Biology Alumna’s Gift Supports Journal of K-12 Student STEM Research

A woman with light brown hair and light grey suit poses in front of a bright, white background.

Alumna Mina Alikani has contributed a gift to help support the New Journal of Student Research Abstracts.

Alumna Mina Alikani ’83 (Biology), M.Sc. ’85 (Biology) has given a $17,000 donation to help support the publication of CSUN biology professor Steven Oppenheimer’s New Journal of Student Research Abstracts, an annual and beloved project in the College of Science and Mathematics.

The publication is celebrating its 24th edition and showcases science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research discoveries made by local K-12 students, motivating them to continue their involvement in research science.

For over a decade, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) science teacher Terri Miller assisted her students in publishing their research work in the journal, from 2000-16, earning her recognition as a top contributor.

“The world has been highly involved in trying to rid itself from an insidious, deadly virus,” Miller said this month. “We so need our future research scientists and medical professionals. Dr. Oppenheimer has always had the foresight and determination to continue the incorporation of research for students of all ages.”

Now retired, Miller continues to help students with their research and even serves as the journal’s acquisitions editor, where she advocates for teachers to get involved and recruit their students to participate.

“The United States needs now more than ever for our young people to choose careers in science,” Miller said. “Having their science experiments published in the New Journal of Student Abstracts and attending a Science Poster Symposium at CSUN encourages students to accomplish this highly important task.”

Alikani, a clinical embryologist, laboratory director and consultant in New York, benefited from Oppenheimer’s mentorship as a graduate student and while working in his laboratory as a research assistant in developmental biology. It was through her experience in the lab that Alikani forged valuable connections, volunteer opportunities and ultimately a rewarding career in her field of interest — Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), which includes treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

“To eventually end up on that path and in the ART field was really quite amazing,” Alikani said. “It still is amazing to me when I think back to how I found my way into this field and, of course, being at CSUN and in Dr. Oppenheimer’s laboratory in particular, was clearly instrumental.”

Oppenheimer’s journal and the people who help bring it to life every year, such as faculty and staff in CSUN’s Department of Biology and LAUSD teachers, are dedicated to the education of young students and the promotion of STEM fields.

“Mina was one of my great mentees,” Oppenheimer said. “I hope that other CSUN mentees will step up to the plate and donate for this journal — a program that rewards all participating students, not just high achievers. This is so important for the security of the United States in helping to inspire new generations of scientists.”

Her desire to support the continued success of the journal motivated Alikani to provide funding for a project she considers meaningful and impactful.

“Science teaches us to think critically, to reason and learn through experimentation,” Alikani said. “It is important, now more than ever, to have the next generation interested in and committed to science, committed to fact, truth, the scientific process and critical thinking. This is how we ensure our collective future.”

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