PRISM Students Prove Themselves at San Antonio Science Conference

PRISM Students Prove Themselves at San Antonio Science Conference

PRISM Students Prove Themselves at San Antonio Science Conference

Twelve high-achieving science students from John Jay made their presence felt at the 14th Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in November, where they showed off the research they are conducting as part of the Program for Research Initiatives in Science and Math (PRISM).

The conference, held in San Antonio, Texas, is one of the largest undergraduate research events in the United States, with more than 1,700 undergraduates from around the country presenting their research. Reflecting the diversity of scientific inquiry being conducted at John Jay, the PRISM students presented their work in the fields of chemistry, toxicology, cellular and molecular biology, environmental sciences and microbiology — in all, eight of the different disciplines represented in the ABRCMS.

With more than 300 graduate programs and professional societies in attendance, the conference is also one of the largest graduate school fairs in the country for science students, noted Edgardo Sanabria-Valentin, PRISM’s Program and Research Coordinator. To prepare the students, PRISM held an “ABRCMS Boot Camp” the week before the conference. “Students got to practice their presentation in daily sessions helped by faculty members of the Sciences Department and the PRISM staff, and also got to learn about networking,” he explained.

“PRISM had prepared me thoroughly,” said Jiwon Seo, whose research focuses on chemotherapeutic (cancer-fighting) chemicals. “There was nothing I had to worry about, even though this was the first time I went off the East Coast.”

Sanabria-Valentin accompanied the PRISM students to Texas, along with Professors Jason Rauceo and Garry Brown. In addition to presenting their work, Sanabria-Valentin said, the students attended sessions on science communication, how to apply to graduate programs, and the importance of networking and other professional development efforts. They also sat in on scientific talks by other students and by professionals in diverse fields.

“I learned that science is more than just working in a lab and isolating yourself from the rest of humanity,” said Carlos Texeira, who is researching mercury contamination in the environment. “To be a good scientist requires that you be able to communicate. As future scientists, we have a responsibility to shape the world around us by being able to communicate our research to other people who can influence policy.”

Sanabria-Valentin noted that three of the 12 students received travel awards from the conference organizers. These competitive awards are based on the science and on the way the students present it in their abstract.

The ABRCMS attendees, their faculty mentors and their research projects are:

  • Porfirio Fernandez (Professor Jason Rauceo) — The Yeast Chaperone Sse1 Plays a Novel Role in Processing Cell Wall Amyloid-Forming Adhesins;
  • Stephania Guzman (Professor Nathan Lents) — Analysis of the Human Microbiome on Living and Decomposing Bodies;
  • Richard Khusial (Professor Anthony Carpi) — The Role of Temperature and UV Light in the Reduction of Mercury (II) Chloride to Elemental Mercury;
  • Cristina Kinahan (Professor Gloria Proni) — Chiroptical Characterization and Biological Evaluation of Selected Organophosphates;
  • Yessenia Lopez (Professor Shu-Yuan Cheng) — Manganese-Containing Dithiocarbamate Pesticides Increase β-amyloid Precursor Protein and β-amyloid Peptide Expression in PC-12 Cells;
  • Jazlene Montes (Professor Shu-Yuan Cheng) — Effect of Manganese-Containing Dithiocarbamates on Double-Stranded RNA Dependent Protein Kinase (PKR) Signaling Pathway;
  • Ruth Romero (Professor Macel Roberts) — Surface Modification for the Detection of Illicit Biomarkers in Fingerprint Sweat;
  • Jiwon Seo (Professor Shu-Yuan Cheng) — Mitomycin C and 10-Decarbamoyl Mitomycin A Activity Study on p53 Wild-type and Deficient Cancer Cells using Flow Cytometry;
  • Derek Sokolowski (Professor Nathan Lents) — DNA-Based Forensic Analysis of Plant Phylogeny Identification using Chloroplast DNA;
  • Carlos Texeira (Professor Anthony Carpi) — Using Bird Feathers as Bio-monitors of Mercury in the Environment;
  • Shawn Williams (Professor Artem Domashevskiy) — Pokeweed Antiviral Protein Binds to Structures Present in the 3’ Untranslated Regions of Viral mRNA;
  • Shari Yarde (Professor Anthony Carpi) — The Role of Water and pH in the Reduction of Mercury (II) Chloride to Elemental Mercury.