Tag: lauren bump
McMurry’s Biomedical Sciences Program is blessed to have a wonderful working relationship with Abilene’s premiere biotech company, Receptor Logic. This company is rather new to Abilene but has profoundly changed the industrial landscape of the city. Their pioneering work in the development of T-cell receptor mimics for therapeutic purposes places them in rarified air as one of the few places internationally where such technology is being developed and tested. The close friendship between RL’s founder, Dr. Jon Weidanz, and McMurry’s BIMS faculty has enabled the placement of McMurry students at RL facilities in the Abilene Life Sciences Accelerator for capstone projects that provide valuable real-world experience.
This semester, McMurry has three students working with RL’s scientists. Lauren Bump, recipient of the Danny Cooley Award as the outstanding BIMS student, is completing her Honors research in the lab. Her research will culminate in an Honors thesis this written and defended in December. In this, she will demonstrate the knowledge and skills picked up in BIMS and applied in T-cell work done at RL.
Karlie Dieterich is working at RL this fall to gain experience in immunological research as she applies to graduate programs in immunology. She was encouraged to visit with Dr. Weidanz, an immunologist, to discuss strong programs and career directions. The meeting resulted in her joining his lab as an undergraduate to give her some practical experience in the field. As an Academic All-Conference athlete and top science student, she is living proof that the high level of achievement seen in top athletes often spills over to high achievement in all arenas of life.
Malaney Lopez has extensive experience in the molecular lab, having been one of the prime resources as an undergraduate assistant for prepping and delivering molecular-based courses at McMurry last year. She wanted to hone her skills and give back to RL by volunteering this year without any course credit expected. Her love for molecular work is evident and her future in the field is assured.
In each case, the generosity of Receptor Logic and their commitment to contributing to the education of future biotech scientists is demonstrated. We cannot begin to express our thanks to Receptor Logic and Dr. Weidanz for their contributions to the education of our students.
On Sunday, April 25th, McMurry’s academic program honored its stars during the annual Academic Awards luncheon. The following students were recognized for their academic achievement in the BIMS program:
Outstanding Freshman: Oluwatoyosi Adewunmi
Outstanding Sophomores: Elise Hager and Krissy Cobb
Outstanding Junior: Jonathan Urbanczyk
Outstanding Senior: Lauren Bump (pictured at left)
Danny Cooley Award for the Outstanding BIMS Student: Lauren Bump
This is the first year for the Danny Cooley Award, established to honor the memory of McMurry graduate James Danny Cooley. Danny was a Viet Nam veteran and Abilene firefighter approaching retirement when he returned to McMurry to complete his bachelor’s degree. Modest and humble, no one would have guessed he had been a hero in both of his prior lives. As a McMurry student, he excelled in math and science and pursued a BS in Natural Sciences degree. But during his junior year, a love for microbiology was birthed that resulted in his consideration, at age 48, of pursuit of a doctorate in Medical Microbiology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Graduate School of Biomedical Science. His dissertation provided the first definitive proof of the fungal origins for sick building syndrome. He told me that the week his work became public he and mentor Dr. David Straus were contacted by over 200 news agencies from around the world. Later, the CBS show 48 Hours had a special episode featuring Dr. Straus’s lab.
Dr. Danny Cooley graduated from TTUHSC-GSBS and started an environmental testing firm in Corpus Christi. He and wife Sylvia (also one of my students at McMurry) made Corpus Christi their home until he was taken ill and died from multiple myeloma some years later. It is through this award that his memory is honored as a McMurry alumnus, world-changing scientist, and person.
Late in the spring semester, McMurry holds its annual Academic Awards Luncheon to honor the top students in each academic and athletic program. That luncheon was held today, and it marked the first occasion to name the top BIMS majors.
With such a new program, there are only a dozen or so BIMS majors. They fall into two categories – those who entered the program this fall as freshmen, and those who have transferred into the program from other majors. For this reason, only two students were recognized. The Outstanding Freshman Biomedical Science Major for 2008-2009 is Jonathan Urbanczyk from Abilene. Lauren Bump (a sophomore in years but a junior in hours) was named the Outstanding Junior Biomedical Science Major. She hails from San Antonio. Both students have distinguished themselves in a variety of ways and are outstanding representatives of the program. We’re proud of them both. They represent a truly exceptional group of students who claim Biomedical Science as their major – every one is a joy in the classroom and has a promising future ahead.
Also at the Academic Awards Luncheon, the winners of the Third Annual Student Poster Competition were named. Twenty four posters explaining student research were submitted by individuals and groups from Biology, Biochemistry, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Business, and Physics. The top award for an individual poster went to Matt Durham for his project entitled “The Design and Construction of a Plasmid Vector for Encoding Green Fluorescent Protein that is Compatible with Bacillus thuringiensis.” The project was guided by BIMS faculty member Dr. Paul Pyenta in Chemistry & Biochemistry. Matt took up the project begun years ago by another student and made great strides to express gfp in Bt cells. The work is in support of an interdisciplinary project that will study the ecology of Bt spores through the use of the genetically-modified, gfp-expressing strain Matt has engineered.
Second place in the group project category went to Dustin Mance, Laura Salas, and Julie Halverson for their project entitled “The Inhibition of Mannitol Use of Gram Positive Bacteria by Bacitracin”. This project was completed in their BIOL 3410 Microbiology course, where the lab skills and knowledge are learned through student involvement in research projects. One of the early projects all students participated in was the isolation and identification of bacteria from nature. As groups, students then studied the antiseptic/disinfectant- and antibiotic-resistance of their bacteria. This group tested their Gram positive cocci’s antibiotic resistance using mannitol salt agar, and an interesting anomaly was seen with Julie’s Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria turned the normally red plate yellow (as expected) everywhere except in the vicinity of the bacitracin antibiotic disk. Their final poster project was to study this phenomenon further. Obviously, their work impressed the judges.
Our congratulations to each of these students for a job well done. Can’t wait to see what Fall 2009 has in store for us!