Two faculty members from the College of Staten Island have recently received prestigious awards from CUNY.

CUNY presented Christina Hagedorn, an Assistant Professor of Linguistics in the English Department and Director of the Motor Speech Laboratory at CSI with the Henry Wasser Award for Outstanding Research, and Leora Yetnikoff, Assistant Professor of Psychology received the Feliks Gross Award for Outstanding Research.

Commenting on the awards, CSI Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs J. Michael Parrish said, “CUNY’s recognition of professors Hagedorn and Yetnikoff is well deserved. Both have made impressive accomplishments in their scholarly endeavors, which involved dealing with technical issues with their research equipment as well as with interruptions stemming from the pandemic. They are also outstanding campus citizens, teachers, and mentors.”

Discussing her work, Dr. Hagedorn said, “My most recent research investigates the speech production of individuals following treatment for lingual cancer. Individuals diagnosed with lingual cancer oftentimes undergo partial glossectomy, whereby part of the tongue is surgically removed, in addition to radiation therapy. While this combined-modality treatment typically facilitates disease-free survival, it gives rise to difficulties in speech production that can severely impact survivors’ quality of life. Using real-time magnetic resonance imaging (rtMRI), which provides a global view of the vocal tract from the lips to the larynx, this work quantifies and compares lingual flexibility of patients and typical speakers and provides evidence for compensatory articulation in consonant production by investigating patterns in vocal tract constriction location and degree. Clinically, our findings help speech and language pathologists refine speech intervention strategies for this patient population, while theoretically, identifying such patterns helps inform theories of both impaired and intact speech production. I am honored to receive the Henry Wasser Award, and grateful that this research, which was done in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Southern California, is being recognized in this way.”

Dr. Yetnikoff also explained her work, noting that “My research group and I are investigating an exciting and novel area of neuroscience research. Our work is challenging a century-long established belief that the primary cells in the brain – neurons – can only communicate with other neurons. We are investigating whether another type of brain cell– glial cells– that until recently were thought to only control how quickly neurons can function can also communicate with neurons. We’re specifically interested in how dopamine neurons and glial cells communicate with each other, with the hope that our work will have far-ranging implications for understanding brain function and disease.

Of course, I’m thrilled to have my work recognized with this award. But even more so, I’m thrilled because it is also a recognition of the hard work of my students and collaborators. I could not have achieved any of this without them.”

According to CUNY, ”The Feliks Gross and Henry Wasser Awards are presented each year to assistant professors at CUNY in recognition of outstanding research, or potential for such, in the humanities or sciences, including social and life sciences. The awardees are selected among a large group of nominees of assistant professors from all CUNY campuses and receive university wide recognition of their work. The awards are partially supported by the Feliks Gross memorial fund and sponsored by the University Faculty Senate and the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs. The awards are named after two founders of the CUNY Academy for the Humanities and Sciences, and after the awardees are picked, half receive the Feliks Gross award and half receive the Henry Wasser award – this is random and not based on merit.”