The cloudy skies over the 66th Commencement at the College of Staten Island on the morning of May 28 did not darken the joyous mood of the 2,631 graduates, their families and friends, and College faculty and staff as they gathered on the Great Lawn of CSI’s Willowbrook campus. After opening remarks by then Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Fred Naider, President William J. Fritz came to the lectern. He began his remarks by emphasizing CSI’s great legacy, which was built upon the impressive achievements of the students, faculty, and staff at CSI’s predecessor institutions, Staten Island Community College (SICC) and Richmond College. Then, after an audio clip of Charlotte Eldred (née Montalbano, who passed away in 2013 at the age of 75), one of the first graduates from SICC, speaking at that institution’s first Commencement in 1958, he went on to outline Charlotte’s remarkable journey through life as a dedicated, accomplished, and award-winning teacher, as well as a published writer.
The student speaker, Mohammad Chughtai, a Marketing major with the School of Business and a senior in the Macaulay Honors College, told his fellow honorees that he was, “proud to stand with you: some of the brightest, most accomplished scholars CUNY has to offer. Evenings like these are what make the sleepless nights spent studying, the early 8am classes, and the myriad of group presentations worth it.”
Chughtai went on to discuss his experience representing CSI’s new School of Business in an international business simulation called Mike’s Bikes. “We competed against top universities from the United States and around the world, including students from Israeli, South African, and Indian institutions, among others. This was the School of Business’s founding year, so it was clear we were an underdog coming in. With the help of Professor Heidi Bertels, of the Management Department in the School of Business, we finished fourth overall, among over 80 international teams, Chughtai said, adding, “That simulation competition was among the most influential learning periods in my four years at the College of Staten Island, because it brought all of my business learning together into one setting.”
He finished his remarks by explaining why graduates from CSI are entering life after college fully prepared for any obstacles that may come their way. “CSI graduates come out not only with the book knowledge that everyone else does, but also with experience applying that knowledge in the real world.”
Speaking to the honorees, CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz said, “Your achievements have helped drive the College of Staten Island’s ascension to national prominence and recognition. CSI is currently ranked 48th out of 2,500 schools based on metrics assessed by TIME magazine, and our honors programs—Macaulay Honors and The Verrazano School—are attaining record enrollments and the Teacher Education Honors Academy continues to thrive. Much of this hard-earned success is due to you students sitting here this evening, the best and brightest students who are making the choice to come to CSI are leading the charge.”
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Fred Naider followed the President, recognizing the members of the College administration and outlining the criteria for Dean’s List inclusion.
Following the students’ comments, Dr. Michael Paris, Professor, Department of Global Affairs and Political Science, addressed the audience as the Dean’s List Faculty Speaker. Dr. Ava Chin, Professor, Department of English, and Dr. William L’Amoreaux, Professor, Department of Biology, recognized the Dean’s List Students, who individually approached the lectern to receive a medallion and have their picture taken with President Fritz.
The ceremony concluded with the closing remarks from Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. A. Ramona Brown, and a reception accompanied by music from the CSI Jazz Repertory in the Center for the Arts Atrium.
Kanika Khanna ’13, a graduate of the College of Staten Island and the Macaulay Honors College, has always had a passion for public service. Now she’s ready to take the next step as a graduate student at Brown University, pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy.
She credits her positive undergraduate experience at CSI for laying the groundwork for her success. “As a Political Science major at CSI, I was fortunate to have such wonderful professors, who only want the best for their students. There were so many opportunities to get involved on campus, be it academically like undergraduate research, or in an extracurricular club or publication.”
Kanika is working this summer for the CUNY Interdisciplinary High-Performance Computing Center (HPCC), conducting Hurricane Sandy research with the support of Vice President for Information Technology and Economic Development, and Executive Director of the HPCC Dr. Michael Kress. This follows several years as a political science research assistant focusing on public opinion as it relates to the New York City mayoralty. In both cases, she has been mentored by Professor Richard Flanagan of CSI’s Department of Political Science.
She was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Macaulay Messenger online newspaper, a publication that represented the eight Macaulay schools within CUNY, and won recognition as a National Collegiate Honors Council Newsletter Contest Winner. Kanika also served in a number of functions for Macaulay, including Junior Mentor, Volunteer English and Seminar Tutor, and Student Ambassador. She also received the Laura Schwartz Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Science and the Macaulay Eportfolio Expo Judge’s Choice Award, and was a Lisa Goldberg/Revson Scholar and a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha political science honors society.
Kanika’s foray into public service began when she landed a grant-writing internship with A. Larovere Consulting, a firm that builds supportive housing for the homeless in New York. “I was able to learn about urban issues as they affect our city’s most vulnerable populations and recommend services that would keep them off the streets. There is no better feeling than giving a disabled veteran an accommodating home, or connecting a mentally ill person with the medical care they need.”
Her experience in public service led to a summer opportunity with the Harvard Kennedy Center, Latino Leadership Initiative where she received intensive training in community organizing, leadership, negotiating, and public speaking. Kanika returned to New York City and joined with her fellow cohort at CUNY to establish the John Jay Sophomore Leadership Program, which aims to improve college success rates for first-generation college students. Kanika is currently on the Board of Directors and serves as the Media Outreach Manager for this program.
Kanika’s future plans include working on alleviating problems that plague metropolitan cities, like poverty, homelessness, and access to education.
“As a CSI and Macaulay student, I’ve had countless opportunities and supportive mentors to help me reach my goals. Public service is about improving the lives of others, who may not be able to do so themselves. The challenge of public service is daunting, but the prospect of serving my community and country is worth it.”
Jenna Calderon graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance with a minor concentration in Mathematics from the Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island.
Ms. Calderon maintained a near-perfect Grade Point Average of 3.9 and is the recipient of several awards, such as the CSI Auxiliary Services Corporation Award for Academic Excellence in Performing and Creative Arts, Phi Beta Kappa, and the CSI Foundation Prize for Music.
She is also a Dean’s List (2008-2011) student and was featured in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges for 2010-2011.
Ms. Calderon first began her career as a student studying physics and mathematics but soon decided to pursue her passion for music by studying classical guitar at CSI. She has performed at the CSI Undergraduate Research Conference, as well as in the CSI Guitar, Chamber, and Jazz ensembles.
Along with her dedicated work on campus, Ms. Calderon also performs around NYC as the lead guitarist of ska band Not From Concentrate and as a guitarist and percussionist for the Richmond County Orchestra. She also tutors students in music and mathematics as well as works as a guitar teacher at the Rustic Music Center in Staten Island.
Ms. Calderon is planning on pursuing a graduate degree in Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University in the fall. She hopes to not only further her music expertise but also wants to dedicate herself to helping others in satisfying their passion in music.
Mark Barahman, a junior with the Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island (CSI) and a Goldsmith Scholar, was named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner, a first in the history of CSI.
The Goldwater Scholarship was established by the United States Congress in 1986 and is the premiere federally funded undergraduate award of its type. It is designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers and PhDs in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and related fields. Only 300 students nationwide earn this prestigious distinction.
Dan Feldman, also a junior in Macaulay Honors College at CSI, is majoring in Physics with a concentration in Astronomy. He has received an Honorable Mention for the Goldwater Scholarship. Only 150 students receive an honorable mention award.
A Biochemistry major at CSI, Mark has worked in two prestigious laboratories—the neuroscience lab of Professor Abdeslem El Idrissi and the chemistry lab of Professor Alan Lyons. He currently works with Dr. Lyons on research related to super-hydrophobic surfaces.
Mark’s most notable accomplishment during the summer of 2009 was the construction and programming of a robotic printer that prints in three dimensions (3D) on a microscopic scale.
“Commercial 3D printers are available, but they are often extremely expensive, fragile, and very limited with respect to the building material,” notes Barahman. “We needed to build something that would allow us broad applicability and flexibility, while also being inexpensive and scalable to industrial-size processes.”
“He programmed the robot early that summer and quickly developed two printing methods to produce ‘super-hydrophobic surfaces’,” commented Dr. Lyons. “One method used highly viscous materials that deposited drops similar to a chocolate kiss, and the other method used a lower viscosity material that printed thinner, pancake-shaped layers.”
Both of these methods created super-hydrophobic surfaces, three-dimensional surfaces that hold droplets of water on multiple microscopic “spikes.” This surface prevents the water droplet from strongly adhering to the surface, allowing it to roll rather effortlessly, while maintaining the integrity of its spherical shape.
When these surfaces are used, the fluids are able to effortlessly move along the surface with minimal force. These surfaces can be applied to facilitate transportation of fluids in the medical profession.
The next challenge was controlling direction of the water droplet flow on these super-hydrophobic surfaces.
Looking to nature, Mark became inspired by the water-shedding properties of the butterfly’s wing. When a butterfly lowers its wings, the water rolls off onto the ground. When the wing is raised, the water is pinned and does not roll down the wing onto the body of the butterfly. This adaptation keeps the butterfly’s body dryer and lighter.
Mark experimented with multiple concepts, and learned that by programming the robotic printer to deposit the 3D “kisses” and “pancakes” at an angle, the water droplet would flow easily in one direction, and with great difficulty in the other direction.
On the microscale, Mark had developed a synthetic material that emulated the water shedding effects of the butterfly wing. This new biomemetic surface containing angled “spikes” acted as a “one-way” sign or “liquid ratchet” controlling the directional flow of water using only the interactive properties of the fluid with the solid.
Whereas super-hydrophobic devices allow for the easy transportation of fluids within many applications in the medical field, these new directional-devices may transport cooling fluid in micro-electronic devices without back flow. This could minimize the size and heat-producing pressure often needed for the transportation of fluid, and allow for a 360-degree application environment without the chance of backflow.
“I am exceedingly proud of Mark’s important research at CSI,” said Dr. Lyons. “He is a serious scientist who works very hard and thinks deeply about problems. I expect that when he enters graduate school he will rank amongst the top echelon of all graduate students.”
“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Mark Barahman for his well-deserved distinction,” said CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales. “He has forged a place for himself in the history of the College by being the first Goldwater Scholar at CSI, and has earned himself great honor and national recognition. I offer my thanks to his faculty mentors for supporting Mr. Barahman’s academic goals, and challenging him to succeed. Together we are bolstering CSI’s national and world-class reputation.”
“Winning the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship would not have been more than a dream without the guidance and teaching of my mentors and professors at CSI,” Barahman states. “The scientific training and opportunities at CUNY are first class. I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to work with experienced and distinguished scientists like Dr. Alan Lyons, and to be taught and guided by Dr. Fred Naider, Dr. Charles Kramer, and Dr. Abdeslem El Idrissi. I am excited about winning this award as it reveals the terrific opportunities CSI offers and the world-class science taking place at the labs.”
Mark’s professional aspirations include obtaining an MD/PhD in the field of Biomedical Engineering.
Mark grew up in Israel, working as a teenager as a first responder for MDA (Magen David Adom, or Red Star of David), an emergency medical organization, which is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He immigrated to Brooklyn in August of 2006. During the summer of 2010, Mark participated in NYU/Bellevue Hospital’s prestigious Project HealthCare summer program, in which he was able to work in the emergency room and operating room, where he interacted closely with patients and the hospital staff, as well as assisted with clinical research projects and work on the annual Bellevue health fair.
Mark was the only undergraduate invited to give an oral presentation at the Young Chemists Committee ACS Symposium at The Cooper Union in March 2011. The presentation was entitled “Printed Super-hydrophobic Surfaces Exhibiting Slip-Angle Anisotropy.”
His research has also been presented by Dr. Lyons in a variety of prestigious forums, including the 2010 SPIE Optics and Photonics Conference in San Diego.