The Synapse

Updates from the Sciences at Loyola University Maryland

Big picture

November 2021 | Issue 37

This month we are thankful for innovative projects, new team members, and exciting opportunities for the NAS community to engage, learn, and grow.

Share your news, photos, inspiring stories, and events for a future issue. Please send any feature suggestions to Jen Sullivan at


Saddle Up! A New Experience for Non-Verbal Riders

IPads & Therapeutic Horse Therapy may sound like an unusual combo at first, but it speaks volumes (literally) for many riders. Timberbrook Farm's owner and Occupational Therapist (OTR/L), Chelsea Whitaker envisions a more complete learning experience for non-verbal riders. She wants riders - ages 16-30 with various disabilities - to be able to communicate their thoughts on the sensory trails as well as the indoor track with electronic pads and instructors safely by their sides. IPad canned expressions may include: "I like this trail", "I'm thirsty", 'Bathroom", "Leaves", etc.

Chelsea presented her iPad-Horse Mounting System challenge to Volunteers for Medical Engineering (VME) and now, a four-member capstone team at Loyola University has a plan. The IPads will be mounted onto two different saddle types (pictured below) using the D-Ring eyelets in each saddle.

A preliminary design includes three components:

  1. Beanbag Base - Filled with sand or rubber bits to contour to the horse's body; connected by metal hoops using the D-Ring eyelets on the saddle - The inside of the base contains the support mount and top supporting clasp.
  2. Support Structure - 3" supporting arms & 5" mount arm including casing/foam
  3. Adjustable Curved Top Clasp - To support the IPad with a 0.09" casing and a minimum/maximum adjustable height of 5.30" to 9". Materials - to be determined.

The Team's requirements include:

  • Safety for the riders & safety to prevent the IPads from falling
  • Adjustability (for IPad types, screen angle and height, and different horses)
  • Durability and Stability (the ability to withstand the movement of the horse)
  • Aesthetics also come into play, because after all, it's also about being "cool", when it comes to VME solutions!

Thanks to the Senior Capstone Engineering Design Team, Matthew Bach Juan Castano, Abby Hamilton, Grayce Heinemann, and Grace Li; with Dr. Robert Pond (Instructor); Dr. Suzanne Keilson (Advisor) and VME Volunteers: Phil Malone & Jamie Kshimetski. This is Loyola's first project with VME!

Big picture

Welcome new NAS staff

We are excited to welcome new team members in the Biology department this academic year.

Nicole Barat is the Biology Lab Manager Supervisor. She comes to Loyola from The Lieber Institute where she served as the Senior Lab and Facilities Manager for 8 years. Nicky has experience in basic and clinical research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a decorated combat veteran in US Army Intelligence. Following active duty, she trained with the Army Reserve as a Combat Helicopter Medic while pursuing a degree in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University followed by advanced education in Molecular Biology and Advanced Human Genetics. Originally from New York City, Nicky has traveled the world extensively meeting Nobel/Pulitzer prize winners, astronauts, musicians, and movie stars.

Keanna Beal is the Biology Lab Technician. She graduated from the University of New England with a degree in Medical Biology and Secondary Education. Keanna enjoys working with all of the faculty and students. Originally from Maine, she loves the Bruins!

Jordan West is the Biology Lab Technician Assistant. A Baltimore native and recent graduate of the University of Maryland College Park, he is most excited and thankful to gain experience in many aspects of laboratory work while also providing an open and accepting environment to learn.

Please join us in welcoming Nicky, Keanna, and Jordan!

IEEE Club Has Fun with Wearable Electronics!

The IEEE Club worked with the Gemma microcontroller to control Neopixel rings in the EE lab. Learn about this and more fun club activities at

Loyola Sciences in the News


Scholarship and Internship Opportunities for NAS Students

Loyola’s National Fellowships Office has two outstanding opportunities for STEM students:

DAAD-RISE offers paid summer research internships in science and engineering in Germany. All work is conducted in English.

The Goldwater Scholarship offers up to $7,000 in scholarship funds per year toward your remaining years of undergraduate study. For example, sophomore scholarship recipients get two years of funding, while juniors get one year of support. Note: Goldwater pre-health applicants MUST be planning an MD/PhD career trajectory.

Interested? Contact Dr. Terre Ryan, Loyola’s Director of National Fellowships, at

NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) 2022 Application Now Open for Rising Seniors

The Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) is an eight-week summer internship program for rising senior undergraduate students to acquire hands-on research experience in all aspects of a scientific campaign using one or more NASA Airborne Science Program flying science laboratories (aircraft used for SARP have included the DC-8, P-3B, C-23, UC-12B, and ER-2).

The NASA Airborne Science Program maintains a fleet of aircraft used for studying Earth system processes, calibration/validation of space-borne observations, and prototyping instruments for possible satellite missions. SARP participants will assist in the operation of instruments onboard an aircraft to sample atmospheric gases, and/or to image land and water surfaces in multiple spectral bands.

Research areas include atmospheric chemistry, air quality, forest ecology, and ocean biology. Along with airborne data collection, students will participate in taking measurements at field sites. The program culminates with formal presentations of research results and conclusions.

Learn more and apply at

STEM Research Opportunities with U.S. Government

Call for Blog Authors

The 2022 AAAS-IUSE Disruptor Blog is looking for authors. This blog is dedicated to catalyzing sustainable evidence-based strategies for an equitable future for STEM education. Subthemes for the blog include:

  • How Communities Support Faculty and Administrators to Drive Change
  • Rethinking Reappointments, Promotion, and Tenure
  • The Role of Deans, Department Chairs, and Institutional Leaders in Supporting Change
  • Innovative Learning Environments

Authors should focus on the implications of their work, how studies, strategies, and examples can serve as a model for others, and identifying opportunities, barriers, and questions surrounding these strategies.

Deadline: November 21, 2021

Learn more and submit a proposal at

Upcoming Campus Events

Pop-Up Classes

A few more pop-up classes remain for this semester. If you have any questions, ideas for potential pop-up classes, or would like to teach a future class, contact Matthew Treskon at

  • Nov. 18 - Creating Digital Maps in ArcGIS
  • Dec. 2 - ArcGIS StoryMaps

Visit for complete details and registration links.

Career Center Opportunities

To register for career-focused events and opportunities, visit Handshake.

The Bridge

Visit The Bridge for upcoming campus meetings and events.

Training & Development Sponsored by Human Resources

  • Nov. 17, 9 - 11 AM: New Employee Orientation (Zoom)
  • Dec. 7, 11 AM - 12 PM: Creating a Strategy for Career Progression (Webinar presented by KEPRO)

Go to for more information.

Additional Training and Development Opportunities for Employees and Students

OUTLoyola SafeZone Training

Green Bandana Brigade

Big picture

Fall Semester Resources

Academic Calendar

Coronavirus Resources

  • Loyola Coronavirus Updates - General university information for all students, faculty, staff including the fall 2021 COVID operations plan, COVID-19 dashboard, FAQs, policies, and resources.

Student Support Resources

Employee Support Resources