MC students land competitive summer internships

June 19, 2012
Contact: Christine Flood, Communications Assistant
865.981.8207; communication@maryvillecollege.edu

Ready and excited for hands-on, real world experience in their chosen field of study, Maryville College students have scattered to all parts of the country this summer to participate in internships that will augment their MC education and help them clarify their vocational callings.

Numerous MC students were successful in landing spots in high-profile, competitive internship programs that not only promise work with leading experts in their disciplines but also stipends and provisions for housing and transportation.

The Natural Science Division saw a particularly high number of students selected for internships this year. Dr. Jerilyn Swann, associate professor of biology and chair of the division, said the reasons for their strong applications are numerous.

"It's not just the intensive coursework, hands-on laboratory experiences and one-on-one research with faculty members in the Natural Sciences that give our students the competitive edge for these impressive internships, but the thorough and engaging core curriculum that, together with major courses, helps provide students with the essential skills in critical thinking, problem-solving and communication that universities and companies offering internships are looking for," she said. "Our division also offers a number of in-house summer internship opportunities that helps give students even more research experience and demonstrates a proven capacity in these students to successfully complete summer internship programs. As a result, our students are more of a 'known quantity' compared to students who do not have as much hands-on laboratory experience.

"We are delighted that several of our students are doing a second summer of internship work and getting new experiences to expand their knowledge and skill sets," the professor said, adding that she knows one graduate who is now working for the company where she interned last year.

"The accomplishments of our students are affirmations of our programs in the Natural Sciences, as well as our overall liberal arts curriculum at Maryville College, and we are very proud of them."

Read more about these students and their impressive plans for the summer of 2012.

McNabb analyzes the microbes of soft corals

Participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience at the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Catalina Island, recent graduate Nicole McNabb ‘12 is working with Dr. John Heidelberg ’87 and Dr. Karla Beard Heidelberg ’88, who are faculty in residence at the Wrigley Institute.

This marine science center on Catalina Island is a branch of the University of Southern California. McNabb is working on a project evaluating the microbes associated with soft corals called “gorgonians,” which are found along the coasts of southern California. These corals are commonly referred to as the California Golden Coral. This species is important to scientific study because of oceanic climate change.

McNabb is specifically undertaking an analysis of bacteria that are on the water column and comparing them to bacteria attached to the surface of the corals. This analysis involves comparing these bacteria on a molecular and microscopic level.

Hale studies alligators as bioindicators

Matthew Hale, a senior in biology, is participating in a summer undergraduate research program at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Teamed with Dr. Louis Guillette, Jr., renowned environmental researcher and professor at the MUSC and National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Marine Lab, Hale is in the field and at the Hollings Marine Lab, studying alligators and their role as a bioindicator species for environmental contaminants.

Students continue study on yeast cells

Laura Evans, Davis Haskins, Elisabeth Klouda and Brittany Neff all are working with Dr. Jennifer Brigati, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Maria Siopsis, associate professor of mathematics, on a National Science Foundation-funded project Brigati has been leading for the past three summers.

Siopsis is joining the research for the first time this summer and is working on the mathematical modeling of the signal transduction pathways Brigati and students are studying.

Maryville College students also are working with two students from Carson-Newman and one faculty member each from Carson-Newman and Tennessee Wesleyan. The research project focuses on studying the signal transduction pathways in yeast. Human applications of the research include a better understanding of medical issues, including diabetes.

Revilla researches cells at Yale

Stephen Revilla, a junior in biochemistry, is participating in the Sackler Undergraduate Fellowship Program, a summer research program held at Yale University. The program enables undergraduates interested in pursuing a career in the sciences to conduct interdisciplinary research at Yale University during the summer. According to Yale’s Sackler Institute website, the fellowship “focuses on research at the intersection of biology, physics, and engineering and serves as a glimpse of what graduate school at a large research institutions is like.”

Revilla is assisting with research on the mechanical properties of tissues, studying how clusters of cells push and pull on each other and their surroundings. The goal is to understand how cells alter this force transmission when they form adhesions to other cells and also when those adhesions break down. Some applications of this work are in wound healing, when cells need to re-adhere to each other and in cancer metastasis, which occurs when cells break away from a primary tumor.

Nivens collaborates on mathematical models project

Arielle Nivens, a junior mathematics major, is participating in a research experience for undergraduates (REU) at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). Eighteen undergraduates are participating in the experience held at the University of Tennessee and are working in teams with postdocs and faculty to conduct research at the interface of mathematics and biology.

Led by four researchers, Nivens and her team are working specifically on a project that is developing mathematical models of Salmonella transmission in swine farms to better understand the factors that favor the transmission and the persistence of multidrug resistant Salmonella in different farm environments.

Lyle conducts mathematical research

Senior mathematics major Jessica Lyle is participating in the Summer Undergraduate Mathematical Science Research Institute (SUMSRI) program hosted by the Department of Mathematics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. According to their website, program administrators “seek talented undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing advanced degrees in the mathematical sciences. “

The research areas this year are algebra, discrete mathematics and statistics.

Edwards and Herron hone interpreting skills

Tyler Herron, a senior Spanish with Teaching Licensure and ASL-English interpreting double major, is spending the summer in New York – four weeks with the Empire Interpreting Agency, where he is interpreting Sign Language, Spanish and English, and another four weeks at the Helen Keller National Center for the Deaf and Blind, where he will practice tactile interpreting and other forms of Deaf-blind communication.

Shelby Edwards, a senior ASL-English interpreting and Deaf studies double major, is also interning at the Helen Keller National Center for the Deaf and Blind this summer.

Tarwater selected as FTE undergraduate fellow

Jordan Tarwater, a senior religion major, has been selected as an undergraduate fellow for the Fund for Theological Education (FTE), a national, ecumenical, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding and supporting Christian leaders.

The FTE’s Undergraduate Fellowships give students an opportunity to “look at the possibility of pursuing ministry as their life’s work, through being connected with other young adults from many different faith backgrounds, who are thinking about the same questions,” said the Rev. Dr. Anne McKee, campus minister.

This week, Tarwater, a rising senior, is attending the FTE Leaders in Ministry Conference in Nashville, Tenn., which according to the FTE’s website, gives young leaders an opportunity to “engage in vocational discernment, explore innovative models of ministry, build community with peers and mentors, and raise their awareness of leadership issues and skills that are needed to address ministry opportunities in the rapidly changing landscape of the 21st century church.”

Tarwater will also receive a stipend to pursue a project of his choosing to explore his sense of calling into the ministry.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 1,168.