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Aliona Tsypes

Graduate students earn prestigious research awards

Graduate students are flourishing in a variety of research interests, from administering studies on campus, conducting research abroad, working with faculty and serving as mentors to undergraduates. Graduate students are preparing to make a difference in the world.

Here are two award-winning students and their stories:

Aliona Tsypes
(photo above)

A surprising amount is known about suicide and self-injurious thoughts.

What is not known is how all those factors relate, says Aliona Tsypes, a doctoral student in clinical psychology. Tsypes' mission for the three years of her National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship will be to explore that in a way that could re-write suicide treatment protocols within a decade.

What she learns could help to reduce some staggeringly large figures: More than 38,000 people in America will kill themselves this year. About 485,000 will be treated in hospitals for self-inflicted injuries. Another 2 million non-hospitalized cases of self-injury will be reported.

"It's such complex behavior, it's like we're looking at different sides of an elephant," Tsypes says. "A person with one disorder tends to have multiple disorders; there's a lot of overlap."
Does one disorder cause the other? Do they develop independently or in tandem? Do they combine to create a self-injurious or suicidal behavior or is one element alone the key factor?

To find answers, Tsypes plans a study of 60 people: 20 people with depression who have made a suicide attempt; 20 with depression who have not attempted suicide; and a 20-person control group.

After a clinical interview, participants will complete a series of tasks during which their neural and physiological responses are recorded, including an eye-tracking study showing the subjects two photos simultaneously: one sad and one neutral face. Subjects will then be fitted with portable monitors for seven days, recording activity levels, light, sleep efficiency, emotional distress and other factors.

Studies of cognition, behavior, psychophysiology and brain activity have been done before, but never so many elements on the same study group at the same time. Tsypes says she hopes to get a far more complete picture of what's going on inside a suicidal person and what may put a person at risk.

"We think of this project as a first step," she says. 

— Todd McAdam

Delal Aydin

For Delal Aydin, struggling to be recognized is not a challenge. As a recipient of the SSRC Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) award, Aydin plans to use her research opportunity to help answer questions of cultural struggles for recognition, despite high costs.

Aydin, a doctoral student working with Professor Shelley Feldman, is using her IDRF award to conduct independent research in sociology.

"I was truly proud and happy," she says. "I had worked on the application very hard because this fellowship was critical for me to be able to conduct an independent research project in Diyarbakir, Turkey."

Aydin's research focuses on the formation of the yurtsever, or patriot, subjecthood in a high school setting when Kurdish youth were invited to participate in the building of the Turkish nation. Her research investigates the processes that constitute yurtsever subjecthood as a historical process of subject formation that rejected assimilation, and instead chose to be a part of the struggle for recognition, despite potentially risking their lives.

Currently in Diyarbakir, Aydin is conducting interviews with graduates and faculty members of high schools in the 1990s, when the Kurdish mobilization took place. Aydin hopes that her research will contribute to the literature on the Kurdish question and a durable solution for it.
"I think that an understanding of Kurdish movement from this angle might provide us another window to look at the other struggles of recognition in other parts of the world, including the United States," Aydin says.

"I knew that Binghamton was one of the best universities for me to conduct my research project," Aydin says. "I had high expectations and my professors in the Sociology Department at Binghamton University exceeded my expectations." 

— Anna Brooks


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Last Updated: 3/1/17