Iona College Undergraduate Research Students Publish Education Paper in Peer-Reviewed Journal

Academics, Alumni Success

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – The research group of Dr. Sunghee Lee at Iona College has just published a peer-reviewed education article, “Structural Determination of Model Phospholipid Membranes by Raman Spectroscopy: Laboratory Experiment,” appearing in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, a publication of Wiley.

The article provides an experimental module designed to understand cell membranes through integrated concepts of chemical structure, molecular interactions and membrane structural properties. The main analytical tool used to investigate these systems was confocal Raman microspectrometer, an instrument acquired via a National Science Foundation (NSF)-Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant award (NSF-MRI-1427705). Since its introduction, the confocal Raman microspectrometer has been a central workforce for the enhancement of research and education at Iona College.

Many research papers in peer-reviewed journals have been published in recent years using confocal Raman microspectrometer from Lee’s research group, including "Ibuprofen and the Phosphatidylcholine Bilayer: Membrane Water Permeability in the Presence and Absence of Cholesterol" and "Molecular Organization in Mixed SOPC and SDPC Model Membranes: Water Permeability Studies of Polyunsaturated Lipid Bilayer."

However, the publication of this article has special meaning, because as an educational article, its techniques can be readily implemented to enhance students’ learning in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology and related sciences such as biophysics and cell biology, which has great potential for wide dissemination to the education community.

Under Lee’s guidance, this project is a result of diligent work over the course of many years and is coauthored by five graduates of Iona’s undergraduate research program:  

  • Joseph Giancaspro ’20, Biochemistry
  • Patrick Scollan ’21, Biochemistry
  • Juan Rosario ’21, Biochemistry
  • Elizabeth Miller ’19, Biochemistry
  • Samuel Braziel ’18, Chemistry

“This is truly an amazing and harmonious team effort,” said Lee. “Congratulations to the team!”

Braziel is founding member of the Raman project, and spent most of his undergraduate research time establishing the protocols and initial parameterization. He is now employed full-time in the industry as an analytical scientist. Both Miller and Giancaspro, who dedicated themselves to developing optimum conditions of the method, are in medical school. Scollan, currently in a master’s program in science education, and Rosario, who is heading to medical school, improved the application to the cell membrane models.

Founded in 1940, Iona College is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of over 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is accredited by AACSB International, a prestigious recognition awarded to just five percent of business schools worldwide. The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2021.” Iona College also recently launched a new, fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona College and NewYork-Presbyterian announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, to be principally located on the College’s new campus at 171 White Plains Road, Bronxville, N.Y. Supported by a $20 million gift from NewYork-Presbyterian, the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences is expected to offer a new vision for collaborative health care education, modern workforce development, and community care.