McMurry’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.
As we take a few days off from school for Thanksgiving, the faculty and students of McMurry’s Biomedical Science program wish to say “thanks”…
…for an administration that supports risk-taking in academic programs. Without risk, there is no reward. Without risk, few moments of greatness ever occur. Without risk, we settle for average.
…for an administration that understands when not everything works as planned in the first attempt. We have seen some parts of the new program that have not worked out as well as intended. Fear of such failures would cripple faculty at other schools and prevent the try from ever happening. Those minor failures would be seen as cause for abandoning a new approach by some colleges. Here, our administration supports us and understands something professed by the great design firm IDEO: “Fail often so you can succeed sooner!”
…for a faculty comfortable with doing things differently from the way they were taught. Lecture on theory and memorizing facts in lecture, then disconnected techniques and exercises in lab to “support” lecture is the approach that formed our heritage. We’re blessed with faculty who see a better approach to connecting with students to engage them in science and give them lasting skills and knowledge.
…for students who tolerate uncertainty and change on the fly as an expected part of their learning experience. In the three semesters of the BIMS program, courses rarely look at the end like the syllabus suggested they might. Our students have seen the fluidity and uncertainty and flexibility of research firsthand. We are thankful for students who see this as an adventure in learning rather than as a broken contract or distraction.
—for a university where faith and science are not enemies at war for a person’s mind. Our faculty are comfortable in their love for science and love for their Savior. We hope this spills over to our students and encourages them to pursue their quest for understanding of the natural and supernatural world.
So, on behalf of the faculty of McMurry’s BIMS program – have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. We have MUCH to be thankful for!