BCC Students Explain Math and Science Theories in Meister Hall Poster Exhibit

Bronx Community College (BCC) mathematics, computer science, chemistry, biology and social science students proudly showed off their research, conducted under the guidance of professor-mentors, at the College’s annual Math and Science Fair. Held in Meister Hall, their exhibits were supported by poster displays of graphs, text, photos, drawings and charts.

“The fair is the celebration of undergraduate research. And research is the ultimate learning tool, the true embodiment of active learning,” states Dr. Maria Psarelli, professor of math and faculty coordinator of the Alliance for Minority Participation in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.

The student research exhibits included “Side Effects of Aspartame, an Artificial Sweetener,” “Environmental Justice Issues in the Bronx,” “Cramer’s Rule in Boolean Algebra” and more. The fair gave the BCC student-researchers experience in interpreting their projects as they answered questions from observers. The posters gave fellow students an opportunity to get a closer look at the world of science.

BCC student Jeffrey Guard worked on a project with Francisca Villar, a BCC 2009 graduate. Their project is “Phytotolerance to Toxic Heavy Metals by American and International Rice Oryza sativa Cultivars L. in vitro.” It studies the use of rice (oryza sativa) cultivars to remove toxic heavy metals from contaminated bodies of water and plots of land. “The benefit of this technology is that phytoremediation can potentially be an effective tool in removing contaminated waste from water and soil sources,” says Guard. “The implications of this technology are significant in that they provide a powerful tool to anyone who knows how to effectively plant rice, which is relatively inexpensive compared to other methods for cleaning contaminated ecosystems.”

Ms. Villar, who is a single mother with two children, is a busy person.  She worked on the phytoremediation research project and also campaigned in the citywide mayoral election (receiving 5,300 votes) against Michael R. Bloomberg and others in 2009. Now, she is a student at Lehman College studying anthropology, biology and chemistry and running for Lehman College Student Government vice president.

Guard is the recipient of a $2,500 Michael Steuerman Award. He plans to transfer to Lehman College to study biology. Eventually, he plans to become a doctor. He contends that it is vital that people understand the power behind the science, and that effective communication is key. Posters can break down the process and help people understand enough to appreciate the importance of what is being presented.

“This kind of project is important because it helps motivate students by providing opportunities for research,” says Biology Professor Charles Maliti, who mentors Guard and Villar. The professor believes that by working with a mentor, students can develop scientific skills that can be transferred to other scientific disciplines such as physics and psychology.

“Among the students who participate in this fair, some are the College’s best. I am confident that they will also be the best elsewhere, in senior colleges and in their professions,” says Psarelli. “Hopefully, some of them will successfully pursue their own research in graduate school.”

Student and mentor research projects included the following:

  • “Icosahedron”: Student Adelita Lassu (Digital Arts) and mentor Dr. Anthony Weaver (Math & Computer Science).
  • “Cramer’s Rule in Boolean Algebra”: Students Isirikoufoulou Sibabi Akpo and Moutawakilou Ibrahim (Engineering Science) and mentor Dr. Alexander Kheyfits (Math & Computer Science).
  • “Dynamics of the Sums of Cubes”: Student Xavier Aglamey (Computer Science) and mentor Dr. Rony Gouraige (Math & Computer Science).
  • “Cobamax–An Enhanced Uptake Form of Vitamin B12”: Student Md Nuruzzaman (Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology) and mentor Dr. Thomas Brennan (Chemistry).
  • “Environmental Justice Issues in the Bronx”: Student Jeffrey Cruz (Nursing) and mentor Dr. Farnosh Saeedi (Chemistry).
  • “Side Effects of Aspartame, an Artificial Sweetener”: Student Indira Codero (Nursing) and mentor Dr. Thomas Brennan (Chemistry).
  • “Toxic Pollutants on the Ecosystem”: Student McCartney Y. Defran (Nursing) and mentor Dr. Farnosh Saeedi (Chemistry).

Founded in 1957, Bronx Community College (BCC), the oldest of City University of New York’s six community colleges, serves as the engine for academic and economic mobility for motivated students from diverse backgrounds and preparations. More than 11,000 students from over 109 nations are enrolled in 30 associate degree and certificate programs including Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Computer Graphics, Nuclear Medicine, and Business Administration, Digital Arts, Computer Information Systems, Education Associate, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Accounting, Human Services, Media Technology and Paralegal Studies. BCC’s 43-acre campus, high above the Harlem River, features architectural masterpieces of Stanford White and Marcel Breuer, as well as the Hall of Fame of Great Americans, the nation’s first hall of fame. BCC President Carolyn G. Williams is in her 14th year of leadership service to the College, which is located on a 43-acre campus at 2155 University Avenue at West 181st Street , formerly New York University’s uptown campus until 1973.

The College is home to initiatives not commonly associated with two-year institutions, such as the Center for Sustainable Energy, which promotes the use of renewable and efficient energy technologies in urban communities. The National Center for Educational Alliances (NCEA) ) is currently collaborating with South African Further Education and Training Colleges and universities to create linkages between these institutions and is also working to enhance student and academic support at the colleges.. NCEA also coordinates the College’s global initiative which facilitates global learning within and outside of the classroom.

Bryant Mason / (718) 289-5208 / bryant.mason@bcc.cuny.edu