In the Spotlight – Hassana Oyibo, '07
As an FSC undergraduate in the Bioscience program, Hassana focused her research on immunology and was mentored by Dr. Frances Santiago Schwarz, who was one of the first scientists in the world to discover the function of specialized immune-system cells in human blood. That led to Hassan's interest in obtaining her doctorate and applying for coveted fellowships that would allow her to pursue her goals in bioscience research.
"Farmingdale really helped make this happen," Hassana says. "It gave me the confidence I needed."
She earned a place on the Dean's List and received an Academic Excellence award, an honor given to the top two best students in each academic program. With a diverse range of interests, she has conducted research alongside her professors in fields ranging from biochemistry to cognitive neuroscience.
"Farmingdale's smaller class size gave me the opportunity to work one-on-one with the faculty," Hassana says. As a result of her experiences and outstanding credentials, Hassana was one of only eight students selected out of 600 applicants worldwide to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience and structural biology at the Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, one of the most prestigious doctoral programs in the U.S.
And, as Hassana notes: "It was Dr. Schwarz who encouraged me to apply to Cold Spring Harbor in the first place."
At Farmingdale, Hassana got involved in as many research activities as she could both in and out of the classroom. An internship at OSI pharmaceuticals—located in the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park right on campus—proved especially valuable as she learned about expressing and purifying membrane proteins that are intended targets of small molecule therapeutics.
Her doctoral dissertation, which she will complete next year, is based on neuroscience using molecular tools to map the circuitry of complex cognitive functions while using electrophysiology to understand these findings on a single cellular level.
Hassana is actively involved in outreach programs that connect scientists and the community. She also volunteers for a youth academic mentoring program, does charity work, and enjoys teaching children about science—with, she says, as much passion and guidance as she was taught at Farmingdale.