As we plan for the upcoming 2016-17 academic year, we find ourselves in that exciting time of welcoming our new students into the fold. They will not start classes until late August, but right now it is time for them to SOAR!
Summer Orientation And Registration brings students to campus to meet advisors, pick their classes, and tend to all of the student life necessities associated with starting college at McMurry. No matter how many times our faculty have been part of SOARs, there is always something special about getting to know our bright, excited incoming freshmen. And it seems like there is always some new program available for our students. This year is no different, with new initiatives aimed at helping our freshmen not only survive, but thrive! And McMurry will be adding a faculty member to strengthen the BIMS program – Dr. Malaney Lopez-O’Connell, graduate of UTMB and biotechnology guru. Can’t wait to see what is in store for her!
McMurry’s BIMS program is one of the campus leaders, a large program with students who rank among the brightest and most driven on campus. That should not surprise anyone, as our students often want to be forensic scientists, doctors, dentists, and medical researchers.
Three SOARs are planned at this time: June 10-11, June 24-25, and July 29-30. There is still time for you to come join us! Call 325-793-4700 and see how you can claim your seat in the Class of 2020!
1. Honors Research. We have several students in various stages of their Honors research. Some are in their infancy – like Payden Dompe’s work snooping down the origin of moles found in our area using genetic analysis of moles found elsewhere. There’s just something crazy about trying to extract DNA from the toes of moles from museum specimens around the country… Then there’s Sophie Southwell’s continuing quest for viral DNA from bat populations. Seems she will have to focus on harvesting bat guano from wild bats instead of using materials held in deep freeze for prolonged periods of time. Some people have all the fun! And then there’s Taylor Russell’s research comparing bacterial diversity found in Winogradsky with that of Benoit columns made using sediment from the same source (Benoit columns are made using diatomaceous earth as a replacement for soils and were invented at McMurry by Dr. Tom Benoit). Her test run of the methods yielded over 170 species from 112 genera, 56 families, and 32 orders. She’s awaiting her results from experiments run in the fall and will get her analysis done in the next few weeks. All this is to say that some interesting things are a-happening!
2. Recognition. McMurry was ranked #8 small college STEM program in the country in a recent review of programs by “bestdegreeprograms.org”. STEM programs include all academic programs related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We were the top rated small college STEM program in Texas (one of only two in the ranking of the top 30 schools). Biomedical Science is mentioned specifically as one of the premier programs. We like that kind of notoriety. Their description of McMurry’s programs starts this way: “McMurry University may not be the most well-known school in Texas, but it is undoubtedly one of the most respected.” The article goes on to cite our perennial ranking as a top school in our category by U.S. News & World Report, and a Top 100 ranking nationally by Washington Monthly. Not bad!
3. On the horizon. We are excited about the return of Environmental Science next fall. The program was hugely successful in its previous iteration at McMurry and promises to rise to that level again very quickly. We are also excited about a grant that is being written this spring and which could bring some tremendous changes to our programs and facilities as early as next fall. And it all starts with great students. We were very excited to participate in Science Saturday last month and this month’s Scholarship Day. It is always fun meeting with future students and their families and starting to build those relationships that will help each major reach higher than their grasp and shine brighter than they thought possible. As usual, a large share of those students in attendance want what BIMS has to offer.
So there you have the latest from the BIMS program at small college superstar McMurry. As much as the big universities would like to think otherwise, sometimes the best surprises come in small packages!
One thing academic programs share with athletic programs is the need to establish and cultivate a pipeline of new talent into the system. One day our current students will graduate, and without new faces to take their place our programs would cease to exist. Like any team sport, being successful all boils down to numbers – recruiting great talent in quality and quantity. In the months to come, BIMS will once again make its pitch to bring in a large, talented class of bright and eager students intent on being academic superstars and thus prepare for their future careers in health professions and other fields.
One great recruiting opportunity for BIMS is in the McMurry University Honors Program. Around 30% of all Honors theses in the past few years have been written by students from one major – Biomedical Science. The other 45+ majors have contributed the rest. So, we eagerly anticipate Honors Days at McMurry. These events introduce prospective students to McMurry, our Honors program, and many Honors students. There are faculty interviews and an essay, all of which factor into awarding of very sizable merit-based scholarships. Honors Days this year will fall on November 14, November 21, and December 12, and we will be there to describe our program.
We are very excited about Science Saturday, which is coming on January 23, 2016. All prospective students with an interest in a science major will be invited to campus for the day, to hear about our programs, participate in hand-on activities related to our programs, and otherwise get a feel for the warm, welcoming environment to be found on campus. BIMS will contribute at least two activities to the morning: an epidemiology simulation/contest, and a DNA extraction and analysis activity. Students will be able to choose which sessions they can participate in, up to three during the morning session. Of course, ours will be the best.
So we hope you can make it to one of these events! If not, you can always schedule your own personal visit by calling 325-793-3800 and asking for Admissions. We look forward to getting to know you and your family and helping chart out your college career!