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It takes skill to be a researcher—knowing how to administer
tests, crunch numbers, interpret statistics. It also takes imagina-
tion—knowing what questions to ask, how to devise experiments,
which hypotheses to make.
Most of all, it takes love to conduct research—love of knowl-
edge; love of a complex, beautiful, and sometimes imperfect world;
love even of the tedium of gathering data, because it opens up new
realms of understanding.
It takes love of people who will benefit from that increased un-
derstanding: love for the single mom unsure of how to best motivate
her preschooler; love for the cancer patient who needs a little bit
of beauty in the midst of pain; love for the high-school girl feeling
overwhelmed by who she thinks she should be and under-confident
about who she is; love for the forgotten African-American baseball
heroes who fought for integration; and love for the Immaculata
students who are developing curiosity and creativity as they learn to
In this section, you can read these and other stories about faculty
members who are performing research as contributions to their
fields and, ultimately, in the service of their students and communities.
The motto of Immaculata’s Office of Sponsored Research (OSR)
sums it up well: Research builds learning; learning fosters service.
OSR funds a portion of the projects that faculty and students
conduct and provides resources and support for obtaining additional
funding. Since it was founded 15 years ago by Sister Marie Cooper,
IHM, Ph.D., the Office of Sponsored Research has fostered a culture
of research at Immaculata, helping to make more than $400,000
available to faculty and students to pursue their scholarly interests.
Sister Susan Cronin, IHM, Ph.D., who became the director of
OSR last year, has experience leading research projects funded by
the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Founda-
tion, as well as mentoring students in a variety of projects, such as
determining whether certain foods contain genetically modified
organisms, and studying mitochondrial DNA.
Sister Susan is pleased to see so much research taking place at
Immaculata. Each year, more students present at Posters Under the
Dome, which showcases projects funded by mini-grants, as well as
other graduate and undergraduate faculty-mentored research projects.
OSR is continuously searching for additional funds to foster
research. “With the addition of the Pathways enrichment program,
which is part of the Title III grant given by the U.S. Department
of Education to strengthen institutions of higher education, we
were able to increase our mini-grants from a maximum of eight to a
maximum of 10 each year,” Sister Susan said.
These projects get students involved in their field under the
mentorship of faculty members. Conducting experiments, compil-
ing information, and uncovering new insights helps students to
learn in a way that is more active than classroom learning, Sister
Susan said. This work helps them develop creative problem-solving
skills, build their maturity and confidence, and increase their perse-
verance when their work does not yield the results they expected.
Even if students aren’t directly involved in doing the research,
faculty members often bring their own work into the classroom as
an example of applied scholarship in their field. “Teachers transmit
this knowledge to their students,” Sister Susan said, showing stu-
dents that “what they’re learning is relevant in today’s world.”
In the 1940s and 1950s, Immaculata was actively involved
in a period of intensive scientific research into the chemistry of
cancer, how it developed and grew, and how to treat it effectively
using a variety of chemical strategies. The research was conducted
on campus at the Father Gillet Unit for Cancer Research by four
remarkable Sisters: Sister M. St. Agatha Suter, IHM; Sister Mary
of Lourdes McDevitt, IHM, (Immaculata College president from
1955-1972); Sister Eleanor Marie Brady, IHM; and Sister Maria
Socorro Piccirillo, IHM.
Continued on page 78
A T I M M C U L A T A
Sister Susan Cronin, IHM, Ph.D., professor of Biology and director of
Immaculata’s Office of Sponsored Research