Each year the Science Honors Innovation Program (SHIP) at Montclair State selects their annual cohort of approximately 12 students to prepare for careers in innovative science. These students participate in intensive research programs mentored by College of Science and Mathematics faculty, and are awarded and recognized at the national and international level. SHIP students are juniors and seniors primarily from CSAM who are already enrolled in the University Honors Program. They are selected for their enthusiasm for the sciences and strong potential for future success by a committee composed of members from each CSAM department. As of Spring 2013 the program has 36 students enrolled.

2016-2018 SHIP Students

Dylan Belding Dylan Belding

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies
Mentor: Dr. Robert Taylor
Title: Solar Photovoltaic Community Microgrids: A Best Practices Analysis

Photovoltaic Solar Energy is a source of clean energy which is now economically competitive to fossil fuels for providing distributed energy to new and diverse locations. While PV Solar has made great strides in Europe, India, China and the United States it has generally been used for placement on rooftops and connected to the larger grid when local regulation allows in a process called net-metering. This is the first wave of PV solar. The second wave of PV solar is to install PV Solar in large single user configurations or in mini-grid configurations to strengthen community resiliency. Large single user configurations are attractive investments since they produce significant amounts of energy. Generally, companies have produced these arrays as a source of corporate branding (i.e. Intel), and to demonstrate their commitment to a green economy. The new wave of photovoltaics seeks to continue solar arrays to many users, referred to as a micro-grid. Micro-grids are more efficient and cost-effective than traditional installations, can be placed in locations in which a large utility grid does not exist, and can aid in mitigation during outages. Micro-grids can be both mobile and permanent. This study aims to seek in comparing the various technologies available, demonstrating economic feasibility, measuring environmental impact of implementation, and observing social effects, a strategy referred to as the Triple-Bottom-Line of Sustainability.

Kevin ChenKevin Chen

Department: Physics
Mentor: Dr. Marc Favata
Title: Modelling of Nonlinear Gravitational-wave Memory

Our universe is filled with gravitational waves or ripples in the fabric of spacetime. These waves are caused by the acceleration of masses such as jumping up and down. However, jumping up and down only produces an insignificant amount of gravitational waves that are too small to detect. On the other hand, the fusion of two black holes, or the explosion of a supernova generates gravitational waves that are large enough for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory or LIGO to detect. LIGO is able to detect them by splitting laser light and sending it down both arms of an “L” shaped interferometer (with both arms being equal in length), and the summation of the returning laser light (after bouncing off of mirrors at the ends of the arms) will cancel each other out. However, due to the property of the gravitational waves to stretch or compress objects including light waves as the gravitational wave passes through objects, LIGO is able to detect gravitational waves by detecting the summation of the returning light wave. Along with gravitational waves, we also have gravitational wave memory which is the effect left behind by a gravitational wave. For a gravitational wave with no memory, an object is stretched and compressed overtime, but the object eventually returns back to its original form. However, when there is gravitational wave memory, the end result will not return back to what it was originally but rather a stretch or compressed version of the object will persist. Due to the fact that nonlinear memory is problematic to model in numerical relativity simulations, my research will compare calculations using a semi-analytical method of modelling gravitational wave memory and the numerical relativity simulations created by the Caltech/Cornell group.

Lita De La CruzLita De La Cruz

Department: Mathematical Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Marc Favata
Title: Memory Effects for Supernovae

Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light through the universe carrying with them information that can enable us to look at the universe with new eyes. These waves not only contain information that allows us to identify their origins, but also enable us to understand the nature of gravity itself. The first part of my project involves me surveying a range of computer simulated supernovae signals from so that I can later incorporate my work into One of the simulations that I’m currently working on involves analyzing anticipated gravitational-wave emission processes in stellar core collapse and post bounce core-collapse supernova evolution. By imputing the data into a mathematical software I’m able to generate a sound that is a representation of the gravitational waves produced by a supernova explosion. The second part of my project involves studying the “memory effect” of these explosions. The memory has to do with a difference between the late and initial time parts of a gravitational wave signal; meaning that at least one of the values of the gravitational wave polarizations differs from zero after the waves have passed the detector. The memory part of this signal may have generic features that can help expand our knowledge for these cataclysmic events.

Briana GoncalvesBriana Goncalves

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Julian Keenan
Title: Establishing a Causal Link between the Medial Prefrontal Cortex, Major Depressive Disorder, and Self-Enhancement: A Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Study

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) affects over 6.7 million people in the United States, making it one of the most common neurological disorders. While numerous brain systems are implicated in MDD, evidence has indicated that the Medial Prefrontal Cortex (MPFC) is correlated with MDD symptomology. Increased rates of depression are observed following frontal lobe trauma and neuroimaging studies repeatedly find generalized hypoactivity in the MPFC (as well as the left dorsal lateral PFC). Of significant interest, the MPFC is critical for numerous social abilities which may include self-deception. In previous studies, Dr. Keenan has found that disruption of the MPFC via Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) decreases self-enhancement and other expressions of self-deception. It is therefore possible that hypoactivity in the MPFC leads to both a general reduction of self-deception and an increase in MDD symptomology. Despite having made great progress in elucidating the biology of MDD, it is unclear as to how MDD manifests itself in the brain and how psychological factors are influenced by MDD.

The main hypothesis is that decreasing the MPFC will increase MDD symptomology while decreasing self-enhancement. A number of supplementary hypotheses will be tested (e.g., do other brain regions have any effect on either self-enhancement or MDD? Do participants that self-enhance more react more to a placebo/sham condition?). However, the focus will be on establishing the causal relationship between the MPFC, self-enhancement, and MDD.

Keith LangeKeith Lange

Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Nina Goodey
Title: Crystallization and Study of Dihydrofolate Reductases (DHFR) in Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi.

Lymphatic Filariasis, commonly regarded as Elephantiasis, is a vastly untreated parasitic disease primarily caused by the worms Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi which affects ~63 million people in 73 countries. Current drug treatments, such as diethylcarbamazine and ivermectin, are effective drug treatments when the host is initially infected; however, upon onset of limb swelling, these treatments fail to eradicate the parasites. Dihydrofolate Reductase (DHFR), a vital and ubiquitous enzyme that aids in DNA synthesis and folate metabolism, is a well-established drug target and may result in a treatment option for many suffering from the disease. Selective inhibition of DHFR in both organisms may lead to progress in combating the disease and therefore aiding those who are infected. Currently, the lack of three dimensional understanding of both enzymes poses as an obstacle for selective inhibition. Crystallization and X-Ray diffraction of these enzymes would elucidate their respective binding sites which will provide an understanding of how these enzymes function and thus, providing insight as to how to introduce inhibition. Once crystal structures of both enzymes are obtained with and without ligand bound, rational drug design can begin. Currently, both DHFR enzymes are being expressed and purified by Dr. Goodey’s research lab and several inhibition studies have already been carried about; however, crystallization procedures have recently began to ultimately provide a detailed model as to how the enzymes function within these organisms. In the future and as a result of this project, kinetic studies can then subsequently be carried out to test possible selective inhibitors.

Rebekah MadridRebekah Madrid

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Ann Marie DiLorenzo
Title: Production of NADH & ATP in Human Lung Fibroblast Cells Exposed to 9/11 World Trade Center Dust and its Possible Correlation to Cancer Reducing Drugs

Not only did thousands of individuals pass away the morning of 9/11 and weeks to follow, but individuals continue to suffer from breathing complications, asthma, and lung cancer. Scientists continue to research the reasons these changes occur in the morphology of cells, especially in lung cells. Although the research is ongoing, possible mutagenicity of World Trade Center Dust, on human lung fibroblast cells, has not yet been extensively studied. In more recent clinical trials on cancer patients, including a patient who was exposed to the World Trade Center Dust (WTCD), scientists have seen a decrease in the progression of tumor growth, with a prescription of oral nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH). NADH is naturally occurring within a cell’s mitochondria and aids in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), or the energy of the cell. Although the treatment of oral NADH is becoming a possible treatment for tumor regression, it is still unknown as to why the NADH reacts with the infected cells to prevent further tumor growth.

Research in Dr. DiLorenzo’s laboratory, will investigate the amount of NADH produced by normal lung fibroblast cells compared to cells exposed to WTC Dust. When potential carcinogens, such as WTC Dust, are exposed to cells, it binds to the deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. If DNA cannot be repaired, it can lead to mutations, which can ultimately result in cancer. If cells exposed to World Trade Center Dust show a decrease in NADH levels, and possible lower levels of ATP produced, there will be an improved understanding as to why cancer patients are responding positively to NADH drugs. The increase in NADH entering cancer cells will promote the energy needed to control cell regulation and decrease the rate of cellular proliferation and uncontrolled growth.

Patrick PalkaPatrick Palka

Department: Mathematical Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Deepak Bal
Title: Online Greedy Matching in Random Bipartite Graphs

In mathematics, graph theory is the study of graphs, structures that model objects and the relationships between them. Graphs and their properties play key roles in theoretical and applied mathematics, in science and in engineering. Random graph theory is used to answer questions about whole classes of graphs, by using probabilistic techniques to analyze the properties of a typical graph in the class. Random graphs can be used to model problems that deterministic graphs cannot, since in practice the evolution of processes that have a graph structure tend to have an associated degree of uncertainty. With that said, random graphs are undoubtedly an important tool in the mathematicians' and engineers' toolbox.

The goal of this project is to analyze greedy online bipartite matching algorithms on various random bipartite graph models. This problem is not only theoretically interesting but it also has practical relevance in many areas such as in the implementation of computational streaming models, in the implementation of data structures such as hash tables, and in analyzing the effectiveness of Internet advertising models. The goal of this study is to derive explicit formulas for the matching performance on these graph models by proving dynamic concentration of the matching process about its expected trajectory.

Jessica TanJessica Tan

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Lee H. Lee
Title: Analysis of Novel Alternative to Targeting Prosthetic Joint Infections

Prosthetic joint replacement is considered one of the most amazing developments in medicine and surgery. However, it has been established that there is difficulty in the treatment of post joint infections with an effective antibiotic treatment. While prosthetic joint replacement can be life-changing, infections can hinder the rehabilitation. This is unfortunate as it often leads to the removal of the prosthesis itself and it is known to be extremely prevalent. The main component that causes infections in arthoplastic surgeries is the ability for infectious pathogens to adhere to the prosthesis, producing biofilm. Thus, with my current mentor, Dr. Lee H. Lee, we are analyzing a novel alternative to targeting prosthetic joint infections using green tea polyphenol Eigallocatechin – Gallate Sterate (EGCG-S), a modified esterified version of EGCG, causing it to be more lipophilic.

Three of the most prominent pathogens that cause infections in prosthetic implants are Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Tea polyphenols have long been studied for their antimicrobial properties and it is currently being analyzed for its synergistic abilities in eliminating prosthetic joint infections. In this study, a modified green tea polyphenol derived from Camelia sinensis tea leaves will be used. An examination of its antimicrobial abilities along with the current post-operative infectious washout protocol were determined. Zone of inhibition (ZOI) evaluation with EGCG-S and the current washout protocol were performed separately, or in combination using disk diffusion method. Colony forming units (CFU) assay was carried out to determine the percent of inhibition of EGCG-S on these microorganisms. The results from disk diffusion test as well as CFU assay may indicate the EGCG-s with or without the wash, is able to inhibit growth of these pathogens.

2015-2017 SHIP Students

Yasmeen AbboudYasmeen Abboud

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Lee Lee
Title: Green Tea Polyphenols: A Potential Synergistic Antibacterial Agent in Oral Care Products

Biofilm formation by Streptococcus mutans, identified, as dental plaque is the primary cause of dental caries. Dental caries is the result of enamel dissolution due to acidic microenvironments created by bacterial metabolism of fermentable carbohydrates on the tooth surface. In the common case of frequent carbohydrate consumption, the acidic environment yielded by bacterial metabolism is sustained for a period of time long enough to cause irreversible dissolution of the tooth surface. An increase in the intake of refined carbohydrates in combination with poor oral hygiene has placed dental infections at a high ranking in medical costs within the United States. Due to the prominence of dental infections, oral hygiene products are continuously evolving. The continuing evolution of dental hygiene is bested exemplified by notable innovations including water and toothpaste fluoridation, electric toothbrushes, mouthwashes and dental sealants. While some of these means of preventative care are more effective than others, they do not seem to function at the source of dental caries. In addressing this problem, the focus of this study is to inhibit biofilm formation by Streptococcus mutans through the incorporation of green tea polyphenols (GTPs) with oral health care products. GTP extracts from the leaves of the herbal plant, Camellia sinesis, have been found to possess antibacterial properties which function at the molecular level, inhibiting bacterial defense mechanisms such as biofilm formation. Therefore, the antimicrobial properties of GTPs along with their structural stability and solubility may potentially provide a novel approach in the treatment of dental caries.

Sahar Ahmed Sahar Ahmed

Department: Mathematical Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Andrew McDougall
Title: Model and Analysis of Statewide Precipitation Data Over Recent Years

Global warming is a contentious topic since modern climate records only exist for the last 100 years in contrast to ice-core analysis that establishes ice ages tens of thousands of years ago. Nevertheless, patterns associated with events such as El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), precipitation, tornados, and snowfall amounts over the last century can provide a useful and objective indicator of climate “change” without entering the politically and environmentally charged debate. That is, we propose to let the data speak for itself. This project will focus on daily precipitation totals in the state of New Jersey over the last 50 to 100 years from nineteen meteorological recording sites. Since this involves up to 30,000 observations per site, our “big data” approach will be primarily exploratory with a spatial-temporal emphasis. This project will explore questions such as does the data show an increase in major precipitation events over recent years and if so, then are these events localized or statewide? Furthermore, the changes in frequency and intensity will also be analyzed. Another main issue will be how to analyze and present the results in an effective graphical format for all stations.

Melany AlfonsoMelany Alfonso

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Nina Goodey
Title: Examining how allosteric mutations affect ligand binding and specificity on Dihydrofolate reductase

The purpose of my research is to study the enzyme Dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) from the organism Bacillus stearothermophillus (Bs). DHFR is an important enzyme because it catalyzes the reduction of 7,8-dihydrofolate (DHF) to 5,6,7,8-tetrahydrofolate (THF) and THF is essential for DNA synthesis. For this reason, DHFR is the subject of many studies and is a pharmaceutical drug target to treat diseases like cancer and third world bacterial and protozoal infections. Drugs like methotrexate (MTX), pyrimethamine (PYR), and trimethoprim (TMP) are used to inhibit DHFR homologs from different pathogens and treat diseases caused by these pathogens. In many cases, however, it has been found that DHFR builds resistance to these antifolate drug compounds. Previously, Dr. Goodey and her students found that drug binding and selectivity in DHFR has to do with the amino acid residue mutations in both the active site and in allosteric regions on the DHFR.

For this project, we want to understand how these allosteric mutations affect ligand binding and specificity. We started the research by making two mutants (each had one allosteric mutation) and comparing them to the DHFR wild type. The first mutation was isoleucine in position 86 to alanine (I86A) and tyrosine in position 127 to alanine (Y127A). I am currently purifying these DHFR mutants and adding to them a fluorescent dye molecule as a reporter tag. We can then use these fluorescently labeled DHFR proteins to understand the effect of these mutations on conformational motions associated with drug binding and selectivity.

Brian Geraldo headshotBrian Giraldo

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Lynn Schneemeyer
Title: Synthesis of quaternary molybdenum oxide crystals via solid state reactions and electrolytic crystal growth.

Reduced transition metal oxides known as bronzes are of interest because they belong to a special class of compounds known as strongly correlated materials. This family of materials have unusual and technologically advantageous electronic and magnetic properties, one of the most notable properties observed in these materials is high temperature superconductivity. Synthesizing new reduced transition metal oxides specifically those containing molybdenum and tungsten will help broaden the known collection of highly correlated electron systems. These material systems are not well understood theoretically so studying them is of importance to the condensed matter physics community. The goal of this investigation is to synthesize new molybdenum bronzes and explore their fundamental properties in hopes of gaining deeper insight into highly correlated electron phenomena or perhaps to witness and document never before seen electronic behavior. Exploration of materials is the cornerstone of all modern innovation. Exploratory materials research has great potential, historically these kinds of scientific endeavors have yielded the materials that revolutionized entire sectors like medicine, modern communication, computing, and energy. The next generation of materials is waiting to be discovered and understood. Projects like this one will be the ones to do it.

Giancarlo LabrunaGiancarlo Labruna

Department: Mathematical Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Aihua Li
Title: Randi? Connectivity Indices of Trees Attached to a Hexagon and Applications in the Sciences

The Randi? Connectivity Index, or RCI, describes the connectivity structure of a graph. In this research project, we investigate trees that are attached to hexagonal bases, derived from chemistry and biology problems, and their Randi? Connectivity Index (RCI) Values. The set of all such graphs with n vertices is denoted as Gn. As one of the most successful molecular descriptors for structural-property and structural-activity relationship studies in chemistry, the RCI values may reveal certain connectivity and related properties of the considered graphs. Through the study, we develop explicit RCI formulas for graphs in Gn. A natural question is, “Among all the graphs in Gn, which one admits the maximum or minimum RCI value?” We are interested in identifying such graphs in Gn that admit extremal RCI values and we propose to give the formulas for these values.

We will further analyze what the RCI values can tell about the graphs in consideration. On an application in bioinformatics, we may apply the RCI techniques to analyzing DNA sequences from Chagas disease insect vectors obtained from our biology collaborators. A modified graph connectivity index involving the Pka values of genes will be used to develop phylogenetic trees and evolutionary properties of the insect vectors.

Nicholas Jascewsky Nicholas Jascewsky

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Mitchell Sitnick
Title: Furthering Lipid Understanding Through Danio rerio

The research project is to analyze the function and effects of Adipose Triglyceride Lipase (ATGL), the rate-limiting step in the breakdown of stored triglycerides, to mobilize free fatty acid for further use. The goal of our research is to better understand the effects and roles ATGL plays in systemic and tissue specific lipid hydrolysis. To this end, we aim to expand our understanding of ATGL by conducting future studies in Danio rerio, the Zebrafish. The major advantages to using a Zebrafish model over the standard mouse model, include easier genetic manipulation, faster maturation, are easier to maintain. These studies include research on the effect ATGL has in Obesity, Sarcopenia, and tissue repair.

Nadeem ObaydouNadeem Obaydou

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Kirsten Monsen-Collar
Title: Sequence Variants of The Pathogen Ranavirus Isolated From Northeastern Amphibians

Ranavirus, is a virus that infects amphibian, aquatic, and reptile species and has appeared to become more prominent in the state of New Jersey in recent years. Because of this, an initial screening was done for tadpoles (Lithobates sylyaticus) to see if they tested positive for Ranavirus. The screening was done on criteria set forth by a previous study in which a specific melting temperature was observed during RT-PCR based on the virus's GC content. The study concluded 36 of 144 observed populations tested positive in five states. Three populations were also screened by the National Wildlife Health Center (2 from Maryland and 1 from Delaware) and tested positive for Ranavirus. However, these populations screened negative for our criteria in our lab, missing the melting point temperature parameters previously set by just a few degrees (indicating a change in GC content). Because of this, we suspect the existence of several sequence variants of Ranavirus most likely due to mutation. The goal of our experiment is to potentially find unique sequence variants of this virus using traditional PCR amplifying a fragment of the major capsid protein gene. We then compare the sequences of the amplified product to previously isolated Ranavirus sequences to confirm unique variants of the pathogen. This could help potentially implementing a better tracking model for the spread of Ranavirus, as well as shedding light on an evolutionary relationship among different sequence variants. We also may be able to determine relationships between pathogen and amphibian population genetic uniquenesses.

Monika ProrokMonika Prorok

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. John Siekierka
Title: xpression and characterization of a parasitic anti-stress protein kinase, SEK-1, from Brugia malayi

Lymphatic filariasis (Elephantiasis) is a disease caused by a parasitic worm called Brugia malayi (B. malayi). This debilitating disease is prominent in many tropical countries, and in severe cases is characterized by abnormal swelling of the limbs in an infected individual. Previously in our laboratory, an anti-oxidative pathway has been characterized in the B. malayi parasite, which is closely related to the human mitogen-activated p38 protein kinase and the C. elegans PMK-1 protein kinase pathways. B. malayi BmPMK-1, is a protein kinase required for parasitic anti-stress responses. SEK-1, is a protein kinase that has been characterized in the non-parasitic nematode C.elegans. SEK-1 is an upstream activator of C. elegans stress activated protein kinase, PMK-1 and plays an important role in stress responses. SEK-1 was proven to be critically important for the protection against stresses such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) in C. elegans. We identified a similar protein to SEK-1 in B. malayi (BmSEK-1a). We have successfully expressed an active form of recombinant BmSEK-1a using a mammalian protein expression system. Furthermore, we have shown that active BmSEK-1a activates inactive BmPMK-1a, validating that this indeed is an activator of the BmPMK-1a protein and that it plays an important role in the BmPMK-1a stress-activated pathway. Inhibition of BmSEK-1a should inhibit the stress-activated cascade that protects the parasite against a variety of stresses. BmSEK-1a therefore, may be a useful target for developing novel drugs, which may aid in treating the filarial disease.

Bianca Sanabria Bianca Sanabria

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Sandra Adams
Title: In Vitro Synergistic Antiviral Activity of Epigallocatechin Gallate- strearate and Acyclovir on Herpes Simplex Virus Types 1 and 2 in Vero Cells

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes an infection that is initiated by viral envelope glycoprotein C binding to the cell surface of proteoglycan heparin sulfate on epithelia cells and glycoprotein B binding to one of three entry receptors, resulting in a strong virion attachment to the host cell. Infection results in epithelial lesions that are painful, recurrent, ulcerative, as well as infectious cold sores, lesions on the mouth and lip. HSV, is also one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States and is one of the most common infectious diseases in humans. There continues to be no effective vaccine against HSV, requiring new medications to block infection and prevent viral shedding by infected individuals. Current treatments to HSV, such as Acyclovir, can lead to resistance and can be very costly, therefore lower cost treatments are necessary to alleviate the symptoms of infected individuals.

Green tea extract, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has been previously shown to have antiviral effects. EGCG-stearate (EGCG-S), a more stable modification, has demonstrated to be an effective antiviral agent. Previous research suggests that EGCG and EGCG-s bind to the glycoproteins on the envelope of the virus, preventing viral entry into the host cells. Therefore, the goal of this experiment is to assess in vitro synergistic antiviral activity of EGCG-stearate and Acylovir on HSV types 1 and 2 in Vero cells.

Nandini SurendranathanNandini Surendranathan

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Quinn Vega
Title: The Amplification, Transcription and Analysis of Lysin A and Lysin B

With the increasing worldwide threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria such as Tuberculosis and MRSA, bacteriophage, or viruses that infect bacteria, are being more actively studied as antimicrobial alternatives to antibiotics. A majority of these studies have largely focused on the isolation of novel bacteriophage that can attack harmful bacteria. Through the MSU Phage Hunters funded by the HHMI, students have discovered over fifty bacteriophages that have the potential to infect Tuberculosis. While MSU has isolated and sequenced more than 6 full novel phage genomes and has compared these genomes to the wider international genomic database, many of the genes identified have been through sequence comparison and not through measuring protein activity. One group of proteins, the Lysins, commonly found in various bacteriophages, can be a promising alternative to antibiotics for bacterial related diseases such as Tuberculosis and MRSA. The goal of this project is isolate these proteins and analyze their functions as well investigate these proteins’ potential as possible antibiotics.

Andrew TobiasAndrew Tobias

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Nina Goodey
Title: Expression, purification, and characterization of W. bancrofti DHFR and its evaluation as a possible drug target for treating lymphatic filariasis

Lymphatic filariasis is a disease caused by filarial nematodes that affects millions of individuals every year. A specific filarial nematode, W. bancrofti, is one organism that causes Lymphatic filariasis. This disease affects the lymphatic system and can cause severe swelling in the lower appendages. According to the World Health Organization people living in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Nepal, the Philippines and others are at risk of infection by this neglected tropical disease. To help cure those infected, research is needed to find a drug able to inhibit the proliferation of W. bancrofti. The protein we are evaluating in order to possibly accomplish this task is DHFR. DHFR is an enzyme that reduces dihydrofolate into tetrahydrofolate (THF). THF and its derivatives are required for purine synthesis, making the enzyme crucial for cell proliferation. The goals of this research are to express and purify W. bancrofti DHFR (WbDHFR) and to start evaluating potential small molecule inhibitors to discern if WbDHFR is indeed a valid drug target.

2014-2016 SHIP Students

Adriana Messyasz headshot

Adriana Messyasz

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Lisa Hazard
Title: The study of potential correlations between environmental factors and presence of Ranavirus in amphibian species across N.J. (tentative)

One key area of research within herpetology involves the extent and spread of diseases that are associated with amphibian decline. One such disease is Ranavirus which has been causing massive die-off’s of amphibians in New Jersey. Dr. Hazard and I are going to research if certain environmental conditions correlate with the presence and prevalence of the disease. We plan on studying around 20 vernal pools around NJ that inhabit amphibian species and we want to study these sites at least 3 different times during the year. We will measure independent variables like dissolved oxygen, pH, and salinity of the water, as well as pool location, proximity to roads or areas of human activity, and extent of slope and runoff into the pool.

Bushra Ali headshot

Bushra Ali

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Lee Lee
Title: The Effects of Green Tea Polyphenols in Controlling Endospore Germination in Bacillus cereus.

Endospores pose high concern when found in various environments due to their highly resistant characteristics. Their ability to withstand extreme temperature, desiccation, ultra-violet radiation and chemicals makes them a threat in the food and medical industry. Numerous reports have suggested that certain green tea polyphenols, which are derived from green tea leaves, have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-cancerous, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammation, and antioxidant properties. The purpose of our study is to investigate the effects of green tea polyphenols in controlling endospore germination, particularly outgrowth and to test the minimal treatment time needed to kill off Bacillus cereus endospores with a range of 95%-100% of inhibition. We hope to use these natural antimicrobial compounds as an aid for preventing food and beverage spoilage and for preventing contamination of devices in the medical industry.

Chelsea O'Koren headshot

Chelsea O'Koren

Department: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Elena Petroff
Title: Effect of pH on brain tumor growth (tentative)

We will investigate how pH affects the growth of malignant brain tumors. To accomplish this study, we will grow tumor cell lines. We will then raise the extracellular pH of these cells to see how it affects the growth of the tumors. We hypothesize that the growth rate will decrease. We will then decrease the extracellular pH of these cells to see how it affects the growth of the tumors hypothesizing that the growth rate might increase. We will try to correlate the rate of tumor growth to pH and activity of acid sensing ion channels using pH sensitive fluorescent dyes and measuring electrical activity of the tumor cells.

Justin Vercellino headshot

Justin Vercellino

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Jim Dyer
Title: Purification and characterization of the cryptochrome 2 (Cry2) protein from sunflowers.

In sunflowers there is a protein called cryptochrome 2 (Cry2) which has not been extracted or analyzed yet. Also, because the gene for the sunflower cryptochrome has never been cloned, our approach will first deal with that problem. We will be using he sequence similarity/identity that other know plant cryptochromes share to develop primers to be used in a 5'- and 3'-RACE (Rapid Amplification of cDNA Ends) technique. That will enable us to clone the full coding sequence of the sunflower cryptochrome, which we will been cloned into heterologous expression system to generate the protein to be used for analysis.

Menga Li headshot

Mengqi Li

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Yvonne Gindt
Title: Investigation of the oligomeric structures of the cryptochrome proteins using fluorescence detected denaturation methods.

My current research is about investigating of the oligomeric structures of the cryptochrome proteins using fluorescence detected denaturation methods. This SHIP project provides a background for future pursuits in the field of pharmacology. I aspire to become a research scientist in pharmaceutical and medicinal fields, and I plan on furthering my pharmaceutical studies with graduate school.

Pamela Jumbo headshot

Pamela Jumbo

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Yvonne Gindt
Title: Isothermal Titration Calorimetry Studies of the Binding between KL001 and VcCry1

Pamela Jumbo is a Biochemistry major at Montclair State University. Through volunteer work at a retirement home in her native country, Ecuador, she became inspired to take care of others and developed a serious interest in medicine. Pamela has also been passionate about science since she was only a curious little girl. The human and scientific aspects of medicine have motivated her to become a research physician. After she earns her degree in Biochemistry, Pamela plans on applying to a M.D/Ph.D. dual degree program. Currently, she is conducting research under the guidance of Dr. Yvonne Gindt, chemistry professor. The research is making it possible to investigate the effects of KL001, a carbazole molecule, on Vibrio cholerae cryptochrome 1, a flavoenzyme associated with the circadian rhythm cycle and the cell division cycle. KL001, has been recognized to inhibit degradation of Cry1. Stabilization of Cry1 enhances light-induced signaling and consequently lengthens the circadian period. The interaction between KL001 and VcCry1 may be important to determining the role of the flavoenzyme as a photoreceptor in the circadian rhythm and the cell cycle.

Yves Augsborg headshot

Yves Aubourg

Department: Computer Science
Mentor: Dr.Charles Leberknight
Title: Big Data for Sensor Networks

The objective of this research is twofold. First, this research will investigate the challenges and issues with developing an application using a data science approach. Second, a specific sensor network will be developed at Montclair State University (MSU) for collecting potentially large volumes of unstructured data that will be stored and analyzed by the application to identify patterns and trends on campus. The primary patterns I intend to investigate for this research are vehicular traffic and parking trends on campus. Sensor networks aim to collect physical and environmental data using a wide array of spatially distributed sensors. Data collected from these sensors are often unstructured and may contain text, images, and video. Conventional relational database management systems (RDBMS) were originally designed to store and analyze only structured data. Consequently, a RDBMS cannot glean the wealth of hidden information generated by sensor networks, and so this research will explore alternative methods for the analysis of unstructured data.

2013-2015 Ship Students

Blake Moore headshot

Blake Moore

Department: Mathematical Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Marc Favata

Blake Moore is a Physics major and Mathematics minor. Blake has always felt driven to take things apart and find out how they work, so naturally he was driven to Physics. He plans on going to graduate school and obtaining a PhD in Physics. After school Blake hopes to develop a career in either Astrophysical research or research in some other branch of Physics. The subject of his research within SHIP is Gravitational Waves. Gravitational Waves that may be detected on Earth are emitted by inspiraling massive binaries, such as orbiting black holes or neutron stars. His goal is to provide a mathematical model of the waveform for a small range of eccentricities in the orbit of the binary. Blake is glad that SHIP has made this research possible.

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Bradley Gold

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Mentor: Dr. Julian Keenan

Bradley Gold was born and raised in Maplewood, NJ. He earned his first degree in 2008 from the Park School at Ithaca College in Cinema and Photography with a concentration in Screenwriting. Recently Mr. Gold decided to follow his passion for science and is currently earning his second bachelor’s degree in Biology at Montclair State University. Mr. Gold is a recipient of both the Charles Hadley Memorial Fund Award and the Outstanding Non-Traditional Student Award for his exemplary academic performance in the sciences. He is proud to be a working member of an ambitious Science Honors Innovation Program (SHIP) research project. The goal of this research is to investigate auditory tonal preferences of Drosophila and Gryllidae in an attempt to elucidate evolutionary mechanisms for musical comprehension. After he earns his degree in Biology, Mr. Gold plans to become a biology teacher or pursue higher education in bioengineering, astrobiology, or one of many other fields in biological research. The SHIP program will no doubt help Mr. Gold achieve his goals in the future.

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Erik Strandskov

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies

Mentor: Dr. Joshua Galster

Erik Strandskov is an undergraduate studying Geoscience at MSU. Growing up in northern New Jersey he has been surrounded by nature all his life. It was only until he took Physical Geology here at MSU that he realized he wanted to take the direction in his life towards helping and improving the environment. Already the Geoscience program has helped Eric connect and create lasting relationships with people who share the same love for nature and science. Eric plans on furthering his Geoscience studies with graduate school before pursuing a career in working with the environment. His work with SHIP will include studying the timing of floods in the Passaic River basin. Eric is really excited because the SHIP program will enable him to get his feet in the water in terms of getting familiar with the research process, and will provide a background for future pursuits in the field of Geoscience.

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Kaitlyn Scrudato

Department: Mathematical Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Haiyan Su

Kaitlyn Scrudato is a math major in the combined program for a BS in math and MS in statistics. Kaitlyn has always been passionate about math and after taking STAT 330 with Dr. Su she became even more passionate about statistics. Recently Kaitlyn read the article “Modeling Market Mix” by Gerard J Tellis. This article made her very interested in the research methods they used to analyze marketing sales data with variables advertising, price, promotion, and quality. She expressed her interest to Dr. Su and she has agreed to advise Kaitlyn on a similar project with real data provided by Nielson Analysis. The major goal of this research project is to detect consumer patterns and build statistical models using marketing data to help business managers to make better decisions. Kaitlyn is also planning to continue her education further after Montclair to obtain a doctoral degree in statistics.

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Kaitlyn Socha

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Mentor: Dr. Chunguang Du

Kaitlyn Socha is a Biology major with a minor in Chemistry and Computer Science. She has always been fascinated by biology and understanding how life works, especially from a genetic view. Kaitlyn was honored when she was selected to become a SHIP scholar, and is looking forward to researching with Dr. Du on helitron elements in maize. After graduation, Kaitlyn hopes to attend graduate school and earn a doctorate in genetics.

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Karla Sanchez

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry

Mentor: Dr. Nina Goodey

Karla Sanchez is a senior pursuing a BS in Biochemistry. In her senior year of high school, Karla took an Organic/Biochemistry course and was so fascinated by her teacher and all their accomplishments in the field, through teaching and research, that she knew she wanted to follow in those same steps. At MSU Karla has had the opportunity of working with Dr. Rotella and his research team, an experience that ultimately solidified her desire to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. after graduation. Currently working under the guidance of Dr. Goodey, Karla is working toward identifying DHFR in B. malayi as a potential drug target, using existing DHFR inhibitors. Though she is a non-traditional member of SHIP, starting in her senior year rather than her junior year, she is extremely grateful for this opportunity that will undoubtedly prepare her for her post-baccalaureate plans.

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Mariya (Masha) Guzner 

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies

Mentors: Dr. Vanderklein and Dr. Galster

Mariya (Masha) Guzner is a geoscience major with a concentration in environmental science. Masha chose this major because it fosters her knowledge and appreciation of the surrounding world. She hopes that her future profession will allow her to take responsible action to protect the environment. Added bonuses are having an ‘office’ outside with her hiking boots and backpack, and working with people who share that love of the outdoors. Masha is particularly interested in water resource preservation and remediation. Upon graduation from Montclair State, she plans to attend graduate school and pursue research as a full time career. For her SHIP project, she will study non-native plant species’ water use.

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Maryam Abdulsalam

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry

Mentor: Dr. Marc L. Kasner

Maryam Abdulsalam is a junior in the EOF program at Montclair State University majoring in Biochemistry. She is also an LSAMP scholar for the year of 2013-2014. Maryam volunteered at Saint Joseph Hospital in Paterson and was inspired to be a researcher that finds medications/cures to the many diseases that are causing people to die or struggle for the extent of their lives. Her goal is to attend medical school to become a research physician. Maryam is particularly interested in clinical toxicology and pharmacology because those studies involve the chemicals and drugs in our body. These drugs and chemicals are for the treatment and prevention of diseases so understanding the biological, biochemical and chemical systems can lead to more effective development and use of drugs and chemicals. Maryam's current research is about a computational study of the energy of α-Glucopyranose and β-Glucopyranose as a function of structure. Of particular interest is the manner in which the energy changes as the hydroxyl group and hydroxymethyl group when the 2-carbon is rotated. The things that she is learning in her research activities are preparing her to continue towards that goal. Both, pharmacology and clinical toxicology, work with drugs themselves, the mechanisms by which those drugs work and the treatment and prevention of disease. This computational project has made Maryam 100% sure that she wants to spend the rest of her life studying these areas. Lastly, computational chemistry is a relatively new part of the study of toxicology and pharmacology. Someone skilled in computational methods will be able to connect the theory and practical application of pharmacology. 

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Mirna W. Halawani

Department: Mathematical Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Diana Thomas

Mirna W. Halawani is pursuing a combined 5-year B.S./M.S. in Mathematics with a concentration in Statistics at Montclair State. Mirna currently works as a math tutor for the Red Hawk Math Learning Center in Schmitt Hall and conduct research for the Center of Quantitative Obesity Research (CQOR) with my mentor Dr. Diana Thomas with whom Mirna presented a project at last year’s Experimental Biology Conference in Boston. SHIP has allowed Mirna to expand her research outside of Montclair and begin my new project, studying the relationship between sitting time and body weight with Dr. Marc Hamilton of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. As a research assistant, she hopes to enrich her education by learning statistics from a biological point of view and apply statistical conclusions to advance science. She believes the quote “mathematics is not just a series of calculations and a sum total of statistics, it's about experience, it's about participation, it is something more complex and more interesting than what is obvious.” In the future,Mirna aspires to become a bio-statistician, one who applies the principles of statistics to medical and public health research.

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Rabih Balilli

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry

Mentor: Dr. Marc L. Kasner

Rabih Balilli is majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry at Montclair State University. He came to the United Sates from Lebanon in 2010 and enrolled at MSU in 2011. Rabih moved to the United States with one goal in mind, to become a Dentist and specialize in Dental Maxillofacial Surgery. With hard work and determination Rabih became the treasurer of the Biology Club and a scholar at LSAMP in general Chemistry I and II. He is also, thanks to the SHIP program, conducting research with his mentor Dr. Marc Kasner. They study the structures, chemical bonds, and energies of α- and β-Glucose in a vacuum and various solutions. All of this has put Rabih on the right path to someday achieve his goal, becoming a dental surgeon.

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Rachel Maynard

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies

Mentors: Dr. Pankaj Lal and Dr. Gregory Pope

Rachel Maynard is a Geography major with a concentration in Environmental Science at Montclair State University. She is the undergraduate representative to the CSAM Student Advisory Council and Treasurer of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Club. Being involved in environmental studies and research is extremely important to her. In the future, she aspires to contribute to the scientific community further by pursuing a career in environmental management. She is honored to be a part of SHIP and plans to gain invaluable experience while working in the field. She will be researching the relationship between the contaminated area of Liberty State Park and the economic value of the surrounding residential areas.

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Robert Barrows

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry

Mentors: Dr. David Konas

Robert Dennis Barrows is a third year Chemistry Major with a Mathematics Minor. After his planned graduation in 2015, he plans to pursue a PhD in Organic Chemistry with a focus on the medicinal field. Robert's passion for science began as a child when he would play with his many chemistry sets and toy microscopes. That interest grew in high school when he was fortunate enough to be involved with two independent projects which involved the construction of a polarimeter and the recreation of the Miller-Urey experiment. Recently, Robert has done work with his mentor Dr. David Konas on a project to create a new scheme for stereoselective fluorination. With the help of SHIP, Robert plans to research a new scheme for the development of a MtIGPS substrate analog which could lead to new drugs against bacterium such as Tuberculosis. He is very pleased to be receiving this support to continue both his research and his aspiring career in the chemical and medicinal fields.

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Shivani N. Patel

Department:Biology & Molecular Biology

Mentor: Dr. Lee H. Lee 

Shivani N. Patel is currently double majoring in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry with a minor in Mathematics. Science has always been fascinating to Shivani ever since she was introduced to science in middle school. During her freshman year at Montclair State University, she was fortunate to be a part of the Phage Genomic Program. This program enhanced her interest in science and it has also developed and motivated her interest in research. Currently, Shivani is working on a collaborative project under Dr. Sandra D. Adams and Dr. Lee H. Lee that investigates the inhibitory effects of Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and Epigallocatechin gallate-stearate (EGCG-s) on Herpes Simplex Virus-I infection in cultured Human Epithelial cells (A549 cells). In the future, she aspires to go to medical school after graduating from Montclair State University. The Science Honors Innovation Program (SHIP) would provide needed funds for necessary materials for research, and would allow her to attend professional conferences that focus on this area of research. SHIP will also allow Shivani to flourish professionally as it will improve her skills and qualifications in research. Mentor: Dr. Lee H. Lee.

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Valerie Paschalis

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Mentors: Dr. Quinn Vega and Dr. Sandra Adams

Valerie Paschalis is a junior majoring in Molecular Biology with minors in Chemistry and Theatre, and can often be found singing in the lab while sub-culturing cells. Being homeschooled through high school by parents who have backgrounds in science first served to fuel her interest in research, and learning about the intricate complexity and design of science never ceases to amaze her. One thing that further piqued her interest in research was participating in the Phage Hunters Lab course her freshman year, in which the class isolated, purified, and annotated the DNA of novel phage Mycobacterium Phage ShiVal. Valerie is honored to be part of the SHIP program and aspires to earn a graduate degree and pursue a career in research. Her research interests mainly lie in molecular biology and virology, and her current project is investigating the inhibition of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) by EGCG stearate, a green tea polyphenol, and its effects on cell signaling.

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2012-2014 Ship Students

Amna Adam headshot

Amna Adam

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry

Mentor: Dr. David Rotella

Amna Adam is a Sudanese-American student majoring in Biochemistry. However, I am a second year within my major. I plan to graduate in 2014 hopefully and pursue a Master’s in Medicinal Chemistry. After which, I plan to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience specifically within the Neurodegenerative Diseases field and/or an MD in neurosurgery. Currently, I work in Dr. David Rotella’s Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory under the supervision and guidance of Post-doctorate Sreedhar Tummalapalli. The project I work on is on Optimization of Protein Kinase Inhibitors for Tropical Disease. In our work so far, we have made compounds with good activity against the kinase and improved activity in cell culture against adult and microfilarial worms.

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Lisa Applegate

Department: Psychology

Mentor: Dr. Julian Keenan

Lisa Applegate is a Psychology major with a minor in Sociology and a penchant for taking classes in unrelated yet equally interesting fields. An honors seminar in evolution her sophomore year helped shape what would become a passion for science and research, and also conveniently led to finding her mentor, Dr. Julian Keenan. Lisa has worked with Dr. Keenan for the past two years in the Cognitive NeuroImaging Laboratory studying self-awareness, self-deception, and free will. She is honored to be a part of this year's SHIP program and will be researching the genetics of auditory perception and preference using D. Melanogaster as a model system. 

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Yvelande Cajuste

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology


Yvelande Cajuste is majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. I am also a participant of the Health Careers Program, here at Montclair State University. Throughout the years, I have realized I have a strong desire to pursue a career as a healthcare practitioner. At the same time, I find it hard to ignore my desire for research where I will seek solutions for diseases and advocate the lifelong benefits of treating those diseases. I find it even more interesting to alter and correct the genetic makeup and outcome of many diseases and sicknesses observed in children.

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Dan Flores

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Mentor: Dr. Sandra Adams

Dan Flores is majoring in Molecular Biology and minoring in Chemistry. Since my freshman year I have been involved with the Biology club and also the LSAMP organization, where presently I serve as a scholar under the LSAMP organization and am the treasurer for the Biology club.
With a constant interest in the sciences throughout my life, I have become especially interested in pathogens and the numerous defense mechanisms Humans employ as a response to these pathogens. Thus, the field of Immunology, Virology and Microbiology have become of great interest to me. As a result I am truly excited to have the opportunity to work with viruses and observe the effect natural substances such as Curcumin have on such viruses, under the supervision of my mentor.

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Pamela Guerron

Department: mathematical Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Ashuwin Vaidya

Pamela Guerron is a double major in Math Education and Physics with a concentration in Astronomy at Montclair State University. I transferred from Hudson County Community College where I received my Associates in Elementary/Secondary education. As I began my education at Montclair State I found a love for Physics and decided to explore that area further. This decision opened the doors to new opportunities. I am currently secretary of the Physics Club at MSU and a mentor in the LSAMP community. I have been working on my research project since Fall 2011 examining fibers on the fluid tank at different velocities, trying to find limits of oscillation and bending. In the future, I plan to get my Masters degree in Applied Mathematics and a PhD in Physics to continue with my love for research.

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Aliaskar Hasani

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Mentor: Dr. Carlos Molina

Aliaskar Hasani is obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Molecular Biology Major with a Chemistry Minor. Being on the forefront of knowledge has always been a dream of mine and thankfully I was lucky enough to be presented with the opportunity to be a part of the SHIP program. With my background of tutoring in a lot of the basic science classes I feel I have a strong foundation to build on, and begin my career in research and explore the different aspects of Molecular Biology. I will be working with Dr. Molina and studying the correlation between the ICER protein and Melanoma cells in Zebra Fish.

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Jung Eun (Jasmine) Lee

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry

Mentor: Dr. Sandra Passchier

Jung Eun (Jasmine) Lee is majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Psychology. I am also in the Teaching Program because I strongly believe in the importance of good chemistry educators. My ultimate goal is to regularly contribute to the field of chemistry by continuing research that advances our community and educating people about the relevance and importance of chemistry. After graduation, I would like to continue acquiring teaching experience while working toward a Ph.D. in Chemistry and doing research in improving and preserving our natural environment. My three passions are chemistry, people, and nature. Currently, I am conducting research with Dr. David P. Rotella in Medicinal Chemistry, and we are working to synthesize an HSP90 inhibitor as a possible drug against brain disease (such as Alzheimer's), cancer, and parasitic disease, using the structure of epigallocatechin gallate (better known as EGCG, a natural component of green tea).

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Carolyn Mathieu

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry

Mentor: Dr. Nina Goodey

As a child, Carolyn Mathieu used to visit her parents’ pharmaceutical laboratories and was fascinated by all the bubbling flasks and sophisticated testing machinery. That feeling has remained with her and allowed her to pursue a major in Chemistry. She honored to be a part of the SHIP program since it will provide her with the proper research skills to become a chemist. Currently, her research is analyzing heavy metal concentrations in contaminated soils and their effects on enzyme activity.

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Ross Scott-Miller

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Mentor: Dr. Elena Petroff

Ross Scott-Miller is enrolled as an untraditional undergrad at Montclair and is pursuing his bachelors in biology. I have interest incellular/molecularbiology and physiology as a whole. Currently I am the undergraduate representative for the biology department on the Student Advisory Council for the College of Math and Science. I chose neuro as my field of research because it applies not only biology, but all of the other sciences. I belive thatconductingresearch with atransdisciplinescience approach willhelp solve more problems and open up more questions.

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Lindsey Mirrer

Department: Marine Biology & Coastal Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Meiyin Wu

Lindsey Mirrer is obtaining a double major in marine biology and costal science as well as geoscience environmental science concentration. I plan on getting a masters in environmental engineering so that I could focus on environmental control processes, groundwater and soil pollution control, and inland and coastal environmental hydrodynamics. Over the course of the SHIP program I will be looking into how different types of land uses (urban, agricultural, and forested) have affected the nutrient loads in streams in northern New Jersey.

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Brian Ruderman

Department: Mathematical Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Patrick Truitt

Brian Ruderman is an undergraduate Physics major at Montclair State University. I found the Electricity and magnetism class I took particularly interesting. When I got to work with ferrofluids as part of my project for the class, I became certain that I want to go into some form of research that deals with improving the ways we utilize electricity in our world. I am currently working on molecular spintronics with my.

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Felix Dailey Sterling

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Mentor: Dr. Ann Marie DiLorenzo

Felix Dailey Sterling is majoring in biology and minoring inchemistry. As a child, I wasdeeply intrigued by the human body and how it worked. As I became older, my understanding of the human body increased but my curiosity did not cease to grow. I enjoy understanding how things function and why they function the way they do. When I was offered the opportunity to work with Dr. DiLorenzo, researching the toxicological affects of the World Trade Center dust on the human body, I was ecstatic and truly grateful. My ambition is to further understand the intricacies of the human body and use that knowledge to improve the longevity and quality of live for our coming generations.

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Hassan Tahir

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Mentor: Dr. Lee H. Lee

Hassan Tahir is majoring in Molecular Biology with a minor in Chemistry. I am also the Vice President of the Biology Club, Vice President of Global Medical Brigades, and an affiliate of LSAMP. My aspirations are to earn an MD/PhD dual degree so that I can connect both the Medical and Scientific aspects of healthcare to provide better care for our society as well as connect the gap between doctors and scientists; which is crucially needed in translational medicine. After working over the past summer (2012) as a molecular biology technician in a wet lab under the company Cancer Genetics Inc. (CGI), I found a personal satisfaction in working in a lab that determined the suppression of certain genes; such as TP53; to help doctors make accurate cancer prognosis's for their patients. The research I will be performing as an undergraduate student involves finding the synergistic effects EGCg (A cathelin found within green tea) has on antibiotic resistant bacteria.

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2011-2013 Ship Students

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Katrina Bandeli

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Research: Sum and Product Connectivity Indices of Single Cyclohexane Compounds

Mentor: Aihua Li

Katrina Bandeli is in her junior year at Montclair State University with a major in biochemistry and a minor in creative writing. She is an active member of the Wayne First Aid Squad as an EMT. She has been accepted into the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences and the Sigma Alpha Lambda: National Leadership and Honors Organization. As an active member of the Montclair Global Medical Brigade chapter, she hopes to gain experience and knowledge of the medical field while helping those in less medically advanced countries.

As a part of SHIP she will be researching the chemical activity of certain organic compounds through the use of graph theory. She aspires go into medical school after graduating from Montclair and pursue a career as a Neonatologist as well as have her own Pediatric practice.

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Olga Degtyareva

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology


Mentor: Dr. Scott Kight

My name is Olga Degtyareva and I am a junior Biology major with a minor in Chemistry at Montclair State University. I am a member of the Honors Program and the Vice President of Social Media and Public Relations of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. I have been set on pursuing some aspect of the medical field for years. Over the last two I have narrowed down my options, and have decided that dentistry is the discipline I would like to pursue.

I will be researching female mate choice in Gambusia holbrooki.

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Goran Dojcinoski

Department: Mathematical Sciences

Research: Langmuir monolayers of superparamagnetic nanoparticles


I am Goran Dojcinoski and am currently a Physics Major at Montclair State University with a concentration in Astronomy. I transferred from Bergen Community College where I received my Associates in Liberal Arts. Math and Science have always been of interest to me. Throughout my time at BCC I was involved in the Math Club, in which I was nominated Vice President in my second year and I am currently involved in the Physics Club at MSU. I got involved with research during the spring semester, examining ferrofluids and exploring different ways of producing them. In the future, I plan to obtain my Masters and Doctoral degrees in Physics and to do research on stars and galaxies.

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Wayne Ernst

Department: Mathematical Sciences

Research: Pattern Formation, Convection Cycles, and Connections to Thermodynamics

Mentor: Dr. Ashwin Vaidya

My name is Wayne Ernst, and since coming to Montclair State University in 2010, I have been pursuing a B.S. in Physics with a minor in Mathematics, intending to become certified to teach Physics at the K-12 level. I intend to go on to graduate school and either pursue research as a full-time career, or become an engaged college research professor.

From a young age, I was always amazed at the fact that the inner workings of the world around us could be explained in a few very concise, elegant formulae. It thrills me that most of what we know can be derived from these theories, and it delights me to think that I could make a contribution toward uncovering more- however small- mysteries of the universe.

To this end, I have been involved as a student researcher in the field of fluid dynamics in Montclair’s Complex Fluids Laboratory and applied to the SHIP program to begin work in the field of thermodynamics. I am honored to have been accepted and am excited to get started- but look at me still talking when there is science to do!

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Nanci Fioravanti

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies

Research: Glacier Changes in the Juneau Ice Field in the Last Two Decades

Mentor: Dr. Rolf Sternberg and Professor Joseph Di Gianni

My name is Nanci Fioravanti. I was born in Brazil and lived in Japan for five years. I came to study in the U.S. and received my A.A.S. in Landscape Design and Maintenance from the County College of Morris, NJ. After graduation, I worked in the field of commercial landscaping in Miami, Florida for one and a half years but then realized my true interest lies in looking for better ways to produce a service that would contribute to the enhancement of the environment without harming or destroying it.

My professional aspirations are to work with sustainability and environmental protection. My academic aspirations include graduate school. My major is Geography with a Concentration in Environmental Studies. I am interested in different cultures, languages and cuisines. I have a passion for nature and outdoors activities.

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Diane Flores

Department: Earth and Environmenrtal Studies

Research: Paleoflood History of New Jersey


I am Diana Flores. I am a Junior majoring in Geoscience and minoring in Geographic Information Systems. I come from a Mexican family and am the first in my family to pursue a higher education. When I found out that my parents planned to go back to Mexico and live near the volcano Mt. Popocatepetl, I wanted to know more about volcanoes. By reading and paying attention in my high school geology class, I realized that I enjoyed learning about geology and decided to pursue geological studies. So far, I have been doing research since the summer before my Sophomore year. I have done research in sediments of the old river channels of the Missouri River in Nebraska, the 100 year flood of rivers in New Jersey, and on the hydrobudget of Lake Wapalanne. On the SHIP program, I plan on researching on some type of flooding research.

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Marvin Lapeine

Department: Computer Science

Research: Query optimization on a phylogenetics-based protein-ligand repository

Mentor: Dr. Katherine Herbert and Dr. Emily Hill

My name is Marvin Lapeine and I am a Junior Information Technology major at Montclair State University. I have had a strong interest in technology from a young age. I am currently involved in the LSAMP program as a scholar. I am also a member of the University's help desk group where I provide technical assistance for both professors and students. My undergraduate research I will be conducting will be in the bioinformatics field where I will be working with database technology to explore various chemical compounds.

My aspiration is to work as a software engineer to create my own software that will make everyday tasks simpler.

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Michael Little

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry

Research: Identification of allosteric residues involved in inhibitor binding specificity in the dihydrofolate reductase family

Mentor: Dr. Nina Goodey

My name is Michael Little and I am a junior majoring in Chemistry at Montclair State University. I am a member of the LSAMP serving as a scholar. During the fall of my senior year in High School I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field upon going to college. Now after 3 years of studying as a Chemistry major I have decided to pursue a career as a pharmacist. My research interest is in enzymology.

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Meriari Mejia

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Research: The Effects of Land Use on Periphyton Growth in Northern New Jersey Watersheds


I am Merari Mejia. I lived a great part of my life in the Caribbean, around people who loved cultivation. This aroused in me an early interest in plants; mainly on the properties that make them so important to the human health and the major impacts humans may have on the biodiversity and succession of plants.

In high school I was in the STEM Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree in biology at Montclair State University. As an undergraduate, I am interested in studying and learning more about introduced or invasive plant species.

I would like to bring awareness to my community of the important impacts we can have on our environment, mainly on plant species.

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Patricia Rivera

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Research: Cellular toxicological analysis of Particulate Matter


My name is Patricia Rivera, and I am a junior majoring in Molecular Biology with a minor in Chemistry. Also, I serve as the current executive secretary for the Biology Club. For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with science: I was one of those little kids who wanted a microscope for the holidays. Therefore, choosing a path towards a career in the science field was certainly not ever second-guessed.

Currently, I am pleased to be part of Dr. DiLorenzo's research team of "The Toxicology of World Trade Center dust and its effects on human lung cells." My aspirations are to participate in a M.D./Ph.D program in the biomedical sciences, and to be part of the scientific research community as well as treat patients, in order to fulfill my life-long dream of helping others in need, whether it will be one by one, or on a bigger scale with my scientific research.

My research interests are in the fields of genetics, cell biology, virology, and epidemiology.

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David Sharpe

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies

Research: Measuring Erosion along the Kittainny Ridge, Appalachian Mountains


My name is David Sharpe and I am an undergrad studying Geoscience at MSU. My interest in Geoscience started in High School. My teacher was very good and inspired me to pursue a future in the Earth sciences. I enjoy working in the field and getting out, exploring the world as much as I can. I hope Geoscience can offer me the chance to pursue my interests, enjoy life and share my love for science with the people around me.

My undergrad research involves an investigation of erosion along the Kittatinny ridge in the Appalachian Mountains. I hope this experience can excel me in the direction I want to go and contribute something to my future field of study.

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2010-2012 Ship Students

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Ariel Casner

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Research: The evolution of female mosquitofish preference for male coloration

Mentor: Dr. Julian Keenan

Ariel Casner will begin her junior year at MSU as a molecular biology major. As the vice president of the Honors Student Organization and Honors Program member, she is an active force on campus.

Ariel entered the university as a music therapy major, believing that, as a violinist, she could fulfill her desire to help people. She found, however, that her passion for helping others was something she needed to carry out in a more hands-on approach.

Turning to the biological sciences, Ariel found the hands-on approach she needed. She plans to study reconstructive surgery, specializing in pediatric craniofacial reconstruction.

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Sung H Choi

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Research: Particulate Matter Toxicology

Mentor: Dr. Ann Marie DiLorenzo

My name is Sung H Choi, a current student at Montclair State University since 2007. As a freshman, I started to look into different majors that would interest me; this is when I ventured into the biology department. Since then, I have been coveting more knowledge and new experiences.

I was honored to become a member of Dr. Dilorenzo’s research team for “Toxicology of the World Trade Center dusts and its effect on lung cell’s gene expression” starting from fall 2010. With these bases and great enthusiasm, I’m pushing myself into a research career in genetics after my graduation.

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Michael Cohrs

Department: Mathematical Sciences

Research: Potential Energy Harvest in the Fluid Solid Interaction

Mentor: Dr. Ashuwin Vaidya

After three years working as a teacher, Michael Cohrs returned to the college campus in pursuit of a B.S. in Physics with minors in Chemistry and Mathematics. He currently holds a B.A. in Secondary Education from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.

Born and raised in Livingston, NJ, Michael has developed an interest in ecological studies with a focus on clean energy resources and environmental sustainability practices.

He currently is involved as a student researcher in the field of fluid dynamics as well as holding a summer internship at the NJ Meadowlands Business Accelerator with an environmental sustainability consulting firm.

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Lisa Davies

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies


Mentor: Dr. Mary Egan

My name is Lisa Davies. I grew up outdoors, and though I have always had an interest in the natural sciences, especially after an influential biology teacher turned me onto the idea of educating as a career, it took a chance meeting with a peculiar species of mushroom on my lawn for me to finally see a future in the green and growing things I had loved since I was young, and I decided upon Biology Education as a major.

As an undergraduate, I will be studying botany—specifically melissopalynology as it relates to Colony Collapse Disorder—as a precursor for the graduate work I hope to do in the fields of horticulture, mycology, or plant science.

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Binta Jalloh

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Research: The Analysis of the transcriptional regulation of RET isoforms

Mentor: Dr. Quinn Vega

I am Binta Jalloh a rising junior in the Health Careers program, at Montclair State University, majoring in Biology. I have been doing research since my sophomore year in High School and this summer I had the opportunity yet again to conduct research at UMDNJ in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Additionally, I was accepted into MSUs MARC U-STAR program as well as the SHIP program.

My aspirations are to matriculate from college and into an M.D/PhD program to pursue a career in clinical research as well as treating and caring for my patients.

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Stephanie Lear

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Research: Assessment of Bloom-forming Cyanobacteria in Select New Jersey Lakes

Mentor: Dr. Meiyin Wu

My name is Stephanie Lear. I am a Junior studying Biology with a concentration in Environmental Science. I also have a minor in Chemistry. I am involved with the Biology Club and am working to initiate a Biology honor society chapter.

Current research interests include phytoplankton, coastal oceanography studies, and microbial ecology. This summer I collected specimens for my study and I have been coordinating efforts to create a microenvironment within our greenhouse.

My determination is to attend graduate school for Biological Oceanography, participate on research trips to Arctic areas and eventually become a professor at a university.

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Yvonne Okereke

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology

Research: Antiviral Plant Extracts

Mentor: Dr. Sandra Adams

My name is Yvonne Okereke and I am a Junior Biology major at Montclair State University. I am a participant of the eight-year BS/MD program in agreement with The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

At Montclair, I serve as treasurer of the Minority Association of Pre-Med Students (MAPS).

As summer (2010) intern at Tufts University School of Medicine, I conducted research entitled Survival of in vivo Grown versus in vitro Grown Vibrio cholerae Strain AC53 Under Varying Environmental Stress Conditions.

My aspirations include working as a Clinical Pathologist and Research Scientist with a concentration in virology.

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Nadine Orejola

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies

Research: Study of the Antarctic sediments to determine Pliocene ice sheet dynamics

Mentor: Dr. Sandra Passchier

I am Nadine Orejola and am currently in my junior year working towards a second Bachelor degree in Geoscience with a concentration in Environmental Science. With a previous degree in Fine Arts, this shift in interest over the years has allowed me to fully realize my unfaltering dedication to education and the sciences. I volunteered for the NJDEP and hope to become a more active participant. I am working on undergraduate research on ice sheet dynamics from sediment core samples with Dr. Sandra Passchier.

My professional aspirations include intensive work in the sciences and efforts to advance contemporary science.

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Kenneth Andrew Svolto

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies

Research: Natural Gas within the Marcellus Shale

Mentor: Dr. Michael Kruge

Kenneth Andrew Svolto is an undergraduate student at Montclair State University studying geoscience and art. He has a military intelligence background with investigative experience in Southwest Asia and Afghanistan.

Prior to joining the Army, Kenneth attained an Associate of Arts degree in history from Daytona State College. Then, in conjunction with military training, he earned an Associate of Applied Science degree from Cochise Community College in Intelligence Operations.

Currently, he is interested in understanding the fundamentals of the geosciences and exploring their applications for building a more sustainable future.

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Jonothan Tancer

Department: Computer Science

Research: Deployment of MML in the cloud

Mentor: Dr. Aparne Varde

My name is Jonathan Tancer, and I am a student athlete entering my junior year as an Information Technology major at Montclair State University. I have been named to the Dean’s List three out of four semesters. I have been fascinated by technology for as long as I can remember. I feel that this program could expand my knowledge, and through this research program help me to contribute to the medical Information Technology field.

I am a member of the MSU Track and Field Throwing team where I have earned all conference honors both my freshman and sophomore years.

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Anita Trajkovska

Department: Earth and Environmental Studies

Research: Sediment Sourcing in the Rockaway River

Mentor: Dr. Josh Galster

My name is Anita Trajkovska and my major at Montclair State University is Geoscience with a education certification. In high school I was involved in the Environmental club and by senior year was nominated the president. In college I took my first Earth class and found my passion for science. I have been lucky enough to work with a Coastal Engineer and Professor at Stevens University with some of his projects along the coast.

I aspire to work as hard as I can by conducting my own research, continue learning and one day share the gift of science with others.

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Daniel Traum

Department: Biology & Molecular Biology


Mentor: Dr. Sandra Adams

My name is Daniel Traum and I am currently enrolled as an undergraduate adult student. I took several years off from college before I decided upon the path I wished to take. In that time I worked in Emergency Services for a number of municipalities.

Since returning to complete my bachelor’s degree I chose a rather rigorous curriculum, double majoring in molecular biology and business administration (with a concentration in Marketing), as well as pursuing a minor in Chemistry.

The research that I am currently undertaking is looking at virus inhibition with the use of natural substances.

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