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Mentors & Projects

CUNY Research Scholars Program (CRSP)

Mentors and Research Topic Descriptions

Current CUNY Research Scholars Mentors








Physical Sciences



Physical Sciences



Physical Sciences



Biological Sciences






Biological Sciences



Physical Sciences



Physical Sciences



Biological Sciences



Maritime Technology



Physical Sciences



Biological Sciences



Biological Sciences



Physical Sciences



Biological Sciences



Physical Sciences



Communications & Performing Arts



Biological Sciences


Mentor Project Descriptions (updated as of September 16, 2020)

Homar Barcena

Are Your Eggs Organic? Authenticating the provenance of food is an important aspect of consumer protection, particularly for foods that are labeled organic and non-GMO. How do you know that your [more expensive] eggs are indeed organic? This project will focus on the development of a spectroscopic method to detect the difference between an organic and a regular egg. The student will learn sample preparation, instrumental analysis, data pre-processing, and will use cloud computing to characterize different eggs. Are you ready to be an oologist? Works in conjunction with Aleksandr Gorbenko. As of September 23, 2020, this project is full.

Dmitry Brogun

"Biological research on pathogen surveillance in metagenomics dataset utilizing NGS cloud-computing, command-line, and scripting skills. Engaging students in Metagenomics search on Multi-Drug Resistance genes found in MRSA”.

Aleksandr Gorbenko

Chemometric Analysis of Peaberry Coffee. Coffee is one of the most precious global commodities. This project will focus on the development of a method to authenticate peaberry coffee beans by chemometric analysis. The student will learn sample preparation, instrumental analysis, data pre-processing, and will use cloud computing to characterize different coffee beans. CRSP and smell the coffee! Works in conjunction with Homar Barcena. As of September 23, 2020, this project is full.

Kieren Howard

Plant growth in space mud: astroecology studies of the Aguas Zarcas meteorite. On April 23rd, 2019, a meteor fragmented and fell over the town of Aguas Zarcas in northern Costa Rica. The Aguas Zarcas meteorite is a carbonaceous chondrite and records evidence of the earliest stages of solar system formation. Many fragments of the sample were rapidly collected after it fell but many more remain on the ground, hidden in the jungle. Recognizing that the forest will consume these hidden stones, the main collector of this meteorite, Michael Farmer, had a thought to perform an experiment, aiming to grow a plant in the Aguas Zarcas material. To this end he has supplied KCC with a generous volume of this precious material. I am looking for students interested in being involved in this project. We will characterize the sample mineralogy using X-ray diffraction and then attempt to cultivate lichen and a small plant. If we are successful in cultivation, we will then examine any changes to the meteorite mineralogy induced by plant growth.

Conrad Kreuter

Research Project 1: Microprocessor Control of a simulated Fuel Injected Internal Combustion Marine Engine: The KCC Marine Technology Department has built several simulators for classroom use to understand the functions of fuel injection systems on modern marine engines. Current technology in the field uses mechanical means to simulate engine operation. Our design uses microprocessor control of engine functions with no moving parts. The project will involve the programming of a microprocessor to mimic engine functions.

Research Project 2: Design of an automated test bench for marine electrical circuits. The marine technology department has built 7 circuit simulators for testing faults within the circuits. Without an instructor to guide the student, occasionally the student gets lost and frustrated. We would like to develop and automated method to guide the student to successful completion of circuit testing. Any method by which to accomplish this would be up to the research student to specify.

Marie McGovern

“Barcoding soil Nematodes in Brooklyn Botanical Garden soil and compost samples". Works in conjunction with David Michaelson.

Elizabeth Mulligan

I'm still looking at brewing yeast. I want to compare the yeast found in some "bottle conditioned" beers from different breweries located in various parts of the country to see if we can find any differences in the microbiome itself or genetic changes in the yeasts from different locations.

Larbi Rddad

Project 1: The objective of this research is to identify the possible sources of boron that contaminate groundwater in the Newark basin. In this project, a CRSP student will investigate boron-bearing minerals hosted in an igneous rock called diabase that I have collected from a quarry.

Project 2: In this project another CRSP student will investigate a dinosaur footprint sample found in the Triassic formation of the Newark basin (~200 Ma). S/he will identify the name of the dinosaur and the environment in which it lived.

Before engaging in these research projects, students will be exposed and learn about different steps of a scientific method that will help them carry a research project.

Note: Students need to be available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 PM via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

Farshad Tamari

During the Covid-19 campus closure, my research will revolve around bioinformatics. Specifically, my team will compare the sequence of a gene named alpha-tubulin in several plant species to determine whether there are any genomic differences among the plants. If there are, the degree of variability will be analyzed using statistical methods.

Laura Spinu

In general terms, my research is on bilingual cognition. I design and conduct experiments to find out ways in which the bilingual mind is different from the monolingual mind. In some cases, there are advantages (e.g. bilinguals are better at multitasking and they are more resistant to dementia in old age) while in other cases there are disadvantages (for instance, bilinguals have reduced fluency compared to monolinguals when they speak). My research, more specifically, centers around phonetic and phonological learning in mono- and bilingual speakers. Phonetic and phonological learning refers to people's ability to learn new speech sounds as well as how these sounds function in other dialects and languages. To date, I have conducted experiments demonstrating that bilinguals have higher phonetic and phonological learning skills when learning new consonant and vowel patterns, but there may be a slight monolingual advantage in the learning of new intonation patterns. I have also recently shown that auditory sensory memory is enhanced in bilinguals and correlates with phonetic and phonological talent. I am currently looking into articulatory skill and planning to conduct an MRI experiment visualizing the movements of the tongue and other articulators as speakers are learning sounds from new languages (in collaboration with the CUNY Advanced Research Study Center). Overall, this work helps us gain insight not only into how the human mind works, but also into practical matters such as the best strategies for teaching and learning foreign languages.

I welcome student input and assistance with the numerous aspects of my work: designing and running experiments with human subjects, analyzing the data obtained statistically as well as acoustically using specialized software, reading and synthesizing relevant literature, presenting at conferences, and more. I offer the necessary training and encourage my mentees to take the lead on various topics stemming from my ongoing work. As of September 1, 2020, this project is full.