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Director of Research
Helene Bach, Ph.D.
Office of Academic Affairs
Room S715H
Email: hbach@bmcc.cuny.edu
(212) 220-8320, ext. 7980

Faculty Research: Science

Astronomy

Professor Ford does research on Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)---galaxies which appear to have an accreting black hole and/or significant star formation in their nuclei. His primary interest is in studying the structures that allow accretion onto black holes and how matter--- fueling activity--- arrives in the nucleus. Prof. Ford works with a new kind of optical interferometric technique called non-redundant masking to produce high-contrast, high-resolution images. He also investigates the absorption of gravitational waves.

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Professor McKernan studies the central engine of active galactic nuclei (AGN) using X-ray and infrared observations of AGN to constrain models of accretion onto supermassive black holes. He also carries out theoretical studies of fueling of AGN and is interested in (magnetohydrodynamics) MHD simulations of the central engine. He is part of a team applying a new detector technique to space telescopes in order to image details in AGN.

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Professor Minor's current research makes use of high-resolution images of gravity lenses to learn more about the structure of the dark-matter halos. The project's goals include testing the Cold Dark Matter (CDM) paradigm by analyzing a sample of gravitational lenses observed at high resolution. The project will evaluate methods to detect and characterize substructure in gravitational lens galaxies. In particular it will consist of observing lenses in the submillimeter electromagnetic spectral range. The results will help determine the type of particle dark matter is.

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Biology

Autosomal-dominant Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD), are caused by mutations in the LMNA gene that encodes lamin A/C.  Professor Benavides’ research involves elucidating the molecular mechanisms that regulate the expression and localization of lamin A/C, which is necessary to understand thise rare disease and to design efficient treatment approaches. To determine whether there is a relation between this abnormal morphology with the expression levels of lamin A/C and/or Msp58, Professor Benavides down-regulated lamin A/C and analyzed its effect on Msp58 protein levels by immunoblotting. The results confirm that the depletion of lamin A/C leads to a significant reduction of Msp58, suggesting an uncharacterized association between these two proteins.

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Professor Iyengar is currently involved in the following collaborative research projects. One project is attempting to chemically modify surfaces of bio-waste to remove contaminants/pollutants like phenols from waste water. Another project is on identifying compound(s) responsible for anti-viral activity in an ancient medicinal formulation from the Far East. She is also interested in theoretically interesting molecules (e.g. studying the effects of aryl groups on the Cope barrier in Semibullvalenes). Lastly, as part of the Teaching Academy, she is exploring ways to improve “student success” by making small changes in her classes.

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Professor Jayant works with the sea urchin Lytechnius variegatus and marine bacteria associated with this urchin. One of her research projects involves extending the shelf-life of sea urchin eggs for laboratory use using liposomes. Given the limited life span of isolated eggs from L. variegatus, one aim of this work has been to make sea urchin gametes more readily available and useful for developmental research and for class experiments in Biology labs. Another aspect of her research is to isolate and identify marine bacteria associated with these urchins. Some of these bacteria harbor plasmids and some produce agar and alginate degrading enzymes. Research projects focus on characterizing these bacteria and their plasmids.

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Professor Koroch has research interests in regeneration and propagation of unique genotypes of medicinal plants using in vitro culture techniques; the accumulation of natural products under different environmental conditions and in different organs and the biological activity of these natural products. Professor Koroch is also collaborating with Rutgers University researchers on a project searching for the genes associated with disease resistance in basil downy mildew.

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Professor Liang’s research focuses on functions of TGF-β signaling in animal development. She is using C. elegans as a model to dissect the molecular aspects of stress response and evaluate how genes affect aging process, in particular the DBL-1 / TGF-β pathway components. Genes regulating stress response affect significantly the efficiency of cancer therapy. One type of cellular stress response often results in cross-protection of other stressors in cells. Stress response genes and pathways could be therapeutic targets for cancers. Meanwhile, TGF-beta signaling components are mutated in various cancers at various frequencies. Altered gene expression also plays important role in tumor progression and tumor metastasis.

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Professor Mata is currently working on the study of light on the growth, photosynthetic capacity, development, leaf production and oil production of basil plants Ocimum basilicum. By tracing some drought resistance strategies in wild plants and applying them to crops, we would have more drought tolerant crops, expanding the areas where they could grow in our increasingly arid planet, and saving on irrigation water.

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Professor Priano’s research involves the examination of microbial life in local fresh water areas and in coastal marine regions. Recent projects have included identifying and characterizing protist life in intertidal environments and examining relationships among organisms that co-inhabit these zones. Student research has focused on determining optimal growth criteria for isolated protists, maintaining laboratory cultures, exploring the response of these mircoorganisms to conditions of environmental stress, and preparing DNA samples for sequence analysis and phylogenetic identification.  

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Professor Rafferty’s research focuses on how to regulate the interactions between oral epithelial cells (keratinocytes) and a key bacteria in the development of periodontal disease and gingivitis, Porphyromonas gingivalis. This bacteria’s mechanism of action is to invade oral epithelial cells and subsequently modify the host cell response to promote destruction of the tissue. This project has two avenues: 1. Determine if modifications to the host cytoskeleton will reduce the invasion and pro-destructive nature of the bacteria and 2. Examine the transcriptome (mRNA) changes in both the bacteria and host cell during their interactions with each other.

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Professor Fernandez Romero’s research involves developing and testing a Griffithsin Microbicide. Griffithsin (GRFT) is a protein isolated from Griffithsia sp. (red algae) and probably the most potent anti-HIV agent that has been described in the literature. Additionally, GRFT has shown antiviral activity against hepatitis C virus, SARS virus, herpes simplex virus and Ebola virus. GRFT for drug development is currently produced in tobacco plants, and the initial pre-clinical testing shows a good safety profile. He is also working on developing a dual compartment MPT, which may prevent vaginal and rectal acquisition of HIV and other STIs.

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Professor Tezapsidis’ research with students addresses the cellular mechanisms involved in neurodegeneration. She is regarded as an expert in molecular neuroscience relating to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, as well as preclinical drug development. Professor Tezapsidis is particularly concerned with increasing neuronal survival and has devised a number of cellular assays that can be easily performed using immunocytochemistry, Western blotting and molecular biology. Student research focuses on the discovery of novel molecules/pathways that contribute to the death of cultured neurons, potentially leading to the identification of new targets for the development of drug therapies for neurodegenerative disease.

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Chemistry

Professor Gonzalez-Urbina is doing research on the optical properties of colloidal crystals, specifically to improve the efficiency of organic light emitting devices (OLEDs) and of light harvesting devices like photovoltaics (OPVs). He has demonstrated that photonic structures such as colloidal photonic crystals have the potential to improve energy transfer mechanism, or even to force forbidden intramolecular energy transfers in these devices. Professor Gonzalez-Urbina’s current work aims to improve the previous results and to extend the study to a larger range of molecules.

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Professor Navarro’s current research includes: 1. Continuous-flow adsorption of contaminants using natural and chemically modified hydrogels; 2. Bioremoval of heavy metals by natural biopolymers; 3. Toxic and common metals like copper and zinc are always present in pipes; 4. Preparation of soil conditioners from waste materials and eutrophicated waters and 5. Chemical sulfurization of natural polymers as an enhancement of adsorptive properties towards metal ions.

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Engineering

Professor Ardebili has been researching the active control of boundary layer separation using micro electro mechanical systems. He also conducts research in self-sensing of composite material to develop technology for structural health monitoring of components manufactured with carbon micro-fiber and/or carbon nanotubes composite material.

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Professor Niyazov is working on the design of an energy efficient solar power system with new integrated sun-tracking mechanism. He has also been investigating the welding of dissimilar materials by energy of ultrasonic waves and laser beams. The investigations found that it was possible to join thermoplastic materials with different melting points (which was not previously done). This result is very important in manufacturing engineering, especially, in the design of biomedical devices made of dissimilar materials, such as a cardiac pacemaker, artificial heart or artificial kidney.

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Professor Torres’ research area is computational materials science research: The development of technologies for the production of a more “green”–environmentally friendly–energy is highly dependent on solving a large number of individual breakthrough tasks. These range from identification of novel nano-materials to optimization of chemical processes at the molecular level. The overall goal of his research is to provide insight into the behavior of materials and engineering processes and to correlate atomic scale structure to practical performances for energy technology.

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Physics

Professor Fiolhais' work involves analyzing data collected from high energy proton-proton collisions, in order to perform precision measurements of the top quark and Higgs boson properties. These measurements are used to establish the limits of new physics effects beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, above the electroweak symmetry breaking scale. Phenomenological studies in particle physics involve many interdisciplinary fields, from statistical analysis to computational modeling, with many applications outside the field, such as in signal processing and financial markets.

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Professor Hoffman's research has centered the areas of surface science, including the absorption and reaction of molecules on single crystal metal surfaces, as well as nanotechnology, thin films and molecular probes. His current projects focus on the synthesis and reactivity of nanostructured gold surfaces, and graphene; especially the laser-scribing of thin film graphene microstructures.

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Professor Tsiklauri's research fields are nuclear physics, hyper and kaonic nuclear physics and physics of the quantum dots. He is applying accurate few-body theoretical method to various systems such as kaonic nuclei and quantum dots. In particular, he is researching kaonic nuclear physics. The Kaonicnucleus is composed of an anitikaons, neutrons and protons. The purpose of this research is to understand interactions between kaon and nucleon in unified way by studying the structure of the kaonic nuclei from the viewpoints of three-and four-body problems.​

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Professor Yanagisawa is involved two international experiments, the Super-Kamiokande and T2K experiments, conducted in Japan. Since 1992, Prof. Yanagisawa has been part of a research team led by Professor Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo, Japan, who along with Professor Arthur McDonald of Queen's University, Canada, just received the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics for their work proving that neutrinos (like electrons, but without an electric charge) have mass. He also works on super-resolution microscopy for which the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded.

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