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6 Students Receive NASA Grants to Conduct Research

Sarah Schneider at work in the lab.

Sarah Schneider at work in the lab.

A trip into space may not be in their immediate plans, but six Middlesex County College students are still in NASA’s orbit. They are benefiting from NASA scholarships designed to increase their research abilities.

Each are receiving $5,000 stipends from the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium to conduct research with professors at MCC. Four started their research in the fall and will finish this spring. The other two began in January and will conclude at the end of the summer.

“The students are working on various topics,” said Parag Muley, chair of the Natural Sciences Department. “They are all excellent students; we are very proud of their accomplishments.

Sarah Schneider was one of the participants.

“My project was on coordination compounds, which are metals with multiple ligands attached to them,” she said. “I’m working specifically with Cobalt 3 compounds and studying the rates of certain reactions. Research in this area can potentially help cure disease.”

Phalguni Ghosh, assistant chair of the Natural Sciences Department, said Ms. Schneider was one of the students who presented their work at a conference this spring.

“She did some molecular-level analysis,” he said. “She has done an excellent piece of work.”

Dr. Ghosh said the research class has allowed students to improve their critical thinking skills in interpreting scientific data; integrate lab skills into the project; develop scientific literature skills; and help improve public speaking skills.

Another student, Danielle Caruso, is working at JFK Hospital in its neuroscience lab, studying how cancer cells grow.

Samuel Wieczerzak is working on examining the life of medication in the bloodstream. Once you take a medication, the liver starts rejecting it.

“How do you hide this drug long enough before your liver destroys it?” Dr. Muley asked.

Other projects include Denna Lessing using petrographic analysis to investigate climate change and natural resources in the state; Amy Walczak is looking at the effects of variables on respiratory cycles; and Joseph Cruz examining blood pressure and caffeine research.

“These are top-notch students doing original research,” Dr. Muley said. “Many of their projects have real- world implications.”