High School Students Wowed by First Annual CSI Science Day

High school students congregate in the 1P Atrium.

Students from Staten Island Technical High School, New Dorp High School, and the CSI International High School attended the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) first annual CSI Science Day. Established by the Division of Science and Technology, the event allowed students to tour CSI laboratories and facilities, and participate in science-related activities throughout the day.

“It was exciting to welcome all the participants from the high schools. Our faculty, staff, and students pulled it all together to offer an engaging day dedicated to showcasing the research done in the Division and the opportunities available to the students in the College,” commented Dean of Science and Technology Vivian Incera, PhD, noting that approximately 250 students traveled to the CSI campus.

CSI professors led the teens through educational activities to introduce them to some of the research and experiments going on at the College. These activities showcased the diversity in the curriculum that CSI offers and included information about astronomy with Emily Rice, PhD, and chemistry with Alan Lyons, PhD.

“The visitors saw the passion our professors have for what they do, the excitement of the students working in those labs, and the incredible research taking place on our campus,” said Dr. Incera, whose team worked tirelessly to make the event, which featured a total of 13 professors, a success.

Dean Vivian Incera welcomes students to CSI Science Day.

New Dorp High School student Richard Lin commented that, “Most of us in high school don’t know what we want, but these activities give us options and different paths to choose.”

CSI International High School student Arlett Moran became “inspired and encouraged” to learn more about biology after experiencing the Naked Mole Rat activity presented by Alejandra Alonso, PhD.

New Dorp student Adam Kozlowski said that the event “gave us an insight into what the atmosphere would be like if we were to study [at CSI].” Kozlowski’s favorite part of the day was Michael Bucaro’s bioluminescent single-cell protists presentation.

CSI and the Division of Science and Technology have a long history of collaborating with other organizations to promote the sciences. Creating CSI Science Day specifically for high School students allows CSI to attract and inform prospective students.

“These events provide exposure and accessibility for students who may have an interest in getting involved in the sciences when they enter their collegiate career but don’t know where to begin. The five departments within the Division of Science and Technology provide a range of perspectives for students to decide which field is right for them,” noted Dean Incera.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of our first CSI Science Day… if we managed to plant the bug of science and the thirst for scientific understanding in some of those kids, our efforts were all worthy… We have also received very positive feedback from the high schools leaders, who said it was an ‘eye-opener’ for their students. They all are looking forward to the next CSI Science Day. I think we have just started a new tradition on our campus,” Dean Incera said.

CSI student ambassadors Benjamin Hermus '18; Batool Shirazi '20; Arshia Lodhi '20; Amber Van Cleat '19; Usama Zubair '20; and Tiffany Miller '19, with Dean Incera.

Students Display Their Talents at Second Annual Graduate Research Conference

Rosita Harris presenting her research.

Graduate students at the College of Staten Island (CSI) had the opportunity to share their research with a larger audience at the Second Annual Graduate Conference on Research and Scholarship. The Conference also spotlighted the one-on-one mentoring relationships between CSI faculty and students, which is a critical component of an education at the College.

This year’s program consisted of four oral presentations (moderated by Professor Wei Zhang) and 54 poster presentations by more than 67 CSI students.

One participant, Rosita Harris in the Social Work Department, who is studying with Nafees Alam, appreciated the chance to share her research. “It’s a great opportunity. You don’t get to do this every day.” Another poster presenter, Omri Schick, a current high school teacher who is studying Education with an emphasis in Biology under Professor Irina Lyublinskaya, emphasized the importance of research and collaboration at the Conference. “It’s very important for me to participate in research for my professional development as a teacher. Research allows us to see different methods, different approaches, and we can learn from each other.”

Omri Shick presenting his research.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gary Reichard, PhD, discussed why the event is beneficial to CSI’s graduate students, and the College. “In its second year, the Graduate Research and Scholarship Conference afforded our graduate students the chance to share the results of their research and collaborations with our faculty with a broader audience, from both on and off campus. Their work, showcased in both posters and live presentation, provided outstanding evidence of the quality and breadth of CSI’s master’s and doctoral-level programs. Like the College’s longer-established Undergraduate Research Conference, the Graduate Conference has already become one of our signature programs.”

Beyond the poster and oral presentations, the Conference also featured a Plenary Session with music provided by William Bauer, PhD, of the performing and Creative Arts Department; comments from Mel Pipe, PhD, Associate Provost for Graduate Studies, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness, and CSI President William J. Fritz, PhD; and a keynote address, “My Life with Peptides: Shmoos, Food, and Drugs,” by Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Fred Naider, PhD.

Willowbrook Memorial Lecture Draws Crowd

Diane Buglioli, Dr. Fritz, and Dr. Goode at the Willowbrook Memorial Lecture.

Diane Buglioli was a bit jolted on her first day of work when she was handed an iron skeleton key that led her through two steel doors and down a hallway of foreboding smells and sounds. More than 40 years later, the founder of A Very Special Place recalled her time at the Willowbrook State School at a lecture at the College of Staten Island (CSI).

“It was a surreal image that stays with me every day as I advocate for people with disabilities to ensure that something like this is never repeated,” said Buglioli, the keynote speaker at the “Willowbrook Memorial Lecture: The Willowbrook Mile Experience.”

The Willowbrook Mile project is a collaboration among the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council, the primary advocacy consortium for families and service providers for people with developmental disabilities on Staten Island; the College of Staten Island; the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities; and the Elizabeth Connelly Resource Center/Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

“This project brings awareness to the events of the past, and more importantly, it gives hope for the future. We have come a long way since the days of the former School, and it is inspiring that we can work together to support the efforts of awareness and advocacy that this project continues to strive towards,” commented CSI President William J. Fritz, PhD.

The afternoon ceremony was highlighted by the honoring of David Goode, PhD, retiring CSI Professor of 28 years and expert in the field of individuals with disabilities. Dr. Goode is the author of A World without Words and co-author of A History and Sociology of Willowbrook State School, which he wrote with Darryl Hill, Jean Reiss, and William Bronson, PhD, in 2013.

“I am overwhelmed because there are so many people to thank. Dr. Fritz and former Provost Fred Naider created a new climate here, which allowed us to truly recognize the history of the Willowbrook State School,” noted Goode, who also thanked former Willowbrook residents as well as CSI students, faculty, and staff.

Diane Buglioli discusses the different stations on the Willowbrook Mile.

The packed forum took place in the new Lorraine and Gordon Di Paolo Board Room, a “fitting place for this forum of intellectual discourse on this ‘legacy of place,’ which we are all now the guardians of,” noted Ken Iwama, JD, Vice President for Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations, and Chief of Staff, Office of the President.

Barbra Teater, PhD, provided opening remarks, and Nan Sussman, PhD, Dean of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, introduced Dr. Goode, stating that, “Presenting Dr. Goode with this award upon his retirement is truly a pleasure for me. His efforts in coordinating this lecture series and in researching, archiving, and advocating in this field have fueled the Willowbrook Mile collaborative… As Dr. Goode stresses the importance of historical context, let us look at his many years of important work at CUNY.”

Dr. Sussman outlined Dr. Goode’s post-graduate years, beginning with his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees received from Queens College. Receiving a PhD from UCLA in 1980, Dr. Goode focused on ethnomethodology and his research focused, in particular, on children who were deaf and blind in the Rubella epidemic. This led him to write his award winning book, A World without Words.

“Our College and the Staten Island community are indebted to Dr. Goode for his more than 40 years of community service, groundbreaking scholarship, and commitment to advocacy for persons with disabilities. We hope he will return to speak to our future generations,” Dr. Sussman said.

Dr. Goode reflected on a challenging past, a “great” present, and a promising future. “There were certainly some hard times, but now things are really just great, and it is my hope that this good work continues,” said Dr. Goode,

Focusing on the history of the State School, and in particular, the stations of the Willowbrook Mile, Buglioli presented historical facts and photos, and more movingly, described her own experiences as a staff member at the former School.

“One day, a little girl was limping, and I thought she had some swelling or something wrong with her foot. When I took off her shoe and sock, there was a crumpled up ball of paper. It was a birthday card from her mother,” Buglioli retold, remembering a crammed, impersonal place where individuals could not even store belongings safely and had to revert to saving mementos on their person.

With pride and hope in all of the important work she has done over more than four decades, Buglioli has but one regret.

“When the School closed and the residents went to live in the community, we lost contact with many of them. I have their baby pictures; I have pieces of their past that I can never give them,” said Buglioli, who co-founded A Very Special Place in 1974. The organization opened its first publicly funded services in 1980.

Dr. Goode’s parting words were meant for his students, and are, perhaps, sage advice for all: “There are incredible possibilities here… keep peace in your heart, don’t always think about yourself, and try to be compassionate.”

The event concluded with a lunch reception provided by the Lifestyles Caffe and a walking tour of the Willowbrook Mile (actually a 2.2 mile stretch) led by Nora Santiago, Urban Policy Analyst at CSI. In addition, students from the Melissa Riggio program assisted with the event.

The collaboration for the Mile includes the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council, the College, and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, of which the Institute of Basic Research and the Elizabeth Connelly Resource Center are divisions.



CSI’s Got Talent Brings the Heat, and the Tears

The top 12 finalists pose on stage.

“If we’re all brought together by music, that’s all that matters.” These poignant words came from Xavier Santiago ’21 as the “CSI’s Got Talent” winner proudly accepted his $2,250 prize at the Center for the Arts. The sixth annual event took place on April 26, as 12 hopefuls duked it out to see who would take home the top three prizes. $750 went to runner up Taronuhi Hacjana and $250 for third place winner Kristiana Tattos.

The night kicked off with a slew of laughs as Staten Island natives Sal Vulcano of truTv’s hit show Impractical Jokers, and Jay Miller of Midevenings with Jay Miller, joked, “If you lack skill it’s going to be curtains for you!”  Prior to the talent hitting the stage, the event (funded by WSIA-FM, Student Government, and the Campus Activities Board) rules were explained as follows: five points for creativity/originality, skill, stage presence, and audience reaction, and ten points for performance. Joined by judges Alan Hoffner, Richard Krystoforski, Serena Medina (Winner of 2016 CSI’s Got Talent), Frances Melendez, Emanoil Shafik, and Alexis DiBenedetto, the audience sat anxiously awaiting the night’s shining stars.

With these rules in mind, the top 12 rose beyond everyone’s expectations. Performers Joe Grahek and Olivia Angioli started the night off with serenades, smoothly singing through their renditions of “If I Could Dream,” and “Secret Love Song, Part Two,” respectively. Jennifer Hernandez and her partner raised the temperature in the building with their Columbian-inspired dance number “La Bella,” while Rachel Waldman left judge Shafik “speechless” with her cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.”

Jordan Corman passionately strummed his way through the soft punk ballad “Drowned,” which Desiree Sanchez followed with an upbeat performance of Meghan Trainor’s popular summer hit “Me Too.” With the audience on a sonic high, Xavier Santiago melted hearts with his emotionally drenched version of “Everything I Do.” Ramzi Braktia offered a humor-filled dance routine titled “Wolfstein.” GeGe Ahmed belted out a soul filled “Who’s Loving You” that would have arguably made Michael Jackson himself proud, and Kristiana Tattos offered a beautiful and vulnerable “Medicine,” which cured any doubt in the crowd of this campus’s talent.

Xavier Santiago took home the grand prize.

Rounding out the top 12, Ariel Lontac bravely took on Adele’s “One & Only,” while Hacjana stood as the only contestant to perform an original song, “Wonder.” With the immense talent filling the room, it was clear that the judges had a lot to debate before choosing the top five.

After a brief intermission, the hosts kept the good energy going with countless punchlines referencing their “favorite band” Coldplay, and an impromptu skit featuring the “unsuspecting,” audience member Tim, who was duct-taped to a chair for most of the remainder of the show. With everyone sitting on the edge of their seats, the top five finalists were revealed in no particular order. Jennifer Hernandez, Rachel Waldman, Xavier Santiago, Kristiana Tattos, and PYOR, advanced to the competition’s final round, and they came to win.

Jennifer and her partner were “hot! hot! hot!” with their second dance routine of the night, which left just about everyone in the room reaching for something to fan themselves. Rachel Waldman followed up with a chilling interpretation of “Hallelujah,” while Tattos concluded her second live performance in four years with “Burning House.” As the show ended, Hacjana debuted another original tune with “Close,” bringing audience members to their feet. However, it was Santiago’s performance of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” which stole the show, and judge’s hearts. Placing a single rose on the judge’s table, Santiago’s vocals filled the Williamson Theatre as the crowd couldn’t help but cheer and scream.

After a lengthy deliberation in which the hosts treated the crowd to a comedic cover of “It’s Raining Men,”—the judges made what was arguably the toughest decision of the night. Coming in third, Kristiana Tattos gracefully accepted her prize, while runner up Hacjana thanked the crowd for the “best part,” their cheering.

After collecting his first-place grand prize, Santiago proudly held his earning over his head as he gazed out into a crowd of chants.

Perhaps the most touching moment of the time came in the form of solidarity. Despite their differing ages, races, genres, and talents, every performer repeated a single phrase that could have strung together to form a song, “Good luck to the other contestants, and congratulations.”

Nursing Student Success Coaching Program Event Draws Crowd

Dr. Vonfrolio (center in red) with CSI Nursing faculty, Success Coaches, and students.

More than 130 students, faculty, alumni, and nurses attended the “Making a Million in Nursing Seminar” that took place on April 4 in the Williamson Theater at the College of Staten Island (CSI). Keynote speaker Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio RN, PhD, presented various entrepreneurial opportunities in the nursing field such as invention development, starting a CPR business, developing seminars, DVD and app development, as well as publishing, marketing, and advertising strategies.

A nurse for more than 40 years, Dr. Vonfrolio is the President of Education Enterprises, a national nursing seminar company offering seminars, vacations, and educational products for nurses.

Karen Arca-Contreras, DNP, Department of Nursing Lecturer and Success Coach Coordinator in the Nursing Student Success Coaching and Retention Program, was pleased that, “The ‘Making a Million in Nursing Seminar’ gave participants detailed and expert insight on potential future opportunities available in the profession of nursing. I’m grateful to Dr. Vonfrolio for truly enlightening our students and opening their minds to areas of nursing that they may have never considered.”

Through the Nursing Student Success Coaching program, faculty success coaches assist students in developing, implementing, and evaluating a strategic plan to achieve short and long term educational goals.

“The literature indicates that all students can benefit from proactive and ongoing nursing support strategies, especially prior to and during the first semester,” Dr. Contreras stated.

Dr. Vonfrolio has appeared on Nightline with Ted Koppell and Good Morning America. She was on the cover of Income Opportunities and was featured in The Wall Street Journal three times. The author of 11 books and numerous articles, Dr. Vonfrolio has held positions of staff nurse, staff development instructor, and tenured Assistant Professor of Nursing at CSI.



Flan with a watermelon sangria chaser: Sips and samples at CSI fundraiser

First time entrant Caramelo, owned and operated by Crystal Deosaran, nabbed the first place prize for Best Dessert for her signature take on a classic flan. "I think we might carry that flan — it's delicious," said Ho'Brah's Tommy Casatelli who tasted and loved Carmelo's coconut flan.

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE  — Perfume from ricotta fritters floated through the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts atrium. Rivaling that fragrance from New Dorp’s Piece-A-Cake was the scent of cayenne-laced chili and freshly fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls, creations from Baci Neri, resident cook at Castleton Corners’ Beer Garden.

“Ya gotta try the mac ‘n’ cheese balls!” enthused Pat Murphy of Beer Garden who enjoys this fundraising event each year for its good cause and for the restaurant love in the room, so to speak — a camaraderie among chefs and owners who turn out to support scholarships funded by CSI’s Alumnni Association.

View the Photo Gallery on SI Live>

Just before guests entered the building this Sunday afternoon, West Brighton’s Ho’Brah co-owner Tommy Casatelli stopped over to the Liberty Tavern for a selfie with volunteers manning that table. At the Leo’s Deli station just across the atrium, owner Leo Balaj scooped his wife Ella into a hug as the West Brighton sandwich shop’s signature chicken soup steamed away in a kettle. Leo’s homemade soup proved most welcome on this unseasonably chilly and blustery day.

“We’ve got chili, chips and Buffalo wings,” encouraged the staff at Beer Garden. To go with that, Pat Murphy and his colleagues offered sips of brews featured the by-the-bottle at the tavern such as Abita “Bayou Bootlegger” and Bluepoint’s “Blueberry.”

Organizers of the two- hour CSI affair turned up about 200 attendees to the Willowbrook campus at $40 and $50 a guest.

Aunt Butchie’s of Brooklyn served up a massive, supple meatball that oozed fresh ricotta and mozzarella cheese upon prodding with a plastic fork. It was a stunning item by attendees’ standards based on the “wows” and “oohs” from tasters.

While Bean’s ‘n’ Leaves of West Brighton sliced up Cap’n Crunch Waffles alongside cups of hot Joe, Jimmy Max presenters dished up paper boats of crab-stuffed bread Cajun shrimp with mixed greens.

And, roving from table to table among the 40 or restaurants who turned out, were professional chefs and judges du jour Ed Canlon, John Seip and Rob Burmeister, clipboards in hand.

The celeb trio stepped up to Joe Salemini of J’s on the Bay in Rosebank as the chef plated samples of his food.

Chef Joe addressed the judges, “To start with, we have a truffled chicken salad with a truffled mayo, dried cranberries, Granny Smith apples and grapes.”

A deep-fryer kicked in for the next item offered from J’s on the Bay, “A sweet potato croquette with a maple-soy sauce reduction,” a panko-coated bite of candy-like sweetness that ultimately melted into sweet maple on the palate.

Organizers included CSI undergraduates and alum, such as Carole Gervasi and James McBratney, a recent grad of the school and owner of Jimmy Maxx in Westerleigh and Eltingville. They planned a cooking demo for 3 p.m. Presenters included “Delish Dish” caterers and Port Richmond High School culinary student chefs-in-training.

Christina Pilato, a CSI student enrolled in a journalism class, covered the event for a writing assignment. After sampling consideration, her top two dishes were Aunt Butchie’s stuffed meatball and the Richmond Valley restaurant’s accompanying “baked spaghetti.” In third place, she said: It was the creamy coconut flan from Caramelo, a catering company led by Crystal Deosararn from Mariners Harbor who specializes in the dessert.

At the end of the day, the results came in from the judges. And the winners are…

For desserts, Beans ‘n’ Leaves Cafe of West Brighton proved a favorite with freshly pressed Capt’n Crunch waffles and, subsequently, took second prize. First place in the category went to Carmelo, caterer from Mariners Harbor, for individually plated coconut flan.

In third place: Leo’s Deli of West Brighton impressed with his soup and quinoa salad.

“I used to throw most of this salad away when I started serving it because people didn’t know what what it was — keen-what?’ they’d say? Now, they ask for it,” reported Leo earlier in the afternoon.

In second place: Port Richmond High School took the prize with tiny tacos that students shuttled around the room.

“Three bean salad?” asked students from the program as they dished out portions to guests.

In first place: Ho’Brah Tacos was awarded the prize for their assortment of California-style South of the Border fare, particularly the pork breakfast tacos with pickled radishes.

“I think we might carry that flan — it’s delicious,” said Ho’Brah’s Casatelli who tasted and loved Carmelo’s coconut flan.

The Best Table award went to PepperJack Grill in Castleton Corners with its tequila cake shots and watermelon sangria decorated with a wedge of melon.

And, the overall win went to Aunt Butchie’s for its giant, cheese-filled meatball that packed a serious and delicious dose of fresh garlic.

This story by Pamela Silvestri was published by www.silive.com on April 3, 2016 and the Staten Island Advance on April 4, 2016, and is reprinted here with permission.

The Business of Healthcare: Michael Dowling presents at CSI

Michael Dowling speaks to an audience at CSI

A Joint Presentation of the School of Business and the School of Health Sciences: Mr. Michael Dowling, the President and CEO of Northwell Health (formerly the North Shore-LIJ Health System) spoke at the College of Staten Island on Thursday, November 12, 2015, to an audience of students, faculty, College administrators, representatives from Staten Island University Hospital, and other members of the healthcare industry along with a member and staff from the New York State Assembly.

The event was organized jointly by the College’s Schools of Business and Health Sciences, and was oriented towards an examination of the growing intersection between these two domains.  A panel discussion followed Mr. Dowling’s presentation where representatives from the School of Business, the School of Health Sciences, the New York State Physical Therapy Association, and Staten Island’s District 63 added their own disciplinary contexts to the President’s remarks.
In her introduction of Dowling, Susan Holak, the Founding Dean of the School of Business, helped to contextualize the event for students and everyone in attendance:  “Healthcare expenditures in the US are on track to hit $3.2 trillion this year – that’s an average of $10,000 per person.  The industry is complex and sensitive to many forces.”  Dr. Holak added, “[healthcare] is one of the fastest growing business sectors worldwide,” that “encompasses a wide range of specialist areas across a broad spectrum of operations, including some that fall into the general domain of business.  It is that intersection that we are examining tonight, through a variety of lenses.”
An extremely engaging and interesting speaker, Michael Dowling addressed the impact of different types of legislation on the healthcare industry, as well as on the effect of ever-changing technologies on the way that patient care is delivered.  Dowling noted that expectations relating to the quality and types of service are affected not only by patients and their families, but also by developments and shifting directions in research as well as in legislative agencies – in addition to changes in the mission of a hospital itself.

Dean Hoak, President William Fritz, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, Michael Dowling, Dr. Maureen Becker

A panel of speakers representing several diverse perspectives took part in a discussion following Dowling’s remarks.  Interim Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Dr. Maureen Becker, collaborated with Dean Holak to invite panelists to contribute unique, disciplinary frames of reference.  Each was asked to open with a few words on their particular point of view before taking questions from the audience.  Michael Cusick, New York State Assemblyman, Dr. Soon Ae Chun, Professor of Information Systems and Informatics at the College of Staten Island, Michael Mattia, President of the New York State Physical Therapy Association, and Dr. Marie Giordano, Assistant Professor of Nursing at CSI – all illustrated the finer points of their own experiences and approached the issues raised by Dowling from their distinct perspectives.
The event highlighted how students at the College of Staten Island, regardless of their field of study, are able to take advantage of the world-class opportunities that are made available by the institution.


Dance in the Making: KineticArchitecture Dance Theatre & Dance to the People

Arrie Davidson, Artistic Director of KineticArchitecture Dance Theatre, is part of The CUNY Dance Initiative at CSI.

The CUNY Dance Initiative at the College of Staten Island presents “Dance in the Making: KineticArchitecture Dance Theatre & Dance to the People,” its first-ever performance on Friday, November 6 at 8:00pm in the Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre.

KineticArchitecture Dance Theatre cultivates work that is artistically progressive, socially relevant, and insanely irreverent in nature. The company will present an excerpt from its new work “NO SAFE WORD,” which explores the need for connection based upon Director Arrie Davidson’s experiences as a professional dominatrix, plus “Cries Real Tears” and Davidson’s take on “Scheherazade.”

Dance to the People, an open collective of dancers looking to generate opportunities for dance training, movement research, and choreography, has been in residence at the College of Staten since fall 2014. During this time, Maira Duarte, working with students at CSI, has developed “Narrentanz” (Dance of Fools), a dance-theater piece based on images of madness evoked by Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization.

The CUNY Dance Initiative at CSI provides CUNY students with an opportunity to collaborate with some of New York City’s premier dancers and choreographers by providing space to area performers with its residency program. The residency program allows artists such as Maira and Arrie to use CSI’s facilities for rehearsals as well as teach master classes in ballet and modern dance. CSI is providing rehearsal space for the artists and in return, students will benefit from master classes and open rehearsal.

With lead funding from the New York Community Trust, and in recognition of New York’s place as the center of dance in the country, the CUNY Dance Initiative is hosting 26 New York area dancers who are honing their crafts at 11 CUNY colleges in all five boroughs.

General admission is $10 and $5 for CSI students. The College of Staten Island Williamson Theatre is located at 2800 Victory Boulevard, 10314 in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Staten Island. For ticket information call 718.982.ARTS or click www.cfashows.com.