The Synapse

Updates from the Sciences at Loyola University Maryland

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July 2020 | Issue 22

We hope you're staying well and keeping cool this summer! For those of you who are new to the Loyola NAS community, welcome! We're so glad you're here. This monthly newsletter features updates, events, news, and accomplishments from and for students, faculty, alumni, staff and administrators from Loyola's natural and applied sciences.

Share your news, photos, or inspiring stories for a future issue. We are always looking to highlight student and faculty accomplishments and would love to hear what you've been up to over the summer. While we're all looking forward to being together on campus again very soon, share what you are most excited about for the upcoming fall semester. Send a photo, short statement or video that we can include in the next newsletter to Jen Sullivan at

Highlights and General Announcements

Announcing the first endowed professor for Loyola's NAS division

We are excited to announce that Loyola University has appointed the first endowed professorship in NAS. Michael Tangrea, Ph.D. will begin as an endowed professor in the Biology Department on August 1. This position is partially endowed by an E-Nnovation grant from the state of Maryland. This grant was the result of much hard work on the part of many faculty, including Dave Rivers and Chris Thompson, the staff in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and the Advancement office who raised matching funds.

Dr. Tangrea is a Loyola alum and has been an active member of the Natural and Applied Sciences steering board. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Most recently he has been the Senior Scientific Director of the Alvin and Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute Department of Innovation and Research at Sinai Hospital.

Dr. Tangrea will offer classes in Biology and will also work in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Tangrea back to Loyola as our very first endowed professor in NAS!

NAS students making a difference in diversity and community service

During Loyola University Maryland’s 2020 Commencement, the Natural and Applied Sciences academic division awarded for the first time the Choudhury Sarkar-Dey medal to an outstanding graduating senior who has shown remarkable commitment to diversity and community service during their time at Loyola. We are proud to share with you the reflections submitted by the finalists, nominated by their faculty and departments, in a series of posts on the Art of STEM blog.

Meet chemistry major Jennifer Valencia, ’20, a finalist for the Choudhury Sarkar-Dey medal, as she reflects on her experiences with “cura apostolica,” care for the community, during her time at Loyola. Read more >>>

Pre-health student success

It has been a record year for Loyola’s medical school applicants with 91% of the applicants receiving an acceptance to begin a career of their dreams. Additionally, 66% of dental school applicants were accepted and other highlights include students going to physician assistant schools, pharmacy, and nursing master’s degree programs, including Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, and University of Maryland Schools of Nursing.

Christina Kingsley, ’19 is a shining example of pre-health student success. She writes, "I am extremely excited to have been accepted to a dual DMD/PhD at the Medical University of South Carolina. This eight-year program consists of four years of dental school and four years of doctoral research. I was able to discover my passion for research at Loyola through the Hauber Research Fellowship Program. I was inspired by my mentor, Dr. Christopher Thompson, who gave me the opportunity to conduct research in his lab. He always encouraged me to find the connections between our research and my interest in the field of dentistry. I plan to focus my PhD research in the area of Oral Health Microbiology. I hope to find innovative ways to treat oral disease pathogens, and to use that knowledge to provide better dental care to my patients one day."

Dr. Christopher Thompson, Loyola biology professor, writes, "It is of critical importance that future clinicians like Christina be able to interpret novel research in their field and, especially, to understand the challenges associated with performing and communicating the research. Christina’s research at Loyola will not only help her as she embarks upon her DMD/PhD path, but may also contribute to our knowledge of complementary and alternative medicines, broadly."

Calling All Makers - Share ideas for Fall 2020 Hands-On-Tech Popup Classes

The Library is now planning fall 2020 hands-on-tech popup classes. Usually, these classes are taught by volunteer faculty/staff but we have had a successful student club led workshop on Raspberry Pis. A list of previous popup classes can be found at

Do you have ideas for pop-up classes that would interest you? And/or, would you like to lead a session? A session could either be a typical length pop-up (1-2 hours) or abbreviated (perhaps only a half an hour). We are also considering a "lightning round" or "presentation party" where each presenter speaks about their creative project for 5 minutes.

Please complete this form if you'd like to help shape this program: Multiple entries welcome.

For more information, contact Matthew Treskon,

Faculty Awards and Recognition

Chemistry Professor Receives 2020 Faculty Award for Excellence in Transformative Teaching

Join us in congratulating Elizabeth Dahl, associate professor of chemistry professor and recipient of this year's Faculty Award for Excellence in Transformative Teaching. This award recognizes a colleague for achievement in an imaginative and effective teaching practice based on peer nominations.

Dr. Dahl earned a B.S. in Marine Science and Chemistry from the University of Miami and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Earth system science from the University of California, Irvine. Her research focuses on oceanic trace gases and atmospheric chemistry, which she has integrated into her teaching at Loyola through both her mentoring of research students and in her teaching of analytical chemistry and Earth science. She is a tireless champion on the environment, and works with the Environmental Action Club, as well as with fellow faculty and staff at Loyola, to promote understanding and activism in support of a livable future. This includes developing an Environmental Film Series and advocating always for bringing more environmental programming, speakers and education opportunities to the university. Her work with students focuses on connecting environmental issues and social justice to inspire care and stewardship of our common home and hope for the future.

Engineering and Fine Arts professors present paper at the national American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) annual conference

Engineering professor Robert Bailey and fine arts professor Billy Friebele co-authored a paper presented at the national American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) annual conference. Their paper was presented during the session including the four finalists for best paper in the Design in Engineering Education Division (DEED) of ASEE.

Learn more here and click the [view paper] link next to the title links for the abstract:

Faculty experts in the news

Maryland Surpasses 3K COVID-19 Deaths But Has Not Seen Recent Outbreaks Like Other States featuring Chris Thompson, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and immunologist (WJZ)

Learning through the Summer

Summer learning with i-Human

Over June and July, a group of fifteen pre-health students and their mentors, Dr. Armina Kazi (Biology) and Dr. Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner (Pre-Health Programs), have formed a summer learning community around Kaplan’s i-Human program and five of its virtual patient cases. The students have practiced their bedside manner and clinical skills with their virtual patients. These have included taking a history of present illness and vital signs. Each virtual patient case provides the students with a new scenario of patient signs and symptoms and leads them to practice asking effective questions, examining the patient, and creating medical documentation. Students even order diagnostic tests – and the program provides feedback on all their actions. One of the virtual i-Human patients presented in the provider’s office with flu-like symptoms. The disease turned out to be covid-19.

“I-Human virtual patient cases offers a great way for students to come together to learn about life in a medical office,” says Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner. “Students present about the cases at the learning community’s Zoom meetings. Dr. Kazi has prepared additional material to provide context for topics such as differential diagnosis, problem statements, and SOAP notes. I think we have all learned a lot and enjoyed staying in touch over the summer.”

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Join us for Hauber Summer Research Q&A sessions on July 29 and August 5

This year's Hauber Summer Research Program has taken a remote format as 13 fellows along with their dedicated faculty mentors have been hard at work for the past several weeks and will continue their research through the beginning of August. We will share links to the fellows' video presentations on the Hauber website by July 24 and are excited to invite all community members to participate in live Q&A sessions via Zoom. These sessions will feature several fellows each week as panelists who will share a brief overview of their research (it's recommended that you view their full presentations in advance), followed by a few minutes for attendees to ask questions. We hope you will join us!

Hauber Live Q&A Sessions on Zoom

Wednesday, July 29 from 1 - 3 pm

Join Webinar:

Wednesday, August 5 from 1 - 3 pm

Join Webinar:

Faculty Opportunity - Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching

The Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching ( will be held from 12pm to 5pm EST on July 20-24. This is an excellent faculty development opportunity, especially in light of the challenges ahead as we navigate an unprecedented fall semester.

The Summer Institute has three main planks; Inclusive Teaching, Active Learning, and Development of Effective Assessment. Each of these planks align with Loyola's efforts in the areas of Equity and Inclusion, High Impact Practices, and Assessment of Student Learning. Upon completion of the Summer Institute, the $100 registration fee will be reimbursed by the NSF-funded project "Building Capacity for a STEM Learning Network to Prepare Highly Effective STEM Teachers for Teaching in High-Need Schools". Afra Hersi and Tim Clark are Principal Investigator (and respectively, Co-PI) on this year-long project. (See the website for the official press release.)

This NSF project has three main goals;

  1. Develop, test, and collect baseline data on STEM-education recruitment and retention strategies, including targeted efforts geared towards students of color (SOC) and STEM professionals.
  2. Provide professional development to faculty to test, disseminate, and integrate active learning innovations in STEM and STEM-education courses.
  3. Develop a STEM-Network collaborative to strengthen the relationship with Baltimore area schools and explore strategies to close the student-teacher diversity gap by supporting and retaining STEM teachers of color in high-needs schools.

Your attendance at the Summer Institute will be a first step towards faculty professional development, with future opportunities driven by your areas of interest.

The Summer Institute also hosts Friday Zoom happy hours and webinars (announcements and video recordings at to stay connected with and learn from members of the community. There is no registration fee for these zoom meetings that provide a forum for faculty to share creative ideas.

If you have further questions about what the Summer Institute has to offer, please reach out to Tim Clark, Lisa Oberbroeckling, Bernadette Roche or Lisa Scheifele.

Stay Connected!