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Researchers of the Month

May 2019

Here are just some of the graduating seniors we will miss. ... We wish them all well with their future endeavors and pursuits!

Ononnah Ahmed - Biology major - Mentor: Dr. David Q. Matus, Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Kevin Catalan
-Biology major - Mentor: Dr. J. Peter Gergen, Biochemistry & Cell Biology, Director of Undergraduate Biology

Hung-Wei Bernie Chen - Psychology major - Mentor: Dr. Nicholas Eaton, Dr. Johanna Jarcho, Dr. Aprajita Mohanty, Psychology; Dr. Jared Van Snellenberg, Psychiatry

Rohan Hofland - Biology, and Applied Mathematics and Statistics majors - Mentors: Dr. David Talmage, Pharmacological Sciences; Dr. Lorna Role, Neurobiology

Pauline Huang - Chemistry major - Mentor: Dr. Tim Q. Duong, Radiology 

Thomas Jaworski - Psychology major - Mentor: Dr. Eva Nagase, Asian and Asian American Studies; Dr. Marci Lobel, Dr. Patricia Whitaker, Psychology

Ryan Kawalerski - Applied Math and Statistics, and Biochemistry majors - Mentors: Dr. Kenneth Shroyer, Dr. Luisa F. Escobar-Hoyos, Pathology; Dr. Richard Moffitt, Biomedical Informatics 

Andrea Londono - Physics major - Mentor: Dr. Eden Figueroa, Physics & Astronomy

Amal Lukose - Applied Math and Statistics, and Business Management (Finance) majors - Mentor: Dr. Herbert Lewis, College of Business

Tyler Palmieri - History major - Mentor: Dr. Nancy Tomes, History

Rideeta Raquib - Biology major - Mentor: Dr. Lina Obeid, Medicine

Eric Rizzo - Chemistry major - Mentor: Dr. Ming-yu Ngai, Chemistry

Anastasiya Suratova - Civil Engineering major - Mentor: Dr. Frank Russo, NYS Center for Clean Water Technology; Civil Engineering

Anna Zavodszky - Biology and Anthropology majors - Mentor: Dr. Gabrielle Russo, Anthropology



Ononnah Ahmed
Ononnah Ahmed
is a senior Biology major and Chemistry minor who plans to apply to medical school programs after a gap year of research .  Under the mentorship of Dr. David Matus and Dr. Rebecca Adikes,  her research is focused on the cytoskeleton and mechanisms that control the migration and protrusive behavior of sex myoblast (SM) cells in  C. elegans. Ononnah currently investigates actin-rich protrusions and its relationship to the SM cell’s positioning and membrane dynamics—linking the role of the cytoskeleton to the proper uterine and vulva muscle cell formation. Her senior thesis focuses on identifying the underlying mechanisms of sex myoblast migration to better understand the bigger picture in other contexts, such as cancer metastasis. She has presented at the North Eastern Society of Developmental Biology Conference; and the URECA symposium. In addition , Ononnah is a student leader on campus, working as a Commuter Assistant for two years and an integral member of the E-board for Bengalis Unite .


Kevin Catalan Kevin Catalan
is a senior Biology major and an undergraduate researcher working with Dr. J. Peter Gergen in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and a participant in the NIH-fundeded IMSD-MERGE program. His project is based on the mechanism of Runt-dependent repression of cis-regulatory enhancers of the sloppy-paired-1 (slp1) gene. The slp1 proximal and distal early stripe elements (PESE and DESE) interact in a non-additive manner to mediate regulation by Runt and other pair-rule transcription factors. He is currently focusing on detecting similar use of dominant interference between the PESE and DESE enhancers and an enhancer from the short-gastrulation (sog) gene that is not thought to be regulated by pair-rule transcription factors. Kevin is interested in the impact of disease and genetic mutations on embryonic development and how those studies can be translated to humans. He has presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, as well as the annual URECA symposium; has served as an INSPIRE (Include New Students through Peer Introduction to Research Experience) peer mentor, and is the recipient of an Undergraduate Recognition Award for Leadership. Kevin plans to pursue a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Johns Hopkins University in the fall of 2019 and later go into industry or research.

Bernie ChenHung-Wei Bernie Chen is a Psychology major in the Psychology Honors Program, and is Chapter President of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. His research training has been influenced by Dr. Johanna Jarcho, Dr. Nicholas Eaton, Dr. Aprajita Mohanty, and Dr. Jared Van Snellenberg . His honor’s project relates to identifying risk-factors for perpetration and victimization of bullying. His main research interests involve utilizing neuroimaging techniques to understand the developing adolescent brain and the neural mechanisms of cognition underlying psychopathology. Bernie was awarded a summer research fellowship from New York University Steinhardt, Department of Applied Psychology, where he studied the adultification of young Black girls in the juvenile justice system. His research has been presented in numerous conferences, including the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), the Social & Affective Neuroscience Society (SANS), the Flux Congress, the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), and the URECA symposium; and he has received travel awards from the URECA and the SPSP. Bernie is also an activist who promotes the health and wellness of Stony Brook students as a CHILL Peer Health Educator and an Event Coordinator at the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). He is a recipient of the 2019 Provost Award for Academic Excellence as well as the Undergraduate Recognition Award for Academic Excellence. He will be pursuing his PhD in Clinical Psychology at University of Delaware, Newark in Fall 2019.

Rohan Hofland
Rohan Hofland
is a Biology and AMS double major who started doing research the spring of his sophomore year under the mentorship of Dr. Ashleigh Lussenden in the lab of professors David Talmage and Lorna Role. He was a recipient of the 2018 URECA summer research award, and presented his research at the URECA Research Symposium in April of 2019. His project, titled “Type III Neuregulin 1’s Role in the Regulation of Neuronal Development in the Cortex” is focused on the role of a gene whose mutation is strongly associated with an increased likelihood of developing schizophrenia and how it works to foster growth in the brain. He hopes that insights into how this gene functions can help create novel therapies for treating patients with schizophrenia in the future. After graduation, he is planning on attending an MD/PhD dual degree program. When he is not in the lab, Rohan can be found teaching either math or emergency medicine. He loves to dedicate his time to tutoring students in introductory math courses as a lead tutor with the SBU ASTC. As the head training officer with the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps this semester and a dedicated member of the SBVAC instructional staff for 3 years, he has had a hand in training over 50 EMS providers the ins and outs of emergency medicine. When he has a moment to himself, he likes to unwind by playing tenor saxophone with the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band. After graduation, he will be attending the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to pursue his MD/PhD.

Pauline HuangPauline Huang
is a Chemistry major with a minor in Biology from Queens. After taking part in the Nuclear Chemistry Summer School program at Brookhaven National Lab in the summer of her sophomore year, she developed an interest in radiology and oncology. Following this, she joined Dr Tim Duong's lab and began working on projects related to multiple sclerosis and breast cancer imaging. The latter grew into a large project that she worked on into the following year. She presented her project "MRI staging of axillary lymph nodes in breast cancer" at the 2018 URECA Research Symposium and her work will also be featured at the International Society of Magnetic Resonance for Medicine's annual conference later that year. She is very excited about imaging science and believes that it can replace more invasive methods of medical testing. Outside of research, Pauline is a TA for the Molecular Science sequence as well as Physical Chemistry 1. She is also a member of ITS Fellows, a geriatric intern at Stony Brook Primary Care, and a volunteer EMT at Port Jefferson EMS. After graduation Pauline plans to work as a TA for her nuclear chemistry class and take a gap year before applying to medical school.

Thomas Jaworski
Thomas Jaworski
is a Psychology major with a minor in Japanese Studies. He has conducted research in Dr. Marci Lobel’s Stress and Reproductive Psychology Lab, focusing on psychometric coding of peer-reviewed and scholarly articles that utilize pregnancy-specific stress questionnaires to analyze statistical validity of antenatal stress and its correlation with various behavioral and birth outcomes. Thomas has also worked in Dr. Patricia Whitaker’s Integrative Neuroscience research lab, where he helped conduct a study in which rats were administered paroxetine (Paxil), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, during pregnancy, to look for subsequent behavioral changes in their offspring that coincide with behaviors of autism. For his minor thesis, Thomas collaborated with Professor Eva Nagase on a research project that highlighted textual discrepancies between a Japanese novel, Ningen Shikkaku, and its English counterpart, No Longer Human, to illustrate the various linguistic, cultural, and philosophical nuances that exist between Japanese and American English. The research for his minor thesis focused on the analysis of translation theories, such as the Skopos Theory of Translation, to understand why nuances between two languages exist. Thomas is currently co-authored on various poster publications for his psychological research that has been presented at conferences such as the American Psychological Association Annual Convention and the Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Convention. In fall 2019, Thomas will be attending New York University for his Master’s in Clinical Neuroscience.

Ryan Kawalerski
Ryan Kawalerski
is a member of the Honors College dual-majoring in Applied Math & Statistics and Biochemistry. For the past two years, he has worked with Drs. Kenneth Shroyer and Luisa Escobar-Hoyos in Pathology to understand therapeutic vulnerabilities of the oncogenic mechanism of Keratin 17 protein in pancreatic cancer. Concurrently, he has been working with Dr. Richard Moffitt in Biomedical Informatics to validate a pancreatic tumor subtype classification method in addition to contributing to the development of a gene expression analysis user interface to facilitate investigation of large transcriptomic datasets. He has presented his work at national conferences, including the 2018 American Association of Cancer Research Pancreatic Cancer Special Conference and the 2019 Experimental Biology Conference. Ryan was named a Goldwater Scholar in 2018 and received the 2019 Sigma Xi Stony Brook Chapter Undergraduate Research Award. His summer research experiences have been supported by the PSEG Explorations in STEM, URECA-Biology Alumni Research, and URECA-Chhabra awards.  Ryan was also recently honored with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award and will be attending The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine next year as a member of the MSTP program.

Andrea Londono

Andrea Londono
is a Physics major with a specialization in Optics. Andrea has been working with Dr. Eden Figueroa on projects relating to quantum information technology since sophomore year. She presented her work on free-space quantum communication -- which was supported in the last year through the LSAMP NASA space grant--.both in the summer 2018 URECA symposium and the spring 2019 URECA symposium. Andrea is also an active member of the Society of Physics students at Stony Brook. After graduation, she will be pursuing her PhD at the University of Michigan in Applied Physics.   


Amal LukoseAmal Lukose is a graduating senior studying AMS and Business Management (Finance), from Rockland County, NY. When his current mentor, Dr. Herbert F. Lewis announced one day in class that he was looking for students with an interest in research, Amal followed up to talk with him and discovered that they were both big sports fans (of the MLB and NBA). Amal was curious as to how the disparity between small and large market NBA teams has changed over time with the development of social media and larger international popularity of the sport, and started working on a project with his mentor on "Competitive Balance in Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association: A comparison of the Two Leagues"-- which he presented at the URECA research symposium (2019). Additionally, he will be presenting the work at the  National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at the 2019 Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture . Previously, Amal joined a team of 6 other students (Nov. 2017) sponsored by Brevet Capital Management to develop viable strategies for hedging in the Fine Art Market. This past fall, Amal also joined the Stony Brook University team for the CFA Research Challenge along with three other students. and co- wrote a research report on Cognizant Technology, an New Jersey based IT services firm. His team was among the top 5 of 30+ teams in New York and got to compete at both the NY Finals and the Americas Finals. Amal is currently seeking a career as a financial analyst. He has also been  active as a  brother, Philanthrophy Chair and Treasurer of Iota Nu Delta Fraternity since spring 2016; and was the Treasurer of the Investment Club for the past two years.

Tyler Palmieri

Tyler Palmieri
is a History major and Philosophy minor who transferred to Stony Brook in fall 2017. He is a member of the Stony Brook Campus Community Emergency Response Team and Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society. His research, overseen by mentor Dr. Nancy Tomes, focuses on a specific instance of domestic bio-terrorism which saw a group of spiritualists known as the Rajneeshees poison 751 people in 
Oregon with the bacteria  Salmonella. His paper, titled "The Opera of Rajneeshpuram: A Curious Tale of Domestic Terrorism", was presented at the URECA symposium and looks to offer a new chronology under which to examine the modern history of terrorism and bio-terrorism in the United States.  Following graduation Tyler intends to apply for law school to one day work as a family lawyer. 

Rideeta Raquib
Rideeta Raquib
is a senior, majoring in Biology and plans to pursue an MD/PhD in pediatric oncology. She is the vice president of community service for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, a writer for the Stony Brook Young Investigators Review, an e-board member for the Synthetic Biology Society, and holds the title of Science and Society (SSO) Forever Fellow. She participated in International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM), a synthetic biology research competition during the spring semester of her sophomore year and throughout junior year. Currently, she is working in Dr. Lina Obeid’s lab at Stony Brook Medicine and doing research on the sphingolipid pathway, where ceramide is in the center and plays a role in activating effectors of programmed cell death. Rideeta is a part of the Increasing Diversity in Undergraduate Cancer Biology Education and Research (INDUCER) research fellowship. She presented at the Spring 2018 and 2019 URECA research symposiums, Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), Gloria and Mark Snyder Cancer Symposium, and the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference. She is one the three recipients of the Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research Award; and a recipient of the Provost Award for Academic Excellence.

Eric RizzoEric Rizzo is a Chemistry major and a member of the Honors College at Stony Brook University. He has been doing research in organic chemistry with Dr. Ming-Yu Ngai for the past two years. He has worked primarily on two projects during his time in Dr. Ngai’s lab. The first project was on developing conditions for the  β -selective aroylation of activated alkenes by photoredox catalysis. For his work on this project, he is currently a coauthor on one peer-reviewed publication in Angewandte Chemie International Edition. The second project was developing novel chiral catalysts for asymmetric visible-light photocatalytic reactions. He received the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship last summer for this work, and he presented his results to chemists and peers at Pfizer’s Groton, CT research campus. Eric will be presenting his research at both the Honors College and chemistry department senior research symposia. Eric is a three-time recipient of the Academic Achievement Award that honors students with a 4.0 semester GPA and a recipient of the Undergraduate Recognition Award for Academic Excellence. After graduating, Eric plans on taking a gap year before applying to medical school.

Anastasiya Suratova
Anastasiya Suratova
is an international student from Belarus, majoring in Civil Engineering major, and is a member of Women in Science and Engineering program. She and her team (including Yanicel Fragoso Ramirez, Joseph Lubrano, Erlik Rodrigues,  Alassane Thera)  worked closely with Anthony Tarantino from Reilly Tarantino Engineering, and presented their CEAS Senior Design  project, "Brooklyn Multi-Story Residential Building" at the URECA symposium - both as a poster, and a talk for the CEAS Engineering Senior Design presentations. Over the summer Anastasiya interned at a construction company where she got to see how an 11 story residential building was being built. Her career goal is to be a Project Manager, and had the opportunity to serve in this role for her senior design project. After graduation Anastasiya plans to work at a construction company in the city. 

Anna Zavodszkky

Anna Zavodszky
is a Biology and Anthropology double major and a member of the Honors College. She first became interested in the field of biological anthropology after taking an introductory course with Dr. Gabrielle Russo in her freshman year. Since then, she has been working in Dr. Russo’s functional morphology laboratory for the past three years. Here, she is completing a project studying the functional morphology of chevron bones in mammals. She gave poster presentations of this project at both the 2019 URECA symposium and the 2019 American Association of Physical Anthropologists conference. During the summers, Anna has completed research at the University at Albany in the developmental biology lab of Dr. Melinda Larsen studying the processes that regulate branching morphogenesis in the salivary gland. After graduation, Anna plans on taking a gap year and subsequently attending graduate school to pursue research in epidemiology.





Karen How has doing research prepared you for your future career? 

 Research experience is considered highly desirable across all career options. It provides the training to be analytic and impartial – always let data narrate the story. For example, as a future clinical psychologist, research has not only aided in my understanding of brain functions but allowed me to rigorously examine clinical phenomena. It enables me to ultimately develop the direction in treatments of mental disorders to prevent or ameliorate the distress of psychiatric patients.

Rideeta. Research has helped me view the world in a new light. In the classroom, we learn facts and how certain proteins or drugs have been discovered. We learn the techniques that have been used to come up with these novel findings from textbooks, but conducting these techniques provide a more comprehensive understanding of the time and effort necessary to achieve that discovery. I wish to pursue an MD-PhD, hence research has equipped me with the critical thinking skills necessary to continue independent research as a PhD student. In terms of medicine, research has taught me the underpinnings of how therapeutics arise in the first place before being administered to the patient.

Ryan. Above all, the opportunities I have had at Stony Brook have allowed me to further develop the proper temperament to both succeed in and remain commitment to my research work, especially in times of difficulty. Beyond gaining the skillset necessary to be able to contribute meaningful work to science and medicine, these personal gains have contributed greatly to my confidence as a future physician-scientist.

Karen. What's your favorite aspect of doing research? 

I e njoy doing research because I am able to apply all of the concepts and theories that I learned in my classes. Things that seem complicated in the classroom can turn out to be quite simple when you encounter them in the lab and see their real-life applications. Overall, I have learned so much more about chemistry and have developed a deeper appreciation and understanding for the subject by performing research and working closely with my mentor.

Amal.  My favorite part of doing research is practical application of the skills and knowledge that I picked up in class. The one on one time with my advisor has also made a huge difference. The guidance and critique received during these meetings have made a significant difference in improving my skills with Excel and VBA. I believe that this will be very beneficial to my career. 

Anastasiya. In classes we get to learn bits of everything and the theory behind things like soil, steel and concrete. The best part of my project was putting the knowledge from different classes together into one thing, being able to apply all the theory to a real life situation and understand why and how it works. It is the best way to see how much you've grown intellectually. 

Ononnah. Once I joined the Matus Lab, I became part of a team. Aside from the joy of obtaining significant results, being able to interact and learn from the other talented researchers is just as rewarding. I have grown so much since joining this lab and would highly encourage others to seek out these opportunities. I am constantly learning something new each day and would like to thank everyone in the Matus Lab for making this experience one I will never forget.

Tyler. My favorite aspect of research would definitely be sharing it with others. Working on a research project requires quite a bit of time, effort, and dedication but once its finished there is nothing better than sharing your hard work with your peers, family, or just other like-minded intellectuals! 

Rohan. My f avorite aspect is watching multiple weeks worth of planning and execution pan out into beautiful images under the microscope and subsequent data. 

Karen. How did being involved in research enhance your education?
Kevin. By becoming involved in research, I began to grasp both the depth and breadth of applying laboratory techniques and course-related knowledge towards my project. I became adept at communicating my field of understanding and interweaving it with that of my peers’ to enhance my experience with the sciences. From this, I have become fascinated in pursuing a PhD degree in cellular and molecular biology.

Karen.  Describe what you've learned from  your  interactions with  your  mentor and colleagues in  your  lab.
Pauline. I work in an interdisciplinary lab and I think that's what makes my work enjoyable. I work with doctors, engineers, and scientists to tackle problems from different angles. Though interacting with people who are more knowledgeable and experienced than me was intimidating at first, I find that it's improved my critical thinking skills and taught me how to ask meaningful questions. In research, this skill is especially important because it helps you plan a good project and communicate effectively. My research mentor Dr. Tim Duong has always been supportive and helped me brainstorm ideas for projects. Some ideas seem crazy at first but remember to stay open-minded and just go for it because you don't know what you'll find. He's also great at editing papers and taught me how to write academically. My colleagues in lab have helped me along as well by supplying me with necessary skills, experience, and expertise. I would be so lost without them.

Karen. What advice about research do you have for other undergrads?

My advice is to try to join a research group as soon as possible! It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any previous experience... Professors will be interested in students who are interested in their research and willing to put in the effort to work with them. There are so many Stony Brook faculty doing research, so you are bound to find someone who works on something you are interested in ...

Thomas. My biggest piece of advice would be to get involved in any way you can, in something that interests you, especially if you plan to go to graduate school. One of the many advantages of building a background in research is that you are able to garner the skills necessary to succeed in graduate programs.

Anna. Even if you don’t think you’ll like research, give it a try! There’s so many types and fields of research out there, you’re bound to find a topic that interests you and motivates you to learn and discover more. Finding a lab environment that is a good fit for you is also very important, and it’s ok if that takes a little while to find. Explore and see what’s out there, if there’s something you want to study there’s probably someone doing it! Finally, don’t be scared that you’re inexperienced or unqualified. What’s most important is that you’re enthusiastic and willing to learn.