Event Date: March 5, 2021
[Speaking: Alan Belicha] Our second presenter today will be Azalia Muchransyah, her title of the presentation is “HIV PARA-DOC: Using Documentary Films to Reduce HIV Stigma in Indonesia”. She comes to us from the department of Media Study, the College of Arts and Sciences, and is a native of Jakarta, Indonesia. She wants to be an academic and filmmaker, and in fact her dissertation will be her 20th film that she makes during her study at UB. Thank you for joining us, Azalia, and when you're, “ready, set, pitch”.
[Speaking: Azalia Muchransyah] Good afternoon, since 2013 I have been working with people living with HIV in Indonesia as an activist filmmaker. Before then, I had thought people living with HIV were skinny, sick and have a death sentence because this is the image of HIV that we often see in the media. But look at my slide here, this is Rika. She is young, beautiful and has a healthy lifestyle. When I first met her I would have never thought that Rika had HIV. Her ex-husband used drugs behind her back and exchanged needles with other people. As a result, she became HIV positive there are 640,000 other people like Rika who live with HIV in Indonesia. This is not a small number considering that Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago, and the fourth most populated country on earth. It is also home to the largest Muslim population which means that HIV advocacy is a delicate subject matter as it is usually stigmatized as an immoral disease. This stigma is spread and amplified in the media. So in my research as a media scholar, I am looking into the way that HIV is portrayed and talked about in the media. My findings show that from the beginning of its discovery in Indonesia in the 1980s to today, HIV narratives in the media produce and reproduce uttering towards people living with HIV. People are reluctant to get tested or to access the free HIV medication out of fear of being ousted from their families, schools, work places and communities. The solution to this problem is to create counter narratives and Indonesia is such a perfect place to do this, because we have a history of changing the narratives in the media through propaganda. But instead of the top-down government commission propaganda film my model of advocacy media comes from the bottom-up. In my dissertation film I am using documentary to talk about HIV differently. I show how people who live with HIV can have a normal life like Rika who is now remarried and has an HIV-negative child. My film centers on people like Rika to tell their personal stories to the general audience, and by hearing Rika's story the audience can relate to her as a human being despite her HIV status. With this intervention I hope I can change HIV narratives in the media, and in the long run reduce the stigma so people will get tested and access the free medications in Indonesia. This research is one important piece of the puzzle that can impact the way that information is delivered in the media to solve public health issues. Not just in Indonesia but also globally, thank you.
Department: Media Study
Advisor: Paige Sarlin
Biography: Azalia Muchransyah is from Jakarta, Indonesia. As a media study PhD candidate, her research project aims to illuminate the status of media activism, especially documentary film, in contemporary Indonesia. It also explores the potential of documentary media to contribute to the transformation of HIV activism and advocacy in the face of the paradoxes around HIV/AIDS in key population members. Prior to her time in Buffalo, Muchransyah received her first Fulbright scholarship to teach in Washington, D.C. She enjoys making films, watching films, reading, and spending time with her husband and two-year-old son. Muchransyah’s career goals include working in academia and becoming a filmmaker.
[Speaking: Alan Belicha] I’d like to introduce our seventh presenter. Amanda Seccia is coming to us from Binghamton also just a few hours away from where we stand, most of us anyways. She's in the learning and instruction department within the Graduate School of Education. In her free time, she likes to write, read and teach which makes sense based on her topic. Today she's going to tell us about shifting gears in education to limit the research practice gap. When you're ready, set, pitch.
[Speaking: Amanda Seccia] How does a bicycle ride smoothly over a variety of uphill and downhill terrains? The gears working in conjunction to adjust for the complexities of the environment. The gears of our education system, educational researchers, teachers, and school districts must work in the same way to be effective, but they're often divided. Researchers often conduct inapplicable, inaccessible studies, teachers often inadvertently use methods that are not empirically supported, and school districts are often disconnected from student needs. Though these three groups want to improve the educational experience for students, the gap between these gears can create a bumpy ride. There have been efforts to bring the gears together, like the formation of research practice partnerships. These partnerships are long-term collaborations between researchers, teachers and districts designed to find problems in practice and together, investigate ways to improve schools. What remains unclear is the extent that these partnerships can bring the gears together. The goal of my work as an educational researcher is to see how a research practice partnership here at UB can bring together local researchers, teachers, and the Buffalo public school district. The UB teacher residency program is a research practice partnership that prepares pre-service teachers to teach specifically in the urban Buffalo community. Pre-service teachers co-teach alongside a Buffalo public school teacher for a full year while supervised by district leaders and UB researchers and while taking classes for one year. I interviewed, surveyed and observed residency stakeholders to see how collaboration between a research invested university and an urban school district can bring these gears together. So far, I found that there are gaps and assumptions in and perspectives between these groups, but I also found that this type of partnership does help UB researchers understand the needs of the district, and researchers and practitioners engage in frequent productive interactions. UB researchers started basing their work off of the needs of the district, and district leaders and teachers worked with researchers to more regularly implement evidence-based strategies into their classrooms, overall symbiotic relationships and a sense of community formed between these three groups. So my work shows that when educators collaboratively train pre-service teachers through a teacher residency, research practice partnership the gears of education can work in unison. In the future, we can use this residency model as a structure to help other institutions oil the gears in their communities and bring together their local researchers, teachers and district. And, we can see how this type of partnership can impact student learning in the long run. Thank you.
Department: Learning and Instruction
Advisor: Claire Cameron
Biography: Amanda Seccia is a learning and instruction PhD candidate from Binghamton, New York. In her dissertation, Seccia uses a phenomenological approach to understand the research-practice gap within the context of a research-practice partnership, specifically the UB Teacher Residency program. The goal of her dissertation is to broaden the understanding of the research-practice gap in education, and the character and nature of the tensions that arise because of it. In addition to her love of reading, writing and teaching, Seccia loves hiking, kayaking, and being outdoors. In the future, she hopes to work in an academic setting where she can focus on both research and teaching.
[Speaking: Alan Belicha] Our third presenter today is Saber Mearmardoost. He comes to us from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He will be telling us about building our own brain connectome. And in his free time Saber likes to play soccer very much like I do. We'll have to see each other on the field one day. He likes to watch movies and has a very long bucket list because he wants to visit locations where all his favorite movies have been filmed. Thank you for joining us today Saber and ready, set, pitch!
[Speaking: Saber Mearmardoost] What if I told you this presentation is going to change your brain forever? How do you learn why some people learn faster than others? When I was a kid, I was so passionate about soccer. I wanted to learn soccer and play better than my older brother but it never happened. I grew up with this question in my mind how could I properly learn soccer. Over time I came to know that the brain is responsible for learning any skill. The brain is the least understood organ and it's more sophisticated than any supercomputer on earth. Your brain contains over 100 billion cells. To put this huge number in the context this is equal to the total number of hairs on the heads of people in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Yonkers all combined. Unlike many of us, brain cells are very good at communication and teamwork. In fact, they never act alone. Rather, the connections between them are where the information and memories are stored your memories. The information that makes you, you and perhaps other aspects of your personal identity such as your personality and your intellect are all encoded in the connections between your brain cells. Every time you experience something new, learn a new fact or a new skill your brain rewires. This is a mysterious mechanism that enables us to learn new skills, to memorize new information or to forget old ones. To figure out how our brain learns we need to understand the fundamentals of brain rewiring. But first, we need to find the connections. But how? Imagine you're in a packed Bills stadium on a match day, cheers from the fans or echoing all around I ask you to record the crowd noise for a few minutes. Now, can you tell me who is talking to whom in the crowd? This is exactly what I do in my research. I develop computational algorithms to find connections between brain cells or the fans from brain activity or the crowd noise. Our studies on mice have given novel insights about the relationship between brain providing and learning. My research can shed light on the principles of memory formation and learning one day we may be able to build an artificial brain, a super powerful computer just like our brain. In my research I often find myself seeking answers to the basic questions I had about learning since my childhood. But as a grown up, I have learned a bigger lesson from my work. Remember, you and your ever-changing brain are constantly being shaped by the world around you so make sure to only let the positivity’s of the world rewire your brain. Thank you very much.
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Advisor: Rudiyanto Gunawan
Biography: Saber Meamardoost is a chemical and biological engineering PhD candidate from Bandar Lengeh, Iran. In his research, he develops computational algorithms to infer neuronal network from brain activity data. Meamardoost trains animals to learn a motor skill and records neuronal activity in the brain while they are learning. The goal of his research is to use brain activity data to reconstruct neuronal network in the brain, and then to understand the operational principles of neuroplasticity during learning. Meamardoost is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and enjoys reading books, soccer, watching movies and hiking. In the future, Meamardoost will continue his research focusing on building a data-intensive brain-to-materials framework.
[Speaking: Alan Belicha] Our next presenter Yuhao Shi comes to us from the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at Roswell Park, which is where I graduated from my PhD. His hometown is in Albany, New York and he immigrated here from China when he was eight years old. You may find running around listening to podcasts or audiobooks, and he's a big fan of “This American Life with Iron Glass” on NPR thank you for joining us today Yuhao, and when you're ready, set, pitch.
[Speaking: Yuhao Shi] Your body's immune system helps protect you from cancer, but sometimes cancer has ways to evade, or hide from this response. This is where immunotherapy comes in. These agents help uncover cancer in hiding, allow for immune cells to find an attack. There are really three main outcomes for patients on immunotherapy. The first and best case scenario, the use of these drugs has led to remarkable recoveries for patients whose cancers have spread throughout their bodies. The second case scenario is that we find out immediately that these drugs do not work at all. We wanted to study the third scenario, that is when therapy initially works but after months and sometimes years cancer grows back. To do this, we gave immunotherapy to mice with different tumors and found a type of mouse tumor that can mimic this outcome of initial benefit and then eventual therapy failure. This was surprisingly difficult because unlike other widely used, cancer drugs treatment with immunotherapy in most mouse tumors did not reflect this phenomenon. We then examined tumor cells before and after therapy failed and found that when immunotherapy stopped working tumor cells started to release a slew of secreted molecules that act as a unique shield protecting against immune cell attack. Using data from human cancers after treatment failure we saw similar changes in secretions, suggesting that this process can also occur for patients. Interestingly, we found that a majority of these molecules were controlled by a key protein called interferons or IFN's. So when we stopped interferons and tumor cells or took away secretions one by one piercing this shield, we drastically slow the growth of tumors after therapy failure. Currently, thousands of patients are being treated with the numerator therapy worldwide. For many when therapy fails there's no great alternatives targeting interferons may be the answer. Thank you.
Department: Experimental Therapeutics (Roswell Park)
Advisor: John Ebos
Biography: From Albany, New York, Yuhao Shi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Cancer Therapeutics in the Roswell Parks Graduate Division. In his research, Shi focuses on immunotherapy and how the drugs improve patient immune responses against cancer. The goal of his research is to better understand why some cancer patients relapse, and to develop new approaches when therapy fails. In his free time, Shi enjoys running, cooking, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, and hanging out with his fiancé. In the future, he hopes to become a physician.