Working alongside faculty mentors, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) students investigate the link between dopamine receptors and drug addiction. They analyze metal-tolerant bacteria in the waters around New York City and push mathematical theory to new levels.
These and other research projects were showcased at the CUNY Research Scholars Program (CRSP) 2017 Symposium held at BMCC on July 25. Twenty BMCC student researchers — as well as more than 200 students from Bronx Community College, Gutman Community College, Kingsborough Community College, New York City College of Technology and Queensborough Community College — presented abstracts of their projects in poster sessions, and celebrated the culmination of a yearlong project that involved not only research but also workshops in laboratory safety, abstract writing and public speaking.
“Students in CRSP are incredibly dedicated to advancing their knowledge in STEM by conducting faculty-mentored, novel research,” said Helene Bach, Director of Research at BMCC. CRSP students and their faculty mentors commit to 400 hours towards their research activities in the fall and spring semesters, culminating in a huge poster presentation in the summer, she explains.
“They are among the most rigorous of researchers, often presenting at national scientific conferences and even publishing with their mentors in peer-reviewed journals,” says Bach. “These activities, together with the deeper science learning they attain working in a research setting alongside their mentors, gives BMCC students a competitive edge so they can hit the ground running when they graduate and enter as STEM majors at a four-year school.”
The success of the program is evident in its data: One hundred percent of the students in CRSP do go on to a four-year college, “and one hundred percent continue in a STEM field,” Bach says. “This is a highly successful program that produces promising researchers that will be highly marketable.”
Research: The foundation for scientific understanding
The 2017 CRSP Symposium opened with a morning program including remarks by Vita Rabinowitz, Vice Chancellor and University Provost, CUNY, and Karrin E. Wilks, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, BMCC. Jayne Raper, Professor of Biological Sciences at Hunter College, presented a talk, “The Good Cholesterol Primates: Protecting Africa One Cattle at a Time.”
The afternoon program featured remarks by Mark Hauber, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, CUNY, followed by remarks by Provost Wilks and a talk by Kevin Gardner, Founding Director of the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center’s Structural Biology Initiative: “Inspired by Nature: How Studying Cellular Sensing Leads to New Therapies and Biotech Tools.”
“Research is the foundation of all scientific understanding, and through mentored laboratory experiences, students participate firsthand in the creation of knowledge,” say the Symposium’s Co-Directors, Avrom J. Caplan, CUNY Associate University Dean For Research and Ron J. Nerio, CUNY Research Associate, in their welcome message of the event program. “The New York City Mayor’s Office funds the program, and we are especially grateful to Mayor Bill de Blasio for his generous support.
Sharing research findings with peers across CUNY
In the afternoon session, BMCC students joined their peers from other colleges who delivered oral presentations of their work. BMCC Science major Md Samirul Islam gave a talk on the research he took part in, mentored by Professor Abel Navarro: “Absorption of Phenol from Aqueous Solutions with Native Caribbean Seaweed: Purify Toxicity of Phenol from Water.”
The event also included a poster competition. The first place winner was BMCC student Tesfamichael Demeke, who will attend Columbia University in the fall, and the second place winner was Jayeda Hossain, who will attend Baruch College starting fall 2017.
The students also presented highlights of their research in posters session where they talked with guests and fellow researchers about their work. These projects from BMCC included:
- “Solar Panel and Optical System,” Robiul Alam and Zhixin Deng; Mentor/Professor Shalva Tsiklauri.
- “Preparation and Characterization of Chemically-Modified Biomaterials and Their Application as Adsorbents of Penicillin G.,” Jacqueline Baah Twum; Mentor/Professor Abel Navarro.
- “Two Different Approaches for the Stirling Numbers of the Second Kind,” Xueying Chen; Mentor/Professor Jaewoo Lee.
- “Isolation and Characterization of Heavy Metal Tolerant Bacteria from the Newtown Creek,” Lionel Colon, Nicole Yoo and Walker Farnham; Mentor/Professor Sarah Salm.
- “Joining of Low-Module Thermoplastics for Dental Implants,” Mayumy Cordova; Mentor/Professor Rafael Niyazov.
- “Utilization of Used Green Tea Leaves for the Removal of Yellow Hair Dye Through Bioremediation,” Tesfamichael Demeke; Mentor/Professor Abel Navarro.
- “The Effects of Forskolin on Cultured SH-SY5Y Neuroblastoma Cells,” Jay Gadsden; Mentor/Professor Jane M. Tezapsidis.
- “Black Tea Extract Has Anti-Proliferative Effects on the Oral Bacteria, Porphyromonas Gingivalis and Human Gingival Fibroblasts in a Dose Dependent Manner,” Shanna-Key Griffiths; Mentor/Professor Brian Rafferty.
- “Fighting Drug Addiction with Water: Analyzing the Solvation Thermodynamics of the D3 Dopamine Receptor Binding Cavity,” Jayeda Hossain; Mentor/Professor Lauren Wikstrong, Emilio Gallicchio (Brooklyn College) and Tom Kurtzman (Lehman College).
- “Adsorption of Phenol from Aqueous Solutions with Native Caribbean Seaweed: Purify Toxicity of Phenol from Water,” Md Samirul Islam; Mentor/Professor Abel Navarro.
- “Response Priming Reveals Capacity Limitation,” Urjana Kica; Mentor/Professor Marjan Persuh.
- “Simulation of Adsorption Models: Instantaneous and Non-Instantaneous Mixing,” Jieying Li and Jie Lan; Mentor/Professor Chris McCarthy.
- “An Autonomous Ground Explorer Using Computer Vision,” Jiahua Liao; Mentor/Professor Hao Tang.
- “Quantum Dots in 2-D TMDs Materials,” Sofia Mvokany; Mentor/Professor Shalva Tsklauri.
- “Biological Activity of Taraxacum Officinale,” Eric Pereira; Mentor/Professor Adolfina Koroch.
- “Molecular Recognition of Cell Adhesion Proteins: Does Water Help the Candida Fungal Pathogen Colonize a Host?” Sheila Sarkar; Mentor/Professor Laurent Wickstrom and Emilio Gallicchio (Brooklyn College).
- “Body Segmentation and Recognition in AR/MR,” Pedro Torres; Mentor/Professor Hao Tang.