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Biochemist Bonnie Gersten Wins Prestigious "Watson Investigator Award"
Contact: Maria Terrone
Executive Director of Communications
(718) 997-5591
Maria Matteo
News Assistant
(718) 997-5590


-- One of Only Ten New York State Scientists to Receive This Award --

FLUSHING, NY, August 25, 2004 – For her novel research concept to detect the gene found in cancer, particularly lung cancer, Flushing resident Bonnie Gersten, a Queens College Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been recognized with a $200,000 grant from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR). Her unusual proposal is to use biosensors that combine fiber optics and nanoparticles of gold.

The prestigious James D. Watson Investigator Award was one of only ten awarded statewide by NYSTAR to, in Governor George Pataki’s words, “our finest young biotechnology scientists and engineers.” The awardees, who have all received their doctorates in the last five years, are based at universities including Rockefeller, Cornell, Columbia and Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY).

"Dr. Gersten’s research,” said Russell W. Bessette, executive director of NYSTAR, “could lead to the creation of biosensors that improve our ability to detect cancer at an earlier stage, and it will also strengthen Queens College’s role in developing new biotechnology innovations.”

In receiving this grant, Gersten is fulfilling part of the mission of CUNY’s Photonics Initiative, a university-wide effort launched in 2000 to make CUNY one of the country’s premier research centers in photonics. Photonics seeks to use laser beams, fiber optics, and as-yet-to-be-developed materials and technologies to create new ways to use light energy (photons) in the fields of medicine, communications, and military defense.

Prior to joining the Queens College faculty in 2002, Gersten worked as a materials engineer at the Army Research Lab in Aberdeen, Maryland, with which she still maintains a relationship. Her primary focus has been to synthesize new materials and develop them for new applications. She has worked with boron carbide nanoparticles and nanowires to improve the hardness of armor and has researched ways to improve the receptivity of antennas.

“I’m also here to teach undergraduates how to do research,” says Gersten, who draws student assistants from her classes. “What I’m trying to do,” she declares emphatically, “is make a difference. And, if nothing else, at least teach my students how to make a difference.”

Gersten is a graduate of Rutgers University, where she received her BS in 1991, her MS in 1994 and her PhD in 1999.

The James D. Watson Investigator Program makes awards to investigators who perform research in the life sciences or in other life science-enabling disciplines such as engineering, material science, chemistry, computer science, electronics, physics, bioinformatics, nanotechnologies, and applications of microelectronics and microelectromechanical devices.


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