Student Ambassadors

Lauren Lewicki


Lauren Lewicki is a final-year Doctor of Pharmacy graduate student. After completing her PharmD degree, Lauren will pursue pharmacy postgraduate year one (PGY-1) training at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, with the hopes of specializing in cardiology.   

Lauren’s interest in research began as an undergraduate student at the University of Saint Joseph (USJ), where she graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and minor in Mathematics in May 2021. During this time, Lauren worked closely with chemistry professor Dr. Sarah Zingales, studying the design and synthesis of novel aminoflavonol compounds as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment. While this research taught Lauren many new concepts from organic and analytical chemistry, she was sure of one thing: this research experience was perfect for her because she could learn about medicinal chemistry, which complemented her interest in the pharmaceutical sciences. In the Spring of 2021, Lauren and Dr. Zinagles gave an oral presentation on their research at Symposium Day and received the Symposium Day Award.

As a graduate student, Lauren continued to pursue her passion for research and gained the support of numerous School of Pharmacy faculty members, including Dr. Andrew Jenkins. Working under Dr. Jenkins, Lauren studied how commonly used medications, specifically those with antimicrobial properties, unexpectedly alter GABAA receptor activation, resulting in changes to central nervous system excitation and inhibition. With Dr. Jenkin’s mentorship, Lauren presented her research findings at the 2023 Symposium Day and became a published research author. Furthermore, while on clinical rotations, Lauren found it manageable to continue participating in research initiatives, but this time, with a more clinical focus. With the help of Drs. Tiffany Tsai and Stephanie Zahn, Lauren evaluated cholesterol-lowering medication therapies in patients with diabetes at one of her clinical rotation sites. Lauren presented her research findings to pharmacists at a Connecticut Society of Health System Pharmacists annual meeting.  

Lauren is thankful for the supportive faculty and ample research opportunities she was able to participate in as a student at USJ. She believes the skills she gained from being involved in research, including time management, oral presentation, statistical analysis, and reading primary literature, will help her excel in her PGY-1 training at Yale New Haven Hospital in the year ahead!  

If you have any questions about getting started in research at the University of Saint Joseph, please do not hesitate to contact Lauren at [email protected]. 

Julia Martocchio

Julia Martocchio is a junior in the Honors Program pursuing a double major in Psychology and Special Education with a minor in Disability Studies. She is working to earn USJ’s certificate in Expressive Therapy and is seeking Connecticut teacher licensure for special education.  

Julia’s interest in research began in major-specific coursework for Psychology while taking PSYC 261/262: Statistics and Research Methods for Behavioral Sciences. During this course, Julia conducted a study to determine if classroom placement affected levels of social wellness for CT students. It was determined that although the level of need and support varied significantly between classroom settings, students’ social satisfaction did not. Julia presented these findings at the University of St. Joseph’s Symposium Day and was recognized with the 2023 Symposium Day Award. 

Mentored by Dr. Kristin Cistulli, Julia continued this interdisciplinary research (in courses PSYC 495: Advanced Independent Study and INTD 375: Honors Independent Study) to explore current levels of social wellness for students with disabilities in CT and attempt to determine factors and trends for social wellness. This research had consistent findings; although most students were reported to be doing well socially, students receiving special education services were more likely to struggle with self-confidence, extracurricular participation, and overall social wellness. Julia presented her findings at the 2024 annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association under Psi Chi, the international Psychology Honors Society. Julia was supported by a grant from the University to attend and present at this conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She plans to share this research at Symposium Day 2024. In the future, Julia hopes to continue working with her mentor, Dr. Cistulli, to explore disability-specific trends in reported levels of social wellness for students. 

In addition to research, Julia is the President of the Psi Chi chapter at USJ, a member of Kappa Delta Pi (an international Honors Society for Education), and part of USJ’s Aspiring Educators Club! She hopes to continue combining her interest in psychology with her passion for equitable education through research and practice during her last year at USJ.  

If you have any questions about beginning or presenting undergraduate research at the University of Saint Joseph, feel free to contact Julia at [email protected]!

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