Words from McNulty Scholars

McNulty Fellow Amelia Brown ’18 publishes article in online Drosophilia Information Service

McNulty Fellow Amelia Brown ’18 (Biology) is a co-author on a paper published in the December 2017 edition of Drosophilia Information Service entitled “The use of 3D printing to facilitate Drosophilia behavior research.”  Specifically the paper highlights how consumer-level 3D printers and design software are supporting research in D. suzukii’s feeding preferences and ability to act as vectors for nematode dispersal.   This research was done under the guidance of several professors in the Biology Department, including Dr. Jonathan Fingerut, Professor and Director of Environmental Science and Sustainability Studies; Dr. Matt Nelson, Assistant Professor and Director of the Animal Studies Program; and Dr. Scott McRobert, Professor.

McNulty Class of 2020: How We Eat Right to Stay Healthy in College!

by Amelia Bielefeld, Annamarie Glaser and Lindsay Miller

As college students, returning to campus after winter break can be stressful and overwheming, with classes, work, labs and the multitude of other activities we are all involved in. Running around campus, it’s easy to forget to eat, let alone eat properly. The pressure of New Year’s Resolutions helps to hold us accountable with our diets and exercise (at least in January), but as the weeks go on, these resolutions get lost.  It’s easy to settle for convenience over health.

However, we know we perform our best when we feel our best, so it’s important to prioritize self-care and health.  Now that we’re sophomores, we all have kitchens in our apartments and we can cook for ourselves. We love having control over what we eat and how prepare it.  Below are some of our go-to recipes for healthy meals:


Annamarie Glaser (Biology): With my busy schedule, I’ve sadly found it hard to cook in my apartment this year.  However, when I do find time in the morning, one of my favorite breakfasts is a bowl of steel cut oats packed with fruit; it’s a really delicious but simple meal that keeps me full through back-to-back classes, and it gives me the energy to start my day!

Steel-Cut Oats with Fruit

Ever since I was young, I have always preferred to cook my own oats, as opposed to using instant oatmeal. It takes much longer to cook, but the taste and texture are worth it, not to mention that instant oatmeal can have extra sugar and other unhealthy additives.  To start, I boil 1 1/2 cups of water on the stove in a saucepan. Once the water has started boiling, I lower the temperature and add about a 1/4 cup of oats.  The oats can take anywhere from 25 – 40 minutes to cook.  To prevent them from burning, I stir them for a few seconds every 5 minutes.

Once the oats have about 5 minutes left, I add in fruit, usually about 1/2 cup of raspberries and blueberries and 1/2 of a banana, sliced.  Stir them so the oats can absorb some of the fruit flavors. Once the oats are done cooking, let them sit for 5-10 minutes to cool.  And then….EAT!

The best part of this meal is that it’s low-effort and easy-to-change. Some days, I add more oats, and other days, I load up on fruit.  It’s critical to start your day off making the right choices, especially with the busy schedule of a STEM major!


Lindsay Miller (Mathematics / Actuarial Science)

Personally, I eat eggs almost every day.  They take minutes to prepare and can be customized to fit anyone’s taste. I mix up my egg recipes frequently…but my go-to is an Egg Sandwich.

Egg Sandwich

First, I turn the stove on medium and warm a frying pan. While I’m waiting, I put a whole wheat sandwich thin in the toaster and mash a medium avocado in a bowl with the juice of a 1/2 lemon. When the sandwich thin is toasted, I cover both pieces in hot sauce (you can never have too much hot sauce) and spread about a quarter of the avocado on one of the pieces.  Next I dice about a quarter of an onion and half of a red pepper and let them cook in the pan. When they begin to brown, I add about half a cup of liquid egg whites to the pan and let the mixture cook.  When the eggs are done, I add them to my sandwich and enjoy!

Nothing about this meal is precise, which lets me quickly approximate all of the ingredients. Substitutions can easily be made based on what I have on-hand or what I’m feeling that day.  For me, I usually alternate between using egg whites and two whole eggs cooked over medium heat, and I throw in mushrooms if I have them.  The key to sustaining a healthy diet is finding whole, fresh foods that you enjoy eating and can easily prepare no matter how busy the day.


Amelia Bielefeld (Biology)

Something my mom used to cook quite often while I was living at home was Roasted Chickpeas. It’s a relatively quick recipe and very easy to accomplish, even without any cooking experience at all.  I have been using the recipe quite frequently this year, since I do not have much time to spend preparing meals. It’s also really really simple!

Roasted Chickpeas

To begin, preheat your oven to 450 F.  I typically buy 2 cans of chickpeas at the store to make at once.  Next, you must drain the liquid from the cans and lay the chickpeas out on a baking sheet.  Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray or you can lay the chickpeas down on some parchment paper.  Blot the chickpeas with paper towels to get any excess liquid off.  You season them with some salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix them around to evenly coat them. You can even add some cayenne pepper or siracha to spice them up!

When the oven is ready, place the chickpeas inside and bake them for about 40 minutes or until crispy.  And you’re done!

This recipe makes a lot of chickpeas in a short amount of time, so it makes a great snack for the week.  It’s the perfect recipe for someone always on the go, like a typical college student!!!

McNulty Fellow Asha Jacob ’18 Highlighted in Latest Student Spotlight

Once again, a McNulty student is featured in the latest Hawk’s Eye View Post! McNulty Fellow Asha Jacob ’18 is a senior biology and environmental science double major.  In her blog post, she recounts how her longtime interest in biology led her to discover a second academic passion in climate justice and social responsibility. Funded by the McNulty Foundation, she has spent her senior year studying a 323.3 million year old fossil fish in the lab of mentors Drs. Eileen Grogan and Richard Lund. Earlier this year, she traveled to Calgary in Alberta, Canada to present at the 77th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists.

We look forward to seeing what’s next for you, Asha!!

The McNulty Fellows Program underwrites the research projects of a select number of current SJU women majoring in one of the natural sciences, mathematics or computer science.  The Fellows live on campus over the summer while completing a 10-week faculty-guided research project. During the following academic year, they receive funding to present their research at national academic conference.  They also participate in professional development and leadership training programs to prepare for life after graduation.  

Dinner and a Play, McNulty-Style!

Last week, a group of McNulty students, along with Program Director Paul Angiolillo, PhD, and Faculty Mentor Christina King Smith, PhD, headed to Center City to catch the Lantern Theater Company’s production of Copenhagen, written by Michael Frayn and directed by Kittson O’Neill.  The play explores a fascinating mystery: why did German physicist Werner Heisenberg visit his old mentor and Danish counterpart Neils Bohr in 1941 while their countries were at war? To share atomic secrets or to say goodbye to an old friend.  Each year, the Lantern produces one play set in the world of science and technology, and the McNulty Program hasn’t missed one in the last three years.

Copenhagen has just been extended until February 18, so catch it if you can.  Nine McNulty student reviewers give it a big thumbs up!

McNulty Scholar Marisa Egan ’18 Shares Her Experiences in Newest Hawk’s Eye View Blog Post

Please check out the latest Hawk’s Eye View Post written by our very own Marisa Egan ’18, McNulty Scholar and senior biology major.  In her blog post, she talks about what the McNulty Scholars Program has meant to her as a student, as a woman, as a researcher and as an SJU Hawk.

As she figures out what her next steps are, we can’t wait to see where she lands.  In the meantime, please take a moment to read what she has to say.

And if you are a female SJU Hawk yourself, and are considering a major in one of the natural sciences, mathematics or computer science, follow her advice and apply to the McNulty Scholars Program before our January 15 application deadline.

Scholar Elise Brutschea ’19 Receives ACS Leadership Award

McNulty Scholar Elise Brutschea ’19 (Chemistry) has been selected for the 2018 Student Leadership Award by the American Chemical Society (ACS). This program recognizes emerging leaders in the ACS student chapter network and helps them prepare for leadership opportunities at volunteer organizations and in their professional career.  Early next year, Elise will attend the 2018 ACS Leadership Institute where she will meet with other ACS student leaders on the Younger Chemist Committee.

McNulty Students Published in the Journal Microorganisms

McNulty Scholar and Alumna Valerie Jenkins ’17 and McNulty Fellow Sarah Muche ’19  were co-authors on a paper published in the most recent issue of Microorganisms. They reported on a small regulatory RNA in the enteropathogenic bacteria, E. coli.  This paper highlights the importance of regulatory RNA’s in modulating pathogenetic pathways and might suggest ways to combat this virulent strain of E. coli.  Valerie graduated SJU last spring with a degree in Chemical Biology and is currently a first-year medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  Sarah is a junior biology major.  Shaan Bhatt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, is the principal investigator of this work and also serves as their research advisor.

McNulty Class of 2021: Holiday Specials on your Christmas List? Here’s what to watch…

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

As the happiest time of year rolls around, we are enjoying our favorite holiday movies while snuggled up in our PJs and sipping a warm cup of hot cocoa (while studying for finals during commercial breaks, of course!). Here’s what we have to recommend for your viewing pleasure:

Thi Nguyen (Biology): One of my favorite holiday movies is Home Alone. Home Alone tells the story of a mischievous and fun loving eight year old boy, Kevin McCallister, who accidentally gets left behind when his family leaves for Christmas vacation. It gets more interesting when two burglars arrive in an attempt to rob the McCallister home while his family is away. Kevin takes it upon himself to protect the house. Overall, the movie has a great blend of humor and holiday spirit. It’s fun to watch and laugh at the predicament that Kevin and the burglars find themselves in!

Iswarya Vel (Biology): Whenever the holidays come around, I never feel complete until I watch my favorite holiday movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I have been watching this movie ever since I was a child, and it always puts me in the holiday spirit! It tells the story of a reindeer named Rudolph who was born with a special red nose. Rudolph was ostracized because of his different nose. He then embarks on a quest of self-discovery and figures out that his nose is what makes him special, especially when Santa needs him to navigate stormy weather on Christmas Eve.

Maria Johnson (Biology): My favorite holiday movie is The Polar Express. Everything about the movie just brings to life the magic of Christmas, and I remember watching the train station outside my window, robe on, hoping the Polar Express would come with steaming cups of hot chocolate and lots of other kids all waiting to see Santa.  Even now, it’s still fun to watch the movie (which I do every Christmas Eve) and relive the magic and fun of the holidays.

Zoe Mrozek (Environmental Science): My favorite movie during the holiday season would also have to be The Polar Express! It never fails to get me in the Christmas spirit. I remember the first time I saw it, I was in kindergarten and the train’s journey to the North Pole was truly magical. That year on Christmas Eve, and for many years after, I wished that the Polar Express would stop by my house and take me on a trip to see Santa. Every winter now, I look forward to watching this movie with my family and reaffirming my belief in the magic of Christmas!

Michelle Wheatley (Mathematics): One of my favorite holiday movies is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I remember sitting and watching it with my family so many times during Christmas seasons over the years, and it always fills me with happiness.  Charlie Brown is probably my favorite character because he goes out of his comfort zone to direct the play, and sticks with it although it’s tough.  The Christmas spirit works its magic at the end, and everything works out! Charlie Brown movies have been a tradition in my family since I can remember, so it’s one of the cornerstones of celebrating Christmas for me.

Emily Lehman (Physics): My favorite holiday movie has got to be The Year Without a Santa Claus. This movie is not only a classic claymation, but a heartwarming (and “global warming” for that matter) story about the presuppositions of kids all over the world. I find this movie really humbling in a sense because it reminds me that gifts, while nice, should not be expected or assumed.  Also, the constant battle between Heat Miser and Snow Miser really resonates with my sense of existential dread about the changing of the seasons.  Plus, their rap battle is a really catchy tune and has become my go-to song of the holidays!

Maura Flynn (Biology): My favorite holiday movie is The Ultimate Christmas Present. It’s a Disney original movie about two girls who steal a snow machine from Santa Claus.  They create a blizzard in Los Angeles, which in turn causes many problems.  I love this movie because I can remember eating cookies and sucking on candy canes while watching it with my two older sisters.  It’s the perfect indoor activity when the weather gets frosty.

Gianna Penezic (Biology): My favorite holiday movie would have to be Elf starring Will Ferrell. It is so quirky and adorable, not to mention hysterical! I always feel so good after watching it. It never fails to put me in the Christmas spirit, and I can quote pretty much the entire thing! I mean, how could you not feel happy when watching Buddy eat candy-covered spaghetti or cause a rampage all throughout the Christmas Village in Macy’s, or prance around the streets of NYC without a care in the world? I feel as though everyone should strive to be more like Buddy the Elf, during the holiday season and throughout the rest of the year as well.

McNulty Scholar Lakshmi Narayanam ’19 Presents at MCCS Conference

Last week, McNulty Scholar Lakshmi Narayanam ’19 attended the 16th Annual Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society (MCCS) Symposium and Poster Session in Washington, D.C.  She presented the research she has been conducting under the guidance of faculty mentor, biologist Jennifer Tudor, PhD., which focuses on Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), the leading monogenic cause of autism spectrum disorder and one of the leading sources of development intellectual disabilities.  Lakshmi has been treating FXS mice with a common Type II diabetes drug called metformin to gauge its effectiveness in rescuing cognitive impairments.

McNulty Scientists Build Volcanoes with 6th Grade STEM-inistas!

Last weekend, a team of McNulty scientists–Ashley Frankenfield ’19, Maura Flynn ’21 and Iswarya Vel ’21–volunteered at the Philadelphia Area Girls Enjoying Science (PAGES) mini-conference at Chestnut Hill College.  There, they shared their love of science and chemical reactions with a group of 6th grade girls, working with them to build mini volcanoes.  They talked about how volcanic eruptions occur and the impact they have on the environment.  They also conducted “rock streaking tests,” which use chemical reactions on paper to identify different types of rocks.  Another great day at PAGES!!!