An honors student, conference speaker, and teaching assistant, biochemistry major Joseph Giancaspro ‘20 participated in a month-long research excursion at the University of Tokyo in the Summer of 2018. As a research student of Iona professor Sunghee Lee, Ph.D., Board of Trustees Endowed Professor of Chemistry, he worked in the laboratory of Shoji Takeuchi, Ph.D., in a collaboration that focused on the engineering of a patterned micro-device for Raman micro-spectroscopic studies. This rare opportunity was made possible by an NSF grant awarded to Dr. Lee, who has been instrumental in bringing note-worthy experiences to Iona students that both enrich their education and help them stand out in competitive fields.
In April 2019, Joseph was on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, where he was selected to present his Chemistry research as part of the 23rd Annual Posters on the Hill event of the Council on Undergraduate Research. He testified to the significance of undergraduate research initiatives to members of Congress with his project, titled "The Ubiquitous Drug: Caffeine's Effect on a Cell Membrane Model under Electrophysiological Observation." Joseph, along with his research mentor Dr. Lee, bore witness to the importance and the value of federal investment in undergraduate research, to members of Congress, congressional staff and federal government officials, including staff from Senator Schumer and Representative Sean Maloney. It is remarkable to note that Joseph is the second Iona student selected to showcase a research project at the Posters on the Hill event.
Joseph commented that being "selected to attend and present was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I had the opportunity to discuss my project with government representatives and lawmakers both at the event and in private sessions. It was very meaningful to have the chance to represent Iona College and be an advocate for institutions that support research at the undergraduate level.”
An Honors program scholarship recipient, Giancaspro came to Iona for its small class sizes, and to work under the mentorship of distinguished faculty such as Dr. Lee. In his time at Iona, he has been involved with the re-establishment of the Pre-Health club and is currently an organic chemistry teaching assistant for Dr. Marius Draeger. In the last two years, Giancaspro has presented at the American Chemical Society national conference in Washington D.C. (2017) and Boston (2018), as well as the National Conference of Undergraduate Research at the University of Central Oklahoma (2018).
Presently preparing for the medical school application process, Giancaspro is grateful for the many enriching experiences he's had while at Iona, that will surely make him stand-out among other applicants. He advises current and prospective students to get involved, challenge yourself, and become an engaged part of the Iona family.