Caldwell, N.J., April 10, 2019 – Premedical student Lamar-Shea Chang was honored March 18 at the Independent College Fund of New Jersey Undergraduate Research Symposium for his research titled “Convert every human into a natural mosquito deterrent.” Chang, who is also majoring in computer information systems with a concentration in business systems and minoring in chemistry, received honorable mention for his research, which focused on the growing problem of mosquitoes in many areas of the world and how humans are being exposed to some of the diseases the insects carry.
Chang pointed to scientific models such as the Coupled Global Climate Model and the Community Climate System Model that predict mosquitoes are progressively moving more north and more west in the United States and Canada. With the guidance of the faculty in the Natural Sciences Department, he tested plant oils to see how they could affect the general behavior of mosquitoes and if they could act as a deterrent. The oils he used were azadirachta indica (neem), andrographis paniculata (rice bitters) and aloe vera. His data revealed that when the mosquitoes were exposed to the oils extracted in the lab, they adjusted their behavioral patterns, no longer moving away from the area where the extracts were located.
He presented his findings at the Independent College Fund event at the Liberty Science Center; the event encourages students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. It was a thrill for Chang when he learned of his recognition. “I said, ‘Did they really call my name?’” Then he looked at the faces of his professors, including Dr. Marjorie Squires, his advisor, and knew by their smiles that he was in fact receiving the award.
Chang, a junior from the island of Jamaica who started his college career with several AP classes, is grateful that the Caldwell Natural Sciences Department provides students the opportunity to do research as undergraduates. He says his professors walked him through every step of the process.
Next semester Chang will be analyzing the economy of Jamaica for his CIS business systems concentration. He has set his sights on pursuing medical school, perhaps becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. As he says, “More to come.”