Featured Alum: Kristi Prevost, Biology 2010

I’m Kristi Prevost, and I graduated in the class of 2010 with a degree in Biology. I have always had a special interest in animals, have worked in various small animal clinics throughout my life, and have always wanted to pursue a career with animals. As a junior in college, trying to find a position with Dr. Fitzgerald for my senior research project, I decided to apply to a few marine mammal facilities for internships. I was fortunate enough to get an internship at Dolphin Cove in Key Largo, Florida. While there, I conducted a behavioral research project studying the social, dominant, and aggressive behaviors and interactions between the bottlenose dolphins there. I spent the summer in the Keys, getting a taste of what it would be like to live in a tropical setting and to work with exotic animals.

Kristi Prevost, Featured CBU Alum

Kristi Prevost with Alfonz, a 19-year old male Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

After my experiences that summer, I knew I might want to pursue a career with marine mammals. Going into my senior year, I hadn’t completely made up my mind about applying to veterinary school, so I decided that I would work for a year or two before making my next step. On the last day of my exams, one week before graduation, I received a call from my supervisor from Dolphin Cove. She wanted to know if I was interested in a full time position as a Dolphin Trainer in Key Largo; this was a phone call I was not expecting at all. I was offered a dream job, but one thing I was worried about was how far away from my friends and family I would be living. Despite these worries, I ultimately decided that this was an opportunity which I could not pass up. One week after graduation, I was on my way to the Florida Keys. If it weren’t for Dr. Fitzgerald’s senior research class and for all of my professors’ encouragement and support during my four years at CBU, and most importantly during my senior year, I would never have had this amazing opportunity or the courage to make this huge step.

During my time at Dolphin Cove, I learned so much about marine mammal life, conservation, and research. I had the best co-workers I could ask for: four Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. During my time there, I was exposed to a variety of research projects going on, helped to train and care for the dolphins there, and was also able to help out the veterinarians with various procedures. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and appreciate everything I learned, I decided that I wanted to move closer to home and try out a different field of research. I moved back to Memphis and started working at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the department of Infectious Diseases, which is where I am currently employed today. I work in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Webster. St. Jude is one of six WHO (World Health Organization) collaborating centers for influenza research and the only center that focuses on the transmission of animal viruses to humans. My lab is specifically dedicated to the study of antiviral drugs and influenza research. Throughout my time at CBU, I learned a lot which has helped me in my position at St. Jude, starting with Freshman Biology and Chemistry all the way up to Dr. Ogilvie’s Immunology class. I would say that immunology in particular has helped me the most in my position since I deal mostly with antibody-antigen interactions. Many of the laboratory techniques I use on a daily basis are ones which I learned during my time at CBU. I also conduct many experiments testing the efficacy of certain proteins/drugs against influenza using different animal models. I have been in my position at St. Jude for almost 2 years now.

All of my experiences at CBU and thereafter have lead me to where I am now, currently finishing my applications for veterinary school for the class of 2017. I hope to start in the fall and am looking forward to the next phase in my life!

Featured Alum: Amanda Fitzgerald, Biology 2011

Amanda Fitzgerald (Click on image for Amanda and Kay)

Part 1: Research Trip
Many of you know that I went on a boating trip to the Gulf of Mexico at the beginning of my graduate school experience. I have begun my program in marine environmental toxicology at the University of Texas at Austin this August. Every summer the lab goes on a sampling trip, I went this summer prior to officially starting classes to see what it was like. I have written a bit about my experiences on the boat and starting as a TA at one of the largest schools in the US. The boat trip in the Gulf was a lot like all my trips to the Gulf Coast Research Lab (GCRL), only MUCH longer on the boat.

Day One, on the Pelican (our boat see picture below): Current location: 29 deg N, 90 deg W; heading due south, temperature 85 deg F. The crew is very friendly and the cook is this old Cajun swamp guy who looks like he has never left this area. He stocked the fridge with all of the best foods, fruits and snacks you can think of and we have free reign of the kitchen. For dinner tonight I had an awesome sandwich with fresh blackberries on the side. We are pushing off at 11:44 pm and our first sampling is due to take place at 4 am. The little town where the boat was docked is called Cocodrie, LA, and it is totally isolated. There is only one road that goes in and out and the town is inhabited by about 400 people and most of them are fishermen or work for fishermen. The equipment on board the Pelican is extensive, if I had to guess I think the net worth of this boat is a few million dollars. There is a guy whose job is only to make sure that all the equipment works. We brought our own stuff including two huge boxes of dry ice and two travel containers of liquid nitrogen. As of now, we are collecting brains and gonads of Atlantic croaker and flash freezing them for later analysis. Due to the large amount of drought the hypoxic area, where we need to collect, is very small this year.

Research vessel: Pelican

Status update Pelican, Day 2. Current Location: 29.36 deg N, 90.00 deg W, water temperature 29.9 deg c. Total injuries=2: 1 blister, 1 puncture wound from angry fish. I can’t see the shore from the boat but it feels like I can due to the amount of oil rigs. It is impressive and the number is multiplied due to unused oil rigs and these miniature platforms that I assume are for trial drills. For every active oil rig there are at least three unused platforms. Sleep was hard to get last night, the sea was very calm but Kay and I, being the only girls and mere graduate students, were subjected to the room closest to the engine. There is also this constant sound of sloshing water due to the fact that our beds are actually underwater. I am thoroughly convinced that the shower is bigger than our bedroom. We woke up this morning to pancakes and fresh fruit and a fresh haul of croaker. One of the scientists on board is doing some tagging experiments and we all got a chance to tag a croaker with a radio transmitter. He then gave us a run down of this $500,000 robot that was lowered into the water. Most of the activity occurs in 10 minute intervals with a couple of hours in between, so I have been alternating reading and watching the TV to keep myself busy. The most interesting character so far has to be the head engineer. Upon his arrival he began cussing repeatedly about this and that, then he sat down and ate almost a whole chicken. He wanders around and grumbles at everyone then disappears upstairs in the cockpit. He’s ranked at about an 8.5 on my 1-10 scale of saltyness.

Status update Pelican day 3: Location 28 deg N, 90 deg W. All day today was spent driving in circles trying to follow the fish we tagged yesterday. Therefore the Internet and TV didn’t work because satellites don’t work in circles??! We finally started working after dinner and one professor didn’t really explain what we were doing at all, and I wasn’t allowed to touch anything. That made me, of course, incredibly frustrated and useless so I dissected brains out of about 15 fish just to keep myself busy. The weather is amazing, the moon looked awesome, I got to see a dolphin and a giant school of fish feeding at night. Drama On the boat: Salty man and Cajun guy got into an argument and I understood about three words total, two of which were curse words. I need to get in on this secret boat lingo.

Sunrise

Status Update Pelican day 4: Location 29.7 deg N, 90.12 deg W. We are headed to the Mississippi delta to get a severe hypoxic sample and will arrive there at around 2 am. That is how long it takes to get there from our current location. So we are going to be working at 2 am, because that is when we will get there and we have a schedule to keep. I am ready. I slept a lot today so I am prepared for tonight. Today was another long day of nothing, I read about 5 hours and burned through my biochemical book. I also already finished a book I brought with me and am halfway through another. I officially stayed up all night and it has confused me in such a way that I now don’t know what day it is or even when “last night” was. I can’t even really piece together the past two days because I slept a little during the day and a little at night, but not a lot in total. For those skeptics out there, I do have a picture of the sunrise. We went to the mouth of the Mississippi river and that area that was supposed to be severely hypoxic is in fact not at all. We ran a trawl anyway and all we caught was pelagic fish, no oceanic species, so we had to throw them all back. We did however catch a small shark on the last trawl. We snagged the net on something, and it came up with a hole in it. We were pretty worried for a while, but really why should we? We have a Cajun bayou born sailor in our midst and he quickly returned with a small pair of glasses and an old wooden net repair kit. He then proceeded to repair the net by hand. Those Cajun men, they are like a Swiss army knife, I think everyone should have them in their fav 5. The next two trawls we got a whole bag of starfish and a bunch of sponges…so we are running a little low on samples right now. Currently, we are East of the Mississippi in an area that is supposed to be “normal” or unaffected by runoff, because the current moves to the west. The water is a lot darker and there is significantly less wildlife, but the water is deeper so it supports different types of species. Hopefully we will get more than a bag of rocks next time.

We are officially done sampling and on our way back to Lumcon, which is the home base for this boat. There is a storm coming from the south so I am kind of glad that we are done today and not a few days later. It started raining today so I didn’t get to spend too much time outside. We were pretty unlucky with trawling, we only got about 10 fish, but that was enough for our sampling. We are going to spend the night on the boat anyway, even though we will be near land but the town where we are going is like two hours away from the nearest hotel. I’m kind of glad to be back, because it has been however many days and I have cabin fever and I have read all my books and I’m ready to get off the boat! This is my last day on the island, where the laboratory is. It is a barrier island called Mustang Island, South of Corpus Christi. I am spending it recovering from the trip. Now that I am back on solid ground, I have been feeling constantly dizzy and nauseous. If I stand up too fast or for too long I get the feeling I might fall over. All 16 of us on the boat did grow pretty close, it might be due to the forced proximity of sharing just 2000sq feet together or because of how much we had in common. All of us (almost) were there voluntarily and it probably takes a certain type of person to want to spend time on the ocean. Though I did go through some serious bouts of cabin fever, I could see myself getting used to being on a boat for a while which is good because if things go my way I will be doing a lot more of this in my graduate career.

Part 2: Teaching Assistant (T.A.)
I thought I would also share a bit about my first days as a T.A. at one of the biggest universities in the US! I had my first three lab sections and my first full week of class. I thought I would keep you updated on my attempt on turning college freshmen into worldly thinkers of the 21st century…or something like that. The first lab was on nautical navigation, which is pretty cool and just includes being familiar with lat & log. I did manage to make it through all three classes that I teach with only one person asking me “um do we need to know this” and another guy who was using his cell phone to answer all of the questions. This lab was pretty heavy on the math part and I was a bit nervous about how in depth I would need to answer questions, but I pulled through in the end. It’s hard to try to convince people this is something worth knowing when everyone in the class has an iphone with a gps on it. One of my classes is at 8 am and I’m at least 90% sure that no one even remembers what I said the whole time. I’m not sure I even remember what I said. I think everyone’s heart rate and body temperature returned to normal at about 9:30.

Later in the semester: the freshmen had their first exam yesterday. I received a ton of emails such as “I don’t know what to study”, and I even had three students miss lab, because they didn’t study for the test enough. As we were entering the classroom, my professor surprised me by telling me that he had chosen me to stand up in front of the whole class and go over the test. ME?? Talk to 300 students? I have to say it was quite daunting standing up there with a microphone, talking to all 300 of them. However, after a few minutes I have to say I got over it. Two of my labs I T.A. in are really awesome, we are getting along great and all of them are doing well. They even laughed at one of my jokes!!!! But my 8 am is struggling, I walk in and there are 20 crusty eyed college students in their PJs staring back at me, with all the hate and dislike they can muster up at 8:00. I feel about as respected as a DMV employee. I am working on ideas to liven them up, like throwing cereal and bananas at them or brewing coffee in the lab. Next week I’ll experiment. I also have my first exams next week and I am anxious to have them under my belt so I can gauge how the rest of the semester will be.

So far I’m having a great time, I seem to have gotten used to all of the walking around this huge campus, but not quite accustomed to the commute time. I never allow enough time to get anywhere so as a result I am still usually late. All in all I feel well prepared for my life as a graduate student and I’m enjoying the change of pace. Austin is fantastic! Hope you enjoyed reading about my first Gulf sampling trip and the start of the semester from the other side. It is overwhelming at first the size of the classes compared to CBU, but the graduate classes are smaller and the labs that I teach are, too. Until next time.

Featured Department: Biology

Students in the BIOL 311L Genetics lab are preparing agarose gels.

The Biology Department is one of the most popular departments at CBU. The department serves 127 majors (92 biology and 35 biomedical science) as well as other science and engineering majors (29 biochemistry, 38 natural science, 23 chemistry, and a few chemical engineering students also taking biology classes). The department has an excellent record of preparing students for medical school and other health related professional schools. A second area of growing strength is in the ecology area. There have been several other disciplines and graduate programs that students have chosen as careers (Ph.D., M.S., governmental positions).

One of the strengths of the Biology Department, like all departments at CBU, is the caring nature of its faculty. That care for the students shows up in many forms, both formally in lecture, lab and field trips, and informally in their interactions with students in the hall, in the office, and in the Beta Beta Beta student honor society, with Dr. Mary Ogilvie as the faculty sponsor. Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger is the department chair. She is promoting the Public Health concentration, as well as teaching Genetics and Microbiology. While Br. Edward has retired, he is still on campus and will be teaching BIOL 346 Evolution in the spring.Dr. Stan Eisen is the Director of the Pre-Health Program and works very hard to give CBU students the best opportunity to succeed in a very competitive field. He arranges for visitors to campus to talk to students concerning careers, and several other pre-health events. He also assists via individual counseling and via his web pages as well as the Caduceus newsletters. Dr. Eisen also takes students as an option in some of his classes to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Biloxi, Mississippi, with other biology faculty, to give CBU students a coastal field experience.

The image above shows the BIOL 412 Ecology Lab class
on a field trip.

Dr. Anna Ross is the departmental webmaster and is famous for her web pages that support the students in their learning, and keeping everyone up to date through the biology list. Dr. Mary Ogilvie teaches the honors Principles of Biology sections and directs the Junior Seminar. This seminar course prepares students for their senior research. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald supports the students through placement in lab positions in their senior research projects locally as well as international research opportunities through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter). Dr. Katie Sauser, has offered a variety of courses, most recently one in Toxicology and is the department’s safety officer. Dr. James Moore is the newest member of the department and he is anxious to get students involved in his research projects on the Mississippi river. Ms Lynda Miller is an integral part of the department, serving to co-ordinate the laboratory preparation and overseeing the work-study students. She has also served as a mentor for some on campus projects and the Natural Science Thesis class.

The image above shows the BIOL 217L Human Anatomy & Physiology I lab in action.

Another major strength of the department is its commitment to making the science real to its students. Science, and biology in particular, is image oriented. To make the subject real and visual, the department has developed labs to accompany most of its courses, and it has developed web resources that are image intensive. There are 30 biology lecture classes and 21 of them have labs attached! In addition to the regular courses taught in biology, adjunct professors frequently teach special topics classes. In the spring of 2012, Dr. Joy Layton taught a course entitled an Introduction to Medical/Forensic Entomology.Bro. Tom Sullivan is teaching part time in the biology department while also being the Director of Campus Ministry. This semester he is teaching BIOL303 Algae, Fungi and Lichens.

The image above shows a student laying down on the job for science in the BIOL 312 Human Physiology Lab.

An important component of any science education is research. Research gives motivation and context to the work done in lecture and lab. In the CBU Biology Department, research is interwoven into the curriculum. It starts with a discussion section in the freshmen Principles courses (BIOL 111 & 112). Several courses have small research components in them or research papers to prepare students for writing up their original research. Biology Seminar in the junior year is where students see presentations made by area researchers and which helps them in choosing a senior internship project. The culmination is the capstone three semester series of Senior Research. Students conduct research with either local researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, the Memphis Zoo, through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter), clinical facilities or with CBU faculty. Students present their research at local, regional or national scientific meetings. Many of our students have won awards for their research, and 28 have had their research published in peer-reviewed articles over the last ten years.

The results of a CBU biology degree, and with any of the CBU science degrees, are quite impressive. The statistics for the past five years for acceptance into medical and other health professional schools remain well above national averages.

Featured Alum: Ting Wong, Biology 2010

Ting Wong at her whitecoat ceremony. Image courtesy of Don Pham.

The note below is from Ting Wong, Biology 2010, writing to Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald. Ting is currently in Pharmacy School in Florida.

I miss you dearly! I won’t be able to come back home this Thanksgiving since the ticket price to fly back home is very expensive. I will be back for Christmas. I don’t know when, but the cheapest flight will probably be to Atlanta and then I’ll ride back home with my sister.

Pharmacy school is very interesting and I enjoy every day and every single minute of it being in West Palm Beach, FL. I am super involved in organizations and am an advocate in fund-raisier ideas for a professional pharmacy fraternity, Phi Delta Chi. Proceeds of the fundraiser and events that we do as a group are donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I found that the world of science is very integrated, and I realize that there are several people who have common interests with me. Also, I met a faculty member at NOVA that we were involved with in research at UTHSC. I love going back to school and getting to meet students and professors. The classes are going really fast, and there is a lot of material to learn in all the pharmacy core courses. But the quality of education from Christian Brothers University really did prepare me well for these graduate courses. So far, moving to West Palm Beach was a journey that I am glad I made. I am becoming more independent and learning how to manage time wisely. I am also becoming an advocate for several great ideas for the University and building up my leadership skills, something that I have always shied away from. My activity in school organizations in the College of Pharmacy is enhancing my networking skills and refining my professional behavior here at Nova Southeastern University as I commute back and forth to the main campus in Davie or in Fort Lauderdale. The faculty and staff here at the satellite campus in Palm Beach really make sure students practice professionalism and are present in class with our white coats on at all times. Faculty members on site are really helpful and communicative even though we are a satellite campus. All class lectures are broadcast via the main campus. We have a brand new building this year that is situated at a great spot by the highway and very close to a luxury mall, fine restaurants, and shopping centers in downtown Palm Beach Gardens.

I also love the sunny weather here in Florida. Right now, the weather is on average in the 78-80′s and always sunny! I live just 7 minutes from the beach, so at times, I can go surfing or just watch the sunrise and sunset on the weekends when I am free. I am also just 1 hour away from Fort Lauderdale and an extra 30 minutes more from Miami. This is a wonderful spot to go to school. I am making a new group of friends and they are very helpful and supportive since we are along on this long journey together. I am actually looking forward to upper level clinical courses and doing my rotations in the next years to come.

For the first time, since the day I received my white coat, I am actually proud to be a student pharmacist advancing the science of pharmacy and its allied interests. I am also proud of the decision I made and the road I have chosen. I will make the best of it! This profession is necessary to help communities and patients understand the most safe, efficient, and proper ways of drug consumption. I am becoming more attentive and aware and caring. I keep myself busy at all times by volunteering and participating in community events (e.g., walks, car washes, diabetes operation screenings). I haven’t left my art side either, as I am also making jewelry, designing, and taking photos. Keep me updated and tell everyone in the UT lab I miss them too, and I appreciate your help in getting me into pharmacy school.

Since I did research throughout my undergraduate years at Christian Brothers University, it motivated me to practice good independent study skills. Since my first research experience was done at Meharry Medical and then at Vanderbilt the following summer, I was able to work on a project that I became engaged in with a mentor. By being engaged as a student researcher I learned several techniques that expanded what I learned in my courses at CBU. Most importantly I was able to interact and socialize with different minority groups, and I learned about different cultures. When I went to Brazil the next summer through MHIRT, I was excited to build my research experiences up to an international level in a foreign country. It was my first time to travel outside the country and away from my family. I learned to adapt quickly to the new culture, a new mentor, a new language and people in Brazil, and I became less of an introvert. From these experiences, I continued to be involved with and engaged in biomedical sciences and work at UTHSC. All of these experiences in laboratory research helped me interact with different professions with the same interests for sciences. I also expanded my social skills and communication skills as I presented my research projects at various conferences and symposiums. After entering pharmacy school, I continue to search for research experiences with other health divisions at the main campus in Fort Lauderdale. Overall, my education and research experiences after graduating from CBU definitely improved my leadership skills, and I became engaged both in graduate school and in community outreach programs and volunteer opportunities.

I really want to say thank you, Dr. Fitz!!, to you and all those who have been such a great help to get me to where I am now. I wouldn’t have been able to get here without your support and help in keeping me motivated and feeling loved.

love you much,
see you soon!

Ting

Featured Alum: Hannah Shackelford, MHIRT 2007 and Biology 2008: Graduate Student Goes to China

Hannah Shackelford in China

This is from an original article written by Dr. Judith Cole and Hannah Shackelford for the Biology Newsletter at the University of Memphis. It is printed here with their permission.

Hannah Shackelford is currently working on her Master of Science degree at the University of Memphis with Dr. Kent Gartner, a long time collaborator of Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald and Dr. Mary Ogilvie. Hannah went to Shanghai during the summer of 2010 and the following is a description of her trip.

During my summer in Shanghai, China in 2010, I studied at Shanghai Jao Tong University, School of Medicine in Dr Junling Liu’s laboratory. Dr. Liu was a former post-doctoral fellow of Dr. Gartner. Dr Liu’s lab is in the Department of Hematology, and he specializes in platelets. During my time in the lab, I was able to participate in many experiments including bone marrow transplantation in mice following irradiation, immunohistochemical analysis of blood vessels, and the effects of anti-thrombotic drugs on tumor metastasis. Studying in Dr Liu’s lab was a great experience. Not only was it interesting to see scientific research performed at an advanced institution, it was a unique experience to see it performed by individuals of another culture.

In addition to learning useful laboratory techniques, I was able to spend some time exploring several Chinese cities. My mother and two sisters came to visit, and we toured areas of Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai. We climbed The Great Wall of China, observed the Terracotta Warriors and walked through sacred areas like the Summer Palace and Forbidden City. We even had the chance to visit a typical Chinese home to see how the people live. It was surreal to stand in historical places you have seen many times in photographs or on television, and thanks to the connections at the University of Memphis I was given the opportunity to do so. It was a summer that I will never forget.

Featured Alum: Jarad Braddy, Biology 2000, D.D.S. 2005

When Dr. Ogilvie asked me to write this essay, I immediately thought back to the moment when I decided upon my career path. While bored in a statistics class I began to daydream and contemplate my future. The idea of being a dentist simply came to me during this daydream. I had never considered it before, but quickly realized it was a perfect fit. I graduated from CBU in 2000 with a degree in Biology and went on to University of Tennessee Dental School. After a challenging five years (I actually had to repeat a year due to a mono infection!), I finally graduated from UT in 2005. After passing all of my boards, I began working in a practice in Southaven, MS. About six months later, I bought into the practice and the company, Drs. Joe, Braddy and Simmons PLLC was formed. I now have two partners, Dr. Stephen Joe and Dr. Rhett Simmons. Following my epiphany in my sophomore statistics class, I truly believed that dentistry was going to be a great career for me, but I never expected to enjoy my work as much as I do. I simply love the variety of people I have the opportunity to care for daily. At least ten times a day I hear the phrase “I hate the dentist.” (One patient went so far as to state he would rather be getting an exam by a gynecologist. This patient was a man.) Instead of bothering me, I take these statements as a challenge. It’s my job to make sure my patients have the best experience possible while receiving the best care possible. My favorite part of my job is when one of these challenging patients actually begins to enjoy their time at my office. I am so thankful that I not only enjoy my work as much as I do, but I also have been able to watch our practice grow despite the challenging economy. We have outgrown our current office location and will be constructing a new, larger building soon. I am so excited about the future of our company and look forward to all the challenges and rewards that are headed our way.

Featured Alum: Minoli Perera, Pharm.D.,Ph.D., Biology 1997

I guess my story starts like many other immigrants; I was born in Sri Lanka, a small island in the Indian Ocean. My parents moved to the United States from Africa (a stop in their odyssey to Memphis). But we finally settled here and after a few years my story intersects with CBU. My time at CBU was fun and freeing and most of all good training for what was to come. I finished my BS in Biology in 1997 and started in the dual degree Pharm.D, Ph.D program at the University of Tennessee (just down the street). I remember graduate life as grueling. Not only was I taking all the regular Pharmacy classes, but I was also taking graduate class towards my Ph.D. In my last year in Pharmacy school, my Ph.D advisor moved to The Ohio State University. I finished my Ph.D in Ohio in 2003, and decided to pursue fellowship training. I really wanted something that would put both my clinical training and basic science skills to good use. I decided to join the Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics fellowship at the University of Chicago. This was an intense two years of learning Human Genetics (something I had not taken since my time at CBU) and a lot of advanced training on becoming a translational scientist. I am now on the faculty at the University of Chicago in the Department of Medicine. My research focuses on pharmacogenomics, basically how genetics can help predict how well a drug will work or who is more likely to get side effects. In between all the science I married a wonderful man and have one great little boy. We live in Chicago (right by Sox stadium, GO SOX). I really love the city and life in Chicago, though I miss the “winters” in Memphis.

Featured Alum: Raul Cardenas, M.D., Biology 1997

Raul with his lovely wife, Dr. Rowena DeSouza.

I was born in Memphis in 1975, probably while my dad was doing what I do today. My journey, so far, has taken me many places, but Memphis is still the one I remember with most fondness. I was raised in Merida, Mexico where I attended a Catholic high school. After finishing, I returned to Memphis at age 18 to obtain a college education. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry from CBU, where I graduated with honors. In addition, I recall having a great time while at CBU. Afterwards, I attended Medical School in Nashville, TN where I received my medical degree in 2003, graduating near the top of my medical school class. I married my med-school sweetheart, Dr. Rowena DeSouza and, once my hectic life as a resident comes to an end, we wish to one day start a family. I credit her for all of my happiness today. After Med-school, I completed my surgical internship in 2004 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. Ever since then, I have been a Neurosurgery resident at LSUHSC-Shreveport, where I currently reside with my wife. Among other things, I have been the author of several publications and have also contributed to many scientific publication articles. I am a resident member of the Louisiana Neurosurgical Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and the Congress of Neurosurgical Surgeons. I am very proud to be a Physician, a third-generation Neurosurgeon and a CBU grad, and it means the world to me when I can return a patient back to his/her daily surroundings to have a meaningful and fulfilling life. Hopefully, my journey will bring me back to Memphis someday.

Featured Alum: Christen Gregory, 3rd year medical student, Biology 2005

Christen with her mother.

My name is Christen Gregory and I graduated from Christian Brothers University in 2005. Since then, I have gone on to work as a research technologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for two years before starting medical school at Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. While at CBU, I was accepted to St. Jude’s Pediatric Oncology Education program for my senior research with the help of Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald. While I was there, I made several contacts and gained invaluable experience that ensured that I had a position waiting for me when I graduated from CBU. The lab skills and courses that I took as an undergraduate Biology major prepared me for my work as a research technologist.

After working at St. Jude for two years, I started medical school at Quillen. During these first two years, I have been involved in mostly didactic studies, including Gross Anatomy, Embryology, Physiology, Neuroscience, Microbiology/Parasitology, Biochemistry and Pathology. Surprisingly, I remember going into more detail during some of my undergraduate courses than we do in medical school! The volume of these medical school courses can be daunting, but my Biology degree from CBU really prepared me for what was to come and I owe a great debt of gratitude to all of my undergraduate professors!

At ETSU, I’ve been involved with a few extracurricular activities. I am currently serving as the vice-president of the Emergency Medicine Interest group, which educates medical students about the details of a career as an EM physician. I am also serving as a member of the Quillen Honor Council. This past summer, I worked as a student research fellow in the Quillen Dept. of Psychiatry. My mentor Dr. Norman Moore and I published an abstract entitled, “Visual and Auditory EEG biofeedback in Anxious Patients Compared with Healthy Controls” which will appear in the upcoming July issue of the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society Journal. I also presented this research at the joint EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society / International Society for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry conference on September 7, 2008 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Featured Alum: Shanna Wall, Biology 2002

Shanna Wall (on left)

Greetings from Dickson, Tennessee! This is Shanna Wall, class of 2002. I guess technically I should introduce myself as Dr. Shanna Wall. I graduated from CBU with a B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. After 4 long and tortuous years, I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

The professors of the science department prepared me incredibly well for the trials and tribulations of vet school. For example, we covered Embryology in 5 hours in my first semester anatomy class. That was one of the few topics I had the jump on compared to my classmates. I guess looking at a 48-hour chick embryo is like riding a bike.

Of course, neither CBU nor UTCVM could truly prepare me for “the real world”. Most of us that go into veterinary medicine go in with the idea that we can save the world, one pet at a time. In reality veterinarians must navigate through deal human issues just as frequently as pet issues. Sometimes I end up taking care of the human caretakers even more than their pets.

I start a new job the week of St. Patrick’s Day. The job is with Banfield, the Pet Hospital, which is affiliated with the Petsmart pet stores. I never thought that I would go into corporate medicine, but it is a great opportunity to provide high-quality preventative care to a broad client base. It will be a huge change (I hope) from my practice in Small-town, West Tennessee. Wish me luck and good luck to all of you!

Shanna