For the seventh year in a row, a College of Staten Island student earned first- place honors in at least one category at the 22nd Annual CSTEP Statewide Student Conference at The Sagamore on Lake George in Bolton Landing, NY.
In his first presentation ever, Joseph Inigo earned first place in BioChemistry for his poster titled “Targeted and Lipid-Complexed Forms of Curcumin as a Remedy for Brain Tumors,” which studies the culinary spice turmeric and its anticancer properties. Inigo, an alum of The Verrazano School‘s Class of 2013, believes that his lab’s research “brings the promise of replacing chemo- and radiation therapies, which cause serious side effects without actually curing the disease.”
Senior Psychology major Lee Han earned Honorable Mention in the Psychology Category for his poster “Mind Wandering and Eye Movement.” Han spent 126 hours in the lab studying CSI students and their ability to focus on lectures.
As it is every year, the competition was fierce as the CSI students presented alongside students from such prestigious New York universities as NYU, Columbia, Syracuse, Cornell, and LIU—as well as all 24 CUNY colleges. The conference weekend is a time and place where CSTEP students from all over the state have the opportunity to interact with likeminded students and attend workshops that address academic development, networking, social development, and graduate school. They learned about interviewing and table etiquette.
“Many CSTEP students are first-generation graduates,” explained Debra Evans-Greene, CSI Project Director for the Office of Access and Success Programs. She believes that programs such as CSTEP “level the playing field for students belonging to historically underrepresented groups or families that are financially unstable.”
She went on to discuss the CSTEP conference and the dose of healthy competition that it provides, saying that it “gives the students an opportunity to hone their presentation skills. It holds them accountable and helps them become specialists in their fields.”
The conference is also a great initiation into the world of math and science for those who did not present but are preparing to do so in the near future. Mark Blounte, a sophomore Biology major was selected to serve as a CSTEP Ambassador for the conference while he is preparing his poster for next year. He called the chance to attend this year’s conference a “huge opportunity.”
Mark worked most of the conference, helping organize the presenters’ research and show attendees where to go but he admits he took every opportunity to “observe and learn” from the students presenting.
Originally from Guyana and planning on researching embryonic development—he wants to be a cardiologist—Mark said that the best part of the conference was “the research—seeing how dedicated the researchers are to their fields. An event like this is definitely a stepping stone for many students.”
Evans-Greene, who has been with CSI’s CSTEP program for 20 years said over that time, “students have really benefited and they are constantly returning to the program as Master’s and PhD students to mentor the undergraduates and continue their research with our amazing science faculty.”
After last year’s victory, Evans-Greene predicted a seventh win in a row. She now claims that she is done with predictions because it would be more of a surprise if at least one CSI-CSTEP student did not win a category. “That is just how great our CSTEP program and our students are.”