Emmanuel Magazine - Academics in Action
Magazine for Emmanuel College.
Research, Scholarship and Publishing Nearly four years ago when Emmanuel Magazine featured the Neuroimmunology Research Project (NIRP), it was to intro- duce the revolutionary scientific research being conducted by the group on campus. The Maureen Murphy Wilkens Science Center was just starting to take shape, and at the time, NIRP too was still in its infan- cy, having formed in the fall of 2005. Its original three members had just graduated a few months earlier, and the focus shifted to new students — including an eager young Chris Borges ’10, who after just one year with the project already spoke of making immunology and bone marrow transplantation research his life. Fast-forward to today and another gen- eration of students is taking advantage of the opportunity to work side-by-side with Associate Professors of Biology Dr. Josef Kurtz and Dr. Todd Williams. Meanwhile, the list of NIRP alumni who helped pave the way reads like an all-star team of Emmanuel science students. Borges recent- ly completed his first year at Harvard Medical School and remains as passionate as ever about neuroimmunology research. Classmate Joia Spinelli ’10 is a medical assistant for the Division of Plastic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which in March performed the nation’s first full face transplant. Sam LoCascio ’09 set up the new Clinical Translational Immunology Center at Columbia Medical School in New York. Carolyn Ferrick ’08 is in her third year at Tufts Dental School, while Lisa Shubert ’08 is one year into the physician’s assistant program at Duke University. Forum Raval ’07 is a fourth- year Ph.D. student in immunology at the University of Massachusetts. What started out as a discussion between two colleagues interested in overlapping their work and carving out a niche, has developed into something Dr. Kurtz and Dr. Williams could only dream about a few years ago. Now they find themselves overseeing a student-research group that has gained national recognition among peer groups, having pioneered a split-brain technique for evaluating populations of microglia cells, the immune cells of the central nervous system. As two iterations of students have cycled through the NIRP machine, they see the effect the group’s track record has on current team members and how easy it is to get them to buy into the system. “It’s a big deal,” said Dr. Kurtz. “I think these students realize that by work- ing with the NIRP group it has opened a lot of doors.” Doors that have led to meaningful con- tributions in the field, presentations at national and international conferences, notable graduate programs and careers — outcomes of faculty-student scholarship that resonate across academic departments throughout campus. Associate Professor of English Dr. Mary Beth Pope is one such professor who makes a habit of opening doors to her students — specifically one she herself was not guided through. A key part of her creative writing courses involves walking all of her students through the publication process. In fact, by the end of each semes- ter, every one of her students is required to submit his or her work for publication to get a sense for what the process entails. “I was never taught this even as a gradu- ate student. It is information faculty for some reason do not either bother to share or do not think students need to know at that point,” said Dr. Pope. “I feel very strongly about teaching students where to go to get the information they need about publishing their work.” In the two years since the Writing and Literature program was revamped, four of the 17 graduating majors have had work appear in national publications, impressive results considering the average acceptance rate for submissions to national literary magazines is around one percent. Timothy Urban ’11 had his memoir “The Sweet Life” published in an anthology about doctor/patient relationships entitled, View from the Bed, View from the Bedside. Alison Amorello ’11 had her work appear in the literary magazine Punkin House Digest while Amanda Lee Hickey ’11 had an essay published in the literary magazine Splinter Generation. Rebecca Camarda ’12 had her essay “To Your Memory: New Jersey” accepted by the monthly online magazine Jersey Devil Press. All of the students’ work was written for either ENGL 2504 Prose Writing, ENGL 3504 Advanced Prose Writing or ENGL 4160 Writing Seminar. “It gives them an advantage when applying to grad schools, something con- crete besides grades that says ‘This is what 3 Emmanuel Magazine | Summer 2011 Neuroimmunology Research Project (NIRP) opposite page – The Neuroimmunology Research Project (NIRP), run by Dr. Todd Williams and Dr. Josef Kurtz with the assistance of Dr. Joel Kowit, meet in one of the labs of the Maureen Murphy Wilkens Science Center. above – NIRP members: Harrison Powell ’13, Nathalie Victoria ’13, Kayla Tremblay ’13