School of Science
The learning environment in the School of Science is characterized by small classes, personalized attention from full-time faculty, and opportunities to conduct guided research or serve internships in real-world studies. Our laboratory facilities are open around the clock so that students can review laboratory materials or gather for group study in an environment conducive to learning. Faculty members often return at night to lead optional review sessions, and most maintain an open-door policy to increase their availability to students. Each student is advised by a full-time faculty member, who helps plan course schedules and provides suggestions for co-curricular activities that will enhance the undergraduate experience.
At Marist, students learn in a student-centered, supportive environment in small classes housed in modern state-of-the-art facilities. The Science and Allied Health Building is home to undergraduate programs in Athletic Training, Biology, Biomedical Sciences, and Medical Laboratory Sciences, as well as graduate programs in Physician Assistant Studies and Physical Therapy. A simulation lab and observation room give students real-life experience with both live patients and medical mannequins for treating patients and working in hospital environments with other professionals.
The Greenhouse at Marist is also an integral part of School of Science. It houses a plant collection for teaching purposes which includes orchids, ferns, bromeliads, and cacti, as well as some rare and unusual plants. The greenhouse also supports faculty and student research projects investigating topics such as heavy metal exposure, effects of nanomaterials, plant reproductive ecology and plant physiological ecology. The miniature desert showcases cacti and succulents demonstrating a range of adaptations to different desert environments. The greenhouse is also included in classroom activities for Plant Biology, General Biology, Plant Physiology and Ecology and Medical Botany.
Marist's location on the Hudson River makes it an ideal location for the study of environmental science. The college maintains a laboratory in the Historic Cornell Boathouse on the river-front in addition to a monitoring station which pumps water from the river providing near real-time measurements of chemical and physical properties of the river.
In addition, the Hudson River Valley has many hospitals and healthcare facilities that offer fieldwork and internship placement opportunities. In Donnelly Hall, Biochemistry and Chemistry students work in newly-renovated teaching and research laboratories that include a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) room, computational chemistry space, and a student study suite.
Internships (also known as field experiences or clinical experiences) are opportunities for students to apply the theoretical knowledge and skill learned in the classroom to practical, real world situations. Internships allow students to explore potential career paths, experience the workplace context, solve meaningful problems, build practical skills, and network with professionals in their fields of interest. Although most interns receive academic credit for such experiences, some (but not all) also may receive financial compensation.
Students in the School of Science benefit from small class sizes and close mentoring relationships with their faculty members. A central part of the learning experience is the opportunity to conduct scientific research with faculty, which often leads to the results being presented at conferences and published in academic journals. In this way, School of Science students prepare themselves for graduate school and professional careers. Faculty-led research can take many forms, but the hands-on experience gained by Marist students remains the same.
Selected Faculty Research Profiles
Jocelyn Nadeau, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Research in Associate Professor of Chemistry Jocelyn Nadeau’s group is focused on the synthesis and characterization of complex organic molecules with interesting properties for molecular electronics applications. In other words, they create new molecules that emit light or conduct electricity that could eventually be used in electronic displays like the ones in your cell phones. Dr. Nadeau’s students are involved in every aspect of the research, especially the hands-on lab work that is at the heart of what they do. The ultimate goal is always to make new discoveries that can be presented and published, but her favorite part about doing research with undergraduates is helping them develop intellectual autonomy and become young professionals. She has co-authored several peer-reviewed publications with her students in The Journal of Organic Chemistry, Tetrahedron, and Acta Crystallographica, and they have presented their research at national American Chemical Society meetings, the Physical Organic Chemistry Gordon Research Conference, the International Symposium on Novel Aromatics, and at local conferences. The majority of her research students have gone on to pursue the doctorate in chemistry, many at prestigious institutions such as Columbia, Yale, Cornell, Penn State, and UT Austin.
Zofia Gagnon, Associate Professor of Environmental Science
Being involved in the Environmental Science undergraduate research program is an exciting, inspiring, and rewarding experience for any student interested in a career working toward a sustainable future for the earth. Associate Professor of Environmental Science Zofia Gagnon’s work focuses on local issues and always involves School of Science students. Because of Marist’s unique riverside location, much of her research concerns environmental issues affecting the Hudson River watershed and the Hudson River proper. Over the years, Dr. Gagnon has led investigations examining the effects of pollutants (such as man-made nanomaterials, microplastics, PCBs, and platinum group metals) on various species of local flora and fauna. Students have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of a scientific research project, which can include traveling to and presenting the research at regional, national, and international scientific conferences, e.g., the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and the International Botanical Society.
Professor Gagnon has helped many students submit grant proposals to organizations such as the Hudson River Foundation (Polgar Fellowship) and the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. To date, these efforts have produced four Polgar Fellowship Grants, two Goldwater Scholarships, and two Goldwater honorable-mentions. She also helps students obtain grant money from Marist for research supplies and conference travel expenses.
Over the years, many of Dr. Gagnon’s students have been included as co-authors of publications, and a large number have won conference awards and gone on to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. Many are awarded stipends to cover grad school tuition and living expenses.
Mike Powers, Associate Professor of Athletic Training
Students in the Athletic Training program complete a thesis during their senior year, and they begin their work in the fall semester. Says Program Director Mike Powers, “In the fall, they work closely with me to establish a research question, perform a literature review, and develop their methods. At the end of the fall semester, they present their research topic to the the other athletic training students and faculty.” In the spring, students submit their proposals for Institutional Review Board approval and begin collecting data. At the end of the spring semester, students present their findings to their classmates, the Athletic Training faculty, and local athletic trainers who serve as clinical preceptors for the program. The final presentations are treated as a special occasion, including a formal dinner, and students have the opportunity to invite their families. Adds Professor Powers, “For the most outstanding projects, the abstracts are submitted for regional and national presentations. Over the past six years, I’m proud to say that we’ve had 23 regional student presentations and 28 national presentations. Three students have won regional awards for their research.”
Luis Espinasa, Associate Professor of Biology
Associate Professor of Biology Luis Espinasa is proud of the fact that the undergraduates in his research group, as a cohort, have an average publication rate in peer-reviewed journals of 3.6 articles a year over the last five years. How has this been accomplished? By including novel research projects as an integral part of normal courses. Substantive, new, and publishable research is done not by a few outstanding students, but by full classrooms. The immersion of students into real science has been of the utmost importance. Understanding the scientific method and the development of independent, critical thinking are some of the key goals of the Biology Department. Says Professor Espinasa, “We strive to reach levels of excellence in student research both in standard classes and in independent research projects whose products are of such quality that they are presented at scientific forums.”
Below is a list of the articles published by Professor Espinasa over the last five years in peer-reviewed journals in which an undergraduate student has appeared as an author (student names highlighted in bold):
- Espinasa, L., Christoforides, S., and Morfessis, S. E. (2017) Sequence analyses of the 16S rRNA of epigean and hypogean diplurans in the Jumandi Cave area, Ecuador. Speleobiology Notes 9:18-22.
- Espinasa, L., Sloat S. A., and Parker, K. (2017) A new cave population of catfish from Mexico. What’s on their menu? Frog legs. Speleobiology Notes 9: 1-10.
- Espinasa, L., Bonaroti, N., Wong, J., Pottin, K., Queinnec, E., and Rétaux, S. (2017) Contrasting feeding habits of post-larval and adult Astyanax cavefish. Subterranean Biology 21: 1-17.
- Espinasa, L., Collins, E., Finocchiaro, A., Kopp, K., Robinson, J., and Rutkowski, J. (2016) Incipient regressive evolution of the circadian rhythms of a cave amphipod. Subterranean Biology 20: 1-13.
- Espinasa L., Parker K., and Sloat S. A. 2016 Identification of a new population of Anelpistina inappendicata (Insecta: Zygentoma: Nicoletiidae). Speleobiology Notes 8: 10–15.
- Espinasa, L., Bartolo, N. D., Centone, D. M., Haruta, C. S., and Reddell, J. R. (2016) Revision of genus Texoreddellia Wygodzinsky, 1973 (Hexapoda, Zygentoma, Nicoletiidae), a prominent element of the cave-adapted fauna of Texas. Zootaxa 4126(2): 221-239.
- Espinasa, L., Bartolo, N. D., and Sloat, S. A. (2015) A new epigean species of the genus Anelpistina (Insecta: Zygentoma: Nicoletiidae) from Sierra de El Abra, Taninul, Mexico. European Journal of Taxonomy 156: 1-7.
- Espinasa, L., McCahill, A., Kavanagh, A., Espinasa, J., Scott, A. M. and Cahill, A. (2015) A troglobitic amphipod in the Ice Caves of the Shawangunk Ridge: Behavior and cold resistance. Subterranean Biology 15: 95-104.
- Espinasa, L. Collins, E., and Botelho, M. (2014) Two new nicoletiid species (Insecta: Zygentoma) from the Yucatan Peninsula, México. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 127(3): 473-482.
- Espinasa, L. and Socci, K. (2014) A new species of Anelpistina (Nicoletiidae: Zygentoma: Insecta) from the Selva Lacandona rainforest in Mexico. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 127(3): 466-472.
- Espinasa, L. and Botelho, M. (2014) A New Species of Speleonycta (Insecta: Zygentoma) from the bay area of San Francisco, California. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 127(2): 335-339.
- Espinasa, L. and Mathes, J. (2014) A new species of genus Anelpistina (Insecta: Zygentoma: Nicoletiidae) from Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 127(2): 328-334.
- Espinasa, L., Bartolo, N. D., Newkirk, C. E. (2014) DNA sequences of troglobitic nicoletiid insects support Sierra de El Abra and the Sierra de Guatemala as a single biogeographical area: Implications for Astyanax. Subterranean Biology. 13: 35–44.
- Espinasa, L., Centone, D. M., and Gross, J. B. (2014) A contemporary analysis of a loss-of-function of the oculocutaneous albinism type II (Oca2) allele within the Micos Astyanax cave fish population. Speleobiology Notes. 6: 48–54.
- McCaffery, S., Collins, E., and Espinasa, L. (2014) Eye histology of the Tytoona cave sculpin: Eye loss evolves slower than enhancement of mandibular pores in cave fish? Speleobiology Notes 6: 1-7.
- Espinasa, L., Cahill, A., McCaffery, S., and Millar, C. (2013) Partial sequence of a gene involved in skin coloration (MC1R) from the Pennsylvanian Grotto Sculpin. Speleobiology Notes 5: 60–65.
- Espinasa, L., Mendyk, A., Schaffer, E., and Cahill, A. (2013) The Second Northernmost Cave-Adapted Fish in the World? Groundwork on the Tytoona Cave Sculpin Population. Northeastern Naturalist 20(1):185-196.
- Espinasa, L., Botelho, M., and Socci, K. (2013) A new species of genus Squamigera (Insecta: Zygentoma: Nicoletiidae) from the Mayan ruins of Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico. Journal of Entomology and Nematology 5(2): 24-28.