Tag: finch-gray science center
In Contemporary Issues in Biomedical Science this semester, students are learning about the groundbreaking discoveries that will change the form and direction of health and medicine for years to come. The students all have health professions in mind, and participation in this course should help inform them of breaking news in science just in time for their professional school admissions interviews.
This week the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded. John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser, and Edvard I. Moser are being honored for their work in discovering how the brain recognizes spatial location – a sort of “GPS” in the brain. The announcement on Monday coincided with completion of a major assignment in the Contemporary Issues class. Each student selected a Nobel Laureate from recent years and completed a research-style poster on their story, their work, and the ramifications of their discovery for the future of health and medicine. From Sydney Brinner’s work with C. elegans to Elizabeth Blackburn’s studies of telomeres, from Stanley Prusiner’s discovery of prions to Fire and Mello’s transforming work on RNA gene silencing and Robert Edward’s opening the world of in vitro fertilization, all are showcased as defining discoveries with long-term impact.
These posters are being displayed in the Finch-Gray Science Center in time for this year’s McMurry Homecoming weekend. Friends and alums will be able to see the emphasis we are placing on giving our BIMS students an education that is current and vital and geared as much toward “what will be” as it is in “what is past”. We hope you will drop by for a look!
How often it seems to happen – a product developed to solve an everyday problem turns out (many years later, and deep into the damage) to itself be the cause of even more serious problems. Such is the case for asbestos, a once widely-used and extremely effective insulator and fireproofing material that now is known to severely compromise respiratory health. Forty years ago, when the Finch-Gray Science center was constructed, its inclusion in building products was pervasive. Now, it is a medical pariah.
As we enter the preliminary stages of renovation, we now find ourselves in the middle of the first of two weeks of asbestos abatement – from floor tiles to the mastic holding up chalkboards to wrappings around pipes to the mortar between cinderblocks. We expected it in some of these substances – it came as a surprise in others. How often the “cut and dried” project turns out to be more than anyone ever expected to encounter!
The good news is, we will be past this issue soon and can start on the next phase of construction. Even today decisions were solidified on cabinets and other specifications for soliciting casework bids. Let the construction begin!
We’re entering the mid-summer period where the wind-down from the spring semester collides head-on with the spool-up for the fall semester. Things are busy on campus. Here’s a sampling:
- The first SOAR is over and the second one is next week. SOARs are events for incoming students to go through orientation and get their class schedules worked out for the fall. We had 120 students make McMurry their college home a week or so ago. Over 100 more incoming freshmen are scheduled to be on campus next week. They are the smart ones, as waiting for the third SOAR or to register at the beginning of the semester means risking closed classes and schedule conflicts. I mentioned in a comment that roughly 10% of students at the first SOAR signed up for the initial BIMS course. Looks like it will be a great start for Year Two of BIMS.
- Summer research is well underway. Dr. Paul Pyenta has been working with a Welch Summer Research student to clone gfp protein into a plasmid compatible with Bacillus thuringiensis. They’ve been using the new centrifuge mentioned in a recent post, but found the need to spin 250 ml bottles at a high speed than is possible with the swinging bucket rotor we got with it. Another centrifuge and modified procedure will have to suffice until we can purchase another rotor more suitable to the speeds required by the original protocol.
- Dr. Pyenta ordered a new digital gel documentation system today that will allow clear photography of gels for publication and presentation. This is a valuable piece of equipment for helping students build their biological portfolios – artifacts from their hands-on lab work will be collected and saved to document their proficiency.
- Dr. Tom Benoit taught Microbiology in Summer 1 and now is working on a proposal for the lab renovation competition McMurry will hold in August. Science faculty were encouraged to propose innovative spaces for teaching and research for the competition, which will see the winning entry adopted to guide a lab renovation project to take place in Summer 2010. Two labs and support spaces will be renovated to provide a model of future spaces to be seen in the Finch-Gray Science Center. BIMS intends to have the best proposal for consideration.
- Dr. Heidi DiFrancesca has spent time this summer traveling. No word yet whether she will join her husband Mark on a trip to Japan on behalf of their church. One additional task Dr. D will accomplish this summer is purchase of the next important pieces of teaching/research equipment: real-time PCR, Nanodrop spectrophotometer, new tissue culture hoods, and more.
- Dr. Larry Sharp has been busy overseeing applications to health professions schools – medical and dental, mainly. He us also teaching both A&P I and II this summer, all while designing the new Pre-Health Professions Seminar series to be taken by our pre-health students.
- Dr. Gary Wilson has been juggling administrative duties with an overhaul of his microbiology course and some development work for his software package VirtualUnknown(TM) Microbiology. A new totally online version of the software is in development.
- BIMS faculty plan to hold a retreat this summer to assess what worked this year and what needs “tweaking” as the BIMS program enters its second year. One item for discussion is how we can intentionally link courses together through common projects so that we work together in research as our students learn. We got a great start on that this year, but more can be done.
No doubt, it is a busy summer in Abilene!