Science Scholars Showcase Summer Findings

Michelle Souza discusses her findings with Professor Roy Wensley. Souza's project on a real-time assay for human papilloma virus genotypes received the Joseph P. McKenna Science Medal.
Fresh from an eventful summer that included Doppler mapping of ocean surfaces, computer modeling of protein-building and tracking wolves in Michigan, 11 Saint Mary's science students displayed their research projects at an Oct. 5 poster session in Brousseau Hall.

"It's impressive beyond all imagination that students are doing the work we see before us," science dean Brian Jersky told the crowd of students and professors gathered in Brousseau Atrium.

The presenters - many of whom received $3,000 stipends from the College to support their research - included majors from biology, chemistry, psychology and physics.

Several worked on campus at Brousseau Hall labs or Geissberger Observatory, while others traveled to research facilities at Yosemite National Park, the Milwaukee School of Engineering and a lake conservancy in Michigan's upper peninsula.

"We had wolves right by our cabin one morning," said David Schwartz, one of three students who worked with Dr. Andrea Nicholas at the conservancy. "There were coyotes, too, but they didn't come around as much after the bear sightings."

Psychology major Ashton Smith talks about her survey research on quality of life issues in senior-citizen housing.
Judges from different science departments praised all the projects and awarded the Joseph P. McKenna Science Medal to Michelle Souza for her work on a potential real-time assay for human papilloma virus genotypes. Two students received honorable mention: Schwartz, for his mammal species survey, and Elliot Feinberg for his work on delay-Doppler maps.

For some, the work will continue.

"We have so much data," says Adele Panasci, who worked with Professor Joel Burley to measure the effect of forest fires on ozone levels at national parks. "It's endless."

Several of the students will present their projects at science honors society Sigma Xi, which holds its annual conference in Orlando in early November. Since 2004, five Saint Mary's student projects have been judged "superior" by Sigma Xi, indicating work of publishable quality.

-- John Grennan
Office of College Communications

Photos by Gabrielle Diaz '11