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Researchers of the Month
Here are some of the graduating seniors we will miss. ...We wish them all well with their future endeavors and pursuits!
David Chen - Biochemistry Major - Research Mentor: Dr. Nancy Hollingsworth, Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Michael Colbert - Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences Major - Research Mentor: Dr. Brian Colle, School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences
Cassandra Dix - Biochemistry Major - Research Mentor: Dr. Kevin Czaplinski, Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Julia Joseph - Biochemistry major - Research Mentor: Dr. Jessica Seeliger, Pharmacological Sciences
Sai Saroja Kolluru - Psychology major - Research Mentor: Dr. Yusuf Hannun, Medicine, SB Cancer Center
Juan Mesa - Mechanical Engineering Major - Research Mentor: Dr. Noah Machtay, Henry Honigman, Mechanical Engineering
Marina Mestres - CME major- Research Mentor: Dr. Miriam Rafailovich, Materials Science & Engineering
Janagan Nahanathan - Biology Major - Research Mentor: Dr. Isaac Carrico, Chemistry
Stacey Rice - Geosciences major - Research Mentor: Dr. Troy Rasbury, Geosciences
Samuel Rind - Physics Major - Research Mentor: Dr. Eden Figueroa, Physics & Astronomy
Matthew Sacco - English Major- Research Mentors: Dr. Gallya Lahav, Political Science; Dr. Peter Manning, English
Jacquelyn Taylor - Psychology Major- Research Mentor: Dr. Sharon Pochron, Sustainability Studies
Cassandra Dix is a Biochemistry major, who has been involved with research in the Czaplinski lab
(Biochemistry & Cell Biology) since Fall 2013 and is currently writing an honors thesis
on "Neuregulin1-III Back-signaling in neurons". Cassandra was the recipient of Undergraduate Recognition Awards for Academic Excellence in 2014 and 2015; and was
selected for the America East Conference All-Academic Team in 2014 and 2015. She is
also a recipient of both the Chancellor’s and Provost’s award for Academic Excellence.
Cassandra is a member of the Stony Brook tennis team which has been honored as America
East Conference winners for women's tennis in 2013, 2014 and 2015; In addition, she
has volunteered with campus pantry food drives, helped with peer athlete advising,
and participated in Walk for Beauty and special Olympics bowling events. Cassandra
has also served as a TA for biochemistry. A resident of Stanwick, England, Cassandra
plans to return to her hometown following graduation, and will in the near future
be applying to graduate Ph.D. programs in a biochemistry-related field.
Julia Joseph is a Biochemistry major in the Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) program. She has been a member of the laboratory of Dr. Jessica Seeliger since summer 2012, when she was awarded the URECA Biology Alumni Research (U-BAR) award to support her research on Lipid-Protein Interactions in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This work is currently the subject of her honors thesis. Julia has presented her research on campus at the URECA Celebration as well as the Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal Research Symposium. Since fall 2013, Julia has been active as Editor-in-Chief of SBU’s Young Investigators Review, putting her efforts into reinstating and expanding the university’s undergraduate science journal. In summer 2014, she participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program at Rockefeller University, where she worked in the St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases. Julia has volunteered with Alternative Spring Break Outreach and has served as Vice President of Planning to Achieve Collegiate Excellence (PACE), a program with the purpose of encouraging underprivileged youth to attend college. Julia is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and is a recipient of both the Chancellor’s and Provost’s award for Academic Excellence, as well as the Undergraduate Recognition award for Academic Excellence. She plans to pursue a career integrating research and medicine in the future.
Sai Saroja Kolluru is a Psychology major who has actively been involved in research for the past four years. She started her undergraduate research career by volunteering in two research laboratories in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior. Saroja became interested in exploring the field of lipid cancer research and subsequently joined Dr. Yusuf A. Hannun’s lab where for the past two and a half years she has been working directly with Dr. Nadia A. Rana, a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, on “Establishing the Biological Function of Novel Sphingolipids in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Her project investigates the interconnection between amino acid metabolism and sphingolipid biosynthesis. After graduation, Saroja is going to continue working in Dr. Hannun’s Lab as a research assistant. Saroja has served as the President of Hindu Students Council for the past two years, as a Volunteer Coordinator for Psychology Student Alliance and was a co-founder of Taandava, a Premiere Indian Classical Dance Team at Stony Brook. In the future, she aspires to be a physician and hopes to continue doing research.
Marina Mestres is a Chemical and Molecular Engineering major, specializing in Biology. She has been working on a senior thesis project on flame retardants under the mentorship of Dr. Miriam Rafailovich and a senior design project about Antibody Drug Conjugates under the mentorship of Elias Mattas, a Senior Engineer at Bristol-Meyers Squibb Company. Marina is a recipient of the 2015 Chancellor’s award for Academic Excellence and the 2014 IWLCA Academic Honor Roll. Marina is also Captain of the Division I Women’s Lacrosse team (Fall 2014-present), and has volunteered with Women’s Lacrosse clinics and tournaments for young girls; she also has volunteered annually for the Walk for Beauty; and has been involved as a Red Watch Band member, a PACK mentor for incoming freshman athletes, and an Academic Success Tutor. Marina is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and was the 2012 recipient of the Organic Chemistry award. In summer 2014, Marina interned at Arkema Inc., in Bristol PA; her future plans include taking a gap year before pursuing a medical degree during which time she will travel to Europe and teach English in Thailand.
Janagan Naahanathan is a Biology major with a concentration in Neuroscience and a Chemistry minor. In his sophomore year, Janagan joined Dr. Carrico’s lab in the Chemistry Department and did research on modification of viral surfaces to target cancer cells. He participated in the pilot Explorations in STEM program in Summer 2013, a collaborative program administered by URECA, the Career Center and the Department of Technology & Society, and sponsored by SUNY RF; and presented his research at the URECA symposium in 2014. Janagan has served as an Organic Chemistry Teaching Assistant (2013-2014) and as a Head Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (2014-2015). Additionally, he was the treasurer of Stony Brook University Badminton Club and the founder of Stony Brook Tamil Language Society. Janagan is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars; and a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence. Janagan was born in Sri Lanka and moved to the US in 2009; he plans to apply to MD programs to pursue his ambition of becoming a surgeon.
Stacey Rice is a Geosciences major, Anthropology minor, who first got started in research doing environmental remote sensing on dust plume sources working under the direction of Dr. Deanne Rogers (Geosciences) in spring 2014, a project she presented at the 2014 URECA Celebration. Stacey participated in a NSF funded REU (Research for Undergraduates) last summer that involved field work in the Southern Black Mountains of Arizona focusing on what caused the eruption of a Miocene aged supervolcano, and also included lab work at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. She presented that research at the annual Geological Society of America conference in Vancouver, BC in October 2014. Since last fall, Stacey has been working under the direction of Dr. Troy Rasbury in the Facility for Isotyope Research & Student Training (FIRST lab), and recently presented a poster on this project, "Provenance Analysis of Turkana Basin Sedimentary Horizons Using Evidence from Strontium and Neodymium Radiogenic Isotopes," at the URECA research symposium. Stacey also participated in a Volcanology Field Camp in Iceland in summer 2014, run by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. In addition, Stacey has been active as a member of the Undergraduate Anthropological Society, as well as the Undergraduate Geology club for which she served as Vice President and President (in fall 2012 and spring 2013). Stacey has also served as a Seal Walk volunteer in Cupsogue Beach, and as a research assistant for the Seatuck Envrionmental Association of East Islip. Following graduation, Stacey will be starting an internship with the National Park Service at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area as a GIS Technician.
Sam Rind is a physics major who has been doing research on quantum homodyne tomography and coherent state quantum process tomography for a little over a year, in the Quantum Information Technology Laboratory of Dr. Eden Figueroa. He has made substantive contributions to the lab, which has an upcoming publication showing how phase shifts in rubidium 87 can be accurately controlled, measured, and predicted using only optical methods for use as a quantum logic gate. Sam also worked previously under the mentorship of Dr. Alan Calder on developing methods for large scale computing from June 2012 to June 2013, and has extensive programming experience. Sam has presented previously at the URECA Symposium, and been featured in presentations at the Latin America Optics & Photonics Conference and QCMC. He has also been involved in Stony Brook Crew and enjoys marathons on Netflix as well as on foot and will be attending Technische Universität Wien in Vienna in the fall.
Matthew Sacco is an English major with a minor in classical civilizations. He is the founder of Students United for Action (SUFA) a student activist organization, as well as Light in the Dark, an award-winning sexual assault awareness campaign. His efforts have been recognized by Newsday, Andrew Cuomo, and most recently Kirsten Gillibrand, by whom he was invited to attend an upcoming panel discussion on sexual assault in public universities. During his undergraduate career, he has committed to two major research projects. His first, conducted under the guidance of Professor Gallya Lahav in the political science department, was about the European Union's response to the Syrian refugee crisis, an abstract for which was accepted for presentation at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs' first student research conference. His English honors thesis on the confluence of form and technique in American and Palestinian poetry, sponsored by Professor Peter Manning, was presented at URECA in the spring of 2015. He is a 2015 recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence, and the Lillian E. Kahn award. He hopes to continue his research on Syrian refugees with a non-profit or NGO while applying to law school.
Jacquelyn Taylor is a psychology major with a concentration in Biology and Chemistry. She has been a part of the ecotoxicology lab under the direction of Dr. Sharon Pochron since the summer of 2014 and has been a team leader for the lab since fall 2014. This lab was of high interest to her because of its focus on the effects that chemicals have on the environment and its organisms. Jacquelyn has also been a part of the health psychology lab under the investigator Dr. Anne Moyer since fall 2014 researching medical decision-making. Throughout her time here at Stony Brook, Jacquelyn has been a part of the theater club, interned at Suffolk County Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities program through Education and Assistance Corporation, embarked on a medical mission through Global Medical Brigades to Ghana, Africa, interned at Pediatric Professional Care, and is also a proud employee at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital within the patient access department. Following graduation, Jacquelyn plans on continuing to lead the ecotoxicology lab while applying to higher educational programs with dreams to eventually research how the components of our environment impact overall human health with a strong focus on oncology.
Below are excerpts of their conversations with Karen Kernan, URECA Director.
Karen. What advice about research do you have for other undergrads?
Sai Saroja. The biggest advice I can give to other undergraduates who are interested in research is that it is never too early to get your hands on it! (I started volunteering in Dr. Wollmuth’s lab my first week of freshman year). There is a wide array of research opportunities here within every department which gives students a chance to explore and finally choose something that they are passionate about. Also, remember to value the time and effort that your mentor spends in teaching you protocols, lab techniques, the science behind your project and most importantly the fundamentals of the scientific method. Mentors are looking for students who are willing to make a time commitment and who are mainly enthusiastic about their research even if it requires some trouble shooting to move the project along!
Marina. I highly suggest getting involved in research at some point in your undergraduate career. Not only will it help you to decide your future path, based on your enthusiasm towards research in the end, but also it serves as an excellent learning experience and opportunity to work closely with both a professor and graduate students.
Jackie. I have learned that your colleagues become your role models by inspiring you with all of their great accomplishments that ultimately leaves the desire to be as great as them. I have also learned that your mentor is the one that shows you your true potential of greatness and hands you the opportunity to test your capabilities. I wouldn’t have become the student or ambitious person that I am without Dr. Sharon Pochron and all of those involved with the lab. Thank you all.
Stacey. Interacting with Troy and other undergraduate and graduate students in the lab has showed me that research is a constant learning process. I knew little about isotope geochemistry when first joining the FIRST lab, but after just nine months I have a better understanding of how we can use stable isotopes to investigate the ages of rocks and geologic processes.