April 15, 2011

Two graduate students recognized for research

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will honor two doctoral students with Outstanding Graduate Research Awards as part of the Excellence Through Commitment program.

This year’s award recipients are Sadie Lovett, a doctoral student working in SIUC’s Rehabilitation Institute, and Shivani Malik, a doctoral student in micro and biochemical molecular biology. Chancellor Rita Cheng will host a reception honoring Malik, Lovett, and other recipients of Excellence Through Commitment awards on April 19 in Morris Library.

Lovett is a second year doctoral student in the behavior analysis and therapy program. She earned her master’s degree here at SIUC. Her bachelor’s of science degree is from Western Michigan University, where she graduated summa cum laude.

Lovett’s current research focuses on autism and how it impacts language development in young children. The research she conducted for her master’s thesis, focused on language stereotypes in Christian and Muslim relations, resulted in publication in the “European Journal of Behavior Analysis.” She also is co-author on articles appearing in the “Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis” and “The Analysis of Verbal Behavior.”

John J. Benshoff, director of The Rehabilitation Institute, said Lovett “has established a superb reputation in the Institute as a scholar and clinician,” and that her work “may be seminal in the sense that relatively few, if any researchers, have approached these communication issues from a scientific basis.”

Rehabilitation Institute Professor Ruth Ann Rehfeldt, with whom Lovett shares authorship of several articles, praised Lovett’s independence at all stages of her research, from conceptualization of the project through data analysis and interpretation and writing.

Jonathan C. Baker, assistant professor at The Rehabilitation Institute, praised Lovett’s research and her teaching ability as well.

“I believe that Sadie’s research is sound and has broad impact: she utilized a methodology in a unique way across many populations and settings, addressed several relevant and applied questions, and provided evidence for novel ways to teach in university settings,” he wrote in his letter of recommendation.

Lovett is doctoral supervisor and graduate assistant for the SIUC Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, a position she also held at the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia through SIUC. She served her behavior analysis internship at TouchPoint Autism Services in St. Louis. She was a graduate assistant with Project 12-Ways at SIUC, and a classroom instructor at the Center for Comprehensive Services in Carbondale.

Malik’s research ultimately will be “crucial for designing better therapeutic approaches for treatment of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases,” according to her advisor, Sukesh Bhaumik, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Malik earned her master’s and bachelor’s of science degrees at the University of Calcutta in India, where she studied biophysics and molecular biology as a graduate student and zoology as an undergraduate. Her current research focuses on gene regulation as it relates to the proper functioning of cells with application to the betterment of human health.

Her work has already generated six peer-reviewed publications in highly ranked journals, and already has several more potential papers from her current research. Malik also has received several impressive honors for research, including a 2010-2011 Dissertation Research Assistantship here, and a prestigious summer internship while at the University of Calcutta.

Malik is already making professional and academic connections through her research in her field. She accepted an invitation to present her research at the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Subhrangsu S. Mandal, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Texas at Arlington, submitted a letter of recommendation on Malik’s behalf, stating that he knew of Malik first through her publications.

“In my opinion,” he wrote in his letter of recommendation, “Shivani Mali’s research contribution as a graduate student is exceptional... I am truly amazed by the quality of research Shivani has done in the last few years as a graduate student in Dr. Bhaumik’s lab.”

Michael W. Collard, associate professor of physiology at the SIU School of Medicine, said that Malik is “one of the most productive students I have seen at any university.”

Malik herself said she believes “we can revolutionize the world through knowledge and better education.” Her work at SIUC, she said, “helped me develop a problem-solving attitude, be it in academia or real life.”

SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng will host a dinner honoring Malik, Lovett, and other recipients of Excellence Through Commitment awards on April 19, in Morris Library.

Sadie Lovett

Sadie LovettDownload Photo Here

Shivani Malik

Shivani MalikDownload Photo Here