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Honors Science Research Takes Students Farther and Further

11/1/16


From left, Professor of Chemistry Helen Tanzini, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. David Edwards, Dr. Ani Qu of Medical Diagnostics Laboratory, student Justin Varar, Dr. Mark Brynildsen of Princeton University, student Barri Deptula, Professor of Biology Diane Hilker, student Savannah Dziepak, Professor of Biology Dr. Ronald Smith, and Dean for Business and STEM Dr. Winston Maddox.

West Windsor, N.J. – Highly motivated science students at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) continue to find exciting opportunities to carry out research projects not typically associated with the first two years of college.

In a recent presentation before a packed classroom of MCCC science faculty members, mentors from the field, and their classmates, three students presented findings from the Honors Research projects they completed off-campus over the summer.

Biology major Savannah Dziepak of Bordentown completed a project under the guidance of MCCC Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Ronald Smith. Fueled by her interest in ecology, she worked on "Surveying for the Occurrence of the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis)” at Mercer County Park.  Justin Varar researched genetic diseases in a project entitled “Carrier Screening Studies” under the guidance of Dr. Ani Qu at Medical Diagnostics Laboratory in Hamilton. Biology/Chemistry major Barri Deptulam of Hamilton, who graduated from Mercer in May and is now attending Rider Univeresity, studied “Growth Rates and Nitric Oxide Clearance in E. coli” under the guidance of Dr. Mark Brynildsen at Princeton University.

Said MCCC Professor of Chemistry Helen Tanzini, who coordinates the Honors Research program with Biology faculty members Diane Hilker and Laura Blinderman, “Opportunities for our students to partner with researchers at other institutions began in 1999 and have grown steadily ever since. Partner organizations have ranged from universities including Princeton, Rider and Monmouth, to state agencies such as the State Police Forensics Lab, to research firms like Medical Diagnostics Laboratory [a subsidiary of Genesis Biotechnology Group].

Tanzini notes that some MCCC students contribute to research that is already under way, while others develop their own projects based on personal interests. She observes that students are truly grateful for these experiences. "They have a chance to add to the research field in meaningful ways while learning skills that advance their academic pursuits. The work they carry out is more than just a college course. It prepares them for transfer to four-year institutions and for careers in real world settings.”


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