Faculty Research and Creativity Featured in Showcase

November 18, 2019
By: Kristen O'Reilly

More than 20 faculty members presented their research and artistic expertise to students and others via posters, talks, and performances in the Student Center at the inaugural Faculty Showcase of Scholarship and Creativity on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Similar to the larger and more well-established Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity for students, the new event allowed a role reversal, with faculty presenting their academic and creative work to students and the campus community.

“The showcase was successful even beyond our high expectations,” says Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Henry Theriault, Ph.D.  “Hundreds of students, as well as dozens of faculty members and staff, attended presentations and visited posters. Among the many great outcomes was expressions of interest by many students to work with faculty on their research projects, a wonderful way of engaging our vibrant student body in our growing undergraduate research program.”

All afternoon, faculty from diverse academic areas gave short oral presentations of their current research, including Associate Professor Jennifer Hood-DeGrenier, Ph.D., (biology), who reported on her recent sabbatical at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Working in the Vander Heiden lab, she explored cancer metabolism and how the metabolic pathways of cancer cells can be targeted.

“The idea is if we can identify different dependencies on certain metabolic pathways in cancer cells, those might be targets. . .that can specifically inhibit the growth of, or kill, the cancer cells while not harming normal cells,” said Dr. Hood-DeGrenier.

Her specific area of focus was on pancreatic cancer cells, a particularly insidious cancer that has one of the worst five-year survival rates. Pancreatic tumors are tough, fibrous, and resistant to many drugs, but the tumors themselves are made up of only 10 percent cancer cells. This “tumor micro-environment” can be very important for how the cancer progresses and how it is treated, she said.

Hood-DeGrenier is continuing her research on campus, in conjunction with the Vander Heiden Lab, with the help of two undergraduate students. She is scheduled to present her findings at the American Society of Cell Biology in December.

Other faculty giving talks included Professor Julie Frechette, chair of the Communication Department, who spoke about “#MeToo’s Socio-Cultural and Structural Impact on Patriarchal Power” and Assistant Professor Jacquelyn Raftery-Helmer of the Psychology Department, who spoke on “Teacher Behaviors and Coping with Failure: Motivational Resources a Potential Mediators.”

For a complete list of talks, performances, and poster presentations, visit: https://news.worcester.edu/faculty-set-to-shine-at-inaugural-showcase/

At a dinner after the showcase, Professor Karen Woods Weierman, Ph.D., of the English Department, and Associate Professor Margarita Perez, Ed.D., of the Barbara (Hickey) O’Brien ’57 Education Department, gave the inaugural Dean’s Lectures. Both were presented with awards in recognition of the high quality of their academic work. Read more here: https://news.worcester.edu/weierman-perez-named-deans-lectures-award-recipients/

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