Local High School Students Spent Their Summer Conducting Hands-On Research at Kean University

Forty-three high school students from across New Jersey, and one from North Carolina, conducted real-world research as part of the 2017 Group Summer Scholars Research Program (GSSRP) at Kean University. Students enrolled in the six-week program participated in basic and applied research in the labs at Kean’s New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics (NJCSTM). On Thursday, August 17, all of the GSSRP participants gathered at NJCSTM to share posters that displayed their research process and findings to their peers, faculty, staff and invited family and friends.

The group consisted of junior and senior high school students, as well as first-year college students, who are interested in pursuing an education in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field. Participants were divided into small faculty-led research teams and paired with student mentors. Students learned scientific methods and conducted hands-on laboratory experiments using cutting-edge techniques and instruments.  

“GSSRP students engaged in authentic scientific research, most of them for the first time. As the program unfolds, the young researchers grow in confidence and self-awareness, and see themselves as a future scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” said Michael J. Tocci, Ph.D., associate dean of research at NJCSTM. “Participants develop a true appreciation of the scientific research process while contributing first hand to the acquisition of new scientific knowledge.”  

The six research teams each focused on a current scientific problem in the areas of analytical chemistry, cancer biology, data visualization, medical chemistry or microbiology. The 2017 Group Summer Scholars Research Program Teams, including participant names and New Jersey hometowns (unless otherwise noted), listed by topic and including faculty and student mentors, were:

  • Analytical Chemistry and Chromatography: Isolation, Identification and Characterization of Drug-Like Chemical Compounds in Medicinal Plants Using Biological Assays, Chromatography, and Mass Spectrometry Techniques alongside Dil Ramanathan, Ph.D., assistant professor of analytical chemistry and biotechnology, and Kean student mentors Mirna Giron and Katarina Mladenovic:

    • Diviji Gupta - Metuchen

    • Siddhant Kumarapuram - Basking Ridge

    • Cynthia Leung - Somerset

    • Waldeed Masood - North Brunswick

    • Allyson Swain - Roselle Park

    • Luis Torrez - Hillside

    • Anthony Triola - Roselle Park

    • John Walsh - Hillsborough

  • World of Data: Virtual Reality and Scientific Visualization alongside David Joiner, Ph.D., associate professor of computational mathematics and physics, and Kean student mentors Ray Nivar and William Francisco:

    • Makayta Cole - Hamilton

    • Lucent Fong - Monroe

    • Gaurav Hardikar - Princeton Junction

    • Joshua Josias - North Plainfield

    • Benjamin Lifshey - Morristown

    • Jonathan Perez - Roselle Park

    • Christopher Varghese - Basking Ridge

  • Molecular and Cellular Biology: Exploring Cancer Malignancy alongside Sal Coniglio, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemical biology, and Kean student mentors Diana Habib and Peter Bardys:

    • Kishan Gandham - Basking Ridge.

    • Catherine McCarthy - Cranford

    • Anika Nerella - Bridgewater

    • Gurshaun Randhawa - Rahway

    • Alisha Rao - Chapel Hill

    • Rhea Ravichander - Dayton, North Carolina

    • Anvitha Sathya - Allentown

    • Zain Sultan - Princeton Junction

  • Medicinal Chemistry and Modern Drug Discovery: Synthesis of Chemokine Receptor Antagonists alongside James Merritt, Ph.D, associate professor of organic and medicinal chemistry, and Kean student mentors Chelsea Mann and Antoinette Antonucci:

    • Abigail Gringeri - Morris Plains

    • Caitlin Cevasco - Lincroft

    • Shane Meledathu - Jersey City

    • Kevin Tan - Greenbrook

    • Lindsay Fogel - Warren

    • Varsha Ayyalapu - West Windsor

  • Microbes, Microbiomes and Bioinformatics: Exploring the Structure and Function of the Microbial World alongside Marshall Hayes, Ph.D., lecturer of microbiology and research methods, and Kean student mentors Michael Valentino and Kaitlyn Weiler:

    • Rohan Mehra - Edison

    • Srijeet Chandra Thumbavanam - East Windsor

    • Sarah Mostafa - Chester

    • Avani Sheth - Basking Ridge

    • Christian Luciano - Roselle Park

    • Matthew Kwan - Morris Plains

    • Prateek Khandelwal - Edison

    • Jacob Krasner - Edison

  • Computational Mathematics: Pattern Formation and Wave Propagation alongside Edward Farnum, Ph.D., assistant professor of applied mathematics, and Kean student mentors Nicholas Yuen and Matthew Fava:

    • Alex Samuel Yucra Casteñeda - Linden

    • Nicholas Marino - Roselle Park

    • Jeffrey Chen - Marlboro

    • Mark Chen - Marlboro

    • Parsh Jain - North Brunswick

    • Peter Lipke - Roselle Park

In addition to conducting experiments in the lab, students attended weekly meetings with faculty and other team members to solve problems and discuss results, innovative ideas and the latest scientific literature. 

“The GSSRP is designed to help shape the next generation of scientists, engineers and doctors,” added Tocci.

For Nicholas Marino and Anthony Triola, both of Roselle Park, the laboratory and research experience they gained from NJCSTM’s summer research program was a stepping stone to their collegiate education.

“I feel better prepared for my future as a scientist because of the GSSRP program," said Marino, now a first-year Kean student majoring in computational science. “The applied research experience was far beyond what a typical high school setting could offer.”

Triola, now a freshman molecular biology/biotechnology major at Kean, said the authentic research he conducted as part of the GSSRP will serve as the foundation for him to “excel at the college level.”

The 2018 GSSRP will take place from July 9 through August 16, 2018. Applications will be available beginning in January 2018. For more information about the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics at Kean University and the Group Summer Scholars Research Program, visit www.kean.edu/stem or email njcste@kean.edu.

Press Contact: 


Millie Gonzalez

University Relations  
Kean University

mgonzale@kean.edu | 908-737-0586

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