CSI Shines in CSTEP Competition

Monique Johnson and Norhan Sobhi at the CSTEP Conference

Three College of Staten Island (CSI) students and one alumna claimed impressive wins in the New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) 25th Annual Statewide Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) Student Science Competition. Jemima Kadima ’16, Monique Johnson ’18, Saleh Smadi ’17, and Norhan Sobhi ’17, all participants of the NYSED CSTEP program, were winners in oral and poster presentations.

The CSTEP competition attracts students from all over the state who compete in various categories relating to science and technology. CSI students took home three awards.

Debra Evans, Project Director for CSTEP, commented, “Our CSTEP students are truly amazing; watching their transformation from challenging their fears to witnessing the various levels of growth, is a reward in itself, and I am honored to have a part of their development.”

The students are mentored by Department of Biology Professors Abdeslem El Idrissi, PhD; Alejandra Alonso, PhD; and Nancy Liu-Sullivan.

Saleh Smadi stands beside his poster presentation.

Sobhi, a Verrazano School student, and Johnson, a Macaulay Honors College student, both placed first in the field of medicine in the oral research competition. Their project, “Exploring GBM-Targeting Drug Synergism Using 3D Cell Culture Model System,” took a look at Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), which is a form of brain cancer that has no known cure and a high mortality rate. They suspected that the signaling pathways that allowed the growth of GBM were the cause of the aggressiveness. Guided by Dr. Sullivan, their research aimed to try to block these signals using “a 3D cell structure system.” They also used two different methods and plan on reporting their findings on tumor growth and signal disruption soon.

Sobhi and Johnson are Medical Technology majors and Dean’s List students. Their findings will potentially help find possible solutions to manage GBM and decrease its high mortality rate.

Smadi placed second in the poster competition in the Biology 2 category. His project “Gestation Exposure to DBP in the Etiology of Autism” looked at the exposure of dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and its role among genes associated with autism. Preliminary findings suggest that “gestational exposure to low doses of DBP causes neuro behavioral abnormalities” as stated in the CSTEP Conference Journal. This abnormality causes a domino effect where the gestation inhibitors malfunction and the result is a developmental delay. Under the supervision of Dr. El Idrissi, Smadi hopes to link these findings from their laboratory test on mice to humans.

Jemima Kadima presenting at the Conference.

Kadima also placed second in the poster competition, but this time in the Biology 1 category. Her project was titled “Investigation of the behavioral effects of Alzheimer-like pseudophosrylated TAU in young mice.” Supervised by Dr. Alonso, the research was aimed at connecting  the reaction between two genes to TAU phosphorylation. These genes affect how severe or early Alzheimer’s can begin to. Currently, there have been no distinct differences between the genes. According to Kadima’s report in the CSTEP Conference Journal,  her research can help “lead to new treatments, which will aim to prevent or reduce the chances of an individual developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

 

 

CSI Student Marilyn Owusu-Sekyere ’18 Wins Soroptimists Award

Marilyn Owusu-Sekyere '18 (center) at the Staten Island Soroptomists Ruby Awards luncheon at the Vanderbilt.

College of Staten Island (CSI) student Marilyn Owusu-Sekyere ’18 is the recipient of the Soroptimists of Staten Island’s Ruby Award.

“Marilyn, despite her youth, has already done some extraordinary work in support of women and girls, and is certain to accomplish much more once she graduates from college and can devote herself to activism and advocacy full time, as she plans,” commented Alyson Bardsley, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of English and Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Director of the Bertha Harris Women’s Center.

In just one example of this student’s charitable and selfless efforts, the young woman co-founded a non-profit organization called “The Bethesda Project.” Owusu-Sekyere was inspired after a trip to the Dominican Republic where she witnessed the devastating poverty of the small country. Using social media, she was able to help raise more than $10,000 dollars, which was sent to the Dominican Republic.

“While extraordinarily modest and shy about speaking on her own behalf, Marilyn is beginning to find her voice as she works to communicate and accomplish her goals,” said Dr. Bardsley, who also commended the Soroptomists for their continued support in such CSI events as “Take Back the Night.”

Brian Raleigh ’18 Harmonizes Academics and Interests

Brian Raleigh "crowd surfing" at Webster Hall

It has been well established among researchers that music can have a relaxing effect on people. Perhaps, no one knows that better than College of Staten Island (CSI) student Brian Raleigh ’18. The Verrazano School student has been a musician since age five, and now, as a successful college student in a popular band, Raleigh finds that his calm demeanor is his key to stress-less success.

“I feel like many college students get into the ‘end of the world’ mentality a lot of the time and it only makes them more stressed, which is not the goal of college. College is supposed to be a place that is challenging. However, the challenge does not lie with the actual work professors give. It lies with one’s response to it,” declares Raleigh, a Business Management major, minoring in Music.

While playing keyboard in his band, Wayward Strangers, at such popular venues as The Bitter End and Webster Hall, Raleigh still manages to work as a peer coach in the Office of Academic Support at CSI and at his family-owned shop, Eggers Ice Cream Parlor, while maintaining a 3.5 GPA.

Being a part of the CSI community is important to Raleigh, and he urges all CSI students to “make CSI your own! Don’t be afraid to stay on campus and make friends. CSI is a great school for the price we pay, and one should feel proud to go here. Get involved and enjoy college!”

The 20-year-old Petrides High School graduate is also a member of the CSI Music Club. His goal is to pursue music professionally, be it with his own band or as an associate in the industry, possibly opening a record label or talent management firm.

Raleigh working at Egger's Ice Cream Parlor.

“I would like to shape this next generation of music as well as give back to a community that has given people behind them the chance to listen to amazing music,” Raleigh commented.

“The band is my passion but so is music in general. I think anyone’s dream career would be to travel the world with some of their best friends and make music. I think that with Wayward Strangers it’s a real possibility,” said Raleigh, a West Brighton resident.

The student credits Charles Liu, PhD, Director of the Macaulay and Verrazano School programs, because he, “really got me to think about life and the reality of the world outside of college. He is very inspiring and is always filled with surprises.”

Dr. Liu, also an astrophysics professor at the College, says Raleigh inspires him right back.  “Brian was a pleasure to have in my class – what an engaged, active learner he is!  He’s great to have around outside of class too – as a student, a musician, and much more.  He is a highly valued and greatly appreciated member of the Verrazano Community.”

The model student advises his fellow peers to keep up with their priorities and not to let too much responsibility weigh them down.

Raleigh insists, “Do not get caught up in the amount of work you have. Always do your work but always realize that every situation, good or bad, is temporary. Thus when life and school are good, push harder because at some point that good situation will start to change, so be prepared. On the other hand, I find myself buried in work all the time, but whether its school or work, when things get hard, I accept the challenge. I will get through it, good or bad, pass or fail, the stress will end.”

 

 

 

Museum of Maritime Navigation and Communication Provides Employment for CSI Students, Receives Official State Charter

(From left to right): Arlinda Draga, Miriam Mishkin, Samir Farag, Samantha Harris, and Alvin Cheriyan at the Museum.

As the College of Staten Island celebrates its 60th anniversary, another historical Staten Island organization, with ties to the College, celebrates success.

It has been announced that The Museum of Maritime Navigation and Communication of New York (MMNCNY) has been recognized by New York State’s Department of Education, receiving an official state charter as of July 2016. The Museum is a participating host site to the CUNY Service Corps for the 2016-2017 academic year and has taken part in previous years through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at CSI.

CSI student Alvin Cheriyan ‘18 works as a Web Specialist, focusing on developing the Museum’s Social Media platform through outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as updating the Museum’s Website. Cheriyan, a Computer Science major, is also working on an app design to showcase specific maritime equipment and allow prospective visitors to preview the Museum prior to their visit.

“The plan is to increase the visitors’ knowledge about maritime history and equipment, while also creating interest in wanting to visit the museum. The goal is also to make the Maritime Museum more engaging and interactive for today’s youth,” noted Cheriyan, adding that, “With my skills and intuition, I plan on helping the Maritime Museum become better known to every generation, and the experience has helped me greatly increase my technical, networking, and social skills.”

CSI Accounting major Miriam Mishkin ’17, who has been working on bookkeeping and even grant writing and research for the Museum, said she has learned a lot during her time there, improving skills like using accounting software.

“It has been a great experience so far,” commented Mishkin.

Museum founder and Chairperson Samir Farag, who is also the CSI Foundation Board President, expressed his enthusiasm for the Museum’s place in Staten Island’s rich history.

“Getting this charter was very important not just for the Museum, but for the community. The Museum’s mission is to teach the history of a great industry that boomed on Staten Island and the State of New York years ago with an emphasis on the technological evolution. Technology has drastically changed over the years, and through the pieces in the Museum, you can see the transition from the sextant — the first navigational tool used in the 1800s (and earlier) — to the GPS that is now on our phones, cars, watercraft, and shipping vessels,” said Farag, a New Springville resident originally from Cairo, Egypt, who collected thousands of pieces over the years, many dating back as far back as 1930.

Farag has displayed pieces from his collection in several other locations over the past two years. Currently, he has items at the Staten Island Children’s Museum, the public library in St. George, and in the Working the Waterfront display in the Staten Island Arts headquarters in the St. George Ferry Terminal. Two years ago, in association with the City’s Parks Department, the MMNCNY’s traveling exhibit was showcased at Conference House Park in Tottenville for several months.

The next step in the Museum’s growth is to find a larger, more permanent location for the MMNCNY, according to Farag.