Current John P. McNulty Scholars and Mentors
Faculty Mentor/advisor: Professor David Foster, Biological Sciences
Alla is studying to complete her major in Biology. She wants to attend medical school and become a physician. Originally from Moscow, Alla came to the United States at the age of nine. Having specialized in Medical Science in high school, Alla has been determined to become a doctor from a very young age. With the help of the McNulty Scholars Program, Alla was given the opportunity to work in Dr. David Foster’s Cancer Biology Laboratory and study the various pathways leading to cellular proliferation and their potential as therapeutic targets.
In addition to her Biology major, Alla is also pursuing a minor in Human Rights. She is particularly interested in the human right of equal access to medicine, and disparities in levels of healthcare globally. Alla has been involved in various volunteer projects, including travelling to New Orleans to help rebuild houses of victims of Hurricane Katrina, becoming involved in FACE-AIDS (an organization which strives to bring awareness of and raise funds to combat the AIDS/HIV epidemic, particularly in third world countries), and volunteering weekly at the pediatric oncology unit of Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.
As a McNulty Scholar, Alla has been inspired to further develop her leadership skills and combine her passions for science, humanitarianism, and medicine in order to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Shirzad Jenab, Psychology
Maha is a graduating senior with a major in Psychology and a Special Honors Curriculum through the Thomas Hunter Honors Program. During her freshmen and sophomore years in college she volunteered in the Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) teaching English and life skills to illiterate women from her home country, Yemen. She also became a Teacher’s Assistant for a health literacy course at AAFSC and a health literacy advocate at NY Methodist Hospital.
Working in Dr. Shirzad Jenab’s lab for two years as a research assistant, Maha’s first year project consisted of modeling Parkinson’s disease in dopaminergic cells (SH-SY5Y cells). These cells were treated with methamphetamine, dopamine, and MPP+ to see which of the treatments, if any, would have an effect on the apoptosis process (cell death). This research is important not only for Parkinson’s patients but for all patients of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, and others. As a McNulty Scholar, Maha was able to continue doing research in neuroscience. In her second year, she assisted in uncovering sex differences in the expression of certain proteins in reward-associated areas of the brain, and presented her findings in Hunter’s Undergraduate Research Conference.
Maha believes that medicine combines her interest in science and medicine with her passion for helping people. She is interested in Osteopathic medicine’s holistic approach to treating patients and hopes to become a physician who not only treats patients, but helps them understand how to improve their own health. She is also a certified Phlebotomist and ECG Technician, currently interning at a clinic and shadowing in Cardiology.
Maha is a member of Psi Chi International Society and Golden Key International Society, and has won several awards, including the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, the Study/Travel Opportunities for CUNY Students Scholarship, Philip & Aida Siff Scholarship, and the American Society for Clinical Pathology Phlebotomy Scholarship.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Cheryl Harding, Psychology
In addition to being a McNulty scholar, Ksenia is a senior Athena scholar majoring in psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience. She joined Dr. Cheryl Harding's neuroimmunology lab during her freshman year, and is currently contributing to an ongoing project to develop a mouse model of the effects of mold exposure on cognitive function. She is part of a team researching whether mold inhalation results in deficits in spatial and contextual memory that depend on hippocampal function. The research aims to progress the body of knowledge that can be used to prevent and treat consequences of mold exposure in humans.
Ksenia is the president of the Hunter Psychology Collective's publication Psych News. She volunteered in New York-Presbyterian Hospital during her junior year, visiting patients in the neurology department as well as the pediatric department. As a member of the American Red Cross Club, she volunteered to coordinate the annual American Red Cross blood drive hosted by Hunter College. Last January, she participated in Alternative Winter Break as part of a volunteer group who worked in Give Kids the World Village, a nonprofit resort for children with severe illnesses in Orlando, Florida. During her volunteer experience, Ksenia was inspired by the work of physicians and the meaningful interactions she had with patients. Currently, she works in a pain management clinic. Following graduation, she plans to apply to medical schools to contribute her passion to the medical profession.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Michael Siller, Psychology
Valentyna, from Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, is a fourth year Psychology student, concentrating in Behavioral Neuroscience. During her sophomore year, Valentyna had an opportunity to volunteer at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. This experience sparked her interest in science, health, and medicine. Interactions with physicians inspired her to pursue a career as a doctor. Valentyna believes that medicine in unlike any other field, combining knowledge from just about every aspect of science, directed towards helping people, while providing unlimited educational and intellectual challenge required for professional and personal development. Valentyna continues to volunteer at the hospital as a hospice volunteer, bringing comfort and support to patients and their family members to help them through the hardest times.
Valentyna is participating in the Thomas Hunter Honors program, as well as working towards her Honors degree in Psychology. Valentyna is interested in researching developmental milestones in children diagnosed with autism. Under the supervision of Dr. Michael Siller, she is working on a project that aims to determine if children with autism, when compared to typically developing children, demonstrate differences in visual processing of social information. Valentyna presented her work at the International Meeting for Autism Research, as well as at Neuroscience professional conferences.
Working with children who have developmental disorders ignited Valentyna's desire to learn more about different health topics, and to share her existing knowledge with others. She joined Peer Health Exchange, an organization which aims to provide teenagers from public schools with the information and skills they need to make healthy decisions. Every Friday during the school year Valentyna, together with other Peer Health Exchange volunteers, visits New York City high school classrooms and talks to students about making healthy decisions.
Being a part of the John P. McNulty Scholars program, Valentyna is exposed to a variety of experiences that help her grow educationally, intellectually and professionally.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Robert Thompson, Mathematics and Statistics
Katarzyna, from Krasnystaw, Poland, is a third year Mathematics student with a concentration in Quantitative Biology. During her junior year she participated in a CMASC (Computational Modeling and Analysis for Complex Systems) workshop at Lehman College. The workshop involved in-depth analysis of computer programming that modeled the spiral waves of a heart during Atrial fibrillation. Under the watchful eye of creator of the program Professor Nancy Griffeth and guest speaker Professor Flavio Fenton from Georgia Tech, Katarzyna was able to understand and analyze heart cells and the processes that occur during the Atrial fibrillation. This project allowed her to combine the knowledge of differential equations and biology in order to model the processes of the heart.
Thanks to the John P. McNulty Scholarship, Katarzyna was given the opportunity to explore the concepts of Probability Theory with the help of her mentor Professor Robert Thompson. She was able to understand the basics as well as the logic that underlines the theory. Since Katarzyna prefers the applied branch of mathematics instead of the theoretical one, she believes that the research in Probability Theory will help her to continue her career in the Quantitative Biology field.
In the near future, Katarzyna plans to attend medical school to become a doctor. Since her freshman year at Hunter College, she has been taking pre-medical classes and plans to take MCAT’s while continuing her research in mathematics.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Shengping Zheng, Chemistry
Elena is a junior at Hunter College and is in both the John P. McNulty Scholars program and the Thomas Hunter Honors program. Elena's interests range from Russian literature, chemistry, and physics to yoga, photography, history, and music. Elena is currently working towards completing majors in Russian and Biochemistry, as well as completing her Special Honors Curriculum in the Thomas Hunter Honors program.
In the future, Elena envisions herself a doctor. As an excellent mentoring program for young scholars, the McNulty Scholars Program is helping Elena to achieve this goal. Elena is currently working in the Chemistry department with Professor Shengping Zheng. In Dr. Zheng's lab, Elena works on research projects that are focused on developing new synthetic methodologies in organic chemistry. Their aim is to improve existing methods, to develop new ones, and ultimately, to create a less polluted environment.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Derrick Brazill, Biological Sciences
Elen Gusman is a McNulty Scholar at Hunter College working in Dr. Derrick Brazill's Biology Laboratory. She studies the signal transduction pathway and the effects of Protein Kinase C (PKC) and Phospholipase D (PldB) on the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton of Dictyostelium discoideum, a model organism. By conducting actin staining assays on vegetative and starved ax2 wild-type, PKCoe, PldBko, and PKCoe/PldBko mutants, Elen aims to propose a pathway in which these proteins interact in regulating the cytoskeleton. As a McNulty Scholar, Elen has been given the opportunity to not only grow an appreciation for basic science research, but also to understand the importance of mentoring, teamwork, and collaboration.
In addition to working in Dr. Brazill's Laboratory, Elen is also pursuing her interest in science and in medicine as a Research Assistant at the Breast Center of Weill Cornell Medical College. While working on a study designed to evaluate the efficacy of a particular surgical procedure, she had the opportunity to shadow physicians and learn more about treatment plans for patients during oncology case conferences. Elen has also volunteered at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she worked with patients in the Hematology Oncology Department. Elen currently volunteers with children in the Pediatrics department.
Elen is also involved in leadership activities and shares her interest in research and science with her peers by organizing mentoring and community service opportunities as the Vice President of the Pre-health Organization at Hunter. In her spare time, Elen teaches acrylic and oil painting classes to children at a school in which she herself first learned how to paint. After graduating from Hunter, Elen plans to apply to medical school to further her interest in integrating research and medicine, on the community level.
Faculty Mentor: Professor David Foster, Biological Sciences
Carol is majoring in Biological Sciences at Hunter College. She is very glad to be a part of the John P. McNulty Scholars Program which regularly exposes her to new and challenging leadership situations that prepare her for the coming future. Carol is seeking to pursue a career in medicine. She is working in Dr. Foster's Cancer Biology laboratory where she has been introduced to modern techniques and equipment and learned new concepts about cancer that will be helpful to her career. She loves to study about the human body and everything related to it. To further her interest and goals in the medical field, she was accepted to The Health Career Opportunity Program at NYU Langone Medical Center where she shadowed a physician and learned more about the doctor-patient relationship. She currently volunteers in the Emergency Department at Staten Island University Hospital and at a local pediatrician’s clinic.
While she pursues her medical career, Carol is also an active member of a church youth group on Staten Island where she teaches various Bible concepts to young children and actively participates in various church events for youth such as volunteering, competitions, meetings and trips. For three years now, Carol has been a Mathematics and Sciences tutor at the College of Staten Island-CUNY. As a tutor, she has built on her level of self-confidence and receives great satisfaction from helping students. She has aided many anxious students in time management and learned how to reassure them of their own abilities. Overall, through her experiences volunteering at a pediatrician’s clinic, teaching at a church youth group, and tutoring students, Carol has found that she enjoys interacting with young people and children.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Noel Goddard, Physics and Astronomy
Kathleen McGovern comes to Hunter College with a background in the arts. Coming from a musical family, she is the granddaughter of jazz legend Stan Getz. At the age of sixteen she was selected with other students from the Julliard School to be featured on the National Radio Program “From the Top” featuring young artists, which was broadcast live from Carnegie Hall. She has studied with the principal players of the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera and played extensively until she left the world of music due to illness.
In coming to Hunter College, Kathleen found a new passion in science and mathematics, majoring in Physics with a concentration in biophysics and Mathematics with a concentration in quantitative biology. She will be the first student in the history of Hunter College to simultaneously earn these two degrees.
Kathleen currently works in the lab of Dr. Eric Sobie at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she researches mathematical modeling of drug-induced cardiac arrhythmias at the cellular level. Kathleen has presented posters on this research at the 2011 and 2012 annual meetings of the Biophysical Society. In the summer of 2010 Kathleen was selected to participate in research at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology undergraduate research program in biomedical optics. Her project involved using novel optical techniques to determine mechanical properties of cell scaffolds and testing the response of cancer cells to changes in their mechanical microenvironment.
Kathleen is extremely grateful to her McNulty mentor, Dr. Noel Goddard, for all her insight and unwavering support. Kathleen will graduate as a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2012 and as both a McNulty and a McNair scholar. She will be the first person in her family to earn a college degree. She is mainly interested in mathematical biophysics and intends on earning a doctorate in biophysics/quantitative biology. Outside of school and research, Kathleen enjoys ballroom dancing and hot yoga.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Lei Xie, Computer Science
Clara is a junior at Hunter College, majoring in Computer Science with a concentration in Quantitative Biology. She is part of the John P. McNulty Scholars program and the Catalyst Scholars program.
The Quantitative Biology concentration and Catalyst are both interdisciplinary programs, which has allowed Clara to meet and work with students from various backgrounds. She was part of a team working on an XOR-gate based on the mechanism of opposing promoters. As part of the Catalyst program, she is part of a research team studying windbelts, an alternative to traditional wind turbines.
Clara is currently working in the Computational Systems Biology, Biomolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics Laboratory with Professor Lei Xie. In Dr. Xie's lab, Clara works on network-inference of drug-target networks, which may facilitate drug repurposing, side effect prediction, and polypharmacology drug design.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Shirley Raps, Biological Sciences
Shajoti Rahman is currently a junior at Hunter College. She is working under the supervision of Dr. Shirley Raps while conducting research with Dr. Katharine Hsu at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She studies the interactions of the allotypes of the Natural Killer (NK) cell receptor KIR3DL1 and allotypes of its ligand, HLA-Bw4. Her lab has recently found that specific combinations of these interactions contribute to strong inhibition, weak inhibition, or no inhibition at all of Natural Killer cells. By conducting PCR of hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) donors, Shajoti aims to confirm the lab’s findings regarding the KIR3DL1 and HLA-Bw4 combinations. These data will aid in HCT donor and recipient matching for more successful immune control of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Shajoti hopes to become a physician in the future after graduating with her major in Behavioral neurobiology. She will specialize in a medical field related to pediatrics. Shajoti will become the first person in her family to graduate from college. By becoming a McNulty scholar, she has learned the value of leadership, commitment, and teamwork through the support of her McNulty peers and mentor.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Victoria Luine, Psychology
Jane Selegean is junior at Hunter College and will graduate in Spring 2014 with a major in Psychology-Behavioral Neuroscience, receiving a Certificate in Public Policy and receiving Special Honors Curriculum recognition, as well as fulfilling minors in Chemistry and English. Jane also plays in the #1 singles/doubles position at Hunter as captain of the tennis team and serves as a Junior Senator for the Undergraduate Student Government.
Jane hopes to pursue medical and public health graduate degrees with the ultimate goal of serving as an emergency medicine physician in New York City. She wants to focus on evaluating the efficacy of community health programs both in her native New York community and abroad, with special interest in South American nations. Her passion and work in the healthcare field has provided the experiences to prove that effective outreach to ensure the education of people to live healthy lives rests in grassroots work.
As a McNulty scholar, Jane is working under the supervision of Dr. Victoria Luine while conducting research at Weill Cornell Medical College's Dr. Teresa Milner's neurobiology laboratory investigating gender differences and stress effects on brain circuitry in drug relapse. This work will help her to complete her Psychology Department Honors Thesis. Her research allows her to have the valuable input of both Dr. Luine, who has expertise in behavior, and Dr. Milner, who has expertise in development. She is thankful for the wonderful opportunity that the John P. McNulty Foundation has offered her and hopes to pay it all forward as an innovative and compassionate leader in the fields of medicine and public health.
Faculty Mentor: Professor Chris Braun, Psychology
Aleksandra is a senior Psychology major with a concentration in Behavioral Neuroscience, fascinated by anything that involves human/animal cognition. She has always felt a strong pull towards psychology, specifically the physical and tangible methods of studying and applying psychology.
Aleksandra is currently working with Dr. Chris Braun of the Psychology department at Hunter on the lateral line and its implications in mosquitofish courtship behaviors. She is also involved in the Contemplative Sciences Lab at NYU under the lead Dr. Zoran Josipovic, which focuses on meditation research.
When she is not pursuing her studies and research interests, Aleksandra is working at Learning RX, a company that specializes in ‘brain training’, a vigorous program aimed at increasing the cognitive efficiency of both kids and adults with ADHD, autism, traumatic brain injuries, dyslexia, and anybody who may need a boost. In the future, Aleksandra hopes to continue to work in a setting that allows her the opportunity to connect with and mentor people with psychological challenges, while at the same time to continue to investigate the mysteries in the structure and function of the brain. Aleksandra is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be a McNulty scholar and to be surrounded by and learn from such inspirational young aspiring female scientists.