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Kate Markiewicz ’04

Kate has been named a senior fellow by the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation. KSTF fellowships support teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Kate teaches at Boston Latin School in Boston, Mass. She graduated from K with a B.A. in chemistry and physics. She studied ion-selective electrodes in Kalamazoo, modeled solar coronal loops at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, and worked with graduate students in a chemistry lab in Erlangen, Germany.

Kate moved to Boston to pursue graduate work in chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During her first year there, Kate worked as a teaching assistant. “Working with students was extremely rewarding and was what I enjoyed most.” Kate left MIT to work as a substitute teacher in the Boston Public School System and as head coach for the Boston Latin School Science Olympiad team. “I discovered that high school students were a lot of fun.”

Kate completed her master’s degree in education through the Boston Teacher Residency and the University of Massachusetts-Boston and began teaching full time at Boston Latin School in 2007. Kate has presented the results of her teacher research at the 2008, 2009, and 2010 National Science Teachers Association Conferences in Boston, New Orleans and Philadelphia, respectively.

Bethany Gross ’10

Bethany is a coauthor of the article “Evaluation of 3D Printing and its Potential Impact on Biotechnology and the Chemical Sciences,” published in Analytical Chemistry in January. Nearing 30 years since its introduction, 3D printing technology is set to revolutionize research and teaching laboratories. The article encompasses the history of 3D printing, reviews various printing methods, and presents current applications. The authors offer an appraisal of the future direction and impact the technology will have on laboratory settings as 3D printers become more accessible. Gross’s research at Michigan State University encompasses the development of a flow-based 3D printed microfluidic device with integrated electrodes to initiate and evaluate injury-induced blood-clot formation.

Michael Korn ’14

Michael was awarded a 2014 David S. Bruce Outstanding Undergraduate Abstract Award from the American Physiological Society. Michael did a research internship in a muscle physiology laboratory. That work became the basis of his Senior Individualized Project: “The protective effects of simvastatin on muscle in a rat model of chronic rotator cuff injury.” Winter term was a good one for awards for Michael. He also was one of the College’s Senior Leadership Award winners.

Lloyd Burns ’50

Lloyd died on February 19, 2014, after a long illness. He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., grew up in Garden City, N.Y., and graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in physics. He spent two years in the United States Army Chemical Corp. He worked as an engineer for General Electric’s nuclear energy division for 37 years as well as an additional 10 years after retirement.

Michael Finkler ’91

Mike was the elder statesman, so to speak, of several generations of Kalamazoo College biology majors who attended the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Pictured with Mike (far left) are (l-r): Sarah Bouchard ’95, associate professor of biology, Otterbein University; Claire Riggs ’11, graduate student in the department of biology at Portland State University; Wendy Reed ’92, associate professor and chair of biological sciences, North Dakota State University; Eddy Price ’99, post-doctoral fellow, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin; Alan Faber ’14, biology major at K; and Ed Dzialowski ’93, associate professor and associate chair of biological sciences, University of North Texas.

Andy Cole ’07

Andy was named Client Solutions Director for Interaction Associates. The firm specializes in global consulting and training innovation; Andy will work in its Boston, Mass., office. Before joining IA Andy co-created two successful businesses in the innovation and technology marketplace. His background also includes product development in aerospace with Google, non-emissive fuels with the EPA, neuroscience with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Technology, energy efficiency with the Environmental Defense Fund, and renewable energy with Vestas Wind Systems. Andy was a 3-2 engineering major at Kalamazoo College. He earned a B.A. in physics from K, and he earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. He earned an M.B.A. in entrepreneurial leadership from Babson College (Wellesley, Mass.)

Self-Authored Pathways

Judsen Schneider ’03 remembers sitting in a coffee shop in Nashville, Tennessee, sketching out rough ideas with his friend to form a firm that would bridge the widening divide between clinicians and the growing number of genetic tests that might give them answers, options, and hope.

Gillian Hooker ’00 and Judsen Schneider ’03, fellow K graduates and colleagues at NextGxDx.

That was four years ago. Today, NextGxDx—founded in 2012 by Mark Harris, Schneider’s friend—is the only online marketplace for genetic testing. Think of a site like Orbitz, but instead of airfares and rental car rates, you can search for tests relating to hereditary colon cancer or cystic fibrosis.

“We are bringing a level of transparency to the genetic testing industry that has not yet been seen,” says Schneider, scientific director for the Nashville-based startup. “It (testing) is exploding as precision medicine becomes more and more common. Genetics plays a key role in that.”

It’s been more than 10 years since scientists completed the genome sequence, and since then, the pace of research into cracking the mysteries, subtleties, and complexities of our human genome has skyrocketed. As more is learned about our genes, a greater number of tests are emerging to help us understand—and possibly even treat—rare diseases and conditions. More than 16,000 of them are available, developed for more than 3,000 diseases, about 2,000 of which have diagnostic genetic tests available for use in a clinical setting, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“To understand the genome is to understand how life works,” Schneider says. “The genome is like a complex computer. It can function like any computer, but encodes its own development, its own software. Understanding how genes work unlocks how diseases work, health works, human behavior works. Still, we barely understand it. The human genome has been sequenced but a lot is still not known about how it works. To be able to help shape how genes interact with health care is really interesting.”

Schneider, a Nashville native, earned a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology at Vanderbilt University. But as much as he was bitten by the biology bug at K, the real reason he trekked north for his undergraduate experience was to swim, he says.

“Initially, it was the caliber of the swim team that attracted me. I was looking for a college where I could swim,” he says. “Of course, I received a great biology education. I looked at Division I to Division III schools. K had the best fit.”

When it came time to study abroad, Schneider looked south, spending a quarter in the Costa Rican capital, San Jose. It was there that he saw how economic development can empower individuals and communities, a lesson that represents a significant chapter in his NextGxDx story. A quote from retired men’s swim coach Bob Kent stays with him.

At K the message was ‘It’s better to create your own path.

“Coach Kent fostered a really awesome environment. He would always say, ‘you can do a lot, but how much effort are you willing to give?’” Schneider says. “So I study a language for two quarters and then get dropped into Central America. It was a fantastic way to prove to myself that I could take on challenges and succeed. K does a good job preparing its students for any scenario, and more than other schools gives them confidence to explore many challenging situations that might produce a lot of fear in people.”

NextGxDx has been steadily growing, he says, so much so that more hiring had to be done to keep pace with the growth, to diversify and broaden the scope of services the company provides. The most recent addition? Gillian Hooker ’00, an expert in genetic counseling with a Ph.D. (Yale University) and a long list of impressive academic and scholarly accomplishments, including time at the National Institutes of Health, Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University.

Hooker is a Kalamazoo native and Heyl Scholar. She didn’t knew Schneider even though their tenures at K overlapped. “It made me smile when I found out we both went to K.”

Having a doctoral degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology means she has the scientific expertise to contribute to a whole range of genetic questions. It was the genetic counseling aspect that drew Schneider to hire her, he says. But it sure didn’t hurt that she went to K.

“The fact that Gillian attended K did play a role in her hire, from the standpoint that I have a deep understanding of what a K degree means,” Schneider says. “It was more the soft skills that K helps you develop—such as critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to confidently take creative risks—that were important for the particular role.”

There is a softer side to the data-driven science of genetics. It’s the component that takes into account how people internalize the data that come from the tests, what they do with it, how they process the results, or if testing should be done at all. In some ways, it’s as important as the results themselves, Hooker says. There are always emotions behind the hard realities of a disease, and the clinicians and other medical personnel who administer the tests need to know how to communicate with their clients.

“I think a lot about the testing decisions people make and how the results of genetic tests impact their decision-making going forward,” she says. “A lot of their personal values go into that. It’s helpful to have that perspective and think practically how this plays out in the clinic.

“Sometimes it’s the desire to know if you are predisposed to have a disease. Other times it’s about not having answers as to why their child is sick. We call it a ‘Diagnostic Odyssey.’ Developmental disabilities. Developmental problems. Going from specialist to specialist, performing test after test and getting nowhere. It could be as simple as a clinician who didn’t know the right test exists. We throw open the gates. It can be heart-wrenching, but empowering, too.”

It’s never easy. Not in a field that deals with diseases, conditions, and syndromes that adversely affect quality of life, sometimes significantly. Schneider and Hooker are doing their part to shed light upon the confusion that has surrounded these maladies for so long.

Hooker’s Senior Individualized Project—an internship at Pfizer with Ann (Burt) Berger ’71, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the pharmaceutical giant—was in many ways a defining experience for her, one that confirmed that the K academic culture in which she’d been immersed was a unique one.

“It was the ability to develop my own plan. It really had an impact,” she says. “To be autonomous, to take chances with it, be creative with it. That’s very empowering. I came to the realization that life and work can be more fun when you forge your own path. Others look for a path before them to walk down. At K that was not the case. The message was always: ‘It’s always better if you create your own path.’”