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Experiential Learning Berlin-America Program Cohort Reflect on TCNJ Research Experience

Throughout the academic year, The TCNJ School of Science proudly hosts students from the Berlin Institute of Technology (BIT) as part of the Experiential Learning Berlin-America Program (ELBA) in partnership with The College of New Jersey.  

The ELBA Program offers visiting bachelor and master degree students grants to conduct research in an intercultural setting, aiming to foster innovation and scientific progress. Through laboratory, practical and industry based internships, students learn first hand from and through encounters with their host institution. In addition, the program funds faculty and staff exchange between TCNJ and BIT, with over 25 faculty and staff visits between BIT and TCNJ since 2021. 

BIT students Elvin Eren, Jiyan Tiram, and Julian Honecker are actively participating in exciting research endeavors within the TCNJ School of Science, under the direction of faculty members Drs. Stephanie Sen, Tuan Nguyen, and David McGee. 

Elvin Eren, who has been conducting research in Dr. Stephanie Sen’s chemistry lab, explains that her immersive experiences here have given her the opportunity to integrate her growing understanding of biochemistry into her food science studies at her home university. 

“I have been able to learn so much from Dr. Sen in such a short amount of time, and I am so excited to continue our work here,” Elvin explained. 

Discussing the unique value of hosting international students in a lab setting, Dr. Sen explained, “It is a really great opportunity for multiple reasons. It gives our students here the valuable opportunity to learn from an international student, about how science is conducted in a different country, and I think the same is true for Elvin throughout her immersive experience here.”

Discussing her overall experience at TCNJ and within Dr. Sen’s lab, Elvin noted, “Working in TCNJ’s lab facilities with Dr. Sen has been wonderful, and I like being able to meet and see everyone around studying and collaborating outside of class too. It definitely feels like a community here,” Elvin explained. 

BIT student, Jiyan Tiram has been conducting research in Dr. Tuan Nguyen’s physics lab where she works with infrared imaging to map and analyze network burstings of neurons. 

Jiyan explained that the opportunity to participate within Dr. Nguyen’s lab sparked her interest right away due to her strong academic interests in both neuroscience and neurophysics.

 “When I was looking into the different lab facilities here, I saw Dr. Nguyen’s work, and I immediately knew it was what I wanted to do. I have really enjoyed my time here, so far. I love the campus, the facilities, and all of the open spaces, it is really beautiful,” said Jiyan. 

Another BIT student, Julian Honecker is conducting research in Dr. David McGee’s physics lab which works with optical laser printing technology. With a background in electrical engineering, Julian offers a diverse perspective to his group’s research.

“One of the coolest parts about working here at TCNJ is getting to talk with and meet everyone. Hearing about everyone’s different experiences and skills really creates a more interesting and cohesive work environment.” 

Further discussing his experiences with Dr. McGee and his students, Julian explained that, “Working with Dr. McGee has been amazing and super helpful. I love the lab and the way that we are given so much access to these facilities to work on our research.” 

The exciting experiences shared between Elvin, Jiyan, and Julian within TCNJ’s School of Science exemplifies the ELBA program’s goal in creating cutting edge, practical learning experiences for students in an intercultural setting. The TCNJ School of Science is extremely proud to host such an innovative cohort of students and we look forward to watching their research efforts progress into the spring semester. For more information about the ELBA Program, please contact Dr. David McGee

Written by School of Science Student Journalist, Jax DiEugenio



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