College of Staten Island (CSI) faculty director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School Dr. Charles Liu went on a science filled media run.
Dr. Liu was first featured in National Geographic’s StarTalk where he joined Neil deGrasse Tyson to discuss the science of Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy.
Dr. Liu was also quoted in the American Museum of Natural History article “ Your Guide To The Summer Night Sky,” where he discusses how one can spot particular stars and constellations such as the “Summer Triangle” in heavily polluted areas like New York City.
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.
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.
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.”
National Grid empowers tomorrow’s workforce through sustained commitment to the College of Staten Island (CSI) and STEM students
National Grid has a long- standing partnership with CSI providing scholarships to support students interested in advancing in engineering, and in general math- and science-related careers, and supporting workshops to engage high school students in the STEM curriculum.
The company has provided a grant, which has been allotted to the College over a three-year period to support STEM scholarships and National Grid’s Engineering Workshop Series with local high schools. Scholarship recipients are selected by the College of Staten Island’s Scholarship Selection Committee of the Career and Scholarship Center. Any number of scholarship awards in any amount may be made each year, up to the fund balance available for spending. Qualified students must submit the appropriate College-approved financial aid form each year to be eligible for an award. This year, there were 11 scholarship recipients.
There was a time when Kandace Rodriguez ‘17 worked two jobs while attending school full time, and the 27-year old College of Staten Island (CSI) Electrical Engineering student is well aware of how stressful this schedule can be. As a recipient of the National Grid Scholarship, Rodriguez can focus less on funds and more on her studies.
“This scholarship will allow me to continue to pursue my degree. Tuition can become quite a burden and while studying engineering, it is very difficult to have a job and a great GPA,” commented Rodriguez, who plans to pursue a Master’s in Bioelectronics or Electrical Engineering. “Sustainable power systems intrigue me, and in the future, I would love to be a part of the innovation in more green and sustainable power systems,” she said.
Rodriguez, a member of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), is grateful for the Scholarship as well as the support she receives at CSI.
“The CSI Engineering program is outstanding. I previously attended a large university and remember feeling very disconnected when I could not speak with a professor or advisor concerning difficulties,” noted Rodriguez.
Another elated and grateful Scholarship recipient, Bahira Akramy ‘19, plans to use skills she obtained at CSI to become a Professional Engineer (PE).
“I was so happy because I felt that my hard work had been recognized and this made me feel motivated to work even harder,” commented 19-year old Akramy, a Verrazano Honors student who is also a member of the IEEE and the Roosevelt Clubs.
The scholarship recipients were recognized at a meet-and-greet event at CSI where representatives from National Grid Inc. congratulated students on their success, learned about the value of the opportunity provided to them, and commended them for their hard work.
“National Grid – and the energy industry as a whole – needs to get young people on board with sustainability and inspire a new generation of STEM professionals,” said Frank Lombardo, Director, Construction and Maintain, National Grid. “The company is committed to focusing our community investment on building a qualified and skilled workforce for the future and our partnership with CSI helps support students who are interested in developing productive math- and science-related careers.”
“National Grid has been extremely generous and supportive of our high school student outreach as well as the college student scholarship programs for the last seven years. Their passion for STEM starts from their top management and trickles down to their technical staff as is evident by recent visits to CSI by their executives as well as their amazing engineers and management teams. Their support of our programs has resulted in spectacular increases in student enrollment in STEM at CSI and in particular in Engineering where we have experienced a student enrollment growth of over 150% over the last three years and the emergence of several new programs,” said Prof. Neo Antoniades, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Engineering Science and Physics and National Grid Inc. Workshop principal investigator.
“National Grid is committed to enhancing STEM education in our communities and developing the next generation of engineers and scientists,” said Mauri Myers Solages, Manager Corporate Citizenship. “Our partnership with CSI supports National Grid’s ‘Engineering Our Future’ initiative to build a qualified and skilled workforce.”
“Writing is an extension of oneself. When I write, I can show the parts of my soul, and heart that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Writing allows one to bring another layer of themselves into the world, and it can be a truly beautiful process.”
These are the illuminating and introspective words from College of Staten Island (CSI) English major Shantel Rowe ‘17. The Verrazano School student has written for The Banner and the Verrazano Voyager as well as for her own music blog, “Call It What It Is.” Also a performing artist, Rowe has played the guitar since she was 15.
With a wide range of influences including Amy Winehouse, Rupi Kaur, and Sylvia Plath, Rowe also attributes her passion for the pen to her mother. “I had always enjoyed writing, as my mother is a writer herself; however, I began taking it more seriously once I entered high school. I was challenged to write poetry, journalism, and creatively—and writing every day essentially helped me connect more with the craft,” commented Rowe, who carries a 3.9 GPA, with a concentration in Writing and a minor in Journalism and American Studies.
Some of her favorite pieces for The Banner include her commentary on Rihanna’s Anti album titled “Rihanna Takes on New Tone with Confidence” and also “Nina Brings the Drama Onscreen and Off,” an article about the controversy surrounding the Nina Simone film, Nina, which largely spoke to colorism in Hollywood.
Balancing life as a busy artist and devoted student, the recipient of a CSI Foundation Scholarship has also worked closely with Ava Chin, PhD, researching Chinese immigration into America. “We primarily focused on Dr. Chin’s family’s immigration, predominantly in New York City in the 18 and 19 hundreds; however, our research also speaks to Chinese immigration as a whole. I feel as if this work deepened my knowledge of immigration but more importantly of New York geography and how history plays its role in that. Of course, we know about certain neighborhoods living in New York; however to truly understand the history and dynamics behind Chinatown is something that is truly culturally enriching. To walk along Mott Street or Bayard and look at buildings that aren’t just structures, but artifacts/stories, is truly fascinating,” noted the 21-year-old Grasmere resident and Brooklyn native.
Dr. Chin was equally pleased to work with the student. “Shantel is a rare combination of old-soul maturity mixed with quirky brilliance. She has a keen and intuitive writing voice, a sharp eye for detail, and a great sense of musical styles—it’s been a pleasure to watch her grow from being a talented freshman to an outstanding senior. I could not be more proud of her,” Dr. Chin commented.
The graduate of the College of Staten Island High School for International Studies says she is “humbled” by her experiences at CSI and by professors who “have assisted with both my academic and personal growth.”
“Once you enter college, you learn more than you ever could anticipate, not just academically, but socially, culturally. As an individual, I’ve significantly grown because of my experience here; I’ve experienced so many opportunities where I stepped outside of my comfort zone in the classroom and around campus, and because of that, I feel as if I’ve been very humbled,” said Rowe, who plans to pursue a doctorate and become a music journalist and college professor.
Charles Liu, PhD, Director of MHC and the Verrazano School, praised that, “In this increasingly media-blanketed world, we are fortunate to have Shantel and her brilliant, thoughtful voice to help us make sense of what we see and hear. It’s great to have Shantel as a member of the Verrazano School and the larger CSI community.”
Rowe’s advice to her peers involves both mental and physical commitment in order to achieve success. “Mentally, you have to focus on your goals and set forth the steps to achieve them. This means networking, going the extra mile, and staying organized. Physically, these steps can be made by remaining an active voice and participant on campus,” she said.
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.
“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.”
Tune in to National Georgraphic.com to see Charles Liu, PhD on Star Talk TV with Neil deGrasse Tyson, William Shatner, and Chuck Nice. Dr. Liu is the Director of the Macaulay and Verrazano School programs at CSI.
She has two majors, three minors, four part-time jobs, is an avid volunteer and member of multiple clubs, and has future plans to study abroad, attend law school, and become a Foreign Service Officer.
Verrazano School student Samantha Brandt ‘18 does all this while maintaining a 3.75 GPA. In fact, the 19-year-old Susan E. Wagner High School graduate doesn’t ask why students should take part in all that the College has to offer, but rather asks, “why wouldn’t they?”
“Get involved and take advantage of what is available at CSI! College is more than learning because you get to make lifelong memories as well. CSI offers trips, clubs, campus events, and so much more, so why not participate?”
The West Brighton resident is double majoring in Political Science and International Studies with a triple minor in Chinese, Business, and Legal Studies. She is a founding member and secretary of the World Around U and a member of the Emerging Leaders Program, the Armed Forces Club, the International Students Club, and the International Business Club. She was also a member of CSI’s Student Government, as Commissioner of Academic and Curricular Affairs, as well as the CSI Association, College Council, and works several part-time jobs.
“Samantha sets a wonderful example of energy, enthusiasm, and engagement for us all. By living college life to the fullest, she exemplifies the inspiring spirit of every Verrazano School student,” noted Director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI Dr. Charles Liu.
Brandt is currently an usher at the St. George Theater, a note-taker with the Center for Student Accessibility, a New Student Orientation Leader, and is part of the Welcome Desk staff in the Campus Center.
In addition, the lifelong Staten Island resident is a volunteer facilitator for the We Are New York program through the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs.
She will be studying abroad in Italy in the winter of this year and in China in winter 2017.
Tuning in to the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) state-of-the-art technology, dedicated professors, and the helping hands of The Verrazano School, Sidhartha Mishra ’17 is certainly operating on the right wavelength. The Computer Science major, who is minoring in Mathematics, is currently researching Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) Communication Protocols for use in security and privacy issues. Mishra is gearing up for his Verrazano Senior Capstone Thesis, “A Study of RFID Communication and Security,” which he will be presenting at the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) in Spring 2017. The Verrazano student also gave an oral presentation at the 2015 URC.
“My research involves the study of Radio Frequency Identification Technology communication protocols. This technology is being used in various industries, and these communication protocols define the schemes that provide the basis for communication between the RFID tag(s) and reader(s). For my research, I am analyzing these protocols for security issues and concerns, and writing code to simulate them,” noted Mishra, a graduate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Curtis High School, who maintains a 3.636 GPA at CSI.
“Sidhartha is far more than merely a super-talented techno-wiz. He is friendly and gracious, and he is a greatly valued and appreciated member of the Verrazano School community,” noted Dr. Charles Liu, Director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI.
Twenty-two-year-old Mishra was born in India and moved to the United States at age 11. He was first inspired to study RFID technology while taking the Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar with Professor Bilge Yesil, after reading Professor Xiaowen Zhang’s paper on the subject. Zhang became his mentor for the RFID research project and also recommended that the student take a course on mobile development offered by Google. The four-week course at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) provided an introduction to android development using Java as the programming language on the Android Studio platform.
Mishra is currently participating in a virtual internship as a Web content manager for a Yoga studio and also tutors in the Computer Science Department. The Staten Island resident plans to pursue a graduate degree in Computer Science and is currently exploring graduate schools.
Mishra urges budding researchers and peers, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Explore options and opportunities that may help you get the most out of your college career.”