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Celebrate the Launch of Villanova’s First Peer-Reviewed Undergraduate Research Journal

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Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


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The Art of the Cell: Meet Ritesh Karsalia, 2019 Falvey Scholar

Ritesh Karsalia, 2019 Falvey Scholar

Ritesh Karsalia receives the Falvey Scholar Award from Jeehyun “Jee” Davis, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship.

BY SHAWN PROCTOR

This is part 6 of a 6-part series featuring the 2019 Falvey Scholars. Read more about them every Tuesday and in the upcoming issue of Mosaic: the library’s bi-annual publication.

Scholarly Stats:

Ritesh Karsalia ’19 CLAS (Biology major; Latin American Studies, Spanish Language & Literature minors)

Hometown: Colonia, New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Anil Bamezai, PhD, Professor, Director Graduate Program

Research: “Investigating the role of ordered (Io) and disordered (Id) phases within the plasma membrane of primary CD4+ helper T lymphocytes in their antigen-specific responses”

 

In his own words:

Ritesh’s Research:

My research process is founded on the scientific method, which has allowed me to conduct empirical experiments to test various immunological hypotheses. The subset of my laboratory group that I’ve focused on has been the spatiotemporal regulation of CD4+ helper T cells in response to foreign antigens.

While my principal investigator has been conducting research in this field for much of his professional career, not much information is known about the dynamic orchestration of cellular membrane-proximal signaling events and how they specifically affect the immune cell’s ability to respond. Therefore, I first began compiling the current scientific literature related to lipid-raft signaling and membrane-proximal CD4+ T cell signaling in order to locate the gaps in the current knowledge base.

My research project ultimately builds upon a series of previous studies that investigates how the order of cellular membranes, regulated by lipids, proteins, and cholesterol situated within regions called lipid-rafts, affects the ability of CD4+ T cells to respond appropriately. There are a few studies that have previously discovered that the order of CD4+ T cell membranes can be disrupted with a cholesterol-derivative, 7-ketocholesterol, leading to a decreased CD4+ response in the presence of a foreign antigen.


“CD4+ T cells are the major regulators of our immune system, and with so much disease history and technological developments in our modern world, I did not think that there were still so many question marks related to CD4+ T cell responses.” –Ritesh Karsalia, 2019 Falvey Scholar


Analyzing these studies allowed me to understand that increased membrane disorder leads to decreased CD4+ T cell response, if the disorder is induced relatively early (within 24 hours of antigen presentation). I then asked the broader questions of 1) whether this process is reversible and 2) how this process mechanistically occurs. Previous investigations had been unable to determine these aspects of this phenomenon, and the answers to these questions would allow scientists to better modulate CD4+ T cell responses though membrane order/disorder.

After asking these questions, I again went through the published scientific literature and looked at previous studies conducted by previous members in my laboratory to look for different biological mechanisms that could be affecting this process. I learned what mechanisms had already been unsuccessfully shown to affect this process and looked at some of the other promising events governing T-cell activation as areas of inquiry.

By reading previous literature that explained how 7-ketocholesterol specifically disrupts the order of lipid-rafts, I was able to hypothesize a potential way to Ritesh Karsalia next to fountainreconstitute the disordered membrane and assess CD4+ T cell response, afterwards.

I started physically performing cell-culture experiments to test my hypotheses. I worked with DO11 BALB/c transgenic mice that were bred in the vivarium in the Mendel Science Center. Since I was primarily focused on analyzing the cellular responses of CD4+ T cells, I harvested the lymph nodes from these cells and appropriately treated these cells to test my hypotheses.

These treatment groups included solutions containing 7-ketocholesterol (to induce disorder) and cholesterol (to reconstitute order). Multiple concentration ranges were used for each treatment group to understand relevant dosage-effects. To gain a better understanding of the biological mechanism(s) affecting membrane-order-based responses, western blots were used to analyze ubiquitination patterns after the T-cells were appropriately treated with 7-ketocholesterol and/or cholesterol and stimulated with a monoclonal antibody.

The expression of CD69, an early activation marker of cell activation that is implicated with CD4+ T cell proliferation, was also analyzed using flow cytometry to understand if the processes governing the expression of this protein were affected by increased membrane disorder. For all the experiments I performed, MTT assays, which measure the metabolic activity of cells, were used to quantify how much proliferation and activation occurred in each treatment group.

 

Ritesh’s “Falvey Experience”:

The Falvey Memorial Library staff and the resources were crucial to the success of my research project. I am extremely grateful for the subscriptions that the Falvey Library provided to a diverse array of online scientific journals.

As my research project was founded upon related previous studies, and a lot of my work focused on filling in the gaps between these works, I was only able to access the hundreds of publications that I have read along the course of my project due to the library’s subscriptions.

These resources were also valuable when I was performing my experimental procedures. For example, I needed to isolate macrophages (which present the foreign antigens to the CD4+ cells) as part of my procedure when setting up my cell cultures to test for the effect of the different treatment groups. My laboratory did not have the kit that would allow me to isolate these macrophages from the lymph nodes of our mice, and the cost of the kit (over $1000) exceeded my budget. Thanks to the subscriptions that Falvey Library provided, I was able to find an alternate procedure which involved harvesting the macrophages from the bone marrow of the mice. This procedure was one which was unfamiliar to my laboratory group, but using the resources that the library provided, I was able to successfully implement the procedure into my experiment.

Additionally, I attended numerous presentations by Robin Bowles, then Falvey’s Nursing and Biology Librarian, when I was participating in the Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellowship for my research project. Robin helped me tremendously when it came to performing targeted searches for publications relevant to my project.Ritesh at the lectern

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information known about the spatiotemporal regulation of the cell membrane in the context of CD4+ T cell responses. Early in the summer, I visited Robin in the library – thanks to her help, I was able to gain access to a relatively recent international publication about CD69’s implication in tumor immunity. Through the interlibrary loan system and the help of Robin, I was able to access this publication. This was a very helpful document in persuading me to investigate CD69 expression as a part of my research project. Robin’s presentations also introduced me to Zotero and proper reference management. I have not had much exposure to writing scientific literature before this project, so the resources that the library provided to introduce me to documentation management, in-text citations, and creating an appropriate works cited section were invaluable.

 

 

The Impact on Him:

This project taught me the importance of using past research and inquiry as a guide to understanding the current state of our knowledge base and as a building block to expand upon. After completing my research project, I’ve really come to understand how the work that we, as critical thinkers and investigators, perform is really part of a larger academic collective.

When asking new questions and expanding upon the questions that our colleagues have previously asked, we’re ultimately creating a more comprehensive knowledge base for the future. It was extremely humbling to realize how the work that I performed is directly connected to the work that other international investigators have performed for tens of years.

This experience has influenced my academic goals because it has also taught me how much more information is still out there to be uncovered, and how crucial investigation is towards the advancement of science.

As an aspiring healthcare professional, I was shocked to learn that so many of the processes related to CD4+ T cell signaling are still unknown. CD4+ T cells are the major regulators of our immune system, and with so much disease history and technological developments in our modern world, I did not think that there were still so many question marks related to CD4+ T cell responses.

What’s Next:

This experience has made me more cognizant of the importance of scholarly inquiry and has persuaded me to continue performing research as I advance in medical school and become a physician. The work I will one day be able to perform as a physician will only be possible due to past research, so I hope to continue to contribute to the field and aid in its advancements through further scholarly investigations.

 


 

 

 


Shawn Proctor, MFA, 
is communications and marketing program manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Studying Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Anxiety: Meet Erica Ferrara, 2019 Falvey Scholar

Erica Ferrara receives the Falvey Scholar Award from Jeehyun “Jee” Davis, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship.

Erica Ferrara receives the Falvey Scholar Award from Jeehyun “Jee” Davis, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship.

BY SHAWN PROCTOR

This is part 5 of a 6-part series featuring the 2019 Falvey Scholars. Read more about them every Tuesday and in the upcoming issue of Mosaic: the library’s bi-annual publication.

 

Scholarly Stats:

Erica Ferrara ’19 CLAS (Psychology and Honors major with a Political Science minor)

Hometown: New Rochelle, N.Y.

Faculty Mentor: Deena Weisberg, PhD, Assistant Professor Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Research: Test Anxiety in Elementary School Students in Relation to Standardized Testing

 

In her own words:

Erica’s Research:

I began my research process in the Honors Program Senior Thesis course by committing to the topic of test anxiety in grade school students and enlisting mentors for the project—Dr. Deena Weisberg and Dr. Steven Krauss.

My overall goal was to conduct a comprehensive literature review about the topic, and then to use the information to design my own ideal intervention for combating test anxiety experienced by elementary school students, as well as lay out a proposed study for evaluating this intervention’s efficacy. For the fall, I decided to focus on the literature review, and for the spring I planned to work on my novel intervention proposal.

Falvey Memorial Library’s website provided me with all of the background research articles I needed to download and begin writing as the core basis of my project. My full rough draft for the Fall semester included three main sections: anxiety in general and test anxiety specifically, standardized testing, and previously attempted prevention and intervention methods for test anxiety.Erica Ferrara

For the spring semester, I utilized this literature review as a basis in designing my own original novel intervention to assist elementary school students struggling with symptoms of test anxiety in relation to standardized testing.

My final written draft of my literature review and my own proposal for an intervention combined spans over 80 pages!

 

Erica’s “Falvey Experience”:

Through Falvey Memorial Library I had access to many research articles concerning my selected topic. With such a large online selection, I was able to find all of the information that I needed to become informed about my topic, write a comprehensive literature review, and then form my own thoughts into a novel intervention combining the effective aspects of prior ones I read of in empirical articles.

Many of the articles I included require outside subscriptions if I did not have the Falvey website to work through. In a few cases, I utilized the Interlibrary Loan system set up through our library as well. I genuinely do not know how I would have gathered the sources I needed without the Library’s online system.

In addition, the Library consistently provided a conducive environment in which I was able to complete my work. The 24-hour section of Old Falvey was especially convenient for later nights. Knowing that I always had a quiet place to go to where everyone around me was working hard as well was quite comforting and motivating.

 

The Impact on Her:

This Honors Thesis was the first time I have committed to such a comprehensive task that was largely my own independent research. From this experience, I have learned many valuable research skills that I know I will carry into my future academic work.

I gained the independence and confidence to make my own decisions to truly make this project my own from this freedom and support.

 

What’s Next:

Next year, I will enroll in a psychology clinical research methods master’s program with the ultimate goal of continuing my schooling to eventually earn a doctorate in child clinical psychology.

I aim to become a practitioner as well as to conduct research concerning the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of anxiety and related disorders in young children, in a sense continuing the work that I have started through this thesis project. I aim to contribute to addressing this important problem that is currently growing even more in prevalence in society today.


Shawn Proctor, MFA, is communications and marketing program manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


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A Study in Economy: Meet Matthew Fagerstrom, 2019 Falvey Scholar

Matthew Fagerstrom receives the Falvey Scholar Award from Jeehyun “Jee” Davis, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship.

Matthew Fagerstrom receives the Falvey Scholar Award from Jeehyun “Jee” Davis, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship.

 

BY SHAWN PROCTOR

This is part 4 of a 6-part series featuring the 2019 Falvey Scholars. Read more about them every Tuesday and in the upcoming issue of Mosaic: the library’s bi-annual publication.

 

Scholarly Stats:

Matthew Fagerstrom ’19 CLAS

Hometown: Hershey, Pa.

Faculty Mentor: Michael Curran, PhD, Assistant Professor, Economics

Research: The Financial Industry in the Era of Fiat Currency: An Empirical Approach

Other Honors: Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellows Summer Program Grant

 

In his own words:

Matthew’s Research:

My research project involved curating a literature review covering developments in the measurement of financial regulation, monetary policy, and the growth of the financial industry.

Following understanding the literature surrounding these topics, I conducted a Vector Autoregression (VAR) and Structural Vector Autoregression analysis using data on financial compensation, monetary policy, financial deregulation, and unionization.

Through my research I found that as the money supply in the economy increases that wages in the financial industry rose faster than wages in the rest of the economy. Between 1973 and 2015 employees in the financial industry saw their wages grow from 80 percent of averages wages to 150 percent.

Today, we assume that money is neutral. This study suggests significant non-neutralities of money due to the persistent relationship between the monetary base and financial variables. Banks need to be aware of how their policies will impact the distribution of jobs and production, and plan monetary interventions accordingly.

 

Matthew’s “Falvey Experience”:

The library was of immeasurable value, especially in writing the literature review. Writing the literature review involved reading and compiling sources from the Matthew Fagerstromcutting edge of the economics discipline, as the topic I researched has not been researched by many other scholars. I accessed almost every journal through the library, as they were restricted by “paywalls,” which made my research efficient.

Moreover, the private study spaces that populate Falvey Memorial Library were oases where my productivity could flourish.

In previous, but related research, Linda Hauck, Academic Librarian for Business and Human Resource Development, assisted me with finding data sources that I carried over into this project.

The Impact on Him:

I learned a great deal about writing literature reviews from this process, and I also learned applications of matrix algebra in the VAR setting. This experience has made me more confident about becoming an academic economist and has given me the confidence to write literature for my graduate-level political science classes.

What’s Next:

I am continuing my Villanova education next year in order to earn a master’s in political science and Government. Beyond that, I plan to pursue a pre-doctoral fellowship then a PhD.

 


Shawn Proctor

Shawn Proctor, MFA, is communications and marketing program manager at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


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Researching Hallowed Ground: Meet Jubilee Marshall, 2019 Falvey Scholar

Jubliee wins Falvey Scholar Award

Jubilee Marshall receives the Falvey Scholar Award from Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship Jeehyun “Jee” Davis.

BY SHAWN PROCTOR

This is part 3 of a 6-part series featuring the 2019 Falvey Scholars. Read more about them every Tuesday and in the upcoming issue of Mosaic: the library’s bi-annual publication.

 

Scholarly Stats:

Jubilee Marshall ’19 CLAS

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Faculty Mentor: Whitney Martinko, PhD, assistant professor of History

Research: Public Health and Urban Space in Philadelphia’s Black Burial Grounds, 1750-1850, presented at the American Historical Association’s 2019 annual meeting and the Organization of American Historians’ 2019 conference

Other Honors: Fulbright U.S. Student Program award winner, Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellowship

In her own words:

Jubilee’s Research:

I began this research project in the fall semester of 2017, in the History department’s Junior Research Seminar, where I conducted a broad literature review to help narrow my topic, and wrote a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellowship grant application for the summer of 2018.

During the summer, I focused on primary source research, and met with countless historians, archivists, and site managers (including Dr. Aaron Wunsch, Terry Buckalew, Adrienne Whaley, and Dr. Nicole Dressler) to get a sense of the landscape of churches and burials in Philadelphia in the revolutionary period. I spent a lot of time in archives.

Jubilee Marshall

There, I examined newspapers, church records, death records, land deeds, board of health regulations, maps, and other historical documents. In conducting this primary source research, I worked to identify trends and themes and in doing so eventually came to recognize that public health was a major concern for Philadelphians in the era.

Upon the completion of the summer grant period, I then spent the fall semester of my senior year completing supplementary secondary source research to get a broader understanding of how public health and urbanization may have affected black residents of the city from 1750-1850. In the spring semester, I wrote my thesis.

This process, which I’ve undertaken with extensive guidance from my advisor, Dr. Martinko, culminated in a 60-page, two-chapter thesis that I defended and plan to submit for publication.


Jubilee’s
“Falvey Experience”:

I could not have completed this project without Falvey Memorial Library. Much of my research depended on access to online databases, such as JSTOR and Accessible Archives. Over the summer, I met with a research librarian who helped me to navigate the specific databases I was using for my project which allowed me to locate and analyze sources I would not have been able to find on my own.

I checked out countless monographs from Falvey’s own collection, and regularly used EZ-Borrow and Interlibrary Loan to access other relevant texts that were not available in the stacks. Having access to this network of libraries allowed me to incorporate secondary source works that ended up being central to my broader argument. I also learned from the research librarian that I could request microfilm through ILL and view it in the library.

This was very helpful as I relied heavily on church records, many of which have been transferred to microfilm but are not yet available on the web. In addition to these services, I also used the library for my logistical needs. It provided me with a place to work, and with crucial access to a disk drive — my computer does not have one, and local historians frequently sent me CDs full of historical data. Falvey Memorial Library not only enhanced my project but made it possible, providing me with the resources and active guidance necessary to ensure my work would be well-supported.


The Impact on Her:
Jubilee Marshall

I have learned a lot and developed a wide array of skills from my research experience. In addition to learning how to locate, organize, and analyze sources, I have also learned how to navigate physical and digital archives; how to network with other historians in order to tap into existing networks of shared knowledge surrounding my research topic; how to successfully manage a long-term project; what work style best suits my needs and habits; how to apply for grant money; how to think broadly about historical evidence and think creatively about how to answer questions when the answers are not immediately evident in the historical records; how to write a thesis-length paper; and, finally, how to present my information and argument in multiple mediums in a way that is both engaging and convincing.

In addition to these skills, this research experience has also enable me to present my research at professional conferences, including the American Historical Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting and the Organization of American Historian’s 2019 conference, which has given me insight into the world of academia and helped to inform my post-graduate plans.


What’s Next:

Jubilee will work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in the Czech Republic. Upon completion of her Fulbright year, she intends to pursue a graduate degree in the field of Public History.

 


Shawn Proctor

Shawn Proctor, MFA, is communications and marketing program manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Biologist, Philosopher, Researcher, Falvey Scholar: Meet Elizabeth “Libby” O’Brien

Elizabeth O'Brien award

Elizabeth “Libby” O’Brien receives the Falvey Scholar Award from Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship Jeehyun “Jee” Davis.

 

BY SHAWN PROCTOR

This is part 2 of a 6-part series featuring the 2019 Falvey Scholars. Read more about them every Tuesday and in the upcoming issue of Mosaic: the library’s bi-annual publication.

 

Scholarly Stats:

Elizabeth “Libby” O’Brien ’19 CLAS

Hometown: Portland, Maine

Faculty Mentor: Samantha Chapman, PhD, associate professor of Biology

Research: Foliar water uptake in ecotonal mangroves which are expanding with climate change

Other Honors: Fulbright U.S. Student Program award winner, will continue her thesis work analyzing mangrove ecology and environmental ethics in the Philippines.

 

In her own words:

Libby’s Research:

While working with Drs. Chapman and Matthew Hayes in a Florida saltmarsh on their research analyzing mangrove ecology in the face of climate change, I began to ponder about an idea that would become my thesis question: “What if mangroves supplement their water needs not from their roots, where they are competing with the marsh species, but through their leaves?”

At Villanova in the fall, the three of us sat down and revisited that question. In our preliminary literature review, we found evidence that a number of plant species use foliar water uptake across ecosystems, particularly where water availability can be limited such as high, mountainous elevations and dry, arid environments.

Mangroves are specialized plants that live in salty water. Due to the high salinity concentration of their soils, they are often under water stress as they need to extract, and filter water out of this salty environment to meet their physiological demands. In short, mangroves are living under pseudo-drought conditions. However, coastal mangroves sometimes encounter sea mist and fog, leading us to believe that they may utilize foliar water uptake in a similar way to other plants living under drought conditions.

Our second research question was “Do different mangrove species exhibit varying degrees of foliar water uptake?”

Elizabeth O'Brien PresentingWe aimed to answer this second question to provide evidence for existing geographic distributions of specific mangroves species and their projected future encroachment patterns.

To test our hypotheses, we built airtight chambers and placed the three different species of mangroves inside of them. We used humidifiers to mimic morning fog enriched with a tracer that could be detected by a machine in the lab after the experiment. Since we sealed off the soil from the rest of the plant, (meaning that the soil was not moistened by the fog), any tracer detected in the leaves of the mangroves would indicate foliar water uptake.

Using statistical analyses, we could identify trends in the data to answer both of our research questions. Once in the lab, we did detect the tracer in all of the species, pointing to some foliar water uptake, but we also discovered problems in our experimentation methods. This meant that while our results were promising, there were a few possibilities as to why they were what they were.

However, the three of us do not take this as a failure. If we had not done the experiment, we would not have known that mangroves exhibit some foliar water uptake; and even if it is impossible to parse out the differences in foliar water uptake across species at this time, we have a solid research process on which to build on moving forward.

Setbacks like this are not only common, they are inevitable. We are currently in the process of re-examining our methods to produce more reliable results. Moreover, I come away with a confidence in my ability as a woman in science moving on to answer the next questions.

 

Libby’s “Falvey Experience”:

In order to begin the development of my research questions, and throughout every subsequent step of my thesis, I needed to be a sponge for information. At first, it was overwhelming to experience a total information overload, but three things kept my project focused and achievable.

The access that Falvey’s online resources provided proved invaluable. The access that I was able to have to high profile academic journals and niche, often international journals, as well as published theses exposed me to the diverse and interdisciplinary research within the realm of mangrove ecology.Libby O'Brien

For the articles that were not immediately available to me, I used interlibrary loan. I was able to develop my experimental design from one article that I got through the interlibrary loan system, a resource that then-research librarian Robin Bowles (now the director of Libraries at Montgomery County Community College) pointed me towards—she was instrumental in my successful thesis completion.

Her knowledge and experience for sifting through endless articles and culling searches gave me papers that addressed my specific questions. I live-chatted with her in one instance which enabled me to get help from the library and keep working.

Finally, Falvey Memorial Library provided me with the space to work and collaborate with my mentors, a contribution that I cannot ignore. The 24-hour access to workspaces, printers, and online resources eliminated many of the obstacles a commuter student like myself might have faced in order to finish my thesis on a deadline.

Over this past year, at the back left square table of the library Holy Grounds, Dr. Chapman, Dr. Hayes, and myself drank endless cups of coffee and discussed how our mangrove foliar water uptake results fit into the larger conversation of coastal climate change.

 

The Impact on Her:

From Florida saltmarshes to Mendel Science Center, climate change challenges our status quo. As a soon to be graduate from a rigorous Augustinian institution, I am equipped with the skills to analyze, engage with, and speak about the processes behind the issues that affect our everyday lives.

My thesis, an investigation into foliar water uptake as a potential water acquisition strategy in mangrove species, offers a contribution to the scientific community in the context of coastal ecosystem ecology, as well as to Villanova University as an example of what a student committed to conducting research can achieve.

From the completion of my thesis, I have learned that the hardest part about research is narrowing the focus of your questions because analyzing the implications in the larger scheme of things comes later. I have learned that I respond well to a mentorship style that gives me the space to try and fail and re-try lab techniques, and that it is essential to take advantage to the resources available.

Falvey Memorial Library facilitated so much of my research success; from that, I have grown to have a passion for asking and answering research questions.

What’s Next:

After my Fulbright U.S. Student experience, I am planning to attend graduate school. I aim to continue this work but also integrate my research in philosophy in the coming years as I pursue a doctorate that blends ecological research with ethical considerations in a project that explores mangrove productivity and success through a lens of anthropogenic influence.

My mentors’ attention to both of these interests throughout this year motivated me to pursue a career that combines science and policy advocacy.


Shawn Proctor

Shawn Proctor, MFA, is communications and marketing program manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


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After a Time of War, a Time to Heal: Get to Know Erin Donnelly, 2019 Falvey Scholar

 

 

Erin Donnelly receives the Falvey Scholar Award from Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship Jeehyun "Jee" Davis.

Erin Donnelly receives the Falvey Scholar Award from Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship Jeehyun “Jee” Davis.

 

BY SHAWN PROCTOR

This is part 1 of a 6-part series featuring the 2019 Falvey Scholars. Read more about them every Tuesday and in the upcoming issue of Mosaic: the library’s bi-annual publication.

 

Scholarly Stats:

Erin Donnelly ’19 FCN

Hometown: Havertown, Pa.

Faculty Mentor: Helene J. Moriarty, PhD, ’77 BSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, Diane L. & Robert F. Moritz Endowed Chair in Nursing Research

Research: Wounds of War: Understanding the Dimensions of Moral Injury from a Health Care Perspective, also presented at Ethics of War and Peace Conference in April, 2019.

Other Honors: Presidential Scholar

In her own words:

Erin’s research:

In the nursing and health care community, there is a lack of literature related to the experience of moral injury in veterans—my project seeks to address this knowledge gap.

Moral injury is a psychological injury that results from “transgressions of deeply held moral and ethical beliefs and expectations” and has been documented in history as early as the warrior culture of Ancient Greece.

Through my literature review, I was able to identify prevalence, risk factors, conceptual models, new theoretical frameworks, and interventions that existed around moral injury. However, after meeting with Dr. Mark Wilson, I realized I would be remiss if I did not expand my knowledge of the pastoral, spiritual, philosophical, and ethical discussions surrounding moral injury to understand it more fully from diverse perspectives.

Part of this process involved seeking evidence on the efficacy of interventions designed to support active service members and veterans struggling with moral injury.

 

Erin’s “Falvey Experience”:

The database access provided by Falvey Memorial Library was essential for my complete review of the literature.

Headshot of Erin DonnellySince research on moral injury is in its infancy, I had to search in many disciplines to find emerging literature. I used CINAHL, PubMed, and ProQuest to find the majority of my scholarly sources. I was also able to cite these sources easily by exporting to RefWorks and using the citation links provided by ProQuest. Villanova gave me access to articles from the journals.

On a more personal note, the fourth floor of the library was a quiet and enjoyable location to read articles and review the books I found.

 

The Impact on Her:

I learned more about the care of our U.S. servicemen and women. Moral injury is an experience that requires care from a variety of disciplines, and I was able to explore multidisciplinary literature throughout this process. I have also learned how to take the primary role of responsibility for a project, while consulting regularly with a mentor.

Using this research, I have been able to apply my findings to my practice and assessment during my leadership clinical at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center in Philadelphia. While taking care of veterans in the ICU, I recognized the importance of holistic care and a comprehensive psychological assessment that incorporates moral injury.

 

What’s Next:

I have accepted a position as a Nurse Resident at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. But, in the long term, this research experience reaffirmed my goal of returning to school for a doctoral degree.


Shawn Proctor

Shawn Proctor, MFA, is communications and marketing program manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Last Modified: June 4, 2019