RIT/NTID one of three finalists for global literacy competition

Light skinned male with short dark hair, glasses and beard in dark short-sleeved shirt standing in front of a computer image.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is one of three finalists in a global competition to source technology solutions that increase access to local sign languages and advance language and literacy outcomes for deaf children in developing countries.

The “Sign On For Literacy” global competition announced today that RIT/NTID will receive $150,000 (in addition to the $25,000 in seed funding they were awarded as semifinalists in 2018) to pilot their World Around You platform in the Philippines. Collaborating with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, World Around You documents, collects and shares local sign and written languages through an open-content digital library of folktales offered in an interactive bilingual format.

“Sign On For Literacy” is a program of All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development—a partnership of USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government, and will enable RIT/NTID to work with Second Avenue Learning, a local company in Rochester, N.Y., to develop technology that enables the creation and implementation of stories and language games. RIT/NTID will continue working with the Deaf community and partners in the Philippines on story creation, demonstration and testing.

“We are looking forward to working with different communities—Filipino deaf, deaf students, teachers of the deaf, parents of deaf children, and technical experts—while we develop and field test World Around You,” said Dr. Christopher Kurz, an instructional/support faculty member in RIT/NTID’s master of science program in secondary education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. “The goal of our project is to provide access to literacy for deaf children in their own sign languages in the Philippines, and eventually all around the world.”

The other finalists include Manos Unidas, working with students in Nicaragua, and eKitabu’s Studio, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

NTID Performing Arts and RIT College of Liberal Arts announce 2019-2020 joint theatrical season

Poster with five program names and descriptions with graphics for each.

NTID Performing Arts and RIT College of Liberal Arts have announced their 2019-2020 joint theatrical season. The plays and dance performance present a wide array of cultural, political, and social issues. Two productions will be presented on the Panara stage, two productions will be performed in 1510 Theatre Lab, and one production will be performed in the Booth Black Box. The season includes:

I and You
Play by Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Andy Head
October 25-27, 2019
1510 Lab Theatre, LBJ Building

One afternoon, Anthony arrives unexpectedly at classmate Caroline’s door bearing a beat-up copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” an urgent assignment from their English teacher. Homebound due to illness, Caroline hasn’t been to school in months, but she is as quick and sardonic as Anthony is athletic, sensitive, and popular. As these two let down their guards and share their secrets, this seemingly mundane poetry project unlocks a much deeper mystery that has brough them together. I and You is an ode to youth, life, love, and the strange beauty of human connectedness.

People of the Third Eye
Directed by Patti Durr and Karen Christie
November 15-17, 2019
Robert F. Panara Theatre

The show will be a unique work showcasing slices of Deaf lives—both contemporary and historical. Created collaboratively by the cast members, audiences will be treated to various genres of ASL performance art—poetry, narrative personal experiences, creative storytelling, reenactment of historical events, as well as dramatic monologues and dialogues. Woven into the action on stage will be film clips and live painting. Bookending the play will be a contemporary encounter with a well-known historical Deaf figure who still has much to teach us.

Dial M for Murder
Written by Frederick Knott
Directed by Luane Davis-Haggerty
February 28-March 1, 2019
Robert F. Panara Theatre

Tony Wendice has married his wife, Margot, for her money and now plans to murder her for the same reason. He arranges the perfect murder. Tony blackmails a scoundrel he used to know into strangling Margot for a fee of one thousand pounds. He also arranges a brilliant alibi for himself. Unfortunately…the murderer gets murdered and the victim survives. But this doesn’t baffle the husband: He sees his hireling’s death as an opportunity to have his wife convicted for the murder of the man who tried to murder her, and that is what almost happens. Luckily, the police inspector from Scotland Yard and a young man who is in love with the wife discover the truth, and in a scene of almost unbearable suspense they trap the husband into revealing his guilt, thus freeing Margot.

Bent
Written by Martin Sherman
Directed by Matthew Nicosia
March 27-29, 2020
BOO-A428, Booth Black Box, Booth Building

In 1934 Berlin on the eve of the Nazi incursion, Max, a grifter, and his lover Rudy are recovering from a night of debauchery with an SA trooper. Two soldiers burst into the apartment and slit their guest’s throat, beginning a nightmare odyssey through Nazi Germany. Ranked lower on the human scale than Jews, the men as avowed homosexuals, flee. Desperate and on the run, Max asks his own “discreetly” homosexual Uncle Freddie for help, the older man offers little more than suggestions on how to live, as he does, practicing homosexuality on the side. Attempting their escape, Rudy is beaten to death as Horst, another homosexual prisoner, warns Max to deny his lover. Taken to a death camp at Dachau, Max and Horst branded with the “pink triangle,” hope to survive with each other for comfort and courage, but it is not to be. Richard Gere created the role of Max on Broadway.

The Rhythm of Motion and Light (dance)
Conceived and Directed by Thomas Warfield
April 17-19, 2020
Robert F. Panara Theatre

Dance: The Rhythm of Motion and Light is a multi-arts, multi-experiential dance performance utilizing innovative collaborations with new technologies and live music for a concert in spring 2020. The performance will include: the use of AR (Augmented Reality – blending physical world with virtual content over-layed), dancers with hidden mini-cameras on their bodies adding to the layers of compositional substance, manipulation of visual texture - using ‘cellograph’ (where cellophane is stretched across structured frames and painted on). Another innovative concept will be choreography created from multiple forms of technology itself – instead of adding technology to what is already choreographed, the dance will be molded from the technology – the way a choreographer might choreograph to music. This production will be a true spectacle of color, light, movement and music, designed to expand the confines of dance and present a more fluid and integrated expression of technology.

For more information on the entire season, please visit: https://www.rit.edu/cla/finearts/theatrearts/cla-ntid-19-20-theatrical-season.

TICKET INFORMATION
On-site: RIT University Arenas, 200 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester NY 14623
Website: www.rittickets.com
By phone: 585-475-4121
Prices:
$5.00 for Student, Senior (60+), and Children under age 12
$10.00 for RIT Faculty/Staff/Alumni
$12.00 for General Public
Tickets also will be available on performance days two hours prior to curtain.

**For Bent: this play is not appropriate for children under 12. **

ROBERT F. PANARA LOCATION
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Lyndon Baine Johnson (LBJ) Hall (Building 60)
52 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, New York 14623

Free parking is available in Lot L.

BOOTH BLACK BOX LOCATION
Rochester Institute of Technology
James E. Booth (BOO) Hall (Building 7A)
Rochester, New York 14623

Free parking is available in Lot E, F, G, and H.

ABOUT ROBERT F. PANARA THEATRE
The Robert F. Panara Theatre is named in honor of Dr. Robert Panara, RIT’s first Deaf professor and founder of the NTID Drama Club. A 460-seat auditorium, the theater has played host to numerous guest artists such as Mikail Baryishnikov; Jane Fonda; Louise Fletcher; Marlee Maitlin; the National Theatre of the Deaf; Phyllis Frelich; Bernard Bragg; Patrick Graybill; Howie Seago; Cleveland SignStage; Annabelle Gamzon; Garth Fagan Dance; Hartford Ballet; Foreigner; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; Sean Forbes; American Deaf Dance Company; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre; Danielle Ponder; and many others. The theater opened its doors on October 3, 1974, with a production of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Originally called the Experimental Educational Theatre (EET), the theater program has a rich heritage of offering challenging, entertaining, and provocative works, all created for both Deaf and hearing audiences. We have produced work in a wide variety of theater styles; Comedy, Musical, Dance, Drama, Classical, Kabuki (Japanese), Experimental, Puppets, and new works by both Deaf and hearing authors.

BOOTH BLACK BOX
The Booth Black Box is a smaller space located on the lower level of James E. Booth (BOO) Hall in room A428. The space serves as a venue for a variety of experimental and intimate productions.

Current season productions at RIT include:

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 6:30pm
Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - 6:30pm
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - 6:30pm
Friday, April 19, 2019 - 7:30pm

‘Leaves of the Poetry Tree,’ based on children’s poetry and prose, brings interpretive dance to life for deaf and hearing audiences

light green background with center image of trees with dancing figure. text above reads Leaves of the Poetry Tree

A collection of interpretive dances based on children’s prose and poetry is featured in a new production by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Performing Arts department at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Leaves of the Poetry Tree combines music, American Sign Language and poetry with dance, and features a variety of styles including tap, ballet, modern/contemporary, hip-hop and jazz. Using inspiration found in children’s stories and poetry books, the family-friendly dance production addresses issues and challenges such as bullying, fear, death, racial differences, gender identity and equality. Deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing performers take the stage together, joined by young dancers from area public schools.

The show is directed by dancer, actor and NTID alumna and staff member Nicole Marie Cruz, and features set design by Erin Auble, costume design by Danica Zielinski, sound and projection by Dan Roach, and lighting by Nic Minetor.

Leaves of the Poetry Tree runs 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-23, with 2 p.m. matinee performances Feb. 23-24, in NTID’s Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall. 

Tickets—$5 for students, senior citizens (60+) and children under 12, $10 for RIT faculty/staff/alumni, and $12 for the general public—are available online at www.rittickets.com, at the RIT University Arenas box office, 200 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, N.Y. 14623, or by calling 585-475-4121.

‘Rise Up: Silent Margins’ exhibit documents artist’s life as a deaf person

black and white checks at the bottom with a figure walking into grass and flowers with more red flowers at the top.

A collection of paintings on display at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf explores deafness in a unique and powerful way. “Rise Up: Silent Margins,” a collection of 17 paintings by RIT/NTID alumna Ashley Hannan, runs through Feb. 23 in NTID’s Dyer Arts Center Glass Room.

Hannan’s paintings document her journey of coming to terms with being deaf, having a cochlear implant and being the only deaf person in the mainstream schools she attended. Of her piece The Black Hole of Conflicted Identity, Hannan says, “Growing up, after having been educated at an oral deaf school with intensive speech therapy and audiology testing, I still felt incomplete. Though I was implanted with a cochlear implant at age 6, ‘fixing’ me still did not fill in the hole I had and still have in my identity. Thousands of dollars was spent on my education to perfect my listening and speech. It wasn’t until my young adult years I began to awaken and notice the conflict in my self-esteem stemmed from the lack of understanding that there is a deaf culture that is just as functional as the hearing world. I was apprehensive of delving into the deaf world for my identity for a long time.”

Of her piece Be True, Hannan says, “It took me many years, maybe three decades, to realize that all I needed to do was ‘be true’ to myself. Reject the envy of being ‘hearing’ and nurture the ‘flaw’ I have, my deafness. Emerge into something beautiful that always has been there.”

As part of the exhibit, Hannan, a graduate of RIT’s graphic design program, has created accompanying text that explains the symbolism within each piece.

A closing reception for the exhibit will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 22 and a painting party will be held Feb. 23, in the gallery.

The gallery is located on the RIT campus in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, 52 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, go to www.rit.edu/ntid/dyerarts/.

RIT moves up a classification among research universities

Outside image of large glass and steel structures one with letters RIT on it.

Rochester Institute of Technology is now listed as a “high research activity institution” or “R2” under the updated Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.

The R2 designation, the second-highest classification, puts RIT among the top 6 percent of colleges and universities in the nation, those conferring at least 20 research/scholarship doctorates annually and spending a minimum $5 million a year on research. Carnegie surveys more than 4,000 universities and puts 139 in this classification, with an additional 122 in the top “very high research” group.

“This change in designation reflects RIT’s continued emphasis on growing our research capabilities and incorporating research as an element of the education we’re providing across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines,” said Ellen Granberg, RIT provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Through research, RIT students and faculty are collaborating to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation.”

Ryne Raffaelle, RIT’s vice president for research and associate provost, said research expenditures have been an upward trajectory for the last several years as RIT and reflect a growing research portfolio. In fiscal year 2017, RIT had a record $51 million in expenditures.

 

RIT/NTID astrophysicist develops technique to locate undiscovered planets, celestial bodies

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A revolutionary technique developed by an astrophysicist at Rochester Institute of Technologycould allow for a better understanding of the fates of solar systems when their stars cease to shine.

Jason Nordhaus, an NTID assistant professor of physics and a faculty member in RIT's PhD program in astrophysical sciences and technology, has developed a system of complex 3D super-computer algorithms able to pinpoint the existence of previously undiscovered planets and celestial bodies associated with dying stars. His research is partially funded by a three-year grant from the NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute.

“The deaths of ordinary stars are marked by extraordinary transitions,” explains Nordhaus. “Iconic high-resolution images of dying stars have transformed our understanding of these events. In the past decade, we have discovered that this process of death that produces these spectacular images is linked to the presence of another star or planet in the system. However, large amounts of dust that mask these companions make them difficult to directly detect. We will continue to uncover the nature of these hidden companions and pin down where they orbit in these systems.”

Nordhaus explains that when a star dies, its physical size drastically increases and changes its shape. In fact, Nordhaus predicts that when our sun dies—billions of years from now—it will expand, reaching Earth, and will interact with other nearby planets, such as Jupiter.

Nordhaus’ technique was previously used to infer the presence of a hidden planet in the dying star L2 Puppis, which was later detected by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, a collection of radio telescopes in northern Chile that observe electromagnetic radiation.

This summer, Nordhaus will work with several deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to study four systems for which Nordhaus has comprehensive data obtained over the past two decades. They are hoping that their 3D computer simulations will help determine which planets survive the death of their parent stars and which are ultimately destroyed.

“This helps us understand the fate of our own solar system, the fates of other star systems in the galaxy, and improve our understanding of how stars and planets interact,” said Nordhaus.

In addition to performing this groundbreaking research, Nordhaus is a member of RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, whose simulations of merging black hole binaries were used by the LIGO Project to confirm the breakthrough detection of gravitational waves from binary black holes in space.

RIT’s online programs ranked among best in the nation

Students in caps and gowns lining up for graduation.

Rochester Institute of Technology has been recognized for having some of the best online programs in the nation.

The 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs rankings, released today, featured RIT on its lists for business, computing, engineering and undergraduate online education. RIT ranked:

  • 26th in the nation for “Best Online MBA Programs,” for the online executive MBA program offered by Saunders College of Business
  • 41st for “Best Online Information Technology Programs,” offered by the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences
  • 63rd for “Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs,” offered by the Kate Gleason College of Engineering
  • 217th for “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs”

The biggest gain was RIT’s online executive MBA program, which jumped 10 spots on the list since last year.

“It is an honor to again be recognized on a national level, amongst a growing collection of online education providers,” said Jacqueline Mozrall, dean of RIT’s Saunders College of Business. “What makes our executive MBA program so unique is the fusion of business, technology and leadership that we are able to offer here at RIT, deployed using a highly interactive, cohort-based, online pedagogy.”

U.S. News chose factors that weigh how these programs are being delivered and their effectiveness at awarding affordable degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

The rankings are based on data collected from the nation’s colleges and universities, which are then weighted by certain criteria, including engagement, faculty credentials and training, expert opinion, student excellence, and student services and technologies. Altogether, 1,545 online degree programs are cataloged in the usnews.com searchable directory—55 more than the previous year. All programs are required to be more than a year old with at least 10 students enrolled.

While these rankings only pertain to full degree programs, RIT also offers a wide variety of online education opportunities designed around industry standards, employer demand and the perspectives of our global network through RIT Online. For more information, contact RIT Online or the Offices of Graduate & Part-time Enrollment Services.

The full U.S. News rankings are available online at http://www.usnews.com/online.

RIT/NTID alumnus Greg Pollock to keynote Let Freedom Ring event

Close up of light skinned male with short dark hair and short beard wearing grey shirt.

The Rochester Institute of Technology community will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with its second annual Let Freedom Ring event, featuring music, dance and excerpts from some of King’s most notable speeches. Performers include Thomas Warfield and the RIT/NTID Dance Company, the RIT String Quartet and keynote speaker Greg Pollock ’12 (professional and technical communication).

Pollock is the vice president of human resources and accessibility officer at PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh. He started his career as a public affairs specialist at the Dow Chemical Co. As a student at RIT, Pollock served two terms as president of RIT’s Student Government (2010-2012), a rare occurrence, and was the only deaf RIT Student Government President to serve two terms.

“We are excited to bring the RIT community together to celebrate the holiday,” said Keith Jenkins, RIT’s vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion. “King’s work and words made an indelible impact on our nation’s conscience, and we invite all to join us as we reflect on the lessons he taught us.”

Let Freedom Ring takes place 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, in Ingle Auditorium. It will be followed by a reception with refreshments from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Fireside Lounge. ASL interpreters have been requested. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are encouraged to register at www.rit.edu/diversity/registerlfr.

New York backs RIT’s life science initiative to upgrade Genomics Research Lab Cluster

A tan-skinned female w/white lab coat and safety goggles holds two discs while dark-skinned male in coat and goggles looks on.

Rochester Institute of Technology has received $1.5 million from New York state to equip its Genomics Research Lab Cluster, a suite of laboratories aimed at expanding industrial partnerships, commercialization and entrepreneurship activities, talent development and academic programs in the life sciences.

The funding was included in the $86.5 million awarded to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. The award is part of the eighth annual round in which 10 regional councils competed for $763 million in state funding.

The $1.5 million in Empire State Development grant to upgrade RIT’s Genomics Research Lab Cluster will support and strengthen the growing life sciences industry sector in the Finger Lakes region by enabling RIT to expand its research, technology transfer and talent development capabilities in this field.

“We are thankful to the Council and Governor Andrew Cuomo for this significant support and for recognizing the contribution that the Genomics Lab Cluster will make to the state’s assets in the life sciences,” said RIT President David Munson. “Research and tech transfer in the life sciences represent a significant segment of the regional and state economy, spanning applications in multiple medical, energy, environmental and agricultural fields.”

The grant will help increase faculty research in the life sciences and enrollment capacity in RIT’s life sciences academic degree programs, producing graduates skilled in genomic data acquisition and analytics. The state award will support RIT’s $10 million investment in life sciences equipment. Matching funds will come from a combination of RIT resources and industry funding.

Access to sophisticated analytical and modeling tools will enhance research addressing antibiotic resistant bacterial strains and regional agricultural challenges related to crop development and production techniques and remediation of contaminated soil and water. The Genomics Research Lab Cluster will also promote on-site research collaborations with industrial partners. 

The lab cluster will occupy 8,000 square feet within the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences in Gosnell Hall on the RIT campus.

Meet RIT/NTID student Israelle Johnson

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Israelle Johnson, an RIT/NTID student who is majoring in laboratory science technology, chose RIT to get a great education, and she found so much more. Watch her video and learn about her RIT story.