All posts by Kathy Johncox

Kathy is the editor and writer for Parent News. She is a Communications, Marketing & Multimedia Services Specialist at RIT/NTID.

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 Institutes of Health's 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 Student Life Team director

Tim Albert in grey/white windowpane plaid suit jacket with lavender button down shirt and striped tie. Banquet tables in back.

RIT/NTID has named Marvin “Tim” Albert of Columbus, Ohio, as director of the college’s Student Life Team. 

Albert has more than 11 years of experience in the K-12 education field as a peer/school counselor, supervisor, student life coordinator and dean of students. He earned a diploma in applied computer technology and an associate in applied science degree in imaging technology from RIT/NTID, and went on to earn both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Gallaudet University.

As president of National Black Deaf Advocates and board member of the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD), Albert worked to make improvements to educational programs and schools for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

“I’m pleased to welcome Tim back to the RIT/NTID community,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “His national leadership experience along with his love for the college and our students will usher in a time of renewed vitality to the Student Life Team.”

In his role as Student Life Team director, Albert will supervise and oversee co-curricular events, including clubs and Greek life for RIT/NTID’s 1,200 deaf and hard-of-hearing students. 

RIT/NTID names first director of diversity and inclusion

Stephanie Albert in blue v-neck top with short hair and silver earrings standing near flowers in front of a grey house.

Stephanie M. Smith Albert has been named the first director of diversity and inclusion at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Albert has more than 10 years of professional experience in the education field as a school counselor at the Georgia School for the Deaf in Cave Spring, Georgia, St. Rita School for the Deaf in Cincinnati, Ohio, Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia, and most recently was the director of Student Life at Ohio School for the Deaf in Columbus, Ohio.

In her new role, Albert will be responsible for all NTID issues relating to diversity and inclusion, monitoring NTID’s progress on RIT-wide and NTID-specific initiatives and goals, and identifying issues to bring to the NTID president and his administrative council, as well as the RIT vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion.

She also will keep current on diversity, inclusion, equal opportunity and access regulations and issues in higher education, and present on these topics to internal groups of faculty, staff and students; and work with student leaders and other units within the college, including the NTID Diversity Group, to support diversity-specific initiatives.

Albert earned a master’s degree in school counseling at Gallaudet University, a bachelor’s degree in marketing at Wright State University, and an associate degree in accounting at RIT/NTID. Additionally, she has held secondary school counselor certification in the state of Georgia and an alternative administrative specialist license in the state of Ohio.

“We are pleased to have Stephanie ‘back home’ at RIT/NTID in this new and exciting role,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “Diversity and inclusion are top priorities for both NTID and the greater university, and we look forward to what Stephanie will bring to these efforts.”

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.” 

What’s next for members of RIT/NTID’s class of 2017?

group of graduates wearing cap and gown

NTID has a strong history of successful employment outcomes for our graduates. For the past several years, 94% of RIT/NTID graduates who have sought employment have found a job within a year. This year’s graduates are off to a good start—a number of them already have jobs lined up, and others are planning to attend graduate school. We congratulate these students and the entire Class of 2017! Check out what's next for some of our recent RIT/NTID graduates.

Working Together marks a milestone of 1,000th workshop

John Macko stands in front of a u-shaped desk surrounded by people. Interpreter at the center. In foreground computer screen.

Working Together: Deaf and Hearing People, an interactive workshop to help employers integrate deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, has reached a milestone, celebrating 33 years and 1,000 workshop presentations.

The program, created by the Center on Employment at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, was designed to offer customizable training to help employers feel comfortable hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. The sessions also give hearing participants information and hands-on experience to build their own strategies for working with deaf employees and being sensitive to their needs.

Workshop topics are offered to supervisors, human resource professionals and co-workers of deaf and hard-of-hearing employees. They include communication strategies, safety in the workplace, particularly in science-based or manufacturing companies, and a review of accommodations that might be necessary for employees.

According to center Director John Macko, there has been an increase in requests for workshops about new technologies that are available for deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and their co-workers.

“Much has changed over the past 30 years when it comes to working and communicating with deaf people,” said Macko. “Today there are so many technologies and devices that facilitate communication and make it easier for hearing people to communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and vice versa. Our program is unique because we can tailor it to fully address the needs of the employers we serve.”

Workshop presentation teams—usually consisting of one hearing person and one deaf person—also teach employers about deaf culture and use hearing-loss simulation demonstrations and listening exercises to give participants a sense of what it’s like to be deaf.

Macko said the center coordinates about 30 workshops each year throughout the country, and team members visit companies of varying sizes, including Walt Disney Co., JP Morgan Chase, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Tiffany and Co., Proctor and Gamble, and others. The 1,000th workshop was held at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine.

This program also has a positive impact on these employers for hiring NTID students and graduates for co-op and full time positions, Macko said. The workshops also help establish valuable relationships with companies, many of which return to NTID to recruit at the annual job fair.

“When we visit these companies to present our workshops, we also talk with them about the quality of our NTID students—tout their interpersonal skills, their motivation and dedication and the overall high employability of our students and graduates. We have the kind of students that employers want to hire.”