Biology Department Seminar Speakers

Hi, my name is Ben Hackett and I am a senior Biology major at ShepherdUniversity.
This semester the biology dept. has started a new program that I really hope they continue. They are having seminar speakers come in and give a talk about their current research. We have had two this semester and they have been really exciting. This first seminar was hosted by a man named Dr. Daniel Terlizzi. His research is on Harmful Algae in the Chesapeake Bay.  This was a very interesting talk to go to because it addressed multiple subjects and audiences. Since he is based in Baltimore, it was also cool to see things on a local scale. Science is so often from some lab that you’ve never been to or heard of but this was only an hour away from Shepherd. He talked about different organisms including Pfiesteria piscicida and Karlodinium veneficum. These are different species of harmful algae and dinoflagellates. He talked about how these algae were causing massive fish kills in theChesapeake and other local areas. It was nice to see the data presented in a biological way but it played very well into the environmental science field.

The second seminar which happened this past Monday was presented by a woman named Dr. Bonny Dickinson from The School of Osteopathic Medicine inLewisburg,WV. She talked about her research on dendritic cells and immunosuppressive enzymes. She was very interesting to listen to. Her presentation was much more medically based as would be expected than the last speaker which really captured my attention. As a Pre-med concentration and medical school hopeful I was very eager to hear what she had to say. As her presentation continued we saw how much of what we are currently learning was actually being used in the real world. Understandings of biochemistry, cell biology, and immunology were needed to work on the research she was doing. It was so intriguing that I wish she had talked for more than the hour she was given.
These seminars are a great way for students to see what real scientists and researchers do in the real world. It can give you an idea of what’s out there and might even lead you to a topic you want to research. Now ok so as a student you might be thinking, “Ok but who is really going to give up their time to go sit through some lecture?” While this is an excellent question you might be surprised by the answer. The truth is that the room we hold these seminars in has been packed to the top every time. We have biology and chemistry students from every year come out to listen. We also have almost every single biology professor come out to hear what’s to be said. Here at Shepherd we really take an interest in learning about the sciences and do everything that we can to increase our knowledge and understanding of how and why our fields work.
Well that’s all for now. Hope you guys reading this are enjoying it so far (I hope someone’s reading this). Keep looking for what’s new from the world of Shepherd science.  🙂
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Sustainable Gazebos and Filters for Good!

Hi everyone! My name is Charlee Fox and I am a sophomore loving my Environmental Sustainability major at Shepherd University. I could not enjoy my environmental classes any more than I do, and I do believe we have the coolest, most helpful professors! I am currently in Sustainable Development and lab this semester and have previously taken Dimensions of Environmental Science 201 and 202. This week is advising week and I am excited to have three sciences next semester. I wanted to talk about two really exciting things I am involved in this year involving environmental science!The first thing is my Sustainable Development class’s involvement in the EPA’s P3 grant! You can view more about what the grant is about here . P3 stands for people, prosperity, and the planet. We are currently working on drafting a proposal to send in. We are aiming to build a sustainable gazebo! If we get the first stage of the grant, we will receive $15,000 to build a “prototype” so to say. This gazebo will include solar panels, vents, storm water catchment, and filtration systems! As for the second part of the grant, if we win the competition at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington DC, we will receive an amazing $90,000 to promote and sell our gazebos around the world! We are just starting this grant process so you will have to wait till my next blog to see what we have accomplished!

The second thing going on in my environmental life is my Brita Water Filter for Good ambassadorship. Being an ambassador for Brita has been so fun this year! I received 7 boxes in the mail from them (which I stacked in my living room, haha) full of water bottles and large filters to pass out to Shepherd Students.

Currently I am passing them out to different majors and sporting teams and am loving seeing my bright green bottles around campus! I have learned so much such as the following:

Did you know?

  • In spite of having easy access to clean water, the United States is the world’s largest bottled water consumer.1 In 2008, the U.S. used enough plastic water bottles to stretch around the Earth more than 190 times. (Brita)
  • Many people intend to recycle disposable water bottles; however, 69% of bottled water containers end up in the trash and not in a recycling container. (Brita)
  • Many people think bottled water is cleaner than tap water … BUT:  In the U.S., public water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires multiple daily tests for bacteria and makes results available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, only requires weekly testing and does not share its findings with the EPA or the public. (Brita)

I truly love the environment and am out to protect it as much as I can! I am learning so much here at Shepherd and am exposed to so many great things. Keep checking the blog to see my Sustainable Development class’s progress with our grant, and to see what I am doing next with Brita! Have a wonderful day!

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Popcorn and Gloop!

Hey everyone! My name is Vanessa Furby, and I am a junior Biology Education major here at Shepherd University! Wednesdays are typically busy for me; with a day full of classes and labs, there’s hardly time for much else,but today was special because I had two events to attend! Today was “Popcorn day” and Shep-o-treat!

Popcorn day is an event that my fraternity, Sigma Pi Epsilon, hosted; we made a whole bunch of popcorn and sold it to students in Snyder and Byrd (the science buildings at Shepherd). The event went rather well; we sold about 20 bags of popcorn!

The other event that was held today was hosted by Shepherd University; hep-o-reat is an event where kids from around the area go and trick-or-treat on Shepherd’s campus. The students at the residence halls sit and give out candy! The fraternities are able to get involved by setting up tables in the student centerto hand out candy and entertain the kids in some way. Sigma Pi Epsilon, being the chemistry fraternity, made “gloop” and a little (vinegar and baking soda) volcano for the kids! “Gloop” is a silly putty-like substance that is made from glue, water, and borax; the kids really seemed to enjoy the slimy texture of the gloop, and they thouroghly loved the fact that it turned into a bouncy ball after it dried! The kids also liked the little volcano we did; they were so captivated by it! All of the kids, in their cute little costumes, were so adorable! The kids really made the night fun; and everyone was so nice–it was turly a great experience! Shepherd hosts a bunch of events like this; you get to meet new people, and have fun doing it! 

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Sara’s Internship Tips

Hi everyone, my name is Sara Kurian and I am a senior biochemistry major here at Shepherd University. One of the graduation requirements for science majors is to complete a senior research internship, so I thought I would tell you about my experience last summer with the WV-INBRE internship program, a program that several Shepherd students have participated in over the years. Through this program, 22 students from West Virginia colleges were given the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge biomedical research at West Virginia University and Marshall University. For the internship, I worked in Dr. Bingyun Li’s lab in the Orthopedics Department at WVU.

Like many students, before starting the internship I was a little apprehensive about being faced with unfamiliar research equipment and protocols, but thankfully I discovered that my research background from labs at Shepherd was quite thorough and everyone in the lab at WVU was quite happy to answer my questions. Specifically, my project was to test if the novel antibiotic LL-37 could eliminate the intracellular bacteria in osteoblasts as a model for treatment of recurrent bone infections. Through this project I learned some new techniques such as co-culturing Staphylococcus aureus and osteoblasts, and was also able to incorporate some of the techniques I learned at Shepherd like determining concentrations with a hemocytometer and plating and counting bacterial colonies. Besides my mentor, I also worked with several graduate students and medical students in the lab, so as a pre-med student I was quite glad to have the opportunity to learn what to expect during medical school and some first-hand tips for success. Thus to end, I would just like to leave you with some tips for your internship experience.


5 Simple Tips for a Successful Internship Experience:

  1. Start looking for research internships at least a semester in advance, as many of them have deadlines that are quite early.
  2. Get some research experience to build up you application. It is often a good idea to work on a research project with one of your professors to show your commitment to research.
  3. Research the projects currently under investigation at the prospective institution and be able to relate them to your research interests.
  4. During the internship, don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to new people. Graduate students as well as faculty members are a great source for information on things such as what to expect during graduate school. Also many internship programs offer seminars throughout the summer that are also great opportunities to ask questions and learn new information.
  5. While working on your research project, keep very detailed notes and make sure you understand why you are doing each step. Thorough notes really come in handy when you have to prepare a written report or poster on your project, especially if this occurs several months after you do the actual research. Also, knowing why you did each step will help you successfully explain your project and answer questions during presentations.
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Welcome from Dean Nolan

Welcome to our blog.  I’m Colleen Nolan, Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.  I’m teaming up with students from different majors within the School to post information that we think provides a look inside the different departments at Shepherd, some of our faculty, and the life of a “typical” Shepherd Ram.  I hope that you’ll take some time to check out each of our profiles now and when we add new bloggers.   Here in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics we have a diversity of student organizations and potential majors.  We are excited about the pre-admission programs for students interested in medical, dental and pharmacy schools (STEP programs) and the success our students have in entering graduate programs or the work force.

Last year was an exciting one in our school.  A number of faculty were recognized for their hard work and dedication.  Dr. Edward Snyder of the Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences was named the West Virginia Professor of the Year and a Distinguished University Professor.  Dr. Carol Plautz of the Biology Department was recognized by the Council on Undergraduate Research Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year (only one of three in the nation) and she was named the Outstanding Teacher at Shepherd University.  The Department of Computer Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering held the first ever ShepRobo Fest and students in the robotics club placed third in a competition in Trinity College International Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest and RoboWaiter Competition in Hartford, Connecticut, on April 9 and 10 and were the only U.S. team to place in the senior division of the fire fighting category.  The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has finished the first year of a three year grant to provide stipends for undergraduate students to conduct research with faculty and many of the school faculty were successful in receiving grants to support research activities.

This year we have welcomed four new faculty – two in mathematics, one in biology and one in physics.  We have developed first year experience courses for students majoring in biology, environmental studies and computer sciences, mathematics and engineering.   On behalf of the students, faculty and staff of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics I hope you check back often to read about our activities for this year.

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