The Public Honors College

SMCM Newsroom

SMCM Student and Professor Receive Rare Research Grant

March 5, 2010
Press Release #10-058


Dr. John Ramcharitar, assistant professor of biology at St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM), was awarded one of only four grants awarded nationally from the Support of Mentors and their Students from UnderRepresented Minorities (SOMAS-URM).  Grant money will go to researching the impact of several FDA-approved pharmaceuticals that can produce toxic effects (ototoxic) in the inner ears of humans.  Ramacharitar and his student assistant, Diana Roman, of Westminster, Maryland, will test the drugs on the zebra fish. 

"Diana is a highly productive member of my lab team," said Ramcharitar.  "She is currently involved in an ototoxicity study involving goldfish and she has the skill set for successfully completing the SOMAS work.  We appreciate this $9,000 grant and hope that this work will shed light on the phenomenon of ototoxicity." 

A recent National Science Board report underscores the need to enhance recruitment and retention of students in the sciences to strengthen the economic and scientific foundation of the United States. SOMAS-URM addresses this need using a two-pronged strategy: junior faculty receive mentoring and instruction in launching research programs that engage student collaborators and college students are introduced to discovery in the neurosciences by conducting original research with their professors.

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities, and an SAT average for student admissions of 1848. The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to the 2009 National Intercollegiate Sailing Association Co-ed champions.