Tag: research-rich teaching

New Equipment, New Projects

by gwilson on Jun.21, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

fermenterAs part of the renovation this summer, our program was asked what equipment we might need to help usher in new teaching and research opportunities for our students.  We were excited to have the opportunity to evaluate what our faculty and students want to do in our labs and to adjust our equipment to allow that work to happen.

Our labs are extremely well supplied with equipment for teaching genetics and molecular biology, so this summer we will add some equipment to help us investigate cell physiology and growth.  One of those items we made sure to include was fermenters.  We ordered five.   These fermenters will allow our students to study growth of microbes.  Maybe they’ll find out how to maximize growth of oil-eating microbes, how to improve antibiotic production by bacteria they isolate (maybe one of them will come up with a new drug?!), or how to modify foods to improve their safety.  Just another example of how BIMS puts learning into action to solve world problems.

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Lab Planning

by gwilson on Jan.24, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

lab plans rough janBIMS faculty met last week with our VP in charge of facilities (Brad Poorman) and campus architect (Rick Weatherl) to discuss preliminary plans for this summer’s BIMS lab renovation.  Mainly, the meeting was to determine whether the rough layout of spaces as proposed would accommodate the course and program needs.

The layout calls for two labs to fit in the space where the freshman biology, microbiology, and student research lab behind Dr.Beasley’s office are now located.  Going into those spaces would be a molecular lab, the micro lab, and between them would be a student project room where the microscopes, incubators, refrigerators/freezers, and other equipment would be found.  The intent is for this space to become the place students go to check their results and do off-hours work on projects.  By moving these functions out of the labs themselves, students can do their follow-up work while other classes are in session in the labs.  Since our courses are becoming more research oriented, this move will allow extended student involvement in research projects instead of corralling those activities into three hour blocks once a week.  Labs will also be made more lecture-friendly so that both lab and lecture can take place in the same location – moving in and out of lab and lecture functions seamlessly will now be possible.  More flexibility, more utility will result from these modifications.

Other first-floor spaces will also be affected.  The prep area and S108 classroom (where Biology lectures are frequently taught) will house an upgraded prep area and an instrumentation room for our research microscopes, DNA sequencer, and other specialized equipment.  The freshman lab will be moved to the current location for the molecular lab (S115), which will be expanded and feature more storage space.  These changes will make the BIMS and freshman labs and support areas the showcase on campus for what all science facilities will some day feature – thoughtful, flexible, and student-friendly spaces for engaging students in learning and practicing science for the 21st Century.

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A BIMS Thanksgiving!

by gwilson on Nov.26, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

DSCN3196As we take a few days off from school for Thanksgiving, the faculty and students of McMurry’s Biomedical Science program wish to say “thanks”…

…for an administration that supports risk-taking in academic programs.  Without risk, there is no reward.  Without risk, few moments of greatness ever occur.  Without risk, we settle for average.

…for an administration that understands when not everything works as planned in the first attempt.  We have seen some parts of the new program that have not worked out as well as intended.  Fear of such failures would cripple faculty at other schools and prevent the try from ever happening.  Those minor failures would be seen as cause for abandoning a new approach by some colleges.  Here, our administration supports us and understands something professed by the great design firm IDEO:  “Fail often so you can succeed sooner!”

…for a faculty comfortable with doing things differently from the way they were taught.  Lecture on theory and memorizing facts in lecture, then disconnected techniques and exercises in lab to “support” lecture is the approach that formed our heritage.  We’re blessed with faculty who see a better approach to connecting with students to engage them in science and give them lasting skills and knowledge.

…for students who tolerate uncertainty and change on the fly as an expected part of their learning experience.  In the three semesters of the BIMS program, courses rarely look at the end like the syllabus suggested they might.  Our students have seen the fluidity and uncertainty and flexibility of research firsthand.  We are thankful for students who see this as an adventure in learning rather than as a broken contract or distraction.

—for a university where faith and science are not enemies at war for a person’s mind.  Our faculty are comfortable in their love for science and love for their Savior.  We hope this spills over to our students and encourages them to pursue their quest for understanding of the natural and supernatural world.

So, on behalf of the faculty of McMurry’s BIMS program – have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  We have MUCH to be thankful for!

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