ARIT 2017 Poster Session Feature: Christine Marizzi


Going beyond pure text, bridges will feature Austrian scientists from a new perspective in 2018, taking creative cues to communicate their science in a different light, tone, and color.

Discover the work of Christine Marizzi, our first scientist featured in the ARIT 2017 Poster Session Showcase. 


What do I want to achieve with my research?

Rather than with text, our scientists, answer this essential question using an image, emoji, cartoon or limerick. 




"How does my research make others feel?"

Our scientists mimics speak stronger than words!



Your Science in Action: “Hybrid” vigor energizes Citizen Scientists 

Ask Christine Marizzi if she’s an educator who focuses on science or a scientist who uses education to stimulate interest in STEM fields, and her answer is clear: “I am a hybrid as I do both” – particularly fitting for a program manager at the DNA Learning Center of Long Island’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Since arriving there in 2011, Marizzi has developed exciting programs to stimulate knowledge and interest in DNA research among NYC Citizen Scientists, the majority being NYC high school students and teachers. Her programs – the Urban Biome MAP that won an international Agar Art contest, the Urban Barcode Project (UBP), and the Urban Barcode Research Program (UBRP) – have each had striking impacts on NYC Citizen Scientists. Student and teacher enthusiasm is undeniable, but Marizzi’s poster presented her work on validating and quantifying the outcomes of these programs, asking the questions:  

a) How does the URBP experience compare with undergraduate college-level student research experience?                                                                                                           

b) When using the same framework, does mentoring by career scientists, rather than by well-trained teachers, enhance students’ ability to conduct science?

Let’s take a quick detour to define DNA “barcodes.” One species’ DNA differs from another species’ in its base (nucleotide) sequence, so 600-700 base-long segments from equivalent genome regions can uniquely identify every species in the world! In the Urban Barcode Project, NYC high school students, mentored by specially trained teachers, used this unique “barcode” to identify species in their urban environment. Projects presented at the annual research symposium have spanned wildlife in NYC, biodiversity and trade, food mislabeling, and public health. Their research found more than 100 DNA sequences not previously posted on the international database GenBank, uncovered hidden biodiversity, and identified several herbal supplements lacking their supposed ingredients – an infraction then pursued by New York State’s attorney general!

The Urban Barcode Research Program, a related program started in 2013, accepts 40 NYC students each year to explore their urban environment. Before applying to this program, students undergo 49 hours of hands-on courses and develop proposals for the research they hope to pursue. Selected students, working in pairs, are mentored by scientists in the NYC area. Amazingly, in four years, the UBRP has trained 502 students and accepted 159, who then worked with 75 scientist-mentors at 54 NYC institutions. What advantages (if any) result from being mentored by professional scientists rather than trained teachers?

All UBRP students completed the validated Survey of Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE III) at the start and end of their research projects; an exit survey and interviews fleshed-out Marizzi’s findings. Compared with over 5,000 college students’ SURE III reference data, the more-than-80 UBRP students completing the survey scored higher on 18 of 21 learning gains, indicating that UBRP “research experiences have a stronger impact on high school students than is typically observed for college research.”

Marizzi also compared results from UBRP students (scientist mentors) and UBP students (trained-teacher mentors). In all 21 areas, UBRP students rated themselves higher in learning gains, especially in areas such as understanding how scientists think, how scientists work on real problems, etc. And UBRP students rated themselves as more ready for further scientific research. “This supports our hypothesis that having students work side-by-side with a scientist increases their ability to conduct science more so than working with trained teacher-mentors,” says Marizzi. “In a time where all the information is basically available online, this makes a really strong case for professional mentoring.”

We’ll hope this “hybrid” scientist-educator continues to develop innovative programs that will cultivate young scientists in NYC and beyond!



My favorite scientist:                                                                                                    

As an historical figure, Lise Meitner, who discovered nuclear fission.                                      

In my daily work, it is always the Citizen Scientist in front of me.


If you read one science website/blog/book, it should be:                                            

Science Twitter. Highly informative and a lot of fun.


Without science, I would be a:                                                                                      

Citizen Scientist.


My eureka moment was when:                                                                                                

I always loved to spend time outside and explore all forms of life, and nature is still my greatest inspiration. I vividly remember looking at a tree as a child and admiring all the diverse patterns from a strong stem to finer branches and delicate twigs and I suddenly saw a lot of decision making in all of this. Only later did I realize that making your own observations, coming up with your own concepts and conclusions, and then rigorously testing them is called the scientific process!



The ARIT 2017 Poster Session Showcase will highlight select Austrian scientists of the Research and Innovation Network Austria. These scientists all participated in the coveted ARIT 2017 Poster Session, after having been selected by an expert jury from the ASCINA network and the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation



ARIT 2017 Poster Session Feature: Patricia Bubner
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Wednesday, 11 December 2019