Matt Brim, PhD, Associate Professor of Queer Studies and English at the College of Staten Island, has been selected as a Distinguished CUNY Fellow at the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) for the fall of 2019. His project, titled Poor Queer Studies, offers a class- and race-based analysis of the field of queer studies, arguing that the discipline should be reoriented away from elitist and exclusionary educational institutions and toward poor and working-class students and underfunded public colleges.
Former CSI faculty recipients include Michael Paris, Ashley Dawson, Ava Chin, Patricia Brooks, Christina Tortora, and Ismael Garcia Colon.
CSI Professor of English Patricia Smith has been garnering a lot of attention lately. It started when her latest collection of poetry, titled Incendiary Art: Poems (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2017) won an NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry. As Smith and the College community were celebrating that honor, Smith also won the prestigious $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for the same collection.
Commenting on her inspiration for the collection, Smith said, “Incendiary was born in two places at once. During the riots following the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, I kept hearing people question the wisdom of ‘black people burning down their own neighborhoods’. Then, following one of candidate Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, a supporter admitted that he had dreamed of burning a black man alive. I began to think of how fire constantly laps at the edges of our lives–as a threat, as an act of frustration, as a way to burn everything clean in hopes of starting over. And the book started there. Although I had one or two poems that fit immediately, most of the work came after the idea. And that was just a way of beginning–the entire book isn’t tied to the same idea, but as I kept writing, “incendiary” came to apply to many things.”
Regarding how she feels about receiving the NAACP Image Award, Smith, who has been at CSI since 2009, and has taught a number of English classes at the College, including Intro to Poetry, Advanced Poetry, and Poetry Workshop, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, stated that “I can’t speak for every writer, but I often feel like I’m writing in a vacuum–writing what I need to write in order to move from day to day with some semblance of sanity. I can never be entirely certain than anyone else hears me or realizes what it is I hope to accomplish. A recognition like this one, from an organization as storied and driven as the NAACP, is a strong impetus to keep writing. It’s an acknowledgment that someone else has connected to these poems, that these poems are somehow important in the evolution of community.”
As for her reaction to winning the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, Smith said, “Incendiary Art was born of necessity–it’s a response to loss, blatant instances of murder, grief too deep to be named. These are poems I expected people to turn away from–these are not topics a reader wants to muse upon, sit down and spend time with. But this award reminds me how hungry we are nowadays for any kind of truth–no matter how blue, no matter how disturbing, no matter how it jolts our staid assumptions and shifts the world on its axis. This is proof that someone listened and found worth in a story I wanted everyone to hear.”
Patricia Smith is the author of eight critically recognized poetry collections, including Blood Dazzler, finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. Among her honors and awards, she was a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and she has received the 2014 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize from the Library of Congress, the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and a 2013 Phillis Wheatley Book Award. A formidable performer, Smith has read her work at venues all over the United States and around the world.
CSI Assistant Professor of Art Miguel A. Aragón has been named a 2017 recipient of the CUNY Academy’s Henry Wasser Award. According to the Academy’s Website, the Award, which is named after the Academy’s first Executive Director, and former Dean of Faculties at Richmond College, is given “to outstanding CUNY Assistant Professors based on nominations provided by members of the Academy.”
Professor Aragón, who was born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, earned his BFA from the University of Texas at El Paso and his MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Through the use of processes that are reductive in nature, he continues to produce a series of works that addresses the Mexican Drug Cartel Wars where thousands of people have died in drug-related violence. He ties together process and subject matter through the use of metaphors and visual metonymies, exploring the idea of perception, memory, and transformation. His work is derived from a need to find meaning in these brutal events that repositions the corpse in our field of vision, reminding us that our physical existence is finite.
His work is included in the books A Survey of Contemporary Printmaking by Matthew Egan, Michael Ehlbeck, and Heather Muise; and in Arte Tejano: de campos, barrios y fronteras by Cesáreo Moreno and published by Smithsonian Latino Center and Fundación OSDE.
In 2012, Professor Aragón received the Artist of the Year in Printmaking Award by the Austin Visual Arts Association and the Austin Critics Table Award for Artist of the Year. Along with other numerous awards, his work has been exhibited and reviewed nationally and internationally in venues such as the International Print Center New York, Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco CA, FotoFest in Houston TX, OSDE Espacio de Arte in Argentina, Austin Museum of Art, Mexic-Arte Museum, and in countries such as Canada, Japan, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
His work is also included in numerous public and private collections; these include The University of Arkansas Little Rock, National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago IL; Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin TX; Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Fort Wayne IN and Kyoto International Woodcut Association in Kyoto Japan to name a few.
Dr. Henry A. Wasser served as Dean from the time Richmond College was founded in 1966 until 1973. A prominent educator, he spent most of his career with The City University of New York, starting in 1946. He taught for many years at CCNY before becoming Dean of Faculties at Richmond College, which later merged with the two-year college, Staten Island Community College (SICC), to form the College of Staten Island CUNY. Dr. Wasser then served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Cal State Sacramento before returning to NYC and The City University. He was Chair of the CUNY University Faculty Senate from 1980-1986 and became a member and subsequently an emeritus member of The City University Board of Trustees, as well as President and Executive Director of the CUNY Academy. He was also a member of the Department of Sociology at The Graduate Center of The City University as well as the Department of English at the College of Staten Island.
Emily Rice, CSI Assistant Professor of Engineering and Physics, received the Wasser Award in 2015.
An article on Phys.org discusses a teaching case coauthored by Heidi Bertels, PhD, Assistant Professor of Management at the College of Staten Island.
According to the article, “Teaching case examines ‘average is beautiful’ doll as an entrepreneurial opportunity,” the Professor’s “teaching case is meant to introduce students to the qualities of effective entrepreneurs and to the decision-making process involved in pursuing a business prospect.”
College of Staten Island Associate Professor of English Tyehimba Jess has been named the 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry for Olio, a volume of original verse published by Wave Books.
The Pulitzer organization called it a “distinctive work that melds performance art with the deeper art of poetry to explore collective memory and challenge contemporary notions of race and identity.”
Olio, published in 2016, has been called “Encyclopedic, ingenious, and abundant…” in Publisher’s Weekly’s starred review, and was selected as one of the five best poetry books of 2016. Olio was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award in 2016.
Jess is also the author of Leadbelly, a winner in the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.” He received a Lannan Literary Award December 2016.
Professor Jess has taught at CSI for seven years, and is currently on sabbatical in Chicago, returning to the classroom in fall 2017.
“Tyehimba is a great colleague and teacher, too, and we are absolutely thrilled for him,” commented Lee Papa, Chair of the English Department, adding “our amazing creative writing faculty includes Patricia Smith and Cate Marvin, both Guggenheim fellows; Ava Chin, a Fulbright fellow; Sarah Schulman, a winner of both a Fulbright and a Guggenheim; and, now with Tyehimba, a Pulitzer winner.”
“We have always known Professor Jess to be an integral component of the College of Staten Island experience, where he has shared the emotional depth and range of his poetry at many major events,” noted Nan M. Sussman, PhD, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences. “As coordinator of the Schwerner Writer’s Series, Professor Jess invited emerging and nationally-recognized poets to read to the college community and speak in classes. The College is honored and proud of this national distinction, and delighted that students at CSI have the opportunity to learn the craft of poetry in his classes.”
Read the Author’s Biography and more about the Winning Work at pulitzer.org>
Fred Naider, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at the College of Staten Island (CSI) has been awarded a Jakob and Erna Michael Visiting Professorship at the Weizmann Institute of Science for the summer of 2018. Dr. Naider will travel to the Weizmann Institute in Israel, where he will collaborate with Professor Jacob Anglister on research related to the HIV-1 virus which is the cause of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
“This Fellowship will enable me to continue to collaborate with a group that is conducting breakthrough research on the structural biology of a pathogenic virus that remains a scourge in underdeveloped countries. Such interactions keep my research current and allows me to deliver meaningful and current scientific perspectives to students in my classroom” commented Dr. Naider, who is also a Leonard and Esther Kurtz Term Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center.
Dr. Naider plans to be primarily involved in research activities that involve the development of new methods to study peptide-protein interactions. Such interactions are ubiquitous in living cells and are the basis for the regulation of metabolism, cell growth and for the perception of external stimuli by cells. Understanding such interactions at the molecular level should enable progress on numerous diseases and pathological states.
“The award of the Jakob and Erna Michael Visiting Professorship is testimony of Dr. Naider’s outstanding scholarship and international recognition. We are very fortunate to have Dr. Naider among our distinguished faculty. He is an incredible role model for faculty and students alike,” noted Vivian Incera, PhD, Professor of Physics and Dean of Science and Technology.
The Erna and Jakob Michael Visiting Professorships were established by the Michael Family for the purpose of attracting outstanding scientists in all areas of contemporary research to the Weizmann Institute.
Adding to the impressive array of substantial grants received by College of Staten Island (CSI) faculty are several new and well-deserved federal awards.
Professor Christina Tortora, PhD, has received a $740,000 grant to continue her research in linguistics. The collaborative research grant includes CSI as the “Lead Institution,” as well as the University of Pennsylvania, Queens College, and Lehman College.
According to Dr. Tortora’s grant proposal, “The Corpus of New York City English (CoNYCE) is an in-progress project that aims to further the study of New York City English (namely, the varieties of English particular to New York City and the surrounding region), through the development and use of an innovative audio-aligned and parsed corpus of New Yorkers’ speech.”
“I was thrilled to receive positive news from the NSF so early in the process,” said Dr. Tortora, a 16-year veteran at CSI. This is her seventh National Science Foundation (NSF) and ninth federally funded grant.
The CoNYCE “will combine recent advances in speech corpus development tools with the special talents and backgrounds of CUNY undergraduates to create a database that will be a resource for researchers in all areas of linguistics. In so doing it will provide extremely valuable research opportunities and experiences for CUNY undergraduates,” according to Dr. Tortora.
During the 42-month grant, Dr. Tortora will recruit students from her course “Methods in Linguistic Research,” a class replicated at Queens College and Lehman College, to conduct 200 interviews with people living in New York. The goal is to get one million words recorded, the industry standard for this kind of work, and, according to Dr. Tortora, this student involvement is “really key.”
“Our students are perfectly positioned for this, and they are so excited about the prospect of interviewing a person of their own choosing. They are excited to contribute something of value, and they are committed to doing it right,” noted Dr. Tortora, who is also working closely with CSI-CUNY Speech Laboratory Director, Jason Bishop, PhD.
As students gather data from different people and begin to process and analyze that data, they also work closely with Dr. Tortora as she mentors them through related research projects.
Another significant award was made to Assistant Professor of Chemistry Sharon Loverde, PhD. Dr. Loverde received a $477,089 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study the behavior of small molecules and to examine how they interact with each other or with cell membranes. Using computer simulation, Dr. Loverde’s team is able to observe perspectives that are sometimes difficult to recreate in an experimental scenario.
“We can help experimentalists design better molecules or drugs, and our work is really best done at places like CSI where we can take advantage of the HPC and NSF Super Computers,” noted Dr. Loverde, who is currently working with three graduate students and two post-doctoral researchers, as well as with collaborators at City College of The City University of New York. They are looking to design different molecules to deliver cancer drugs to tumors. The focus is on how molecules behave in the body and these computer simulations are able to show just that.
“I hope that people in my group are able to learn from their experiences here at CSI and then can move on to other positions in the industry or academia, and I also hope the collaborations that I’ve started will continue,” said Dr. Loverde, a Chicago native, who has been at CSI for three years.
In other notable news, Dr. Emily Rice received a $565,658 NSF grant, her third from NSF; Dr. Sarah Berger received an NIH Research in Undergraduate Institutions grant for $375,000; Dr. Mark Feuer, with Jiang Xin, received his first NIH award of $307,156; Dr. Tobias Schaefer received a $99,554 NSF grant; and Dr. Greg Phillips received a $82,373 NIH award.
“Awards such as these are extremely competitive,” commented Associate Provost Mel Pipe, congratulating the recipients of these awards. “We are fortunate at CSI to have so many faculty who compete successfully at the highest level, not only for these federal grants but for funding from many other sources also.”
NIH offers funding for many types of grants, contracts, and even programs that help repay loans for researchers. To read more about NIH, visit their Web site.
NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations, and other research organizations throughout the United States. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of federal support to academic institutions for basic research.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recently announced the U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Scholars. The College of Staten Island (CSI) is a top-producing Fulbright Scholar institution, receiving the second most Fulbright awards in a ranking of Master’s Institutions.
With fifteen Fulbright awards since 2000, CSI received three awards just this past academic year. Ava Chin, PhD, and Ying Zhu, PhD, received 2016-2017 Fulbright Awards, and CSI administrator Monika Wojciechowski was also selected for the 2016 Fulbright International Education Administrator (IEA) Program in Japan.
Dr. Chin is currently lecturing on U.S. journalism, focusing on food and popular culture in China, and Dr. Zhu, who has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship, is conducting research in China, primarily based in the Shanghai Film Academy.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. More than 1,100 U.S. college and university faculty and administrators, professionals, artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers, and independent scholars are awarded Fulbright grants to teach and/or conduct research annually. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program operates in more than 125 countries throughout the world. Lists of Fulbright Scholar recipients are available on their Web site.