August 30, 2018 Melissa Lamar

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Tunxis Community College students James Greene of Waterbury and Tram Nguyen of Bristol, joined over 70 college students from other Connecticut colleges and universities for “Innovation Fellows Research Day” at UConn Health on August 1 to present findings from their 10-week funded summer research fellowships.

Tunxis students Tram Nguyen and James Greene stand by Greene’s poster presentation during Innovation Fellows Research Day at UConn Health.

The event was part of a consortium called the Partnership for Innovation and Education (PIE), providing students with opportunities to work with faculty mentors and focus on hands-on research that could lead to future therapies, diagnostics, devices or services.

Tunxis is the only community college in the consortium of seven CT higher education PIE partners, led by University of Connecticut.

Nguyen gave a short talk on her research on the variability in human iron metabolism, which aimed to verify whether a computational model could be widely applied to the entire population by comparing simulation results to published research findings. “Iron is an essential nutrient, yet iron deficiency and iron overload are detrimental,” said Nguyen. “It is difficult for health care providers to access the status of an individual’s iron reserves for diagnosis, and to manage iron-related disorders for people who have different diets and genetic factors.” Nguyen, who was mentored by UConn Health’s Dr. Pedro Mendes, graduated from Tunxis in May and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Central Connecticut State University.

Using different software platforms, Greene, an engineering science major, generated diagrams that show interactions in different molecular pathways, illustrating both overall pathways and detailed changes at the molecular level. “The high point of my summer as an intern,” said Greene, “was finding out that the new SBGN style my UConn Health mentor Dr. Mikhail Blinov and I created will be displayed at the annual Computational Modeling in Biology Network (COMBINE) 2018 forum.” SBGN stands for Systems Biology Graphical Notation. Greene presented a poster at the symposium detailing his work, and expects to graduate from Tunxis in May 2019.

“Our Tunxis PIE Fellows did inspiring work this summer,” said Leigh E. Knopf, director of institutional advancement and PIE site director for Tunxis. “Their research experience is a springboard to other opportunities both academic and professional.”

Tunxis Community College in Farmington offers over 60 associate degrees and certificates, including science, engineering and technology, and health emphases. Tunxis is also the recipient of a $2.8 million National Science Foundation grant that established the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, an NSF Center of Excellence. For more information on programs at Tunxis, call 860.773.1490, or visit

The Partnership for Innovation and Education (PIE) was formed with support from CTNext and Connecticut Innovations through the CTNext Higher Education Initiative. The PIE program lead institution is University of Connecticut.