The David M. Baldwin Memorial Scholarship ($5,000 - $6,000) is open to all undergraduate Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences students who have achieved third-year status.
Applications Due: November 29, 2022 Requirements: Minimum 3.4 GPA and must be a full-time student for at least 1 year. Applications must include: Up-to-date resume or CV required cover sheet (email to request), and a written statement describing key academic and service contributions.
Vanessa Baker is a third-year environmental science major fascinated with open water systems and wetlands. Her ultimate goal is to become a coastal ecologist, giving her the flexibility to work in both ecosystems.
Working with Dr. Christy Tyler, Vanessa is researching how the fate of plastic is impacted by zebra mussel accumulation. She also studied sand dredging and its impact on macrobenthic diversity on a sand shoal during a Louisiana Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). This exposure to marine biology helped her discover an interest in working in a coastal setting. In addition to her research accomplishments, Vanessa is proud of her contributions to the Community Gardens at RIT, which she discovered through volunteering.
Vanessa's favorite part about being an RIT student is the support she received from her friends and professors, and she says it has made all the difference. She feels the tight-knit community makes RIT stand out since the school is big, but the programs are small. Smaller programs allowed her to connect with experienced people, ask more questions and learn more about her interests.
"My experience has been amazing, and I am forever grateful for everyone I have met."
As a mentor for the RIT Honors Program, Thomas worked with approximately 30 new students over the past three years. Watching the students get involved in research and other extracurricular activities around RIT was very exciting for Thomas. He found it very rewarding to watch them evolve from nervous high school students to thriving college adults. He says mentoring is probably the part he will miss most about RIT.
Thomas found a community at RIT, especially in the Honors Program, and loves the people that he’s gotten to know over the past few years. He said they made his time at RIT infinitely better!
According to Thomas, the availability and approachability of the faculty members make RIT stand out as being different from other schools.
“I have never had trouble getting in contact with a professor or setting up a meeting to hear about their research. Nor have I hesitated to ask them questions in person or via email. They are supportive and understanding, and I don’t think that can be said for all professors in the world.”
Gabriella Orfanides is a third-year biology major who loves animals. She is very interested in animal physiology, wildlife health and disease/parasitology, and conservation genomics.
Gabriella plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biological sciences with a molecular-biology-driven research focus and wants to teach at the college level in her own lab someday. "I like to say that my first true love is and always will be molecular biology, and I hope to be able to work in a setting someday that allows me to use molecular-based techniques to learn about macro-level issues in biology."
As a Teaching Assistant and a biology notetaker for The National Technical Institute for The Deaf (NTID) at RIT, Gabriella says it's been eye-opening to see things from a professors' point of view, and it's been rewarding to help others understand. And as a part of her involvement in the RIT Honors Program, Gabriella is proud of her work as a volunteer working at a nature center near her hometown and participating in a variety of other volunteering opportunities on campus.
As a student researcher in Dr. Susan Pagano's lab, Gabriella has performed differential leukocyte counts for migratory birds. She has used spectrophotometric assays to measure circulating plasma metabolite levels in the blood plasma of the birds. Gabriella also had the opportunity to develop her own project to use a PCR-based method to screen for avian malaria parasites and their relatives in the blood of birds. "Working on a project that was my idea has made me a better worker, student, and developing scientist, and I have been able to see all steps of the scientific method more clearly."
Gabriella found the faculty at RIT to be supportive and encouraging to students interested in research. In her first year, she began researching and said it's extremely accessible to anyone interested in pursuing it. "Professors in the College of Science love to help students become involved in research, and they enjoy talking about their research."
Gabriella describes RIT as a beautiful mashup of many talented individuals skilled in different areas all in one place.
"RIT is a unique place where you can take fields that often seem very different from each other and sort of "mash them together" to learn more about any given topic. RIT is different because it values the collaboration of different types of minds so students can learn as much as possible about the world."
After spending a year as vice-president, Marissa is now president of the RIT Biotech Club and is proud of her contributions. Her time at RIT helped Marissa develop her interests and career goals, and she enjoys assisting others to do the same by doing outreach work with students. Marissa has also enjoyed working as a Teaching Assistant and tutor for several classes.
Since she was a freshman, Marissa has been working in Dr. André Hudson's lab on discovering novel antibiotic compounds. Since her junior year, she has also worked in Dr. Bolaji Thomas's lab on an immunogenetics project. "These experiences have shaped my career as a student, and my success at RIT would not have been possible without them."
Marissa's favorite part of being an RIT student has been the opportunity to explore anything that catches her interest, thanks to the many options for undergraduate research, conference presentation opportunities, and attending seminars. She thinks RIT is different from other schools because faculty care so much about their students and work with them to accomplish their goals.
"The faculty in the College of Science have always supported me in any way they can and always pushed me to try and accomplish more. RIT has such a supportive and collaborative environment that I can't imagine having gone to college anywhere else."
Julia's most valuable experience at RIT was being a Learning Assistant (LA). "Not only is it an amazing opportunity to teach people the subjects you're passionate about, but it's rewarding to feel like you've had an impact and to watch other students succeed."
Not only did she help teach students in the classroom, but she also helped advise them on navigating their way through the undergraduate curriculum, adjusting to life away at college, and finding the school-life balance.
Julia's favorite part of RIT is the community full of amazing people, clubs, and extracurriculars. "I have made lifelong friendships and found an extracurricular for almost every one of my interests!" She has attended seminars featuring successful scientists and participated in weekly discussions with other students who share her academic interests in the biotechnology club. Julia also took part in athletics and continues her passion for playing lacrosse and volleyball as a member of the RIT women's club lacrosse team and as the current captain of the RIT women's club volleyball team. As a member of Circle K International, she volunteered and gave back to the community through various events such as Flower City Pickers, local clean-ups, and Love Letters for Literacy.
Julia has always felt that her professors truly cared about her learning experience in the classroom and were always willing to help. She thinks the faculty mentorship and research opportunities make RIT stand out from other schools.
"I am so grateful for the research opportunities I've had at RIT and even more thankful for my faculty mentors who have put so much effort into helping me apply to graduate school and reach my goals. I couldn't ask for better mentorship and support from the faculty at RIT!"
Ashley is a fourth-year student double majoring in biology and biomedical sciences with a passion for research and medicine.
After her first experience working with a Learning Assistant (LA) in class, Ashley wanted to be involved in the LA program herself! Ashley really enjoyed working with students in and outside of the classroom to help them learn and achieve success. In her junior year, she became a Higher Education Opportunity Program tutor and got to work with other students in the RIT community. She was also a Resident Advisor (RA), which immersed her deeply into the campus community, where she gained valuable leadership skills and got the chance to give back to the community.
Ashley has also spent much of her time in the research lab working with Dr. Bolaji Thomas. Through this mentored-research experience, she gained valuable knowledge, laboratory, and professional skills. Ashley proudly represented RIT and her lab by presenting her work at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.
Her favorite part of being an RIT student is being part of a dynamic community where something is always happening. She has volunteered at Freshman Move-in, the Brick City 5K, the Special Olympics Winter Games, the Episcopal Senior Life Communities, and the Adopt-a-Family every holiday season. As a semi-finalist for the Fulbright Fellowship, she hopes to spend her next year working in Nigeria studying mutations in Plasmodium falciparum, a deadly parasite causing malaria.
Jay is a third-year biology major whose research interests include ecology and climate change and a career involving field research.
Consistent change best describes Jay's experience at RIT! After encouragement from Ecology Professor Christopher Widmaier, Jay became a Learning Assistant (LA) for the Introduction to Biology II course. Working alongside Professor Widmaier and Program Coordinator Emily Mehlman instilled a love of teaching and increased Jay's knowledge about education and biology.
Jay also began an ambitious project working with Professor Kaitlin Stack Whitney researching how mowing practices affect pollinators and invasive species in roadsides across New York State. Spending days outside collecting insects and identifying plants reinforced Jay’s childhood love of the natural world while discovering a passion for field research.
Outside of academics, Jay became involved with multiple queer communities on campus, for instance, RIT Tangent, the transgender and gender non-conforming club at RIT. Jay spent time as a student representative for trans students and worked with the health center to help ensure students had access to gender-affirming health care.
Jay’s favorite part about RIT is the student community, meeting students with similar interests and discovering new things. After graduation, Jay's plans include graduate school and eventually working within conservation biology, ecology, and other related life sciences.
Margo is a third-year biology major with a strong interest in viruses and infectious diseases. Her future goal is a research career focused on global health issues.
Margo is a member of Dr. Maureen Ferran’s lab, which focuses on developing viruses as a cancer therapy and as a molecular tool to understand innate immunity and age-related diseases. By working in the lab, Margo has strengthened her technical lab skills and learned to apply the knowledge obtained from her classes to a practical project. She feels that participating in research at RIT has been crucial in shaping her future career goals.
Outside of her academics, Margo is most proud of her participation with the Oswego Bookmobile and its impact on providing books to children to help grow their imagination and build literacy skills. She is also a captain of RIT’s swimming and diving team and volunteers for Rochester Area Masters Swimming (RAMS) meets. Volunteering has exposed her to a community of hard-working adults who share a love of swimming and provide her with role models that exhibit a strong work ethic and team unity.
Her favorite part of RIT is the caring community where everyone works together to learn, involve, and lift one another to reach their goals. After graduation, Margo plans on earning her Ph.D. in infectious diseases in virology to prepare herself for a career in global health specifically focused on viral infectious diseases.
Rachael is a third-year biology major who volunteers at the Verona Street Animal Society and works at Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services (VSES). On-campus, Rachael is actively involved in the RIT Pre-Vet club, RIT Honors Program, and the RIT Philharmonic Orchestra.
As a student researcher, Rachael is involved in research conducted out of the Smith-Pagano Lab at RIT, where she performs blood smear counts from migratory songbirds, which has helped lead to conclusions about the immune responses of a bird. Rachael participated in both fieldwork when banding birds on top of her lab work. Her research involvement has helped increase her self-confidence and sense of responsibility, which will play a role in her plans of becoming a veterinarian.
Rachael is also majoring in Spanish and feels it will help her communicate with people who seek medical treatment for their pets. She discovered this first hand while working at VSES, where on several occasions, a Spanish-speaking client brought their pet into the hospital, but there was no medical staff able to communicate with them.
Her favorite part of being an RIT student is the accessibility to research opportunities. She found it easy to connect with professors about their research and to gain hands-on research experience. After graduation, Rachael plans on attending Veterinary School for her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree to continue on her path towards becoming a veterinarian.
Safiya is a third-year biology major who finds research inspiring because she learns new things daily, hones her problem-solving skills, and challenges herself through hands-on experiences.
As a McNair Scholar, Safiya is a student researcher in the Hudson Lab, where she conducts a comparative structural analysis of bacterial and fungal cellulases using homology modeling. She presented her findings at the 2020 RIT Symposium. She feels honored to work in Dr. Hudson's laboratory and is proud of the scientific research she conducted and presented at the symposium.
Safiya has always been actively involved in RIT's culture and has been an active member of the African Latin American Native Association (ALANA) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA). In the last two years, she has served as an Event Coordinator and Vice-Chair on the Student Advisory Board of the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and continues as a Leaders Encouraging Achievement and Pride (LEAP) Mentor for HEOP. Also, she has conducted demonstrations of scientific experiments for Girls in Stem students, grades K-12, and for the Imagine RIT showcase.
Safiya said there are many things she likes about RIT, but she feels at home because of the campus community's support. After graduation, she plans on attending medical school to become a physician to continue in scientific research. She is especially interested in becoming a surgeon.
Virginia is a fourth-year biotechnology and molecular bioscience major who has been heavily involved in research, teaching opportunities, and extracurricular activities.
Virginia was first introduced to academic research while assisting in a project in Dr. Irene Evan’s laboratory to validate a breast cancer molecular agent. Virginia then went on to join Dr. Eli Borrego's laboratory for a research project focused on the effect of bioplastic degradation products on plant immunity and defense. The experience helped her learn how to conduct independent research, problem solve, collect and analyze data, and plan the next steps for a project. The following year, she worked with Dr. Borrego, and other students submitted a research proposal involving a cyanobacterial treatment of Arabidopsis to NASA's Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science. She also assisted Dr. Kaitlin Stack Whitney with conducting environmental research focused on highway roadside pollinating plants and insects.
Besides her research experience, Virginia was part of the Laboratory Support Team in Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, which helped her become familiar with the school's set-up of labs. Her community engagement at RIT is extensive and includes participating in a pre-orientation called Leadership in Action, volunteering at the American Red Cross as a donor ambassador, and being actively involved in the Biotech Club and the Plant Journal Club.
Virginia said her favorite part of RIT is the community, where she has developed personal and professional relationships with the professors and staff. After graduation, Virginia would like to pursue a degree in a molecular biology field such as epigenetics or cancer biology.
Alaa is a fourth-year biotechnology and molecular bioscience student from Cairo, Egypt. Outside of academics, Alaa’s passions, mostly revolve around yoga, (her way to de-stress) and volunteer work. She has been a yoga teacher at RIT for a year. She has also been a TA for Anatomy and Molecular Biology labs, a peer mentor for WISe, and a tutor for Genetics. Additionally, most of her research work at RIT was in Cancer Biology and Virology. After graduation, Alaa plans on pursuing her Ph.D. in genetics from a US institution and continuing on to becoming a professor.
Sofie "Rowan" Christie
As a third-year bioinformatics student, Rowan has explored a passion for coding through bioinformatics programming classes, developing a strong appreciation for interdisciplinary science. The RISE and Inclusive Excellence program have given them the opportunity to work with Dr. Stack Whitney to conduct two research projects: macroinvertebrate community responses to environmental variables and the influence of study methodologies on stability trends of long-term deer tick datasets, presenting the latter last fall at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Rowan is also deeply involved in the House of General Science, a Special Interest House for students passionate about science, and took leadership roles as Project Manager and Tech Head. Since they have expanded the House of General Science’s involvement in K-12 outreach through STEAM Day demos and Campus Visits. They also are a member of Fowl Play, an improv comedy club, participating in several shows including Dr. Munson’s Performing Arts Challenge. Upon graduation, Rowan plans to earn a Ph.D. in bioinformatics to continue with research that benefits environmental and human health, applying their computational skills to ecology, evolutionary biology, and genetics.
Alyssa is a third-year student in the environmental science BS/MS program from Buffalo, NY. Alyssa spent last summer working on Dr. Kaitlin Stack Whitney’s roadside ecology project, which will be incorporated into her thesis; studying pollinators and roadside habitats across New York State. She plans to continue her field research with Dr. Stack Whitney this summer. Alyssa is currently the President of the Recover Rochester Club, allowing her to serve the Rochester community as well as contribute to RIT’s sustainability goals. After completing the BS/MS program, she plans to continue studying and working in the field of conservation biology.
Alexandria is a bioinformatics master’s student. She loves to work with kids and has spent the past few years at RIT doing STEM activities with the Girl Scouts of America, participating in a Pen Pal program with the Churchville-Chili School District, and working at her local elementary school back home. She is also a member of the Honors Program at RIT where she has previously headed the Honors Service Committee and worked to organize fundraising events for charity. Alexx is also an active member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority where she has volunteered at Fall Cleanups, the Wheeler Domestic Violence Shelter, and several events with Autism Speaks. For the past four years, Alexx has enjoyed working in Dr. Sweet’s lab as an undergraduate and graduate student studying the Ophioplocus esmarki brittle star. This past summer, she did research abroad on intestinal inflammation in Kiel, Germany as a DAAD scholar. In the future, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in genetics and work on complex human diseases. Unfortunately, she is unable to attend tonight due to an interview at Duke University.
Lauren is a third-year biotechnology and molecular bioscience major with a minor in Criminal Justice. She is the College of Science Senator for Student Government and Secretary for the College of Science Student Advisory Board, allowing her to positively impact the college not only by hosting events, such as the Brick City Alumni Networking Event, the Winter Celebration, COS Coffee Chat, and the COS Spring Picnic. She has also been instrumental to bringing updates to Gosnell such as the GSoLS/SMS lounge. Lauren is an active brother and marketing chair for Alpha Phi Omega, allowing her to volunteer with local Boy Scouts, House of Mercy, Mount Hope Cemetery, and the American Diabetes Association. Additionally, she is a student researcher in the MBER research lab headed by Dr. Wright and Dr. Newman, where she has participated in a SURF and been able to present her research twice on campus. She is also a member of the Biotech Club and a player on the Field Hockey team. Lauren has enjoyed representing the College of Science and volunteering in the Rochester community, with plans to continue doing so next year.
Emalee is a third-year biotechnology and molecular bioscience major with minors in Chemistry and Ethics. She is heavily involved in the College of Science through both her role as the COS Student Advisory Board Vice President and the COS Honors Representative. In addition, she is a member of Biotech Club and Plant Science Journal Club. Emalee enjoys mentoring and teaching students in her roles as an Honors Orientation Mentor, Learning Assistant, and Teaching Assistant for the past two years.
Due to her widespread scientific interest and general curiosity, Emalee is involved in numerous research fields ranging from the investigation of potential chemotherapy to analyzing DNA textbook illustrations to characterizing maize green leaf volatile mutants’ microbiomes. Following her love of science and biology, Emalee plans to earn a Ph.D. in a field of molecular biology with the end goal of working in an industry setting.
About David M. Baldwin
David Mark Baldwin graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon in 1932 with a BA in biology. He went on to earn an MS degree in bacteriology (with a minor in parasitology) from the University of California at Berkeley in 1934. Professor Baldwin did not pursue a doctoral degree; however, he held a teaching fellowship in bacteriology. He moved on to Tucson, Arizona in 1938 as a bacteriologist in charge of antigen production at the Wyatt Clinic and Research Foundation.
While teaching biology at Champlain College, he applied for a faculty position at RIT. In 1953 he was hired as a member of the Chemistry Department and taught biology, chemistry, and physics. Eleven years transpired before the Biology Department was formed.
By 1966, the College of Science had become an official entity, and the Department of Biology had expanded to include a botanist, two zoologists, a microbiologist, and the Chairman. The department faculty continued to grow and by 1971 there were seven faculty members. The hiring of faculty with fine-tuned specialization provided Professor Baldwin with the opportunity to devote himself to the instruction of introductory biology. He was one of the original instructors in the Contemporary Science sequence of courses, which used an integrative approach to teaching science to non-science majors. He was also the first RIT instructor to go "live" on closed circuit TV and the course was broadcast to numerous locations on campus. His efforts were recognized in 1968 when he was awarded one of the first RIT Outstanding Teaching Awards.
Professor Baldwin's teaching career came to a sudden and tragic end in 1975. Since there were no living relatives at the time of his death, his estate was left to RIT. It is that estate that provides the basis for the David M Baldwin Memorial Scholarships in Biological Sciences, first awarded in 1981. Shortly after his death, some of his students raised funds for the design of a memorial plaque. The bronze memorial which hangs in the first floor hallway of the College of Science, crafted by the late Hans Christensen, Professor of Fine and Applied Arts, is a tribute to Professor Baldwin's many accomplishments at RIT.