BIMS

Tag: research poster

Artifacts

by gwilson on Mar.31, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

07270327If you have never been to Mesa Verde, you cannot imagine how majestic and awe-inspiring this world heritage treasure is.  It represents the most amazing collection of artifacts of a lost civilization that one can imagine. 

One of the key elements of the BIMS program is establishing for graduate programs and professional schools our own collection of artifacts to testify to the strengths and abilities of our students.  The BIMS program participates in routine assessment of student and program success.  We want to document proof of effectiveness in providing students with useful and marketable knowledge and skills, and proof that our courses are effective in meeting the program’s goals.  Our flyers for the BIMS program (see BIMS Downloads at the top of this page) outline three lines of evidence (”artifacts”) our students will have of their knowledge and abilities:

  • The biological portfolio of biological products (their personally isolated and identified strains of bacteria, proteins and other products of assays and extractions done in lab, gels and other artifacts of productivity in the lab),
  • The electronic portfolio (posters of their research, reports, digital photographs and micrographs, etc. – artifacts of their analysis and reporting to the scientific community), and
  • Their performance on the BIMS 4000 Junior Exam. 

April 5th marks the day the BIMS 4000 Junior Exam is made available to our junior students.  It consists of basic, intermediate, and advanced questions over the program goals covered in each of the freshman and sophomore courses: 

  • Intro to Scientific Research,
  • Unicellular Organisms,
  • Microbiology,
  • Human Physiology, and
  • Genetics.

Here’s a sampling of three questions students might find as they take this exam…

Means used for preserving foods and increasing their shelf life typically include
A. Acidification to prevent fungal growth
B. Addition of salt or sugar to lower the pH of the foodstuff
C. Removal of available water and addition of acids
D. Pasteurization to sterilize the foodstuff
E. More than one of these

The germ layer from which the skeletal muscles, heart, and skeleton are derived is the
A. Ectoderm
B. Mesoderm
C. Endoderm
D. Notochord

Within the same individual, some genes mutate at a much higher rate than other genes.  This is because
A. Some genes are larger than others providing a greater chance for mutation
B. Some genes have hot spots, which are locations that make them more susceptible to mutation
C. Some genes are larger than others, which prevents DNA polymerase from incorporating the incorrect base during replication
D. A and B
E. B and C

The answer for one of these is A, for one is B, and for one is C.  We’ll let you figure out which is which! :-)   Or, you can find a BIMS major and ask them for a little help.  May your artifact from these three questions match the artifact they will develop as they complete the exam!

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Snot for Science

by gwilson on Oct.09, 2009, under Projects

DSCN3196

Hmmm… Maybe you CAN pick your friend’s nose after all.

Our Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus study is underway, and the response has been all we hoped for!  In three days we surpassed our goal of 100 samples taken from 100 students from every corner of campus.  Next step?  We’ll do Gram stains, catalase test, coagulase test, and confirm results using BD-Crystal Rapid ID panels to confirm Staphylococcus aureus.  That will end our lab work on THIS project for the semester, but then comes the more laborious part of the project – inputting data from the surveys and lab tests, doing the statistical analysis, etc.  Students this semester will end their contributions to the project by putting together their research posters in which they’ll focus in on one aspect of the study.

In the spring we’ll continue the project in two ways.  First, I’ll repeat the work with McMurry faculty and staff.  Second, we’ll hand over any presumed MRSA strains to students in another course who will do the DNA sequencing necessary to confirm the presence of the mecA gene – the “gold standard” in MRSA confirmation.  How ironic that the project starts with swabbing the nose and ends with a “gold standard”.

We also have a student whose Honors project involves surveying environmental surfaces for MRSA, so we’ll have a full profile of MRSA on campus. 

This has been a very fun and popular project that has taught my students lots of basic microbiology through involvement in an interesting and relevant research project.  I could have taught it in the conventional way – but how much fun would that have been?  The McMurry BIMS approach to teaching is the only way to go!

By the way, reporters don’t come out to talk with you when you teach your labs in conventional ways.  So why not promote your program as you teach by doing interesting projects with your students?  For more info on this project, become a fan of the BIMS Facebook page and see some of the press we received!

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The First BIMS Outstanding Students Named

by gwilson on May.03, 2009, under Students

cc-ep-school-quicksand-036Late 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.

bt-plasmid-bandAlso 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. 

staph-bacitracin-mannito1Second 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!

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