News and Information

Conference Speakers

J. Andres Melendez | Rabi Ann Musah | Phillip Ortiz | Preethi Radhakrishnan | Joseph Skrivanek  | Kevin Woo

Carlos N. Medina

photo of Carlos N. Medina

Carlos Medina is the associate provost and associate vice chancellor for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the State University of New York (SUNY). He is charged with leading SUNY’s efforts in promoting and advancing the university’s diversity goals, ensuring that they are properly captured within all university policies and procedures, providing strategic direction to SUNY campuses in connection with the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and administrators who come from groups within our society that are underrepresented in higher education and in SUNY and overseeing the implementation and management of various programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels dedicated to serving underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students, faculty and staff.

Immediately prior to serving in this position, Medina was the assistant provost. He was instrumental in helping build the office’s portfolio of programs and overall capacity since its inception in 2007. Medina has served as the director of student support services for SUNY’s Center for Academic and Workforce Development, managed a $12.5 million budget as director of the Bridge Program (SUNY’s flagship Welfare-to-Work Initiative) and the “Financing Your Independence” Program, managed a host of teacher preparation, math and science enrichment (STEP & CSTEP), educational opportunity and professional development programs across the state while with the New York State Education Department where he also served a one-year appointment as a Regent management fellow.

He received the Mayor’s Community Development Service Award, City of Albany, in 1994.

Medina earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Education from the State University of New York, College at Cortland and his M.S. in human services administration from Cornell University.

J. Andres Melendez

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Juan Andres Melendez is associate head of the nanobioscience constellation and empire innovation professor of nanobioscience at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CSNE) of the State University of New York in Albany.

Before joining CSNE in 2011, Melendez rose through the ranks at Albany Medical College where he developed a program directed at understanding the free radical signals that control metastatic disease progression, aging and infectious disease processes. The program has remained continuously funded by both private and federal funding agencies.

He continues his work on free radical signaling and in the development of next generation nanoparticle-based therapeutic vehicles for the diagnosis and treatment of degenerative disease. 

Melendez is a council member of the Society for Free Radical Biology & Medicine and serves on the editorial board of its journal, "Free Radical Biology & Medicine." He has received numerous awards and served on many review and advisory boards for the government, academic institutions, scientific societies and companies.

Melendez earned his Bachelor of Science in Marine Science-Biology at the University of Tampa, an M.S. in biomedical sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a Ph. D. in biological sciences with a concentration in molecular biology at the University at Albany. He completed postdoctoral studies at Georgetown University in inflammatory processes that accompany oxygen toxicity and at Albany Medical College in post-partum uterine involution.

Melendez was one of the first recipients of an NCI Mentored Career Development Award to Promote Diversity (1997).

Rabi Ann Musah

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Rabi Ann Musah in the principle investigator and director of the Center for Achievement, Retention and Student Success (CARSS) and associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University at Albany.

CARSS is a federally-funded program with the primary goal to increase the graduation rates of students in STEM fields at UAlbany through a combination of interventions, including provision of highly structured and tailored peer tutoring and mentoring; the creation of learning communities; and the establishment of a robust project evaluation plan that enables the project management to respond in real-time to adjustments that need to be made in order to meet program goals. An important focus of the program is to increase graduation rates of subpopulations of STEM majors, most notably female students, transfer students and students from historically underserved minority populations. Inaugurated in the Fall of 2008, the CARSS program now serves over 1000 students per academic year, and under Musah’s leadership, has enjoyed remarkable success in achieving its primary mission.

Musah has worked with Susan Cooper of Simon’s Rock College in the “Young Women in Science” program. The program encourages young women, ages 13 to 17, to explore careers in science. She has also been involved in the “Albany Teach Out,” an element of the UAlbany-Albany High School Alliance for Young Talent, in which UAlbany faculty work with Albany High School teachers to deliver course content for a day.

In addition to conducting research in STEM Education, Musah is an organosulfur natural products chemist whose main research focus is on structure elucidation and biological evaluation of natural products from medicinally important plants, isolation and biophysical characterization of proteins important in the biosynthesis of plant derived natural products, and the environmental fate of plant-emitted volatiles.

Musah earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Prarie View A&M University and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Her postdoctoral studies were completed at The Scripps Research Institute in bioinorganic chemistry

Phillip Ortiz

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Phillip Ortiz has wide interests in improving STEM education and educational access for all students. He is currently at the Provost's Office at System Administration serving as a provost's fellow/assistant provost for undergraduate education. He is co-principle investigator on a NSF-funded project ($3M over three years) that aims to determine how SUNY scientists in training (i.e., graduate students and post-docs) can best serve as mentors for at-risk middle school children.

Ortiz has served on the faculty of Skidmore College and Empire State College and was an American Diabetes Association fellow at the National Institutes of Health.  At Empire State College, he is an area coordinator and mentor at the Center for Distance Learning where he focuses on the STEM curriculum. A founding chairperson of the SUNY-STEM conference, Ortiz has also been the chairperson of Empire State College's Senate and  the University Faculty Senate's Committee on Diversity and Cultural Competence.

Ortiz continues his involvement with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology where he leads the Undergraduate Research Competition.  He is the upcoming editor-in-chief of, "Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education," a Wiley journal that focuses on biochemistry education.

Since joining Empire State College, Ortiz has received the Chancellor's Award for Service and the Chugh/University Faculty Senate Outstanding Service Award. At Skidmore College, he received the President's Award.

Ortiz is a "home grown" product of the SUNY system. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, Binghamton University and a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

Preethi Radhakrishnan

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Preethi Radhakrishnan, an associate professor of biology in the Department of Natural Sciences at LaGuardia Community College-CUNY, has been awarded the first-ever grant by the Elsevier Foundation to increase the number of women majoring in science, math, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The two-year, grant-funded program  — open to all students at community colleges in New York City — encourages women to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The college will offer workshops, paid on- and off-campus research internships as part of a partnership with Empire State College (New York), scholarships and childcare assistance. The series of workshops will inform women about STEM opportunities that LCC offers and provide information on transfer. The program will also feature panel discussions by leading women in pre-health and science careers who will give students real-world examples of women in the workforce.

Radhakrishnan conducts research at the Behavioral Ecology Research Group (BERG) studying the evolution of insects and insect mating behavior, ecological immunity of insects and urban bee navigation.

Radhakrishnan started her academic career with a Bachelors of Science in Zoology and a biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She was received a full scholarship (International Macquarie University Scholarship) and completed her Ph.D. in biology at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Joseph Skrivanek

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Joseph Skrivanek currently heads the SUNY Replication Project. The SUNY Strategic Plan, through its Seamless Education Pipeline, emphasizes the need to create seamless transfer opportunities for students graduating from community colleges to four-year institutions. A model for this seamless transfer exists in the Baccalaureate and Beyond Community College Mentoring Program established at Purchase College. The SUNY Provost’s Office and the SUNY Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) have sought to replicate the Purchase College ideas for seamless transfer throughout the SUNY System. The founder and director of the Purchase Program, Skrivanek is coordinating the replication efforts through the SUNY ODEI.

Included under the Baccalaureate and Beyond Program is a five-week summer program as well as workshops and community building activities throughout the academic year. The program was started in 2000 with an initial grant from the National Institutes of Health Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program. Under Skrivanek's leadership, over the last 14 years, the program has received funding from NIH, NSF and the PepsiCo Foundation in excess of $7 million.

The Purchase College program is a 2011 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). PAESMEMs are awarded each year by the White House to individuals or organizations to recognize the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science or engineering.

Since joining Purchase College, Skrivanek has held numerous positions including chemistry and biochemistry professor, chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Programs, dean of Natural Sciences and chair of the two Middle States Steering Committees. He is an expert in the biochemistry of glycolipids and glycoproteins.

Skrivanek earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Chemistry from the University of Scranton, his Ph.D. in biochemistry at Pennsylvania State University and completed postdoctoral work at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Kevin Woo

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Kevin Woo is an assistant professor, mentor, and faculty chair at the Metropolitan Center of SUNY Empire State College. He was recently appointed assistant director for the Center for the Study of Pinniped Ecology & Cognition (C-SPEC) at St. Francis College.

With his colleagues, Woo continues to research questions in behavioral ecology, such as the evolution of communication in noisy environments, cognition and learning, with the use of pinnipeds, mammals, invertebrates, birds and fish as models. Currently, he teaches in a number of interdisciplinary areas, such as animal behavior, ecology, evolution and conservation.

It has been a goal for Woo to ensure that sustainability is injected into many of his studies. At ESC, he and his colleagues have been awarded several smaller grants to empower students in urban locations to engage in sustainable activities that can be continued within their own community.

Prior to his appointment at ESC, Woo was a visiting professor of psychology at Southwestern University and then a visiting lecturer of biology at the University of Central Florida.

Woo earned his Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Psychology/Biology from Southampton College of Long Island University, an M.Sc, in ecology & biodiversity from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and his Ph.D. in animal behavior from Macquarie University, Australia. He completed postdoctoral work at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.