Biomedical Science

Megan Lamm awarded Biomedical Science Achievement Award

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Megan Lamm was presented with Hood College’s Biomedical Science Student Achievement Award at the 2018 Graduate Degree Recipient Reception on May 16th.

Megan LammMegan works for In Vitro Sciences, a non-profit laboratory focusing on advancing animal welfare through alternative assays to replace animal testing. Megan and her colleagues develop, validate, and commercialize in vitro toxicology assays and promote these methods through education and outreach. She is a study director and toxicologist focusing on in vitro and in chemico skin allergy and ocular irritation assessments. Megan has presented her thesis project at the Society of Toxicology, the Pan American Conference for Alternative Methods, and the American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology. Megan’s project was shortlisted for the Lush Prize for Supporting Animal Free Testing in the Young Researcher category and has been turned into a commercial testing program.

Megan started at In Vitro Sciences 4.5 years ago as a laboratory biologist. She was soon promoted to a laboratory team leader and last October, to Study Director/ Toxicologist I. Megan has led assay R&D, instrument validation, and worked with regulators from many different countries to teach in vitro methods. She was recently an invited speaker at the annual Society of Toxicology Meeting to present on flow cytometry in a regulatory setting.

Congratulations to Megan on all her accomplishments and we wish her lots of success in the future endeavors!

Graduate School Honors Outstanding Faculty

Posted by | Biomedical Science, Clinical Counseling, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

BoydIf you ask Hood College Graduate students what their favorite thing is about Hood, many speak of their professors. Faculty who understand both the academic background and practical application of their content area form the backbone of the college. Each year the Graduate School asks students for nominations of outstanding professors. This year’s recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award is Dr. Ann Boyd while Dr. Laura Jones was honored with the Adjunct Teaching Excellence Award.

Dr. Ann Boyd is a professor of Biology, who came to Hood in 1982. She was the Program Director for Biomedical Science from 1982-1993 and was the Dean of the Graduate School from 1993-2002. Prior to Hood, she was a research scientist for the National Cancer Institute and has worked as a consultant for Glaxo, BioFisher, and SAIC. She is on the ethics review boards for several organizations and serves as a grant reviewer for others.


Student nominations said that Dr. Boyd “creates meetings to solve educational issues. She gives advice to me like my closest relative and gives me more ways to improve my weaknesses. She found a place to do my internship to improve my skills.” She also “keeps the class entertaining, yet very informative. She gives one on one help during office hours, is always available for questions, and teaches life lessons in addition to teaching to course.”


JonesDr. Laura Jones is no stranger to awards. In 2016 she was invited to a celebration at the White House after being named the Maryland School Counselor Association’s “Counselor of the Year” and was recognized as their 2018 Counselor Educator of the Year for her work with Hood students. Dr. Jones just completed her 23rd year as an Elementary School Counselor, and with a doctoral dissertation on the psychological benefits of laughter, she works to incorporate joy in the lives of both her elementary and graduate students.


When nominating Dr. Jones, students said that she is a “role model for us in the counseling programs.” One student said that “after an extremely disheartening and challenging semester, Dr. Jones has re-instilled my conviction to keep moving forward to reach the goal of clinical mental health counselor. She taps into her student’s strengths and encourages them despite their feelings of trepidation.”  Others said that “Dr. Jones mentors us by showing examples of how she handles difficult situations,” and that “Hood is so lucky to have Dr. Jones on staff. She is a terrific mentor to her students.”

Meet Our Professors – Dr. Randall (Randy) Johnson

Posted by | Bioinformatics, Biomedical Science, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

0Tell us about yourself…

My background is in statistical genetics. I entered Utah State University as a business major and toured the biology and engineering departments before I found a home in the mathematics department. I graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees, in statistics and computational mathematics. I received my Master’s in Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University and started work at the National Cancer Institute. After a few years, I went back to school part time at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métier, earning my PhD in bioinformatics in 2013.

You have worked for the National Cancer Institute for years. What was your job with NCI and what did you like the most there?

I’ve spent most of the last 14 years at NCI working on statistical analyses of genetic data. One of my favorite parts of my job is working on a wide variety of problems. Examples include studying admixed populations (e.g. African-Americans) to identify disease genes, looking for genetic associations with rapid progression from HIV infection to the development of AIDS, and performing meta analyses of published breast cancer gene expression studies. I’ve also had the opportunity to manage a few projects, including a data security project to evaluate all NCI/Frederick sensitive data and make recommendations for protection of the data.

Could you describe to us what are you currently working on?

One project I’m currently working on started as a simple request from a collaborator to review some of his code. As we began the process of reviewing and improving the code, the scope of what he was trying to accomplish became a problem. With his original code, we estimated that his analysis would take approximately 100 years to run on his laptop. We have optimized the code significantly and are now performing a few final tests to run it on the Biowulf high performance computing cluster at NIH. With access to thousands of processors, we anticipate that the optimized code will be able to generate the desired results in a few days’ time.

How did hear about Hood College and how did you end up here? What classes are you teaching at Hood?

About a year ago a colleague at work approached me about teaching the Bioinformatics Applications series (BIFX 552/553) at Hood. In these two classes we cover the basic tools and methods needed to understand and carry out bioinformatic analyses. I’ve really enjoyed teaching – the topics we cover are interesting, and the students have been great. It is immensely satisfying to share knowledge with people who want to learn.

Why would you recommend Hood’s Bioinformatics Program to students looking into this particular field?

The new Bioinformatics program at Hood provides a great opportunity for students to break into this quickly evolving field. We have good teachers with real, practical experience.

From Education to Biomedical Science

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SUTThnOz_400x400For Hood College Biomedical (BMS) Alum, Dan Kordella, starting the BMS degree was not a straightforward decision. After graduating from high school in 1991, Dan’s journey led him to a year in college, joining army, resuming his studies several years later and graduating with a BS in Biology in 2005. Afterwards, he decided to become a full-time biology teacher. Taking a few teaching theory and psychology classes made him decide to forego the chance to earn a Master’s degree in Education as he “realized that teaching science was never going to be as satisfying to me as I imagined it would”. Ultimately, Dan decided to come to Hood College and start his BMS degree in part time capacity. As someone who had family, full time teaching job and wanted a high-quality education – Hood’s Graduate School was a perfect choice. Also, “Hood’s tuition was very manageable, even with Fairfax County’s austere tuition reimbursement and my teacher’s salary”, adds Dan.

Even though Dan was the only person in his classes who did not have a lab-related job, and was still not familiar with all of the technologies and associated jargon, he started to adapt quickly. In 2012, Dan attended a presentation on HIV at Hood College, and found it very intriguing. The presentation was given by Hood Alum, Mary Kearney, and Dan managed to connect with her and begun volunteering in Mary’s lab at the National Cancer Institute that summer. In 2016, Dan started his current position at the Vaccine Research Center in cell line development, “…screening for a handful of cell lines producing acceptable titers of high quality monoclonal antibodies from an initial pool of millions of cells that I transfected.” Dan group’s work also extends to potentially immunogenic proteins and virus-like particles as well as work with automation and flow cytometry.

Dan’s advice for Hood students: “going part time can be a grind, perhaps more for those not currently working in a lab and especially for those that are pursuing the mock grant instead of the thesis option.” With the mock grant, and the additional number of lab credits that must be earned, finding the will and enthusiasm to stay current in your studies and be motivated for exams, can indeed become challenging. Dan’s advice is not to take time off but to get through your core classes as quickly as you can. “Stretching a potential 2.5 year program into a seven years is emotionally and intellectually exhausting”, says Dan. Even though the mock grant project took a lot of time and effort, the final presentation (defense) to the committee was one of the proudest accomplishments in Dan’s career.

Lizzy Terrell’s Journey – From exemplary student to a great career

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picLizzy’s Journey

Elizabeth ‘Lizzy’ Terrell started her Hood College journey in the fall of 2013 in the Biomedical Science Program, and was an exemplary student and classroom leader. Lizzy graduated in 2017 and is now working at the National Institute of Health (NIH), where she started working in 2012 in the Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) and Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) program. The Post-Baccalaureate IRTA/CRTA program is designed to provide recent college graduates an opportunity to spend a year doing biomedical research in the resource-rich environment of the NIH. Lizzy has worked in Dr. Deborah Morrison’s lab for five years and has focused on studying proteins involved in cancer-related cell-signaling.


Lizzy’s Perspective on Hood

Lizzy feels that “coming from a larger undergraduate institution, the best thing about Hood was the smaller class size.” She also loved the fact that she was able to take classes at night/after work, and that those classes were directly applicable to her current job. The entire process of drafting, writing, and defending her thesis was invaluable. “The classwork helped to shape my writing skills, and the faculty on my thesis committee were incredibly supportive, encouraging, and helpful in refining the (very) rough drafts into the final product.” Although the thesis track/writing process is a long and labor intensive process, it has proven to be the most valuable part of her degree by developing a wide range of skills for independent research and writing. Lizzy mentions how successfully defending her thesis was by far the best and most memorable moment! Among her other notable accomplishments were receiving Hood’s “Outstanding Student in Biomedical Science” award and winning the school’s “3-Minute Thesis” competition.

Advice for Other Students

If Lizzy were to do one thing different from the beginning, it would be to explore more job options. “I was pretty lucky to end up in a job I love, but it could have turned out a lot different!” In retrospect, she believes it would have been best to sit down and think through what was most important for her in a job, then actively seek it out, and be more assertive in obtaining it.

When asked what she would like to share with other students in similar programs, Lizzie instantly mentions the importance of a goalpost. “Think about where you want your degree to take you and what you want out of the program; what skills you hope to gain or what career are you aiming for. Enroll in classes specifically tailored towards your individual goals.” Lizzy also believes it is important to have a timeline. When do you want your degree to be finished? Work backward from there and set smaller, short-term goals to stay on track. “The faculty want you to succeed, and are incredibly useful resources for both career advice and timeline guidance.”

My Hood Experience – from Undergraduate to Faculty

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Jose-S-in-lab-560x359 (1)Jose Sanchez Hernandez, a 2012 Hood graduate (B.S., Chemistry) is currently enrolled in Hood’s Biomedical Science thesis-track program. While embarking on his graduate journey, Jose looks back on fond memories of his undergraduate time. Moments that stick out the most include participating in the alternative spring breaks, running his first half marathon in Annapolis, MD, attending his first BioBeers event, and most importantly, meeting his wife Stephanie E. Perkins (class of 2013) in Dr. Bennett’s Instrumental Methods of Analysis course. “If you guessed that our wedding was chemistry themed, you are right!”, says Jose.

After graduation from Hood, Jose worked for three years in Texas as a science teacher in the Dallas Independent School District, where he taught high school chemistry, physics, and AP Physics. More recently, he spent a year working as a graduate research assistant for the biology department at Hood College and taught BIOL 110, Food and Nutrition.

Jose was also awarded a Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) by the National Institutes of Health to complete a fellowship during the fall of 2017 with the human papillomavirus (HPV) serology lab (HSL) at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. During the fellowship, Jose was optimizing in-vitro assays to help in the development of standardized HPV serology assays to be used in vaccine trials world-wide. Currently, he is employed by Leidos Biomedical Inc. as a protein expression associate. His job involves molecular cloning, microbial fermentation, and protein purification to help support the many goals of the RAS initiative at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

If Jose could go back to the beginning of his graduate journey, he would have started utilizing Hood’s Health and Wellness Center sooner, as every Hood College student has a free access to counseling. Jose says that the graduate school required giving up a lot of time to classes, teaching, and especially research, which in the end resulted in developing his coping mechanisms. They allowed him to remain mindful and focused on the present despite being under enormous stress. “Additionally, I would have started making more use of the Meditation Room in the Chapel Basement to help manage stress on a weekly basis instead of only during finals. I am eternally grateful for these resources and I am sure that using them sooner would have greatly helped me navigate my first year of graduate school more purposefully.”


How a Hood graduate degree can help you get a high-paying job

Posted by | Accounting, Bioinformatics, Biomedical Science, Business Administration, Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Financial Management, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology, Management of Information Technology, Professional Development Institute, Uncategorized | No Comments

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According to job and recruiting marketplace Glassdoor, nearly seven of ten people (68%) report that compensation is among the “leading considerations” when choosing where to work. In “25 Highest Paying Jobs in America in 2017,” physicians, software engineers and managers are among the highlighted highest paid jobs. “This report reinforces that high pay continues to be tied to in-demand skills, higher education and working in jobs that are protected from competition or automation. This is why we see several jobs within the technology and healthcare industries,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s Chief Economist. Therefore, one of the crucial and initial steps to take if looking into such highly paid valued positions, is to obtain the needed education for executing them.

Whether one is looking into changing a career to IT or software architecture, getting a promotion to Software Engineer Manager or starting work in the ever-growing fields of Cybersecurity or Biomedicine, the Graduate School at Hood College is here to for those seeking advancement.

For advancement in jobs mentioned in the Glassdoor research, such as Pharmacy Manager, Information System Manager, Financial Planning and Analysis Manager, Hood’s Graduate School offers degrees in Business (Accounting, MBA, Financial Management), Computer Science (Computer Science, IT, Management of Information Systems and Cybersecurity) and Bioinformatics, Biomedical Science and Geographic Information Systems, all designed to deepen intellectual understanding and to broaden competencies for career advancement. The Graduate School is also providing graduate-level courses for non-degree-seeking individuals who wish to pursue continuing education for career growth or personal interest or to sample a particular program.

Take a first step towards your dream job at the Hood College Graduate School. Contact us at

The full list of Glassdoor’s highest paying jobs can be found at

The Perks of a Hood Biomedical Science Master’s Degree

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Hood College’s Biomedical Science (BMS) Master’s degree program was created in the mid-1970s to provide educational support to research technicians employed at the cancer biology and infectious disease research laboratories at Ft. Detrick.  Within a few years, other biotechnology and biomedical research facilities such as Southern, Lonza, DynPort Vaccine Co, Astra-Zeneca-Medimmune and  ImQuest BioSciences opened in Frederick County, along with the contractual support for the National Institutes of Health programs, SAIC and currently, Leidos. The region extending from Washington DC and Baltimore to Frederick began to carve out space as a technology and biomedical rich corridor.

“Hood College has long supported emerging graduate education for disciplines needed to support the growing work force,” said Dr. Ann L. Boyd, BMS Program Director. Dr. Boyd was a research scientist at Ft. Detrick in cancer biology until she became a full time member of the Hood Faculty in 1982, making teaching her first priority ahead of research. She emphasizes that BMS courses are taught in the evening so working professionals can receive quality continuing education. “I am only one of six faculty who teach in the BMS program. Each of the professors – Dr. Rachel Beyer, Dr. Ricky Hirschhorn, Dr. Georgette Jones, Dr. Craig Laufer and Dr. Oney Smith – has a research background, and teach courses in their respective areas of expertise.”

For thirty years, students took one or two courses a semester and finished the M.S. with a thesis project, very often at their place of employment with support from Hood faculty. As technology labs expanded and technical positions had more restrictions on proprietary information, the option of a published thesis was hard to fulfill and the faculty devised a non-thesis track which included more laboratory course work and required students to create a scientific study, to present and defend it to a committee of three faculty. This is how faculty can respond flexibly to the changing demographics of our students and their employers. It is also necessary to modify course content to reflect the changing mission of laboratories and the research agenda.

Outstanding Student- Biomedical Science

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Bagni Elizabeth “Lizzy” Terrell began the Hood College Master’s in Biomedical Science program in the fall of 2013 and is a truly exemplary student and classroom leader. When speaking of Lizzy’s work on her thesis project, her NCI mentor, Dr. Susan Morrison states:  “Lizzy Terrell is one of the most talented young scientists that I have had the privilege to work with.  She is bright, articulate, and sets high standards for herself both in the quality of her work and in her thinking about scientific problems.  She embarks on a research career with outstanding potential.”  The BMS Faculty at Hood concur and look forward to reading the great scientific advances Lizzy will make throughout her career.  Lizzy also the won Hood’s Three-Minute Thesis Competition.


Hood College Graduate School student receives Boren Fellowship award

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Nicole EaselyNicole Easley, a student in Hood College Graduate School’s Masters in Biomedical Science program recently received the National Security Education Program’s Boren Fellowship Award. Nicole will travel to Brazil to learn Portuguese while simultaneously conducting infectious disease research. Nicole says she owes this accomplishment wholly to Hood College. Read her story below.

I’m a native of Denver, Colorado but grew up in Montgomery County, MD. I graduated from Colorado State University in 2006 with a BS in Microbiology. As an undergraduate, I did a work-study in a tuberculosis research lab in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. I was able to get summer research fellowships through the American Society of Microbiology, Leadership Alliance, and the Ronald E. McNair Fellowship.

After completing my undergraduate degree, I moved back to the DC area and worked at the National Institutes of Health in the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases for Dr. Susan Buchanan in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology doing structural biology research and x-ray crystallography. My research there contributed to two publications in the top-tier science journal Nature and one in the Journal of Molecular Biology.

After teaching English in Brazil, I returned to the States and began Hood’s Biomedical Science Program in spring 2015, and worked as a Lab Technician for an Immunohistochemistry Lab at Covance. My second year at Hood I took a full-time course load since I knew that I wanted to study abroad for one year before I finished the Master’s program.

In January 2016 I applied for the Boren Fellowship Award. The fellowship provides funding for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, if the student commits to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

My proposal was for a program proposal tied to US national security. Specifically, going to Brazil to learn Portuguese and researching infectious disease research as Ebola and Zika viruses are threats to US national security, as threats to public health and the economy. I utilized the contacts I made through my career, networks I made while in Brazil as an English teacher, and the BMS faculty at Hood College to help design a research proposal.

I was accepted in February and had to start my program in Brazil by March 15th. The BMS faculty at Hood has been most helpful in allowing me to accept this fellowship award in the middle of the semester.

For big opportunities like this, don’t psyche yourself out before you get started. Go for it! Talk to the faculty in your program ask them for recommendations, referrals and research project ideas. Look at the topic you’d like to research and understand the current events and how it applies to national security. Networking is key. Start the application process early. Make your application stand out from the thousands that apply.

Hood College is the reason I got this fellowship. I’m so thankful I chose the Masters in Biomedical Science program at Hood.