Featured Department: Biology 10/13

Students working in a Biol 217 Human A&P lab

Students working in a Biol 217 Human A&P lab

The Biology Department is one of the most popular departments at CBU. The department serves 122 majors (77 biology and 45 biomedical science) as well as other science and engineering majors (38 biochemistry, 37 natural science, 10 chemistry, and a few chemical engineering students also taking biology classes). The department has an excellent record of preparing students for medical school and other health related professional schools. A second area of growing strength is in the ecology area – see the article on the new Ecology major earlier in this newsletter. In addition to the health and the ecology/environmental areas, there have been several other disciplines and graduate programs that students with biology degrees have chosen to pursue as careers (Ph.D., M.S., governmental positions).

Students working on a biology field trip.

Students working on a biology field trip.

One of the strengths of the Biology Department, like all departments at CBU, is the caring nature of its faculty. That care for the students shows up in many forms, both formally in lecture, lab and field trips, and informally in their interactions with students in the hall, in the office, and in the Beta Beta Beta student honor society, with Dr. Mary Ogilvie as the faculty sponsor. Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger is the department chair. She is promoting the Public Health concentration, as well as teaching Genetics and Microbiology. While Br. Edward has retired, he is still on campus and teaches BIOL 346 Evolution and BIOL 111 Principles of Biology. Dr. Stan Eisen is the Director of the Pre-Health Program and works very hard to give CBU students the best opportunity to succeed in a very competitive field. He arranges for visitors to campus to talk to students concerning careers, and several other pre-health events. He also assists via individual counseling and via his web pages as well as the Caduceus newsletters. Dr. Eisen also takes students as an option in some of his classes to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Biloxi, Mississippi, with other biology faculty, to give CBU students a coastal field experience.

Students working in Biol 211 Embryology lab.

Students working in the Biol 211 Embryology lab.

Dr. Anna Ross is the departmental webmaster and is famous for her web pages that support the students in their learning, and keeping everyone up to date through the biology list. Dr. Mary Ogilvie teaches the honors Principles of Biology sections and directs the BIOL 362, Biology Seminar. This course prepares students for their senior research. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald supports the students through placement in lab positions in their senior research projects locally as well as international research opportunities through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter). Dr. Katie Sauser teaches a variety of courses, including Toxicology and Pharmacology, and is the department’s safety officer. Dr. James Moore has involved several students on projects ranging from exotic invasive tree competition to detection of Chytrid fungus on amphibians. Dr. Moore currently has a grant in review with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to examine the effects of pesticides on ranavirus prevalence in Chelonids (turtles).  Ms Lynda Miller is an integral part of the department, serving to coordinate the laboratory preparations, overseeing the work-study students, and teaching courses pertinent to the Ecology degree program.  She has also served as a mentor for some on campus projects and the Natural Science Thesis class.

Students working in the Principles of Biology I lab

Students working in the Principles of Biology I lab

Another major strength of the department is its commitment to making the science real to its students. Science, and biology in particular, is image oriented. To make the subject real and visual, the department has developed labs to accompany most of its courses, and it has developed web resources that are image intensive. There are 30 biology lecture classes and 21 of them have labs attached! In addition to the regular courses taught in biology, adjunct professors frequently teach special topics classes. This semester Dr. Joy Layton is offering her Entomology course (BIOL 420), and in the spring of 2014 will teach a course entitled Introduction to Medical/Forensic Entomology.  Br. Tom Sullivan is looking forward to teaching a BIOL 112  Principles of Biology Lab this Spring Semester and hopefully the BIOL 303 Algae, Fungi and Lichens in the Fall. This summer he assisted Lynda Miller in mentoring three high school students doing lichen research for the Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (R.E.A.P.) He is also Director of Campus Ministry and does Vocation/Formation work for the Brothers.

Students working in the BIOL 312 Human Physiology Lab

Students working in the BIOL 312 Human Physiology Lab.   Student teams drew brain anatomy and function on the swim caps.

An important component of any science education is research. Research gives motivation and context to the work done in lecture and lab. In the CBU Biology Department, research is interwoven into the curriculum. It starts with a discussion section in the freshmen Principles of Biology courses (BIOL 111 & 112). Several courses have small research components in them or research papers to prepare students for writing their original research. Biology Seminar in the junior year is when students see presentations made by area researchers and helps them in choosing a senior internship project. The culmination is the capstone three-semester series of Senior Research. Students conduct research with either local researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, the Memphis Zoo, through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter), clinical facilities or with CBU faculty. Students present their research at local, regional or national scientific meetings. Many of our students have won awards for their research, and a number have had their research published in peer-reviewed articles over the last ten years.

The results of a CBU biology degree, and with any of the CBU science degrees, are quite impressive.  The statistics for the past five years for acceptance into medical and other health professional schools remain well above national averages.