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Biology and Environmental Science News

Melissa Battis, the Biology Lab manager for the School of the Sciences, gave a presentation on lab biosafety to biotechnology majors in the BT 205: Biosafety and Quality Assurance class last week. Ms. Battis graduated from Stevenson University in 2011, and went on to secure a position here at Stevenson managing lab safety and training.

The BT 205 course introduces safety and quality control issues related to product development in the biotechnology industry including safety, storage and disposal of hazardous materials, development and implementation of quality assurance programs, and issues related to local, state, and federal regulations.

Her presentation helped introduce these concepts to students and reinforce the importance of lab biosafety in the field of Biotechnology. Thank you for helping to keep Stevenson students safe in the lab Melissa Battis!

The Biology Department was thrilled to see one of our alums, Regina Portnoy (BIO, '04), featured on the back inside cover of the latest Ventures magazine! An excerpt from the article is below, and the whole article can be read at -

"Villa Julie was my No. 1 choice for an undergraduate school because of its excellent biology program, small classes, and individual attention to the students."

After graduating, Portnoy moved back to San Francisco to work for a biopharmaceutical company. After nearly eight years in the industry, she is currently serving as Senior Clinical Research Associate working on a clinical trial for ovarian cancer indications. In addition to other oncology trials, she has also helped initiate and set-up monitoring activities in cardiovascular transplant trials in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

“The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing the clinical-trial patients go on with a better quality of life,” Portnoy says. Along with working full-time, she is also earning a Master of Science degree in Regulatory Affairs.

Mark Moody, a freshman Environmental Science major, found a Halifax spear point while vacationing in Nags Head, North Carolina. He vacations there each year with his family and stayed in the midst of Hurricane Arthur, a category 2 storm with sustained 100 mph winds. While combing the beach for shells after the storm, Mark spotted a rock out of the corner of his eye that looked different from most of the other rocks on the beach.

Upon closer examination, he realized what he had found and took it to a local with extensive knowledge about the Native Americans that live in the coastal regions of North Carolina. Mark was told that he had found a Halifax spear point that dated back some 3,000-6,000 years and that they are very rare, usually only surfacing after big storms like Hurricane Arthur. He looks forward to the trips he makes down there each year, and thinks that that the possibility of finding more spear points is thrilling. Very cool Mark!

Jessica Kim, a biology major with minors in chemistry and theatre, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will be posted to Cameroon upon graduation next May .

The Peace Corps is a global organization that has been involved in international development and citizen diplomacy for over 50 years. Its mission is to promote world peace and friendship, and it is involved in more than 139 countries.

Jessica decided to join the Peace Corps because she wanted to gain this amazing experience before applying to medical school. She is most excited about the opportunity to immerse herself in another culture and help others through medically related work. Jessica, being a theatre minor, was also recently featured in an episode of the popular show “House of Cards.”

Congratulations on your achievements, Jessica!

For more information about the Peace Corps please go to:

Taylore Willis, a Senior Interdisciplinary Studies major with concentrations in Biology and Psychology, participated in a 9-week program at the University of Montana located in Missoula. The program was sponsored by the National Science Foundation through the Introductory Multicultural Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (IM-SURE) office. While there she worked with the university's College of Forestry and Conservation under the direction of Dr. Cara Nelson. 

The research she is performing is looking to determine spatial variation of soil nematodes in western Montana grasslands, and is anticipated to be completed by spring 2015 with the Biology Department at Stevenson University. The things Taylore values most about her experience are the opportunities she was given to build professional connections, to conduct research heavily reliant on field work, and the fact that she will receive a guaranteed acceptance to her mentor's lab for graduate school. You can follow this link for more information:

“This was truly one of my best summers so far, and I am looking forward to seeing how this experience will prepare me for life after Stevenson.” –Taylore Willis


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