bcc nasa stem fellowsPHOTO: Brookdale Community College students Karl Waldron (l-r), Brianna Valdes, Jordan Grillo and Jon Zukowski have been selected as 2017-18 NASA STEM Fellows. Photo by Brookdale Community College. 

LINCROFT, NJ – Four Brookdale Community College students will complete intensive undergraduate research projects and earn $1,500 toward their education this year after being selected as the college’s newest NASA STEM Fellows.


The students, who will also serve as peer tutors in Brookdale’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Institute this year, are: Jordan Grillo, of Aberdeen; Brianna Valdes, of Lincroft; Karl Waldron, of Neptune; and Jon Zukowski, of Millstone. 


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Beginning this fall, the students will work with designated mentors to design and carry out a research project in their field of study. Their results will be presented to classmates, colleagues and Brookdale faculty during a public forum this spring.

The new fellows are the fourth cohort of students selected to join Brookdale’s NASA STEM Fellowship program, which is funded by a grant from NASA and the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium. The program was established in 2015.

“This program has created enormous opportunities for our students, and we are very excited to welcome our newest cohort of NASA STEM Fellows,” said assistant biology professor Gitanjali Kundu, who administers the grant program with assistant mathematics professor Susan Monroe. “Not only will they perform valuable research and assist their classmates in their own studies, these students will also serve as STEM ambassadors for the college.”

Grillo, a mathematics major, plans to work with assistant mathematics professor Ana Teodorescu on a year-long, math-based research project. Valdes, a biology major, plans to work with Brookdale faculty to develop an environmentally friendly hydroponic agricultural system, which she will use to highlight “the ease of sustainability” to the college community.

Waldron plans to work alongside Monroe and his personal mentor, neuroscientist Dr. Shawniqua Williams, to study the treatment decisions made by certain patients suffering from epilepsy. His goal, he said, is to understand why a disparate number of minority patients elect not to have surgery, even in worst-case scenarios.

Zukowski, a Marine Corps veteran and an electrical engineering major, hopes to work with faculty from Rutgers University to design and carry out a project centered on robotics and artificial intelligence.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...