Words from McNulty Scholars

McNulty Students Take San Diego By Storm!

November 1st may have been the day most people are taking stock of their Halloween haul. For three McNulty students, it was the day they caught flights out of Philly to head to San Diego and the Society for Neuroscience 2018 Annual Meeting.  Amelia Bielefeld ’20, Mary Kate Dougherty ’19 and Lakshmi Narayanam ’19 traveled across the country to make presentations about their research at this conference that attracts nearly 30,000 attendees.

Amelia’s research, conducted in the laboratory of Associate Professor Elizabeth A. Becker, Ph.D., in the psychology department, used mouse models to focus on how parental care deprivation in childhood and adolescence can affect resiliency and the ability to handle social defeat or stress.

With the guidance of Assistant Professor Jennifer C. Tudor, Ph.D., in the biology department, Mary Kate worked with C. elegans nematodes to investigate how sleep deprivation affects neuronal function through the creation of stress granules.  She also received a $750 Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN)  travel award to attend this conference.

Also working in Dr. Tudor’s laboratory, Lakshmi examined the effects of sleep deprivation on memory, specifically how insulin signaling pathways in the hippocampus and other regions of the brain are impaired.



How do clouds make rain?

Last weekend McNulty Fellow Corinne Merlino ’20 organized a team of McNulty students to participate in the latest mini-conference sponsored by Philadelphia-Area Girls Enjoying Science (PAGES) at Chestnut Hill College. PAGES engages 6th grade girls in hands-on science experiments to increase their interest in STEM-related fields, and to introduce them to women who are pursuing careers in those fields.  McNulty students have been leading experiments at these events for many years.

This year, Corinne along with Iswarya Vel ’21, Arianna Varano ’22 and April Pivonka ’22 worked with approximately 36 young girls to explore the chemical reactions behind rain using plastic cups, water, shaving cream and food coloring.  As an added bonus (and because we had a lot of shaving cream), the group also did some Shaving Cream Painting, making a few beautiful pieces…and a lot of mess!

The McNulty Program Turns 10!

Last Wednesday, the John P. McNulty Scholars Program for Excellence in Science and Mathematics officially celebrated a decade of supporting women in STEM. Students and their families, alumnae and faculty mentors joined Ms. Anne Welsh McNulty and the McNulty Foundation to recognize the program’s pivotal role in promoting success among some of the most highly qualified students pursuing degrees in the natural and physical sciences, mathematics and computer science here at Saint Joseph’s University.

The highlight of the evening was a conversation between Dean Shaily Menon, Ph.D. and special guest Dr. Amy Crockett, MD, MSPH about her work in identifying interventions in pregnancy that address psychosocial stress and racial disparities in birth outcomes, and potentially mitigate the effects of social inequality in South Carolina.  Dr. Crockett is the 2016 McNulty Prize Laureate, an honor that the Foundation, in partnership with the Aspen Institute, bestows upon a recipient who use their exceptional leadership ability and their entrepreneurial spirit to address the world’s toughest challenges.

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.


A Busy Week for the McNulty Program!

The McNulty Program was busy inside and outside the classroom last week.  Every Wednesday, McNulty Program students attend a special seminar that features guest speakers or professional development activities.  Last Wednesday…it was both.  Dr. Jennifer Ewald, from SJU’s Department of Linguistics, presented her findings about email communication between students and their professors. Hey! So What’s Up with Email Etiquette provoked a lot of discussion about how to effectively use email in a respectful, thoughtful way in a university setting.  Thank you, Dr. Ewald!

On Saturday, McNulty students staffed a table at the Harvest Festival, sponsored by the Wagner Free Institute of Science as part of their Community Science Day series.  Six McNulty students–Zoe Mrozek ’21, Emily Lehman ’21, Thi Nguyen ’21, Elise Brutschea ’19, April Pivonka ’22 and Arianna Varano ’22–used baking soda, citric acid and food coloring to make Fizzy Pumpkin Art with the school-age attendees.  A great way to usher in Fall in Philadephia and the McNulty Scholars Program.

The McNulty Program Takes Over Snapchat!

McNulty Scholar Elise Brutschea ’19 and a few of her classmates took over SJU’s Snapchat account last week to share their love of science and their experiences in the McNulty Scholars Program.  Watch here to see our Snapchat debut!

Hamburgers! Physics! And Spies!

For our first field trip of the year, the McNulty Program went into Center City to enjoy a night out on the town.  The first stop was dinner at the Red Owl Tavern, right next door to Independence Hall.  From there it was a short walk to the Lantern Theater to see a production of Hapgood by award winning playwright Tom Stoppard.  Hapgood tells the story of a brilliant woman fighting to keep her place in a profession dominated by men, where Russian espionage collides with particle physics.  Every year, the Lantern Theater Company includes a play about the world of science in its repertoire. And for the fourth year in a row, the McNulty Program has been in the audience!

The McNulty Program Extends A Warm Welcome to the Class of 2022!

With just two days of class on Hawk Hill under their belts, the newest cohort of McNulty students were welcomed into the program at our annual Meet & Greet reception.  The Class of 2022 joined current McNulty students and faculty mentors to kick off the 10th year of the program.  The incoming class is comprised of 5 students–Scholar Briana Baier (Computer Science), Associate Elizabeth Ehrhardt (Mathematics), Scholar April Pivonka (Biology/Environmental Science), Scholar Kathryn Lynch (Mathematics) and Associate Arianna Varano (Biology).  The McNulty Scholars Program will formally celebrate its 10th Anniversary with a special lecture and dinner event later this fall.

McNulty Fellow Corinne Merlino ’20 presents at Stanford University’s Yeast Genetics Meeting

McNulty Fellow Corinne Merlino ’20, biology major, presented her research last week at the Yeast Genetics Meeting at Stanford University in Stanford, CA.  Under the guidance of Julia Lee-Soety, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology, Corinne has been studying yeast telomere dynamics. Telomeres are the compound structure at the end of a chromosome, and Corinne has been interested in exploring how telomeres contribute to cell aging and cancer biology.

This summer, Corinne has also been conducting research in bacterial genome identification and bioinformatics in Dr. Lee-Soety’s lab. She is a teaching assistant for the Phage Genomics Laboratory and also serves as coordinator of the Biology Filter Project.   She plans to obtain her master’s degree in Genetics Counseling and ultimately pursue a career in research.

The McNulty Scholars Program Featured in Saint Joseph’s University Magazine, Summer 2018

The McNulty Scholars Program is featured in the latest edition of the Saint Joseph’s University Magazine in an article entitled “Down to a Science.” In it, alumnae Corinne Noel ’13 (Mathematics), Kim Nguyen ’13 (Biology), Elena Montoto ’14 (Chemistry) and Christina Freeman ’16 (Biology) are featured.  Also included are recent graduate Marisa Egan ’18 (Biology) and current Chemistry major Elise Brutschea ’19.

The article spotlights the program at an auspicious time, as we celebrate our 10th anniversary of promoting excellence and fostering leadership among young women pursuing STEM degrees at SJU.  The program now counts 42 alumnae among its ranks and is looking forward to working with the 26 students currently enrolled in the fall.