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Making the World Smarter, Safer and Healthier

Research with an Impact

Katz School faculty, students and alumni are advancing scholarly knowledge and transforming lives by taking an interdisciplinary approach to research and education, fostering the creativity, collaborative thinking and builder mindset required to take on today’s toughest problems. Their research and activities exemplify the Katz School’s determination to make the world smarter, safer and healthier.

Read more below and on the blog.

Recent Projects

AI Expert’s Denoising Method Could Benefit Hearing Impaired

Dr. Youshan Zhang, assistant professor of computer science and artificial intelligence, and Jialu Li of Cornell University have created a novel noise removal method that could benefit the hearing impaired and improve the listening experience for audiophiles everywhere.

In their paper, “BirdSoundsDenoising: Deep Visual Audio Denoising for Bird Sound,” the researchers described how they created a deep visual audio denoising (DVAD) model using a dataset of 15,300 bird sounds—varying in length from 1 second to 15 seconds—that strips out the background noise, in this case natural sounds like wind and rain, to produce clean bird sounds.

The researchers presented their model in January at the IEEE/CVF Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision (WACV) conference in Hawaii. Dr. Zhang said the model is robust enough to apply to human speech, especially to background noise that is particularly damaging to speech intelligibility for people with difficulty hearing.

Read the full story.


Researchers Link Playfulness to Cognition in Award-Winning Study

OT Clinical Associate Professor Amiya Waldman-Levi has been awarded the 2022 Cordelia Myers AJOT Best Article Award for her study linking the development of playfulness in infants to the cognitive functioning of toddlers.

She and her co-authors Dr. Dana Shai, principal investigator of the research and a professor at the Academic College Tel Aviv Yaffo, and Dr. Anita Bundy, department head in occupational therapy at Colorado State University, will receive the award in April from the American Journal of Occupational Therapy at the AOTA INSPIRE 2023 conference in Kansas City.

In the study, the researchers showed that children’s playfulness is evident as early as 6 months and continues to develop through 24 months, depending on cognitive growth. The results were based on the examination of 86 children from middle- to upper-income families.

Read the full story.


Physics Professors Show Science Behind Traffic Jams in Study

New York City traffic jams tend to begin with clusters of tie-ups within a network of streets before expanding rapidly and chaotically to surrounding areas, according to a paper published by two professors in the Katz School’s M.A. in Physics.

In the paper, “Cascading Traffic Jamming in a Two-Dimensional Motter and Lai Model,” published in Physical Review E in August, Professors Gabriel Cwilich and Sergey Buldryev found that a group of “nodes,” or an intersection of several streets or roads, became congested, or failed, in a small circle and then expanded quickly in various directions.

To study the phenomenon, Cwilich and Buldryev used the Motter and Lai model of cascading failures, which are catastrophic processes that can destroy the functionality of a system, including electric power grids, communications networks and traffic patterns.

Read the full story.


Fatigue Complicates Diagnosis of Cognitive Issues in MS Patients

Fatigue plays a significant role in how people with Multiple Sclerosis and their clinicians perceive and identify cognitive difficulties, according to a recently published paper.

Fatigue plays a significant role in how people with Multiple Sclerosis and their clinicians perceive and identify cognitive difficulties, according to a recently published paper co-authored by Dr. Marissa Barrera, assistant dean of health sciences and director of the Katz School’s M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology.

Fatigue may be a greater driver of a patient’s perception of cognitive difficulties, whereas a clinician’s perception may be affected by multiple factors, including cognitive and behavioral difficulties, according to the authors of the paper, “Cognitive Impairment in People with Multiple Sclerosis: Perception vs. Performance,” published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Read more about this peer-reviewed study


When Antifreeze Takes the Ice Out of Ice Cream

Katz School researchers are developing an advanced method for examining how ice crystallizes and how antifreeze proteins inhibit the crystallization process.

Dr. Ran Drori, assistant professor of chemistry in YU’s Stern College for Women and the Katz School’s M.A. in Physics, is  studying the unique ability of ice-binding proteins, or antifreeze proteins, to both accelerate and inhibit the growth of ice using a microscope-mounted cold stage, which holds a temperature-controlled sample and is 10 times more powerful than the industry standard.

Read the entire story in the Katz blog.


Student Model Refines Satellite Images for Climate Analysis

An interdisciplinary team of Katz School graduate students has built a machine learning model that utilizes satellite images to refine the spatial resolution of climate change forecasts.

As part of the course Geospatial Time Series Analysis, Surbhi Nayak, a student in the Katz School’s M.S. in Data Analytics and Visualization program, led a team that collected 20 years of satellite temperature data for S&P Global, a publicly traded firm based in Manhattan.

The team focused their analysis on areas in Northern California that have been affected by wildfire, with the goal of applying a digital lens to low-resolution forecasts of climate models. The forecasts are important for managing corporate assets.

Read about the students' machine learning model


Faculty Productivity in High Gear with Burst of Scholarly Research

Katz School faculty are advancing scholarly knowledge and transforming lives by taking an interdisciplinary approach to research and education, fostering the creativity, collaborative thinking and builder mindset required to take on today’s toughest problems.


Dr. Marissa Barrera, Assistant Dean of Health Sciences and Program Director

In her lecture, “Redefining Speech-Language and Swallowing Therapy: Implementing Advanced Technologies to Support Patient Outcomes,” at the 2022 annual meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers in National Harbor, MD, Dr. Barrera highlighted advanced technologies that help clinicians provide high-quality treatments for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. Topics included the use of robotics, surface electromyography and ultrasound to provide better care for patients with speech and swallowing disorders.

See the entire list of faculty in the Katz blog.


Researchers Studying Wearable Technology for Stroke Patients

An interdisciplinary Katz School research team, led by Dr. Sai Praveen Kadiyala, postdoctoral research fellow in Artificial Intelligence, is investigating the potential for wearable devices to facilitate rehabilitation for stroke patients who have lost mobility in their arms.

An interdisciplinary Katz School research team is investigating the potential for wearable devices to facilitate rehabilitation for stroke patients who have lost mobility in their arms.

Dr. Sai Praveen Kadiyala, postdoctoral research fellow in Artificial Intelligence, and Ziyang Guo, master’s student in Data Analytics and Visualization, are creating a model to study how signals from the brain collected through electrodes placed on wearable devices can accurately predict the little movements that healthy people take for granted, like reaching for a toothbrush or trying on new shoes.

The team is melding medicine, science and engineering to better understand how a device, such as a 3D-printed robotic hand, or exoskeleton, in combination with surface electromyography (sEMG) sensors that measure physiological responses can facilitate efficient and accurate clinical decision-making for patients at home.

"If there is a lack of signaling in a patient’s sEMG when they perform a particular gesture,” said Guo, "then therapists could focus on training them on that gesture. In this way, the rehabilitation process to restore function becomes more efficient."

Read the entire story in the Katz blog


Mathematics Student Modeling Unusual Kind of Natural Energy

With the help of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, Katz School mathematics Ph.D. candidate Samuel Akingbage is researching the mathematical possibility of continuously capturing energy derived from small amounts of vibration in human and natural activity.

Energy harvesting devices, which consist of systems of oscillating beams in, for example, skyscrapers, trains and bridges, are made up of piezoelectric materials, which produce an electric charge under mechanical stress. “The oscillations in materials when they vibrate produce electricity that can be stored in batteries or capacitors,” explained Akingbade.

Akingbade, whose research is supported by an NSF grant awarded to Yeshiva University mathematics professors Marian Gidea, Edward Belbruno, and Pablo Roldan, is creating a mathematical model that will try to determine the right amount of outside force on these beams that would overcome the effects of internal friction, which stops the beams from vibrating.

Dr. Gidea, a former NSF mathematical sciences program director and Akingbade’s advisor, said that Akingbade’s approach is unique in that most researchers neglect the effect of friction in mathematical models on dynamical systems that describe, for example, the swinging of a clock pendulum or the flow of water in a pipe.

Read more in the Katz School blog


Data Analytics Experts to Create Index of Anti-Semitic Hate Speech

Andy Catlin, director of the Katz School’s M.S. in Data Analytics and Visualization program, and faculty member Brandon Chiazza received a $7,500 grant from Yeshiva University's Provost Faculty Research Fund to create a definitive repository of anti-Semitic hate speech.

Studies have shown a strong correlation between incidences of hate speech and hate crimes. “We want to create an index like the Dow Jones Industrial Average for anti-Semitic hate speech,” said Catlin. “We could make the world a less toxic place and hopefully a safer place by having a high-quality database that’s widely available."

Anti-Semitic incidents have risen sharply in the United States in recent years. The Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based Jewish civil rights group, found that there were 2,717 such incidents in 2021, up 34 percent since 2020.

Read the full story.

Research Opportunities

The Katz School is expanding its support of STEM and the health sciences by providing research grants for Katz faculty and for collaborations between YU faculty and Katz faculty and students. This initiative is intended to stimulate new research and promote existing research projects that result in scholarly publication, conference presentations and grant applications while simultaneously creating research opportunities for full-time Katz graduate students.  

Learn more.

The 11 projects showcased during the Katz School's 2022 Symposium in New York City on May 12, 2022, offer a glimpse into the exciting work that graduate students are doing to advance scholarly knowledge, promote industry and transform lives. 

Read the proceedings, watch presenter videos, and more.

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