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The faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences held a strategic planning retreat this past January, with the objective of identifying common goals and aspirations for the future of the department. This retreat was the first of its kind, and consisted of three days of meetings and brainstorming sessions. The outcome was the formation of a Strategic Planning Committee, which is charged with articulating the department’s vision for the future, and to develop a framework on how to accomplish these goals. The committee hopes that by clearly defining the department’s mission, it will enhance the ability to respond to internal and external opportunities in the coming years.
Anita Manogaran, an alumna of Marquette University (Biology Ph.D., 2003), joins the Department of Biological Sciences as a full time Adjunct Assistant Professor. Before returning to Marquette, Dr. Manogaran held a post-doctoral and Research Assistant Professor position at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received the prestigious NIH post-doctoral fellowship for her research on fungal prions, and has published her work in journals such as PLoS Genetics and Yeast. Her current research focuses on understanding cellular factors that contribute to prion appearance. In addition to research, Dr. Manogaran has mentored many undergraduate students, and has received numerous grants to support undergraduate minority students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Dr. Manogaran teaches the first year general biology course, a sophomore level laboratory, and has developed a new and exciting non-majors course called “The Biology of Human Diseases.”
The department will host fourteen students in our 2013 undergraduate summer research program this coming summer, including six Marquette students supported by institutional and faculty grant funds, and the Biology Student Research Endowment Fund*, and eight external students supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. This year’s group of outside students comes from as far away as Tennessee and includes three students from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and two from UW campuses. All of the students will spend 10 weeks this summer conducting research in 12 different faculty labs and will participate in a variety of other activities, including journal clubs and lectures, field trips, and social events. The summer will culminate with a research symposium and a joint poster session with students from the Department of Math, Statistics, and Computer Science and the McNair Scholars program.
*The fund, established by Alumni gifts and currently endowed at $52,000 is essential to the long-term stability of our Summer Research Program. To support the fund, follow this link to the giving page.
“I love science.” Those were the first words Dr. John Bennett said this semester to his students in BIOL 1009: Biology for Non-Majors. Dr. Bennett joins the department as a guest lecturer this semester. He began his science career studying DNA tumor viruses as a graduate student at Loyola University Chicago and again as a post-doc at Northwestern. Then Dr. Bennett used his background to teach biology at small liberal arts schools. As he turned 40, he decided to return to school as a student in the part-time evening program at Marquette University School of Law. His interest in health care as it relates to law led him to begin his own private practice where he serves clients with notable health concerns, particularly elderly clients. Dr. Bennett finds it a pleasure to continue teaching at Marquette (BIOL 1009 and 4101) where he can develop and test hypotheses regarding how students think with the goal of maximizing student learning.
The 27th annual Oliver H. Smith Memorial Lecture was held on April 19, 2013. This lecture honors the memory of Dr. Oliver H. Smith, a faculty member in the department from 1963-1985. The seminar series was established by Oliver’s family who has continued to support this and other important departmental programs. Previous Smith Lectures have included three Nobel Laureates: Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn (1993), Dr. Richard Roberts (2001), and Dr. Thomas Steitz (2002).
This year’s presenter was Dr. Roberto Kolter, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School, whose seminar discussed “The Chemistry of Bacterial Development”. Dr. Kolter has made important contributions in diverse areas of microbiology. His work on peptide antibiotic synthesis and secretion provided some of the earliest knowledge on “ABC” exporters. Dr. Kolter was among the first to develop genetic approaches to investigate bacterial starvation physiology and pioneered the use of stationary phase cultures as model systems in experimental evolution. Since the mid-1990s, he has led the way in applying molecular genetic approaches to the study of bacterial biofilms. Presently, in his lab an eclectic mix of microbiology is investigated in projects that span areas of biofilm physiology, interspecies interactions, small molecule natural products, and microbial ecology and evolution.