Words from McNulty Scholars

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!

Dr. Jennifer Tudor, McNulty Faculty Mentor, Earns Sleep Research Society Honor

Jennifer C. Tudor Ph.D., assistant professor of biology and faculty mentor to two McNulty Program Scholars, has earned an Outstanding Early Investigator Award Honorable Mention from the Sleep Research Society for her 2016 study “Sleep deprivation impairs memory by attenuating mTORC1-dependent protein synthesis.” As reported by Katie Smith ’18 for SJU News, Dr. Tudor’s study examines the effects of sleep deprivation on the molecular mechanism to form memories.  For more information, please read Katie’s article.

The McNulty Scholars Program Hosts Guest Speaker Celeste M. Nelson, PhD, from Princeton University

On Wednesday October 18, we welcomed to campus the McNulty Program’s Annual Guest Lecturer, Celeste M. Nelson, PhD, Professor, Departments of Chemical & Biological Engineering and Molecular Biology, Princeton University.  Dr. Nelson met with McNulty students over lunch and in a subsequent meeting to share her experiences and insights as a woman in STEM, as well as her advice about graduate school and possible career paths.  Her lecture, entitled “Engineering Tissues: Inspiration from evolution,” showed how physical forces–mechanical stresses including those from pressure and fluid flow–direct organ development, and how these same forces instruct a cancer cell whether or not to build a tumor.


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.

Applications for the McNulty Scholars Program Are Now Open for Entering Freshmen, Fall 2018

We are pleased to announce that the McNulty Scholars Program Application for Fall 2018 incoming freshmen is now live.  If you are an incoming freshman woman interested in studying STEM at SJU, this program awards full- and partial-tuition scholarships to pursue degrees in Biology, Chemical Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Mathematics or Physics.

You also will work with a faculty mentor, receive additional funding to participate in summer research on campus, participate in leadership training and professional development, and join this vibrant community of women interested in science and leadership.

You must first apply for Fall 2018 admission to Saint Joseph’s University before complete the McNulty Program application. More information on eligibility and required materials can be found on the “How to Apply” page.  The McNulty Application is due by Monday, January 15, 2018.

New McNulty Program Students Introduced at the 9th Annual Welcome Reception

 On Wednesday, September 13, the John P. McNulty Scholars Program for Excellence in Science and Mathematics formally welcomed its newest cohort of students at the 9th Annual Welcome Reception at the Cardinal Foley Center.  Mrs. Anne Welsh McNulty, her family and members of the McNulty Foundation joined SJU faculty and staff, as well as students’ families to celebrate this year’s incoming freshman class, as well as our newest Fellows.

Current Scholars Marisa Egan ’18, Elise Brutschea ’19 and Abigail Sweetman ’18 spoke to the group, and alumna

Dr. Corinna Noel ’13, fresh off of earning her Ph.D. at Cornell University, also addressed the audience.  The program’s director, Paul J. Angiolillo, Ph.D., Mrs. McNulty and SJU President Dr. Mark C. Reed also spoke during the program.



We are pleased to introduce the newest McNulty students:

McNulty Scholars Maria Johnson ’21 (Biology), Thi Nguyen ’21 (Biology) and Iswarya Vel ’21 (Biology)

McNulty Associates Maura Flynn ’21 (Biology), Emily Lehman ’21 (Physics), Zoe Mrozek ’21 (Environmental Science), Gianna Penezic ’21 (Biology) and Michelle Wheatley ’21 (Mathematics)

McNulty Fellows Natalie Barrett ’18 (Biology), Amelia Brown ’18 (Biology), Aswathi Jacob ’18 (Biology), Sarah Muche ’19 (Biology) and Leona Ryder ’18 (Biology)

McNulty Fellow Asha Jacob ’18 Presents Research at the Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Calgary, Canada

Asha Jacob ’18 (Biology) recently attended the Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology on August 23 – 26, 2017 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  There, she presented her findings on a 323 million-year-old species of fish, recently discovered in Bear Gulch, Montana.  Asha works in the laboratory of Dr. Eileen Grogan who, together with Dr. Richard Lund, have been guiding her research. She is currently putting the finishing touches on a manuscript that will be submitted soon.


Welcome to the McNulty Class of 2021!

On Wednesday, August 30th, the McNulty Program students and faculty mentors gathered to welcome the incoming class of McNulty Scholars and Associates.  With eight freshmen McNulty women starting their SJU career, this is the largest class to ever enter the McNulty Program.  Biology majors Maria Johnson, Thi Nguyen and Iswarya Vel  are our newest group of McNulty Scholars.  Physics major Emily Lehman, environmental science major Gianna Penezic,and mathematics major Michelle Wheatley join biology majors Maura Flynn and Gianna Penezic as McNulty Associates.  All the women will be honored at next week’s Welcome Reception.

McNulty Scholar Elise Brutschea ’19 Goes 2 for 2 with latest presentation at ACS in Washington, DC

Last week, Elise Brutschea ’19 (Chemistry) presented her summer research at the 254th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in Washington, DC.  She has been working with chemist Mark Forman, Ph.D. to investigate the synthesis of natural, exotic organic molecules which have unusually strained carbon-carbon bonds. She will speaking about her experience as a McNulty Scholar, both inside and outside the laboratory, at the upcoming McNulty Program Welcome Reception for current McNulty students and their families on September 13.

McNulty Scholar Elise Brutschea ’19 Presents Research at the National Organic Symposium at UC Davis

July 1, 2017 — McNulty Scholar Elise Brutschea ’19 (Chemistry) returned home earlier this week from the National Organic Symposium Conference in Davis CA, where she presented the research she’s been conducting under the guidance of Dr. Mark Forman. Specifically, she has been investigating the synthesis of non-natural, exotic organic molecules. Elise plans to present these findings again later this summer at the 254th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in Washington, D.C.