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Changing the Research Environment

Research Strand Focus: This key focus area engages faculty in discussions about identifying, recruiting, and mentoring a diverse student population in their research, in and out of the lab. Faculty workshops discuss both general mentoring strategies (e.g. setting goals) as well as topics specific to the target populations (e.g. DHH communication strategies or mentoring across gender and racial divides). Engaging faculty in discussions is our means to the end—helping faculty create more inclusive research lab environments and more welcoming mentoring experiences.  Read More

Research Cohorts

The Research Cohorts meet bi-weekly and discuss readings, share experiences, and take part in short activities—all strengthening their sills and awareness pertaining to diversity, inclusiveness, and building a welcoming environment in the classroom, laboratory and on campus. The cohorts are led by the Inclusive Excellence Initiative co-director, Dina Newman and Research Strand leader, Lea Vacca Michel. Each year a new group of faculty research members are added to the project.

2019-20 Research Mentors
Year three of the 5-year Inclusive Excellence project added 10 new faculty research mentors to the initiative. Click on each of them to learn more about their research (in progress).

What do these faculty say about their Inclusive Excellence experiences? Read Here

Eli Borrego

Dr. Eli J. Borrego
Assistant Professor
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
585-475-2184
Profile

Dr. Eli Borrego is an Assistant Professor in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences. He explores the role of a group of hormone-like lipid signals, known as oxylipins, in plants. These molecules have revolutionized medicine, where nearly 80% of drugs target pathways under oxylipin control, but outside of mammals little is known regarding their biosynthesis, function, or signaling. The Borrego research group combines genetic, molecular, and biochemical tools with transcriptomic, lipidomic, and metabolomic technologies to answer oxylipin-related questions in biology, biochemistry, plant pathology, entomology, and mycology. The groups emphasis is to elucidate oxylipins in agro-economically relevant processes of crops, such as during defense against pathogens and insects, tolerance during drought, and heavy metal accumulation.  In addition to the molecular biology and biochemistry laboratory component, this work utilizes field and greenhouse spaces.

Lucia Carichino


Dr. Lucia Carichino
Assistant Professor
School of Mathematical Sciences
(585) 475-2537
lcsma1rit.edu
Profile

Dr. Lucia Carichino is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences at RIT, with a specialty in Mathematical Biology. The focus of her research is on mathematical and computational models of multiscale biological systems. Her work is motivated by the need for new tools to interpret experimental data in biology and medicine. Her group develops models of ocular dynamics and mico-swimmers locomotion. In the eye, her group studies how ocular diseases are related to vascular and structural changes, and study the interaction between contact lenses, tear film and the deformable eye. In relation to mico-swimmers, her group studies hydrodynamic and biochemical interactions in sperm motility. To learn more about her research visit: https://sites.google.com/site/lcarichino/.


 

Michael Coleman

Dr. Micheal Coleman
Associate Professor
School of Chemistry and Materials Science
(585) 475-5108
mgcsch@rit.edu
Profile

Dr. Michael Coleman is an Associate Professor of Chemistry. His research groups interests are focused on the development of Earth-abundant transition metal complexes and innovative chemical transformations for the selective catalytic cleavage and formation of C-H, C-C, C-O, and C-N bonds from readily available organic starting materials. Special emphasis is placed on sp2-hybridized prochiral centers because of the mechanistic insights gained from the chemo-, regio-, and stereochemical outcomes.

Pratik Dholabhai

Dr. Pratik Dholabhai
Assistant Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
(585) 475-4178
ppdsps@rit.edu
Profile

Dr. Pratik Dholabhai is a computational materials scientist whose expertise is in the application of atomistic simulation methods such as density functional theory and molecular dynamics, and the development of kinetic Monte Carlo methods to study and design materials at the nanoscale. His research focuses on integrating fundamental physics, materials science, and chemistry in conjunction with state-of-the-art computational tools to study and design materials with novel functionalities. At RIT, Pratik leads the Multiscale Materials Modeling and Design (MMMD) group, which uses atomistic simulation methods to study materials at various length and time scales. Group Website

Elena Fedorovskaya


Dr. Elena Fedorovskaya
Research Faculty
Integrated Sciences Academy
(585) 475-6952
eafppr@rit.edu
Profile

Dr. Elena Fedorovskaya is a Research Professor in the Integrated Sciences Academy. Elena studies how we perceive and respond to images, from simple color patches to complex scenes and visual art, using methods of psychophysics, eye tracking, and electrophysiology. Do we pay attention to some colors more than others? How do sounds affect our perception of colors and their salience? Does expertise and training matter when we view art? And can we differentiate patterns of eye movements of expert and novices using machine learning? These are some of the questions Elena is addressing in her research.

Maureen Ferran

Dr. Maureen Ferran
Associate Professor
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
585-475-5689
mcfsbi@rit.edu
Profile

 

Dr. Maureen Ferran is an associate professor in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences. One aspect of research in the Ferran lab focuses on how two different mammalian viruses evade the host immune response and the development of viruses as a cancer therapy that specifically kill cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue alone. This work requires virus work, molecular biology, and tissue cell culture techniques. The lab is also involved in a collaborative project with Dr. Hans Schmitthenner in the School of Chemistry and Material Sciences. Dr. Hams synthesizes Molecularly Targeted Imaging Agents (MTIA) and we test them to determine if these imaging agents are able to detection and treat of breast cancer. This project also involves standard techniques in molecular biology and tissue cell culture.

Greg Howland

Dr. Gregory Howland
Assistant Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
gaheen@rit.edu
Profile

Dr. Gregory Howland is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy. The Howland lab experimentally explores Quantum Photonic Technologies. Quantum Photonics exploits the peculiar and non-intuitive properties of single photons---elementary particles of light---to realize transformative applications including exquisitely precise sensing, extreme low-light imaging, unconditionally secure communication, and exponentially faster computing. It is an exciting time to work in quantum technologies as the field has reached an inflection point where practical devices are starting to leave the laboratory and become useful.  One powerful new tool the Howland lab uses are integrated photonic circuits that can pack thousands of optical elements onto a tiny silicon chip. Activities in the lab range from the very fundamental, such as characterizing quantum entanglement, to the very applied, such as taking a picture with only a few photons.

Matt Miri

Dr. Massoud (Matt) J. MIri
Associate Professor
School of Chemistry and Materials Science
(585) 475-6004
mjmsch@rit.edu
Profile

Dr. Massoud (Matt) Miri is an Associate Professor in the School of Chemistry and Materials Science and his main research area is Polymer Chemistry.  His research focuses on the synthesis and development of more sustainable polymers, mainly plastics.  To resolve the issues with fossil fuels, currently used as starting materials for plastics, his group applies renewable resources, which are mostly compounds found in plants, e.g. lignin derivatives.  Some of these renewable materials can be directly used as the building blocks, i.e. monomers, for polymerizations.  His group also applies chemical reactions to convert renewable materials into useful monomers.  They also characterize key properties of the synthesized polymers to evaluate their effectiveness for target applications.  To reduce environmental issues arising from polymer waste, such as increasing landfills or marine pollution, his group investigates the degradation of polymers, simulating conditions in a compost or aqueous environment.  There are many advantages of synthesizing new sustainable polymers over just blending fossil fuel based polymers with renewable compounds, such as starch or plant oils.  The chemical bonding can result in more uniform and longer lasting, thermal and mechanical properties than those obtained from the polymer blends.

Shima Parsa Moghaddam


Dr. Shima Parsa Moghaddam
Assistant Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
(585) 475-2534
shima.parsa@rit.edu
Profile

Dr. Shima Parsa, assistant professor of Physics at RIT, is an experimental Physicist with a passion for water and environmental issues. She uses microfluidics to simulate environmental phenomena such as water infiltration, in lab. Her research focuses on the microscale dynamics of fluids within the pores of rocks with application in groundwater remediation. In particular, she studies the dispersion of organic contaminant by analyzing the dynamics of emulsion droplets in 2D porous media using fluorescent microscopy.

Crista Wadsworth


Dr. Crista Wadsworth
Assistant Professor
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
(585) 475-7961
cbwsbi@rit.edu
Profile

Dr. Christa Wadsworth is an evolutionary biologist whose research focuses on antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. Resistance is one of the greatest and most critical public health crises of our time, raising the specter of untreatable infections and a return to the pre-antibiotic era. Research in the Wadsworth Lab is motivated by nominating new mechanisms of resistance in pathogen species, and characterizing the reservoir of resistance alleles available to pathogens in commensal species and their potential for horizontal transfer. Related topics of interest include microbial speciation, niche specialization, and adaptive evolution. The lab uses a wide array of experimental approaches, combining genomics and wet-lab techniques. 

Tony Wong


Dr. Tony Wong
Assistant Professor
School of Mathematical Sciences
(585) 475-7486
Profile


Dr. Tony Wong is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences. Tony's research centers on addressing the implications of the uncertainty that is inherent in all models and data, and examining how best to constrain and characterize these uncertainties and their effects on decision-making. In particular, Tony's work examines how uncertainty in climate model projections, and sea-level rise in particular, can lead to suboptimal, ineffective, and - at worst - outright dangerous policy decisions. This requires accounting for not only varying forms of uncertainty in model parameters and projections, but deep uncertainty - uncertainty in the uncertainty in model structure and parameters. Statistical calibration and sensitivity analysis approaches allow us to constrain these models and characterize the uncertainties inherent in both the model and data, and are a critical part of any modeling effort. Tony's research uses statistical and mathematical modeling tools to evaluate the uncertainties in hazards exacerbated by climate changes, and investigate which geophysical or socioeconomic factors are related to future climate risks, in order to inform strategies to manage those risks.

2018-19 Research Cohort added 9 additional faculty to the project, expanding faculty training and offering new areas of research. Summer 2019 will build on the fellowship program encouraging new undergraduates from nontraditional and underrepresented groups to get involved in research. The program continues to connect students in their 1st year at RIT, including transfer students, with College of Science Faculty mentors. It provides a $4,500 stipend for full-time research over the summer at RIT, as well as additional funds for supplies and travel to conferences. Read More
 

2018-19 Faculty Research Mentors

Dr. Nathan Eddingsaas
Assistant Professor
School of Chemistry and Materials Science
(585) 475-4605
ncesch@rit.edu
Profile

Nathan Eddingsaas is an Assistant Professor in the School of Chemistry and Materials Science and is an analytical, atmospheric, and environmental chemist. His work focuses on the chemical and physical characterization of aerosols including atmospheric aerosols and aerosols generated from nicotine delivery devices. For atmospheric aerosols his group studies the thermodynamics of phase separation, and how aerosols evolve over time including chemical reactions that occur within aerosols and what happens to semivolatile compounds. For aerosols generated from nicotine delivery devices his group studies how user puffing profiles and product characteristics influence the production of aerosols, and the amount of nicotine, volatile aldehydes, and other harmful or potentially harmful compounds introduced to the user.


Dr. Carrie McCalley
Assistant Professor, Environmental Science
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
(585) 475-6258
ckmsbi@rit.edu
Profile

Carrie McCalley is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Science Program in the School of Life Sciences. Her work investigates how ecosystem responses to environmental change will impact the atmospheric chemistry of climate. She is particularly interested in the mechanisms underlying methane emission from wetlands; studying the impacts of management and land-use on local wetland habitats and the role of permafrost thaw in changing carbon metabolism in northern peatlands. She is involved in interdisciplinary collaborations that combine molecular, geochemical, remote sensing and modeling approaches to understand feedbacks between human activity and ecosystem function. Dr. McCalley’s research interests are in the following areas: Biogeochemistry, Ecosystem Ecology, Global Change Biology, Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions, Wetlands, and Isotope Geochemistry.

Dr. Suzanne O'Handley
Associate Professor
School of Chemistry and Materials Science
(585) 475-2741
sfosch@rit.edu
Profile

Our research entails the discovery and characterization of new enzymes. The enzymes either come from model bacteria such as E. coli or pathogenic bacteria such as M. tuberculosis M. leprae, Y. pestis, or Staph. aureus. The enzymes from pathogens are potential novel antibiotic targets. We study members of either the Nudix hydrolase superfamily or the HAD superfamily; in this way we can understand family relationships as well. Students in the lab do bioinformatics to uncover new enzymes, clone the genes, and express, purify, and characterize the proteins. We also do knock-out mutagenesis to determine the role of these enzymes in the cell.

Dr. Michael S. Pierce
Director, MSE Graduate Program
Associate Professor of Physics
School of Physics and Astronomy
(585) 475-2089
mspsps@rit.edu
Profile 

Michael S Pierce, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Director of the MS Materials Science and Engineering program within the School of Chemistry and Materials Science.  He is an experimental condensed matter physicist, with interests in surfaces & interfaces, nanomaterials, magnetic systems, and more.  The materials studied often have application for energy storage, conversion, or cleaner production through catalysts.  This research is often at the boundary between physics and chemistry, giving students from a variety of backgrounds an opportunity to contribute.  His laboratory maintains an ultra high vacuum surface science instrument, along with a customized
x-ray diffraction hutch.

Dr. John-David R. Rocha
Assistant Professor
School of Chemistry and Materials Science
(585) 475-5150
jrrsch@rit.edu
Profile

As a Postdoctoral Researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Dr. Rocha investigated the hydrogen sorption capacity of novel carbon-based nanomaterials using optical spectroscopic methods, and he also expanded studies of fundamental SWCNT photophysical properties and changes due to refined separation techniques. During his doctoral studies at Rice, he advanced the use of SWCNT fluorescence emission spectroscopy as an analytical characterization method through the design and assembly of a unique real-time fluorimetric analyzer for SWCNTs, now sold commercially as the NanoSpectralyzer (Applied NanoFluorescence, Houston, TX).

Before coming to RIT, Dr. Rocha was a Research Scientist at SouthWest NanoTechnologies (SWeNT, Norman, OK).

Dr. Gary R. Skuse
Professor
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
(585) 475-6725
grssbi@rit.edu
Profile

Gary R. Skuse, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences.  His current research builds upon his long standing interests in human cancer genetics and it is being performed both in vitro and in silico. The wet-laboratory component is looking at the demonstrated ability of a synthetic dye to selectively kill cancer cells while sparing normal cells. His research group is exploring its use as a chemotherapeutic agent in a number of cancer and non-cancer cell lines while developing an effective means of delivering the agent to where it is needed. The computer-based component uses natural language processing software, and a significant amount of human curation, to identify interactions between genes and environmental factors that play a role in the progression to metastasis in ovarian cancer. 

Dr. Julie Thomas
Assistant Professor of BIotechnology
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
jatsbi@rit.edu
(585) 475-2375
Profile

Julie Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the School of Life Sciences. Her research focuses on viruses that infect bacteria (called phages), in particular “giant” phages that have complex virions and long genomes.   Her lab mainly conducts research on a phage that infects the food-borne pathogen, Salmonella enterica.  They study this phage as a model “organism” for related phages that are used for phage therapy and biocontrol purposes. Dr. Thomas is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which this virus infects, replicates within, and ultimately kills the Salmonella cell.  She is particularly interested in understanding virion assembly and determining which virion proteins have roles in host takeover, and their functions. 

Dr. Michael Zemcov
Assistant Professor
School of Physics and Astronomy
(585) 475-2338
Profile

Michael Zemcov is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy, the Center for Detectors, and the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology program.

His work focuses on measuring the large scale structure of our universe, and understanding its constituents, evolution, and ultimate fate. He is particularly interested in building small-scale experiments devoted to understanding the history of light production and matter in the cosmos. He is involved in a number of large experimental programs, including CIBER, TIME, SPHEREx, and other NASA missions devoted to better understanding our place in the universe.
Dr. Zemcov's research interests are in the following areas: Cosmic Backgrounds, Galaxies and Galaxy Clusters, the History of Star Formation in the Universe, Dark Matter, Technology Development, and Science Education.

 

 

2017-18 Research Cohort
Year one engaged ten faculty members from Thomas Gosnell School of Life Sciences, School of Physics and Astronomy, and School of Chemistry and Materials Science. The academic year transitioned to a highly successful fellowship program for seven students matched with seven faculty mentors, carrying out research throughout the summer of 2018. The students performed research in their mentors' labs, participated in professional development activities, and presented their work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in August. Read More

2017-18 Faculty Research Mentors

Dr. Christopher Collison
Associate Professor
School of Chemistry and Materials Science
(585) 475-6142
Profile

Dr. Collison's group works chiefly with Squaraine molecules, synthesized at RIT by Dr. Jeremy Cody, where we look to control structural morphology to form aggregates. The excited state properties and spectroscopic features of these aggregates can be predicted computationally through essential states modelling in a collaboration with Frank Spano at Temple University. The group looks to determine how the various aggregation states influence exciton dissociation at the bulk heterojunction interface in our devices; the group models the materials properties and measures the performance of devices made in its state of the art lab to validate its hypotheses.

Dr. Moumita Das
Assistant Professor of Physics
School of Physics and Astronomy
(585) 475-5135
Profile

"From embryogenesis, to osteoarthritis, to cancer, physical forces and mechanical properties of tissues play a key role in health and disease. Many physical models of tissues largely focus on a single level of complexity e.g. individual cells or large collections of cells. A multi-scale approach is critically needed to address the complex interplay of mechanisms at each level, and bridge the gap between models at different levels. My long-term goal is to use multi-scale modeling to explain how mechanical forces are sensed and transmitted from molecules to cells to tissues, and how these processes impact tissue dynamics, properties, and biological functions. To this end, my group uses a combination of analytical theory and computer simulations to investigate time-dependent mechanical properties of tissues based on interplay of mechanics, geometry, and statistical physics of underlying components. Our models are informed and tested via close collaborations with experimental labs.

Dr. Michael L. Gleghorn 
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
School of Chemistry and Materials Science
(585) 475-5528
Profile

Dr. Edwin Hach
Assistant Professor of Physics
School of Physics and Astronomy
(585) 475-4537
Profile

Dr. Jeyhan Kartaltepe
Assistant Professor of Physics
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Program Faculty
(585) 475-7514
Profile

Jeyhan Kartaltepe is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy and in the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology program. Her work focuses on understanding how galaxies formed and evolved to become like the ones in the nearby universe. She is particularly interested in the role played by galaxy mergers and interactions and how that role changed over time. She is involved in a number of large multiwavelength surveys that make use of major facilities all around the world, including Keck, Hubble, and the soon to be launched James Webb Space Telescope.

Dr. Kartaltepe's research interests are in the following areas: Galaxy Formation and Evolution, Galaxy Mergers and Interactions, Infrared Galaxies, Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), Galaxy Morphology Education and Public Outreach.

Dr. Lea Vacca Michel
Associate Professor
School of Chemistry and Material Science
(585) 475-4273
Profile

Lea Vacca Michel, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the School of Chemistry and Materials Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Currently, her work is focused on dual oriented bacterial lipoproteins and crystallin proteins which are localized in the eye lens. Dr. Michel is the Chair of the Women in Science program at RIT, Director of the Rochester Project SEED program, and Director of the Research Strand for the HHMI-funded Inclusive Excellence @ RIT program; she strives to increase the participation of women and minorities (including those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing) in science and math. Her research interests include: Biochemistry, Biophysics, Vaccinology, Immunology, and Structural Biology.

Dr. Hans Schmitthenner
Research Professor
School of Chemistry and Materials Science
(585) 749-4705
Profile

Dr. Schmitthenner is the lead in the Schmitthenner Research Group. The philosophy in the lab is to apply fundamental aspects of chemistry and imaging science to practical applications in medical imaging and cancer research. Their research involves a mix of peptide, dye and organometallic chemistry combined with fluorescence, photoacoustic, MRI and PET imaging. The goal is to transform screening and early diagnosis of cancer by creating novel imaging agents that specifically target cancer cells.  Our strategy incorporates new synthetic methods which we developed at RIT for preparing single and multi-modal imaging agents. 

Dr. Kaitlin Stack Whitney
Visiting Assistant Professor
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Science
(585) 475-5966
Profile

Dr. Stack Whitney is environmental scientist who uses insects to ask: can we make human-dominated landscapes more friendly to wildlife?  She has conducted ecology research in a wide variety of landscapes, from tundras in Alaska to mountains in Uganda to farms in Wisconsin and India.  Before coming to RIT, Dr. Stack Whitney worked for the US Department of Agriculture's Farmer to Farmer Program, as well as the US Environmental Protection Agency Office of International & Tribal Affairs and Office of Pesticide Programs.​  Her research is interdisciplinary and highly collaborative, incorporating environmental humanities and social science often in partnership with historians, state agencies, and theoreticians. 

Potential Projects:
- Evaluating novel urban ecosystems (e.g. solar arrays) as habitat for wild
bees and other insects
- "Global Urban Evolution" collaborative international survey of urban
plant adaptations 
- Applications of machine learning for conservation and climate adaptation
planning along roads
- Developing practices for more accessible field-based research

Dr. Hyla Sweet
Associate Professor
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
(585) 475-5143
Profile

Dr. George Thurston
Professor of Physics
School of Physics and Astronomy
(585) 475-4549
Profile

In cataract, the leading cause of blindness worldwide, concentrated mixtures of eye lens proteins can undergo liquid-liquid phase separation, and can also aggregate so as to scatter light, clouding the lens and degrading vision. Chemical inhibition of the responsible interprotein interactions could, in principle, delay visual impairment from cataract. To make an informed search for cataract inhibitors, it is important to understand the molecular basis of eye lens protein solution phenomena.

Dr. Thurston's current aims are to help develop the needed basic understanding of realistically concentrated fluid mixtures of eye lens proteins, including their phase transitions, equations of state, light scattering, and aggregation kinetics. He and his colleagues are using static and quasielastic light scattering, small-angle X-ray scattering and neutron scattering, Monte-Carlo simulation, and statistical thermodynamic models to develop this understanding.

Dr. Christy Tyler
Environmental Science Graduate Program Coordinator
Professor of Environmental Science
Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
(585) 475-5042
Profile

Dr. Tyler's research interests: Aquatic Ecology and Biogeochemistry, Wetlands, Invasive Species, Ecosystem Restoration

The Tyler Aquatic Ecology Lab @RIT research concerns the interaction between aquatic organisms and their biological and physico-chemical environment.  Their work takes a two-pronged approach towards the interplay between organisms and their environment. The first asks fundamental questions about how organisms affect and are affected by their environment. The second investigates how these relationships change with anthropogenic disturbance. Past projects have evaluated a variety of primary producers, including native and invasive wetland plants, benthic microalgae and nuisance macroalgae. More recently, they are investigating the linkages, direct and indirect, among biodiversity (primarily of invertebrates), plant productivity, and biogeochemical processes.  

As a result of increasing human populations in the coastal zone, both marine and freshwater, land-margin ecosystems are among the most heavily impacted ecosystems on Earth; human-associated pollution, destruction, and introduction of non-native species cause drastic perturbations from steady-state ecosystem structure and function. Understanding how aquatic organisms respond to, or create, perturbation and thereby affect biogeochemical cycling, water quality and higher trophic levels under these changing conditions is imperative to predicting future changes and dictating appropriate management strategies. 

Potential Projects:
Remote sensing innovations to assess carbon sequestriation and resilience of coastal salt marshes
Impacts of herbivores on plant community structure and nitrogen removal potential of created freshwater wetlands
Innovations at the Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Ecological implications of food waste disposal technologies

Contact Us

Email: InclusiveExcellence@rit.edu