Early Grads Shine with Senior Honors Capstone Presentations

Kyle Rogus and Stephanie Sorbara

News Story: January 7, 2015

At the end of the fall semester, Sacred Heart University seniors Stephanie Sorbara and Kyle Rogus took turns presenting their Senior Honors Capstone Presentations, which are a requirement of SHU’s Thomas More Honors Program. The two are set to graduate early; another 40 of their honors-level peers will make the same presentations in their respective disciplines in the spring.

Professor Suzanne Deschenes oversees the presentations as director of the Thomas More Honors Program. Deschenes teaches various classes as a professor in the biology program at SHU, with a specialization in genetics, cell biology and molecular biology. “Most seniors at Sacred Heart don’t normally give public presentations of their capstone work, but these are seniors doing honors-level capstone work,” Deschenes says. “We want to showcase our honors students as well as promote the intellectual climate on campus. They serve as role models for their peers.”

Sorbara, a biology major, presented on the topic “Gut Bacteria and Their Influence on Metabolic Disorders.” Her research noted that the microbial environment of a person’s gut changes in response to diet and antibiotic treatments and that altered gut flora is strongly correlated with fat accumulation and weight gain.

Sorbara developed her presentation over the course of the fall 2014 semester, with guidance from her faculty advisor, Professor Kirk Bartholomew, an associate professor specializing in microbiology. About the process, Sorbara says, “I went through a lot of databases of journal research past and present, noticing how gut bacteria affects metabolism and health in general. The research looked at the gut content in mice, experiments with dietary changes and the various genes and microbes that affect enzymatic pathways. It gets very complex.”

She plans to apply to medical school, with an aim to work in pediatrics and do research work in that field.

Rogus’ major is exercise science and his topic was “Electromyographic Comparison of the Traditional Inverted Row Versus a Suspended Inverted Row Exercise.” He studied upper body strength gain results between varying suspension training systems. He currently has an internship at Quinnipiac University in the school’s Strength & Conditioning Department, working with Division I athletes. He is in the process of applying to schools that focus on physical therapy, with the goal of pursuing further education next summer. “Long range, I would like to be a physical therapist working with athletes – professional or collegiate. I’m into the athletics side of the discipline,” he says.