Class of 2023: Our Favorite Spots in Philly

by Alana Simrell, Jenna Iorio, Kara Moulton, Marie DeCarlo, Katherine Commale, Kayla Flanders and Lillie Bennett

Alana Simrell (Computer Science / Mathematics): Having been at Saint Joe’s for a few months now, I am continually surprised by just how much the city of Philadelphia has to offer. In addition, many of the places in the city offer great deals for college students to gain admittance for a reduced price or sometimes no price at all. I took advantage of one of these opportunities in the beginning of my first semester here, and it led me to discover one of my favorite museums–the Franklin Institute. Rather than simply looking at different artifacts, this unique museum immerses you in a full learning experience. I was able to learn more about the heart and brain by actually climbing through models of the organs and engaging in different activities that test things like reaction time or heart rate. It no doubt brought out the inner child in all of my friends and me, and we were singing songs about the anatomy of the heart for days afterwards. The Franklin Institute will certainly be a very fun experience that will also teach you so much that you didn’t know before.

Jenna Iorio (Mathematics): Living in the great city of Philadelphia provides many unique advantages to SJU students. If you love food as much as I do, you will be sure to appreciate the countless amazing restaurants and food vendors that Philly has to offer. While my friends and I love to celebrate birthdays and other events at refined restaurants, it is always fun to grab a casual bite at the Reading Terminal Market. My first, but surely not my last, time visiting Reading Terminal Market was during summer orientation. I have since returned multiple times to try the vastly diverse food options. From ice cream to cheesesteaks to Thai food, the Reading Terminal Market has some of the best food that I have ever tried. It is guaranteed to have the perfect meal to help you unwind after a busy week!

Kara Moulton (Chemical Biology): Being from Massachusetts, it has been amazing to explore Philadelphia and get to know my new surroundings so easily. The city is a quick train or Uber ride away, and once you’re there, there are so many activities and interesting places to choose from. My favorite place so far has been Dilworth Park. In December, I went to the ice rink there. It’s so fun to gather a group of friends and skate under the lights strung overhead, with City Hall directly behind us. And afterwards, we can always warm up with hot chocolate from the nearby vendors. From there, you have a quick ride back to campus, as well as a great new memory of the city!

Marie DeCarlo (Biology): Despite only being in Philly for a little over one semester now, I have already discovered some spots around the city that I really love to visit. One of those has been the Penn Museum. Whether I’m wandering around the art exhibits, participating in cultural events or chilling out in the garden by the fish pond, it is always a peaceful experience after a stressful week of classes. In October, I attended an event for El Dia de lost Muertos (Day of the Dead), which was decorated with fresh marigolds, a live Mexican mariachi band, and local vendors that were selling artwork. (I bought some!) It was a great opportunity to immerse myself in the Hispanic culture of Philadelphia. I’ve also enjoyed the museum at its less busy moments, especially the Warden Garden fountains and visiting the koi pond. They’ll come right over to you if they think you have food. Speaking of, I definitely recommend stopping in the Peppermill Cafe for a cinnamon roll! It won’t disappoint.

Katherine Commale (Biology): Blue Cross RiverRink captures the quintessential Christmas spirit and transports its guests into a true winter wonderland on the Delaware River Front in Philly. While I grew up visiting the RiverRink every December with my family, I decided to share this tradition with my friends when I got to Saint Joe’s After a quick Uber ride from campus, we were surrounded by log cabins, crackling fires and too many food vendors to choose from. I highly recommend going at night while the festive light displays are shining in full gear, and the Ben Franklin Bridge is lit up in the distance. Amidst the chaos of finals, visiting the RiverRink and sipping hot cocoa with friends is the perfect study break!

Kayla Flanders (Chemical Biology): As someone who has always lived near Philly but never had the luxury of living quite close enough, I am happy to report that Penn’s Landing has become one of my favorite spots to regularly visit. With a stunning skyline and waterfront views, I love to walk along the waterway next to the vendors and restaurants during the day. As the sky grows dark, Penn’s Landing comes to life with shimmering lights hanging from the overhead trees that create a canopy over beautifully colored hammocks. I love to grab a hammock with a friend and swing in the trees, catching up on life or enjoying ice cream from Franklin Fountain (located right in the park). I’ve shown up at Penn’s Landing in time to catch free outdoor concerts. It’s such a wonderful place and a “must-visit” when you are close to Philadelphia.

Lillie Bennett (Computer Science): Coming to Saint Joe’s, I was nervous that I would feel isolated being on a campus not directly in the heart of a city like New York, where I grew up. However, throughout these semesters, the location of this campus is just what I needed. I have found that when I want to get off campus or get a nice meal with some friends, I have plenty of options. If I want a shorter commute, I can simply take a shuttle down City Avenue to Panera, Chipotle, Snap Pizza or any number of other nearby restaurants. When these places get old or I miss being in a city, I can take public transportation or an Uber into Philly’s Center city. For me, this typically means visiting Chinatown and walking around Reading Terminal Market. I have always loved trying new foods and experiencing different cultures. In Philly, there are so many ways to fuel this passion of mine, especially in the realm of food. There is no limit to the amount of Bobs I can drink or the soup dumplings I can eat while in Chinatown. Philly has something to offer everyone, if they just give it a chance.


The Class of 2022: Our Favorite McNulty Seminars and Activities!

by Briana Baier, Elizabeth Ehrhardt, April Pivonka, Kathryn Lynch and Arianna Varano

Briana Baier and Liz Ehrhardt (Computer Science): In October, we attended the McNulty Scholars Program weekly seminar and met Dr. Sorelle Friedler, Associate Professor of Computer Science from Haverford College. She presented a detailed overview of her work and research entitled Fairness and Abstraction: algorithmic discrimination and attempts to address it, which looks at how implicit biases can unintentionally be incorporated into the application of algorithms in parts of our lives. This can be seen in the application of an algorithm to determine the risk of re-offense of an arrested individual. Dr. Friedler has worked dynamically with people of other disciplines, such as law and politics, in order to provide a more in-depth understanding of what causes algorithm bias and what can be done to prevent or fix the biases that occur. While the nature of the presentation was based on machine learning, we were also very intrigued to see how Dr. Friedler incorporated concern for the ideas of fairness and human dignity to research something beyond the pure numeric lens of Computer Science.

April Pivonka (Biology):  This September, I attended the with the McNulty Scholars Program’s weekly seminar with guest speaker Erica J Graham, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Bryn Mawr College. Her presentation was entitled Math Imitates Life: insights from modeling, and her focus is applied mathematics and mathematical biology. As an undergraduate, she was a math major and earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in this discipline. However, during this time, she developed an interest in the biological processes of the body. Dr. Graham was able to merge her two passions by utilizing mathematical modeling to describe real-life situations. In her research, she examined the formation of blood clots in the vascular system and their treatment with medicine such as warfarin. She created a mathematical model to determine the effectiveness of these drugs and assess situations where blood clots still occurred even after drug administration. Dr. Graham also discussed her other research project which focuses on the relationship between high testosterone levels, ovulatory function and polycystic ovarian syndrome. As a whole, Dr. Graham’s presentation offered insightful explanations of her research and expanded my knowledge of both biological and mathematical processes.

Katie Lynch (Mathematics): My favorite McNulty event is the annual McNulty Scholars Reception every fall. It is a wonderful occasion to meet and talk with representatives from the McNulty Foundation, as well as alumnae from the McNulty Scholars Program. The weekly seminars are enriching and relevant, but it is always encouraging to hear from women who used to be in the same position that I am right now. This year, we heard from two recent graduates from the Program who are now pursuing their careers. They discussed some of the challenges they have faced as women in STEM-related fields, and gave some very useful and encouraging advice to current undergraduates. The McNulty Program is truly special in all aspects, especially through mentorship. It is not always the case that young women pursuing careers in STEM have full support and resources, so it’s really an honor to be a part of such a wonderful network.

Arianna Varano (Biology): At the end of October, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Dr. Sorelle Friedler from the Department of Computer Science at Haverford College. Every Wednesday, all of the McNulty Scholars meet for weekly seminars (and pizza!), and often we are visited by guest speakers. As a biology major, I rarely hear about research in other areas of STEM, so I was particularly interested in Dr. Friedler’s research studying the bias that can be unintentionally built into algorithms used in areas such as our criminal justice system.  The McNulty seminars are a great way to learn about fields outside my major and decompress with my friends at the same time!

The Class of 2021 Remembers Halloweens Past

By Thi Nguyen, Iswarya Vel, Maria Johnson, Zoe Mrozek, Michelle Wheatley, Emily Lehman, Maura Flynn and Gianna Penezic

Thi Nguyen (Biology): Bright yellow, orange and red leaves fall like colorful confetti, as the wind rustles the trees near my best friend’s house. Dressed as a witch in long flowy black, with my fellow princess sister and frog companion brother, I walk on the stone pathway toward the front door. Stopping briefly to admire the ravens, cobwebs, bats and other decorations that adorn the porch, we wonder what costumes our friends will be wearing when we greet them. today, we have the opportunity to fill our afternoon with fun fall activities, including pumpkin carving, a haunted corn maze, hayride and trick-or-treating around the neighborhood after sunset. Some of my favorite Halloween and fall memories as a child have been these festive Halloween gatherings.

Iswarya “Ice” Vel (Biology/Business Analytics, Decision & System Sciences): My favorite Halloween memory was when I went to the local YMCA for their Halloween night with my friends. My family would go every year. The YMCA would have bounce houses, game stations, haunted hallways, face painting, and other fun activities for the kids to have fun taking part in. I remember having a great time playing games and goofing off with my friends while in costume. I also remember the large amounts of candy that I would end up bringing home before the 31st even came around.

Maria Johnson (Biology): A favorite Halloween memory of mine is trick-or-treating with my friends on a particular street near my own neighborhood that housed a lot of families. All the houses would be decorated extravagantly, with jack-o-lanterns, flashing lights, cobwebs and many more fun Halloween decorations, which created a great atmosphere. Within the few blocks of the neighborhood that we went trick-or-treating on, almost every house was open. Even as older kids, the families would welcome me and my friends onto their porch, compliment us on our costumes and give us candy. It really meant a lot for us to all be able to have fun trick-or-treating in such a welcoming environment, and of course bring home lots of candy.

Zoe Mrozek (Biology): My favorite Halloween memories are trick-or-treating every year with my sister and our neighbors. My sister and I would start out trick-or-treating on our street, and then meet up with our neighbors around the block.  The six of us, along with our dads and two beaglers, would spend hours getting as much candy as we possibly could. The night always ended by going to the haunted house that a family in our neighborhood would set up in their backyard. One of my favorite costumes from those days was when I was Tinker Bell and my sister was Peter Pan. I have to give my Mom full credit for coordinating these costumes and making them from scratch!

Michelle Wheatley (Mathematics): I don’t necessarily have a favorite Halloween memory, but I love the season in general: the corn mazes, the apple cider donuts, the costumes and of course the candy! Every year, my brother and I would go trick-or-treating as kids, dressing up in some of the craziest costumes. We would walk around the whole neighborhood, and always make sure to go to the haunted house this one family would set up. Then, after a long and exhausting night, we would come home, spread all of our candy on the living room floor, and swap favorites that we had earned from our hours of knocking on doors.


Emily Lehman (Physics/Environmental Science): As a rebellious girl who has grown up to be a rebellious adult, I simply loved to argue with my mom.  After she bought me a particularly girly princess costume one year when I was nine or ten, I decided the day before Halloween that I was going to be a pirate instead. She and I battled it out, and we decided that I would wear the princess dress but that I could also wear a beard and carry a sword. The confusion at almost every door I knocked on that evening was–to both my mom and me–PRICELESS! After we went home that night, my little brother and I then ranked our favorite candies, in order to price them for a barter system. Everyone knows that it takes at least four Sweet Tarts to earn a Milky Way. My little brother and I ate candy until we passed out on the living room floor.  Best. Halloween. Ever!

Maura Flynn (Biology/Psychology): When I think about Halloween as a kid, I think about learning to negotiate. That’s what happens when you are the youngest child in the house! In my town, there are no year-round residents, so we have to drive over the bridge to the mainland to trick-or-treat.  My sisters and I would separate for the night and go trick-or-treating with our friends.  Then, we would return home, our feet sore, exhausted by the night of long walks.  Why do the houses with the best candy–you know, the king-sized bars–have to be so far apart? But when we all would get home, even though my mother would beg us to just go to bed, we would take our sacks and sit in a circle on the kitchen floor.  Then we would start sorting by type and value. Chocolate (particularly Reese’s and Kit Kats) was at the top of everyone’s list. Smarties and Nerds came in last.  We would trade away and rank the best costumes we saw.   And of course, we would always make a tiny pile of candy for our parents as a thank you for driving us.

Gianna Penezic (Biology): My favorite Halloween memory was trick-or-treating every year with my Dad! I am an only child, so I never had a sibling posse to go out with, but I had my Dad. Not only would he accompany me, but he would dress up in a coordinating costume.  Some of my favorite costume pairings were Pop Star and Bodyguard, Ariel and Prince Eric, and Pop Star (for a 2nd time) and Elvis. It meant so much to me that my Dad put so much effort into the holiday for me, especially when he would normally not be the kind of person to dress up.

These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Things: Reflections on SJU from the Class of 2020

by Amelia Bielefeld, Annamarie Glaser, Lindsay Miller, Corinne Merlino and Isabella Succi

Amelia Bielefeld (Biology): Something that has really stuck out to me after almost four years at SJU is the amount of opportunities we are presented with, not to mention the diversity of these opportunities as well.  I have met some amazing mentors who are always ready to give advice and are there to help me as much as they can. Through these mentors, I have been able to do many things I may not have been able to do elsewhere, including research I’m really interested in. I’ve even been able to present this research at a conference in California.  And this summer, I went on a study tour of Cuba. Even with the flexibility of our class schedules, I have been able to take classes I would not have expected to take before coming to college.  As a science major, I have had room for many philosophy and ethics courses that have broadened my mindset and taught me new ways of thinking.  I also took photography and painting courses, two things I have always wanted to explore further.  All of these things, courtesy of SJU, have helped me become a more well-rounded individual.

Annamarie Glaser (Biology & Philosophy): As I start my final year at SJU, I have so many memories to look back on from my years here. There are countless things that I have loved about my time at SJU–the campus, the people, the opportunities to learn and grow. But what stands out to me the most are the professors. I know this may sound strange, but it was truly the professors here at St. Joe’s that have kept me inspired throughout the years. I fully believe that you will find no better group of teachers at any other school.  Most of our professors not only care if you come to class, but actually care about how much you learn from them. The small classes here allow you to build relationships with your lecturers, and I have found this to be extremely helpful. In particular, I appreciate the close relationship I have been able to form with my McNulty faculty mentor, Dr. Catalina Arango. Her guidance has been crucial to me during my time here. While I love SJU with all of my heart, there is now doubt that Dr. Arango and all of the professors are the best thing about this university.

Lindsay Miller (Mathematics & Actuarial Science): As I begin my senior year at SJU. there are numerous experiences I look back on fondly because of this school. I have made decisions that pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have great memories from service, internships and organizations I’ve joined.  However I think the best decision I made so far was studying abroad. I studied in Rome, Italy during the Spring 2019 semester. I always talked about studying abroad, but as more time at SJU passed and my schedule became busier and busier, the idea seemed too difficult to make a reality. However once I decided to go for it, I had all the resources I needed at SJU to pull it off. I consulted my academic advisors to help me plan my course schedule for my semester abroad AND all the semesters preceding it as well.  Certain classes, especially upper-levels, are only offered once a year, so I had to be intentional about selecting courses to fulfill requirements. Additionally, the Center for International Programs (CIP) is a tremendous resource on campus. They were there to provide support through the entire process (from picking the city I would stay in to arranging my student visa) and helped to make me feel excited and prepared, rather than nervous and overwhelmed. Now that I’ve been home for a few months, I miss Rome, traveling every weekend, and everything else about my adventure abroad.  But I look back on the experience with nothing but love and gratitude. Each person’s experience is different, but I cannot recommend spending a semester abroad more!

Corinne Merlino (Biology): Although preparing for my fourth and final year at SJU has been bittersweet, reflecting on my time here leaves me feeling nothing but gratitude. Gratitude for the people I’ve met, both my peers and faculty. Gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had. And most of all, gratitude for the endless support I’ve felt from this community here at SJU. Coming in as a freshman biology major, I expected my classes to weed people out. I thought my classmates would be cut-throat and competitive. But instead, my teachers only wanted me to succeed and spent as much time as it took to help me grasp concepts I didn’t understand. I also found that rather than being competitive, my peers were just as nervous as I was, and we spent late nights in the library studying together for exams. At the end of my freshman year, I was nervous to ask one of my professors if I could do research in her lab.  If it wasn’t for an older student convincing me that I was qualified and helping me with my application, I never would have pursued this opportunity.  Writing this as a senior, I truly believe that I wouldn’t be the student, researcher and person I am today without the support of my McNulty Program faculty mentor, Dr. Julia Lee-Soety. Whether it was supporting me in the lab as a Summer Scholar, inviting me to travel with her to conferences or giving me career advice, she always welcomed me into her office to talk (and vent!). Saint Joe’s is a community that is overflowing with support for the big and the little things, and that is, by far and way, my favorite thing about this place.

Bella Succi (Biology): After four years at SJU, I have found certain things here that mean a lot to me. In particular, I found the Science Center to be a home base. Don’t get me wrong! It isn’t exactly homey with its cinderblock walls and rooms full of hardtop lab benches. But somehow after all this time, it has become where I feel most comfortable on campus. Although the physical make-up of the Science Center isn’t the most welcoming, the people inside make it one of my favorite places at SJU. Every time I step through the doors, I am guaranteed to see a friendly face and have a quick conversation. This warmness even extends into the later hours of the night. There have been many nights studying for exams or running experiments when I have stumbled across another Hawk in the same situation who is willing to offer a word encouragement (or maybe a cup of coffee). The Science Center offers me a close-knit community among students and faculty alike, and a safe haven from the day-to-day chaos of college life, making it a place that is integral to my SJU experience.

April 2019: The Best Classes We Have Taken At SJU, by the Class of 2020

by Amelia Bielefeld and Lindsay Miller

As another semester wraps up and we are looking ahead to our senior year, we find ourselves reflecting on the classes that have made the biggest impact on our lives here at Saint Joseph’s University so far.  You might be surprised to learn just what they are!  Read below to find out….

Amelia Bielefeld (Biology)
In my time at Saint Joseph’s University, I’ve taken many courses in many different subjects. Being a Biology major, you might think that my favorite course is in the STEM field.  While I’ve found lots of positives in all of my STEM-related courses, I have unexpectedly found a love for something else as well.  Ethics has become one of my favorite subjects while in college, particularly Just Healthcare in Developing Nations.  I learned an immense amount of valuable information while taking this course, and I also had the opportunity to reinforce the material on a study tour to Cuba.  This course prepared me well for my anticipated career in health care, and it also allowed me to advance my problem-solving skills.  I believe that bioethics is an essential component to good health care, and I highly suggest taking a course or two on the subject!

Lindsay Miller (Mathematics / Actuarial Science)
I have taken a lot of great courses in my three years at SJU.  As a Mathematics and Actuarial Science double-major, my semesters are always filled with lots of math-heavy classes.  Some of my favorites have been ProbabilityDifferential EquationsFinance and Insurance. Although I love the classes for my majors, I have really enjoyed taking the classes required as part of the General Education Program (GEP). One of my favorites was Theology 154 – Faith, Justice and the Catholic Tradition. I am Catholic and grew up going to church and CCD classes, so I had a pretty solid knowledge of the Bible before starting the class.  However, the class was less about the history of Biblical events, and more about the ideology of Catholicism and its applications to daily life. The course made me think introspectively, and I felt like I could apply what we were learning to my life outside the classroom. It was a course which was friendly for people of all religious backgrounds, but I especially appreciated the new perspective on my own religion. Taking GEP courses can seem like a hassle or a bore at first, but if you approach them with the right mindset, you may be surprised by how much you can actually gain from them!

March 2019: Our Favorite Aspects of the McNulty Program from the Class of 2022

by Briana Baier, Elizabeth Ehrhardt, April Pivonka, Katie Lynch and Arianna Varano

It was only a year ago when we were figuring out which college to attend. Although we were planning on majoring in varying fields related to STEM, our paths all crossed due to the McNulty Scholars Program. This was a unifying advantage that Saint Joseph’s University has to offer, and one of the primary reasons we all chose to attend. Below are some of our favorite aspects of the program.


Briana Baier (Computer Science): My favorite aspect of the McNulty Program are the weekly seminars we have on Wednesday nights. We all gather in a classroom in the Science Center and have the opportunity to hear about some very interesting projects, including those of some of our own scholars. By attending these weekly meetings, I have learned so many new things about what it means to enter into a career in a STEM field. As a computer science major, I have had the opportunity to listen in and see how my field of interest is so deeply entwined with other STEM fields, such as biology, chemistry and physics. These seminars have also helped me realize that the community I’m in as a McNulty Scholar is a diverse group of brilliant women. I have never felt like I am in competition with them. Instead it is an environment that fosters excitement and enthusiasm for the accomplishments of my peers. We all share our recent triumphs on projects, applications to grad school, a rigorous course load and so much more. The ability to have a place where I feel comfortable and can embrace my passion for science, all while enjoying a slice of pizza, is something I will never take for granted.


April Pivonka (Biology): One of my favorite features of the McNulty Program is the numerous opportunities available for community service. I have always had a strong interest in helping others and the McNulty Program has allowed me to continue this passion. Thus far, I have volunteered at the Philadelphia Area Girls Enjoying Science Program and the Wagner Free Institute Community Days, where we conducted science experiments with children of different ages to educate and spark their interests in the scientific process.  In addition, I recently was given the role of liaison between the Wagner Free Institute and the SJU students to determine, organize and facilitate activities related to hibernation and Groundhog Day. Inspiring younger students in science is a priceless opportunity which I am so thankful that the McNulty Program has provided me.


Katie Lynch (Mathematics): One of my favorite elements of the McNulty Program is the McNulty Central study room in the Science Center.  I go there in between classes, early in the morning, and late at night to get my work done and interact with other McNulty Scholars. At every school I have attended thus far, I make sure to find a special spot where I feel completely and entirely at home. McNulty Central is certainly that because there, I can scribble math equations onto the whiteboards before an exam or simply de-stress in between classes. The couches and Keurig make the room feel like a home within a home, and the encouraging feminist mural and pictures motivate me to be the best version of myself. Whether my brain is fully powered and in motion, or at peaceful ease in the quiet, McNulty Central has allowed me repose from the chaos of the school day.


Arianna Varano (Biology): One of my favorite parts of the McNulty Program is the unique opportunities for service presented to us. Like April, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer at the Philadelphia Area Girls Enjoying Science Program and the Wagner Free Institute Community Days where I was lucky enough to demonstrate science experiments for the children and young girls of the community.  Having the ability to share my love of service and science with the local community and the other women in the McNulty Program (who share the same passion for STEM as I do) always makes my love for the McNulty Program grow.

December 2018: Finals Week Self-Care Suggestions from the Class of 2021

by Thi Nguyen, Iswarya “Ice” Vel, Maria Johnson, Zoe Mrozek, Michelle Wheatley, Emily Lehman, Maura Flynn and Gianna Penezic

Before we can sit back, relax and celebrate the holidays with family and friends, we have to get through FINALS WEEK!  Depending on your test schedule and how many papers you have to turn in, that can get pretty stressful.  Here are some ways that we chill out in the face of all that work!

Thi Nguyen (Biology): As a person who absolutely loves being outdoors, one of my favorite activities in times of stress is running. It’s a great way to clear your mind while increasing your fitness. In addition to having the opportunity to be out in nature, running with friends always makes the experience more fun!

Iswarya “Ice” Vel (Biology / Business Intelligence & Analytics): My favorite way to de-stress during finals week is to give myself breaks during my studying. I either like to watch TV shows or go out for something to eat with my friends. My favorite show to watch right now is Parks and Recreation. My favorite place near campus to get food is Honeygrow. These breaks give me the chance to forget about the tests that are coming up!

Maria Johnson (Biology): Something about making lists makes that huge pile of work seem just a little less daunting. During a time when it feels like I have to do everything at once, making a list of the tasks ahead helps me focus, prioritize and (most of all) stop worrying. Not only do I feel a sense of accomplishment once I check off an item, but also I am far less likely to forget something. When I make a list, everything I need to do is clear and concrete, and I can break my work down into manageable tasks instead of trying to tackle everything with no plan.

Zoe Mrozek (Biology): My favorite way to de-stress during finals week is to head to my favorite place on campus for a little bit: Wolfington! Nothing makes me feel better during the craziness of studying for exams than sitting in the community room by the fireplace, hanging out and laughing with friends. And during this time of the year, Wolfington is always decorated and stocked with hot chocolate to remind me that Christmas is coming soon!

Michelle Wheatley (Mathematics): My favorite way to de-stress is to go to the gym. I grew up in the gym, and so being there is very relaxing for me. I try to go at least a couple of times a week because, for me, going to the gym is my self-care time. Practicing self-care, especially during finals, is one thing that definitely keeps me sane. Plus, going to the gym keeps me healthy, which is super important in college.

Emily Lehman (Physics): De-stressing during finals week is nearly impossible, but what brings me a little closer to sanity is making to-do lists for the day. I write large projects, like Study for my Physics Final, and small tasks, such as Make Breakfast. The sense of accomplishment I get from checking off even simple items really helps motivate me to continue on with the day’s work. If I’m overwhelmed at all, I will simply add items I have already completed and check them off.

Maura Flynn (Biology / Psychology): My favorite way to de-stress is to listen to throwback songs, such as songs from High School Musical or Hannah Montana. My roommates and I like to dance around in our apartment. We always end up laughing our heads off, which is truly the best medicine. Being surrounded by my best friends and roommates makes me remember the joys in life and anything I’m stressed about is quickly forgotten or made smaller. This is one of the many benefits of being able to live with your friends.

Gianna Penezic (Biology): My favorite way to de-stress is to grab a bite with a group of friends. I always feel so much better chatting and laughing with my girlfriends in between hitting the books during finals week! Being able to rant to each other or reminisce about shared experiences always puts me in a better mood and refreshes me for when I have to get back to work. Also good food always makes my day better!



November 2018: The World We Have Traveled, by 2018-19 McNulty Fellows


by Isabella Succi ’20, Mary Kate Dougherty ’19, Sarah Muche ’19, Alana Cianciulli ’19 and Corinne Merlino ’20

We spend so much time on campus, in our classrooms and in our labs, sometimes it’s difficult to picture ourselves anywhere else.  But over the past year, whether by way of a family vacation or an academic  conference, we have all had the chance to visit new places.  And as the weather gets colder and finals loom, it’s definitely fun to escape back in our minds to those stunning, pastoral places.


Isabella Succi (Biology): This past summer, my family and I traveled to Switzerland. We stayed in Interlaken, but we took day trips to Zurich and Lucerne.  I have to say Switzerland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited! The air was so crisp. The scenery was unreal.  And there were so many fun things to do.  We went hiking, kayaking and took a lift to the top of Mt. Pilatus. It was a truly unforgettable trip.  If you ever have the chance to go, I would highly recommend it.


Mary Kate Dougherty (Chemical Biology): Over this past summer, my family and I visited Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We went on plenty of hikes to different lookouts and a few waterfalls. While many of the hikes were a literal “uphill battle,” the scenery was always worth it.  While on the subject of travel, I am actually writing this post from San Diego, where I am attending the Neuroscience 2018 Conference, thanks to the McNulty Program. I am learning so much about the field of neuroscience during my time here, and certainly look forward to sharing it all with my labmates and fellow McNulty scholars when I return.


Sarah Muche (Biology): Through the McNulty Program, I have attended the annual NorthEastern Microbiologists: Physiology, Ecology, Taxonomy (NEMPET) Conference in the Adirondacks for the past two years. My first year, we went on a 4-hour hike through the woods, which was almost impossible for the novice hikers in my group.  Although most of us slid the entirety of the way down the mountain and had to deliver our presentations in muddy clothes, I’d say the view at the top was worth it.  I’ve been to the Adirondacks before, but it’s interesting to think that research and the McNulty Program brought me back to this unique spot, which I would probably not have ever explored in quite the same way.


Alana Cianciulli (Biology): Last April, I was able to travel to San Diego for the Experimental Biology Conference with a few seniors from my lab.  It was an incredible experience, as it was my first time ever on the West Coast.  I have a major fear of flying, so although it was a little nerve wracking, being with my friends made the flight much easier.  While at the conference, we visited the San Diego Zoo, which is one of the largest zoos in the country.  We also rented bikes and rode around the city.  Although we were there for academic and professional purposes, I was able to bond with these upperclassmen and become very close friends with several of them.  We have kept in touch since they graduated.


Corinne Merlino (Biology): At the end of the summer, I had the opportunity to accompany my McNulty research mentor, Dr. Julia Lee-Soety, to the National Yeast Genetics Meeting at Stanford University in California.  We presented a poster highlighting our research, which focuses on studying the telomere dynamics of yeast chromosomes to understand how telomeres contribute to cell aging and cancer biology. Throughout the week, I was able to attend presentations by some of the most prominent principal investigators in field of yeast genetics, and I networked with graduate and postdoctoral students from institutions around the world.   Although we were there for the science, I had the opportunity to explore Stanford’s beautiful campus as well. The scenery there was so breathtaking, especially the views from the top of the bell tower and at the cactus garden.  Overall, this trip was a wonderful opportunity for educational and professional development that would not have been possible without the support of the McNulty Scholars Program!

McNulty Class of 2019: Our Favorite Memories of SJU

by Ashley Frankenfield, Elise Brutschea, Lakshmi Narayanam, Kaleigh Williams and Jamilyn Mooteb


Ashley Frankenfield (Chemical Biology/Finance): One of my favorite memories here on campus was the opportunity to learn darkroom photography. Since I was young, I would always insist that my parents let me borrow their camera while on vacations. I’ve always loved photography and knew that I wanted to take a photography course for my art/lit requirement here at SJU. During my junior year, I finally got the opportunity. Over the course of a semester, I spent numerous hours in the darkroom trying to perfect techniques. My time in the darkroom was filled with laughter and numerous conversations with my classmates, and ultimately it set me on the path to grow as an artist.


Elise Brutschea (Chemistry): Having sent the past three years here at Saint Joe’s, I’ve made countless memories. One of my favorite memories is my first day in a research lab. I started working in Dr. Mark Forman’s research lab during the Summer Scholars Program between my freshman and sophomore years. Dr. Foreman studies the effects of bond-angle distortion on alkenes, a class of molecules that contain carbon-carbon double bonds. I remember how nervous I was. My hands were shaking whenever I would hold an Erlenmeyer flask or beaker. I remember how intimidating and smart the seniors who were training us seemed. I remember how daunting the lab procedures seemed, and how it felt like I would never remember what to do.  Looking back now, being a senior who has just trained new lab members this summer, I have really come to appreciate the past two years of learning through research. I have grown in confidence, and that first memory of lab really reminds me of just how much I have learned at SJU.


Lakshmi Narayanam (Biology): As I walked into my apartment, I was astonished to see decorations, balloons and food laid out as if there was going to be a party. A moment later, all my friends popped up from behind the counter and yelled “Surprise!” I was shocked that they had all taken the time and effort to plan out a fantastic party for my 21st birthday. Earlier in the day, I was feeling a little down because I was not spending my special day with my family. I didn’t think that anyone would really care that it was my birthday. After seeing the homemade nacho bar and special playlist including all my favorite songs, it dawned on me how my friends at Saint Joe’s are basically part of my family now. My friends are amazing and I have Saint Joe’s to thank for bringing these incredibly kind and caring people into my life.


Kaleigh Williams (Biology): As someone who is aspiring to be a veterinarian, my favorite memories of SJU have been formed while working in the Biodiversity Lab.  This lab houses many different types of animals, ranging from exotic fish species to endangered turtles. When I begin working in this lab my sophomore year, I instantly grew to love many of the animals in the lab.  While I do enjoy caring for them inside the lab, I prefer for them to live and thrive in the wild in their natural habitat. While this is not possible for some of the turtles in the lab (due to their endangerment statuses or natural environments) we have been able to release some of our turtles around the Philadelphia area, as well as in North and South Carolina.  My absolute favorite memory at SJU was when we released a few of our beloved snapping turtles into the wild. Seeing them swim off and enjoy their new home in the wild brought me great joy. Being able to see an animal go from a confined living space to a completely open and free living area was absolutely amazing.  Because of this experience, I hope to continue to rehabilitate and release wildlife in the future.


Jamilyn Mooteb (Physics): During my time here at SJU–away from my home in Yap, Micronesia–I have finally experienced the harshness of snow.  Every winter since I have been here, snow has whipped across my face. I have slipped on the ice and sludged in wet socks through snowdrifts.  Every year when the temperature drops, I start complaining to my friends about all things cold. Despite my negativity towards the cold, I have grown to enjoy one aspect of snow: just how fun you can have playing around in it.  The first time I had fun in the snow was during my freshman year, when I went sledding at Sweeney Field with a red sled, a couple pieces of cardboard and a small group of friends. The only way you could tell that it was a sports field was when you noticed the snow-covered bleachers and lights watching us from above.  We laughed. We slid around. We threw snowballs.  From that day on, I didn’t mind the snow so much, and now I have many more great winter memories in the snow here at SJU.


Parting Words from the Class of 2018

L-R: Abigail Sweetman, Marisa Egan & Shelley Donaldson

Marisa Egan (Biology):  As a now second-semester senior, I find myself thinking about all of my fond memories on Hawk Hill.  Upon reflection, I realize the impact of the academic experiences afforded to me by SJU.  To say that these opportunities have merely helped me grow would be a grave understatement.  Rather, they have changed my life.

Because of my time as a student researcher, a teaching assistant (TA) and a supplemental instruction (SI) leader, I have redefined my academic and personal goals.  Moreover, the students and the professors here are extraordinary, exemplifying an unparalleled commitment to serving the world–with and for others. Their commitment inspired me to make my own mark through a career in research and teaching.

My advice to the incoming McNulty freshmen?

  • Fall in love with learning, both inside and outside the classroom!
  • Explore your academic interests. Declare a few minors…I have three! As college students, we have the rare opportunity to learn from impassioned, inspiring leaders in their fields.
  • Find your purpose and inspire others to find theirs.


Shelley Donaldson (Mathematics):  With May just around the corner, I’ve been constantly fielding the question “Are you ready to graduate?” The answer is yes, I am absolutely ready to move into the next chapter in my life, but there are many things I will miss about SJU. I will miss talking about music in the library with the other math majors when we should really be studying.  I will miss chatting with the professors who care so deeply about my education and success.  I will miss the view of Overbrook Pizza from my apartment window.  I will miss this city.  But above all else, I’ll miss the culture of service and social justice that permeates the campus.

I began my career at SJU with the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program (PSIP), which is an early move-in program where freshmen learn about Philadelphia through community service. My group learned about food justice while working in a community garden in a part of Philadelphia where affordable, fresh food is not easily accessible.  PSIP was the perfect beginning to four years of learning about social justice and solidarity, as well as truly being in community with others.

Inspired by PSIP, I signed up to go on APEX, a spring break service immersion trip in the Appalachian region. Since freshman year, APEX has taken me to West Jefferson, North Carolina; Bluefield, West Virginia; and Clifton Gorge, Virginia.  Each APEX trip presented unique lessons, challenges and opportunities for growth, and cannot be summed up into words.  I have trouble imagining my time in college without these trips.

APEX gave me the opportunity to meet and connect on a deeper level with fellow students who shared my passion for social justice.  I was able to engage in meaningful conversations with members of the communities we were serving–conversations that taught me about the complexity and nuances of our country’s political and economic landscapes. Because I participated in APEX each year, spring break always became an intentional time to reflect, ground myself, be fully attentive and present to those around me, and marvel at our shared humanity. I attribute much of my personal growth in college to these annual trips, and it is my hope that wherever my post-grad life takes me, I’ll be able to find people just as committed to service and social justice as in APEX and the broader SJU community.