Fall 2013 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University




In late August, two faculty members, Tom Eddinger and Ed Blumenthal, attended a Vision & Change conference in Washington, D.C. This meeting of 350 scientists, educators, and administrators is part of an ongoing national effort to reform Biology education. Among the topics discussed at the meeting were strategies for giving more students genuine research experiences, building networks for sharing successful teaching practices, and effectively assessing student learning. Drs. Eddinger and Blumenthal will be sharing their experiences at the conference with the rest of the department in our ongoing effort to improve education in Biological Sciences at Marquette.



Eddinger, Quitadamo, and St. Maurice
Dr. Tom Eddinger (Left) and Dr. Martin St. Maurice (Right) hosted Dr. Ian Quitadamo's visit

Ian Quitadamo, from Central Washington University, spent a day in the Biological Sciences department on September 13th sharing his expertise on improved teaching pedagogy and giving a seminar on “community based inquiry to transform STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) courses to improve critical thinking”. During his one-day visit, Dr. Quitadamo led small groups of faculty in a series of workshops centered on how to redesign our course curricula to better align with our desired learning outcomes. Dr. Quitadamo presented and reviewed “reversed engineering” of courses where the outcomes are identified first and then the course content and order are designed to bring about reaching the course outcomes. Outcomes include knowledge, skills, and what he categorized as dispositions – attitudes and behavioral traits. Understanding how people learn and having a valid assessment to measure success are also critical to effective teaching. Students need to learn how to be critical thinkers and faculty need to help them develop this skill. Students who can think critically, on average, get better GPA’s, get jobs with higher salaries as well as move up the ladder faster, and are better citizens with higher satisfaction in their personal lives.

Dr. Quitadamo’s visit has sparked many spirited conversations among the faculty and graduate students about our approach to teaching and how we can improve the quality of the education we deliver to our students. Inviting Dr. Quitadamo was part of an ongoing effort by the department to improve the outcomes for our students and part of the ongoing process to evaluate and as appropriate revise the undergraduate and graduate curriculum in the department. This is the result of strategic planning for the department done over the past year and efforts to proceed with these plans over the next 3-5 years.



Dr. Michelle Mynlieff has been promoted from Associate Professor to full Professor. Dr. Mynlieff studies ion channels and neuronal function, and has been a faculty member of the Department of Biological Sciences at Marquette since 1993.



Embo JournalThe EMBO Journal has chosen Dr. Rosemary Stuart's photo of a red cabbage plant, taken at Kylemore Abbey Walled Gardens, County Galway, Ireland, for the cover of their October 16th Issue. The EMBO Journal covers original research in the areas of molecular and cell biology, and accepts submissions from the public for their covers.



Dr. Martin St. Maurice from Biological Sciences and Dr. Evgueni Kovriguine from Chemistry were recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation that will fund a major new piece of shared instrumentation to support both research and teaching efforts in the Biological Sciences and Chemistry departments. The instrument, called an isothermal titration calorimeter, is used to measure very small heat changes that take place when two molecules interact with one another. The instrument will enable the faculty in Biological Sciences to measure exactly what happens when a biological molecule interacts with a small drug or another biological molecule. Using these measurements, faculty and students will be able to characterize the interactions between biomolecules at a level of detail that exceeds anything they can do currently. The instrument will be installed sometime early next year with several labs in Biological Sciences and Chemistry anxious to begin using the instrument as early as spring 2014.



Dr. Michael Schlappi and his lab had a great rice-growing season on the second floor roof of the Department of Biological Sciences. Over 1,000 plants were put into 11 rice paddies as part of a genetic experiment to map cold tolerance and flowering time genes. The growing season is now over and most seeds are harvested.

Eddinger, Quitadamo, and St. Maurice
Members of the Schläppi lab posing with rice plants on September 11, 2013. Left to right: Xinrui Wang; Ellen Barton, Michael Schläppi, Yao Shi.




Dr. James Buchanan
$338,624, “Locomotor rhythmogenesis in the vertebrate hindbrain,” National Institutes of Health.


Ed Blumenthal
Associate Professor
“Neurodegeneration in Drop-Dead mutant Drosophila melanogaster is associated with the respiratory system but not with hypoxia,” PLOS ONE 8(7): e68032, (July 2013) with alum Chrissy Sansone (Ph.D. 2013) as first author.

“Antifreeze proteins in the primary urine of larvae of the beetle Dendroides Canadensis,” Journal of Experimental Biology 216: 1695-1703, (May 2013) with P. Nickell, S. Sass, D. Verleye, and J. Duman.

“Inhibition of diuretic stimulation of an insect secretory epithelium by a cGMP –dependent protein kinase,” American Journal of Physiology –Renal Physiology 304(9): F1210-6, (May 2013) with alumni Kristen Ruka (B.S. 2010), and Anna (Quint) Miller (B.S. 2012).


Dr. Stephen Downs
Wehr Professor
“Suppression of chemically induced and spontaneous mouse oocyte activation by AMP –activated protein kinase”, Biology of Reproduction 88(3): 70, (March 2013) with alum Ru Ya (Ph.D. 2013) as first author.


Dr. Thomas Eddinger
“Tonic and phasic smooth muscle contraction is not regulated by PKCα – CPI-17 pathway in swing stomach antrum and fundus,” PLOS ONE 8(9): e74608, (September 2013) with alum Yu Zhang (M.S. 2010), and M.E. Hermanson.


Dr. Robert Fitts
“Effects of prolonged space flight on human skeletal muscle enzyme and substrate profiles,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 115:667-679, (September 2013), with Patricia Colloton (Assistant to the Chair), S.W. Trappe, D.L. Costill, J.L.W. Bain, and D.A. Riley.

“Confocal imaging on transmembrane voltage by SEER of di-8-ANEPPS,” Journal of General Physiology 141 (3): 371-387, (June 2013), with C. Manno, L. Figueroa, and E. Rios.

Dr. Krassimira Hristova
Assistant Professor
“Selenium biotransformations in an engineered aquatic ecosystem for bioremediation of agricultural wastewater via brine shrimp production,” Environmental Science and Technology 47(10): 5057-5065, (May 2013) with R. Schmit, P. Tantoyotai, S. Fakra, M. Marcus, S. Yang, I. Pickering, G. Banuelos, and J. Freeman.

“Successful treatment of MTBE-impacted aquifer using a bioreactor self-colonized by native aquifer bacteria,” Biodegradation PMID: 23613160 (April 2013), with K. Hicks, R. Schmidt, M. Nickelsen, J. Baker, P. Tornatore, and K. Scow.


Dr. Michelle Mynlieff
“Nonspecific, reversible inhibition of voltage-gated calcium channels by CaMKII inhibitor CK59,” Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, 33(5): 723-9 (July 2013), with graduate student Andrew Karls.


Dr. Martin St. Maurice
Assistant Professor
“A substrate-induced biotin binding pocket in the carboxyltransferase domain of pyruvate carboxylase,” Journal of Biological Chemistry 288: 19915-19925, (July 2013), with graduate student Adam Lietzan as first author.




Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
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P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-7355