Global CUNY 2015 Guest Speakers

Ilona Kretzschmar -Keynote

Ilona Kretzschmar received her Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry at the Technical University of Berlin in 1999. During her graduate research with Prof. H. Schwarz, she studied reactions of metal cations with organic molecules in the gas phase, employing Fourier-transform ion-cyclotron resonance and guided-ion beam mass spectrometry. From 2000 to 2002, she was a Feodor-Lynen postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, working on hydrocarbon radical-rearrangement reactions on clean and modified metal surfaces. In 2002, she joined Prof. M. A. Reed’s Molecular Electronics group in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Yale University as research associate to familiarize herself with the field of molecular electronics. Currently, she is a professor at the City College of New York. Her research interests range from Janus and patchy particle preparation to the experimental and theoretical study of their molecular and field-directed assembly and their application.


Juan Carlos Mercado

Juan Carlos Mercado is the CCNY Dean of the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies. He is also Director of the Study Abroad and International Programs at the College. Prior to his appointment as Dean, Mercado was Professor and Chair of Foreign Languages and Literature at CCNY from 2000 to 2007, and Acting Provost of the College in 2011. He also teaches at the PhD Program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages at the CUNY Graduate Center.

He has worked on 19th Century Spanish American Literature, History of Ideas, and on the Spanish exploration of what is today the United States. Mercado is the author of many books, reviews and articles. His most recent publications are two annotated editions of Menéndez de Avilés and Florida: Chronicles of his Expeditions (2010), Juan María Gutiérrez’s Escritores Coloniales (Juan María Gutiérrez’s Colonial Writers, 2012).

As Dean of the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies, he launched the MA program in the Study of the Americas in Spring 2010. He organized the First Distinguished Professors Lecture Series (2008) and the Book Talk Lecture Series (2009 and 2010) as well as other Lecture Series from 2010 to 2013. Also, he organized The Halls at Bowling Green (CWE/CCNY). The Hall is a curatorial incubator serving the student body and downtown community with contemporary art exhibitions. Currently he is leading the Strategic Planning Initiative at the Center. He is the Founder and Chair of The Americas Film Festival of New York (TAFFNY). Mercado is also one of the founders, along with the Dean of Division of Humanities and the Arts and the Dean of the Colin Powell School of Civic and Global Leadership, of Human Rights: A Yearlong Forum at the City College of New York.

As Director of the Study Abroad and International Programs, Mercado has increased the number of international programs in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. He was instrumental in bringing the Global E3 to the College (Global Engineering Education Exchange Program). Recognizing a growing demand for internationally-experienced engineering graduates, a group of leading universities around the world established the Global E3 in 1995. Global E3 allows engineering students at member universities to enjoy a fulfilling study abroad experience. He has also been working closely with the NOAA-CREST Center to increase its presence internationally.

Mercado is a member of the President’s Council for Inclusive Excellence, a member of the Advisory Board of the CUNY Dominican Institute, and a member of the Executive Committee of the PhD Program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages at the CUNY Graduate Center. In Fall 2014, Mercado received the Simon Bolivar Award from the CCNY Alumni Association for his services to the Latino Community and the City of New York.


Marvin Bennett

Marvin Bennett is a master’s degree student at Lehman College studying rat models of schizophrenia. Marvin has been involved with the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) for over four years; first as a research assistant and now as an Activity coordinator. During this time Marvin has been able to conduct research in New York, Cartagena and Feira de Santana. In his role as the Activity Coordinator for the LSAMP Marvin hopes to encourage and enable students to find their passion and pursue a career in the sciences.


Dinely A. Colon

Dinely became part of the LSAMP program as a research assistant. In 2011, she had the opportunity to work in an Osseointegration project at New York University in the Biomimetic department. In 2013, Dinely was part of the Marshall Plan Foundation, which allowed her to perform research in Graz, Austria.

In the pursuit of her master degree, Dinaly had the opportunity to work at the Hospital for Special Surgery investigating calcium phosphate bone cements for the subchondroplastic procedure. Right after graduation, another research abroad opportunity took her to Stockholm, Sweden where she worked with the Royal Institute of Technology and the Karonlinska Institute in a project that investigates the relationship of growth plates and evolution.


Liza Khan

Liza Khan is a Program Advisor for the Office of Study Abroad and International Programs at The City College of New York. She received her B.S. in Childhood Education from The City College of New York and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Liza’s family migrated from Bangladesh to the United States when she was five years old. She currently speaks four different languages and hopes to learn more. During her career in higher education, she worked at The Center For Worker Education (CWE) and Queens College. Liza joined the Office of Study Abroad and International Programs in 2015. Coming from an international background, she finds it important to spread awareness of cross-cultural education and communication.

In addition to advising students, Liza works closely with CUNY students regarding study abroad plans and future goals. Her duties include recruitment, outreach, and serving as a resource expert to provide students and faculty with information on study abroad scholarships, policies, and procedures. Liza is a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Her interests include international education, cross-cultural communication, global perspectives, leadership, and student engagement. Liza’s future goal is to expand her areas of expertise in the field of International Education.


Jason Mighty

Jason Mighty grew up in Jamaica where his main area of study was the sciences. He graduated with his Bachelor’s in Biology from Lehman College in 2012. He has worked with the LSAMP Program since 2010 both as an undergraduate and graduate student in the Bridge to the Doctorate Program. He is currently enrolled in the Biology Ph.D. program at the CUNY Graduate Center where his research focus is stem cell tissue engineering. His research involves using electrical stimulation to drive neuronal repair and establishing new biomarkers for degenerative diseases.

He has conducted research at several international institutions such as the University of the West Indies in Jamaica looking at seepage rate of toxic chemicals through the water table to elucidate potential contamination factors. He has done research at Maastricht University in the Netherlands looking at stem cell therapy for neurodegenerative diseases and Graz University of Technology in Austria screening microbes for antagonistic activity against pathogenic bacteria. He currently has a collaboration to complete a dual degree with the CUNY Graduate Center and Maastricht University to receive a dual Ph.D. degree.


Jenny Paredes

Ms. Paredes is currently a student of the PhD program in Molecular and Cell Biology at the State University of New York, Brooklyn. She was awarded the Austrian Marshall Plan scholarship for the Summer of 2015 which supported her research activities for three months at the Biochemistry department of the Graz Technological University, where she participated in the their annual poster presentation. She was under the mentorship of Dr. Bogner-Strauss who is a world renowned investigator of diabetes and obesity. Ms. Paredes obtained a Masters in Sciences degree from The City College of New York where she worked as a Research Assistant and Adjunct Lecturer at the Sophie Davis Biomedical School.

Her research experience includes work in the areas of Microbiology, Immunology and Neurosciences and she is also a proud LSAMP-CUNY former participant. Prior to entering the PhD program, she worked as the LSAMP Activity Coordinator at the Borough of Manhattan Community College where additionally to her administrative responsibilities, she participated in research projects as the Laboratory Manager of the Molecular Biology core facility. Her research studies have been presented at the American Society of Immunologists Association Annual Conference as well as the RCMI international meeting. Ms. Paredes is originally from Colombia and would like to continue her work with minority students in the STEM fields.


Francoise Sidime

Francoise Sidime is an LSAMP 5th Year doctoral student at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She is currently working on her dissertation entitled “The effects of Di-n-butyl phthalate in Mice” under the mentorship of Dr. Abdeslem El idrissi. Francoise obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the College of Staten Island while conducting her master’s thesis at the Kennedy Krieger/Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

In 2011, during her doctoral studies; Francoise conducted research overseas in Graz – Austria under the The Franzens-Universität on a Collaborative European Union project called “Bioclaims.” A year later, she secured the international Marshall Plan Scholarship – a joint award from Austria and the USA to conduct research at the Landeskrankenhaus-LKH Hospital in Graz. This award gave her the opportunity to collaborate with the Clinical Division of Nephrology working on the brain-kidney axis under Dr. Kathrin Eller. Her participation in the LSAMP program and her research experience has given her the opportunity to present her research at national and international conferences.

Francoise is also the LSAMP Activity Coordinator at the College of Staten Island. Among her other duties, she serves as the research liaison for the CSTEP program – a program that supports students from underrepresented and economic disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition, Francoise is the Marshall Plan scholarship/TU Graz student liaison – a role that helps in assisting the Technical University of Graz in securing scholarships for LSAMP students. Finally, Francoise is involved in the LSAMP-Morocco collaborative project – a recently established initiative that will provide LSAMP students the opportunity to conduct research in Moroccan universities and medicinal institutes.


Julianne Vernon

Julianne Vernon is a Research Program Officer Associate at the University of Michigan, the College of Literature, Science, and Arts where she is coordinating the implementation of faculty led research projects into introductory chemistry and biology lab courses. She received her bachelors of engineering in chemical engineering from the City College of New York and her doctorate degree at University of Florida in Environmental Engineer. She 8 plus years of experience developing international and national research experience for STEM majors.