Muhammed Bajo

Former bio student participated in the Bronx Community College 2020 Math and Science Fair, where he showcased his impressive genetic research project (Bronx Community College 2020 Math and Science Fair – Muhammad Bajo & Fernando Fernandez & Abigail Teye & Nathaniel Boadi Donkor ( mentored by Dr. Rujin Tian under CRSP.

Dr. Tian said about Muhammad’s research: “Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Muhammed continued his genetic research journey with me under the PTS3 program while pursuing his biology degree at Lehman College. His dedication and passion for genetics have been truly inspiring. After numerous discussions with me about his passion, he has decided to continue his path in genetics by becoming a genetic counselor.  I am thrilled to share with you that Muhammed has been admitted to the prestigious Human Genetics program for his master’s degree at Sarah Lawrence. What’s even more remarkable is that he has been awarded a full scholarship, which is exceptional for a master’s program as they typically do not offer scholarships.”

Faculty and Staff

Mervan Agovic M.S., Ph.D.; Ph.D. CUNY Graduate School; M.S. College of Staten Island

Dr. Agovic has been an associate professor with the Department of Biological Sciences since 2014. He was formerly a researcher with the Department of Neuroscience at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. He is the Department representative to the College Senate and Biology Tutoring Lab coordinator. Dr. Agovic has been published in the Brain Research Bulletin, the European Journal of Pharmacology, and the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. His primary research interests are self-regulated active learning and electronic assessment of performance.

Picture of Professor AkkarajuDr. Shylaja Akkaraju is a Professor of Biology at Bronx Community College. She specializes in pedagogy with a focus on threshold concept, cognitive load, growth mindset, and mastery learning theories as they apply to students learning biology. She was a contributing author of a major Human Anatomy & Physiology textbook, published by McGraw Hill publishers in 2008. Her work appears in the Journal of Effective Teaching, the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, The Double Helix, and Assess@CUNY. She has served as an assessment fellow for BCC since 2010. Dr. Akkaraju has also co-run a year-long faculty development workshop for new faculty in which she stresses the importance of assessment for student-centered learning at the classroom level. Currently she is working on two projects: examining the role of online oral exams as benchmark and summative assessments and the importance of low stakes writing in empowering learners to adopt healthy food habits.

Seher Atamturktur received her Ph.D from Rutgers University, Newark In 1995. Her research focused on neuroscience, specifically the Effects of the Neuromodulators on the Synaptic Plasticity.

She joined BCC in 2004 and has taught Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Medical Terminology and Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience. She co-developed the Introduction to Neuroscience course that is the first Interdisciplinary course offered in BCC. In BCC, she focused on pedagogical research, growth mindset and assessment over many years that lead to several peer reviewed publications. Her teaching philosophy for over 30 years spans around active learning, flipped classroom, game playing and growth mindset.

Currently, she is the PI and the director of the $5 M, NSF S-STEM Grant “Developing a Growth Mindset Model to Build Resiliency in STEM students” Award # 1833852 and the $400K CSTEP Grant. Both programs support the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial needs. She was also the Co-PI of the NYC Graduate Grant “Developing AS in Health Sciences Degree”. The aim of this grant is to complement and expand student career options in health-related curriculums currently offered at BCC. She worked with her team to develop the curriculum for this new program.

She has also been serving as the STEM Director and the Academic Assessment Manager and a co-founder and the chair of the STEM Advisory Board. She also served on BCC Senate, Academic Review Committee, college Governance and Elections Committee, Middle States Steering Committee, department P&B Committee among many other committees.

Diane BanksDr. Diane P. Banks is Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences Department at Bronx Community College in NYC, where she also serves as Program Director for the Medical Laboratory Technician Program. She earned a Ph. D. in Urban Education for Math, Science and Technology from the Graduate Center within the City University of New York (CUNY). Her research specializes in STEM education with a focus on faculty preparation and learned helplessness; Microbiology with a focus in soil and water microbiome; Epidemiology with a focus in infectious disease transmission; and Science History Education with a focus on rediscovering the contributions of African Americans in science. She co-authored the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Sciences’ 2018 Workforce Shortage Position paper and co-authored two ASCP LMU webinar courses. Mrs. Banks’ awards and honors include a 2017-2018 Science Teaching Fellowship with the American Society for Microbiology.

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Picture of islets (white) that Ge transplanted under the skin

Dr. Ge Li earned a Ph.D. in Genetics at Fudan University in 2010, followed by post-doctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Dr. Li joined the Bronx Community College family in 2023 to teach Anatomy & Physiology and other courses. Before joining BCC, he taught General Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, and Human Biology at LaGuardia Community College for six years as an adjunct assistant professor. With a genuine passion for teaching, he enjoyed interacting with students to discuss the fundamental principles and latest progress in biological sciences.

His research has focused on the pancreatic islets, the only type of tissue in the human body that secretes insulin in response to glucose. The abnormal function of islets plays a pivotal role in the development of diabetes, a disease that afflicts almost 10% of the U.S. population. In his previous research, Ge has used multiple disciplinary approaches to prevent islet dysfunction, stimulate islet regeneration, or even replace islet function. The figure shows the islets (white) that Ge transplanted under the skin, which were vascularized by blood vessels (green) and were fully functional to cure diabetes in mice. His future research aims to utilize the resources at BCC/CUNY to continue studying islets with BCC students. Let’s make our contribution to the efforts of finding a cure for diabetes.

Picture of Carlos Liachovitzky

Many students ask me about my last name, so I’ll start with that. The last name is eastern European (as my great grandfather was), but I am not. I am from Argentina (¡Si, hablo español!). I have been teaching at Bronx Community College for 15+ years, mostly Anatomy and Physiology, and General Biology. I’m a Biologist. I got a “Licenciado” degree from University of Buenos Aires at the end of the last millenium, and did grad studies in NY, at Fordham University and at SUNY Stony Brook at the beginning of this one. As a biologist, I started many years ago working with sea birds, but for the last 20 years or so, I have been dedicated to teaching and learning, and left the birds at the beach. As a learner and a teacher, I am interested in educational technology and open education resources. Particularly, how these two can improve students experience by allowing a more dynamic access to learning and by opening channels for communication and interaction. Here you can find some of my presentations and publications:

Idelza Lora is Administrative Assistant in the Biological Sciences department at Bronx Community College. She has being working in the Department for several years supporting and assisting students and faculty.

Dr. Enyuan Shang is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Bronx Community College. He specializes in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Reproductive Biology, and Neurobiology. He has published his research in Journals like Development, Development Dynamics, PLoS One, and Genes, Brain, and Behavior.

Dr. Goldie L. Sherr is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Bronx Community College. She received her BS in Biology from the College of Staten Island and obtained both her masters and doctoral degrees from CUNY’s Graduate Center. Her field of specialization is molecular genetics and her research involves studying the transcriptional regulation of genes, particularly those involved in fat metabolism. Her findings have been published in the Journal of Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Additionally, Dr. Sherr’s passion for teaching has led her to become involved in pedagogical research as well. She constantly strives to implement new ideas in the classroom to enhance biology education. Her research has been presented at a number of educational conferences, both locally andternationally.

Dr. Robinson doing research in the field in RumaniaDr. Chris Robinson is the current chairperson of the Biological Sciences department. He also teaches General Biology I and II (BIO 11 and 12) and is the coordinator of BIO 150, Biology, Bioethics, and the Law. In addition, Dr. Robinson is a Professor in the Ph.D. Program in Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Dr. Robinson’s research is primarily focused on using a technique known as three dimensional geometric morphometrics to explore shape differences in the skull and teeth of fossil humans and living apes and humans. One of his projects examines how and why the lower jaw changed in shape over time in one of our earliest ancestors, Australopithecus. He also is currently working on helping understand why humans are the only primate that has a chin.
His other major research focus is working with US and Romanian colleagues at field sites in the Olteţ River Valley in Romania that are dated to about two million years ago. His team has identified several new localities with fossils, including wooly mammoth fossils, and has documented mammalian species in museum collections that have increased our understanding of the environmental conditions in Eastern Europe at approximately the time when the first human ancestors were dispersing out of Africa to the rest of the world. The team hopes to better understand the paths that our ancestors took when they left Africa for the first time and why they went along those paths.

Picture of Rujin Tian

Dr. Tian received her medical degree and worked as a neurologist for three years in Beijing, China before coming to US to pursue her PhD at Columbia University in 2000. After graduating with a PhD in pediatric hereditary neurological disorders , she started teaching at CUNY since 2008 until now. In addition to teaching allied health science courses (Bio 20, 22, 23,24, 28, 46, 47 etc), She has continued to collaborate with her former colleagues at Columbia Medical Center and mentor undergraduate research projects.

My research interests center on pedagogy, including understanding the barriers to acceptance of evolutionary theory and how to overcome those barriers. In addition, I study the implementation and benefits of flipped classroom and active learning modalities.

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