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Student Awards & Accolades


2021 Presidential Scholar:  Lara Ozkan

International Science and Engineering Fair (International Finalists)

Remington Kim (ATCS 2023) who placed 2nd in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.   His project was titled: OrphaDRGL: A Novel Deep Learning-based Orphan Disease Drug Repositioning Approach 

KannammaiPichappan(AMST 2022) who placed 3rd in Biomedical Health Sciences with her project titled: Schwann Cell Support: Novel Approach to Peripheral Nervous System Disease

Seton Liu (AAST 2022) His project was: SOX9: Master Regulator of EMT in Chemoresistance and Metastasis

REGENERON Science Talent Search Finalist:

Gomez, Michael, 17

Underscoring the “Hypo-Hyper” Duality of Celecoxib in Melanocyte Pigmentation

2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars:

Choe, Erica

The Effect of Human Hepcidin and Pseudosciaenacrocea Hepcidin on the Prevention &

Mitigation of Staphylococcus epidermidis Biofilm


Gomez, Michael

Underscoring the “Hypo-Hyper” Duality of Celecoxib in Melanocyte Pigmentation

Gordon, Shayna Eve

FTY720 Enhances Remyelination in Sciatic Nerve Cells: A Targeted Approach

to Treating Peripheral Nervous System Demyelinating Diseases

Hashem, Emily Nadia

Contextualizing IP3 Receptor-Dependent Astrocytic TGF-b Signaling in Blood-Brain

Barrier Permeability: A Novel Functional Role

Karam, Sarah

GRN Acts as a Novel Biomarker of Chemotherapy Resistance in Small Cell Lung Cancer

Kim, Isabel Yoonsuh

Voltage-Dependent Anion Channel 1 (VDAC1) Expression in Retinal Cells Under Varying

Glucose Conditions

Ozkan, Lara

Identifying the Causal Mediators Between Diet, Obesity, and Cancer

Shefter, Sasha

The Role of 5-fluorouracil in the Late Twentieth Century Decline of Cancer Mortality

in the United States

Shaik, Raiyaan

The p53 Dependent and Independent Chemotherapeutic Potential of TQ in Breast Cancer:Targets In-Vitro and In-Silico

New Jersey Academy of Sciences State Finalists:

Category: Health and Medicine

1st Place: Neha Vazakar- Reducing Oxidative Stress in Macular Degeneration

2nd Place: Zerlina Huang-The health benefits of betalains in Alzheimer's Disease.

Category: Cell and Molecular Biology

1st Place: Myra Dhingra-Mitigating Cognitive Impairments in Parkinson’s Disease: A Novel Approach

2nd Place: Harnoor Sachar-Alcohol Addiction: Effect of Inflammatory Cytokines

Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) National Finalists 2021:

Harnoor Sachar (First Place):Alcohol Addiction: Effect of Inflammatory Cytokines on Endothelial Barrier Development

SangHoon Jung :SELD: A Novel Stacked Ensemble Approach to Skin Lesion Diagnosis

Other JSHS State Finalists:












Kumar, V, Radin, D.P., Leonardi, D. (2021) Deciphering the dual role and prognostic potential of PINK1 across cancer types. Neural Regeneration Research, 16, doi10.4103/1673-5374.295314

Shi, C, Chang, R, & Leonardi, D. "The Effects of Mechanical Vibration on Cellular Health in Differentiated Neuroblastoma Cells." Proceedings of the ASME 2018 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference. Volume 8: 30th Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise. Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. August 26–29, 2018. V008T10A005. ASME.


Varun Kumar, Donna Leonardi. The chemosensitizing and oncolytic effects of Dihydrotanshinone in glioblastoma [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 2860.


National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem Patent Summary for US-10798939-B2, Cellulose binding domain chitosan seed coating. Retrieved June 10, 2021 from


Presidential Scholar 2020
2020 Davidson Fellows:
Maximilian Zhang - Named a Davidson Fellow and awarded $50,000.   This is the highest award and was in recognition of the research he carried out entitled, "PIF1 Gene Integration: A Novel Chemosensitizing Approach in Cancer."
Jason Ping - Named a Davidson Fellow and awarded $10,000.   His project is entitiled, "Enabling Personalized Medicine: A Deep Learning Framework for Classifying Genetic Mutations Using Text from Clinical Evidence."

2020 Regeneron STS Finalists:


Thomas, Anaiah awarded 5th pace and $90,000

The Manipulation of Natural Killer Cell Phenotype and Function using Sacromal Fibroblast-Like Synoviocytes in vitro

Krivitsky, Olivia

Ketones: Novel Treatment for Aberrant Conditions in the Diabetic Eye


2020 Regeneron Scholars (Semifinalists):

Anchipolovsky, Samuel

Doxycycline: A Repurposed Therapy for Combating Alpha-Synuclein Aggregation in Parkinson’s Disease

Joshi, Sunay

On the Degenerate Turán Problem and Its Variants

Krivitsky, Violetta

Ketones: Novel Treatment for Aberrant Conditions in the Diabetic Eye

Lee, Ju Young

Unraveling the Potential Role of MZF1 in Erastin-Induced Ferroptosis: Novel Approach to Treat Iron-Addicted Breast Cancer Cells

McFadden, Maeve

Role of Pyruvate Supplementation on Genetic Juvenile-Onset Parkinson’s Disease

Mustafa, Sammy

PTENP1: A Pivotal Pseudogene in Glioblastomas

Narala, Bhargava

Downregulation of HLA-A Tipping the Balance of Inhibitory and Activation Signals to Increase Cytotoxicity of Neuroblastoma to NK-92 Cells in vitro

Oh, Michelle

Inducible cAMP Early Repressor Upregulates Zika Virus Expression through cAMP Pathway

Shah, Raehash

The Role of Glycoproteins and HLA Markers in Fibrosis of Rheumatic Valvular Disease

Thomas, Anaiah

The Manipulation of Natural Killer Cell Phenotype and Function using Sacromal Fibroblast-Like Synoviocytes in vitro

Zhang, Maximilian

PIF1 Gene Integration: A Novel Chemosensitizing Approach in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer


Varun Kumar named 2019 Davidson Fellow.


Dai, K., Radin, D. P., & Leonardi, D. (2019). PINK1 depletion sensitizes non-small cell lung cancer to glycolytic inhibitor 3-bromopyruvate: Involvement of ROS and mitophagy. Pharmacological Reports71(6), 1184–1189. doi: 10.1016/j.pharep.2019.08.002




Each of these 11 students  presented at the BCA Research Expo and each of these 11 students submitted their research to the Regeneron Science Talent Search after 2 to 4 years in my lab and having written a 20 page thesis for submission.  These students (in no particular order) include:


Jesper Bajwa 

Grace Zwemmer 

Maame-Afua Ansah who was also named a BCA Research Expo 2019 Symposium Finalist

Miri Goodman who was also selected to present  her research at  ENDO2019, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society held in New Orleans, LA.  

Rachel Havriliak who was also selected as a Junior Science and Humanities Symposium  Poster presenter at the State level

Jennifer Kong  who was also a Symposium Finalist at the State level of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

Wooseok Kwon was a state finalist at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium poster presentations,  a 2019 BCA Research Expo Symposium Finalist, and named a Top 10 national finalist for the Neuroscience Research Prize

Kevin Chew  took First place and Symposium Finalist at the NJ Junior Science and Humanities Symposium,  Kevin also competed at the National level of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.  

Maiya Maowas a Regeneron Science Talent Search Semifinalist, International Science and Engineering Fair Finalist (Third Place), BCA REsearch Expo Symposium Finalist,  and the author of a publication in a peer reviewed journal. 

Caleb Shi was also a Regeneron Science Talent Search Semifinalist, he presented at ASME 2018 International  Conference in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.  He also presented at the  Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.  He was named a  Top  finalist for the Neuroscience Research Prize, and presented at the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia. Caleb. 

Varun Kumar  was a Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalist, attended International Science and Engineering Fair (twice) (Second Place)he was a NJ Junior Science and Humanities Symposium poster presenter, he was a BCA Research Expo Symposium Finalist, an NJRSF Symposium Finalist, and the author of 2 publications in peer reviewed journals.

Jason Ping was a BCA Research Expo Symposium Finalist and International Science and Engineering Fair Finalist finishing “First Place” and “Best in Category.”

Max Zhang was a Top 15 Finalist at the International BioGENEius competition held during Bio2019.   

Jessie Lee was a BCA Research Expo Symposium Finalist



Maiya Mao (AMST 2019):

Mao MJ, Leonardi DE (2019) Vascular-endothelial response to IDH1 mutant fibrosarcoma secretome and metabolite: Implications on cancer microenvironment. American Journal of Cancer Research (Accepted for publication; ahead of print)


Varun Kumar (AAST 2019):

Studies examining the synergy between Dihydrotanshinone and Temozolomide against MGMT+ glioblastoma cells in vitro: Predicting interactions with the blood-brain barrier






Presidential Scholar (Katherine Dai)

Davidson Fellows ( Deena Shefter $25,000 and Nicole Moiseyev $10,000)

10 Regeneron Science Talent Search Semifinalists ( Isabella Impalli, Dan Cho, Katherine Dai, Gene Lee, Ken Stier, Devarshi Vasa, Clairisse Hwang, Nikhil Lohe, Nicole Moiseyev, Deena Shefter)

Siemens Semifinalists:        Katherine Dai and Isabella Impalli

 International Science and Engineering Fair

       Varun Kumar, 2nd Place 

        Nikhil Lohe, 2nd Place

BCA Research EXPO (ISEF affiliated Fair)

       Finalists:   Clairisse Whang, Haneul Shin, Gene Lee, Deena Shefter, Jason Ping, Varun Kumar, Nikhil Lohe, and Katherine Dai


Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (National Level)

        Katherine Dai

        Isabella Impalli


Presentation at the 100th Annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago

                   Emily Mayo

Presentation at the American Association of Cancer Research Annual meeting also in Chicago

                  Varun Kumar

"Top 10" (National Level) in the ANN Neuroscience Research Prize -Varun Kumar


Probing the Oncolytic and Chemosensitizing Effects of Dihydrotanshinone in an In Vitro Glioblastoma Model. Kumar V1Radin D2Leonardi D3

Anticancer Res. 2017 Nov;37(11):6025-6030.


$250,000 Winner Regeneron Science Talent Search 2017
     Indrani Das
  Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalist 2017
     Jacy Fang;  $25,000
  Regeneron Science Talent Search Semifinalists 2017
    Andrew Fong
    Sabrina Gjerswold-Selleck
Siemens Competition Regional Finalist  2016-2017
    Jacy Fang 
 Siemens Competition Semifinalists 2016-2017
    John Lozada 
    Jiwoo Lee 
International Science and Engineering Fair Finalists  
    Dongmin (Courtney) Kim 
    Jiwoo Lee 
    John Lozada
    Clairisse Whang; 2nd Place; $3,000
    Varun Kumar; Student Ambassador
iSWEEEP Finalists
    Jiwoo Lee
    Meryl Pookkattu; 3rd Place
    Dongmin (Courtney) Kim; 1st Place
National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium National Finalists
    Jiwoo Lee;  2nd Place  $8,000
    John Lozada
    Indrani Das 
BioGENEius International 2017
    Katherine Dai--one of 15 International Finalists
Publications:  John Roy Lozada
    Lozada, JR et. al., Myxoid Fibroadenomas Differ from Conventional Fibroadenomas: a Hypothesis Generating    Study. Histopathology. 2017 May 17. doi: 10.1111/his.13258.




Regeneron STS


(2017)  Indrani Das - First Place

             Indrani Das & Jacy Fang - Finalists   

             Andrew Fong, Sabrina Gjerswold-Selleck, Enoch Jiang, Jiwoo Lee, Christina Ping, Varun Subramaniam                

(2016)  Rachel Han, MinSung Cho - Semifinalist                                                                                                                                               

(2015)  Nicole Eskow - Finalist

             Nicole Kim, Nicole Eskow, Grace Kim, Justin Yu & Isabella Martin - Semifinalist
Brianna Perreira - 
           Daniella Batarseh, Brianna Perreira, Ankitha Radakrishnan & Hee Jae Song - Semifinalists
(2013)  Jennifer Chan - Finalist
            Jennifer Chan, Michelle Guo, Daniel Pierce Radin & Janice Yejin Su - Semifinalists
(2012)  Eun Be (Grace) Kim - Finalist
            George Masanori Iwaoka & Eun Be (Grace) Kim - Semifinalists
(2011)  Junyoung Choi, Augustina Mensa-Kwao, Apexa Modi, Shivani Vinay Shah, Kushali Pranit Upadhyay, Austin Jeffrey Wang, Stephanie               Cervino, Yeon Jeong Cho, April Hea Yon Choi & Eun Young Choi - Semifinalists
(2010)  Linda Zhou - Finalist
             Mark Lipa Velednitsky, Linda Zhou, Seung Eun Lee & Johanna Meehyun Lee - Semifinalists
(2008)  Steven Konstantin Lisica - Semifinalist
(2007)  Caroline Beth Drucker & George Hotz - Semifinalists


Siemens Competition

(2016) Jacy Fang, Jiwoo Lee, John Lozada, Miyu Ono, Sung Hyun Yoo - Semifinalists

(2015)MinSung Cho - Semifinalist

(2014) Hee-Sung Kim, Justin Yu - Semifinalists


Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)

(2016) Jiwoo Lee - Best in Category, 1st Award, US-Indo Award, CAST Awardrd Award; Alon Millet - Second Award

(2015) Nicole Eskow - 3rd Award - Biomedical and Health Sciences   Awards

(2014) Alon Millet - 2nd Place Plant Physiology; Special Award    Awards
 Alon Millet - Finalist


North Jersey Regional Science Fair Award Winners

(2014-2015) Nicole Eskow (ISEF Finalist); Dongmin Kim (ISEF Finalist); Rachel Han (ISEF Alternate); Jiwoo Lee; Nicole Kim; Sangwoo Hahn; Anuja Walke; Himani Patel; Bianca Pereira; Justin Yu; Minsung Cho; Jennifer Lee; Hee-Sung Kim; Alon Millet; Isabella Martin; Nathan Levin
Alon Millet (ISEF Finalist); Ji-Sung Kim (ISEF Finalist Alternate); Justin Yu; Dongyeon Kim; Hee Jae (Ana) Song; Himani Patel; Bianca Perreira; Brianna Perreira; Parth Bhargav; Jerome Fratello & Christopher Capasso; Daniella Batarseh;  
Alon Millet (ISEF Finalist Alternate); Joshua Ross (ISEF Finalist Alternate)


Monmouth Junior Science Symposium Award Winners

(2014-2015) Paper Presentation Awards - Alon Millet (2nd Place), Isabella Martin (3rd Place), Rachel Han (Honorable Mention); Poster Presentation Awards - Hee-Sung Kim (3rd Place)   Full Awards


New Jersey Academy of Science Annual Meeting 

(2015) Cell and Molecular Biology Category: 1st - Thomas Ferrante; Ecology II: 1st - Alon Millet; Health & Medicine II: 1st - Yashaar Hafizka, 3rd - Bianca Pereira. 



Student Full Papers


  • Probing the Molecular Mechanisms Governing the Oncolytic Activity of Paeonia suffruticosa on Triple-negative Breast Cancer CellsIn Vitro Anticancer Res 37 (9)4813-4819
  • Radin, D., Lippa, A., Patel, P., & Leonardi, D., "Lifeguard inhibition of Fas-mediated apoptosis: A possible mechanism for explaining the cisplatin resistance of triple-negative breast cancer cells." Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 77, 161-166,2016.
  • S.Y. Kim & D. Leonardi., "Angiogenin as a Multi-Targeted Therapy for Alzheimers Disease". International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research, Nov. 2013.
  • E. Kim, J. Jacobson, and D. Leonardi., "Tamoxifen: A Novel Approach for the Treatment of Estrogen Receptor Negative Cancers." International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research, 3(2), 2012.
  • N. Philips, et al., "Stimulation of Cell Proliferation and Expression of Matrixmetalloproteinase-1 and Interluekin-8 Genes in Dermal Fibroblasts by Copper." Connective Tissue Research 51, 224-229, 2010.
  • N. Philips, et al., "Differential regulation of growth factors and matrix metalloproteinase-1 by estrogen, progesterone, and tamoxifen in normal and cancerous endometrial cells." J. Cancer Mol. 4, 169-173, 2009.
  • N. Philips, et al., "Beneficial regulation of matrixmetalloproteinases and their inhibitors, fibrillar collagens and transforming growth factor-β by Polypodium leucotomos, directly or in dermal fibroblasts, ultraviolet radiated fibroblasts, and melanoma cells." Archives of Dermatological Research 301(7), 487-495, 2009.

Student Short Papers

  • D. Batarseh, et al., "A Novel Method to Manipulate Osteoblastic Differentiation." Microsc Microanal 20(Suppl 2), 2014. Awaiting Citation
  • M. Guo, et al., "Novel Mechanisms for Resveratrol and Metformin: Implications in Alzheimer's Disease." Microsc Microanal 19(Suppl 2), 248-249, 2013.   Abstract   Poster
  • P. Patel, et al., "The Effect of 17-β-estradiol on Cellular Proliferation Mediated by Protein Disulfide Isomerase and the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR)." Microsc Microanal 19(Suppl 2), 286-287, 2013.  Abstract   Poster
  • Y. Esquilin, et al., "mtDNA Migration and the Role of Exosomes in Horizontal Gene Transfer." Microsc Microanal 18(Suppl 2), 286-287, 2012. Abstract  Poster
  • G. Iwaoka, et al., "Investigating UBM Degradation Products as a Possible Therapeutic Treatment for Regenerative Medicine using a P19 Cell Model." Microsc Microanal 18(Suppl 2), 284-285, 2012.  Abstract  Poster 
  • E. Dente, et al., "The Benzoin-Based Complex: A New Frontier for Skin Repair." Microsc Microanal 18(Suppl 2), 288-289, 2012.  Abstract  Poster 
  • Y. Park, et al., "Anti-aggregation Potential of Sugars against Strepococcus mutans in co-culture with Lactobacillus rhamnosus." Microsc Microanal 18(Suppl 2), 24-25, 2012.  Abstract  Poster
  • S. Rastogi, et al., "A Novel Intracellular Target for Anti-Allergic Medications." Microsc Microanal 17(Suppl 2), 310-311, 2011.  Abstract  Poster
  • J. Obayemi, et al., "Erythropoietin and Breast Cancer Progression: An in vitro Study." Microsc Microanal 17(Suppl 2), 302-303, 2011.  Abstract Poster
  • J. Choi, et al., "Encapsulation of Paclitaxel with Glycol Chitosan Nanoaggregates for in vitro Drug Delivery." Microsc Microanal 17(Suppl 2), 312-313, 2011.  Abstract  Poster 
  • A. Shah & D. Leonardi. "The Hormetic Effects of Copper on Thermotolerance in Rotifers." Proceedings of The Fourth Annual International Conference on Hormesis Implications For Toxiciology, Medicine and Risk Assessment. June 6-8, 2005, University of Mass, Amherst, Mass. 2005. 
  • A. Shah & D. Leonardi. "Possible Molecular Underpinnings of Hormesis Induced Longevity.Proceedings of The Fourth Annual International Conference on Hormesis Implications For Toxiciology, Medicine and Risk Assessment. June 6-8, 2005, University of Mass, Amherst, Mass. 2005.