BMCC Prepares to Launch NSF-Funded Summer Research Program

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) has received a two-year $227,267 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund a new undergraduate summer research program studying plant products beginning in Summer 2019.

The grant is part of the NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program— which supports active research participation by undergraduate students. BMCC was one of two community colleges in the CUNY system to receive the NSF REU funding. BMCC was also one of ten colleges and research institutions across New York state to receive the award.

Of the 247 active NSF awards under the REU Biology Directorate for Biological Sciences, only two have been made to community colleges nationwide, BMCC and Parkland College in California.

Students will receive financial assistance to work one-on-one with their mentors doing hands-on research driven projects. The research they conduct has the potential to advance the current body of knowledge regarding plant products and food science.

Specifically, the aim of the REU project is to analyze the bioactivity of natural plant products at different levels of biological organization.

Science Professors Aldolfina Koroch, Alexander Gosslau and Christine Priano will serve as co- Principal Investigators (PI) on the project. In addition to the three PI’s, five more BMCC faculty will also serve as mentors to one student each throughout the summer. Funding from the grant will allow for summer salaries as well as the stipends for each of the eight students.

“The REU research program is a fantastic opportunity for recruiting and retaining underrepresented undergraduate minority students to learn how to conduct research in our state-of-the-art laboratories at BMCC,” said Koroch.

“Our program also includes boot camps, workshops, field trips, and social events that will not only improve the students’ confidence working in a lab environment, but also support interaction among peers,” Gosslau said.

The three Principal Investigators say the invaluable research experience gained by students during the summer will not only improve their STEM education but also will facilitate a smooth transition to senior colleges or to other important stages in their scientific careers.

“We are truly honored to be recognized by the NSF with this innovative and exciting initiative to increase students’ interest in plant science and to promote the participation of diverse groups in research careers,” said Priano.

The REU mentors and their research projects include: Science Professors Aldofina Koroch (PI), Project: Investigating the potential antioxidant capacity of natural extracts; Alexander Gosslau (PI), Project: “Effects of natural extracts on the stress response”; Christine Priano (PI), Project: Effect of natural extracts on microbial life in fresh water and marine ecosystems; Brian Raffery,

Project: Effect of natural extracts on microbial life in fresh water and marine ecosystems; Abel Navarro, Project: Use of plant polymers on nutrients and heavy metal; Jun Liang, roject:Effect of natural extracts on modulation of stress response and life span in Caenorhabditis elegans; Lalitha Jayant, Project:Effect of natural extracts on viability of sea urchin eggs and Peter Nguyen, Project, Microbiota and their effects on degradation of a black tea extract