Research In Science and Engineering at Rutgers
RiSE News      

What's the latest with RISE? What have RISE Alumni accomplished?

RiSE featured in RUTGERS TODAY!

RiSE students go scuba driving!

2012 Symposium

RiSE alumni arrive at Rutgers as new graduate students

A warm welcome to RiSE alumni who joined our graduate student community in fall 2011: Eva Nelly Rubio Marrero, RiSE '11 (Molecular Biosciences), Immanuel Williams, RiSE '09 (Statistics), and Krizia Karry, RiSE '07 (Chemical Engineering).

RiSE Awards at ABRCMS 2011, St. Louis, Missouri

Congratulations to Izmarie Poventud Fuentes, RiSE '11 (co-sponsored by the REU in Cellular Bioengineering), and Christie Rodriguez, RiSE '10, who won best poster awards. Izamrie presented in the Engineering/Physics/Mathematics category and Christie in the Interdisciplinary category. 17 RiSE alumni along with Program Directors Dr. Evelyn Erenrich, Dr. Jerry Langer, and Dr. Charles Roth were on hand to cheer them on.

RiSE in the news!

Madison Myers, RISE '09, Wins Best Poster Award at SACNAS.

Maddy, a senior at the University of Guam, won a best poster award for her summer research at Rutgers, "Effects of alcohol exposure in utero on hormone receptor expression and mammary gland density."

RISE Award Sweep at ABRCMS 2008!

We had a great RISE showing at ABRCMS in Orlando, November '08. We boasted 4 winners, arguably among the best showings on a percentage basis of all summer programs nationwide. Congratulations to Eduardo Gonzalez '08 (best oral presentation in Quantitative Sciences), Cynthia Anyanwu '08 (best poster in Quantitative Sciences), Frank Macabenta '08 (best poster in Developmental Biology), and Jeffrey Uribe '07 (best poster in Cell Biology).

Joining us were lots of RISE alumni. From '08: Cynthia Onyekachi Anyanwu, Collette Brown, Eduardo Gonzalez Maldonado, Rafael Gonzalez-Cruz, Amanda Harvey, Frank Macabenta, Ronald McHenry, Marilia Pena-Melendez, Kristia Rivera, Anjuli Ramos Busot, and Winter Walker. From '07: Jeffrey Uribe and Daliris Ramírez Burgos. It was also great to see alumni Cyd Marie Castro '04 and Rosa Leon '05 at some of the graduate student events.

Elliana Vera-Merino, RISE 2005, was awarded a competitive fellowship.

Elliana, a third year doctoral candidate in the joint Rutgers/UMDNJ Biochemistry program, received the fellowship through the University's Biochemistry training grant. Elliana's husband is also a graduate student at Rutgers, in the Physics and Astronomy program.

Alexandra Walczak, RISE 2005, is currently in her third year as a doctoral candidate at Rutgers.

She will be attending a 7-week Microbial Diversity Course at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, MA during summer 2009. Acceptance to this course was highly competitive.

Congratulations to 4 alumni who completed their Ph.D.s at Rutgers or UMDNJ in 2008!

—Edgardo Santiago Martinez, RISE 2002, is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University.

—Rebecca Baerga, RISE 2002, is now the Clinical Science Project Leader of Niiki Pharma in Hoboken, NJ.

—Liliana Perez, RISE 2002, is now at Rational Affinity Devices in Newark, NJ.

—Jose Fernandez-Colon, RISE 2001, is currently at Signum Biosciences in Monmouth Junction, NJ.

Rebecca, Liliana, and Jose are all supported under prestigious New Jersey Commission on Science & Technology Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Lissa Y. Berroa-García, RISE 2007, was awarded a Cancer Research Training Award.

These awards are given by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. Lissa is currently participating in breast and prostate cancer research at the Section of Cancer Genomics, Genetics Branch, Center for Cancer Research, NCI, NIH, DHHS. After graduation she plans to attend medical school.

Frances Gratacos, RISE 2001, was selected to receive the Patricia K. Cross Future Leaders Award.

Frances is now a PhD candidate in the joint Rutgers/UMDNJ Molecular Genetics, Microbiology, and Immunology program. The Patricia K. Cross Future Leaders Award is sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and identifies graduate students who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education. In her application essay, Frances explained that her undergraduate experiences (including RISE!) started her on the path to self-awareness: "I wanted to combine the passion I had for the biotechnology field with a career in higher education, as well as to become a leader and mentor as a means to offer others what had been offered to me." Congratulations, Frances!

Patrice Reid, RISE 2005, has been awarded the McKnight Doctoral fellowship.

Patrice will use the fellowship to complete her Doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology. The McKnight Doctoral Fellowship program is designed to address the under-representation of African American and Hispanic faculty at colleges and universities in the state of Florida by increasing the pool of Ph.D.s to teach at the college and university levels.

Michael Hayoun, RISE 2005, has been named a Gates Cambridge Scholar by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

He will use his scholarship, earned through an intense competition, to begin his graduate study at the University of Cambridge, England. Michael also particpated in the ISURF summer component of the Rutgers NSF IGERT in Biointerfaces, co-mentored by Professors Bonnie Firestein and Tim Otto. Click here to learn more about Michael's exciting achievement and opportunity.

News Flash from ABRCMS, 2007

We were especially excited and proud to have two award winners for best poster at this year's Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in Austin Texas, November 7-12, 2007. Lissa Berroa was honored in the Microbiological Sciences and Marisa Rubio in the Chemical Sciences. Congratulations! We had a fantastic cheering section when their names were announced. RISE 2007 attendees, in addition to Lissa and Marisa, included Judith Canabal, Lakita Johnson, Richard Knowles, Eiffel John Manzano, Medha Persaud, Daliris Ramirez, Thong Vo, Jeffrey Uribe, and Digna Washington. Dr. Erenrich was there too.

Click here to view our ABRCMS 2007 photo album.

Nadia Aboley, RISE 2007, has been named an American Chemical Society (ACS) Scholar for 2007-2008.

Nadia now adds the highly competitive ACS Scholar award to her already long list of outstanding achievements in science and research, not to mention garnering a $3,000 scholarship. "This is a very difficult honor to get," says Queensborough Chemistry Department Chairman, Dr. Paris Svoronos. "Our students are being compared with thousands of students from all colleges countrywide." As a summer RISE Scholar, Nadia worked in the laboratory of Rutgers Professor Monica Driscoll, investigating the genetic basis of age-related muscle decline in C. elegans, which has been an effective model to identify genes affecting lifespan and healthspan. You can learn more about Nadia's achievements here.

Lakita Johnson, RISE 2007, a student at Texas Women's University, has been awarded a scholarship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

Congratulations, Lakita! While at Rutgers, Lakita applied her microbiology background to the area of Environmental Sciences, co-mentored by Dr. Uta Krogmann and Dr. Peter Strom. She investigated the speciation of coliforms in leachate from glass cullet stockpiles.

Lissa Berroa Garcia, RISE 2007, led a team from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico at the 2nd annual BioOlympics contest.

Questions covered biochemestry, molecular biology, and microbiology with applications in biotechnology. Lissa's team won second place in this very challenging competiton. Felicitaciones! Click here to see Lissa in action.

Lissa writes, "It was an honor for me to talk about my extraordinary experience at Rutgers and UMDNJ, and I especially want to thank Professor Masayori Inouye for the opportunity of being in his laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Severinova. I really enjoyed my summer!"

Vanesa Figueroa Tanon, RISE 2005, has been awarded a Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Fellowship.

Vanesa, a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers in Molecular Biosciences, has been awarded this prestigious fellowship to participate in the Tissue Repair and Regeneration Gordon Research Conference. The meeting, limited to about 150 attendees, takes place at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire the week of June 17, 2007, and draws respected scientists from around the world. At Rutgers, Vanesa is working in the laboratory of Professor Prabhas Moghe, PI of our NSF IGERT Training Program in Biointerfaces.

Carlos Rodriguez, RISE 2006, is the proud co-author of a paper based on his summer research at Rutgers.

Carlos, a senior Computer Science major at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, worked with Professor Anant Madabuhushi in the Biomedical Engineering Department, developing computer-aided diagnostic systems to automate categorization of prostate cancer on digitized patient specimens. The citation is: Doyle, S, Rodriguez, C, Madabhushi, A, Tomasezweski, J, Feldman, M, Detecting Prostatic Adenocarcinoma from Digitized Histology Using a Multi-Scale, Hierarchical Classification Approach, IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference, pp. 4759-62, 2006. Two additional manuscripts are expected to result from Carlos' work.

ABRCMS 2006 Highlights (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students)

RISE 2006 had a reunion of almost half of the scholars, including: Rosa Leon, James Trower, Melissa Anderson, Max Garcia, Jonathan Gonzalez-Flores, Tyra McCray, Yipsel Ramos, Mariangellys Rodriguez, Dianaliz Santiago, and Sanese White.

A highlight of the conference was Tyra McCray's award for best poster in the molecular biological sciences. Tyra presented the work she did during the summer in the laboratory of Dr. Monica Driscoll, investigating molecular mechanisms of aging. Congratulations!

RISE 2005 attendees included Devin Downing and Ciara Torres. Luciann Cuenca from RISE 2004 joined us as well. Luciann is doing a post-baccalaureate year at the NIH, part of her "payback" as the recipient of a prestigious NIH Undergraduate Scholarship.

It was also exciting to greet some RISE scholars from earlier years who were now back as exhibitors. Sabrice Guerrier, RISE 2001, was representing UNC-Chapel Hill, where he is a 4th year doctoral candidate. Pedro Ortiz from 1999 represented the EPA where he is a postdoctoral fellow; Pedro received his Ph.D. at Rutgers/UMDNJ last year.

Dianaliz Santiago, RISE 2006 and current graduate student in our M.S./Ph.D. Bridge Program, participated in the first Bio-Olympics.

The Bio-Olympics were celebrated as part of the 3rd Congress of Biotechnology from Latin America and the Carribbean. Dianaliz was part of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico's team, which won 2nd place in the competitions.

Dianaliz graduated from "La Católica" in May 2007 and then matriculated in our articulated M.S./Ph.D. Bridge Program with the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. She spent the summer of 2007 doing research on our campus in the laboratory of Dr. James Millonig, is spending the 2006-07 academic year at UPR-Mayagüez, and will complete the remainder of her graduate training on our campus.

RISE 2006 Scholar Rosa Leon-Zayas was the winner of a book award at the RIOS Symposium.

Rosa Leon-Zayas, RISE '06, from the University of Puerto Rico/Mayaguéz), jointly participated in RISE and in a companion program Research In Ocean Sciences (RIOS). Rosa was the winner of a book award at the RIOS Symposium for her excellent poster, Assessing the dominant denitrifying bacteria in the Mid-Atlantic Bight sediments.

She was also interviewed by The Home News Tribune; click here to read what she says about her summer at Rutgers.

RISE 2006 Scholar Max Garcia won the award for best poster in Biological Sciences
   at the AGEP Gathering of Science Scholars Meeting.

Congratulations to Max Garcia, RISE 2006, who won the award for best poster in Biological Sciences at the AGEP Gathering of Science Scholars Meeting, at SUNY-Stonybrook, Oct. 13, 2006. Mr. Garcia spent the summer at Rutgers' Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, under the mentorship of Dr. Martin Grumet, investigating Astrocytes and the Up-Regulation of BLBP through Notch Signaling. In addition to participating in RISE, Mr. Garcia was also part of the ISURF summer component of the Rutgers NSF IGERT in Integratively Engineered Biointerfaces. He is currently a junior biology major at the SUNY College at Old Westbury.

RISE 2005 Scholars Vanessa Figueroa and Kenneth Gwanmesia Win Awards at
   ABRCMS in Atlanta.

Congratulations to Vanesa Figueroa and Kenneth Gwanmesia, RISE 2005, who won awards for best poster at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).

  • Vanesa, currently a senior Industrial Biotechnology major at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, won the award in Molecular Biological sciences for her work In vivo analysis of RAB-10 and RME-1 interacting proteins.
  • Kenneth, a senior Physics/Engineering major at Delaware State University, won the award in Cell and Developmental Biological Sciences, for his interdisciplinary work Synergism and antagonism in chemotherapeutic activity on glioma cells.
Both Vanesa and Kenneth have applied for fall 2006 admission to PhD programs at Rutgers.

RISE 2003 Scholar Darah Fontanez Wins NIH Predoctoral Fellowship

Darah Fontanez, currently a PhD student at the Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico, deserves multiple congratulations. She was recently awarded a prestigious NIH Predoctoral Fellowship. Darah is also co-author on two publications. Her paper, Coordinate Regulation of Homeodomain and Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors Differentially Regulate Myelin Basic Protein Gene Expression was based on her RISE work in the laboratory of Dr. Patrizia Casaccia-Bonnefil at UMDNJ. Another paper, Adenosine a(1) Receptors Decrease Thalamic Excitation of Inhibitory and Excitatory Neurons in the Barrel Cortex results from her graduate research. Both papers appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2005.

RISE 2002 Scholar Edgardo Santiago Wins NIH Predoctoral Fellowship

Congratulations to Edgardo Santiago Martinez, RISE 2002, and current PhD candidate at UMDNJ, in the laboratory of Professor Sunita Kramer. Edgardo was awarded a prestigious NIH Predoctoral Fellowship. In addition, he won first place for a graduate student poster at the Northeast Society for Developmental Biology Meeting (NESDB) in Woods Hole, Massachussetts in April 2005 for his presentation, Characterization of Slit and Robo receptor function during Drosophila heart tube assembly.

RISE 2002 Scholar Rebecca Baerga Wins Execuitve Women of New Jersey Scholarship

Congratulations to Rebecca Baerga, RISE 2002 and current PhD candidate in Pharmacology at UMDNJ in the laboratory of Professor Shengan (Victor) Jin, who was awarded the Executive Women of New Jersey scholarship for her academic and research excellence, leadership, and service. Rebecca is currently President of the Rutgers/UMDNJ Biosciences Graduate Student Association.

RISE 2004 Scholar Melissa Maglaqui Wins Award at ABRCMS in Dallas.

Congratulations to Melissa Ann Maglaqui, a RISE 2004 scholar, who won an award for best oral presentation at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS),, for her talk, "A new factor required for Wnt-mediated cellular motility." Melissa worked in the laboratory of Dr. Raymond Habas, Dept. of Biochemistry, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and is currently a senior at St. Elizabeth's College in Morristown.

Frances Gratacos, RISE 2001, Selected as IGERT Fellow

Frances Gratacos, a member of the inaugural RISE class in 2001, was selected as an IGERT Fellow at Rutgers. IGERT is a highly prestigious NSF-funded graduate training program that focuses on developing scientists and engineers to become experts at the integrative synthesis and analysis of biological interfaces. Frances is now a second year graduate student at Rutgers, working in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Brewer, Dept. of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology & Immunlogy, at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She is also a Graduate Fellow at the Bunting-Cobb Math, Science, and Engineering Residence Hall for women at Rutgers' Douglass College. Frances is a 2003 alumna of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

Luciann Cuenca was selected as an NIH UGSP Scholar for the current academivillanueva.jpgc year.

Congratulations to Luciann, a winner in the highly competitive National Institutes of Health
Undergraduate Scholarship Program. Luciann was a student in this summer's RISE class and
is a rising junior, biochemistry major, at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC.

Eneida Villaneuva, RISE 2002, was co-author on a paper, …
Eneida Villaneuva, RISE 2002, a summer student with Dr. Gary Brewer, Dept. of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology & Immunology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, was co-author on a paper, …

Wilson GM, Lu J, Sutphen K, Suarez Y, Sinha S, Brewer B, Villanueva-Feliciano E, Ysla RM, Charles S, Brewer G. Phosphorylation of p40AUF1 regulates binding to A+U-rich mRNA-destabilizing elements and protein-induced changes in ribonucleoprotein structure. J. Biol. Chem., 2003; 278: 33039-33048.

Miya Peay, RISE 2002, finalist at the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)
April 2003: Miya Peay, RISE '02, was a finalist at the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), where she presented a
paper,"Development of Manganese Oxide Cathode Materials for Rechargeable Lithium Batteries". Miya won a cash award and a paid summer internship at the Rohm and Haas Company. Her paper reflected the RISE work she did in the laboratory of Professor John Xu, Ceramics and Materials Science and Engineering.

RISE 2002 Scholar Rebecca Baerga Wins Award at ABRCMS in New Orleans.

Congratulations to Rebecca Baerga, winner for best oral presentation in the Physiological Sciences at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in New Orleans this November. More than 1600 students attended the conference. Ms.Baerga, a senior at Pontifical Catholic University in Ponce, Puerto Rico, presented work done in the laboratory of Dr. Federico Sesti, Department of Biophysics and Physiology, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Her talk, "Investigation of the molecular mechanism by which T8A-MiRP1 causes susceptibility to sulfamethoxazole" explored malfunction of ion channels at the myocardial cell membrane and has important implications for our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involving cardiac arrhythmia.

RISE 2001 Scholar Anthea Aikins Wins Award at ABRCMS in Orlando, Florida.

Congratulations to Anthea Anita Aikins, Delaware State University, who won an award for best poster in Environmental Sciences at the Annual Biomedical Research for Minority Students ( this fall. Anthea's poster on hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico was based on her summer RISE research at Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. To learn more about Anthea's project, click here.

RISE 2001 Scholar Sabrice Guerrier Wins Award from the American Society for Cell Biology.

Sabrice Guerrier won an award for presentation of his RISE research at the American Society for Cell Biology in Washington, D.C. in December. He placed second in the undergraduate poster competition! Sabrice's work, "The Importance of p27-KIP1 in the oligodendrocyte progenitor proliferation and differentiation," was perfomed under the guidance of Professor Patrizia Casaccia-Bonnefil last summer. To learn more about Sabrice's project, click here.