Queensborough Spring Graduates Awarded NSF REU Summer Internships at Penn State, Columbia and SUNY Binghamton

Published: May 14, 2018

Outstanding Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students at Queensborough Community College have been awarded National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) summer internships. These summer internships will begin upon their graduation from Queensborough on June 1.

The award includes $4,000-$5,000 for an eight to ten-week period, including housing and, in most cases, transportation and/or food subsidy.

Typically each year some 200 applications are submitted for an NSF REU summer internship opportunity that is being awarded to a post undergraduate science institution. Approximately 12 internships are awarded in each case, mostly to juniors and seniors at four-year colleges. Community college students are rarely awarded such a prestigious opportunity. Queensborough's students however have been fortunate to be selected on a regular basis since 2007. Past recipients include NSF REUs to (but not limited to) Princeton (twice), Cornel University (twice), Vanderbilt University(twice), University of Pennsylvania (five times),Binghamton University (eleven times), Rutgers University, Washington University, University of Mississippi, Georgia Tech, Georgetown University and Stony brook University (twice).

  • Xiaofang Yu, originally from China, will graduate from Queensborough this spring. Her undergraduate research, conducted under the guidance of her mentor, Dr. Sujun Wei, Chemistry, played a pivotal role in her acceptance to participate for the second year in a row in this summer's NSF REU internship at the University of Pennsylvania. Xiaofang Yu has been named a semi-finalist for the Barry Goldwater and Jack Kent Cook Undergraduate Research Transfer scholarships and, with the guidance of mentor Dr. Paris Svoronos, Chemistry, completed a summer internship at the Food and Drug Administration in Jamaica, New York. This coming fall she will continue her studies on a full scholarship at SUNY Binghamton.

  • Khushpreet Kaur, another spring graduate, will also conduct her NSF REU summer internship at the University of Pennsylvania. Like Xiaofang Yu, she previously completed a summer internship under the guidance of Dr. Svoronos at the Food and Drug Administration, and has been conducting undergraduate research under Dr. Sunil Dehipawla, Physics. Originally from India, Khushpreet will continue her studies at St. John's University.

  • Spring graduate Edison Mera will participate in the summer internship at SUNY Binghamton and continue there in the fall on a full scholarship. He has been conducting research under Dr. Svoronos on the determination of the ionization constant of carboxylic acids using microscale freezing point depression measurements.

  • Juan Jaramillo, who hails from Colombia, was selected by Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to work on improving methods for assessment of second hand smoke exposure for public health studies. His successful application was supported through the assistance of his mentor, Dr. Paul Marchese, Physics. Juan will move on to Hunter College in the fall.

Returning students:

Shanelle Smith, from the Caribbean island of Jamaica, is excelling in her studies and is currently conducting research under the guidance of Dr. Sujun Wei, Chemistry. She will join both Khushrpreet and Xiaofang in the NSF REU summer research internship at the University of Pennsylvania. Shanelle earned the First Place Award for her Oral Presentation at the 2018 CSTEP conference.

Keiann Simon, from Guyana, will spend this summer at Vanderbilt University. Currently, she is working with Dr. Jun Shin, Chemistry, on the "Thermodynamic Study of Esterification of Acetic Acid and iso-Amyl Alcohol Using a Microwave Reactor" and is planning to graduate in the spring of 2019.

Former student whereabouts:

Tao Hong, ‘17 from China conducted research under the guidance of Dr. Moni Chauhan, Chemistry. Tao was awarded a prestigious summer research fellowship REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the summer of 2016, to work at Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Vanderbilt University. There he won the “Best Poster Award” for his summer research at the “Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy 14th Annual Student Research Symposium” in August of 2016. He also published a peer reviewed article with his mentor at Vanderbilt University. In the summer of 2017, Tao was accepted by the ACS (American Chemical Society) SCI Scholars program with a paid internship of $10,000 at Albemarle Corporation, (Baton Rouge, LA). He was also accepted at U. Penn and several other institutions for the summer REU programs, which he had to reject.

Tao was awarded a Jack Kent Cooke 2017 Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship worth $40,000 per year to complete his Bachelor’s degree. He was one of just 55 outstanding community college students from around the nation from a competitive pool of nearly 3,000 applicants to receive the transfer scholarship in 2017. He also received the 2017 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship of $7,500 per year for two years. Tao was one of only two community college Goldwater awardees nationwide, the only Goldwater awardee from CUNY, and was one of only two Goldwater awardees from New York state. He is presently completing his bachelor’s degree in Material Science and Engineering at Cornell University.

Evens Esperance,'17 from Haiti got full scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to study Chemical Engineering in 2017. Evens conducted research under the guidance of Dr. Moni Chauhan and attended the University of Pennsylvania for the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates, NSF Funded) program over the summer of 2017.        

Yueli Chen, '16, from China, is graduating from Stony Brook University with a B.S. in Biochemistry. She will begin a paid graduate fellowship this fall at the University of Pennsylvania. She declined similar fellowship offers from Brown University, The City University of New York, The State University of New York and New York University. Yueli was also a semi-finalist for the Barry Goldwater Scholarships and Jack Kent Cook Undergraduate Transfer scholarships. Her excellent achievements were in part made possible by the dedicated mentorship she received from Dr. Paul Sideris, Chemistry.

Veronika Yakovishina, '16, originally from Russia, is graduating from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY), and will begin a paid graduate fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. She declined similar fellowships from SUNY, CUNY, Rutgers University and Brown University.

As a student, Eun Jung Shin, '16, conducted research with Dr. Shin. This spring, she will graduate with a Physician Assistant Program degree from Case Western Reserve University-Cleveland.

Rebecca Cho, started her second major career at Queensborough in STEM and has conducted research under Dr. Jun Shin. She has graduated from A.T. Still University in Mesa AZ (2016) and is interning in family medicine.

Yiran Chen will be graduating with an M.S. in Engineering from University at Buffalo at the end of this spring 2018. He has conducted research under Dr. David Sarno, Chemistry, and has had summer NSF REU internships at Binghamton University and the University of South Dakota.

"It is not enough to be an exceptional student with an outstanding G.P.A.," said Dr. Paris Svoronos, Professor in the Department of Chemistry. "Successful applicants for the summer NSF REU internship at well-reputed institutions must also possess a strong resume. Securing solid recommendations letters that go beyond a plain statement of doing well in a course are particularly significant. Award committees would like to see prior research experience evidenced by professional conference presentations."

Dr. Svoronos pointed out that Queensborough was one of the first community colleges nationwide to be fortunate with the success of its student applications. The first was bestowed to Rosa Rosales who spent her summer at Cornell University back in 2005.


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