From research to externships to community service projects, CNHS students learn year-round.

There’s really no off-season for Catamounts. The academic ecosystem of CNHS hums year-round and it's easy to find students practicing clinical skills, checking on the progress of their experiments or volunteering with community organizations.

Here's a glimpse at what happened in CNHS this summer:

In Professor Dimitry Krementsov’s lab, Josie Kennedy, Medical Laboratory Science ’20, investigated the link between gut bacteria and multiple sclerosis (MS). She grew Lactobacillus bacteria in a liquid “broth,” froze the liquid and applied it to macrophages — a type of immune cell — and examined how they responded to the bacteria. She received a grant through UVM Fellowships, Opportunities and Undergraduate Research (FOUR) for her work.

“I started this project spring semester and I wanted to continue the research full time,” Kennedy said. “By the end of the summer, my goal was to have a clear understanding of how different Lactobacillus species impact the inflammatory cytokine production in macrophages, and how that correlates to disease.”

Sierra Walters ’20, and Anel Peco ’21 worked in Professor Paula Deming’s lab exploring cellular signaling and proteins associated with lung cancer. Extra time in the labs helps students delve deeper into the subjects and ideas that interest them.

“I’m staying immersed in the things I learned about in my biology courses as well as maintaining steady progress on my project,” said Peco.

“It is really fun to incorporate the things that I learn in my Clinical Medical Laboratory Science classes in a hands-on way,” said Walters. “Summer in Burlington is truly beautiful! Living downtown and getting to enjoy Church Street as well as the lake are a huge bonus.”

Emma Lamothe, Communication Sciences and Disorders ’21, worked as a research assistant this summer, helping Claudia Abbiati, Interprofessional Health Sciences Ph.D. candidate, transcribe and interpret children’s conversations with their parents. The project relates to Professor Shelley Velleman’s work with pediatric speech disorders linked to autism, William syndrome or 7q11.23 duplication syndrome.

Lamothe plans to pursue a career as a speech-language pathologist for children in a school or hospital. The research assistantship provides an opportunity to practice and apply her phonetics skills.

“I’m getting better at transcribing speech sounds, and that will help me become a better speech-language pathologist,” Lamothe said. 

For Abbiati, it’s a chance to prepare for her own dissertation on pediatric motor-speech disorders. She intends to collaborate with Velleman and faculty in physical therapy to study the development of hand movements during speech.

“When we talk we move our hands, and the movement of the hands is thought to align with the rhythm of our speech,” Abbiati explained. “I’m curious to see what that’s like in children, especially children with speech disorders.”

At Appletree Bay Primary Care in Burlington, graduate and undergraduate students pursuing nursing degrees work directly with patients and side-by-side with Nurse Practitioner (NP) preceptors, all of whom are CNHS faculty. This summer, Jessica Hartman '20 and Kathryn Calisti ’20, did externships as medical assistants in the clinic, earning a stipend while learning how to take medical histories, draw blood, administer electrocardiograms and remove sutures. 

“The NPs know we’re eager to learn,” said Hartman. “If I’m uncomfortable I can watch them do something or we can do it together.”

Working directly with patients in an outpatient setting compliments lessons learned in classroom and clinicals.

“I’m getting to know patients and I’m seeing health trends. Now when I go back to doing my clinicals in the hospital I will be able to picture and understand their outpatient experience.” 

Becca Never, Doctor of Physical Therapy ’20, worked with clients of the Northeast Disabled Athletic Association (NDAA) kayaking in Waterbury Reservoir while gathering data to assess the effects of kayaking on participants’ mood and feelings. Evidence shows that people with disabilities benefit from physical activity, but rates of participation are low due to lack of access. The data Never gathers will help secure funding to allow for better access — with adaptive equipment and complimentary state park entrance fees.

“We want to show that kayaking is improving their quality of life. It’s great for me as a DPT student to get experience administering a questionnaire, assisting people getting in and out of the kayaks and fitting the adaptive equipment to them," said Never. “I love being out here in this beautiful place.”


Janet Lynn Essman Franz
Doctor of Physical Therapy student Becca Never asks stroke patient Bob Fredericks how he feels after kayaking. He tells her, “I feel tremendous. I had no idea that I would feel this good!”
Jessica Hartman, Nursing ’20, and Erin Leighton, Doctor of Nursing Practice ’20, prepare a patient examination room at Appletree Bay Primary Care.