Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

On the cutting edge of tissue engineering

Tracie Payne Ferreira ’90As a professor in the bioengineering department at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, Tracie Payne Ferreira ’90 has her dream job. Not only does her work help to advance healing medical technology, but she also engages students with her passion for hands-on teaching.

Ferreira’s lab researches tissue engineering. “Basically, we want to be able to take cells and grow new organs to help people, since transplants are hard to come by,” she says. “Skin is also a tissue we can grow using cell therapies that can help people heal faster and recover from chronic wounds that won’t heal. We already can synthesize cartilage, so once we get it figured out in the lab we can get it into trials for patient use.”

She adds, “A big challenge in tissue engineering is this: while you are creating a specific tissue, what do you grow stem cells on? You need something called a scaffold to hold them in place, but at the same time as the cells grow into tissue, the scaffold should dissolve so you don’t have a strange material left in the middle of the new tissue.” [Read more...]

Taking a multicultural approach to therapy

sophomore symposium smile, Marguerite Pierre '11“There are so many things that we as humans overlook, such as having communication skills and the ability to express different emotions,” says Marguerite Pierre ’11. “I have realized that many people need additional support for the attainment of these ‘simple’ skills.”

Pierre, who works as an in-home therapist for the Multicultural Wellness Center in Worcester, Mass., works with families to help them develop the skills they need to be happy and healthy.

At the Multicultural Wellness Center, where she has worked since May 2012, therapists place an important emphasis on a family’s cultural background.

“It is critically important to be understanding of the cultures of the people I am serving,” she says. “There are many therapeutic approaches that aren’t appropriate for clients of certain cultural backgrounds. For example, I have families in which verbalizing emotions isn’t a part of their culture. As a counselor, I have to accommodate and respect the values of my clients.” [Read more...]

A minute with…Lindsay Petrenchik ’13

Lindsay Petrenchik ’13Lindsay Petrenchik, a biochemistry major, has been working with Professor of Biology Barbara Brennessel conducting research on spotted turtles on Cape Cod. The project recently won a grant from the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative. Turtle talk: “Spotted turtles are in rapid decline because their habitats are being fragmented and altered by humans. The objective of our study is to compare the genetic differences between spotted turtle populations on Nantucket Island and on the mainland, which allows us to determine how related the island populations are to the mainland populations. Because island populations are isolated, there is a high degree of inbreeding that can make animals less adaptable or more susceptible to disease. Once we have analyzed the data, we will submit a report to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation. Foundation officials have explained that a comparison between the island and mainland populations could possibly help to determine appropriate conservation and management methods of spotted turtles that have become isolated due to habitat fragmentation.” [Read more...]

Anne Crosman’s writing attracts attention

“As a child, I kept diaries, because my mother had kept a diary for me, starting the day I was born,” recalls Anne Crosman ’66. “I still have it! I continued her tradition and I wrote every day. I still do.” With a deeply rooted penchant for writing and a childhood love of radio shows, Crosman has forged her path as an author and news reporter in radio, television and print.

Recently, she gained attention for her self-published books. In January, Sedona.biz (Arizona) featured an article about her book The New Immigrants: American Success Stories (Book Publishers Network, 2012) and a panel that she hosted featuring the book subjects as guest speakers. The book delves into the stories of immigrants who live in her current home state, Arizona.

“These people prove the adage that America is a land of opportunity,” Crosman says. “I wanted to show that the majority of Arizona immigrants are legal, patriotic, hard-working residents, who have worked to improve their English and communication skills and have given back to their communities. All of them deeply appreciate the freedom to speak and live as they wish.”

Crosman’s other book, Young at Heart: Aging Gracefully with Attitude, a collection of personal portraits originally published in 2003 and reprinted in 2004 and 2005, won a national Benjamin Franklin Award. She also was interviewed on KNAU, Arizona Public Radio in Flagstaff, where she previously has hosted NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

While at Wheaton, Crosman, who continued to write in the journal that her mother started, honed her skills here as an English literature major and writer for the college newspaper. After graduating, she earned her master’s degree in journalism at the American University in Washington, D.C. At age 28, she was the first woman whom CBS radio had ever hired to do full-time hourly newscasts.

“The microphone is a magic tool,” she says. “Every night at CBS Radio, I talked to an estimated 18 million people. That was in 1973. Imagine today’s numbers.”

She moved on to cover political news for NBC Radio Network in Washington, D.C., and freelanced abroad in Switzerland, Rome, Warsaw and Cairo, before hosting at Arizona Public Radio from 2009 through 2011.

Throughout her career she has combined her love for journalism with curiosity for culture and the desire to tell the personal stories of others.

Now, when she’s not writing, the author is busy with various interests. She encourages others to mine their own experience by teaching memoir writing at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Sedona, Ariz. She leads yoga classes and silent meditative hikes. She continues to play piano and violin and has even learned how to play Scottish bagpipes.

In February, Crosman won a bronze medal at the Arizona Senior Olympics for racewalking. “I’m back in training for racewalking on the streets of Sedona,” she says. “Honk if you pass me. I’m the one walking fast, like a duck!”

Still on her agenda: “To climb Mount Snowden in northern Wales. My middle name is Snowden.”