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b2ap3_thumbnail_Lori-Uretsky.jpgLori Uretsky’s life is made up of goals. She sets a goal, works hard and achieves it nearly every time. Then, she sets a new one and begins again.

Today, her goal is to get the USA Women’s National Field Hockey Team to and through the 2016 Olympics. Keeping her team healthy during the most important competition of their lives will the ultimate reward for Uretsky as an athletic trainer.

“I think it’s important to have short-term goals and long-term ideas,” she said. “Right now, I am focused on doing whatever it is I can to keep the Women’s National Team healthy and training as we prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games.”

When she entered Waynesburg University in 1994 as a sports medicine major and a biology minor, Uretsky’s hope was to become a successful student athlete. She played softball for Waynesburg for four years, graduating with 18 school records. She was also named the President’s Athletic Conference (PAC) Freshman of the Year in 1995, All-Conference all four years, PAC Player of the Week twice and softball team captain her senior year.

Uretsky’s career goals were clear to her during the entire course of her Waynesburg education. She worked as a student athletic trainer for the school, and she knew that when she graduated she wanted to work as an athletic trainer at the NCAA Division I level – a trainer for a college or university whose name everyone knew. It was this goal she identified when one of her professors told a group of students to write a letter to themselves in five years.

“My goals throughout my time at Waynesburg never changed,” said Uretsky. “I remember speaking to [my professor] several times about how to reach that goal, how much it meant to me and if I believed it was possible. Five years after I graduated, I received my letter from [her], and upon opening it, I had achieved all that I wanted.”

Uretsky graduated from Waynesburg in 1998 and became a Board-Certified Athletic Trainer in 1999. She then landed her dream job, fulfilling her NCAA Division I goal, as an athletic trainer for several sports teams at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and worked there for 10 years.

Uretsky largely credits Waynesburg for her success both at Bucknell University and in her current position.

“Waynesburg is with me every day,” she said. “The education I had is still utilized every time I step foot into the athletic training room or onto the field hockey pitch. Waynesburg helped me learn how to return an athlete back to playing following an injury, how to discuss injuries with coaches and how important trust is with the people you work with. As a student athletic trainer and a student athlete, I learned first-hand just how important the relationship between an athletic trainer and an athlete can be.” 

Now, as the Head Athletic Trainer for the Women’s National Field Hockey Team, Uretsky ensures the care, prevention, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries and illnesses. She is responsible for covering practices and games, which includes travelling around the world with the team. She coordinates athletic trainer coverage for Junior National Field Hockey teams and liaises with the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency to ensure the team complies, and she works with the United States Olympic Committee.

“I am very fortunate to travel the globe with an amazing group of staff and athletes,” Uretsky said. “I enjoy the interaction of meeting new people and bringing fans to [field hockey] and meeting other medical professionals from the various countries we play.”

After the Olympics, Uretsky hopes to take vacation time to travel to countries she hasn’t seen, and then she plans to return to USA Field Hockey.

Today, while Uretsky can say she has met or exceeded many of the goals she set years ago, she knows the future is uncertain. She is preparing for the coming years with the attitude that she can still achieve success by taking one day at a time.

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Julie Tischer, a 2013 biology alumna, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology Department at the University of Georgia.

Beginning her third year in the program, Tischer is studying the CRISPR-Cas system, an adaptive immune system in bacteria and archaea, and is fascinated by the ways tiny organisms influence the planet and public health. Specifically, Tischer is studying the function of the system and how it integrates small fragments of invading genetic elements, such as viruses, into its own genome. These fragments, according to Tischer, are then used to detect the invader if it ever returns again, recruiting proteins to chop up the foreign nucleic acid.

“Microbiology in general has so many broad impacts on the world, from industry to health care,” Tischer said. “CRISPR research, specifically, is revolutionizing science through its use as a gene editing tool. The CRISPR field is rapidly moving towards possibly one day being able to cure genetic diseases, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Studying the foundational mechanisms involved in the CRISPR-Cas immune system is allowing us to try things we never knew were possible.”

Tischer’s interest in the field dates back to her seventh grade life science teacher who inspired her to study biology in college. Years later, Tischer’s interest grew into a calling as a result of the support and encouragement of Dr. Chad Sethman, associate professor of biology at Waynesburg University.

“I was particularly inspired by Dr. Chad Sethman, from whom I took many courses, including microbiology. That was my favorite course by far, and sparked my enthusiasm to pursue the field for my graduate research,” she said.

From her microbiology course, Tischer developed an interest in becoming a part of discovering how organisms function, and how they can be useful to humans, she said. According to Tischer, “each and every one of [her] professors at Waynesburg University led [her] to where [she is] today,” but scientifically speaking, she said, her biology professors, and the personal relationships she shared with each of them, helped her to develop into a “competent research scientist.”

Tischer also credits her Waynesburg University education for granting her the opportunities necessary to be accepted into a selective graduate school program.

“Choosing Waynesburg University allowed me to have a variety of experiences I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to at a large institution,” she said. “Waynesburg University provided me with all the foundational tools necessary to have a successful graduate career in research.”

Upon graduation, Tischer plans to pursue a career in teaching — a career that she says will allow her to give back to future students.

“I have had so many influential mentors and teachers in my scientific career, and I really want to make a similar impact on developing scientists. I have such a passion for helping people get excited about science and research, and love to see that moment when something finally clicks in a student,” she said.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Seth-Polk.jpgSeth Polk, a Waynesburg University biology alumnus and a first-year student at Eastern Virginia Medical School, has been inspired by the health sciences and fields involving laboratory research his entire life. Although he deems it both a blessing and curse, as a child, Seth was constantly plagued with injury (a majority sports-related) that caused him to spend an unimaginable amount of time in hospitals.

“As a result of growing up in hospitals, the hospitals grew on me,” he said.

Polk is pursuing a master’s in biotechnology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and also plans to seek his Ph.D.  Upon completion of his education, Polk has an interest in joining the United States Navy, providing service to a country that he says “has given so much to [him].”

Polk comes by his desire to serve his country from the example set by his father, a retired United States Navy Lieutenant Commander who gave 25 years of service to his country. As a result of growing up in a “Navy family,” Polk recognizes the impact of the opportunities that potentially await him.

“The armed forces provide vast and advantageous resources for health care research,” he said.

His desire to research in the field of cell biology in relation to immunological responses can be attributed to his mother’s recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

“She gives me inspiration,” he said.

Polk undoubtedly hopes that his work will one day “uncover a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.”

Polk credits his Waynesburg University education for his preparation for graduate school and beyond.

“Waynesburg prepared [me for my future] by providing excellent practical laboratory experience while maintaining strong lecture of underlying theory,” he said.

Polk also credits unmatched professors and dedicated mentors for his research skills, his understanding of the scientific process and “the push required to mature in the laboratory sciences.”

As for his Waynesburg University experience as a whole, Polk sums it up with one word — responsibility.

"Responsibility is the word I think of when I see the Seth Polk of today versus the Seth Polk of four years ago, and I have Waynesburg to thank for that characteristic,” he said.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Rachel-Lovely.jpgThree items topped Rachel Lovely’s wish list when it came to making a decision for her undergraduate career. Her list — a solid education, a personal relationship with her professors, and an environment that would allow her to study what she loved while playing the sport she enjoyed — has proven to have contained all the appropriate qualifications to prepare her for a successful future.

“Waynesburg offered me this and then some,” she said.

Lovely, a Waynesburg University biology alumna and a first-year student at The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is working toward her medical degree with the hope of one day becoming a surgeon.

The combination of growing up in a medical family and discovering her love of science has allowed Lovely to recognize her calling.

“My father is a podiatrist, so I really got a first-hand look at the humanistic side of medicine from a young age. I've wanted to be a doctor since I can remember, but when I found my niche in science, I knew it was the field I was called to,” she said.

During her college summers, Lovely periodically volunteered in the operating room, and during her junior year, she was part of an internship program called Mentoring in Medicine. These experiences revealed a more specific path and kindled her interest in the surgical field.

“There was always something magical about the operating room. It was the one place, that I saw anyway, that it was just you and the patient, no distractions. I really liked that unwavering focus,” she said.

Lovely said her Waynesburg education, coupled with the close-knit relationships with her professors, are largely responsible for paving the way to where she is today.

“I cannot boast enough about [Waynesburg University’s] Biology Department,” she said.

Specific mentions of Dr. Christopher Cink, associate professor of biology, Dr. Bryan Hamilton, professor of biology, Dr. Chad Sethman, associate professor of biology, and Marietta Wright, assistant professor of biology, further demonstrate the emphasis and importance Lovely places on relationships and how they aid success.

Lovely said that through these professors, whom she refers to as geniuses, she learned how to truly understand, not just memorize, the information taught in class. She also credits humor and dedicated mentoring for the extent of her learning.

Along with her positive experiences with faculty, Lovely credits the culture of learning at Waynesburg University for the growth she has experienced.

“Waynesburg challenged why I did things, what I believed, and even how I thought. I really liked that. It allowed me to have a deeper understanding of science, religion, psychology and just interacting with people in general. I went from Roman thinking, ‘how do you,’ to thinking more like a Greek, ‘why do you’,” she said.

In addition, Lovely said her four years at Waynesburg helped her to “have a deeper understanding of what Christianity meant personally."

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Julie Tischer, 2013

Microbiology Ph.D. student and research associate at the University of Georgia

Julie Tischer, a 2013 Waynesburg University alumna, was recently published in a peer-reviewed journal as part of a research group at the University of Georgia. 

Her article, "Proteomic Analysis of the Acidocalcisome, an Organelle Conserved from Bacteria to Human Cells," was published in PLOS Pathogens, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal published monthly by PLOS, a nonprofit organization. Tischer and the additional authors studied the proteins that are on the surface of an organelle in order to determine how it functions in the cells.

The journal addressed questions such as: 

•What proteins are associated with this organelle called the acidocalcisome? 

•What are the individual functions of these identified proteins?

•Are these proteins essential for the survival of the cell?

•How are these proteins contributing to the overall activity of the acidocalcisome?

Tischer, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology, is currently a microbiology Ph.D. student and research associate at the University of Georgia. At the university, she works in the Terns lab studying the CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune system found in bacteria and archaea. 

“During my first semester, I worked diligently on the acidocalcisome project to generate data for the journal,” said Tischer. “My results during that six-week rotation went into producing a few of the figures in the paper, making me an author.”

Tischer adds that the classes and staff at Waynesburg University helped prepare her for the research program as well as her published journal article. 

“Waynesburg University set me up for success in the field of biology research by providing me with an exceptional foundation in biology education and encouraging me to pursue research opportunities beyond Waynesburg,” said Tischer. “In addition, the professional and passionate professors really inspired me to pursue a career in research and teaching.”


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