National Meeting of American Chemical Society Features Work by Stern College Students

May 18, 2007 — Four students from Stern College for Women presented their research at the Spring National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago.

Sarah Guigui, Nilly Brodt, Rachel Yamnik, and Nina Bursky-Tammam presented their research during the Undergraduate Poster Session, along with students from universities all over the world.

Ms. Brodt and Ms. Yamnik studied the S6K1 protein under the supervision of Stern College for Women professor Dr. Marina Holz. The S6K1 protein is found in higher than usual numbers in people with certain kinds of breast cancer.

The first part of their research investigated whether having higher levels of the protein gives breast cancer cells an advantage when they are placed in adverse conditions.

In the second part of their research, the students generated viruses that specifically target S6K1 and lowered the levels of this protein in the cells.
“We are now in the process of studying how the cells are affected by the decreased amount of protein,” Ms. Brodt explained. “We hypothesize that by knocking down the presence of only this one protein in the cell, we may very well be able to affect the growth of the mammary cancer cell as a whole.”

Sarah Guigui of France researched the thermodynamics of DNA. Her major finding was that instead of hydrogen bonding, it is base stacking that really plays a major role in the stability of DNA.

Under the guidance of Stern College for Women professor Dr. Anatoly Frenkel, Ms. Bursky-Tammam of Great Neck investigated tiny collections of atoms – nanoparticles. She used X-ray analysis to evaluate their possible application as catalysts in fuel cells. Ms. Bursky-Tammam conducted her research at the Nanoparticle Factory, a facility developed by Dr. Frenkel and his students at Stern College for Women, as well as Brookhaven National Laboratory. There, Ms. Bursky-Tammam used a dedicated facility (a synchrotron) which generated powerful beams of X-rays to probe atomic positions inside the nanoparticles and investigate their structure and properties.

“The conference was a unique, wonderful experience,” Ms. Bursky-Tammam said. “I had not anticipated how exciting it would be to have other undergraduate students and even professional scientists approach me during the poster session, expressing interest in my poster and asking me to explain it.

Ms. Guigui, Ms. Brodt, and Ms. Yamnik will be part of the Roth Scholars program this summer, where they will help researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine with their investigations.

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