Hi Saints!

It’s Kelly (again) from the trip to Geneva, and although we’ve been home for a few days I’ve just gotten over the jet lag and am finally ready to brag about this amazing (and geeky) experience.

Our last few days in Geneva were kind of a whirlwind, trying to fit everything in before we had to leave. Danielle talked about our last day at CERN (which was amazing) and although we were all sad to leave the labs, it was time to experience the city. Friday evening we went out to an amazing restaurant for pizza with a former Siena student who currently works at CERN named Tom. While dinner was phenomenal, it was afterwards that the culture and people of Geneva hit us in full force.

We were lucky enough to be there during the Fêtes de Genève 2014 which was set up about two blocks from our hotel on the lake. It was a combination of a street fair and a party, with thousands of people around, going on rides and eating at restaurants which had been set up on both shores. There was live music and a Ferris Wheel, gyros and crepes and it made for an amazing final two nights in the city.

On Saturday we spent the day exploring the city by foot. After starting the day with more croissants and coffee, we headed across the lake on one of the many bridges to the area of Geneva known as the Old Town.

We toured the St. Pierre Cathedral (which was mind boggingly beautiful) as well as an old house which had been converted into a museum which recounted hundreds of years of Geneva’s history, and finished up with some chocolate shopping. That night we finally had fondue (or bread dipped in an absurd amount of delicious melted cheese) for dinner before heading back to the hotel to prepare to head home the next morning.

Although each of our posts have summarized the main activities of our time in Geneva, I think we have failed to highlight the most rewarding part. We were four undergraduate research students lucky enough to be asked to travel to Europe for a once in a lifetime experience: to see a collaboration of the worlds brightest scientists working together to solve higher level problems of the same particle physics concepts we had been working on. This is the place which boasts the worlds largest particle accelerator, as well as scientists from 113 countries and 608 universities. Work has been done here by several scientists who have then went on to win Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry, most recently with the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2013. We were surrounded by the most highly renowned scientists in the world and were welcomed by them. For example, I was introduced to Dr. Jonathan Ellis, a theoretical physicist who happened to be quoted and referenced several times in a book I was reading (and was also interviewed on the Daily Show, how cool). He was not only more than willing to talk to me, he also took the time to explain how they had been able to use the discovery of the W and Z bosons to approximate the mass of the Higgs prior to its discovery. The nerd in me was unbelievably star stuck because this was a man who was a huge contributor to this discovery and had been seen as one of the leaders of the project for decades and he briefly explained to me factors vital to its development.

Not only did this trip introduce us all to a new European city, we were lucky enough to spend a week working at a place which most physicists only aspire to see someday, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). This was truly an eye opening experience which none of us will ever forget however I know we will all keep working with the hope of being invited back in the future to contribute to the many discoveries left to be made. 

Thanks for reading!



I can’t believe is actually over. I know that with blogs, you’re typically supposed to update every single day and believe me, I tried!! But while I was here, I truly was going non-stop from one exciting thing to the next. And I want to make sure you all get a taste of what I just experienced.

When I first arrived, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. What was it going to be like working with all of these huge names in the business?? We’re the other apprentices going to be extremely snotty and entitled???? Well, I should’ve known better. The faculty that I got to work with here in Tampa was unlike any other. Many of them worked on Broadway and a couple even originated some roles. For example, one of my mentors, Ann Morrison, who is like a mother to me now, was the original Mary in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. And you would think that with their success and their wealth of experience there would have been some sort of divide between faculty and apprentice. That is just not true. I have made some lifelong friends that are on that faculty and, as Annie said to me, they were all learning from us while we were learning from them.

And when it comes to the apprentices, let’s just say that these are my kind of people. All of them were so loving and kind and so easy to relate to. I know I’m leaving Tampa with a large amount of friends the expand not only across the country but across this continent. I’m going to miss them all so much and I can guarantee that no matter what happens in life, our paths will definitely cross again.

And then there were the guest artists!!!! All of them were absolutely phenomenal and down to earth. They offered us all so much meaningful advice that I will now hold near and dear to my heart forever. “Who were they?” you ask?? Well let me give you a portion of the list: Donna Mckechnie, youtube sensation Todrick Hall, In The Heights star Mandy Gonzalez, the most recent Billy Flynn on Broadway Brent Barrett, two phenomenal and intelligent casting directors, Jay Binder and Duncan Stewart, rock audition goddess Sheri Sanders, musical genius David Friedman and the list goes on and on. But the most important had to have been the legend Ben Vereen. He spent the last few days of the program with us and became the Artistic Director of our final showcase. He really proved to us all that we are the change that needs to happen in the world and we can do it whether we’re in the arts or not. He is a man that truly knows how to light a fire in your soul.

But, the woman I need to thank the most is the woman that allowed me to be a part of this journey: Deb McWaters. She has helped confirm in my heart that this is the field that I need to go into. These are the people that I must surround myself with. I know that I have a talent that I need to share with the world whether that’s on Broadway or in community theatre. I can’t say it enough. Thank you, Deb.

All in all, this experience has been like no other and, now knowing that I can return in years to come, I definitely believe that I will be visiting Tampa quite frequently. Thanks again to all that helped me get here and for the support and love you’ve given me. You all hold a very special place in my heart.




Hi Saints! 

Today was our last day at the CERN site :( . We went to the museum-type exhibits that CERN has for the general public, along with a few souvenir purchases of course. First we saw where the world wide web was created, which is pretty cool considering that without it I wouldn’t be able to post this. 

One of the exhibits that we saw was called The Universe of Particles and it was in this big wooden globe.  

It had some cool parts from CERN’s experiments, like pixels which they use to track particles in the detectors. There was also a nice presentation that I’m pretty sure explained the big bang and the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), though I’m not totally sure because it was in French, but it was accompanied by some cool video and simulation. 

In the second exhibit we saw part of the UA1 detector which was used in the discovery of two of the elementary particles, the W boson and the Z boson, in the 1980’s. 

All of the black slices are the same circuit board repeated hundreds of times, it’s crazy to see. 

When we got back to the hotel Amanda and myself went out exploring for a little because it was a beautiful day here in Geneva. 

Tomorrow is our last day here and we intend to spend it exploring. It’s been great sharing out trip with all of you! 

Until tomorrow,



Hello from Geneva!

It’s Amanda checking in from Switzerland.  The weather finally cleared up here and we were finally able to get a view of the Swiss Alps from CERN and the view is amazing!

After another early morning here filled with coffee and croissants, the Siena crew took a walk across the street from the main CERN campus to take a trip back underground to visit the ATLAS experiment. ATLAS is another particle physics experiment that takes place at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) here at CERN.  ATLAS is twice as tall, but half the weight of the CMS experiment. 

 After our tour of ATLAS we had a short break before we had a guided tour of CERN. During our tour we got a chance to see the first particle accelerator at CERN.  This particle accelerator was the Synchroncyctron.  This accelerator is relatively small compared to the LHC, but still very impressive.  The tour of the Synchroncyctron included an awesome light show describing all the parts of the particle accelerator.  

Bonne nuit!



Hello from Geneva!

It’s Kelly and Jess (senior physics majors) checking in! After a major flight delay out of Albany which led to a spontaneous road trip to Newark in order to make our connecting flight, followed by an hour and a half delay on the runway we finally took off on our way to Switzerland! Eight hours, 4 movies and two airplane meals later we arrived at Geneva Airport at around 8:30 am, to a beautiful day!

As it was still too early to check in to our hotel, we hopped on a bus and headed to the outskirts of Geneva to CERN! After refueling with some much needed coffee, we spent most of the day finding our way around and filling out some of the required paperwork in order to be on site. The campus is huge, and the cafeteria was busier than Saga during free period (and everyone was speaking a different language). After lunch, and more coffee, we bunkered down in a café area to wait for even more paperwork to be filed. It was there that the long day and flight finally hit some of the members of our group.

We finally decided to head to the hotel, in the center of Geneva, where we grabbed a quick dinner of sandwiches and were all asleep by 8 pm.

Wednesday started out with coffee and croissants at CERN before we headed on a special field trip. We met up with a Cornell Postdoc named Louise who has been working remotely with Dr. Bellis for about a year on research. She helped show us around the campus yesterday however today she took us a little off campus, to the opposite side of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) ring which was about a 20 minute drive through the French countryside. We were able to go about 100 meters underground, where she gave us a tour of an experiment called CMS which stands for Compact Muon Solenoid. It was about five stories high, and weighs more than the Eiffel Tower. This huge detector was incredibly complex and had to be lowered piece by piece down 300 feet, which is unbelievable considering the sensitivity and precision with which it measures. We are heading back to the hotel shortly, and we have plans to see another experiment tomorrow. We will check in later!



Au revoir!

Kelly & Jess






Hello and goodbye all!

I am writing my last blog post from Albany. I made it back home on Saturday night. My time at WCL was amazing. I want to thank the Program on Law and Government at WCL for having me. I did a lot of research-based projects that have better prepared me for law school. Also, thank you to Siena and Dr. Cutler for this opportunity. I enjoyed being a Summer Legal Fellow and can’t wait to share my experiences with family and friends.

My last two weeks flew by. I continued working on the comparative health law project. I spent most of my time trying to find articles of someone’s personal experience with a health care system in another country. One of the most interesting stories was a U.S. woman who moved to France and then got pregnant with her second child. She had only been a residence for a couple weeks and she had a doctor’s appointment. She hadn’t received her health care card yet so the receptionist at the doctor’s office told her it was going to be more expensive without her card. The pregnant woman got nervous and said I only have $1,000. Next, the woman describes the receptionist as “giving her a funny look”, telling her it wouldn’t be more than $200. I liked reading stories like this because it shows how different each system is. Some people receive more affordable care; yet have to wait a long time to get seen by doctors. Other systems have top-notch technology and specialists, but the care is very expensive. Professor Klepper took all of the articles and created a packet, which will be given to each student who takes her class. It was really rewarding to see the finished product.

I also went to some fun events. Professor Wermiel took Steven and I to a Nationals game. He treated us to dinner in the Diamond Club, which was delicious. We then had seats right behind home plate. This was one of my favorite experiences of the whole summer.  I also went to the Newseum. I heard great things about this place from people at home and it definitely lived up to my expectations. I was able to take a picture in front of the Berlin Wall! It was my favorite exhibit. The Newseum also had a great section of photography. There was so much to see and read that I went two days in a row and still missed things. My favorite experience of these past two weeks was dinner at Professor Klepper’s house. She invited Steven and I over for dinner with her husband and kids. It was nice to have a home cooked meal. Her husband is a lawyer and he is familiar with New York. He shared some personal stories of his time at NYU Law School. It was great to talk to both of them about their careers and about life in general.

I really enjoyed blogging this summer. I am happy I got to share this wonderful experience with you all. Thank you for following me! I want to give a special thanks to Siena Athletics for promoting my blog on social media. Hopefully I will get to do something awesome like this again (and blog about it)! 



Hello Saints!

My name is Danielle Berish. I just graduated from Siena, where I majored in physics. For the last year and a half of my time at Siena I did research under Dr. Bellis. We were studying one of the fundamental particles, the top quark, using data from CERN’s Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment which is part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on the border of Switzerland and France (near Geneva, Switzerland). 

The LHC is the worlds largest particle accelerator consisting of a 27 kilometer (17 mile) ring of superconducting magnets 175 meters (574 feet) underground. 

And on Monday myself, three Siena students, Jessica Muenkel, Kelly Nealon, and Amanda Depoian, along with Dr. Bellis will be flying to Geneva to work at CERN for a few days! I’m excited to share my trip with you and can’t wait to show you all of the wonderful things that I am sure we will be seeing! 

- Danielle Berish 


Spain Adventures - Week 4

Hola to all my fellow Siena Saints, family, and friends!

It’s so mind-blowing to think that as I wrote the title of this blog post, I was entering my fifth week here in the beautiful country of Spain. Time has flown by, and with only a week and a half left, it is saddening to think that my time here is almost over. There is definitely some nostalgia setting in, and I’m starting to think of the little things I’ll miss the most here, like tapas, the friendly people, the warm sense of community in the “city” of Bilbao, walking to class every morning seeing the city skyline, riding the metro almost every day, grabbing a “café con leche, largo de leche” (coffee with milk…but lot’s of milk, more so than coffee) in between classes at the same cafe served by the same woman each day, living at the residence hall in my room at the end of the hallway, and much more. I can honestly say that this has been the most memorable and amazing experience of my life thus far, and I am so grateful to everyone who had a part in me coming here, namely my professor here with me, Dr. Garces, my parents and grandparents, CIDE, Siena, and the study abroad office consisting of Br. Brian, Greg, and Michele. I am forever indebted to all who assisted me and supported my study abroad endeavors - thank you. 

This past week has been filled with lots of small trips and miscellaneous fun adventures.  The weather was actually gorgeous with the sun out in full blast, providing three great beach days.  Each day, I visited a different beach along the northern shore of Spain, and each beach belongs to a different coastal community of the Greater Bilbao area; all are accessible by metro, making it easy to get to the beaches. These beaches, Arrigunaga, Ereaga, and Sopelana, are picturesque; the cliffs surrounding them are breathtaking, and I even got to hike while at the beach one day on the cliffs, walking out to the northernmost point in the area, Punta Galea.  The views were amazing, and the hike was definitely worthwhile!

I also participated in another round of indulging in pinxtos, Bilbao’s tapas, in the Old Quarter with my friends; this time I tried a quesadilla (yes, more Mexican than Spanish) and a small bite-sized egg, ham, sausage, and cheese biscuit-type tapa - yummy!  Furthermore, I made a visit to the mall to check out the end of the rebajas (big rebates in the month of July) and was able to buy two shirts for very reasonable prices.  I also went with my friends to a Mexican restaurant (yes in Spain) for some great quesadillas and nachos (I know, what a traitor move). On Saturday, my friends and I visited the local aquarium, which boasted many different species of fish native to the Greater Bilbao area, a really neat sight to see and learn about; while there in the downtown beach area, we walked along the water and took in some great sights!  

Today, my friends and I went to another downtown beach locale where there is a famous bridge called the Puente Colgante, which literally means “hanging bridge.” It retains this name because it offers a hanging sort of ferry/transporter across from one side of the bridge (one town) to the other side of the bridge (another town); the Bilbao River separates the two pieces of land.  So, this ferry-like transporter is suspended from the bridge, hanging and tethered, and it has been in operation for decades.  It transports people every few minutes across the water, and a few cars can travel each trip, too.  The trip across the water only lasts about two minutes, but it is so different and exhilarating!  When you look down, you just see the water below you!  My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed making this trip across the river and back, huddling together at first but then feeling confident, enjoying this ride suspended above the water in this small, hanging compartment!  While in the area, we shopped a bit and walked along the river, grabbing the locally-famous “bollo de mantequilla” (roll with butter, covered in sugar - amazing and delicious!) and trying a kebab; the kebab is not meat on a stick, like in the US, but instead is chicken and all sorts of vegetables and special sauces in a gyro-like roll/wrap - very interesting!  The day was very enjoyable, and I have now crossed off most of the things that were on my bucket-list to do/see while in Bilbao/Spain!  

The week ahead brings the last full week of classes before final exams at the start of next week.  I head home next Wednesday, July 30; I don’t want to think about it yet, though!  This week will also be full of small, mini-adventures, for sure.  Last but not least, I will be traveling to Barcelona this coming weekend, and I am super excited to see all of the sights that this magnificent, huge city has to offer!  

I hope everyone back in the US or abroad is enjoying their time/the summer, and I’m wishing all my fellow Saints, friends, and family well! I will update after the Barcelona trip/before I leave, for one last time! 

- Valerie Zeffiro 

Difficult to see, but this is the hanging ferry-like transporter approaching from the other side of the bridge/water! 

The Hanging Bridge.

The Hanging Bridge.

The Hanging Bridge.

Quesadillas at the Mexican Restaurant in Spain!


Sopelana beach!

post-hike to get up to these amazing views!

view of Bilbao from my morning walk to class!

Arrigunaga Beach.

Arrigunaga Beach from above on the hike.

Plaza Nueva for tapas.

View along the waterway.

The Puente Colgante (hanging bridge)! 






Hello loyal blog readers,

Time is moving quickly as I only have two weeks left in D.C. I am not ready to leave! As usual, I had a great time since my last blog update. I spent the Fourth of July weekend visiting my aunt and cousin in Virginia Beach. It was so nice spending quality time together and catching up on life.

I received a really substantive and interesting project from Professor Leesa Klepper. Spring 2015 she is teaching a comparative health law class so I am looking at the different health care systems from countries around the world. I am analyzing whether each system is effective or not. I will then take the information and update her syllabus. Professor Klepper has been such a great person to work for. She answers all of my law school questions and she gives great advice on the application process. She even went out of her way to help me update my resume. This Sunday she has invited Steven and I to a bbq at her house with her family. I look forward to that and I hope to keep in touch with her when this experience is over.

I’ve also been busy attending different events. I went to the law firm Arnold and Porter for a D.C. Bar Supreme Court Wrap Up lunch event. Different journalists were talking about the major cases the court decided this term and what they expect for next year. The firm was very large and very beautiful. I sat at a table with lawyers from the EEOC so it was also a great chance to network. One of the highlights of last week was going to the Montgomery County Circuit Court. Steven and I went with a group of international students from Turkey to Judge Mason’s Court. There were pre-trial motions from a murder case where a husband and a wife allegedly killed the husband’s ex-wife. The attorneys were arguing for a separate trial but the judge did not grant that request. It was my first time seeing alleged murderers in court so I was intrigued by their demeanor. It was great hearing the arguments from both the defense and the state lawyers. 

Since I am in D.C. I thought it would be very beneficial to check out the other law schools in the area. On Friday, I had the chance to attend an info session with admissions at Georgetown Law. They are currently ranked as the 13th best law school. The school itself was absolutely beautiful. It has five buildings and a three-story gym!  The info session was as informative as I could of hoped for. Allison, the director of admissions, talked about what makes Georgetown law unique and what they look for in applicants. She told me what the most important parts of the application are, and how to make my application stand out.

This past weekend I went to Jazz in the Garden, which is live music at the National Gallery of Art. The law and government’s dean fellow, Lillie, invited me. I was able to talk to her friends about their law school experiences thus far and about their interests in law. I had a great time. Lillie is a rising 2L student who has made my experience in Washington great. I hope to stay in touch with her as well.

Finally, Dr. Cutler visited Steven and I today. We went to lunch and chatted about our time in D.C. I was very excited to update him on everything I’ve been doing. I owe this experience to him, and I cannot put into words how appreciative I am. I will write again soon!



Hola from Spain - Week 3!

Hola to all my friends, family, and fellow Saints!

It’s hard to believe it has been three weeks so far!  Today marks the start of my fourth week here, and time has literally flown by. It’s so bittersweet because with each passing day, I look to the next full of adventure and activities, but that only means it’s closer to the time I must leave this beautiful country. 

This past week was full of many new adventures with my new friends here!  Some highlights include a trip to a local beach called “Las Arenas” (“the sands” in Spanish) for some beautiful views of the Port of Bilbao and tanning time, of course; a visit to the cultural center and contemporary arts museum here in Bilbao; some more shopping during “rebajas” time (rebates this month!); some pinxtos (tapas) eating in the Old Quarter; and an amazing ride up the mountains via funicular (a kind of street car/cable car - so so cool!) to get some breathtaking views of Bilbao as a whole!

One of the main highlights of this week was going to the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, a nearby autonomous community.  It is a weeklong festival centered on bull fighting, an ancient religious festival, and wine!  I was fortunate enough to be able to witness the Running of the Bulls (the Encierro), in which all the bulls run from the starting point through the streets of Pamplona into the Plaza de Toros (bull ring) in order to commence their fighting.  It is interesting to note that people do run with the bulls throughout the streets (I know - CRAZY!), which often results in injury and has caused death before when people were not careful and the bulls were unpredictable.  Once the bulls are in the stadium, the runners gather around the arena and try to provoke the bulls and fight them, and often they get trampled!  It was an interesting sight to see, but it is definitely one of Spain’s traditions that I am a bit wary of!  Then, at nighttime, the bulls fight each other, and in the end, all of the bulls die or are killed.  The tradition is for all of the pamploneses (people of Pamplona) to don white and red during the festival and at the bull fighting events, so we all did so as well! This experience was definitely unforgettable!  The same day we traveled as a group to San Sebastian, a beach town in Spain, which has amazing views and beautiful waters!  While only there for a short amount of time, we hiked up a small mountain to get good views of the sea and town! It made for an amazing day. :)

Furthermore, I traveled to a place called San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, an islet (island connected to mainland by a man-made walkway) that contains an old hermitage dedicated to St. John the Baptist.  The trip there by bus took about 30 minutes but then between getting out to the islet and coming back to the bus stop, we walked about 8 kilometers!! It was such a long and tiring hike, but it was great exercise and well worth our while. San Juan is an amazingly beautiful place, and the views as one climbs across and up the man-made walkway to get to the hermitage atop the islet are utterly picturesque.  I took some great pictures, and it was really fun being atop the islet at the hermitage, exploring and ringing the old church bell, a tradition for all visitors! 

Lastly, but certainly not least, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to France this past weekend with my friends. The trip by bus from Bilbao to the South of France, precisely the beach and tourist town of Biarritz, took approximately three hours.  It is interesting to note that since France and Spain are both part of the European Union, there is no need to go through customs and present a passport when traveling past the border; the only need for a passport is when and if a police officer were to do a check and ask one to present his/her passport to ensure safety.

The town of Biarritz is so beautiful and precious, and the French influence is clearly visible! I do not know how to speak French, but I learned some basic words that day in order to successfully get around and order/ask for what I wanted (merci, s’il vous plait, bonjour, etc.)!  The architecture is of French style, and it was so interesting being immersed in French culture for a day!  My friends and I hiked up to the lighthouse and got some great views of the sea and city, went shopping in the local tourist shops and clothing stores, took a walk to the different beaches around where we relaxed for quite some time while enjoying the gorgeously warm and sunny weather (interesting note - the beaches didn’t quite have sand but instead were more rocky, but the rocks were small and fine enough that they weren’t a nuisance!), and partook of the French staple foods - a croissant that was delicious, a macaroon, coffee, and many other little French goodies/pastries!  However, we resorted to our roots during a meal in which we went to an American diner and ate burgers!  Needless to say, this trip was perfect and I am so thankful that I had the chance to visit yet another country!  Vive la France! 

Well, it is the start of another week, and I have some homework to do now for my classes!  Hopefully this week brings many more adventures that I can write about next week :). I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying summer!  

Best wishes from España!

- Valerie Zeffiro 


Bull fighting/provocation of the bulls with all the runners in the ring, in Pamplona! 

My friends and I donning white and red in the name of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona!

By the shore at Las Arenas beach!

Atop the cliffs nearby Biarritz, France!

View of the beach at Biarritz, France!

By the beach in Biarritz, France!

At San Juan! 

San Juan!

San Juan!

Atop San Juan!

View at Las Arenas in Bilbao!

Atop the mountains in Bilbao with a spectacular view!


Saints Beyond

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