Fall 2014 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University



Edible MKE


MU Alum, Aurora Prehn, has written an article about Dr. Michael Schläppi’s research on rice for the local magazine Edible Milwaukee. Where the greenhouse once stood on the roof of Wehr Life Sciences are now twelve experimental rice paddies. Read more about Dr. Schläppi’s research, and his collaboration with the Milwaukee community garden/urban farm, Alice’s Garden in the Fall 2014 issue of Edible Milwaukee.




Four members of the biological sciences department have reached milestones in their careers at Marquette.


Patricia Colloton, assistant to the chair – 10 years

Dr. Rosemary Stuart, professor and associate dean for planning – 15 years

Dr. Thomas Eddinger, professor – 25 years

Dr. James Buchanan, professor – 25 years




Submitted by graduate students, Meghan Fealey and Sean Conway


This past summer, at the request of program director Dr. Edward Blumenthal, we were asked to be graduate student mentors for the NSF funded undergraduate research program.  Seventeen undergraduates from Marquette and other Universities throughout the country completed a 10-week research project in Marquette faculty labs, culminating with a presentation summarizing their findings.  As mentors, we had many responsibilities so that the program ran smoothly.  We first attempted to create a cohesive, science community with an opening dinner including multiple icebreaker activities.  We sustained this community environment as we planned and executed weekly dinners where the students gathered and reflected on their week by sharing some exciting findings and disappointing shortcomings.  We even hosted a science movie night in one of the lecture halls, complete with dinner and popcorn.  We made sure not all of their time was spent in lab and attempted to show them all Milwaukee had to offer by taking them tailgating for a Milwaukee Brewers game, to the Sprecker’s Brewery tour, Growing Power Urban Agriculture facility, and a lake-front picnic.  We also taught students how to seek out and understand scientific literature in our weekly journal clubs, all the while preparing them for their final poster and Power Point presentations.  We hope we helped the students learn about science, techniques, and the expectations of graduate school, and they also helped us learn a lot about what it takes to be a good mentor.  Mentoring students, especially in the lab, is a very rewarding process that takes patience, communication skills, and persistence.  We very much enjoyed ourselves this summer, and we hope the summer students did as well. 





Petrella Lab


On May 18-20, 2014, members of the Petrella lab attended the Midwest Chromatin and Epigenetics Meeting hosted on the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus, at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID).  Graduate student Meghan Fealey and lab manager Brian Mikeworth both presented posters.  Lab technician Nicholas Sepulveda and lab head Dr. Lisa Petrella just soaked in the science.  This meeting had researchers from all over the Midwest presenting cutting edge research on chromatin and epigenetics.  Housed in the collaborative Wisconsin Institute of Discovery, the meeting was meant to foster collaboration and support for younger labs in the Midwest region.  One exciting occurrence was that lab members were able to meet Dr. Peter Lewis and Dr. Melissa Harrison, who during their previous work as graduate students had isolated and characterized the DRM complex in fruit flies and worms respectively.  The DRM complex is the focus of much of the research in the Petrella lab, so it was great to meet up with people who had pioneered this field of study.  A number of potential collaborations came out of this meeting, which may develop into interesting projects to be presented at the next meeting in two years. 


In June 2014 Dr. Lisa Petrella attended the Evolutionary Biology of Caenorhabditis and other Nematodes meeting in Hinxton, England.  This meeting was held on the campus of the Welcome Trust Genome Campus outside Cambridge, England.  Nematode biologists from around the world spend four days learning about the newest information in the field of worm evolution.  One exciting talk near the beginning of the conference announced the potential discovery of a sister species to C. elegans.  The international worm community has been looking for a sister species to the most researched nematode, C. elegans, for ~ 7 years. Dr. Petrella presented a poster and received a lot of positive feedback.  She also made connections with other investigators who sent the lab protocols that are now being used by undergraduate researcher Kevin Sanchez to set up microcosms in the lab.  These mini real-world environments for worms to grow in will allow the lab to explore how worms react to changes in temperature in a more life-like environment.​



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Biological Sciences Department

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