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NIH grant provides postdoctoral research, teaching experience for deaf scholars

23 Jul

Sarah in dark grey top and Wyatte in light grey shirt with mult-gray tie standing in front of staircase

A nearly $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will help advance research, teaching experiences and career preparation in the biomedical and behavioral sciences fields for deaf and hard-of-hearing postdoctoral scholars.

A program, known as the Rochester Postdoc Partnership (RPP), serves as a national model that allows deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who have earned advanced degrees to create mentored teaching experiences and do postdoctoral research at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf and University of Rochester.

“What sets this research postdoctoral experience apart from traditional postdoctoral research is the emphasis on teaching scholars ‘how to teach’ and design new courses at RIT/NTID in full-inclusion classroom settings for deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing undergraduates,” said Peter Hauser, director of the NTID Center on Cognition and Language and the Rochester Bridges to Doctorate Program. “People who are deaf, like myself, are underrepresented in life science disciplines and few are applying for biomedical or behavioral science research grants. This program is helping to rectify that circumstance.”

The program, which received five years of funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences through the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award, is now in its second year.

Two postdoctoral scholars currently are participating in the program.

Sarah Latchney, Ph.D., from Victor, N.Y., earned her doctoral degree in molecular toxicology at University of Rochester Medical Center and has performed postdoctoral research in neuroscience at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Latchney is now at the Wilmot Cancer Institute at URMC performing postdoctoral research on the cellular and molecular mechanisms affecting bone marrow hematopoietic stem cell biology in normal and pathological conditions. Latchney said she joined the RPP to take advantage of the unique training focus to enhance her academic research portfolio with the added dimension of acquiring skills in teaching pedagogy, designing course curriculum and teaching new classes at RIT/NTID and URMC.

Wyatte Hall, Ph.D., from Albany, N.Y., earned his doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Gallaudet University and performed one year of postdoctoral research in clinical psychology at University of Massachusetts. His research in the RPP program at URMC focuses on the lifelong consequences of language deprivation in deaf children and the developmental impact of early-language experiences on health literacy and outcomes in prenatal care and reproductive health of deaf females. Hall is starting his second year in the program and has gained teaching experience, research skills and training in grant writing to develop his future independent academic research and teaching program.

“It’s exciting to see the program taking off and impacting the careers of deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars, who are extremely underrepresented in science careers beyond a master’s degree,” said Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean.

Rochester has built a global reputation as a center for deaf and hard-of-hearing culture and education. In the last decade, collaborations between RIT, NTID, UR and the deaf community have led to a number of unique programs designed to support the growth of deaf and hard-of-hearing scientists.

The program is seeking additional deaf and hard-of-hearing postdoc scholars. For more information, go towww.urmc.rochester.edu/academic-research-careers-deaf-scholars/about-the-program.aspx.

RIT/NTID celebrates growing number of Ph.D. candidates

15 Jul

Madeline Beach in black cap and gown with pink lei around her neck standing next to Peter Hauser in blue cap and gown at podium

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is honoring deaf and hard-of-hearing graduates who will continue on to earn doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Four RIT/NTID students were enrolled in the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate program— in partnership with University of Rochester and funded by a grant from the National Institute for General Medical Science—that is helping to fill the gap that exists when it comes to deaf and hard-of-hearing students earning doctoral degrees in science disciplines.

Up to three graduate students are selected each year for entry into the Bridges program. Most of their tuition is paid, and they also earn experience—and a paycheck—working in laboratories at RIT and UR. Throughout the program, they meet regularly with mentors who help prepare them for the academic rigors of earning a doctorate, attend at least two professional conferences and complete three research rotations at UR laboratories.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of these students, who are advancing toward their doctoral degrees and making meaningful contributions to scholarly research,” said Dr. Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “They are role models for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduate students interested in STEM disciplines.”

            The students being honored through the Bridges to the Doctorate program:
            • Lorne Farovitch (Vancouver, Wash.), graduated with a master’s degree in environmental science and will attend University of Rochester Medical Center to earn a Ph.D. in translational biomedical science.
            • Madeline Beach (Aurora, Ill.), graduated with a master’s degree in applied statistics and will attend Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to earn a Ph.D. in biostatistics.
            • Jessica Contreras (Eagle River, Alaska), graduated with a master’s degree in experimental psychology and will attend the University of Connecticut to earn a Ph.D. in developmental psychology.
            • Gloria Wink (Rochester, N.Y.) graduated with a master’s degree in environmental science and will attend University of Rochester Medical Center to earn a Ph.D. in epidemiology.

Other RIT/NTID graduates who are continuing on to earn advanced degrees:
            • Natalie Snyder (Rockville, Md.) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science, with minors in exercise science and psychology, and will attend University of Maryland Eastern Shore to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.
            • Courtney Kellogg (Lake Waukomis, Mo.) graduated with a master’s degree in chemistry and will attend University of Rochester Medical Center to earn a Ph.D. in Pathways of Human Disease.
For more information about the Bridges to the Doctorate program, go to http://deafscientists.com/

Gaining Business Knowledge on Co-op

14 Jul

Female student with Caterpillar heavy equipment in the background

Marlet Mancera’s co-op experience as a corporate accounting intern at Caterpiller taught her many things among which are that employers value excellence, commitment and teamwork. Her RIT courses helped her develop skills in Microsoft Office, Excel and other software related to her business and accounting interests. She is sure that her business administration degree and accounting training will guide her to a successful future. 

New scholarship benefits deaf, hard-of-hearing students at RIT/NTID

5 Jul

Mike Lawson in dark suit and tie standing with mom on left in yellow top and plaid skirt and dad on right in brown suit and tie.

RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has announced the Michael E. Lawson Endowed Scholarship, which will be implemented for the 2016-17 academic year. Lawson was a former RIT men’s soccer standout and assistant coach who was inducted into the RIT Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
 
The Lawson scholarship will support deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the College of Liberal Arts and in NTID’s Master of Science in Secondary Education program. At minimum, two awards will be made annually, one to a student in each the College of Liberal Arts and the MSSE program. The Lawson family generously gifted the funds to establish the scholarship.
 
“I am extremely proud to be part of establishing this scholarship for deserving young deaf and hard-of-hearing men and women,” said Lawson, who is a teacher of deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Neptune Middle School in Neptune, NJ. “I hope that the scholarship will provide an opportunity for them to have the same kinds of positive experiences that I had as a student at RIT/NTID.” 
 
Named the RIT Senior Male Athlete of the Year in 2006, Lawson enjoyed an excellent career with the Tigers, starting all 71 games 2002-05, posting 40 points from his midfield position on 13 goals and 14 assists. Eleven of his 13 career goals were game-winners, fourth all-time at the university.
 
Lawson was a four-time All-Empire 8 selection, earning Player of the Year honors in 2004 and 2005. He was also league Rookie of the Year in 2002. Lawson helped guide the Tigers to the 2004 Empire 8 Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. He was also a 2004 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Adidas First Team All-Region selection.
 
“The importance of scholarship support for deserving deaf and hard-of-hearing students at RIT/NTID cannot be overstated,” said Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “We are so grateful to the Lawson family for their generous gift in honor of their son, Michael, who continues to serve as a role model to our deaf and hard-of-hearing student-athletes.”
 
A three-year team captain, Lawson was a two-time NSCAA Scholar All-American in 2004 and 2005. As an undergraduate, Lawson, an NTID student, maintained a 3.64 grade point average as a social work major. In his graduate studies, he had a 3.90 GPA in deaf education.
 
Lawson served as an assistant coach for the RIT men’s soccer program under head coach Bill Garno 2006-08.
 
Please contact Bryan Hensel, NTID Development at Bryan.Hensel@rit.edu for information on how you can make a gift to the fund.

Deaf entrepreneurs on the rise

14 Jun

Deaf entrepreneur Alec Satterly wearing a green shirt seated at a desk, working on a computer.

This article about the growth of Deaf entrepreneurship by W. Scott Atkins, a business studies professor at RIT/NTID and nationally recognized deaf entrepreneurship expert, originally appeared in the Rochester “Democrat & Chronicle” and is reprinted with permission. (Photo credit:  A. Sue Weisler, RIT)

Deaf entrepreneurs on the rise, locally, nationally 

There is a revolution happening in Rochester and all across the United States. The number of deaf people running their own businesses has grown by leaps and bounds. Technological advances have made it possible for these individuals to access networks, customers and suppliers. There are now growing networks of deaf entrepreneurs.

Last weekend, I attended an event for local deaf entrepreneurs sponsored by Convo, a deaf-owned video relay service (VRS), and run by CEO Jarrod Musano, a deaf graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. There were 30-35 deaf business owners at the event, and they were grateful for the opportunity to network. I overheard a deaf realtor say to a deaf business owner who owns several rental properties, “Contact me and let’s see if we can do business together.” Convo has coordinated these types of events in other cities and has invested in a “Deaf Business Ecosystem,” which includes the creation of an online directory that now contains information on more than 250 deaf-owned businesses from all over the country.

Last semester at RIT/NTID, I was involved with a student business competition called the Next Big Idea, sponsored by VRS provider ZVRS, which provided opportunities for students to work on cross-disciplinary teams to innovate new products and services. This year, 15 teams competed for the opportunity to win cash prizes. It is my hope that many of these concepts will develop into full-fledged businesses.

In a class that I teach at RIT/NTID, called Introduction to Entrepreneurship, deaf and hard-of-hearing students create their own business with less than $20 of their own money. One student, Alec Satterly, established a bike repair business and was able to earn $650 during his winter break. Over the next few years, Alec participated in several entrepreneurship efforts on the RIT/NTID campus and has been very successful.

In 2014, his team, Cenify, won the ZVRS Next Big Idea grand prize of $5,000, and that summer, he and his team gained entry into the Saunders Summer Start-up Program, an incubator program at RIT. Cenify has since moved into RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator, which helps companies move to the next phase of their businesses. This is just one illustration of how RIT/NTID fosters entrepreneurship on campus. In addition, RIT/NTID brings alumni who are business owners to campus to speak with students. Alumnus and RIT Trustee Rob Rice, owner and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm BayFirst Solutions, presented last year. RIT/NTID also works closely with RIT’s Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship in an effort to boost the number of deaf entrepreneurs on campus. Currently, we have two all-deaf teams who are part of the Saunders Summer Start-up Program.

This is only the beginning. There are many deaf and hard-of-hearing people who want to create their own businesses, but they are not sure where to start. It is important that we invest in new infrastructures to make this happen. This requires a collaborative effort by universities, agencies, corporations and other entrepreneurs. With their support, I am optimistic that we will continue to see the growth of a new generation of deaf entrepreneurs, especially here in Rochester.