Four Stonehill Student-Athletes Participating in SURE Program

Stonehill Skyhawks in SURE Program (l-r): Taylor Ladue and McKenzie Woerner (field hockey), and Jordan Callahan and Sam Curtin (cross country/track & field)

Callahan, Curtin, Ladue and Woerner among 49 students selected for research program

SURE Program Information

EASTON, Mass. (June 20, 2019) – Four Stonehill College student-athletes have been named among 49 students from the College overall to be selected to work with 24 faculty members on a variety of research programs this summer through the Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program.

Stonehill cross country and track & field teammates Jordan Callahan and Samantha Curtin, along with field hockey teammates Taylor Ladue and McKenzie Woerner will have the opportunity this summer to preform significant, publishable research under the guidance of professional school applications and in post-college employment opportunities, as well as to offer assistance to faculty in research activities.

Callahan, a rising senior biology major, is working with Robert Harbert, Assistant Professor of Biology, on Monitoring Biodiversity from Aquatic Environmental DNA. Free, or environmental, DNA (eDNA) are trace molecules found in soil and water. Recent advancements in DNA sequencing technology and expansive databases of DNA sequence data make it possible to detect species present in an environment based on eDNA. This project aims to detect wetland plant diversity on the Stonehill campus through eDNA analysis. Callahan and Harbert will sequence aquatic eDNA collected from water samples in the seasonal wetland behind O'Hara Hall and the Ames Pond. Information will then be compared to botanical surveys of nearby plant communities to identify possible sources of plant eDNA in these environments. A poster depicting the results of the study will be submitted to the 2019 Student Conference in Conservation Science held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.





Curtin, a rising junior philosophy and economics major at Stonehill, along with senior Jessica Vining is working with Edward McGushin, Professor of Philosophy, on Michel Foucault's (1926-1984) Unwritten History of Dreams, Dreaming, and Dream Interpretation. Michel Foucault was one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. In this project, the team will look at his discussion of the role of dream interpretation in philosophy and at the inception of psychoanalytic theory. While there has been an extraordinary amount of work devoted to, as well as in the style of Foucault, there has been no comprehensive commentary on Foucault's writings on dreams. The goal is to fill this gap and produce an article for publication in a scholarly journal. In this project, Vining and Curtin will help provide a commentary on Foucault's writings on dreams and dreaming. The group hopes to present their findings in an undergraduate journal of philosophy or at a regional conference.

Ladue, a rising junior majoring in environmental science at Stonehill, will work with Kristin Burkholder, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, on Subsurface Property Fields in the GOMROMS Model. The Gulf of Maine (GOM) is one of the most dynamic and valuable marine ecosystems on our planet. The productivity of the GOM relies on nutrients that enter the region through the Northeast Channel, a deep-water channel that connects it with the Atlantic Ocean. However, questions remain regarding how and when the subsurface nutrients, which are important to photosynthesis production, get to the surface. In this project, Ladue, an environmental science major, and Burkholder will begin to examine these questions utilizing new output from a high-resolution model that emulates the movement of the subsurface nutrients in the real ocean. The study will identify whether the model can accurately recreate the real subsurface conditions in the GOM, including whether the changing nature of the inflows into the GOM through the Northeast Channel are captured. The researchers hope to create a podcast summarizing their work to be shared with the general public and to share their work at the Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine (RARGOM) conference in New England in Fall 2019 and the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego in Spring 2020.

Woerner, a rising junior chemistry major at Stonehill, is working in a team that also includes classmates Sophia Guerrara and Alex Joseph, who will work with Pam Lombardi, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, on various chiral ligand projects. Molecules are said to be chiral if they have a non-superimposable image. Reactions to produce these molecules often result in two mirror images, or enantiomers, which can be problematic if the biological activity of one is different from the other. Woerner will investigate triamines then synthesize an iron and an aluminum complex and will characterize the complexes to determine overall structure. Her project, Investigation of a New Class of Chiral Triamine Ligand, will examine the catalytic properties of the ligands to determine reactivity, structure and selectivity. The researchers hope to present their findings at an American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting.

The Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program is an opportunity for students who have completed their first year at Stonehill to perform significant, publishable full time research under the guidance of and in collaboration with an experienced faculty researcher. The experience, available in all disciplines, helps to solidify and define students' career choices, both through graduate school decisions and in post-college employment. All SURE Scholars and faculty mentors receive a stipend for an 8- or 10-week full-time summer session.

With 21 intercollegiate sports, Stonehill boasts one of the top athletic and academic programs in the country. Stonehill has won the Northeast-10 Conference Presidents' Cup five times, all coming within the last 14 years. The Skyhawks have received the NCAA Division II Presidents' Award for Academic Achievement each of the first eight years of the program's existence of honoring institutions with an Academic Success Rate (ASR) of 90-percent or better. Stonehill has earned a 96% Academic Success Ranking (ASR) by the NCAA, which considers the academic success rate of the institution based on the graduation rate of student-athletes, good for seventh among all NCAA Division II institutions, with eight Skyhawk teams receiving a perfect rating of 100%. In addition, the Skyhawks are ranked 11th in the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) Power Rankings for Division II used to assess the academic and athletic standards of all NCAA and NAIA athletic programs.

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