Upstate graduate student earns four-year fellowship

SUNY Upstate College of Graduate Studies

Arturo Barbachano-Guerrero, a graduate student at Upstate, has received a fellowship from the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology. Arturo specializes in researching dengue fever.

Upstate graduate student Arturo Barbachano-Guerrero has received a four-year fellowship from the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology.

The award from Consejo Nacional De Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) will help Arturo conduct research on dengue fever.

Arturo enrolled at Upstate last year after meeting Anna Stewart-Ibarra, PhD MPA and Timothy P. Endy MD MPH, from Upstate’s Center for Global Health and Translational Science via a mutual collaborator.

Dr. Stewart-Ibarra’s research specialty is the environmental and socio-political influences on dengue transmission in Ecuador.

Arturo, who has a bachelor’s degree as a Chemical Bacteriologist and Parasitologist and a master’s degree in Molecular Biology, taught college students for a year in Mexico City, then worked for the Mexico City health ministry for two years in a research lab on infectious diseases.

Arturo’s primary research focus is in pathogenesis of viral diseases, specifically with Dengue and Kaposi Sarcoma-associated Viruses with Dr. Endy and Christine King PhD, who conduct research on dengue in the Far East and in South America. He has contributed to a study of dengue in bats in southeastern Mexico.

“It’s very translational,” Arturo said of the work he’s doing at Upstate. “We can develop and apply plans to control infectious diseases. I like the basic science, too.”

Public health crises like dengue fever and the Ebola virus affecting Africa have social, ecological and biological components, Arturo said.

While the Ebola virus has captured the world’s attention, dengue fever has been spreading as well. At first only associated with Thailand, dengue has been in South and Central America for a long time, Arturo said, and might emerge in other places, too.

“We can’t tell if it’s going to be a big problem,” Arturo said of dengue.

Arturo has four more years of research at Upstate to look forward to, but he’d like a career as an academic researcher in Mexico. “I plan to go back and apply what I have learned,” he said.

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Student art club provides creative outlet, support at Upstate

SUNY Upstate student art club

Upstate students at the SUNY Upstate Art Club's exhibition in the Health Sciences Library. From left are Ashis Sinha, Steve Reinheimer and Chandrav De. The shirts in the center of the photo were painted freehand by Chandrav, using a brush and fabric paint. At left is student Samantha Benn's chalk pastel rendering of the Beatles' John Lennon.

On any college campus, Karen Howard says, an art club for students is a must – even at an academic medical university, where the workloads are intense and free time is scarce.

“It’s hard to continue a hobby at this level of education,” she said.

That’s why Karen, a fourth-year student in the MD/PhD program, was pleasantly surprised to find out how much art is being created by Upstate students.

SUNY Upstate Student Art Club

MD/PhD student Karen Howard, president of the Upstate Art Club, with her sketchbook in the Weiskotten courtyard.

So last year she and some other students started an art club on campus. The idea was to provide a positive environment for artists, support their work and provide opportunities to exhibit it.

The informal group became an official Upstate club late last fall and put on an exhibition in April. This month the SUNY Upstate Art Club learned it has been approved for funding by the Campus Activities Governing Board.

“We have 25-plus active members from all four colleges,” Karen said. “The great thing about art is that it’s inclusive. And you do it on your own time. If you’re serious about it, you make time for it.”

Club members are serious indeed.

For the spring art show in the Health Sciences Library in Weiskotten Hall, a dozen students exhibited 25 to 30 works in a variety of media – paintings, photography, digital art, pencil, clay and freehand drawing in stencil style.

Now that the club has a budget ($575), Karen hopes to schedule lunchtime talks featuring guest speakers, and to provide supplies to offset members’ costs for exhibiting their work.

SUNY Upstate Art Club

"Into the Light," acrylic painting by Samantha Benn, a student in Upstate's Radiation Therapy program.

The club’s other goals include:

* An annual show in the Health Sciences Library.

* A room of its own for members to create.

* An auction or other means of selling members’ artwork.

* An annual donation of artwork to the campus.

Last year, the club was led by Karen and co-president, Mani Yahyavi-Tajabadi; pharmacology graduate student Dipmoy Nath; and medical students Charlie Jiao and Erica Brenner. Mani, a third-year medical student, was the primary artist of a huge mural for the 2013 Anatomical Gift ceremony.

Karen is president this year, with fourth-year medical student Steve Reinheimer the treasurer. Charlie is still involved and staffed the club table during the club day fair, Karen said.

SUNY Upstate Art Club

"Shoots and Ladders," a 3D abstract sculpture in clay by Megan Peppenelli, a student in Upstate's College of Graduate Studies.

Any student interested in joining the club or serving as an officer should contact her at howardka@upstate.edu. Or check out the club on Facebook.

In the art world, Karen is a comic artist, writing as well as illustrating graphic novels – such as “The War of Winds,” an epic fantasy she began for her high school portfolio 10 years ago in Rochester. “I love reading, but I like to visualize what the creator thinks the characters look like,” she said.

With an MD/PhD dual degree in hand in the near future, Karen is looking to specialize in either orthopedic surgery or emergency medicine – wilderness medicine in particular. “The more hands-on, the better,” she said.

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Graduate students host fundraiser for cancer research

SUNY Upstate Graduate Studies

Students, post-docs and faculty from the College of Graduate Studies will sell lemonade and baked goods Friday on campus to raise money for childhood cancer research. (L-R): Megan Peppenelli; Kevin Kenderes; Nick Smith; Amber Papillion; Carrie Coleman, PhD; Gary Chan, PhD; Arturo Barbachano-Guerrero; Olesea Cojohari; Stuti Sharma. The sale runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Weiskotten courtyard and outside Weiskotten's ninth-floor cafeteria.

Students, post-docs and faculty in the College of Graduate Studies are hosting a lemonade and baked goods sale on campus Friday to support pediatric cancer research.

The effort is led by Rosemary Rochford’s lab in Microbiology & Immunology, which is participating in “Alex’s Million Mile,” a walk/run/ride event for cancer research and awareness throughout September.

The nationwide event is part of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, named for Alexandra Scott, an 8-year-old girl who died of cancer in 2004 — four years after she started the lemonade stand movement that had raised $1 million by the time she died.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, the Rochford team will be in the Weiskotten courtyard and ninth-floor cafeteria offering lemonade and assorted baked goods.

The Rochford labs at SUNY Upstate and at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) have been supported by grants from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Dr. Rochford leads Upstate’s prominent research efforts on Burkitt’s lymphoma, the most common childhood cancer in sub-Saharan Africa.

Any donations to the Rochford Lab team will help Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation support the work of the Rochford lab. There’s still time to join the team and help reach its goal of logging 1,000 miles, said Carrie Coleman, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Rochford’s lab.

Or just stop by Friday, make a donation and enjoy some lemonade.

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