Four Biology Students Win Competitive National Research Grants

November 4, 2020

Four undergraduate biology students at St. John Fisher College were awarded TriBeta Research Grant Awards. The students received grants totaling $2,509 to support their biology research at Fisher.

Cheyenne Ernst, Veronika Jurzcuk, Caden Jensen, and Joseph Current

The grants were funded by the Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta) Research Scholarship Foundation. Fisher has had an active chapter of TriBeta since 2013.

“TriBeta supports undergraduate research through competitive grants, national meetings, and their undergraduate biology research journal, BIOS,” said Dr. Noveera Ahmed, associate professor and chair of biology, who also serves as advisor for Fisher’s chapter. “Our students compete against their peers in biology programs across the nation and these awards are further evidence that our students are second to none.”

Cheyenne Ernst, who is mentored by Dr. Jonathan Millen, assistant professor of biology, was awarded $900 through TriBeta for her research on cancer.

“I am grateful to have been awarded this grant because it will give me the opportunity to expand my research, allowing for the study of diverse cancer types that wouldn’t be possible otherwise,” said Ernst. “Cancer touches many lives, and the chance to be a part of research like this means a lot to me. I look forward to applying the techniques that I have worked hard to master, and being able to further contribute to both the TriBeta and Fisher scientific communities.”

Veronika Jurzcuk, under the mentorship of Dr. Todd Camenisch, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was awarded $800. 

“This grant is important to me because it means I can go one step further in my research and be one step closer to improving the future of medicine and the understanding of cardiac biology,” said Jurzcuk.

Caden Jensen and Joseph Current, who are engaging in research under the mentorship of Dr. Ed Freeman, associate professor of biology, were awarded $486 and $323, respectively.

“This grant will enable me to purchase the necessary reagents to conduct controlled, experimental trials using zebrafish in an effort to find natural compounds that protect against BPS-induced obesity,” Current explained, adding that participating in undergraduate research has helped develop the critical thinking skills needed to succeed in graduate school and beyond.

Jensen agreed, noting that the experience of conducting research helps students build connections and give back to the scientific community.

“Undergraduate research has given me a better understanding and connection to the basic science genesis of clinical advancements as I hope to further my education at medical school,” he said.