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Fifteen SBU Student Researchers Earn SUNY GREAT Awards

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Suny logo white blueFifteen Stony Brook University graduate students are among the 33 student researchers selected for the 2023 State University of New York (SUNY) Graduate Research Empowering and Accelerating Talent (GREAT) award.

The SUNY GREAT awards, now entering their third year, provide incentives for SUNY graduate students to compete for federal awards sponsored by agencies including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and U.S. Department of Energy, among others. Each winner will receive $5,000 in flexible funding for research expenses, professional development and stipend supplements.

“At a world-class public research institution like Stony Brook, our students have an important role to play in shaping our society’s future,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis. “I am proud of the way these student scholars and researchers have stepped up to innovate with purpose, and I am inspired by their incredible work. I know that this is just the beginning of the contributions they will make in conquering the biggest challenges our society faces today and into the future.”

“Each of our GREAT Award recipients exemplify how SUNY is addressing complex problems with groundbreaking ideas and research,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr., who recognized the winners on March 8. “We are pleased to congratulate all 33 awardees for their dedication to improving the lives of others. Research will always be a pillar of higher education, especially at SUNY, and I implore all our students to always stay curious and seek out new ways to advance our society.”

Award winner Clare Beatty advises anyone considering applying for a NRSA, GRFP or similar award to talk to as many past awardees in your field of study as you can: “What was their experience like? What did they learn through the process? How did they structure their statements? What did they highlight under their intellectual merits versus broader impacts? Are they willing to share their statements with you as an example?”

Fellow winner David Arnot added that everyone should apply for national fellowships, even if they think their chances of getting one are low. “Putting together the best application you can will make you a better writer and scientist, regardless of the outcome,” he said.

The following are Stony Brook’s GREAT Award recipients for 2023, with summaries of their research:

David arnot 400x472 1David Arnot
Global decarbonization will require a drastic transition toward renewable energy sources and an electrified energy economy. My research focuses on developing batteries that will provide the energy storage capabilities needed to fully integrate intermittent renewables like wind and solar. I work on novel electrode materials with the goal of increasing the energy content and rechargeability of lithium-ion batteries. Such improvements will be essential for several growing industries including electrical grid-level energy storage, electric vehicles and advanced electronic devices.

Alexander baez 250x325 1Alexander Baez
The Striatum brain region integrates signals from different brain areas to inform important behavioral processes including action selection and habitual motor reinforcement. I research how disruptions to Striatum circuits can lead to functional changes in specialized populations of cells and cause Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)-like symptoms in mice. My results show that the normal release of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine is disrupted in the Striatum of our OCD-like mouse model. My research contributes to a pre-clinical understanding of how OCD develops, the pharmacological/circuit determinants of an OCD-like brain state, and finally the potential use of Acetylcholine-related drugs to treat OCD-like symptoms.

Clare beatty 250x305 1Clare Beatty
Uncertainty is an inevitable part of life (from small things, like the weather, to big things, like a global pandemic!). However, some people are more sensitive to uncertainty than others. My research explores how people think about and anticipate the future, particularly when it is uncertain and unpredictable. My program of research uses affective neuroscience to better identify individuals who are at increased risk for psychopathology because of an increased sensitivity to unpredictability.


John chen 200x255 1John Chen
I am interested in understanding how dopaminergic signaling in the cortex is involved in sensorimotor transformations during gustation.

This research will help better understand the neuromodulatory mechanisms involved in taste-related decision-making.



Dylan galt 325x463 1Dylan Galt
In the past, my research has focused on the computation of Hecke operators on the cohomology of arithmetic groups. This is still an active research area with many interesting outstanding problems, and with important theoretical connections to modern lattice-based cryptography. Currently, I do research in gauge theory with a focus on gauge theory in higher dimensions. The geometry involved in this field is of central importance to string theory and contemporary physics. Although I am not a physicist myself, my hope is that my work will be relevant to the continued mathematical collaboration between modern mathematics and theoretical physics.

Kenneth hanson 250x333 1Kenneth Hanson
My research uses computational methods to better understand the abstract patterns found in natural language and how they can be learned.

This knowledge will better connect linguistic theory to the broader world of cognitive science and assist in the development of efficient practical applications.



Abe leite 250x317 1Abe Leite
I study how neural systems encode information and how they process information over time to perform adaptive behaviors. I believe that deciding to take actions, without being compelled by stimuli from the environment, is key to what makes us alive, and I use simple computational models to study this ability on a theoretical level. While there are a number of areas my work connects with, I anticipate that one impact of my work will be in robotics. My computational work in attention and action will enable the creation of robots that can ignore distracting stimuli and prioritize objects according to their relevance to the robot’s specified goals. It will also allow engineers to understand what visual objects a robot was paying attention to when it took a certain action. This will ultimately lead to more reliable and understandable robots, and a safer world for the rest of us.

Edelmy janice marin bernardez 250x337 1Adelmy Janice Marin Bernardez
As a member of the Institute for Energy, Sustainability and Equity, my research focuses on addressing basic scientific questions through the investigation of materials for energy storage (battery) applications. The objective is to contribute to the foundation of knowledge that would allow us to face the current and future challenges of our society. Advancements in the field of energy storage could facilitate the widespread use of renewable energy sources, mitigate environmental problems caused by carbon emissions, and improve the electric grid within the U.S. Moreover, I envision my research contributing to making energy more equitable and available, especially for developing countries like Honduras.

Riley mcdanal 250x308 1Riley McDanal
I am a clinical science PhD student at Stony Brook University working under the mentorship of Jessica Schleider and Nick Eaton. My work focuses on using psychopathology classification research to inform the creation and dissemination of scalable interventions.

My hope is that such research will help connect individuals to accessible supports that are informed by the best available evidence.

Sarah payne 250x290 1Sarah Payne
My research focuses on how children learn their native language, with a specific focus on word structure (morphology) and sound structure (phonology). Children learn much of the structure of their native language(s) on vocabularies of under a thousand words, but modern language models require orders of magnitude more data and still do not yield human-like performance. A key goal of my research is thus to uncover the mechanisms underlying language learning by humans and use these to develop faster, more accurate and more sustainable language technologies.

Chantelle a. roulston 250x316 1Chantelle A. Roulston
Through my research, I aim to develop a generalizable theory about what motivates racial minority individuals to volunteer for research studies. My research project involves building and evaluating theory-driven approaches to increasing racial minority individuals’ participation in psychological research. My goal with this work is to increase representation of diverse racial groups in research studies across disciplines and, in turn, to potentially increase the validity and generalizability of research findings.

Jenny shen 235x280 1Jenny Shen
My research interests include (1) elucidating the impact of minority stress on mental health disparities among gender and sexual minorities, racial and ethnic minorities, and their intersections; (2) ameliorating the effects of such minority stressors through accessible, transdiagnostic interventions; and (3) identifying potential implications for policy. My hope is that this research will result in more accessible interventions for minoritized communities and contribute to policy changes that address disparities on a larger-scale level as well.

Samantha stettnisch 250x338 1Samantha Stettnisch
I use the zebrafish model to understand how the cell cycle can regulate cell fate and behavior during early development.

Cancer cells often hijack developmental processes to grow and spread throughout the body. My research draws parallels between cancer and development and can provide new insights into the regulatory mechanisms of cancer metastasis.



Dillon m. voss 200x283 1Dillon Voss
My research focuses on the use of antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) as a therapy to alter expression of potentially oncogenic proteins in cancer. For example, I have been able to switch the expression of the cancer-associated glycolytic enzyme, pyruvate kinase (PKM2), to the “normal” counterpart (PKM1). In doing so, I have shown that this significantly reduces liver cancer growth.

My hope with this research is to improve upon the current therapies for liver cancer by increasing treatment efficacy and reducing toxic side effects.

Kristin walker 250x323 1Kristin Walker
My research focus is the intersection of autism and deafness. Specifically, I am interested in exploring how language, audition, and cognition impact deaf, autistic, and deaf autistic individuals’ social functioning and overall developmental well-being. From a diverse, intersectional lens, this work contributes to our understanding of experiences that affect social outcomes and developmental trajectories. By furthering our understanding of what contributes to differences in developmental trajectories, this work will ultimately contribute to a severely underrepresented body of work to inform the development of effective assessments and interventions for deaf autistic individuals.


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