Bona students have ample opportunity for undergraduate research experience, thanks in part to a gift from the Maydonovitch siblings.
Having enjoyed rewarding careers after gaining a strong base of knowledge at St. Bonaventure University, siblings Corinne and Daniel Maydonovitch are now establishing a chemistry research fellowship at the school.
Corinne, a member of the Class of 1972, enjoyed a 40-year career as a clinical researcher at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Dan, who graduated in 1977, worked as a chemist at Exxon before earning a doctorate from the New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. He spent the next three decades practicing family medicine.
“We’re just very grateful for the foundation that Bonaventure gave us to go out in the world and be successful,” said Corinne. “That’s why we are so appreciative and want to give back to the university and to the students.”
The Maydonovitch Research Fellowship in the Department of Chemistry will support one student per year for a 10-week summer research experience with a chemistry faculty member. It will provide an immersive learning experience, allowing the student to gain hands-on, employable skills. The fellowship will also enable faculty to expand their scholarship and generate peer-reviewed publications with students.
“This tremendous gift creates the time, space and resources necessary for our students and faculty to engage in complex research projects,” said Dr. Megan Walsh, acting dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. “We are deeply appreciative of all that Corinne and Dan do to ensure that we sustain and grow our vibrant chemistry program. Their dedication will enrich the experiences of our current students and also many future students in the years to come.”
The Maydonovitch siblings have long championed the sciences at St. Bonaventure, helping to usher in a new era by supporting the construction of the Walsh Science Center and renovations of De La Roche Hall. In 2016, they established the Anne and John Maydonovitch Endowed Scholarship in memory of their parents. Following that they were among the lead donors who helped the university acquire upwards of a million dollars in instrumentation for the Chemistry Department Research Lab located in De La Roche Hall.
This research fellowship is their further way of saying “thank you” — to St. Bonaventure and to the parents who taught them the value of knowledge and hard work.
The siblings grew up as the middle of four children in South Plainfield, New Jersey, in a family where problem-solving was a nightly enjoyment and higher education a long-range goal. Their father, a first-class machinist at Lockheed Martin, would talk about the day’s work challenges. Their mother loved tutoring her children and helping with schoolwork.
“Our parents came of age during the Depression,” said Corinne. “They had to help their families financially and didn’t have the opportunity to pursue higher education. So it was important to them that their children attend college.”
St. Bonaventure was an obvious choice for the brother and sister as one of their uncles, Fr. Basil F. Lobby, O.F.M., taught chemistry here for 11 years before becoming the university’s purchasing agent in the early 1960s.
Though there were four chemistry majors in their family, Corinne soon learned it was not a major sought by many females at the time. There were only two or three female chemistry students in class with her, and men still outnumbered women on campus.
She explained, “In a way, St. Bonaventure prepared me for my time at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which was a male dominant environment. I came to love working in the military, where there was a real sense of camaraderie.”
Dan developed a fondness for family practice early in his medical career. “People want a physician to know and understand them. I enjoyed taking care of families through the generations, from zero to 90,” he said. “It was especially rewarding to make house calls.”
They hope the fellowship offers students the chance to challenge themselves, pose incisive questions and get excited about their research.
Dr. Scott Simpson, associate professor of chemistry and the recent awardee of a National Science Foundation CAREER grant, said that the Maydonovitch Research Fellowship will empower students as they learn to navigate the complexities of research and gain hands-on skills in the lab.
“It definitely gives our students a competitive edge both in and out the classroom,” Simpson said. “Many colleges do not provide opportunities for meaningful undergraduate research. Through the labor of its faculty, support from its alumni and the drive/curiosity of its students, St. Bonaventure University does.”
By Susan Anderson