No Heavy Lift: Four Major Grants Strengthen Spinal Cord Injury Research

Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed

The past academic year has been exceptionally rewarding for Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed, who has earned four major grants for his work in treating mobility complications due to serious spinal cord injuries.

The grants, two awarded by the New York State Department of Health, one by PSC CUNY, and one by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) total nearly $850,000 toward Dr. Ahmed and his collaborator’s spinal cord injury research.

Dr. Ahmed’s research on spinal cord injuries focuses on using Trans-Spinal Direct Current Stimulation to alter the muscle tone in mice suffering from spasticity due to these injuries. According to Dr. Ahmed, the spasticity causes stiffness of the muscles affected by the nerve damage caused by spinal injuries. This stiffness can cause patients suffering from these injuries to have difficulty moving and going about their daily lives.

Dr. Ahmed’s project aims to discover what types of treatment can lead to long term relief in people who have suffered from spinal cord injuries or even from strokes.

The experiment tasks the researchers to run a very weak direct current through a mouse’s spinal cord suffering from spasticity in order to stimulate the corresponding nerve. What they have found is that depending on several factors such as current duration, intensity, direction and location, there is a significant decrease in muscle tone abnormality which results in an increase in motor movement.

Dr. Ahmed, an Associate Professor with the Department of Physical Therapy (DPT) with the School of Health Sciences at the College of Staten Island, commented “I am very happy and grateful that the government has given us this grant. We can now expand our work and get ready for the next application.”

The next step in the research, Dr. Ahmed hopes, will move the work from mice to clinical trials in humans though there are still a few factors that need to be clarified.

“We still need to investigate how long the treatment will be effective, what dosage, and how much current, exactly we need to pass through,” said Dr. Ahmed on the work that his lab is conducting.

“We always have one or two groups working on different levels of this project,” commented Dr. Ahmed on the fluidity of the program, adding that the physical therapy department currently has a system where each of the faculty gets a small group of students to work on their clinical research. There is currently one group of students working on mice and another group working on the human element of the project studying reflexes which will one day apply to Dr. Ahmed’s project once it enters clinical trials in people.

“Our physical therapy students [at CSI] are working very hard,” noted Dr. Ahmed, adding he has also engaged a group of high school students to work on the behavioral aspects of the project.

These grants awarded for Dr. Ahmed’s project, along with his research team’s dedication and hard work, will one day benefit those who have suffered spinal cord injuries and help them once again lead normal lives.

Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed was awarded the 2011 NYC BioAccelerate Prize For a Neural Stimulation System.

Fritz, Balsamini, Cutrona named Community Leaders

The 2015 Kings of Staten Island Honorees include CSI President Dr. Williams J. Fritz, SBDC Director Dean L. Balsamini, and CSI Foundation Board member Robert S. Cutrona. They were recognized with the organization’s Community Leadership Award.

Emily Rice wins Wasser Award

Emily Rice's scholarship with the Brown Dwarfs in New York City research group at the American Museum of Natural History, Hunter College and CSI, has earned her the prestigious Henry Wasser Award.

Dr. Emily Rice was awarded the Henry Wasser Award for Outstanding Scholarship. The award is given to a tenure-track assistant professor who shows great promise.  Dr. Rice is completing her fourth year of teaching at CSI, and is currently five years into her work researching brown dwarfs with the BDNYC—the Brown Dwarfs in New York City research group at the American Museum of Natural History, Hunter College and CSI.

The bulk of her project relates to determining the ages of brown dwarf objects by associating them with higher-mass stars in nearby young groups. According to Dr. Rice, “there is still a lot of work to be done since these groups of stars and brown dwarfs are very diffuse.”

The research incorporates students at all levels from undergraduate to post doc, and several of them have gone on to present posters and publish their own research at events such as the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society which took place this past January. “Much of the students’ research is self-defined,” Dr. Rice said of the student’s roles while working on research projects. “We try to let the students drive as soon as possible.”

Dr. Rice consistently earns the praise of CUNY due to her research as well as her tireless work with students.  She  is an advocate for making science studies more accessible to people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities and has been featured on broadcasts such as the BBC program World Have your Say where she discussed how we need to “push the edges of our knowledge” and that “science does benefit everybody.”

Upon hearing she won the award, Dr. Rice said she was “very surprised” as she has been busy working on her research and planning the next project but that she was also, “super excited,” adding, “it is very humbling to be recognized.”

The Board of The City University of New York’s Academy of the Humanities and Sciences has established the award in honor of Henry Wasser, Professor of English at CCNY, Fulbright professor at universities in Norway and Greece, founding Dean and Academic Provost of Richmond College (now CSI), chair of the University Faculty Senate and Professor emeritus of the Graduate School served as Executive Director of the Academy for many years.

From Dr. Wasser’s initial scholarship on Henry Adams, he developed a specialty in the study of higher education, participating in national and international conferences. Throughout his career, he encouraged younger colleagues to engage in innovative and critical thinking.

Cate Marvin wins Guggenheim on heels of recent book

Professor Cate Marvin is a co-founder of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, a research-driven organization that works to increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing as well as further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture. Image courtesy of CUNY Photo.

Cate Marvin was recently awarded a 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in Poetry.

Professor Marvin conducts poetry workshops and teaches creative writing and literature classes with the English Department at CSI, claims that this year was not the first year that she applied for the Fellowship, which makes the award even more “rewarding” since she understands the effort that goes into the application process as well as what the award means for an artist’s career. “The Guggenheim Fellowship is not for emerging writers,” said Prof. Marvin, adding, “The biggest honor of the award is that it is not only recognition for the work you have done but a vote of confidence for the work you will do in the future.” The Guggenheim Fellowship is doubly meaningful since it is awarded to members of different disciplines; it places one’s work among the pantheon of artists, scholars, and scientists and gives each award equal importance.

The award comes just on the heels of the publication of her latest book of poems, Oracle, which Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky called “a witty and elegiac new collection from the author of ‘exhilarating, fierce [and] powerful’ verse,” and Vanity Fair asserts “channels the colorful voices of Staten Island.”

The poems contained within Oracle all concern women in contemporary culture who speak to power and control. In her discussions of the book, Professor Marvin calls Oracle “a book of elegies” and notes that it is “definitely haunted.”

Prof. Marvin states that by the age of 11, she was “pretty into poetry” and credits her parents for never pressuring her “to do something with your life,” which she fears many other parents do to their children.

“I knew I wanted to be a poet by the time I was 17,” she says of discovering her unique talents. “I remember writing a poem and feeling like the poem was being written through me.” She “figured out this is great, I love this,” during a creative writing class in high school.

Her passion for writing extends to the classroom where she encourages her creative writing students to “lose their self-consciousness” and to start getting rid of what she calls “that inner censor.” She admits writing is hard work but something that is worth all of the work and though it is not glamorous, the hard work is something that is not only part of writing, it is something that she actually enjoys and she tries to share that passion for writing and evolving as an artist with her students.

Along with her work as a writer and a teacher, she co-founded VIDA: Women in Literary Arts in 2009 with several other writers to encourage more women to get involved in critical discourse. She believes that collaboration can be seriously beneficial to writers since they can be “pretty solitary—it’s just the nature of the work.” According to VIDA’s Website, the organization’s mission is to “increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing as well as further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture.”

As Prof. Marvin celebrates her Fellowship award, she is also looking ahead to her next work, a proposed book of poems about Willowbrook, and the suffering that occurred where CSI’s campus now stands.

Since 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has annually offered Fellowships to artists, scholars, and scientists in all fields. Often characterized as a “midcareer” award that is intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts, the Foundation receives between 3,500 and 4,000 applications each year. This year, after considering the recommendations of panels and juries consisting of hundreds of distinguished artists, scholars, and scientists, the Board of Trustees has granted 175 Fellowships across more than 50 disciplines.

Joshua Mehigan named Guggenheim Fellow

Joshua Mehigan, Doctoral student with the CUNY Graduate Center and adjunct with the CSI English Department, has been named a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry.

Mehigan currently teaches English and creative writing at the College of Staten Island and works as a workshop instructor for Brooklyn Poets, a literary nonprofit.

Appointed on the basis of “prior achievement and exceptional promise,” Mehigan joins 174 winning candidates selected from a pool of more than 3,100 applicants.

His first book, The Optimist (Ohio UP), was a finalist for the 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry and winner of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. His second, Accepting the Disaster (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) was cited in the TLS, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere as a best book of 2014.

Mehigan’s poems have also appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Smithsonian, and several anthologies.

Established in 1925, Guggenheim Fellowships reward those who “have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts,” according to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Watch a short video on vimeo.com>

View his website: www.joshuamehigan.net

Emily Rice receives Henry Wasser Award

Emily Rice received the Henry Wasser Award for Outstanding Scholarship. The award is given to a tenure-track assistant professor whose scholarship shows great promise.

The Board of the CUNY Academy of the Humanities and Sciences has established the award in honor of Henry Wasser, Professor of English at CCNY, Fulbright professor at universities in Norway and Greece, founding Dean and Academic Provost of Richmond College (now the College of Staten Island), chair of the University Faculty Senate and Professor emeritus of the Graduate School served as Executive Director of the Academy for many years.

From his initial scholarship on Henry Adams, he developed a specialty in the study of higher education, participating in national and international conferences. Throughout his career, Dr. Wasser encouraged younger colleagues to engage in innovative and critical thinking.

 

[video] The Division of Humanities and Social Sciences Celebrates Women’s History Month

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8am9UPqHUcY[/youtube]

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the College of Staten Island’s Division of Humanities and Social Sciences is honoring women faculty whose accomplishments in their respective fields have recently earned them prestigious national recognition.

 

 

Zara Anishanslin

Dr. Zara Anishanslin earned an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship to complete research for her upcoming book Producing Revolution: The Material and Visual Culture of Making and Remembering the American Revolution. The book will analyze images and objects from 1763 to 1791 to consider the lives of ordinary citizens and elites who participated in the Revolutionary War.

Patricia Brooks

Dr. Patricia Brooks was named a Distinguished Fellow, CUNY Advanced Research Collaborative. Her research explores the effective use of digital tools and computer-based instruction in undergraduate courses with the purpose of providing state-of-the art information for a Teaching of Psychology textbook. The textbook is designed to provide up-to-date instructional methods, practical advice, and research findings on the scholarship of teaching and learning to prepare graduate students to teach undergraduate courses for the first time.

Lana Karasik

Dr. Lana Karasik received a National Science Foundation grant for her work studying issues that are core to developmental psychology, including questions about cross-cultural consistency in children’s development and the effects of context on early experiences and emerging skills. The study, titled “Effects of Traditional Cradling Practices on Infant’s Physical, Motor, and Social Development,” capitalizes on a rare chance to study effects of restricted movement on infant development by examining the use of a “gahvora” cradle in Tajikistan where the restriction of infant movement is common.

Barbara Montero

Dr. Barbara Montero received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her book that focuses on disproving the notion that when you are really good at something, your actions should happen automatically. Her work aims to show why the idea that thinking interferes with doing is a myth.

Irina Sekerina

Dr. Irina Sekerina received a Fulbright Fellowship as well as a National Science Foundation grant to conduct the Workshop on Bilingualism and Executive Function: Interdisciplinary Approach, which will take place on May 18 and 19, 2015, at The Graduate Center, CUNY. The two-day workshop will include researchers who will bring their interdisciplinary perspective to the question of how bilingualism is related to executive function.

Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith received a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the 2014 Library of Congress Rebekah Bobbitt Prize for her book, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, which explores the second wave of the Great Migration, detailing her parents’ move from the South to Chicago and being raised as an “up North” child swayed by Motown. Patricia Smith’s work has been featured in editions of Best American Poetry and Best American Essays.

Esther Son

Dr. Esther Son‘s research earned her a grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Titled, “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Children’s Early Diagnostic and Health Services,” the study investigates racial and ethnic disparities in pathways to diagnosis and early service utilization within the vulnerable population of children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Christina Tortora

Dr. Christina Tortora received a National Science Foundation grant for her work on the “Audio-Aligned and Parsed Corpus of Appalachian English.” The product of this project will be a one-million-word corpus of Appalachian English. The corpus will be large, publicly available, and searchable online with standard, user-friendly software and will serve as a tool that will contribute to increased empirical rigor in linguistic research.

“Foreign Policy” Magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers List Includes CSI Professor

Artist and professor Michael Mandiberg gathers with Secretary of State John Kerry and co-honorees in Washington, DC

Michael Mandiberg celebrates with fellow honorees during the 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014 reception. Photo by Dakota Fine.

A leading educator at The City University of New York’s (CUNY) College of Staten Island (CSI) was recognized during a recent Washington, DC gala as one of the “100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014.”

Michael Mandiberg, an Associate Professor in CSI’s Department of Media Culture in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, was selected for the distinction by Foreign Policy (FP) magazine for his work on Art+Feminism, an initiative focused on bolstering a more balanced presentation of art, feminism, gender studies, and LGBTQ issues on Wikipedia.

Prior to the Nov. 17 dinner celebration in the Four Seasons Hotel, Mandiberg and co-honorees from across the globe gathered with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for “Transformational Trends: A Year of Disruptive Thinking,” a policy conference, now in its third year, where Kerry gave the keynote address. The event was jointly sponsored by FP and the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff. Others honorees included artist Kara Walker, cryptographer Phil Zimmerman, Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong, and Drs. Kevin Whaley and Larry Zeitlin, creators of the Ebola drug Zmapp.

Mandiberg and his collaborators, Siân Evans, Dorothy Howard, Richard Knipel, Jacqueline Mabe,y and Laurel Ptak, were recognized for organizing the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. On Feb. 1, 150 people gathered at Eyebeam, a center for art and technology in New York City, to edit Wikipedia entries on women, art, feminism, and related subjects. They were joined by approximately 500 others in 30 satellite events across three continents.

“We do this work because it is the right thing to do, without thinking of a prize or reward,” Mandiberg said. “My collaborators and I are deeply honored to be included among a group of such amazing honorees.”

Wikipedia is the sixth most visited Website, according to Internet data provider Alexa, but only 13 percent of Wikipedia’s contributors are female.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to award recipients during a policy conference in Washington, DC. Photo by Dakota Fine.

“Professor Mandiberg’s innovative work blends technology, art, and explorations of systems of exchange,” said Nan M. Sussman, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at CSI. “The 2014 Art+Feminism Wikipedia project was an international collaborative initiative that resulted in more than 101 new articles created and 90 articles revised in an attempt to address the gender imbalance in Wikipedia. He brings this same interdisciplinary curiosity and social critique to his classroom.”

“Our department,” added Professor Ying Zhu, PhD, Chair of CSI’s Department of Media Culture, “is very proud of Michael’s socially and politically engaging work.”

Many more editing meet-ups have followed since the Art+Feminism inaugural gathering. In October, the program coordinated the first in a series of workshops called “Train the Trainers,” to prepare aspiring activist editors for future projects. The next international Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon will take place on March 7 and 8, 2015, the weekend of International Women’s Day. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will host the anchor New York City event.

In addition to his position as an Associate Professor at CSI, Mandiberg is a member of the Doctoral Faculty at The Graduate Center, CUNY. An interdisciplinary artist and scholar, he directs the New York Arts Practicum, a summer arts institute where participants experientially learn to bridge their lives as art students into their lives as artists.

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