Class of 2010 Presents Distinction in the Field Work
May 11, 2010
The Class of 2010 candidates for Distinction in the Field brought a broad range of discussions to the table during the College's fifth annual presentation forum, which ran April 22nd. In all, 61 members of the senior class presented their work in various locations throughout campus.
Emily Kurkjian '10, a history major, presented "Overland Fascination: American Perceptions of the Oregon Trail." Kurkjian's research included why easterners traveled the Oregon Trail and how the legacy of the overland route has changed over time. Through the use of personal journals, diaries and other secondary sources, her study traced the various ways that Americans chose to memorialize the historical event.
"As a child I spent hours on the computer playing the game, "The Oregon Trail," but never made it successfully to the end of the trail, either dying of cholera, running out of supplies, or my oxen drowning crossing the river," said Kurkjian. "I wanted to explore the people who were successful in their journey across the continental divide, and what their experience was while traveling."
During the presentation she explained that the historiography of the Oregon Trail reveals a complicated relationship with a brutal and unforgiving land that brought death as well as hope to thousands who undertook the 2,000 mile trek across the country.
"The research experience was beneficial because it was a chance for me to look back in history at the brave souls who chose to leave everything behind and start a new life in an unknown land," she said.
"It was really amazing to read their personal thoughts and to expand my knowledge of the Oregon Trail."
Sarah Soldano '10, an English major, presented "Around the Blue Marble: An Exploration of Young Adult Fiction." Soldano's presentation detailed the crafting process of her original illustrated manuscript, in which the protagonist, Eli, travels the world with the aid of a magic marble in search of his long-lost father, experiencing cultures he could never have conceived.
"I chose the topic because of my passion for creative writing. I was excited to have the opportunity to write a full-length young adult novel, because this is not a common undergraduate experience," Soldano said. "Not only do I now have a young adult novel to submit for publication, but I've also developed a much richer understanding of the young adult genre and myself as a writer."
Chris Borges '10, a biology major, presented "Expression of Intact Donor MHC Molecules by Recipient APC for the Tolerization of Alloreactive T Cells." Borges and his colleagues previously demonstrated a requirement for a signal from a recipient APC in order to tolerize the alloreactive CD4 cells in mice. Borges hypothesized that recipient APCs may acquire intact donor MHC molecules for presentation on their surface.
"The work I presented was representative of three and a half years of my work in the lab. I initially became involved with [Associate Director of Biology] Dr. Kurtz's group because of interest in the topic, but my work has allowed me to broaden my scope, and become interested in subsections of immunology I never thought I would find interesting," said Borges. "Of course, I am still interested in bone marrow transplantation for the same reason that I began working on the project, but I now I have a much greater appreciation for the science behind it."
The final data suggested that recipient APC populations can acquire and present intact donor MHC molecules on their surface, providing a possible mechanism by which alloreactive T cells are rendered tolerant.
"My experience in the lab has opened more doors for me than I would have ever imagined or hoped for," he said. "I have gained insight into how to conduct myself in a professional setting and also have learned how to organize new data to show one of the top scientists in the world on a weekly basis. I will remember these experiences for the rest of my life, and call on them throughout my time at graduate school and beyond."
For a complete list of Senior Distinction Projects, visit www.emmanuel.edu, click on "Commencement and Baccalaureate Information" and then select "Senior Distinction Presentations."