Noted and Quoted: Record 16 CUNY Students Win NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

A record 16 CUNY students — 15 of whom earned undergraduate degrees at the University — have won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships for work toward their master’s or doctoral degrees. No public university in the Northeast has more students or alumni who have won more of these coveted fellowships.

“CUNY students are competing at the highest levels for the most prominent awards; they are winning funding for their educational advancement, building on the support of the world-class faculty,” said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.

He noted that the growing external recognition of CUNY’s science students reflects the impact of a surge in the University’s investment in the sciences. “The Decade of Science, launched in 2005, is a $2 billion project for programs and facilities aimed at catapulting City University of New York into the top echelons of science research and education.”

The NSF winners get three years of support worth up to $121,500 for advanced, research-based study in computer and information science, engineering, life sciences, and the physical, behavioral and certain social sciences.

Here are the CUNY winners and their tentative academic plans:

Deborah Opeyemi Ayeni (City College, 2011) is studying pharmacology and experimental pathology at Yale University; Vivienne Francesca Baldassare (Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, 2012) is heading to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, to study astronomy and astrophysics; Theresa Lynn Carranza-Fulmer (City College, 2011) is studying magetospheric physics, a branch of geosciences, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Charlie Corredor (City College, 2009) is studying chemical engineering at the University of Washington.

Zvi Hershel Fishman (City College, 2010) is studying neurosciences at Columbia University; Andrew Goldklank Fulmer, now working toward a doctorate in comparative cognition at the CUNY Graduate Center; Belén Carolina Guerra-Carrillo (Baruch College, 2010) will begin graduate work in cognitive neuroscience at the University of California-Berkeley in fall 2012; Jaeseung Hahn (Macaulay Honors

College at City College, 2012) has not yet chosen where to study biomedical engineering; Kirk Donald Haltaufderhyde (York College, 2011) is studying biomedical engineering at Brown University; Christopher Donald Hue (Macaulay Honors College at City College, 2008) is studying biomedical engineering at Columbia University.

Jemila Caplan Kester (City College, 2010) is studying microbiology at Harvard University; Stephen Ma (Macaulay Honors College at City College, 2011) is studying chemical engineering at the University of Delaware; Carolina Salguero (Hunter College, 2011) is studying structural biology at Harvard University; Jimena Santillan (Hunter College, 2012) is heading to the University of Oregon, Eugene, to study cognitive neuroscience; Christie Anne Sukhdeo (City College, 2011) will enroll at the University of New Orleans to study ecology; Vincent Xue (Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, 2012) will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study genomics.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847 as The Free Academy, the University has 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves over 271,000 degree credit students and 269,808 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. More than 1 million visitors and 2 million page views are served each month by, the University’s website.

Baruch ‘Quants’ Ace International Contest

Two teams of students in Baruch College’s master’s in financial engineering (M.F.E.) program won first and fourth places in the prestigious 2012 Rotman International Trading Competition at the University of Toronto, besting 48 other teams from 44 academic institutions on four continents. Competitors engage in simulated trading cases that closely mimic real-world financial markets.

The students – dubbed “quants” for their practice of financial quantitative analysis – bested teams from such top schools as the University of Chicago, MIT and Columbia.

“Our students formed a real team, helping each other trade better and focusing on the overall P&L [profit and loss] and the success as a team, not on individual performance or the relative standing of the two teams,” said associate professor Dan Stefanica, director of Baruch’s M.F.E. program.

Baruch’s competitors were Andrew Chan, Victor Chen, Alex Hawat, Gama Le Bouder, Yike Lu, Tom Maloney, Alexei Smirnov and Zhechao Zhou. Yike Lu and Alexei Smirnov were members of the Baruch team that placed third last year. This was the third consecutive first-place finish for Gama Le Bouder, who won in the two previous competitions while representing MIT.

The team was prepared over many months by Eugene Krel (Macaulay Honors College at Baruch 2008, Baruch M.F.E., 2009). He and associate professor Rados Radoicic led the team in Toronto.

Young classical-music students proudly shared the stage with icon Placido Domingo at Harmony Program concert.

A Medley of Young Musicians

Elementary-school classical-music students in the Harmony Program shared the stage with legendary tenor Plácido Domingo, who conducted them in Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” at a recent fundraiser.

The performers — all low-income fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from P.S. 129 in Harlem and P.S. 152 near Brooklyn College — were among 80 in the Harmony’s four sites. They get free instruments and two hours of daily instruction after school.

“When I finish school and play that first note, it makes me smile,” said P.S. 152 fifth-grader Julian Deshommes.

Their teachers are students and alumni of music performance and music education programs at colleges including Brooklyn, City and Queens. CUNY and the Graduate Center’s Department of Music are among Harmony’s sponsors.

“It’s so wonderful to see them already loving to … [practice] every day,” Domingo told PBS journalist John Merrow. Besides having sung an unprecedented 134 operatic roles, Domingo has conducted more than 450 operatic and symphonic performances.

“The big percentage of these kids are going to be professional musicians,” he predicted, “because their discipline is so extraordinary” and because many Venezuelan children in a similar program have made music their career.

Harmony founder Anne Fitzgibbon, the director of operations in CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs, spent a Fulbright Fellowship working with “El Sistema,” Venezuela’s national youth orchestra system. Launched in 1975 to emphasize social development, “’El Sistema’ is first about the child and second about the music,” she said. “Music develops in children valuable skills they can apply to so many areas of their lives.”

Brooklyn College Distinguished Professor Lisette Nieves, who as a BC student in 1992 became the college's first Rhodes Scholar — as well as the first Puerto Rican woman ever to win the award — recently was given the CUNY Educational Leadership Award by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The award was presented at a special luncheon program that was part of the 16th Annual CUNY/SUNY New York State Model Senate in Albany. As the Belle Zeller Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Policy and Administration for 2011-2013, Nieves teaches an undergraduate class on the Brooklyn College campus and a graduate-level course at the Graduate Center for Worker Education in Manhattan.