Anyone who has traveled to or from a place off-the-beaten-path knows that the most stressful part of the trip often centers on making your connections. Completing one leg of a trip is all well and good, but starting the next leg depends on all the pieces falling into place at the right time and the right place.
Attention to the logistics between stages of life can make those transitions between programs less stressful and subject to disruption! At McMurry, the BIMS program is working to smooth out connections for students in pursuit of their career goals in biotech, forensics, and the health professions. We are creating ways to seamlessly connect a junior college program in Biotech with our BIMS degree, and our BIMS program with a variety of graduate and professional programs for our majors and graduates.
Students completing their certification in biotechnology from Cisco College can receive BIMS program credit when they enter McMurry to pursue a BS in Biomedical Science degree. The seamless connections do not stop there. Our BIMS majors can choose to pursue one of our early acceptance/early admission articulations with dental or physical therapy schools. Similar agreements are being developed with schools of pharmacy, chiropractic, and other health professions, and with a graduate program in biotechnology. As these are finalized, expect announcements through this webpage.
Suffice it to say, BIMS wants to insure our students “make their connections” along their journey toward their pursuit of health professions careers. A veritable golf cart honking its way through the crowd at the airport, getting our students from one stage of life to the next.
For the past decade, one of the most popular television franchises has been CSI, where the tools of forensic science are used to solve crime. The BIMS program was created to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to join their TV counterparts to help bring criminals to justice.
But forensic science is MUCH more than DNA fingerprinting and other biotech and immunological methods. Sometimes, the key evidence is provided by six-legged pests. This semester, upper level students in Dr. Tierney Brosius’ Entomology class and two capstone students are joining scientists from universities across the country in a project being directed by the University of Nebraska to study chemical attractants that draw flies to decaying flesh and to see what species are most commonly attracted by which chemical.
To do their work, students will create bait traps containing suspect chemicals and scatter them around campus. Then, over the course of many days the flies attracted will be counted and identified to search for patterns and answers. Results will be added to those from students from other schools to see whether there are regional differences in effective chemicals and in species attracted.
More than anything, such studies provide students with valuable experience participating in the industry of science. But another benefit is the realization that the glamour and simplicity of television science and technology come about through long, hard work done by dedicated researchers.
McMurry’s Biomedical Sciences Program is blessed to have a wonderful working relationship with Abilene’s premiere biotech company, Receptor Logic. This company is rather new to Abilene but has profoundly changed the industrial landscape of the city. Their pioneering work in the development of T-cell receptor mimics for therapeutic purposes places them in rarified air as one of the few places internationally where such technology is being developed and tested. The close friendship between RL’s founder, Dr. Jon Weidanz, and McMurry’s BIMS faculty has enabled the placement of McMurry students at RL facilities in the Abilene Life Sciences Accelerator for capstone projects that provide valuable real-world experience.
This semester, McMurry has three students working with RL’s scientists. Lauren Bump, recipient of the Danny Cooley Award as the outstanding BIMS student, is completing her Honors research in the lab. Her research will culminate in an Honors thesis this written and defended in December. In this, she will demonstrate the knowledge and skills picked up in BIMS and applied in T-cell work done at RL.
Karlie Dieterich is working at RL this fall to gain experience in immunological research as she applies to graduate programs in immunology. She was encouraged to visit with Dr. Weidanz, an immunologist, to discuss strong programs and career directions. The meeting resulted in her joining his lab as an undergraduate to give her some practical experience in the field. As an Academic All-Conference athlete and top science student, she is living proof that the high level of achievement seen in top athletes often spills over to high achievement in all arenas of life.
Malaney Lopez has extensive experience in the molecular lab, having been one of the prime resources as an undergraduate assistant for prepping and delivering molecular-based courses at McMurry last year. She wanted to hone her skills and give back to RL by volunteering this year without any course credit expected. Her love for molecular work is evident and her future in the field is assured.
In each case, the generosity of Receptor Logic and their commitment to contributing to the education of future biotech scientists is demonstrated. We cannot begin to express our thanks to Receptor Logic and Dr. Weidanz for their contributions to the education of our students.