Connections Past Issues

CDC Internship for Science Student

by Alan Gelb


As an environmental science major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Anne Pysnik ’15 has been heavily involved with research on campus. Under the direction of Assistant Professor Stephanie Zamule, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Beverly Brown, Ph.D., both in the biology department, Pysnik has been exploring the subject of phytoremediation.

“It’s using plants to rid the environment of toxins in environmentally friendly ways,” Pysnik explains, “like how bean plants can remove BPA.”

With the preparation she has put into place at Nazareth, Pysnik was able to secure a prestigious internship last summer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, one of only 13 recipients nationwide from hundreds of applicants. There she spent ten weeks between the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry. Her work included a literature review regarding titanium dioxide, a potentially harmful substance commonly found in toothpaste, sunscreen, and other everyday items. The last two weeks of her internship sent her to the main CDC campus dealing with infectious disease where, as she put it, she was “a task-tracker for Ebola.”

“The internship as a whole tried to expose students to environmental health,” Pysnik says. “They tried to interest students like me, who were in subjects not tied to public health.” Currently, Pysnik’s career objectives are centered either on graduate work in ecological engineering or teaching science.

“Annie had the opportunity to help solve real-world issues related to human health,” says Zamule. “I think her unique training in environmental science and toxicology, her ongoing research experience at Nazareth, and her strong analytical and communication skills set her apart from the other candidates and helped prepare her for success in this exciting opportunity.”

Much of Pysnik’s work on campus occurs in Peckham Hall’s state-of-the-art facilities, and she has nothing but praise for the new campus addition. “It’s a great building,” she says. “It really enhances what our science departments can do. For instance, there’s a bigger greenhouse now, which is great for my research. And the fact that everyone congregates in the second floor work area means that there is a lot of collaboration and interdisciplinary work going on.”


Alan Gelb is a freelance writer in Albany, New York.

Anne Pysnik

Anne Pysnik '15 leveraged her training into a prestigious internship at the CDC.