Fall 2015 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University




Dr. Kathleen Rath Marr (MS 1987, Ph.D. 2000) has retired after 28 years in the Biology Department at Lakeland College.  Six of those years she served as Chair of the Natural Sciences. Dr. Rath Marr fondly remembers Drs. Thomson, Abramhoff, Horseman, Stein, Millington, Vomachka and Piascek from her Marquette days and training.






LaNisha Patterson (BS 2013)


LaNisha PattersonI spent a great deal of time in contemplation in regard to my experience at Marquette University. There are two words that explain my experience as a Biology major at Marquette; Growth and Development. As an incoming freshman at Marquette University during the year 2007, I was exposed to an environment that entrenched me into an entirely new experience, one I had never been exposed to before. The campus was huge, the classes had more students, the professors were more serious about teaching than my previous experiences, and most importantly, the work was a lot harder than I was used to. Throughout my undergraduate experience I had to work very hard; harder than others I felt. Coming from a small high school, with a graduate class of less than 100 students, and a predominantly African-American population with little diversity was a very different experience than what I was exposed to at Marquette. This initially frightened me; however, the Biology faculty prepared me for my future in the field of research. It was within this department that I learned the importance of stupidity in science. Not meaning to say science is stupid, of course, but meaning the importance of the unknowing within science. I learned that the unknowing is what is most important and it inspired me to want to do research within this field. The Biology faculty prepared me with the skills to perform proficiently as a student in this field and expanded my interest and hunger for research in science.


Previously having the privilege and honor of experiencing being a straight A, two-time valedictorian, Gates Millennium Scholar recipient were great accomplishments, however, it did not prepare me for what was yet to come. The Biology faculty gifted me with life experience. My experience as a student at Marquette University allowed me to reflect on my decision of wanting to be a medical researcher. Although I am not proud of how I finished, I am proud of the invaluable experience I had because it prepared me to become the person I am today.


After graduating from Marquette and a great deal of introspection, I realized that I did not work as hard as I could have and I craved more science.  I decided my GPA was not a reflection of who I truly was and what I was capable of. I realized that I allowed fear get the best of me. I went on to apply to Master’s ‘programs at various universities throughout the United States. With much gratitude to a professor at Marquette University who wrote a letter of recommendation because she believed in me and gave me encouragement to keep trying, I was determined to get into a program, and was accepted into Texas Southern University. I decided to use my experience at Marquette to truly show my potential and settle for nothing but success. I am currently a second year Master’s student at Texas Southern University where my Master’s thesis project focuses on the process of autophagy as a mechanism of survival in cancer cells. I am particularly interested in investigating if there is an analogous response amongst the majority of Ras mutated cancer cells when treated with anticancer drugs after knockdown of autophagic components, and more importantly, what implications on cancer therapy can stem from this.  


Again, learning from my experience at Marquette, I decided not to allow fear consume me any longer. I challenged myself and decided to apply to a summer fellowship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, located in Houston; ranked number one for cancer care in the nation. By the grace of God, I was accepted into the 10 week program. I took this opportunity to show that I had the ability and the heart to do well in the field of research. The basis of the research I was involved in was investigating the role of Notch activation and heme oxygenase-1 regulation in survival and drug resistance of fms-like tyrosine kinase receptor-3 (flt3) mutated acute myeloid leukemia cells. This research may also lead to better therapeutic treatments, and may ultimately lead to improved long-term survival in children with AML. During my ten week experience I worked very hard, reflecting on my days at Marquette University. My experience at Marquette and my current experience at TSU gave me the fuel necessary to perform so well that I am now a co-author of the abstract which was accepted for poster presentation by the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting. I will be returning to MD Anderson this spring to assist in finishing the project, and if accepted will be a co-author on the publication.


Overall, I am currently working on three publications and am currently applying to Ph.D. programs with interest in the fields of immunology and cell biology. All that being said, I truly feel that my overall experience as a Biology major at Marquette was not only eye opening for me, but it was truly what I needed to be successful. I am very grateful for those who believed in me and told me I had potential, and did not treat me like another face within the crowd. I am thankful to all of the professors who were able to give the knowledge I needed within this field and prepared me for my next steps. If I had to choose again, I would not alter my path to have been a Biology major at my alma mater Marquette University.







Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
(Directions/campus map)
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-7355