From Connections: “Biology Grads Shine in Graduate School”

1 Aug

University of Buffalo medical student Kelly Noble ’11 on a recent visit back to Nazareth’s science labs.

The competition to secure places at the nation’s medical, dental, and veterinary graduate programs is so intense that admission into these programs is one indicator of how well a college is faring. With that in mind, Nazareth College is doing very well indeed.

Nazareth’s biology department, which offers undergraduate programs in biology, environmental science, biochemistry, and biology education, derives its strength from a number of factors: small class sizes, close faculty-student connections, extensive hands-on laboratory training, outstanding opportunities for undergraduate research, and the new state-of-the-art Integrated Center for Math and Science on campus. Indeed, Nazareth’s biology students, many of whom receive scholarships, participate in independent research as a capstone project, and many are involved in field work and internships.

“We’ve tripled our enrollment in the last ten years, and applications for fall 2012 are up,” says Brian Witz, Ph.D., professor and chair of the biology department. “Applicants are impressed with our small class sizes and individualized attention. They tend to find more caring and concern here than at many rival institutions.”

The biology program certainly paved the way for Kelly Noble ’11 of Homer, N.Y. Initially, Noble intended to be a high school biology teacher. “But after Bio 103, I decided I wanted to do something more clinical,” she says. “I met with Professor Witz and he was wonderful. He really showed me the ropes.”

Now in her first year of medical school at the University of Buffalo, Noble expressed appreciation for Nazareth’s “whole person” approach to education. “With the core curriculum, I could take a lot of different subjects, like music, which I love,” she says. “I decided to do a piano course, and it really helped relax me, which in turn helped me get through organic chemistry.” Noble was also captain of the women’s varsity tennis team.

Another biology graduate, Stephen Tychostup ’09 of Mayfield, N.Y, is also at the University of Buffalo, in its School of Dental Medicine. “Dr. Witz took a lot of pride in the way he ran his classes and his labs,” says Tychostup. “He challenged students in a fair way and helped us get a strong grip on basic science.” Tychostup, too, felt that Nazareth was a good place to develop as a whole person. “I played soccer for four years and not only did that help my grades, but it taught me to be able to better balance my commitments.”

Amber Streicher ’11 of Strykersville, N.Y. will enter Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in the fall. “Nazareth enabled me to thrive because of its family atmosphere and the ease with which you could get to know your professors,” she says. “Getting to know professors, while they are enthusiastic to understand their students, led to several opportunities to participate in undergraduate research, which was one of the many factors involved in helping me to become a more well-rounded veterinary school candidate.”

Nazareth graduates from medical, dental, and veterinary schools go on to hold significant positions in their fields, such as Tom Carroll ’01, chief resident at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester; Charlotte Hanna-Willardson ’01, doctor of veterinary medicine at the Finger Lakes Equine Associates at the Racetrack in Farmington;and Rebecca Lenhard Swan ’04, second year radiology resident at Albany Medical College.

With the new Integrated Center for Math and Science, Nazareth’s biology department will offer labs and study spaces that represent a quantum leap forward. The future of the biology department and its graduates—and of the Rochester area that benefits from the work of these professionals—never looked better.


Article written by Alan Gelb, a freelance writer in East Chatham, New York. To read more from this issue of Connections magazine, click here. Back issues of Connections are available at

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