The City College of New York is one of several recipients nationally of a Research and Mentoring for Postbaccalaureates (RaMP) in Biological Sciences program grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The $2,999,169 award to a team led by The City College Division of Science’s Ruth E. Stark and David Jeruzalmi will run for four years beginning in fall 2022. It will enable CCNY to establish a regional network to support full-time research, mentoring, and professional training for recent college graduates who have had few or no research or training opportunities during college in research fields typically supported by the NSF’s Directorate of Biological Sciences (BIO).
CCNY’s winning RaMP proposal, “On-Ramp to the Molecular Machine Shop: Postbaccalaureate Training in Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Biodesign,” is the second major NSF grant to the College and its partners this summer.
It follows a $3 million NSF Research Training grant awarded this month to the CCNY-based CUNY Advanced Science Research Center (CUNY ASRC) to launch Nanoscience Connected to Life, an initiative that will increase the training of diverse Ph.D. students for careers that integrate aspects of life sciences with nanoscience. CCNY’s Stark and Stephen O’Brien are two of that project’s four co-Principal Investigators (PIs); the PI is Rein Ulijn, Director of the ASRC’s Nanoscience Initiative under the umbrella of the CUNY Graduate Center.
Following are details of the two NSF grants totaling nearly $6 million.
On-Ramp to the Molecular Machine Shop Grant
Through its winning proposal “On-Ramp to the Molecular Machine Shop: Postbaccalaureate Training in Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Biodesign,” CCNY will foster the growth of a globally competitive and diverse research workforce and build our nation’s innovative scientific skills, advancing a strategic objective of the NSF. It will endeavor to create a robust network that will support full-time research, mentoring, and training for recent graduates who have had few or no research or training opportunities during college in research fields typically supported by the NSF’s BIO Division. The proposal devised strong evidence-based and inclusive mentorship programs that will advance the goal of creating a competitive and highly representative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce in the U.S. Transitions into the STEM workforce could include pathways into research-focused M.S. or Ph.D. programs, industry, federal or state agencies, education and research centers, and other STEM-enabled careers.
Individuals from groups underrepresented in STEM, first generation college students, and students at under-resourced institutions frequently have limited opportunities to participate in the undergraduate research experiences that are necessary to be competitive for graduate programs or other STEM career pathways. This situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, further slowing efforts to ensure diversity and inclusion in these fields. CCNY’s proposal will provide postbaccalaureate research experiences for three cohorts of trainees, either in ongoing research programs and existing networks, or in new research projects designed specifically for the RaMP network.
Nanoscience Connected to Life Grant
This five-year $3 million grant encompasses seven CUNY campuses. In addition to Stark and O’Brien, other CCNY core participants include physics professor Ronald Koder.The mission to train diverse Ph.D. students for careers that integrate aspects of life sciences with nanoscience is connected to Understanding the Rules of Life (one of 10 NSF “big ideas”). The program will promote the investigation, understanding, directing and repurposing of biological concepts to improve human and environmental well-being through nanoscience. It will provide CUNY Graduate Center students who are enrolled in biochemistry, chemistry, and physics Ph.D. programs and conducting bio-nanotechnology research with stipends, research training, mentorship, and professional-development internships at industry and government labs.
The Nanoscience Connected to Life training program will expand research in bio-nanotechnology by providing direct funding to 25 PhD students and by involving an additional 125 biochemistry, chemistry, and physics students in its events and opportunities. The trainees will benefit from dissertation research mentoring by faculty from multiple disciplines, helping students gain experience in interdisciplinary and team-based research. Cross-disciplinary teams will collaborate to address urgent societal challenges related to environmental instabilities and health crises.