Graduating Biology Majors Reflect on Their Time at Molloy

Foreword by Christie Catterson

Reflections by graduating Biology students

I am honored to say that I am one of the Biology students of the graduating class of 2018. When I first met my peers during day one of classes, we all knew that we had a long way to go. Looking back to where we started and realizing we achieved our goals brings on a huge sense of accomplishment. We have come a long way for us to confidently start our prospective professional studies. We have had many professors and mentors who have helped us along the way, catering to our vision of success. I am so grateful for the numerous opportunities Molloy’s Biology program has given to me and I am extremely proud of all of our successes. I am going to miss my peers and more importantly my friends as we embark on the next chapter of our lives. Best of luck, Class of 2018; I have much confidence that we will all achieve our greatest dreams.

christie catterson

Christie Catterson, Amityville, NY

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2022

Why did you choose Molloy?

When I first came to Molloy, I absolutely fell in love with the warm, friendly community. I was able to see myself having a home for the next four years. When I met with then-Vice President for Student Affairs Bob Houlihan, he took the time to walk my mom and me around campus. After that conversation, I was more than excited to attend the following fall.

What is your favorite memory of the Biology program?

I have so many wonderful memories of my time at Molloy and with the Biology program, but one memory that will always stand out in particular was when I was able to compete in the Sigma Xi Conference with six of my research peers. It was a wonderful bonding experience as I was able to present my research from my undergraduate career at a competitive conference. It was also great to spend time with my research group before we all graduated.

Are there any professors that you would like to thank?

The professor that inspired me the most was Dr. Jodi Evans. I will never forget the first day I met her as I was registering for my second semester of classes. In the classroom, she has pushed me academically to always ask why and go beyond the material. As a person, she has inspired me to be hardworking yet humble at whatever task I may take on. I sincerely thank Dr. Evans for being an influential mentor in my undergraduate career. I also want to express my gratitude to Dr. Monaco as she has helped me every step of the way during the application process. Molloy’s BCES program would not be what it is today without the leadership of Dr. Massone, the chairperson, who has been supportive of all of our aspirations.

Carl Rocco Palladino, Lindenhurst, NY

North Eastern Ohio Medical University

What is your favorite memory of the Biology program?

My favorite memory is all the research my group and I did with Dr. Sanz. I am glad that all the hard work we all put in together amounted to something truly special.

Are there any professors that you would like to thank?

I want to give thanks to Dr. Massone, Dr. Sanz, Dr. Monaco and the rest of the BCES faculty for all their help.

meghan mitchell

Meghan Mitchell, Baldwin, NY

SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn – Physician Assistant Program beginning May 29, 2018

Why did you choose Molloy?

The Biology program at Molloy provided opportunities to advance our knowledge in many different aspects of biology. Whether it was through the optional extra-curricular activities or the required courses or events, we were given the chance to obtain the most out of this program with the help of the incredible Biology department here, as evidenced by the number of students moving on to graduate school from our class.

Are there any professors that you would like to thank?

I was lucky enough to have Dr. Maureen Sanz as my advisor from my start at Molloy, who later became one of my professors and then later on my research mentor throughout the duration of my research work here. I can honestly say that without Dr. Sanz’s incredible knowledge and passion about biology as well as her willingness to educate and help made the program worthwhile for me. She became someone who I knew I could go to for anything, program-related or not, and I am very lucky that I was fortunate enough to work with someone like her so closely for so long. I will genuinely miss her as I move on to my next journey in life at Downstate.

Aside from Dr. Sanz, it was always comforting having such a great chairperson (Dr. Massone), who was always willing to listen to the voices of the students in the program and always willing to do what he could to improve the program. Thanks to him, we were all lucky enough to have amazing professors throughout our time here as Biology students.

Jaclyn Kirshbaum, West Islip, NY

Touro College of Dental Medicine

What is your favorite memory of the Biology program?

My favorite memory about the program was presenting my research at the Senior Research Thesis colloquium. It was a very rewarding experience!

Are there any professors that you would like to thank?

I would like to thank all of my teachers and staff that helped me get to where I am today. The science department at Molloy was truly incredible and I am thankful to have crossed paths with many of the faculty at Molloy. I would especially like to thank Dr. Massone, Dr. Kusenda and Lynne Quiroz for their guidance and support through my time here at Molloy College and for going above and beyond in helping me reach my goal of becoming a dentist!

I transferred into Molloy College as a sophomore and it was the best decision I have ever made. The BCES department at Molloy College has incredible faculty that truly prepared me for my next chapter. Thank you again to everyone who has helped me along my journey!

anthony morante

Anthony Morante, West Babylon, NY

Fordham University, Ph.D. in Biological Sciences

What is your favorite memory of the Biology program?

During the spring of my junior year, I was given the opportunity to perform research under Dr. Evans. The Biology program at Molloy requires one semester of research techniques, which involves learning proper research methods and forming ideas about future experiments we could pursue. The Biology track that I am on did not require me to continue to the hands-on research class. However, I was interested in the idea of moving forward. I had always enjoyed working in the laboratory, but this was my first time working on a long-term project. I—as well as the other members of my group—worked very hard and enjoyed our project so much so that we decided we wanted to continue the project over the summer. We were very serious about our research but made sure to have plenty of fun along the way. Our results validated the effort that we put in along the way. All the time we spent at Molloy in the laboratory without taking any classes was the best way to spend the summer vacation.

Are there any professors that you would like to thank?

I would like to thank my professor and research mentor Dr. Evans for all of the help she has given us. She put in countless hours of effort outside of class that was never required of her. She was dedicated to our research project and was with us every day over the summer. She taught us so many techniques that will give us great experience for a future in biology. We learned more through her over the summer than we could have in any class. She was there to help us along every step of the way but gave us enough room to learn for ourselves and learn from our mistakes. All of the effort we put in was because she showed us how to be passionate about our project and to keep pushing forward, even if the results don’t come out as planned.

Before taking the research classes with Dr. Evans, my future plans involved going to some form of medical school. I knew I had liked science and Biology but did not know much about research. Without the chance to work with her, I would have never discovered how much I enjoy research. And I would have never changed my mind to pursue a field in it. But now, here I am, going on to work for my doctorate in Biology.

shane martensen

Shane Martensen, East Islip, New York

Touro College Physician Assistant Program at the Bay Shore campus

What is your favorite memory of the Biology program?

During my senior year I was given the opportunity to participate in a clinical research trial. A small team, made up of students and professors, collected and analyzed data to determine if stress-related hormones and manual therapy play a role in osteoarthritis pain. Being able to work with human participants in a clinical setting was a great experience. Not many colleges can offer this type of opportunity for undergraduates.

Are there any professors that you would like to thank?

I would like to thank Dr. Monaco for her advisement and encouragement throughout the entire physician assistant (PA) application process. With her efforts, I was able to stand out compared to all the other applicants. PA school interviews are grueling, and Dr. Monaco prepared me to be my best.

How did you choose to become a Biology major?

When I was applying for colleges during my senior year of high school, I always enjoyed science and I saw myself working somewhere in the medical field, but I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do. Molloy was the perfect fit for me because they have a lot of different options when it comes to majors that will allow you to excel in the medical field. I did not have a major going into Molloy; I was undecided. I explored many different options, but I chose Pre-Allied Biology because it allowed me be flexible when it came to applying to grad school. Looking back now, I am very happy with my decision in choosing Molloy College and the Biology program. The program challenged and pushed me to be my best, which made me successful. It was a pleasure to have lot of amazing professors, such as Dr. Evans, Dr. Cutter, Dr. Stoski, Dr. Monaco and the late Dr. Belton.

rosemary ritter

Rosemary Ritter, Massapequa, New York

NYIT, Physician Assistant Studies

What is your favorite memory of the Biology program?

My favorite memory from the Molloy College Biology program was the Bio 371 Restoration of the Gulf course that I took my senior year. I was able to spend a week in New Orleans with other Biology majors under the leadership of Dr. Tolvo. The experience allowed me to learn about the science at work in a post-disaster community while restoring the marshes that had been destroyed by storms. It was a great trip where I got to meet new friends and make great memories.

Are there any professors that you would like to thank?

Special thanks to Dr. Cutter for being a great research and life mentor these past four years. Thank you for always having an open door and willing to listen to me vent and look at pictures of puppies.

Anthony Ricigliano, Massapequa, NY

Hofstra University, M.S. in Integrative Biology, Class of 2020

What is your favorite memory of the Biology program?

It’s really tough to pick out just one moment from the four amazing years spent in the Biology department. The entire research track experience, for example, was notable for many different reasons. One part of the research experience that I will always remember fondly was the daily routine my lab group made during the summer portion of our research. Nearly every morning, we would lazily meet in the empty classroom next to the lab, and have a “coffee clutch” as we decided where to steer our research for the day. It was in that bleary-eyed stupor surrounded by friends and working on a project that would soon bring us to the Sigma Xi conference in North Carolina that I realized I hit the jackpot. I was not only doing what I loved, but I was also in fantastic company. Some of our best breakthroughs in the lab were followed by pranks and jokes. It was this effortless mix of challenging science and lighthearted humor that made the 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. days fly by. My lab mates became some of my closest friends and we have had some of the greatest laughs and greatest successes working together.

Are there any professors that you would like to thank?

I am so very lucky to have had the opportunity to work under such dedicated and intelligent professors over the past four years. In many ways each professor deserves his or her own special thanks for inspiring me in such unique ways. I do however give a very special thank you to my mentor, Dr. Jodi Evans. I am truly lucky to be able to call Dr. Evans my mentor. Her dedication, passion, and intelligence are truly remarkable. However, these qualities pale in comparison to her unparalleled ability to inspire students through the perfect mix of challenge and guidance. Had I not joined her lab in my junior year, I can guarantee I would be very unsure of where to take my education and career next. Her tutelage in laboratory techniques and protocols are undoubtedly a valuable asset, however, the greatest thing she has given me is an inflamed passion for the biological sciences. With this passion she has also instilled an ability to think critically and react fluidly both in and out of the laboratory. I owe much of my future success to the brilliant framework created by the hundreds of hours of mentoring from Dr. Evans. There is no truly proper way to say thank you considering how invaluable these experiences were. All I can say is that I promise I will do my best to make her proud!

After four years of experiencing the intricacies of the BCES department, I feel there are two unsung heroes who deserve mentioning: Lynne Quiroz and Dr. Massone. Together, these two create the engine that drives the department forward and allows for the many fantastic experiences we share in the department. It is so plainly evident that these two put nothing less than their heart and soul into the success of the BCES department. I want them to know that the department as a whole is so grateful for all that they do. They’ve been an essential part of my Molloy experience and were instrumental in making it as successful and enjoyable as it was.

An “Enthralling” Experience: Biology Students Reflect on Presenting at the Sigma Xi Conference

On November 10-12, six Biology students and their mentor Dr. Jodi Evans attended the Sigma Xi Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Students share their reflections on the conference.

students at biology conference

The Sigma Xi Student Research Conference was a great learning experience from start to finish. We first heard about the conference in the spring and decided we would work towards submitting an abstract for consideration. We did not know at that moment what we were getting ourselves into. We spent countless days over the summer performing many tests to get data for which to write an abstract.

Our hard work paid off when we received the email notifying us that our abstract was accepted into the conference. However, that only opened up a new challenge for us to face. We now had to raise enough money to get to North Carolina.

The entire experience gave us the accomplishment of seeing our work through to the end. Every step along the way, from culturing the cells over the summer to hosting bake sales in the Public Square lobby, and then finally to presenting our research in front of the judges, taught us that all of our efforts brought us to that moment. It was the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work, and we got further than we thought we ever could a year ago. Even though we didn’t come home with a medal, we learned that we could accomplish anything if we put our minds to it. And as cliché as that sounds, sometimes that’s all you need to be successful.

Anthony Morante, senior Biology major from West Babylon, NY.

My experience attending the Sigma Xi Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, was nothing short of enthralling. After a little over a year of engaging in highly specific biomedical research, crunching data for hours, and fundraising for the trip, my fellow researchers and I had been excitedly anticipating this conference for a long time. It was the perfect opportunity to share our research with others who felt just as passionate about the sciences as we did.

The most rewarding part of attending this conference was hearing from other scientists about their own remarkable research and findings. We got the chance to learn so much about topics ranging from climate change to animal behavior studies to immunology, all while socializing and networking with scientists and researchers that will someday change the world.

It was impossible not to be humbled by an opportunity like this. My passion for science was inflamed, and my excitement for a career in biomedical research swelled. Upon arriving back home in New York, fresh off of this infectious excitement, my sights sharpened more than ever on enrolling in an institute for my master’s and doctorate in Immunology. I’m so grateful for this experience, and it will remain as one of the most rewarding opportunities my time at Molloy has offered me.

Anthony Ricigliano, senior Biology major on the pre-medical track from Massapequa, NY.

biology students posing with skeleton

Over the weekend of November 10-12, I was honored to go and present my research on mesenchymal progenitor cells and their influence on macrophage phagocytosis through secreted factors and direct contact but with opposing regulation. This entire research experience has been one of the best experiences of my life. All of our hard work was really shown first when we were accepted to the conference and then when judges and peers from all across the country listened to what we did and enjoyed it. Being in that environment was a once in a lifetime experience. It really brought everything we had been doing for the past year to light as something more than just another project. In addition, raising the money for this trip really inspired me as I watched so many family, friends, peers, and faculty support us. I am happy I was able to be a part of it and enjoyed telling everyone about our project at MACUB at the Sigma Xi conference. I also look forward to presenting to the entire BCES department.

I’m grateful to my peers and mentor who I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know throughout the duration of this project. They are part of what made it such a great experience. I would like to thank everyone for their support.  I will always treasure this opportunity I was given, and it will help me become a better scientist, worker, and person as a whole.

Rachel Rex, senior Biology major on the pre-veterinarian medicine track.

biology students and mentor

First, I would like to start by expressing how proud I am of my colleagues – and myself, of course – who worked so hard over the last year. It all began with long nights of research followed by long weeks of lab work that perpetuated into the summer months and all culminated into a grand final masterpiece. The number of hours that we dedicated to research, lab work, data analysis, and fundraising efforts were more than worth it.

While at the conference we met a plethora of other young researchers who came from vastly different places and backgrounds, all congregating in one city in North Carolina to nerd out together. It was very interesting to talk to these other researchers and find out where they came from, what inspired their work, and how they’re going to proceed in the future. We could also see, first hand, how well received our research was, which made us all feel elated to say the least.

Additionally, we were presenting among both high school and graduate students in addition to fellow undergraduates. Being between these two ages we could vividly see where we came from and what we will progress into one day. It was really exciting to see how much we accomplished at an undergraduate level and how much we can seek to accomplish as we move into graduate schools.

None of this could have been done without my peers and our absolutely fantastic mentor Dr. Evans. She provided us with more wisdom, time and energy than was ever required of her, but really helped us to succeed nonetheless. I am grateful I came to work with a group of such brilliant minds.

Jillian Weiss, senior Biology major on the pre-medical track.

biology students at conference

This past November I had the wonderful honor and privilege to represent the Molloy College BCES program at the Sigma Xi Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. I found myself surrounded by five peers competing in a highly-accredited undergraduate research competition. We had poured our blood, sweat, and tears in the lab to further research in the world of science. We had all worked extremely hard over the past year, including the summer, to pursue our research. I was also fortunate enough to receive a state grant through the CSTEP program.

When we decided to attend this conference, we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us in order to raise the funds to support our journey. From having bake and apparel sales to hosting a bowling fundraiser to creating a GoFundMe page, we had a fun time reaching our end goal. It is my hope and aspiration to further inspire other underclassmen to get pumped about research and immerse themselves in all the endless possibilities Molloy has to offer them. I am sad that my time at Molloy is quickly coming to an end. However, I am extremely fortunate and grateful for this wonderful experience, including the memories and friendships that I have made along the way.

Christie Catterson, senior Biology major with a double minor in Chemistry and Psychology on the pre-medical track.

biology students in front of poster

Images courtesy of Anthony Ricigliano and Christie Catterson.