Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco

Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco headshot

Dr. Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner and nurse consultant. In addition to seeing patients, she teaches at the Stony Brook University School of Nursing in Stony Brook, NY. Mary Beth earned a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree (DNP), the highest level of training in nursing. She is especially interested in immunization practices and serves on the staff of the Immunization Action Coalition and on the executive board of Vaccinate Your Family.  

How did you first become interested in science?

I think I was always interested in science. I was very young when I began to look at birds and insects and wonder how they worked and did their jobs. I particularly loved biology and learning about how living things worked and how those living things interacted with and survived in the environment.

Who was your favorite science teacher growing up and why?

My favorite science teacher was Mr. James Pressley. He was my chemistry teacher in high school. Chemistry was difficult for me because I have always struggled with math. Mr. Pressley had the patience of a saint, and he pulled those chemistry problems apart so that I could see how each segment led to another. And, all of a sudden it all fit! And then I loved chemistry and did very well on the state exams.

Who is your science hero?

My science hero is Dr. Jonas Salk. Polio was a very real disease for me. My mother had polio and so did some of the children in my class in elementary school. I clearly remember when the Salk polio vaccine was released. While I did not like needles, I was so excited that there was a man who found a way to keep children from getting polio.

What advice do you have for students interested in a STEM career?

Go for it! Read everything you can about the subjects you are interested in and then try to work with someone who is in the career you are interested in pursuing. Having a mentor to teach you and be available for questions is the greatest help you can get.

What current scientific discovery or project are you most excited about?

The current scientific project I am excited about is the development of a universal influenza vaccine. I know families who have lost loved ones to influenza and the idea that just one dose of vaccine could prevent influenza for a life time is just mind boggling!