Tag: nicole mcgunegle
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: http://blogs.mcm.edu/sncs/?p=1159.
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: http://blogs.mcm.edu/sncs/?p=1150. 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 (http://blogs.mcm.edu/sncs/?p=1145) that provided the funding to begin an effort to greatly expand the recycling efforts on campus (http://blogs.mcm.edu/sncs/?p=1155). 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!
Recently, three BIMS majors found out they will receive Bloomer and Beasley Research Fellowships for the coming year. All three are students of Dr. Gary Wilson and will be pursuing different projects investigating Bacillus thuringiensis spore properties as they pursue Honors research and write their Honors theses in the next year.
The Charles and Lisa Bloomer Research Fellowship is awarded to support research of promising students in the School of Natural and Computational Science (SNCS). This initiative of the Science and Math Advisory Board (SMAB) provides a research stipend for students as they work closely with McMurry faculty on a research project. Dr. Bloomer is a successful oral surgeon in Abilene who has generously and regularly supported the sciences at his alma mater. The biennial picnic the Bloomers host for SMAB members and SNCS faculty is a popular event building relationships and communicating the vision each holds for McMurry’s science future. The Beasley Research Fellowship is a new program supporting student research in the biological sciences. McMurry’s science alumni are spearheading an effort to create an endowment in memory of Dr. Clark Beasley, Distinguished Professor Emeritus from the Department of Biology who died this past summer. This represents the first year this fellowship has been awarded.
Recipients of this year’s awards are Heather Rawls, Miranda Nguyen, and Nicole McGunegle. Their projects will study wild type and genetically-engineered strains of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and Bacillus cereus (Bc) grown in rich and poor media. Bt is a spore-former that produces an insecticidal toxin at the time of sporulation. Bc is a commonly encountered and well-studied spore-former closely related to Bt but generally harmless. The genetically-engineered strains include Bt strains that do not form crystals and Bc strains that have been engineered to produce Bt crystals. One project will look at how the presence or absence of the crystal in rich and poor media influences spore and crystal size and toxicity. A second project will look at how growth conditions impact spore dormancy and the process of activation and germination. It is possible an undiscovered variation of quorum sensing might be involved. The third project will explore UV and chemical resistance of wild type and genetically-engineered strains produced in rich and poor media. All projects fit the criteria for BIMS research: a complete project doable in a short time frame, certain discovery no matter the experimental outcome, publishable work.
Stay tuned for updates on how this work is progressing!
Outstanding First Year Student: Heather Rawls (she also was the outstanding freshman chemistry student!)
Outstanding Second Year Student: Christina Barr
Outstanding Third Year Student: Toyosi Adewunmi
Outstanding Fourth Year Student: Chris Tatum
Danny Cooley Award Winner: Brad Rowland
The Danny Cooley Award is in memory of McMurry alum Dr. Danny Cooley, who as a graduate student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at TTU discovered the cause of sick building syndrome. Danny was an outstanding student, war veteran, decorated firefighter, and man of great character. The recipient exhibits similar qualities and receives a financial award to help with the cost of their education.
In addition to the BIMS program awards, other BIMS majors also received awards from other areas of campus for their academic achievements.
Recently declared BIMS major Nicole McGunegle was named Outstanding First Year Writer by the Department of English.
Miranda Nguyen received the All-Conference Distinguished Scholar-Athlete Award for Women’s Soccer.
Our congratulations to each of these students! BIMS majors are widely acknowledge as among the best students on campus and you make us proud!