Governor’s STEM Scholars Complete Year-Long Program, Including 8 South Jersey Students

From left to right: Dr. Rebecca Lubot, Director of the Governor’s STEM Scholars, Rajendra Sadhu of VESAG Health, Inc., Afnan Nuruzzaman of Bergen County Academies, Dr. Richard Kram of SubCom, LLC., Dr. Kamana Misra of Celvive, Dr. Anasuya Ghosh of Novartis, Julia Jeong of Bergen County Academies, Anthony Bishara of Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School, Srija Patcha of Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School, Mohammad Fauzan of New Jersey City University, Michael Sanchez of Memorial High School, and Manisha Persaud of Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School. Photo courtesy of the Research & Development Council of New Jersey.

UNION, N.J. – On Saturday, May 11th, students in the Governor’s STEM Scholars Program presented the results of their year-long research projects while the organization graduated their fifth class during their annual Commencement Conference – which was held at the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology, and Mathematics at Kean University in Union, N.J.

This year’s graduating scholars numbered 78, with eight of them hailing from South Jersey schools. Jack Batt, Rebecca Leavens, and Jevon Torres from Lenape Regional High School District; George Gerber of Washington Township High School; Sofia Graziano of Absegami High School; Henry McIntyre of Woodbury High School; Hung Nguyen of LEAP Academy University Charter School; and Davis Tran of Pennsauken High School are now counted among the 342 graduates of the Governor’s STEM Scholars Program.

Students graduating from the program spent the past year working in groups on STEM-related projects aimed at having potential real-world impact.

Fromleft to right: Jason Li of Middlesex County Academy for SMET, Vijay Josephs of West Windsor Plainsboro High School North, Priyanka Chowdhury of West Windsor Plainsboro High School South, Sofia Graziano of Absegami High School, Jack Campanella of Biotechnology High School, and on the podium is team leader Neil Slighton of Princeton University. Photo courtesy of the Research & Development Council of New Jersey.

In fact, Washington Township High School student George Gerber earned accolades at the event in the form of a Civics Award given to his team for their work on a research project centered on Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) diversity in soil samples, as well as their efforts to educate members of the community in Clark, N.J. on the importance of recycling.

The conference’s Civics Award is given to the team that makes the biggest impact on promoting STEM in New Jersey, and this year it was shared by two teams. The other team – made up of students from New Jersey City University, Memorial High School, Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School, and Bergen County Academies – did their research project on autophagy and its regulations for neurodegenerative disorders. Following that, they made “brain hats” and neuron models with children at the Triangle Park Community Center in Jersey City, N.J.

Their team also won the award for Best Research Project and will have an opportunity to attend the Research & Development Council of New Jersey’s annual Edison Patent Awards this November. There, they will be able to meet some of the RDNJC’s honorees – which have, in the past, included Nobel Prize recipients.

A panel of judges for the conference included STEM representatives from Novartis, SubCom, LLC., and VESAG Health Inc. The Governor’s STEM Scholars Director Dr. Rebecca Lubot said, “After watching the scholars’ research projects progress over the course of the academic year, I am sure that these talented STEM scholars will be highly sought after by our contacts in government, academia, and industry here in New Jersey.”

Each graduate received a diploma signed by Governor Phil Murphy and the President of the Research and Development Council of New Jersey, Anthony Cicatiello. Students also received a letter from U.S. Senator Cory Booker congratulating them on their achievements.

The Governor’s STEM Scholars Program is the result of a public-private partnership between the Research & Development Council of New Jersey, the New Jersey Office of the Governor, the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of higher education, and private industries. The goal of the program is to immerse high-performing STEM students in our state’s STEM economy and to retain that talent in the state for years to come.

High-achieving students in grades 10 through the doctoral level that are aspiring STEM practitioners are eligible to apply for the program. To learn more about the program and apply for the 2019-2020 year, visit: