2014 John Wiley Jones Outstanding Students in Science



Erin Crossen is a fourth-year applied and computational mathematics BS/MS student. Erin has been conducting research with Dr. Khan and Dr. Jadamba on the inverse problem of locating cancerous tissue in the human body.  Erin's research is on an extremely challenging topic that requires a solid understanding of diverse areas. However, given her extraordinary talent and dedication she has made significant progress. Erin has presented her research in several major conferences and has already published a research paper in a journal of high repute.  Erin's primary objective is to enter the teaching profession and her combined appreciation of the beauty of mathematics and the intricacies of the many ways people analyze and approach this subject are the makings of a sincere, dedicated researcher, as well as an excellent teacher.

Last semester was the start of the Learning Assistant Program in the College of Sciences. Erin was selected as a Learning Assistant for Multivariable Calculus. She understood perfectly the concept of student-centered learning and she went above and beyond to promote a successful learning environment. She was awarded with the best TA Award for the 2010-2011 Academic Year.

As a student, Erin has an unceasing ability to focus and works extremely hard in all aspects of the class, resulting in an extraordinary academic performance. She is creative, intelligent and hard-working. Erin was inducted into Pi Mu Epsilon (national mathematics honors society) in May 2012. Following graduation, Erin will be working toward her Ph.D. in Mathematics at University of Rochester.



Kevin Dickey is a fourth-year Imaging Scientist from Peoria, Illinois. Kevin’s interest in imaging systems began in high school, where he taught himself the fundamentals of digital photography. This led him to the Imaging Science program, which combined Kevin’s love for photography with a systems-oriented approach to engineering.  As a freshman, Kevin was a core member of the inaugural Freshman Imaging Project, which successfully designed and built a functioning imaging system for Imagine RIT in 2011. Its systems-based approach has shaped many of his future projects.

In the summer of 2013, as a part of the EPA Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) grant which he was awarded, Kevin worked at the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 Headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Using cooled thermal-infrared cameras, he investigated the use of imaging systems for detections of emissions. He also developed software to speed up local workflows for inspection personnel.

In his final academic year, Kevin’s capstone project has been to create a hybrid multispectral imaging system based on a consumer digital SLR. This work has combined electronics, imaging systems, programming, and materials science to create a unique and innovative imaging device. Kevin’s devotion to the success of this project is apparent by the late nights and weekends that he spends pursuing this work. In all that he doe Kevin is a fountain of enthusiasm and energy.

In his free time, Kevin enjoys bicycling and exploring the history of Rochester. Kevin has also sung with two of RIT’s a capella groups, Proof of Purchase and Surround Sound.  


DiDonatoTessa DiDonato is a biochemistry major (4.0 GPA) who has won a number of prestigious honors: Goldwater Scholar, RIT Outstanding Scholar, RIT Honors Program, RIT Chemistry Research Scholar, and a RIT Presidential Scholarship.

Tessa’s four years of research with Suzanne O’Handley is on “phenotypic studies of the diadenosine polyphosphatases / mRNA decapping enzymes from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae”. Tessa has won a COS honors summer fellowship, a summer fellowship from ASM, and a research grant from ASBMB. Tessa has presented her work at a number of venues including three national conferences: American Chemical Society (ACS), American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), and American Society for Microbiology (ASM). Tessa won travel grants from ACS and ASBMB to attend these meetings.

Tessa has TA’ed for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and has tutored for HEOP, winning the HEOP Outstanding Tutor Award.  Tessa was also a resident advisor.  She is a member of the ASBMB student affiliates and has volunteered at the RMSC for National Chemistry Week and for the “Portal to the Public” national program.  Tessa is proficient in American Sign Language, was the Honors Program activities committee chair, and is a member of ACS, ASBMB, and ASM.

This fall, Tessa will be entering a PhD program in Microbiology with a focus on infectious disease or the human microbiome’s effect on health and disease.


KarlRobert Karl, Jr., a fourth-year student in the RIT School of Physics and Astronomy, is from West Redding, Connecticut.  In addition to majoring in Physics (3.96 GPA), Robert is also earning minors in three fields—Mathematics, Optical Sciences, and Imaging Science.  He is the current president of the RIT Chapter of the Society of Physics Students.

Robert’s research interests are in x-ray and surface science.  He spent the summer of 2013 at the Cornell High-Energy Synchrotron Source where he did work on characterizing high-resolution x-ray detectors.  Robert has been working closely with Professor Michael Pierce, specifically on the use of x-ray scattering to study the dynamics of catalytically active surfaces in electrochemical environments.  In addition to doing experiments at RIT, he is contributing to cutting-edge experiments being performed at the Advanced Photon Source, the synchrotron facility at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.  Robert has given oral presentations at both the 2013 and 2014 March Meetings of the American Physical Society, and is currently preparing a manuscript with Dr. Pierce on the methodology of X-Ray Photon Correlation Spectroscopy.

Robert has been a highly-valued and long-standing teaching assistant and grader for the School in many courses including Modern Physics, Physical Optics, and numerous workshop sections of introductory physics.  He is also the president of RIT Improv.Following graduation, Robert will be working towards his Ph.D. in Physics or Optics.


TriassAlexander “Alex” Triassi is a third-year Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience major, with a minor in Chemistry. He is a member of the Honors Program at RIT and continually demonstrates his proclivity for academic success. Alex is hard-working, intelligent individual that has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his career at RIT.

Alex participates in undergraduate research in the laboratory of Dr. André Hudson and has been the leader on a variety of projects such as, identification of bacterial entophytes from willow and identification and novel antibiotic targets. His research has led to his co-authorship of two peer-reviewed articles. He plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Biochemistry after graduating from RIT.

Outside of the classroom, Alex is involved in service at the College, Institute, and Community levels. He is an ambassador for the College of Science to help advocate and advertise the college’s various academic programs to prospective students. In addition, Alex is an orientation mentor for the Honors Program and a member of the selection committee for the Isaac L. Jordan Faculty Pluralism Award at the institute level. Alex recently participated in a service trip to Biloxi, Mississippi to help re-build homes that were damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Alex’s passion and dedication to academics, scholarship, and service are qualities that will allow him to excel in his future career endeavor.