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Natural Science and Mathematics Blog

Katelyn Comeau doing research

Last summer, Katelyn Comeau, C’19, was one of ten participants to travel to the University of Oklahoma where she partook in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program in Structural Biology. Katelyn, who is a Biochemistry major and on a pre-med track, took crash courses on biochemistry, structural biology, and x-ray crystallography to aid in her research over the two month program. The goal of the research was to diversify natural products and drugs for diseases like cancer. Katelyn was able to successfully freeze and store an active and pure prenyltransferase enzyme which the lab will use for progress in drug leads.

As Katelyn finishes up her junior year here at the Mount, the honors student has already accepted an offer for a position with Dr. David Ginty, a Mount grad and last year’s keynote speaker at SPARC. The position will have Katelyn traveling to Harvard University Medical School this summer along with a few other undergrads from other universities. Katelyn will be assisting one of Dr. Ginty’s post doctorate students with projects in neuroscience. She will be working on a pain perception project, as well as analyzing mouse models of autism and links they have to neurology.

Katelyn applied to a total of 25 research programs for this coming summer, resulting in offers from Dr. Ginty, as well as two additional programs, one being at the University of Maryland Medical School in the Nathan Schnaper Intern Program in Translational Cancer Research.

Katelyn is extremely interested in translational cancer research, and plans to attend medical school upon completing her undergraduate studies next year. Congratulations to Katelyn on all her success, and we look forward to hearing about all she accomplishes this summer!

Rachel Tubbs presenting her senior research project

The key to productivity is becoming a “master of minutes.” Mount St. Mary’s University senior Rachael Tubbs, is a prime example. Between finishing up assignments, preparing for finals week, presenting her Senior Research Project on FEMA, and getting ready to head home to spend Christmas with her family, this Psychology major and double minor in Criminal Justice and Spanish already has a full plate, and that’s before factoring in the numerous other activities that require her time and effort, both at school and outside of the Mount.

One look at Rachael’s email signature indicates just how much she loves the Mount. She is a Mount Admissions Coordinator, where she oversees 65 student volunteers acting as the liaison between them and the admissions department. The position also requires her to oversee all admissions events, such as open houses and accepted students’ day. Since freshman year, Rachael has been a member of the Psychology Club. She now serves as President where she works with the psychology department to plan stress free events for students to attend, like movie nights or craft get-togethers. To fulfill her passion for criminal justice, Rachael is a member of the Criminal Justice Student Association (CJSA). For the club, she took up the role of being the Delaney Dinner Project Manager. The Association puts on this event for Criminal Justice and Psychology majors only, as a marketing night. As project manager, Rachael helps to find a guest speaker to give a presentation on their field of work as well as attend a formal dinner with the students and other honorable guests from government agencies and local officials. She works to arrange the dinner seating chart so students may sit with those in the field of work they wish to pursue. Besides this, Rachael is also the Criminal Justice Talks Project Manager for CJSA, where she coordinates the search for guest speakers to speak about their line of work to students in the Mount café on multiple occasions throughout the school year. On top of all this, she is also a member of the School of Natural Science and Mathematics Student Advisory Board, as well as Secretary of the Senior Class Gift Committee.

The amount of on campus activities in which Rachael participates is clearly impressive. However, she is also extremely involved outside of the Mount. This past summer, Rachael took part in two separate internships. The first was a three-week, unpaid internship with the Frederick Police Department, where Rachael was asked to revamp the recruitment process. The department recognized that people were signing up to join the department but were not passing the test. Rachael examined the recruitment processes of different industries, like college football teams. Her discoveries showed that the police department should target recent high school or college graduates looking to work as both officers and analysts. She also advised them to recruit people looking for a second career job, like retired military personnel.

The second internship Rachael participated in this past summer was with a small, family-owned financial firm, The Kelly Group, located in Hartford County, where she served as a paid behavioral economics intern. This summer-long internship had Rachael create a presentation that could be used by the financial planners within the company to share with clients. The presentation took a deeper look into cognitive biases and how they affect an individual’s buying habits and investing decisions. Rachael discovered that the stock market fluctuates because of these biases.

All of those activities and internships would wear down even the average person, but Rachael has done even more with her free time. Throughout this Fall semester, Rachael has been working on two additional internships in the political realm. She is currently participating in an unpaid internship working on the re-election campaign for the Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan. Rachael takes part in strategy meetings with people willing to help with the campaign. This internship, which will last through graduation, could lead to Rachael getting promoted out of the campaign and into the office in Annapolis.

Additionally, at the end of September, Rachael accepted the role of an unpaid Campaign Manager for James Dvorak, who is running for Maryland State Delegate for 03A. Campaigns for delegates who are running for the first time can get rather hectic, therefore Rachael has taken on the responsibility of making sure that everything runs smoothly. She partakes in a lot of organizing, planning of functions, advertising, and formulating ways that Mr. Dvorak can interact with the community in order to get support and donations. Recently, Rachael recruited a fellow Mount student to help with fundraising efforts, and she is looking for others to also donate their time in support of the campaign.

Rachael clearly is an extremely busy person. Her time is quite valuable, and she makes sure to get the most out of every minute of her day. With graduation just around the corner, Rachael is starting to look at all her options once she receives her degree. Currently she is deciding between looking for a job working in the government, preferably with a government agency, or attending a graduate school, where she would pursue a master’s degree in forensic psychology. Whichever direction Rachael decides to follow, she will surely continue to make the most of every minute of every day, and the School of Natural Science and Mathematics is extremely proud of everything she has accomplished thus far. 

SNSM blog imageThe Mount is known for bringing people together from all over the world and aiding to establish lifelong friendships. Many of us will stay in contact with those we have made relationships with during our time here, however very few of us can picture writing, editing, and publishing a research paper with someone we have encountered at the Mount. None the less, for Dana Bunnell-Young (C’10) and Timothy Rosen (C’09), this would come true.

Post-graduation, Dana and Timothy pursued different paths. With the help of her coursework, research experience, and degree in Environmental Science from the Mount, Dana was accepted as a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. She had to move to Cambridge, Maryland to do her graduate work at the Horn Point Laboratory. She is now finishing up her dissertation research investigating methane and nitrogen in groundwater. During her graduate studies, Dana worked part-time as an adjunct instructor at Chesapeake College, teaching Fundamentals of Biology and Physical Science. Dana has also gotten married, to another Mount alum, and they have a two-year-old son, Miles. This paper is Dana’s first publication, as well as her first time as first author.

Timothy also owes a lot of his post-graduation success to the Mount. His time as a lab aid to Dr. Simmons, as well as working with Dr. Staiger on his honors thesis, led to him graduating from the Mount with a degree in Biology, and being awarded the Coastal Science Assistantship Program fellowship with the School of Renewable Natural Resources at Louisiana State University. It was here that Timothy completed his Master’s degree in watershed hydrology. He interned with Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Timothy also has four papers published where he is the first author. Timothy now works as the watershed scientist and agricultural outreach specialist at Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) in Easton, MD.

During their time at the Mount, Dana and Timothy only crossed paths momentarily. Both alums worked as lab aides under Dr. Simmons in his environmental lab. It would not be until years after graduating from the Mount that the two would cross paths again to be two of five authors to write Dynamics of nitrate and methane in shallow groundwater following land use conversion from agricultural grain production to conservation easement, published in Volume 248 of the science journal “Agricultural, Ecosystems & Environment.”

Dana’s graduate advisor, Dr. Thomas Fisher, is a member of the advisory board at MRC and was asked to participate on a project investigating nitrogen levels in groundwater on a local property, leading him to recruit her. Timothy was also placed on the project. The two went out monthly for a year to gather groundwater samples, and then worked to write the paper. In their study, they looked at nitrogen and methane levels in groundwater below a former agricultural property. They installed groundwater sampling wells in areas of the property. This provided them with a chronosequence of groundwater nitrogen and methane levels over the past sixteen years. Excess nitrogen is a concern for water quality in the Chesapeake. This study shows that conservation practices can help reduce nitrogen releases to local streams, but some of these practices may also release the greenhouse gas methane to the atmosphere.

We encourage you to learn more about Dana and Timothy’s research.


This past summer Katelyn Comeau, C’19, an honors student and Biochemistry major at Mount St. Mary’s University became one of ten participants on the cutting edge of science. Katelyn traveled out to the University of Oklahoma where she began her training for the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program in Structural Biology.

“My co-researchers and I were given a crash course on biochemistry, structural biology, and x-ray crystallography to aid in our research over the two month program,” Comeau said. Each researcher was assigned a lab where they worked closely with graduate students, and doctors. The goal of their research was to “diversify natural products and drugs for diseases like cancer.”

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of her experience was successfully freezing and storing an active and pure “prenyltransferase enzyme” which the lab will use for progress in drug leads.

Katelyn was inspired and excited by her work in conjunction with the chemists and learned a great deal more about the biochemistry field which helped to develop her understanding of biological systems.

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