The past few weeks have brought news concerning the next phases of life for three of our Biology Department graduates.
Dr. Gena Jester Nichols. Gena was a Biology major who did her Honors research with Dr. Brian Waters sequencing a gene for iron uptake in plants. She completed her PhD at Wake Forest and a post-doctoral fellowship at Tulane. This fall she will begin as an Assistant Professor in Biology at Averett University in Virginia.
Dr. Andrew Hockert. Andrew was a Biology major who completed his doctorate in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at Texas Tech University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Lubbock. He has been named the Chair for the Department of Biology at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky.
Toyosi Adewunmi. Toyosi has been accepted into the South Texas Doctoral Bridge Program. As described the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, “[t]he South Texas Doctoral Bridge Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), promotes the participation of individuals from underrepresented groups in the pursuit of advanced degrees in biomedical research by providing financial and academic support, and professional development activities. The program is a partnership between the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and Texas State University in San Marcos.” At McMurry, Toyosi worked with Dr. Hyunshun Shin in Honors research and was active in campus life. Since graduatiion with her BS in Biomedical Science, Toyosi has been working in a research lab in Houston.
We would like to hear from others! Please contact Dr. Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can celebrate your achievements with you!
It has been a long time since the last BIMS page post back in November. Part of the reason is the busyness of the end of the semester, the Holidays, and other diversions at the end of the year (after all, there ARE 35 bowl games!). But a big part of the reason is the tragic and untimely death of someone very important to the early days of the BIMS program. One of our first three BIMS graduates was Lauren Bump, the first recipient of the Danny Cooley Award for the outstanding BIMS student. After graduation in Fall 2010, Lauren was accepted into Physician Assistant programs and entered Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas to begin that journey. She was home visiting her family in her beloved San Antonio when she lost her life on New Years Eve at the hands of an attacker in a park near her home.
Lauren was gentle and kind and encouraging and joyful. She loved science and medicine and she loved Jesus. The kind of young lady you’d love to have as a daughter or daughter-in-law. No vanity, no arrogance, no conceit, no jealousy. There are too few people like her in this world, and losing one of them affected people who knew her (and many who didn’t) in profound ways. I found out of her death from one of her McMurry classmates on New Year’s Day, and like so many others in Abilene and San Antonio and Arkansas felt an emptiness and sadness that I still carry around. You see, at small Christian colleges like McMurry and Harding, we don’t just teach students but we invest in them. We give generously to them everything we’ve learned for the purpose of growing them as young men and women and future scientists and healthcare providers so that they may one day do far greater things for this world than we have. And when one in whom we’ve lovingly placed so much of ourselves and our experiences and in whom we find so much hope is taken from us, our sense of loss is great. But in the midst of loss, there is victory for Lauren as she sees her Savior face to face.
Her funeral was attended by over 1,200 and 300 gave their lives to that same Savior, having seen in her life lived for Him the very things missing in their own. Even in the midst of her death, The Redeemer brought new life to others. A life of love and service and faith is never wasted, and so it was with Lauren’s. In my church on Sunday we were shown a video that portrayed the truth that our lives touch those of many others we will never know – a sort of “It’s a Wonderful Life” truth beyond our understanding. I was reminded of Lauren and reassured that her life of love and service and faith was not wasted – countless others have (and will be) impacted by the life she lived.
So, how do we move forward? Many initiatives have begun in Lauren’s memory – fundraising for a variety of things near to the hearts of Lauren and her family. At McMurry, Lauren’s club sisters in Gamma Sigma have begun planning for a fitting tribute, one that is not just a memorial with a name but a living memorial that seeks to perpetuate her beautiful spirit so that those who could never know her will learn what it means and what it gains when one seeks to “#livelikelauren”. The Biology Department has begun discussions of how we might honor future students whose commitment to a life of healing, hope, faith, and service carries on the legacy of this beautiful child of God. We give thanks for having known her and shared life together during her time in Abilene. Bye, Lauren, until we meet again.
Outstanding First Year Student: Heather Rawls (she also was the outstanding freshman chemistry student!)
Outstanding Second Year Student: Christina Barr
Outstanding Third Year Student: Toyosi Adewunmi
Outstanding Fourth Year Student: Chris Tatum
Danny Cooley Award Winner: Brad Rowland
The Danny Cooley Award is in memory of McMurry alum Dr. Danny Cooley, who as a graduate student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at TTU discovered the cause of sick building syndrome. Danny was an outstanding student, war veteran, decorated firefighter, and man of great character. The recipient exhibits similar qualities and receives a financial award to help with the cost of their education.
In addition to the BIMS program awards, other BIMS majors also received awards from other areas of campus for their academic achievements.
Recently declared BIMS major Nicole McGunegle was named Outstanding First Year Writer by the Department of English.
Miranda Nguyen received the All-Conference Distinguished Scholar-Athlete Award for Women’s Soccer.
Our congratulations to each of these students! BIMS majors are widely acknowledge as among the best students on campus and you make us proud!