News & Announcements

Centenary College Alumnae Travel the World in the Name of Science this Summer

08/20/2013, 10:28 AM

Hackettstown, N.J.  – Two May graduates from Centenary College, Susan Cheng and Erika Chu, spent their summer further cultivating their knowledge in their field of study, biology, and traveled across the country and abroad to do that.

Days after they graduated, Cheng, who is a resident of Hackettstown, and Chu, who is a resident of Galloway, embarked on a 10-week internship at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, in Fort Pierce, Florida.  The internship was made possible through a generous gift from Bill and Carol Harvey Barrows ’61 named in memory of James O. Pomponi, the father of Dr. Shirley Pomponi, Senior Research Professor at Harbor Branch. 

During this intense learning experience, Cheng conducted research on oyster farming and Chu analyzed tests related to diseases in oysters and if disease is more prevalent during certain seasons. At the end of this opportunity, both women conducted a presentation of their findings to their sponsors, mentors and other students at the Institute. 

“This experience not only taught me to be more independent, it prepared me for my next academic journey,” says Cheng.  “This internship will strengthen my resumé tremendously and helped fuel my passion for this subject matter.”
Days after their return to New Jersey, the two alumnae traveled again in the name of science.  This time they went to Costa Rica for the Crustacean Society and Latin American Association of Carcinology conference.  There, they did poster presentations on findings related to an invasive species of grass shrimp from Asia.  The two women worked with a team of biologists including Dr. Lauren Bergey, Associate Professor of Biology at Centenary College and Dr. James Carlton at the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program and the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut.  Chu and Cheng were the first people to identify this non-native species in New Jersey.  The students then designed their own experiments to try to determine if and how this invasive species might impact New Jersey’s native grass shrimp.  They were required to present and defend their findings to other undergraduate and graduate students as well as crustacean researchers from across the world.

“This was such a great opportunity,” says Chu.  “It really opened my horizons and I made a lot of great connections. Not only was I invited to present my research, but I was able to experience a different culture.” 

What is in store for these ambitious women?  Cheng will be pursuing her graduate degree in Forensic Science at Cedar Crest College this fall.  Chu will be applying for various positions and is applying for a Fall 2014 Fulbright grant to teach English in South Korea, as it is her goal to become a college professor in the future.  Good luck Susan and Erika!

Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary College’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. 

Centenary College’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County).  The Centenary College School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in two locations: Parsippany and Edison, and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.  The School of International Programs recruits international students for study at Centenary and Centenary students for study abroad.