Noteworthy: Research grants, awards and publications

A woman in a blazer and glasses holds a folder and stands in front of a research poster titled "Colorism in Indian Cinema."
UAlbany sophomore Leah Punnoose recently presented research at the Student Conference on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice held at SUNY Cortland. (Photo provided)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 30, 2023) — The latest developments on University at Albany faculty and staff who are receiving research grants, awards and other noteworthy attention.

  • Susan Appe, associate professor in Rockefeller College’s Department of Public Administration & Policy, published a paper on the efforts of U.S.-based grassroots international nongovernmental organizations founded by diaspora members. These are philanthropic organizations, often run by volunteers who are migrants and immigrants working to support humanitarian and development projects in their home countries. The article was published earlier this month in Development in Practice, a journal of Routledge’s Taylor and Francis Group.

  • Soma Dash, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been awarded $742,506 by the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research to support her project “Functional Characterization of Mediator Complex Proteins in Neural Crest and Craniofacial Development.” The work will investigate the function and regulation of certain craniofacial genes, in conjunction with proteins that control developmental processes associated with birth disorders including cleft palate and retrognathia, with the aim to open new avenues for therapeutic approaches.

  • Associate Professor Ashley Fox, of Rockefeller College’s Department of Public Administration & Policy, co-authored an article in Vaccine, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by Elsevier. The article, “Who gets COVID-19 booster vaccination? Trust in public health institutions and promotion strategies post-pandemic in the Republic of Korea,” looks at hesitancy around boosters in the post-pandemic era.

  • Ken Halvorsen, senior research scientist in the RNA Institute, was awarded $249,950 by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, to fund the purchase of an atomic force microscope. The instrument will enable nanoscale imaging to support the lab’s work on DNA nanotechnology, DNA nano switches and single-molecule biophysics, with biomedical applications such as drug delivery. 

  • Professor of Computer Science Xin Li of the College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering, has received a $319,556 grant through the National Science Foundation for his project, “HCC: Small: Toward Computational Modeling of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Multimodal Data Collection, Fusion, and Phenotyping.”

  • UAlbany sophomore Leah Punnoose, a Human Biology major with a minor in Biology and Business, presented her research on colorism in Indian cinema at the 13th annual Student Conference on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice held at SUNY Cortland earlier this month. Her research explores cinema as a leading factor driving colorism in Indian society, with direct ties to the rise of the skin whitening industry. The conference drew over 250 participants with representatives from a dozen colleges and universities in the region.

  • Eric Stern, professor and faculty chair at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, has been named the interim director of UAlbany’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a hub for interdisciplinary AI research across campus.

  • Kara Sulia has accepted a new position of associate director at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC). As associate director, she will play a key role in ASRC’s continued growth and lead impactful research. This includes AI-related work as director of the xCITE Laboratory, a software development and data/visual analytics facility within ASRC.