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Cooper and Peters Honored as Student Marshals, Spring 2007

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Alicia Lorraine Cooper and Matthew E. Peters

Alicia Lorraine Cooper of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and Matthew E. Peters of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, will be honored as the Eberly College of Science student marshals during spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, 19 May 2007, at the Penn State University Park campus. Cooper has selected Kenneth L. Smith, a lecturer in the Department of Physics , to be her faculty escort for the commencement exercises. Peters will be escorted by Mildred Rodriguez, director of the Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Certificate Program at Penn State.

Alicia Lorraine Cooper, a graduate of Cumberland Valley High School, will be completing a bachelor of science degree in biology with a vertebrate physiology option. She has earned a 4.0 grade-point average and has been on the Dean's list at Penn State every semester. Her academic achievements have been recognized with the President’s Freshman Award in 2004 and the President Sparks Award in 2005. She also received Evan Pugh Scholar Awards in 2006 and 2007. In 2004, she was named a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Cooper has conducted research in the laboratory of David Rosenbaum, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, since January 2006. She has worked in the Laboratory for Cognition and Action, with three other undergraduate students, on a project titled "Mental Layouts" studying how people plan and control the placement of objects in their environment in preparation for the completion of future tasks. She says, "My lab experience taught me how to better design experiments, to effectively interpret data, and to present my findings." She found discussions with faculty and fellow student researchers to be a valuable part of her experience. "I was able to learn more about other research projects during our lab meetings, which enhanced my understanding of, and appreciation for, cognitive psychology."

In addition to her academic activities, Cooper was a tutor for undergraduate students in introductory biology courses for five semesters. She enjoys singing, playing the guitar, and attending a variety of musical performances. During the summers, she has worked as a food preparer and server at the Carlisle Country Club. She also volunteers at the Project S.H.A.R.E. Food Bank in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, whenever she is at home during breaks.

While attending Penn State, Cooper had the opportunity to work with Michael Cymbor, doctor of optometry at Nittany Eye Associates in State College. Her experience at his practice, as well as her longtime interest in healthcare and her desire to work with people, inspired her to pursue a career in optometry. She will be attending the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in the fall.

Cooper says, "I was truly honored to have been selected as student marshal. The Eberly College of Science is comprised of many talented students and reputable faculty members, and I am proud to have been chosen to represent such an elite group of people." She continues, "The most important lesson I will take with me from my time at Penn State is learning to recognize and appreciate the value of an excellent education and to never take it for granted."

Cooper will be accompanied at commencement by her father, J. Jay Cooper, who earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Penn State in 1976, and her mother, Eva R. Cooper, who earned a bachelor's degree in medical technology at Penn State in 1976. Cooper's sister, Ashley D. Cooper, a student in the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, and her brother, Jesse T. Cooper, an undergraduate student majoring in architectural engineering, also will be in attendance at commencement.

Matthew E. Peters, a graduate of Shikellamy High School, will be completing bachelor of science degrees in premedicine and in psychology with a neuroscience option. He has earned a 4.0 grade-point average and has been on the Dean's list at Penn State every semester. His academic achievements have been recognized with the President's Freshman Award in 2004, the President Sparks Award in 2005, and Evan Pugh Scholar Awards in 2006 and 2007. He was named a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars in 2004, the Alpha Epsilon Delta National Premedical Honor Society and the Golden Key International Honor Society in 2005, and the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society in 2006.

Peters conducted research during his undergraduate years with staff scientist Mansoor M. Ahmed at the Weis Center for Research at the Geisinger Clinic in Danville, Pennsylvania. Peters studied cell signaling related to radiation treatment of solid tumors. He focused particularly on the role of the bystander effect — in which radiation therapy to one cell has direct impact on an adjacent cell — and the abscopal effect — in which radiation treatment to a local area of the body results in an antitumor effect for tumors distant from the radiation site. He was given his own research project analyzing the percentage of cell death resulting from the abscopal and bystander effects. He also had the opportunity to write a review article, titled "Potential Utilization of Bystander/Abscopal-Mediated Signal Transduction Events in the Treatment of Solid Tumors," which will be published in the journal Current Signal Transduction Therapy later this year.

In addition to his academic activities, Peters served as director of fundraising for the Global Medical Relief Fund (GlobeMed), was a member of the Rules and Regulations committee for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), served as a peer mentor in premedicine, was a tutor in the Department of Chemistry, and has been a member of the Psi Chi fraternity. He also has been a volunteer with the Geisinger Medical Center and the Sunbury Action Health free clinic.

Peters will begin his medical studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine this Fall. He is interesting in pursuing a career in oncology, and plans to pursue a Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"When I initially came to Penn State, I had no idea the university would give back to me more than I would give to it," says Peters. "While interviewing for medical school, I realized how much people everywhere seem to know about Penn State, as well as the respect given to students who graduate here. I was astounded at the number of interviewers I met who had had memorable experiences at Penn State—whether through football games or something else. While sitting in a room with other medical-school applicants, the conversation often turned to Penn State football, "Joepa," the creamery, or a number of other things that make Penn State what it is. Not many universities have that power."

Peters will be accompanied at commencement by his parents, Montie and Helen Peters; his brothers, Mitchell and Michael Peters; his sister, Darice Peters; and his grandmothers, Jean Peters and Helen Hollenbach.

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