Skip to main content Skip to search

YU News

YU News

Katz School Announces Eleven New Faculty Research Awards

The Katz School of Science and Health has announced 11 new faculty research awards that will explore a range of challenges in STEM and the health sciences, from designing safer drugs for HIV treatment and exoskeletons for use in stroke rehabilitation to improving the mental health of the elderly and understanding the nature of financial crises.

In these interdisciplinary projects, Katz School faculty will be working with industry and academic partners, including Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology; Yeshiva College; Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Sacred Heart University, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Mercy College; and Seventh Avenue Center Family Services (SACFS) Head Start.

“This initiative is intended to stimulate new research and expand existing research that increases the visibility of the Katz School,” said Dr. Paul Russo, dean of the Katz School and vice provost at Yeshiva University, “while simultaneously creating research opportunities for full-time Katz School graduate students.”

Interdisciplinary Research in Health Cluster: Dr. Roee Holtzer (YU Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and Albert Einstein College of Medicine) The mission of the cluster is to initiate, support and promote interdisciplinary, state-of-the-art, innovative and clinically relevant research dedicated to understanding and improving mental and physical health in the elderly and those with chronic disease. The long-term goal is to establish a nationally recognized center of excellence for research in health at Yeshiva University.

Regulation of Transcription Factors by SUMO Proteins in Testicular Sertoli Cells: Dr. Margarita Vigodner (YU Stern College for Women), Dr. Rana Khan, (M.S. Biotechnology Management and Entrepreneurship) This project focuses on the mis-regulation of the cell cycle in testicular cells and studies how it can lead to infertility or testicular cancer. The goal is to obtain new information about cell cycle regulation in normal and cancerous cells, particularly through studying a recently identified protein that may play an important role. Katz School graduate students will be involved in all aspects of the proposed research, and they will be trained in a variety of advanced cell and molecular biology techniques. In the past, Katz graduate students involved in projects such as these have published as co-authors on peer-reviewed publications.

Complex Systems Research Cluster: Dr. Marian Gidea, (M.A. in Mathematics and Ph.D. in Mathematics) This project will create an interdisciplinary research cluster, including faculty and students from the Katz School, Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business, for developing practical tools and methods to understand, model and forecast critical phenomena in complex systems, such as crashes of financial markets, extreme weather events and regime shifts in physical and biological systems. A primary objective is to create a financial crises observatory, which will monitor financial markets in real time. The observatory will develop a scientific and computational platform to detect early warning signals for critical transitions—abrupt shifts in the state of a system triggered by small disturbances.

Supporting Families and Children Growth and Well-being: Dr. Amiya Waldman-Levi (Occupational Therapy Doctorate), Dr. Lola Halperin (Sacred Heart University), Dr. Danette Brown (SACFS Head Start, not pictured) A clear gap exists in the literature exploring strength-based interventions that provide tools to help parents promote healthy play opportunities to foster children’s playfulness and psychological adjustment. This project will assess the feasibility of the researchers’ Promoting Health Through Play Opportunities telehealth program delivered in English and Spanish to parents of children ages 3 to 5.

Student Resilience: Dr. Amiya Waldman-Levi (Occupational Therapy Doctorate), Dr. Anita Bundy (Colorado State University) This study will explore how college students in health-based professions who exhibit higher levels of playfulness and engage in leisure activities are more likely to utilize adaptive coping mechanisms and achieve better academic performance compared to those who have lower levels of playfulness and engage less in leisure activities.

Cascading Failures in the Banking Network: Dr. Gabriel Cwilich (M.A. in Physics) The collapse of one financial institution can result in the failure of many others since banks possess assets in other banks, and the effects of the loss of value of one of them has consequences for the others. Dr. Cwilich and his team are trying to model this effect of cascading failures through the tools of network theory, which have been used successfully to model other cascading phenomena in electric energy distribution, communication networks and epidemics. For the first time, they are incorporating the real cross-holdings of the different banks in the design of the model of the network, as well as the further depreciation of assets that ensues after the public loses confidence in the solvency of the failing banks.

Designing Specialized Probes for lnhibiting HIV-I Replication: Dr. lrina Catrina (Yeshiva College), Dr. Rana Khan (M.S. in Biotechnology Management and Entrepreneurship) The research team will develop computational tools to design probes predicted to inhibit HIV-1 viral replication. This contribution will be significant, as it will allow the use of fast and inexpensive tools to design safer and more effective drugs that will ultimately lead to more efficient antiviral therapeutic approaches.

Machine Learning Chat Robot for Students: Dr. Youshan Zhang (M.S. in Artificial Intelligence) This proposal will develop a machine-learning chat robot that can assist in a student’s academic endeavors in machine learning courses, utilizing a newly developed Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) model. The chat robot aims to provide better personalized and interactive learning experiences for students with machine learning algorithms, natural language processing and a vast assortment of educational resources. It can offer enhanced conversational abilities, personalized learning experiences, comprehensive subject coverage, real-time assistance and continual learning and improvement.

Myoelectric-based Hand Gesture Modeling for Effective Stroke Rehabilitation: Dr. Sai Praveen Kadiyala (M.S. in Artificial Intelligence), Dr. Rana Khan (M.S. in Biotechnology Management and Entrepreneurship), Dr. Ramana Vinjamuri (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) The researchers will use novel signal decomposition methodologies, such as Empirical Fourier Decomposition, to obtain significant components of signals and develop a mapping strategy of the significant components of each gesture to its weight in a classification model. This will help in building novel light-weight classification models and an emphasis on gestures that can be effective in the rehabilitation process. We also aim to develop our own sEMG database, compare it with the available public databases and verify the accuracy of models on these databases, along with dimensionally reduced versions of the same.

The Development of Trainings and Simulations For Hearing Screenings: An Ipe Initiative: Dr. Elisabeth Mlawski and Dr. Laura Sylvia (M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology) The purpose of this project is to create recorded simulations that could be used across all the health science programs on how to administer hearing screenings, such as tympanogram, pure tone testing, the whispered voice test and Weber hearing test. Students and faculty in the M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology program will develop training videos and simulations that will be placed in a Canvas learning site to be shared with all of the Katz School health hub, as well as Yeshiva University.

Advancing Biomolecule Labeling: Engineering Novel Luciferases for Bioluminescence Imaging: Dr. Anderson Oliveira (YU Stern College) The primary objective of this proposal is the isolation of glowing proteins from luminescent marine organisms. These proteins, once purified, serve as tags to target specific proteins of interest in other cells and organisms in the lab. This approach holds potential in various applications, including the study of disease-associated proteins like those implicated in cancer. Additionally, Dr. Oliveira and students in the M.S. in Biotechnology Management and Entrepreneurship will explore the use of these proteins to illuminate tissues and cells, enhancing imaging capabilities for diagnostic purposes.