The Catholic University of America

Chris Furman

Research Leads to Five-Year Master’s

Biology master’s student Chris Furman discovered as an undergraduate at CUA that he had a passion for research. As a junior and senior, he found himself spending hours of his free time in the biology lab working on a project for no academic credit.

During the summer after his junior year, while working as a research assistant in the biology lab, he began a project that would span two summers and four semesters. Pursuing a fifth year of study and research as a master’s student allowed him to see the project through to completion and produce a paper on the findings of his team.

Furman’s research examined the properties of the membrane proteins on yeast cells that control the flow of drugs in and out of the cell. The paper is currently being reviewed by field experts, and Furman hopes it will soon be accepted to a biochemistry scholarly journal. He is listed as a co-first author of the paper, a distinction indicating that he conducted a majority of the research.

“It’s a major paper, a new paradigm for the way people think that these membrane proteins function,” said John Golin, professor of biology, who supervised the research. “It’s a very thorough paper, which is typical of Chris.”

Furman says having a completed paper and the possibility of publication is something many students are not able to accomplish in a similar amount of time.

Originally, Furman became a biology major with the goal of pursuing medical school.

“I always wanted to help people and that’s why I wanted to become a doctor,” he said. “Now I realize that I can help them in other ways, by teaching or by doing research.”

Furman hopes to eventually earn his Ph.D. and teach at the university level.

He says that teaching and research are two of the three loves he discovered at CUA; the other is his fiancée, Caroline Hughes (B.S.N. 2012), a nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md.

Working with Golin and Ann K. Corsi, associate professor of biology, Furman helped develop a new course for sophomore undergraduates during his senior year that would allow them to focus specifically on research by working toward a particular research goal. As a senior and master’s student, he worked as a teaching assistant for the class.

“The green sheets [end-of-the-year evaluation forms] glow about Chris,” Golin said. “The students really like him.”

Furman said that students always knew where to find him outside of class for questions and that he has maintained relationships with some of them since.

For his service to the biology department, Furman received the Nils Steensen award in 2012, an award presented each year to a senior “who has contributed to…functions which promote a spirit of unity and augment the academic welfare of the students in the department.”

Furman worked as an operations manager for the Office of Conferences and Pryzbyla Management during his graduate year. He began to work there in his junior year as an operations assistant. He found time to help the office restructure its staff to improve communication between student and professional employees.

“Chris has not only been an outstanding employee for our office but has instituted significant changes and improvements in our daily operations” said Jessica Richard, operations coordinator for the office. “He will be leaving behind a strong team of student workers who he has trained and mentored throughout his time working in our office.”

Furman said that the five-year master’s program has let him maintain continuity in his research and studies.

“Our department’s small but we have some really top-notch professors who put out some really good work. They’re here for a reason: because they love helping students. The community aspect of the biology department is really cool,” he said. “Taking the year [to do a master’s degree], you learn not just about science, but about other things. You learn about yourself and important life lessons.”

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Chris Furman

Hometown: Stafford, Va.

Degree: Master of Science in Biology, May 18, 2013; Biology B.S. 2012

Favorite class: Cell Structure and Function with J. Michael Mullins, professor of biology.

Favorite place to study: Room 331 in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center

Favorite Pandora station while doing research: Mumford and Sons radio