Macaulay Honors College
CSI students are involved in many areas of research, including in wireless technology, breast cancer, autism, early childhood development, and public finance. For a more on research and awards, click here or check out the exciting list of recent topics click here.
Lucinda Zawadzki, Biology Major
The Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island has provided me with a unique educational experience that I would not have received elsewhere. Thanks to our esteemed faculty and small class sizes, I had the chance to form meaningful relationships with my professors, which has led to three great research opportunities. Thus far, I have had the privilege of working with, and learning from, Dr. Ralf Peetz of the Center for Engineered Polymeric Materials, Dr. Shaibal Mitra of the Biology Department, and Dr. William Wallace of the Center of Environmental Sciences. My work with these professors has led me to receive an honorable mention for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.
I am currently involved in research with Drs. Mitra and Wallace. My research with Dr. Mitra resulted from the Macaulay Honors seminar in my sophomore year, “Science and Technology in New York,” which challenged me to explore other types of scientific research. I began a study with him focusing on the migratory patterns of the Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis), which is a migratory bird that breeds in western North America, and winters in Central America. However, a small but growing winter population has been forming in Florida and adjacent states, more than 1,000 kilometers from its regular migration routes. As of September 2012, we have been collecting records of sightings of this bird along the East Coast of the United States, in an effort to determine whether or not they are exploring new wintering grounds here. Since then, I have had the amazing opportunity to present my findings at the New York State Ornithological Association’s 66th Annual Meeting in Uniondale, NY in 2013 as well as the Undergraduate Research Conference at CSI in 2014. I hope to conclude my research by the time I graduate this year, and will attempt to publish my results in an effort to add to the small but expanding knowledge of vagrancy and dispersal in migratory birds.
My experience with Dr. Mitra led to my current research with Dr. Wallace. Interested in further exploring biological research, I began conducting research with Dr. Wallace in my junior year, focusing on analysis of the diversity of organisms in Great Kills Harbor, where I have had the chance to go out into the field to collect specimens. The fieldwork component of this research has been an amazing experience, and I plan on continuing this type of work in the future.
Wanting to expand my fieldwork experience, I participated in a field school this past summer at the Knowe of Swandro, which is located on Rousay, a small North Atlantic island in the Orkney Islands of Scotland, known for its rich archaeological areas. The program, Orkney: Gateway to the Atlantic, was hosted by Hunter College; it allowed me to work first-hand with some of the best archaeologists in the U.K. in an attempt to further excavate the area. This site was particularly interesting to me as a Biology major because it is a coastal erosion site, and is continually at risk of being destroyed due to global rising sea levels. Being able to work there gave me a better perspective into how ancient peoples reacted to climate change in the past in these unique maritime environments. This knowledge may aid us in the future as global warming leads to extensive climate change worldwide.
My combined experiences as an undergraduate have allowed me to become confident in conducting my own inquiries, and have given me the necessary skills to pursue a research career in the future. I hope to obtain a PhD after I graduate, and would like to study shorebird ecology thanks to the wonderful experiences I have had carrying out investigations in the fields of chemistry, ornithology, and marine biology while at CSI.
Hosea Mak, Chemistry Major
I am a chemistry major student who is also an undergraduate research assistant to Dr. Ralf Peetz; his laboratory focuses on fluorescent polymers. These have potential applications in the fields of consumer electronics and solar technology. In addition, I had the opportunity to participate in the CUNY UNICEF challenge with other CUNY students and Dr. Alan Lyons, to identify alternatives of purifying water in developing nations. By working in these labs, I was able to learn how to work in a professional environment and how to apply what I learned in class to real-life experiences.
I’ve been accepted to CSI’s Exchange Ambassador Program to the City University of Hong Kong, which will allow me to study abroad for a semester. This will give me the opportunity to explore a non-US culture while taking courses in analytical chemistry, food chemistry, social statistics & research methods, and Chinese language.
In addition to chemistry, I am considering a double major in music. I've been a pianist for thirteen years and am currently taking music courses such as music ensemble and music theory. I also find time to improvise and practice the piano. I have found further inspiration for music through Macaulay Honors College Director Charles Liu, who has both a passion for the sciences and for music.
Christina Vicidomini, Psychology Major
I am focusing on the research aspect of Developmental Psychology and am considering a career in medicine. The smaller class sizes at the College of Staten Island have allowed me to develop a connection with my professors. This made it easy for me to find a Neuroscience research mentor as early as my sophomore year of college.
I am currently an Undergraduate Neuroscience Research Assistant in Dr. Dan McCloskey’s lab, and am actively involved in a project investigating how maternal hypothyroidism affects brain and behavioral development in the offspring of rats. When we’re finished, we hope that our results can improve our understanding of the effects of developmental thyroid insufficiency. This may account for some developmental disorders whose causes are unknown, such as autism.
I was given the chance to enhance my research experience at the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR), a New York State research facility located next to the College of Staten Island campus; CSI's Center for Developmental Neuroscience and Developmental Disabilities partners with IBR to conduct research on developmental disabilities such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease. Being a part of this research collaboration has been an amazing experience for me.
Working in a lab as an undergraduate has given me invaluable skills and knowledge and has helped me to prepare for a career in medicine. I was able to present my work at an undergraduate research conference at the College last spring, and will be credited as a co-author of papers that are published on this research in the future.
The staff of Macaulay has advised, prepared, and encouraged me in a very individualized manner, and I can truly say that I have benefited from the opportunities and advantages of this esteemed program. I am now able to conclude my last year of undergraduate work with pride in what I have accomplished in the past and a confident and knowledgeable attitude about what lies ahead.
Kaitlin Kelly, Biology Major
The Macaulay Honors College has allowed me to explore my interest in science and challenge my academic abilities. In my sophomore year the Macaulay Honors Seminar “Science and Technology in New York” opened the door to research for me. Biology Professor Jimmie Fata helped me to complete my seminar research and invited me to work in his breast cancer research laboratory. In his lab I learned how to isolate and culture primary mouse hepatocytes, cells from the main tissue of the liver, as well as mammary epithelial cells. We conducted research on the environmental effects of different concentrations of benzene, a known carcinogen, on the cultured cells. I had the opportunity to be part of a group which presented this breast cancer research at the Undergraduate Research Conference at the College of Staten Island.
My experience researching breast cancer led to an opportunity to participate in a cervical cancer study with the Biomedical Laboratories for Integrative Cancer Research, a joint venture between the Dr. Fata’s lab at the College of Staten Island and Staten Island University Hospital. Being part of the CSI-SIUH group was a great experience, and the clinical knowledge of doctors helped advance the research. As part of this research we study the role of primary human fibroblasts in cervical cancer. I specifically focused on primary human fibroblasts that undergo senescence, which means that cells have stopped proliferating but do not undergo cell death. These cells can secrete proteins that can harm other cells or degrade normal cell tissue. My summer research was focused on the study of the senescence of fibroblasts and the detection of secreted MMPs from fibroblasts. High concentrations of Matrixmetalloproteinases (MMPs) have been found in cancer tissues, particularly cervical cancer.
I am currently continuing research on other aspects of cervical cancer, such as determining biomarkers and controlling intracellular pH, which will help us gain knowledge in the biology of aging as well as benefit cancer research. I am very dedicated to my academic studies and devote the same enthusiasm and perseverance towards my work in the lab. I believe the research in the lab will benefit me in my future endeavors and possibly a career in the health sciences.