Success Stories

Alex Francette

Alex FrancetteAlex Francette is a 2018 Clarion University graduate with majors in molecular biology/biotechnology and biochemistry.

His passion for the field of biology was inflamed during high school as a result of enrollment into a dual-education undergraduate biology course. Francette ultimately chose to attend Clarion University to pursue this passion after attending the university's Summer Academy.

"I talked with a professor in the Science and Technology Center and as he described to me the research the faculty conducted at Clarion... I knew I wanted to know more," Francette said.

After this encounter, Francette applied to Clarion University and was awarded a full four-year scholarship for his academic merit. While attending Clarion, Francette was a member of the Honors Program, served as treasurer and president of the Translational Research/Medicine Club, and wrote for the Molecular Biology Journal Club.

In addition, Francette worked and has continued to work alongside his research advisor, Dr. Doug Smith, in a research project focused on examining blood stem cells.

Prior to his senior year at Clarion, Francette procured a prestigious 10-week internship with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, New York. The program equipped Alex with experience using techniques attributed to genetic engineering, single molecule technologies, epigenetics, computational biology, and many other biologically-related fields.

Since graduation, Francette has been enrolled in a molecular cell and developmental biology Ph.D. program at the University of Pittsburgh, where he plans to finish his graduate degree in an accelerated six years.

He credits his successes to the relentless support and advice of Clarion University's staff and to the overwhelming opportunities he has received throughout his undergraduate education.

To current and future students, he advises "to learn your own strengths and weaknesses and work with or around them. Above all, reach out for help early and often."

Hannah McELrath

Hannah McElrathI'm a junior at Clarion University studying environmental biology. I'm also president of the Clarion Chapter Wildlife Society, where I've been a member since 2016, and a member of Clarion's Green Team which is dedicated to boosting campus recycling.

In addition, I'm part of CRU- a campus-based Christian organization- as a co-leader for the women's ministry. I'm a sorority member for Phi Eta Sigma, a student of the Honor Society, and work for the National Society of Leadership and Success.

I've become involved in several research projects, alongside fellow students and faculty, devoted to analyzing and investigating problems and intricacies of wildlife in Clarion's forests and surrounding areas.

By studying abroad in New Zealand in the early fall before my sophomore year, I earned six academic credits through courses in International Business and Earth Science. I found the entire experience to be enriching and humbling. I felt challenged to go a bit outside of my environmental biology courses, but it gave me an advantage over my peers.

I enjoyed getting the opportunity to learn from New Zealand's agriculture, topography, and the area's indigenous Maori population. I was able to observe the environmentally conscious country's practices in sustainability of agriculture and wildlife.

I hope to take the knowledge from my time in New Zealand to strive to make the U.S. as environmentally aware as New Zealand, whether that be on campus or through my career one day. I will also encourage everyone to travel somewhere, experience new things, and reach beyond their comfort zone because that is how you will find yourself and learn the most.

While my future plans remain fluid at this point, I know that I will never cease to inform others of environmental issues and ways to remain conscious of their interactions with the natural world. I will continue to share my faith with others, showing nature as God's glory.

Kinsey Laninga

Kinsey LaningaI am a spring 2018 graduate of Clarion University with a biology pre-med major. I was involved as a biology student volunteer for Clarion University, a position that has allowed me to communicate and mentor high school students in areas related to college adjustment, the biology field, and Clarion University in general.

I'm continuing my studies at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, where I intend to graduate in the class of 2022. My decision to attend medical school was fueled not only by my love of science and helping people, but my participation in a LECOM Affiliation Program, which also solidified my placement.

I took part in the LECOM Affiliation Program over Summer 2015, during which time I was about to enter my sophomore year at the university. This program allowed me to take the necessary exams, pre-medical courses, and be selected for LECOM entrance upon completion of the requirements beforehand.

I credit my academic advisor, Dr. Scott, with helping me to apply and be admitted into LECOM's Affiliation Program. Dr. Scott also increased my appreciation for osteopathic medicine as we were involved in faculty-student research together; my research group was awarded first place in cellular/molecular biology achievements two years in a row.

Dr. Scott also introduced me into multiple meetings of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists Association- a network of students, biology educators, and professionals throughout biology-related fields. The networking and major-related exploration I underwent while at the university proved invaluable resources, as they led me to pursue my medical profession at LECOM and work toward my doctoral degree.


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As a high school senior with my eyes set on a career in pharmacy, Clarion University seemed like the perfect fit.  A university with a strong background in biology and pre-professional programs, coupled with an affiliation agreement with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), I knew Clarion would provide me with a multitude of opportunities. 

Clarion’s tremendous faculty, namely Dr. Doug Smith and advisor Larry Bering, assisted in navigating the challenging path to my ultimate goal, admission to the LECOM School of Pharmacy. Not only did they impart knowledge needed to prepare me for a doctoral level program, but also an inspiration for achievement that I have carried with me long past my time at Clarion.  Following completion of the initial two-year phase of the Clarion-LECOM affiliation agreement, I transitioned to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy in the autumn of 2012, ultimately earning my Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D.) in May 2015. 

Upon graduation I accepted a position as a staff pharmacist at Affinity Medical Center in Massillon, Ohio, and have recently been promoted to the role of clinical pharmacist.  As a clinical pharmacist, I collaborate with physicians during patient rounds, monitor drug levels for their therapeutic effects and assist providers in optimizing a patient’s medication therapy.  I am also the leader of our antimicrobial stewardship team, which works to ensure the proper use of antibiotics at our facility and prevent antimicrobial resistance.  The education I received at Clarion, specifically through the chemistry and biology programs, no doubt empowered me to succeed in an accelerated doctoral program. 

The foundational knowledge acquired at Clarion, and most notably, the inspiration for continued education and achievement from Dr. Doug Smith, have shaped the medical professional I am today.  I truly believe Clarion to be at the forefront in preparing students for successful careers in healthcare.

Tony Kumetis

I am an environmental biology major at Clarion. I have always been interested in the environment, and was alwaysTony Kumetis playing in the woods and splashing in the creeks as a child. I guess that I chose to be an environmental biology major because I wanted to protect what I grew up in. Part of my reasoning for coming to Clarion was the possibility to work on undergraduate research. My focus of my research is aquatic entomology, or the study of aquatic insects.

Currently, I am preparing for an internship with the National Audubon Institute's Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans, where I will be one of five interns who will be making presentations and helping visitors. One of the main reasons that I got this internship was that I had experience in research, and I honestly don't think I would have had a chance for this internship if I had gone anywhere else for my education.

For anybody thinking about coming to Clarion, I highly advise getting involved in research, and doing so early. Sometimes, the first lab you join just doesn't work, and it may take a few tries to find the right lab for you. Not only does it help you find people interested in the same things as you are, but it is a lot of fun at the same time.


Logan Chernicky

Logan ChernickyI originally started my schooling at IUP to obtain a bachelor's degree in geoscience. I then transferred to Clarion my junior year. I will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Science degree in geoscience, a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental geoscience, minor in geography, and an Oil/Gas Paralegal Certificate. I originally planned on getting into the oil and gas field. While recovering now, halfway through my schooling, the industry went into a slump so I began looking for alternative fields of work. I didn't switch my major, only added a degree, minor, and certificate.

I use my education from Clarion consistently. I've taken knowledge learned from an array of classes and applied it in different ways. I wouldn't say it's about a single degree. It's about applying all of your studies to real world situations and connecting the dots to reach your goal.

I wasn't a business major so I started reading and doing research on my own, hoping something would materialize out of it. I decided to buy my first drone just to take pictures as a side hustle because I didn't notice anyone else doing it, that's when I realized just how advanced these machines were getting. I used to work in the Marcellus Shale gas field and in the construction industry. I saw a lot of potential for industrial applications. I was able to make sense of the data I was generating from what I learned in Dr. Yasser's Geographic Information Systems classes and later in Dr. Kazars Remote Sensing class. A lot of my other classes helped me understand how things worked in regards to science and business, as well.

My business, Enhanced Visual, focuses on integrating and developing unmanned aerial systems. Our mission is to educate, guide and collaborate with companies across industries to cut costs and increase efficiency by leveraging drone technology. We provide our own pilots and specialized services but also offer consulting and training services by navigating hardware, software, and FAA regulations.

After forming the business in the spring of 2017, I honestly didn't want to complete my final year of school. I wanted to continue to develop my business full-time but I'm glad I decided to finish this year. It's hard to attribute my success to one attribute. Tracy Reinsel at the SBDC, campus faculty, and school resources have all helped immensely. Not to mention, I wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to compete in the business competition if I had not finished school.

I have been proactively preparing and developing my services the past two semesters but I am looking forward to working on Enhanced Visual full-time after graduation.

Kurt Regester, Ph.D.

Kurt Regester in classKurt Regester, Ph.D., is a Clarion University professor of biology, a position he has held for 11 years.

Regester teaches within the fields of biology, wildlife ecology, and ornithology (bird studies), in addition to teaching a summer course through the University of Pittsburgh in herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles).

Regester grew up in Knox, attending Keystone High School before coming to Clarion University to obtain his undergraduate degree in biology in 1990. Regester always knew that biology was the right field for him and actively participated in the Tri Beta Biology Honor Society.

In the time between his undergraduate and graduate career, Regester worked in various locations as a wildlife educator and trainer for zoos, museums, and even as a bird trainer for SeaWorld in Aurora, Ohio. This early experience with bird training has inspired Regester to become a falconer, a hobby which he hopes to begin before his upcoming birthday. He is hoping to gain the proper permits and safety training to begin this passion.

At the moment, his passion for research has his attention and time, but he admits that "field work is the fun part of my job," and something in which he loves to involve students. He believes students should get involved in the community and form relationships with peers and professors while in college. He encourages students to go above and beyond to be part of research projects and other engagements on campus.

Regester has worked alongside sophomores, juniors, and seniors to conduct local projects, such as observing and sampling vernal pools, small ponds that dry sporadically but refill to accommodate wildlife. This particular project has been funded through a Pennsylvania state grant for three consecutive years, in addition to multiple other grant-based funds that Regester is using to supplement his projects with wildlife.

Regester has published various scholarly articles and has even co-written scholarly articles with research students. When he is not at work or completing a field project, his free time is devoted to his family and to his self-proclaimed gentleman's farm, which currently only carries chickens and smaller animals.

This love of smaller farm animals has also been carried into the classroom, as Regester allows his students to train chickens throughout the semester for an American Ninja Chicken obstacle course. This quirky classroom practice is based off of the television show "American Ninja Warrior," where athletes compete to pass a timed obstacle and strength course for a cash prize. No chickens are harmed during the training, as they are lovingly taken to Regester's farm after the class' ending.

  Christian Schill

Christian SchillChristian Schill, from Clarion, is a major in molecular biology and biotechnology with a minor in chemistry and a certificate in Opioid Treatment Specialist.

Upon graduation, Christian will receive a Bachelor in Science degree. While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Schill attended the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists annual Conference and earned awards in the student presentations in cell and molecular biology research: first place in 2017 and second place in 2018. After graduation, he will begin the medical doctor program at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, where he will be one of 30 students studying at the St. Luke's University Hospital Campus.

He plans to practice surgical or medical neurology and pursue clinical research into neurodegenerative diseases.

Last Updated 3/27/19