Welcome to the Northern Virginia Community College Website

Accessibility Navigation:

NOVA-Manassas biotechnology students conduct nanoscience research during summer internship program

Northern Virginia Community College student Daniel Alvarez-Castegnaro presented the results of the research he conducted during the 2015 Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program sponsored by George Mason University.
Ia Gomez (middle), interim associate dean of Science and Applied Technologies at the Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College, celebrated the successful end of the 2015 Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program with NOVA students  Solmaz Eskandari Nezhad, Christopher Johnson, Daniel Alvarez-Castegnaro and Stacey Boyd.

Four students from Northern Virginia Community College’s Biotechnology Program recently completed George Mason University’s Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program. The students are Daniel Alvarez-Castegnaro of Alexandria, Stacey Boyd of Springfield, Solmaz Eskandari Nezhad of Manassas and Christopher Johnson of Haymarket.

The budding scientists conducted research on nanoparticles at George Mason’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases with Director of Research Fatah Kashanchi. Research on nanoparticles has potential applications in medicine, environmental science, manufacturing, engineering and other fields.

“Participating in the Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program was a highly enriching and valuable opportunity,” Alvarez-Castegnaro said. “Working in the biodefense department and being surrounded by scientists doing research in specific areas that can revolutionize the current applied sciences was extremely eye-opening and motivating. It is amazing to look back and realize how much I learned in just a couple of months.”

Eskandari Nezhad enjoyed all the workshops, journal clubs and professional development series.  “Even though Dr. Kashanchi seemed extremely busy with his projects, he would spend time with each student and discuss their projects in detail every day. He was really easy to approach and knowledgeable. We had this chance to work directly with him throughout our entire project,” she said.

Boyd said the summer program verified that she’s on the right educational track. “Having the opportunity to participate in the program confirmed my career goals of working in a research lab,” she said. “The experience was invaluable as we were able to take the skills we learned in the classroom and apply them in a true research setting working with nanoparticles. Also, we were able to see firsthand how to adapt to the daily tasks of laboratory duties as well as the importance of working as a team on our research projects.”

The director of the George Mason lab appreciated the students’ contributions. “I am grateful to Dr. Ia Gomez who invited me to the nanotechnology partnership which resulted in these internships. The students were mature and fully enthused about their research which is a sign of the high quality of the students at NOVA,” Kashanchi said.

Gomez is the interim associate dean of Science and Applied Technologies at NOVA-Manassas.

“The campus is very interested in creating research and educational opportunities for STEM students and specifically in the field of nanoscience,” Gomez said. “Wonderful partners like Dr. Kashanchi, ASSIP Program Director Amy VanMeter Adams and our colleagues at George Mason work with us to create a sustainable STEM pipeline into the workforce and truly contribute to a great educational experience for our students.”

The 2015 Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program began June 25, 2015, and ended with a poster symposium Aug. 14, 2015, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.

The program was established in 2007 to provide hands-on lab experiences for high school and undergraduate students. Students work alongside researchers using state-of-the-art technology to solve hypothesis-driven questions in several scientific fields. Often participants’ names are published in scientific journals and their work is presented at scientific conferences. In addition to gaining valuable laboratory and research experience, students have the opportunity to meet with scientists from many disciplines.

Under the leadership of Provost Roger Ramsammy, NOVA’s Manassas Campus has acquired state-of-the-art nanoscience equipment, including scanning electron microscopes, atomic force microscopes and 3D optical profilers.

“By providing our students with internships, innovative technologies and advanced curricula, we can ensure that NOVA’s graduates have the competitive skills they need to attain satisfying, well-paying careers,” Ramsammy said.

For more information, contact Gomez at igomez@nvccc.edu or 703-530-8255.
# # #

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.