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2015 Distinguished Doctoral Awards: Student Profiles

STONY BROOK, NY – The five recipients of the 2015 Distinguished Doctoral Student Award represent the breadth and depth of the research Stony Brook University students undertake. From new types of therapeutics for cancer and diabetes to the necessary role of visual arts in American literary realism, their work changes the way we live, and the way we see and understand the world.    

In the following profiles Brian Feinstein (Psychology), Zack Foda (Molecular & Cellular Biology), Anna Plonka (Geosciences), Brandi So (English), and Megan Tudor (Psychology) discuss their work, their experiences at Stony Brook, and what lies ahead after graduation.      

2015 Dist Doctoral Students

Brian Feinstein , Department of Psychology 
Coping with Sexual Orientation-Related Stress: A Weekly Diary Study of Gay Men

Brian Feinstein is graduating with his degree in clinical psychology. His research focuses on lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) health with an emphasis on risk and protective factors related to psychopathology. He has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students. He is currently completing a one-year clinical internship at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

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Zachariah Foda , Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Structural Studies on Allosteric Regulation and Drug Binding

Zachariah Foda is a dual M.D.-Ph.D candidate in the Medical Scientist Training Program. His research has largely focused on the development of new types of therapeutics for cancer and diabetes, and he was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) predoctoral fellowship for his dissertation work. He defended his dissertation this May and will return to medical school this summer.

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Anna M. Plonka , Department of Geosciences
Structural Characterization of Gas Adsorption in Metal Organic Frameworks

Anna Plonka is graduating with her degree in Geosciences. Her research, which explores molecular-level interactions between various gases and solid absorbents, has implications for carbon dioxide sequestration and pollution control. Her lecture at the 2013 American Crystallographic Association annual meeting won the prestigious Margaret Etter Student Lecturer Award. She’s authored 12 peer-reviewed articles and forged collaborations among Stony Brook University, Argonne National Laboratory, and Berkeley Labs.

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Brandi D. So , Department of English
American Literary Regionalism and the Sister Arts: Local Color Outside the Lines

Brandi So completed her Ph.D. in English May 7. Her teaching and research interests include cyber-pedagogy, mining the digital archive, and American literature. Her dissertation, “Regionalism and the Sister Arts: Local Color Outside the Lines,” argues for the necessary role of visual arts in American literary regionalism, and recovers women writers’ artistic lives as subjects of critical inquiry. Brandi is a 2014-2015 American Association of University Women (AAUW) American Fellowship awardee and a 2014-2015 New York Council for the Humanities Public Humanities Fellow. 

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Megan Tudor , Department of Psychology
Getting to Know Siblings of Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): a Model of Risk and Resilience

Megan is graduating with her degree in clinical psychology. Currently on internship at the Oregon Health and Science University, she will begin a postdoctoral position at the Yale Child Study Center this summer. Her research focuses on the ‘big picture’ factors that can influence the functioning of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their family members. Specifically, she has published findings on the influence of sleep problems and pain in this population. Her current focus is on the well-being of siblings of youth with ASD and how they may be better supported by clinicians, families, and their community

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