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Iona Biochemistry Majors Participate in International Collaboration

As Iona continues its commitment to advancing the sciences and providing experiences that will prepare students for successful careers, two undergraduate biochemistry majors were given a unique opportunity to join a scientific research team in Italy this past summer. Marnie Skinner ’20 and Regan Warmoth ’20 assisted Professor Antonella Fontana and her research team at the University of Chieti in Italy in June, 2019.

Skinner and Warmoth have been studying the interaction of nanomaterials and model cell membranes since their freshman year at Iona, and during their five-week stay in Italy, they expanded this investigation.

Skinner is the vice president of the Chemistry Club, a member of Gamma Sigma Epsilon (Chemistry honors society) and a starting pitcher on Iona’s softball team.

“We spent every day working in the lab in Italy as we were used to doing at Iona,” said Skinner. “I felt that I achieved a much greater overall understanding of the project. Now more than ever, I truly feel that I am prepared to pursue my graduate degree in biochemistry and have this experience to thank for helping ready me for this next step in my career.”

Warmoth, who came from a small town outside of Chicago and was recruited by Iona to play water polo, made a difficult choice to give up her beloved sport in favor of academics. Now, she feels that decision paid off. “I was unsure if I had made the right decision,” said Warmoth, “but in throwing myself into school and research, I was granted my once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy. I am very fortunate to have Dr. Lee as a mentor and blessed to see where our research takes us!”

This international research collaboration is supported by an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Sunghee Lee, Ph.D., Board of Trustees Endowed Professor of Chemistry, to create and explore new concepts in science and engineering and provide global leadership in research and education and strengthen the nation’s STEM workforce through international research collaboration.

“Marnie and Regan are excellent students and have been in my research group since their freshman summer,” said Dr. Lee. “This international research experience provided them tremendous growth opportunities, both personally and professionally. As a faculty mentor, there is nothing more satisfying than witnessing my students transform to mature scientists!”

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