Supporting Teachers in Madrid

Michael Young '10 is embarking on a Fulbright teaching assistantship in Madrid.

The opportunity to obtain an excellent tuition-free education first drew Michael Young to the Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island. The chance to travel nailed his decision. As an undergraduate he studied in Florence and Tokyo, in the summer after graduation in 2010, Guatemala City.

Now he is on the move once more, heading to Madrid on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

At CSI, where he graduated magna cum laude, Michael majored in American Studies with minors in Studio Art and Spanish. His first step was working at CSI’s Career and Scholarship Center where he was able to secure his first two internships, one, a paid summer working for the Staten Island Mental Health Society, and the other, at Marvel Comics.

The Career and Scholarship Center also encouraged him to start getting involved on campus, where he worked as a Career Mentor for the Pathfinder Program, a SEEK Mentor, and a CSI Ambassador.

He then received a Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship that provided a paid internship with Global Kids, which seeks to develop youth leaders, and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation press office.

In 2010, during his third Watson summer, Young headed to Guatemala City’s Esperanza Juvenil (Boys Hope Girls Hope), a residential, college-preparatory school for about 100 troubled youngsters in grades K through 12. He arrived not long after a volcanic eruption dumped three inches of ash on the city, Hurricane Agatha struck, and a sinkhole that National Geographic reported was 60 feet in diameter and 30 stories deep opened not far from the school.

“Suddenly, Guatemala was receiving worldwide attention just days before my arrival,” he says. “I was nervous about safety, but motivated to start teaching.”

Young, found that he was “enamored by the students, teaching in a non-native language, and immersing myself in a new culture. I treat each of these experiences as opportunities for personal growth and discovery.”

Two days after he returned home from Guatemala, he started work with the New York City Civic Corps, an Americorps program for service to the city. He worked for the nonprofit organizations Central Park Conservatory and GrowNYC, “improving their volunteer capacity and working in project management.”

Now, the Fulbright Assistantship sends him to Madrid, where he is going to work in a secondary school. “I’ll be in classrooms supporting teachers, either in English, history, or social studies. Perhaps I’ll be training teachers in the English language,” he notes.

He credits his Spanish teacher, Dr. Carlos Abad, who performed his Foreign Language evaluation for the Fulbright, and also Dr. Jane Marcus-Delgado, CSI’s on-campus Fulbright adviser, for helping him with the Fulbright application process.

“I want to be a teacher or a professor…and my childhood dream is to become a cartoonist and illustrator. I started a humor magazine called Operation Three-Legged Dolphin, and that was my pride and joy.”

Young adds, “I’ve been very privileged to have had all these opportunities. They gave me a strong framework in which to think about professional development and to build a transferrable skill set–and build a life.”

Zanade Mann Wins Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Award

Zanade Mann (left) is the winner of the 2011 Staten Island Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Award. She is joined by Catherine Putkowski-O'Brien.

Zanade Mann, a College of Staten Island Psychology major, has won the 2011 Staten Island Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Award.

Soroptimist, which means “the best for women,” is an international service organization for professional business and executive women. The organization is involved in creating UN policy, has a strong international lobbying constituency, and locally assists girls and women create their goals and dreams.

Zanade was one of many college women who applied for the Women’s Opportunity Award, which is given to a woman returning to college who demonstrates strong academic achievement, motivation to achieve her educational and career goals, and has financial need and at least one dependent and two letters of reference attesting to her academic strengths and motivation.

Zanade’s application was the most impressive application we have seen thus far. Her writing style was impeccable, her academic and career goals realistic with measurable, realistic objectives and delineation of the process involved in attaining these goals. Letters of reference demonstrated not only her academic strengths but also her volunteer service and two self-initialed service projects for inner-city girls. Not only is she a 2011 Women’s Opportunity Award Winner but a future Soroptimist member.

Goldwater Scholarship Awarded to CSI Undergrad for Research and Development of 3D Robotic Printer that Simulates Surface of a Butterfly’s Wing

Mark Barahman is the College's first Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner.

Mark Barahman, a junior with the Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island (CSI) and a Goldsmith Scholar, was named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner, a first in the history of CSI.

The Goldwater Scholarship was established by the United States Congress in 1986 and is the premiere federally funded undergraduate award of its type.  It is designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers and PhDs in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and related fields. Only 300 students nationwide earn this prestigious distinction.

Dan Feldman, also a junior in Macaulay Honors College at CSI, is majoring in Physics with a concentration in Astronomy. He has received an Honorable Mention for the Goldwater Scholarship. Only 150 students receive an honorable mention award.

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A Biochemistry major at CSI, Mark has worked in two prestigious laboratories—the neuroscience lab of Professor Abdeslem El Idrissi and the chemistry lab of Professor Alan Lyons.  He currently works with Dr. Lyons on research related to super-hydrophobic surfaces.

Mark’s most notable accomplishment during the summer of 2009 was the construction and programming of a robotic printer that prints in three dimensions (3D) on a microscopic scale.

“Commercial 3D printers are available, but they are often extremely expensive, fragile, and very limited with respect to the building material,” notes Barahman. “We needed to build something that would allow us broad applicability and flexibility, while also being inexpensive and scalable to industrial-size processes.”

“He programmed the robot early that summer and quickly developed two printing methods to produce ‘super-hydrophobic surfaces’,” commented Dr. Lyons.  “One method used highly viscous materials that deposited drops similar to a chocolate kiss, and the other method used a lower viscosity material that printed thinner, pancake-shaped layers.”

Both of these methods created super-hydrophobic surfaces, three-dimensional surfaces that hold droplets of water on multiple microscopic “spikes.” This surface prevents the water droplet from strongly adhering to the surface, allowing it to roll rather effortlessly, while maintaining the integrity of its spherical shape.

When these surfaces are used, the fluids are able to effortlessly move along the surface with minimal force. These surfaces can be applied to facilitate transportation of fluids in the medical profession.

The next challenge was controlling direction of the water droplet flow on these super-hydrophobic surfaces.

Looking to nature, Mark became inspired by the water-shedding properties of the butterfly’s wing.  When a butterfly lowers its wings, the water rolls off onto the ground. When the wing is raised, the water is pinned and does not roll down the wing onto the body of the butterfly.  This adaptation keeps the butterfly’s body dryer and lighter.

Mark experimented with multiple concepts, and learned that by programming the robotic printer to deposit the 3D “kisses” and “pancakes” at an angle, the water droplet would flow easily in one direction, and with great difficulty in the other direction.

On the microscale, Mark had developed a synthetic material that emulated the water shedding effects of the butterfly wing.  This new biomemetic surface containing angled “spikes” acted as a “one-way” sign or “liquid ratchet” controlling the directional flow of water using only the interactive properties of the fluid with the solid.

Whereas super-hydrophobic devices allow for the easy transportation of fluids within many applications in the medical field, these new directional-devices may transport cooling fluid in micro-electronic devices without back flow.  This could minimize the size and heat-producing pressure often needed for the transportation of fluid, and allow for a 360-degree application environment without the chance of backflow.

“I am exceedingly proud of Mark’s important research at CSI,” said Dr. Lyons. “He is a serious scientist who works very hard and thinks deeply about problems.  I expect that when he enters graduate school he will rank amongst the top echelon of all graduate students.”

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Mark Barahman for his well-deserved distinction,” said CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales. “He has forged a place for himself in the history of the College by being the first Goldwater Scholar at CSI, and has earned himself great honor and national recognition.  I offer my thanks to his faculty mentors for supporting Mr. Barahman’s academic goals, and challenging him to succeed. Together we are bolstering CSI’s national and world-class reputation.”

“Winning the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship would not have been more than a dream without the guidance and teaching of my mentors and professors at CSI,” Barahman states.  “The scientific training and opportunities at CUNY are first class. I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to work with experienced and distinguished scientists like Dr. Alan Lyons, and to be taught and guided by Dr. Fred Naider, Dr. Charles Kramer, and Dr. Abdeslem El Idrissi. I am excited about winning this award as it reveals the terrific opportunities CSI offers and the world-class science taking place at the labs.”

Mark’s professional aspirations include obtaining an MD/PhD in the field of Biomedical Engineering.

Mark grew up in Israel, working as a teenager as a first responder for MDA (Magen David Adom, or Red Star of David), an emergency medical organization, which is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.  He immigrated to Brooklyn in August of 2006. During the summer of 2010, Mark participated in NYU/Bellevue Hospital’s prestigious Project HealthCare summer program, in which he was able to work in the emergency room and operating room, where he interacted closely with patients and the hospital staff, as well as assisted with clinical research projects and work on the annual Bellevue health fair.

Mark was the only undergraduate invited to give an oral presentation at the Young Chemists Committee ACS Symposium at The Cooper Union in March 2011.  The presentation was entitled “Printed Super-hydrophobic Surfaces Exhibiting Slip-Angle Anisotropy.”

His research has also been presented by Dr. Lyons in a variety of prestigious forums, including the 2010 SPIE Optics and Photonics Conference in San Diego.

Learn more about the valuable services of the Career and Scholarship Center at CSI.

HS Student Studying Brain Tumors at CSI Moves to International Competition

Six years of diligent research work coupled with steadfast support and encouragement from faculty and students at the College of Staten Island (CSI) has landed a local Staten Island Tech High School student a spot at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) competition next month in San Jose, CA.

The project, entitled “Inhibiting Brain Tumor Progression Using Targeted Curcumin,” was performed by a student from Staten Island Tech High School performing research in the laboratory of Dr. Probal Banerjee, Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Neuroscience at CSI.

“Enthusiastic judges from various backgrounds have placed this project at the top of the “Biochemistry and Molecular Biology” category at the New York Science and Engineering Fair (NYSEF), which caused this project to move to competitions at a higher level,” reported Dr. Banerjee.

Staten Island Tech student, Sneha Banerjee, performed organic synthesis in CSI’s laboratories and then used targeted derivatives of the food component curcumin to perform elaborate studies on cancer cells. Both Drs. Qiao-Sheng Hu and Krishnaswami Raja of the College’s Chemistry Department, along with CSI doctoral students Phyllis Langone and Sukanta Dolai, contributed heavily to this project by assisting in further moving the research into the area of in vivo studies.

These studies in tumor-implanted mice showed decimation of brain tumors and rescue of sick mice by antibody-targeted curcumin, a spice component that preferentially kills cancer cells but protects normal cells. Since high school students cannot be involved directly in animal studies, Sneha Banerjee actively participated in imaging of the tumors, all organic syntheses, spectroscopic analyses, cell culture studies, microscopy, data interpretation and literature analysis.

Highlighting the role of the CSI doctoral students in this accomplishment, Dr. Raja added that “Sukanta was instrumental in supervising and executing the synthesis [with Sneha]” adding, “he is the backbone of my research group.”

“This is an impressive achievement for our institution and for Sneha Banerjee. CSI continues to seek new ways to promote and support more of these kinds of opportunities for high schools students,” said E.K. Park, Dean of Research and Graduate Studies at CSI.

Doctoral student Phyllis Langone (left) and Sneha Banerjee (right) are shown at a biological safety cabinet station.

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.