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Aviva Goel ’08 and Michael Favara ’08 have worked extensively with Professor Emeritus Shyamal K. Majumdar

By Carrie Pasternak ’08

Biology majors Aviva Goel ’08 (Maharashtra, India) and Michael Favara ’08 (Aberdeen, N.J.) have spent a large portion of their college careers studying the effectiveness of cancer drugs with Shyamal K. Majumdar, Kreider Professor Emeritus of Biology.

The research has led to numerous opportunities. Both students presented their separate findings at the 84th annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science in April. Goel also presented previous related research at the 82nd annual meeting and recently published a paper co-authored with Majumdar in the journal Advances in Pharmacology and Toxicology.

The current research specifically looks at the efficacy of the leading anti-breast cancer drug, Tamoxifen, against a new anti-breast cancer drug that was recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration, Raloxifene.

Both students have taken advantage of Lafayette’s focus on undergraduate research and close student-faculty interaction. They have worked on honors, EXCEL, and independent research in Majumdar’s lab for most of their time at Lafayette – Goel for five semesters and Favara for three.

Goel began working with Majumdar as an office assistant during her freshman year where she was constantly exposed to the hands-on research conducted by his students.

“Working with Professor Majumdar as a freshman led to my fascination with models of cancer and its cure,” she says. “The amount of knowledge that we have gained over the past two years has been an invaluable addition to our college experience.”

After graduation, Goel hopes to work in a research lab setting for a year and then plans to attend graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in either genetics or cancer biology. She served as a Roger Newton Summer Research Scholar, was a member of Student Movement Against Cancer (SMAC), Lafayette Environmental Awareness & Protection (LEAP), and was co-founder of the TreeHouse, an environmental awareness living group.

Favara plans to attend medical school after graduation and pursue a career as a neonatologist.

“Conducting independent research with a professor helps us to apply theoretical techniques learned inside the classroom in a laboratory setting. We are able to think outside the box and develop critical and analytical processes,” he adds.

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