Skip to main content

Recent Westminster College Graduates Earn Top Prizes at the National Biological Honor Society Undergraduate Symposium

Share on:

Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2018

NEW WILMINGTON, PA – Olivia Sniezek, a 2018 Westminster molecular biology graduate, and Madison Gallucci, a 2018 Westminster biology graduate, were each awarded first place in their respective poster sessions at the 2018 National Biological Honor Society (TriBeta) Undergraduate Symposium held May 30 to June 3 at California State University in Monterey Bay, Calif.

Both women presented their senior Westminster Capstone research projects.

Sniezek presented her research, “Fractal Modeling and Suppression of Staphylococcus Aureus Biofilm Formation.” The adviser to her project was Dr. Joshua Corrette-Bennett, associate professor of biology, with assistance from James Anthony, lecturer in mathematics.

“My conference experience showed me that the Westminster molecular biology curriculum is phenomenal and has given me the knowledge and confidence to educate others about my field and research topic,” Sneizek said. “Laboratory time and independent research at Westminster provided me with a wonderful foundation for graduate school. I was able to choose a project I was passionate about, and at the end I truly felt like an expert in my topic.”

Sniezek will attend Johns Hopkins University’s Ph.D. program in human genetics in the fall. Sniezek is the daughter of Joseph and Lynn Sniezek and a graduate of Wilmington Area High School.

Gallucci presented her research, “Efferent Mushroom Body Axons Terminate in the Lateral Horn of the Harvester Ant Brain.” Her project adviser was Dr. Kathy Robertson, former associate professor of biology at Westminster, with assistance from Dr. John Robertson, associate professor of biology.

“I was well prepared to present research regionally and nationally. The research and level of understanding I have show how advanced the curriculum and lab experience are here at Westminster,” Gallucci said. “I feel more prepared to move on to medical school than my peers from other institutions.”

Gallucci is a participant in Westminster’s 4+4 Medical School Articulation Program with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and will attend LECOM’s Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine Program in the fall. She is the daughter of Rocco Gallucci and is a graduate of Taylor Allderdice High School.

Prior to the national conference, Sniezek and Gallucci earned awards and recognition for their Capstone research at the TriBeta district symposium at the State University of New York-Fredonia. Recognition at the district symposium included a monetary awarded that subsidized a considerable portion of each student’s trip to the national TriBeta symposium.

“Olivia and Madison have been very dedicated to their academic studies and have worked extremely hard throughout their four years at Westminster so it is nice to see them recognized for their achievements,” said Corrette-Bennett. “They have made the most of our curriculum, which intentionally incorporates appropriate research experiences at each level of study so that students can reach their potential, learn how to become active scholars in their field of interest, and be successful in reaching their career goals.”

For more information about the biology and molecular programs at Westminster, contact Corrette-Bennett at

PHOTO: Olivia Sniezek, left, and Madison Gallucci, right, accept their awards from Dr. Steven Ropski, president of the National TriBeta organization.