Category Archives: our graduates

Our graduates: Sadie Marvel ’18

Sadie Marvel graduated from Bard Biology in 2018, and already has an interesting twist to her career! We asked Sadie some questions, to learn about her life since Bard:

 

Hi Sadie! How are you doing? Where are you now?

I am an English teacher at a small, grassroots school called Interlink English, in a city of Tuxtla Gutierrez in Mexico.  The school is operated by three Americans, and is one of a kind in this area. It provides students with the special opportunity to learn English from native speakers, in a way that focuses on the practical and conversational use of the language, rather than the theoretical and grammatical knowledge that is taught in schools here.

On the surface, teaching English seems very far from what I studied in college, but this job has sparked my interest in topics like the psychology of language learning, communication, and linguistics that definitely have some roots in what I studied in my classes at Bard. (Seriously! I have such a huge appreciation of language now… I feel like it is something I took for granted and didn’t even really question before when I only spoke to other English speakers. but when you really have to think about how to communicate with someone and actually pay attention to the words you are saying, it opens up a whole new perspective on how beautiful and special it all is. Does that make any sense?)

What does your typical day look like?

Well, I start teaching at 4 pm, and before that I have a lot of free time to go on walks, read in cafes, or run errands. At around 2:30, I head to the school to start preparing for my classes. I teach 4 classes back-to-back that are each an hour long, and I finish off my day with a “conversation club” where I just get to relax and spend an hour talking with students who are fluent in English but want to continue practicing. It’s a great way to end the day because most of the people in the club have become my friends, so we just chat about anything and everything!

What do you like the most about your job?

There’s a lot of freedom in teaching here. Even though the school has designed structured lesson plans for every class, the teacher is also free to diverge from them, coming up with class activities on their own. I like the ability to try out new teaching practices and trying to hone in on my own style, but I also like having the lesson plans to fall back on if I need to. I teach every level of English, from a kid’s club class to advanced students, who are mostly adults. And I was pretty much thrown into teaching the day after I got here… some people would say it was “baptism by fire”!

I love this job because the students are so enthusiastic and eager to learn, and I get to work with people of all ages and levels of English. I also feel like I am learning as much from my students as they learn from me, not only about the Spanish language, but also in learning effective ways of communication and teaching that will help me in my future pursuits.

How did you find this job? Was it hard?

I found this job within a week of searching, so no, it was not hard at all! The market for ESL teaching jobs is booming, and job listings are posted all over the internet. I found a listing for this position on Dave’s ESL Cafe (www.eslcafe.com). The site is overwhelming at first, but I spend a week just sifting through all of the listings, particularly the ones that were posted directly from schools rather than the bigger companies that hire people and then place them in different locations.

And since this post is meant to inspire students, I want to mention how I was able to get certified to teach ESL, which is a super easy thing to do at Bard, even though not a lot of people seem to know about this opportunity. If you are interested in it, reach out to Learning Commons, and talk to them about ESL tutoring!

How did you find Mexico?

It has been nothing but warm and welcoming! The people are so friendly and willing to show their culture. I’m sure once I learn more Spanish I will experience even more of that. Chiapas is crazy beautiful too! Tuxtla is in the valley surrounded by mountain ranges from all sides. Once you go into the mountains, there are all of these quaint towns like San Cristobal, which I have been visiting regularly on the weekends.  My Spanish was pretty minimal at first, but I am learning very quickly! Right now, listening and reading are getting easier but I still have a ton of trouble speaking.

What do you plan to do next?

I am open to many possibilities! I may decide to stay here for another year, or perhaps I will go on to teach English in some other part of the world. After that, I am thinking about coming back to the U.S. and applying for an MAT program, or a program in Educational Psychology, but nothing is set in stone yet!

Our graduates: Molly McQuillan ’17

Molly McQuillan graduated from Bard in 2017. Last year, we had a post here on this site, about a publication on multisensory integration that she contributed to, while at Bard. Now we reached out to Molly with some questions, to see where the destiny brought her.

 

Hi Molly! Where do you work now? What is your position called?

I work at MBL, or the Marine Biological Laboratory, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. I’m a research assistant in Dr. Jennifer Morgan’s lab. Dr. Morgan is a neurobiologist; she works in spinal cord injury and regeneration, and also studies how synaptic function is affected by neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s Disease.

Can you say a few words about your research?

Our lab has two major projects going on right now, one looking at how synaptic transmission is restored after spinal cord injury, and the other, which is the project I’m working on, is looking at mechanisms of synaptic defects using a Parkinson’s Disease model. Our main animal model is the sea lamprey, which is not very nice-looking, but it has amazing regenerative capacity as well as giant axons which allow for easier imaging and sectioning.

What does your typical day look like? What do you do at work?

It varies, depending on my experiment schedule. There are basic lab maintenance tasks that need to get done every week, such as making stock solutions for experiments and purchasing lab supplies. In terms of my own experiments, I’m mainly doing bench work which can include doing dissections, staining tissue with antibodies, or running gels for biochemistry experiments, or I’m at my computer doing image analysis. Surprisingly, analyzing data can take much longer than the actual experiment! Most of my bench work takes about 1-2 weeks, with each day planned out by the protocol, sometimes even down to the minute, while the analysis and computer work can take about a month or two, but I’m able to plan it out for myself.

When you started, was it a big difference, compared to your work at Bard?

Yes and no. The general lab settings and expectations were fairly similar, but I think the biggest difference was having more time to devote to experiments and science in general. Back at Bard, the time I had to give to experiments was almost always scheduled around other course work and events, or I would even run to the lab during a lecture break. It’s been a nice change to be able to devote full days to science.

Was it hard to find this position? How did you go about it?

Funny enough, during my last semester, in Animal Physiology class, I found myself picking papers for class presentations that used marine animal models. I became extremely fascinated with marine biology because of this, and joked with some friends that in my next life, I might even become a marine biologist. They actually encouraged me to find out if I could somehow combine marine biology with my current interest in neuroscience. I looked into it, and I discovered MBL. I wasn’t even sure what MBL was at first, since I saw on their website that they were offering a lot of courses, but I dug deeper, saw that they are actually a pretty well-known research facility, and eventually found an opening for the position in Jen’s lab.

What do you like the most about your work at MBL?

Since I’ve started here, I’ve had the chance to learn so many new techniques and I’ve really enjoyed being able to figure out which methods I prefer and what I’m good at. I’ve also had the chance to contribute to a paper for the lab that’s now starting to transition into a new study for possible future publication. I’ll be presenting the preliminary results at the Annual Society for Neuroscience conference this year, which I’m really excited about! Aside from lab science though, the MBL is quite unique by itself. Woods Hole is a small community on Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay on Cape Cod, so it is something of a summer resort area. But MBL offers many courses in multiple fields of biology throughout the year, so there’s always a stream of visiting scientists and students from all over the country and the world here. It’s been a great opportunity to meet many different people who share similar scientific interests.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now I’m in the process of applying to PhD programs in Biomedical Science or Neuroscience this fall for next year. I’m still in the thick of applications, so my longer term plans aren’t as concrete at the moment.   

 

Nsikan Akpan ’06

Nsikan transferred to Bard from Bard College at Simon’s Rock after his sophomore year. In the summer of 2005, he did research on neuroendocrinology with Bruce S. McEwen of Rockefeller University. For his senior project, he did research on NMDA receptors in zebrafish. He was a research assistant in the Department of Pathology at Tufts Medical School studying Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. In 2012, he obtained his Ph.D. from Columbia University for studies of drug treatments for stroke victims. He is now a medical reporter who specializes in infectious diseases and mental health. His writing has been featured in Medical Daily (International Business Times), Scientific American, Science nagazine, NatureNews, and The Scientist magazine.

Links:

Parris Humphrey ’06

Parris Humphrey ’06 transferred to Bard. In his junior year, he traveled to Kenya with Dr. Felicia Keesing to study why the sandflies that transmit leishmaniasis, a tropical disease, are more abundant in areas without large herbivores like giraffes, zebras, and elephants. For his senior project, he figured out that deer can clear blacklegged ticks of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. After graduation, he worked as a research assistant studying the molecular ecology of disease at the U. of Pennsylvania with Professor Dustin Brisson. As of early 2016 Parris is about to get a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, where he studies disease ecology and evolution.

Links:

Sam Israel, ’10

Sam Israel began his Biology work at Bard in Eukaryotic Genetics (BIO202, currently known as “Genetics and Evolution”) with Mike Tibbetts. During his time at Bard, Sam took an ambitious load of courses, including Evolution, Molecular Evolution, Biostatistics, Introduction to Physiology, Biochemistry, Protein Structure & Function, Molecular Biology, an Advanced Seminar in Ecology, Microbiology, Cancer Biology, and a Cell Biology Tutorial. He was also a member of the Bard Music Conservatory and graduated with degrees in both music and biology. His coursework was complemented by 3 (!) summer research experiences, including a semester and summer at the Bard-Rockefeller Semester in Science Program. Sam completed his senior project in the lab of Mike Tibbetts.

As of Fall 2015, Sam is close to the completion of his PhD in the lab of John Ngai at UC Berkeley, where he studies how smell drives fear behaviors in larval Zebrafish. He also works as a science educator and is one of the leaders of the finance team for “Beyond Academia”: a series of highly successful student-run conferences educating students and researchers about non-academic jobs.

Links:
Sam’s Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/samuel-israel/48/5b7/1b3
Sam talking about his graduate program: https://vimeo.com/79831189
Beyond Academia: http://www.beyondacademia.org/

Below is a sample of Sam’s current work: a double-stained confocal microscopy prep of the olfactory bulb in a 5-days old larval Zebrafish. Here, magenta displays the various glomeruli in the olfactory bulb, while green shows a particular subtype of olfactory sensory neurons that project from the olfactory epithelium to the olfactory bulb. The cell bodies of these neurons, that look like flask-shaped bright glowing blobs in this picture, contain olfactory receptors that allow the fish to sense (smell) chemicals in the water. The scale bar represents 20um.

zebrafish OE sensory cells

Alexis Gambis ’03

Alexis came to Bard with equal passions for both science and the arts. He graduated from the Biology program in 2003, with his senior project dedicated to the reconstruction of microbial genome rearrangements in Chlamydia. After Bard, Alexis got a Masters degree in Bioinformatics from the University of Marne la Vallée, and then a PhD from the Rockefeller University, where he studied apoptosis in fruit flies.

During his graduate career, Alexis founded the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York, which celebrates films that feature science. The mission of the festival is “to bridge the gap between art and science through film, thereby transforming the way science is communicated to the public and encouraging collaboration across disciplines”.

In 2014 Alexis completed his first feature film, The Fly Room, parts of which were shot at Bard College.

Links:

Daniela Anderson ’12

Daniela Anderson came to Bard having recently visited leper colonies in Nepal, and received a grant through Bard’s Trustee Leader Scholar (TLS) Program to create a program that supports these colonies. Later in her undergraduate career, she and a friend bicycled across the US to raise awareness and funds for leper colonies. In the summer of her junior year, Daniela earned a competitive NSF-REU award to study genetics of cancer growth; her summer research grew into her senior project, which examined the effects of micro RNA on the differentiation of cancer cells as a means of making them susceptible to existing therapies. Daniela earned a prestigious Watson Fellowship, which funded her for a year following graduation to visit existing leper colonies around the world and learn about both the medical and human impacts of this disease, which still infects tens of thousands of people annually. She is planning to pursue medicine as a career.