What is RISE?

RISE is a group of former industrial researchers who have chosen to spend their retirement years at Drew. The RISE fellows help to train the next generation of scientists by mentoring Drew undergraduates who are interested in research. The RISE associates—a new category created this year—contribute to the program in other very specific ways such as offering special lectures or providing expertise on esoteric equipment.

All members of RISE are highly accomplished in their disciplines. RISE fellow Arny Demain, a microbial biochemist, and RISE associate Bill Campbell, a parasitologist, are both members of the National Academy of Sciences.

How did RISE arise?

Drew professor emeritus, Jim Miller, when he was chair of the chemistry department, had the initial inspiration. Jim observed that Northern New Jersey has a plentiful supply of research-oriented companies, especially in the pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries. He realized that Drew was strategically located to attract talented researchers from these companies when they retired. (Jim is a member of RISE today—the only one without an industrial background—because of his special role in its creation.)

In 1979 George deStevens, who had been executive vice president and director of research at Ciba-Geigy, joined the Drew faculty as research professor of chemistry and later became the founding director of RISE. He was instrumental in raising over $1,000,000 for construction of office and laboratory space for RISE.

Where do RISE students go?

RISE has mentored well over 200 students since its inception. At our recent symposium on Careers in Science we featured four former students who had worked with RISE fellows during their days at Drew. The goal was to show current students examples of the diverse career opportunities open to them. You might enjoy reading a bit about these individuals:

Carmen Drahl, Class of 2002, received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton and is now the associate editor for Chemical & Engineering News. She writes stories on organic, medicinal, and biological chemistry for this weekly magazine of the American Chemical Society.

Derrick Wood, Class of 2004, began teaching science at Conestoga High School outside Philadelphia after graduation. He received a Master of Chemistry Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007. He is the head coach of Conestoga’s Science Olympiad team, which finished in the top five in the state for the last five years. Derrick was honored recently with the Christopher Columbus Foundation Life Sciences Educator Award (see www.drew.edu/newspost.aspx?id=81703).

Grace Cordovano, Class of 2003, earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She is the Director of Medical and Scientific Affairs at 81qd in New York City. Last year she was named the company’s employee of the year. Grace is responsible for maintaining the medical integrity and accuracy of various client projects.

Nadia Ahmad, Class of 1999, received an M.D. degree from the New York School of Medicine in 2003. Last year she added a Masters in Public Health in Clinical Effectiveness from the Harvard School of Public Health. From 2003 to 2006, Nadia was a Resident in Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Since then she has been a Clinical and Research Fellow in Obesity Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston engaged in cutting-edge research on obesity.

Most of the students we work with continue on to advanced studies after graduating from Drew, and many of them have also achieved great distinction in their scientific and medical careers. (Following their career paths is one of the great joys of being a member of RISE!)

What’s new in RISE?

Drew’s new Baldwin Honors Program is attracting excellent science students!    Last spring RISE offered a four-credit seminar course, one of several that the students in the program could choose from. The course was led by Professor Kathleen Madden of the mathematics and computer science department and involved 13 students. Each was paired with a RISE fellow to work on an independent research project. The course was regarded as highly successful and will be repeated in the fall term. For several years we have been interested in getting students started in research earlier in their time at Drew. This seminar course is one way of jump starting this process. About half the class spent last summer working on research projects in the Drew Summer Science Institute.

On November 19—that’s this week!—we will be hosting a Drew Science Scholars Symposium in honor of Bill Campbell. Bill will talk about ”Worms I have known, and their continuing threat to human welfare.” Four of his former students will also be speaking: Heidi Smith, M.D., Ph.D., Class of 1995; Manny Gabriel, M.D., Class of 2002; Elia Tait, Ph.D. Candidate 2010, Class of 2005; and Miten Patel, M.D., Class of 1997. Click here for details.

Does RISE matter?

It’s no secret that the United States lags in math and science education. Quoting from a recent editorial in the New York Times (10/26/10):

Too often, science curriculums are grinding and unimaginative, which may help explain why more than half of all college science majors quit the discipline before they earn their degrees…It has been shown that science and engineering students thrive when they are given mentors and early exposure to exciting, cutting-edge laboratory science.

That is exactly what we are trying to do: working closely with Drew faculty we seek to augment and expand what Drew already does well by offering stimulating research experiences to Drew’s science undergraduates. How much this “matters” is hard to quantify but the record over the past 30 years speaks pretty well for itself. Research is not for everybody but our data show that it is right for many and the experience can be life changing.

How can I learn more about RISE?

Visit our website: www.drew.edu/rise.
Send us an email: rise@drew.edu.
Call us: 973 408 3829.

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