Fall 2013 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University



Oct. 30, 2013 | Volume 3, Issue 1


NOTES From The Chair

Dr. Dale NoelThis issue coincides with the last semester of two faculty, Gail Waring and Steve Munroe. In May, Kathy Karrer will join them in retirement. All three are well known to readers as mainstays of our department; they will be sorely missed. Gail was honored by her adoring students earlier this fall with an impressively delivered pie in the face. The chapter of our history recounted in this issue is the construction of our building. Its 50th anniversary passed quietly in February, 2012. Incredible work and learning still occurs here, completely out of proportion with the humble and aging structure within which it takes place. Wally Fredricks is the past faculty member chronicled in this issue. Recently he visited the department to help us honor the nine years Bob Fitts served as chair, reminding us of his calm wisdom and knee-buckling humor. As always, we want to hear from you, so please feel free to email our newsletter editor, or visit us on Facebook.





FacebookWe hope that you’ve hit the “Like” button on our Facebook page to follow the activity of the department! It’s a great way to keep in touch, and we’d love to know more about what you’d like to see. Are you interested in keeping up with faculty research, what students are doing, or career progress of other alums? Let us know what you think!


back to top



On September 7th about 40 faculty, staff and graduate students came together with their families for a departmental picnic celebrating the start of the new academic year. After fears of being rained out, everyone had a great time on what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon at Doctor’s Park in Bayside, WI. Like true Midwesterners, the assembled potluck was delicious, and friendly competition was had with various lawn games.



SRP 2013At the end of the fall 2013 semester, two long time faculty members will be retiring. Dr. Stephen Munroe came to the department in 1978, where his research has examined splicing and antisense RNA. He has made many significant advancements in the field of RNA, and inspired hundreds of students through his biochemistry course. In his retirement, Dr. Munroe is looking forward to spending 3 seasons a year on Cape Cod.

Dr. Gail WaringDr. Gail Waring also joined the faculty at Marquette in 1978, and has truly enjoyed engaging students in the classroom where she has introduced students to the wonders of cell biology. The most important part of her job, she says, “are the people I’ve worked with over the years. The undergraduates, graduate students and faculty colleagues. It’s been an enriching and rewarding experience.”



The group planted a long section on the south side of the Hank Aaron Trail in Three Bridges Park UEC Land Steward Jeff Veglahn demonstrated how to plant, and talked about the history of the site


For the first time, undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff of the department came together to volunteer their time to help transform 24 acres of wasteland in the Menomonee Valley into a healthy habitat for native plants and animals, an educational resource, and a welcoming green space for Milwaukee. On Saturday, October 5th, a group of 37 representatives of the Biological Sciences Department planted 500 native grasses and flowers with the Urban Ecology Center –Menomonee Valley as part of their Land Stewardship program to help restore and preserve the Menomonee Valley’s natural habitat. The opportunity to work alongside each other brought the department together as a community, and to contributed to the greater Milwaukee community in a meaningful way.


Lab Manager Brian Mikeworth and undergraduate student Kevin Sanchez work together to plant at the UEC Dr. Martin St. Maurice brought his daughter Danika along for the experience


back to top


Petrella Lab
The Petrella Lab shows off their artwork

In June the Petrella lab including Dr. Lisa Petrella, graduate student Meghan Costello and lab manager Brian Mikeworth traveled to the 19th International C. elegans Meeting at UCLA. Generally just called the worm meeting, the lab presented their work as posters on the interaction of nematodes with the environment to the ~1500 participants in worm labs from around the world. There were lots of great talks and posters to see and the meeting ended with the presentations for the best worm art, the worm comedy show and the worm dance. The Worm Art Show at the international worm meeting was started by Dr. Ahna Skop an artist and Associate Professor of Genetics at UW-Madison. The worm show has many hilarious skits and songs about science, biology and worms and can be found on YouTube if you wish.

Upon return the lab felt that it needed to stretch its artistic wings. So at the end of the Summer Research program, Dr. Lisa Petrella, Meghan Costello, Brian Mikeworth along with Nika Gigliotti, an MSOE student doing the NSF funded REU program and Kevin Sanchez, a Marquette Undergraduate working in the lab, went to Splash the painting bar found in the Third Ward. They spend about 2 hours creating worm/research inspired art much to the interest of the other patrons and staff. These paintings are now on display in the lab and will probably be joined by more in the future.



SRP 2013
2013 SRP Students

For more than 20 years, the department has been hosting undergraduate summer research programs. The 2013 edition featured fourteen students—six from Marquette and 8 from other schools—and was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and funds from the department, College of Arts & Sciences, and the University Honors Program. The students spent 10 weeks conducting research in faculty labs; 12 different faculty were involved. They also met weekly to present their work, listen to faculty talks, and discuss scientific papers. Other highlights of the summer included tailgating at a Brewers game (the Brewers actually won!), a cookout and sailing on the lake, and field trips to Growing Power and the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences. The program culminated with a very successful joint poster session with students from the Department of Math, Statistics, and Computer Science and the McNair Scholars program and finally with a research symposium and lunch. For pictures and other information from the summer program, go to the department Facebook page!

back to top




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.


back to top


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.

back to top



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.


back to top





BUS Kickoff Pies for Professors
BUS kicked off the year with an event on September 30th 4 students had the honor of pie-ing their favorite faculty member (L-R: Drs. Ed Blumenthal, Lisa Petrella, Anita Manogaran and Gail Waring.
Student throws pie
Sophomore student Dani Desautelle has the chance to put a pie in Dr. Gail Waring's face

The Biology Department collaborated with the Biological Undergraduate Society (BUS) to put on the first BUS kickoff event. This event took place on Monday, September 30th, and was an opportunity for undergraduate students to learn more about the Department of Biology. Students discussed undergraduate research opportunities, advising, and other upcoming volunteer events with upperclassmen in Biology and faculty members. The highlight of the event was pie-ing four Biology faculty members chosen by the students (Drs. Ed Blumenthal, Lisa Petrella, Anita Manogaran, and Gail Waring)! The students had a great time and the faculty were good sports about getting a pie in the face. This event was BUS’s first step in becoming a more active group on campus and reaching out to students interested in Biology.



For the first time this year, ten students from Dr. Schläppi’s BIOL 3406 class (Plant Biology) started a service learning pilot project involving urban agriculture at Alice’s Garden on 2136 N. 21st St., Milwaukee. The students were paired by Alice’s Garden executive director, Venice Williams, to work with individual gardeners to assess the soil condition of personal garden plots, in an effort to grow healthier soil, and produce more vibrant food. This project also gives the Marquette students an opportunity to learn about the work done at Alice's Garden, and how its programs and projects impact the community on multiple levels.

To kick off the project, students and paired gardeners worked together on the first Monday afternoon of October and cleared an abandoned plot at Alice's Garden. The next step will be to turn the soil over and plant cover crops to improve soil conditions for next year. As budding scientists, the students will train the gardeners in performing a controlled experiment. To this end, they will subdivide the plot into three areas. One area will be a negative control not receiving any cover crop. The second area will receive a legume crop without supplement of nitrogen fixing bacteria, and the third area will receive the same crop supplemented with bacteria. Dr. Noel, from our department, and his students generously provided black bean seeds and Rhizobium etli bacteria for this purpose! Before planting, a small sample of soil will be collected from each subplot area and kept for chemical analysis. The students will test whether the black bean roots will form nodules during the fall planting and quantify the amount of nodules. This will terminate their part of the pilot study, but their collaborating gardeners will collect soil samples next year and send all the samples out for chemical testing. We expect that the soil of the subplot containing black beans seeded with nitrogen fixing bacteria will produce more nitrogen fixing nodules than the control areas, making this soil more nitrogen-rich, which should improve next year’s crop!

back to top




Students in Dr. Ed Blumenthal’s Experimental Physiology (BIOL 3702) course are learning both how to manipulate study specimens and recording equipment and to understand the process of experimental design and data interpretation. This fall, make sure to follow the students in Experimental Physiology on Facebook, as they conduct experiments investigating a wide variety of aspects of animal physiology in the laboratory.


 back to top


Garlich Travels to Summer Course in Finland

Josh Garlich
Josh (Right) with 2 other summer school students, Ashwin (left) and Päivi (Center), taken on a boat trip on Lake Päijänne

Fourth-year graduate student Josh Garlich attended the FinMIT International Summer School on Mitochondria and Organelle Communication held in Vääksy, Finland from June 1-8, 2013. The week-long course was organized by the FinMIT Centre of Excellence, a collaborative between the Universities of Tampere and Helsinki, Finland. The course featured an intensive lecture series given by several international research leaders on topics including; mitochondrial dynamics and turnover, peroxisome biogenesis, organelles and neurodegeneration, mitochondrial lipid metabolism and signaling, endosomes, lysosomes and autophagosomes, ER/mitochondria interactions, and intracellular transport. As part of the summer school, students worked throughout the week to prepare presentations on specialized topics within the theme of the summer course, and presented these topics at the end of the week.

The summer course was held in conjunction with the FinMIT Nordic Minisymposium on Mitochondria and Organelle Communication which took place on June 6th. Speakers from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark presented their work on a diverse array of topics related to organelle dynamics, crosstalk, and biogenesis. During the minisymposium, students from the summer course presented their own work at a poster session. Josh found this part of the summer course particularly valuable as he was able to speak with others in the field about his research, many of whom expressed interest and offered helpful suggestions regarding his project.


Josh Garlich
FinMIT Summer School attendees on a group hike near Vääksy, Finland

Another aspect of the course that Josh found to be incredibly beneficial was that the organizers, Howy Jacobs (University of Tampere, Finland) and Brendan Battersby (University of Helsinki, Finland), placed a high emphasis on instructing students how to actively listen and participate in a lecture. He learned from the lecturers and organizers, as well as his fellow students, the valuable skill of engaging each presenter and asking thought-provoking questions, and honed these skills throughout the week.

Josh’s overall impression of the summer course was that it was a highly valuable experience that facilitated professional connections with colleagues all over the world, and provided him with skills that he can apply to his pursuit of a doctoral degree and beyond.


Mathai Attends Course at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory

Prince Mathai

Prince collects samples of methanogens, methanotrophs, sulfur-oxidizers and sulfate-reducers at Trunk River, Falmouth

Prince Mathai attended the ‘Microbial Diversity’ summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA from June 8 to July 25, 2013. He was among the 20 students selected to this course, which included PhD students, post-docs, and faculty members. His classmates included 13 from American institutions, as well as students from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark and Indonesia. Steve Zinder and Dan Buckley, professors from Cornell University, served as course-directors. In June, the Microbial Diversity course at MBL was designated as a ‘Milestones in Microbiology Site’ by the American Society for Microbiology. The MBL awarded Prince a tuition scholarship and he also received a Charles O’Hara Scholarship from Marquette which covered his room and board expenses.

This course provided Prince an opportunity to learn a wide variety of traditional and novel microbiological/molecular techniques and access to the latest cutting-edge technology in this field. A particular emphasis of the course was to isolate and cultivate microorganisms that were distinguished by their physiological, biochemical, and morphological properties (e.g., methanogens, acetogens, sulfate-reducers, sulfur-oxidizers, phototrophs, magnetotactic and bioluminescent bacteria). Another highlight of this course was that course participants had the opportunity to meet and interact with internationally renowned microbiologists who were invited to the course as guest lecturers.

Prince Mathai

2013 Microbial Diversity students, teaching assistants and course faculty

In addition, course participants had an opportunity to design and execute a mini- research project of their choice. Prince studied methanotrophic bacteria in an acidic freshwater swamp by using a combination of cultivation-dependent and -independent methods. He established multiple microcosms and enriched for acidic methanotrophs. He used stable isotope probing to explore the diversity of active methanotrophs and fluorescence in-situ hybridization to determine their relative abundance. As part of project, Prince also performed an in-situ depth profile analysis of the swamp linking physicochemical data to microbial community structure.



Josh and Prince would like to acknowledge and express their gratitude to the Charles O’Hara Scholarship for providing financial support to attend the FinMIT International Summer School and the summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory.

back to top


Jonathan HillJonathan Hill, Ph.D. May 2013
Advisor: Dr. Paul Gasser
Thesis: Contributions of Individual Differences in Stress Reactivity to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Vulnerability and Resilience


Chrissy SansoneChristine Sansone, Ph.D. August 2013
Advisor: Dr. Ed Blumenthal
Thesis: Temporal and spatial requirements of drop-dead expression for adult survival in Drosophila melanogaster


Ru YaRu Ya, Ph.D. August 2013
Advisor: Dr. Stephen Downs
Thesis: The Role of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase in Mouse Oocyte Maturation and Subsequent Egg Activation



Yan Li attended the 26th International Conference on Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology in Frankfurt University, Germany from August 29th to September 3rd, 2013. She presented her poster entitled, "Functional analysis of Mtr4 as a component of TRAMP complex". Yan had a great experience experiencing all of the facets of current yeast research, as well as exploring the beautiful modern city of Frankfurt.

Prince Mathai attended the 113th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Denver, CO last May, where he presented his poster, “Quantitative Detection of Syntrophic Fatty-Acid Degrading Bacteria in Anaerobic Environments”.

Yi Lin attended the 33rd Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference in Chicago, IL on October 12, 2013. Yi presented her poster entitled, “Studies into domain coordination of urea amidolyase".


back to top




John FallonDr. John Fallon (B.S. 1961, Ph.D. 1966), Harland Winfield Mossman Emeritus Professor of Cell and Regenerative Biology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has been awarded the 2013 Developmental Biology –Society for Developmental Biology Lifetime Achievement Award. Fallon’s outstanding career of research contributions in limb development dates to his earliest work with Marquette Biology Department’s Dr. John Saunders. The Society for Developmental Biology’s yearly Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a “senior developmental biologist in recognition of his outstanding and sustained contributions in the field. The award is given for the individual's excellence in research and for being a superb mentor who has helped train the next generation of exceptional scientists. Typically, the award is given during the third trimester of the recipient's career, to allow sufficient time to assess the impact of his contributions.”



Last spring Megan Mohnen (B.S. 2013) was named the recipient of the Medical College of Wisconsin's V. Duane Rath Merit Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship awarded to a Wisconsin resident who has "demonstrated outstanding potential for success in medical school".  Megan credits her Marquette education and the Jesuit ideals instilled in her throughout her years as an undergraduate for the potential that the Medical College of Wisconsin sees in her.  She feels her Marquette education has successfully prepared her for the rigor of medical school, but also given so much more than just knowledge; it has helped her develop into a well-rounded individual, to lead by example, and to give back to others and the community.  While it has only been a couple of months since she started at MCW, she says with full conviction that she "made the right decision in pursuing medicine, attending the Medical College of Wisconsin and staying close to my alma mater and the support network I developed throughout my undergraduate career." 



David Preble (B.S. 1976) was recently promoted by the American Dental Association to vice president of the newly created ADA Practice Institute. The Practice Institute will provide input on programs, products and services to help ADA members better operate their dental practices. Preble previously served as the director of the ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs, a position he held since 2007. 

back to top





Biological Sciences Department

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