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Butler Prepares to Say Goodbye to the Class of 2018

BY Peyton Thompson '20

PUBLISHED ON Apr 11 2018

One of the hardest challenges in life is saying goodbye, and as graduation day draws near at Butler, we prepare to send the seniors into adulthood.  

The seniors who will receive their diplomas on May 12 are more than just students. They're mentors and friends who will leave a lasting impact on this campus.

We asked some of the seniors about their Butler experience:

Tyler WidemanSenior basketball player and Human Movement & Health Science Education major Tyler Wideman: “I have a good relationship with my professors and faculty here at Butler. Mainly because everyone here is so easy to talk to and so friendly, it helps out a lot. It has been a great four years. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me in some type of way to become a better person. I am also thankful for all the friends that I’ve made here and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Go Dawgs!”

Wideman said he hopes to be remembered as a good person, on and off the court.

After graduation: “I plan to play basketball after college, or to get into coaching or any aspect of athletics.”


Basketball Manager and Human Movement & Health Science Education major Davis Furman: “I think our 2018 class has a strong impact on the campus for years to come. Since we came onto campus, we have endured a lot of changes in this Davis Furmanphysical landscape of campus and in the social aspects. Because of these changes, we have had to adapt a lot and I think we have mentored the younger classes so that they could adapt easier as well. I think the changes that have been made on campus and the students in our class will continue to have a strong impact on the university even after we graduate.          

“I think what I will miss most about Butler is all the different people I have come in contact with and get to see on a regular basis. I don’t think I really realize the amount of people I have bonded with here and that will become a much heavier realization once everyone has moved on to the next chapter of their lives.”     

After graduation: “After college I hope to get into collegiate basketball coaching. It’s always been a dream of mine.”


Elementary Education major and Butler Dance Team member Emily Loughman: “Coming to Butler was the best choice I have ever made; it has been the best four years of my life! Everyone at Butler is so welcoming and loving, especially in the College Emily Loughmanof Education. Knowing every professor always has my back is a feeling I didn't always have in school growing up and that's what inspired me to become a teacher. I came to Butler for the Education program but I had no idea the impact that the Butler Dance Team, Delta Gamma, all my friends, and opportunities would have on my life forever. Butler has shaped me into the person I am today!”

Emily has also had the opportunity to dance with her younger sister, sophomore Caroline Loughman.

“Dancing with Caroline on BUDT has been a dream come true. While we are very different, we are also very similar. She is my best friend! Having the opportunity to dance with her again was so much fun.”

After graduation: "I plan on finding a teaching job either somewhere in Indy or around the Chicago suburbs where I grew up. I also would LOVE to have the opportunity to be a dance team coach since dance has been my passion since I was 3!”


Science, Technology, and Society Major Riley Schmidt: “Butler has made me a better student over the last four years because of the challenging, supportive, and dynamic academic environment. The professors have taught me that it is OK to ask for Riley Schmidthelp, a grade does not define you, and how to study more effectively. The small class sizes have allowed me to participate frequently and develop a close relationship with my professors. Because of Butler I have met my lifelong friends and role models who helped me become a person that I am proud of and the best version of myself."

After graduation: "I plan on going to graduate school. It is an 18-month accelerated Master of Science in Nursing program. I hope to work for a couple years in the field and then go back to school to become a Nurse Practitioner.”


Chaz GabrielSenior Education Major Chaz Gabriel: “Butler has helped me realize what my passions are and how to pursue them. Before Butler I knew I was interested in teaching, but through the COE I realized I’d never be truly happy pursuing another career.”

After graduation: Chaz hopes to work as an elementary school teacher in the Indianapolis area.



Senior Arts Administration major Emmy Cook: “Studying at Butler has definitely ignited my ambitions. The incredible instruction from my professors, the mentor relationships I’ve developed, the professional opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have Emmy Cookand the leadership experience I’ve gained throughout my undergraduate career all have shaped me to be the person that I am now. Butler helped me to expand on my strengths, explore my goals, refine my personal qualities and skills and become more confident in my ability to succeed. I don’t know that I would feel as competent and ready to enter the workforce or being ‘adulting’ if I hadn’t gone to Butler.”

After graduation: “I’m interested in the more entrepreneurial route after graduation. I’ll be developing my own event planning business, specializing in weddings as well as corporate and social events.”


Tips from Seniors to Underclassmen

Davis Furman: “I would definitely advise the younger students at Butler to really savor their time here. As cliché as it sounds, I cannot believe how fast my four years have gone by here. Take in and cherish every moment.”

Emmy Cook: “My biggest tip for underclassmen would be to take full advantage of what Butler has to offer. If there’s a free event in the Reilly Room, go to it! Go see the ballets and plays. If there’s a seminar on financial management or leadership development, attend that seminar. Get outside of Butler, too. Don’t forget that Butler is such a piece of Indianapolis, and there’s a lot happening outside of Butler—be a part of something bigger than yourself and absolutely dive in. Get involved in service and philanthropic efforts, start interning early. Choose to take a few classes that maybe you don’t necessarily need to take, but simply because they sound interesting and you want to learn. In short, show up and do as much as you can do before you graduate, because you won’t have access to this high a volume of experiences and opportunities probably ever again”.

Riley Schmidt:

1. Study smarter, not harder.

2. It’s OK to switch your major. It’s better to figure out what you want to do now rather than later!

3. Get involved, try something new, and then put your time and effort into the organizations you’re most passionate about.

4. STUDY ABROAD! It is the experience of a lifetime packed full of adventure.

Strategic Communications major Sarah Thuet: “Make every moment count. Get involved with something and put your whole heart in it. If you spread yourself too thinly you’ll be exhausted always, but when you find that sweet spot then you get to do what you love and share it with everyone. Also, treat everyone with respect. This campus is full of administrators, professors, staff, and students who truly care about you. Use them to your advantage and someday hopefully you’ll be able to help them in return. Butler is absolutely what you make of it, so make the most of it. These people and this place just might change your life like it did mine.”

AcademicsStudent LifePeople

Butler Prepares to Say Goodbye to the Class of 2018

Graduating seniors share their memories, plans.

Apr 11 2018 Read more

Taking Pharmacy Skills to a North Carolina Indian Reservation

Meghan Blais '17

When I first learned about the opportunity to work on an Indian Reservation during my sixth-year pharmacy rotations, I immediately knew I wanted to apply. As students, we are lucky enough to have a few options to choose from when applying, but I knew I wanted to go to North Carolina—partly because I had peers who had told me great things about the site and partly because I was familiar with the Smoky Mountains and the beauty in that area. So, when I received my schedule and saw that I would be going to North Carolina, during the fall no less, I was ecstatic. My rotation is in Cherokee, North Carolina, and as its name implies, it is at the Cherokee Indian Hospital, which serves the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. But it is not a reservation. The Eastern Band owns the land; they built the hospital too, and anyone who steps foot into the facility can see that. The culture of the tribe is reflected in almost every facet.  But the culture is also reflected in the care, and that is why I wanted so badly to have a rotation at this site.



Throughout my entire month, I will have the opportunity to learn and apply my time in the classroom to real situations, but I will also be able to learn about a patient population, a culture that I have limited experience with, and about how there is more to healthcare than just medicine.

Within these next few posts, I will try to convey my time and experiences in North Carolina.  And as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  I’ll start off with this one of the sunrise from the top of the mountain just outside of town.

Rotations for Butler students start on Mondays, unless there is a holiday, but those are always exceptions to the rule.  And, since our rotation sites change every four weeks, it is pretty much like starting a new job every month.  This rotation was no different.  I reported to work bright and early on Monday morning where I went through orientation for the better part of the morning.  I had my picture taken, received my ID badge, and got a brief tour of the facility before being dropped off at the pharmacy to meet my preceptor and the other students on rotation (I had already met one of them since the hospital has housing for its students—my roommate was from a pharmacy school in upstate New York!). Meghan Blais with Waterfall

Then I got a quick tour and information session about the pharmacy, which fills on average, 1000 prescriptions a day.  The amazing thing about the Cherokee Indian Hospital is that is serves as both an in-patient and out-patient facility.  Primary care doctors and pediatricians have offices in what was known as the clinic—a large building which houses 12 different medical teams and serves over 18,000 enrolled members.  There is an emergency department, a lab, an eye care clinic, and a dental clinic.  In addition to this, there is also a 20-bed facility which houses patients who are admitted to the hospital, a wound care clinic in conjunction with physical therapy, and a complementary and alternative medicine center.  This is where I would be working for a month!Cherokee Syllabry

In the afternoon, I was trained on their electronic health record system, then was taken on a more in-depth tour of the hospital.  It was during this tour that I started to learn more about the people I would be serving during the month—the Cherokee Indians.  I was told about the importance of nature and the environment around someone during the healing process, which is why the hospital is built in a way such that every room has a window with a beautiful view of the mountains.  I also learned about how the hospital was built to be the center of care for this community and how important it was that the community was reflected within the walls of the hospital.  On the floor, you can see the river and its banks, an important aspect of life to the Cherokee.  At one end is the spider which is said to have brought fire to the community.  At the other end, a water beetle, which brought water to the community.  The entrance that was built to look like a basket weaved by a local woman, known as the Rotunda.  The artwork, most of which was done by local artists, which incorporates the Cherokee syllabary—the language of the tribe.  It is truly beautiful!

As much as I loved taking in all the different aspects in the hospital, though, I love working with the patients too!  I jumped right in on Tuesday, where I worked in one of the counseling rooms, talking with patients about their medications.  This is such an important part of pharmacy, and it is one of my favorite parts really.  These interactions allow me to get to know someone, to find common ground and create a relationship that promotes trust and improved care.  As the week progressed, I moved into the anticoagulation clinic—where patients taking warfarin (or Coumadin) would follow-up and work with pharmacists to ensure proper management—and into the actual clinic, where pharmacists were called on to follow-up with patients on a wide range of conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and tobacco cessation.  Being able to work in an environment that provides me with so many different opportunities is phenomenal, and I know it is making me a much more well-rounded student pharmacist!  With one week under my belt, I am excited to get back and do more next week.  Until then, we have a weekend to explore all that Cherokee, NC has to offer!

Returning to a rotation site after the first week takes on a whole new look because at this point, you have had a week to learn your way around, ask questions, and find your groove in the work place.  The great thing about this rotation was the daily changing of tasks.  No two days were the same for me.  Some days I would counsel in the morning, then work with the teams in the clinic in the afternoon.  Other days I would work in the anticoagulation clinic, better known as a Coumadin clinic.  Most importantly, though, every day I had a chance to talk with patients, ask questions, and help make decisions about their care.

A huge part of the reason I love pharmacy and what I do is due to the interactions and communication with both patients and other healthcare providers.  Pharmacists have an amazing opportunity to not only help the patient but to advocate for them within the healthcare team.  At the Cherokee Indian Hospital, there were about 10 medical teams of caring for about 20,000 patients! So, it is understandable that communication is key to be successful.  Doctors relied on pharmacists to help care for the patients beyond simply supplying medications.  Clinic pharmacists worked directly with patients to help them better control their diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.  As a student, I had a unique opportunity to lead some of these sessions, to interview patients, determine potential gaps in care, and problem-solve to close those gaps.Cherokee Seal

In addition to my patient care responsibilities, weeks 2 and 3 of my rotation also brought me opportunities to present at the monthly P&T (pharmacy and therapeutics) meeting.  P&T meetings are not exclusive to 1 hospital; if a location has a formulary—a list of approved drugs available for use in the pharmacy and hospital—it has P&T meetings.  Having the opportunity to present at these meetings, as a student, is a little less common, so I was very excited to have the chance to do this while on rotation!  My presentation was also a bit different since it was not a drug proposal but rather an educational review on the recommended treatments for irritable bowel syndrome.  I will spare you from my nerd talk, and simply say it was an excellent way for me to learn about a disease state I was not very familiar with and to provide an informative session to the doctors on staff about the available options for their patients. 

Suffice to say that the middle weeks of my rotation were busy ones.  But, with each week completed, we earn a weekend to explore.  Cherokee is in an amazing location—both Gatlinburg and Asheville are an hour’s drive away.  The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway both have entrances a few miles from the student housing.  The new presence of forest fires, however, have casted a smoky haze over the town making hiking and exploring the mountains a bit more difficult. The tourism season is winding down, so town is much less crowded.  However, the other students and I still found time to explore some of the shops, many filled with handmade crafts by local artists, and to watch the Chicago Cubs win the World Series (I was much more excited about this than any of the other students, but they offered support for me while I cheered at the TV).  It is amazing that I am nearly done with my rotation already, but I have one week left and a few more new experiences to come.  Stay tuned, and in the meantime, check out these pictures and the stories they tell within the hospital!

The last week of a rotation is always a confusing time—on one hand, you have finally become acclimated to the location and feel comfortable with all your tasks, on the other hand, you are about to leave just as you started to get settled in.  My last week at the Cherokee Indian Hospital was still filled with new experiences though, and new students (you can see them all below)!  But most importantly, my last week was filled with reflection and appreciation for all the experiences I had this month.

I had the chance to sit in with the pharmacy resident and the physician who operates the pain management clinic.  I also had a chance to go into the in-patient side of the hospital for table rounds—a quick way for everyone on the medical team to receive updates about the patients currently being treated.  It is easy to think that the primary topic of these conversations would be the medicine, but it wasn’t.  Many of the topics and updates focused on the patient and his or her life, struggles taking place outside the hospital.  Some touched on the forest fires, which were threatening the homes of some of the patients.  Others focused on reunions of family deaths and how this time of the year, the holiday season, can be difficult. 

In all these conversations, though, one thing remained the same—compassion.  It can be easy to get caught up in the medicine; after all, there are so many novel treatments and interesting research trials to capture the eye.  There is more to that though, and that is what my time in Cherokee taught me.  Care comes in all forms—sometimes it is a hospital room with a spectacular view of the mountains, other times it is a simple question of ‘how are you doing?’    

Group of Students

I have always wanted to do something with my life that serves others.  For a while, I thought about being a teacher (I still do, but in pharmacy now!), and then I found pharmacy.  It combined my love for math and chemistry with the ever-changing world of medicine.  But most importantly, it provided me with an outlet to show compassion and make a difference in others’ lives, to have an impact.  But truthfully, my month in Cherokee made a difference in my life and had an impact on me. 

If someone would have asked me when I started my journey at Butler if I could have imagined it would take me here, my answer would have been no.  I was not keen on being away from family, traveling to a place where I know no one.  But, here I am now, a month later and I can’t imagine my rotation schedule without Cherokee.

If there is one thing I want to share (apart from the pictures of course), it is this—don’t be afraid to do something different, to go somewhere new.  Learning happens all around us when we step outside the classroom, all you must do is talk to others and listen in return.


Taking Pharmacy Skills to a North Carolina Indian Reservation

When I first learned about the opportunity to work on an Indian Reservation during my sixth-year pharmacy rotations, I immediately knew I wanted to apply.

Experiential Learning for Collegian Editor Comes Outside an Actual Classroom

Katie Goodrich ’17

Senior year is a whirlwind. Welcome Week, the last first day of class, Homecoming, basketball games, and so many more moments made me nostalgic. Caught on the brink of a new adventure, time seems to run away from me.

In an effort to capture the feelings while they are raw, I decided to blog about the ones that really stand out. Too often we take things for granted, so I want to document my experiences.

My first semester of senior year was majorly defined by three things: being editor-in-chief of the Butler Collegian, interning at the Independent Colleges of Indiana and the 2016 presidential election.

While this was not my entire life first semester, these elements were the foundation and provided me with exciting challenges.           

As a senior journalism major, this year is the first time I’ve held the same position for more than one semester on the Butler Collegian, the student news organization. I’ve been a Reporter, Assistant News Editor, News Editor, Foreign Correspondent (writing profiles while I studied abroad), Managing Editor, and now Editor-in-Chief. I went to a high school without a newspaper, so I came to Butler with next to no experience. That was quickly rectified when I joined the paper and began writing. I fell in love with the Collegian and everything it provides for students. Early on, my editors assigned me stories right away, letting me mistakes, and then helped me to fix them and learn what I could do to improve with each and every new assignment. Butler prides itself on providing this kind of experiential learning to its students, and I learned the most outside of an actual classroom. I learned it a newsroom, surrounded by my peers who shared my passion for student press.

I needed this environment to test the theoretical knowledge I gained from classes. The Collegian allowed me to write, report and edit without worrying about a grade. It was real world experience, but inside the Butler bubble.

With this foundation, I left my comfort zone and wrote for a local newspaper, got an internship and grew immeasurably.

But the best part of the Collegian is the community. The staff is made up of some of the most passionate, dedicated and talented people I know. Their humor is always appreciated during the late nights.

Leading an amazing group is a great responsibility I take seriously, even if I add a GIF to almost every mass email I send reminding them about a meeting. I know the final decisions are mine to make, which is an immense pressure to be under.

I say thank you in almost every staff meeting and email, but I cannot express how grateful I am to have this staff in my life. They make all the hours of hard work worth it, because I know I am preserving a Butler cornerstone for generations of Bulldogs to come.

At the end of the fall semester, the staff surprised me with a blanket with a collage of headlines, photos and quotes from the issues we published. Overwhelmed, I started laughing and rambling on about how amazing they were.

In that moment, I could not express how much the gesture meant. I looked out at the crowd of staffers and saw the future of the paper and the future of the journalism industry, and they were thanking me. It was surreal, and I felt like I owed them everything.

Although we went through tough times as a newspaper and as a staff, the Collegian was a constant in my college career.

Joining the Butler Collegian was the best decision I made in my first few weeks at school. Its impact on my life will help shape my future journalism career.

Over the summer, I began interning at the Independent Colleges of Indiana, an organization that works on behalf of the 31 private, nonprofit universities in the state. About a dozen people work there, so I assumed responsibilities like I had always been a member of the team.

I ran the social media accounts, wrote press releases, started an intern blog about college life and helped with different marketing campaigns. My supervisors trusted my knowledge and skillset, so I dove into the work.

Some big projects came my way, including a month long campaign focused on answering questions about college for high school students. 31 Answers to Your Questions About College launched in September, but the process was already underway when I began work in May.

One of the focal points of the campaign was to show how affordable attending a private college can be, because more than 90 percent of students who attend an ICI school receive financial aid. But the questions also covered topics from campus housing options to how many applications to send.

I helped coordinate with representatives from every campus to collect short videos answering common college questions. (That was no easy task, might I add.) Then we edited and transcribed the videos as we worked with a web design company to build a new microsite to host the campaign.

With my high level of involvement, I sat in on all the meetings. My voice was heard, and my suggestions were valued. My input made positive changes to the campaign, which was a powerful thing for me to witness as an intern.

ICI does great work, and I was a part of it.

The organization works to help the private universities and students in many ways, from helping colleges be cost efficient to promoting the institutions to prospective students.

My work could potentially impact thousands of students and their choices about college.

Believing and buying into the mission of where you is so important.

“ICI is the collective voice for excellence and choice in higher education for all students.”

That simple motto sums up the core belief in providing quality educational opportunities for everyone, and I am really proud of the role I get to play to make it happen.

The 2016 presidential election rocked the political atmosphere of the United States on Election Night, I reported on it.

Collegian staffers and editors came to the newsroom to watch the results roll in, work on the next day’s paper and eat pizza.

We were over inundated with information — flipping through channels, checking several online news organizations and scrolling through our social media feeds. When a state was called either for red or for blue, I could feel the newsroom buzz.

I was writing an article as the results rolled in, noting everything from the time to how to stock market was faring. We brainstormed headline ideas, which spun into ridiculous territory pretty quickly.

As it got later, it felt like time moved slower. At 1:30 AM, I called the printer to see just how late we could push back our deadline and still get the paper delivered at the same time. He said 5:00 AM was the latest.

Then all the networks and newspapers began calling the election for the Republican nominee Donald Trump.

It was 3:30 AM, but I was more alert than I had been all day. I furiously typed quotes from his acceptance speech and scrolled through my newsfeed to see who was still up.

I talked to my fellow Bulldogs who had very different views at 4 in the morning. I put it all together, placed it on our pages in InDesign and finally sent the printer our paper at 4:45 AM.

I slept for two hours and then went on with the next day.

Collegians hit the newsstands the next day with the headline “He’s hired” and a picture of Trump’s face above the fold.

Some major newspapers like The New York Times or The Indianapolis Star did not have the winner in their headline, since they sent the pages in before the announcement. (See, sometimes it is worth it to ask for the extension.)

Reflecting on that day, I feel really lucky to have the unique experience of reporting about a presidential election surrounded by very supportive peers. The collegiate newsroom harbors a true sense of friendship and mutual respect.

I was running on adrenaline, and I accomplished the task with the help of my editorial team. Their support pushed me to finish strong and produce work I am proud of.

This experience cemented a career choice that I already knew I wanted. I want to share events with people and let their voices be heard.

The Collegian let me start my journalism career early, and I am so glad I got to cover my presidential election with the paper that started it all for me. 


Experiential Learning for Collegian Editor Comes Outside an Actual Classroom

Too often we take things for granted, so I want to document my experiences

Antiretrovirals and Intentionality

Emily Yarman ’17

“I’m too early. Typical,” I thought as I sat silently in my car, eagerly waiting for the day to begin. On the first day of my elective rotation, I arrived at the Damien Center in downtown Indianapolis fifteen minutes before the doors to the building were unlocked. I would spend the next month at Indiana’s largest AIDS service organization in their sister clinic, Damien Cares, seeing patients with HIV and AIDS. Although I love being early on my first day, this has led to a great deal of waiting in my car. As I sat there, the engine gently purring, I wondered what the month would hold. I quizzed myself on what I knew about HIV: the risk factors, the pathophysiology, the medications used to treat it and how they work. I stopped mentally drilling myself when I realized that I didn’t actually know much about the day-to-day life of a patient with HIV. I had studied the disease enough to pass the test, but I hadn’t had an opportunity to really get to know any patients with HIV.

I thought about the struggles patients with HIV in the US have had since the 1980s. I had learned about the social implications of HIV and I wondered what emotional hardships these patients had been through. I already knew that my month at the Damien Cares clinic would teach me a great deal about medical management of patients with HIV. I realized then, while sitting in my idling car, that it would also deepen my knowledge about how to care for a patient as a whole person.

My first patient was a gentleman in his early 50’s. He had been on ART (anti-retroviral therapy) for years and came to the office for a visit as an established patient. I followed my preceptor, Randall McDavid, NP, into the exam room and introduced myself. After a pretty uneventful follow-up visit, Randall and I sat down in his office. He turned to me and asked, “If you saw that man walking down the street, would you think he had HIV?” I quickly responded, “No, I wouldn’t.” This patient did not look like he was HIV-positive. Neither did my second patient. Or my third patient. As someone that recognizes the damage that stereotypes can cause, I’m always trying to purge myself of my presuppositions about people. As I saw more patients on that first day, I realized I had failed to do just that; I had unconsciously built up presuppositions about how an HIV-patient would look or act. I expected patients with HIV to appear much more sick than this gentleman had.

I was reminded on this rotation that by unconsciously pigeonholing a patient, I set myself up for failure as a provider. Even something as simple as having preconceived notions about what an HIV patient looks like can affect the way I practice medicine. There are certain risk factors that make a patient more likely to acquire the illness, but HIV still affects every sex, gender, age, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Embarking on the slippery slope of making assumptions about patients can lead to big mistakes in forming treatment and prevention plans for them. By making assumptions about patients, I also miss out on the opportunity to get to know and learn from them, which could benefit my future patients. It seems simple, but it is easy to overlook the fact that everyone suffers when providers make assumptions, especially in a patient population as diverse as the HIV community. There is no one face of HIV. This month, I have been learning to stop giving it one.


I held the diaphragm of my stethoscope over his left chest and heard the thunderous, rapid lub-dub of his heart. I finished my physical exam and told Randall that everything was within normal limits, except his heart, which was beating quickly. The patient shifted uncomfortably in his chair when we asked him questions about his sexual habits. He laughed nervously when we inquired about drug use. This was the typical behavior of a patient new to the clinic.

New patients with HIV experience a spectrum of emotions during that first visit, including fear and anxiety. Their anxieties include questions about what it means to have HIV, if they can afford the treatment, and ultimately, if it will kill them. They are nervous about if the people they meet at the clinic will judge or chide them. Their fear of being rebuked is legitimate; decades after HIV showed up in the US, it still carries a stigma and is very closeted. The medical and social concerns that a new HIV patient has culminate into a patient presentation like the one I described above: visibly restless and apprehensive about being honest with their provider.

An established patient with HIV, however, is a foil of a new patient with HIV. While new patients tend to be restless and apprehensive, many established patients are calm and relaxed. Long-time HIV-positive patients understand that if they are compliant with their medications, their life can be much like the life of a person that is HIV-negative. They are happy to see Randall and talk about their social and sexual histories with ease. The visit becomes less about HIV and more about friendly conversation and getting to know each other. During physical exam, their hearts beat at a regular rate again.

Some of this release of anxiety in patients is because of patient education about the disease and the effectiveness of HIV medications. HIV pharmacotherapy has progressed a great deal since the 1980s. Many patients with HIV take just one pill per day and have an undetectable blood viral load. Causes of death in the HIV population are increasingly due to chronic illness, like most of the US, and less due to immunological compromise because we diagnose and treat earlier. The average life expectancy of an HIV-positive patient is the same as an HIV-negative patient. When patients learn about these advances in our understanding and treatment of HIV, many of their fears are quelled. This, however, is only a part of the cause for calm in established patients.

The other, bigger, part of the relief of anxiety for established patients with HIV is the relationship that they build with their provider. The care that Randall provides his patients is non-judgmental. He talks comfortably about patient’s sexual habits and drug use without scolding them. I have watched patient’s anxiety melt away during office visits because of the relaxed demeanor. This allows the patient to be honest, which enables Randall to take better care of them. I have observed that this kind of therapeutic relationship is the key to success for patients at the clinic. The patients that are most healthy are patients that have built this kind of relationship with Randall. In the presence of empathetic medical care, the patient’s viral load and anxiety both drop. Randall always says “HIV is a relationships disease,” and he’s right. Because HIV is a physically and socially taxing disease, it is best treated with appropriate medical therapy and a caring heart.


Seeing established patients with HIV gives me so much hope during those initial patient visits at the clinic. As a future physician assistant, I have the opportunity to be part of what brings that hope to fruition. I can walk with patients on their journey to have an undetectable viral load and an unbroken spirit. This month, I have learned that even in in the face of a disease that used to be a death sentence, there is hope on the horizon through proper medical treatment and a truly therapeutic relationship. Serving patients in this way, however, is not simple. It requires a concerted effort on the part of the provider to be intentional about the medical and emotional care they offer. I have learned that part of that intentional care is to resist pigeonholing patients and to actively dismantle stereotypes that we create. I have learned that it means listening and responding in a way that creates a comfortable environment for the patient to be honest in, regardless of any social stigma involved. Truly treating a patient as a whole person requires all of these things and nothing less.

Butler Alumna Makes Science Fun

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Julie Boyk ’10, Senior Education Coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago, remembers having a difficult time deciding which college to attend. She was excited to be accepted to Butler University but she had two other colleges who were offering scholarships from which to choose. It wasn’t until her dad was heading to Indianapolis for a business trip that he asked her along to tour the campus.

“I went on the trip just to appease my father. It was freezing cold and snowing, but the moment I stepped out of my dad’s car, I felt at home,” Boyk said. “I thought, ‘this is where I was going to spend the next five years of my life.’ We went on a tour, further drawing me into what some people call ‘Butler magic;’ I was hooked.”

Boyk spent her next few years at Butler working toward her degree in Early/Middle Childhood Education. About a year after graduation, Boyk stumbled across a position at MSI while perusing the museum’s website prior to a planned visit, and since she had been having a difficult time finding a job within the school systems, she decided to apply. Julie Boyk with students

“MSI was the mecca of field trips as a kid from the Chicago suburbs, so the thought of working there brought back many positive memories,” Boyk said.

During her interview, Boyk pulled from the skills toolkit Butler’s College of Education gave her to demonstrate a potential lesson plan that was hands on, thoughtful, and tasty since Oreo cookies were involved.

“All of the hands on work Butler exposed me to was very helpful and I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today without that,” Boyk said.

Before she made it home, Boyk had an offer.

Since getting hired, Julie has had many realizations about herself and the job she had in mind before starting at MSI.

“I never saw myself teaching middle school or high school students, but it’s so fun. I’ve discovered it’s one of my favorite parts,” Boyk said.

Her list of favorites regarding her work at MSI doesn’t stop there. Every day is different and through MSI’s Learning Labs she has the opportunity to teach a wide range of science subjects like forensics, pendulums, simple machines, and Mars, where students and Boyk have the opportunity to teleconference with real NASA scientists to ask questions.

If she had to choose a favorite aspect of her job, it would be when she gets to make science fun for all of the students who enter the museum with the mindset that science is boring, or confusing.

Julie Boyk with students

“Not too long ago we were doing a project about Mars and a student in 6th or 7th grade asked me if I was a scientist. Technically I’m not, but to answer his question, and to get him involved I responded by saying ‘Yes, I am a scientist and you are too,’” Boyk said. “At first he said ‘No, no I’m not.’ He came up to me after class and told me, ‘I understand what you mean now about how I’m a scientist too,’”

Creating even just a small shift in attitude among students about science, and making sure they understand that science can be messy and fun is why Boyk loves the work she does and for a museum that is considered an industry leader.

“I’m able to touch the lives of so many more students with what I’m doing here. Between myself and four other co-workers, we are able to interact with about 24,000 students a year,” Boyk said. “We really are at an important museum, and it makes me want to work above and beyond my abilities to make sure I represent the museum in the best way possible.” 


Butler Alumna Makes Science Fun

It wasn’t until her dad was heading to Indianapolis for a business trip that he asked her along to tour the campus.

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Read more

From Intern to Mentor

Megan Yates ’16

from Spring 2017

Before going off to college, I had always heard that internships and opportunities that one was presented with while in school would help them land their future career. Little did I know how true this would be for me when beginning my journey at Butler University.

Before my first-year began, I decided to declare my major in Organizational Communication and Leadership in the College of Communication. After much research, I determined that this seemed like the best fit for the combination of my primary interests; planning events and nonprofit organizations. Along the way, I picked up a double major in Critical Communication and Media Studies. The two majors coincided well and provided me with a solid foundation in my professional development as well as communication skills.

My sophomore year of college was when I realized how applicable my major was going to be in the real world. I landed my first internship with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). My primary task was to help with the silent auction at JDRF Indiana’s Promise Gala. Working on the silent auction, I helped secure over 300 auction items that we then bundled together to sell in larger packages the night of the event. By the end of Gala, the silent auction had brought in over $70,000. 

When my internship with JDRF concluded, I knew that I wanted my next opportunity to be with another nonprofit organization doing similar work. October of my junior year, I received my second internship with Riley Children’s Foundation. In this internship, my energy was focused on helping with a variety of third party events as well as miscellaneous office duties. Each day presented a new set of tasks ranging from drafting letters to families treated at Riley Hospital for Children all the way to organizing and attending fundraisers which benefitted the hospital.

Before my senior year began, I heard that JDRF was looking for summer help. I applied for and accepted the open internship and was excited to be back at JDRF. This internship was centered around helping plan the Indianapolis One Walk that would take place in October. Not far into the summer, JDRF was looking to hire a full-time Development Coordinator that required 35+ hours of work each week and provided the opportunity to have a large play in the logistics and fundraising aspects of the fundraisers that JDRF would hold throughout the state of Indiana. I knew this was a career that I’d be interested in post-graduation and decided to apply for the opening; despite having one year left of college. Just a few days before my senior year started, I was offered the position.

With the guidance and support of Professor Scott Bridge, Internship Director for the Butler University College of Communication, I was able to manage a full-time schedule with JDRF and remain in a full course load at Butler. Through the internships and internship program that I had been a part of my first three years of schooling, I was able to gain a skillset which an employer saw value in prior to me receiving my diploma. While the real world might’ve started a year earlier than I had anticipated, it was a great opportunity that I had because of the successful internship program at Butler University. Today, I am still working with a focus in special events and fundraising at JDRF and love every day. My passion for planning events and helping others has continued to blossom into a career field that I hope to be in for years to come.


From Intern to Mentor

My sophomore year of college was when I realized how applicable my major was going to be in the real world.

by Megan Yates ’16

from Spring 2017

Read more

Writing for Wellness

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

Leona, a lady beyond a certain age, likes to break out in song. Doesn’t matter where she is or who’s in the room or that it’s well after Christmas and she’s still singing “Silent Night.” She’s going to sing.

At this moment, she’s sitting in a conference room at American Village retirement community, explaining herself between song bursts to Stephanie Anderson, a student in Butler’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. Every Tuesday, Anderson and three other MFA students visit Leona and others at American Village to hear their stories and get them down on paper.

Leona talks, and Anderson captures her words.

“Leona feels happiest when she is among her 10 children,” she writes. “She loves to sing a lot too, and this is a gift she shares with her children, especially since it's a God-given talent. She loves singing in a choir and sharing the community, because God knows when she is happy and sad, and he projects his goodness through her. Leona knows we have to choose happiness. Words cannot describe the joy she feels being with her family, the one at home, and the one at church.

“Sometimes she is so glad to be alive that she bursts into song, being so glad for her life and her gift. She used to teach singing and sometimes she would sing those songs to her children when they felt lonely or sad, particularly ‘Amazing Grace.’ Leona believes firmly in love and laughter and compassion, and believes harder in the power of beautiful love. She doesn't want to be evil and frowning. She wants to kill sadness with joy. She sings when she is sad and when she is happy, because the voice is the soul coming to the light."

Sometime later, Anderson reflects on what happens in these sessions.

“We’re making a difference in these people’s lives,” she says. “We’re getting to know each other. We’re making friends. We’re showing ourselves and each other that it’s a big world we live in, but in this circle there’s joy, there’s happiness, there’s laughter. This is marvelous.”

This is Writing for Wellness, a program that MFA students began two years ago to use writing for therapy, for recollection, for relief, for fun. The first classes took place at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, where the MFA students worked with hospital staff who needed an opportunity to relax and unload.

Since then, Writing for Wellness has expanded—to Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana Women’s Prison, Hope Academy (a high school for students recovering from addiction), and Indiana Youth Group (an  organization for LGBT youth). The program is soon to add sessions for breast-cancer survivors.

The idea to bring Writing for Wellness to Butler started with Hilene Flanzbaum, the Director of the MFA program. Flanzbaum has taught creative writing on the undergraduate and graduate levels, and her husband, Geoffrey Sharpless, runs the summer creative writing camp at Butler and teaches creative writing at Park Tudor School. They often talk about the psychological benefits of that work, how the participants seem happier when they’re getting a chance to express themselves.

Flanzbaum thought that idea could be incorporated in the MFA program. And since one of the program’s missions is to provide service, Writing for Wellness seemed like a natural fit.

“It’s a discipline that’s fairly well established in other places but had no footprints at all in Indiana or Indianapolis,” Flanzbaum says. “So I saw a real opportunity for our students.”

Around the same time, Flanzbaum was recruiting a new MFA student, Bailey Merlin, who had taught in a Writing for Wellness program as an undergraduate at Berry College in Rome, Georgia.

“When we talked on the phone,” Merlin says, “I told her what I did: I bring everyone in, I have people write, they come to conclusions on their own, and it’s pretty fascinating. She’s like, ‘That’s exactly what we want.’”

That led Merlin to choose Butler for her MFA, and she led the MFA program’s first Writing for Wellness group that went to Eskenazi. There, she says, they saw staff members “writing about things they’d never expressed before and crying.” At Riley Hospital, she worked in a behavioral unit with kids suffering from eating disorders and depression.

“To see the spark of life go back into them is just amazing,” she says.

The spark works both ways.

“You would be amazed how much doing this changes you as a person,” Merlin says. “Just to see how you directly affect someone else. You don’t get that opportunity a lot.”

The MFA students who facilitate the program all seem to have that reaction. Tristan Durst has spent her Tuesday afternoons writing with a retiree named Robert, who was part of a 1950s Indianapolis-based doo-wop group called The Counts. The first week, she says, he told the same stories several times.

“Now, he’s remembering more, and more of his personality is coming out,” she says. “And this week, he was cracking jokes left, right and center. He was telling me about his brothers playing baseball and he said, ‘I won’t say that I was the best baseball player. I could, but I won’t.’ He started slipping in jokes, and I’m getting a real sense that he enjoys being there.”

Taylor Lewandowski, the MFA student who’s leading the group at the senior center, says he and the other Butler students are needed there. He tells the story of a woman he’s worked with named Martha.

“Her roommate passed away, and she saw her last breath,” Lewandowski says. “That obviously affected her. She came in three days after that and I worked with her. Afterward, she said, ‘That was really good for me. It was good for me to get out and talk to someone.’ Writing for Wellness creates this community that’s really nice. It’s really a service. We’re there to be there for them and once you realize that, it’s really nice. We’re actually doing something good.”


Writing for Wellness

Leona, a lady beyond a certain age, likes to break out in song.

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

Read more

Every other year Butler University students, primarily those in the biological sciences, apply to take a two-week course in Panama allowing them the opportunity to work with world renowned researchers and scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).

Students in PanamaSTRI, founded in 1923, is dedicated to understanding tropical biodiversity and is home to 38 staff scientists and supports 900 visiting scientists annually. Collectively, the work of STRI scientists and the location and quality of STRI’s facilities, has resulted in STRI becoming one of the premier research institutions in the world.

“The staff scientists who work at STRI, essentially the faculty, are top-notch, world renowned researchers and we thought giving our students access to them would be pretty phenomenal,” Travis Ryan, Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences, and one of the two faculty members who lead the trips, said.

The partnership with STRI formed about 10 years ago when Frank Levison ’75, Ph. D. established the Sciences Opportunity Endowed Fund. The income from the fund provides for equipment replacement and repair, faculty and student travel, undergraduate research, and scholarships to recruit high-quality science students.

“We run the class in the summer and use funds from the endowment to defray the costs of the trip for students,” Ryan said. “If you were to take a summer course on campus, it would be about $2100 for a 4-credit hour class. Last summer when we took the students there we charged them $2300. So for an additional $200 dollars, students got air fare, accommodations, and 85% of their meals covered for two weeks in Panama.”

Prior to leaving, students meet once a week for a semester covering the basics so when they arrive in Panama they are able to focus on experiential learning.

“We don’t see a lot of value in traveling a quarter of the way around the world to sit in a classroom. So if we do hear a lecture, it’s from a guest speaker,” Ryan said.

While abroad, students spend time meeting with staff researchers, graduate students, field technicians, visiting field sites, and tagging along on research trips. Oftentimes the students’ days begin at 6:00 AM and usually go to 10:00 PM.

“It’s a pretty intense couple of weeks, but the endowment makes it possible,” Ryan said.

Since the program’s beginnings in 2008, Butler has sent around 70 students to Panama.


In addition to the course, Butler students have the opportunity to complete a 3-month long internship in Panama working with STRI scientists. There have been around 15 students who have completed internships at STRI site in Panama and Butler continues sending about two students a year. 

“Interns become part of a research lab,” Ryan said. “In addition to contributing to a bigger overarching project, they normally have a project they’re in charge of—one of the first students we sent there was dissecting the brains of ants.”

Students in Panama

Other research projects students have worked on include studying frog mating behavior both in the field and in acoustic chambers. Ryan explained over the last several years, a number of students have been sent to work in Rachel Page’s bat lab to work on various aspects of bat communication and ecology.

Carmen Salsbury, Professor of Biological Science and one of the people in charge of overseeing Butler’s STRI student internships added, “The STRI experience has proven to be quite transformative for our students. Several of our past STRI interns have leveraged their experiences to land positions in some of the top graduate programs in the country.”

It’s been made clear to both Ryan and Salsbury that the relationship with STRI is not only beneficial for Butler and its students, but for STRI as well. Ryan explained a commonality between the two programs at Butler is that students often leave a lasting impression on the researchers at STRI.

“Our interns have a great reputation among STRI researchers,” Ryan said. “The fact that we keep sending people to Rachel Page’s lab is because she’s always impressed with what she gets out of our students when they’re down there.”

Ryan concluded by saying, “The partnership with STRI is really a great program. It’s a fantastic opportunity for our students and one that you’d be hard pressed to find at other institutions.”


Student Research–Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Provides Students with Opportunities to Work with World Renowned Researchers

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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The Science of Movement

Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

How do dancers move the way they do? There’s actually a science behind every spin!

Emily Elwell ’17 is a Dance Performance major who has learned this science of movement through the Jordan College of the Arts.  

It’s called Laban Movement Analysis, or LMA, and it is a system created for observing, describing, and executing movement.  It is used not only by dancers, but also actors, musicians, athletes and health and wellness professionals.

LMA was created by Rudolf Laban, a movement analyst, choreographer, and dancer, as a way to classify and interpret human movement.

Elwell said she had minimal exposure to LMA before coming to Butler.

“My second semester of sophomore year at Butler was when I took Laban Movement Analysis and began to understand its principles and how they can be applied across the board in my dance classes,” she said. 

All dance majors in the Jordan College of the Arts are required to take a course in Laban Movement Analysis. This one-semester course gives the dancers exposure to the fundamental principles of LMA.

Elwell says that as a dancer, LMA has challenged her to explore different efforts in movement and has pushed her to find a voice within her own movement. She also says that it is a useful tool for professors to help the dancers understand the reasoning behind movement and execute the efforts properly. 

“There are instances when Professor Pratt will use LMA concepts in her Jazz class if we are struggling to use the right effort to perform a particular movement,” Elwell said.

Cynthia Pratt is a dance professor in the JCA who teaches a class on LMA. She says she uses the system as a tool for performance and choreography.

“Rather than having a vocabulary that is based on steps and gestures, LMA uses spatial pulls, dynamics and body organizations to express the various ways a human body can move,” Pratt said. 

She also uses terminology and concepts learned in LMA to help the dancers understand what she is looking for in particular choreography.

Pratt says one of the primary concepts in LMA is that human movement takes place within a “Kinesphere”—the space around your body that you move in—and by imagining the Kinesphere in different three-dimensional geometric forms, one can accurately describe or execute a movement.

LMA divides this space around the body into 27 different points where one might move, which contributes to a dancer’s heightened awareness of his or her body.

The dynamics of the movement are described by weight, space, time, and flow. This works for all kinds of movement, not just dance.  For example, if you are swinging a baseball bat, you might be using Strong Weight, Free Flow and Direct Space.

Elwell believes that understanding the science behind her movement has made her a better dancer.

“The concepts and principals I learned in the class have been exceedingly valuable to me as a dancer, and have broadened my understanding of dance.”

AcademicsArts & Culture

The Science of Movement

How do dancers move the way they do? There’s actually a science behind every spin!

by Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

Read more

The Linklater Voice

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Theatre is an art where the human being is the medium the art is created with, and the art form is about bringing a human being to life. In order to achieve a great play, actors must learn and train in the actor’s quartet: voice, body, mind, and heart.

At Butler University, theatre students train in all these areas, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the University had a well-structured and effective voice class.

“I knew we weren’t offering training that was good enough in this department, and I wanted something better,” Jordan College of the Arts Theatre Chair Diane Timmerman said. “We just had one random, inconsequential Voice for the Actor class, and now we have three that are very structured, specific, and effective.”

Timmerman spent four years obtaining a Linklater Voice certification to help create and teach Butler’s new Voice for the Actor classes. The Linklater Voice methodology uses a combination of imagery, art, and science to teach students to liberate their natural voices; the hallmark of the Linklater work being maximum effect with minimal effort.

“I like to look at the work with two main purposes,” Timmerman said. “One is called vocal hygiene—developing the breathing and speaking mechanism and restoring it to the way it was originally meant to be utilized. The other side of the work, which is of utmost importance to actors, is expressivity.”

Throughout the semester, Timmerman’s students complete a variety of physiological exercises and study the anatomy of the human body to gain a better understanding and awareness of how their bodies and their breath affect one another. Timmerman even utilizes a parachute, like the ones used in elementary and middle school gym classes, to help students better visualize how the diaphragm actually works.

“Ninety percent of people’s voice issues have to do with breathing issues. So we begin with skeletal awareness, breath awareness, and exactly how the breathing process works,” Timmerman said.

Timmerman explained the outcome of these exercises and the studying of anatomy is that students develop a picture of the skeleton which means they can better release extraneous tensions that impede the breathing and speaking process.

“Breath is the foundation for everything with your voice,” Timmerman said. “Your voice can be much more when you want it to be. Certainly an actor on stage wants the voice to be more effective. They’re playing a role and they want the feelings, the thoughts, and the essence of that character manifested in their sounds.”

Timmerman further explained that the Linklater methodology is holistic work that takes time to learn and master, but that it works, which is why Timmerman pushed to earn her certification to teach it.

“Once a student goes through even one semester of Voice for the Actor class, they have developed so much awareness of their breathing and speaking mechanisms that they do far superior work on stage,” Timmerman said.

Timmerman is one of fewer than a 140 individuals worldwide certified in Linklater Voice. This means Butler students, who learned the Linklater methodology through Timmerman’s class, are a rare group of students who hold a better understanding of how their voice works and how they can use it in various situations to excel both personally and professionally.

AcademicsArts & Culture

The Linklater Voice

Theatre is an art where the human being is the medium the art is created with, and the art form is about bringing a human being to life.

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Read more

Butler's Healthcare and Business Major

Amy Peak ’97

from Spring 2017

Here we grow again! Innovative programs continue to be developed and implemented all over campus.  The novel undergraduate Healthcare and Business (HCB) major, a unique partnership between the Lacy School of Business and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, is a perfect example. This program, which began in August 2016, consists of a nucleus of liberal arts, science, healthcare, and business experiences surrounded by a plethora of elective options. This adaptable new bachelor’s degree program will prepare students for direct entry into the workforce in areas which include, but are not limited to, healthcare marketing, health insurance and risk management, healthcare finance, healthcare information technology, healthcare data analytics, healthcare policy, and much more. HCB is also excellent preparation for graduate programs such as Master of Health Administration, Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration, and multiple clinical graduate programs.

Two fundamental themes within the HCB program are collaboration and flexibility. Throughout the four- year curriculum, HCB majors have more than a dozen courses in common with health science majors. In these courses, future healthcare providers, administrators, insurers, and business leaders all work and learn together. By purposefully combining these cohorts of students throughout their undergraduate experience, we believe tomorrow’s generation of healthcare leaders will be better equipped to solve complex problems in a modern healthcare environment.    

Flexibility is also essential. Over half of today’s college-students change their major at least once, and over 20 percent change majors three times or more. The HCB program is designed to provide students with the flexibility to explore and pursue different career options without necessitating a major change.  Over 50 elective course options are available, allowing students to customize their educational experience to optimally prepare for their individual career goals.   

As this new program grows, we are actively seeking support from our alumni, friends, and community members. If you are an individual whose career is in the business of healthcare, and you are willing to allow a HCB student to shadow you for a half day or more, please provide your contact information here.  (add link-need a tiny url here if you can or ask Nancy)  If your organization currently offers, or is interested in developing internships for which HCB students may apply, please contact Amy Peak at


Butler's Healthcare and Business Major

Here we grow again!

by Amy Peak ’97

from Spring 2017

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Butler's Researchers Tackle TB

Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

Most of us get a TB test some time in our lives, and we go on our merry way, assuming it will be negative.

We don’t know how lucky we are.

Butler University Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeremy Johnson is searching for a way to spread that luck to the parts of the world where tuberculosis still kills more people than any other infectious disease: 1.5 million annually.

Worse yet, the bacterium causing the disease (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics doctors use to treat the infection.

“The incidence of TB has remained fairly steady over time. It now annually causes more deaths worldwide than HIV, the other major fatal bacterial infection,” said Johnson, the recent recipient of a National Institutes of Health grant to study the disease.

Researchers rightly made a massive push toward arresting HIV growth in the 1980s, with tremendous success. Today, Johnson is part of a growing body of researchers determined to achieve the same success with TB.

“The bacterium that causes TB has a complex life cycle that’s very difficult to treat with current methods: four drugs and six months to treat a full-blown case,” he said. “In the U.S., we have a healthcare system that makes sure patients take their drugs all the way through their treatment schedule. In other countries, people start feeling better and stop taking their medicine, leading to drug-resistant TB infections.”

When TB is in its active form, it’s contagious and transmitted through the air. When it’s dormant – where Johnson is focusing his research – the bacterium exists inside the lungs, kept inactive by a healthy immune system.

Most treatments today don’t target inactive versions of TB. Johnson believes stopping the bacterium at the dormant stage – long before it’s a contagious infection – holds the most promise for eradicating the disease.

Here’s where Johnson gets technical.

“We’re looking at a particular class of enzymes within TB known as serine hydrolases. When researchers looked at the toxic proteins TB produces, they saw that serine hydrolases accounted for twice as many as other toxic bacteria produced – in fact, a higher relative amount of serine hydrolases are made in TB than we make as humans.

“In the change between dormant and active states, the body secretes a large number of these serine hydrolases into a person’s lungs, where they break down the host’s cellular components. TB bacterium then feed on nutrients from those components to survive.

“Our proposal is that if we can inhibit these serine hydrolases from being active during dormancy, then we could stop the entire process. In the dormant state, there is only a very small number of bacterium.”

More than 30 million people have died since the World Health Organization declared TB to be a global emergency in 1993. In 2016, the WHO declared the world is not doing enough to meet its TB goals.

Not if Johnson and his research students at Butler University can help it.

Learn more about the hands-on research happening at Butler here.


Butler's Researchers Tackle TB

We don’t know how lucky we are.

by Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

Read more