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2013 Baldwin Scholars

Congratulations to the 2013 winners of the Baldwin Award!

Christina Catavero is a third-year honors student from Poughquag, NY who is juggling two majors: Biomedical Sciences from the College of Health Sciences and Technology, and Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience from the College of Science. She first became interested in questions of how people learn science through a SMERC seminar she attended as a freshman, and that led her to embark on a biology education research project with Dr. Dina Newman. She won a summer undergraduate research fellowship from the COS honors program that summer, which allowed her to analyze the cell division content of 17 college textbooks and give her first scientific presentation at the Undergraduate Research and Innovation Symposium. Later this work was presented at a national conference, and she also became a co-author on a paper published in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal this fall. Currently Christina is working on a new paper for which she will be first author, and that will also qualify her for the Research Scholar award. Christina has helped many of peers as an Honors Orientation Mentor, a conversation partner with the English Language Center, and as a teaching assistant for Cell Biology. She spent last summer doing brain research at Boston University and will continue pursuing her interest in neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh this summer. In the future, Christina plans to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience and aspires to a faculty position where she can devote herself to both teaching and research.

Nick Fisk is a third year student in the Bioinformatics Option program. In addition to being an excellent student Nick contributes to the community, both at RIT and beyond, as in the spirit of David Baldwin. Nick is part of the Research Scholars Program where he is involved in a Biology Education Research project investigating origins of misconceptions and representational competence in the context of how students learn and think about Molecular Biology. In his spare time, Nick is part of the Bioprep group where he works very hard preparing reagents and setting up for the teaching laboratories. Nick is also a member of the RIT Wrestling Team, an incredibly intense sport that demands a lot of time and dedication.
The service activity that really stood out for the Baldwin committee is Nick's work with his Dad, Sgt. Maj. William Fisk in his home state of New Mexico. Nick and his Father are part of the "Willie's Heroes" project (named for Sgt. Maj. William Fisk) that raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project. This mission of this Wounded Warrior organization is "to honor and empower wounded warriors" through a variety of programs that may involve the Veterans leadership and skills training and also support to visit Washington D.C. Nick and his Father collect donations of chili peppers from regional New Mexico farmers, coordinate and run a chili-roast (called "Chili's for Willie") and sell the roasted peppers to the community to raise money for the organization. We are very impressed with all of Nick's accomplishments but we know that there is more yet to come.

Haeja Kessler is a fourth student in the Biotechnology program. Over her three years at RIT, she has volunteered for multiple organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Mercy Health and Rehabilitation Center, and Greece Residents Assisting Stray Pets (GRASP). Be it spending time with the elderly or cleaning cages for stray cats, she has selflessly given her time to making the world a better place. Haeja hopes to continue this spirit into graduate school pursuing the study of vaccine development.





Marissa Masek is a fourth year biology and biomedical photographic communications double major at Rochester Institute of Technology. While at RIT, she works as a Resident Advisor for Art House as well as a cager at the SPAS Photographic Cage. Over the past two summers, she has worked at the Optical Science Laboratory at Northeastern University. While there, she examined melanin in hopes of creating a noninvasive device for detecting melanoma. At RIT, she continues to do research with Prof. Savka and Prof. Osgood. Recently, Marissa was awarded an Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Award which she will receive this April. Marissa plans to continue with research when she graduates, focusing on microscopy, microbiology, and medicine in order to examine how the body works, as well as the pathogens that infiltrate it.


Gabe Pendleton is a fourth year student in the Environmental Science program. Since his freshman year at RIT, he has conducted an independent research project comparing decomposition rates in natural and created freshwater wetlands. He has participated in the Research Scholars program and will be completing his project this summer. He has been an active participant in the Student Environmental Action League and served as president during the 2012-2013 academic year. He spearheaded efforts to support electronics recycling and reduce waste from plastic water bottles.
During the summer and fall of 2012 he was an intern for the Buckland Creek Watershed Restoration Program's Environmental Protection Agency Five Star Project, educating the public about creek restoration and the importance of good stormwater management practices. He helped install rain barrels and rain gardens, and was a regular figure at Color Brighton Green's outreach booth at the Farmer's Market. Gabe will be participating in a study abroad program in Brazil during fall 2013, and in the future he would like to become a canopy ecologist in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, publishing on his research and raising public awareness of the importance of protecting natural resources.

Harshita Sood is a fourth student from India in the Environmental Science BS/MS program. Since her first year at RIT, she has served other international students through International House, first as a volunteer, and later in different officer positions. She has also served as a Peer Advisor Leader for International Student Orientation, as a Resident Assistant, a Global Village Resident Assistant, and as secretary for RIT Global Union. In addition to these leadership roles, she has been an active participant in charity work, such as fund raising for the World Food Program and the Ronald McDonald House. Harshida is a long-standing member of the GSOLS Research Scholars Program.