Awesome authors

Students and professor team up to research and write scholarly articles about COVID

Professors at Loyola University Chicago School of Law strive to give students meaningful extracurricular experiences that build skills, confidence—and resumes. Students frequently serve as research assistants to Loyola’s prolifically publishing law faculty, and the efforts of third-year students Elise Fester and Becky Bavlsik yielded particularly impressive and timely results: With Professor Jordan Paradise, each student coauthored a coronavirus-focused article that will appear in a prestigious law journal.

“It was nice to channel anxiety around the pandemic into something productive, and I’m grateful to Professor Paradise for this unique experience.”

Engaging students

Paradise, Georgia Reithal Professor of Law and codirector of the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy, researches and publishes on the intersection of law, science, and technology. Her primary focus is on life sciences law, examining legal and policy issues in the development and regulation of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and innovations in medicine. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolved, she kept tabs in real time to determine whether the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) altered the ways it regulates and communicates in response to the public health crisis.

“I saw an opportunity to do an interesting methodological investigation within this small timeframe,” says Paradise.

With an already full plate of research and writing, Paradise knew she needed help analyzing FDA materials—and realized Fester and Bavlsik could assist while gaining valuable experience. Fester, a former public health associate at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a health law fellow at the Beazley Institute and shares Paradise’s interests in health law and emerging technology. Bavlsik has a background in healthcare and an interest in the life sciences.  Both were students in Paradise’s upper-level courses on issues in genetics and life science regulation.

“The administrative law implications of this pandemic are going to resound for a long time, and this is a really rich area for students to get involved in,” Paradise says.

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Expanding subject matter

Paradise and Fester qualitatively and quantitatively explored recent FDA activity against allegedly violative medical products—such as unapproved drugs—that were promoted or advertised as COVID-19 treatments or preventions.  Their methodology included online searches and analysis of the FDA’s publicly available materials, including warning letters to companies in alleged violation of agency standards and information to consumers.

With a similar methodology, Paradise and Bavlsik explored 64 FDA guidance documents—on topics as diverse as allowing clinical trial protocol changes to accommodate distancing, emergency-use authorization for coronavirus vaccines, and steps for safely reconverting cold-storage food vehicles that had been temporarily used for human remains—to learn how the FDA has balanced rapid response with safety and efficacy during the pandemic. They also examined the scope of President Trump’s executive orders impacting FDA rulemaking and policy implementation, as well as actions by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The overlapping research resulted in two papers. “FDA Publicity and Enforcement in the COVID Era,” coauthored by Paradise and Fester, appears in the Washburn Law Journal (2020). “Pandemic Politics, Public Health, and the FDA,” coauthored by Paradise and Bavlsik, has been accepted for publication in the Belmont Law Review for spring 2021.

“The two pieces fit together well,” Paradise says. “They examine the same agency during the same period, but one is focused on enforcement and publicity procedures and the other on agency policymaking and politics.”

Unique experience

The editor-in-chief of the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Bavlsik says she’s thrilled to have written a scholarly article. “I’ve been on the other side of editing journal articles, and I feel much more confident in my ability to write one now,” she says.

“Professor Paradise spends a lot of time helping students learn to write interesting, well-structured essays that have good chances of getting published,” adds Bavlsik, whose first step after graduation will be clerking in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Says Fester, “It was nice to channel anxiety around the pandemic into something productive, and I’m grateful to Professor Paradise for this unique experience. She was incredibly supportive, and I’ve learned so much from her.” After graduation, Fester will work as a clerk for the Minnesota Court of Appeals. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this experience helped me secure the position,” she says. 

Paradise, who says she’s proud of the students’ outstanding work, believes she’s just paying forward the mentorship she received as a law student.

“One of the best things I did in law school was conduct research with a professor that resulted in coauthorship on a publication,” she says, “so it means a lot to me to offer opportunities that may help get students somewhere professionally.” –Gail Mansfield


The Health Justice Project is a key component of Loyola’s nationally recognized Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy. Through specialized degree and certificate programs, leading clinical and externship opportunities, scholarly publications, and renowned faculty scholars, the Beazley Institute educates the health law leaders of tomorrow. Learn More