NSF Grants Power Research
Over the last three years, nearly a dozen Sarah Lawrence students have spent the summer or academic year as research assistants to biology faculty member Drew Cressman, in an ongoing study of a protein crucial to immune system responses. A 2002 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded the project, and in January, Cressman applied for a renewal, which would support the project for an additional three years.
“Much of the new proposal,” he says, “is based on data that two students, Sebila and Zerina Kratovac, both class of ’05, generated last summer, much of it of their own initiation.
“I have found it incredibly rewarding to watch students develop their abilities over time and become more skilled at asking and answering questions about the immune system, using the tools of molecular biology.”
One such student, Christin Janczak ’05, came to Sarah Lawrence as a professional dancer, her eye on a career in choreography. By the end of her first year, though, she had signed on as Cressman’s first lab assistant. Four years later, Janczak has a long list of awards and achievements in the sciences, including a prestigious internship at the Food and Drug Administration and co-authorship of a recently published paper. She plans to pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine.
“I’ve learned what happens when your experiment fails and you have to redesign it,” Janczak says, “and what happens when your experiment succeeds, and where you go from there. I want to take what I’ve learned at Sarah Lawrence and use it in the real world to make a difference.”
“I think the success of the program breeds its own success,” Cressman notes. “Students like Christin will move on, but they leave behind them a legacy of enthusiasm, dedication and excellence for future participants in the research program to follow.”Cressman is one of four Sarah Lawrence science faculty members who have received NSF grants in recent years: Raymond Clarke, researching the effects of wave and water motion on the feeding habits of reef-dwelling fish; Karen Rader, investigating the relationship between museum exhibits and the public’s understanding of science; and Ryan Hinrichs, studying the reaction between gases and other airborne particles, and their contribution to air pollution.