November 2017: Our Favorite Places to Eat in Philly & Why! By McNulty Class of 2019

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

After a long week of eating on campus…or whipping up ramen noodles or mac n cheese night after night…we all look forward to getting out into Philadelphia to eat.  And by now, it’s safe to say we have definitely found our favorite places around town.  Take note and remember these suggestions when you join us next year on Hawk Hill!


Ashley Frankenfield (Chemical Biology & Finance): Philadelphia’s South Street has a lot of quaint restaurants. In particular, my favorite place to eat is Nomad Pizza.  This restaurant focuses on serving artisan pizza from the highest quality of ingredients. Also the restaurant itself has a contemporary vibe.


Elise Brutschea (Chemistry): There is no debate that my favorite restaurants are Italian. I am a sucker for Italian food, and I constantly eat pasta for lunch and dinner. So my favorite place to eat around Philadelphia is Pica’s Restaurant in Upper Darby, PA. Pica’s pizza is delicious!  It’s square and the cheese is underneath the sauce (YUM!). But if you are going to go to Pica’s, you have to get their fresh, homemade pasta. I usually get Veal Marsala with Penne Pasta (in the Marsala sauce, of course) but anything you get there that has pasta will probably be the most delicious thing you will ever have in Philly. Not only is their food amazing, their service is outstanding. I always feel at home there, and I love to take my time at a restaurant and they never rush me. Pica’s is a must for anyone in the area!

Lakshmi Narayanam (Biology): I have tons of favorite places to go in Philadelphia because there are so many amazing authentic-style restaurants. My absolute favorite place is near Penn’s Landing, a Mexican restaurant called Las Bugambilias. It is a little cramped but the food is so delicious, I keep going back.  I always get the nachos because they have the best melted cheese I have ever tasted. The quesadillas and enchiladas are also great because they are made with fresh ingredients! They also have authentic Mexican sodas that are interesting to try. After a great meal, I love walking across the street to the Spruce Street Harbor Park. There are beautiful lights, food trucks, hammocks and music that you can enjoy for the rest of the night.

Kaleigh Williams (Biology): I absolutely love the Philly food scene and all it has to offer. One place in particular that I love to eat at is Double Knot in Center City. At first, this restaurant appears to be a young, fun hipster coffee shop that offers amazing specials on small dishes in the early evening. However there is a secret underground restaurant which is very fancy and has some of the best food I have ever tasted. When I finally got the opportunity to explore downstairs, I was amazed at how great the service was and how awesome the food tasted. I ordered three different types of sushi, edamame and a roasted mushroom dish that was to die for! The underground restaurant is very dark and mysterious, but in my opinion, it added to the experience. Even if you do not have time to adventure into the lower part of Double Knot, the upper restaurant has a very welcoming vibe too.  Every single person I have met there has been very kind. I would definitely recommend visiting this spot when you find yourself in Center City.

Jamilyn Mooteb (Physics): I love discovering new places to eat and enjoying new blends of flavors. Regrettably, I have not fully explored Philly’s food scene, despite exploring the city in my spare time over the summer. Despite this, I have a soft spot for California Pizza Kitchen on City Avenue (near SJU). It was one of the first restaurants I visited when I first arrived here.  Pizza Kitchen has great food selections and projects a peaceful, calm aura–perfect for a relaxing outing with friends!  If you’re daring with your appetite, another personal favorite is the Reading Terminal Market in Center City. Little shops and mini-restaurants are nestled so close together, it’s like wandering into a small village. The cuisines are so diverse–you can always find what you’re craving! I hope you visit these places and satisfy your own appetites!

October 2017: Our Recommendations for the Best Places To Be in Philly in the Fall, by McNulty Fellows 2017-18

L-R: Sarah Muche, Asha Jacob, Leona Ryder, Natalie Ryder, Amelia Brown

Whether you’re brand new to the Philadelphia area, or just need a reminder about where you can have the most fun here during the autumn months, the McNulty Fellows are here to steer you in the right direction.  Read below for a wide range of suggestions that run the gamut from peaceful spaces to enjoy the cooler weather to frightening Halloween celebrations.



Sarah Muche ’19 (Biology): First Friday in Old City
First Friday is a year-long tradition in Old City where art galleries and independent shops open to the public from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. on the first Friday of every month. Restaurants also offer special deals.  I find this is especially enjoyable in the fall because the leaves are turning colors and the weather is so pleasant.  Old City is a lot less intimidating than Center City, which is why I recommend it to people who don’t necessarily know Philly very well.  If you find yourself there, the Center for Art in Wood and the Clay Studio are definitely my suggestions for must-see stops!

Asha Jacob ’18 (Biology/Environmental Science): Chinatown
Fall for me always means going to Chinatown with friends, grabbing a meal at our favorite restaurant, Dim Sum Garden, and wandering the streets looking for interesting shops to browse in.  Dim Sum Garden has been a favorite of ours since freshman year because they sell the best soup dumplings in the world at an affordable price! It’s one of the best fall meals because the soup warms us up on the inside for the fall chill outside. Chinatown is a great place to go in the fall (or just about any season). There are always different events, like the Night Market, taking place. It’s also a great place to learn about cultures other than our own.

Leona Ryder ’18 (Biology): Eastern State Penitentiary
The fall season in Philly is full of fun festivities, especially surrounding Halloween. Philadelphia is home to the Eastern State Penitentiary, which was once called the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Stories about famous inmates, like Al Capone and “Slick Willie” Sutton, attract Philly locals and visitors to the historic site, where tours run year-round, every day of the week. To make things even more exciting, during the end of September through October, the Penitentiary turns into a massive haunted house called Terror Behind the Walls, ranked the #1 haunted house in the US by Forbes. You have the option to stand back and watch the action or interact with the actors to become truly immersed (and terrified!) by the action.  You will most definitely be scared either way as you make your way through each of the six long attractions.  Tickets are currently on sale, so grab your friends and head to the Eastern State Penitentiary for an experience of a lifetime!

Natalie Barrett ’18 (Biology): Rittenhouse Square vs. Washington Square
My favorite thing about Philadelphia is how easy it is to walk everywhere.  You can start your day at one end of Center City or one park, and end you day at another. There are many parks to spend time in, but two of my favorites are Rittenhouse Square and Washington Square. Rittenhouse Square tends to be lively, filled with dogs, families picnicking, street performers and Mr. Softee trucks! Washington Square, on the other hand, is on the quiet side and is filled with history. You can always find a wedding or bridal party photo shoot taking place there.  Both parks are surrounded by great dining options too. So next time you’re in Philly, I highly recommend checking out either (or both!) of these parks and enjoying a day with family and friends.

Amelia Brown ’18 (Biology): The Museums
What’s the best part of Philly? All the great museums, for sure! There’s a museum for every single person. Like history? How about the newly built Museum of the American Revolution or the Penn Museum? Are you an art buff? We have one of the most architecturally beautiful and comprehensive art museums in the world. The Philadelphia Museum of Art even has Van Gogh’s famous work, Sunflowers! And it’s in a great location, right at the end of Boathouse Row so you can go for a beautiful riverside walk and run up the famous front steps, just like Rocky!  If you’re more of a science buff (like all of us McNulty gals), there are three crazy cool museums to choose from. The Mutter Museum contains hundreds of medical specimens to keep a future medical school student engaged for hours (although be warned: this is not for the faint of heart). The Franklin Institute has a huge human heart that you can walk through (need I say more?). And the Academy of Natural Sciences right next door has real dinosaur bones.  No matter how cold it gets outside, everyone will still be having a great time inside, exploring Philadelphia’s many great museums.

March 2017: What Is Your Go-To Movie? Recommendations from the McNulty Fellows, 2016-17

McNulty Fellows, 2016-17
L-R: Mary Szurgot ’17, Natalie Barrett ’18, Kaitlyn Frankenfield ’17, Leona Ryder ’18, Brianna Amos ’17, Amelia Brown ’18, Caroline Stow ’17, Madeline Graziani ’17

Springtime may be the time to be outside, enjoying the budding trees, flowers and warmer temperatures. But with all of the sun comes a lot of rain, and our McNulty Fellows know just how to handle the April showers that come before May flowers. A bowl of popcorn. A couple of friends. And a great movie!! Here are their suggestions for the movies that offer the best escape from thunderstorms….or that lab write up that is looming…..

szurgot2Mary Szurgot ’17 (Chemical Biology)
I’ve always been the type to prefer non-fiction to fiction, so naturally, I spend much of my time on Netflix in the Documentaries queue. I recently stumbled upon an 80-minute documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things which seeks to provide some answers to the question “How might your life be better with less?” Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of narrate this documentary which provides an overview of how families, artists, entrepreneurs and even Wall Street millionaires have sought to add value to their lives by eliminating or de-emphasizing material possessions, and how they feel their lives have been affected by this change. While I don’t personally think I’ll be moving into a 200 square foot tiny house anytime soon, I enjoyed hearing about the value that minimalism has added to many people’s lives. I would recommend the brief film to anyone interested in learning about a movement that seems counter-intuitive to modern consumer culture.

Natalie Barrett ’18 (Biology)
After attending my sister’s high school musical rendition of The Sound of Music this past weekend, I found myself craving more. I decided to borrow my grandma’s DVD copy of The Sound of Music and watched it as I was trapped in my house during Winter Storm Stella.  If you are looking for a classic movie, or simply a fun sing-along, The Sound of Music is your go-to! The legendary Julie Andrews stars as the movie’s main character, Maria, who brings joy and music to a family struggling since the loss of their mother.  Although quite long, the movie is filled with classic songs such as “My Favorite Things” and “Do-Re-Mi.” It is also filled with history, perfect for any age group.  I highly recommend the classic film even if you have already seen it. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Leona Ryder ’18 (Biology)ryder2
A movie that I would recommend is The Intern starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro. Not only is this movie a great comedy, but it also has a great independent woman as the main character. Anne Hathaway’s character is Jules Ostin, the owner of an online clothing company. Though she goes through ups and downs not only within her job but also regarding her marriage and her family, she truly resembles a strong successful woman. Her clothing company decides to sponsor a senior citizen internship position, which Robert De Niro’s character, Ben Whittaker, a retired widower, decides to take on. I highly recommend this movie for anyone who loves a great comedy or drama, and Anne Hathaway and/or Robert De Niro.

Brianna Amos ’17 (Biology)
It’s crazy how the smallest things take us back to our childhood and make us feel like a kid again. If you are a Disney fanatic like me or loved the Disney classics growing up, the new live-action Beauty and the Beast is an absolute must-see. I grew up obsessed with the Disney movies to the point that I broke the VCR tapes from watching them so much. Trust me when I say: “I know the whole storyline by heart–so how could a remake compare?” Believe me,  I had my doubts as well.  But it is a magical movie.  As I sat in the theater, I could only imagine dancing around singing like a child to all of the familiar songs.  However, there are some new songs and some added details to the story that have given me an even greater appreciation for this story and helped me see it from a new perspective. The dancing and acting are incredible. The special effects add magic. And the special details in every scene are awe-inspiring. And of course, there are plenty of added puns and humor along the way to help you make it through some of the more depressing scenes. Whether you are looking for a pick-me-up or a flashback to your childhood, I recommend the new Beauty and the Beast. A 10 out of 10!


Amelia Brown ’18 (Biology)
Shakespearean references, a tough female lead, and Heath Ledger.  What more could one ask for in a movie? The 1999 classic 10 Things I Hate About You is an excellent coming-of-age movie for any young girl who has been told that she is “bossy.” This is the movie that made me realize that being a sassy and bossy female who didn’t care what anyone else thought was something to celebrate. Even 18 years after the movie’s release, I still find satisfaction in watching Kat sass her way through high school situations. I still value someone who doesn’t put down her edgy attitude but instead compliments it. Patrick Verona (played by a young and in-his-prime Heath Ledger) plays her love interest. Despite the fact that it technically is a romantic comedy, it isn’t a movie about a girl falling head over heels in love with a guy and losing part of herself in the process.  Kat is her own person who, despite being “shrewish,” finds someone who embraces her personality and sees her for who she really is: a woman who doesn’t need a man to tell her what to do.

stow2Caroline Stow ’17 (Chemistry)
If you are looking for a hilarious, dramatic, endearing movie, you need to watch Little Miss Sunshine (2006). With its great cast, including Steve Carrell and Abigail Breslin, this movie will take you on an emotional roller coaster as the Hoover family faces many perils on the open road in their old yellow Volkswagen bus. The film’s plot is driven by the need to get the youngest Hoover, Olive, to the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant in California on time. The two reasons I love this movie are because it shows the importance of family and because it is empowering.  When they get to the beauty pageant, it becomes clear that Olive isn’t as glitzy and glamorous as the other little girls there.  However even when presented with the option of quitting, she is determined to go out on stage and perform the routine that her grandfather taught her. And even though the rest of her family had their doubts, she crushed it. This movie is phenomenal and has a little bit of everything for everyone.  If you are looking for a film that will make you laugh, cry and feel strong at the end of the day, then Little Miss Sunshine is for you.

November 2016: The Class of 2020’s Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

L-R: Amelia Bielefeld, Annamarie Glaser and Lindsay Miller

The campus is quiet.  Classes are finished for the week.  And our thoughts turn toward the magnificent meal we will be enjoying tomorrow with family and friends.  While the food here at SJU isn’t bad at all, there is nothing like a home-cooked meal.  Especially at Thanksgiving.  Below are the dishes we can’t wait to dig into.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Amelia Bielefeld (Biology): Sweet Potato Casserole
My all-time favorite Thanksgiving recipe is hands-down, Sweet Potato Casserole.  My family discovered this recipe when I was still very young from one of our close family friends.  My sister and I loved it so much that my mom decided that she needed to have the recipe as well.  Ever since then, we have made it at every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.  The taste always gets me into the holiday spirit, no matter what time of year it is.  For my family, Sweet Potato Casserole is a must-have at Thanksgiving Dinner, and I am happy to pass our treasured recipe onto you!


  • 3 cups sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • pinch of salt


  • 5tablespoonsmelted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

How To Make It

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F
  2. Mash your sweet potatoes and add the ingredients required for the casserole. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour mix into a casserole pan or thin dish
  4. Combine ingredients for the topping and spread evenly across the top of the casserole.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes.


Annamarie Glaser (Biology): Vanillekipferi (Vanilla Crescent Cookies)
Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays when I still lived in the States.  Nothing could compare to the feeling of family and unity. It was one of the only times of the year all five of my siblings were together–the smell of rich food, the heat of the fire filling the house.  Though it’s an American holiday, after moving to Germany, we were able to fuse older family traditions with some German Christmas traditions.  For me, one of the best parts of the holidays in Germany is the wide variety of cookies.  This Thanksgiving, I’ll be missing my two homes: my new one at SJU and my family home in Munich.  This recipe is for my favorite German holiday cookie, one of the first I remember trying.


  • 14 tablespoons cold butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup blanched, ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Vanilla sugar for sugar coating

Additional Supplies

  • Clear plastic wrap
  • Baking parchment
  • Baking sheet

How To Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix and then knead ingredients into a firm, smooth dough, ensuring not to knead too long.
  3. Wrap dough in clear plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of an hour.
  4. Cut off slices from dough that are about 3/8 inch thick.
  5. Break off small pieces from the slices and shape them into crescents. Rewrap remaining dough and return to fridge.
  6. Place the crescents on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment paper.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cookies are golden.
  8. Dip cookies into sugar while they are still warm to ensure the sugar adheres to the cookies.


Lindsay Miller (Mathematics): Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  It is filled with family, friends, and food! I am lucky to have parents who are wonderful cooks and to have so many different dishes to look forward to every year. However this year, I am most excited about homemade carrot cake.  This recipe is simple to follow and yields delicious results.  Give it a try! I promise you will not be disappointed.  Regardless, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and a relaxing break from school or work filled with quality time with loved ones! I am thankful to be home in New Jersey, but I will be missing my second home on Hawk Hill.


  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups corn oil
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed cooked carrots
  • 3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons sweet butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

How To Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease three 9-inch layer cake pans lined with wax paper.
  2. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.
  3. Pour batter into the prepared pans. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 60 minutes until the edges have pulled away from sides and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours.
  5. Mix frosting ingredients with an electric mixer until creamy. Fill cake and frost sides with cream cheese frosting. Dust top with confectioners sugar.
  6. Enjoy!

October 2016: Our World Travelers: An International Perspective from the Class of 2017


L-R: Karen Medina, Jane Bukovec, Marissa Tremoglie, Sarah Cooney and Valerie Jenkins

It is commonly thought that it is essentially impossible for science majors to study abroad. Between labs, which can’t be taken abroad, and meeting requirements for medical or graduate school, it’s difficult to clear a whole semester. Add a second major, a few minors, the honors program, research and countless other activities and obligations, and it gets even more complicated. However the McNulty women of the class of 2017 were determined to make it work. Through careful planning, they were able to do just that, fulfilling lifelong dreams, gaining global experience and serving communities far beyond the Philadelphia city limits.

The women have shared some of their tips for fitting in a trip abroad, and their favorite memories and experiences that shaped who they are and where they will go tomorrow.

Karen Medina (Environmental Science)
Studying abroad in Denmark was more than I ever thought it would be. While there, I studied about renewable energy and sustainability.  I climbed a windmill to learn how they work. (The view from up there was fantastic–and a little chilly!) In my Environmental Sustainability class, I put our lessons about sustainable (and healthier!) means of transportation into practice by riding my bike everywhere I went! I also rode on a train that was carried by a ferry en route to Germany. which was another unforgettable experience. Apart from my science courses, I learned more about Ancient Greek art and had the chance to go to different museums around Copenhagen and private art collections.

Outside of academics, I stayed with a Danish family who showed me around the country. My two little Danish “brothers” taught me some Danish words and shared the magic of Danish castles. Together we also cooked different traditional Danish meals (which were, needless to say, delicious). Overall, studying abroad was an experience that helped me grow while exploring new countries, and it is something that I would definitely recommend to anyone who can do it! The 4 1/2 months that I was able to spend in Denmark have been among my favorite times since coming to SJU.

Jane Bukovec (Actuarial Science and Italian)
I have had the unique opportunity to study abroad twice during my college years. I first spent a month in Rome with SJU’s Summer in Rome program after my freshman year. My experience in Rome was so wonderful that I knew by the end of the month that I just had to return to Italy. During the fall of my junior year, I spent a semester abroad in Florence. Although Florence was very different from Rome, I enjoyed it just as much. I think that studying abroad was the biggest contribution to my liberal arts education. Abroad, I was able to learn about things I otherwise would have never had the opportunity–things that gave me a different appreciation for life. Because of my experiences abroad, I’ve changed my minor in Italian into a second major, and I hope to work in Italy in my future career.

Marissa Tremoglie (Biology)
One of the best opportunities afforded to students by SJU is the ability to study abroad, something even a science major can accomplish. Since I came to college, I knew that i wanted to maintain and complete my many minors, as well as my research position, yet I still wanted the opportunity to study abroad. Luckily, St. Joe’s offers study tours during the summer.  For 3 weeks, I was able to travel to Nicaragua, study their health care system and get course credit for this work.  While there, I developed great friendships with the handful of students who took the course. I learned more about different methods of health care delivery and the problems facing Nicaragua, and had the opportunity to reflect on my own career interests and goals along the way.  Those 3 weeks proved to be some of the most educational during my time at SJU.

Sarah Cooney (Mathematics and Computer Science)
My spreadsheets are a bit famous within my circle of friends at SJU, especially my color-coded 4-year plan laying out all of the requirements for both of my majors and the general education program.  Ever since I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks in Sweden one summer during high school, I’ve known without a doubt that I wanted to spend a semester abroad during college.  My freshman year, as I signed the paperwork to take on a second major in computer science, I knew that I would have to be more organized than ever to make my dream a reality.  Thus the spreadsheet was born.

I ended up spending my junior spring semester in Cork, Ireland.  It was such a unique and wonderful experience.  Academically, I had the opportunity to take an interesting and challenging math course that stretched my abilities as a mathematician, and to study American literature from the point of view of an outsider.  I also traveled all over Ireland and made it to 8 countries besides. There were certainly big moments–kissing the Blarney Stone, seeing the Eiffel Tower at night, reconnecting with my Swedish host sister after 5 years, and many more–but it was the whole experience–big moments and little–that stretched me as a person and made me recognize and reconsider my cultural biases and assumptions.

You have to plan carefully and start making plans early, but I truly believe everyone–science majors too!–should do what it takes to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. Whether it’s a week-long study tour or a whole semester, studying abroad is an experience that is impossible to regret.

Valerie Jenkins (Chemical Biology)
I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain during the fall semester of my junior year.  I had always dreamed of studying abroad in a foreign country for a semester, learning a new language and traveling throughout Europe.  However, I was concerned that as a chemical biology major with minors in philosophy and health care ethics, and research commitments that I would be unable to study abroad for an entire semester.  During my sophomore year, I became determined to make my dream a reality.  As much as I love science and working in the lab, it was such a breath of fresh air to experience a different lifestyle and pursue other interests such as art, writing, traveling and different languages for a semester.  I lived with a Spanish-speaking host family that did not speak English. This challenged me to consistently work on my Spanish language skills and find creative ways to communicate with my hosts.  I traveled to Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Portugal, Morocco and to many different cities and towns throughout Spain. I now have friends in Spain, Germany and across the United States. As impossible as it seems to study abroad as a math, computer science or natural sciences major, I promise you–it is possible and, above all, life changing!

September 2016: I Know What You Did Last Summer….Class of 2019



L-R: Ashley Frankenfield, Elise Brutschea, Lakshmi Narayanam, Kaleigh Williams & Jamilyn Mooteb

It’s quiet here on the SJU campus–and in the Science Center laboratories–while our McNulty students are away over the summer. We always wonder just what keeps them busy when they aren’t with us.  So we asked them when they returned to campus this school year.  And the Class of 2019 happily shared their favorite ways to spend time when they aren’t hitting the books:


Ashley Frankenfield (Chemical Biology)
A student at any university is likely to explore her surroundings, and I love being in Philadelphia.  For me, when I have time to spare, I love to explore South Street because of its unique vibe.  I never miss a chance to visit the Magic Gardens, which is a row home that has been completely outfitted in mosaics by Isaiah Zagar.  Even if you have already seen this amazing space, I highly recommend making it a regular stop on your walk through town. Mr. Zagar is always changing things around so there is something new to see.

Elise Brutschea (Chemistry)
I am a huge Disney fan, and I have spent so much time watching movies since the most recent upload of Disney movies to Netflix.  One in particular that I love to watch over and over is Zootopia. The catchy theme song of the movie by Shakira is what made me watch it in the first place. The movie is centered around a bunny, Judy Hopps, who dreams of moving away from the family carrot farming business to become a cop in the famous Zootopia city where animal predators and prey live together peacefully. She goes against the advice of everyone, and graduates at the top of her class in the police academy. When she is assigned to Zootopia, she is filled with joy until she gets stuck with parking duty.  The story takes a mysterious turn when she tries to find a missing otter, but the movie is so much more than that.  It makes strong points about discrimination and the power of fear.  Zootopia is a must-see for any age, as on its basic level, it’s light-hearted and fun for children, but teens and adults will understand the the movie’s messages about the world at large.  It’s a fun, thought-provoking movie that I would recommend to everyone and anyone!

Lakshmi Narayanam (Biology)
Finding Dory was the most anticipated movie of the summer!  The audience ranged from little kids to students in college.  Finding Nemo was a childhood favorite for a lot of us, so it was thrilling to know that Finding Dory was coming out soon.  No college student had shame in buying a ticket to watch Finding Dory! Throughout the film, there is such a strong theme of family.  Finding Dory exemplifies how family will always support you and how family will always be there for you.  Family isn’t just anyone who is a blood relative but also someone who you can count on.  By the end of the movie, I was in tears because it touched my heart to see how hopeful Dory’s parents were.  Even though Finding Dory is a children’s movie, everyone can learn from such a funny, whole-hearted film.

Kaleigh Williams (Biology)
This summer, I was fortunate enough to travel to Iceland for a two week vacation with a friend’s family. We stayed with his grandmother and aunt, who barely spoke English, so I was able to fully immerse myself in the Icelandic culture.  Every day was a new adventure.  One morning, we woke up and walked to the black sand beach and hot spring to go swimming.  The next day, we took an hours-long drive to see the countryside.  And of course, we hit all the tourist spots in the Golden Circle.  My absolute favorite part of the trip was when we took a ferry from Reykjavik to the Westmen Islands for a family reunion.  The Westmen Islands has a population of 3,000 people (only a little larger than my high school!), and more than 500 family members attended this reunion.  We took over the island! We hiked a volcano, walked behind waterfalls, ate whale and even saw real-life puffins.  I can honestly say this was a trip I will never forget!

Jamilyn Mooteb (Physics)
This past summer, my teacher recommended a book about math for me to read.  At first, I thought that I would end up reading a boring textbook and was not looking forward to it, especially over the summer, a time to relax after my first year of college.  I started reading the book, A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley, PhD, and immediately found myself intrigued.  This book provides insight into how to excel in math and science courses.  It also made my short list of favorite books because of how much it has helped me change my study habits.  Last year (my first year at SJU)  I struggled with time management.  While A Mind for Numbersfocuses more on math and science, it actually offered surprisingly effective study strategies for all of my classes.  I am grateful to my teacher for making this recommendation, and am excited to put some of my new study tactics to use this semester.

May 2016: Congratulations to the McNulty Program’s Class of 2016


L-R: Christina Mirarchi, Isabella Goodenough, Rachel Troxell, Christina Freeman, Kathleen Logan, Heidi Kurn and Courtney Hulbert

Under sunny skies, our McNulty Program Class of 2016 graduated on Saturday, May 14.  We will certainly miss seeing them in the halls of the Science Center, but are eager to stay in touch and hear about all of their accomplishments in the next phase of their careers.




McNulty Scholar Christina Freeman graduated cum laude with university and departmental honors in Biology. She was active in the Biology Club and Pep Band, and most recently served as a TA in Cells lab.

During her time at SJU, she worked in a variety of lab settings. She tested the effectiveness of slow-scale sand water filters in a study co-sponsored by the SJU Biology Department and the Institute of Catholic Bioethics. She also participated in SJU’s Phage Safari Lab, isolating and characterizing soil mycobacteriophages from the Philadelphia Zoo.  Over the past 2 years, Christina conducted honors research under the guidance of biologist Dr. Edwin Li, measuring the transmembrane domains of the Mucin 1 protein and exploring how to characterize its activity which, when unregulated, has been associated with skeletal abnormalities and cancer. In February, Christina attended the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, CA to present her findings.

Upon graduation, Christina expects to begin a post-baccalaureate research position at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.


McNulty Scholar Heidi Kurn graduated cum laude with a degree in Chemistry. She came to SJU four years ago all the way from Michigan. While here, she worked as a TA in the General Chemistry Lab and volunteered in the ER of Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, PA. She was also an active member of the SJU Pep Band, and was named president this year.

During her time here, Heidi discovered a love of travel. She spent a junior semester abroad in Sydney, Australia, where she studied at Macquarie University. And she participated in the Winter Immersion Program in Ecuador this past January, volunteering through Rostro de Cristo. Last summer, she worked under the guidance of chemist Dr. Jean Smolen to determine the concentration of inorganic and pharmaceutical compounds in the Belmont water supply.

After graduation, Heidi plans to take a gap year to apply to medical schools while interning as a medical assistant at the Pennsylvania Dermatology Group in Huntingdon Valley, PA.

McNulty Scholar Kathleen Logan graduated cum laude with departmental honors and a degree in Biology. She also minored in Healthcare Ethics and Behavioral Neuroscience. During her time at SJU and in the McNulty Program, Kathleen has served as a GEOKids Fellow, as well as a Fellow in the Institute of Catholic Bioethics. She was an active participant in the Dean’s Leadership Program and served as an intern at the Franklin Institute, helping to plan the 2015 Philadelphia Science Festival. Last summer, Kathleen worked as a summer associate for the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers in New Jersey, conducting a qualitative evaluation of care coordination intervention programs.

Kathleen also completed several research projects. She assessed the reliability of the Baseline Concussion Test (ImPACT) for high school athletes under the guidance of psychologist Dr. Philip Schatz. At the Institute for Catholic Bioethics, she helped develop a program to collect used eyeglasses for donation to clinics and hospitals in Nicaragua, Uganda and Sierra Leone. She also worked with chemist Dr. Jean Smolen and Peter Clark, S.J in a water filter project, which was presented to the SJU Board of Trustees as a research highlight in the College of Arts and Sciences.

In the coming year, Kathleen has been named a Fellow in Saint Joseph’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Program, where she will complete her master’s degree in secondary education (biology) while teaching biology and physical science to high school students at Mercy Vocational High School in Philadelphia.


hulbertgradMcNulty Associate Courtney Hulbert came to us just 3 short years ago as part of the 3+3 Doctorate in Physical Therapy program of SJU and Thomas Jefferson University. She graduated with a degree in Biology and will now go onto to complete her Doctorate with a Dean’s Scholarship for the College of Health Professions at Thomas Jefferson University.

At SJU, Courtney was a leader in so many ways. She was a Student Ambassador for the Office of Admissions. She was part of the leadership team of Down To Pray Christian Fellowship. And she was also the Connections Team Coordinator for GracePhilly BIC, helping to spearhead the establishment of a new church campus in Center City. This year, under the direction of biologist Scott McRobert, PhD, she participated in a research project at the Philadelphia Zoo, examining the social interactions of a family unit of white-faced saki monkeys.

Upon graduation and before starting at Jeff, Courtney will complete a 10-week internship with GracePhilly to focus on pastoral care and community outreach.


McNulty Fellow Isabella Goodenough graduate with a degree in Chemistry. She served as the Secretary of the Molloy Chemical Society and worked as a Noyce Summer Intern, leading a summer science camp for 20 middle school students. She was also the lead teaching assistant for the Food Chemistry course.

Since 2014, Isabella has worked with physicist Dr. Paul Angiolillo, analyzing electron spin relaxation behavior and internal reorganization energies of doped n-conjugated porphyrin oligomers. Her research has culminated in the publication of an article in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, and she has also presented her work at a local conference of the American Chemical Society. This summer, she will present her work at the ACS National Meeting here in Philadelphia.

Starting later this summer, Isabella will begin pursuing her PhD in Chemistry (with a focus in Physical Chemistry) at Temple University.

mirarchigradMcNulty Fellow Christina Mirarchi graduates cum laude with a degree in Biology and a minor in Educational Studies.  Christina served as a GeoKids LINKS Undergraduate Fellow, presenting biology lessons to students at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, PA. She was also an Assistant Swim Coach for the Hawk Hill Swim Team and a Resident Assistant in the SJU residence halls. In May, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, as well.

For the past two years, she has worked in the lab of biologist Dr. Catalina Arango to identify the phosphotransferase system (PTS) protein that interacts with the global regulator of carbon catabolite repression in Sinorhizobium meliloti, a symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacterium. She received a Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research to fund her work and was also the recipient of the Claver House Award for outstanding work on a departmental thesis. Last summer, Christina presented her findings at the Northeastern Microbiologists: Physiology, Ecology and Taxonomy Conference in Blue Mountain Lake, NY.

Upon graduation, Christina has been selected as a Fellow in the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Program at the University of Notre Dame. She will be earning her Masters in Education while teaching science to 6th, 7th & 8th graders at an Archidiocesan school in Atlanta, GA.

troxellgradMcNulty Fellow Rachel Troxell graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Chemistry and a minor in English. She served as the President of the Molloy Chemical Society and was the Program Coordinator for SJU’s Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge, which sends 100+ students on six service trips across the country. She was also recently inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

This year, as part of the McNulty Fellows Program, she spent the summer on campus in the lab of chemist Dr. Mark Forman, studying the effects of bond angle distortion on the structures and properties of alkenes, which are a class of organic molecules that contain carbon-carbon double bonds. In March, she traveled to San Diego to present her findings at the American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition. For her contributions, she recently received the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society Scholastic Achievement Award.

In the fall, she will be attending the University of Pittsburgh to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

April 2016: Top 10 List of Things to Do in Philadelphia in the Spring


by Valerie Jenkins, Jane Bukovec, Marissa Tremoglie, Karen Medina, Sarah Cooney and Courtney Hulbert
McNulty Scholars Program, Class of 2017

With Saint Joseph’s University so close to Center City, South Philly, and Manayunk, we highly recommend a number of spring activities to ensure that you get outside and have fun on those STEM study breaks!

1) The Philadelphia Science Festival (April 22 – 30, 2016)

psfpsfboothThere are ongoing science-related activities going on throughout Philadelphia, capped off with a huge Science Carnival on Saturday April 30 at the Great Plaza on Penn’s Landing. More than 175 exhibitors–including a McNulty Scholars Program booth–will offer non-stop interactive experiences and family fun science activities for children of all ages.

2) Spring Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival (April 10, 2016)

streatfestTaste everything from BBQ to sweet desserts from over 50 of Philadelphia’s best food trucks.  Check out Undrgrnd Donuts, Waffles & Wedges, Wahlburgers Philadelphia and Robeks Fresh Juices & Smoothies.

3) Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020 South Street)

magicgardenSpanning half a block on Philadelphia’s famous South Street, this museum features an immersive outdoor art installation and indoor galleries. This space was created over the span of 14 years by Isaiah Zagar using nontraditional materials such as folk art statues, found objects, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors. Magic Gardens is truly a sight to behold on a beautiful spring day!

4) Play Ball with the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park

baseballCheer on the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team! Discounted tickets are offered on select nights in April for college students, alumni, and faculty of the Greater Philadelphia area.

5) 104.5 Summer Block Parties at Festival Pier

blockpartyFrom May to September, a free concert is offered monthly on Sundays. Acts usually include up and coming and currently popular alternative bands.

6) Philadelphia Flower Show (March 11-19, 2017)

flowerThe Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event, and features stunning displays by the world’s premier floral and landscape designers. This year’s Show celebrated the centennial of the National Park Service.

7) The Broad Street Run (May 1, 2016)

runThe nation’s largest 10-mile race takes runners through historic areas of Philadelphia. But if half marathons are not your thing, there are many beautiful and scenic trails for walking, running, and biking along Kelly Drive and the Wissahickon trails.

8) Philadelphia Art Museum (2600 Benjamin Parkway)

museumThe first Sunday of the month is free to the public, and Wednesday evenings are “Donate What You Wish” entrance fees to the museum. So run up the Rocky steps and check out one of the largest and most renowned art collections in the country.

9) Fairmount Water Works (640 Water Works)

waterworksThis beautiful and scenic view of the city educates citizens about Philadelphia’s urban watershed, and its bicentennial celebration is coming up this month (April 2016)!

10) Philly Tech Week (April 29 – May 7, 2016)

computerSponsored by Comcast, this annual event offers you the opportunity to play Tetris on the side of the downtown Comcast building, print out a 3-D model of yourself and network with the Philadelphia technology community.

If you are still looking for ways to immerse yourself in Philadelphia’s springtime, check out the Philadelphia Zoo, Spruce Street Harbor Park in South Philadelphia, the Manayunk Arts Festival in June, the Barnes Foundation and the Mutter Museum of Medical History.

March 2016: These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things….about the McNulty Scholars Program


by Kathleen Logan, Christina Freeman and Heidi Kurn
McNulty Scholars, Class of 2016

As seniors, we have had four wonderful years at Saint Joseph’s University. The honor of being McNulty Scholars has helped make that possible. Here are some of our favorite things about being a McNulty Scholar:

  • The McNulty Program provided an immediate immersion into the SJU community and the university’s STEM community, which was especially great as incoming freshmen.
  • This program has also provided a network of like-minded mentors and peers.  Many of our professors knew who we were before we stepped foot into their classes.
  • Seminars sponsored by the McNulty Program have fostered our professional development through small-group discussions with prominent women in various STEM fields.  These presentations advocate for women and other unrepresented groups in STEM disciplines.
  • Each of us has a faculty mentor who inspires us to do more and often has connections that can assist us in our future endeavors.  However, we don’t just have one mentor.  Older McNulty studetns are always more than happy to help out with a class or give advice based on their time at SJU.
  • The McNulty Program has funded our summer research with professors through the Summer Scholars Program here on campus.  And McNulty Scholars can also receive funding for travel to academic conferences to present their research.  In fact, Christina just returned from Los Angeles where she presented her work at the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting.
  • As McNulty Scholars, we have 24/7 access to McNulty Central, a room in the Science Center just for us.  We use this space for distraction-free studying, meetings and even an occasional nap.
  • This program has brought together a wonderful group of like-minded individuals who have evolved into a family.  We try to have family dinners as often as possible so we can all spend time together.
  • One of the most important things that the McNulty Program has instilled in each of us is that we, as recipients of this gift of education, have an obligation to share our knowledge with others in some unique shape or form.  Many Scholars choose to do this by volunteering at the Philadelphia Science Festival or in smaller school-based science workshops aimed at engaging younger girls in science or math.

February 2016: Our Favorite “Headstrong” Women


by Christina Mirachi ’16, Mary Szurgot ’17, Isabella Goodenough ’16, Rachel Troxell ’16 and Anjni Patel ’17
McNulty Fellows, 2015-16

As we begin a new semester and a new calendar year, we’re seeking inspiration to help make this our best year yet.  We had the opportunity to read and discuss Rachel Swaby’s non-fiction work Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World during our McNulty Program Book club last summer, so we decided to revisit some of the women whose stories stood out and inspired us to prepare ourselves for the challenging semester ahead.

Isabella Goodenough ’16

GoodenoughblogSally Ride was constantly treated as inferior to her male colleagues, and faced relentless discrimination from fellow Americans.  Her skill was never at the forefront; rather her gender was.  While she flew through space training with ease, she was constantly challenged with sexist and stereotypical comments about her competence as an astronaut. “Would or wouldn’t she wear a bra in space?” “Did she cry over her mistakes?”  As irreverent and insulting as these comments would be, she never let them affect her.  When her gender was brought up as a measure of competence, she would extend the reminder: “weightlessness is a great equalizer.” *

While many of us know Sally Ride as the first female astronaut, what many of us fail to recognize is how she got there.  She never went into astrophysics or even the astronaut corps to become a role model. Rather her career was driven by her insuppressible motivation to unveil the unknown.  She was skillful and driven, and while her gender proved to be a major hurdle as she advanced in her field, she never allowed inequality to weigh her down.

* Full quote: “Our training (at NASA) is asexual.  Women and men go through exactly the same jobs on orbit.  Weightlessness is a great equalizer, you don’t have to be strong up there.”  — Sally Ride, July 2012

Mary Szurgot ’17

SzurgotblogGertrude Belle “Trudy” Elion refused to take no for an answer.  As a woman seeking to enter graduate school during the Great Depression, she found that what little funding was available in universities was reserved for men.  In the workforce, she was told that she would only be a distraction in an all-male lab.  In the face of this adversity, however, she remembered the loss of her grandfather to stomach cancer and she remembered her calling to devote her life to the alleviation of such pain and loss.  She remained patient and took jobs working in reception and quality control until she was eventually hired by the Burroughs Wellcome Company to work on drug development.

Working alongside George Hitchings, Elion took a different approach to the field by examining the biochemical differences between healthy and diseased cells and developing treatments, which would chemically target specific problems.  She developed effective treatments for diseases such as leukemia, gout, and shingles and alleviated pain and loss in the lives of many.  Trudy Elion may have faced discrimination and rejection regularly and she may never earned her PhD as a result, but she never gave up.  She has a Nobel Prize to show for it.

Christina Mirarchi ’16

MirarchiblogEllen Swallow Richards advocated for women to learn science and worked towards better health for people.  Richards was the first woman admitted to MIT, where she earned a PhD in chemistry and later became the first female professional chemist.  However, MIT did not want this accomplishment to lead to other women’s admittance to the University.  To increase support for women at MIT, Richards began a Women’s Laboratory as part of a science program for women, which eventually paved the way for MIT accepting women into the standard program.

Richards educated women both inside and outside the lab on science, but also on nutrition and how to take care of oneself.  She opened a kitchen that instructed healthy food preparation and provided meals to school children.  Richards was also very involved with water sanitation and worked to test water from different sources to ensure that it was safe to drink.  This initiative set standards for water testing and quality control across the United States and eventually globally.

Rachel Troxell ’16

TroxellblogLeprosy plagued the residents of Hawaii, with many afflicted by this living death. Individuals who were diagnosed with this horrible disease were ripped from their homes, arrested and relocated to Kalaupapa. Leprosy attacks the skin, mucous membranes, and peripheral nerves. The only treatment that alleviated the suffering caused by this disease was the oil from the seeds of a chaulmoogra tree. However, delivery methods for this remedy were highly problematic.

Alice Ball began working with Harry T. Hollmann to develop an injectable therapy for leprosy from chaulmoogra oil. She earned a degree in chemistry in 1912 and a degree in pharmacy in 1914, both from the University of Washington. She had published her work in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and was the first woman and first African American to receive a master’s degree in chemistry from the College of Hawaii in 1915. After much hard work and dedication, Ball was able to transform the chaulmoogra oil into an injectable treatment that the body would absorb. She was the first person to successfully prepare the oil in such a form, and made this scientific breakthrough when she was just 23 years old. Her preparation of the chaulmoogra oil was able to alleviate the suffering of many individuals diagnosed with leprosy, and eventually to provide a cure.

Anjni Patel ’17

PatelblogWhen entering the science field, one of the main commitments one makes is to dedicate herself and give herself fully to the profession. Many people take this commitment lightly. However, a woman by the name of Gerty Radnitz Cori took this commitment and ran with it, full force. Gerty Cori typically worked with her husband in the lab, with an interest in discovering facts about the way the body functions. Together, they revealed many secrets about basic biological processes such as how the body uses the food we eat to make energy. They were able to make the first bioengineered glycogen, a form of sugar that is stored in your body and used for energy later on. During this time however, Gerty Cori was diagnosed with a rare form of anemia which required her to have blood transfusions every week and made it difficult for her to get around. Even though her body was deteriorating, she never gave up. She placed a cot in the room next to her lab and, with the help of her husband, served the world of science until she passed away in 1957.

When Gerty Cori entered the science field, she vowed to dedicate herself completely to her work. And, that is exactly what she did.