Words from McNulty Scholars

Congratulations, McNulty Class of 2020

Typically, the McNulty Program’s graduation celebration involves a few things:

  • A photo shoot of our graduating seniors in their gowns
  • An end-of-the-year burrito buffet for all current McNulty students
  • A McNulty Program reception for graduates and their families
  • A series of profiles on this web page, featuring each graduate, her accomplishments and her plans for the future.

This year, obviously things are a little different. Our graduating seniors have had to adjust their expectations for their final semester on Hawk Hill.  They have had to reset their assumptions about what this week would look like. And we, as a program, have had to postpone our celebration of their accomplishments.

But for this moment, as Isabella Succi, Annamarie Glaser, Lindsay Miller, Amelia Bielefeld and Corinne Merlino walk across the virtual stage today to receive their diplomas, let us commemorate the impact they have all had on the McNulty Program community here at SJU.  These young women have excelled in the classroom and served as role models in the lab.  They have conducted meaningful research with faculty mentors. They have helped us run science education outreach activities for a variety of community partners. They have supported each other and new students who enter our program.

While some of their immediate post-graduation plans are on hold, due to the coronavirus, we know that when things get back to some semblance of normal, they will continue to excel.  And we look forward to sharing updates on where they land later this fall, when the University hopes to convene an in-person graduation celebration on campus.

Thank you all for being part of the McNulty Scholars community here at Saint Joseph’s University.

McNulty Students Learn How To Lead

Since the spring semester started 8 weeks ago, McNulty students have been doing a deep dive into what it takes to be strong leaders–in the classroom, in the lab and in the world.

After hosting Deb Weinstein, former VP of Human Resources at Glaxo SmithKline Oncology in January, in February we welcomed Due Quach, Author, Founder and CEO of Calm Clarity, an enterprise that uses science to empower people to address complex social issues (such as unconscious bias, trauma and socioeconomic, racial and gender inequality).  And last week, we enjoyed a presentation from Cathy Jackson, SJU alumna and former Chief Administrative Officer of Radian Group, Inc., and Capmark Financial Group, Inc., about leadership, mentorship and stepping up to the plate.

Our work is now informed by a new member of the McNulty Program community, Elena Lvina, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Management, E.K. Haub School of Business.  Dr. Lvina serves as the McNulty Leadership Fellow and develops a curriculum that supports and builds upon  advice and guidance shared by the guest speakers that we host throughout the year.  This semester, she has worked with McNulty students on negotiation techniques, mentorship and self-awareness, and decision making.

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.


McNulty Scholars Make It Out Alive!

Last weekend, a group of McNulty Scholars embarked on what has become an annual tradition: Escape Room 2020!  With 4 minutes and 15 seconds remaining, our team made it out of the room in one piece. More important, they solved the mystery in record time, becoming one of the fastest teams in the history of the space.  We would expect nothing less of McNulty Scholars!!! Let’s see what they do in 2021!

The McNulty Scholars Program Welcomes Deb Weinstein, former VP of Human Resources, Glaxo SmithKline Oncology

At the McNulty Scholars weekly seminar, we were honored to host guest speaker Deb Weinstein, who recently retired as Vice President of Human Resources at Glaxo SmithKline Oncology, CVM/NSII/ID Franchises.  She spent her career focused working with and mentoring professionals in scientific research, and offered her insights on best practices.  She encouraged the Scholars to think outside the box, and advocate for a healthy work/life balance.  She also stressed the importance of supporting each other as women in science.

McNulty Scholar Kayla Flanders ’23 Speaks Out About Organ Donation

Kayla Flanders ’23 is a freshman chemical biology major and an organ donation advocate.  “When talking to people about organ donation, I found there were a lot of common misconceptions. For example, it’s relatively common for high school students to believe if they’re an organ donor, paramedics would be less likely to save them in an accident,” Flanders says. “This is very false. I want to help ensure organ donation is portrayed in its true light.”

This semester, in the laboratory of her McNulty Program faculty mentor, chemistry professor Jose Cerda, Ph.D., she is researching hemeproteins, oxygen-carrying proteins found in blood and muscle. She hopes to apply this research to other research about how oxygen levels impact the success rate of organ donation transplants.

Click here to read more about her advocacy work.

Marvelous Metals: McNulty Program Takes on PAGES 2019!

Last Saturday, Iswarya Vel ’21 and her team of McNulty volunteers (including Maria Johnson ’21, April Pivonka ’22, Arianna Varano ’22, Kayla Flanders ’23 and Katherine Commale ’23)visited Chestnut Hill College to share their love of science with sixth-grade girls through the Philadelphia-Area Girls Enjoying Science (PAGES) mini-conference.  Together, they worked on two different experiments. The first involved magnets, metal and paint to explore the power of magnetism and produce beautiful works of “art.”  And the second one looked at what happens when iron reacts with oxygen, using steel wool, vinegar and a thermometer.

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!

Mentoring 101: Dr. Elena Lvina Leads A Conversation about How and Why

Last night, McNulty students heard from Elena Lvina, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management at the E.K Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University, who recently assumed the role of the McNulty Program’s Leadership Fellow.  She will be responsible for developing programming around leadership and professional development for the McNulty Program. She kicked this work off with a presentation on mentoring, delving into why it’s an important part of this program and exploring what current students’ experiences as mentors and mentees have been.  We look forward to continuing this work in the coming months!


McNulty Program Director Angiolillo Appears at Rosalind Franklin Society Board Meeting & Colloquium

This morning, Professor of Physics and McNulty Scholars Program Director Paul J. Angiolillo, Ph.D., appeared as one of four panelists during a McNulty Foundation-led discussion at the annual Rosalind Franklin Society Board Meeting and Colloquium at the Wistar Institute. Entitled Catalyzing Women’s Leadership in STEM: What We Have Learned, the conversation also engaged Kelle Cruz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the McNulty Program at Hunter College in New York City and Dr. Terri Boyer, Founding Director of the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership at Villanova University and Aprile Age, Executive Director of the McNulty Foundation.  The group shared their experiences working to support women’s success and leadership among undergraduate students, and also discussed their visions of what’s ahead for women in STEM.