At Stony Brook University this summer, 15 talented full-time community college students had the research experience of their academic careers. The students were a select group, awardees of the Chancellor’s Education Pipeline Biomedical Research Award, an annual award which gives community college students from New York State access to scientific research experience. The 15 deserving winners each represented their community colleges and regions from across the state, working and studying at Stony Brook University with faculty mentors, putting their powers of inquiry into a variety of academic fields and projects. From Long Island locals from Suffolk Community College and Western New York students from Niagara Community College, the program drew in the best and brightest from the SUNY system.
In order to be picked as an awardee, the students who worked, studied and lived at Stony Brook this summer had to have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and 24 college credits from their community colleges and express a strong interest in a research career to be awarded. The selection process was arduous, but the rewards of being selected were great. All the awardees received up to $500 for travel expenses and $1,000 for laboratory supplies, as well as a $3,500 stipend for the summer and free on-campus housing, not to mention their invaluable laboratory experience.
To further their scientific training and professional development, the students were assigned a faculty mentor at the start of their experience based on the student’s research interests. Their first two weeks on campus were spent in small group, intensive laboratory technique courses to prepare them for the research they spent the rest of the summer working on. The fifteen students then took on the challenge of assisting their faculty mentors in their research.
Awardee Chrystal Thomas, from Rockland Community College, worked all summer with Dr. Michael Hayman from the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, helping Dr. Hayman in his study, which looked at confirming the identities of cancers. “With an estimated 1.3 million deaths per year, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related death in both men and women worldwide,” describes Dr. Hayman. “The five-year survival rate of lung cancer is only 16.3%, which is significantly lower than that of many other cancers (e.g. colon cancer at 65.2% or breast cancer at 90.0%). An approach to mitigating this problem is to analyze the relationship between cancers and their protein markers. For instance, tumors of what seemed to be two types of lung cancer arose from the same source after the silent mutation, KRAS, was triggered in the host mouse model. By analyzing the protein markers in the tumors via western blot, it was confirmed that two different types of lung cancers were indeed developing. Future application of this study includes converting an advancing cancer into a less aggressive one.”
The other twelve participants engaged in projects in such fields as Biochemistry & Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Biomedical Engineering, working closely and diligently with their faculty mentors. This fall, five of the participants in this year’s program are continuing their research at Stony Brook, now as Stony Brook students, thanks to their experience. “The outstanding quality of the students, the satisfaction of the professors with the students and the tremendous opportunity that is available to students who ordinarily would not be able to do research is all thanks to the Chancellor’s Award,” said Program Director, Neurobiology and Behavior Professor Howard Sirotkin.
If you’d like to learn more about the student and faculty projects, click here. If you or someone you know is interested in applying for the 2014 Chancellor’s Education Pipeline Biomedical Research Award, you can learn more by visiting Stony Brook’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME) website and viewing the requirements and deadlines for application.
This award is supported in part by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.