Explore, Evaluate and Present: Student Researcher Prepares for 9th Annual Honors Conference

When Nicole Yu enrolled at Queensborough in the spring of 2010, her plans were to major in Nursing. One of her pre-clinical Nursing courses – Introductory College Chemistry –  opened her eyes to other areas of science. “I was encouraged by my professors to explore my interests and so I took additional chemistry classes,” said Nicole.

Nicole Yu photo

Before long, Nicole developed a fascination for the physical sciences and throughout the next two years delved into undergraduate research.

Under the guidance of Dr. Nidhi Gadura, Biological Sciences and Geology, Nicole applied for and participated in the 2012 Summer Biology Participation in Research and Education Program (BioPREP) at Stony Brook University. As a result of her research there, she presented a scientific poster at the 2012 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in San Jose, California, for which she won a national award. The poster presentation was named, “Identifying the Optimal Condition of Staphylococcus Epidermidis Serine Protease (ESP) in Inhibiting Staphylococcus Aureus Biofilm.”

“QCC has had a great impact on my life,” said Nicole. “The encouragement from my professors helped me to pursue my interests in bold, new ways.”

Nicole, who finds time to fill her role as Senator of the Chemistry Club, is also preparing for the 9th Annual Honors Conference, to be held May 3 at Queensborough. The scholarly event includes hundreds of students from Queensborough and its sister CUNY community colleges who come together to share research findings and make presentations in academic areas across the board.

“This is an academic feast where our students will present their work and the faculty will display their mentorship skills,” said Dr. Paris Svoronos, Chemistry, who helps make the yearly occasion possible. “This is an invaluable experience for students to improve their self-confidence when addressing an audience.”

Nicole will present her research findings at the 9th Annual Honors Conference on the topic of organic chemistry. She said of her research mentor, Dr. John Regan, Chemistry, that, “he respects my pace of learning while maintaining an expectation to engage in a high level of chemistry.”

“Students like Nicole who are successful in research have already demonstrated an aptitude to do well in theory, technique, and laboratory reports, and to have a solid understanding of experimentation,” said Dr. Regan.

He added, “In research there are no recipes. In fact, our goal is to create new recipes and, in the process, a lot of ‘cakes’ inevitably fail. But that is how we learn from our mistakes.”

Upon receiving her Associate Degree from Queensborough, Nicole is planning to pursue study in Biochemistry at Hunter College.