17_Abraham Kettor

Student to Work for Peace in Liberia

Abraham Kettor ’19 will travel to Liberia to improve educational development of high school students through the Davis Projects for Peace grant.

Kettor noticed that students seemed to be giving up on the educational system in Monrovia, Liberia, and those who did not were still at risk for dropping out. He said this problem is due in large part to the prolonged, brutal and destructive period of civil unrest, corruption within the government and the most recent school closures due to the Ebola viral disease.

He plans to travel to Liberia where he will meet five volunteers from the education department at the University of Liberia. They will serve as mentors to 25 selected students who are in jeopardy of failing or dropping out of high school.

“We will help inspire students to believe in themselves and encourage them to go to college after high school,” Kettor said. “We will work with them to not only find inner peace but to also think about ways to establish and maintain that peace in Liberia for generations to come.”

The hope is that after a five-week, after-school reading and writing program, students will be able to write compelling essays with good grammar. Kettor also wishes to organize a small library that would provide students free textbooks as well as three computers to enable students to connect globally.

Kettor, a Liberian native, heard about the Davis Foundation from a friend, and after watching Le Nguyen’s presentation, he felt the need to apply. He grew up during the first and second civil wars in Liberia.

“After living in the war-torn country for 17 challenging years, the ideas of peace, love, and hope have become essential parts of my life,” he said.

Kettor plans to leave May 29 and return within the first week of July.

The Davis Projects for Peace is an invitation to undergraduates to design grassroots projects to be implemented during the summer. The objective is to encourage and support motivated youth to try out their ideas for building peace.

love

Hood Joins Team One Love for Sexual Assault Awareness

by Zac Kauffman ’17, a Law and Society and Business Administration major with a concentration in Human Resources and a Hood College lacrosse player

As you know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and in this month, it is important for us to take a moment to reflect and have a conversation about sexual assault and domestic violence. Sexual assault and domestic violence are serious issues that affect many people we know and love. The damage victims experience is long-lasting. Too often we forget that the harm is not limited just to the individuals, but reverberates throughout our society. Despite the horrible impact of sexual assault and domestic violence, communities are seldom united in their attempt to address and combat these problems.

Many of the problems we have unifying an approach to sexual assault and domestic violence comes from how we communicate about it, and it starts with our perspectives and labeling of the issues. It is unfortunate that sexual assault and domestic violence are often labeled as “women’s issues” when they are anything but. Dubbing sexual assault and domestic violence as “women’s issues” shifts the responsibility for action away from men, making it seem as though these issues do not apply to men. It is imperative that we look at sexual assault and domestic violence as a societal matter. We cannot be reliant on a few good men to help aid in the fight while the rest remain unresponsive and silent. We cannot view sexual assault and domestic violence as a “women’s issue.” Men should and must help to focus efforts and attention on these issues in order to create an effective alliance against these heinous abuses within our society. As the great Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Without the participation of all members of our society, we aren’t able to completely combat these issues. We must band together.

For this Sexual Assault Awareness month, members of the Hood College community, both men and women, are coming together to face the issues of sexual assault and domestic violence. The Women’s Lacrosse team, the Men’s Lacrosse team and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee are uniting to promote the One Love Foundation. The One Love Foundation, founded in honor of Yeardley Love, raises awareness about unhealthy relationships, and works to “help activate communities to change the statistics around relationship violence.” The foundation advocates awareness and activism through an event called Yards for Yeardley, where the members of the community are invited to walk one million yards in a week. We are trying to reach this goal between April 17 to April 21 on the Thomas Athletic Field, and all are welcome. Information tables on the One Love Foundation and Yards for Yeardley will be set up in the Whitaker Campus Center Monday, April 17, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm and in Coblentz Dining Hall. Additionally, the Women’s and Men’s Lacrosse teams will play dedication games on April 13 and April 22. We hope to see you there!

Pictured
One Love Committee left to right: Christina Murphy ’17, Zac Kauffman ’17, Samantha Bauer ’19, Larissa Pena ’20, Danny Capps ’18, Samy Brandt ’20

Bart Walter

Wildlife Sculptor Describes His Career in Art

The “Passion and Profession” series recently brought sculptor Bart Walter to campus to speak about his work and how he followed his passion into a career.

Walter uses a biologist’s eye to capture wildlife, and his depictions are life-like and based on animals he has studied in the field.

A Maryland native, he has sculpted throughout North America and Africa, in places such as Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana, Uganda Manitoba, Canada, Montana and Wyoming. His sculptures reside in public and private collections including the Ugandan Wildlife Authority Headquarters in Kampala, the collection of King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Walter’s sculptures help to continue the tradition of previous animaliers—artists who specialize in the realistic portrayal of animals. His holistic view toward his inspiration and creation of his work has gained admiration worldwide.

The “Passion and Profession” series, created by the Center for Career Development and Experiential Learning and the Office of the Dean of the Chapel, brings to campus speakers whose careers are based in a particular set of personal values that connect to a current social justice issue. The mission of the series is to introduce students to a variety of professions, to hear the stories of successful individuals and their preparation for and practice of a profession, as well as to understand how a liberal arts education has contributed to their personal and professional development.

Watch an interview with Bart Walter here.

Helene Cooper

New York Times Pentagon Correspondent Speaks on Campus

By Mary Milligan

Helene Cooper, author and journalist for The New York Times, visited Hood College this week, and as a communications student, it was fascinating to see the insight she provided.

I was fortunate enough to sit with Cooper for dinner. She was very attentive to all of the students and faculty sitting with her. She engaged everyone in conversation, talking about what we do, as well as what we hope to do in the future.

One of my concerns with President Trump was his language with the media, and how that might affect me upon entering the field. Cooper, however, reassured me that they have been finding his attacks on the press humorous.

As we discussed her book, surrounding the first woman president in Liberia, she told us what is was like essentially being on the campaign trail (campaigning only lasts for two months!) and people forgetting sometimes that she was a journalist. She reassured us that she was not trying to be malicious or ever pretended not to be a journalist; people were just so used to her that they would often just continue to talk.

For any other student interested by journalism, I would highly encourage you to talk to someone of Cooper’s caliber, and to take advantage of the speakers coming to campus.

Cooper has been a reporter for more than 25 years. She has worked for The Providence Journal in Rhode Island, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. She has covered several international events including the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and she Ebola outbreak in Liberia in 2014.

Helene Cooper Interview

Katie Mann
Katie Mann
Payton Mills
Payton Mills

At the Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference, Hood Honors students Katie Mann ’17 and Payton Mills ’19 won awards commending their work. This event was co-hosted on campus with Frederick Community College and brought together more than 100 students and faculty from Honors Programs throughout the state.

Mann won Best Poster for the poster about her research regarding her yearlong Department Honors project. She has been researching the portrayal of women in sitcoms over the decades and how it has changed. The research took into account things such as the portrayal of working mothers and if they are accurately represented on sitcoms compared to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics.

“In the end, I was very proud of the way my poster came out and felt it was a good display of the work I have done,” she said. “It was really nice to know that other people also enjoyed my poster and my research.”

It was the first time Mann had presented at a conference.

“It was rewarding to get to present my findings to people and to receive their feedback,” she said.

Mills won Best Proposal for her research paper on the revitalization of Carroll Creek and how it affected the Frederick Community. She divided her research into three sections: the history of industry and segregation along the creek, the flood of 1976, and the positive impact the mural “Community Bridge” by artist William Cochran had on the Frederick community.

“Every student at the conference presented outstanding research, so for my research to be distinguished was a gratifying experience,” she said.

Mills enjoyed presenting for more than 50 students and faculty members from a variety of different Maryland Honors Programs. During the conference, she also led a City as Text tour of Carroll Creek Linear Park to explain the revitalization that happened there after the flood.

“The conference perfectly represented Hood’s goal of providing students with experiential learning opportunities,” she said.

Erin Goley

Alumna Catches the Bug for Studying the Cytoskeleton

Erin Goley investigates how the microbial cytoskeleton controls cell growth and division.

As a schoolkid in North Kingstown, RI, Goley’s stepdad helped her build “the coolest cell in the class” with clear, self-hardening resin encapsulating various objects representing parts of the cell within a fish bowl membrane. But this early foray into cytoskeletal research was sidelined as Goley instead enjoyed developing tools to monitor viral and fungal plant pathogens at the USDA laboratories during her time as an undergraduate at Hood College. Visiting the University of California, Berkeley, on a sunny February weekend convinced Goley to join their molecular and cell biology Ph.D. program, where her rotations were mainly in laboratories studying the interactions of intracellular pathogens with host actin. Matt Welch’s purification of Arp2/3 as the host factor that nucleates actin on the surface of Listeria is one of Goley’s all-time favorite experiments.

“I love the concept that intracellular pathogens are the best cell biologists around and that we can learn so much about fundamental cell biology by discovering how they manipulate it to their advantage,” she said.

She spent her postgraduate years in Welch’s laboratory investigating the mechanisms of Arp2/3 activation as well as baculovirus-induced actin rearrangements. As a card-carrying cell biologist, Goley was next drawn to the fledgling field of bacterial cell biology and brought her expertise in eukaryotic cytoskeletal biochemistry to studying the cytoskeleton of Caulobacter crescentus as a postdoctoral researcher with Lucy Shapiro at Stanford University. Caulobacter is famous for its dimorphic life cycle: it has two primary cell types, a motile form called the swarmer and a sessile form called the stalked cell, and it produces one of each through an obligate asymmetric cell division. In Shapiro’s laboratory, Goley used Caulobacter as a model system to investigate the role of the conserved tubulin-like GTPase, FtsZ, in orchestrating bacterial division. Shapiro gave Goley the support and intellectual freedom to pursue whatever questions inspired her “as long as it was in Caulobacter!” and Goley took her new favorite bug to Johns Hopkins University to establish her own research program tackling the question of how bacterial cell growth and division are controlled by FtsZ.

What first drew you to study the bacterial cytoskeleton?

At the time I was considering fields for postdoctoral study, in 2005, the bacterial cytoskeleton was a really new thing. MreB and FtsZ had only been demonstrated to be true homologues of actin and tubulin, respectively, when their structures were solved about five years prior. We knew, and still know, far less than for eukaryotic cytoskeletons about what these bacterial polymers really do, how their structures relate to their functions, or how they are regulated by interacting partners. I thought studying the bacterial cytoskeleton would marry my long-term interest in microbiology with the love for the cytoskeleton I acquired in graduate school, and I felt that the field was replete with fundamental mechanistic, and even phenomenological, questions. The stunning diversity observed in the cell biology of different bacteria, the dangerous rise in antibiotic resistance, and the importance of bacteria to human health both as pathogens and as integral components of our microbiota continue to affirm my original motivation to study fundamental aspects of bacterial cell biology.

What is your laboratory actively working on?

When I started my laboratory at Hopkins, we were pretty focused on FtsZ and its direct regulators. During my postdoc, I had identified two new binding partners of FtsZ, and we continued characterizing the interactions of those partners with FtsZ and their effects on the execution of division. We like to complement genetic and imaging approaches with in vitro biochemistry of purified components to come to a mechanistic understanding of the process, but we’ve been frustrated by a lack of robust in vitro assays for the physiologically relevant, membrane-associated form of FtsZ. To overcome that roadblock, we have recently put a lot of energy into establishing in vitro assays for monitoring FtsZ assembly, activity, and structure on membranes, and I’m really excited about our progress.

Another aspect of our research that’s really taken off recently is investigating the link between FtsZ and cell wall remodeling. A few years ago, we were making variants of FtsZ to test the function of the intrinsically disordered linker between its polymerizing GTPase domain and the C-terminal peptide that binds membrane-anchoring proteins. It came as a complete surprise when we expressed a variant of FtsZ completely lacking the linker and found that it was lethal. The cells looked as if they had been treated with cell wall–targeting antibiotics like penicillin! It turned out that the FtsZ variant was leading to specific changes in cell wall chemistry, but without affecting the ability of FtsZ to recruit downstream proteins to the site of division. We hypothesized that, beyond just serving as a passive scaffold, FtsZ normally regulates specific cell wall enzymes in a linker-dependent manner. The linker mutant has become a really powerful tool that we are using to connect the dots from FtsZ to the cell wall. Coming into the field as a cytoskeletal biologist, I initially tried to focus just on the cytoplasmic side of things with FtsZ, but the bugs are telling us that the most important thing FtsZ is doing is influencing cell wall remodeling. Looking ahead, some of the forward genetics approaches we have used to address the FtsZ-cell wall connection are taking us into unexpected, but super exciting, new areas of global cell shape regulation and adaptations of growth in response to stress.

What kind of approach do you bring to your work?

Our general strategy is to hit a question with all of the experimental techniques available to us. In my laboratory, that means we use imaging, genetics, biochemistry, and some genomics. I’m also a huge fan of collaboration to incorporate new or highly specialized approaches in the most efficient way possible. As we have begun to think more about the links between the cytoskeleton and cell wall, I’m also finding a lot of inspiration from work on cytoskeletal function in eukaryotic organisms with cell walls (i.e., plants and fungi). My favorite Gordon Research Conference of late is the plant and microbial cytoskeleton meeting, where you see these conceptual similarities echoed in the ways bacterial and eukaryotic walled organisms use their cytoskeletons to direct growth and division.

What did you learn during your doctorate and postdoc that helped prepare you for being a group leader?

I think I was well trained to do science, to be a mentor, to write, speak, and teach. Being a “boss” is something that didn’t come naturally for me, though. It has been on-the-job training to learn how to motivate different trainees, some of whom really need and even want a PI who gives them strict deadlines and leans on them hard when they need to get things done.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?

Learning to be resilient and not take rejections personally.

What is the best advice you have been given?

“There are two types of people, doers and people who aren’t doers. You’re a doer, so you just have to accept that you’re going to be the one getting stuff done.” This came from Matt [Welch] when I was in grad school. To me, the broader message is that you can only control your own actions, not other people, so focus on what you can control and use that to make things happen.

What hobbies do you have?

My wife accuses me of being a serial hobbyist (the dusty ukulele and hula hoop in my basement are evidence in her favor), but one that I picked up in graduate school and still love is knitting. I’ve even knitted stuffed Caulobacters. Lately my biggest hobbies are my kids, though. My son, Beck, is 7 and daughter Remy is 2, and they keep us busy and laughing and grounded.

Any tips for a successful research career?

I think most important is choosing research advisors with whom you can have a productive and healthy working relationship. Ignoring red flags thinking your love of the scientific topic will overcome an iffy relationship with the mentor is a risky strategy. Your Ph.D. and postdoc advisors will be some of your most important advocates for the duration of your career, and you need them on your side. Matt [Welch] and Lucy [Shapiro] were both incredibly supportive advisors and continue to be the people I turn to first for advice.

Also incredibly important: Enjoy the journey. If you’re only focused on the endpoints of getting the Ph.D., getting the job, etc., you’ll be miserable. I loved graduate school, I loved my postdoc, and I love being a PI. They each have their high and low points, but how lucky am I to be able to make a living playing in the laboratory, asking the questions I find most interesting?

This article was written by Marie Anne O’Donnell of The Journal of Cell Biology and published by the Rockefeller University Press. Follow the Journal of Cell Biology on Twitter @JCellBiol and on Facebook @JCellBiol or Journal of Cell Biology.

Alex Jarnot

Chemistry Major Presents at National Conference

Alex Jarnot, a senior chemistry major who participated in NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) in California during the summer, recently presented his research at the American Geophysical Union fall conference in San Francisco, California.

During his eight-week internship, Jarnot was involved in hands-on research looking at the different types of gases in the air in San Joaquin Valley. He studied how the gas concentrations are affected by a cave’s environment.

The AGU fall conference is the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world. It is a weeklong conference where scientists meet to present research and where major organizations, such as NASA, display their achievements and projects from the year and discuss future projects.

“I presented my research at a poster session for about three hours,” Jarnot said. “I talked to several professors and researchers about my findings and answered some of their questions.”

While in San Francisco, Jarnot was able to explore the city, see friends from his internship, swap business cards and network with some professors from graduate schools he applied to.

“I got a lot out of the trip,” Jarnot said, “It was my first time being in San Francisco, so I had a great time seeing a bit of the city. The conference itself was incredible; it was very well organized and there was so much to see and do that it was like drinking from a firehose.”

One of his favorite talks from the conference dealt with an OCO-2 satellite that was being prepped for launch. It was the same one he saw being constructed during his internship.

For more information about Jarnot’s internship at NASA, visit blog.hood.edu/senior-alex-jarnot-completes-nasa-internship.

Enactus

Enactus Awarded Volpe Scholarship for Backet Project

Hood College Enactus has been awarded a prestigious Volpe Scholar award to continue its work with the Backet, a cross-functional piece of apparel for homeless people that combines a backpack and a winter jacket. The Volpe Scholarship provides funds for exceptional students to take part in unique, experiential learning opportunities.

The group earned regional and national recognition in 2016 for creating the Backet, and the students have now developed a business model that includes hiring and paying the homeless to manufacture the product. Enactus president Joe Hutchins ’18 applied for a Volpe Scholarship on behalf of the group and was awarded $5,000 to purchase the materials needed to produce the Backet.

“Without the scholarship, we would not have been able to purchase all of the materials necessary to actually produce the Backet and pay the homeless individuals at the same time,” Hutchins said.

The scholarship money has greatly reduced the need for fundraising, and it covered the costs of Backet production. It has allowed Enactus to focus on developing the product and production process to ensure the homeless individuals are helped to the fullest extent.

The next steps for the project include further production of the current model, developing a prototype of a higher-end model and creating a marketing campaign for the product.

“The development of the higher-end model will allow for sustainability to be achieved if we can get sales under way in local boutiques and through e-commerce,” Hutchins said.

For more information on the Backet and the awards Enactus has earned during its development, visit blog.hood.edu/enactus-wins-regional-awards and blog.hood.edu/enactus-wins-national-recognition.

Pictured: Joe Hutchins at the National Exposition in St. Louis, Mo.

Vivi Tolani

Alumna Working on Anti-Cancer Therapies

Lung cancer is the deadliest form of the disease, claiming approximately 158,000 American lives and accounting for around 27 percent of all cancer deaths. One Hood College alumna is researching drug therapies to fight it.

Bhairavi (Vivi) Tolani is working with a three-person group studying anti-cancer targeted therapies for lung cancer. They are trying to find ways to shut down the rapid growth of the cancerous cells through a variety of drug combinations.

Tolani graduated from Hood in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. During the next three years, she worked at Invitrogen Life Technologies, Lonza Corp. and Digene (now Qiagen), all Frederick biotechnology companies. During that time, she also took graduate classes at Hood, completing her master’s degree in biomedical science in 2007. She worked four 10-hour days, Monday through Thursday, and took evening classes for her master’s degree. Friday through Sunday, she worked on her thesis research project on breast cancer at the National Cancer Institute.

“I got to experience all aspects—biotech, academia and government research— simultaneously,” Tolani said.

Following her master’s degree, Tolani was accepted to the doctoral program in molecular biology at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She researched hematological malignancies (cancers that begin in the cells of blood-forming tissues) for six years there. She then completed six months of postdoctoral training at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park studying ovarian cancer, and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) studying lung cancer.

After a year at UCSF, she was promoted to assistant adjunct professor in a lab studying lung cancer. She works in the lab, mentoring students and technicians of all levels, and she researches lung cancer with her team.

“In particular, we study cellular growth signaling pathways, which, when overactive, prompt cells to grow, divide uncontrollably and become cancerous,” Tolani said. “In an effort to shut down these growth signals, we work on both biologics and small molecule chemical inhibitors as anti-cancer therapies. We also investigate combination therapies—employing lower doses of two or more drugs whose combined effect is greater than either drug alone. This allows the use of lower doses of the drugs, fewer side effects for patients and less drug resistance over longer periods.”

Tolani credits Hood’s excellent science faculty, high academic standards and small class sizes as being instrumental for her successes in academia and cancer research.

“Not only was the quality of teaching excellent, but also, the investment and concern of the faculty in ensuring student success is magnified when class size is small,” she said. “Further, with smaller lab sections, students had a chance for hands-on experience with scientific techniques that my peers in graduate school who went to larger universities never had.”

In addition to the learning environment, Tolani chose Hood because she wanted a well-rounded, liberal arts education and because the College’s proximity to the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick was beneficial to her desire to work with cancer therapies.

For more information, visit tolanilab.ucsf.edu.

End of the Trail in Maine
16_Jena Stone 4
New Hampshire
16_Jena Stone 2
16_Jena Stone 3
16_Jena Stone 1

Thousands of hikers attempt to complete the entire 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail each year. Only about a quarter of those who start complete it, and only about a quarter of those who complete it are women.

Jena Stone, a 2015 Hood graduate, took on the challenge and finished in five months. She began on Springer Mountain in Georgia on April 16, 2016, and summited Mount Katahdin in Maine on Sept. 17, 2016.

After graduating from Hood, she wasn’t ready to jump into a career as a teacher and wanted to go on an adventure. She had no previous backpacking experience, but after talking to some “thru-hikers” (people who have hiked the entire trail), she decided to jump out of her comfort zone and go for it.

Each section of the trail had a personality of its own, created by the weather, terrain and the people. Her favorite part of the experience was the people. Everyone she met challenged or engaged her in a different way. She also met a lot of Trail Angels throughout the trek. These are people who help hikers by handing out snacks along and trail or offering beds and showers.

“I made some friendships that I know will last for a very long time,” Stone said. “Everyone challenged or engaged me in a different way. From religion to politics to the way I interact with others, I learned so much from every person I hiked with.”

Early on in her journey, she received the trail name Skittles due to the fact that she had rainbow-colored hair when she began. Thru-hikers know each other by their trail names, which are generally given to them by other hikers based on something specific about the person.

Among the most enjoyable sections of the trek for Stone were the White Mountains in New Hampshire, which included some of the most difficult trails and some of the best views.

“I was lucky enough to have good weather through that stretch,” she said. “I was also hiking with [trail friends] Giggles and Sage at that point, and I think we spent more time laughing than hiking. Some days we did only a few miles, and others we did more than 20.”

However, at some point, the AT tests every hiker physically and mentally. The Great Smoky Mountains along the Tennessee-North Carolina border and the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia were the most difficult parts for Stone. She began her hike later in the season to avoid snow, but she ended up in an early May snowstorm in the Smokies, a tough stretch of the trail that lasts about a week. It was the first time she was alone on the trail, and she hiked through the cold snow to the highest point on the AT.

In the Shenandoahs, she was hiking by herself again, between 23 and 28 miles per day through “boring” terrain. While in that stretch, she experienced what thru-hikers call the Virginia Blues—after the thrill of the trip subsided and it sunk in that she would be hiking for several months, the mental challenge of walking monotonous terrain tempted her to leave the trail.

She pushed through the trying times with perseverance and a “roll with the punches attitude” that she developed during her journey.

“The only thing I have control over is how I react,” she said. “The trail taught me that it is okay to take a moment and get upset and frustrated. It’s okay to feel defeated, but those feelings won’t last forever. It’s important to take time to acknowledge those feelings and then figure out what you are going to do to deal with the situation. Perseverance and a little spite are what enabled me to finish the trail.”

Stone summited Katahdin Sept. 17, but her accomplishment didn’t start to sink in until she started back down to the base of the mountain.

“Once I started to head back down the mountain, I got really excited and basically skipped my way down, smiling like an idiot,” she said. “Getting back down to the base of Katahdin is when I got really overwhelmed with what I had just accomplished.”

Stone majored in elementary special education with a concentration in mathematics education. She is currently living in Gaithersburg, substitute teaching in Frederick County and at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville. Her goal is to become a middle school math teacher.