's plan after graduation is to pursue a career which will allow him to contribute to scientific endeavors that will transform society.

Peter Bloomingdale

Peter Bloomingdale headshot.

PhD Program: Pharmaceutical Sciences

Advisor: Donald Mager

Biography: Peter Bloomingdale grew up locally in, Lockport, NY. He is a fifth year PhD student in the pharmaceutical sciences graduate program, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 2012. He is currently the pharmaceutical sciences GSA treasurer and also served as SBI (Subboard 1, inc.) treasurer for the 2015-2016 academic year. His dissertation involves systems pharmacology network-based approaches to discover novel drug combinations for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. After his time at UB, Bloomingdale aspires to become a professor in the field of systems pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences.

Antonella Di Giulio

Antonella Di Giulio headshot.

PhD Program: Historical Musicology and Music Theory

Advisor: Brian Moseley

Biography: Antonella Di Giulio, a pianist, music theorist and pedagogue, is currently working toward her PhD degree at UB, in historical musicology and music theory. She earned a master's degree in piano performance from UB, as well as post-diploma certifications in performance and didactic and a diploma in piano, from Conservatorio Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy. In addition, she is lecturer at Buffalo State College. Her research has been presented in several national and international conferences.

Lucie Kafková

Lucie Kafková headshot.

PhD Program: Microbiology and Immunology

Advisor: Laurie Read

Biography: Born in Prague, Czech Republic, Lucie Kafková has been studying African trypanosomes since the beginning of her undergraduate career. She completed her master's studies at the University of South Bohemia with a degree in experimental biology. She then switched her focus from RNA editing to arginine methylation when she joined Professor Read's group at the University at Buffalo, where she is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in microbiology and immunology. As an American Heart pre-doctoral fellow, Lucie has worked on deepening our understanding of trypanosome protein arginine methyltransferase I function. She is planning to stay in academia and hopes to one day run her own laboratory.

Holly Keily

Holly Keily headshot.

PhD Program: Linguistics

Advisor: Juergen Bohnemeyer

Biography: Holly Keily, originally from Colorado, has lived and worked in several cities around the world, including: Denver, Colorado; Avignon, France; Frewsburg, New York; Kailua, Hawaii; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and now Buffalo. She graduated from the University of Denver in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and a Bachelor of Arts in French. She is also a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute.

In 2012, Keily joined UB's Department of Linguistics, where her research is on the origin and function of co-speech gesture. She was on the Tonal Aspects of Languages program committee hosted by UB last spring and helped edit and publish the conference proceedings. She's a graduate assistant for Accessibility Resources and a research assistant in the department of linguistics. She has also been a teaching assistant in linguistics and has taught several classes.

Gokhan Kul

Gokhan Kul headshot.

PhD Program: Computer Science and Engineering

Advisor: Shambhu Upadhyaya and Oliver Kennedy

Biography: Gokhan Kul, originally from Ankara, Turkey, is currently a PhD student in the computer science and engineering program at UB. He received his undergraduate degree from TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Ankara and received his master's degree from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, where he studied computer engineering. His graduate research focuses on database systems security.

Kul currently works as a research assistant in OdinLab where he is developing a system to detect insider attacks via monitoring database user behavior. In addition to research, he sometimes writes and publishes critiques on fiction novels and plays guitar. After graduation, Kul aspires to remain in academia and further his research on database security.

Kristin Maki

Kristin Maki headshot.

PhD Program: Communication

Advisor: Thomas Feeley

Biography: Kristin Maki, originally from Ithaca, NY, is a fourth-year PhD student in the communication department. Her dissertation compares three message format's effectiveness in conveying health-related information. She is currently conducting her dissertation research and plans to finish her degree in 2018. Having also studied social support's role in health-related outcomes, Kristin is looking forward to researching the potential impact of patient's stories relating to treatment outcomes after she finishes her dissertation.

Van Ahn Nguyen

Van Ahn Nguyen headshot.

PhD Program: Pharmaceutical Sciences

Advisor: Donald Mager

Biography: Van Anh ("Vika") Nguyen, born and raised in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, graduated summa cum laude from UB with a Bachelor of Science in pharmaceutical sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. Her extensive training in mathematics, biochemistry and computer programming determined her career path as she was looking for an interdisciplinary field that would combine all of her interests,and found that pharmaceutical sciences was the right fit. She is now in the third year of her PhD program and her research focuses on utilizing mathematical approaches to find better treatment options for hematological malignancies. Outside of academics, she has been actively involved in student organizations and on-campus activities, and she enjoys dancing on stage.

Xiaonan Tai

Xiaonan Tai headshot.

PhD Program: Geography

Advisor: D. Scott Mackay

Biography: Xiaonan Tai is a PhD candidate in the geography program. Tai received her Bachelor of Science in geospatial science from Wuhan University. She is a 2011-2015 Presidential Fellow and she specializes in spatial science and numerical modeling. Her thesis work focuses on building mechanistic models that predict how forests respond to novel climate conditions. During the summer of 2017, she will travel to Laramie, Wyoming to collect field observations of soils and trees, which she will use to drive and evaluate the model she has developed.

Nadav Weinstock

Nadav Weinstock headshot.

Major: Biomedical Sciences

Advisor: M. Laura Feltri

Biography: Nadav Weinstock, originally from Israel but raised in Buffalo, NY, is a fifth year MD/PhD student in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He aspires to become a physician-scientist, working on developing therapies for rare diseases that affect babies.

During his first two years of medical school, Weinstock became interested in global health and spent time providing medical care at local free health clinics and to under-served remote populations in the Himalayan Mountains of India. In 2016, he was awarded an F30 fellowship from the NIH for his research on Krabbe Disease.

Chong Zhang

Chong Zhang headshot.

Major: Biomedical Sciences

Advisor: James M. O'Donnell

Biography: Chong Zhang is originally from China and is currently a PhD student in the department of pharmacology and toxicology. Over the past few years, she has been interested in elucidating the relationship between the neurochemical and behavioral effects of drugs that are used in neuropsychiatric diseases, such as depression, anxiety and learning and memory disabilities. In addition to her main topic of research, she is also highly interested in finding potential therapeutic values in natural compounds, such as resveratrol from a glass of red wine. She is devoted to the discovery of safer and more effective drugs for this and future generations.