Tag: Thomas Benoit
Happy 2010! May this be the best year ever in all your pursuits. May you grow intellectually, socially, spiritually, and in maturity – all while experiencing outstanding health! Make 2009 envious and intimidate 2011 by how 2010 brought great memories and great investments into your body, mind, and spirit!
At McMurry, the BIMS faculty are ready to do our part to help this wish for the coming year come true. Hard to believe this is only the second New Years observed by the BIMS program. Dr. Benoit, Dr. DiFrancesca, Dr. Sharp, Dr. Pyenta, and I all expect the maturing of the BIMS program during 2010 to bring greater courses, greater research projects in your labs, greater opportunities for you, and closer relationships among students and faculty as we grow into the vision upon which this program was built. New courses, fine tuning of the curriculum, new relationships with biotech firms and professional schools all will provide new opportunities, experiences, and skills to fuel that growth.
Your role? Don’t bypass an opportunity to learn, to experience, to grow. Your benefit from the program is in direct proportion to your immersion in the program. So dive in, and enjoy!
Dr. Tom Benoit has his students taking a deeper look into a topic that all-too-many college students have a great interest in – fermentation. As part of his BIMS 1300 Introduction to Scientific Research class, his students are not focusing on the suds-producing process of alcoholic beverage production but instead on the metabolic process of fermentation conducted by yeast cells when given a ready source of useable carbohydrate. Benoit’s class is exploring the impact of modifying a broth medium on the fermentation rate of the common bread yeast, Saccharomyces ellipsoideus. Students are challenged to make modifications to environmental conditions and nutrients in the growth media to see how they impact growth rates, as evidenced by the carbon dioxide production in fermentation tubes. One group is looking at artificial sweeteners based on sugars and comparing growth to that from sucrose, as an example of the type of work being done.
The true value of the work is not in the results they obtain – those things are already known to science. However, they are not necessarily known to these students, and so pursuing this line of investigation helps sharpen their skills in defining a problem, posing interesting questions, designing controlled experiments, and analyzing results. They also sharpen their lab skills by having to set up and conduct a controlled study. Such preparation is essential to insure that they are ready for the moments in future classes when they are charged with designing experiments that delve into the unknown, whether that is in studying medical bacteria, cancer cells, gene sequences, or some other common project in the BIMS program.
We’re now about a fourth of the way through the semester, and I thought I’d give an update of what’s going on in our BIMS courses and program.
BIMS 1300. Intro to Scientific Research. Dr. Benoit has students looking at contemporary issues in science and explaining the science and processes and research to students in the class via formal presentations. Ever wonder what they’re talking about with stem cells, how DNA fingerprinting is done, how ethical breaches impact biomedical research? Stop by and you just might find your answers!
BIOL 1301. Unicellular Organisms. Dr. Benoit has had the unfortunate luck over the past few years of seeing every book chosen for this course taken out of print. He’s decided to take things into his own hands and has go with a custom published book that draws only the chapters central to his course from a larger textbook. The course is taking a decided cell anatomy and physiology focus to help prepare students for their sophomore level classes.
BIOL 3410. Microbiology. Dr. Wilson has his students screening fresh vegetables for E. coli and other enteric organisms. Next up will be their screening of the campus population for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Real science here conducted by lots of sophomores and juniors from Biology, Nursing, Biochemistry, and Biomedical Science majors.
BIOL 3460. Genetics. Dr. DiFrancesca will be missing class in mid-October to attend the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in San Diego. By then, the students will have isolated their own DNA and will be in the midst of PCR and analysis. While she’s gone, the students will have a guest lecture by Dr. Jon Weidanz of the Texas Tech School of Pharmacy in Abilene (and the founder of the biotech firm Receptor Logic) discussing the genetics of biotech research. Amazing things going on in here!
BIOL 4320. Molecular Cell Biology. Students are getting a great foundation in the fundamentals of molecular structure and control of eukaryotic cells. This course represents the content capstone for BIMS juniors, where knowledge from previous semesters is integrated into a full understanding of how cells work. Dr. DiFrancesca has got it going on in here!
BIMS 4120. Molecular Cell Biology Lab. Here, Dr. DiFrancesca builds on skills learned in Genetics the year before to provide a deep experience in molecular biology techniques. Students have not begun working with cancer cells yet but will embark on that journey before much longer. Imagine the conversation around the dinner table at Thanksgiving – “Sonny, what are you doing in your classes at McMurry?” “Well, grandma, we’re studying and trying to find cures for breast cancer.” Is that the type of thing you’d hear from average students from average schools?
So, its business as usual in the BIMS courses, all geared toward giving students real experience solving real problems. When you compare this approach to education to those from other colleges and universities, you see very quickly that we take a different approach and give our students a different experience because the futures of our students depend on doing so.