Awards honor SUNY Oswego faculty for scholarly, creative activities

Isabelle Bichindaritz, an associate professor of computer science and coordinator of the college’s biomedical informatics programs (shown in a file photo) earned the 2021 President’s Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity. In addition, Sien Hu, an assistant professor of psychology, and Roberta Hurtado, an assistant professor of English and creative writing, both earned the 2021 Provost’s Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity.

OSWEGO - Three SUNY Oswego faculty members earned campus awards recognizing outstanding achievements in scholarly and creative activities.

Isabelle Bichindaritz, an associate professor of computer science and coordinator of the college’s biomedical informatics programs, earned the 2021 President’s Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity.

Sien Hu, an assistant professor of psychology, and Roberta Hurtado, an assistant professor of English and creative writing, both earned the 2021 Provost’s Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity.

“Dr. Bichindaritz is an industrious faculty member with expertise in machine learning, artificial intelligence, biomedical informatics, data science and neuroinformatics, to name a few,” physics professor Carolina Ilie wrote in support of the nomination.

The breadth of Bichindaritz’s knowledge is evident in more than 100 publications, including two books edited, four chapters written and conference proceedings, Ilie explained; computer science and bioinformatics are difficult fields to get accepted to present at national and international conferences, thus the prestige of doing so at more than 25 such conferences is high. In addition, Bichindaritz’s published research papers are widely cited and influential.

“Dr. Bichindaritz is an inspiring presence for students and colleagues alike,” Ilie noted, adding she is a passionate teacher and researcher in artificial intelligence, machine learning and the practice of teaching, as shown by the recent publication of “Case-based Reasoning in Health Sciences” in the book “Computational Intelligence in Healthcare.” “Dr. Bichindaritz is teaching a variety of courses in biomedical information systems, in system designs, biomedical information methods, data analytics and database applications.”

“A noteworthy aspect of Professor Bichindaritz’s scholarly work is her willingness to involve students in the research process and the publication of their results,” fellow computer science faculty member David Vampola wrote in his recommendation, adding she “has made a practice of actively involving her students in the greater goal of advancing human knowledge.”

Along the way, Bichindaritz has mentored more than 60 undergraduate students and chaired more than 35 master’s thesis projects in computer science and biomedical informatics, Ilie added, and often “the students published their work in reviewed journals and participated in national, regional and local conferences.”

Calling her “an extraordinary astute researcher with solid background in computer science and medicine,” Ilie noted Bichindaritz’s research spans advanced analysis that impacts clinical research, risk factors for diseases, medical outcomes and more. Since joining the SUNY Oswego, Bichindaritz published several archival publications, including “Integrative Survival Analysis of Breast Cancer with Gene Expression and DNA Methylation Data,” currently in press in Bioinformatics.

The in-demand master’s in biomedical and health information and facilities in support of these programs at the college’s Syracuse campus are particularly noteworthy and emblematic of Bichindaritz’s leadership.

“When she first arrived on campus, there were two graduate certificate programs in these fields,” Vampola said. “Professor Bichindaritz’s efforts to make these certificates into actual degree granting graduate programs exceeded my wildest expectations of them. As the administrator of these programs, her scholarly work shows that she is an intellectual leader who serves to draw students into these courses of study.”

This includes a track record of earning research grants to support her work and the vibrancy of these graduate programs, Vampola said. Ilie added that Bichindaritz gives back by reviewing publications and grants for international journals and organizations like the National Science Foundation and Alzheimer’s Foundation.

Additional support letters came from Bichindaritz’s colleagues from institutions as near as SUNY Upstate Medical University to as far as Norway and Italy, all praising her brilliance, research accomplishments and collegial collaboration.

“Dr. Bichindaritz is an example of a faculty member who is not only an excellent and dedicated professor and research adviser, but also an inspiration for the students by her active research productivity,” Ilie wrote. “Moreover, she held leadership roles in a variety of campus-wide committees and in the international community. Her work is of great quality in any field: teaching, research or service.”

‘Prolific and productive’

“By any measure, Dr. Hu is an exceedingly prolific and productive scholar,” fellow psychology faculty member Paul Stewart wrote in support of her candidacy.

Hired in fall 2016 to strengthen college offerings in biopsychology and cognitive neuroscience, Hu exceeds her teaching and service obligations via an impressive publications record of a dozen peer-reviewed articles in the past five years, often providing outstanding student opportunities in the process.

“Her scholarly productivity and dedication signal to us that she is only going to grow her national reputation as a scientist, and by extension, our institution’s standing,” Stewart wrote. “But what makes her truly exceptional is how she is leveraging her laboratory and skill to involve students and support their development.”

Stewart noted Hu’s impressive record of student co-authors on peer-reviewed articles include Oswego students (now alumni) in Samantha Jenks, Kimberly Fischer, Brittney Castagna and Manna Job. Jenks served as first author on a publication in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

“These students made substantive and original contributions which merited their authorship,” Stewart said.

“Her research examines fundamental questions surrounding functional connectivity in the brain, including but not limited to populations of aging people and alcohol users,” Stewart noted. “Not only have her publications been subject to rigorous blind peer review, many have been in top journals in the field.”

Hu’s work, including a first-authored article in the Journal of Neuroscience, has been widely cited. In addition, Hu has presented at a dozen conferences, including large international gatherings of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, San Diego and Washington, D.C.

“Dr. Hu continues to be a highly respected colleague who has had extraordinary success in scholarship at SUNY Oswego,” psychology faculty member Matthew Dykas wrote.

Noting her “outstanding” scholarly output, Dykas said her “strong record of presenting research at local, regional, national and international conferences also demonstrates her active work in neuroscience and colleagues’ interest in her specific research. Moreover, it underscores Dr. Hu’s motivation to remain current in the field of neuroscience and to represent SUNY Oswego in the larger discipline.”

Dykas praised Hu’s excellent work as a mentor who provides top-level student experiences.

“Dr. Hu has recruited a number of students into her laboratory and her work with these students has resulted in peer-reviewed publications and numerous conference presentations,” Dykas said. “Dr. Hu’s consistent and strong involvement in mentoring young student researchers is noteworthy and she has been at the forefront of promoting undergraduate research development at SUNY Oswego.”

In addition, Hu offers service to the greater field by serving as co-editor of the Journal of Psychophysiology and reviewing many manuscripts for other journals including the prestigious publication Neuroimage.

“Dr. Hu is also a great colleague -- she is always working, always focused and cares deeply about contributing to our institution and the development of her students,” Stewart said.

Brilliant and inclusive

“Professor Hurtado is a scholar whose output is testimony both to her brilliance and her laudable work ethic,” wrote Leigh Wilson, a Distinguished Service Professor and chair of Oswego’s English and creative writing department.

Wilson noted that Hurtado’s first book -- the 2019 Palgrave Macmillan Publishers work “Decolonial Puerto Rican Women’s Writings: Subversion in the Flesh” -- received national recognition. Hurtardo’s work has appeared in El Mundo Zurdo, Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of MALCS, Journal of South Texas English Studies and Journal of Latina Critical Feminism, among others, and her “Somewhere Deep in This Flesh” appears in Practicing Transgressions, an anthology of critical theory produced by Third Woman Press.

With an output of “astonishing energy and a widely inclusive sweep,” Wilson noted Hurtado’s second book, in progress, includes work on “decolonial erotic aesthetics in Puerto Rican women’s writings, women*discourse*violence in Central and North America, and women and social justice in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.” Hurtado is in various stages of additional book projects as well.

“Professor Hurtado’s teaching is also informed by her scholarship, as well as her remarkable intelligence and work ethic,” Wilson noted. “Peer evaluations of her teaching note the meticulous planning of her courses, the creation of spaces for students to respond as individuals as well as groups, the ease and attention of the students in her courses, the preparation of the students in the courses and the wide-ranging subject matters she teaches based on her scholarship.”

Hurtado’s versatility in teaching benefits students as well, such as several different thematic versions of the “20th Century American Novel” course and classes on topics including “Ethnicity and Cultural Difference,” “Latino Literature of Labor in the Americas,” “Literature of Revolutions in the Americas” and “Latina/o Memoirs.”

“This range represents an enormous amount of labor each semester she has been with us, and it’s clear that Professor Hurtado is constantly linking her myriad scholarship interests to the content of her courses for the benefit of her students,” Wilson noted.

“In her brief history as an academic, Dr. Roberta Hurtado has built a legacy of instruction whereby she intertwines the arts, literature and multiethnic cultural expressions to impart the knowledge she brings,” wrote former teacher Josephine Mendez-Negrete, a professor emerita of Mexican-American studies at University of Texas San Antonio also known for her publishing work.

“Dr. Roberta Hurtado is an invested faculty with service to professional associations that clearly reflect her scholarship and teaching interests,” Mendez-Negrete said. “In addition to the stellar accomplishments she has amassed, Hurtado brings much knowledge about the academic environment in which she is thriving. She truly mirrors an academic that has built an outstanding position in the academy with her scholarly, teaching and service work.”

“I can speak for my colleagues as well as myself: we value and greatly respect Professor Roberta Hurtado’s scholarship deeply and know that it brings honor upon all of us in our department, our college and the SUNY system,” Wilson wrote.

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