Uncovering A Potential New Species of Bacteria

With the 2014 Eastern New England Biological Conference in their sites, Jillian Bouchard ’15, Alexa Caruso ’15, and Stephen Leonard ’14 worked with Rachel Hirst, assistant professor of biology, on the detection, sequence analysis and antibiotic sensitivity of the Methylobacterium, a bacteria found in the fungus Armillaria gallica.


“Being able to share my passion and help someone else find their passion for science is extremely rewarding.” 
 Rachel Hirst ’98, Assistant Professor of Biology

A Summer of Research

While some college students use the summer to relax and recharge, a select group of Stonehill undergraduates were hard at work in campus labs and libraries completing original, publishable research alongside faculty collaborators.

Now in its 18th year, the Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) offers students an early opportunity to perform graduate-level research in the social and natural sciences and the humanities. Their hands-on involvement is a significant competitive advantage in graduate and professional school applications as well as in post-college employment opportunities.

Laura Dzgoeva ’14, one of 50 SURE Scholars during the summer of 2013, helped to translate Russian poetry, “I am extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished this summer. It’s kind of helped expand my horizons and taught me things I never would have learned.”

Laura is not alone. SURE participants often characterize the program as one of their favorite and most influential Stonehill experiences.  “It’s really just that intense and that awesome,” agrees Philip Gasbarro ’14, who will submit his philosophy research to peer-reviewed journals.

The program also allows faculty to connect with students and build lasting relationships. Associate Professor of Psychology Christopher Poirier, who was among the 32 Stonehill SURE mentors, appreciates the bonds he developed this summer. “Working with SURE students, we tend to have a lot of conversations about career interests, graduate school plans—and we get to know each other really well.”