Tag: larry sharp

2014 Was a Very Good Year!

by gwilson on Dec.29, 2014, under A Day in the Life...

nicole graduationAs we close out 2014, I thought it would be an appropriate time to look at the events from late in the year that demonstrate some of the accomplishments of the BIMS program.

1. Nicole McGunegle (middle left, with our Dean Alicia Wyatt and human biology professor Dr. Larry Sharp) became the sixth BIMS majors to complete Honors thesis research this year.  Her work was on heat resistance of wild type and genetically-modified spore-forming bacteria.  She was one of four Biology Department graduates in December, the others being Kelly Croci, Shayna Hoag, and Collin Valdez.  All four are pursuing advanced graduate or professional school programs (Medical School, Physician Assistant school, Optometry School, Nutrition and Dietetics graduate program).

2.  There was an official announcement that the Department of Biology was the recipient of a 160-acre tract of land in Callahan County that will serve as a field research station.  The donor is Bill Libby, long-time professor of history and religion and the founder of the Cross-Country program at McMurry.  The field station will be called Firebase Libby, in recognition of Bill’s time spent as a chaplain with the 101st Airborne in Viet Nam.  Every facet of McMurry’s biology and biomedical science programs has identified ways in which this valuable asset can be used for research and student projects.  More here:

3. On the research front, Dr. Tom Benoit received notification in December of the acceptance of an article written for the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education.  It details the use of diatomaceous earth in construction of Winogradsky columns for study of microbial ecology and mineral cycling in biological systems.  Three professors also received good news about funding for research during the Christmas break:  Dr. Anna Saghatelyan is partnering with Dr. Hyun-shun Shin of Chemistry on a project to identify new antimicrobials from area plants.  They will receive funding from the Sam Taylor Foundation.  This work includes the Honors Research of Kara Black, which was presented at the regional ACS conference this fall.  More here:  And Drs. Dana Lee and T.J. Boyle both were notified of their receipt of KIVA grants for next year, funding for research on the genomics of bats and the distribution of crabs in lakes of west Texas.

4. And most exciting has been the resurgence of the Biology Club and Tri-Beta, under the capable leadership of Drs. Boyle and Lee.  First came a very successful “Pie a Professor” fundraiser ( that provided the funding to begin an effort to greatly expand the recycling efforts on campus (  This is only the beginning of growth and contribution to the campus and community from the Biology and Biomedical Science students at McMurry.

5.  Finally, as the year ends we find a new beginning on the horizon for the Department of Biology.  Extensive revisions to the BS Biology, BS Biomedical Science, and BS Life Sciences degrees are coming!  New courses and a roadmap for the program changes are in the final stages of approval, and incoming students for the Fall 2015 semester will benefit from the tweaks being made.  A common biology core of 16 hours, including a junior seminar course to explore careers and prepare for entrance exam tests for graduate and professional programs, will be taken by all students.  We expect great things to come from these data-driven improvements!

So, from all of us at McMurry, we hope 2014 was equally productive and gratifying.  And we hope all of us will experience an even better 2015!

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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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by gwilson on Apr.08, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

vertebralnervesOver the Christmas holidays our BIMS faculty got many email greetings from former students.  One, however, included a phrase that completely went over my head.  Salvador Prieto is a recent McMurry graduate who is going to physician’s assistant school in Virginia.  In his holiday greeting to Dr. Larry Sharp (and shared with the rest of us) he made a special effort to thank him for SAME DAVE.  Seems that phrase was greatly appreciated by Sal and his classmates in their studies.

I had to ask Larry what that was about, and here’s his response:

Sal is referring to mnemonics that are used to help keep some basic neurological concepts straight.

 Sensory information from the periphery, to the brain is afferent; while motor information from the brain to the periphery is efferent…this is confusing and is easily kept straight by the mnemonic SAME, representing sensory, afferent, motor, efferent information.

 When talking about spinal nerve roots exiting the front or ventral horn of the spinal cord; and spinal nerve roots exiting the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, there is some confusion as to their actual function. Ventral nerve roots are for motor or efferent information; while dorsal nerve roots are for sensory or afferent information. This is always confusing to students, so an easy way to keep this straight is the mnemonic DAVE. Now, linking them both together, you have SAME DAVE, which will let you know function based on location: Sensory or Afferent information is always carried by the Dorsal nerve roots and Motor or Efferent information is always carried by the Ventral nerve roots.

You can now take this one step further when analyzing the pre- and post-synaptic neurons and recognize that the dorsal root ganglia are a collection of cell bodies outside the central nervous system, whose function is to transmit afferent or sensory information and thus are sensory neurons.  

There you have it – SAME DAVE and its importance to students eager to learn about how the nervous system works.  Just another example of how Larry’s Human Physiology course is preparing students for health professions schools.

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