About Cumberland

Partnership with Rowan University results in biology research opportunity for Cumberland grads

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A biology-focused collaboration between Cumberland County College and Rowan University has made it possible for Alejandro Leon Hernandez of Bridgeton, and Luis Santiago Ortiz of Vineland, to be the first students to participate in an undergraduate summer research experience.

The Cumberland Bridge to Rowan program, or CB2R, is funded through the National Institutes of Health, with institutional support from the Department of Biological Sciences at Cumberland and the College of Science and Mathematics at Rowan to help biology students succeed in their development as scientists.

“The CB2R program is an incredible opportunity for both students and faculty,” said Dr. Mark Randa, Associate Professor of Biology at Cumberland County College. “The program provides our students a truly unique experience that will give them a competitive advantage as they continue their study of biology.”

Both Hernandez and Ortiz are 2018 graduates of Cumberland County College—each majoring in Biomedical Science—and the two have set their sights on eventually enrolling in medical school. They credit Cumberland’s professors with encouraging their pursuit of a career in science.

Luis Ortiz“Professor [Melissa] Young has been one of the professors who has inspired me the most,” Ortiz said. “She has the ability to make her students be involved and explore their desires.”

Ortiz went on to say that, along with Young, Cumberland professors Dr. Mark Randa, Dr. Cortney Bolden and Jeffrey Burke helped him to become a better scientist by instilling a passion for his studies.

“Science is something that interests me even when I don’t have course work,” said Ortiz, who came to Vineland from Puerto Rico three years ago. “There is no limit to what can be accomplished within the STEM fields because the more you know, the more questions you have.”

The students’ research will likely contribute to a presentation at the annual Rowan STEM Symposium, a national student research conference or regional conference, or it could be part of a submission to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Alejandro Hernandez“It will make me proud to have my research selected to be presented,” said Hernandez. “One of my goals is to be a part of research that gets a paper published in a scholarly journal.”

By increasing the baccalaureate completion of underrepresented, low-income biomedical science students, CB2R will help to diversify the biomedical research workforce by bringing new perspectives, and establishing important connections to diverse populations.

“My mother attended college in Mexico, and I am the first in my family to attend college here in the United States,” Hernandez said. “I want to make both my parents proud, and I want to set an example for my younger brother and sister to follow their heart, achieve great things and work passionately to obtain everything they desire.”

For more information about the Cumberland Bridge to Rowan program, visit: www.cccnj.edu/CB2R