Five Stonehill Student-Athletes Spend Summer in College’s SURE Program

(l-r) Min Seong Kim, Frank O'Brien, Maura Ferrarini, John Driscoll and Elizabeth Belanger were among 49 Stonehill students to participate in the SURE program this summer.

Five student-athletes among 49 enrolled in Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience program

BY Erica LaBranche, '13 

EASTON, Mass. (August 24, 2011) – Five Stonehill College student-athletes recently concluded eight and ten week research projects as part of the Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program. The five student-athletes have spent the bulk of their summer break by joining 44 fellow students at the College in working with 26 faculty members.

It marks the 16th year the rigorous and selective SURE program has provided the opportunity to students who have finished one full year at Stonehill to work together with a professor collecting research and data on important topics in their field of study. The students work full time over the summer and all research and work collected has the potential to be published by academic and scientific journals. SURE allows students to gain knowledge in their major as well as help them to identify their career choices for the future, whether it be graduate school or the work force.


Elizabeth Belanger (Hooksett, N.H./Manchester Central), a rising junior for the women’s soccer team, and Maura Ferrarini (Springfield, Mass./Springfield Cathedral), rising senior for the women’s cross country and track and field teams, teamed up to work with John G. McCoy, Director of the Neuroscience program at the College, on separate research projects carried out at the Brockton Veterans Administration Medical Center. Their research centered on clinical studies in humans which show that sleeping two to three hours less than normal leads to impairment in cardiovascular, immune, endocrine and cognitive functions. However, little experimental research has been done to understand these effects. The two neuroscience majors were honored over in the past year as Capital One Academic All-District I selections by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Belanger’s research concentrated on caffeine, sleep restriction, and memory. Since it binds to adenosine receptors, caffeine can be used to assess the role of adenosine in mediating the connection between sleep restriction and memory deficits. She used a device called the Morris Water Maze to test whether caffeine can counteract the negative effects of chronic sleep restriction on spatial learning and memory with laboratory rats.


“The SURE program was an excellent opportunity to apply the information and techniques I have learned both in the classroom and in the lab to research that could benefit the general population,” said Belanger. “Working with established researchers this summer was an experience unlike any that I could gain in the classroom and will prepare me for higher level courses and research opportunities in the future. With much of today's population chronically sleep deprived, I am excited to contribute to a research project that may provide new insight used to improve the health of our nation.”

Ferrarini researched The Neural Arousal System, a project focused on the neuroanatomical circuits involved in switching between sleep and wakefulness. She performed research at the Brockton VA Sleep Lab under the guidance of Professor McCoy and Dr. Tim McKenna, using immunohistochemistry techniques to determine what happens in the brain when there is an increase of CO2, a condition known as hypercapnia.

“I'm really excited to have been part of the SURE program this summer,” said Ferrarini. “There were a lot of great projects happening on campus and it was great seeing each progress throughout the summer.”


Min Seong Kim (Seoul, South Korea/Northwood School), a rising junior with the ice hockey team, worked with Marilena F. Hall, Associate Professor of Chemistry, on two separate projects. Kim, a biology major and chemistry minor, worked on Investigation of the Effect of Gene II Shine-Dalgarno Mutations on Protein Expression and Phage Propagation in M13 Bacteriophage to continue the efforts of past SURE projects. He developed a better test to quantify levels of pII production by M13 phage, work on creating designed mutants, and construct a library of mutants to select additional fast-propagating ones. M13 is one of the most intensely studied bacteriophages and is often used as a model for gene expression.

“When I decided to do the SURE program, I tried to look for a research subject that is closely related to my major,” said Kim. “I knew Professor Hall, who taught general chemistry my freshman year, annually does research on E. Coli bacteria. The most exciting aspect of the SURE program is that I get to have hands-on experience and improve in my laboratory techniques, such as PCR and electrophoreses.”


Frank O’Brien (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth), a rising junior for Stonehill’s cross country and track and field teams, worked with John Golden, Associate Professor and Chair of Foreign Languages, on The Brothers Karamazov as Test Case for a Theory of Literary Translation. The project compared two English translations of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and explains how, and, more importantly, why, they differ. The hypothesis is that differences between translations derive from differences in interpretation of a text, because translators are readers before they are writers. O’Brien, an English major and journalism minor, will examine the two most important translations of the text: the canonical one by Constance Garnett, revised by Ralph Matlaw, important because it appears as a Norton Critical Edition and the one by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, important because the translators currently reign as the translators of classic Russian fiction into English. Dissemination of results is planned in either a conference paper or an article in a journal devoted to literary translation.

“I am privileged and grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue the course of study offered in this summer's SURE program,” said O’Brien. “I know that this experience will greatly enhance and shape my future academic career and it is great to be part of a meaningful research experience. Hopefully I have acquired many new close-reading and analytical skills which will help to guide my future endeavors.”


John Driscoll (Revere, Mass./Revere), a rising senior and captain for the men’s track and field team, worked with John Lanci, Professor of Religious Studies, on Pedagogies of Collaboration. The research project continued work about active or engaged pedagogy at the college and university level. A number of forms of teaching were examined, particularly service or community-based learning, undergraduate research, intensive use of Teaching Assistants (TA’s), and problem based learning. Driscoll, a history major, was the lead author on an article about how undergraduates can be more wisely utilized as co-teachers in the humanities and how to structure training sessions for the job. Driscoll and Lanci also worked on a second article to explore the thesis: Despite warnings that a gulf is developing between tech-savvy 21st century students and mid- to late-career faculty, active learning strategies – particularly problem based learning- provide a possible bridge between Millennials and Baby-Boomers that can result in particularly effective education.

Stonehill has won back-to-back Northeast-10 Conference Presidents’ Cup championships and has earned a 98-percent Academic Success Rating (ASR) from the NCAA. The athletic department ranked second in the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) Power Rankings used to assess the academic and athletic standards of all NCAA and NAIA athletic programs.

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