Category Archives: Academics

NIH grants $1 million to RIT/NTID scientists-in-training program for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduates

Young man with red hair and beard wearing safety glasses and white lab coat works with lab instruments.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded a grant to Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to provide $1.025 million in funding over five years to develop a scientists-in-training program for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduates. 

Funded through the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program, the grant is designed to increase the number of underrepresented students who enter Ph.D. programs in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The RIT-RISE program is the first RISE program to specifically serve deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

The program will offer a suite of scientific enrichment workshops, presentations, and activities that are tailored to the needs of deaf-and-hard of hearing scientists and open to the entire university. These events are expected to attract students who wish to enrich their research skills, stay abreast of hot topics in biomedical and behavioral fields, sharpen their presentation skills, or get help applying to graduate schools. RIT-RISE also will provide faculty workshops to share best practices for promoting effective communication between hearing and deaf researchers in lab settings.   

Selected RISE scholars will receive intensive training and wage support for working in research laboratories with RIT researchers and, eventually, in the laboratory of a mentor from another institution.  The RIT-RISE leadership team will help match supported scholars with participating research mentors in their fields of interest. Scholars also will attend local and national conferences, present papers and posters and publish or co-publish their work. 

Scott R. Smith, a medical doctor, health scientist and research faculty member at RIT/NTID, who is deaf, will lead this program assisted by Paul Craig, a chemistry professor and the head of RIT’s School of Chemistry and Material Science, and Vincent Samar, an RIT/NTID cognitive science professor with many years of experience working with deaf and hard-of-hearing students. In addition, more than 40 deaf and hearing members of the RIT faculty have volunteered to serve as science mentors, and 15 deaf and hearing external mentors have already been identified for the summer research experiences that will take place after scholars complete their junior year.

RISE scholars will be selected from deaf and hard-of-hearing students in RIT baccalaureate programs that include biochemistry, bioinformatics, biology, biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences, biotechnology & molecular bioscience, chemistry, computing and information technologies, computer science, computing security, game design & development, human-centered computing, new media interactive development, psychology, and web and mobile computing.

RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is leading the RIT-RISE cross-college partnership that includes RIT’s College of Science, College of Health Science and Technology, College of Liberal Arts, Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, and the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. 

Smith cited the partnership among RIT colleges as one of the keys to receiving NIH support. 

“The strength of the mentor pool helped to distinguish the RIT application, and we are very grateful for faculty enthusiasm for this program,” he said. “We expect the RIT-RISE program to provide even greater opportunities so that deaf and hard-of-hearing students can engage in robust undergraduate research experiences that will enable them to become successful scientists.”  

Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean, praised RIT’s commitment to the program. 

“This is a historic development for deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars and for RIT,” said Buckley. “RIT is becoming known as the destination school for deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars who want to prepare for careers in biomedical and behavioral research.”    

The RIT-RISE program expands the Rochester training pipeline for deaf and hard-of-hearing scientists by connecting undergraduate research training with preexisting NTID-supported ‘Explore Your Future’ and ‘Health Care Career Exploration’ camps for high school students, the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate Program for graduate students, and the Rochester Postdoctoral Partnership Program for postdoctoral fellows.  

RIT College of Science establishes Integrated Sciences Academy

Headshot of woman with short blonde hair and glasses wearing a black blazer, printed blouse and necklace.

Multidisciplinary science education and research is the focus of a new academic unit in RIT’s College of Science that brings together researchers with different expertise to invent new ways to approach challenges facing a global society.

The Integrated Sciences Academy will focus on implementing specific inter- and multidisciplinary programs within the College of Science and differs from custom-tailored programs offered through RIT’s School of Individualized Study. More.

RIT/NTID names Gary Behm interim associate VP for academic affairs

Gary Behm wearing glasses and light button down shirt sharing information from poster behind him.

Gary Behm of West Henrietta, New York, has been named interim associate vice president for academic affairs at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.  

In his role, Behm will oversee NTID's academic departments, curriculum, course scheduling, degree certification, communication services and assessment, and faculty/staff professional development. NTID's academic departments include Liberal Studies, Business Studies, Science & Mathematics, Creative & Cultural Studies, Visual Communications Studies, Engineering Studies, Information & Computing Studies, American Sign Language and Interpreter Education, and the Master of Science program in Secondary Education of Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Behm, an associate professor, currently serves as director of RIT/NTID’s Center on Access Technology Innovation Laboratory, and serves as an engineering lead for the faculty, researchers and students in the conceptualization, design, development, building and testing of engineering solutions that address the need of accessibility of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals primarily in the postsecondary educational environment.

He earned an associate degree in electromechanical technology and bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology at RIT/NTID, and a master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Prior to teaching, Behm worked for IBM in various locations throughout the country, serving as an engineer, project leader and project manager. He then moved into the IBM Faculty Loan program and served as a visiting scholar, lecturer, advisor and tutor in RIT/NTID’s Engineering Studies Department. 

“Gary has brought a wealth of practical and theoretical experience to RIT/NTID classrooms and the Center on Access Technology Innovation Lab,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “I’m certain he will bring the same innovative and energetic approach to this interim role as associate vice president for academic affairs.” 

RIT/NTID and UR host national meeting of deaf and hard-of-hearing scientists

Organizers of the RSRTI conference Stephen Dewhurst of URMC and Peter Hauser of RIT/NTID with keynote presenter Carol Padden.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and the University of Rochester Medical Center held the first Rochester Summer Research Training Institute with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Scientists and Their Mentors June 11-13. The three-day conference drew one of the largest groups of deaf and hard-of-hearing scientists in the nation.  

Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are vastly under-represented in biomedical fields. RIT/NTID and URMC have partnered to identify unique barriers to science- and health-related careers faced by these individuals. Among them is a barrier to mentorship for students who are striving for health or science related careers.

With few deaf or hard-of-hearing professionals in biomedical careers, role models for the next generation of deaf scientists are few and—often literally—far between. RIT/NTID and URMC’s Rochester Summer Research Training Institute was a new approach to break down that barrier, bringing deaf and hard-of-hearing scientists at all levels of career development together from across the nation.

“I was especially impressed by the interaction and dialogue between students, postdoctoral trainees, junior faculty and top national figures,” said Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., vice dean for Research at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “This kind of exchange and networking is exactly what we wanted to encourage when we set out to plan this meeting.”

The meeting featured a keynote address from Carol Padden, Ph.D., dean of social sciences and Sanford I. Berman Endowed Professor of Communication in the Center for Research in Language at University of California, San Diego.

“I received my Ph.D. in 1983 and there were so few of us in graduate school we had to look out for each other,” said Padden. “Now at this conference I’m so impressed at how many deaf students are pursuing doctoral and medical degrees. So many more and so many different fields, it is astonishing.”

A total of 85 participants attended the Rochester Summer Research Institute, which was held at URMC’s Saunders Research Building immediately following the conclusion of the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss (AMPHL) conference at RIT/NTID. Undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral trainees as well as faculty and staff from across the country came together at this conference to network, learn from one another and raise the profile of deaf scientists.

“It was inspiring to witness young deaf and hard-of-hearing scientists meeting each other for the first time and making connections,” said Peter Hauser, Ph.D., director of the NTID Center on Cognition and Language and the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate Program. “Many felt isolated in their fields and were able to share their experiences. I believe the resources they learned at RSRTI will help them overcome future challenges and navigate science successfully.”

The program also included an interactive poster session, small group breakout sessions and a keynote speech from Charlene E. Le Fauve, Ph.D., senior advisor to the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health; and Caroline Solomon, Ph.D., chair of the faculty senate and professor of biology at Gallaudet University also presented.

The event was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (K12 GM106997) and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Search the hashtag #deafscientists to see what people were saying about the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Dr. Alvin C. Merritt Boyd III receives AAUA award

Alvin Boyd, left, holding award with Jerome Neuner of AAUA.

Dr, Alvin C. Merritt Boyd III, RIT/NTID business studies lecturer, received the Leo and Margaret Goodman-Malamuth Dissertation Award for 2017 at the American Association of University Administrators' Leadership Seminar, June 8-9 in New Orleans. His dissertation was titled, “Experience and Perceptions of Full-Time, Non-Tenure-Track Faculty at a Four-Year University.” 

In addition to the award from AAUA, Boyd also was given the Exemplary Performance in Scholarship Award from the School of Education at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, where he earned his doctoral degree. 

RIT/NTID presents “Deaf Education in South Africa”

Ingrid Parkin with short blonde hair wearing dark jacket and print top against green background.

RIT/NTID's Center for International Educational Outreach presents "Deaf Education in South Africa" noon-1 p.m. Tues., June 6, in the CSD Student Development Center, room 1310. 

Ingrid Parkin, principal of the St. Vincent School for the Deaf in South Africa, will share information about the current state and challenges faced by deaf education in South Africa. 

Parkin is the first deaf person to become principal of a deaf school in South Africa. 

Balancing Act

Smiling female student with long brown hair and glasses standing in fron of a wall

Knowledge of Excel and general ledger skills allow Natalya Dmitriyeva to accomplish her monthly goal of balancing the books. Dmitriyeva, from Odessa, Ukraine, graduated May 2017 with a bachelor's degree in accounting. She already is working full time as an accounting specialist at Visions Hotels, a hotel management company in Rochester, New York. More