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Introducing the Falvey Scholars: Ryan Zalla

Ryan Zalla, who presented a project titled “Economic Policy Uncertainty in Ireland,” comes to Villanova University from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the fall he will begin his Ph.D. studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He credits the following professors for his success and continued inspiration: Michael Curran, PhD (economics), John Immerwahr, PhD (philosophy), Mark Wilson, PhD (ethics), and Paul Danove, PhD (New Testament Studies). I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with Ryan, and here are some excerpts of our conversation:

Ryan Zalla DPFRR

Ryan Zalla poses for a photo in the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room.

William Repetto: Why did you choose to attend Villanova?

Ryan Zalla: It was the community. When I first checked out Villanova, it was January, and it was like negative 10 degrees outside. I walked right out. But then I came back for admitted candidates weekend in April, and coming to Villanova and getting screamed at by the ambassadors and Blue Key at six in the morning. That was student passion like I had never seen before. The people at Villanova, they were intelligent, creative, passionate about their faith, about community in general. And that’s what really drew me here.

WR: And what about mathematics and economics? Why did you choose to study those?

RZ: It was really a fascination with how things work, especially with rationality and logic. Math is such a creative major where you take building blocks of stuff and build it on each other, just to make some really beautiful pictures, and economics was a really practical, applied way of applying math to the business world.

WR: Did math play a big role in your research? I ask because it sounds more on the economic side.

RZ: As far as using math in my work to do theory, that’s going to happen a lot. I’ll most likely balance the theoretical and empirical side going forward in my research.

WR: And that’s the case with your present piece?

RZ: This project was mostly empirical, and then the theory was analyzed in the result. So essentially I looked at keywords in newspapers in Ireland over the past 30 years, and these keywords were words such as ‘regulation,’ ‘deficit,’ ‘central bank,’ and where these words appear in newspapers with higher frequency tended to correlate with periods of high uncertainty.

Ryan Zalla Headshot

“Math is such a creative major where you take building blocks of stuff and build it on each other,” according to Zalla.

WR: What’s the most important conclusion to draw from your results?

RZ: This is the idea of it: to see which words elicit certain emotions of anxiety in consumers, investors, and businesses… The important take away from here is that the policymakers and businesspeople have to be aware of what’s being said to the public and how information dispersion can affect the economy.

WR: What are some of your interests outside of academics? What sort of extracurriculars are you involved in?

RZ: The big ones were I was an Eagle Scout in high school. I also did my black belt and played saxophone in the marching band. Then coming to Villanova, I’ve been pretty involved in the Move Above the Influence Group, which promotes non-alcoholic social activities for students. I’ve also been a member of Villanova Ambassadors as well as Honors Ambassadors. I was at one point last year, a member of the dean’s academic reform committee for the College of the Liberal Arts and Sciences. I also started a society last year: the Villanova Society of Actuaries. I’m also an RA.

WR: So what led you to the Falvey Scholars Program?

RZ: I use the Falvey Memorial Library a lot, because Villanova provides access to just about every research article and database out there. I was able to use those a lot to come up with my ideas, do my literature review and complete my project. Dr. Michael Curran noticed that the Falvey Scholars could be a good fit for me, and he forwarded the information.

WR: Then the Falvey Memorial Library has played an important role in your collegiate studies so far?

RZ: I just know that the Falvey Memorial Library is where I did most of my research and has been a very valuable resource along the way… Here at Villanova it’s my favorite place to study. I especially love the new reading room – being there at three in the morning no longer feels as creepy as it once did.


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Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Dept. at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 

 

 

Photographs by Kallie Stahl, Communications and Marketing Dept.

 


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Introducing the Falvey Scholars: Danielle Sens-Castet

Danielle Sens-Castet comes to Villanova from Pearl River, New York. She was selected as a Falvey Scholar on the nomination of two separate projects, one in biology and the other in French and Francophone studies. She credits Professors François Massonnat and Dennis Wykoff for playing an important role in her success. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Sens-Castet about her work in biology, French serial killers, and her plans for the future. You’ll find excerpts of the conversation below.

Sens-Castet poses for a photo in the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room.

Sens-Castet poses for a photo in the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room.

William Repetto: You were nominated for two projects. Congratulations. What can you tell me about your majors and your projects?

Danielle Sens-Castet: My majors are biology and French and Francophone Studies. My French project is looking at serial killer narratives and then my second project, which I did for biology, for my thesis, is about the thymine biosynthesis pathway and the importance of a regulatory factor called THI3 across particular yeast species.

WR: I’m not a science person. Can you explain your biology project to me as a total outsider?

DS-C: THI3 is this thing called a regulatory factor, so it’s able to control these proteins that bind to DNA to either turn on genes or turn off genes, so I look at THI3, which helps control and regulate thymine genes. If you need to make thymine, THI3 binds to this other factor to bind to DNA to then make thymine. If you don’t need to make thymine, then it’s not going to bind. I’m looking at different species because different species have different regulatory systems.

WR: And what has been your favorite part of this kind of work?

DS-C: Working with the people in the lab, I love the people who I’ve worked with. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in this lab that has such great people – Dr. Wyckoff is such a great adviser. We have our lab coordinator, Christine Iosue, and all the undergrads and grad students who work there have been great. I also like looking at the sources first and looking into the background. Definitely Falvey has been useful, especially the website.

Sens-Castet lectures at the Falvey Scholar event.

Sens-Castet lectures at the Falvey Scholars event.

WR: This all sounds very different from your French project. Can you talk a little bit about your work on French crime film?

DS-C: In crime film you think of like maybe gangsters or murder, but some of the films you wouldn’t classify as a crime film… Even when I watched Le Boucher, it’s not that I didn’t think of it as a crime film because there is a serial killer in it, which I didn’t even think of him as being a serial killer, which shows you how well it’s done artistically.

WR: Was Le Boucher the only film you wrote about, then?

DS-C: I picked two more modern films. One is called La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai le Cœur (“Next Time I Will Aim for the Heart”), but the interesting thing is that film was set in the late ’70s, a little bit after Le Boucher. Then I also watched L’Affaire SK1, which is “Serial Killer One.” That was interesting because it was actually based on a real life serial killer called Guy Georges who terrorized Paris during the ’90s.

WR: So what do these two projects add up to for you? What do you think your future holds?

DS-C: I originally thought I wanted to go into the healthcare field or something related to that, but I’m realizing I don’t. So I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, if I can incorporate biology and French together, or at least science and French that would be awesome, or even science and languages.


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Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 

 

 

Photographs by Kallie Stahl and Alice Bampton, Communication and Marketing Dept.

 


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Introducing the Falvey Scholars: Stephen Purcell

Stephen Purcell comes to Villanova from the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem. He credits Professors Paul Danove, Alice Dailey and Mark Wilson for nurturing his continued dedication to learning and academics. I recently had the chance to sit and chat with Purcell. Our conversation covered Paradise Lost, the history of ideas, and Purcell’s plans for the future. You will find excerpts of it below.

Purcell lectures at the Falvey Scholar event.

Purcell lectures at the Falvey Scholars event.

William Repetto: What’s your major? Can you tell me more about your project?

Stephen Purcell: I’m an honors English major and, in this project, I am looking at Milton’s Paradise Lost. I’m contextualizing it through the history of ideas, so I’m looking at the ways that language and representation change in the 17th-century when Milton is writing Paradise Lost. I kind of use that to understand how he is dividing before and after the fall.

WR: The history of ideas sounds like a challenging concept to tackle. Can you talk about how you’re going to handle that?

SP: Most basically, before the 17th-century, we felt like we could trust language. We saw it as something that was part of the world. So, for example, we didn’t just decided that this was a table, it literally was a table. In the 17th-century we lost faith in that. We lose faith in the fact that nature is something that we can intuitively understand. When we lose that, we feel we lose a theological connection with God. So when Milton writes Paradise Lost, he uses the fall of humanity as the reason for our distrust of language and the severed or changed relationship with God that we get out of it.

WR: When did you first know that this intensely literary work was what you wanted to do in college?

SP: I liked English since high school when it really got into talking about how texts work, how stories work. That really captured my imagination, and that really told me that I want to be an English major. My interests other than that have been shaped by my interest in stories and how they work culturally.

Purcell poses for a photo in the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room.

Purcell poses for a photo in the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room.

WR: Has the library been instrumental in shaping your work? How has becoming a Falvey Scholar helped you?

SP: I’m really proud of the research that I’ve done and the work I put into the thesis. It’s almost certainly going to be my writing sample when I apply to grad school, so it means a lot to me for it to be recognized in this formal way that let’s me show that the library has been helpful for me as a place to think. I make a lot of connections just being in the physical space of the library.

WR: Is the Falvey Memorial Library the first big library community you have been a part of?

SP: When I was really little, I spent a lot of time at the local library, but I think it was high school and college when I rediscovered how much I like reading and working with texts and stories and ideas… Coming to Villanova and getting to work at Falvey has really complemented and aided my intellectual growth.

WR: Now that your time at Villanova is coming to an end, what do you have planned for the future?

SP: I want to be an English professor. Immediately after college, I’m going to spend a year teaching in France as a way to build up my language skills and get some more language experience. This summer I’m going to start working on my graduate school applications and hopefully send them out while I’m in France, so I can come back to a grad program.


 

photograph of william RepettoWilliam Repetto is a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Dept. at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 

 

 

Photographs by Kallie Stahl and Alice Bampton, Communication and Marketing Dept.

 


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Introducing the Falvey Scholars: Emma Max

A New Jersey native, Emma Max came to Villanova to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the College of Nursing. It runs in her blood; “My mother is a cardiology nurse practitioner,” she told me in a recent conversation. She credits Meredith MacKenzie, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, CNE, of the College of Nursing with helping her make the best of these opportunities. We had the chance to talk about 21st century nursing perspectives, her future plans, and even relationships as well. See excerpts of the conversation below.

Max poses for a photo in the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room.

Max poses for a photo in the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room.

William Repetto: Tell me about your project.

Emma Max: My project is “Just in KASE,” which is evaluating nursing students’ knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy towards caring for a dying patient… It was a quantitative study and a comparative study.

WR: What makes this work important in the 21st century?

EM: We have a dearth of information in regard to end of life care. We have hospice and palliative nursing; we have hospice and palliative care physicians, and that’s all well and good, but as nursing students, we aren’t getting very much education in it. The two facts of life are that everybody is born and everybody dies. We got the first part covered; we still have issues, but it’s the end of life. As a western society, we don’t like to poke and prod at that. It’s uncomfortable for a lot of people – understandably so.

WR: What’s your favorite part of this work?

EM: I love writing. If I wasn’t a nursing major, I would have gone into English, but I definitely think that the results were the most interesting and the most aggravating part because we’d sit there and they would come in a slow trickle and then a wave would come in every time we sent an email.

Max lectures at the Falvey Scholar event.

Max lectures at the Falvey Scholars event.

WR: What attracted you to Villanova to do this kind of work?

EM: The nursing school, they start pretty early. Most places don’t start you until junior year, but we hit the ground running. I think my first or second semester was intro to nursing, and it was everything: Where do nurses come from? Why do we do what we do? What do the letters after your name mean?

WR: Has the Falvey been instrumental in your Villanova experience?

EM: I spend a lot of time here in the Falvey. My boyfriend and I started going out my sophomore year, and we used to spend all our time together in Falvey. I mean first floor, sitting there, club 24, we would be sitting in the 24-hour lounge, whether it was goofing off or actually doing homework. This library is where my relationship started, so obviously it has a place in my heart. I still spend a lot of time here, especially now that they redid Old Falvey.

WR: What are your plans after graduation? Will you continue researching or go directly to work?

EM: There are these things called nurse residency programs, much like physicians go through their residency programs… It’s in Christiana Care Hospital down in Delaware. It’s a huge academic hospital, which is lovely. I’m in their critical care nursing residency program. It’s awesome; it’s 11 people and me. I do that for about six months, and then I work there for two years, and then I see where life takes me.


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Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Dept. at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 

 

 

Photographs by Kallie Stahl and Alice Bampton, Communication and Marketing Dept.

 


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Introducing the Falvey Scholars: Anna Briker

Anna Briker comes to Villanova from nearby Abington, Pennsylvania. Speaking of her time in school growing up, Briker reflected, “I really liked to read; I don’t know what else to say other than I really, really liked to read. I had a lot of really great teachers.” She credits  Aimee Eggler, PhD, assistant professor, Biochemistry Program, here at Villanova for her ability to participate in the Falvey Scholars program. Anna said, “The support of my mentor was really important, and I just appreciated her taking me in and teaching me, and now I’m excited that I get to present and am graduating,” in a recent conversation, which you will find excerpted below.

Briker lectures at the Falvey Scholar event.

Briker lectures at the Falvey Scholars event.

William Repetto: You’re a biochemistry major, and I’m an English major. Can you explain your projects to me in terms that I would understand?

Anna Briker: There are genes in our bodies that produce proteins that can protect us against all sorts of stress, and they are detoxifying, which is a big buzzword now. They can really help prevent disease. We’re studying a protein that activates a system, a protein that is naturally able to take advantage of the detoxifying proteins in our body and activate them. We’re really interested in how the foods that we eat are able to play into this system as well.

WR: And what is the methodology for this kind of work?

AB: We use cells that we grow in the lab and have different experiments. There’s one called a Western Blot. We can also measure the activation of the genes through a cool system that produces light in the same way as a firefly.

WR: You sound really enthusiastic about your work in the lab. Was that your favorite part of the project?

I like to be in lab and be doing things, like pipetting, because it’s really satisfying when you finish something after you’ve physically completed it. I also like, once we have the data, to kind of pull it together into a story, but that’s really difficult.

Briker poses with her certificate for being a Falvey Scholar.

Briker poses with her certificate for being a Falvey Scholar.

WR: Did Falvey play any kind of important role in your work?

AB: Obviously we generate a lot of our own data, so the research data that I’ll be presenting is stuff we have for ourselves, but to understand it, we have to put it in context with what other researchers are doing across the country and sometimes across the world. The library resources played a really big role in allowing access to databases and articles. I think we have over 100 articles as references for this one project.

WR: With all the hands on work and reading, this project must have taken up a lot of your time. Do you find the space for any extracurricular activities?

AB: Growing up, I did ballet, and that was my main extracurricular because I was really involved in it. I was involved in Villanova Student Theatre, but I have since retired. I’m really involved in the Service Learning Community, which is for sophomores, but juniors and seniors can be facilitators.

WR: So what does this all add up to you for you? What’s next after Villlanova?

AB: I’m going to medical school next year. Research definitely influenced my decision, and the interplay of research and developing relationships with people and patients and giving back to the community is something that I thought were really tied up together in the career of a physician. I’ll be going to Northwestern.


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Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 

 

 

Photographs by Alice Bampton, Communication and Marketing Dept.

 


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Introducing the Falvey Scholars: Kathleen Boyce

Kathleen Boyce comes to Villanova from New Hope, Pennsylvania. She’s a recipient of the St. Catherine of Siena Peace and Justice Research Award. She hopes to attend graduate school in the future, with Princeton University as her first choice. “That’s the dream,” she told me in a recent conversation. You’ll find excerpts from the rest of the conversation below, where we covered her Falvey Scholars project, her other activities on campus, and the role the library has played for her.

Kathleen Boyce lectures at the Falvey Scholar Event.

Kathleen Boyce lectures at the Falvey Scholars Event.

William Repetto: Can you tell me about the project you were nominated for? And what are your majors?

Kathleen Boyce: My project is on the 1936 Berlin Olympics; I am looking at the Olympics from the perspective of the United States boycott movement in the context of US racism at the time. It’s entitled “America’s Youth Go to Nazi Germany: The Movement to Boycott the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the Racial Divide in American Society.” I’m a double major in history and peace and justice studies.

WR: And what did you end up finding out about the United States’ perspective?

KB: I ended up shifting my focus as I began looking in the sources more, and I began seeing how huge this boycott debate was and the way in which US racism was used throughout the debate ­– and the irony of the US saying, “we’re going to boycott the 1936 Olympics because the Nazis are racist,” when in 1936, in Jim Crowe America, a lot of the athletes were experiencing racism at that time.

WR: That sounds like a project that incorporated elements from both of your majors.

KB: It’s definitely interdisciplinary. It was my senior thesis for my history class, but it definitely incorporates issues of racism and social justice and social justice, and I really explore this idea of moral superiority ­– is the US morally superior to Nazi Germany? And how does this boycott debate show whether they are morally superior? So peace and justice is definitely a part of it.

Boyce poses for a photo as a newly inducted Falvey Scholar.

Boyce poses for a photo as a newly inducted Falvey Scholar.

WR: When did you first hear about the Falvey Scholars program? When did you know you wanted to be one?

KB: It’s been a goal of mine for a while. I guess: freshman year. I remember seeing the flyers they hang downstairs with all the topics and thinking, “I’m going to do that.”

WR: How else are you involved on campus?

KB: On campus, I really prioritize my schooling. I’m not super involved, but I am in the academic reform committee, which is a committee that was formed by Dean Lindenmeyr a few years ago to look at academic life within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and how we can improve academic life, whether through the curriculum or just through better marketing. I’ve also done some things with the admissions office; I was a tour guide over the summer when I was doing my research project, and I worked as an ambassador for a while as well.

WR: And how has the library been a part of shaping your Villanova experience?

KB: I do everything here. I live in the library. I’ve been here since 8am this morning, and I’ll be here a long time tonight. I do everything in this library; I was here all summer. Being in the library is my favorite place to be. I love being surrounded by all the books and just walking around the books when I need help. I start every project by going to the Falvey website, and I just look up my topic and see what books we have in the library.


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Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 

 

 

Photographs by Kallie Stahl and Alice Bampton, Communication and Marketing Dept.


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Congratulations to Falvey Scholars!

Congratulations to the following Falvey Scholars chosen from among several worthy College of Nursing candidates!  And congratulations to their faculty mentors!

Katie Kline on “What to Know About Home Genetic-Test Kits.” Mentor: Dr. Theresa Capriotti, DO, MSN, RN, CRNP

Katie investigated the growing use of these kits, which can be purchased at local pharmacies as well as online.  The producers of the kits claim that by sending them a DNA sample (taken from saliva or the inside of the cheek) individuals can receive a report on ancestry/paternity, drug reactions, and susceptibility to genetic diseases. However, the results raise more questions than they answer, and the reliability and confidentiality of the testing are also in doubt.

Elizabeth Long on “Nurses’ Perceptions of Human Trafficking in an Urban Emergency Department: A Qualitative Study.” Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth B. Dowdell, RN, PhD, FAAN

Elizabeth interviewed a small sample of ED nurses at a major teaching hospital in Philadelphia to find out their perceptions of patients who present with injuries and who may possibly be victims of domestic violence or human trafficking.  She found that while ED nurses are very aware of the existence of human trafficking in the region, most do not recognize trafficked patients as such when they come for emergency treatment.

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Best wishes to our CON students who will be taking exams soon, and congrats to our soon-to-be graduates!

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Last Modified: April 24, 2015