Words from McNulty Scholars

All Work and No Play?

This summer, seven McNulty Scholars stayed on campus to participate in the 10-week Summer Scholars Program, in which they conducted research with a faculty research mentor. They worked hard inside the labs, studying things like the effect of sleep deprivation on memory, and the formation and stability of soap films.

McNulty Scholar Maura Flynn ’22 juggled time between the labs and Body Adventure Summer Camp, a one-week health-science geared summer camp for 3rd and 4th graders at Samuel L. Gompers Elementary School . Counselors like Maura help the young students explore the hidden functions of the body.

And as the summer wore down, they also managed to organize some fun activities outside the lab.  In addition to meeting weekly for lunch with Dr. Angiolillo, the Scholars challenged a team of visiting high school physics students to a softball game.  (Rumor has it, the McNulty Team won!!) And a small group also took a trip to the Jersey Shore for a day in Ocean City.

Who says we have to be all work and no play?!

The McNulty Program Class of 2023 Gets a Preview of Campus

This week, we had a chance to welcome the McNulty Program’s Class of 2023 during orientation.  Current Scholars staying on campus to conduct summer research met up with the incoming freshmen over lunch.  Our newest class includes:

  • Lillie Bennett (Computer Science), New York, NY
  • Katherine Commale (Biology), Downingtown, PA
  • Marie DeCarlo (Biology), Morganville, NJ
  • Kayla Flanders (Chemical Biology), Hainesport, NJ
  • Jenna Iorio (Mathematics), Manasquan, NJ
  • Kara Moulton (Chemical Biology), Sterling, MA
  • Alana Simrell (Mathematics), Scranton, PA

We are very excited that this group of young women will be joining our community in August.

Elise Brutschea ’19, B.S. in Chemistry

McNulty Scholar Elise Brutschea graduated last week with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Physics.  While at SJU, she conducted a variety of chemistry research projects under the guidance of chemistry professor Mark Forman, Ph.D.  Most recently, her work focused on exploring greener alternatives to the synthesis of the pyramilized alkene Pentacyclo[,4.03,8.05,7]non-4-ene. This research culminated in a University Scholar Thesis Project.

Elise has also presented this work at many conferences, most recently last summer at the 16th Belgian Organic Synthesis Symposium in Brussels, and at the 256th National American Chemical Society Meeting in Boston, MA.  Her work has earned her several commendations, most notably a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship last spring.  She has also been recognized by the American Chemical Society (ACS) with an Undergraduate Leadership Award and the 2019 Scholastic Achievement Award.  Last summer, her research was fully funded by the ACS Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a competitive award sponsored by Pfizer Inc to support organic chemistry research.

While at SJU, Elise  served as Co-President of the Molloy Chemical Society, Secretary of Saint Joseph’s chapter of Sigma Zeta National Honor Society, and Student Representative on the university’s Board on Student Academic Review.  She worked as a supplemental instructor in General Chemistry I & II and tutored students in algebra-based business courses, pre-calculus and calculus, as well.  She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and an Associate Member of Sigma Xi National Research Society.  She was also an active leader within the McNulty Program community, spearheading student-led experiments at two different STEM education outreach initiatives: The Wagner Free Institute of Science Harvest Festival and Philadelphia-Area Girls Enjoying Science (PAGES) mini conferences.

At graduation, Elise received the University Student Senate Award for Scholarship.  She leaves SJU to pursue her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at Harvard University with a 5-year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Congratulations, Elise!  We can’t wait to see what awaits you in Cambridge, MA!

Sarah Muche ’19, B.S. in Biology

McNulty Fellow Sarah Muche graduated last weekend with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Art.  She was a member of the McNulty Program community for two years, and conducted research in the laboratory of biologist Shaan Bhatt, Ph.D. During that time, her work focused on how the gastrointestinal pathogen Escherichia coli (EPEC) is genetically encoded to colonize and cause disease, essentially becoming a molecular syringe that enables the injection of toxic proteins into host cells.  She presented her research at the NorthEastern Microbiologists: Physiology, Ecology, Taxonomy (NEMPET) Conference in Blue Mountain Lake, NY in both 2017 and 2018, and she has plans to return to make an updated presentation this summer as well.    She has also contributed to the publication of two papers about her work, The Tip of the Iceberg: On the Roles of Regulatory Small RNAs in the Virulence of Enterohemorrhagic and Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology and Hfq and Three Hfq-dependent sRNAs–MgrR, RyhB and McaS–Coregulate the Locus of Enterocyte Effacement in Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli in Oxford FEMS.

While Sarah was at SJU, she served as a Supplemental Instruction Leader in the Biology Department, and completed a departmental honors thesis.  She participated in the Institute of Clinical Bioethics Health Promoter program, and completed weekly service by leading health classes at West Catholic and volunteering at Mercy Ambulatory Center.  She was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honors Society, and the Sigma Zeta mathematics and science honor society. She also served on the McNulty Program’s Student Leadership Committee. She was awarded an SJU Medical Alumni Scholarship, and has previously been the recipient an SJU Gender Studies Department Trailblazer Award, which is given by the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice in recognition of female undergraduates who have excelled in a major that has not traditionally attracted large numbers of women.

After graduation, Sarah will be working as a Medical Scribe in the Family Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology Departments at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.   We wish you much luck, Sarah!!  Don’t be a stranger!

Ashley Frankenfield ’19, B.S. in Chemical Biology, B.S. in Business Administration, Finance

McNulty Scholar Ashley Frankenfield received a B.S. in Chemical Biology and a B.S. in Business Administration, Finance when she graduated last Saturday.

While on campus, she conducted ongoing research in the laboratory of chemistry professor Jose Cerda, Ph.D., studying the thermodynamics of fluoride-binding within myoglobin, hemoglobin and horseradish peroxidase.  Specifically, she looked at how heavy metals affected the ability of fluoride to bind within the heme pocket.  She presented this work at both the 2018 American Chemical Society National Meeting in New Orleans, LA, and this past April at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Orlando, FL.

Ashley served as a Teaching Assistant for General Chemistry I and II Labs, and served as the Treasurer of the SJU chapter of the national Sigma Zeta Honor Society. She was a participant in the Dean’s Leadership Program.  Ashley has also been a very active member of the McNulty Program community, coordinating our annual activity for the Philadelphia Area Girls Enjoying Science  (PAGES) mini-conference and serving as a member of the McNulty Student Leadership Committee.  She was always focused on planning social gatherings and dinners for the women in the program.

This summer, after completing work at Bristol Myers Squibb as a Resilience Intern, Ashley will move to Washington D.C., where she will pursue her Ph.D. in Chemistry at George Washington University. She hopes to focus her studies on bioanalytical or medicinal chemistry, ultimately resulting in a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

Many many congratulations, Ashley!


Jamilyn Mooteb ’19, B.S. in Physics

Jamilyn Mooteb graduated on Saturday with a B.S. in Physics and a minor in Computer Science.

She came to SJU and the McNulty Program from the island of Yap in Micronesia, half a world away from her family.  During the summer after her sophomore year, Jamie was invited to join the laboratory of the 2016 McNulty Lecturer, Dr. Allison Sweeney, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania.  During this off-campus Summer Scholar Program experience, Jamie focused her research on studying small iridescent structures along the “lips” of clams and how they work symbiotically with algae to filter light rays from the sun and efficiently conserve energy.

Outside the laboratory, Jamie was a teaching assistant in the Physics Department and was inducted into the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society.  On campus, she was an Ignite Retreat Leader and an active member of the SJU Judo Club.  Last fall, she started working at Linguistics Data Consortium, a University of Pennsylvania-based organization that gathers and stores data on languages around the world, including text-to-speech information and phonetics. There, Jamie provided technical support with software, machines and device management to users.

Jamie is now on her way back home to Yap, where she will look for work locally and spend time with her family after being away for 4 years.

Best wishes, Jamie!  Please keep us posted on what you’re up to!!!

Alana Cianciulli ’19, B.S. in Biology

Alana Cianciulli joined the McNulty Program as a Fellow in the summer of 2018.  This weekend, she graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Philosophy.

As a McNulty Fellow, Alana worked with biologist Matthew Nelson for several years, studying the molecules and signaling pathways that regulate sleep in Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) nematodes. She has presented her work at several local and national conferences, most notably at The American Society of Cell Biology meeting in Philadelphia in December 2017, the Experimental Biology Meeting in San Diego in April 2018 and at the CeNeuro 2018 Meeting at University of Wisconsin Madison in June 2018.  She is currently awaiting the publication of a journal article detailing this work, now under revision. A couple weeks ago, as her last semester at SJU was winding down, Alana was invited to speak about her experience in Dr. Nelson’s lab at SJU’s Be The One Symposium.

While at SJU, Alana was a Maguire Scholar and was also inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, the Sigma Zeta National Science and Math Honors Society and the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, as well as the Phi Sigma Tau honor society for philosophy students.  She served as vice president of Active Minds, organizing events to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues.  She also served on the Standards Board of the Phi Sigma Sigma Iota Rho Chapter at SJU, and at the Institute of Clinical Bioethics Health Promoter Program.

This summer, Alana begins a one-year position as a clinical research assistant in the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  While there, she plans to apply to medical schools for entrance in Fall 2020.

Many many congratulations and well wishes, Alana!

Lakshmi Narayanam ’19, B.S. in Biology

Hailing from Lawrenceville, NJ, Lakshmi Narayanam will graduate Saint Joseph’s University with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Psychology and Animal Studies.

While at SJU, Lakshmi completed two research projects in the laboratory of biologist Jen Tudor, Ph.D.  The first was a study of the effect of metformin on the behavioral and cognitive aspects of Fragile X syndrome, for which she was responsible for managing the biochemical aspect of the project. This work is now being written up for publication. The second project, for which she was the lead, focused on the effect of sleep deprivation on various regions of the brain and the administration of dorsomorphin in sleep-deprived mice.  She received a Sigma Xi research grant for her work and presented her findings for this project at several conferences, including the 2018 Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego, and the 17th Annual Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society Meeting, also in San Diego.  Through her time in the lab, she assumed the role of Senior Lab Manager, managing the study and teaching protocols to new lab members.

Outside the lab, Lakshmi was an active member of the McNulty Program community.  She spearheaded the Peer Mentoring Program, and volunteered annually at the McNulty booth at the Philadelphia Science Festival.  This year, Lakshmi worked as a scribe at the Main Line Institute of Plastic Surgery in the Lankenau Medical Center.  She mentored a 7th grade student at Gompers Elementary School through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. She served as the President of SJU’s Sigma Zeta Science and Mathematics Honors Society chapter, and was recently inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.  She is also a member of the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society and the Alpha Epsilon Delta Honors Society for Health Preprofessionals.

After graduation, Lakshmi will do some traveling before starting the next chapter of her education in August, when she will be pursuing her M.D. at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.  Many congratulations, Lakshmi!!!

Mary Katherine Dougherty ’19, B.S. in Chemical Biology

On Saturday, McNulty Fellow Mary Katherine Dougherty ’19 will receive a B.S. in Chemical Biology.  She joined the McNulty Program as a Fellow during the 2018-19 year, and it was exciting to try to keep up with all of her research accomplishments.

This year, Mary Kate conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Jen Tudor, studying the link between sleep deprivation and an increase in the formation of stress granules in the nematode Caenorhabiditis elegans.  Last fall, she received a Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) Undergraduate Student Travel Award to present her work at the 2018 Society for Neuroscience (SFN) conference in San Diego, CA. While there, she also presented her findings at the Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society Meeting.  This work represents the basis for her honors thesis research, and she is planning to return to make another presentation at the 2019 SFN Conference in October.

In addition to her research, Mary Kate has served as a Supplemental Instruction Leader and Mentor in the Biology Department. She is a Fellow in the Institute of Clinical Bioethics, where she distributes and examines the impact of prenatal materials and infant care supplies in marginalized communities through the Baby Box Project.  She is a mentor with the Seedlings Program, which is an educational outreach program sponsored by the SJU Department of Biology in partnership with the 4th grade teachers of nearby Samuel L. Gompers Elementary School.  She is also a member of Saint Joseph’s University Singers.

Mary Kate is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. She was named a semifinalist in the Fulbright ETA Program in Taiwan, and is the recipient of the 2019 Chemical Biology Award.  This year, she was also awarded an SJU Gender Studies Trailblazer Award for her excellent performance in a major in which women are traditionally underrepresented.

Upon graduation, Mary Kate will depart for Bethesda, MD, where she will begin her work in a Postbaccalaureate IRTA position in the Department of Perioperative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.  Best wishes, Mary Kate!

Kaleigh Williams ’19, B.S. in Biology

McNulty Scholar Kaleigh Williams ’19 will receive a B.S. in Biology when she graduates on Saturday.  She arrived here at SJU nearly 4 years ago from Brookeville, MD, with a very steadfast plan to ultimately pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

While on campus, she conducted research in the laboratory of biologist Scott McRobert,Ph.D., studying dependent courtship modifications in two different fly species: Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila affinis.  Specifically, she investigated whether males of either species would modify their courtship behavior following rejection from females of the opposite species. Her work resulted in a departmental honors thesis.  While working on this project, Kaleigh also served as the lab’s Biodiversity Manager, caring for the amphibians, reptiles and fish housed in Dr. McRobert’s facilities.

Outside of the lab, Kaleigh works as a Veterinary Assistant at Radnor Veterinary Hospital in Wayne, PA. During the summer, she returns home to work at Seneca Stream Farm, overseeing the care of the sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, miniature donkeys, cats and dogs housed there.  She alsospent a summer working as a Veterinary Technician at the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic in San Ignacio, Belize, assisting doctors in surgery at the free spay and neuter clinics and working alongside wildlife veterinarians to rehabilitate and release native wildlife.

Kaleigh has been an active member of the McNulty Program community, serving as a peer mentor and coordinating the program’s booth at the Philadelphia Science Festival.  She volunteers with Hand-in-Hand and is a member of the scholarship committee of the Zeta Iota chapter of Phi Sigma Pi, a national honor fraternity.  She tutors students in French and has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Delta Phi, the national French Honors Society.  She recently received the American Institute for Biological Sciences (AIBS) Award, which is given to an outstanding graduating senior in SJU’s Biology Department.

Next year, Kaleigh will embark on her pursuit of a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is particularly interested in immunology and microbiology research.  We will miss you, Kaleigh!!