Biology Lab Named in Honor of Loss Family

April 13, 2017

During a ceremony on Tuesday, April 11, members of the St. John Fisher College community helped dedicate a laboratory in the Integrated Science and Health Sciences Building in honor of the contributions of the Loss Family.

The Loss Family Research Laboratory was named in recognition of the generosity of Janice Loss ’92 and the late Dr. Robert Loss ’74.

The Loss Family Research Laboratory is being named in recognition of the generosity of Janice Loss ’92 and the late Dr. Robert Loss ’74. Dr. Loss, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the College before attending medical school at the University of Rochester, was a member of the Board of Trustees for nearly 20 years, serving on a variety of committees, including academic affairs, development, finance, and the executive committee. Mrs. Loss, who is the president and owner of Skin Search of Rochester, Inc. and DermaSpa, Partners of Dermatology Associates of Rochester, P.C., joined the Board in June 2016.

In 2003, the Loss’ founded the Robert and Janice Loss Lecture Series, which promotes the study of sciences among high school and college students. 

“It is very special to be recognizing your family’s contributions to a place that means so much to you and Bob,” said Dr. Gerard Jr. Rooney, president of the College. “Bob was passionate about St. John Fisher College, and the academic innovation that might take place here. So how fitting it is that this space is really an outcome of Bob’s idea of Fisher having, and hosting, a school of pharmacy. The halo impact of the School of Pharmacy on the undergraduate natural sciences has been very strong and the growth of natural sciences majors has been threefold over the last decade. This space has changed the way our students learn and the way our faculty teach, enriching the Fisher experience for our science and pharmacy students.”

At the dedication, Mrs. Loss echoed her family’s passion for science.

“Bob had a lifelong love of science and a strong commitment to St. John Fisher College, and he would be so proud to see this dedication today,” she said. “In a world full of uncertainty, science provides an intellectual honesty and a reproducible approach to many of our current problems. St. John Fisher College and its students represent our future. Our family hopes that this lab provides a platform for the exploration, growth, and development of a passion for science.”

The research space is primarily shared by four members in the Biology Department, Dr. Freeman, Dr. Ontiveros, Dr. Savage, and Dr. Mattiaccio, who spoke of the benefits of the lab.

“The lab is a wonderful collaborative space that allows us to provide high impact undergraduate research experiences in a variety of biological disciplines,” said Mattiaccio, who was at the University of Rochester prior to Fisher, joined the department in 2014 and specializes in influenza virus research. “This is what makes the lab so unique; students work together and with multiple faculty members to get a more enriched, diverse research experience, which I think is reflective of the Fisher liberal arts education.”

Mattiaccio said that the expanded research space allowed the department to offer new courses, using the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, including laminar flow hoods, cell culture incubators, flow cytometer, 3D printer, and compound fluorescent microscope.

“Additionally, the common study space outside of the lab has developed into an area that is at the heart of our biology department and fosters the type of critical thinking, scientific curiosity, and peer collaboration that we wish to instill in our Fisher graduates,” she said. “This truly sets them up for success in their future endeavors to make mindful contributions to the community.”

Alex Freedenberg, a biology major and Spanish in the health professions and chemistry minor, spoke of his experiences working with Mattiacio in the lab.

“This laboratory space was my home for the past summer when I worked as a summer research fellow, investigating an antiviral protein that effects influenza virus replication,” Freedenberg explained. “This work experience gave me a better understanding of how full-time scientists work, and gave me a better understanding of how graduate school would be. My time spent here was rewarding not just for the results that I was finally able to produce, but also in my deeper understanding of the equipment I used and the theory behind the work I did.”

Freedenberg also noted that his research experiences at Fisher helped give him the knowledge and skills needed for an upcoming summer internship with the Navy, working for the United States National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center at Fort Detrick in Fredrick, Maryland.

The dedication was followed by the annual Loss Family Lecture, which was held Tuesday evening, and featured a talk by renowned chemist Dr. Ronald H. Kluger.