Students “Predict the End of the Oil Age” at Prestigious National Conference

Experts have long tussled over the benefits and drawbacks of a fossil fuel-based economy. Now two Queensborough students – one current and one alumnus – are drilling into the debate, with help from a grant that benefits minority students in the sciences.

Andrew Garcia and 2012 graduate Luis Bolaños presented their research in October at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science national conference in Seattle.

Their presentation – “Predicting the End of the Oil Age” – drew from summer research they conducted under the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) grant, awarded to Queensborough in 2010 for a three-year period. Both returned to Queensborough and recapped the experience for fellow students in the Minority Student Mentoring Program.

“We calculated the amount of oil consumed versus the amount of oil we have and applied mathematical projections and equations to determine the world’s future oil supply,” said Andrew Garcia, a pre-med student who participated in the Minority Student Mentoring Program last spring and the Summer Research Program last summer.

According to their presentation, the global oil supply could run out by middle of this century. “Even though the discovery of new oil reserves is possible, the net gain to the already dwindling oil reserves will barely dent its inevitable decline. The oil age’s future may have its days numbered.”

After graduating in June, Luis took part in the Summer Research Program. Also a pre-med student, Luis is now studying psychology at Hunter College and aspires to become a psychiatrist. “The conference allowed us to meet many interesting people from around the country,” he remarked. “It was great to receive so much interest in our presentation from professors and graduate students.”

“An increasing number of students who do not have bachelor’s degrees in the biological sciences are being accepted into medical school,” said Dr. Mercedes Franco, associate professor in mathematics and computer science. Dr. Franco, who suggested the topic and mentored the students, said “It is now considered more desirable for students to have a broader spectrum of academic experiences.”

Dr. Jonathan Cornick led QCC’s application for the MSEIP grant. “Our goal in the MSEIP Minority Student Mentoring Program is to integrate resources such as time management, tutoring, academic counseling and service learning projects to encourage continuous academic and personal growth,” he said.

Dr. Karan Puri played an integral role in developing the 2012 MSEIP Summer Research Program. The Minority Student Mentoring Program and Summer Research program are two of many initiatives funded by the grant.

Dr. Franco added, “We want to ignite intellectual and creative passion and help students along the path to a rewarding career.”