PRISM Alumnus Is a Scientific Rising Star

John Jay’s Program for Research Initiatives in Science and Math (PRISM) left a lasting impression on James Parziale (B.S. ’15), who credits the program for his newfound passion of scientific research. As important, it is likely to have played an important in his winning acceptance to the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.

“Before being actively involved through PRISM, I knew nothing about how to apply any science knowledge outside of a question in a textbook or on an exam unless told,” said Parziale. “PRISM allowed me to think more critically about the material, which helped make material I encountered in class a bit easier to understand.”

PRISM served as a conduit for Parziale to cultivate his interests and inspired him to pursue his passions, prospering from the resources made available to him and learning to utilize his time in the lab effectively. The results have been nothing short of remarkable. Parziale has taken part in decoding the pathway and regulation of genes and proteins to understand their contribution to blood cell growth. “Through understanding the mechanism and effect of one gene and protein on another, it becomes possible to explore further if the mechanism can then be manipulated for therapeutic effects,” he explained. The results were promising, and his work was published last year in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.

More recently, Parziale has been researching to “find a function for time of death based on microorganisms present in the ear and nose with respect to time and temperature for forensic purposes.”

Along with a solid work ethic and immense dedication that is virtually a requirement for any participant in the PRISM program, Parziale has maintained a sense of balance among his many commitments, as well as a positive mindset. He advises others to “always strive for things within reach,” and he celebrates small successes before dabbling in bigger endeavors, so that he is better equipped with the right set of skills. He also believes it is important not to feel awkward seeking out assistance or advice when needed. “Even if people have differing opinions, hear them out anyway,” he urged.

The PRISM program has proven helpful to Parziale on a number of levels and introduced him to many beneficial opportunities. He has worked with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the New York Stem Cell Foundation — experiences that he says “gave me the chance to learn under multiple research mentors in an area of cutting-edge science that interested me, but I would have otherwise not been exposed to firsthand.”

Chalk up another success for the PRISM program.