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Natural Science and Mathematics Blog

Eric Sakowski C'08 (on right) is now a doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware where his research along with his team is going to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). Eric is a part of a team of researchers that have discovered that an ancient gene- ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), which occurs in all cellular life- provides important biological insights into the characteristics of unknown viruses in the sea. The results of this research could potentially lead to a new set of tools for understanding the inner workings of marine microbial communities.

Eric explains, “When we’re studying these viruses, they aren’t viruses we can observe. We can’t grow them in a lab we can’t physically look at most of them, so the only thing we have to go on is the genetic sequence. And, then, if you don’t have the sequence data that you’ve seen before, it’s really hard to make conclusions about the virus that it came from.”  

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Patricia Yam was one out of two students chosen for a nurse residency program for the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. The program is designed for new graduates from the School of Nursing offering a three year commitment to work for the Hopkins hospital with an option to work part time in third year if the recipient decides to attend graduate school. This type of program serves as a pilot study and opportunity for Graduates to be trained and gain experience in specialized units. Historically, units such as PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) would only hire nurses with critical care experience or emergency department backgrounds. Patricia explains that “it’s super exciting to become a part of the unit as a new graduate.” 

As a part of this new exciting residency program, Patricia will be doing her last semester/ practicum in the PACU unit rather than starting after she graduates. This will give her the opportunity to learn more about and become more familiar with the unit. When asked about the application process Patricia added, “Submitting your resume, an essay, recommendation letter was the first round…They then selected students to proceed to interview with the nurse manager of the unit. The entire process took maybe a month! But waiting for an answer was definitely nerve wracking!” Congratulations to Patricia and we wish her luck in her bright future! 

A big thank you goes out to Mr. Rob Sabo for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his knowledge of Ecology Research with our students through our Undergraduate Seminar Series! Mr. Sabo presented his research to a sellout crowd on the third floor of the Coad Science building titled “Hydrologic and Biogeochemical controls of atmospheric nitrate export in a temperate forest watershed.” Mr. Sabo a proud Mount alumnus and current Ph.D. student for the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. His research primarily deals with nitrogen flux in forested and mixed land use ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He has received multiple grants and fellowships to aid in his education and research including an EPA STAR Fellowship ($144,000), USGS Summer Fellowship ($6,600), and a National Geographic Young Explorer’s Grant ($5,000). In addition to his graduate research activities, Robert is currently implementing a small watershed monitoring network to afford undergraduates greater research opportunities in the environmental sciences. Robert currently resides in Frostburg, MD with his wife (another proud Mount almnus), and their two year old daughter.

Presentation Description: How has acid rain impacted the N cycle in temperate forests? Why are stream nitrate concentrations in predominantly forested watersheds declining throughout the mid-Atlantic? Forests cover about 66% of the land area in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and provide clean water to downstream communities. Understanding the hydrology and biogeochemistry of these ecosystems will be instrumental in accomplishing Bay clean-up goals and ensuring the proper management/preservation of forests. The emergence of long-term datasets and the development of new stable isotopic approaches now offer insights into the storage, transformation, and transport of N in forests. These findings will allow the development of mechanistic models that predict future forest responses to acid rain, disturbances, and climate change. 

This past summer, Angel Gaona Rojas, was a student selected to be a part of our Summer Research Internship Program! Angel explains his experience to be very valuable in order to fully apply the knowledge from the classroom to the lab. Angel’s SRIP involvement consisted of heavy amounts of research and extensive experience in the lab. Angel explains, "This program has given me access to techniques and instruments such as the glove box, the vacuum line, NMR, etc." Besides the one-on-one interaction with Dr. Bradley, Angel aslo describes, “these kinds of programs are key for an excellent background/experience to be competitive enough for acceptance to the best chemistry programs in good graduate schools.”

We want to thank and congratulate Angel Gaona Rojas on all of his hard work and wish him luck in his future academic endeavors! 

A big thank you from the Mount Community goes to Dr. Robert W. Buckheit, Jr. for presenting in our Undergraduate Seminar Series! Dr. Buckheit’s presented to a full room of eager students in the science buildind today and gave a very insightful presentation on his career choices and his company ImQuest Biosciences which he started in 2004. Dr. Robert W. Buckheit, Jr. earned his Ph.D degree in Microbiology and Immunology with a focus on retrovirology from Duke University in 1986 and completed a postdoctoral training program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in HIV molecular pathogenesis in 1989. Since 1989, Dr. Buckheit has been intimately involved in the preclinical development of anti-infective agents with a focus on therapeutic and prevention products for use against HIV.

Dr. Buckheit has developed and managed infectious disease research programs for commercial, academic and government clients, including a variety of multi-million dollar and technically complex federal contracts, hundreds of programs with virtual and small biotechnology companies, research programs with pharmaceutical industry companies and collaborative programs with academic investigators. Dr. Buckheit’s experience with anti-infective evaluations has resulted in over 150 publications in the peer reviewed literature as well as dozens of projects that have progressed compounds to the IND stage of drug development.  

Dr. Buckheit founded ImQuest BioSciences in February 2004 and is ImQuest’s President and Chief Scientific Officer. The company is dedicated to providing technical and professional support for the development of a broad spectrum of therapeutic agents and topical microbicides. Under Dr. Buckheit’s leadership ImQuest BioSciences was named Frederick County’s Small Business of the Year and Best Places to Work in Frederick. Dr. Buckheit was personally honored as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Technology Council of Maryland. Dr. Buckheit sits on the Board of Director’s of Fredericks biotechnology incubator (Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc.) and was recently elected President of the International Society of Antiviral Research. We once again thank Dr. Buckheit for coming to the Mount to share his knowledge and expertise with our students! We wish Dr. Buckheit and his company ImQuest BioSciences the best of luck in the future!

Congratulations to Gregory Fultz for being the recipient of our Summer Research Internship Program over the summer! What is our Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP)?? SRIP is a donor-funded initiative designed to provide students with a stipend which allows them to spend a summer on campus working closely with a faculty member on a research project. A pledge of $6,000 provides a direct stipend to students for the summer, allowing them to focus on their research project and the skills that can only be developed through an intensive, hands-on experience, working in the lab directly with our faculty.

“For future students at Mount Saint Mary’s University, I would highly recommend spending a summer side by side with one of their professors to strengthen their laboratory skills” Gregory wrote in his reflection letter about the program. Undergraduate research is a key component in the competitiveness of our graduates for acceptance into the best medical schools and graduate programs in the country. Our faculty benefit as well, by advancing their research programs and raising the profile of the Mount as a center of excellence in the sciences. A big thank you and congratulations goes out to Gregory Fultz in all his hard work!

This summer, Christopher Bradley, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, presented undergraduate research conducted by John Andjaba, C’16, at the International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry in Sapporo, Japan. Dr. Bradley was the only presenter from an undergraduate university in the United States at the conference, which hosted world leaders in the field of inorganic chemistry.

Andjaba described this research experience as one of the most rewarding parts of his undergraduate career. “It is definitely challenging and a big time commitment, but the amount of knowledge and experience acquired is fantastic,” said Andjaba. “To know that our research is being shared with the global community is a mind-blowing idea, because other individuals can learn from and utilize the research that we conduct.”

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