More Information

Success Grows with “World-Class” Education, Says SJU Alumna

While working full-time in the forensic biology lab at New York City’s office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Shernae Scott ’16G commuted to St. John’s Queens campus to earn her M.S. in Biological and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in only three years.

"I wanted to be at SJU because the course work offered a world-class education that I could apply on the job," said Scott. Through her work, she provides a vital public service by helping to identify deceased and missing persons.

“People may believe that an unidentified body is actually a missing relative,” noted Scott, whose official title is Criminalist II. “By using DNA testing, I can help make that determination.”

Advanced knowledge was one benefit of the St. John’s program: another was the added experience Scott gained through the required internship. Working in the histology laboratory at the medical examiner’s office, Scott studied a specific stain for microscope slides that helps to identify Lewy bodies—insoluble proteins that indicate Parkinson’s disease or dementia.

“I learned so much through that internship,” said Scott. “My job was to optimize the lab’s procedure for identifying the Lewy bodies. I was able to decrease background staining on the microscope slides so the medical examiner could quickly see the proteins associated with the disease—and make a more rapid post-mortem diagnosis.”

According to her professors at St. John’s, Scott demonstrated energy and enthusiasm in all her work. “She impressed me greatly throughout her tenure as a student with us,” said Somnath Pal, Ph.D., Professor, Pharmacy Administration and Public Health. “She possessed the determination, courage, and tenacity to learn what she did not know, and along the way, she would consistently overcome challenges.” 

Earning her master’s degree at St. John’s was personally and professionally fulfilling, Scott observed. “Higher education has always been important in my family,” she explained. “Three other members—my support system—also received degrees in May. That’s why I feel so fortunate to have been in a program that enhanced my passion for the laboratory, increased my understanding of human tissue, and strengthened my desire to serve others.”