October 01, 2013
The earthen smell of the Mohonk Preserve forest and the warm
summer sun set the backdrop for Mount Saint Mary College student
Brittni Troy’s recent research.
As part of the Montgomery, NY native’s Summer Undergraduate
Research Experience (SURE), Troy, an interdisciplinary science
major, performed an observational study of the forest understory.
She surveyed the entire southern half of the nearly 7,000 acre
Using a small iPad-like device, Troy recorded the species,
density, and height of the understory vegetation. She created a map
to be used in land management decisions, such as where and when to
set controlled burns.
The aspiring teacher and president of the Mount chapter of the
Kappa Delta Pi education honor society said the hands-on experience
was a major boon to her teaching skills.
“To teach science you need to have the kids involved,” she
explained. “I hope to get the kids out in nature and use the
scientific method to solve problems. That kind of thinking will not
only help them in science, but a variety of subjects.”
Through SURE, Mount faculty act as mentors to Mount students
over the summer, in subjects such as science, mathematics,
education, the arts, business, and more. The college recently
received a grant of $10,000 for the program from TD Charitable
Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank.
More than 20 students participated in the program this summer.
They presented their projects to the public recently, including
research in creative economic development in the Hudson Valley and
psychological case studies.
As in previous years, the program was a hotbed for research in
the natural sciences. Professors James Moran and Suparna Bhalla
supervised biology/pre-med major Hannah Mulhall, from Holbrook, NY,
who spent her summer researching immune responses of lab mice to
the cutting-edge blood substitute, OxyVita.
Mulhall presented her findings to the OXYVITA Corporation’s
pharmaceutical and biotechnology professionals, including founder
and CEO Hanna Wollocko. The undergrad masterfully fielded the
scientists’ questions. They inquired about her research process,
suggested new parameters for further testing, and congratulated her
on a job well done.
OxyVita is a polymeric stroma-free hemoglobin developed by the
OXYVITA Corporation in New Windsor, NY. When perfected, OxyVita
could decrease the need for blood donations. Since it does not
require refrigeration, it could be used in hospitals, combat
situations, during power outages, and more. OxyVita can be
manufactured as both a liquid and a powder, and is the first
working blood substitute in powder form in the world.
“I’m looking forward to continuing this,” said
Mulhall, active on campus as vice president of the local chapter of
Beta Beta Beta, a national honor society for biology. “It’s really
interesting to me.”
The Mount prepares students for graduate study; medical,
veterinary, or dental school; and careers in industry and
education, as well as other fields. At the college, students find
supportive study groups, service opportunities, and research with
Other projects included Stephanie Weaver of Rockville Centre,
NY, under the supervision of professor Daniel Shea, researching the
artistic and political facets of Irish and Anglo art; and the
nanoparticle research of Adam Earle of Merrick, NY (pictured at
right), a chemistry major, and associate professor of chemistry
At the SURE culminating event, keynote speaker Bernard McSherry
discussed “Connecting the Dots and Looking Backwards: The
Importance of Personal Interests in Motivating Research.”
A former governor of the New York Stock Exchange, McSherry
advised students to research what they love – something he learned
firsthand while obtaining his doctorate degree.
“What makes you happy? What makes you excited?” he asked. “If
you’re going to take on a research project… it takes a long time
and a lot of emotional investment. Find out where your heart is
taking you, and if you’re not feeling it, find something else.”
McSherry is a 33-year Wall Street veteran, and longtime member
of the New York Stock Exchange. He founded McSherry & Company
in 1988, before joining Cuttone & Co., Inc. as senior vice
president for strategic initiatives in 2007.