Tag: larry sharp

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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Good Timing

by gwilson on Feb.23, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

snow dogsWhat a crazy winter it has been in Abilene!  It is snowing AGAIN, and McMurry’s classes will start at 11 this morning to give students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to take their time and travel safely to campus.  This make at least three “major” storms here this winter – enough snow and ice to delay or cancel classes.  Right now we are at 4 inches of snow and growing.  For a city where the average high temperature this time of year is in the 60s and low in the 40s, it has been a rude and rough winter.

Some people have all the luck.  Dr. Larry Sharp, our human biology guru and the pre-health advisor, was invited to tour one of the Caribbean medical schools this week.  So, while we are digging out and scraping ice, the only ice he’s worried about is for his tea as he watches tropical sunsets from his cabana.  The only scraping he’ll do is to get the sand off his feet after a walk along the beach. Why didn’t we have trips like this when I was pre-med advisor?

One connection we hope Dr. Sharp will make this week is with one of our graduates.  Dr. Cari Roark Sloma received her doctorate in medical immunology from the Mayo Clinic’s Graduate School.  After completing a special year-long post-doctoral program for medical scientists working with physicians and working in industry a couple of years, she moved her family to the Caribbean to join the faculty at one of the medical schools in the region.  Not bad for an El Paso girl who saw great success at McMurry in her academic and extracurricular activities – a very involved student who didn’t give up life to thrive in the sciences.  But she also took advantage of some special opportunities beyond our campus.  She was a participant in two NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) summer programs at TTU and Indiana after her sophomore and junior years.  Result?  A passion for biomedical research developed in Cari and led her to this time and place of her life.

Larry, give her a hug and tell her we’re proud of her!  Then, bring some of that tropical weather back with you to Abilene.  Please!

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