Four Macaulay Honors College students are among the outstanding CUNY undergraduates selected to receive the university’s prestigious Jonas E. Salk Award. Congratulations to David Musheyev, Priya Singh, Cien Huang and Eric Dayts.
“Our 2022 Salk Scholars were inspired by their education, by health challenges faced by family members and by the volunteer work they did,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “These diverse CUNY scholars embody courage and solution-based thinking. They exemplify CUNY, as did the work of our revered alumnus Jonas Salk, the child of immigrants, whose work remains as essential as this scholarship he bestowed on our university.”
The annual scholarship is named in honor of Jonas E. Salk, the City College alumnus who developed the first polio vaccine in 1955. Every year since his discovery, eight students have been selected on the basis of original research papers. Salk scholars have all been accepted into medical schools or graduate programs in the biomedical sciences, and will receive $8,000 over four years to defray the tuition costs of their graduate studies or medical training.
“I am incredibly proud of our Salk Scholars — Eric, Cien, Priya, and David,” added Macaulay Interim Dean Dr. Vanessa Valdés. ” All of them are committed to rectifying inequities in our existing health care system so as to better serve the needs of all the populations in this nation.”
David Musheyev (Queens College)
Will attend: SUNY Downstate Medical School
Research Paper: Contributions of Lambda’s Lysis Time Noise on Burst Size Noise at the Single-Cell Level
As a volunteer at a horse stable, he taught a cognitively disabled girl to be confident in new environments by structuring her responses to new stimuli. Although he was the instructor, he says that he was “the one who walked away with a valuable life lesson about perseverance.” This inspired his research journey, which began in Queens College’s Dennehy Lab, where he focused on understanding cellular noise dynamics. He currently works as a research coordinator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where he helps enroll patients in clinical trials. David’s goals are to uncover immunotherapy treatment options for the one in six men who will develop prostate cancer in their lifetimes, and to make clinical trials more accessible to medically underserved populations. A Phi Beta Kappa member, he was also the president of the Biology Honors Society, the president of Future Healers of America, and a recipient of the Salman Hamdani Memorial Scholarship. He enjoys gardening, learning about different cultures, Broadway shows and visiting museums.
Priya Singh (Hunter College)
Will attend: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Research Paper: Circulating Tumor Cells in Cerebrospinal Fluid of Patients with Known or Suspicious Leptomeningeal Metastases: Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarker
Priya, who comes from a Sikh, Punjabi immigrant family, says that her religion’s values of serving others selflessly, and her curiosity for the sciences, inspired her to pursue a career in medicine and adds that spirituality, empathy and hard work have served as the foundation for her path to medicine. Another essential piece of her identity is supporting her community; she has volunteered at hospitals, tutored low-income students and distributed food to the homeless. After realizing that epilepsy, neuro-infections and mental illnesses are often neglected and stigmatized in developing countries, she became determined to use her medical education to become an activist, professor and leader in the nascent field of global neurological health. She emphasizes that many communities in the developing world lack trained neurologists, proper medications, mental health facilities and community programs to tackle the stigma. Her ultimate goal is to spearhead health care equity efforts and support communities and countries with broken health care systems. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Horace W. Goldsmith Scholarship, the New York Community Bank Award for Excellence in Mathematics, and the Tottenville High School John “Jack” Powers Memorial Scholarship for outstanding student athletes. She enjoys playing volleyball, spending time with friends and family and watching nature documentaries in her free time.
Eric Dayts (Hunter College)
Will attend: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Research Paper: The Production and Characterization of Non-spherical Micro- and Nanoplastics
Motivated to pursue medicine and cancer research by his father’s exposure to radiation from Chernobyl and subsequent treatment for a tumor in his leg, Eric plans to both become a physician and perform clinical trials. He would like to work in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and research hospitals to develop new medication and techniques — and make them available to patients while evaluating their effectiveness. He has also won a Macaulay Honors Scholarship and CUNY’s Clifford E. Soll Award. He has a great interest in jumping rope, cooking and baking, and creates his own recipes.
Cien Huang (Hunter College)
Will attend: Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Research Paper: Synthesis of a Novel Molecular Imaging Agent for Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated (ATM) Kinase in Glioblastoma
Her interest in medicine began when she, herself, was ill. Then, her grandmother had cancer and struggled with an American healthcare system that too often did not understand diverse cultures — and she began thinking about a career in medicine. Cien became a clinical volunteer and learned “how cultural differences contribute to the complexity of tailoring personalized care.” She says she also noticed that elderly patients might refuse meal assistance, concerned this would make them a burden on others. She is interested in translational cancer research, in which scientific findings can be analyzed to improve therapy. She is also interested in molecular imaging cancer research, in which she is able to combine her love for the visual arts with scientific inquiry to help develop personalized combined diagnostics and therapies for patients like her grandmother. In summing up, she says that a physician’s work is about “providing holistic, patient-centered care, including utilizing different strategies and perspectives.” Cien has received numerous awards and honors, including the Mayoral Services Recognition Program Award. In her spare time, she likes the arts and baking.