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College of Arts and Sciences

Biochemistry Student Awarded Celgene Scholarship  

Marta Suazo Awarded Celgene Scholarship 320 picMarta Suazo has received the Sol J. Barer Scholarship in Life Sciences from Celgene, a global biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Summit, NJ.

The scholarship is named for the co-founder of Celgene, Sol J. Barer, and is intended "to assist high achieving students attending New Jersey's independent colleges and universities to prepare for careers in the life sciences." Competitive, the scholarship is awarded to rising undergraduate juniors or seniors; selection is based on academic merit and career potential.

The scholarship is not the first time Ms. Suazo, a biochemistry major and Italian minor set to graduate from Seton Hall in 2019, was recognized as high achiever with career potential. In 2017 she also received an Independent College Fund of New Jersey Undergraduate Research Symposium Grant for her work on Paramagnetic Photosensitizers. Earlier in 2018, she received a Clare Boothe Luce Summer Research Fellowship.

Working alongside Ph.D. candidate Marius Pelmuş in Professor Sergiu Gorun's laboratory, Suazo and her undergraduate lab mates, Christopher Colomier '18, senior Olivia Xiao and Ralph Foglia '18, partnered to solve contemporary chemistry problems, ranging from the fundamental science of the activation of oxygen using metal-organic molecules containing no C-H bonds, to harnessing solar energy for chemistry and biomedical applications and working to solve a number of environmental issues using "green chemistry."

The students' contributions have not been limited to producing research results, however, as their work extended to writing grant applications and manuscripts as well as reporting results at major scientific conferences.

"At Seton Hall, we favor the learn-by-doing approach," said Professor Sergiu Gorun of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. "Our labs are hands-on and our students are given the opportunity to take the lead. As scientists, they will be expected to produce results, write about them for publication and potential funding and present them before other scientists. Our students leave here prepared for a life in science. And this award by a major biopharmaceutical company to Marta Suazo based on her 'career potential' is one more indication that it works."

The learning-by-doing process has resulted in several awards in recent years for the team in Professor Gorun's lab.

Over the years, many students from Professor Gorun's labs have been awarded prestigious grants and scholarships, including from Novartis, PSE&G, ICFNJ and a host of other science funders.

For this team, in addition to Suazo's awards, Chris Colomier received a grant from the New Jersey Space Consortium in 2016. Ralph Foglia and Olivia Xiao received the same award in 2018.

Colomier also co-authored a publication with Marius Pelmuş, Erik N. Carrión Ph.D.'17, Jenyffer Santiago '17 and Professor Gorun. The article, "Group III perfluoroalkyl perfluoro phthalocyanines" was published in the Journal of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines.

In 2018 Pelmus, Colomier, Hemant Patel Ph.D. '16, Xiao , Foglia and Suazo presented their work along with Professor Gorun on "Heterogenized fluoro phthalocyanine photocatalysts" at the 256th American Chemical Society's National Meeting and Exposition in Boston.

Colomier has since accepted an offer of employment from Lummus Technology, and Foglia is attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

"Though some of us are no longer at Seton Hall, our team still remains a team," said Marta Suazo. "Along with Olivia and Marius, Chris and Ralph continue to return to the lab as we are working towards completing two manuscripts. They are all a part of 'my science family' here at Seton Hall and whatever success I've had, including this award, we've had."

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