At an institution where undergraduate education is the first priority, I have found that teaching students about science as a collaborative process by involving them in research has been extremely satisfying and fostered the development of life-long relationships. My research program is highly integrative and involves both cellular and molecular biological techniques as well as in vitro and in vivo experimental models. This provides an opportunity for undergraduate students interested in molecular biology, cell biology, immunology (and others) to participate in research. I have established a productive research laboratory studying the effects of stress hormones on the immune response to tumor antigens. I have published research findings in the peer-reviewed journal, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (2013, 28:139-148). Additionally, I have published two papers with undergraduate coauthors in BIOS (In Press and 2009, 80(3):114-122), was the lead author on a book chapter in the Handbook of Psychoneuroimmunology (In Press), and have presented research at national meetings. In addition to studying the effects of stress hormones on the immune response to tumors, my laboratory is also currently investigating how stress hormones change the frequency of the various subsets of dendritic cells, which are critical for the development of an effective immune response against viruses and bacteria. Analysis of these dendritic cell subsets is accomplished using flow cytometry, a key instrumentation method used in many areas of biomedical research. I also have a strong interest in the area of nutrition education, and am developing this as a second area of research.
Students benefit greatly from undergraduate research, and I drive students to make the most of their research experience. Students who work in my laboratory often write small grant proposals and receive external funding from the Pennsylvania Academy of Science and Tri-Beta to support their work. Students also present their research findings at regional undergraduate research meetings, and on campus during Scholarship and Creative Arts Day.
Emily Brumbach ’11 presented at the Tri-Beta conference at Lincoln University. Emily was awarded second place in the poster presentation category.
CURRENT RESEARCH STUDENTS AND PROJECTS:
Erika Klitsch ’14 – Effects of the stress hormone corticosterone on the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and expression of IL-17R on U937 cells exposed to IL-17.
Christine Mrozek ’15 – Influence of corticosterone on growth of melanoma in vivo.
Michael Rotell ’14 – Production of a melanoma cell line that expresses a viral oncoprotein.