Veteran & Immigrant is only Community College Student in U.S. accepted into the NSF REU at Northeastern Univ.

Published: June 04, 2018

Oscar Bermudes, who graduated from Queensborough Community College on June 1 with an A.S. degree in Biotechnology, has been accepted into the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program at Northeastern University. He will work with a research team examining mitochondrial DNA in developing cells in ovaries, immature eggs also known oocytes.

Out of more than 400 applicants, 12 were accepted – with Bermudes as the only community college student. The ten week program includes a $5,000 stipend, food and lodging.

Bermudes immigrated to the United States from Ecuador in 2007, not knowing English. He attended the Pan American International High School in Queens, where he took English as a Second Language.

Bermudes served in the United States Army for three years before enrolling in his first courses at the College in June 2016. He continued his studies at an accelerated pace taking classes during the traditional academic year and during summer and winter sessions so he could graduate early.

In fall 2017, Bermudes began his undergraduate research mentored by Dr. Andrew Nguyen, an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Geology.  Dr. Nguyen conducted some of his own research in Sri Lanka, where he developed a system to detect Dengue virus using DNA amplification, although it was not based on a traditional polymerase chain reaction (PCR).  Upon returning to Queensborough, he worked with Bermudes to use a similar method to detect methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacteria found in the environment and hospital settings. It often causes serious complications in hospital patients. This method provides sensitivity and specificity results comparable to far more costly diagnostic tools.

Bermudes presented his work at an annual CSTEP conference at the Sagamore Hotel in New York in April 2018.  His poster was awarded first place in the Environmental and Earth Science section.  It was titled “Examining Environmental Isolates of Staphylococcus Using Loop Mediated (LAMP) Amplification.”

Bermudes is a recipient of the Biological Sciences and Geology Department award in Scholastic Excellence in Biotechnology, and the first Queensborough Dr. Joanna Ambron Research Award for Biological Research. Bermudes also received a $5,000 research fellowship from the CUNY Research Scholars Program (CRSP) this year to conduct research under Dr. Nguyen’s guidance.

He will continue his education at St. Johns University on a partial scholarship in a dual degree Biology Bachelors/Masters in Science. With his GI bill funding, he will not have to pay for his senior college education.

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