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Why Science Matters to Me

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Siobhan Stolle Dunnvant ’86, MD

Siobhan Stolle Dunnvant ’86, MD

Biology

Obstetrician/Gynecologist;
Member of the Virginia State Senate, 2016-2024

“Many hours in Martin Science Building and the relationships I formed there shaped me. In particular one professor, Franklin F. Flint, fondly known as F3 (said ‘F-cubed’). F3 loved science and as a professor was able to inspire us with his passion. It wasn’t just subjects that we learned but a framework for a lifelong love of learning and tools for problem-solving that were applicable to everything.”

“He taught us to understand how systems work, look for patterns, question everything, have a system like the scientific process but remember to think outside of the box, and to never forget to marvel at the sophisticated simplicity of nature.”

“After my time in Martin and at R-MWC, I went on to nursing school, practiced as an ICU nurse and then, because I was ‘infected’ with a drive to understand more, went to medical school and residency. F3’s mentorship gave me skills I have used through 25 years as an OB/GYN and the even harder job of raising four great kids.”

“Armed with this foundation I even stepped forward and served 8 years in the Virginia State Senate as the Senator from western Hanover and Henrico and the only physician. I  was able to build consensus and get problems solved by using these same principles for legislative problems and solutions.”

“My scientific learning was woven with incredible mentorship, kindness and respect for ingenuity and individuality. Franklin F. Flint had a special dignity and made me believe that what I thought mattered. When an authority figure you respect helps you believe in yourself, that sets you in forward motion for the rest of your life.”

Bria Carlisle-Thaniel ’16

Bria Carlisle-Thaniel ’16

Biology

Research Scientist
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)

Adjunct Professor
Brightpoint Community College, Germanna Community College

“I fell in love with lab work during a microbiology course at Randolph and shelved my plans for dental school to pursue a career in research. Throughout my career, I have gained many laboratory and research skills including microbiological, molecular, virological, and clinical chemical techniques.”

“Being a woman in science is amazing.”

“Women only make up approximately 20% of the field. However, within the field we have made extraordinary accomplishments.”

“I have been fortunate to have many supervisors and department heads who are women, so they actually were just opening doors and leading me throughout my career, every step of the way.”

“There are an abundance of opportunities in science. It’s important that we provide young women with the knowledge, experiences, and encouragement to seize those opportunities.”

Ashleigh E. Baber ’05

Ashleigh E. Baber ’05, PhD

Chemistry

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
James Madison University

“Looking back, when I was working as a lab assistant at the College, there were so many different experiences that inspired independence and confidence.”

“Today, I try to create those type of experiences for students in my lab – advanced undergraduate research projects, collaboration, presenting research at conferences, publishing in journals.”

“Students from different majors, backgrounds, and ideologies working together to produce new ideas to approach our research goals and succeed in producing quality work that will propel the scientific community.”

“Those are the experiences that students can find in Martin.”

Courtney Carter Plaster ’92

Courtney Carter Plaster ’92

Biology

Executive Director
Clean Valley Council

“The time I spent working with Professor Doug Shedd prepared me for a lifetime of museum collections work and education at such institutions as the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Imagination Station Science Museum in Wilson, North Carolina, the Science Museum of Western Virginia, and the Virginia Museum of Transportation.”

“However, my liberal arts education nurtured my curious spirit and helped me succeed in a broad range of roles.”

“In all realms — research, collections, publications, education, and leading an organization — you remain positive and people see that positivity, it’s contagious. I typically learn something new every day. I remain curious about everything, and I’m always asking why.”

Kristina Whately

Kristina Whately ’14, PhD

Biology

Postdoctoral Research Associate
University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

“The opportunities that Randolph provided set me up for success. I did independent research and, with funding from a RISE grant, presented at conferences.  Those experiences gave me a leg up when applying to graduate schools.”

I earned my PhD in cancer cell biology  studying mechanisms of metastasis in breast cancer. I’ve done postdoctoral work on lung cancer and received a T32 training grant from the National Institutes of Health.”

“My Randolph professors prepared me and instilled in me the confidence to take on the challenges of a career in science.”

“Muster up the courage to take a shot, take a chance, and you never know. You may get the opportunity and you’ll succeed. Or something better is out there waiting for you.”

Katelin Shugart-Schmidt

Katelin Shugart-Schmidt ’10, MS, JD

Environmental Science

Appellate Attorney, Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice

“I was the first student to declare an intent to major in the College’s then-new environmental science degree, and that degree has empowered me throughout my professional career. It gave me an extremely solid foundation on which to enter graduate studies in fisheries and wildlife science, where I built on the knowledge I gained during hands-on work in the Martin building.

“My Randolph degree ensured I could communicate about science effectively when I advocated before Congress for the protection of endangered species and our ocean fisheries. And today, when I stand before judges in courts across the country and argue cases on behalf of our nation’s environmental agencies, I am confident in my ability to both understand and explain complex scientific concepts because of the education I received at Randolph.

“Martin Science has always been a powerful place for student education through lectures, laboratories, and one-on-one discussions with friends and faculty alike, and it will continue to be so long into its future.”

Pujan Shrestha '15

Pujan Shrestha ’15

Mathematics

Post-Doctoral Researcher
Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M University

As part of the first international cohort in the SUPER program at Randolph, I would like to state that Randolph college inspired, nurtured, and enabled me to fully explore my love for mathematics and physics. From learning about the natural world through Professor Sheldon’s and Professor Schenk’s physics classes to struggling and then excelling in Professor Ordower’s math classes, I felt seen, heard, and simulated after each semester. I would love to give a special shout out to Professor Ordower, from the acknowledgement section in my dissertation for my Ph.D.: 

“I would like to thank Professor Ordower for lighting the spark of mathematics within me. I was blessed to be in his classes for most of my undergraduate years at Randolph College. I hope to be as good a teacher as he is.” 

“I was given many opportunities to develop my research skills at Randolph. I was part of the Summer Research Program working with Professor Sheldon in researching inquiry-based teaching methods at the local Jubilee Center’s science summer camp. I worked with Professor Sheldon in developing an inertial navigation system on cellphones to check G-forces on a roller coaster. I worked with Professor Ordower in developing a game using cellular automata.

“The RISE grant was instrumental in providing me with a capable computer to test hypotheses and develop my intuition. Beyond just my personal major, Randolph College enabled me to explore other interests as well. My love for microbiology was fermented by Professor Houlihan. As part of the founding members of the Randolph Zymology Society, I treasure the weekends spent in the Randolph Botanical Gardens behind Martin Science Building trying out new methods to brew beer and researching kimchi recipes. I attribute my very rudimentary attempts at home brewing to those memories.  

“I cannot say I was the best student, but I was granted grace and love from Randolph College. It was what helped me feel Randolph College was a home away from home. Science matters because it informed me about my role in the natural world and how I can use that knowledge to better myself and society. This realization is surreal to me in my current role as a cancer researcher at TAMU.

Yashi Shrestha '16

Yashi Shrestha ’16

Chemistry

Director of Science and Research
Novi

“My experience at Randolph allowed me to think outside of the box and have a 360 perspective of the world.

“The environmental science classes mixed with my senior capstone research project, evaluating total antioxidant capacity of skincare products, was certainly the impetus behind me pursuing a career in the field.”

Vicky Turgeon

Victoria Proctor Turgeon ’93, PhD

Biology

Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, Academic Director for the Prisma Health Partnership
Furman University

“After graduating from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1993, I earned my PhD in Neurobiology and Anatomy at Wake Forest University. I have worked at Furman University for over 25 years, where I currently serve as a Professor of Biology and Neuroscience and as Furman’s Academic Director for the Prisma Health Partnership.

“During my career, I have received federal and state grants to support undergraduate researchers in the areas of spinal cord injury and spinal cord development and I developed and directed Furman’s graduate program in Community Engaged Medicine.  However, my greatest professional achievements are my students who have gone on to pursue their passions in biology, neuroscience, and medicine.

“The impact I have been able to make through my teaching, research, and leadership would not have been possible without the education and mentorship I received from my professors and the strong science program, and I am excited to see this continued commitment at Randolph College.”

Hart Gillespie

Hart Gillespie ’15, PhD

Physics

Postdoctoral Fellow
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, CA)

“Randolph’s physics curriculum challenged me in ways that I found engaging. Science matters because it informs us about the natural world.

“It is, and always will be, relevant to understand how nature works, because we live in and are a part of nature.

“As for my role in the world, it is evident that I must strike a balance between learning new things, both for myself and for humanity, and spreading that knowledge so that it can be useful to others.

“As part of the Mars atmosphere community, I hope that, during my lifetime, we will learn how Martian global dust storms form and grow to cover nearly all of Mars.”

Carol J. Haley

Carol Haley ’70, PhD

Biology

“In my first year at Randolph, in botany and chemistry classes, I immediately recognized that science was my passion – my professors’ obvious enthusiasm for their subjects and their insistence on pushing me to do my best and encouragement of my curiosity led me to life of exciting experiences in the scientific sphere.

“Randolph also enabled me to see the value of different ways of thinking and communicating, the importance of understanding history, and how art and literature shape and reflect society, including science.  By applying this knowledge throughout my career (and beyond, in retirement) I have worked at the interface of science and policy and of different sciences.

“Among my many professional roles, I participated (in the 1980’s) in the Smithsonian Institution’s first electronic inventory of its collections, and later, at the US FDA,  I analyzed  environmental impacts of animal drugs and helped to develop the first regulations to prevent the spread of mad cow disease. Most recently, I served as a regulatory affairs expert for Pfizer. Since my retirement in 2019, I continued studying epidemiology in order to pursue my lifelong interest in the connection of disease to the natural environment. This led to my collaboration on a just published book, titled Modernizing Global Health Security to Prevent, Detect, and Respond (Elsevier, 2023. Eds. Scott JN McNabb, Affan Shaikh, and Carol J Haley), that explores the factors that have led to recent public health emergencies and offers a vision for a better protected global environment.

“I am supporting this campaign so that the next generations of Randolph students can continue to have access to this tradition of preparation for careers in science.” 

Mary Betterton

Mary Hardy Betterton ’81, DVM (retired)

Biology

“The strong science education I received at Randolph-Macon prepared me well to pursue a career in veterinary medicine at a time when very few women were in this field.

“The College provided me with hands-on research opportunities combined with a challenging curriculum and caring professors.

“I eventually went on to open my own veterinary clinic in Brosville, VA, where I also had the privilege of mentoring and working with Seth Pruitt, a Randolph College graduate of the Class of 2022. Seth is now in veterinary school, and I couldn’t be more proud to have a small part in encouraging this next generation of veterinarians.” 

Kathryn Colonna Worrilow

Kathryn Colonna Worrilow ’80, PhD

Biology

Founder and CEO
LifeAire Systems, LLC

“Randolph’s science and math curriculum taught us to always ask more. This drive was woven through our course and laboratory work, and it is a philosophy that I used throughout my doctoral and postdoctoral studies, and in my career.” 

Karl Sakas

Karl Sakas ’10, MBA

Environmental Studies

Community Development Volunteer
Peace Corps

“Today’s interconnected global problems don’t exist in a vacuum, and neither does the College’s environmental science program. My education at the intersection of STEM and the liberal arts prepared me for the unique challenges faced while working at the World Bank and beyond.” 

Veronika Redmann '06, photo by Kelly Cook Photography
photo by Kelly Cook Photography

Veronika L. Redmann ’06, PhD

Biology

Founder and President
Veronika Redmann Medical Writing, LLC

“I graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 2006 with dual degrees in biology and German studies, while also competing year-round on the College’s swim team. My love of infectious disease and immunology was fostered by my biology advisor, past R-MWC professor Dr. Kathy Schaefer. It was in her laboratory, performing summer research, that I first looked down into a microscope, setting the foundation for my passion for research. Through Dr. Schaefer’s encouragement and that of other professors at the College, I went on to earn my Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

“I spent over a decade designing and leading research projects in academia on virology, immunology, molecular biology, public health, and models of human disease. My favorite research experience was working hands-on with a live bat colony and assisting with the preparation of specimens for rabies virus testing at the Wadsworth Center’s Griffin Laboratory in Guilderland, New York. Since leaving academic research seven years ago, I have found a career path that truly reflects my liberal arts education: at the intersection of communication, business, and science. I currently work with technology start-up companies to write both business and research and development plans, helping them compete for federal grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. My ability to help others clearly communicate about a complex topic, science, is a direct result of the emphasis the College put on learning through writing in both my degree programs.

“The impact I have been able to make through my research and business would not have been possible without the education and mentorship I received from my professors and the College’s strong science program. I am excited to see this continued commitment at Randolph and proud to support this project with my gift.”

Cristina Berenguer Llongueras ’23

Cristina Berenguer Llongueras ’23

Physics

Master’s Candidate
Georgia Tech
Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering

“I am grateful for the wonderful science education I received at Randolph. I discovered my passion for aerospace engineering at the College and my professors were amazing mentors. I had a lot of one-on-one experiences and research opportunities that let me engage in hands-on learning and gain a deep understanding of physics concepts.

I am now beginning graduate studies in aerospace engineering as I continue to pursue my dream of working in the aerospace industry. I am interested in flight mechanics and controls or structural mechanics and materials. I can’t wait to work on the design and development of aircraft and spacecraft, and my Randolph education is making all of this possible.”

Peter Sheldon

Peter A. Sheldon

The Charles A. Dana Professor and Chair of Physics and Engineering

“Since 2011, Randolph’s Department of Physics and Engineering has tripled in numbers of students. After renovating our science building, we will be able to add an advanced physics and engineering laboratory space for our students to conduct laboratory experiments and independent research.

The new maker space and machine shop will also benefit not only Randolph students, but also the community. This new space will enhance our outreach efforts, which include SciFest for elementary school students and Science & Art Saturdays for high school students.

We have a stellar science program, and I am looking forward to being proud of a space that matches the level of study happening here. This new space will help us to attract talented students to the sciences at Randolph.” 

Jdody Misidor

Jdody Misidor ’21, MS

Environmental Science

Public Education Associate
The Nature Conservancy

“Since graduating from Randolph College with a degree in environmental studies, I have earned a master of science in public health. I currently work for the Nature Conservancy in Washington, D.C., where I educate the public about environmental issues and encourage their support. I am fascinated by the intersection of urban development with public health. My ultimate goal is to serve as a diplomat for my home country of Haiti and work to improve the environmental and public health issues they face.”

Elizabeth Grimm

Elizabeth A. Grimm ’71 , PhD

Chemistry

Professor Emerita, Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology Research, Division of Cancer Medicine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

“When I started a PhD program, I was better prepared than my classmates because of the quality of my Randolph education. At Randolph, I had access to the latest instrumentation, and faculty engaged directly with students. I was encouraged to perform independent research, which became exciting opportunities for discovery. This excitement turned into a passion for discovery in the field of cancer research that has stayed with me all my life.

The advances in science, particularly in cancer and human medical science, are occurring at a pace faster than ever before, and I certainly hope that our current and future Randolph scientists continue access to such opportunities. For all of these reasons, I decided to support this project. It is a worthwhile investment in the next generation of scientists.”

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