Student Wins Award at Eastern Colleges Science Conference

Sherry Browne, a Biology major at the College of Staten Island who graduated with honors last May, has recently been awarded an Excellence Award at the Eastern Colleges Science Conference [ECSC] that took place at Wagner College.

Saying that she feels “extremely proud and accomplished,” Browne’s winning poster was entitled “Dynamic Studies of Alzheimer-Like Pseudophosphorylated Tau Proteins and Microtubles.” Explaining the research, Browne’s mentor Dr. Alejandra del C. Alonso,
Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and Program in Developmental Neuroscience, says “There is a protein that gets modified because of disease, which destroys the structure of the cell. In the cells, there are structures like train tracks that take things from one part of the cell to the other and when this modified protein appears in the brain, then those tracks get destroyed. [Sherry] wanted to see the process while it was happening, so she made the cell express this modified protein and she made the modified protein express light so she could videotape that and see the process as the tracks were getting destroyed in the cell.” According to Dr. Alonso, Browne’s was one of approximately 180 posters at the regional undergraduate research conference.

Browne notes that she feels that her experience at CSI contributed to her winning this award and, in particular, she credits Dr. Alonso. “CSI allowed me the opportunity to work with Dr. Alejandra del. C. Alonso. She has been so patient, informative, and inspirational. Without her, I would have not experienced such success.”

Looking toward the future, Browne comments that “I plan on traveling the world and participating in as much volunteer work as possible.”

According to the conference Website, “The first [ECSC] was organized in 1947 by undergraduate Pauline Newman at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. The aim then, as now, was to stimulate interest in undergraduate research in the sciences and related fields and to provide a lively forum for the presentation of research papers…Over the years interest has increased in the conference and over 50 colleges and universities have attended this annual event. Over time the range of subject matter has also expanded and now covers computer science and behavioral and social sciences, as well as the original areas of biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and engineering.”

Sherry Browne poses in front of her award-winning poster at the Eastern Colleges Science Conference.

Senior Accepted to Prestigious Summer Medical Program

As summer quickly approaches, many students are wondering what they will do over break. CSI Senior and Chemistry/Mathematics double-major Eric Rios-Doria doesn’t have that problem, as he has been accepted into the University of Iowa Summer Undergraduate Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) and Research (SUMR) Program, an intensive eight-week summer program where he will be exposed to MD/PhD training that includes performing biomedical research as well as shadowing a physician-scientist.

Regarding his acceptance, Rios-Doria says, “I am very excited to participate in this program…The academic program at the CSI Chemistry Department is one I have very much enjoyed and am glad I have met such great professors… I would also like to thank Prof. [Krishnaswami] Raja for allowing me to perform research in his laboratory and work on an independent project.

Rios-Doria is also a recipient of a scholarship from CSI’s STEAM (Science & Technology Expansion via Applied Mathematics), a comprehensive, National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded program that expands and supports undergraduate education in all areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “STEAM has provided both academic and monetary support,” he notes “and I am most appreciative.”

In addition, he is on the Dean’s List, and is an LSAMP research scholar and CSTEP student. LSAMP is short for Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, an NSF-funded program with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of students successfully completing Bachelor’s degrees and gaining access to graduate programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The C-STEP program at CSI aims to increase enrollment and graduation, among historically underrepresented students, in undergraduate and graduate programs leading to professional licensure or to careers in the fields of science, technology, and education.

Admitting that he has been interested in medicine since he was young, due to bouts with severe asthma that led to frequent hospitalizations when he was a child, Rios-Doria transferred to CSI in 2007. He recalls that he has “found so many more opportunities here than at my previous institution. The programs available to the students are invaluable …The opportunities that have been provided through [the College] have allowed to me to become a better researcher and attain invaluable skills both inside the classroom and laboratory and outside the classroom and laboratory. As an example, CSI has given me the opportunity to present my research at local, regional, and national conferences.”

After his arrival at CSI Rios-Doria began research in chemistry with Prof. Raja. Saying that Dr. Raja “has guided me and taught me how to become a better researcher,” he is now working on an independent project that will eventually become his senior thesis. Explaining the research, Rios-Doria states that “I am currently working on synthesizing a liquid crystal that will have photovoltaic applications. An example of such an application would be the cost-effective use for solar cells. It is looking very promising and should provide exciting results.”

Hoping eventually to gain acceptance into an MD/PhD program with the hope of practicing medicine while conducting further research, Rios-Doria credits CSI and the programs available to him at the College for his current success. “The education I have received at CSI has been fantastic. All the professors I have had have shown genuine interest in the students and have allowed for my proper scientific thought process to be established. With the offer from the University of Iowa, I believe the education provided by the fantastic instructors at CSI has prepared me for the challenges ahead in the summer and has also placed me at an advanced level of understanding difficult concepts being learned in universities nationwide.”

Eric Rios-Doria has been accepted into a prestigious summer program at the University of Iowa.