BIMS

Tag: school of natural and computational sciences

Honors Research

by gwilson on Apr.01, 2013, under Projects

CWB ChinaRock croppedRecently, 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!

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Substitute Teacher

by gwilson on Oct.12, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

Chili the Wonder DogToday was one of those days where you are drawn in a million different directions, and yet somehow manage to get it all done.  I’ve had this date circled on my calendar for weeks, as I agreed to step in and cover Dr. D’s classes while she was at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in San Diego.  Had it only been that simple!

Sure, I was prepared for the lab this afternoon.  I should have been after Friday’s meeting with Heidi and her lab assistant Amanda, getting all the prep work done Saturday, and all my worrying yesterday.  The plan was simple.  Heidi and Amanda led the students in the Molecular Cell Biology lab through initial phases of a cloning project.  All that remained today was purification of their PCR product, and then my part - helping them get their bacterial cultures going for the ligation and transformation steps to be done next Monday.  I got the media made for them this weekend and rehydrated their strains today.  Heidi gave me a last minute call from the San Diego airport to ask if everything was fine – yes, we’re good to go.   Kinda reminded me of mom checking in to see how the babysitter was doing!  :-)   The students did their work without incident and all work was completed ahead of schedule.

So what’s the big deal, you might ask?  In the midst of it all, I had a report to generate for a state agency’s visit to campus, a prospective student and her family to speak with, several loose ends to attend to for my own class (related to the E. coli in vegetables project and the MRSA study), a SNCS meeting to plan for Thursday, preparations to follow up on for Homecoming this weekend, AND my dog needed a trip to the vet for a skin infection.  I’ve never been known as being much of a multi-tasker, instead reminding folks of M.A.S.H.’s Colonel Winchester who famously said, “I do one thing, I do it well, and then I move on.”  I find it hard to give my best effort when my mind is split among several needs.

The outcome?  I managed to get everything done and get home early enough to empty my tail light of water (did I mention its been raining?).  The student and her family were delightful, class preparation was easier than anticipated, planning for later in the week went very well, and I managed to get my faculty moving in the right general direction expected on their state agency report.  My dog?  Chili is now on antibiotic therapy.

Bottom line?  We can do more than we think we can.  Time spent helping a friend is never wasted.  Everything got done without a panic, without anyone getting yelled at, without sacrificing one thing for another.  I got to spend a fun afternoon with bright and talented college students, and you just can’t beat that.  Maybe I’ll have to substitute more often!

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