Geneseo Students Benefit from Roswell Park Science Retreat on Campus

SUNY Geneseo students or graduates attending the recent Roswell Park Cancer Institute Science Retreat were (l to r) senior Alexandra Mandarano and 2013 graduates Fangyuan Jin and Travis Dominguez.

GENESEO, N.Y. – SUNY Geneseo students involved in undergraduate research at the college had the opportunity to attend the recent Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) Science Retreat on the Geneseo campus, where they heard presentations by RPCI scientists involved in cutting-edge research.

It's the second year Geneseo has hosted the academic conference, which brings more than 200 cancer researchers to campus, including clinicians, scientists, residents, students and post-doctoral researchers.

Geneseo students attending the conference were Leanne Chen, a senior biology major from Leicester, N.Y.; Alexandra Mandarano, a senior biochemistry major from Spencerport, N.Y.; and Maydelis Minaya, a freshman from New York City. Also attending were 2013 Geneseo graduates Nicolas Peterson, a biochemistry major from Brooklyn, N.Y.;  Erika Valentine, a biochemistry major from Hastings, N.Y.; Travis Dominguez, a biochemistry major from Delhi, N.Y.; and Fangyuan Jin, a biology major from Zhejiang Province, China.

"I attended the conference both years and it's very interesting to see the new information coming out of these prominent research labs," said Mandarano. "It's a very collaborative atmosphere."

Mandarano is working on campus this summer as a research assistant for Kevin Militello, associate professor of biology at Geneseo. Also working with Militello are Chen and Valentine. Jin conducted research under the supervision of Robert O'Donnell, distinguished teaching professor of biology at Geneseo, and Doninguez did the same with Jani Lewis, associate professor of biology. Minaya was a student in a recent class O'Donnell taught.

"I've been lucky to have the research opportunities here at Geneseo that likely wouldn't have been available at a bigger university," said Mandarano, who is planning on attending graduate school after graduating next year with an eye on becoming a research scientist. She also has attended other academic research conferences as a Geneseo student.

About 900 Geneseo students are involved in undergraduate research projects at Geneseo during the year and many present their findings at academic conferences or serve as co-authors of papers accepted for publication.

"Having access to an academic conference where some of the latest cancer research is presented is a tremendous opportunity for our students involved in undergraduate research to get insight into what they might experience someday as research scientists," said O'Donnell, whose own research focuses on cancer. "Many students in our biology classes have aspirations of going on to graduate school and professional school and the Roswell Park event was a wonderful opportunity to see topics they learned in classes at Geneseo being applied to the study and treatment of cancer."

Roswell Park Cancer Institute is a comprehensive cancer center located in Buffalo, N.Y., with academic affiliations with the University at Buffalo and the University of Rochester. RPCI is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in upstate New York. The institute attracted major research grants and contracts totaling more than $81 million this year and had more than 650 clinical trials in cancer research last year alone.

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