CSI Alumnus Vincent Wong ’15 Attending Upstate Medical University

Vincent Wong at an Americorps Your Park! Your Health! event.

Saving the world may very well be on Vincent Wong’s future agenda. The 23-year-old Macaulay Honors College (MHC) alumnus achieved a tremendous amount in his four years at the College of Staten Island, which speaks both to his work ethic and thrill for adventure. The recipient of several scholarships and awards, including The Jack Nash Scholarship (2014) and Psychology Departmental Award (2015), Wong is currently a medical student at Upstate Medical University at Syracuse, where he’ll be starting his clinical rotations this summer, with an interest in family medicine.

During his time on campus, the Psychology major and former club vice president was heavily involved with Project Reach, a peer-mentoring program for college students with learning disabilities. As a student researcher, he worked closely with Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, PhD, developing a thesis on the impact of mentoring on the mentors and their success rates. Reflecting on his time with Dr. Gillespie-Lynch, Wong states,

“She is one of the nicest people I know. She allowed me to conduct research with her for two and a half years and guided me every step of the way. She encouraged me to enter various conferences to present my research, which was one of the best-presented undergraduate research at the conferences.”

The admiration is mutual as Dr. Gillespie notes, “Vincent was a huge asset to the mentorship program. He was an exceptional mentor for several students, including a student with a disability whom he inspired to become a mentor himself. His sense of humor and natural exuberance created joy in the students he worked with.”

In addition to his work on campus, the Brooklyn Technical High School graduate, also participated in several extracurricular activities.

Wong was a member of the CUNY Service Corps program, which allowed him to work at the Prospect Park Zoo. Some of his responsibilities included managing the zoo database and helping the staff coordinate special events.

Of his many activities, one program Wong found to be transformative was AmeriCorps. After hearing about the opportunity at the Macaulay job fair in Manhattan, Wong knew that AmeriCorps would be an enriching and life-changing experience for the aspiring doctor. AmeriCorps is a civil society program supported by the U.S. government, foundations, corporations, and other donors engaging adults in public service work with a goal of “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.”

In addition to the special bond he shared with Sheridan, Wong experienced nature in a unique way. He states, “It opened an entirely new world that was unknown to me before. I always thought of nature being far away and having to transverse hundreds of miles to find a small quiet place to enjoy. However, Gateway National Park is only 45 minutes away on bike. Not only was it super close, it was also a hidden gem.”

Vincent Wong demonstrating proper technique at the Americorps event.

During this time, Vincent learned how to kayak and rescue other kayakers, and paddled to an uninhabited island off the coast of Brooklyn where a pack of horseshoe crabs greeted him and his peers.

Another memory the medical student holds fondly was traveling to Sandy Hook Beach to camp overnight. He recounts, “I remember sitting by the fire with the vivid night sky over my head. The next morning was a marine demonstration. Another counselor and I walked along the shore with a huge net. The captured animals were quickly returned to the ocean after we showed the public all the various species of small fishes that lived in these waters. Overall, this experience taught me to enjoy nature just a little bit more.”

Although it may seem as if he has conquered the world on his own, the current medical school student and Syracuse resident credits his success to a number of individuals including Charles Liu, Lisa French, and the entire Macaulay Honors community.

Wong has also been an asset to the MHC community, “We are very proud of Vincent Wong. He is a genuine, kind, and humble person whose wit and intelligence will help to make him a wonderful doctor one day,” said Lisa French, Associate Director of the Macaulay Honors College at CSI. “Jovial, joyful, and inspiring—a pleasure to have as a student—that’s what comes to mind when I think of Vincent!” adds Charles Liu, Macaulay at CSI’s faculty director.

Wong encourages fellow students to cultivate these kinds of relationships, which made him feel like “family,” as he states, “Students should take the time out to develop and nurture a relationship between a professor or staff member. This relationship will help them grow as a student and as an individual.”

 

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 Alumna Andrea Dalzell Joining United Spinal Association’s 6th Annual Roll on Capitol Hill

College of Staten Island (CSI)  alumna Andrea Dalzell is being hosted by the United Spinal Association’s 6th Annual Roll on Capitol Hill, June 11-14 in Washington, D.C. Dalzell, who has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Neuroscience from CSI, and is currently in nursing school, will join other prominent disability advocates to speak directly with legislators on issues that affect the independence and quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) and other pre-existing conditions.

View full article at lelezard.com

CSI Alumnus Keegan Fernandes Receives Jonas Salk Scholarship

Keegan Fernandes is the recipient of a Jonas Salk Scholarship.

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumnus Keegan Fernandes ’15, ’16, ‘17 has won a Jonas Salk Scholarship.

Through the Scholarship, in fall 2017, Fernandes will attend the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine at Campbell University in North Carolina, where in addition to pursuing a Doctor of Osteopathy degree, he will also conduct research relating to epileptic seizures and type II diabetes.

“I am so humbled and want to express my deepest gratitude for being awarded the Jonas Salk Scholarship. This prestigious award will allow me to pursue my dreams and for that I cannot thank the Jonas Salk committee enough,” said Fernandes.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Fernandes has received a Purple Heart Medal and Ribbons denoting Army Commendation, Army Service, NATO Service, and Global War on Terrorism.

“Having spent seven years in the military, retuning to civilian life was difficult. I was grateful to find a home with the Veteran Support office where Laura Scazzafavo helped me focus on reaching the dream of becoming a doctor,” remembers Fernandes, who graduated with both a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2015 and went on to complete a Master of Science in Biotechnology at CSI in spring 2016. The graduate student is slated to receive a second Master of Science in Neuroscience and Developmental Disabilities in spring 2017.

While in the Army, Fernandes served as the lead medic for his platoon and found his inspiration to become a physician after saving the life of his friend (and fellow soldier) in Afghanistan, who was severely injured by an improvised explosive device.

At CSI, Fernandes instructed tenth grade high school students in neuroscience and mathematics through the CSTEP Program, received honors in his major and served as a Veteran Support Specialist and a member of the Armed Forces Club and the Pre-Medical Society at CSI.

As an undergraduate, Fernandes worked in a laboratory with Dan McCloskey, PhD, examining the paradoxical lack of brain Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in the African Naked Mole-Rat.  According to Dr. McCloskey, “He helped develop first neuronal cell culture studies on this species and his research revealed that this unusual mammal uses alternative strategies to grow new blood vessels in the brain, which allows them to handle low oxygen environments in their native habitat. This work informs us of new strategies for human vascular growth to counteract stroke and heart disease.”

“Academically, the professors that I have crossed paths with saw my truest potential even when I couldn’t see it in myself. Having the backing that was offered at CSI has played a huge role in receiving this award,” said the student, who in particular recalls the support of Bill L’Amoreaux, PhD; Abdeslem El Idrissi, PhD; and Dr. McCloskey.

“Without their belief in me I would not be finishing my degree. Their mentorship held me up when life was too much, and here is the proof that anything is possible,” he said.

Dr. McCloskey, who serves as the student’s research mentor and pre-med advisor, added that, “Keegan has propelled himself toward this award. I have been fortunate to work with truly great students here at CSI, including previous Salk Scholarship Awardees, but I have never met a student like Keegan. I have no doubt that he will go on and continue to do amazing things.”

“CSI is very proud of Keegan for his academic achievements as well as his brave service to our country. He is to be commended for his involvement in research throughout his academic program here. There is no doubt that the outstanding mentorship by Dr. McCloskey provided a major boost toward his securing this great recognition,” noted Gary Reichard, PhD, CSI Provost.

The hard-working student and soldier believes, “No matter how long or tough the road is, if you stay with it and you really want it, you will achieve it. This journey is not over. It is the stepping stone to the future I am now certain of, given every challenge I have conquered.”

 

History of Salk Scholarships recipients

 

2017

Keegan Fernandes ’15, ’16, ‘17

 

2015

Anton Mararenko ’15

 

2014

Christina Vicidomini ’13

 

2012

Eric Rios-Doria

 

 

CSI Alumna Soaring to New Heights: Lucinda Zawadzki ’15 Attending University of Oxford on Full Scholarship

Lucinda Zawadzki will attend the University of Oxford in the fall.

Macaulay Honors College (MHC) alumna, Lucinda Zawadzki ’15 has received a full scholarship to the University of Oxford to pursue a PhD in Zoology.

Through the Oxford-Christ Church-Natural Motion Graduate Scholarship, Zawadzki will study full time at the University from October 2017 to September 2020 with all tuition, college fees, and living costs covered.

“I am extremely excited to attend the University of Oxford for my graduate studies. After finding my passion studying birds, I knew that I wanted to continue my studies in graduate school, but I never imagined being able to do so at such an amazing institution. This opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I cannot wait to begin my studies in the fall,” said Zawadzki, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science with honors in Biology, minoring in Biochemistry and Chemistry, and was the Class of 2015 Salutatorian and recipient of multiple scholarships while at CSI.

At the University of Oxford, Zawadzki plans to study vagrancy in birds as an indicator of climate change by conducting research with the Oxford Navigation Group.

Zawadzki plans to study Zoology.

“Through use of existing databases and fieldwork, I will be studying how vagrancy drives movement in bird populations, and whether vagrancy is due to misorientation or an adaptation. To date, no such analysis has been performed. This work is important in terms of climate change, as many organisms will need to adapt to changing conditions through dispersal,” Zawadzki said.

She was also selected as a finalist in the very prestigious British Marshall Scholarship, a first for CSI in this particular scholarship competition. She has also received an honorable mention from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and two honorable mentions from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Zawadzki reflects that, “I have learned that if you have a dream, never give up. I knew this already from college, when I faced the dilemma of switching majors and changing research directions after I discovered my love of biology… challenges do not end in school; they continue after you graduate. However, no matter what roadblock may stand in your way, if you have a goal, and you work really hard, you will achieve it. From senior year of college I knew that I wanted to study birds for a living, and now I have a real path to that dream. I worked hard to get here, and now, day by day, I am slowly making my dream a reality. And I could not be happier.”

Read more about Zawadzki on CSI Today.com.

 

CSI Alumna Stefanie Fadel Interviewed on the BKLYNER.com

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumna Stefanie Fadel is currently the Chief Physician’s Assistant at Quality First Urgent Care. The Brooklyn resident was interviewed in the article “Local Hero, Devoted Practitioner” on the BKLYNER.com, where she is referred to as “somewhat of a local hero due to her extensive medical experience, generous volunteer work, and success as a marathon champion all while fulfilling her role as devoted wife and mother of three.”

Read the full story on the BKLYNER Web site.

 

 

CSI Alumna Viktoriya Morozova ’15 to Speak at The New York Academy of Sciences

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumna Viktoriya Morozova ’15 has been asked to speak at The New York Academy of Sciences. The event, “Targeting Tau in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders,” on March 13, is presented by the Brain Dysfunction Discussion Group.

Morozova is a student in the Master’s Program in the Center for Developmental Neuroscience at CSI. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and, in 2013, joined the lab of Alejandra Alonso, PhD, studying the mechanism of neuronal loss in Alzheimer’s disease as a function of tau expression. Morozova has been awarded first place in the Graduate Conference on Research and Scholarship. Her current focus in the lab is to analyze the prion-like propagation of tau in culture and in a mouse model of tauopathy.

For more information, visit The New York Academy of Sciences Web site.