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Biology

Biology Alumni Profiles

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Biology

Address: 
730 South Church Street
West Chester, PA 19383 


Phone: 610-436-2538 

 

Biology Alumni Profiles

Morgan Bensinger

I graduated from West Chester University in May of 2018 with a B.S. in Biology and a concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology. Since graduating I have been working as an EMT in Allentown, PA. I was recently accepted into and will be attending Penn State College of Medicines Physician Assistant Program next May. The interview process for PA schools (and graduate schools, medical schools, etc.) is extremely challenging and demanding. However, my time at WCU afforded me the skills and knowledge I needed to set myself apart from other candidates. Throughout my four years at West Chester University I came across a handful of individuals, from fellow students to professors, who helped me tremendously. I am truly grateful for Dr. Casotti, Dr. Sullivan-Brown, Gerry Misquith, and the rest of the faculty in the Biology department, who were all very instrumental in providing me with the tools and knowledge I need to be successful in my future career.

Morgan Bensinger

Kellie Matson

I graduated from WCU in December 2017 with a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology. Since graduating, I have been a medical scribe in the Orthopedics Department of Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and have loved it tremendously. It is the perfect job for a gap year before going back to a health care related school. In May 2019 I will be beginning a Physician Assistant Program at Arcadia University. While at WCU, I could not have loved my professors, classes, and entire experience in the Biology department more than I did. I know my education and experiences in the Biology department at West Chester University have helped me succeed in my current job, and enabled me to get accepted to Physicians Assistants school. I am so thankful for everything WCU gave to me and can't wait to continue my education!

Kelly Matson

Nicole Havrilchak

I graduated from West Chester University in 2013 with a B.S. in General Biology. After completing my undergraduate degree, I decided to stay at WCU in pursuit of a master's degree to better tailor my degree to include more ecology and plant science coursework and also to gain more hands-on research and fieldwork experience. As part of my thesis, I did research in serpentine barrens ecosystems with Jessica Schedlbauer to examine the ecophysiology of greenbrier encroachment into patches of native grassland. Research with Dr. Schedlbauer's lab afforded me invaluable experience with the ecological research and scientific writing processes. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Ecological Society of America's annual conference and publish my work while at WCU. After graduating (again!) I worked at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA for two years on a temporary research project as a Research Specialist. My role there involved documenting plant species throughout the Gardens, maintaining an herbarium, and engaging with the public. I'm excited to return to school in Fall 2018 to begin a PhD in Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University. While there, I will be studying the ecology of woody encroachment and grass performance in Texas rangelands.

 

Nicole Havrilchak

Michael Mercandate

I graduated from West Chester University in the spring of 2017 with a Bachelors degree in Pharmaceutical Product Development and a Chemistry Minor. While at West Chester, I worked in Dr. Donze-Reiner's lab doing research with aphids and switchgrass. During my time at West Chester, I learned many techniques which have greatly helped me in my current position. As of now, I am working as a Research Specialist at the University of Pennsylvania in Penn Image Guided Interventions lab. Our lab is comprised of interventional radiologists and molecular biologists who collaborate to identify and develop novel imaging agents and therapeutics for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. One of the many projects I am working is a CRISPR knock out screen which attempts to identify new targets for HCC. I am currently deciding if I want to pursue a PhD or a degree in medicine. My experiences at West Chester allow me to pursue a career in science and provide me with the tools I need to be successful.

Michael Mercandate

Lukas Bernhardt

I began my time at West Chester University in the fall of 2011 as a music education major.  After one year of trombone, I decided to switch to the biology department to pursue a B.S. in Biology with an Ecological Concentration.  Within the biology department I found a great community of students and professors who supported and helped me to complete my goals.  During my senior year at WCU I worked as the assistant stewardship manager of the Gordon Natural Area (GNA).  This position involved managing reforestation efforts on West Chesters campus as well as the surrounding community, monitoring for invasive species such as the Emerald Ash Borer and educating students about the local ecology of the GNA.  I was also able to conduct independent research during my senior year in an effort to determine baseline soil conditions of four local Delaware hayfields.  This research, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Schedlbauer, gave me exceptional experience in designing, conducting, writing and presenting ecological research.  Since my time at West Chester, I completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail and interned on two small scale organic farms.  My experience interning at Mountain Cloud Farm in Clark Fork, ID brought into focus the importance of caring for soils to preserve ecosystem health and productivity in food production.  This upcoming fall, I will be entering the graduate program at the University of New Hampshire.  I plan to conduct research regarding the microbiology of agricultural soils in an effort to use community composition, functional groups and other metrics to better predict and determine soil health.  The research I conducted during undergrad educated me on soil physical properties and my continuing education will be focused on the biotic component of soils to help round out my understanding of soils as a whole.

Lukas Bernhardt

Leah Kuntz

I graduated from West Chester University in the spring of 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. While at West Chester, I was a student research assistant in Dr. Donze-Reiners laboratory and studied calcium-dependent protein kinase regulation in Seteria italica during Greenbug Aphid infestation. The experience I gained in this lab  both scientific and professional  provided me with the skills and confidence to move forward with my goals. I now work as a Research Specialist the Gene Therapy Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Our lab studies orphan diseases, meaning those which affect less than 200,000 individuals worldwide and, therefore, existing research is limited. The connections, inspiration, and education I received at WCU have allowed me to be the youngest person currently employed in this program, to be nominated for an award of excellence, and provided me with a position that makes a major difference in the lives of many whom previously had limited hope for improved care. I am taking graduate classes while working and plan to return to school in spring 2019. 

Leah Kuntz

Kalin Konrad

I graduate from West Chester University in the Spring of 2017 with a B.S. in Biology. Since then, I have been studying at University of Delaware's molecular biology and genetics program pursing my master's degree and soon to switch to the PhD track. I am in a developmental biology lab studying neurogenesis in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (purple sea urchin). I spend most of my time doing research, but I also have classes and teach labs. West Chester helped me get exposed to research and understand how to balance my schedule between class and lab work. At West Chester I worked in Dr. Sullivan-Brown's lab studying folic acid synthesis in Caenorhabditis elegans (roundworm). Even though I am working on a different model organism it was easy to use the techniques I learned from her lab and transfer them into my new lab at Delaware. Dr. Sullivan-Brown also introduced me to conferences which is where I met my current Principal Investigator (P.I).  The knowledge I gained from my undergraduate degree aid in my passion for research and gave me the tools to succeed in graduate school.

Kalin Konrad

Calvin Cooper

I transferred to WCU in Fall 2013 to pursue a B.S. in Biology with a Concentration in Ecology and Conservation. During my first semester at WCU, I developed an interest in plant ecology, and the robustness of WCU's course catalog enabled me to tailor my curriculum around this interest. As a student at WCU, I learned how to think and write like a scientist. I gained invaluable research experience in the Schedlbauer Lab by designing, planning, and executing an independent research project on canopy leaf physiology of trees across an urban to suburban gradient, in collaboration with the US Forest Service. I graduated in Fall 2014 after completing 33 credits (11 courses) in the Biology Department. After graduating from WCU, I worked as an intern and seasonal employee in the Natural Lands Department at Mt. Cuba Center, a botanic garden located in Hockessin, Delaware, where I helped to manage nearly 500 acres of natural lands. In July 2017, I began working as a Land Stewardship Technician at Longwood Gardens, a botanic garden located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. As a Land Stewardship Technician, I educate the public, help manage a volunteer program, and use hands-on land management techniques such as prescribed burning, invasive species removal, and planting native plant species for restoration, all with the goal of promoting the biodiversity and resiliency of the native flora and fauna of Longwood Gardens' natural lands.

Calvin Cooper

Brittney Semone

I graduated from West Chester University in the Fall of 2014 with a BS in Biology (Ecology and Conservation). During the many field courses taken at WCU I developed a strong admiration for the outdoors.  Since graduating I have worked with invasive plant species in California, threatened desert tortoises in Nevada, and forest conditions and dynamics in Alaska. Working as a field technician has allowed me to live and work in places I never imagined to find myself.  I started my journey as an Invasive Plant Treatment Technician with the Nevada Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps. I worked on a crew collecting data and eradicating the invasive tree species, Tamarisk, on the Amargosa River in California. I later worked with AmeriCorps and The Great Basin Institute as a Desert Tortoise Monitoring Technician in the Mojave Desert of Southern Nevada. As monitoring technicians, our crew worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to perform line distance sampling, handling, and tagging of the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, to monitor long term population trends. Following work in the desert I then worked in the Alaska Interior as a Forestry Field Assistant with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. We measured tree growth and took general vegetation surveys and soil samples. Studying Ecology and Conservation at WCU has exposed me to field work and techniques during outdoor labs and has lead to a career of field work and memorable experiences.

Brittney Semone

Scott Musser

I graduated from West Chester University in December of 2015 with a B.S. in Biology (Ecology and Conservation) and a minor in Geography. In March of 2016 I began working at Kennett Square Golf and Country Club as an Ecology Intern. I began by working on a stream restoration project and by completing basic golf course tasks such as raking bunkers. I quickly worked my way up and now have responsibilities including: mowing and hand watering greens, changing hole locations, and measuring green speeds. I was tasked with the job of turning a previously mown area into a meadow in the middle of July and succeeded based on knowledge that I gained from ecology courses here at West Chester University. It has now been 5 months since I began this job and I have already been promoted to the Assistant Superintendent in training. I am now taking classes at Penn State University to obtain a Certificate in Turfgrass Management. By achieving this I will be able to become a Certified Golf Course Superintendent. I am very proud to be a West Chester University Alumni. I wear my WCU hat to work every day and I am quick to inform everyone on how outstanding our biology department is. I would not have been able to achieve any of this without the help of my ecology professors, and for that I am very thankful.

Carly Farrell

Brett Mitchell

I graduated from West Chester University in the spring of 2016 with a B.S. in Biology (Integrative Concentration) and a minor in Chemistry.  I will be attending Bay Path University in June of 2016 pursuing a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies.  As a West Chester student, I was highly involved with the biology department, as well as volunteering for the community as an Emergency Medical Technician for Good Fellowship Ambulance Club.  One of my proudest accomplishments at West Chester was completing independent research for the department with my advisor.  We studied learning and memory of respiratory behavior in Helisoma trivolvis.  My experiences at West Chester University have molded my outlook on biology, healthcare, and overall success.  I am proud to consider myself a West Chester University alumni and am excited to see what the future holds! 

Brett Mitchell

Joe Komar

I graduated from WCU in December 2003 with a BSED in Biology. I began teaching at Downingtown East High School (DEHS) during the 2004-2005 school year and will be starting my 13th year this August. Along the way, I earned a Master’s degree in Education from Cabrini in 2010 and also obtained a K-12 principal certification during the same year. In addition to teaching Honors Biology I and Anatomy & Physiology at DEHS, I also run a part-time tutoring business that prepares students for the ACT and SAT in order to enhance their chances of gaining admission to a desired college/university. I am so grateful for the time I spent at WCU as well as the knowledge and commitment of my professors and mentors, especially Drs. Mbuy and Began. Dr. Mbuy was my most fascinating and challenging professor, and I remember his Microbiology and Virology lectures as if they happened yesterday. “Gus” showed me how to be an expert scientist, teacher/prof, and friend all at the same time. I must say that education has become a bigger passion than I ever expected and if it wasn’t for Dr. Began I may have never entered such a wonderful career. Due to my experience at WCU and the great mentors I encountered during my tenure at Downingtown, I have become a quality educator, and was lucky enough to be honored as the Teacher of the Year at DEHS in 2015.

Joe Komar

Steve Broome

I graduated from West Chester University in 2014 with a B.S. in Biology (concentrating in Cellular and Molecular Biology) and a minor in Chemistry. Following graduation, I worked as a summer intern for GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) biological mass spectrometry and proteomics group. I was amazed by the powerful ability of high resolution mass spectrometers to quickly identify and quantitate entire proteomes. After the summer internship, I was granted further employment with GSK for over a year. I am now employed by a small company called Biopharmaspec, where I characterize biopharmaceuticals using high resolution mass spectrometry and other techniques, work I find challenging and rewarding. My education at West Chester University gave me the scientific foundation I needed to easily transition into the field of biological mass spectrometry. The scientific education, hands-on lab experience, and independent research experience I received at were crucial for my ability to discover and work in a field I enjoy.

Steve Broome

Renee Kojanis

I graduated from West Chester University in 2012 with a B.S. in Biology. For the past four years, I have studied at New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) and will be graduating in May 2016 as valedictorian of my class, becoming a Doctor of Dental Surgery. I will continue my dental education starting July 2016 at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine to complete a residency in Orthodontics. While at West Chester University, I performed research with Dr. Woodruff, working with Drosophila melanogaster oocytes. Starting research at West Chester University served as the impetus that directed me down a path of research at NYUCD with CTOR (Consortium for Translational Orthodontic Research). With CTOR, I examined maxillary expansion in rats, a topic that I presented at various conventions and organizations across the country. My research and education at West Chester University provided me with the foundation for what I have achieved to date, and what I will continue to achieve in the future.

Renee Kojanis

Greg Barren

I graduated from West Chester University in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology (Ecology and Conservation). I recently graduated from Western Kentucky University with a M.S. in Biology and I am currently working seasonally for the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia as a field technician. My experience at West Chester has helped me achieve my academic goals and helped me come closer to my career goal in the ecology field. All of my professors at West Chester were very passionate about their courses and effectively taught both concepts and laboratory methods in various biology concentrations. In addition to classroom work, I was also lucky enough to do independent research with my advisor. Independent research was a great way to gain hands-on experience in the ecology field. Professors also invested time in helping students outside of the classroom. For example, they help students find jobs and internships by emailing opportunities to a biology student email list. I still check my West Chester email often to check for job opportunities. I had a great experience at West Chester University and feel prepared for a career in the field of ecology.

Greg Barren

Jessica Bondy

I graduated from West Chester University in the Spring of 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (Microbiology Concentration). While at West Chester, I was a student research assistant in Dr. Fan's laboratory and studied the pathologic effects of the Haemophilus influenzae bacteria in mice. My experiences in research at WCU and training in animal handling techniques gave me the exposure necessary to further my career. I now work as a Research Coordinator/Technologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Department of Otolaryngology working on Head and Neck Cancer Research.  I plan to return back to school to pursue a medical degree to become a physician.

Jessica Bondy

Jacob Good

After graduating from WCU in 2010 with a Biology B.S. Ed. and completing my student teaching in Philadelphia, I decided to travel and headed to Asia where I have been teaching in southern China for the past four years, first as an English teacher and now as a science teacher.  My certification, credentials, and experience helped me land a job as the Science Chair of an International School Department in Guangzhou, China.  The program is new, but our school has sent 100 Chinese students to American high schools in the past two years and is sending 70 this year.  Working with the dedicated professors at WCU helped me gain confidence in my subject material and I am now writing the Science Curriculum for the entire International Department.  I am also studying for a dual M.S. Ed. in Curriculum Development and Educational Leadership.

Jacob Good

Christopher Leeson

My name is Christopher Leeson and I graduated in 2015 with a B.S. in Biology.  As I reflect on the past 4 years, I can honestly say that my biology professors were helpful, even outside of the classroom, in helping me decide and prepare for on my future career in Chiropractic Medicine.  Classes that helped me prepare were Comparative Vertebrate Physiology, Immunology, Microbiology, Organic Evolution, and Zoology.  The Biology courses really challenge but prepare you for future study.  As a result I was accepted into the Doctor of Chiropractic program at New York Chiropractic College.  Thank you to all the Biology professors for helping me with the next challenge in my life.

Chris Leeson

Robyn Lomenzo

I transferred into Biology my sophomore year and graduated in 2013 with a BS in Biology (Ecology and Conservation). I did not know what a positive impact the department would have on my life. The Biology department offers many courses with hands-on labs. One of the highlights of my time at WCU was the electric and passionate faculty. They exposed me to a more global thinking mindset, large-scale environmental concerns, and how to critically assess these as an individual. After an internship at Tyler Arboretum, I was introduced to the native plant movement. I went on to work at two small native plant nurseries, Longwood Gardens, and North Creek Nurseries. Alongside my upper level courses and continued outside exposure, I developed a strong desire to work towards projects larger than myself restoring environmental sites and connecting to communities. I am now extraordinarily happy to say I have been accepted at the State University of New York’s Environmental Science and Forestry College to pursue my Masters in Landscape Architecture.

Robyn Lomenzo

Amber Mays

I graduated from West Chester University Spring 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in General Biologyand a minor in Psychology. I chose the general concentration so that I could gather experience in the many different areas of Biology. As a result, I was able to form close collaborations with professors from different specialties. Currently I am working at Colorcon Inc. as a Pharmaceutical Laboratory Technician and plan to return to school to obtain my Masters degree.

Amber Mays

Lauren Neel

I am currently a Master of Science student in Biology at Georgia Southern University. My research interests broadly include the eco-physiology and evolution of lizards, particularly in understanding the physiological mechanisms that lizards employ to cope with environmental stressors, and how these processes can bring about evolutionary change. For my Masters thesis I am examining the effects of thermal opportunity and habitat on sprinting performance in two populations of the Florida scrub lizard, Sceloporus woodi. While pursuing my BS degree at West Chester University I gained valuable field and research experience working with university professors, as well as international researchers while studying abroad in Central America. The skills I learned while at West Chester have heavily influenced where I am today and the kind of researcher I am becoming.

Lauren Neel

Sofya Osharovich

I graduated from West Chester University with a B.S. in Biology in 2013.  While at WCU, I conducted research in Dr. Fan's microbiology laboratory, observing the pathology of wild type and attenuated Haemophilus influenzae in animal models.  I also conducted research in Dr. Mbuy's virology lab, performing plaque titration assays on cells infected with HSV and complemented with natural medicinal plants.  After graduating I worked at PPD, a Contract Research Organization Pharmaceutical company, for two years performing immunoassays for HPV Gardasil-clinical trials.  I am currently a PhD graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania studying Pharmacology.

Sofya Osharovich

Julie Storm

I am currently a research technician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  This is a challenging yet rewarding position. I work on immunotherapy studies in pediatric leukemia, specifically acute lymphoblastic leukemia using T cells.  I have the faculty in Biology to thank for imparting on me the experience and knowledge necessary to launch my career.  Conducting independent research with the faculty enabled me to gain both research skills and experience in animal handling, both essential for my current position.

Julie Storm

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