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Butler Magazine

Spring 2017

Ideas That Take Flight

Sharon Alseth ’91

from Spring 2017

Nearly 30 years in the making, Butler University’s Undergraduate Research Program is widely recognized as one of the nation’s best. “Longevity and a cohesive program make us stand out,” said Dacia Charlesworth, who oversees Butler’s program. “All facets of undergraduate research opportunities are merged at Butler year-round, which is rare to find. Other universities divide their research program into departments.” Each spring, Butler hosts an annual Undergraduate Research Conference (URC), one of the largest in the country, and Butler students compete for 30 spots in the immersive Butler Summer Institute (BSI), for focused research on projects in any discipline. 

With more societal influences affecting science, and an interdisciplinary approach, there are no barriers to research topics. There’s traditional lab work, and experiential learning that’s an extension of the classroom. Butler research students have studied the development of butterfly wings, how to prevent the fading of color in pieces at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the behaviors and attitudes of pre-pharmacists toward HIV and AIDS patients, and even confessional poetry. “It’s the integration of our mission statement,” said Charlesworth. “We put Liberal Arts and professional programs together and demonstrate to the community how they can help.” 

Students are encouraged to present and share their results with others, with Travel to Present and Honors Thesis Grants contributing to Butler’s national exposure. It’s not enough to conduct the research. Butler coaches presentation skills, with students learning to avoid jargon so their research is more relatable and significant to a general audience. End-of-year reports and an active Twitter feed (@ TheButlerURC) boost awareness of Butler’s program. The 2016 Undergraduate Research Conference drew more than 900 people, an increase of 200 participants from the previous year, despite a trimmed promotional budget and slight fee hike. This year for the first time, there will be a new presentation category with cash awards, to add a tier of competition to the URC. 

Charlesworth has held the title of Butler’s Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships for about a year and a half, and has an infectious enthusiasm about her job. She tells prospective students and their parents, “Look at other universities and see if they have a position like mine. Most universities don’t. It sets Butler apart, having an all-inclusive program, and someone who can identify top scholarships for student researchers.”

Ideas That Take Flight

by Sharon Alseth ’91

from Spring 2017

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Conversation Transformed

Hayley Ross ’17

from Spring 2017

Every Thursday night from 5:30-8:00 PM in the basement of Jordan Hall, the Butler Aphasia Community meets, giving voice to those who are struggling with language and speech and inspiring those striving for a career doing just that. 

The program has the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) undergraduates work as a support group for those suffering from aphasia, which is most often caused by a stroke and affects communication abilities. The program is a CSD elective.

“A main identifier of people with aphasia is they can say the words but can’t make the sentences flow,” CSD major Betsy Russo ’17 said. “Or they can say the transitional words but can’t form the sentence.” 

Russo will be taking the class next semester after completing the prerequisites and observation hour requirements. She observed the group multiple times in preparation. “It is really awesome to see the individual growth,” she said. “There may be people who recently had a stroke and then people who have been there so long that they can have almost completely normal conversation. It is so inspiring to see the transformation.” 

During the first hour, the group meets as a whole. They have a big activity, such as yoga/painting/exercise class, and it is modified for those in wheelchairs from a stroke. Then they split into smaller groups to play games, talk, or do whatever else the group wants to do. 

“It is a lot of fun,” group member Madeline Koenig ’17 said. “One of the things we work on is the life participation approach to aphasia (LPAA). It focuses on conversation aspects and gets them back into everyday life and activities.” 

Koenig was in the program this semester. Although the program is technically a class, she is going to try to take it again next semester because it directly correlates to what she wants to focus on for the rest of her life. “I genuinely like working with adults,” she said. “It is my passion in our field and this has allowed me to utilize both my knowledge and passion. It really just gets me excited to practice hands-on as a student what I want to do professionally.” 

Mary Gospel, Chair of Communication Sciences and Disorders, started the group at Butler four years ago. Since then, there have been 54 clients that have come through the program—almost all of them for more than one semester. 

“The opportunity for the students and clients to work together and get to know each other is such a win-win,” she said. “The students benefit and the clients benefit. Also, because clients’ insurance runs out so quickly, we knew there weren’t a lot of options and this was a big need in the community.” 

Gospel has volunteered with the Northside Aphasia Support Group since 2001, and it was a big inspiration when creating one at Butler. “In class you learn what aphasia is, but with this you learn what it is like to live with aphasia,” she said. 

Koenig said this group has been one of the highlights of her Butler career. 

“There aren’t a lot of support groups around, so it is really important that we have one,” she said. “They are such a fun group of people and it couldn’t be a better way to end my Thursdays—doing something fun, and something I want to do when I graduate.” 

Conversation Transformed

by Hayley Ross ’17

from Spring 2017

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Athlete Profile: Mason Dragos ’19

Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

Mason Dragos ’19 loves to compete. He came to Butler as a state champion, and his work ethic drives him to succeed. The sophomore tennis player looks to make another big impact after his strong first-year campaign. Dragos said he is fond of working hard and grinding his matches out. 

“I will always remember what beating a good team felt like,” he said. “Having a close team match and coming out on top is really quite surreal.” 

He said he enjoyed growing as a person and student through the ups and downs of his first year. “Our school is special because of its small-sized campus with big-school resources,” he said. “You get to develop relationships with your professors that are able to help you in many aspects of your life.” 

Dragos crossed state lines for his college experience. The Lexington, Ohio, native said he found a family of new friends at Butler. “It is a special place,” he said. “I went there not knowing a single person. I was able to make some great friends and experience some things I would not have if I did not come to Butler.” 

Dragos, who plays singles and doubles, said last year’s lessons made him a more mature player. 

“If you win the deciding match, your teammates go nuts,” he said. “I’m trying to focus on solidifying my game. Becoming more mentally tough will help myself and my team win even more matches than we did last year.”

Athlete Profile: Mason Dragos ’19

The sophomore tennis player looks to make another big impact after his strong first-year campaign.

by Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

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Athlete Profile: Haley Hallenbeck ’18

Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

Haley Hallenbeck ’18 fell in love with lacrosse in seventh grade. Once she stepped foot on the turf, she never looked back. The Indianapolis native attended Park Tudor School and earned US Lacrosse All-American honors twice. Hallenbeck said her love for the sport has made a huge difference in her life. 

Haley Hallenbeck ’18“The lacrosse field is like home to me,” she said. “I fell in love with it because of the high-speed tempo of the game and high-pressure game situations.” 

Lacrosse took Hallenbeck across the United States. She spent her first two years of college at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Hallenbeck said she is happy to have lacrosse as a steady part of her life. 

“With a lot always changing around me, lacrosse has been the one constant thing in my life,” she said. “I appreciate all of the opportunities it has given me, as it will always have a special place in my heart.” 

Hallenbeck, a midfielder, said she recognizes the challenges thrown at her on a day-to-day basis. “As a midfielder, you have to be in great shape,” she said. “That is one of my favorite aspects of the sport. You run for miles and miles every match.” 

Butler is 10 minutes away from her home. She said she appreciates eating a home-cooked meal and spending time with her new family of teammates. 

“All of the run tests, sprint workouts, and lifts with my teammates are some of my favorite memories,” she said. “But they are always opportunities to see how hard I can push myself.” 

Athlete Profile: Haley Hallenbeck ’18

Butler is 10 minutes away from her home. She said she appreciates eating a home-cooked meal and spending time with her new family of teammates. 

by Jimmy Lafakis ’19

from Spring 2017

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Butler Adds Women's Lacrosse

Katie Goodrich ’17

from Spring 2017

In a whirlwind of hiring, recruiting, and program building, Butler University has added a new varsity sport: women’s lacrosse. The Division I team began its journey as a BIG EAST program in February. 

Head Coach Cecil Pilson, who previously coached at Mercyhurst University for more than a decade, said he is glad Athletic Director Barry Collier and President James Danko had faith in him. 

“It’s definitely very exciting to start a Division I program, especially in the BIG EAST and at a university like Butler,” he said. “As a coach, you always want to be at a school where you can buy into the school’s philosophy and the academics. Butler aligned with everything I wanted as a coach.” 

In early 2016, Pilson worked tirelessly to contact potential recruits and encourage them to submit applications to Butler. “I recruited a large roster knowing that a lot of other D-I programs…did not have enough players,” Pilson said. “We definitely have the numbers now to be successful.” The team’s roster of 30 women includes first-year recruits, transfers, and former club team players. 

Senior and Captain Emma Annand was on the club team during her first three years at Butler. After playing for Granite State Elite and in high school, Annand said she considered playing lacrosse in college, but ended up really loving Butler and decided to play club. But then she got the opportunity to play varsity. 

“I met with Coach Pilson and he was very convincing,” she said. “And I thought, in 10 years looking back, if I didn’t do this, I would kick myself. And I have not looked back.” 

First-year student Journey Fischbeck is among the first class of recruits who will get the chance to play lacrosse for her entire career at Butler. She was originally going to attend Mercyhurst but decided to follow Pilson to Butler after falling in love with Butler’s big-school feel with small-school perks. She said the basketball team didn’t hurt either. 

The inaugural team’s season will be full of firsts. “Everything we do—no matter what—it makes history,” Annand said. “We’re writing our story and laying the foundation for years to come. We’re setting the mold for how the program is going to be, so we are not taking anything lightly. Everything we do has a lot of thought behind it because it is so significant.” 

Pilson said his No. 1 goal for the season is growth. “Regardless of wins and losses, what is really important is that the team is able to develop,” he said. “The thing I can control is players developing and becoming better, setting that culture for them to grow on.”

Butler Adds Women's Lacrosse

In a whirlwind of hiring, recruiting, and program building, Butler University has added a new varsity sport: women’s lacrosse.

by Katie Goodrich ’17

from Spring 2017

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Preparing Students for the Future

Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

Audrey Bonn ’16, a graduate of Butler’s Science, Technology, and Society (STS) program, puts her degree to use to its fullest every day. 

Bonn is currently the Patient Communications Coordinator for Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis. Her job responsibilities include managing outpatient communications and performing an analysis on the productivity of the messages that she sends. 

“I try to find a correlation between appointment reminder messages and whether or not a patient will show up for their appointment,” Bonn said. “Being an STS major helped to prepare me for this job because I was taught to look at situations critically, think outside the box, and not just assume that what appears on the surface gives the whole story.” 

Bonn says her favorite part of the STS curriculum was the opportunity she had to consistently study thought-provoking topics, which helped her broaden her worldview. The program allowed her to use the skills from her major and become a problem-solver in her field—a true critical thinker. 

“The vast majority of our assignments required us to analyze topics and propose educated solutions for issues that we studied,” she said. “I use this in my job not only when I am trying to find correlations between two things, but also when I am trying to brainstorm new campaigns that would help solve some of the hospital’s problems.” 

Students in STS are equipped with an understanding of how our world is transformed and challenged by science and technology. The program examines the interaction between science and technology and our health, families, communities, and environment. The curriculum builds on students’ problem-solving and communication skills.

It also places an emphasis on the STEM Disciplines— Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These academic disciplines are being taught in middle schools and high schools and have increased in prominence over the last eight to 10 years both nationally and globally. 

Carmen Salsbury is the Director of the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies program, which is the overarching program that the STS major falls under. Salsbury says the STS program has grown exponentially. The first 10 years of its existence saw only about 15 majors. The program now sees consistently around 50 majors. 

Now more than ever, Salsbury says that there is a need to understand science and society given the decline of our environment and the struggle to acquire resources globally, which could be why the STS major has become so popular. 

The major is also highly customizable to what students are interested in. Students are required to take 30 credit hours of coursework—12 hours of STS core courses and 18 hours of STS elective courses from across campus. This curriculum allows students to explore a wide variety of interests. 

Kellie Dominick ’17, an STS major, says she enjoys this aspect of the curriculum because she does not feel the pressure to commit to a single career path. “My current plan is to work in hospital administration, but the great thing about STS is that if I realize that it’s not for me, there are also different paths I can take,” she said. 

There is also an increasing demand for non-scientists who have some training with science and technology and who also have an understanding of the institutions of science and their place in modern society. This kind of background is at the core at the STS curriculum, which is why Butler students are finding success in careers and entrepreneurial opportunities outside of the traditional sciences employment tracts. 

Students in the program have gone on to pursue careers not only in science and technology, but also in health, education, law, public policy, and communications. 

Salsbury says that because the curriculum is interdisciplinary, it forces students to look at issues from many different directions, like Bonn does in her role at Eskenazi. She says it’s a skill that takes practice and experience, but is highly valued by employers. 

The major also stresses the importance of communication as an underlying skill needed for success across the board. “This major strongly emphasizes the ability to communicate, whether in writing or speaking, because to understand all of these issues is nothing if you can’t communicate effectively.” 

Salsbury is confident that this versatile set of tools acquired in the STS program will serve them well in postgraduate life. “In the end,” she said, “I think graduates of the STS program end up with a pretty powerful skill set.”

Preparing Students for the Future

There is a need to understand science and society given the decline of our environment and the struggle to acquire resources globally, which could be why the STS major has become so popular. 

by Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

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It's In Her Nature

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

Marissa Byers ’18, the first Butler student to officially major in Environmental Studies, figures she now has the best of all worlds when it comes to career options. The junior from Springfield, Illinois, could use what she’s learning to work in public health. Or maybe on public policy issues. Or perhaps working for a non-profit or doing something in urban ecology. 

As someone with a broad range of interests who has considered majors in business, communication, and education, Environmental Studies plays to her strengths. 

“My passion has always been the environment, and in Environmental Studies I get to combine a lot of my skills,” she said. “If I go into non-profit work, I’m going to be using those communication skills and those business skills in outreach with communities. So I’ll be using my strengths for a purpose I’m passionate about. Environmental Studies is a nice combination of that.” 

Environmental Studies is a new major under the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies (STES) umbrella. Biology Professor Carmen Salsbury, who directs the STES program, said student interest in a broad range of disciplines is driving the new major, which allows for a career in the science arena without doing the classic biology-chemistry-physics track. 

“What’s great about STES is that these majors reflect how the world is,” Salsbury said. “These majors are very interdisciplinary and that’s how the world is as well. You have to know an awful lot about a lot of things. If we’re trying to train students who are going to contribute to society, we have to teach them to think broadly and critically and see how things interconnect.” 

Environmental Studies majors focus on the relationship between environment and society and those environmental issues that deserve attention, like: How do we institute environmental change or awareness? Students take some prescribed science courses to establish a basic understanding of chemistry, ecology, and evolutionary biology, as well as other courses that focus on the environment. They also delve into the sociological aspects, such as humanity’s relationship with the environment and what that means for the future. 

All Environmental Studies majors must complete a practicum experience—either taking the Environmental/Sustainability Practicum course or by completing an independent practicum/ internship experience in which they work with a community partner on an issue relevant to that partner. Byers, for example, is fulfilling her requirement by interning with the CUE Farm on campus. Some students might work with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, or even at the statehouse dealing with lobbying organizations on an issue like concentrated animal feeding operations or another factory farming-related cause. 

“We really want the students to get out into the community and engage the community in those issues that are environment-related,” Salsbury said. “I think students are recognizing that science and society is critically important to implement policy and change behaviors with regard to the environment, medical practices, and immunizing children, to name just a few areas. All of those things have major sociological, ethical, cultural, political, and economic components to them.” 

Byers said she figures she may end up in a job that doesn’t exist yet. That might mean something in the area of working with kids, since there’s a trend in schools to incorporate nature into the curriculum. That has a lot of benefits for child development education, she said, and also prepares the next generation to be more environmentally conscious. 

“I want to work in urban environments to change people’s perceptions of nature as something that’s out there that we’re not connected to,” Byers said. “I want to bring it into urban environments to help people understand what their daily actions do to the overall environment.”

It's In Her Nature

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Jeremy Johnson

Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

The World Health Organization still ranks tuberculosis as a leading cause of death worldwide. On the Butler campus, Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeremy Johnson is turning undergraduate research students into real scientists seeking new answers to halt the spread of TB. 

Johnson’s lifelong enthusiasm for research has helped reshape Butler. He oversees all student research opportunities as Programs for Undergraduate Research committee chair, and he headed up the Butler Summer Institute for a year, giving him the chance to set up independent research projects for 30 students involving all six colleges on campus. 

The Chemistry Department, his home base, has turned many of its lab courses into what he calls “classroom undergraduate research experiences” (emphasis on experience) and added chemistry courses taking new approaches to hands-on learning. In Chemistry and Community, for example, students design experiments for presentation to elementary and middle school students. In Study Abroad for Chemistry, students absorb the scientific background on energy, then explore a German city that operates solely on renewable energy. Jeremy Johnson

Though the hands-on approach requires extra time and effort for both students and faculty, Johnson is unequivocal about its advantages. 

“In research, you develop your own understanding of a problem, look at all the angles, then explain the outcome. It provides a picture of your intellectual ability that you can’t get from classroom opportunities alone,” he said. “We’ve seen significant strides in students’ development of critical reasoning skills. Plus, I find students become more invested. They can see the applicability of what they’ve learned in class, and they get excited to see the end results.” 

As with their TB research, their results can extend far beyond campus. 

“We have students who are looking for and making new derivatives of cholesterol medication for testing at a lab in Iowa. Our students are collaborating on projects with Dow Chemical and Eli Lilly. Next fall, we’re offering a new biochemistry major where we’ll be addressing such questions as whether cancer is curable. These are new ways we’ve built in for students to gain the research and other scientific skills they will need once they move beyond Butler.” 

Johnson not only loves creating research opportunities for students. He considers it his duty. Coming from a small liberal arts college, he sought out Butler for its opportunity to interact closely with students. 

“Part of being a faculty member is your service to the institution. I feel like I’m supporting the students and opportunities I want to see grow here,” he said. 

Dr. Jeremy Johnson was recently named the Hershel B. Whitney Professsor in Biochemistry as a result of a generous gift from the estate of Hershel B. and Ethel L. Whitney. 

The prestige and recognition of an endowed position helps the University attract superb scholars to campus and encourages exceptional educators like Dr. Johnson to remain at Butler.

Faculty Focus: Jeremy Johnson

“I feel like I’m supporting the students and opportunities I want to see grow here.”

by Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Tara Lineweaver

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

When she entered Butler University as a first-year voice major, Professor of Psychology Tara Lineweaver ’91 never would have imagined that she would graduate four years later with a Psychology degree as well. Nor would her first-year self believe she would head to graduate school in Georgia, finish an internship in Chicago, complete a doctoral program in California, and work at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, only to end up right back where she started—at Butler. 

“It’s funny because when I was a student at Butler, I always said I wanted to work at a place like Butler when I grew up, but I never really imagined I’d work at Butler,” Lineweaver said. “I worked in Admission as a student, so I thought if I did come back I was going to be an admission counselor. I had no idea I would return as a professor.” 

Since arriving back at Butler, Lineweaver has participated in numerous research projects with her students, and she also, along with a group of faculty, has played an integral role in helping create and teach Butler’s new Neuroscience minor. 

“Provost Kate Morris, who was the chair of the Psychology Department at the time, initiated the effort. We were excited to get the Neuroscience minor approved,” Lineweaver said. 

The new minor is interdisciplinary with coursework in Psychology, Biology, and Philosophy. Since its creation in 2013, 26 students have graduated with a Neuroscience minor and 62 students are currently pursuing it. 

“One thing that’s really cool about the minor is that it encourages students to think about the mind and brain from both a scientific and liberal arts perspective,” Lineweaver said. 

In addition to the coursework, students involved in the Neuroscience minor complete internships and research as well. 

For instance, last year one of Lineweaver’s students, Colleen Frank ’16, completed a project that looked at the recognition of emotion through both facial expressions and tone of voice in patients with Parkinson’s disease. She found that people with Parkinson’s disease are not as good at recognizing emotion as their healthy age-matched peers. 

Lineweaver’s passion for neuroscience and collaboration with students has allowed her to build up her own research portfolio and to keep pursuing the many areas of interest she developed prior to teaching at Butler, including Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, Dementia, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder research. Many times her students have guided which direction her research takes. 

“I’ve always been a dabbler. I tried many different types of research through my graduate training, and when I got to Butler I continued in all of those areas,” Lineweaver said. “That is one thing I really like about being at Butler, that I can do a lot of different things and not just focus on one question.” 

Lineweaver continued by saying, “Not too many people get the opportunity to go back and work at their alma mater. I am really fortunate that I had that opportunity. I love working at Butler.” 

 

Tara is also currently interested in researching healthy aging. If you are age 60 or over, live in or near Indianapolis, and want to participate in future studies, please email her at tlinewea@butler.edu

Faculty Focus: Tara Lineweaver

“It’s funny because when I was a student at Butler, I always said I wanted to work at a place like Butler when I grew up, but I never really imagined I’d work at Butler.”

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Jen Kowalski

Megan Ward MS ’13

from Spring 2017

Sure, there are collaborations with faculty here at Butler and other institutions, including the University of Massachusetts, but “students do the vast majority of the work,” said Kowalski. This work includes growing and maintaining the C. elegans worms, generating new strains of worms by performing mating crosses, doing molecular biology, fluorescence microscopy, and biochemical studies. They also do data analysis, help write and present their work at conferences here and around the country, and co-author all publications. 

So why C. elegans? Even though they only grow to about one-and-a-half millimeters in length and only have 302 neurons and 959 total cells, humans have surprisingly a lot in common with the worm. Yes, we have a lot more neurons (hundreds of billions) and quite a few more cells (around 60 trillion); but, we have a similar number of genes—around 20,000— and many of those genes are the same. As Kowalski states, “Although our nervous systems are much more complex, the basic organization of the circuitry is the same.” 

What are Kowalski and her students hoping to learn from their research? They’re interested in a family of proteins called ubiquitin system enzymes and the role these enzymes and their targets play in controlling neurons’ signals. “We use the C. elegans neuromuscular junction (the point of contact—or synapse—where motor neurons signal to muscle cells) as a model to investigate ubiquitin enzymes,” explained Kowalski. 

A cell biologist by training, Kowalski is interested in understanding how cells carry out their functions. She’s intrigued by the nervous system because it is a collection of cells that are working in both a “coordinated and tightly regulated fashion to allow information processing, storage, and transmission” (i.e., communication between neurons). This communication is disrupted in various neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer disease. 

The potential impact of their research is enormous. As Kowalski puts it, “Understanding how communication between neurons is regulated in a healthy nervous system is critical to understanding what goes wrong in these diseases—and how we might be able to effectively treat them.”

Faculty Focus: Jen Kowalski

The potential impact of their research is enormous.

by Megan Ward MS ’13

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Hala Fadda

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Although Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Hala Fadda did not start working at Butler University until 2011, she entered the University with a passion for learning, research, and collaboration. All qualities that embody what it means to be a Butler Bulldog. 

“I knew Butler was a great school with an excellent pharmacy program,” Fadda said. “I came here for the interview and was impressed with the dedication and passion of the students. I thought to myself, ‘I would like to be a part of this—part of educating the next generation of pharmacy students at Butler.” 

Upon starting at Butler, Fadda immediately reached out to gastroenterologist Dr. Monika Fischer at the IU School of Medicine to begin a variety of research projects to understand drug absorption in health and disease. 

The ongoing research focuses on drug absorption, transit times, and motility patterns of our gastrointestinal tract in different patient populations, utilizing tools such as a Capsule endoscopy (camera capsule). Capsule endoscopy is a powerful tool for imaging the gut which is used in the investigation of gastrointestinal disorders. 

“We came up with the idea to look at how this camera capsule transits through the gut—to see the path and examine how fast, or how slow it goes through. We are particularly interested in the small intestine as this is the part of our gut where most drug absorption takes place,” Fadda said. 

From these studies, Fadda and her collaborators were able to determine that transit times of tablets are highly variable between patients. 

“Transit times can range from 50 to 460 minutes. That is a huge variability,” Fadda said. “It was previously thought that small intestinal transit is uniform across patients. We also showed that patients with ulcerative colitis and active Crohn’s disease have longer small intestinal transit times compared to non-inflammatory bowel disease patients. This helps us understand the differences in drug absorption between different patient populations.” 

Fadda and her team of PharmD and graduate research students at Butler have utilized this new knowledge to set up a bench-top model in one of the labs at Butler to simulate the stomach and small intestine. 

“In this model we are mimicking pH transitions and fluid flow in our gut to understand how medicines behave in our body. All this research will help improve the testing and design of new medicines with improved therapeutic efficacy and reduced side effects,” Fadda said. “Ultimately, the goal is to develop better medicines for our patients.” 

Working with a multi-disciplinary research team comprised of both researchers and students, is enriching and allows one to gain new perspectives and ideas and share the latest research findings in the classroom. 

“I’m able to tell my students that there is no such thing as the average individual, and there is no such thing as the average patient. It is important for students to appreciate the variability between different patient populations. Eventually, they are going to apply this knowledge to enhance patient’s lives and make a difference.”

Faculty Focus: Hala Fadda

“I thought to myself, ‘I would like to be a part of this—part of educating the next generation of pharmacy students at Butler.’” 

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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The Reflective Practitioner

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

When Robert Soltis ’87 returned to Butler in 2016 to serve as Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, he came in with a goal to deliver on the College’s mission of developing graduates who serve society as dedicated, competent health professionals and community leaders.

At the 2016 White Coat Ceremony, Soltis said the Pharmacy and Physician Assistant programs are committed to integrating the liberal arts with professional preparation. He described this in terms of creating graduates who are “reflective practitioners”—competent PAs and pharmacists who “think deeply about their professional responsibilities and their patients.” 

“They are, in the end, dedicated and caring individuals who work for the good of others,” he said.

To illustrate the point, Soltis told the story of an Indianapolis woman named Eileen, a diabetic. Eileen’s husband lost his job and subsequently their health insurance. With limited money for insulin, test supplies, and her other medications, Eileen stopped taking most of her drugs and cut her insulin doses in half to stretch her budget. She also cut back on food, thinking she could control her disease by eating less.

Eileen became malnourished, anemic, and experienced diabetic ketoacidosis. At that point, she had to be rushed to the ER and spent several days in the hospital. “I truly did not think I was putting my life in danger,” she said at the time.

In this case, Soltis said, a reflective practitioner would have considered several questions, including: How did Eileen’s situation come to be? Was there no one to help her understand her disease? Why did she not realize the consequences of her actions? 

Most importantly, a reflective practitioner would reflect inward and ask: Could there be an Eileen among my patients? And, do I treat my patients in a way that they know they are deserving of, and are entitled to, the best care possible?

Eileen became malnourished, anemic, and experienced diabetic ketoacidosis. At that point, she had to be rushed to the ER and spent several days in the hospital. “I truly did not think I was putting my life in danger,” she said at the time.

In this case, Soltis said, a reflective practitioner would have considered several questions, including: How did Eileen’s situation come to be? Was there no one to help her understand her disease? Why did she not realize the consequences of her actions? 

Most importantly, a reflective practitioner would reflect inward and ask: Could there be an Eileen among my patients? And, do I treat my patients in a way that they know they are deserving of, and are entitled to, the best care possible?

To be a reflective practitioner requires knowing the right questions to ask and being committed to your patients’ well-being, Soltis said.

“I ask that from now on, every time our students put their white coat on, that they think about how they are preparing for a life of professional service,” he said. “And they should know that it involves not just caring for patients but caring about them as people.”

The Reflective Practitioner

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

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