The Westfield Voice

The Student News Site of Westfield State University

The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

CURCA Column

Of Football and (Macro)Phages

Evan Lucey is a tall man with tall plans. A four-year member of Westfield State University’s football team, Lucey carefully budgets time between athletics, academics, and personal goals; including presenting his research at CURCA this December. Lucey’s research relates to the human immune system, and he is currently preparing to apply for medical school.

Athletics, school, and research… How to you manage it all without going crazy? 

“Time management is key,” Lucey said. “Especially important with football, is discipline.” Lucey also recounted how football has made him a better team player, which translates well working in a lab setting. Lucey is part of a three-person team, all working on similar projects. 

What is your research on? 

Lucey’s project relates to the immune system and white blood cells called macrophages. Macrophages specialize in responses particular to the body’s needs. The conditions that make macrophages specialize, and their corresponding immune response, is vitally important, but contested knowledge.  

Scientists need to know how macrophages respond to illness in order to make progress on more serious matters, like cancer and HIV treatment. Lucey’s project aims to answer some of the basic questions about macrophages and wound healing, so that future scientists can use his study as a starting point for other experiments. “It’s like a never-ending cycle of scientific progress.”  Said Lucey.

Where did your interest in macrophages originate from?

Lucey may recognize his interest for medicine now, but it wasn’t always that way. Lucey came to WSU undeclared and interested in criminal justice. “I took my EMT B class going into my sophomore year. […] Junior year, I started working 60-70 hours a week over the summer. […] That’s where I first became interested in emergency medicine.” Lucey’s summer job working for Trinity EMS propelled him to medical research,  and the desire to become a physician. “I really love [the medical field]; everything’s a puzzle.”

Lucey traced the origins of his research project to his intro biology lab with Dr. Holdaway. “I was always interested in the process leading up to discoveries,” Lucey said. “[Dr. Holdaway] made it sound really cool, the way everything comes together. […] How long it takes to produce great research. […] He got me really curious.”

Armed with curiosity, Lucey contacted Dr. Holdaway, who referred him to Dr. Porter, who teaches medical microbiology.  

What are some challenges you have faced during this project? 

“As a movement science major, I had to go out of my way to seek this kind of research opportunity,” said Lucey, noting the many hours spent with Khan Academy and Dr. Porter learning foundational skills. Lucey also noted how microbiology “is frustrating because you can’t usually see what’s going on, and most of the time, things don’t go as planned.” Spoken like a true microbiologist. 

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