Ellen E. Faszewski
Co-chair Integrated Liberal Arts and Professor of Biology
School of Arts and Sciences
Office: ACW 200
B.A. (Hons.) 1991, Elms College
M.A. 1993, Mount Holyoke College
Ph.D. 1999, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Ellen Faszewski is a cell and developmental biologist whose primary research interests are amphibian development and sponge immunology. She also has an interest in science education, including work with pre and in-service teachers as well as in curriculum development.
She is the Founder and Director of STEM in the City, a summer camp designed for rising 8th and 9th graders to explore a variety of subjects in a relaxed and creative setting that allow them to develop and strengthen their interest in STEM fields while building bonds with their peers. She also collaborates with Massachusetts General Hospital's Youth Scholars STEM Camp for rising 10th graders.
She was a Co-Pi on an NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S-STEM) Colleges of the Fenway STEM Scholars Grant. She was a Co-Pi on a grant received from NASA Opportunities for Visionary Academics (NOVA) to aid in the development of Wheelock's Clear Sky Program, a Science for Teachers Pathway for students who wish to make science a core component of their elementary classrooms. More recently, as a member of the STEM Teacher Enhancement Project Advisory Council (Wheelock College Aspire Institute) and co-chair of her department, she coordinated the development of four fully on-line graduate level courses in science education and supervised development/approval of four math courses. As a faculty member, she co-developed two courses, Inquiry into Life Science and Teaching and Learning Elementary Science.
She is currently a Leadership Fellow and member of the Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) New England Center for Innovation Leadership Council. In addition, as a recent director of the Colleges of the Fenway (COF) Environmental Science Program (now the COF Center for Sustainability and the Environment) and current member of the Steering Committee, she co-organizes annual events including the Muddy River Symposium and Muddy River clean-up. The Symposium is designed to bring together students, faculty, and community members to discuss current environmental issues. Her work has been recognized by receiving the Maintenance and Management Oversight Committee of the Muddy River Restoration Project Citizen of the Year Award (2007), the COF Emerging Collaborator Award (2006) and COF Collaborator of the Year Award (2017 & 2012).
She is the NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR), acting as a liaison between the Athletic Department and Faculty. In this role, she has attended the NCAA Division III FAR Fellows Institute three times, once as attendee and twice as a facilitator, and is currently a member of the Institute Planning Team.
(* denotes undergraduate student)
- Faszewski EE. 2016. Online learning technologies. Wheelock Magazine Summer 2016.
- Faszewski EE, Sljivo S*, Kriszun L*, Kaltenbach JC. Apoptosis in larval and frog skin of Rana pipiens, Rana catesbeiana, and Ceratophrys ornata. J Morphology. 275:51-56.
- Invading the Curriculum - incorporating service learning in the local community to enhance student engagement. Lesser LC, Dunne M, Faszewski EE. Science Scope 37:36-42.
- Berger, M, Duggan, J, and Faszewski EE. 2012. Evolution of the Environmental Forum. Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal. 4 (1):37-42.
- Kaltenbach JC, Fry AE, Colpitts KM*, Faszewski EE. 2012. Apoptosis in the digestive tract of herbivorous Rana pipiens larvae and carnivorous Ceratophrys ornata larvae: an immunohistochemical study. J Morphology 273(1):103-108.
- Faszewski EE, Kaltenbach JC, Tyrell A* and Guin S*. 2008. Amphibian skin: Metamorphic changes in glycoconjugates in the epidermis and glands of Rana pipiens. J. of Morphology. 269 (8): 998-1007.
- Sabella S*, Faszewski EE, Himic L*, Colpitts KM*, Kaltenbach JC, Burger MM, and Fernandez-Busquets X. 2007. Cyclosporin A Suspends Transplantation Reactions in the Marine Sponge Microciona prolifera. J. of Immunology. 179 (9): 5927-5935.
- Faszewski EE, Duggan J. 2007. Environmental Forum: The Cornerstone of a Joint Program in Environmental Science for the Colleges of the Fenway. Science Education & Civic Engagement: An International Journal:1 (1): 19-23.
- Anderson KL, Faszewski EE, and Martin, D. 2006. Unlocking the power of observation. Science and Children: 44 (1): 32-35.
(* denotes undergraduate student)
- Dehydration effects on sugar composition in amphibian skin. Suarez D*, Madani Y*, Burns H*,Shearer N*, and Faszewski EE. Eastern New England Biology Conference, Boston, MA, April 29 2017.
- Glycoconjugate expression in the immune response of the marine sponge, Microciona prolifera. Burns HE*, Tovar P*, Sljivo S*, Sullivan CW*, and Faszewski EE. Eastern New England Biology Conference, Hamden, CT, April 16 2016.
- Science in the Public Interest. Oates KK, Fredeen DJ, Faszewski EE. CCAS Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., 6 Nov 2015.
- Utilizing field based activities to support student learning and engagement. Lobel LL, Antolick R, Faszewski EE, Berger M, and Pritchard H. SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) New England Regional Symposium, Manchester, NH 18 April 2015.
- "Invading the Curriculum - incorporating service learning in the local community to enhance student engagement". Lesser LC, Dunne M, Faszewski EE. NSTA National Convention, Boston, MA, 4 April 2014.
- The Science Education Continuum: Engaging students from K through life - Faculty Panel. Faszewski EE. SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) New England Regional Symposium Portland, ME, 4 May 2013.
- Service-learning and the Environmental Forum. Faszewski EE, Duggan J, and Berger M. Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) Summer Institute, San Jose, CA 2-6 August 2012.
- Assessing the role of apoptosis in the remodeling of amphibian skin. Sljivo S*, Kaltenbach JC, Faszewski EE. Society of Developmental Biology Regional Conference, Woods Hole, MA 13 April 2012.
- Leno M* and Faszewski EE. Investigation of a memory component in the marine sponge, Microciona prolifera. Eastern New England Conference, Boston, MA 9 April 2011.
- Fidler C, Faszewski EE, Holden P, Worth K, Winokur J. Utilization of an On-line Assessment Tool for Pre-service Early Childhood and Elementary Students. NSTA National Convention, San Francisco, CA, 10-13 March 2011.
- Faszewski EE, Holden P, Fidler C, Worth K, Winokur J. 2010. Inquiry Science for Elementary and Early Childhood Preservice Students. NSTA National Convention, Philadelphia, PA, 18-21 March 2010.
- Faszewski EE. 2009. Assessment of Environmental Forum using the SENCER-SALG SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) Summer Institute, Chicago, IL, 6-10 August 2010.
- Martin D, and Faszewski EE. 2007. Opening their eyes to science. Effective Practices in Math and Science Teaching in Today's PreK - 6 Classrooms. Wheelock College, 7-8 June 2007.
- SENCER and the Colleges of the Fenway Environmental Science Program. Faszewski EE and Sellner E*. 2007. NCSCE Capitol Hill Symposium and SENCER Poster Session,12-13 March 2007.
- Himic L*, Faszewski EE, Kaltenbach JC, Burger MM, Fernandez-Busquets X. 2006. Immune cell migration in allografts of the marine sponge Microciona prolifera: a confocal microscopic study. Marine Biology Laboratory Summer Meetings, Woods Hole, MA, 9-10 August 2006.
- Human Biology
- Human Physiology
- Human Disease
- Human Genetics
- Science Inquiry and the Natural World
- Field Studies in Environmental Science
- Colleges of the Fenway Environmental Forum
- Inquiry into Life Science (graduate)
Current Research Interests
Overview - Apoptosis (Programmed Cell Death)
The process of apoptosis (programmed cell death), is a topic of interest in a variety of fields ranging from neurology, embryology, medicine, and genetics. Upon its discovery in the mid 20th century, it has been linked to a variety of developmental pathways in tissues and organs and the interest in this field has exploded due to recent suggestions that flaws in this process may contribute to a variety of disorders including AIDS, cancer, and Alzheimers (Duke et al., 1996; Fadeel and Orrenius 2005).
The possibility of exploiting apoptosis has even been suggested as an effective treatment against cancer cells, which have the ability to evade this cell death (Salvensen and Dixit, 1997). In order to begin to understand this process, early research focused on the round worm because it was a simple multicellular organism with relatively few cells and a small genome. It was soon discovered that the genetic control of this process in the roundworm was quite similar to that of other multicellular organisms, including the human. My current research examines this crucial developmental process using the amphibian model system.
A) The role of apoptosis in amphibians has previously been identified in skin development (Schreiber and Brown, 2003) and tail regression (Rowe et al., 2005). Research has also begun to examine this programmed cell death in the remodeling of the digestive tract as the larval tadpoles metamorphose into adult frogs, however, these studies are few in number and incomplete.
In my recent research on the Northern leopard frog, Rana pipiens, we have examined apoptosis in the remodeling of the digestive tract. This recent study, as well as the proposed one, provides the first comprehensive studies of this process in an herbivorous and carnivorous species. This research project is of particular interest because tadpoles of many anurans are herbivorous, but during metamorphic climax they transform into carnivorous frogs and toads. In some species, however, such as the Argentine horned frog, Ceratophrys ornata, both larvae and adults are carnivorous.
The short larval life of this species (approximately two weeks) culminates in metamorphic climax with similar, but not as pronounced, structural changes in the digestive tract as those in herbivorous larvae. C. ornata larvae also continue to eat during climax, in contrast to the herbivorous larvae of R. pipiens, which stop feeding during its 3 month climax period.
During this event, the larval gut shortens and the layer of cells that line the inside of the larval gut (epithelium) is replaced by an adult type (Fox, 1984). This change in diet is also accompanied by a multitude of structural and biochemical events including the activity of specific enzymes and localization of specific carbohydrates (Hourdry et al., 1996).
Therefore, the purpose of this research is to determine if apoptosis plays a role in the shortening and remodeling of the digestive tract of the carnivorous larvae of C. ornata and then compare this process in this species with that of other species.
B) Sponge Immunology. Sponges are the simplest animals to possess the ability to recognize self vs. non-self (Fernandez-Busquets and Burger, 1999; Fernandez-Busquets. Et all 2002). When two different individuals are brought into contact, a barrier zone of contact (ZOC) forms between the two. The purpose of this research is to explore the cellular processes used by the marine sponge, Microciona prolifera, to elicit an immune response at the ZOC, including (apoptosis), cell migration, and protein expression. In addition, we are interested in determining whether sponges exhibit a memory component (i.e., ability to recognize a foreign individual upon a second encounter and thus display a quicker immune response).
- Duke RC, Ojcius DM, Young JDE. 1996. Cell suicide in health and disease. Scientific American 275:80-87.
Fadeel B, Orrenius S. 2005. Apoptosis: a basic biological phenomenon with wide ranging implications inhuman disease. J Intern Med 258(6):479-517.
- Fernandez-Busquets, X., and M. M. Burger. 1999. Cell adhesion and histocompatibility in sponges. Microsc. Res. Tech. 44: 204-218.
- Fernandez-Busquets, X., W. J. Kuhns, T. L. Simpson, M. Ho, D. Gerosa, M. Grob, and M. M. Burger. 2002.
Cell adhesion-related proteins as specific markers of sponge cell types involved in allogeneic recognition. Dev. Comp. Immunol. 26: 313-323.
- Fox H. 1984. The Alimentary canal. In: Fox H, editor. Amphibian Metamorphosis. Clifton, NJ: Humana Press. p. 119-122.
- Hourdry J, Hermite A, Ferrand R. 1996. Changes in the digestive tract and feeding behavior of anuran amphibians during metamorphosis. Physiol Zool 69:219-251.
- Ishizuya-Oka A, Shimozawa A. 1990. Changes in lectin-binding pattern in the digestive tract of Xenopus laevis during metamorphosis. J Morphol 205:9-15.
- Rowe I, Le Blay K, Du Pasquier D, Palmier K, Levi G, Demeneix B, Coen L. 2005. Apoptosis of tail muscle during amphibian metamorphosis involves caspase-9 dependent mechanism. Dev Dyn 233: 76-87.
- Salvensen GS, Dixit VM. 1997. Caspases: Intracellular signaling by proteolysis. Cell 91:443-446.
Schreiber AM, Brown DD. 2003. Tadpole skin dies autonomously in response to thyroid hormone at metamorphosis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 100:1769-1774.