Spring 2013 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University




Bio Lab Snapshots on FacebookThis semester we’ve been following the activities of our introductory biology lab, Principles of Biological Investigations on Facebook. Each week, we highlight the work these students are doing as they are introduced to laboratory technique in the biological sciences.  Check out the exciting experiments the students are conducting in the Bio Lab Snapshots album on our Facebook page.



The spring Dr. Michelle Mynlieff’s neurobiology course (BIOL3501) is part of the Wikipedia Education Program consisting of professors using Wikipedia in their classrooms. The Society for Neuroscience has set a priority to expand and enhance neuroscience content on Wikipedia (Wikiproject Neuroscience). The organization has identified a list of neuroscience stubs that are in need of improvement and expansion. For this assignment, groups of 3-4 students are working together on a single neuroscience stub with the goal to bring it up to the quality of a good article. The learning objectives of this assignment are:    

1.           Increase scientific writing skills

2.           Improve critical thinking and research skills

3.           Foster the ability to work in a collaborative environment

4.           Gain in depth knowledge in a small area of neuroscience

The students have been working together with Wikipedia online ambassadors to write their articles and will also be reviewing each other’s work as part of the assignment.  Our main online ambassador is Yunshui who is located in England.  By the end of the semester there should be 10 improved and expanded or entirely new articles on Wikipedia authored by the class.




Have you ever wondered what goes wrong when a person gets Alzheimer's disease, or why does a person with Asthma has trouble breathing?  Dr. Anita Manogaran will be offering a new course for non-majors this fall that will explore these topics and many other topics relating to the Biology of Human Disease (BIOL1410).  This course focuses on the function of physiological systems, and how particular diseases affect these systems.  Students will also learn about current therapies that are used to treat the disease.  Other topics covered include cancer, drug addiction, and genetic disorders.  A special emphasis will also be placed on training students how to critically assess science in the media. 

BIOL 1410 has been accepted as a core course in the universities curriculum to satisfy a science and nature requirement.



BUSOn April 4th, the Biological Undergraduate Society hosted tours of three faculty labs for underclassman to get a glimpse of some of the research that goes on in the department. Students were able to examine glowing and mutated C. elegans in Dr. Lisa Petrella's lab, visualize lamprey spinal cord action potentials in Dr. James Buchanan's lab, and explore phototaxis in green algae in Dr. Pinfen Yang's lab. At the reception following, the students were given the opportunity to discuss what they saw with the faculty and how to get involved in research in the department as undergraduates.



The Department of Biological Sciences recognizes outstanding achievement in biological research by presenting three awards, one for each of our majors.  The award committee selects the winner from nominations from faculty of junior or senior students who have displayed talent for research, including initiative, independence, and the ability to design and carry out experiments. The Catherine Welsh Smith Research Award winner is selected as the best from these three top students.


Catherine Welsh Smith Research Award in Biological Sciences:  Sihui Yang

Sihui Yang

Sihui Yang, a graduating Biological Science major, has worked in Dr. Noel’s lab on a respiratory rhizobium mutant that lacks nitrogen fixation.  In her studies on this rhizobium mutant, she found that the lack of nitrogen fixation is primarily due to lack of an enzyme in the bacteroids that catalyzes the nitrogen fixation reaction, namely the nitrogenase.  Her research indicates the overall protein production in the mutant bacteroids is also decreased, which at least partially account for the lack of nitrogenase in the mutant bacteroids.  To account for this observation of a generalized decrease in protein production, they hypothesize that ATP generation is reduced in the mutant bacteroids.  After graduation, Sihui will pursue graduate studies in the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Cell and Molecular Biology Ph.D. Program.  She hopes to ultimately pursue a career in science research. 

Department of Biological Sciences’ Research Award in Physiological Sciences: Laura Mark

Laura MarkLaura Mark, a senior studying Physiological Sciences and Spanish, studies the effects of exercise training on the rat heart in Dr. Fitts’s lab. Specifically, Laura’s research centers on the electrical remodeling of the cardiac action potential following prolonged exercise training in both the whole heart and single cell model. After graduation, Laura will continue her research until August, when she will head to Central America to work as an interpreter and travel. In the future, Laura hopes to pursue a career in the health professions with a focus on serving Spanish-speaking populations.

Department of Biological Sciences’ Research Award in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Melissa Budelier

Melissa BudelierFor the past two years Melissa Budelier has studied the structure and function of pyruvate carboxylase (PC) in the laboratory of Dr. Martin St. Maurice.  While Melissa has worked on a few different projects, the majority of her time has been spent investigating the interactions between the biotin carboxyl carrier protein (BCCP) and the carboxyl transferase (CT) domains of Rhizobium etli PC.  These studies were performed by creating various combinations of active and inactive CT-BCCP/CT domain heterodimers and analyzing their function via steady-state kinetics.  After graduation, Melissa will be pursuing her PhD in Biochemistry within the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.


The Biological Sciences Academic Achievement Award recognizes the outstanding academic achievement in the Biological Sciences Department by a senior majoring in Biological Sciences, Physiological Sciences, or Biochemistry/Molecular Biology. The award committee selects the winner based on a cumulative GPA of 3.50 and above, the student’s sciences GPA, and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.

Biological Sciences Academic Achievement Award:  Joseph Burclaff

Joseph BurclaffIn the Anderson Lab, Joseph Burclaff has been focusing on the Mtr4 protein, an ATP dependent helicase that acts as part of the TRAMP (Trf4/Air2/Mtr4p Polyadenylation) complex which is active in RNA surveillance and degradation. Joseph’s project has focused on characterizing the K904N point mutation within the C-Terminal domain of the protein, about which little is known. Through growth assays, northern blotting, and tetrad dissection, his research has indicated that the K904N mutation has a significant effect on the protein in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, lowering its ability to process RNA. Further work is being completed to determine how the mutation is compromising the protein's function on a molecular level, and this could shed light onto the function of the entire c-terminal domain. Joseph will be attending the doctoral program in Developmental, Regenerative, and Stem Cell Biology at Washington University in St Louis this fall.



Of the 47 Marquette students elected to Phi Beta Kappa this spring, 11 are majors from the Department of Biological Sciences. Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most prestigious honor society in the U.S. and today there are 280 chapters at American college and universities across the country.  Marquette was granted a charter for its Zeta chapter of Wisconsin in 1971. One of the activities of the chapter is to sponsor visiting scholars for presentations at participating universities.  The Department of Biological Sciences sponsored Dr. Lynn Margulis (University of Massachusetts) in 1989 and Dr. Elliot Meyerowitz (Cal Tech) in 2005.

2013  Biological Sciences Phi Beta Kappa Inductees: Melissa Budelier, Joseph Burclaff, Alyssa Digilio, Ashley Jacobson, Kimberly Leroy, Laura Mark, Megan Mohnen, Sneha Shah, Catharine Skoog, Sihui Yang, and Keline Yoshimura.



The Klingler College of Arts and Sciences is proud to announce that five students will receive Gold Medal Awards at the College Graduation Ceremony, Sunday, May 19, 2013. The Gold Medal Award is given to the graduating senior or seniors with the highest cumulative grade point average. Of the many awards recognizing academic achievement by students in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, none speaks so clearly of the recipient’s intelligence, commitment to studies, academic discipline and extraordinary passion to learn.

The Department of Biological Sciences would like to recognize two of these award winners, Megan Mohnen and Abigail Searfoss. Megan is a biological sciences major, and Abigail has been actively involved in research in Dr. Martin St. Maurice's lab.

Megan Mohnen, from Clintonville, Wisconsin, will receive a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Biological Sciences. Megan was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society, and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the Pre-Professional/Medical Honor Society and has conducted laboratory research in Biological Sciences. She is a member of Pure Dance Marquette and plans to attend Medical School after graduation.

Abigail Searfoss, from Maryville, Tennessee, will receive a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Physics and a minor in Chemistry. She plans to attend graduate school in the fall. Abigail is a founding member and President of the Women in Physics Club and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society.



Joseph Burclaff (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’13) will be starting graduate studies in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis this fall.

Erin Kiehnau (Biological Sciences, ’13) will be starting veterinary school in the fall at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

Melissa Budelier (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’13) will be attending Washington University in St. Louis for her graduate studies this fall.

Sihui Yang (Biological Sciences, ’13) will pursue graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.

Keline Yoshimura (Physiological Sciences, ’13) will continue her physical therapy training as a clinical doctoral candidate at Marquette University.

Claire Wood (Physiological Sciences, ’13) will continue her physical therapy training as a clinical doctoral candidate at Marquette University.

Connor Callahan (Physiological Sciences, ’13) has been admitted to medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI.

Laura Mark  (Physiological Sciences, ’13) will present a paper at the American Physiological Society National Meeting in Boston, MA this April. Her presentation is entitled “Exercise-induced electrical remodeling of endocardial and epicardial tissue in perfused rat hearts”. Her work was nominated for the APS 2013 David S. Bruce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.




Biological Sciences Department

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