Fall 2015 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University




The Department of Biological Sciences at Marquette University is happy to announce that it was granted renewed funding from the Department of Education to continue its Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Program. This program is designed to attract qualified Ph.D. students and help secure future excellence in teaching and research at the university level in biology, an area designated as a national need. We are able to support seven to eight individuals with GAANN Fellowships for up to two years each at a maximum stipend of $34,000. Extensions to a third year of funding are considered in special cases. A targeted effort will be undertaken to recruit from minorities that are currently underrepresented in the fields of biological sciences.


Graduate research in the department meets the highest standards, with faculty members internationally recognized in their fields, equipped to carry out state-of-the-art studies, and adequately funded by extramural grants to support cutting-edge research by the recipients of the GAANN Fellows. GAANN fellowships will be awarded on a competitive basis using the following criteria: demonstrated financial need; a written statement outlining a commitment to a career in research and teaching; and GPA. Candidates interested in receiving this fellowship need to apply for admission into our Ph.D. program through the Graduate School of Marquette University and discuss in their statement of purpose their qualifications for a GAANN award. Applications will be evaluated by the departmental GAANN Project Director and a three-member Advisory Committee.






MU Outreach Lab for BiologyMarquette President Michael R. Lovell announced the university’s first-ever strategic innovation fund awardees on June 15 . Thirty-eight unique projects led by Marquette faculty, students and staff across a variety of disciplines will receive nearly $5 million in funding.


Dr. Martin St. Maurice was awarded an innovation grant for the “Development of an Immersive Undergraduate Research Experience in Drug Discovery and Development”. This project seeks to develop a pilot program in drug discovery and development (the ME(D)3 program: Marquette Experience in Drug Discovery and Development) that will offer an innovative interdisciplinary research and mentoring experience for undergraduate students. The ME(D)3 program involves cutting-edge, student-directed research with a high potential to generate publications and patentable research products.


The project includes collaboration with the Milwaukee School of Engineering SMART team program that will enable undergraduate and graduate student mentorship of select Milwaukee area high school students. Upon the successful conclusion of this pilot program, the student-directed research and mentoring components will be integrated into an honors-track biochemistry research experience within the existing chemistry and biology curricula.


As part of the innovation fund award, 8 high school teachers are attending a semester-long laboratory every Saturday morning where they express, purify and crystallize a fluorescent protein and then determine its crystal structure. This is a trial run for the outreach lab that next year will involve both undergraduate students and high school students.






2015 Summer Research Program ParticipantsThis past summer Marquette Biological Sciences hosted fifteen undergraduate students from institutions across the country for a 10-week NSF-funded summer research program. During the course of the program, participants experienced the excitement and pressure of dedicating the majority of their time to a research project. The students were paired with a primary investigator faculty member whose research question matched their scientific interest. The faculty members mentored the students through experimental design and execution. At the end of the program, students had the opportunity to present their work at an interdisciplinary poster session as well as a short seminar for the department of biological sciences.  


SRP 2015 Poster SessionIn addition to working at the bench, program director Dr. Edward Blumenthal and graduate student mentors Sean Conway and Meghan Fealey kept the students busy throughout the summer with other various activities.  Each week included journal club, where the students discussed new and exciting published research, Wednesday night dinners with various activities including data presentations, student-lead discussion of popular topics in science, informal talks from faculty members about their careers and, of course, movie night: a lecture hall projected screening of Jurassic Park.  The students toured Growing Power, an urban agricultural facility, to learn about science outreach in the community. But, it wasn’t all science all the time, as the program enjoyed some of the fun Milwaukee has to offer with a Brewers game tailgate, lakefront picnic and tour of Sprecher Brewery.


Perhaps the highlight of the program was the creation of short videos made by the students outlining their research projects. Successfully communicating scientific research to the community using multimedia is a very powerful and popular tool.  In previous years, a couple weeks into the program, students would give brief, 5 minute introduction of their summer research outline, this year, the students were challenged to do this by making a movie. Without knowing what to expect, the creativity and ingenuity of the students really shined as the videos were outstanding.  They displayed the students’ strong command of the science behind their project as well as their ability to create something entertaining and accessible to people of all different levels of scientific understanding. These videos can be found and viewed on Marquette Biology YouTube channel. The immense amounts of time and effort each participant put forth was reflected in their incredible videos, posters, and oral presentations.






PanamaDr. Stefan Schnitzer is offering a new course this spring. Tropical Ecology in Panama (BIOL 4930) will focus on the interactions that shape the origin, maintenance, and consequences of tropical species diversity.  In this course, we will explore a variety of different forest types in the Republic of Panama to gain an appreciation for the basic patterns and processes of tropical forests and the mechanisms believed to be responsible for them.  This is a 3-credit Biology course that uses a hybrid format that combines online meetings, a spring break trip to Panama, and an intensive writing component in the 3rd portion of the semester.




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!






Biological Sciences Department

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