Ten Iona Chemistry/Biochemistry Students Win Top Honors at National Competition After Presenting Compelling Research

As Westchester seeks to build its bio-tech hub, officials should check out the next generation of scientists being cultivated right here.

Student Achievements

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - Colloid and surface chemistry aren’t terms we use everyday, but they influence or comprise nearly every consumer product we use—from cosmetics to paint and medications, and even some of the food we eat. Understanding how the chemical makeup of these products impacts our bodies while also finding ways to make them efficiently was the focus of summer research conducted by ten Iona undergraduate chemistry students. Their efforts paid off.

In August, these remarkable chemistry students won top honors at National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), in San Diego, California where the international chemistry community and the largest professional chemistry society in the world convened from August 24-28, 2019 to present their research.

The conference, attended by over 15,000 chemists, graduate students, and undergraduate chemistry students, gave the Iona students an opportunity to display eight posters illustrating their research findings. All eight posters were presented in a single division, the Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry, alongside graduate students, postdocs, and professionals from around the world. Two posters, from Marnie Skinner & Regan Warmoth (Biochemistry '20) and Tavis Johnson (Chemistry '21), won the ACS Colloid and Surface Chemistry best poster awards, given to only two undergraduate posters.

"Attending this National Meeting is just one of the many ways Iona seeks to ignite a passion for science among our students. This type of hands-on research and the opportunity to present to the best and brightest chemists in the world not only broadens the scope of our students’ experience, it also helps position them for the next chapter, whether that’s an advanced degree, medical school, or a career in the sciences," said Dr. Sunghee Lee, who is an endowed professor at Iona College’s Department of Chemistry.

Every year, Iona Chemistry/Biochemistry students make a big splash at the ACS National Meeting. "This year, the receipt of two prestigious awards signifies the excellent scholarship demonstrated by Iona students," notes Dr. Lee.

A committed faculty that takes an active role in student mentorship, engagement with real world internships, and opportunities to draw experience from Iona alumni in the field sets the science programs apart at Iona College. The result is compelling and dynamic research, demonstrated in the topics covered, which included the following: a study of materials used in drug delivery and their impact on our cells, the effect that over-the-counter pain relievers may have on changing our cell membranes, the safety of certain drug delivery methods, how our cells change when they come in contact with foreign molecules, the study of cell membranes and how they function, the influence caffeine has on the properties of cell membranes, a study of the impact of trans-fatty acid in foods on cells, and a study of the ions that bathe the membranes surrounding a human cell and their functions.

From front left: Regan Warmoth ('20 Biochemistry), Lynnie Chong ('21 Biochemistry), Research Mentor, Dr. Sunghee Lee, Escarlin Perez ('22 Biochemistry), Marnie Skinner ('20 Biochemistry).
From back left: Patrick Scollan ('21 Chemistry), Juan Rosario ('21 Chemistry), AJ Liles ('21 Biochemistry), Jorge Villa ('22 Chemistry), Tavis Johnson ('21 Chemistry), and Joseph Giancaspro ('20 Biochemistry).

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 campus is 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.