RIT/NTID honors researchers with Sponsored Programs Awards

Story Highlights: 
  • RIT/NTID honors researchers with Sponsored Programs Awards.
  • Recipients have earned funding for projects in various disciplines. 
  • Founders Award was given to NTID Dean Emeritus Jim DeCaro.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf recently honored 12 researchers and program directors for their work leading to new knowledge, strategies or programs and services to improve the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. 

Award recipients are:

Scholarship Portfolio Development Initiative (SPDI) – Internal seed funding opportunity for early-career faculty and contract research faculty, whose projects typically represent the initial stages of projects that could attract external support in the future. They are:

  • Robyn Dean, assistant professor in NTID’s American Sign Language and Interpreting Education Department: Investigating interpreter fatigue, and how it can be exaggerated or mitigated by varying the way in which pairs of interpreters work.
  • Jason Nordhaus, assistant professor in NTID’s Department of Science and Mathematics: Exploring the behavior of a black hole inside a giant star using dynamical 3D simulations.
  • Corrine Occhino, research assistant professor in NTID’s Sign Language Laboratory: Along with co-investigator Joseph Hill, examining the variations in ASL that correlate to diverse regional, racial, ethnic, and socio-economic factors and evaluating how ASL users regard the use of non-standard varieties of the language.
  • Jessica Trussell, assistant professor in NTID’s Master of Science program in Secondary Education and researcher in NTID’s Center for Education Research Partnerships: Developing and implementing an intensive approach to reading comprehension for deaf and hard-of-hearing readers that requires students to work in collaborative groups. 

NTID Sponsored Programs Awards – A new award program that recognizes individuals who have made a difference. Awardees are nominated by NTID faculty. Awards include:

Student Research Mentor Award to Bonnie Jacob, assistant professor in NTID’s Department of Science and Mathematics. Jacob’s work has supported 17 student researchers. She is the principal investigator of the first all-deaf and hard-of-hearing Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program supported by the NSF. 

Up-and Coming PI Award to Jason Nordhaus, assistant professor in NTID’s Department of Science and Mathematics. Nordhaus is nationally known for research describing stellar evolution. He is affiliated with RIT’s College of Science and its world-renowned Center on Computational Relativity and Gravity (CCRG).

Collaborator Award to Keith Mousley, associate professor in NTID”s Department of Science and Mathematics. Mousley’s work collaborating with other researchers explores issues connected to teaching math and other STEM skills to deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Co-PI Award to Myra Pelz, associate professor and co-PI for DeafTEC. For the past seven years, Pelz has been the full-time co-PI of DeafTEC, one of NTID’s signature programs with more than 29 partner high schools in 17 states.

PI Award to Matt Dye, assistant professor and Deaf x Laboratory director. Dye has successfully launched a long-range program of research in cognitive neuroscience supported by a total of seven awards from NIH, NSF, and the Swiss National Science Foundation, as well as one SPDI award. Dye’s funded projects presently employ a full-time research coordinator and a postdoctoral scholar, and support the efforts of graduate and undergraduate research assistants.

Partner Award to Matt Huenerfauth, associate professor in RIT’s Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. Presented to a collaborator from one of RIT’s other colleges who has helped NTID realize its goals, the award recognized Huenerfauth as a key partner in projects investigating topics in mixed mode communication and communication technology. He is the founder of the Linguistic and Assistive Technologies Laboratory (“LATLab”), a bilingual (English / ASL) research lab.

Pioneer Award to Mike Stinson, professor and NTID research faculty member. This award recognizes Stinson for his pioneering work to develop speech-to-text technology for the higher education classroom, work that continues to the present in the guise of research on automated speech recognition. C-Print® is the first research-based speech-to-text (captioning) technology and service for educational usage, and has been used in educational environments across the country in grades 4 through postsecondary programs.

X-Factor Award to Donna Easton, research assistant, NTID’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Virtual Academic Community. The award, honoring those who support the work of a project team, was given to Easton for her critical contributions to 11 funded projects including C-Print® and the Virtual Academic Community.

Founders Award to Jim DeCaro, NTID dean emeritus. This award acknowledges a lifetime of achievement in educational programming for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, along with DeCaro’s success in spreading the knowledge and educational expertise of NTID faculty around the world. DeCaro’s vision and drive also were instrumental in establishing NTID’s first dedicated research facility, Rosica Hall, which is presently at full occupancy with four centers, one major program, one research lab, and other research projects that are largely funded by external grants. 

“NTID’s 50th anniversary year is an excellent time to introduce this recognition program,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “The program celebrates why principal investigators seek funding – because they need resources so that they can continue to make a difference in the world.” 

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