August 29, 2013

First Class of Students Earns Health and Life Sciences Minor

“It may sound cliché, but I believe the health and life sciences minor chose me and not the other way around,” says Alec Eidelman ’13 (B.S. biochemistry).  “My passion for research, collaboration, communication, and education guided me on my path at Lafayette and I believe that an interdisciplinary approach is the future of problem solving.”

Eidelman is one of six students who have earned the health and life sciences minor, which was approved to begin with the Class of 2013.

“Within my minor, I had the ability to explore a variety of interdisciplinary courses that connected different subjects into my education,” he says.  Through these classes, I was able to seamlessly learn important problem solving and analytical skills in order to tackle current issues.”

Eidelman has applied to dental school and in the meantime he is looking to work in a clinical cancer research lab.

Beginning this fall, Chun Wai Liew, associate professor of computer science, will serve as the Peter C.S. d’Aubermont, M.D. ’73 Director of Health & Life Sciences.  During the past two years Robert Kurt, associate professor and head of biology, has served in this role.

“I believe a major high point of the program has been the fact that there are a large number of students interested in the minor,” says Kurt. “We have maintained a list of about 50 students each year who are receiving information and attending different aspects of the program such as interdisciplinary lectures and conversations with faculty from different disciplines across campus.”

Interdisciplinary events have included conversations on fracking, disability studies, and reproductive science.  The program also helps support trips to the National Institutes of Health each year.  The Interdisciplinary Seminar Series in the Life Sciences that has been taught by Steven Mylon, associate professor of chemistry and chair of environmental science & studies, and James Ferri, professor and head of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has brought over 20 visitors to campus over the past few years, including Martin Chalfie, who won a Nobel Prize in chemistry.

“On top of all of this, many of the ideas of the program formed a basis for a recently funded Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to the College,” says Kurt. “It has been an incredible beginning to an interdisciplinary program and we anticipate the program will continue to grow under the leadership of Professor Chun Wai Liew.”

Carly David ’13 (B.S. biology) came to Lafayette knowing that she wanted to major in science and eventually work in healthcare.

“I chose to earn the health and life sciences minor because it was a unique opportunity to be able to take classes outside of biology that still directly related to health,” says David.

For David, the biggest example of this was her work on her capstone for the minor through the engineering studies course “Sustainable Solutions” taught by David Veshosky, associate professor civil and environmental engineering and acting chair of engineering studies.  She chose to work on a project with the Third Street Alliance, an Easton women’s and children’s shelter, to develop actionable recommendations for a previously unusable space.

“In this project I was able to use the skills I developed through the hard sciences, such as research techniques and critical thinking, and apply it to a project that involved the betterment of a community and community health programming,” says David, who now hopes to earn a master’s in public health because of her experiences with the minor. “This capstone course was a real-world application of the health and life sciences minor and utilized my interests outside the hard sciences while collaborating with peers from other majors with whom I would otherwise never have had the chance to interact.”

Other students who earned the minor this year include Tina Jackson ’13 (B.S. neuroscience), Kristen Marshall ’13 (B.S. psychology), Lauren Smedley ’13 (B.S. neuroscience), and Ashley Springer ’13 (A.B. psychology).

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