Student Successes

Faith St. Clair, Biology, Class of 2022

Faith St. Clair completed an internship with Dr. Daniel Handley, Chief Scientific Officer of the Clinical and Translational Genome Research Institute (CTGRI) at Southern California University of the Health Sciences. She assisted with development of genomics curriculum and beta testing the curriculum as a student, in addition to assisting with literature searches and organization for Dr. Handley’s research.


Kaelynn Parker, Class of 2021

Kaelynn graduated summa cum laude with a BS in biology in May of 2021. Following in the footsteps of her undergraduate research mentor, Dr. Swati Agrawal, she is currently a Ph.D. student in Cellular Biology at the University of Georgia. She is doing her rotations in labs that focus on molecular parasitology, which was also the topic of her undergraduate research. Her time spent engaged in research at UMW through Summer Science Institute 2020 and a year-long independent study helped to refine her passion for scientific research. During her time at UMW, she presented her research at local and national conferences. The experience she gained in the lab through research was pivotal in both developing her passion for science and preparing her for graduate studies. “I am so grateful for all of the experiences and opportunities I had at UMW. If it were not for all of my wonderful professors and mentors, I would not be where I am today.”


Thomas Bustamante, Class of 2021

Thomas graduated summa cum laude with a BS in biology. He is now a master’s degree student in the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virginia Tech). He is studying how urban flow regimes impact nest erosion, nest structure, and reproductive behaviors of the bluehead chub in the lab of Dr. Emmanual Frimpong. During his time at UMW, Thomas engaged in four different research projects, which included a National Science Foundation Summer REU at Eastern Kentucky University. He presented his research at multiple scientific conferences, from local to international, and is currently preparing two manuscripts based on his undergraduate research for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Additionally, Thomas was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Rebecca Stuart Culbertson Scholarship and the William A. Castle Outstanding Senior Award. He traveled to the Galapagos Islands on a Sally Brannan Hurt Study Abroad Scholarship. “Taking advantage of every opportunity I got at UMW was probably the best thing I could have done. The breadth of experiences I received shaped me both professionally and personally. Without it, I would not be who I am today.”


Jenny Bosserman, Class of 2020

Jenny graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Biology and a member of the UMW Pre-Health Program.  She has been accepted to the University of North Carolina School of Physical Therapy, where she began her studies in  August 2020.

She was a captain of the Women’s Lacrosse team, made the IWLCA academic honor roll, and made the CAC All-Academic Team multiple years. She also engaged in the Biology Department’s research program, completing a project with Dr. Waters that examined the behavioral expression of social dominance in laboratory mice.

In her words, ‘many aspects of UMW prepared me for graduate school. As a student athlete, the support of the Biology faculty as well as the athletics department were vital in my success. Attending a small liberal arts school like UMW enabled me to form close relationships with my professors, who truly care about their students and their success beyond the classroom.


Lauren Closs, Biology, Class of 2020

Biology major Lauren Closs was named a Fulbright Scholar, a truly high distinction! Upon completion of her UMW degree, she traveled to Norway to study the effects of the reproductive hormones LH and FSH on the reproductive behavior of fish. Closs is no stranger to Norway. As part of her participation in UMW’s Summer Science Institute, she spent seven weeks last summer studying the role of these hormones in mate guarding behavior and reproductive success of the medaka, a common laboratory model fish. Closs continued her project back on campus at UMW over the last academic year under the direction of Dr. Dianne Baker. For her Fulbright, she will rejoin collaborators in the Weltzien Lab at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Oslo to make further progress. Her work promises to advance knowledge about the physiology underpinning vertebrate reproduction and to facilitate success of economically important fish breeding programs. The prestigious Fulbright Scholar program was established to foster international academic and cultural exchange and cooperation. In addition to her Fulbright, Closs has presented her research at scientific conferences, such as the Society for Comparative and Integrative Biology Annual Meeting, and is a candidate for Honors in Biology. Congratulations, Lauren!


Hannah Belski (Class of 2018)

Hannah spent much of her time at UMW engaged in research projects with Dr. Parrish Waters, a professor in the biology department. These projects centered on understanding the neuroscience of social relationships in mice (i.e. how the brain controls a mouse’s social behavior), and provided her with a diverse skill set that has helped her succeed in her career as a research scientist. In her time at UMW, she participated the Summer Science Institute, received a competitive fellowship to work at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Chemical Defense (USAMRICD), presented her research findings at regional and international conferences, and received multiple awards that recognized her innovative research and skills at scientific communication.

When Hannah graduating, she was offered a full-time position with the USAMRICD, and worked there for over a year on projects that examined the neurological damage that can result from chemical warfare. She currently works at the Allen Institute in Seattle, Washington, a preeminent center of neuroscience research that focuses on both clinical and basic research models.

In Hannah’s words, a lasting impression of UMW was ‘the support I got from the [faculty] that genuinely cared about the material they taught. Not just within the biology department … but also my religious studies, creative writing, history, and psychology professors. Even though my research and experiences with Parrish [Dr. Waters] are by far the most influential and prominent, I truly believe that the liberal arts education that I received from UMW made me a well-rounded intellectual, and a better person … on move-in weekend, [my dad] said to me “We don’t go to college to get a job. We go to college to become educated.” I feel like UMW was essential in achieving that goal for me.’

 


Miguel Marx, UMW Class of 2017.

Miguel recently published his master’s degree research in the prestigious scientific journal PLOS ONE. The subject of his work is a new Cardiocorax mukulu specimen discovered in Angola. C. mukulu was a plesiosaur, which were reptiles that inhabited the oceans during the Cretaceous Era approximately 120-65 million years ago. This specimen was the oldest yet discovered in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Marx’s CT scan analysis of its near-complete skull yielded new insights on plesiosaur evolution. The paper’s discoveries were also covered by ScienceDaily in August. Miguel earned his bachelor of science degree from UMW with majors in biology and geology, then earned his master’s degree from the New University of Lisbon in Portugal (Universidade Nova de Lisboa). After defending his master’s thesis, he worked for a year as a researcher at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. He is now a Ph.D. student in paleobiology at Lund University in Sweden

 


Kristina Krumpos, Biology, Class of 2016

Kristina graduated summa cum laude from the University of Mary Washington with a B.S. in Biology and a member of the UMW Pre-Health Program in May of 2016.  While an undergraduate, she participated in the University’s Summer Science Institute during the summers of 1014 and 2015.  She moved on to complete a Departmental Honors project entitled “Genetically Engineering Plasmid Expression Vectors for Nuclear Localization Studies” and was awarded Departmental Honors from the Department of Biological Sciences upon graduation.   Kristina’s research work was reported at the Annual Meeting of the Virginia Academy of Science in the Spring of 2016.

Kristina graduated from the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) May 2, 2020 and was promoted to United States Air Force Captain May 1, 2020.  She will complete her residency in general surgery at the Department of General Surgery, Keesler Medical Center, Biloxi, Mississippi, and will be doing an active duty general surgery residency (5 years) with the Air Force as a Captain.

Kristina has a particular interest in working with war veterans and soldiers impaired by trauma.  In 10 years, she hopes to be practicing reconstructive microsurgery in an Air Force Hospital.

Kristina, you have accomplished quite a bit, and the Department is very proud of you.


Rachel Thomas, Biology, Class of 2016

Rachel graduated summa cum laude from UMW with a B.S. in Biology and a member of the Pre-Health Program.  She graduated from the Penn State University College of Medicine May 17th, 2020.  While in medical school, she enjoyed partaking in clinical research; she has four first or second author publications, with a fifth manuscript recently submitted for peer review. She spent time abroad with the Penn States Global Health Program, served as a clinic coordinator for a student run free clinic, and was involved in medical student education.

She will complete her residency in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA.  After she graduates from her residency in June of 2025, she will complete a 1 year fellowship in a surgical subspecialty.

In 10 years, she expects to have a career in academic orthopaedic surgery and hopes to blend into her career her interests in service, teaching, and research.


Amy Jayas, Biology, Class of 2016

Your first glance at Amy’s interests may suggest a young woman in a typical pre-med track. Microbiology, Biology of Cancer, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Writing about Medicine.  But look closer and you see courses like Intro to Math Modeling and Intro to Modeling and Simulation.  Where might Amy go with this variety of passions and skills?  Look again and you see that Amy completed two (2) independent research projects.  Her first project documented plant community changes after the removal of a dam near the Pamunkey River in VA.  For her second project, she investigated the prevalence of hepatitis in the US. Her broad interests, research experiences and high quality work earned Amy a Public Health Training position at Morehouse College and the Centers for Disease Control. Amy says this “experience cultivated my passion toward public health.  Upon graduation Amy won acceptance to the George Washington University – Milken Institute School of Public Health. She graduated in 2019 with her Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology and now works for the Association of American Medical Colleges. Congratulations Amy!