Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York
 


Summer Science Research Interns


Kaitlin Abrams worked with Dr. Evon Hekkala in the Biological Sciences Department on a project entitled "Whatever happened to the horned crocodiles of Madagascar-A forensic approach."

Ame John Anteyi worked with Dr. Evon Hekkala in the Biological Sciences Department on a project entitled "Non-invasive genetic methods of monitoring wild American Pika populations in the face of climate change."

Taylor Batson worked with Dr. Steven J. Franks in the Biological Sciences Department on a project entitled "Understanding the evolution of Flowering time through genomic analysis."

 Seth Bourg, FCRH’14, is an Engineering Physics major from New Orleans, LA. He is in the Honors Program and is going to be an RA this year to freshmen students in Loschert Hall. After graduation, Bourg hopes to find a job in an engineering field or any of the hard sciences and eventually transition to teaching. This summer, Bourg spent his time working with Dr. Petr Shibayev in the Physics Department on a project entitled “Development, Study and Applications of Composites Based on Polymers, Liquid Crystals and Inorganic Materials." Bourg studied liquid crystals and impurities placed in them to change how they reflect light after shining UV and InfraRed rays. After adding these impurities, Bourg performed a spectrotest to observe light radiation and irradiation and reaction to test if the crystals become hydrophobic or hydrophilic. He also examined the twisting power of the crystals, a value that correlates with refraction (the higher it is, the greater the refraction). Bourg tested both dye and non-dye impurities. He found that the yellow dye reacted strongly to UV light, and the light refraction would either be gradual or instantaneous. As for non-dye impurities, a polymer called PSLS1, a compound synthesized by Dr. Shibayev, gave the best results for twisting power. This kind of research has applications in Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) such as LCD clock displays. Bourg hopes to continue working with Dr. Shibayev during the year on a paper that will be submitted for publication. Hide Info

Daniel Brauer, FCRH’15, is a Chemistry major from Honolulu, HI and is also considering minors in Biological Sciences and Economics. Though graduation is still three years away, Brauer is thinking of pursuing Chemical Engineering after graduation, moving on to get a doctorate in Chemistry. This summer, Brauer was fortunate to receive an offer to work in the lab of Dr. Edward Dubrovsky  in the Biological Sciences Department on a project entitled, “Genetic analysis of the Drosophila RNase Z gene.” The ultimate focus of the project is a gene in humans which, if mutated, leads to increased risk of prostate cancer. Brauer worked with fruit flies because of the presence of a homolog of this gene in Drosophila melanogaster. The complete loci of the gene are unknown, and so the gene is better understood by causing different mutations in the gene to study the effect on the fruit flies. Brauer gave the flies he was working with different substances to cause genetic mutations and then allowed the flies to breed. He then studied the phenotype of the flies and looked for a lack of expression of the gene (which is the effect of these mutations). Dr. Dubrovsky then sequenced the genome to see where the mutation occurred. Brauer would tally the number of fly offspring with the desired phenotype (i.e. lack of expression), and would on average find 7-8 mutated flies out of about 2000 flies because the mutated gene is a homozygous deficiency.Hide Info

Julie Burd, FCRH’13, is a double major in Biological Sciences and French Area Studies from Lambertville, NJ and is also in the Honors Program. Burd attributes her interest in French Area studies to her love of French culture, and actually spent the past spring semester studying abroad in Marseilles. Burd hopes to eventually move on to medical school, but is considering taking time off after graduation to spend a year engaging in service. This summer, she spent her time working in the lab of Dr. Patricio Meneses who studies the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Burd examined the role of the dynamin II protein in HPV infection. Her hypothesis was that when HPV enters a clathrin-coated vesicle, the dynamin II attaches itself to it and clips it. Using the confocal microscope of the Biological Sciences Department to examine her cells, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which are double-stranded RNA molecules that interfere with protein expression, and cells with knockout dynamin II protein, Burd found that there was colocalization of virus and protein, thus confirming an interaction between the two. Dr. Meneses’ lab is attempting to understand the mechanism in order to produce a cheaper, more widely available vaccine as compared to Gardasil, which treats only 75% of infections and is mostly available in developed countries. Burd hopes to continue working with Dr. Meneses during the year in the hopes of completing her Honors thesis with him.Hide Info

Nicole Caso worked with Dr. Rachel Annunziato in the Psychology Department on a project entitled "A multi-modal assessment of self-management in food allergic patients."

Katrina Colletti, also a summer science research intern, worked with Dr. Christopher Aubin in the Physics Department on a project entitled "Phase Diagram of Quarks in Lattice Simulations."

Vincent Corcoran, FCRH’13, is a Psychology major from northern Westchester, NY and is in the Honors Program for the Psychology Department. After graduation, Corcoran is considering either joining the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) or doing research in New York, before ultimately moving on to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Since the spring of his sophomore year, Corcoran has been doing research with Dr. Peggy Andover in the Psychology Department. This summer he was assisting Ms. Abigail Wren, a graduate student, on a project entitled, “Non-suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) and Negative Childhood Experiences in Women: Associations of traumatic childhood events.” The study examines for the presence of protective factors (e.g. religiosity, strong family structure, etc.) that may prevent women from developing NSSI in the face of traumatic life events. Over the summer, the number of participants in the study was increased, during which Corcoran helped with obtaining informed consent and entering data. In addition, drawing from the study’s dataset, Corcoran found that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) symptomatology was negatively correlated in womenthat reported high resilience and had experienced moderate to severe childhood trauma. For Corcoran, this finding suggested that programs should be constructed to foster positive coping skills in youth who have experienced traumatic life events, in the hope that it may reduce the development of personality disorders such as BPD. Furthermore, Corcoran also conducted a literature review in preparation for an independent study to be carried out during the year. He isattempting to find a relationship between body image, physical activity, and NSSI. He hypothesizes that people who exercise more frequently relative to those of a more sedentary lifestyle present with better body image and therefore are less likely to engage in NSSI, whereas people with a lower body image may be more likely to engage in NSSI behaviors.Hide Info

Matt Cucino, FCRH’14, is a Biological Sciences major from Eastchester, NY and is also considering a minor in Business. Since the past spring semester, he has been working with Dr. Evon Hekkala in the Biological Sciences Department. His project, entitled “Non-invasive genetic methods for monitoring wild American Pika populations in the face of climate change,” studied the possible effects climate change may have had on the American Pika population through genetic analysis. Dr. Hekkala had previously collected fecal samples of the American Pika from California and Nevada, and her lab is extracting DNA from these samples and performing a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the copies of DNA available. Cucino has been attempting to find the best method to extract DNA from the fecal samples. Moreover, mitochondrial DNA has been successfully amplified from the extractions. So, the goal is to amplify several gene regions in the decal samples and compare those to DNA from museum samples in order to see how the genetic diversity of the American Pika has changed over time. A loss of genetic diversity correlated with increasing temperature may suggest future problems or possible extinction for Pika populations. Cucino is continuing his work with Dr. Hekkala this academic year.Hide Info

Jacob Edison worked with Dr. Robert H. Lewis in the Mathematics Department on a project entitled "Investigation of Protein Structure with Hyperboloids."

Isabella Fante, FCRH’13, is a Chemistry major from White Plains, NY and is considering double minors in Psychology and Visual Arts. Fante, a Clare Boothe Luce Scholar, hopes to engage in service upon graduation, such as AmeriCorps, before moving on to pursue a higher degree in Chemistry. Since the previous summer, Fante has been working with Dr. Shahrokh Saba in the Chemistry Department on a project entitled “A Convenient One-Pot Preparation of Vicinal Dihalides.” Fante was studying bromination synthesis, a reaction that usually occurs in multiple steps in the hopes of finding a single-step method which is both cheaper and more efficient. She found that mixing alkenes with NBS and aluminum bromide in the presence of methylene chloride solvent and heat produced the desired brominated alkane, confirmed through nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In addition, she and Dr. Saba extrapolated from available literature that alkynes needed 2 units of NBS and aluminum bromide (as opposed to the 1 unit needed for alkenes) to produce the desired product. Fante is now moving on to assist Dr. Saba with another project that studies the isomerization of hydrobenzoin, a reaction that produced equal amounts of meso and D/L isomers. The aim of this project is to see if it is possible to produce only one of the isomers or convert one into the other.Hide Info

Merigime Gjombalaj worked with Dr. Laura Sosinsky in the Psychology Department on a project entitled "Cultural Values, Distrust of Others, and Worries Associated with Immigrant Parents’ Child Care Decision-Making."

Evan Grassi worked with Dr. Edward Dubrovsky in the Biological Sciences Department on a project entitled "P-element mediated mutagenesis in Drosophila."

Michael Kavanagh worked with Dr. James Lewis in the Biological Sciences Department on a project entitled "Fordham Urban Sustainability and Ecosystems (FUSE)."

Mohammad Khan worked with Dr. Steve Franks in the Biological Sciences Department on a project entitled "Project Baseline: A living plant genome reserve for the study of evolution."

Thomas Klotz worked with Dr. Robert H. Lewis in the Mathematics Department on a project entitled "Investigation of Protein Structure with Hyperboloids."

Jeff Lockhart, FCRH’13, is a double major in Computer Science and Women’s Studies from Phoenix, AZ. He is enrolled in the five-year master’s program in the Computer Science department and is already enrolled in graduate classes. After graduation from Fordham, he is hoping to pursue a doctorate degree. He is also the Vice President of the Computer Sciences Society and heavily involved with PRIDE Alliance on campus. Lockhart has been working with Dr. Gary Weiss in the Computer and Information Sciences Department since his freshman year. Dr. Weiss has been working, along with many students, graduate students and faculty, in the WISDM or WIreless Sensory Data Mining lab. Dr. Weiss is particularly examining the accelerometer, a mobile device sensor that measures the motion of the device in three dimensions. Groundwork has already been laid on the ability to use the accelerometer as a device to measure a person’s level and type of activity (NOTE: This will be a link to the WISDM article from insideFordham). Lockhart is now working on the theoretical aspect of the project, entitled “Identifying User Clusters Using Triaxial Accelerometer Activity Data.” Using “walking” as the main type of activity, Lockhart is attempting to study patterns of users’ data to see how they are different in the sense that distinct people walk differently, but then apply the information to a system that can encompass all people without having previously mapped their walking patterns. The variables that Lockhart is taking into consideration are gait, stride and speed. This kind of work has possible health applications, in that a person can use his or her phone to track healthy activity and fitness. To learn more about the work of the WISDM lab, visit www.fordham.edu/wisdmHide Info

Meredith Lukas worked with Dr. Abraham D. Smith in the Mathematics Department on a project entitled "Modeling of Curves and Measurements inRanders Geometry."

Jillian Minahan worked with Dr. Karen Siedlecki in the Psychology Department on an ongoing project.

Emir Ogel worked with Dr. Damian Lyons in the Computer and Information Sciences Department on a project entitled "Evaluation of Hand-Eye Coordination Methods using Cyton Alpha 7D 1G Robot Arm and Cannon VCI Pan-Tilt-Zoom Camera."

Luigi Patruno worked with Dr. Cris Poor in the MathematicsDepartment on a project entitled "Isometry Classes of Lattices in n=3."

Tony Pulickal worked with Dr. Gary Weiss in the Computer and Information Sciences Department on a project entitled "Digestible Data: Analysis of the Effectiveness of Visualization Methodologies."

Aileen Reynolds worked with Dr. Amy M. Balija in the Chemistry Department on a project entitled "Examination of the Mixed AldolCondensation for the Formation of Metalladendrimers with Minimal Solvent Waste."

Gregory Rivas worked with Dr. Gary Weiss in the Computer and Information Sciences Department on a project entitled "Mobile User Interface: Conveying Information on Varying Sized Small Screens."

Andrew Rotunno worked with Dr. Stephen Holler in the Physics Department on a project entitled "Simultaneous light scattering and holographic imaging for aerosol characterization."

Tim Stahl, FCRH’13, is a Psychology major and Spanish minor from Buffalo, NY who is hoping to move on to graduate school for clinical psychology after graduating. Starting in February, and continuing through this summer and the academic year, Stahl has been working with Dr. Amy Roy in the Psychology Department on a project entitled “Prefrontal-Amygdala Circuitry in Young Children with Severe Emotion Dysregulation,” which is a collaboration with New York University’s Child Study Center. The five-year study, now in its second year, examines three groups of children: one has severe temper outbursts, another has ADHD without severe outbursts, and the third is a healthy control group. The aim is to examine group differences in the connectivity between brain regions involved in emotion regulation using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (RfMRI).  The children and their parents complete two sessions: the first involves evaluation of the child including a diagnostic interview with the parent, an intelligence test, questionnaires, and an emotion regulation task (done through a computer game). Children also complete a mock fMRI session in order to experience what it is like to have an MRI and to learn how to lay still during it. An MRI session then takes place at the NYU Center for Brain Imaging. Stahl has been working with a first-year graduate student on entering data from these tests, following up with children on camera use and home-recording sessions, recruiting and consenting children and helping with the mock fMRI sessions.Hide Info

John Szilagyi worked with Dr. Christopher Bender in the Chemistry Department on a project entitled "Solid-Phase Synthesis of Peptides as Mimics of Metallaprotein."

Elizabeth Szymanski worked with Dr. Christopher Bender in the Chemistry Department on a project entitled "A Correlated Carbon-13 NMR and Chronopotentiometry Study of Methoxy Phenols and Quinones."

Kelsey Topa worked with Dr. Amy M. Balija in the Chemistry Department on a project entitled "Discovering New Monosubstituted Benzene Substrates for the Aromatic Nitration Experiment."

Kathleen Toth, a Clare Boothe Luce Scholar, worked with Dr. Abraham D. Smith in the Mathematics Department on a project entitled "Optimization of Curves in Randers Geometry."

Katherin Valles worked with Dr. Patricio Meneses in the Biological Sciences Department on a project entitled "Role of syntaxin 18 in HPV infection and trafficking, is it direct or indirent?"

Mark Ward worked with Dr. Rolf Ryham in the Mathematics Department on a project entitled "Lipid Bilayer Memebrane Fusion."

Daniel White worked with Dr. Robert H. Lewis in the Mathematics Department on a project entitled "Using Differential Alegbra to Solve Differential Equations."

Michael Yu worked with Dr. Martin Sanzari in the Physics Department on a project entitled "Discrimination of Benign and Neoplastic Mucosa using mid-IR Laser Radiation in Head and Neck Cancer."

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