Queer Pollen named Outstanding Academic Title

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries named Professor David A. Gerstner’s latest book as one of its Outstanding Academic Titles.

CSI Professor David A. Gerstner’s book, Queer Pollen: White Seduction, Black Male Homosexuality, and the Cinematic, was named one of Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries’ Outstanding Academic Titles in its January 2012 issue.

Each year in the January issue, Choice publishes a list of Outstanding Academic Titles that were reviewed the previous calendar year. The prestigious list is quite selective, containing only ten percent of approximately 7,000 works reviewed in Choice each year. Queer Pollen: White Seduction, Black Male Homosexuality, and the Cinematic was honored due to its overall excellence in presentation and scholarship, importance relative to other literature in the field, and its value to undergraduates, as well as many other criteria.

Queer Pollen, Professor Gerstner’s fourth book, discusses three notable Black queer 20th century artists—painter and writer Richard Bruce Nugent, author James Baldwin, and filmmaker Marlon Riggs—and the unique ways they turned to various media to work through their experiences living as queer Black men.  The book explores the complexity of these three men as they made their art, facing the challenge, not only of being Black in a racist society, but also gay in a homophobic society.  As stated on the University of Illinois Press Website, “Gerstner elucidates the complexities in expressing queer black desire through traditional art forms such as painting, poetry, and literary prose, or in the industrial medium of cinema.”

Gerstner aims to place the three artists within their cultural identity and to establish their complicated relationships with the White culture that seduced them.  “I wanted these three men to occupy a certain place in the discussion of Black male sexuality and their contribution to American art.” Gerstner said.

Gerstner, who is an avid reader of James Baldwin, discusses how it was important for those three artists in his book to have participated in a range of arts. “Any good artist has cross-aesthetic interests,” Gerstner said. He went on to say that “Baldwin would not be as interesting if he did not have the capacity to move through different disciplines.”

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries is the premier source for reviews of academic books, electronic media, and Internet resources of interest to those in higher education. More than 35,000 librarians, faculty, and key decision-makers rely on Choice magazine and Choice Reviews Online for collection development and scholarly research. Choice reaches almost every undergraduate college and university library in the United States.

David A. Gerstner is a Professor of Cinema Studies at the College of Staten Island and the CUNY Graduate Center. His books include Queer Pollen: White Seduction, Black Male Homosexuality, and the Cinematic; Manly Arts: Masculinity and Nation in Early American Cinema; The Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture (editor); and Authorship and Film (co-editor).  His essays appear in several anthologies and journals.


CSI Professor is Awarded James Alexander Robertson Memorial Prize

Assistant Professor Marcela Echeverri was recently awarded the Annual James Alexander Robertson Memorial Prize.

Marcela Echeverri, Assistant Professor of History at CSI, was recently awarded the Annual James Alexander Robertson Memorial Prize by the Conference of Latin American History (CLAH) for best article appearing in the Hispanic American Historical Review (Duke University Press).

The article, entitled “Popular Royalists, Empire, and Politics in South Western New Granada, 1809-1819” (HAHR 91:2, May 2011), garnered Echeverri much praise for focusing on what she claims is a “counter-intuitive” point of view. Echeverri’s article describes the political climate during South West Colombia’s Independence Wars as she examines why many of the enslaved Blacks and indigenous communities in the region united with Spanish forces to fight against independence armies, something that “contemporary people would find paradoxical,” Echeverri said. Her work explores the question, “why were indigenous people and enslaved Blacks in favor of the monarchy during the independence wars?” This “question takes us into exciting new analytical ground,” she said.

Echeverri’s area of study involves colonial Latin American history and the comparative study of revolutions in the Atlantic world with a particular emphasis on race, ethnicity, slavery, and the law.  The early 19th century “was a very transformative moment in time,” said Echeverri. “It is part of the Age of Revolution, when nations were formed inLatin America.” She called winning the Robertson Memorial Prize a “great honor” because the HAHR is one of the most prestigious journals in the field of Latin American history, and added that “this scholarly recognition shows that popular royalism is a topic that deserves attention.”

Echeverri, currently a Resident Mellon Fellow at the Center for the Humanities in The Graduate Center, CUNY, is at work on finishing the manuscript for her book, tentatively entitled Popular Royalists and Revolution in Colombia, 1780-1820. In this monograph, she goes back a couple of decades into the late-colonial period to create a profile of the region and a “political history of the two groups, indigenous and enslaved people.” The project is an extension of the theme she addresses in the award-winning article by examining “the participation of Indians and slaves in the royalist forces that rose in defense of the colonial order in southwestern New Granada during the crisis of the Spanish monarch between 1808 and 1825, and seeks to explain how people who were the objects of imperial rule became its defenders.”

Echeverri’s work illustrates the ways in which indigenous populations and people of African descent in Southwest Colombia are central to national history, and that their particular political histories have deeper and more complex dimensions than has been previously recognized.

The CLAH consist of and welcomes all persons interested in the study of the history ofLatin Americaand related areas. It is open to professional Latin Americanists as well as others personally interested in the region. For more information, visit the CLAH Website clah.h-net.org

Michal Kruk Named a Top 100 Chemist

Michal Kruk stands in front of the gas adsorption analyzer, which allows one to determine the surface area and pore size distribution of solid porous materials. Kruk uses these instruments extensively in his research.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) have declared that 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry.

One of the many special events being held this year is the publication of the Top 100 Chemists, 2000-2010, Special Report on High-Impact Chemists by Thomson Reuters.

Dr. Michal Kruk, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the College of Staten Island, received the distinction of being included on this list, which celebrates the scientists who have achieved the highest citation impact scores (number of citations per paper) for chemistry papers published since January 2000.

Thomson Reuters, one of the most reputable agencies that compiles rankings in the sciences, measures the impact of all chemistry papers published by each scientist.  According to Thomson Reuters, “Citation impact is a weighted measure of influence that seeks to reveal consistently superior performance.”

Dr. Kruk was ranked 72nd on the list with an impact score of 61.39 (the average for chemists over that span was 11.07). Approximately one million chemists were recorded in the journal publications indexed by Thomson Reuters during the last decade.

Dr. Kruk was modest upon hearing of his placement in the ranking, saying that he “did not expect such recognition” and considered the achievement a “great distinction.” He was also quick to credit his colleagues and students, “I have worked with a number of excellent scientists.”

Dr. Michal Kruk received his MS degree in Chemistry from Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland in 1994 under the guidance of Dr. Andrzej Patrykiejew. His PhD dissertation in Chemistry under the guidance of Dr. Mietek Jaroniec was defended at Kent State University (Kent, OH) in 1998. Dr. Kruk continued working with Dr. Jaroniec as a postdoctoral fellow from 1998 to 2003, after which he joined Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) for two years, working with Drs. Krzysztof Matyjaszewski and Tomasz Kowalewski as advisers.

Dr. Kruk, whose work is supported by grants from the Petroleum Research Fund (PRF) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), joined CSI as an Assistant Professor in September 2005 and has been actively involved in research, teaching, and service to CSI and the scientific community. “The faculty as well as the administration of CSI and CUNY were very supportive of my research program,” he said.

The focus of Dr. Kruk’s research is primarily on high-surface-area nanoporous materials with pores from two to 50 nanometers (nm) in diameter, which are arranged in ordered arrays, much like microscopic honeycombs. The surface area of these solid materials measures several hundred square meters per gram, the equivalent to a basketball court in one gram of material.

This area of work is of significant interest due to the fact that these materials can be used in the removal of toxic substances from water and air, energy storage, electronics, and the controlled release of therapeutic substances. At CSI, Dr. Kruk, along with two postdoctoral fellows, five graduate students, and about 20 undergraduate students, has been working on the synthesis of these materials as well as their functionalization.

An important aspect of earning this achievement is that it “gives exposure to the remarkable research that takes place at CSI, and in our Chemistry Department in particular,” noted Dr. Kruk, who is enthusiastic about his future work at CSI. “The College of Staten Island has been a great place to advance research with bright and extremely dedicated students.”

View the Top 100 Chemists, 2000-2010, Special Report on High-Impact Chemists.

Schulman Named Distinguished Professor

The Board of Trustees of The City University of New York has appointed CSI English Professor Sarah Schulman as Distinguished Professor.

The Board of Trustees of The City University of New York has approved the appointment of Professor Sarah Schulman as Distinguished Professor.

Professor Schulman is a tenured Full Professor in the Department of English and has been at CSI and CUNY since 1999. She made significant contributions across disciplines at national and international levels. Her work has made an invaluable impact in creative writing, theater, film, and, not least of all, gay and lesbian culture. Her art and political practices are known for their integrated multi-mediated approaches.

Commenting on her appointment, Schulman said, “This is, of course, a life-changing moment of recognition for me, and I am especially proud as a second-generation product of New York City public schools. My mother grew up in Brownsville/East New York, attended Thomas Jefferson High School, and was in the first class of women at City College in 1949, when women had to have higher GPAs than men to be admitted. I went to Hunter High School and to Hunter College, where I studied with Audre Lorde, an experience that has enriched me all my life. But really what is most meaningful for me about this promotion is that writing about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered people and people with AIDS, is finally being recognized as an organic and fundamental part of American Arts and Letters.”

Professor Schulman has published prolifically during her career: nine novels, four works of non-fiction, and one play. Her work has been translated into nine languages and has been included in scores of anthologies. She has produced more than a dozen plays in theaters and other performance venues. Her work in the arts has gained her Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships. This past year, her co-authored screenplay, The Owls, premiered at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian of London, The Nation, The Village Voice, Mother Jones, Interview, The Progressive, American Theater, Millennium Film Journal, and others.

Professor Schulman’s many contributions dedicated to the cultural and political spheres of LGBTQ arts and ideas were recently honored with the David R. Kessler Lecture and Award in LGBTQ Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. This past year Professor Schulman was also appointed to the Advisory Council of the Harvard Kennedy School, Carr Center for Human Rights and Social Movements.

“I have had some extraordinary students here at CSI,” Schulman added, “who I believe in and who deserve to advance and become leaders of our community and country. I worry that our most gifted students are not always getting the opportunities that they deserve and I hope that, as a teacher, I can relate to each of my students as an individual, both of us working to form a distinct partnership in learning, so that whatever they bring to the table can be recognized and enhanced by our collaboration.”

NIH awards researcher with history of Alzheimer’s in family determined to find a cure

Dr. Alejandra Alonso, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at the College of Staten Island, was recently awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Alzheimer’s Association for the study of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. The grants total approximately $330,000. With 5.3 million people afflicted with Alzheimer’s, Dr. Alonso will lead a team of researchers to develop novel model systems and therapeutics to cure or delay the onset of this devastating disease.

Her laboratory on the CSI campus bustles with student activity. From PhD students and post-doctoral researchers studying slides of brain tissue through a microscope to Master’s students jotting down notes at their lab stations, there is a sense of purpose in Dr. Alonso’s lab that can only be accomplished when everyone involved believes they are doing something truly important.

“It is important to look at problems from a researcher’s perspective,” Dr. Alonso said when asked about her students’ roles in her research. “This is a chance to do important hands-on-research.”

A protein called TAU plays a significant role in the neurodegenerative process leading to Alzheimer’s disease. The study of this protein was neglected in the past, but Dr. Alonso has continued working on the role of TAU for more than a decade, along with her former mentors, Drs. Khalid Iqbal and Inge Grundke-Iqbal, at the New York Institute for Basic Research.

Dr. Alonso plans to examine the effects of Tau hyperphosphorylation on the microtubules in the brain. The TAU proteins stabilize microtubules which, in turn are the scaffolding of the cytoskeleton, or cellular skeleton. Through her research, Dr. Alonso hopes to determine what impact hyperphosphorylation (oversaturation of phosphate to a protein) has on a cell’s structure.

The NIH grant will focus on how TAU protein is modified in diseased brains to cause neurodegeneration. The goal of the Alzheimer’s Association grant, entitled “Tau-Induced Neurodegeneration,” is to generate new experimental models of neurofibrillary degeneration of the brain.

Dr. Alonso has experienced the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease in her own family, and hopes to develop the research tools and model systems to make strides for a cure. “If we know the mechanisms, we can work toward preventing or delaying the onset of this devastating disease.”

Dr. Alonso received her PhD at the University of Cordoba, Argentina. She began her work in the U.S. at the Institute for Basic Research, where she focused on biochemical characterization neuronal dysfunction in the brain. She began her work at CSI in 2007, and now has over 40 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Alejandra Alonso, Associate Professor at the Department of Biology at CSI

Schulman joins Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy

Sarah Schulman, Professor of English at the College of Staten Island, has been named to the Founding Advisory Collective of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program at Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

Speaking of the appointment, Schulman, who is an author, playwright, historian, and activist, says, “This is a huge moment for me personally. For years I have worked and accomplished a great deal in many arenas, but because I have had integrity about my lesbian content, I have often not been acknowledged at my level of merit. To sit on a board with [New York Times columnist] Frank Rich and [journalist, author, and activist] Naomi Klein means that The Carr Center has come to the place where they will not allow indifference or marginalization of lesbian content to demean intellectuals and artists and keep us from our appropriate peer group.”

Timothy McCarthy, Lecturer on History and Literature and on Public Policy, and Director of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program, notes that the Program, which will launch this fall, seeks to answer the questions of “what happens when we put human rights and social movements together, how do social movements challenge the way we think about human rights, and how do human rights inform, inspire, or confound social movements that seek to transform society?” The Program will employ research and teaching to address these issues and, McCarthy states, it “will sponsor conferences and lecture series, biweekly study groups, a spring-term brownbag series on humanities and human rights, a whole range of things.” As for the Advisory Collective, he explains that it “includes scholars and activists and policymakers from a whole range of backgrounds and institutions.”

Discussing his reasons for selecting Schulman, McCarthy says that he has “long admired Sarah’s work, as a scholar, a writer, and as a public intellectual and activist. She is someone who quite deftly combines all those roles in a way that’s pretty rare. She is someone whose political activism I’ve always admired, whose writing I find provocative and powerful, and who personally I know to be someone who is deeply engaged and committed to the public work of bringing ideas to bear on the world problems so that we can work together to change society. She is someone I see as having done that for her entire career.”

Schulman notes the timeliness of the Program’s launch, especially in relation to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issues. “Politically, it is time that the human rights movement, internationally, acknowledge that LGBT people are “human” and that our liberation movements are “human rights” movements. I have a 30-year history of political and cultural activism for LGBT people and people with AIDS, and it’s time for that work to be seen in the broad human rights paradigm. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring my perspective to a wide range of global events, and be allowed to participate in the big conversation.”

Schulman is the author of 14 books : the novels The Mere Future (2009), The Child (2007), Shimmer (1998), Rat Bohemia (1995), Empathy (1992), People in Trouble (1990), After Delores (1988), Girls Visions and Everything (1986), The Sophie Horowitz Story (1984), the nonfiction books The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (forthcoming in 2010), Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences (2009), Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS and the Marketing of Gay America (1998), My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years (1994), and the plays Carson McCullers (2002) (published by Playscripts Inc,), Manic Flight Reaction (2005) and Enemies, A Love Story (2007) adapted from IB Singer.

Her awards include a Guggenheim (Playwriting), Fulbright (Judaic Studies), Revson Fellow for the Future of New York at Columbia University, two American Library Association Book Awards (Fiction and Nonfiction), three NY Foundation for the Arts Fellowships (Fiction and Playwriting), finalist for the Prix de Rome, Kessler Prize for Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies.

A participant citizen, Schulman has been active in a number of foundational movements for social change including abortion rights, AIDS activism, and the gay and lesbian liberation movement. She is co-founder with Jim Hubbard of both: MIX:NY LGBT Experimental Film and Video Festival, and the ACT UP Oral History Project (www.actuporalhistory.org).

Schulman is also a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University.

English Professor Sarah Schulman has been named to a program advisory collective on human rights.

CSI Mathematician Wins Guggenheim Everybody Loves Riemann

Rafael Herrera, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the College of Staten Island, was named a Guggenheim Fellow in the 2002 competition.

Herrera’s research will be in the “Classification Problems in Riemannian Geometry of Manifolds with Special Structures.”

In his classic work, Euclid focused on the geometry of the (flat) plane. The study of curved surfaces like those of a sphere or a doughnut, flowered in the late 19th century, thanks to mathematicians such as the German-born J. C. F. Gauss and G. F. B. Riemann. Their revolutionary ideas and use of calculus to study the geometry of surfaces created the field of Differential Geometry and laid the mathematical foundation for the development of theories such as the theory of relativity. Their studies led to the definition and study of abstract multidimensional spaces or n-dimensional Riemannian manifolds.

Herrera, working in the realm of abstraction, studies multidimensional spaces, which under certain circumstances are related to physical models of the world. His objective during his Guggenheim research will be to achieve the classification of the positive quaternion-Kähler manifolds, which form a family of Riemannian manifolds with special structures.

Herrera earned a BSc in Mathematics from the National University of Mexico in 1993. He graduated with Honors, and was a recipient of the prestigious and competitive Gabino Barreda Medal for the highest grade average among the 130,000 undergraduate students in the University.

In 1993, Herrera received a full scholarship to attend Oxford University, UK, where he entered the PhD program in Mathematics. Herrera became a Junior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, from 1996-1998 by successfully competing against 300 other scholars in the Arts and Sciences.

Upon graduating from Oxford in 1997, Herrera became a Gibbs Instructor (an endowed position for promising young mathematicians) at Yale University in 1998-2000, teaching undergraduate as well as graduate courses on Complex manifolds and Riemannian manifolds with special holonomy.

Before joining CSI, Herrera was a Visiting Professor at the University of California at Riverside, teaching Differential and Integral Calculus of one and several variables, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations and Differential Geometry.

Concomitantly, Herrera was the Director of Upper Elementary School Mathematics Institute for teachers of Coachella Valley Unified School District, a K-12 outreach project funded by the California Department of Education through the University of California where he endeavored to raise the educational standards of current teachers.

In addition to his recent Guggenheim, Herrera is working on a joint project funded by the National Science Foundation in association with Professor Yat-Sun Poon, the Primary Researcher at the University of California at Riverside.