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.

CSI Professor Recognized for Leadership in Family Psychology

CSI Professor Irene Deitch was recently awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the American Psychological Association (APA). Citing not only her many important roles within the organization, Deitch was honored with this award for the diverse and creative ways she has articulated Family Psychology through the media and with the general public.

“We are pleased to present this award to you, and thank you for your many significant contributions,” said Terence Patterson, the Immediate Past President of the APA’s Division of Family Psychology, who presented the award in Chicago at the 103rd Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association.

While in Chicago, Deitch presented a symposium on “Death, Dying, and Bereavement,” and one entitled “You Think You’ve Got Problems?,” which explored the use of humor in psychotherapy. A three mile a day runner, Deitch was the winner in her age group for the five kilometer “fun run,” which was sponsored by the APA.

Whether in Chicago or Staten Island, Dr. Deitch proves diverse and innovative with her approach to psychology. She writes extensively about aging, death, dying and bereavement, and media psychology, as well as humor and psychotherapy. Nationally, she is a recognized expert in her field, and locally, she has developed an engaging CSI program named Options: College Study Program for Older Adults.

The Options program at CSI is like a cruise ship of opportunity, exploration, and discovery for its passengers–replacing the voyager’s usual gastronomic rapacity for seafood and cocktails with a hunger for knowledge and a motivating thirst to cross new oceans–plus, the classes at CSI involve more than the art of napkin folding, such as the popular “Exploring the Psychology of Women through Art” class.

“Options is so much more than a social experience,” said Dr. Deitch, who is Chair of the program, “it’s about our dedication to the community, and engaging older students with challenging and rewarding programs that are not available elsewhere.”

From U.S. History to Art, Writing, Computers, and Psychology, volunteer instructors–some CSI students, some retired Distinguished Professors–engage students by eliciting ideas and conversations from a classroom that is brimming with years of wisdom, both conventional and visionary. The students pay a small semester fee, and are welcome to participate in as few as one class, or as many as all of them. Last year, over 100 students attended the nearly 20 courses offered.

Off campus, Dr. Deitch serves as a non-governmental representative to the United Nations’ International Council of Psychologists, and on the boards of Staten Island University Hospice, the Eastern Region of the American Cancer Society, Geller House (an adolescent diagnostic center), the Tibetan Museum, and Amethyst House.

As a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Deitch serves as Chair for numerous APA committees, most notably the Membership Committee and the Psychotherapists Enhancing Quality of Life Issues Committee, as well as serving as Interdivisional Chair of the Psychologists Working with Older Adults Committee, and as the former chair of the Public Information Committee. She is also a certified Grief Therapist and Death Educator.

She has recently been featured in The New York Times, TIME magazine, Inman News, Clarian Health news, Germany’s Medical Tribune, and The Philadelphia Enquirer.

CSI Student awarded 2002 Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship

Elie Jarrouge, a College of Staten Island (CSI) student, recently earned a 2002 Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, a sought-after, paid summer internship offering mentoring and lifetime contacts to talented college students who demonstrate exceptional academic promise and outstanding leadership skills.

Elie’s decision to leave his family in Lebanon at age 17 was a difficult one, but his ten years in the Boy Scouts honed his survival and leadership skills, and effectively prepared him for higher education in America.

A pre-med student majoring in biology at CSI, Elie not only has a 3.81 Grade Point Average, but is also very active on campus. He conducts research in the biology department, studying enzymes activities in fruit flies and gel electrophoresis to determine genetic components.

Elie tutors students in high-level physics, chemistry, organic chemistry and biology. He also works as a Teaching Scholar with the Discovery Institute and as a math tutor with CSI’s Summer Immersion program. This summer Elie is interning at the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo.

Established by The Thomas J. Watson Foundation in 1999, the fellowship operates on the principle that “talent is broadly distributed but only selectively developed.” Watson Fellows have their pick of coveted job placements (“work they can learn from”) over three consecutive summers in non-profit agencies, business organizations, and government service that give them a chance to grow and develop interpersonal skills, and gain self-confidence in a variety of professional settings.

Five Watson fellows currently call CSI home, including 2000 Fellowship recipients Kenyatta Carter, Yekaterina Lushpenko, and Tara Lynch, as well as the 2001 recipient Kristine Gansico.

During the third summer of being a Watson Fellow, international assignments can be granted through partnerships with Save the Children in Haiti, Malawi, or Ethiopia, as well as The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

Tara Lynch was the college’s commencement speaker on June 6, 2002, and is working this summer in Ethiopia with Save the Children, while Kate Lushpenko, a CSI senior, will be guarding the museum walls of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy.

For more than 40 years The Thomas J. Watson Foundation has provided opportunities for graduating seniors at 50 selective liberal arts colleges to travel abroad for a year of work and study through The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

A series of weekly seminars further enhances the learning experience by encouraging debate and interaction, and also provides an opportunity for Watson Fellows to swap stories about their work experiences. Visits to cultural institutions like Shakespeare in the Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art enable students to discover New York’s free summer offerings. Every Watson Fellow receives a generous stipend as well as a laptop computer to complete their assignments.

In 1999 The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship was launched to provide a set of unparalleled workplace and seminar experiences to ignite the professional and personal growth of students. Students compete annually for 15 Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship openings with only the most fiercely determined candidates surviving the rigorous soul-searching required of them.

For more information about The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship visit www.jkwatson.org

CSI Professor recognized for Historical Study of America

CSI Professor Jonathan D. SassiCollege of Staten Island (CSI) Professor Jonathan D. Sassi was recently awarded the Ralph D. Gray Prize for the best article published in the Journal of the Early Republic for the year 2001.

The Journal of the Early Republic is published by the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) at Purdue University, which was established in 1977 as a nonprofit organization of professional and avocational historians interested in the encouragement of studies in the history of the United States during the period of the Early Republic.

The selection committee consisted of Gary Kornblith, chair; Lacy K. Ford Jr.; and Joanne Pope Melish, and commended Sassi’s article, “The First Party Competition and Southern New England’s Public Christianity,” for offering both a nuanced interpretation of the impact of party politics on New England religious culture between 1800 and 1815, and a fresh explanation of the rise of Protestant-based reform movements soon afterward.

Sassi’s article covers the period between the Revolution and Civil War, known as the Early Republic. It focuses on the “descendants of the Puritans, who were still pursuing the ideal of a godly society in the new American era after the Revolution,” summates Sassi. The material in his article is relevant today, because “it discusses the origin of reform movements like the abolitionist movement, nationalism, and our national identity.”

His article looks at the effect that the first period of political party competition had on religious and social life in New England, carefully integrating intellectual and political analyses of sermons and other clerical writings while explicating the obstacles and opportunities presented to New England ministers by the Jeffersonian challenge to Federalist leadership at national and state levels of government.

The Congregational clergy known as the “Standing Order” were the most significant factor in the civil, religious, and cultural affairs of most New England communities but found, to their dismay and alarm, that they could no longer rely on civil magistrates to promote Christian morality as they understood it, while dissenting ministers from this ecclesiastical establishment adopted Democratic-Republican ideas and rhetoric in their campaign for the disestablishment of the Congregational Church.

As the crisis of authority deepened, Standing Order clerics lost faith in the nation’s divine mission, but they also developed a brilliant evangelical strategy for winning back the hearts, minds, and souls of New Englanders. Out of the Standing Order’s conservative concerns came the upsurge of religious revivalism and social reform movements that transformed New England much more dramatically than disestablishment per se during the 1820s and 1830s.

“Sassi tells this complex and fascinating story with greater precision and clarity than earlier authors in an article that is at once analytically sophisticated, well situated in the relevant historiography, and blessedly free of jargon,” comments Professor Michael A. Morrison, coeditor of the Journal of the Early Republic.

Sassi’s most recent book, A Republic of Righteousness: The Public Christianity of the Post-Revolutionary New England Clergy, published in 2001 and available from by Oxford University Press, argues that New England clergymen furthered the vitality of early republican culture through the application of their corporate ethic to public issues, fostering American identity, nationalism, and civil religion.

Inquiries concerning membership in SHEAR, or institutional subscriptions to the Journal should be addressed to: Editor, Journal of the Early Republic, Purdue University, 1358 University Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1358.


Absract of The Impact of the First Party Competition upon the Southern New England Clergy’s Public Christianity by Jonathan D. Sassi

During the first fifteen years of the nineteenth century, political polarization and conflict wrought a profound change upon the southern New England clergy’s public Christianity. Clergymen across the denominational spectrum transformed the ways they linked religious belief and life in society. For most ministers of the Congregational Standing Order, Jefferson’s election and the rise of the Democratic-Republican Party inaugurated a period of drastic reevaluation. They became frustrated with the inaction of Federalist politicians, repudiated their providential reading of revolutionary American history, and spiraled into apocalyptic nightmares of impending doom by 1812. But their response to the first party contest did not stand alone. Even within the Standing Order a few moderates and Republicans bolted from the leading camp. Religious dissenters meanwhile embraced the Jeffersonians. Not only did the Democratic-Republicans give dissenters electoral allies, but also the dissenters’ critique of the establishment became more mainstream, as they added popular Jeffersonian rhetoric to their sectarian complaints. By joining with others who detested the Standing Order’s political preaching, dissenters were able to weaken or even bring down the establishment. Because of these changes, the Congregational ministry had to conceive new strategies if it still wanted to connect Christianity and society. Moving outside the establishment, it emphasized the socially sanctifying role of the evangelical churches acting on their communities. These changes in ideology, catalyzed by the polarization and acrimony of partisanship, prepared the way for the denominational realignments and reform initiatives of the 1820s.

CSI President appointed to New York City Charter Revision Commission

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appointed Dr. Marlene Springer, President, College of Staten Island (CSI), The City University of New York (CUNY), to a 13-member Charter Revision Commission to be chaired by former Police Commissioner Robert J. McGuire.

This Commission will review the entire City Charter to determine whether revision is needed and will hold a series of public meetings and hearings in all five boroughs before issuing a final report of its findings and recommendations.

The bipartisan Commission will decide by early September whether to propose any amendments to New York City voters on Election Day, Tuesday, November 5, 2002.

The members of this Commission “represent the very best of New York: independence, intelligence, and integrity,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “I am certain they will do an excellent job in evaluating whether civic improvements are needed, and if they are, in proposing amendments to the voters this November.”

“The City Charter Revision panel is joined together by a deep interest in the issues that face our city, and will be focused on positively contributing to whatever changes are necessary to the City Charter,” commented CSI’s President Springer. “I look forward to collaborating with my fellow members on the panel, and recommending a roadmap for legislators to bring our great city into the 21st Century.”

The Charter Revision Commission members include Robert J. McGuire, Herman Badillo, Richard I. Beattie, Wellington Z. Chen, Jerry E. Garcia, Patricia L. Gatling, Judah Gribetz, Patricia M. Hynes, Harry Kresky, Loretta Lynch, Cecilia E. Norat, Marlene Springer, and Herbert Sturz.

CSI presents First Annual Beverly Curry Scholarship Award

The College of Staten Island, in cooperation with the CSI Foundation, presents the annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, in the Campus Center on the Willowbrook Campus.

This year, Scholarship Committee Chairpersons Dean David Podell and Dean José Torres, recognize new and returning CSI students for their outstanding academic achievements and promise. With over 150 scholarships to be awarded, CSI is investing approximately $200,000.00 (mostly privately raised) in the future of its students during the upcoming academic year.

This year’s award ceremony presents the first annual Beverly Curry Memorial scholarship. Reflecting on the past to build a better tomorrow, Frederick Curry established this scholarship in memory of his wife Beverly Curry, whose life was taken in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Beverly Curry attended CSI in the evenings while working full-time at Cantor Fitzgerald. She was a Dean’s List student, maintaining a 3.8 Grade Point Average, and was majoring in Finance.

Mrs. Curry was a student who loved learning, and her roots were firmly planted into the fertile soil of CSI. Professor of Economics Simone Wegge considered her his favorite student because “in spite of the weighty financial responsibilities she shouldered at work each day, Beverly came to class upbeat and ready to work.”

At the recent CSI commencement ceremonies, Frederick Curry accepted a Special Dolphin Award dedicated to Beverly Curry, from CSI President Marlene Springer.

“While Beverly had the choice to attend colleges close to her office in Manhattan, such as Pace and NYU,” commented Mr. Curry, “she chose CSI because she knew she would get one of the best educations in the country.”

“CSI helped Beverly better appreciate the natural and artistic realms, grasp the complexities of moral issues, recognize the centrality of technology in our society,” continued Mr. Curry, “and understand human differences in culture, gender, and race.”

The Beverly Curry Memorial Scholarship provides financial assistance annually to a student who demonstrates high academic and professional promise, with a special interest in African-American women, who are often underrepresented both in college and in business. It ensures that the memory of Beverly Curry will live on, together with her dreams and dedication.

The fund awards its first scholarship this year to Mauberte Osias, a CSI senior majoring in psychology and the physician assistant program. A resident of Brooklyn, she graduated from the Clara Barton High School for Health Professionals before entering higher education on Staten Island.

Osias doesn’t let her academic challenges stand in the way of helping within the community. She has volunteered in the emergency medicine department at Bayley Seton Hospital and with the Board of Education’s Big Apple Games. As well, she is a CSI ambassador, dedicated to the educational mission of the college, assisting faculty and students in a variety of projects.

Osias plans to achieve a Master of Science degree upon completion of her undergraduate coursework. In addition to her community volunteerism and rigorous academic schedule, “there are all the obstacles that young men and women face today in our society,” commented Osias. “To overcome these obstacles, one should put in mind that a profession need not be based solely on the amount of years it take to complete [a degree] but on the outcome and the success of one’s life.”

Kurtz Foundation establishes Professorship for CSI Researcher

The Kurtz Foundation recently established a Professorship at the College of Staten Island (CSI,) named the Leonard and Esther Kurtz Term Professorship.

The Leonard and Esther Kurtz Professorship provides two continuous years of funding in support of the innovative polymer and biopolymer chemistry programs at CSI. Dr. Fred Naider, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, is the College’s first recipient of this prestigious Professorship. The funding comes at a crucial time, providing the additional resources needed to further distinguish the international reputation of CSI’s research.

The Kurtz Foundation, located in Farmingdale, New York, is a strong supporter of the health sciences, education and the arts. It had assets of nearly one million dollars in the year 2000, and is a highly selective independent foundation that provides general and operating support to qualified organizations. Grants for the year 2000 include the University of California at San Diego, the Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center, and the School of Medicine at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

“Dr. Naider’s research and teaching are at the highest levels,” commented Dr. Marlene Springer, President of CSI, “and have helped CSI establish a reputation for excellence that ranks the polymer chemistry program among the best in the greater New York area.”

“We have been pleased to follow Dr. Naider’s career,” commented Robert J. Kurtz, M.D., President of the Kurtz Foundation, “his rise through the faculty ranks at the College of Staten Island, and his latest promotion to the Rank of Distinguished Professor at City University in the winter of 2000.”

Naider’s research is focused on the biological function of peptides (small chains of amino acids) and their role as nutrients and signaling molecules. More specifically, Naider investigates how peptides cross cell membranes, and how cells communicate by the use of peptide signals.

The research lab is also the site of Naider’s mentorship of postdoctoral fellows and Ph.D. students. Undergraduates benefit from Naider’s expertise as well, learning organic chemistry and biochemistry in preparation for their careers in medical technology, medicine, optometry, dentistry and the basic sciences.

“I have benefited from their fresh minds, their curiosity, and their thirst for knowledge,” explains Naider. “I hope they have benefited from my passion for peptides and yeast.”

During Naider’s 27-year career at CSI, his findings have appeared in 180-refereed articles and he has been awarded nearly $6 million in research grants.

Like Mother, Like Daughter A Graduation Celebration x2

Marie and Kelly Payne of Westerleigh will have good cause for a double celebration on Thursday June 6, 2002. The mother – daughter pair will walk across the stage at the College of Staten Island to receive their bachelor degrees together at the College of Staten Island’s 26th annual commencement exercises.

Four years ago, Kelly Payne, the second of five children to Marie Payne began to pursue her SLS (Science, Letters & Society) degree at the College of Staten Island. Inspired by her daughter, Mrs. Payne, who had taken continuing education classes at the College, decided to enroll as a full-time student the following semester. This mother and daughter have always been close and shared many experiences, such as a family love for softball, but over the past four years the pair shared much more, an education.

Mrs. Payne realized about one year ago that she had the potential to graduate with her daughter. She had to double up her course load and take summer classes to accomplish becoming a member of the Class of 2002, along with her daughter Kelly. But, for Mrs. Payne it was worth it. Her dream of graduating from college was made even more special by being able to realize her dream on the same day as her daughter. On this topic Kelly honestly states “I must admit, at first I was a little jealous that I would have to share this time with someone, but once I saw how proud my mother was, (to receive her degree), I was overwhelmed with pride myself.”

Though the Payne’s never actually took classes together, they could never fit their schedules together, they did help each other through the trials of college. They helped each other with homework, proofread papers for one another and were there for one another when things got tough. Kelly says attending college with her mother not only strengthened their bond as mother and daughter it allowed them to discover a new friendship.

After graduation, Mrs. Payne, who is now completing an internship at the United Nations plans to pursue her degree in Political Science. Kelly Payne is already registered to continue her education. Kelly will began the pursuit of her Master’s Degree in Education in the fall of 2002 at the College of Staten Island.