Students Win Big in the Sciences at Medgar Evers College

UMBC Undergraduate Research Conference Winners

Medgar Evers College is training the next cadre of researchers, doctors, and engineers who will leave its doors with the comprehensive and cutting-edge education required to succeed in today’s global economy. In keeping with the University–wide “Decade of the Sciences”, the College’s state-of-the-art School of Science, Health and Technology attracts top-notch faculty engaged in innovative research and the institution has been recognized for promoting minority access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degree programs.

Recently, eighteen Medgar Evers College students attended the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s (UMBC) Undergraduate Research Conference with Biology and Physical, Environmental and Computer Science (PECS) Professors Dr. Dereck Skeete, Prof. Karl Ruddock and Dr. Ed Catapane, Physiologist and Professor of Biology. The students gave 9 presentations on their research work. Cherryle Brown, Sadchla Mathieu, Michael Nelson and Christiana Ojo won awards for their presentations.

“We are extremely excited our students presented and were rightly recognized for their achievements at this important research conference,” said Dr. Edward J. Catapane, who mentored the student attendees and has previously testified before the U.S. Congress on the value of biomedical research support programs for underserved minority students. “As an educator and a scientist, it is gratifying to me to help develop the next generation of talented researchers poised to establish careers in and contribute to the biomedical field. All of our program staff is dedicated to helping students realize their academic and professional ambitions.”

Held annually in October, the Research Symposium is a NIH-supported conference focused on contributions from undergraduates in the Chemistry and Biological Science arena from all over the Mid-Atlantic region. The conference features student poster presentations of the results of their work in chemistry and biology. All entries are judged in groups of posters with the two top-rated entries in each group receiving awards. This year’s symposium was attended by approx. 400 students hailing from colleges and Universities of all sizes.

Sophomore Sadchla Mathieu won for her presentation entitled the “Inhibitory Effects of GABA on Serotonergic Innervation in the Bivalve Mollusc Crassostrea virginica” co-presented by fellow student Cherryle Brown. According to Mathieu, studying Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) – a neurotransmitter that slows down the activity of nerve cells in the brain – will help with treatments for conditions like epilepsy. Of her participation in her first conference, she said, “It was amazing. I got to broaden my horizons and had the opportunity to learn what my peers were working on as well as get their opinion on my own work.”

Mathieu plans to study for an M.D./Ph.D. degree in hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon and researcher. She is applying for summer medical internships at Yale next year and has been contacted and courted for internships by several other institutions that saw her work at the conference. “I want to go to every single conference we attend,” she said.

Senior Cherryle Brown has been involved in research experiments – using mussels and oysters to mimic the human nervous system – for the last three summers. She believes a career in Public Health and epidemiology is in her future. Currently, she works part time at the Central Office and at a tutoring company.

“My interest is in public service and biology,” said the biology major and mother of two young girls – ages 4 and 6. “Ultimately, I want to do research that will have an impact on people’s daily lives.”

Brown also served as a mentor and co-presenter to Mathieu, drawing on her previous conference and research experiences to help the team win. The pair just attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (Nov. 9 -12) in St. Louis, where their poster won again.

“Dr. Catapane and Dr. Carroll have opened doors for students,” she said. They give you confidence even if you don’t believe in yourself.”

Senior Michael Nelson won for a presentation on “Adenylyl Cyclase Inhibitors Reverse the Neurotoxic Effects of Manganese on Post-Synaptic Dopamine D2 Receptors” co-presented by fellow students Trevon Adams and Christiana Ojo. The Biology major and veteran of over 20 conferences says the research has real-world applications as it helps distinguish between manganese toxicity (Manganism) and Parkinson’s disease. Patients are often misdiagnosed with the latter and given ineffective medications.

Nelson, who also conducts research at SUNY Downstate, is interested in pursuing an M.D./PH.D. combining his interests in Behavioral Science and Neurobiology. “I hope to work on better cures and treatments for mental illnesses and neurological impairments,” said Nelson, who currently works full time at Kingsborough Psychiatric Center as a mental health therapist.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the mentorship of Dr. Catapane and Dr. Carroll,” said Nelson. “They have changed my life in more ways than I can explain and for that I am extremely grateful. Considering who I am and where I’m from, I wouldn’t even be in school right now.”

Nelson has previously won poster presentation contests at UMBC three times as well as six 1st place wins at conferences like the National Shell Fish Association where he prevailed in a pool of 200 contestants.

Photo Caption

UMBC Conference Winners: (l to r) Sadchla Mathieu, Christiana Ojo (Kingsborough student in Bridge program), Michael Nelson, Cherryle Brown.

About Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Medgar Evers College was founded in 1970 through the efforts from educators and community leaders in central Brooklyn. The College is named after Medgar Wiley Evers, a Mississippi-born black civil rights activist who was assassinated on June 12, 1963. The College is divided into four schools: The School of Business; The School of Professional and Community Development; The School of Liberal Arts and Education; and The School of Science, Health, and Technology. Through these Schools, the College offers 29 associate and baccalaureate degree programs, as well as certificate programs in fields such as English, Nursing, and Accounting. Medgar Evers College also operates several co-curricular and external programs and associated centers such as the Male Development and Empowerment Center, the Center for Women’s Development, the Center for Black Literature, and The DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy.