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Two St. Bonaventure graduates pass ASBMB certification exam with distinction

Aug 02, 2022

Katie Heitzman works in the chemistry lab as Dr. Scott Simpson looks on.Katie Heitzman and Claire Schaef didn’t just pass the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology certification exam. They did so with distinction.

Heitzman and Schaef, who graduated from St. Bonaventure University in May with degrees in biochemistry, were among only 12% of graduating seniors nationwide who passed the ASBMB exam with distinction, meaning they attained scores of “proficient or above” on 10 of the 11 exam questions.

Overall, only 43% of the 1,052 students passed the exam to achieve certification (“proficient or above” on at least eight questions).

“Compared to the national average of below 50% for ASBMB certification, this is strong evidence for the preparedness that our biochemistry program provides for our students,” said Dr. Xiaoning Zhang, biology professor and director of the biochemistry program.

Claire Schaef (left) and Courtney Fox presented their biochemistry research at the 2022 Arts & Sciences Expo on campus.“I’m very proud of Katie and Claire. They worked hard and persevered, especially during the pandemic. These are invaluable traits that the workforce is looking for.”

The certificate exam has been offered to graduating biochemistry seniors at St. Bonaventure every year since 2018, when SBU’s program earned ASBMB accreditation. Since then, about 90% of SBU’s students who took the exam achieved certification, almost all with distinction, Zhang said.

The certification exam is designed to test students’ knowledge and understanding of the core competencies in biochemistry and molecular biology developed by the ASBMB and its members. Questions have been structured to assess these concept areas at different levels of cognitive skills and abilities.

At the School of Arts & Sciences Honors and Awards Ceremony in May, Schaef, of West Richland, Washington, won the John L. and Leone E. Worden Memorial Award, the Biology Award, and the General Excellence in the Science Curriculum Award.

Heitzman, of Bliss, New York, won the American Chemical Society Penn-York Section Excellence in Chemistry Award.

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About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. St. Bonaventure was named the #5 regional university value in the North in U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 college rankings edition.

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