Dr. Patty Compagnone-Post: Science Research in Liverpool

Scientific research is a quest of discovery, culminating in the dissemination of new knowledge following what can be an intensive peer-review process.  Understandably, the focus of experimental research is to acquire a sufficient body of information that provides a “story” worthy of publication; in major research institutions the catch-all phrase is “publish or perish”.

What drew me to research in the biological sciences, however, was not only the giddy excitement I felt when an experiment yielded [positive] results but the opportunity I had to meet and interact with such interesting and stimulating people.  In 2011, I had the thrilling experience of spending my sabbatical at the University of Liverpool in England, conducting research on repair of chemically damaged Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

I returned to Liverpool in June to continue my research, and as I prepared for my trip, I found myself reflecting on how important comrade and cooperativeness are in my overseas research experience.  In fact, these two factors have played a crucial role in the exuberance I generally feel for science, as both a researcher and educator.

My first day in Liverpool, England, seriously jet-lagged and in the company of only my two high school age daughters and about ten rather large pieces of luggage, was undoubtedly mind-boggling.  Although I had never formally met the two faculty members hosting me for my sabbatical, Lesley Iwanejko and Andy Bates, Lesley greeted me and my daughter at the hotel with her small flat-bed truck to help transport our belongings to our new home.  She was instrumental in acclimating us to our residence (who would have known that a boiler could be tucked behind a kitchen cabinet!), the public transportation system, shopping options, and more than I have time and space to detail.

The success of my sabbatical research was only possible because of the assistance and advice of a diverse group of individuals from more than five different university departments – a Radiation Safety officer who found me a twenty-year-old power supply to run my gels; a diligent graduate student who taught me how to operate a $3 million dollar piece of equipment; lab mangers who made sure I had any needed chemicals and supplies, to name but a few.  It certainly “takes a village” for some things to happen and, to coin a term from Andy Bates, the “intangibles” of some experiences can far out-weigh the concrete results.

Patty Compagnone Post2Dr. Patricia Compagnone-Post, an Associate Professor of Biology, joined the Albertus Magnus College faculty in 2003.   She was appointed an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool in 2011.  The Connecticut Technology Council selected Dr. Compagnone-Post a Woman of Innovation Finalist in 2009 for her contributions to the field of academic innovation and leadership.  Prior to joining the Albertus faculty she had been a research scientist at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Compagnone-Post received a B.S. degree, magna cum laude, in chemistry from Emmanuel College, a M.S. degree in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.

AUGUST 2013 – Dr. Compagnone-Post will follow-up with part-two of her blog sharing more about her experiences and research in Liverpool, England.

COOK and CARE Walk-A-Thon

This week we welcome back guest blogger Kate Walton, MA, Executive Director of the Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven, who is this year’s chair for the Cook and Care Walk-a-Thon.  Albertus Magnus College is proud to host this year’s walk-a-thon on October 20, 2013.  You can learn more or register for the walkathon at Cook and Care Walk-A-Thon.  You can reach Kate directly at kwalton@carenewhaven.org

In 1995 two charitable “boots on the ground” service providers in New Haven discovered that they were both planning to do a walk-a-thon event to raise money and awareness around the same time.

Since 1988 Community Soup Kitchen (CSK) had been New Haven’s primary day time food relief organization by serving lunch daily at Christ Church at 84 Broadway in the Yale bookstore area.  CSK was concerned about the growing number of poor seeking a meal.  Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven (IVCG), operating since 1984, was experiencing increasing requests for assistance from frail elderly and needed to explore new ways to recruit and deploy volunteers.

Not wanting to compete with each other for donors and walkers, leadership of the two agencies got together and brought in an ally – Interfaith Cooperative Ministries (ICM) – who agreed to serve as the fiduciary for a collaborative walk-a-thon.

Two related organizations were then outreached – FISH of Greater New Haven, which is the only food pantry in the area that delivers free groceries and Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK), New Haven’s major evening meal provider and emergency food pantry – and they were invited to join in.

The power of the four organizations with their passionate and dedicated boards, volunteers and small but energetic and visionary staffs chose Edgerton Park for the Walk-A-Thon start and end venue as a beautiful spot to enjoy autumn colors and the vaunted East Rock neighborhood.  They named the event Cook and Care Walk-A-Thon and over the past 17 years it has become a cherished tradition each fall for many area faith organizations, families and individuals to support and enjoy.

Many competing “Walks” have become popular these days and the Cook and Care Walk-A-Thon Planning Committee wanted to find a new way to interest our supporters and the greater public in the event.  The four agencies greatly depend on the money that is raised and divided equally.  Poverty, hunger and a growing elder demographic will continue for the foreseeable future as things stand.

We wondered if there was a larger institution that would be harmonious with the Cook and Care purpose and be able to lend a shoulder to the wheel.  Standing at the stone wall gates of Edgerton Park the obvious question arose – how about Albertus Magnus College?  Just a few blocks away with its large and accessible Albertus Magnus Celentano Athletic Field, it seemed like a place that could be fun for families and add a new twist to the walk.   We also hoped that it would fit with Albertus Magnus College’s community involvement goals and maybe even be fun for students, faculty and alumni that might not have been aware of it before.

Fortuitously, the date October 20, 2013 happens to fall one day after the Albertus Magnus College Fall Festival and leadership at the College when approached with the idea of allowing the Cook and Care Walk-A-Thon to use the venue was receptive.  We are thrilled to have the Cook and Care Walk-A-Thon 2013 hosted at Albertus Magnus College and very thankful that the College has so kindly agreed to make their facilities available.

The three mile walk will begin at the Athletic Field on Prospect Street and proceed through Edgerton Park in keeping with the 17 year tradition of Cook and Care – and wind up back at Albertus Magnus.  News 8 WTNH TV host Keith Kounz is honorary chair of the event and will kick of the walk, entertainment will be provided by the lauded St. Luke’s Steel Drum Band, and music by acclaimed D.J. Chris Pino.   Lots of good food and fun for the whole family – so save the date!!

Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven

This week we welcome guest blogger Kate Walton, MA, Executive Director of the Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven.  You can reach Kate directly at kwalton@carenewhaven.org

 Albertus is proud to support the work of IVCG.  You can help by participating in the Cook and Care Walk-a-Thon, hosted by Albertus Magnus College on October 20, 2013.  Learn more at Cook and Care Walk-a-Thon or visit their Facebook page here

Back in 1984 an extraordinary handful of local New Haven folks from a bunch of different churches, temples, synagogues and mosques got together and responded to an extraordinary opportunity.  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had put forth national funding to encourage interfaith dialogue between congregations for the purpose of creating volunteer services for the elderly.  Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven was selected for funding in the first national round, and now some 30 years later, this small organization continues its vital mission.

Who knew just how many little old ladies and gentlemen were out there living well into their 90’s and even some 100’s in their own home sweet homes?  “Aging at Home” is now a “model” these days but when I became director of IVCG just over a year ago I knew that IVCG had pioneered the model a long time ago.  Back in the early 1990’s,  I found myself in the sandwich generation when Parkinson’s Disease  ravaged my amazing mother and I heard there was a program of friendly visiting and neighborly assistance.  One phone call resulted in a wonderful lady materializing that proved to become a dear friend to my mother and a loyal companion for the remaining years of her life.  Much later on, when offered the position to lead Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers after many years as a human service non-profit administrator; I knew that this was an opportunity to both give back for the help given to my own family, and to work for a very worthy endeavor.  Only now do I fully comprehend how prescient and essential was the thinking of IVCG’s founders.

According to the 2014 Action Plan of the CT Commission on Aging, during the next 15 years the 65+ population in Connecticut will increase by an astounding 64%.   The population 21 to 65 years of age will decline by 2%.   Clearly, Connecticut needs to be expanding creative and responsive programming that provides strategic support that enables elders to continue living independently in their own homes for way longer than they would be able to – without strategic assistance.   Friendships, reassurance and the sharing of intellectual, artistic and cultural interests make life profoundly more meaningful for the homebound elder – and the volunteers who give of themselves.  Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven provides about 500 hours of free service each month transporting to medical appointments, taking elders food shopping and visiting them in their homes.

Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven is supported by the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut and our partnering congregations, donors, and hardworking dedicated volunteers.   We also partner with other local non-profit service organizations to provide Thanksgiving meals to over 800 local homebound seniors on Thanksgiving Day, and to raise funds through the Cook and Care Walkathon  – hosted this year for the first time at Albertus Magnus College.

NEXT WEEK – Learn more about the Cook and Care Collaboration.