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John Wiley Jones Outstanding Students in Science
Nicole is a fourth-year biology major, with minors in environmental science and French language. She is an outstanding Honors Program student who has maintained a 4.0 average for her entire RIT career. She is consistently the top student in every class, and excels in all facets of science – from the design of experiments, to the grunt work of carrying out the research, to the communication of the final product.
Nicole’s aptitude for research has been demonstrated through a number of experiences. In the summer of 2011, she entered the REU program in Limnology and Phytoplankton Ecology at Clarkson University. The following summer she worked as an undergraduate stewardship liaison with the Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship Through Education Network here at RIT. She participated in a wetlands ecology and management effort, and conducted her own research on invasive plants while also involved in community education and outreach activities. She is currently entrenched in a project to determine biodiversity of aquatic invertebrates in small urban wetlands and has been active in RIT’s bird banding and Seneca Park Zoo programs.
In addition to her clear dedication to academics, Nicole has been a tutor, a note taker and an orientation mentor for the Honors Program. This willingness to help others comes through in the classroom, where she often serves as a mentor to other students. In her spare time, Nicole is also an avid dancer – ballet, jazz and tap dance. Nicole will pursue a Ph.D. in the fall and is well on her way to becoming a top environmental biologist.
Chris is a fourth-year imaging science student from Pennsylvania who joined RIT after attending an imaging science Open House where he produced a hologram. Little did he, and we know at the time, what a fruitful career he would have. Because of his own experience, in his freshman and sophomore years he enthusiastically helped out with outreach activities. It was during his junior year that he immersed himself deeply in research. He joined the Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing (DIRS) group and under the direction of John Schott and Aaron Gerace worked on the calibration of LANDSAT data. For his senior project, “Analyzing Graph Based Approaches in Classifying Spectral Imagery,” Chris is working with David Messinger and several imaging science Ph.D. students. The purpose of the project is to develop graph-based anomaly detection methods to inspect hyperspectral imagery, where he has demonstrated that incorporating spatial information greatly increases the signal-to-noise ratio and reduces false alarms. For the past two years Chris has been the President of the student chapter of the Imaging Science and Technology Society. In this role, he’s been responsible for bringing speakers for their weekly meetings. Somehow, Chris finds time to volunteer countless hours helping our freshman class in their imaging project. Chris’ help in that regard has been invaluable. We wish him the best in his future endeavors!
Benjamin is a fourth-year applied and computational mathematics BS/MS student. Ben is highly praised by faculty members because of his clear mathematical talent, insights, and depth of understanding. Although Ben enjoys challenging material in all areas of mathematics, he has sought opportunities to learn about how math can be applied to address real-world problems. In particular, Ben has focused on problems in modeling the electrophysiology of cardiac cells and tissue, including studying the implications of choosing functions to represent sparse experimental data and analyzing how intracellular calcium dynamics can contribute to the formation of complex spatial patterns. He has given presentations of his work at a number of venues, including the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematicians Conference on the Life Sciences and annual meetings of the Upstate New York Cardiac Electrophysiology Society.
Along with achieving excellence in research, Ben has maintained a 3.9 grade point average. In addition, Ben has supported and encouraged others in applied mathematics and has contributed to shaping the future of the School of Mathematical Sciences in various ways, including participating in a promotional movie about RIT’s math programs and serving as the sole student representative on the search committee to select a new head for the School of Mathematical Sciences.
Hao, a fourth-year student in the RIT School of Physics and Astronomy, is from Xiamen, China. In addition to majoring in physics (3.98 GPA), Hao is also earning a second BS degree in mechanical engineering (4.00 GPA). He is a recipient of an RIT Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Award and is the first recipient of the School of Physics and Astronomy Faculty/Alumni Endowed Scholarship.
Hao’s primary research interests are in theoretical quantum and optical physics. He has been working most closely with Professor Mishkat Bhattacharya, specifically on the quantum dynamics of optomechanical systems. He is first author on a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Modern Optics and co-author on a publication in the American Journal of Physics. Hao has delivered an unusual number of scientific presentations while an undergraduate, including a plenary talk delivered at Harvard University’s National Collegiate Research Conference and a presentation at the Meeting of the Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics in Anaheim, CA. Hao’s senior capstone project on “A Nanomechanical System with Simultaneous Linear and Quadratic Couplings” stood out as exemplary.
Hao has been a valued teaching assistant for numerous physics classes and has been a longstanding math/physics tutor for RIT’s Academic Support Center. Hao is also a superb violinist and is assistant concertmaster in the RIT Orchestra.
Following graduation, Hao will working toward his Ph.D. in physics at Cornell University.
Joy is a fourth year Biochemistry major and an Honors student. Since starting at RIT in 2009, Joy has succeeded in the classroom and in the laboratory. Joy started research the summer before her freshman year, working with Dr. Matt Miri. That fall, Joy began her research project in Dr. Lea Vacca Michel’s lab and has worked there ever since, including three full-time summers. In addition to maintaining a stellar grade point average throughout her undergraduate career, Joy has immersed herself in RIT life. She participates in research, works in the Dean’s Office, and can be commonly seen at RIT hockey games (enthusiastically dressed in her tiger gear). For the last four years, Joy has brought energy, excitement, and unwavering commitment to her research. She has been fastidious, organized, and efficient in her bench work and data analysis, and her lab technique has improved exponentially. Joy has worked on a research project which is done in collaboration with the Rochester General Hospital Research Institute. When Joy graduates in May, she will have coauthored three peer-reviewed scientific publications and presented at four national meetings, including one for which she was competitively selected to participate in (Harvard University). Joy was recently inducted into the ASBMB national honor society and received one their summer fellowships. After graduation, Joy will head off to SUNY Buffalo where she will attend Pharmacy School.