Uchenna Ezichi discussing research with Casabona Judge during the poster session

Spring 2024 Competition

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 April 9 2024 from 2:00 – 5:30 pm in CELS, teams of students selected by each of our departments will present five minute, five slide presentations judged by our panel of professionals for awards. Students are presenting their research in both a poster session and five-minute oral presentation.


First Place Second Place Third Place Best Mentor Audience Favorite
$2000 $1500 $1000 $1500 $500


Analysis of Bacteriophage Capsid Proteins
Noah Ramadan, BS in Biology
Mentored by Nina Goodey, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Strategies for Revitalizing Soil Impacted by Human Activity
Janyce Wowk, BS in Chemistry
Eshariah Dyson, PhD in Environmental Science and Management
Mentored by Nina Goodey, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Isometric Fatty Acid Differentiation via Gas-Phase Free Radical Directed Dissociation
CJ Szafranski, BS in Biochemistry
Mentored by Jinshan Gao, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Carbon Sequestration Decline in the Subarctic Atlantic: Nutrient Productivity Trends and Insights from Neogene Climates
Busra Anil, BS in Earth & Environmental Science
Mentored by Ying Cui, Department of Earth and Environmental Studies
A Network-theoretic Analysis of Soccer
Kaitlyn Cohan, BS in Mathematics
Mentored by Ashwin Vaidya, Department of Mathematics
The Next Generation of Gravitational-Wave Detectors
Stephanie Montoya, BS in Physics
Mentored by Rodica Martin, Department of Physics and Astronomy
MIACDrive: A 3D Simulation of Driving in Urban and Rural Environments for Studies on Intelligent Vehicles
Teddy Morra, BS in Computer Science
Mentored by Rui Li, School of Computing
Detecting Cyber Attacks in Low Power and Lossy Networks
Ashley Etheridge, BS in Computer Science
Mentored by Vaibhav Anu, School of Computing


Mario Casabona

Mr. Mario Casabona

Founder and Managing Partner
Casabona Ventures, LLC
CSAM Advisory Board Member

Mr. Mario M. Casabona 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 200 tech companies and mentored over 350 aspiring entrepreneurs. In 2006, he founded Casabona Ventures, investing in over 50 seed and early stage companies. In 1982, he founded Electro-Radiation Inc., which was acquired by Honeywell International (Aerospace Group) in 2004. He 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. Mr. Casabona is an electrical engineer and holds twelve national and international patents in the field of satellite-based navigation and communications.

Judith Sheft

Judith Sheft

Executive Director
New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology

Judith Sheft is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission of Science, Innovation and Technology. The Commission’s mission is to accelerate economic development in New Jersey through science, innovation and technology. This includes stimulating academic-industrial collaboration and encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs and inventors. Previously she was involved with regional economic and cluster development. This included responsibilities at the New Jersey Innovation Institute @ NJIT for the HealthIT Connections entrepreneurial cluster development program. This is in addition to her involvement with the NJIT I-Corps Site and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Judith has participated in many technology/IP innovation and commercialization efforts. Through these programs she has worked with faculty and students creating startup companies and corporate partners establishing licensing relationships. She advised external startups at NJIT’s high technology / life sciences business accelerator/ incubator. She is on NJIT Murray Women’s Center Board of Advisors providing coaching and mentorship to students and faculty. She is a member of the NJ – Israel Commission and serves on the Board of Greater Newark Enterprise Corporation, StartUp Newark, Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation, Einstein’s Alley, SheTek and NJEDA Technology Advisory Board, working to assist early stage tech and life sciences entrepreneurs foster regional economic growth. She was a co-chair of Governor Murphy’s transition advisory committee for Technology Government and Innovation in 2017.

Robin Bear

Robin Bear

Founder and Strategy Advisor
Robin Bear Consulting, LLC

Helping accelerate business growth for entrepreneurs and innovators with unique intellectual property in technical and scientific fields, Robin specializes in strategy, planning, and new venture management. She works with founders and senior leadership teams on business strategy, marketing, and angel and seed stage funding. Her insight has guided dozens of enterprises at all stages: from tech startups to established manufacturers, solo innovators to multinational corporations. Diverse past successes include the expedited launch of a fintech startup, attracting SPAC investment for novel drug therapies, and identifying new revenue sources for a contract manufacturer of microelectronic parts. Previously, Robin served as Vice President for The DAK Group, a middle market investment bank leading strategic M&A engagements. Early in her career, she held an executive leadership role with Messinger Associates, a B2B marketing communications agency. Robin earned an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University, with a double concentration in entrepreneurial management and marketing. She holds a BA in writing from Johns Hopkins University. She is a member of Portfolia venture funds, and a volunteer mentor to early stage startups through TechLaunch.

Michael Little

Michael Little

Principal Scientist
Bristol Myers Squibb

Dr. Michael Little received a B.S. in Chemistry from Montclair State University (2013), and a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from the University of North Carolina (2018). His graduate research training was in the structural biology field, which he used protein crystallography as a primary tool for investigating protein structure-function relationship. As a graduate student, he earned multiple honors for commitment and success in research including summer research fellowships, travel awards and a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship. In addition, Dr. Little elucidated the structure of eight novel proteins, of which five structures have been deposited into the PDB (6BAQ, 6AYH, 6AYI, 6D7J & 6DXU). After completing graduate school, in 2018, Dr. Little joined Bristol Myers Squibb in the Sterile Product Development department as an analytical scientist supporting drug product development studies. Currently, he is drug product development analytical lead for multiple early and late-stage biologic assets. Additionally, Dr. Little is a co-PI on NASA research-grant collaboration to understand the effects of a microgravity environment on biologic crystallization. Dr. Little is a member of The Protein Society, Cultivating Leadership and Innovation for Millennials and Beyond (CLIMB), and Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD). He also volunteers with the BOLD ACES program, W.E.B. Du Bois Accelerated Learning Academy Program, and the Developing Diamonds Program, a non-profit that provides summer-based programs to treat children with ADHD and related disorders.