John Wiley Jones Outstanding Students in Science

Each year, one student from each of the five academic units of the College of Science is chosen for the John Wiley Jones Outstanding Students in Science based on their academic achievements, citizenship, and contributions to the quality of campus life.

Award Recipients 2023

Anna Mason

The Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science is happy to honor Anna Mason, third-year imaging science student, as a 2023 John Wiley Jones Outstanding Student Scholar.

Anna is an exceptionally strong student, maintaining a fantastic grade point average in a difficult degree program. Anna’s mark on RIT goes far beyond academics. As the president of the Imaging Science Club, Anna facilitates guest speakers to attend club meetings and works to build community among her imaging science peers. She is also a member of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and brings a student perspective to the faculty and staff curriculum discussions. She is an active member of RIT’s Air Force ROTC program and RIT’s Silver Wings organization. In her first year at RIT, Anna also played on the RIT Women’s Soccer team.

Anna is a natural-born leader. Often you will find her organizing her classmates, keeping track of timelines, researching new methods, and implementing solutions. She takes the lead on group projects outside of class. She is known for pulling together content from classmates and preparing excellent presentations.

Anna always has encouraging words for others and a positive outlook that keeps her teammates motivated. She skillfully finds ways to involve those around her in projects and highlights each person’s unique skills and experiences. Her classmates respect her leadership, confidence, perseverance, and positive attitude.

Anna has a bright future in store and will be known for her effective planning, problem-solving, and leadership skills in the years to come.

Elaina Stafford

headshot of Elaina Stafford

Elaina exemplifies the model science student at RIT due to the tremendous energy she dedicates towards academics, research, and leadership. While at RIT, she has developed into an exceptional experimentalist. Elaina has impressed us with her academic brilliance and her research prowess, and the School of Chemistry and Materials Science is excited to name her a 2023 John Wiley Jones Outstanding Student Scholar. Hailing from DeRuyter, New York, Elaina was well prepared for college and rapidly gained entry into the RIT Honors Program during her first year. She won an esteemed Pasto award in her third year, and she has now become one of the most prolific members of the chemistry and materials science research team in her fourth year.

Following the Pasto research, Elaina had the remarkable opportunity to test the compounds she and others synthesized during a summer internship in a cancer research lab at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her diverse lab experience and exceptional intellectual merit will suit her well in her next goal of entering a Ph.D. program.

On top of her accomplishments in academics and research, Elaina has also been active in clubs and student groups in Biochemistry at RIT. In particular, she has been a steering member of the RIT chapter of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). She is also a member of Women in Science (WISe) and the Pep and Concert bands at RIT.

Elaina is destined to be a brilliant scientist and leader in science at the highest levels. It is remarkable to see a student absorb so many aspects of chemistry and biochemistry so early in her academic career. Her future endeavors will be driven by her enthusiasm, resourcefulness, and her desire to contribute to health-related research. She is visiting Ph.D. programs to which she has been accepted now.

Hannah Sheets

headshot of Hannah Sheets

Hannah Sheets is a fourth-year student in the applied statistics and actuarial sciences program who anticipates graduating with Honors in May 2023. Hannah is pursuing a minor in psychology and music performance and hopes to graduate with an MS degree in applied statistics in 2024. Hannah has worked closely with Dr. Tony Wong since she started at RIT in the fall of 2019.

Hannah worked with Dr. Wong as part of the Inclusive Excellence Research Fellowship in the summer of 2020. She presented the results from her research in an oral presentation during the Summer 2020 RIT Undergraduate Research Symposium and also through a poster presentation at the fall 2020 Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Hannah continued this work for another semester, which led to her presenting at the Upstate New York Statistics Conference (UPSTAT) in the spring of 2021.

Hannah has been involved in concert band and flute choir on campus, although her research, studies, long-time job as a grader in the School of Mathematical Sciences, and even longer-time job at Wegmans have taken center stage for her in recent years. She regularly volunteers with her grandmother at Angels of Mercy in downtown Rochester, an organization dedicated to helping women in need. Throughout her time at RIT, Hannah has also regularly volunteered through Zooniverse, an online citizen-science research platform.

Hannah has earned a spot on the Dean’s List each semester at RIT, has given multiple conference presentations, has contributed to three peer-reviewed publications as a coauthor, and has consistently volunteered for the betterment of her community. Hannah has all the right skills and character to contribute substantially to any program or employer lucky enough to recruit her. She is a valuable member of her community as a whole. Hannah will surely surpass our expectations when she formally joins the RIT MS program in applied statistics this fall. Hannah will go far, and she exemplifies the highest caliber of student and citizen.

Emily Finson

headshot of Emily Finson

Emily Finson is a fifth-year student from Jamestown, NY who is finishing her BS/MS degrees in physics in the Spring of 2023. She has completed minors in mathematics and astronomy. Before enrolling at RIT, Emily earned an AS degree in math and chemistry at Jamestown Community College.

Emily has a standout record of research excellence. Her research experience began at RIT in 2020 performing data reduction on archival Cosmic Evolution Survey data with Dr. Jeyhan Kartaltepe in the School of Physics and Astronomy. She was awarded a College of Science Inclusive Excellence Fellowship to continue that research the following summer. Emily then shifted her research focus from astrophysics to theoretical quantum optics. This led her to an REU project in condensed matter theory with Dr. Taylor Hughes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also completed a graduate-level directed study course in preparation for embarking upon original research with Dr. Edwin Hach with whom she continues her research today. Emily is researching quantum state engineering in cavity quantum electrodynamics.

Emily has served extensively as a teaching assistant for our introductory physics courses and the Modern Physics course. She has also served as a grader for Thermal & Statistical Physics and for Electricity & Magnetism. For her service as a teaching assistant in University Physics II, Emily was awarded the RIT Physics Outstanding TA Award in 2022. In the broader sense of teaching, Emily has served as a chemistry, physics, and mathematics tutor for students at RIT and other colleges, as well as for local high school students.

Emily is extremely active in serving the RIT community through her participation in several College of Science Open Houses and at a Women In Science (WISe) Open House for female prospective students. Emily currently holds the position of Treasurer for the RIT Chapter of the American Physical Society. She has earned the distinction of making the Dean’s List every semester at RIT.

Emily is currently considering offers from technical positions in the industry and from the Physics Ph.D. Program at SUNY Stony Brook while she awaits decisions from other Ph.D. programs as well.

Gabby Orfanides

headshot of Gabriella Orfanides

Gabriella Orfanides is a fourth-year Honors student from Bath, NY who will graduate with a BS degree in biology in the spring of 2023. After graduation, she plans to work on her MS in environmental science at RIT and hopes to graduate in spring 2024.

Gabriella has maintained an exceptionally high grade point average throughout her time in the biology program. This, combined with her fierce work ethic and positive demeanor, led her to win an impressive collection of honors and awards. Gabriella won first place in the Rochester Academy of Science Student Research Grant Program which funds undergraduate research in western NY with a goal of fostering an interest in science among young people. She won an RIT Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Award which celebrates the top 1% of undergraduate students at RIT who achieve academic excellence while also giving back to the community. Gabriella was also a Baldwin Scholar and the recipient of a RIT Women in Science Student Travel Grant to support her research-related travel.

Gabriella has been working on long-term research projects with Dr. Susan Pagano over multiple semesters. She has traveled to local and regional scientific meetings to present her research findings. Impressively, Gabriella is a co-author on two papers as an undergraduate that are currently in revision and hopefully will be published soon.

In addition to excelling academically, Gabriella has dedicated numerous volunteer hours to the College of Science. She volunteers at the RIT Avian Research Station in order to help document bird diversity on campus. She also helps at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory where she is considered a valuable banding volunteer and research associate. She is the co-founder of the new Birding at RIT club on campus as well as the new RIT Audubon Campus Chapter. Gabriella has supported her peers as a Teaching Assistant, and has volunteered her weekend time to help recruit the next class of Tigers at Open Houses.

We know Gabriella is destined for greatness, and we are excited for her to be a 2023 John Wiley Jones Outstanding Student Scholar representing the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences.

Award Recipients 2022

headshot of JWJ Zoe LaLena

Zoë LaLena is an exceptional third-year student who is completing her BS in imaging science and minors in public policy and computer science.

Zoë quickly emerged as a leader in her first semester at RIT. She was elected by her classmates to be a project manager for the Freshman Imaging Project. She regularly rallied classmates to stay focused on their goals and led by example by spending many hours in the lab. She continued working on the project over the summer and was hired to be a TA for the class the following two years.

Undeterred by the challenge of working remotely through the COVID pandemic, Zoë kept her summer team organized and focused through regular Zoom calls. Eventually, this dedication led to an incredible discovery of a palimpsest (parchment with hidden underwriting) in RIT’s Cary Collection. This discovery was publicized by local and national media outlets including an Evan Dawson WXXI interview. She also presented the findings to the Rochester chapter of the Imaging Science and Technology Society, as well as at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 2021.

Zoë is an excellent ambassador for the entire college. She is the president of the College of Science Student Activities Board (COSSAB) where she leads various outreach, networking, and social activities for her peers. Zoë regularly volunteers for science demonstrations at campus-wide events, such as Imagine RIT, Brick City Homecoming, and open houses to share her love of science with others. She is also a member of the RIT Honors Program.

Zoë has a heart for service and is always ready to volunteer. She is a strong and confident person who treats all people with civility and understanding. She is a role model for all young people in STEM. The Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science is proud to name Zoë as a 2022 John Wiley Jones Outstanding Student in Science, and we look forward to seeing what comes next!

headshot of JWJ Matthew Law

Matt Law is a fourth-year biochemistry student from Conesus, New York.

Matt has excelled in both academics and research, impressing us with his academic brilliance and his research prowess. He jumped into research with Dr. Hans Schmitthenner during his first semester at RIT. Matt has been working to make a deca-peptide that is a breast cancer targeting agent to which our dyes and metals could be coupled. He partnered with a graduate student to pioneer the methodology. When the grad student graduated, Matt became our resident expert on synthesizing peptides. He presented his work at the national American Chemical Society meeting and is now working with Dr. Schmitthenner to complete a full manuscript.

Matt is well-rounded with many interests. He has been an honors student since his sophomore year. He is an active member and leader in the RIT ASBMB Student Chapter and was a co-author of a monthly COVID newsletter. He also headed a number of social activities including our popular Trivia Night for students and faculty. The questions and answers were designed by Matt, and the attendees thoroughly enjoyed the game. His efforts have greatly enhanced the chemistry and biochemistry community during his time on campus. Matt maintains a stellar GPA and has been named to the Dean’s List every semester at RIT. He has received many other accolades including the Undergraduate Award in Biochemistry and the RIT Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Award. Matt was also nominated to be a College of Science Undergraduate Student Delegate at commencement.

We know that Matt is destined to be a brilliant scientist and he will be known for his energy, dedication, cleverness, and leadership. He is an ideal candidate to explore new areas of biochemistry and biology which will broadly impact scientific advancements. We know Matt will represent RIT in wonderful ways wherever he goes and makes us exceedingly proud of him.

headshot of JWJ Cade Reinberger

Cade Reinberger is an honors student and computational math major from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cade began research during his first semester at RIT after reaching out to his differential equations professor, Dr. Nate Barlow. Cade responded to an optional homework problem, politely pointing out a typo in one of Dr. Barlow’s 2020 papers. Cade was given credit for the fix in a corrigendum to the paper, which appeared in December of 2020. Cade joined the research group of Dr. Barlow and Dr. Steve Weinstein and has been working with them nonstop ever since, for credit, for pay (as a 2021 Emerson Fellow), and volunteer work. Cade has contributed to two manuscripts (one under review at a journal, one in preparation) and is part of another project with Math Modeling Ph.D. student, Nastaran Naghshineh, that will ultimately lead to another publication.

Cade’s research has the end goal of finding convergent power series solutions to nonlinear ordinary differential equations, with applications ranging from fluid mechanics to epidemiology to astrophysics. One highlight from Cade’s first project was showing, for the first time, that the infinite series for the nonlinear pendulum converges over a quarter-period as long as the pendulum is initialized at the top of its trajectory. He accomplished this through an examination of singularities of elliptic functions in the complex plane. In Cade’s most recent work, he has proven convergence for an exact re-summation of the infinite power series solution to the Sakiadis problem describing the boundary layer over a moving flat plate. For both the pendulum and the Sakiadis problem, these formulations allow one to construct analytic and exact solutions for problems that are usually only solved numerically. Cade’s other research contributions are too numerous to list here.

During his first two semesters at RIT, Cade enrolled in Honors Multivariable and Vector Calculus and then Honors Linear Algebra with Dr. Carl Lutzer. Cade earned the top grade in both of these classes and was commended for his collegiality in working with peers and creativity in the problem-solving process. Outside of the classroom, Cade leads the RIT Quiz Bowl club as president, where he ranks first among all current and former RIT students in total points scored. Upon graduation, Cade plans to continue his studies in applied mathematics.

headshot of JWJ Ashley Martsen

Ashley Martsen is a fourth-year student from Otis, Massachusetts, who is graduating with a BS in physics and minors in Italian, astronomy, math, and English.

Ashley started research during the fall of her second year, where she began working with Dr. Michael Lam to study pulsars and variations in single pulse parameters. She is still working with Dr. Lam for her capstone project, studying pulsar mode changes and nulling in the millisecond pulsar J1909-3744. During the summer of 2021, Ashley completed an REU with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory working with Dr. Scott Ransom to study the polarization of the pulsars in the Terzan 5 stellar cluster. This project is currently being finalized as a paper that will be published. Along with working with pulsars, Ashley also spent her junior year working with Dr. Jeyhan Kartaltepe adapting the program SCARLET to model merging galaxies to deblend the galaxies into separate parameters.

Beyond research, Ashley has also worked as a Learning Assistant in a variety of physics classes since her second year, including classes for physics majors. She has tutored for the HEOP for STEM classes since her second year as well. She served on the EBoard for the Fiber Arts club as Vice President during the ’19-’20 academic year and then President in ’20-’21. Ashley also led the RIT Chapter for the Society of Physics Students as Secretary in ’20-’21 and then President in ’21-’22. She has been a panelist for open houses for the School of Physics and Astronomy many times during the past two years. She is proud to have been on the Dean’s List every semester, as well as being awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Award and the Physics Faculty and Alumni Scholarship both during the ’20-’21 academic year.

In the fall she will be attending a Ph.D. program in Astrophysics to study pulsars and will be joining the NANOGrav collaboration.

headshot of JWJ Ian Freezman

Ian Freezman is a third-year biotechnology and molecular bioscience major with a minor in music performance. During his time on campus, Ian has worked multiple jobs, participated in research, volunteered at open houses, maintained an outstanding GPA, and honed his musical talents.

Ian joined the Hudson Lab during his first year at RIT. In 2021, Ian received an Emerson Fellowship which provides a stipend for 10 weeks of summer research. Ian’s primary research project is the isolation and characterization of novel antibiotic compounds from bacteria. He is currently drafting a publication for his work on the antibiotic-producing strain RIT 621. Other projects Ian is involved in include characterizing cellulose-degrading bacteria and studying bacterial plastic degradation.

When thinking about his most valuable experience on campus, Ian mentions being a Learning Assistant for introductory biology with Dr. Dina Newman. In this role, Ian enjoyed giving back to others and helping his peers succeed. He continues to support others as a teaching assistant in the microbiology lab. Ian has also taken a leadership role in training others who join the Hudson lab including students in their first year all the way up to those pursuing a Ph.D.

Ian has received many outstanding recognitions during his time at RIT including his recognition as an RIT Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar and is consistently named to the Dean’s List. His talents also lie in music as he auditioned for and received an RIT Performing Arts Scholarship before arriving at RIT. Ian was also a finalist in Dr. Munson’s 2021 Performing Arts Challenge for playing fingerstyle guitar. Ian has made a great impact during his time at RIT and we know he will go on to great things following graduation.

Award Recipients 2021

headshot of Adam Giammarese

Adam Giammarese is an honors student from Port Jefferson, New York who is working towards a BS in Applied Mathematics and a BS in Mechanical Engineering (with an aerospace concentration), as well as an MS in Applied and Computational Mathematics.

After entering RIT as a Mechanical Engineering major, Adam's passion for mathematics was ignited in his second year and he declared a second major in Applied Mathematics. In Fall 2018, Adam completed a co-op at Collins Aerospace in Danbury, CT in which he worked with manufacturing electronics for satellites. In June 2019, he started working for another Collins Aerospace location in Rockford, IL as a systems engineering intern developing optimal simulations for three-phase commercial aircraft generators in MATLAB/Simulink. There Adam used his mathematics experience to drastically reduce simulation time while also boosting the fidelity of the simulations.

Adam started research within the School of Mathematical Sciences (SMS) starting in Spring 2019 with Dr. Tony Harkin, Dr. Nate Barlow, and Dr. Steve Weinstein on analytical solutions of a model of the nonlinear dynamics of collapsing bubbles within a fluid. This research paper is currently under peer review for publication. In Summer 2020, Adam participated in the NSF-funded Graph Theory and Dynamical Systems REU led by Dr. Darren Narayan in which, under the supervision of Dr. Nishant Malik, he used climate networks to quantify the effects of perturbations in the Amazon on the sensitivity of the global climate. For this project, Adam won the Environmental Sciences and Sustainability category of the RIT Graduate Education Showcase, and also presented his work at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January 2021.

Outside of classwork and research, Adam has shown a great interest in giving back to the College of Science community. He acted as a student panelists on a variety of student outreach programs. These programs include COS Tiger Talks, which seeks to aid COS freshman in their transition from high school studies to life at RIT during COVID-19, as well as numerous open houses for COS and SMS.

Adam will be continuing his studies at RIT as a Mathematical Modeling Ph.D. student starting in Fall 2021.

headshot of Jonathan Chu

Jonathan Chu is a fourth-year biotechnology and molecular bioscience student from Fresh Meadows, New York with minors in chemistry and psychology. During his time at RIT, he has demonstrated academic success and a strong work ethic, all while balancing a variety of extracurricular activities.

For the last three years, Jonathan’s naturally inquisitive nature and desire to learn drove him to participate in undergraduate research under the supervision of Dr. André Hudson in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, where he worked to isolate and identify novel antibiotics produced from bacteria. He has also worked on research collaborations that involve plastic degradation by bacteria and the construction of a microfluidic device for particle extraction. Being involved in scientific discovery has informed Jonathan’s career path, leading him to aspire for medical and graduate studies in the future.

Outside of research, Jonathan is a Teaching Assistant for Organic Chemistry I and II, as well as a tutor for the Higher Education Opportunity Program for first-generation and minority college students. Jonathan has also served on the Isaac L. Jordan Faculty Pluralism and Student Scholarship Selection Committee as the student representative. Finally, he spends much of his free time volunteering with various organizations such as; the Rochester General Hospital and Foodlink.

headshot of Lily Gaffney

Lily Gaffney is a third-year student who is completing her BS in imaging science and an immersion in biology.

Lily began research right away as a participant in the Freshman Imaging Project in 2018 in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science. This project developed a multi-view imaging system to image, and then build accurate 3D models of insects for use in the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Last spring, just pre-COVID, Lily approached the Center leadership about re-starting work for this project. One of our faculty members, Dr. Tony Vodacek, had maintained the relationship with RMSC and she was going to work with him during the summer to re-build the imaging system and add new functionality to it. Unfortunately, due to COVID, her summer research plans were put on hold. However, we are confident that as soon as possible her budding research career will quickly be restarted.

Lily’s academic performance has been excellent. She has been named to the Dean’s List every semester since starting at RIT in 2018. In addition to her coursework, she also is a key student contributor to the Center. She works in our stock room, interacting with both undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, she is on the Executive Board of the Imaging Science Club, serving as the Treasurer. In this role, she fulfills a leadership position in the primary student-run club in the Center.

Outside the Center, she is also the Vice-President of Caring Hearts for RIT Cats, a student club dedicated to caring for the feral cat population at RIT. She is also affiliated with the Hawk’s Nest Greenhouse & Stables in Bath, Maine, the RIT Outdoors Club, and the RIT GLBTQIA Alliance.

The Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science is proud to name Lily as a 2021 John Wiley Jones Outstanding Student in Science, and we look forward to seeing what comes next!

headshot of Lucas Berens

Lucas Berens is a fourth-year Physics student from Calabasas, California who is completing his BS in Physics with a minor in Mathematics.

Lucas has spent the past five semesters working with Dr. George Thurston on multiple fronts in the School of Physics and Astronomy. His projects include estimating Van der Waals forces between human eye proteins with the use of UV absorbance spectroscopy; investigating UV absorbance and available vacuum UV absorbance data of many amino acids; and modeling absorption of proteins in terms of their constituent amino acids.

For his Capstone project, Lucas is investigating single-proton final states arising from neutral-current interactions in the MINERvA neutrino detector at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Working with Dr. Aaron McGowan, Lucas is developing a Gaudi algorithm to sift through the more common charged-current interactions that produce a muon or electron, in search of the less common neutral-current interactions.

As a Learning Assistant in Sophomore Seminar, Lucas offered a series of mock oral exams to prepare his students for their final exams. Lucas is the current President of the Society of Physics Students and, along with the members of the SPS Eboard, has restructured the organization's activities to better serve the School of Physics and Astronomy students during the pandemic.

This fall, Lucas will merge his experience in biophysics and particle physics by pursuing a Ph.D. in Medical Physics at the University of Chicago.

headshot of Nana Aikins

Nana Aikins is a fourth-year Biochemistry major, minoring in psychology. Originally from Ghana, Nana immigrated to the United States in 2016 and currently calls Austell Georgia home. The School of Chemistry and Materials Science (SCMS) is delighted to name Nana as our 2021 John Wiley Jones Outstanding Student in Science.

Nana has been doing research with Dr. Suzanne O’Handley since Fall 2018 on a number of projects that all center on characterizing various Nudix Hydrolases from human pathogens (M. tuberculosis and M. leprae) as potential novel antibiotic targets. He has presented this research at the RIT undergraduate research symposium, the Rochester Academy of Sciences meeting, the local American Chemical Society student symposium, and he is currently scheduled to present his work at the virtual national meeting of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the end of April 2021. He was awarded a BACC SURF, ASBMB Research Grant, LSAMP Research Grant, and Pasto Research Fellowship to carry out this research. In addition, Nana has done a semester of research each with Dr. Michael Gleghorn on the VapC protein from M. tuberculosis and Dr. Mikini Beck on using influenza models to predict other disease outbreaks.

Additionally, Nana is the recipient of a Founder Scholarship, Fred Emerson Scholarship, and Nathaniel Rochester Scholarship. He has been inducted into the ASBMB National Honors Society ΧΩΛ, is a McNair/LSAMP Scholar, SCMS Research Scholar, and RIT Outstanding Scholar.

Nana has also given back to his community in a number of ways. He has been a TA or LA for Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry Lab, and Biochemistry I. He is the scholarship chairman and an Eboard member of Phi Delta Theta, an Eboard member of the RIT ASBMB student chapter, and a member of the Organization for African Students. Nana has volunteered in a number of capacities including in the ER at Rochester General, the Rochester Museum and Science Center, Imagine RIT, Rochester Special Olympics, and has been a Terra Science Fair Judge.

Upon graduation, Nana plans on a career in medicine as a doctor. Currently, his interests are in cardiology or oncology.

Award Recipients 2020

headshot of Greg Nero

The Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science is happy to honor Greg Nero, a fourth-year imaging science student from Aliquippa, PA, as our 2020 John Wiley Jones Outstanding Student Scholar.

Greg has maintained an exceptionally high grade point average throughout his time in the rigorous and challenging imaging science curriculum. This combined with his fierce work ethic and positive demeanor led him to be selected as an Optical Engineer Intern at Ball Aerospace in the summer of 2019. Greg also attended the Optics and Photonics Winter School Workshop at the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona in January 2020.

Greg has exemplified greatness across many disciplines. In addition to excelling academically, Greg is the president of Imaging Science Club, organizer of the first Imaging Science Hackathon in January 2020, and never hesitates to volunteer for recruitment events and RIT activities. He motivates peers to get involved and consistently pushes the boundaries beyond adequate into exceptional. Along with being highly reliable, he is described by imaging science leadership as being “a kind-hearted soul and all-around nice person.” Greg has been accepted into the highly competitive Ph.D. program at the University of Arizona.

headshot of Grace Fiacco

Grace Fiacco is a fourth year Physics student from Lewiston, New York who is completing her BS in physics with minors in astronomy and mathematics and an immersion in ASL and deaf cultural studies.

Grace has spent the past two years working with Professor Joshua Faber and his team at the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation to study binary neutron star systems; work which became her Physics Capstone project. Her studies include the generation of initial data for binaries in quasi- equilibrium. She and the team are using the results to create a large, publicly accessible data library that will be available to researchers around the world. More recent projects involve using dynamical studies on supercomputers to study the gravitational wave signatures and mass ejecta properties created by merging neutron star binaries.

She has presented her work at a number of scientific meetings, including the 2019 Einstein Toolkit Workshop held at RIT for 100 visiting scientists, as well as the 29th annual Midwest Relativity Meeting hosted by Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. Her previous work with Professor Jeyhan Kartaltepe on trends in galaxy morphology at high redshift, supported by a College of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, was presented at the 2018 RIT Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Outside of her work as a TA for the School of Physics and Astronomy, Grace is an active member in several performing arts groups on campus. She served as director and a stage manager for the RIT Players throughout her first three years, and is currently the President of the RIT Game Symphony Orchestra, a new student-run video game symphonic orchestra on campus. She has been involved since its founding three years ago, as both a musician and a member of the administrative team. Alongside clubs, Grace has also played cello for both the RIT Philharmonic Orchestra and the Brighton Symphony Orchestra.

Grace plans to continue her studies as a Ph.D. student in astrophysics, hopefully on the way to a career involving research in gravitational physics and possibly a professor in academia.

headshot of Emily MahoneyEmily exemplifies the model student in Science at RIT and displays a tremendous amount of energy in academics, research, and student leadership activities. She has impressed us with her academic brilliance and her research prowess. The School of Chemistry and Materials Science is excited to name her a 2020 John Wiley Jones Outstanding Student Scholar.

Hailing from Cazenovia, New York, Emily was well prepared for college. Emily rapidly earned entry to the RIT honors program in her first year, an Emmerson Fellowship for research in her second year, and entry into University of Oxford in her third year. Stemming from her research, an elusive dye was synthesized, followed by a targeted imaging agent which was sent to Roswell Park Cancer Institute for testing in cancer models. This remarkable achievement was followed by collaborating with two other students to produce a publication on a series of new near infrared dyes in the Journal of Photoacoustic and Photobiological Chemistry.

On top of her accomplishments in academics and research, Emily’s days are filled with organizing and leading activities in the College of Science Student Advisory Board and she is an active member of the College of Science Student Government.

Emily is well rounded with many other interests. She is a talented singer, and she performs with a delightful, up-beat a cappella group on campus. She is an avid downhill skier and leader in the RIT ski team and she has enjoyed travels to as many as 20 different countries. It is mind-boggling that she is able to maintain a near-perfect grade point average while being involved with so many activities.

Emily has as a bright future in store. She will be known for her energy, dedication, cleverness, cheerfulness, and her leadership.

headshot of Quinn KoltQuinn is a third year double major in applied mathematics and computer science. Throughout their time at RIT, Quinn has been exploring and excelling in the world of mathematics.

Quinn’s primary research is with Dr. Akhtar Khan in Applied Inverse Problems, in particular Uncertainty Quantification. They spent the summer working with Dr. Khan on methods in Stochastic Partial Differential Equations, which they presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at RIT. Additionally, they have recently co-authored a professional paper with Dr. James Marengo that will soon be submitted for publication.

Dr. Marengo spoke of having Quinn in three different courses of which Quinn consistently advanced to the top of the class. Dr. Marengo commented, “Quinn has a very deep and abiding creativity and determination to solve hard problems in mathematics that transcends the sophistication and interest level of the vast majority of our students. Quinn has the initiative to learn very deep parts of the subject on their own and has managed to do this very successfully.”

Outside of the classroom, Quinn has participated in extremely challenging extracurricular mathematics competitions and has performed very well on them. Even though they are only a third year student, Quinn has taken a heavy load of the most advanced courses and excelled in all of them. Quinn’s excellent scholarship was recently affirmed when they were named a recipient of this year’s prestigious RIT Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship award.

In addition to research, this is Quinn’s second year as a leader of Tangent, RIT’s transgender and nonbinary support group. Quinn has worked on several events for Transgender Day of Remembrance and Transgender Day of Visibility. Quinn is also a tutor for the Higher Education Opportunity Program, which devotes itself to ensuring the success of disadvantaged students that would otherwise be excluded from RIT.

headshot of KayLee SteinerKayLee Steiner is a fourth-year biotechnology and molecular bioscience student. Kaylee describes her start at RIT as a slow build up, but she soon discovered that she wasn’t just another face in the crowd. Her professors, her participation in clubs, and her work have all given support and growth. KayLee feels that she is thriving and actively building up our shared community. She working in the laboratory of Dr. André Hudson and is a student mentor, helping a high school student from the Rochester Academy Charter School with a semester-long project. KayLee has also helped fellow students as a Teaching Assistant for Organic Chemistry, Tissue Culture, and Microbiology.

Joining the NCAA Varsity Women’s Crew team has taught Kaylee to organize her time, start early on assignments, and be more reliable for those who need her help. She volunteers at Learn to Row camps, the Champion Academy in Rochester, and for the Special Olympics.

She became a COS Student Ambassador and participates in student panels for open houses and is a member of the Biotech Club and RIT Philharmonic Orchestra. She interned at the Moffitt Cancer Center researching prostate cancer, and plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Pharmacology or Microbiology.

About John Wiley Jones

headshot of John Wiley JonesJohn Wiley Jones had a passion for science education and was a generous contributor to academic excellence at RIT. In 1974, Jones Chemicals established the John Wiley Jones Distinguished Lectureship in Science to contribute to the education programs of RIT’s College of Science. Jones intended to bring eminent scientists to the RIT campus with the expectation of a formal lecture presentation open to the public. The company also created an endowment to support science education at RIT, the first grant of its kind in the university's history.

A portion of this endowment was used to establish the John Wiley Jones Award for Outstanding Students in Science as a tangible expression of Mr. Jones’s wish to help and encourage young people to prepare themselves for careers in scientific fields. He believed that protecting the environment and making the world safer and more fruitful for all people posed a significant challenge for future scientists. In their selection of the John Wiley Jones Outstanding Students in Science, the five academic units of the College of Science must consider the student’s academic achievements, citizenship, and contributions to the quality of campus life.