Wide Spectrum of Awards for CUNY Professors, Researchers

JIN YOUNG SEO

HUNTER COLLEGE

Jin Young Seo, Hunter College$245K FROM NY STATE
FOR BREAST CANCER EDUCATION TO AID KOREAN IMMIGRANT WOMEN
Jin Young Seo, a professor at Hunter College School of Nursing, has been awarded a $245,000 grant from New York State to develop a breast cancer risk-reduction education program that focuses on Korean immigrant women – for whom the disease is the leading cause of death. The grant was among $3 million in awards announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for nine research and education projects across New York State that will delve into breast cancer causes, prevention, detection, screening, treatment and new educational strategies.

The project, to be conducted in collaboration with Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York Inc., will develop a “culturally tailored” educational intervention – the Korean Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Program, which will set four goals for participating women: healthy weight, physically active lifestyle, healthy diet with limited alcohol consumption, and breast cancer screening and adherence.

Low screening rates, health-related beliefs, lack of awareness of breast cancer screening and lack of a primary care physician are all likely causes of an increase in Korean-American breast cancer rate.

Bronx Community College

$300k NASA grant
STEM studies
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded more than $300,000 to Bronx Community College for a two-year program aiding in the training and development of the future workforce of NASA and other high-tech employers. The grant will fund a collaboration with Medgar Evers College to engage middle school and high school students in innovative hands-on science through workshops, field activities and mentoring from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) scholars and professionals. Each summer, Bronx Community College and Medgar Evers College will also train middle school and high school teachers to teach STEM disciplines using NASA Planetary Modeling Platforms and geospatial technology, a fast-growing field that turns data from satellites into information-rich maps useful to government, business and consumers. The program will be run at Bronx Community College by Sunil Bhaskaran, director of the college’s innovative Geospatial Center of the CUNY Crest Institute.

BRONX COMMUNITY COLLEGE

$5M FROM NSF
STEM SCHOLARSHIPS
Bronx Community College will receive one of the largest grants ever awarded to a community college by the National Science Foundation — $5 million ­— to fund scholarships for traditionally underrepresented students in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The NSF “S-STEM” grant will fund a collaboration between Bronx Community and Lehman College to help support scholarships for 575 talented, low-income CUNY students. The program will provide students with paid research opportunities, internships and faculty mentoring as they earn associate’s degrees at BCC. Students in the program can transfer to Lehman and continue their scholarships and work with new mentors, earn bachelor’s degrees and prepare for STEM careers. The S-STEM scholarships will supplement the students’ existing Pell Grants.

CUNY

$3.9M FROM NSF
MINORITY PARTICIPATION IN STEM
The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $3.97 million grant to 13 CUNY institutions to increase the number of underrepresented minority students graduating with degrees in the STEM fields — science, technology, mathematics and engineering. The funding will support the efforts of the New York City Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (NYC-LSAMP) to provide training and academic support to STEM majors and prepare students for graduate school and STEM careers. The grant will also be used to broaden minority student recruitment into STEM fields and encourage faculty collaboration across the colleges participating in the initiative. Since its inception at CUNY, the LSAMP program has provided scholarships to more than 3,000 students.

CUNY, UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICO

$2M FROM NSF
IMPACT OF HURRICANE MARIA

Jorge E. GonzalezAs part of the $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, The City College of New York and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez will virtually recreate Hurricane Maria and its impact on Puerto Rico. The virtual creation of the hurricane will enable research focusing on the critical infrastructure that left the island and its people without power and water for months. According to principal investigator Jorge E. Gonzalez of the Grove School of Engineering, there is an urgent need for a better understanding of the future risks and expected damage due to extreme climate and catastrophic events that will most likely occur with more frequency and intensity, affecting most coastal tropical regions such as Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
“Our research will integrate cutting-edge weather forecast models, data driven identification and characterization of damage to the physical infrastructure,” said Gonzalez.

DAVID JERUZALMI

CITY COLLEGE $945K
NSF AWARD
As scientists have learned from working on diseases like HIV and tuberculosis, sometimes the best way to develop a new therapy is to think about how it might work in combination with other therapies. To do that it’s important to identify, visualize and modify new targets so a disease can be attacked from multiple vantage points.
David Jeruzalmi, professor of chemistry and biochemistry in The City College of New York’s Center for Discovery and Innovation, and his team have identified and visualized a three-dimensional model of a new target and a helicase protein that can modify it – opening and closing it (like a vault) at the origin of DNA replication. The National Science Foundation has issued a $945,000 grant to fund the project as well as four years of follow-on studies related to the helicase protein. The project is entitled “Molecular Mechanisms of Bacterial Helicase Assembly and Activation at a Replication Origin.”

MITCHELL B. SCHAFFLER

CITY COLLEGE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
$3.2M FROM NIH
Mitchell B. Schaffler, a Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering, was awarded a five-year, $3.2 million grant from The National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. Schaffler is researching the biomechanical and molecular mechanisms by which skeletal tissue, such as bones, grows strong or decays as people grow older. This new grant will fund his research into determining how changes in osteocytes — the cells that reside inside bones — contribute to the development of osteoporosis and bone fragility. Osteoporosis and resulting bone fragility are a major public health threat affecting more that 40 million people in the United States. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, fractures resulting from osteoporosis are both dangerous to individuals — 25 percent of hip-fracture patients age 50 and over die in the year following the fracture — and costly to our health care system ($19 billion annually in the U.S. alone).

CITY COLLEGE

GROVE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
$558K NAVAL RESEARCH GRANT
Xi Chen, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering and a researcher in the Nanoscience Initiative at the Graduate Center’s Advanced Science Research Center, was awarded a three-year, $558,000 grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research. Chen’s research project will focus on gaining a fundamental understanding of how water-responsive materials react through studies on nanoscale levels. Understanding the scientific reasons for how these materials respond to water or humidity levels will lay the foundation for developing new hybrid and synthetic materials with potentially broad applications for underwater robotics, artificial muscles and their evaporation energy harvesting techniques.

ROBERT SMITH

BARUCH COLLEGE
$600K TO RESEARCH
‘DREAMERS,’ DACA STUDENTS
Robert Smith, a professor at Baruch College’s Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, was awarded a $600,000 grant from the William T. Grant Foundation to study how recent immigration policies affect education, labor and family welfare outcomes of undocumented youth such as DREAMers and DACA recipients. The Grant Foundation funding supports Smith’s research through 2021. Begun in 2015, Smith’s work investigates how having, lacking, gaining or losing legal status impacts young people and their families, and the life choices they make. Smith’s project screened over 1,700 young people across New York State for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and follows a subset of them over time. Long-term undocumented status has been a key driver of inequality for America’s roughly 11 million undocumented persons, and getting legal status can reset life trajectories, Smith said.

ELIZABETH J. BIDDINGER

CITY COLLEGE GROVE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
$750K
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY EARLY CAREER AWARD
Elizabeth J. Biddinger, a chemical engineer at The City College of New York, has won a U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Award that will support her research investigating innovative methods of converting chemicals obtained from plant and food matter into renewable fuels and chemicals. Biddinger, an assistant professor in CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering, is one of just 84 recipients nationwide to receive the honor, worth $750,000 over five years. Her research focuses on the emerging field of biomass electroreduction — processes that use electricity to transform organic substances into fuels and chemicals. The findings Biddinger will obtain from her Department of Energy project will contribute to the development of small scale, on-site equipment, known as biomass upgrading depots (BUDs).

XI CHEN

CITY COLLEGE GROVE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
$558K NAVAL RESEARCH GRANT

Xi Chen, an assistant professor of chemical engineer-ing at The City College of New YorkXi Chen, an assistant professor of chemical engineer-ing at The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering and a researcher in the Nanoscience Initiative at the Graduate Center’s Advanced Science Research Center, was award-ed a three-year, $558,000 grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research. Chen’s research project will focus on gaining a fundamental un-derstanding of how water-re-sponsive materials react through studies on nanoscale levels. Understanding the scientific reasons for how these materials respond to water or humidity levels will lay the foundation for developing new hybrid and synthetic materials with potentially broad applications for underwater robotics, artificial muscles and their evaporation energy harvesting techniques.