The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships

The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship seeks to attract talented, committed individuals with backgrounds in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—into teaching in high-need secondary schools in Georgia,Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and New Jersey. Eligible applicants include current undergraduates, recent college graduates, mid-career professionals, and retirees who have majored in, or had careers in, STEM fields.

 

 

The Fellowship also works to change the way top teachers are prepared, partnering with colleges and universities that have agreed to provide Fellows with innovative, year-long classroom experiences, rigorous academic work, and ongoing mentoring.

The Teaching Fellowship includes:

  • admission to a master’s degree program at a partner university
  • preparation for teacher certification in science, mathematics or technology education
  • extensive preparation for teaching in a high-need urban or rural secondary school for one full year prior to becoming the teacher-of-record in a science or math classroom
  • a $30,000 stipend, with tuition arrangements varying by campus in Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and New Jersey. (Once Fellows are certified teachers at the end of the first year, they obtain salaried employment in high-need schools.)
  • support and mentoring throughout the three-year teaching commitment
  • support of a cohort of WW Fellows passionate about science and math education
  • lifelong membership in a national network of Woodrow Wilson Fellows who are intellectual leaders

There are two upcoming application deadlines – November 14, 2014 and January 31, 2015 (the final deadline).  For more information and to apply, please go to The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship website.

Top 3 Sites for Authoritative Forensic Science Research

This is a guest post by Ellen Sexton, John Jay Librarian.

You have a brilliant idea to test in the lab; but has someone already done it?  Or something similar?  A quick search of the literature can inform your work.  Scientists publish their best research reports as articles in journals.  Here are three tools to make finding articles on your area of interest a bit easier:

1. A Better Google Scholar

If you like using Google Scholar at home, but are getting frustrated with pay-walls obstructing your access to articles, try using the link from the Library home page which goes through our proxy server and looks like this:   http://ez.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/login?url=http://scholar.google.com  Then your results will include links to whatever the library subscribes to:

Google Scholar

Continue reading

NOAA Scholarship Opportunity

 

NOAA logo roundAre you interested in science, service, and stewardship?  If so, the NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions Undergraduate Scholarship Program (USP) is looking for you.  USP scholarships are for rising junior undergraduate students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields that directly support NOAA’s mission.

 

If selected, students receive total awards valued at up to $35,000 in support during their junior and senior years.  First, the recipients attend a two-week orientation at NOAA in NOAA Silver Springs MDSilver Spring, MD.  Next, they complete a nine week paid summer internship at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, between May and July of the first summer. Then, during the second summer, students complete paid internships at NOAA facilities across the country (students are paid a stipend and receive a housing allowance during this internship).  Finally, at the end of both summer internships, students present the results of their projects at an education and science symposium in Silver Spring, MD (travel expenses paid).

 

 To apply, go to this page:

https://oedwebapps.iso.noaa.gov/uspa/

The application period is September 1, 2014 to January 30, 2015.

To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen currently enrolled or accepted as a full-time 2nd year student in a four-year academic program or a 3rd year student in a five-year program in a discipline related to NOAA’s programs and mission at an accredited minority serving institution (John Jay qualifies). You must earn and maintain a minimum 3.2 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

When crafting your application, keep in mind that competitive applications are those that:

  • address the NOAA mission;
  • have resume and personal statements that are crafted to be relevant to the NOAA mission;
  • have recommendations that are well developed and made relevant to the NOAA mission

10 Common Mistakes Made by Newbie Researchers – Part 3

By Zully Santiago, PRISM Undergraduate Researcher, Spring 2013 through Summer 2014SantiagoZully

Part 3 – Be a Responsible Labmate

8)     Mistake: You break something or spill something.

Solution: If you break glass, no big deal. Simply throw the glass out in the glass waste in a safe manner. Try to find all the pieces and so on. However, if there was a corrosive substance (or dangerous substance in anyway) in a container and it is now on the floor, do not touch it. Go ask for help. You can contact your mentor, any professors that may be around on the floor, or call security. Hopefully after your biohazard training, you’ll be able to handle simple spills and have information in order to contact someone for more dangerous spills. Again, know what you are working with and its hazards.

9)     Mistake: You need to go to class, so you rush cleaning, or you don’t clean at all because you’ll come back later.

Solution: If this happens, try to leave your mess in the most convenient way possible so that your lab mates can do their work, and leave a note. If your mess is potentially dangerous, call your mentor or a lab partner to help you take care of it. Nevertheless, make sure you clean up after yourself since the lab is shared. Don’t leave anything for someone else to clean. It isn’t fair or right to do so. Remember, not only are you the researcher, you are also your own lab technician, so no one is responsible for your mess other than yourself.  If you planned properly, you should have more than enough time to clean up after yourself. If someone leaves a mess, try to find out what everything is and clean it up for your own safety, and let your mentor know about it so that it doesn’t happen again.

10)     Mistake: At the end of the experiment, you place everything in a single waste container or attempt to throw the waste down the sink. You know better than this.

Solution: Again, if you understand how your chemicals work in your experiment, you will know how to dispose of them properly. Many chemicals cannot be put down the sink and many other chemicals will continue to react when mixed together, so think carefully. If you have multiple steps in a reaction, think about the intermediates, the chemicals used in each step, and find out if it is safe to put them all together. When in doubt, ask someone or play it safe and make separate waste containers if needed.

10 Common Mistakes Made by Newbie Researchers – Part 2

By Zully Santiago, PRISM Undergraduate Researcher, Spring 2013 through Summer 2014SantiagoZully

Part 2: Understand your Experiment Before Beginning

5)     Mistake: You quickly get a simple protocol or a recipe for your experiment (or, if you are lucky, you have a kit’s instructions). You immediately perform the experiment, but it fails horribly, and you have no idea what went wrong. You automatically assume the protocol, kit, or recipe is wrong and you did everything correctly.

Solution: Understand the experiment before you do it. Understand what every single chemical does and what role it plays in the experiment. I would say most failures in an experiment are human error by the scientist overlooking something simple but important. My rule, don’t touch a chemical unless you know what it does, how to care for it, what role it plays in your experiment, and how to safely dispose of it. If your experiment uses a kit, thoroughly understand how the kit works. If it is being used for separation, what kind of separation method is it? If it is chromatography, what kind? If it is a gel, how does it separate? What comes out first? Understand all the components of the kit before using the kit.

Often protocols that you find online or in books will not cover important details such as proper care and considerations for the chemicals you are using such as light sensitivity, reactions with moisture and air, temperature concerns, reactions with certain plastics, and so on. Also, keep in mind that time and exposure to the environment can heavily weigh on the experiment. A big overlooked factor is the shelf life of reagents. Remember, often when chemicals are exposed to water, hydrolysis occurs, slowly degrading the chemicals over time. So the chemical may have a long shelf life in its store-bought form, but it may have a very limited shelf life once in solution. This is a big issue for antibiotics and DTT.

Also, repeatedly thawing out and freezing chemicals or proteins can also severely degrade them. Record how often your reagents are thawed out or aliquot small amounts at a time so that you can use those amounts when needed rather than thawing out the whole stock container each time. The protocols and kits usually assume you know what the chemicals do and how to handle them—which often you don’t, so google everything or go to the company website and read up on your experiment and the reagents before handling them. When working with kits, thoroughly read the material that comes with it as it has detailed information on handling all the components of the kit.

6)     Mistake: You do an experiment, and it works! Or it fails! Who knows? Either way, you got some type of result…but you didn’t write anything down.

Solution: Again, it’s easy to follow protocols and recipes, but what matters are the specifics! What did you use? What conditions? What temperatures? What amounts? What chemicals? What order? How long? Again, there are so many factors involved in getting results outside of what is mentioned in the protocols. You need to document your steps and what has occurred. Based on your observations you may find better ways of doing the experiment. Or based on your observations, you have resolved a huge problem! However, we won’t know unless you write it down. In my experience, I rarely follow the protocol exactly; often I find better tweaks that provide good yields for my experiment, but I record deviations as well as observations. Moreover, if something goes wrong, often there are good scientific blogs on company websites and third party websites that talk about the same problems you may have had in the lab, so it is important that you record your observations because these forums and blogs may help resolve what went wrong and how to fix it.

7)     Mistake: You do the experiment from memory.

Solution: Never do your experiment from memory. You should always have the protocol or your previous observations handy just in case something turns out different. However, the main issue with trying to do an experiment from memory is that you will often forget a step, usually an important one. I see this happen a lot when students make buffers at the total volume desired, but they didn’t adjust the pH, so that added volume was not accounted for.

10 Common Mistakes Made by Newbie Researchers – Part 1

SantiagoZullyBy Zully Santiago, PRISM Undergraduate Researcher, Spring 2013 through Summer 2014

Part 1: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

1)     Mistake: The same day you plan on doing the experiment is the same day you gather all the reagents, glassware, and any other materials required for the experiment…only to realize that you do not have the reagents or materials needed to actually conduct the experiment.

Solution: Plan your experiments two weeks in advance. So if you plan on making a gel next Thursday, make sure you have all the necessary reagents to make the buffer and the gel itself today. Also, today, you should check and make sure the tank is working and that you have all the parts. If you need your glassware autoclaved, make sure you do that in advance. Make sure you have everything you need way in advance of doing the experiment, so look over your experiment in detail before considering running it.

2)     Mistake: You want to do an experiment, but you are afraid without someone guiding you through it, so you keep putting it off until someone shows you.

Solution: The more you read and understand how your experiment works, the less guidance you will need. If you start thoroughly understanding your experiments when they are easy (usually in the beginning), the easier it will be for you to become independent. Ask questions regularly, but attempt to answer them yourself first! Seek out answers from various sources. This facilitates critical thinking. When you get stuck or you want to confirm your reasoning, then go to your mentor. Remember, however, that you are supposed to be the expert and the most knowledgeable person about your project, so go do it.

3)     Mistake: You are not able to finish an experiment in time.

Solution: Plan your experiment in advance (see Mistake #1). Even if you are doing an experiment for the first time, before you even attempt to do it, make sure you have all your reagents and materials that are needed. After, read through the protocol again and look for incubation periods. If there are any time periods, double the time required and add an hour just for prepping (gathering/cleaning glassware, labeling and so on). This should give you enough time to actually do the experiment (provided you don’t make any mistakes or have to start over). If you are using instrumentation, make sure it works and is calibrated in advance. I personally like to have a whole free day if I am doing a brand new experiment or working with a brand new instrument. I won’t touch an instrument or apparatus that I have never used before until I have read and watched videos handling them. YouTube has everything, and often company websites have videos on how to use their instruments. Sometimes you can imagine doing the experiment and planning out what glassware and materials you will need, but there always seems to be something overlooked, so give yourself more time to make mistakes.

4)     Mistake: You haven’t been in the lab for a while because of school or other projects. You are not sure where you left off, but you attempt to continue your experiment as planned and the next step fails horribly.

Solution: Check your samples and instruments before you use them! Run a small sample and see if it is working before you proceed to the next big step. For example, if you had proteins or DNA in storage for a while, run a gel and see if you are getting the bands you are supposed to. The same rule applies anytime you use an instrument. Run a standard and see if everything is working properly before you use up your samples.

 

The Web Guide to Research for Undergraduates

everhooddesign_webguru_logoThe Web Guide to Research for Undergraduates (WebGURU) is an interactive, web-based tool intended to assist students in navigating the hurdles of an undergraduate research experience. It contains articles and advice from faculty members, graduate school admissions officers, and students. Topics range from how to chose and interact effectively with your advisor and your lab’s research team, to tips on writing your first paper.  WebGURU is a great place to complement your PRISM experience at John Jay.

The site includes sections dedicated to professional development outside of the lab,  a database of research funding, a guide to opportunities for summer research experiences, and advice on how to apply to professional schools.

This is a great tool to guide you on your path to your science career and an excellent resource for advice on how to prepare for research work. Take a look and come discuss your questions with us at PRISM. We can help you create a personal plan to achieve your professional goals and get you to your planned career!

Alumni Spotlight – Christopher Pedigo (PRISM ’09) Earns American Heart Association Fellowship and Other Accolades

Christopher Pedigo, a PRISM alumnus who graduated in 2009, is steadily pursuing his goal of starting his own biomedical research lab.  With just one more year to go in pursuit of his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology at the Miller College of Medicine in the University of Miami, Christopher has already published several scholarly articles and received accolades for his work.

Pedigo Blog 1While at John Jay, he worked under the mentorship of Dr. Yi He on a project published in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Environmental Science and Health, titled “Bioaccessibility of arsenic in various types of rice in an in vitro gastrointestinal fluid system.”  After he graduated, Christopher spent two years as an adjunct instructor at John Jay and Borough of Manhattan Community College, while continuing to perform research in the labs of both Dr. He and Dr. Nathan Lents.

In 2009, Christopher was accepted into his PhD program and started research with his PI, Dr. Sandra Merscher, and co-mentor, Dr. Alessia Fornoni.  Their work investigates novel causes of Diabetic Kidney Disease (DKD), which affects 40% of diabetic patients, as potential therapeutic targets.  Consequently, Christopher and his lab are looking at the role of circulating factors on the glomerulus in vivo in mouse models and in vitro in the podocyte.

He is co-first author on the publication, “Sphingomyelinase-like phosphodiesterase 3b expression levels determine podocyte injury phenotypes in glomerular disease,” published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. In this study, Christopher and his colleagues show that SMPDL3b levels are differently regulated in two glomerular diseases and that these levels determine the type of damage caused by certain circulating factors (more specifically sUPAR).

Christopher earned an American Heart Association Fellowship to help him continue his research and eagerly awaits word on his pre-doctoral NIH F31 fellowship application.  Travel grants awarded to Christopher are allowing him to visit various U.S. locales in order to advance his research and develop his expertise. Christopher is one of five PhD students nationally to receive the Tutored Research and Education for Kidney Scholars grant that will afford Christopher the opportunity to take a week-long kidney physiology class in Maine.  Other travel grants also allow him to attend the Kern Lipid Conference this summer in Vail, Colorado and to attend the American Society of Nephrology Conference in Philadelphia this fall.

PRISM is very proud of Christopher’s accomplishments since graduating John Jay and wishes him the best of luck in all of his academic endeavors.

Finals Week

keep-calm-and-ace-your-finals-52Good luck to all of our students during Finals Week. If you need a quiet place to study or are planning to organize a study group, try the PRISM office.  We are open 9:30-4:30 every day.  Feel free to stop by anytime or to contact Dr. Sanabria-Valentin to reserve time.

Here’s some good advice on how to prepare your study space and be more effective while studying.

 

Science: There’s an app for that!

Commons_media_discovery_appWhen I got my first smartphone (a second generation iPhone, way back when) the first thing I did was go the App store and look up science apps. Yes, I’m that much of a nerd, it didn’t even occur to me to look up games. The first one I downloaded was “Molecules,” a free app that renders 3D images of protein structures and other molecules based on data available from multiple databases. You can switch between viewing modes (Ball-and-Stick or Space-fill). Aside from looking up random molecules, and staring at them, there’s not that much you can do with it unless you know how to create protein structure files. Then you can visualize your own proteins!

One of the first science apps that actually had some application for bench scientists came from New England Biolabs. “NEB Tools” gives you information on restriction enzymes, helps you design double digestions, and also helps you set up your PCR reaction. Life Technologies has taken it a step further with its app “CloningBench,” that does the same as the NEB one and also has a molarity calculator (for those of us who are not so good at conversions), a PCR MasterMix calculator, and even a ligation calculator for the cloners out there. Life Technologies also has some free apps for applications like cytometry, cell culture, and one to check the spectral compatibility for fluorophores for RT-PCR and other applications.

Another free one I’ve heard about is “Protocolpedia,” a biology protocol database designed by the website of the same name, which is maintained by a community of researchers who post pre-tested protocols and also has forums where you can ask for help with your experiments. The app also has a calculator, access to videos and other educational resources, and lets you select your favorite protocols and store them for easy access. Always check with your advisor before starting a protocol not designed in your lab!

For the chemists out there, there are a bunch of free apps, too, like Sigma-Aldrich’s “HPLC Calculator” which can help you determine the best transfer conditions between columns, recommends flow-rates depending on the column, among other applications. Another app, “Elemental,” helps you create chemical sketches of molecules, estimates chemical properties based on the molecular composition, has a built-in Periodic Table, and helps you sketch chemical reactions. Any sketches produced can be tweeted or e-mailed from your phone.

Most of these apps are available for iOS and Android platforms. Do you have a favorite Science app? Let us know in the comments section!