BIMS

Tag: human physiology

Semester Underway

by gwilson on Jan.22, 2011, under Program

155183_470163067634_676602634_5779494_82383_nMcMurry’s spring semester is underway and classes for Biomedical Science majors continue to draw interest from students and campus leaders.  The BIMS 1300 Intro to Scientific Research course is filled beyond capacity.  Taught by Dr. Wilson, students will explore what science is, how scientists work, and how the methods of science influence all of society.  For instance, next week students will watch a video on the design firm IDEO and explore the basic science, applied science, engineering, and design that have gone into a variety of consumer products.

Dr. Benoit is teaching BIOL 1301 Unicellular Organisms to a healthy number of students.  Their semester-long project will investigate protozoans and will culminate with identification, characterization, and photomicrography of single-celled organisms.  This has proven to be a very popular and interesting class for new freshmen, and sets the stage well for a degree program filled with hands-on exploration of biomedical topics.

BIOL 3410 Microbiology is also filled to capacity and BIOL 3430 Human Physiology has a healthy enrollment.  Both are part of the sophomore sequence for all BIMS majors.  Dr. Wilson’s Micro course will feature lab projects looking at the microbial census of student cars, microbes in fresh foods, and viruses from the soil. As always, the focus is on learning knowledge and skills by jumping into research projects – students work as scientists to learn about microbiology.  Dr. Sharp’s Human Phys will use a mixture of computer sims and hands-on biometrics to explore the workings of the human body.

Also being taught this semester is BIMS 4391 Advanced Microbiology.  Dr. Wilson is leading five students on a quest to isolate and identify endospore-forming bacteria that produce antibiotics.  Students will then produce the product using new benchtop fermenters and characterize the antibiotic product physically and chemically.  The class is also considering a jaunt down to T-Bar-M ranch for the Spring Meeting of the Texas Branch of the American Society  Microbiology, which emphasizes graduate and undergraduate research.  ROAD TRIP!

Another unique feature of the BIMS program is the BIMS 4000 Junior Exam course, where students take a departmental diagnostic exam over their first two years of courses to help assess their learning to this point and to help the department assess the effectiveness of its courses in teaching fundamental information.  The five students signed up for the course may take this online exam as often as needed to achieve a passing grade.

Finally, several students are engaged in capstone research this semester with Drs. Benoit and Wilson.  They will be ramping up the YES assay for detecting estrogen-like compounds in environmental samples of water and soil.  We’ve challenged them with developing the protocols for use on campus and developing the standard curve for the assay, then begin testing on some samples from area surface and ground waters.

So, it is a busy time for a healthy program.  Bright students have chosen our unique approach to education and are thriving in the hands-on environment.

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Artifacts

by gwilson on Mar.31, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

07270327If you have never been to Mesa Verde, you cannot imagine how majestic and awe-inspiring this world heritage treasure is.  It represents the most amazing collection of artifacts of a lost civilization that one can imagine. 

One of the key elements of the BIMS program is establishing for graduate programs and professional schools our own collection of artifacts to testify to the strengths and abilities of our students.  The BIMS program participates in routine assessment of student and program success.  We want to document proof of effectiveness in providing students with useful and marketable knowledge and skills, and proof that our courses are effective in meeting the program’s goals.  Our flyers for the BIMS program (see BIMS Downloads at the top of this page) outline three lines of evidence (”artifacts”) our students will have of their knowledge and abilities:

  • The biological portfolio of biological products (their personally isolated and identified strains of bacteria, proteins and other products of assays and extractions done in lab, gels and other artifacts of productivity in the lab),
  • The electronic portfolio (posters of their research, reports, digital photographs and micrographs, etc. – artifacts of their analysis and reporting to the scientific community), and
  • Their performance on the BIMS 4000 Junior Exam. 

April 5th marks the day the BIMS 4000 Junior Exam is made available to our junior students.  It consists of basic, intermediate, and advanced questions over the program goals covered in each of the freshman and sophomore courses: 

  • Intro to Scientific Research,
  • Unicellular Organisms,
  • Microbiology,
  • Human Physiology, and
  • Genetics.

Here’s a sampling of three questions students might find as they take this exam…

Means used for preserving foods and increasing their shelf life typically include
A. Acidification to prevent fungal growth
B. Addition of salt or sugar to lower the pH of the foodstuff
C. Removal of available water and addition of acids
D. Pasteurization to sterilize the foodstuff
E. More than one of these

The germ layer from which the skeletal muscles, heart, and skeleton are derived is the
A. Ectoderm
B. Mesoderm
C. Endoderm
D. Notochord

Within the same individual, some genes mutate at a much higher rate than other genes.  This is because
A. Some genes are larger than others providing a greater chance for mutation
B. Some genes have hot spots, which are locations that make them more susceptible to mutation
C. Some genes are larger than others, which prevents DNA polymerase from incorporating the incorrect base during replication
D. A and B
E. B and C

The answer for one of these is A, for one is B, and for one is C.  We’ll let you figure out which is which! :-)   Or, you can find a BIMS major and ask them for a little help.  May your artifact from these three questions match the artifact they will develop as they complete the exam!

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Public Health

by gwilson on Feb.28, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

Gram negative rodsThe vision of the Biomedical Science program at McMurry is to teach biology from the perspective of molecules, cells, and human health.  It is often easy to see the emphasis on molecules and cells.  We have courses like Genetics, Microbiology, Human Physiology.  However, we are never far from a discussion of how these elements of biomedical science influence human health and wellness.  To say one does not go without the other would be a fair statement.

I believe our focus on human health really contributes well to understanding the concept of public health.  Public health can be seen in a variety of ways.  Most obvious would be the emphasis on healing the sick or preventing illness.  Our courses focus on these elements as we study how life works, what happens when it doesn’t work well, and how man has contributed to rectifying the problems to restore health.  Less obvious, but no less important, is the need for us to consider exercise and wellness and health policy and administration and education when we consider health and wellness of individuals AND communities.  When expanded in these ways, such things as promoting active lifestyles, dietary awareness, food safety, veterinary health care, and mental health all contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes public health.  Limiting ourselves to consideration of DNA and drugs and cells and microbes severely restricts and underestimates the concept of health in all its dimensions.

 McMurry’s BIMS program represents one of the keystones for a comprehensive approach to teaching public health and safety on our campus.  The Department of Kinesiology’s Exercise Science & Human Performance program is an excellent partner, along with the Department of Psychology’s focus on mental health.  Who knows – maybe one day we will borrow from these and other areas of campus to build a bona fide Bachelor’s degree in Public Health!

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