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Student/faculty pathogen research part of inaugural summer institute


GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College Assistant Professor of Biology Delbert Abi Abdallah’s research into white blood cell defense against a specific pathogen is among the first set of research projects taking place this summer as part of the new Greenville Neuromodulation Center (GNC) Faculty/Student Research Institute.

Thiel College student Catherine McCormick is the apprentice researcher for the project. The research is looking at listeria—a food-borne bacterial pathogen that infects humans and causes severe illness or death—and the pathogenicity of listeria bacterial strains that have some virulence factors deleted. The research focuses on the immune response to these bacteria, specifically by looking at white blood cell defense mechanisms.

Abi Abdallah, Ph.D., earned a Bachelor of Science with a major in microbiology and cell science and a minor in chemistry from the University of Florida. He completed his graduate studies with a doctorate in immunology and infectious disease from Cornell University in 2011. He was an adjunct at Tompkins Cortland Community College from 2013-2014 and also a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell from 2011-2013.

“The GNC Faculty/Student Research Institute will significantly advance faculty-led research, provide yet another opportunity for the collaborative, hands-on learning that is a Thiel College hallmark of excellence, and prepare our students for advanced problem-solving,” Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Lynn Franken, Ph.D., said.

Thiel College alumni Fred Haer ’65 and his wife, Jill (Shackett) Haer ’66, have pledged more than $400,000 to fund the GNC Faculty/Student Research Institute for the next three years. The institute is concentrated on connecting science and liberal arts at Thiel College.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Shannon Deets, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of English Jared Johnson, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Pete Rydberg, Ph.D.; and Associate Professor of Chemistry Chris Stanisky, Ph.D., have also had their research projects selected to be included in the inaugural class. Student apprentice researchers will partner with faculty principal investigators on most projects.

About Thiel College

Thiel College is a private liberal arts institution founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016 and remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.

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