A LaGuardia Community College Student Receives Recognition for Her Outstanding Presentation at the National Biomedical Research Conference

Long Island City, NY—January 7, 2014—Sherise Martin, a biology major at LaGuardia Community College who has been conducting research on turmeric’s effect on neuroinflammation, won best poster presentation for her important work at the largest professional biomedical research conference of its kind in the nation.

Sherise took the top prize in the neuroscience category at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) where she competed against undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students from such colleges as NYU, Cornell and UCLA.  More than 700 colleges and universities were represented and some 3,100 students and faculty attended the event.  A grand total of 1,702 abstract were submitted.

“It was a thrill to be recognized for the serious research we are conducting at LaGuardia,” said Sherise, who is also a member of Alpha Theta Phi, LaGuardia’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges.

For the past three months, Sherise and her faculty mentor, Dr. Maria Entezari of the biology department, were in the lab examining the effect of turmeric on the functions of isolated microglial cell lines.  Surprisingly, they found that turmeric suppresses the neuroinflammation by improving the functions of these cells.

“Principally, what the research uncovered was that turmeric restores the microglial cells ability to migrate and remove plaque,” said Sherise.  “This could potentially lead to a step lead toward for cure for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases that have macrophage-functioning problems.”

For the 32-year old, who was out of school for 10 years before enrolling at LaGuardia in the fall of 2012, majoring in biology and engaging in serious, hands-on research was “like a dream come true.”

“I always loved science and decided to go back to school,” said Sherise who during her 10-year hiatus taught music at a high school and supervised sports broadcasts at ESPN, where she still works part time.

She chose LaGuardia because of its degree program in biology. “It was a choice between biology and astronomy,” she said, “but because I was not so hot in math, I knew I couldn’t be an astrophysicist, so biology made sense.”

And when she learned that she could participate in a research project with Dr. Entezari, she knew she made the right decision.  “LaGuardia is one of the few community colleges where students have an opportunity to engage in real research,” she said.  “Here, I am working on experiments that I fantasized about.  I am a real scientist.”

The budding biologist is continuing her work with Dr. Entezari, who plans on publishing their findings after conducting more experiments.

Sherise plans on graduating this year and transferring to a four-year college to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology and eventually work toward her doctorate.

“My lab experience has definitely reinforced my love for science,” said Sherise,  “And with that love comes a desire to pursue a career in science whether it is research or in academia,” she said.

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.