student presenting at future scientists event

Fall 2021 Competition

View Photos From the Event

The Mario M. Casabona Future Scientists Program encourages students to recognize the importance of oral communication skills and the ability to discuss the results of scholarship effectively with various audiences and at all levels. The Program motivates, trains and rewards students for the preparation and delivery of effective communication of scientific research to the general public and non-science professionals. Such presentation and communication skills provide students with the capacity to be distinctly competitive and successful in their subsequent educational and career paths. Students/Mentors will be selected from each department to compete.

On November 10 2021 from 2:00 – 5:30 pm in CELS, and streamed for online viewing, students will be presenting five minute, five slide presentations being judged by our panel of professionals for awards. Students will convey their research in both a poster session and the five-minute oral presentations.


Poster Session (CELS Atrium)
Welcome, Opening Remarks, and Introductions
Dean Lora Billings
Student Presentations (CELS 120)
Moderator, Associate Dean Scott Kight
Judge Deliberations
Awards Ceremony
Closing Remarks
Mario M. Casabona and Lora Billings


First Place
Second Place
Third Place
Best Mentor
Audience Favorite


Mario Casabona

Mario is an entrepreneur and active angel investor. In 2012, he founded TechLaunch, committed to identifying and nurturing early stage tech ventures by mentoring, coaching, and providing access to resources and capital. To date, TechLaunch has supported over 100 tech companies and mentored over 200 aspiring entrepreneurs. In 2006, he founded Casabona Ventures, investing in over 30 seed and early stage companies. In 1982, he founded Electro-Radiation Inc., which was acquired by Honeywell International in 2004.

Mario received the Small Business Administration National Tibbett’s Award for his contributions in technology, and was listed as one of the top five most influential persons in New Jersey technology by The Star-Ledger. He was twice recognized by the New Jersey Technology Council, (now TechUnited:NJ) first as the recipient of their Financier of the Year Award and subsequently their Legend of Technology Award. He is Chairman Emeritus of Jumpstart NJ Angel Network and Chairman Emeritus of the R&D Council of New Jersey. He also enjoys serving on the Boards of various for-profit and non-for-profit organizations. Mario is an electrical engineer and holds twelve national and international patents in the field of satellite-based navigation and communications.

Michael Driskill

Michael is the Chief Operating Officer of Math for America. Before that, he spent ten years in the classroom, teaching each grade from 6-12 and courses ranging from Introductory Algebra to Linear Algebra. His teaching experience includes both public and independent schools, where he has held positions as a classroom teacher, teacher researcher, instructional specialist, and dean. He studied teacher selection and professional development in Tokyo and Nagaoka, as a recipient of the Japan Memorial Fulbright Grant.

Michael received his M.A. in Secondary Mathematics Education from The City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and a B.S. in Physics with a minor in Mathematics from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has pursued graduate-level studies in mathematics and school administration at NYU and Hunter College, respectively. He is interested in the ways that teachers continue to learn about their subject, the craft of teaching, and the students they teach.

Paul Lewis

Paul is the Founder and CEO of Calamu, an innovative company providing next-gen, ransomware-safe data protection software. A serial cybersecurity entrepreneur with more than 30 years in the industry, he was formerly the Founder and CEO of PG Lewis LLC, a cyber security and data forensics company that was strategically acquired by Robert Half International (NYSE:RHI), and the Founder and CEO of MC2, a data security company that was strategically acquired by Volt Information Sciences (NYSE:VOL).

Paul has been granted numerous patents to advance data privacy and protection. He is the inventor of the world’s first data harbor, a resilient and virtual storage environment that can instantly nullify the impact of a data breach or ransomware attack while also enabling compliance with data privacy regulations. A court-appointed expert in data security and incident response, Paul is a contributor to the NIST Cybersecurity Practice Guide (Special Publication 1800-4), the NY Department of Financial Services Cyber Security Requirements 23 NYCRR 500, and the United States Federal Rules Committee on electronically stored information (ESI).

Rudy Valli

Rudy Valli has served as a senior executive, entrepreneur, educator and investor. He is the founder and CEO of the consulting firm, Valmar & Associates, LLC which provides management advisory services in sustainability, business development and strategy. He has over 30 years of experience in diverse management and consulting roles with large global firms (IBM, Ernst &Young, and Accenture) as well as guiding multiple entrepreneurial start-ups. Rudy is a member of Jumpstart N.J., an Angel Investment network working with early stage start-up ventures.

He is also an Adjunct Faculty member in the Management Department of the Silberman College of Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Entrepreneurial Finance, Venture Creation and Corporate Strategy. Rudy earned his Global MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and his B.S. in Business Administration with Summa Cum Laude honors at Montclair State University.

Serge Loncar

Serge is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. He is on the Board of Trustees of Jumpstart NJ angel investor group and serves as a mentor at the eLab NYC Accelerator that is focused on healthcare, BIRD Incubator in Croatia focused on AI and ML, and Princeton University Innovation Forum.

Serge started his last start-up CareSpeak in 2006 guided with the belief that the mobile phone, as the most personal accessory, will play an increasingly important role in managing one’s health. CareSpeak is a healthcare focused CRM and CMS mSaaS platform that enables pharmaceutical brands, and health plans support their patients throughout their journey to ensure better therapy compliance resulting in improved health outcomes. CareSpeak was acquired by OptimizeRx (NASDAQ: OPRX) in October 2018.

Prior to starting CareSpeak, Serge was the President of Songbird Hearing, a VC funded manufacturer, and marketer of the first disposable over-the-counter hearing aid that exited to Proctor & Gamble in 2005. Before that he headed up strategic business development at, the first online music store, which was acquired by Bertelsmann AG in 2002.

In the first half of his professional career Serge held numerous domestic and international brand marketing and sales positions at Johnson & Johnson consumer health care and medical device divisions, and Pepsi Cola International in the USA and Europe. Serge received his MBA from New York University’s Stern Business School after immigrating from Croatia.

Student Participants

First Place – Samantha Benjamin

Extracting Black Carbon from the Stratigraphic Record of the Tethys Sea to Study Paleoclimate and Predict Future Climate Change
Earth and Environmental Studies
Dr. Ying Cui
Earth and Environmental Science

Second Place – Melissa Spigelman

The Role of ICER in Melanoma: A Survival Study in Zebrafish.
Dr. Carlos Molina
Molecular Biology

Third Place – Kayla Mancini

Sustainable Manufacturing & Recycling Approach for Lithium Ion Battery Cathodes
Dr. Amrita Sarkar

Fred Nagle

Modeling Acute Inflammation
School of Computing
Dr. Eric Forgoston
Applied Math and Statistics

Gianna Fazzini

To Teach Procedures or Concepts? That Is the Question: Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Valuation of Mathematical Knowledge
Dr. Joe DiNapoli

Michael Camilo

Studying Neutron Star Structure Using Gravitational Waves
Dr. Shaon Ghosh