Palwasha Syar ’17: CSI Valedictorian Never Loses

Palwasha Syar poses at Commencement.

During her speech at the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) 68th Commencement, Palwasaha Syar ’17, CSI’s valedictorian of the graduating Class of 2017, quoted Nelson Mandela: “I never lose. I either win, or I learn.” Her meaningful words were in reference to the life lessons she learned during her time as a student at CSI.

Syar graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with plans to attend medical school.

“CSI was the place where I was accepted for who I was. … leaving it is like leaving my home… CSI has also shaped me into the strong woman that I am today,” she said, while also conveying her sentiments of challenge and triumph at CSI.

Syar shared the spotlight with several of her fellow graduates, relaying stories about their varying struggles to arrive at graduation. One student, Erin Richards, a single mother of four, while attending classes also had to manage the care of her children. Another, Andrea Dalzell, was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis and is currently graduating from the Nursing program.

Syar further asked those in attendance to “celebrate the people around you… Learning about people’s lives and the struggles they go through will give you new perspective on your problems… Learning about others allows us to connect with them. Listening to others’ stories gives us courage and remind us that we are not alone in our struggles.”

Syar has an impressive track record of being active outside of the classroom. Along with a long list of internships, she volunteered with the CSI Emerging Leaders and also joined the CUNY Service Corps, volunteering at the Staten Island Youth Court.

Palwasha Syar delivering her Commencement speech.

“I think it is very important to get experiences outside of the classroom… since I have been blessed with so much, it is very important for me to give back. I would like to continue my service in the future, and take my medical degree to work in impoverished areas,” noted Syar, who emigrated from Pakistan to the U.S. when she was 12 years old.

Facing both social and financial challenges when she arrived, and moving several times within New York State, she found it hard to make friends. Coupling this with her challenge to master the English language, the young Syar felt “lonely and isolated.”

During her initial visits to New York City, she was in awe of her new surroundings. She noted, “the skyscrapers in the city were so high that my hat used to fall of my head when I used to look up at them.”

After her plans to attend medical school, Syar plans to continue to give back to the community. She intends to open her own medical practice in the U.S. and also volunteer in poor and underserved areas in Pakistan.

“I would like to take the skills and values I have learned here and apply them to my service in developing countries,” she commented.

Syar concluded her speech by thanking her parents, sisters, and aunt, who came from Pakistan to attend the Commencement. She also thanked the faculty and staff who supported her and her friends who made her experience at CSI so memorable.

Syar proudly exclaimed, “It has been an absolute honor standing here in front of you all giving this speech. I would like to thank you all and Congratulations, Class of 2017!”

Fred Naider Awarded Jakob and Erna Michael Visiting Professorship at the Weizmann Institute of Science

Dr. Naider will travel to Israel in summer 2018.

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.






CSI Alumnus Omri Shick ’16 Showcasing Research

College of Staten Island (CSI) graduate student and alumnus Omri Shick ’16 is the first author of the paper The Effect of Short Mathematics Instruction in High School Chemistry Course on Student Chemistry Achievement. The work  has been accepted as a full paper at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting. Shick began his research as an undergraduate student at CSI with Irina Lyublinskaya, PhD as his advisor, completing the study through a CSI Undergraduate Research Award. Dr. Lyublinskaya co-authored the paper as well.

Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Science Education at CSI, Shick received a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry and Teaching, and is a full time science teacher at the Lavelle Prep Charter School.

To learn more about AERA, visit the AERA Web site.

Article by Fred Naider featured in The Times of Israel

An article co-written by College of Staten Island (CSI) Distinguished Professor Fred Naider, PhD titled “BDS is a blow to academic freedom: Boycotts impoverish American higher education and shut down Israeli-Palestinian dialogue necessary for peace” was published in The Times of Dr. Naider, Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry and Leonard and Esther Kurtz Term Professor at CSI and the Graduate Center, CUNY, co-wrote the piece with Azriel Genack, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Physics at Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Read the article on The Times of Israel Website.




New Academic Leadership at CSI

The College of Staten Island proudly announces three new academic leaders.

Dr. Margaret-Ellen (Mel) Pipe

Dr. Margaret-Ellen (Mel) Pipe

Associate Provost for Graduate Studies, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness

Dr. Pipe is currently Acting Assistant Provost for Planning and Special Projects at Brooklyn College, where she previously served for six years as Chair of the Department of Psychology. Prior to moving to Brooklyn College in 2006, she served for five years as Staff Scientist at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (National Institutes of Health). Most of her prior academic career was spent at the University of Otago (1985–2001), in Dunedin, New Zealand, where she rose to a rank equivalent to Full Professor. Dr. Pipe’s research and publications have been concentrated in the areas of memory development and child abuse and neglect. She has held several research grants as Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator during her career, including grants from the National Children’s Research Foundation, the Marsden Fund, the Foundation for Research, Science, & Technology (NZ), the National Institutes of Justice, and the Australian Research Council. She has also served on the editorial boards for six professional journals in her field and received an honorary doctorate from Stockholm University in 2015.

Effective August 1, 2016, Dr. Pipe will work with deans, department chairs, and other academic leaders at the College of Staten Island and partner institutions to develop and maintain strong graduate programs, provide strategic leadership for the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research, work with the Office of Academic Assessment and other units to assure a strong “culture of assessment” in the College, and oversee the organization and implementation of the annual Undergraduate Research Conference. She will also serve as a member of the Deans’ Council and the Provost’s Council.

“I look forward to working with the College’s senior leadership, deans, department chairs, and faculty in developing new opportunities for students through strategically targeted graduate programs and to facilitating research and program grant funding. Assessment will, of course, be particularly important this year, with the Periodic Review Report due in June 2017,” noted Dr. Pipe.

Dr. Pipe holds her BA in English and PhD in Psychology from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and completed postdoctoral work in Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington (also New Zealand).


Dr. Kenneth Gold

Dr. Kenneth Gold

Dean of the School of Education

Dean Gold came to the College of Staten Island in 1995 as an adjunct lecturer, was appointed Assistant Professor two years later and promoted to Associate Professor in 2003. He served as Chair of the former Department of Education in 2004 and again from 2007 to 2010. Prior to his arrival at CSI, Dr. Gold was a teacher at both John Dewey High School and Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn. He received his BA from Princeton University and his MA and PhD from the University of Michigan, all in History. In addition to his book, School’s In: The History of Summer Education in American Public Schools and a co-edited historical guide to Staten Island, he has published numerous refereed articles and given a large number of professional and scholarly presentations.

Appointed on June 9, 2016, Dr. Gold has been serving ably as Interim Dean of the School since its founding in fall 2013. In the period of his interim leadership, the School has deepened the College’s relationship with K-12 schools and Education alumni on Staten Island through program grants, principals’ networks, memoranda of understanding, and CSI’s participation in the 30,000 Degrees Initiative; launched new programs in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages); instituted mechanisms to support student preparation for the EdTPA and the other new state certification exams; and established the Teachers Society for students. The school is currently developing a proposal for a new EdD in Community-based Leadership.

“I look forward to continuing to work with faculty to make the CSI School of Education a linchpin in coordinated, collaborative efforts on behalf of P-12 student learning and teacher development on Staten Island and beyond,” Dr. Gold stated.

Dr. Gold holds a PhD in History and a Master’s in History, both from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a Bachelor’s in History, cum laude, from Princeton University.


Dr. Ralf M. Peetz

Dr. Ralf M. Peetz

Interim Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Student Success

Dr. Peetz has been a member of the Chemistry Department faculty at CSI since 2003, and is also a long-time member of the Graduate Center Doctoral Faculty in Chemistry. His areas of academic specialization include functional materials and macromolecular engineering, future energy needs, and science in education. He has published nearly 40 refereed articles and other papers, has been Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator on several significant grants, and has received numerous CUNY internal awards.

Dr. Peetz has served in many faculty leadership roles at CSI. These roles have included membership on the Teacher Education and Science, Letters, and Society advisory boards, chairing of the Graduate Studies Committee, membership on the Institutional Planning Committee, and, until now, service as Vice Chair of the Faculty Senate. He has also served on the Honors College Advisory Boards for both the CSI Macaulay Honors College program and The Verrazano School, and as a member of the General Education Committee.  In addition, he has mentored more than 20 undergraduate researchers, as well as five doctoral students. Dr. Peetz also has an extensive record of community service.

Appointed on June 3, 2016, Dr. Peetz will provide oversight and strategic leadership for the Center for Advising and Academic Success (CAAS); the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) initiative; several student academic support offices including the Office of Academic Support, the Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program, C-STEP, and Liberty Partnership Programs; three CSI honors programs; Learning Communities; and the Bertha Harris Women’s Center. He will also serve as a member of the Deans’ Council and the Provost’s Council.

“Our students do not cease to amaze me. They come from all walks of life and they deserve any and every tool and opportunity that meets their needs and then exceeds their expectations. I am excited because I will be intimately involved in providing these tools. And what better place to do this than at CSI with its strong and distinct student commitment?” said Dr. Peetz.

Dr. Peetz received his Vordiplom in Chemistry from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany), and his MS and Ph.D in Chemistry from The University of Hamburg. Prior to joining the CSI faculty, he served for three years as Visiting Scientist at the Maurice Morton Institute of Polymer Science at the University of Akron.



Department of Chemistry Patents

Krishnaswami Raja, joined by Probal Banerjee, Andrew Auerbach, and William L’Amoreaux, were awarded a U.S. Patent on July 16, 2013 for “Curcumin and Tetrahydrocurcumin Derivatives.”

Nan-Loh Yang, joined by Ron Pirich, Kai Su, and I-Wei Chu, were awarded a U.S. Patent on November 26, 2013 for “Facile Synthesis and Magnetoelectric Coupling at Room Temperature.”