Donor Profile

Hovsepian Family Establishes the Paul Shannahan Wenger CURE Laboratory at Emmanuel College

Megan Shannahan Hovsepian '83 and Ronald Hovsepian recently made a gift of $500,000 to establish the Paul Shannahan Wenger CURE Laboratory in honor of their late nephew. The CURE Laboratory, housed in the Maureen Murphy Wilkens Science Center, will benefit the growing number of students in biology, one of Emmanuel's most popular majors, and continue to support the College’s faculty within the sciences. The Department of Biology prides itself on being on the forefront of undergraduate biology education. By integrating this course-based undergraduate research experience (CUREs), Emmanuel will be set apart from colleges and universities across the nation as one of the only institutions to offer such a program.

Through this program, student researchers are contributing to a cure for tuberculosis and examining other infectious diseases. “The Department of Biology cares deeply about our student scientists and we want them all to be happy, excited and invigorated in our classes, while being competitive for graduate school or job applications. All of this can now be fully realized in the Paul Shannahan Wenger CURE Laboratory due to a truly transformative gift from Megan and Ron Hovsepian,” said Padraig Deighan, Chair of the Department of Biology.

The laboratory honors the Hovsepian’s nephew Paul Wenger who passed away at the age of 37 after a courageous two-and-a-half-year battle with brain cancer. Wenger was a tenured assistant math professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, where his specialized research in graph theory led to 30 publications in peer reviewed journals. A devoted husband to his wife Liz and father to his young daughters Molly and Colleen, his witty personality and remarkable knowledge of all aspects in life left a lasting impression on all who knew him.

The family has strong Emmanuel College connections including not only his aunt Megan, but Paul’s mother Lorraine Shannahan Wenger '76, his aunts Jeanne M. Wenger '76 and Mary-Caryl Shannahan Ferdenzi '81, cousins Kristina Ferdenzi Dello-Iacano '08 and James Ferdenzi '13 and grandmother Ruth Harrington Wenger '49, mother of his belated father Paul Harrington Wenger.

"Our family is honored to have my son's name attached to the CURE laboratory in its goal to eradicate disease,” said Paul’s mother Lorraine Wenger. “His grandmother Ruth Harrington Wenger was a biology major with a chemistry minor who worked in the laboratories of the Deaconess Hospital following her graduation from Emmanuel. I am sure she is smiling down from heaven at the significance of this gift. I want to thank my sister and brother-in-law for their most generous bequest which, not only is deeply appreciated, but strengthens our commitment to the College."

The Hovsepians’ generosity will enhance current CURE offerings and facilitate the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment and materials. According to Padraig Deighan, the Department of Biology is "especially excited to purchase a new imaging system for visualizing DNA and proteins and to bring next generation DNA sequencing and data analyses into our laboratories.”

Faculty, student researchers and student interns will collaborate each semester to assess, modify and update the CURE curricula to stay on target with current trends within biology. Emmanuel's CURE laboratory experience puts the college on the map as it continuously strive towards a fully inclusive and diverse campus environment, particularly in the STEM fields.

The 300 student scientists participating in CURE courses in the Paul Shannahan Wenger CURE Laboratory each year will be highly trained in scientific research. The designed curriculum allows them to collaborate with their peers and faculty while practicing critical thinking and problem solving skills in real-time situations. Most importantly, Emmanuel's student scientists will continuously be challenged to use these skills and qualifications as they enter their future career paths making a positive impact on others and the world.

"My husband and I are delighted to honor our beloved nephew, Paul Shannahan Wenger, in this way,” said Megan Hovsepian. “He was a brilliant scholar and we hope his legacy will shine on all students who participate in the CURE Laboratory experience."