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Core Faculty

Core Faculty Management Team

Frank Buonaiuto   Frank Buonaiuto
Earth Science

Dr. Buonaiuto (Stony Brook University) is an Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the Department of Geography. His research is focused on nearshore processes, including wave transformation and breaking, generation of rip currents and modeling of storm surge and flooding in the coastal zone. He uses numerical modeling techniques to investigate sediment movement across inlet and the evolution of our modern barrier island system along the south shore of Long Island. As an avid surfer, Dr. Buonaiuto enjoys his field work, collecting observational evidence of wave breaking and ground truthing of his numerical models.

Y.C.crop   Ying-Chih Chen

Dr. Y.C. Chen (Columbia University) is a Professor of Physics. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, and before pursuing an academic career Dr. Chen was a scientist and research manager with Exxon Enterprises, McDonnell Douglas, and GTE Laboratories. In these capacities he participated in the development of diode lasers for the world’s first fiber-optic communication systems and optical disk drivers. At Hunter College, in addition to teaching general physics and special optics courses, Dr. Chen has been conducting research on laser physics, laser spectroscopy, nonlinear optics, and the application of lasers to biomedical imaging and sensing.  Dr. Chen has over 100 publications that cover a wide range of topics in optics and has been awarded 9 U.S. patents.

haydee2   Haydee Salmun,
Program Director, Earth Science

Dr. Salmun (Johns Hopkins University) is an Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the Department of Geography.  She focuses on understanding and modeling processes in geophysical systems with application to Earth climate, atmospheric and oceanographic problems. She has studied turbulent mixing in stratified fluids, has investigated the coupling of the atmosphere and the land surface in global climate models, and more recently has worked on interactions between the surface and the atmosphere but with a focus on oceanic phenomena. She is currently interested in the dynamics of the Southern Ocean and the connections between that dynamic and climate, in particular in the context of the potential of future climate change. Dr. Salmun enjoys fluids at the movies (must see Step Into Liquid!), teaching Oceanography in Argentina (yeah, in January!), river rafting in Costa Rica (all about turbulence!), at the top of Colorado’s Longs Peak (see ‘High Altitude Oceanography’), the possibilities are endless as fluids are everywhere.

Virginia Teller   Virginia Teller
Computer Science

Dr. Virginia Teller is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science.  An abiding interest in human language has fueled a research career in natural language processing, artificial intelligence and cognitive science on topics ranging from Japanese-English machine translation to a cognitive theory of human emotions.  Her more recent interests have turned to increasing the enrollment of underrepresented groups, especially women and minorities, in computer science.  She led the SWAMI project, which aimed to create a PhD pipeline for women and minorities in computer science at Hunter.  Since 2008 she has been a co-PI on the Quantitative Biology (QuBi) Project, which allows students majoring in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and statistics to pursue a bioinformatics concentration in their discipline.  After 20 years as a highly successful age group triathlete, Dr. Teller recently retired from triathlon competition.  However, you may still find her on summer weekends riding her beloved Serotta Fierte along 9W and River Road.

Robert Thompson (Mathematics)   Robert Thompson

Robert Thompson is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Hunter College, and a professor in the Mathematics Ph D. Program at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Faculty Mentoring Team


Kelle Cruz (Physics & Astronomy)

Prof. Cruz's research focuses on the observational study of brown dwarfs and very low-mass stars. Brown dwarfs form like stars, but unlike stars, they cool over time have radii, masses, and temperatures similar to giant gas planets like Jupiter. She uses optical and/or near-infrared spectroscopy (0.6–5 microns) on telescopes in Hawaii, Chile, and Arizona to collect data on these objects and uses specialized computer software (e.g., IRAF and IDL) and custom programming to do the analysis. Much of her research concentrates on creating a volume-complete sample of very low-mass stars and brown dwarfs and using that sample to undertake statistically robust studies of their physical properties. She also is currently studying juvenile brown dwarfs, only recently discovered, that have ages likely between 10 and 100 Myr and masses between ~10 and 30 Jupiter masses. Much of her current research efforts are focused on getting more accurate ages for these objects and using them to identify and calibrate age indicators in brown dwarfs.  


DanaDana Sylvan (Mathematics)

Dana Sylvan (PhD Mathematical Statistics, Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.  Her research focuses on modeling spatio-temporal processses with complex structures.  She is also interested in applications in biology, education, environmental science and management, medicine, psychology, sports.  Since coming to Hunter in 2004, Dr. Sylvan has been supervising several graduate students on projects involving data exploration and modeling, and she is the adviser for mathematics majors pursuing a bioinformatics concentration.  She is the founder and coordinator of the weekly CUNY Statistics Seminar at the Graduate Center. Website:

Allan FreiAllan Frei (Geography)

Dr. Frei (Ph.D. in Geography from Rutgers University in 1997) is a climatologist whose research interests have focused on issues related to climate change and changes in snow cover across Northern Hemisphere lands; and on issues of climate change and water resources. One current research project is an investigation of the impact of changing Arctic sea ice on Arctic snow cover (funded by NASA). In addition, Prof. Frei is currently involved in three projects related to climate change impacts on water resources in New York State, which are funded by the New York State Water Resources Institute, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. These projects include research as well as working with stakeholders.


NoelLGoddard.jpgNoel Goddard (Physics & Astronomy)

Noel L.Goddard is an Assistant Professor of Physics.  Since coming to Hunter she has established the undergraduate biophysics curricula within the Physics department and is a member of both the Biology and Physics PhD faculties at the Graduate Center.  She currently serves as advisor to the biophysics concentration BA programs.  Prior to this position, Dr.Goddard was a Junior Fellow at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School where she worked in the technology development lab of George Church (personal genome project).  Dr.Goddard’s lab focuses on problems at the boundary of physics and biology. She is interested in microbial population dynamics and its role in human disease.  Her lab is also actively developing rapid, low-cost, molecular-based clinical diagnostics as well as high throughput drug target screening.  As an educator, Dr.Goddard is also an avid supporter of professional development opportunities like MARC/MBRS and STEM Catalyst programs and serves on the student recruitment/retention committee of the RCMI Gene Center.


Steven GreenbaumSteven Greenbaum

Dr. Steve Greenbaum is a Professor of Physics at Hunter College in the City University of New York (CUNY) and also serves as Executive Officer of the Ph.D. Program in Physics at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Dr. Greenbaum earned his Ph.D. in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics from Brown University.  He spent two years in the Semiconductor Branch of the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. as an NRC Postdoctoral Fellow, and also spent three sabbatical years as (i) Fulbright Scholar at the Weizmann Institute of Science, (ii) NASA/NRC Senior Research Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Lab, California Institute of Technology, and (iii) Visiting Professor in the Chemistry Department at Stony Brook University and the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Rutgers University.  Dr. Greenbaum’s main research interest involves spectroscopic studies of disordered solids by magnetic resonance and synchrotron x-ray absorption, most of which has recently centered on materials for electrochemical energy storage and conversion (i.e. batteries and fuel cells). He has authored or co-authored over 180 peer reviewed publications and given over 50 invited talks at national or international conferences. He was the 2001 recipient of the Roosevelt Gold Medal for Science, bestowed by the New York Council of the United States Navy League, and the 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, awarded jointly by the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He also received the 2003 Richard Nicholson Science Teaching Award. Dr. Greenbaum is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.


yuhangRen.jpgYuhang Ren (Physics & Astronomy)

Dr.Yuhang Ren is an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Hunter College of CUNY. He is also a member of the doctoral faculty of the Graduate Center and a staff member of the Center of Advance Technology in New York. Professor Ren received his Ph. D.s from the Department of Applied Science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 2003 and the Department of Physics at the Zhejiang University, China in 1999. His research spans from condensed matter physics to nanotechnology to biomedical applications. Most recently, he applies the newest techniques in ultrafast pump-probe laser spectroscopy to answer questions regarding the complex magnetization reversal, the mechanism of ultrafast demagnetization, and the spin relaxation processes in magnetic nanoelements. He develops a nanometer-resolution, ultrafast spectroscopic near-field technique to investigate the spin and magnetization dynamics in the individual magnetic element and to realize the coherent control of laser-induced processes.


RutbergCropRandye Rutberg (Geography)

Prof. Rutberg completed her B.A. in Environmental Studies at Barnard College and her Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Science at Columbia University. Currently, her research interests include the application of isotopic tools to paleoceanography and the investigation of the mechanisms of glacial interglacial climate change. Her research has focused on using paleoceanographic proxies to improve knowledge of thermohaline ocean circulation and climate on glacial interglacial timescales. Her more recent work uses output from the POP3 Ocean Model to understand how the commonly used tracer d13C responds to forcing at the sea surface. Prof. Rutberg is using the model output to understand the timescale of water propagation from the surface to the deep ocean and what these timescales imply about proxy records obtained from the interior ocean. This work, published in peer reviewed journals, is important to developing a better understanding of the ocean's role in glacial interglacial climate change, and ultimately in future climate change.  Most recently, Professor Rutberg has been investigating the role of atmospheric and ocean circulation in the Antarctic region and how they may effect atmospheric CO2 concentrations on glacial interglacial times.


Ioannis StamosIoannis Stamos (Computer Science)

Dr. Ioannis Stamos is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Hunter College of CUNY. He is also a member of the doctoral faculty of the Graduate Center.   He has been working in the areas of Computer Vision and Computer Graphics. His current research interests are in the broad area of photorealistic 3D model acquisition and the utilization of dense range 3D data. He received his Ph.D. from the Computer Science Department of Columbia University, his M.S. and M.Phil. from the same department and his Diploma of Engineering from the University of Patras (Department of Computer Engineering), Greece. Professor Stamos is a recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) by the National Science Foundation. He is currently supported by a number of NSF awards. For more information on his research please visit


Former Members

Ada Peluso (Mathematics & Statistics)

Prior to retiring, Professor Peluso was an active member of the Core Faculty Team from the inception of the Program until August 2010. She was a Professor and Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Hunter College and work for many years on programs to increase the pool of STEM students at the College as well as to contribute to the training in mathematical education of high school teachers.

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