BIMS

Tag: McMurry university

Reconnecting

by gwilson on Nov.10, 2009, under Students

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Chili the Wonderdog

In the past few days I’ve experienced what every college professor relishes in – reconnection with former students.  In some ways, seeing a student graduate is like letting my dog Chili off her lead – I never know if she’s going to go chase the bunnies or remain close by and be obedient.  There’s been more than one occasion when freedom has meant chasing a cat, when it should have been all about sticking by me while we check the mail or get the newspaper.

I have been fortunate through the years to have great students and to enjoy living a portion of McMurry’s core values – that personal relationships are the catalyst for life.  Those relationships begin as students come in as freshmen and we begin to learn about each other – about our families, the importance of faith in our lives, how to balance needs and wants, where education has and will lead us.  I believe my students know me well, know my wife and sons, know that I really, really care about their success as students today and professionals of the future.  Students at small colleges like McMurry probably have no clue that their faculty live vicariously through the lives of their students, and that we feel great pride and a sense of credit and accomplishment when our alums become successful.  They take a piece of us with them and leave a piece of themselves behind when they have spent four years in our classes and offices.  And when they then graduate and go off, I know I always worry that they will chase cats and rabbits and neglect to stay in touch.

Dr. Gena Nichols in my office yesterday

Dr. Gena Nichols in my office yesterday

I have seen the beginning and endpoint of that journey in the past week, starting with Student Preview on Saturday.  Talking with prospective students and their parents is always enjoyable, as I emphasize the strength of our programs and more importantly the strength of our relationships with students.  If those in attendance at Preview could only have a glimpse of the outcome of a McMurry education!   I was reminded of that on Sunday, when Dr. Sharla Owens sent a friend request on Facebook from California where she practices and teaches emergency medicine.  Our college-age sons were just little guys when our family drove down to Galveston for her graduation from UTMB.  Then today, Dr. Chad Johnson, alumnus and physician in El Paso, contacted me to discuss a high schooler he knows who is interested in McMurry.  Chad was my barometer on the quality of our science courses during his time at McMurry.  Anytime I needed to know how we were doing, he was willing to answer truthfully.  And yesterday I was privileged to spend an hour or so with Dr. Gena Jester Nichols, catching up on people and old times, and learning about her research on Adenoviruses and how her Wake Forest PhD has prepared her for her new job as a Research Scientist at Tulane. 

Three different students, three different success stories of moving through the years from teacher-student to mentor-apprentice, and finally to friends and colleagues.  It has been a very rewarding week for me because these three alums have chosen to reconnect with McMurry’s science faculty.  May those who enter as freshmen next fall do likewise over the years to come.

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ClustrMaps and Our Site Visitors

by gwilson on Oct.27, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

index2I use the StatPress administrative monitoring features A LOT to see what type of activity our webpage receives, with one feature called “Spy” particularly interesting.  It allows me to see what countries (and sometimes what cities) our visitors come from.  I’ve marveled at the variety of nations and peoples represented as I’ve scrolled through those lists many a day.  Alicia Wyatt, our web guru for BIMS and a faculty member from Computer Science (and my assistant dean) has added a new feature to allow me to see over time what type of global attention the McMurry BIMS program has  received.  ClustrMaps is now one of my favorite features on the BIMS webpage. 

Although the BIMS ClustrMap is only about a month old, it reflects visitors from 47 countries spanning every continent but Antarctica.  However, ClustrMaps only updates on occasion.  “Spy” tells me in recent days our visitors have included folks from Latvia, Belarus, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Korea, Japan, and Ukraine, some of which don’t appear yet on the ClustrMap.  Can’t wait to see what it looks like this time next year!

Why is our program gaining so much attention?  Much of it is probably unintentional – someone does a Google search for a term used on one of our pages and they load our page in hopes of having a question answered.  But, some visits are very intential – someone visits the McMurry webpage and then clicks their way to BIMS to find out more about our program.  StatPress will tell me how a person found our page.  Either way, we hope they enjoy their view into our program at McMurry.  Tell your friends in exotic places to come take a look at McMurry Biomedical Sciences and get their country and city reflected on our ClustrMap!

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Spaces for New Programs

by gwilson on Oct.16, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

blueprintSeveral years ago, Dr. Russell laid out his vision for McMurry’s future in a speech entitled Vision 2023 .  Central to that vision was an emphasis on growth of the sciences and their importance in preparing our graduates for jobs of the future.  Biology responded to the challenge of building new and relevant programs for life sciences by developing three new, more focused programs.  One of these is the BIMS program. 

At the same time, the McMurry Capital Campaign, Shaping the Future, has a focus on supporting spaces for the sciences.  These two developments led to a competition on campus this fall where programs were challenged with proposing new spaces to fit their new programs and help make their delivery more effective and efficient.  Thought was that an invitation to develop a variety of science building proposals would provide a excellent collection of projects that could be shopped to potential donors to help improve all science programs.  Biology submitted two lab renovation proposals, one of which was heavily geared toward improving spaces for BIMS courses.

The BIMS proposal calls for several improvements, including renovating and expanding spaces now used for teaching molecular biology and microbiology courses.  The current spaces, S115 and S102, are home to labs (and sometimes lectures) for Genetics, Molecular Biology, Advanced Bioscience Techniques, Unicellular Organisms, Intro to Scientific Research, Microbiology, Immunology, and Senior Capstone Research.  Obviously, such heavily used spaces are unusual on any campus and thus pose challenges to effective and efficient delivery, especially in a research-oriented approach to teaching.  Renovating these spaces to better meet the needs of all students in these various courses is a challenge worthy of lab renovation.

In the competition, a Physics proposal and the BIMS proposal were chosen for funding.  The Trustees meet this weekend and hopes are they will approve expenditure of $2.5M from the Capital Campaign to fund the renovation projects.  If so, planningand design will begin immediately and the renovation will start in May to be completed before the Fall 2010 semester. 

Here is what the BIMS proposal consists of:  more flexible spaces that will support both lecture and lab, anterooms for equipment and incubation and project setup so students can work on their projects outside of their normal hours without interefering with other classes using the teaching spaces, a common equipment area for major pieces of equipment that might be used by students in either lab, special spaces for working with RNA and tissue culture, and possibly additional offices and student space for study, group work, and “hanging out”.  Our hope is our students will become citizens of the building and not simply tourists, that thinking and acting like scientists will give all our BIMS graduates a leg up on those who have gone through conventional and impersonal science programs.

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