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Natural Science and Mathematics Blog

Sarah Bonson, Matthew Koury, Camille Werzowa, and Jacqueline Rowan attended the 18th Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences and the UMBC campus on October 3rd. The Symposium invites mentor-approved contributions from undergraduates investigating any aspect of chemistry, biology, and biochemistry. These advances will be disseminated in a daylong event that typically offers nearly 200 student contributions and gathers more than 400 beginning scientists, mentors, and other guests. The event will feature two poster sessions with posters judged by panels of participating mentors and other qualified attendees. 

Sarah Sarah Bonson presented her research project titled the  Synthesis of Gold Micelles for Use in Targeted Drug  Delivery Systems. The goal of her research was to  synthesize gold polycaprolactone nanoparticles, which  form micelles to be used in a targeted drug delivery  system. The system would provide healthier and more  effective treatment as it specifically targets malignant  cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed. The gold  nanoparticles build up in tumor sites due to their  enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effects and  have the ability to convert light energy into heat, allowing  the drug to be released into the body using a laser.  Oleylamine coated gold nanoparticles are  synthesized, thiolated withmercaptoundecanol, and then  polymerized with polycaprolactone, allowing the  nanoparticles to form micelles. Sarah described “It was  a great experience and a privilege to be able to represent the Mount and our Science Department! I had a great time at the conference and it was really neat to learn about the research of other students from all around the country."

Matt and Jacqueline Matthew Koury and Jaqueline Rowan presented their research titled The Synthesis of Ethyl and Methyl Benzoate with a Reduced Reflux Time. Jaqueline explained “I did feel very good about our presentations. I think it all went very well. It was a great atmosphere being around other people who share the same passion for science as I do. I learned a lot, this being my first presentation, but now I know what to expect and what to fix in the future.”

Camille Camille Werzowa presented her research titled  Understanding C/EBP B, a Transcription Factor Expressed  Downstream in Neuroinflammatory Events Mediated by  HMGB-1. Camille explained “I felt good about my  presentation. I had a lot of fun explaining what I have  done during my time in the lab. Though I did not have as  much data as I had hoped, the judges and other students  who listened to my presentation were impressed with what  I had so far.” When asked about the atmosphere of the  Symposium Camille responded “I was just in awe the  entire time with all of the different research undergraduate  students, like me, have done. It's so fascinating talking to  everyone and hearing what  they worked on and the data  they obtained. It made me want to continue with my  research and to present at more conferences.”


Welcome to Dr. Abagail Kula’s Ecology class where class time is dedicated to the outdoors in order to truly grasp and understand the material. Pictured above are Rachel Carr, Mike Flyte and Rachel Horner as they gear up for their group project that will look at the effects of mowing frequency on insect diversity using two sampling methods (sweep netting and yellow pan traps) to sample the insect community.

LarvaBeing able to educate students outside of the realm of the classroom opens doors for amazing opportunities. For example, Dr. Kula and her students were able to come across Monarch Larva which is now becoming a rarity due to the recent declines in population. Dr. Kula mentions: “We found this beautiful specimen in the field behind the President’s Home on Old Emmitsburg Rd. It is always significant to find a monarch in the field because monarch populations are declining sharply. In all the milkweed plants examined during our lab period (approximately 100 plants), this was the only monarch observed. This is a late stage (or instar) larva that will likely make it to the pupal stage and from there emerge as an adult sometime in early October. Typically at this time of the year in our area we should see mainly adult monarch butterflies on their way back to their overwintering area in Mexico.”


timTim Schwemler presented a poster at the 10th Workshop on Harsh-Environment Mass Spectrometry (HEMS) September 13-16, 2015. Accompanied by Dr. Garth Patterson Tim presented his summer research titled "Identifying Environmental and Physical Plant Stresses Using Vapor Analysis." Dr. Garth Patterson, James Larkin and Kevin Jankowski served as Co-Authors on the presentation. The Workshop on Harsh-Environment Mass Spectrometry (HEMS) was created in 1999 as a means of encouraging interaction among people involved in deploying mass spectrometers outside of the typical laboratory setting. These environments are diverse, ranging from volcanoes and battlefields, to ocean depths, outer space and other rugged locales. Building mass spectrometers to withstand the rigors of such harsh and remote environments places a unique burden on engineering design and science objective planning, where operational requirements for power, size and durability must be met while achieving the goals of the scientific mission. 

Dr. Patterson mentioned "Tim and I worked together on two separate but related projects.  We wanted to be able to differentiate varieties of hops plants based on the vapor being outgassed by the plants (for example, Citra hops outgas a large amount of alpha limonene, magnum is much less).  We also wanted to show the relative health of plants based on their vapor signature (when distressed plants might outgas a higher level of terpenes).  We were successful in the first and demonstrated that we can test for the second, but we need a lot more data and another summer to prove the second."

Congratulations to Dr. Patterson, Tim Schwemler James Larkin and Kevin Jankowski for their work in this project! 

acsThe Mount's ACS Student Group got good news yesterday. They received an Honorable Mention Award for their Chapter from the National Office. This recognizes their efforts from last year, with regard to service, fundraising, and scientific activities. A few of the events they participated in include: middle school science fair judging for Frederick County, a demo team for the STEM fair in Frederick, goggle sales and lab coat rentals within the department, and attendance of a National and Regional ACS meeting to present on research.

The students will receive an award plaque at a ceremony in March at the ACS National Meeting in San Diego. We hope to send 3-4 students to the meeting to accept the award and are fundraising to do so this semester.

The American Chemical Society and publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. They also give more than $22 million every year in grants for basic research in petroleum and related fields.ACS also plays a leadership role in educating and communicating with public policy makers and the general public about the importance of chemistry in our lives. This includes identifying new solutions, improving public health, protecting the environment and contributing to the economy.

Paul Smock, Interim Director of Master of Biotechnology Program As of August 2015, Paul L. Smock is serving as the interim director for Mount St. Mary’s University’s Master of Science in Biotechnology and Management Program (MSB). In addition to his new role at MSMU, Smock also works as a biotechnology quality and technical consultant for Meridian BioGroup, LLC. The MSB is an interdisciplinary graduate program that emphasizes both science and business components.

Smock has 38 years of experience in the biotechnology industry, spanning biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, validation consulting, and the in-vitro diagnostic businesses. Previously, Smock was senior director, technical quality at AstraZeneca Biologics and held the position of senior director, quality assurance for the Frederick Manufacture Center for the start-up, licensure and transition to multi-product clinical/commercial operations phases of this facility, starting in 2010. He has also held both technical and management positions in QA/QC, validation, process development, and production at Wyeth Biotech, Serono Laboratories, Triad Technologies, and the DuPont Company.

Smock is a 20-year member of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), Past President of the Boston Area Chapter of ISPE, active with the BioPhorum Operation Group (BPOG), and a frequent speaker at Biopharmaceutical conferences.  He holds a B.S. in Chemistry/Mathematics from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Clinical Chemistry from the University of Dayton.

Classes for the MSB are hosted at MSMU’s Frederick Campus. The program is designed for the working adult with one night a week evening courses from 6-9:30 p.m. For more information, visit


Instead of working a mundane summer job this summer, Sarah Bonson (’17) will be synthesizing gold in the laboratory. No, this isn’t alchemy but rather a research project about the best way to create microscopic capsules (called “micelles”) for delivering drugs to a very localized and specific location in the body. Sarah will be working with Dr. Patti Kreke, Associate Professor of Chemistry, and two collaborators from the University of Alabama to synthesize and characterize these gold-covered nanoparticles thanks to a Summer Research Internship Award (SRIA) from the School of NSM.

The SRIA program is funded by donors who recognize the importance of creating opportunities for our students to conduct authentic research with faculty members. “Faculty-student research is only possible at a student-centered university like the Mount with a low student-to-faculty ratio,” according to Dr. Jeffrey Simmons, Dean of the School, “and faculty who are dedicated to educating and training the next generation of scientists.” Students gain valuable laboratory skills, mastery of state-of-the-art instrumentation, and the experience of directing their own research project.

The other three awards went to: 1) Timothy Schwemler (’16) who will work with Dr. Garth Patterson, assistant professor of chemistry, on new methods for detecting plant stress using vapor analysis; 2) Emily Luetkemeyer (’16) who will work with assistant professor of psychology, Dr. Caitlin Faas investigating the effectiveness of child-directed learning on personal development; and 3) Katherine Wu (’17) who will be mentored by Dr. Abigail Kula, assistant professor of environmental science, in research on the interactions between the monarch butterfly and milkweed plants.

All of us at the SNSM are extremely grateful to the generous donors who have supported this program over the last four years. Click here to donate and help grow this program so that more students can further their research experience.


Joe Appleton C’16 is currently the President of the Mount’s chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery. As President, Joe has held monthly meetings with other officers of the club in order to learn more about the latest news in the realm of computer science. Last semester his club took a trip to CCSCE, which is a regional conference designed to promote the exchange of information among college personnel. Joe mentions “It was a great experience and made us feel like true scholars of computer science, and we look forward to bringing more students to conferences such as this one.” Joe also sits as the returning Vice President of the Student Government Association. Keeping a busy schedule and balancing so many responsibilities has certainly given Joe valuable experience for life after college. “I would recommend a position in SGA to anyone who thinks they have at least an inkling of interest, but be aware that it is certainly a large commitment. I love playing a part in the development of my University; staying involved makes me enjoy my stay at the Mount even more.” –Joe Appleton

As if being a two time Vice President of SGA and President of the Association of Computing Machinery was not enough, Appleton also has been participating in the COMAP competitions since his freshman year! Joe explains, “COMAP stands for the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications so it’s like a fancy way of saying look at all the cool stuff math can do!” The breakdown of this competition typically is as follows: two problems are released on a Thursday night and teams of three people work on one of the problems for the next 96 hours. Each team works to construct a mathematical model in order to solve a real life problem. This year Joe and his group decided to pick the problem of “Ebola Eradication” which asked to find an effective way to distribute a hypothetical Ebola medicine in order to stop the spread of the virus. With the help of teammates Nick Navarro and Carmen Morales, Joe’s group was able to present a 20-page report as their solution to their problem. Their research found that distribution of such a medicine would not be feasible unless the public health and education standards of the currently affected West African countries was significantly raised.

This summer Joe has two plans of action that consist of an internship back in his home town of Mohnton, PA and studying at Cambridge. His internship is scheduled to be at Boscov’s, a regional department store, where he will be coding in Java, SQL, and maybe even a bit of PHP and HTML. Towards the middle of the summer he will be spending a month at the University of Cambridge where he will be studying in the International Security and Intelligence Program at Pembroke College. Joe describes, “Honestly, I have never been more excited about something. This will be the first time I am leaving the country and the purpose is to study at one of the most prestigious academic centers in the world. How cool is that?” Reflecting on his experiences at the Mount and the opportunities presented to him for this summer Joe mentions that “I don’t have too many interesting stories, but I do feel the need to mention my father. If he were still with us today, I know he would be proud.”

Joe Appleton has flourished as a member of the Mount Community and serves as a great example of the type of leadership that the School of Natural Science and Mathematics produces. We wish Joe nothing but the best of luck this summer and his future endeavors as he continues to pursue greatness.

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