University honors graduate students with Professional Master’s Excellence Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Four Penn State graduate students received the Professional Master’s Excellence Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in a professional master’s degree program, in any discipline, based upon the student’s academic record in the graduate program and the quality and impact of the student’s culminating experience, including creative works, performance, and projects conducted in a professional setting.

This year’s recipients are: Casey N. Pinto, master of public health student in public health and doctoral candidate in nursing; Taryn M. Serman, master of biotechnology student in biotechnology; Bethany Snyder, master of public health student in public health; and Ma. Fatima Carla Bertulfo, who has earned her master of biotechnology degree in biotechnology

Bertulfo’s pursuit of a master’s of biotechnology degree was enhanced by a culminating experience in the laboratory of Peter Johnson, a senior investigator with the Mouse Cancer Genetics Program at the Center for Cancer Research of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, in Frederick, Maryland. Bertulfo’s project involved “characterizing a novel regulatory mechanism that inhibits the tumor suppressor functions of a transcription factor in cancer cells.” As Johnson noted, the project “has high significance for understanding basic mechanisms that promote the development of cancers.”

Pinto is enrolled in the master’s of public health graduate program at the Penn State College of Medicine while simultaneously pursuing a doctoral degree in nursing. Pinto conducted her internship at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Division. In her current role with the division, she serves as head STD clinician and offers analysis of socio-demographic factors to help guide STD interventions. Pinto has gained valuable global health experience as a co-founder of One World Medicine Clinic, a nonprofit organization that provides continuity of culturally competent medical care to rural underserved populations in India.

Serman’s culminating experience in the master’s of biotechnology degree program involved assisting the Temperature Management and Control Team at Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical sector — Janssen Research & Development. This team addresses temperature issues experienced during the shipment and storage of clinical drug products. Serman was responsible for the coordination and management of clinical site risk assessments of cold chain equipment, and temperature excursions associated with clinical supplies. Her role enabled her to directly communicate with clinical sites and assess the impact of the entire pharmaceutical pipeline on the patient.

Snyder assisted with the design of a pilot telemedicine program that provided remote care to patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), for her culminating practicum experience in the master’s of public health degree program at the Penn State College of Medicine. According to Snyder, “participation in these telemedicine visits could potentially increase the quality of life, and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and adverse health outcomes for advanced ALS patients. Furthermore, we believe that the telemedicine program could potentially decrease the level of burden placed on the caregivers of these advanced ALS patients.”

Each of the awards winners was honored at the inaugural Graduate Student Awards Luncheon held on April 27 at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Last Updated April 28, 2016