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.
Chang-Hui Shen, PhD, Professor of Biology at the College of Staten Island (CSI), is the recipient of a three-year North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) grant award.
“The threat of terrorist attacks together with the increasing danger of local wars require a constant search and elaboration of new means for their counteracting. In the current project, we are proposing development of a portable, field-employable detector for assessing genotoxicity produced by explosives. On the basis of the enhanced sensitivity of living cells, the device will quickly, correctly, and confidently evaluate the genotoxicity danger for people’s health of CBRN agents. The use of the detector will enable the authorized personnel to estimate the situation and execute all appropriate measures to secure the respective polluted area,” according to Dr. Shen.
The efforts are a collaboration between Dr. Shen’s lab, as well as labs in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey.
“I am very pleased with the news of this three-year NATO award. Fostering new international collaborations, strengthening our research portfolio, and increasing the scope and number of research opportunities for the students are all part of the vision we have for the Division of Science and Technology. No doubt, this grant is well aligned with that vision,” commented Vivian Incera, PhD, Professor of Physics and Dean of Science and Technology.
Alejandra del Carmen Alonso, PhD, Chair and Professor in the Department of Biology, believes, “This award will allow Dr. Shen to increase his research and provide more opportunities with his students working in the lab, including the use of new molecular biology and DNA recombinant technology that we can integrate into molecular biology courses, and students will benefit from it.”
“The Biology Department is very proud of Dr. Shen’s award, an international collaboration that brings the opportunity of growth and exposure for research at CSI. In the name of the Biology Department, I would like congratulate Dr. Shen on his achievements and wish him good luck with this new research project,” said Dr. Alonso.
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.
This summer, Hakima Bahri, PhD, will take leave from her research post at L’Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture de Meknès in Morocco to conduct her research at the College of Staten Island (CSI). A well-respected professor and researcher in the field of botany and a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, Dr. Bahri will spend summer 2017 working with Abdeslem El Idrissi, PhD, in his laboratory.
Dr. El Idrissi, Professor of Biology at CSI, met Bahri in Morocco while traveling with his students in the LSAMP/ CSTEP-Morocco summer research initiative.
“Clearly this project is going to add value to both research efforts here at CSI in my lab and will also provide more international visibility for the College. This will strengthen future collaboration with research institutes in Morocco and also add interest to this research program,” noted Dr. El Idrissi.
Dr. Bahri’s objectives are to “conduct a thorough chemical profiling of the two selected species using adapted extraction methods and advanced analytical techniques… perform bioassays to test for the effect of the extracted phyto-chemicals on some of the health ailments… [and] develop a linkage with the laboratory of Neurobiology of the CSI of The City University of New York to build institutional collaboration…,” according to her Fulbright application.
“I am glad that this effort has come to fruition. I thank Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna, the CSI Foundation, Dr. Claude Brathwaite and Vivian Incera for their continuous support,” commented Dr. El Idrissi.
The LSAMP/ CSTEP-Morocco summer research initiative has been running for three years and allows ten CSI students to conduct ethnobotany and biomedical research in Morocco for eight weeks in the summer.
“I am very pleased with the international links Dr. El Idrissi’s group has developed and the opportunities these collaborations bring for CSI students. We are honored to host Fulbright scholar Dr. Hakima Bahri in our college,” noted Dean of Science and Technology Vivian Incera, Ph.D.
Dick Veit, PhD, veteran ornithologist at the College of Staten Island (CSI), was quoted in an article about the new Freshkills Park. In the article, “The Wild Comeback Of New York’s Legendary Landfill” by Laura Bliss, Veit discusses some of the wildlife making their home in the Park.
Graduate Assistant Seth Wollney from the CSI Department of Biology also weighs in on the viability of the Park as a long term wildlife habitat.
The prestigious Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship is a highly selective, competitive award, in which only 15 students from 12 New York City colleges are selected each year.
Being a recipient of this impressive scholarship has in no way changed Joseph Gyasi’s ‘18 humble pursuits.
The College of Staten Island (CSI) Pre-Med Biology major tirelessly volunteers at the Emergency Department of the Montefiore Medical Center as well as the New York City Department of Homeless Services in their annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE).
“You never realize how blessed you are to have a home until the winter hits. Homeless people tend to marginalized in our communities and I believe as a society we are obliged to support each other. It’s always a blessing to know that through our efforts, people are able to receive the help they deserve… Volunteering in the Emergency Room, you get to see life-and-death cases and this pushes you to have a different perspective on life. So much so that you are inspired to take life more seriously and encourage others to live healthy,” Gyasi said.
While in his home country, the Ghana native also headed a team of 30 students traveling to five villages and small towns in the Ashanti region of Ghana to educate locals about various laws regarding tenure systems and the need to register land. Back in the U.S., he interned at Broadway Housing Communities, a non profit organization that offers affordable housing to formerly homeless people.
“It was exciting to interact with the locals to find out about the various problems facing their communities and then present their plights to the Members of Parliament for their constituencies,” commented Gyasi, who is spending the winter break at the University of Michigan Health System co-authoring an article with John Greden, PhD, on the state of affairs of personalized precise treatments for mental health disorders.
Also minoring in Psychology, Gyasi is a member of the Pre-Med Club, the African Club, and the CSI Emerging Leaders Program, and he is a CSI Student Mentor. Under the Watson Fellowship, he will take advantage of the three-year program that provides funded summer internships and other academic and co-curricular opportunities.
Gyasi is grateful to Michele Callahan, CSI Fellowship & Scholarship Advisor, who “coached me for the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship and helped put me on track to starting my career in Health even as an undergraduate student.”
Gyasi attended high school at the Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School in Accra, Ghana, and then began college in Ghana for a year before immigrating to the United States in 2014 and transferring to CSI that fall.
“CSI became my second home, rather quickly. I entered a diverse student body who were nothing like I had ever experienced. My friends became family and my professors were leaders I aspired to be like. In no time, I knew I had made the right decision by transferring to CSI,” Gyasi remembers.
Gyasi extended his gratitude to Professor of English Kalliope Valadakis, PhD, who he said was “the first teacher to ever motivate me to reach my highest potential. She helped me become a writer and pushed me out of my comfort zone to be a better person for both my community and my school.”
Gyasi plans to pursue a dual MD/MPH degree specializing in Psychiatry for Medicine and Health Management and Policy for Public Health, and eventually hopes to establish a medical hospital in Ghana that would provide quality healthcare that is affordable and accessible to all Ghanaians and West Africans broadly.
Working hard from the very beginning of college is, according to Gyasi, the key to student success.
“Students should understand the college journey begins truly from their freshman years and they should take those years very seriously as they can make or break one’s whole academic career. Also, CSI has many opportunities to offer and students should tap into those resources,” he noted.
“To my fellow graduates—Congratulations, Mazal Tov, and Mabrook!” So began the speech of Nechama Averick ’15 at the 2016 Braun School of Public Health of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem graduation ceremony. Averick, who will be starting a career in public health in Israel, is a College of Staten Island (CSI) Macaulay Honors College (MHC) alumna.
In Jerusalem, Averick addressed an audience of 200 graduates, government ministers, foreign ambassadors, family, and friends with farewell wishes and resonating messages. A Biology major with minors in Biochemistry and Political Science at CSI, Averick discussed public health as a career, its importance on a global level, and the questions that many still have about the evolving field.
“Public health is an inclusive field that includes all the current events happening around us. Yet, compared to other health professions in the health sciences, it seems to be least known among the general public,” said the 24-year-old native Staten Islander who now resides in Jerusalem. She explained that, “public health literally touches every field of human study—from demography, biostatistics, epidemiology, economics, genetics, and anthropology… In short, public health is the great equalizer that allows those born in poverty or marginalized populations to enjoy the benefits of modern medicine. It is the catalyst for a better, healthier future to be enjoyed by everyone.”
CSI Distinguished Professor Fred Naider, PhD noted that Averick’s contributions at CSI and the local community, and current global contributions are “a testament to the student’s hard work and dedication.”
While at CSI, Averick was affiliated with the Pre-Medical Society, where she served as president for three years. Graduating with a 3.8 GPA, she was also a Horace W. Goldsmith Scholar and received an honors undergraduate research stipend from CSI to conduct laboratory research, which she conducted with Krishnaswami Raja, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry.
Averick currently holds a research position in Israel’s Ministry of Health, Tuberculosis, and AIDS Department.
Through the MHC, Averick spent one undergraduate summer conducting breast cancer research at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and a winter semester studying tropical ecology in the Virgin Islands.
She is grateful for the “tremendous support from the wonderful administrators including Lisa French, Anita Romano, and Charles Liu” as well as guidance from Biology Professor Grozdena Yilmaz.
Averick remembers that, “Dr. Charles Liu was an incredible source of inspiration. He made every student feel wanted and welcome… we would always remark how Dr. Liu was the epitome of loving life and following your passions.”
Her advice to college students is to work hard because “there is just no way around it. The best way to ‘alleviate’ that pain is to develop your support system, without them, I would not be where I am today. Find what you love to do, and if you don’t know, push yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable. Perhaps the most difficult thing in your path towards success is to recognize and grow from your failures; they will make you wiser and humbler. Remember, you get to define success for yourself, no one else has that privilege.” Averick is also proud that that her brothers, Saadyah, Chaim, and Amram, graduated from CSI.
Dr. Naider noted that, “CSI continues to be a place where students learn, grow, and prepare for academically rigorous challenges, scholarly endeavors, and global contributions.”
The NY Times featured the findings of Dr.Richard Veit in the article “Where Coyotes, Foxes and Bobolinks Find a New Home: Freshkills Park” by Joe Trezza.
Veit, a researcher with the College of Staten Island whose expertise is in ecology, behavior and conservation of vertebrate animals, discovered a colony of 60 adult grasshopper sparrows, named for their insectile song, at Freshkills Park last summer.