Paul Jarvis '09 - University of Vermont College of Medicine, second-year medical student
Having known that I had wanted to enter medicine for a very long time, the biology major at Saint Michael's was an easy choice for me. I was also able, with the support of the faculty, to pursue a second major in math, something I just found purely interesting. Additionally, I ran varsity cross-country all four years in college. That variety of activities allowed me to become passionate about my studies during college, retain what I had learned, and improve my time-management skills - something I knew would be extremely necessary in medical school.
The Saint Michael's biology curriculum prepared me very well for where I am today. It gave me background to either understanding or inferring conclusions regarding all of the basic human physiology that we have been learning about in medical school. I am now in the process of writing the results of a clinical research project I did with the neurosurgery department at UVM, and I am sure that I would not feel as comfortable about my own writing of the report had it not been for the research emphasis given throughout Saint Michael's biology program.
I am fairly certain I was offered the opportunity to conduct research with the neurosurgery department because of my Saint Michael's education in biology and math. I can understand the basic biology behind the research while also using my working knowledge of statistics. In sum, I feel that the biology program at Saint Michael's will not only give you a great overview of basic science knowledge for working in the scientific community, but it also will provide the skills and curiosity necessary for one to continue his/her science education and achieve his/her long-term career goals.
Brandon Beaudoin '08 - Pursuing the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) program
University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine
Dental schools have become much more competitive and selective over the last decade, and the Saint Michael’s biology faculty were instrumental in my acceptance to dental school. I was accepted to my top three choices. Throughout my time at Saint Michael's, my professors were always available to discuss lecture topics and provide extra help. My academic advisors helped me to select all the right courses needed to prepare me for a medical curriculum, and I took courses such as microbiology, comparative vertebrate anatomy, and human and comparative physiology. In addition to the faculty, my biology classes helped to thoroughly prepare me for the Dental Admission Test (DAT).
Outside of the classroom, I played soccer all fours years at Saint Michael's. Playing a sport and juggling a full pre-medicine course load forced me to manage my time well. The biology faculty were always supportive of my travel schedule and worked with me to alleviate the potential stress of being a student athlete. The cooperation between my professors and my coach enabled me to be named to ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-American first team.
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Jennifer Hushaw '08 - Forest Analyst/Modeler
In December of 2010, Jennifer completed her Master's Degree in Environmental Management and Forestry at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. This program is a multidisciplinary program that trains students to become expert environmental problem-solvers, with an emphasis on both science and policy. Jennifer is now employed as a Forest Analyst/Modeler at an environmental consulting company in New Hampshire.
My experience as an undergraduate in the Saint Michael's College Biology department gave me an excellent foundation that not only helped me with getting into this graduate program, but prepared me well for the classes. In particular, the small class sizes at Saint Michael’s allow students to get a lot from their courses, and to develop relationships with enthusiastic faculty who truly care about students’ learning. It was through unique experiences, such as the Tropical Ecology Study Tour in Costa Rica, as well as through my regular lab coursework that I gained many important laboratory and field skills that I am now putting to use in my graduate work, especially in regard to plant species identification.
Another great thing about the Biology major at Saint Michael's is the benefit derived from having a science-focused curriculum in the context of a broader liberal arts education. The ability to develop solutions and management strategies that can help solve today’s environmental problems requires this kind of interdisciplinary approach. It is important to have knowledge and understanding of the connections between science, policy, economics, and social science issues. My exposure to these disciplines in my undergraduate years has become especially useful to me as I pursue a career in the environmental field.
I feel that I received an excellent education from the Saint Michael's Biology department. I am proud to be a graduate of the program and would recommend it to any student interested in a career in science.
Stephanie A. Ketcham '08 - Pursuing a Ph.D. program at John Hopkins University in
Cell, Molecular, Developmental Biology and Biophysics
My experience at Saint Michael's prepared me in many ways for my Ph.D. program at John Hopkins University. First, the broad knowledge base that Saint Michael's emphasizes within biology and liberal arts has prepared me to move forward. Also, the professors' knowledge of different sub-areas within the many fields of biology, combined with their eagerness to help students, allowed me to ask questions and learn more whenever I wanted. Although I will be narrowing my focus within biology in the near future, I still take with me the broad understanding I developed. Additionally, I felt that the class and lab sizes allowed for individual attention, making it easier to obtain laboratory skills as well as a better knowledge of the material.
In the department, opportunities exist for internships and/or research projects, and the professors are more than willing to help. I participated in an internship at Green Mountain Antibodies, where I was introduced to a commercial laboratory setting. Along with this internship, I worked on a research project in the biology department in which we tried to determine the role of oligopeptide transport genes and their location in rice embryos. Both of these opportunities were very beneficial in my growth as a scientist and I would strongly recommend either an internship or research project to anyone who is interested in entering a laboratory setting.
Andrew Reid '08 - Biology Teacher
Mill River Union High School, North Clarendon, VT
I am in my first year as a high school biology teacher. The courses I will be teaching include two year-long courses of two different levels of General Biology, as well as two semester-long elective courses: Marine Biology, and Human Biology.
As a young adult entering into the field of education I am certainly nervous about my first years as a teacher. However, based on my student teaching experience, one of my greatest strengths is my breadth of knowledge surrounding the sciences as well as my own confidence in this knowledge. Saint Michael's College provided me with a diverse array of courses in biology that allowed me to develop my pool of knowledge in subjects ranging from microbiology, ecology, genetics and vertebrate anatomy, to name a few. This wide availability of different courses let me choose which course I was most interested in, and also allowed me to become comfortable with the concepts of many different biological sciences. This education helped to create my "tool box," a term often used in my education classes to describe those skills, information, and practices that one can draw upon in the classroom, for teaching.
Both the Biology and Education departments at Saint Michael's College have high expectations for their students. However, the professors of these departments work just as hard as the students to provide the experiences, information and skills to ensure that students can meet these expectations. The past four years were extremely academically rigorous for me; however, it is because of the rigorous course load that I know I am prepared and have the skills to answer the questions of my students and to find the answers to those questions I do not know. I feel confident that I will be able to stand in front of a class of 25 adolescents and share with them my knowledge that I have received at Saint Michael's College with the same enthusiasm, honesty and passion that I have had the privilege to experience from my own professors.
I would recommend Saint Michael's College to any individual thinking about entering the field of biology, especially to those looking into science and education. My advisors worked hard with me to ensure my timely graduation, and flexibility exists within both departments to help accommodate for the work load of both the biology degree as well as the teaching license.
Nate Schoenly '08 - Attending the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine
I feel that what I have learned from the biology program at Saint Michael's has helped me immensely to get into this dental program and to do well on the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Specifically, I felt I learned a great deal from Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy since it was my first true anatomy course that challenged me to learn the structures and evolutionary relevance of the different anatomical structures of vertebrates. The laboratory section of this course was helpful to learn generally what might be expected of me (in terms of memorization) in dental school when I take a course such as Gross Anatomy. I also found the sterile and microbiological techniques taught in Genetics and Molecular Biology to be very helpful, especially when I undertook an undergraduate summer research fellowship with funding from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The faculty of the Biology department helped me achieve this goal and apply for a research grant from the ASM.
I learned a great deal from my research experience at Saint Michael's, and am very fortunate that I was given the chance to pursue it. I feel the campus community and friendly biology faculty were integral to me achieving my research goals. I will present my research findings at the annual meeting of the ASM in 2008 via poster and presentations.
In addition to my pre-med track at Saint Michael's, I also enjoyed taking field courses including Population Ecology, Community Ecology, and Ichthyology. The Saint Michael's biology program enabled me to take a wide variety of different courses that led to a well-rounded scientific education, something I am truly grateful for especially when considering the broad coverage of the DAT (which includes information taught in field biology courses).
Finally, what was unique and sets Saint Michael's apart from other schools is its focus on obtaining a liberal arts education. At Saint Michael's, I was able to work toward a second major in English Literature. In addition to biology, I found I developed a love for 19th Century literature and Postmodern theory, something I feel I may have never found at a different college where I would only take biology-specific courses. Indeed, the liberal arts education I received from Saint Michael's College was very helpful to me beyond my undergraduate career. When interviewing for acceptance into the University at Buffalo, the interviewers said they were looking for "worldly and culturally literate students." I feel Saint Michael's and especially the environment of the biology department do a fine job creating culturally literate individuals and I am happy to be one of these students.
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Scott Thompson '08 - Working for Saltwater, Inc. in Anchorage, Alaska
I am a groundfish observer for a company called Saltwater Inc. based in Anchorage, Alaska. Saltwater Inc. is contracted by the National Marine Fisheries Service to record yearly information on the Alaskan fisheries, which includes observers accompanying fishing vessels on their trips to record catch statistics. The observer position requires a B.S. in biology, and includes an additional 3-week training period for the taxonomic identification of fish species, National Marine Fisheries Service policy/protocols, and marine safety.
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Jeff White '08 - Pursuing a Ph.D. program in aquatic ecology, Michigan State University
I am currently a graduate student studying aquatic ecology at the Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. I began my graduate career as a summer research assistant at the Kellogg Biological Station in southwestern Michigan.
The Saint Michael’s College Biology Department prepared me well. The faculty is extraordinarily supportive and committed to teaching biology; the student is always the priority. The liberal arts curriculum exposes students to a broader range of subdisciplines. I found that this exposure has made my overall understanding of biology much stronger and served me well for graduate school entrance exams.
Saint Michael’s College, and the biology department in particular, offer numerous opportunities for students to get involved outside of the classroom; my advice to incoming students is to actively seek these out and take full advantage of them. For example, I spent two years working on a research project supervised by a faculty member and funded by grants through both the biology department and external sources. This undoubtedly not only improved my chances for getting into graduate school but also involved an entirely different type of learning experience that cannot be reproduced in any classroom. Such hands-on experience allows the student to truly “own” the material and think critically through real-life problems. It is through opportunities like this and others, such as the Tropical Ecology Study Tour in Costa Rica or academic internships, where the Saint Michael’s biology student can maximize his undergraduate experience.
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Tyler Gaudet '07 - Environmental Scientist
Tetra Tech, Inc.
The biology department at Saint Michael's allowed me to intern with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Essex Junction, VT, during the spring of my junior year. My time was spent authoring an aquatic invasive species identification guide. This not only sharpened my writing skills but also my field identification skills. The internship eventually led to summer seasonal positions with the USFWS as a fisheries technician. These positions were great opportunities for me to build my resume and prepared me for a career in biology.
During my time at Saint Michael's, I took a field ecology course that was conducted in Costa Rica with some of the Saint Michael's biology professors. There, we studied forest composition and conducted a small study on poison dart frog habitat assessment.
The biology department at Saint Michael's opened a number of doors for me and helped me to build a solid foundation of vital skills for a career in biology.
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Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Tyler in the Spring 2012 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Anna Michael '07 - Veterinarian
Anna completed her studies at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine,
and has taken over a veterinary clinic in Minnesota. You can read more about her clinic at this link.
The Saint Michael's College Biology Department helped me to succeed in so many ways. I was able to be a strong veterinary applicant by having a wide range of experiences and opportunities that both the biology department and the Saint Michael's liberal arts education provided me. While biology majors at other institutions might not able to study abroad due to rigorous year-long classes, at Saint Michael's this is not the case. I was also able to study abroad in Costa Rica over the winter break with the biannual biology class "Tropical Ecology," and I was able to travel to France with the summer class, "Culture and Society in Medieval Burgundy." I went to Madagascar on a research study, and was able to receive academic independent research credit by writing a project report and giving a seminar on my experience. I was also able participate in an internship at a local veterinary clinic during my senior year and I received academic credit for that as well. When I applied for veterinary school, I stood out with my experiences and my glowing recommendations from professors that really knew me as a person, not just as a student.
Helen French '06 - Student in Physician Assistant Program at University of New England
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Helen in the Spring 2012 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Maggie Holmes '06 - Resident Physician
I am currently in my residency training for Pathology at Georgetown University Hospital, and I recently graduated from the University of Vermont College of Medicine (2011). I found my Saint Michael's biology experience to be very valuable in getting me there. Not only did I have wonderful opportunities to learn the science content needed to get into medical school, I was also provided with amazing experiences that I couldn't have encountered anywhere else. For instance, there are opportunities to do independent research projects with the guidance of a professor during the summer or during your senior year. I did two projects: one was nest site competition by ants in edge vs. interior habitats in Vermont, and the other one was measuring the mutation rate of base substitution alleles under variable high and low transcription strains of yeast. I learned so much by working with a professor on these projects and I feel that these projects were one of the most valuable experiences I had in my college education. I even presented my yeast research at a conference in Orlando, Florida.
Another strength of the Saint Michael's biology program is the opportunity to really get to know the faculty. Not only are the class sizes small, but the department is full of caring, understanding people who go to great lengths to make sure you understand the material. The courses offered cover a broad range of science topics as well. As part of the biology major, you must take classes from different categories. This provides a great opportunity to take courses you may never be able to take again. In my case, I was able to enjoy an ecology course. (That's something I didn't get to do in medical school or residency!) I couldn't have asked for a better education from the Saint Michael's biology program.
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Ben Sarno '05 - Criminalist, NYPD Forensic Investigation Division
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Ben in the Spring 2011 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Matt Hajdun '05 - Elementary School Teacher
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Matt in the Spring 2009 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
David Moody '04 - finished his PhD at Cornell in Soil Science this past spring and is now enrolled in a DVM program at Cornell.
The education I received at Saint Michael’s provided me with a wealth of post-graduate opportunities. After a year of undergraduate research experience with Saint Michael's biology professors, which involved characterizing mechanisms of DNA mutagenesis, I was eager to continue working in a lab. I applied for research technician positions in a variety of different areas, including developmental biology, immunology, and infectious disease. I opted for a position at the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake, NY. Research at The Trudeau Institute focuses on immunology and infectious diseases such as influenza and tuberculosis.
After two years as a research technician, I knew that I wanted to advance my career in immunology research; therefore, graduate school was the next obvious step. I enrolled in the Department of Immunology at the University of Washington and began my Ph.D. thesis work on determining the mechanisms behind allergy development and regulation of the immune system.
My undergraduate research experience at Saint Michael’s was integral to my post-graduate job search as well as my being accepted into a research-oriented Ph.D. program. From serving as part of the admissions committee in my graduate program, I have found that it is quite rare to have research opportunities available at small liberal arts schools such as Saint Michael’s.
Perhaps the most important aspects of a career in academic research are the ability to publish your research and to procure funding through grants. Saint Michael’s provides invaluable exposure to the grant-writing process by offering a variety of funding opportunities for students. This early grant-writing experience, as well as my liberal arts training from Saint Michael’s, allowed me to receive a variety of training grants and travel awards that have funded my research and provided the opportunity to present my research at international conferences in place such as Kobe, Japan. In addition, I have authored or co-authored four peer-reviewed scientific articles.
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Rich Centore '03 - Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Cancer Research
As a biology major at Saint Michael's with minors in chemistry and mathematics, I acquired invaluable knowledge and experience that prepared me for my career as a cancer researcher. Given the small class size at Saint Mike’s, the faculty were able to provide students with a solid foundation in many aspects of biology. Throughout my studies, I have come to learn that many aspects of biology are interconnected, and having taken courses in a wide range of biological subjects has been extremely helpful in the way I approach my own research projects.
I believe that attending a liberal arts college has also helped my career in other ways. For example, as a researcher, it is essential that I am able to effectively communicate my findings to my peers and to the public through the publication of manuscripts in scientific journals as well as through presentations at conferences. The biology department, as well as other liberal arts requirements at Saint Mike’s strongly helped to fine tune my writing and presentation skills.
My four years at Saint Mike's were instrumental in my acceptance into a Ph.D. program at UMass Amherst, a major research university, immediately after graduation. I am now a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Cancer Research where I am focusing my research on the molecular mechanisms by which cells maintain genomic stability during the process of DNA replication.
Rich is also featured in an Alumni profile in the Spring 2010 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
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Dr. Rachel Litman ' 03 - Postdoctoral Research Associate at Harvard Medical School
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Rachel in the Fall 2009 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Rebecca Lynch '03 - Renal Dietitian
The biology program at Saint Michael's College provided me with a strong foundation in the sciences. The classes and labs were small so I was able to learn directly from my professors and they were interested in teaching and mentoring me. During my senior year in college, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work independently on a research project that fostered the development of my critical thinking skills and the abilities to read, write, and evaluate scientific research papers. The biology program at Saint Michael's taught me how to ask the right questions and use the scientific process to find answers.
After college, I was immediately hired as a research technician at a major cancer research hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. During my short time there, I was able to make significant contributions to four separate publications. There is no doubt in my mind that my success in cancer research was the direct result of the solid science education I received in college. After working in the lab for two years I decided that I wanted to pursue a slightly different field: applied nutrition. My background in cellular and molecular biology helped to make the transition easier. In nutrition, I must translate my knowledge of nutritional biochemistry and cellular biology into useful advice that I can give to my clients. I believe that my education at a liberal arts college and my strong background in biology has made me a better, more well-rounded dietitian.
Matthew Giulianelli, DMD ('01) - Dentist
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Matthew in the Spring 2012 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Steve Smith '00 - Fish Biologist, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Steve in the Spring 2011 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Dr. Orville Harford '98 - Staff dermatologist at Penobscot Valley Dermatology in Bangor, Maine
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Orville in the Fall 2009 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
David Guertin '97 - Assitant Professor, Program in Molecular Medicine
University of Massachusetts Medical School
I chose to attend Saint Michael's because it allowed me to explore my diverse interests, both in science and in other disciplines, while exploring the beautiful and rustic backdrop of Vermont. Having a small class size and easy access to expertise was also important to me, both of which I found at Saint Michael's. I enjoyed all of my science classes. One thing I can say is that I graduated with more questions than answers. My four years as a biology major inspired me to go on to graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. After subsequent post-doctoral research, I am now an independent scientist. My work focuses on understanding the mechanisms of how normal cells control their growth, how cancer cells take advantage of these mechanisms to grow uncontrollably, and on facilitating drug-develop strategies that might one day lead to effective therapies.
Dave Guertin was named a 2010 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences! Read more
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Contact him at: David.Guertin@umassmed.edu
Dr. Lee Smilowicz '96 - Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Lee in the Spring 2011 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Dr. Elena Wellens '96 - Doctor of Podiatric Medicine
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Elena in the Fall 2008 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Cynthia Leclerc Turcotte '93 - Manager of Sequencing Production
454 Life Sciences - a next generation sequencing company
Saint Michael's College has provided me with a strong foundation for my career as a research scientist. The small class size and supportive faculty allowed me to really learn and understand the given topic. The biology curriculum exposed me to different areas of science (cell and molecular biology, anatomy and physiology and environmental science) helping me determine my field of interest. The curriculum also focused upon communication skills for biologists, teaching students how to read scientific journals and present data in public forums. These skills have helped me through graduate school and in my present career.
In my senior year, I opted to do an independent research project. The faculty advisor allowed me enough freedom to feel that the research was truly my own while simultaneously providing me with guidance that I needed. This experience was a great introduction to graduate school. At the conclusion of the study, I compiled the data in a written report and presented my findings at the Lake Champlain Research Consortium. This work was continued by other Saint Michael's students and eventually published.
After graduation, I worked as a research technician at Children;s Hospital in Boston MA where I further developed my research skills. After two years doing research there, I attended Yale University where I received my doctoral degree in cell biology. I currently work for 454 Life Sciences, a next generation sequencing company in Connecticut. I am the Manager of Sequencing Production and head up a team of 25 scientists who process client samples to provide sequencing data for a variety of organisms (from bacteria to human and everything in between!). Last year, we were involved in the sequencing of the genome of James Watson (one of the co-discoverers of DNA) and are currently participating in the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome.
Cynthia is also featured in an Alumni profile in the Spring 2010 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Paul Constantino '92 - Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
I am a researcher and teacher studying human evolution. Most of my current work is aimed at reconstructing the diets and feeding behavior of the earliest members of our lineage since our split with chimpanzees, but I have a broad interest in understanding the path of our evolution and how we came to be as a species.
After graduating from Saint Michael's, I was lucky enough to gain a job in Boston's growing biotechnology industry where I worked for five years. It paid well and I was able to live close to family and friends, but I did not feel passionate about the work. What I did feel passionate about was evolutionary biology. This interest grew from a senior seminar I took at Saint Michael's in which we learned about how evolution infuses every aspect of modern biology. I also had a strong interest in learning about humans as a species and how we evolved to be so seemingly different from other animals. So I moved to Florida and earned an M.A. in Biological Anthropology, and then to Washington, D.C. where I gained a Ph.D. in Hominid Paleobiology.
I love my career. I love teaching, the flexible schedule, and being able to plan my own research and work on problems that I care about. Much of my work is done in the lab, but I also get to do quite a bit of fieldwork. I've looked for early human fossils in the deserts and caves of Kenya and South Africa, searched for early primates in Wyoming's Bighorn Basin, observed baboons in the high grasslands of South Africa, studied giant pandas in the mountains of Central China, and worked with the fossil and osteological collections of Natural History museums across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the U.S. I also get to teach courses on such topics as human evolution, primatology, biological anthropology, and human anatomy.
Although I did not study human evolution until after graduating from Saint Michael's, the diversity of courses offered in the Biology Department provided me with the breadth of knowledge I needed to work in fields as diverse as Biotechnology and Biological Anthropology. Classes such as Ecology, Field Biology, and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy were especially valuable, but so too were courses in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Developmental Biology. It is this broad training that enabled me to follow my passion, even though it came to me later in life.
James O'Brien '87 - Environmental scientist
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Jim in the Spring 2009 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Dr. Tracy Romano '86 - Senior Vice President for Research and Zoological Operations at the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration, Mystic, CT.
Please read the Alumni Profile featuring Tracy in the Spring 2009 edition of Biology Matters, our e-newsletter.
Pamela Carroll '85 - Head of research and faculty at the Belfer Institute for Cancer Science at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School
After two years as a research technician at the National Cancer Institute, Pam went to Stony Brook University for her Ph.D., then to Stanford University for a post-doctoral position. Pam describes her path from Saint Michael's College to her current position in an alumni profile in the Fall 2010 edition of Biology Matters, the Biology Department’s e-newsletter.