By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU



This month’s issue of Connections features examples of the stellar research being conducted by faculty at five Jesuit colleges and universities across the country. From treating autism spectrum disorders, to tracking the evolution of New York City’s rat population, to genetic sequencing of E.Coli, our schools are on the cutting edge of research that stands to impact communities far beyond our campuses.

Our institutions range from one exclusively liberal-arts undergraduate institution, to mid-size Master’s level institutions, to institutions with professional and doctoral programs. Regardless of size, faculty are committed to conducting research that contributes to our collective body of knowledge, and inspiring students to pursue careers in the arts and sciences as well. Just this week, a 2016 graduate of Santa Clara University was named a 2018 Rhodes Scholar; Sean P. Reilly will pursue graduate mathematical modeling and scientific computing at the University of Oxford next fall.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for the work of our faculty who live out the Jesuit ideals of academic excellence and the pursuit of knowledge for the greater good every day.

By Cynthia Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU



Tax Madness on Capitol Hill
On Thursday, November 16, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Job Act, by 227-205-2. This marked a historic moment in Congress considering that a tax overhaul of this magnitude had not been accomplished since 1986. H.R. 1 altered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%. The justification for the corporate tax reduction was based upon the trickle-down economics theory, which posits that lower taxes would produce more new jobs. Individual tax rates also changed to three main rates. Many individual taxes, such as state and local income taxes, were eliminated. The mortgage interest write-off survived but with a cap of $500,000. Unfortunately, the cost of this tax bill will add $1.5 trillion to the national debt. The higher education community, including AJCU, opposed the House bill.

For higher education, tax provisions such as Section 117(D), which allowed colleges and universities the option to contribute tuition assistance to their employee’s family members without taxation, have been recalled. Section 127, which allowed employers to give tuition assistance to their employees, was also eliminated. The Life-Long Learning Credit and Hope Scholarship, both of which are rolled into the American Opportunity Tax credit (AOTC), were also eliminated. These cuts will pose a particular loss for graduate students who previously received tax-free scholarship funding for their work as teaching assistants or researchers. Finally, the Student Loan Interest deduction (SLID) was also repealed.

For quite some time, the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee had shown interest in taxing private institutions’ endowments, particularly those over $1 billion. As a result, both the House and Senate bills proposed an excise tax of 1.4% for institutions with large endowments (over $250,000 per student in the House bill; and over $250,000 per student in the Senate bill). In addition to levying a tax on university endowments, the House also repealed the tax-exempt status of bonds that non-profit organizations use to fund libraries, science buildings, etc.

The Senate bill, H.R. 1, is a preferable bill for higher education, as it would save $65 billion in tax eliminations found in the House bill. The Senate bill saves section 117(d), Section 127, the Hope and Life-Long Learning tax provisions, and the AOTC. Unfortunately, the excise tax remains in the Senate bill.

Aside from issues specific to higher education, the Senate bill also threw a curve ball during markup when they eliminated the individual mandate for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It remains to be seen if this addition to the bill will cost votes on the Senate Floor. The Senate Committee on Finance passed their version of H.R. 1 by party line vote on Thursday, November 16. Congress is in recess due to the Thanksgiving holiday and will return on November 27, at which time the Senate intends to vote on the tax bill. Should it pass on the Senate Floor, both Committees will begin the process of conferencing both bills to create a resolution that both Chambers can feasibly pass. Since President Trump has yet to have a victory for major legislation this year, the tax bill is critical to his agenda.

We will continue to keep you informed on the latest news from Capitol Hill. Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Jesuit institutions, faculty and staff.

By Kristin E. Etu, Associate Director of College Communications, Canisius University

summerMAX participants engage in a therapeutic activity in Buffalo, NY (photo by Canisius University)    

summerMAX participants engage in a therapeutic activity in Buffalo, NY (photo by Canisius University)



According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 68 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), marking a 123 percent increase since 2002.

“ASD consists of core symptoms including social impairments, and narrow, repetitive behaviors and interests that severely interfere with children’s daily functioning,” explains Marcus L. Thomeer, Ph.D, who co-founded and co-directs the Institute for Autism Research (IAR) at Canisius University with colleague, Christopher Lopata, Psy.D.  

There is no known cure for ASD, but children can receive the attention and treatment they need to improve their social functioning through the Institute for Autism Research.

The IAR has already made a difference for nearly 400 Western New York children and their families. Established in 2009, the Institute is dedicated to better understanding ASD and enhancing the lives of affected children. The IAR has developed several effective treatment programs that have garnered the attention of the clinical and research communities and the national media. Most renowned is summerMAX, one of the first comprehensive treatment research programs proven effective for high-functioning children with ASD.

The summerMAX program consists of five active treatment components including social skill groups, therapeutic activities, face and voice emotion recognition instruction, behavioral reinforcement system, and parent training. For the children, the five-week long summerMAX program is just like summer camp. They participate in engaging group activities, entertaining games, field trips to local attractions and theme parks, and swimming twice a week. 

Throughout the day, summerMAX participants earn or lose points based on their participation and use of social skills. There are no breaks from social instruction, not even at lunch. Participants “earn” their way to field trips and other rewards based on point levels.

“The high level of intensity of the summerMAX program is necessary because we are trying to move the kids a good distance in a five-week [span],” says Lopata.

Lopata and Thomeer have developed strategies to specifically treat ASD symptoms, that are incorporated into the program’s structured activities. Members of the research team, many of whom are undergraduate and graduate students, implement the strategies. The researchers then assess the impact to determine which ones result in the greatest gains among the children. 

The children have so much fun that they don’t realize they are in treatment. “We want the kids to have fun but we want to make sure they are learning something and that the program is changing their behaviors in their day-to-day lives,” says Thomeer.

According to results from three randomized trials, children who participate in summerMAX consistently show vast improvements in their understanding and use of social and communication skills compared to those who do not receive treatment. They also maintain their social gains after completing the program.  

The IAR’s findings are the foundation for its current research testing the effectiveness of its treatment program in school settings (schoolMAX). A historic $3.4 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences is supporting a four-year study. Preliminary research on the school program conducted in several local public schools has shown much promise. In addition, the U.S. Department of Defense Autism Research Program has awarded the Institute a four-year, $1.3 million grant to study the effectiveness of an outpatient version of the program (MAXout). If proven effective, these new treatment programs will enable the IAR to expand its programs for children and parents, who need accessible treatment options.

Most recently, the results of a randomized clinical trial found summerMAX to be effective in a community-based setting. This was an important extension of the prior summerMAX clinical trials, as the results indicated that community providers can effectively conduct the program, and that children show significant gains. 

But parents of children with ASD say that the greatest reward is watching their sons and daughters grow into understanding and social individuals. “Prior to attending summerMAX, when someone entered the room, Owen didn’t acknowledge the person, even when he or she said ‘hello,’” says Stacy Klein, Owen’s mother. “This program has helped Owen (now 13) relate to his peers – emotionally.” Klein adds that Owen will ask family members about their day – something he would never do before attending summerMAX. Klein has also seen a reduction in Owen’s symptoms of narrow, obsessive interests. 

Now 14, Corinne Marciniak is also flourishing. She swims on her local varsity swim team as an eighth grader and has been a member of a local synchronized swim team for four years.

“Corinne uses the skills she learned at summerMAX to be a productive, positive member of the synchronized swim team,” says Renee Marciniak, Corrine’s mother. “She also has friends on the team. Corinne facilitated those relationships all on her own.”

Such testimonials are credit to the mission of IAR. “We need to give these kids an opportunity to attend school, go to college, to find meaningful work as adults, to have a family and ultimately not be so isolated from society,” says Thomeer. “All our efforts are undertaken with this in mind – to improve the lives of children with autism.”

All indications are that the Institute for Autism Research is making significant progress toward that goal. 

For more information regarding the IAR at Canisius University, please call (716) 888-2800 or visit

By John F. Hill, Media Relations Director, College of the Holy Cross

Professor Charles Anderton (photo by Tom Rettig for College of the Holy Cross)    

Professor Charles Anderton (photo by Tom Rettig for College of the Holy Cross)



Economics professor Charles Anderton is in his office at the College of the Holy Cross talking to a visitor, and pulls out a textbook on genocide. It’s comprehensive; roughly the size of a pre-internet phone book. He runs through the chapters. 

There’s one on psychology. There’s one on sociology. Political science. Anthropology. History runs throughout.

Economics is nowhere to be found.

“I don’t think it’s because they forgot,” Anderton says. “It’s because the economists hadn’t really stepped up the way practitioners from these other disciplines had.”

Ten years ago, Anderton attended a conference on genocide and was startled by what he heard. The incomprehensible numbers: 100 million killed over the past century; nearly 1 million killed in Rwanda in just 100 days — eclipsing the total killed over the past 50 years in terrorist attacks around the world. And on and on. But perhaps the biggest personal takeaway was what Anderton didn’t see. He realized that, while genocide had been a topic of serious research and scholarship for more than 50 years in many disciplines, he and his fellow economists had contributed little to the discussion on how to prevent these mass atrocities.

“It hit me very hard that this field had done virtually nothing on economic aspects of genocides,” says Anderton. There was a gap that needed to be filled.

So Anderton and a colleague, Jurgen Brauer, an economist affiliated with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, co-edited “Economic Aspects of Genocides, Other Mass Atrocities, and Their Prevention” in 2016. Published by Oxford University Press, the volume includes 28 chapters, four of which are co-authored by Anderton himself. They reached out to experts from around the world and from multiple disciplines, and filled the collection with the work of 41 scholars, including a Nobel Prize winner. The work has already been adopted by more than 200 libraries and has been positively reviewed in a number of venues; Oxford University Press has invited the co-editors to write a trade book on the same topic.

Economics may not immediately seem to apply to the study of genocide. But economics is about behavior and how humans behave when they act rationally, in their own self-interest. A shopper at a grocery store will buy the loaf of bread that’s on sale over one that’s full price, for example. Anderton’s research has focused on how the perpetrators of genocide act similarly, or in his words, “with disturbing rationality.” Governments and other groups that commit mass atrocities make horrific but calculated choices about how to kill and terrorize those they seek to eliminate.

“The destruction of people can be calculated, efficient,” Anderton says. “It can be shockingly effective.”

Understanding those choices, and how external pressure can affect them, is at the heart of Anderton’s work. Early intervention is key, and understanding the data behind mass killings could help the international community identify potential genocides before they start.

The research has also investigated how groups that commit genocide react to external pressure, like economic sanctions or other diplomatic efforts. Anderton has found that those kinds of efforts can have unintended consequences. For example, when the Mexican government tried to counteract drug cartels’ efforts to attack key officials in the federal government, the cartels focused their efforts on attacking local officials — town and village chiefs of police, judges and officers.  

“You really have to think holistically; you have to understand that organizations, whether they are drug organizations or governments…have many prongs they can choose to do what they’re trying to do,” Anderton says.

Anderton credits his students with furthering his research. At most larger institutions, it is not always possible for undergraduates to work directly with faculty members. At Holy Cross, students and faculty collaborate to devise noteworthy research projects and explore challenging topics. Along the way, they learn to translate intellectual curiosity and passion into concrete research questions and hone important skills by working with state-of-the-art lab instruments and cutting-edge research methods.

Anderton has taken on four Honors students who have contributed to his research. He co-authored a peer-reviewed article with one of his students, Edward V. Ryan ’15, examining how “low-level” attacks against civilians can be a predictor of genocidal attacks. Most genocide data sets begin tracking only after five civilian deaths. But non-lethal attacks, like looting, rape, and forced kidnapping, can normalize attacks on the victimized group. Anderson notes that it is important for the international community to recognize these trends while there’s still a chance to intervene and save lives.

“Once the behavior spreads… it’s like an epidemic,” he says. “The disease has spread and it’s out of control.”

Another of Anderton’s students, Colleen Melaugh ’12, went on to publish her own article on the topic, illuminating the under-researched “lost genocide of El Salvador,” which she first learned about while on a trip with a Jesuit organization during her undergraduate days at Holy Cross.

“Having the interaction with the kind of students that we have here has been really beneficial to my research,” Anderton says.

In May, Anderton received Holy Cross’ Mary Louise Marfuggi Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship. This annual award was established to honor a member of the faculty for outstanding achievement in the creation of original work in the arts and sciences, encouraging interesting and important research.

When Anderton first joined the Holy Cross faculty, he got a few quizzical looks from colleagues for his focus on the economics of war and peace. Who was this guy, and was he really doing economics?

“(Economists) usually think of financial markets, and grocery stores, and jobs,” says Anderton. “But they were immediately supportive of the whole thing. I feel like I’ve been blessed by great support from the College, great students, and great colleagues. You can’t ask for much more than that.”

By Janet Faller Sassi, Editor & Associate Director for Internal Communications, Fordham University

Jason Munshi-South (center), Matthew Combs (right) and members of their research team who participated in Street Art for Street Rats this summer in Manhattan. The event helped to educate New Yorkers about their most reviled rodents and paint murals …    

Jason Munshi-South (center), Matthew Combs (right) and members of their research team who participated in Street Art for Street Rats this summer in Manhattan. The event helped to educate New Yorkers about their most reviled rodents and paint murals in a public park space together (Photo by Fordham University)



For New Yorkers, it’s hard to imagine urban rats as anything but revolting. There they are, circling garbage bins at the end of the subway platform during rush hour, astonishingly bold—and large.

But to Jason Munshi-South, Fordham University associate professor of biology, they’re a species whose mysterious past and intriguing patterns of movement around the city make them ripe for research.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into trying to kill urban rats,” says Munshi-South. “But we haven’t really put that much effort into understanding them as a biological species.”

Munshi-South and his team have received $670,000 from the National Science Foundation to study the evolution and ecology of New York’s rat population, specifically, how it survives and evolves within a complex environment. Working out of a laboratory at Fordham’s Calder Biological Field Station in Armonk, New York, he and his team have collected rat DNA from every one of the 40-something zip codes in Manhattan. The team, which includes doctoral student Matthew Combs, began collecting samples from Manhattan rats in 2014. 

Graphic by Fordham University    

Graphic by Fordham University



Through genetic analysis, the team has been able to construct spatial models of how the rats move around the vast networks of Manhattan’s parks, streets, sewers and subway systems. And, not unlike human New Yorkers, research shows that the rats tend to move more fluidly on a north-south axis, with more difficulty in getting “cross-town.” (Midtown, with its massive office buildings and better overall maintenance, makes it a bit of a “no-go” zone for rats.)

“There are definitely uptown rats and downtown rats,” says Combs, who does most of the collecting using enclosed plastic traps baited with peanut butter and bacon.

Although all New York City rats are of the Norway (or “Brown”) rat variety, there are minute genetic differences even among the New York City populations. As they tend to colonize, their “communities” generally span a few city blocks, Munshi-South says. And they’re fiercely tribal. “We think that once rats get established and build big, healthy colonies, it’s hard for new rats to integrate and breed into the population.”

The biologist first developed his passion for rats when he observed that they rarely chose green spaces for their urban habitat, like white-footed mice, squirrels and other rodents. And, yet, they seemed to be “everywhere else in the city.”

“So I became interested, then, in how rats move and spread their genes in the built environment.”

The team’s grant funding is also being used to track the historic movement of rats across the globe. So far, they have collected and sequenced rat DNA from 30 countries, and have generated genomic data that traces the rat lineage from the areas of Mongolia and Northern China. The rats reached Europe in the 1500s and, from there, moved to America around 1750. New York City rats, therefore, are closely related genetically to Western European rats, most likely from Great Britain or France. 

Jason Munshi-South with PBS' Hari Sreenivasan on the set of SciTech Now (Photo by Fordham University)    

Jason Munshi-South with PBS’ Hari Sreenivasan on the set of SciTech Now (Photo by Fordham University)



Munshi-South and his team’s research has been widely disseminated. Their large-scale genomic analysis of brown rats around the world, the very first ever done, was published last year in the Royal Society’s flagship journal, Proceedings B. The paper was written up in The New York Times by science writer Carl Zimmer. An additional paper by Munshi-South and co-author Marc T.J. Johnson was published this month in the journal Science, in which the researchers cite direct evidence of evolutionary change among more than 100 species living in cities around the world. And in December, Munshi-South will appear in an interview done by PBS correspondent Hari Sreenivasan for a segment on SciTech Now.

But academic papers are not the only byproduct of Munshi-South’s studies. The research is of interest to New York City’s Department of Health, which is working with him to determine the locations of the city’s largest clusters of rat populations. Besides being a symbol of urban decay, New York City’s estimated million-plus rats destroy infrastructure and spread diseases such as salmonella and leptospirosis. “If we can successfully model how rats move around the city and where their largest colonies are, we can better control their populations—or modify the landscape to change their behavior,” says Munshi-South.

Even so, living with city rats is a likely inevitability as they remain extremely adaptable, he says. “You can really never get rid of them, and almost certainly they will outlast humans on the deeper evolutionary time scale.”

By Kristin Agostoni, Assistant Director of Communications and Media Relations, Loyola Marymount University

Jeremy Pal has authored groundbreaking studies focused on understanding climate change and its many impacts around the world (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)    

Jeremy Pal has authored groundbreaking studies focused on understanding climate change and its many impacts around the world (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)



Climate change, environmental issues and socio-economics compel Loyola Marymount University (LMU) professor Jeremy Pal’s research, including the studies that he conducts with his undergraduate and graduate students.

Pal traces his interest in environmental science and engineering to a community college course taught by a part-time instructor who doubled as a local lifeguard.

Pal had been reluctant to enroll in Santa Monica College after high school and didn’t have a clear path forward, but that human ecology class helped to give him direction; he was moved by his instructor’s descriptions of high cancer incidents among Santa Monica Bay lifeguards, and speculation that pesticides dumped off the coastline decades earlier were to blame.

“That was really eye-opening,” says Pal, a professor of civil engineering and environmental science in LMU’s Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering. “That kind of inspired me and got my grades up.”

Pal eventually transferred to LMU, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1994. He later earned Master’s and Doctoral degrees in environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He went on to work as a research scientist for an international agency in Italy, and became a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Since joining LMU’s faculty in 2006, Pal has authored groundbreaking studies focused on understanding climate change and its many impacts around the world – a passion that aligns with LMU’s Jesuit traditions and core value of promoting a culture where faculty and students apply their knowledge and skills to help others, including the poor and vulnerable.

Several of these studies have received widespread media interest, including a recent article that Pal co-authored in the August edition of Science Advances magazine concerning climate change in the densely populated agriculture regions of South Asia. With co-authors Elfatih Eltahir, Sc.D., of MIT, and Eun-Soon Im, Ph.D., of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Pal offers critical projections about human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – together, home to roughly one-fifth of the global human population.

If these emissions continue at the current levels, the researchers predict that by the end of the 21st century (2071-2100), conditions are likely to approach, and in some locations exceed, a human survivability threshold based on a combined measure of air temperature and humidity. According to the research, a few hours of exposure to this so-called “wet-bulb temperature” of 95 F (or 35 C) – considered an upper limit on human survivability that is equivalent to a heat index of about 160 F – would result in death for even the fittest of humans in shaded, well-ventilated conditions.

“Without significant mitigation, some of the most severe hazards of climate change will impact some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, those who work outdoors in sectors such as agriculture as well as those who do not have access to air-conditioning,” Pal explains.

He conducted previous research with Eltahir – funded by the government of Kuwait – that made similar predictions for rising intolerable heat in the Persian/Arabian Gulf region. But the results of the South Asia study have helped to shine a light on the vulnerability of the affected populations.

Pal says that the team considered three metrics when considering which area would be the focus of their second study on rising temperatures and global warming: population density, outdoor working conditions and per capita gross domestic product (GPD) – an indicator of a country’s vulnerability. Mixed together, Pal saw a particular vulnerability in South Asia.

“A lot of the climate change community has shifted to place more emphasis on adaptation,” he explains. “You can do things like construct seawalls, white or green rooftops, and reflective asphalt to make our cities and communities more resilient. But that’s not thinking about things in a global perspective, because the wealthier nations can adapt. Regions like South Asia, Africa and South America don’t really have the means to adapt.”

Pal’s hope is that the team’s research will eventually spark discussions about policy changes that could help to mitigate human-caused emissions. The team’s results are based on a “business-as-usual” scenario – what would happen if nothing changed – but the researchers are hopeful. Pal says, “We showed in both of those studies (concerning the Persian Gulf region and South Asia) that in doing something about climate change … these regions really stand to benefit.”

Upcoming research will focus on similar studies in other vulnerable regions, including the impact of severe storms on low-income areas in the United States; how climate change is affecting U.S. ski resorts; and Los Angeles County’s resilience to changes in frequent storms and flooding.

Pal’s hope for his students is that they will follow their passions, whether working in the fields of civil or environmental engineering, pursuing a doctoral degree, or ultimately choosing another path.

“Here (at LMU) I really excelled with the help of the professors. The way of the Jesuit education system really helped me quite profoundly,” Pal says. “My goal of returning here as a professor was to help students maximize their potential and overcome barriers to success. That’s what I really try to do.”

By Shantanu Bhatt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, Saint Joseph’s University

Dr. Shantanu Bhatt and Marisa Egan ’18, a student scholar who is researching E. albertii, a strain of bacteria in the same family as E. coli (photo by Saint Joseph's University)    

Dr. Shantanu Bhatt and Marisa Egan ’18, a student scholar who is researching E. albertii, a strain of bacteria in the same family as E. coli (photo by Saint Joseph’s University)



Drug-resistant bacteria are on the rise. Over the last decade, countless scientific studies have shown that traditional treatments are becoming less effective in treating a widening spectrum of illnesses. As these treatments fail, it is crucial that we work to understand the biology of these bacteria, how they cause sickness, and how they can be stopped.

Over the course of my career, my research has focused on pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli). The bacterium, which exists as a harmless and even beneficial microbe in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, including humans, has also evolved into at least 11 different disease-causing types.

One of those types is enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC). EPEC belongs to the attaching/effacing (A/E) family of bacteria. These bacteria infect intestinal cells, injecting proteins into the cell to destroy, or efface, their microvilli. Then, they recruit proteins from the effaced microvilli to form pedestal-shaped structures that protrude from infected cells. These protrusions are crowned by tightly attached bacteria.

The disintegration of the microvilli prevents intestinal cells from performing their duty of absorbing nutrients and water, which, in turn, leads to diarrhea. This is especially dangerous for infants – a group that is extremely susceptible to EPEC infections. Alarmingly, due to the emergence of multidrug resistant strains, it is becoming difficult to treat EPEC infections.

Previous studies on EPEC revealed a cluster of genes called the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE), which is essential for the bacterium to form pedestals and cause disease. I am building on this research to find out how the LEE is regulated. A systematic understanding of the LEE is critical for developing any therapeutic or prophylactic treatments against the bacterium. Specifically, my research focuses on the protein Hfq, which binds to ribonucleic acid (RNA).

Hfq is shaped like a doughnut, with two dissimilar sides. On one side, it binds to a regulatory small RNA (sRNA) and on the other side, it binds to a messenger RNA (mRNA), bringing the two in close proximity of each other and allowing them to pair. Once paired, the sRNA can dictate whether toxic proteins encoded on the mRNA are expressed or not.

In 2016, students working in my lab at Saint Joseph’s University were the first to identify three Hfq-dependent sRNAs that regulated the LEE of EPEC. We identified sRNAs that shut off or turned on the production of toxic proteins to modulate the infectivity of EPEC. Since then, we have discovered four more sRNAs.

These discoveries are crucial in the ongoing fight against drug-resistant bacteria. If we can identify regulators that control the virulence of EPEC, we can then develop new drugs against these regulators and curtail bacterial infection. This is especially critical because of the populations affected by the sickness. EPEC-related illnesses occur most often in infants in developing countries, where access to clean water is not available. We must find the means to fight these bacteria so that we can protect the weakest among us. This is central to our mission as a Jesuit university.

Though this research is still in its infancy — developing an effective treatment will take years — I am optimistic about the possibilities, especially because of the work being done by my students. Undergraduate students who study with me have earned several national fellowships, including the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, American Society for Microbiology Undergraduate Research Fellowship, ThermoFisher Scientific Antibody Scholarship, Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid for Research, and the Sigma Zeta Research Award. Several students have also coauthored research papers with me in peer-reviewed journals.

I have been able to be so productive in the lab only because of these dedicated and diligent students, who have pushed our research to un-chartered frontiers. I’m humbled and inspired by their work and confident in their path forward.