Trained in the liberal arts and equipped with a Hood master’s degree in biomedical science, John-Paul Denson is doing his part in cancer research at Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc.
Denson works with RAS genes, which cause about 30 percent of all human cancers. The overall goal of his program is to better understand and target cancers driven by mutations in the RAS pathway.
“We have all been affected by cancer, whether personally or somebody close to us, so once I got a chance to work towards helping fight this awful disease it hooked me,” Denson said. “It’s very motivating and rewarding to even contribute a small portion to the large and amazing cancer research community.”
When Denson first joined NCI/SAIC Frederick (now Leidos Biomedical Research) he knew he wanted to take advantage of the educational assistance program.
“Hood was convenient since I lived and worked in Frederick, but its biomedical science program also had a great reputation when I asked around to my work colleagues,” he said.
Antonio Punzo is using his bachelor’s degree in computer science as a program analyst at Leidos Biomedical.
He is responsible for developing, maintaining and enhancing software that is used by several government research laboratories. Many of his projects require processing and tracking subjects, samples and studies that involve massive amounts of data, which must be processed and retrieved in a short amount of time.
“As a developer, my main goal is to develop software that will deliver fast and accurate data to the user, while providing flexible and easy-to-use tools to enhance their work performance,” he said.
As a developmental scientist at Leidos, Rachel Beyer provides support to the National Cancer Institute Surgery Branch, a pioneering laboratory in the field of cancer immunotherapy (the use of the human immune system to treat cancer).
Her specific role is to ensure that patient cells that have been modified in the laboratory are safe for infusion into the patients. She coordinates and manages the testing required for safety by the FDA, and she investigates potential alternative ways to modify a patient cell in the lab, which may be more safe than what is currently used.
“I am part of a large team that conducts first-in-human clinical trials to investigate new therapeutic options in immunotherapy,” said Beyer. “We are always looking for ways to improve the process of engineering cells for immunotherapies as well as ensuring the safety and rigor of the processes since these are the patient’s cells that are modified and administered back to the patient.”
Now in her ninth year at the company, Lauren Procter first found her way to Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. during her senior year when she completed an independent study with professor of biology Craig Laufer, Ph.D.
“I gained hands-on research experience while supporting Dr. Laufer’s research on pectinolytic enzymes for biofuel production from sugar beet pulp,” she said. “Nearing graduation, I spoke to Dr. Laufer about career paths and he was able to connect me with Dr. Dominic Esposito, a scientist at Leidos Biomedical Research (formerly, SAIC-Frederick).”
By Drew Ferrier, professor of biology and the director of the Coastal Studies Program at Hood College
You’ve been reading a lot about different jobs within various STEM fields. Many STEM disciplines have characterized the environmental issues that plague the Chesapeake Bay and many are needed to come up with a solution.
First, a little background. Noticeable declines in water quality and important living resources in the 1960s and ’70s prompted in-depth ecological investigations of the Bay. By the mid-1980s, scientists had a very good idea of the primary issue; runoff of fertilizers (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediments from human activities—such as agriculture and urban and suburban development—enriched the Bay and led to over-growth of floating, microscopic algae. There was too much algae to be processed by filtering organisms like oysters, so the algae sank to the bottom, and was decomposed by bacteria, consuming all of the water’s dissolved oxygen. In turn, these damaged bottom habitats, as well as parasitic diseases, turbid water and over-harvesting, contributed to the decline of iconic organisms that we associate with the Bay such as blue crabs, striped bass and oysters.
Going on 17 years, although it seems just like yesterday since I started at Hood.
Your research is focused on a really interesting topic—pain, suffering and violence in medieval Germany. What drew you to this area?
My research was focused on pain, suffering and violence in medieval Germany. While I am still interested in these topics—for instance, I am co-editing a volume of essays on Endtimes and the Apocalypse in Medieval German Literary Culture—I have been working extensively on the relationship between architecture and memory, specifically the castle and memory. I am interested in how constructing space shapes cultural identity and contributes to the collective memory of a culture. Each society has important spaces in which stories are shared and memories are created. This is ultimately an ideological process, as whoever controls these spaces controls the narrative, whether or not that narrative is entirely true, which means that these spaces are often fraught with tension. One only has to think about the hotly-debated Confederate Civil War memorials in the United States, which were erected to celebrate confederate war heroes and to propagate the idea that the Confederate cause was a just one, while erasing the memory of slavery and all the suffering that went along with it.
By Britnee Reece ’18, station manager for Blazer Radio
Hood College reflects a community, an educational institution, which means we as a student body must have a sense of urgency to keep our family-like environment safe. Our nation’s school systems are no longer a secure and protected environment; mass shootings in the United States have become something that we as a country have become so oddly numb to. “Thoughts and prayers” will not make the changes needed. The mass shooting, which occurred in Florida early February of this year, took place in my home county, Broward County. I knew the high school and I knew people, who had attended there years ago. It truly “hit home” for me. Those students, who had just witnessed friends die and heard gun shots fire in a place they used to feel at home, were strong. They spoke up. They gave me strength. They sparked a movement.
For Chelsey Adedoyin, the uniqueness of Hood’s campus was the selling point.
“The buildings, the green…wow this campus is beautiful!” Chelsey said of her first impressions of Hood. The Laurel, Maryland, native knew about Hood from a high school friend who played in basketball tournaments on campus.
She also knew the close-knit campus was something she wanted.
“I love the small class sizes. I find that I excel when I can have a closer relationship with my professors,” she said. “The Hood community is really my favorite part of being here. Everyone knows each other, as opposed to a big school, where I don’t know anyone, no one knows me and maybe I don’t even know my teacher. That would be crazy.”
Natalie Kolosieke ’21 of Greensboro, North Carolina, aspires to have a career in the nonprofit sector and “make the world better” after honing her management skills at Hood.
“The types of nonprofits I’m looking at are more education, or women,” she shared. “Those are things that I’m really passionate about. I want to start working at a nonprofit, and if I really enjoy it, I may decide I want to start one.”
Natalie, whose father works for Habitat for Humanity, loves volunteering there and seeing the difference that she can make.