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Rodriguez, Judith M. and Francis J. Bioinformatics Scholarship

Judith and Frank Rodriguez were members of the Friends of Ramapo for many years. Their strong involvement in civic and community service was well-acknowledged by several organizations, and their dedication to the College played an important role in the establishment of several endowed scholarships.

Mrs. Rodriguez, a registered pharmacist, and Mr. Rodriguez, whose career included management and consulting positions, resided in Midland Park, N.J. Mr. Rodriguez passed away in March of 2018 while Mrs. Rodriguez died in 2020.

The intent of the Judith Martinez Rodriguez and Francis J. Rodriguez Bioinformatics Scholarship is to recognize students pursuing a degree in Bioinformatics in the School of Theoretical and Applied Science.

“Bioinformatics is a job that will become more and more important in the future,” said Mr. Rodriguez at the time he set up the scholarship. “Because it has as its base biology, computer knowledge and mathematics, it will set the person up not only for work in bioinformatics but a host of other career paths and disciplines.”

  • For students majoring or minoring in Bioinformatics; if no suitable candidate is found among Bioinformatics majors or minors, the award shall be given to a student majoring in Biology
  • Junior or senior status
  • 3.50 GPA or higher
  • Recipient chosen by TAS faculty

2022 Recipients

Thomas Tragale

Thomas Tragale of Ringwood, N.J. is a Bioinformatics major and Neuroscience minor. He has a 3.86 GPA and will be graduating with Honors in the Spring. He is a member of the Honors Program and a Dean’s List student. In 2018 he attained the rank of Eagle Scout, learning discipline and leadership skills which help guide him towards greater goals.

Thomas volunteers for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and serves as a presenter for the Current Advancements in Biological Sciences Club, where he presents recent publications in scientific journals such as Nature Medicine. He is also a Mathematics tutor at Ramapo, providing guidance and advice to his peers on subjects like Algebra.

Suvekshya Shrestha

“I believe that knowledge is power and education is the ultimate key to bring positive changes into the world,” says Suvekshya Shrestha. 

Originally from Kathmandu, Nepal, Suvekshya hopes to become a biologist and a public health researcher in order to work passionately in the field of medicine and healthcare.

Suvekshya is Secretary of the International Student Organization, Co-Treasurer of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club, and the treasurer of FeminStem Club. She was a full-time tutor/counselor for the Upward Bound Math Science program during summer 2020. She has also worked at the Tutoring Center and as a Student Aide for the Registrar’s Office.

After graduating, Suvekshya plans on attending graduate school to conduct research on medicine, drug discovery and healthcare. 

“My motto in life is to keep learning and growing as a person,” she says. 

2021 Recipients

Esther Jakubowicz

Esther Jakubowicz of Spring Valley, N.Y. is a Bioinformatics major with a 3.98 GPA. She has made the Dean’s List every semester and enrolled in TAS Research Honors courses for two semesters. 

Before attending college, Esther was born and raised in an Ultra-Orthodox, Hasidic home. In her community, girls received a limited secular education as emphasis was placed on marriage and raising large families. Though her childhood schooling did not include any formal science education, Esther’s inquisitive mind propelled her to seek scientific explanations for occurrences prevalent in nature. 

She started attending college at the age of 36 while raising five children, and swiftly proceeded to propel her career to a position of Director of Patient Services. The scientific passion within Esther continues to grow exponentially as she thrives in her pursuit of knowledge in the biomedical field and genomics.

Vanesa Getseva

Vanesa Getseva of Shumen, Bulgaria is a Computer Science major and a Bioinformatics minor. She was awarded the 2019 Faculty-Student Research Award and the 2020 Academic Achievement Undergraduate Book Prize at Ramapo. She holds a 3.93 GPA.

Vanesa is involved in Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, the International Student Organization, and the TAS Research Honors program. She is actively conducting research in close collaboration with Ramapo professors Dr. A. N. Kumar, Dr. S. Frees and Dr. P. S. Bagga.

Off campus, she has worked as a Bioinformatics/Computational Biology research intern at Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Weill Cornell Medicine. Vanesa plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in Computational Biology starting in the fall of 2021.

2013 Recipient

Camille Menendez

Camille Menendez is enrolled in Ramapo’s College Honors Program, and is conducting research in Bioinformatics with two professors in the School of Theoretical and Applied Science. “Our work has resulted in the publication of our web application in the journal Neucleic Acids Research last summer,” she says. Camille has also presented her research at a Metropolitan Association of College and University Biologists conference and a University of Maryland, Baltimore County Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences. She is a Bioinformatics major with a 3.71 grade point average, and plans to complete a Ph.D. in computational or molecular biology. Camille holds leadership positions with the Bioinformatics Club and the Biology Club, and is an active volunteer with her church. She has been a competitve figure skater for 15 years. “I am living proof that people can have more than one passion in life, and be successful in all of them,” she says. Camille is from Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

2012 Recipient

Emmanuel Takor

Emmanuel Takor of Cameroon is excited to be at Ramapo College. He is especially excited to be enrolled as a Bioinformatics major, a course of study his country does not offer. In Cameroon, Emmanuel completed a challenging science curriculum in a specialized program. Emmanuel researched colleges on the Internet. He was impressed with the opportunities Ramapo offers, as well as its diversity. Then he learned his brother’s friend, also from Cameroon, graduated from Ramapo. After speaking with the alumna, he decided “Ramapo is the place I want to be.” Emmanuel has a 2.85 grade point average.

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