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Chapman works with researchers from the undergraduate to the post-

doctoral level in his lab, but he had never brought in a student from his alma

mater. During a visit to campus, Chapman met with Provost Phil Sprunger and

members of the biology faculty to develop the research internship program. He

also made time to conduct a research seminar with Lycoming students.

After reviewing applications and conducting phone interviews with

interested Lycoming biology majors during the spring semester, Chapman

selected Jennifer Monico ’16 for the internship. The College provided a stipend

for Monico’s living and travel expenses, and Chapman covered housing and lab

supplies.

Monico, the recipient of both a Lycoming Haberberger Fellowship and a

Pennsylvania Academy of Science grant for her senior honors project, had the

opportunity to work collaboratively with a Canadian post-doc and a Chinese doctoral student in Chapman’s

lab. Their research attempted to reconstruct the pathway for making skin lipids by using plant and yeast

lipids in order to produce water-resistant additives for use in cosmetics and wound treatments.

Jennifer “grasped things so quickly,” says Chapman, citing her strong attention to detail and independent

thinking. “Not too many people can come in and learn molecular cloning in such a short time. She became

self-sufficient very quickly.”

“She understood what she was doing, and why,” Chapman recalls. “Despite her lack of experience in

molecular or cell biology or biochemistry” — the focus of Jennifer’s biology major was ecology, with minors

in environmental science and art — “she was able to do the work. It was impressive. And the results she got

were exciting.”

Chapman is using the molecular tools that Monico helped to construct in a research course he is currently

teaching. Monico is even credited on Chapman’s course website.

With the internship experience, Monico could get a job “very easily” as a laboratory research technician,

Chapman explains. Monico agrees with this as she reflects on her experience in a working lab. She found

value in learning how to troubleshoot and deal with unexpected results, as well as coming to understand the

focus and stamina required to work in a laboratory full-time day in and day out. “The experience gave me

the confidence to pursue a master’s degree,” says Monico, an option she is considering.

explore

by Melanie Harris Taormina ’94

Kent Chapman, Ph.D. ’86

Despite the long hours in the

lab, it wasn’t all work in Texas for

Monico. She took full advantage

of her free time, visiting

historic sites and arboretums,

experiencing local culture and

even participating in a Habitat

for Humanity build.

Chapman remembers his own

independent research project as

a Lycoming student with then-

assistant professor of biology

Judith Pottmeyer as critical in

launching his career path. “It

gave me the opportunity to feel

like I was quickly an expert at

something and immersed me in

the scientific process,” he recalls.

“It really kindled the excitement

about discovery.” Chapman

also fondly recalls studying

marine life in Jamaica with Mel

Zimmerman, now professor

emeritus of biology.

Zimmerman taught both

Chapman and Monico, and both,

he says, “represented the best

qualities of a Lycoming student: a

student interested in a variety of

areas and having the passion and

work ethic to explore as many of

them as possible to develop their

chosen career.”

Chapman’s passion and

work ethic have indeed taken

him far in his career. This past

fall he was awarded a $650,000

grant by the U.S. Department of

Energy Office of Science to study

the cellular storage of lipids in

plants.

Chapman hopes to continue

offering summer research

internships to Lycoming

students. “It’s terrific to give

back a little bit to Lycoming,”

he says. “In addition to our

financial donations, volunteering

our time and experience and

expertise is a valuable way to

give. I would encourage others to

do that as well.”

Both Chapman and Monico

represented the best qualities

of a Lycoming student:

a student interested in a variety

of areas and having the passion

and work ethic to explore

as many of them as possible to

develop their chosen career.

25

www.lycoming.edu

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