Monmouth College Department of Biology

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Department News

Tri-Beta Students Present Research, Win Awards
Dr. Baldwin accompanied three students to the regional Beta Beta Beta conference in Romeoville, IL where they presented results of their research and won awards – again!  Megan Pros garnered first place honors for her talk entitled “The hypoxia phenomenon on the Pacific coast: Can eggs of the copepod (Calanus marshallae) hatch in extremely low levels of dissolved oxygen?”  Senior Kathleen Quigley won third place in the oral competition for her spatial analysis of African elephant utilization of baobab trees in Tanzania.   Finally, Om Shrestha presented “The Development of Biofuel Toxin Tolerant Bacteria” based on work he conducted at the University of Wisconsin last summer.

Godde takes students to Costa Rica
Extending a tradition of spring break or summer trips begun last year, Dr. Godde and visiting professor Dr. Watanabe from Waseda University in Japan will accompany an enthusiastic group of biology and other majors to beautiful tropical Costa Rica.  The group will visit active volcanoes, beaches, and tropical forests.  Caving will also be an opportunity as well as viewing the tropical forest canopy from skywalks and ziplines.  Future trips include the Grand Canyon and desert Southwest (2010) and the Galapagos Islands (2011).

Cramer publishes spider photos on Tree of Life
Dr. Cramer, Monmouth’s own “spiderman,” has recently had some of his micro- and macrophotographs of live spiders and spider parts posted on the Tree of Life web page.  The TOL project aims to document and compile information on every living species of organisms.  Specialists post their information after review by other experts in the field.  Dr. Greta Binford at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon enabled the project during Cramer’s last sabbatical.  She provided the live and preserved specimens of recluse spiders and their relatives that can now be viewed here: http://tolweb.org/Sicariidae.

Future plans for 2008 graduates
Jamie Hazekamp, President of Tri-Beta, is attending veterinary school at the Univ. of Illinois.  Zach Wilson is currently attending Palmer Chiropractic college. Jessica Thomas and Salina Fisel will complete their student teaching this fall and move on to high school biology education.  Riki Gordon has accepted an assistant scientist position at Pharmaceutical Product Development in Madison, Wisconsin.

Summer Research and Internship successes
Several biology majors have been accepted to summer research programs at large universities to get a taste of what graduate school might hold in store.  Others have been placed in internships related to their potential future careers. Om Shrestha will conduct biochemistry research at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison and Noah Hendricks will travel to Colorado State Univ. for similar research. Megan Pros and Sarah Nokes will pursue their interests in marine biology at Oregon State Univ. and the Univ. of South Carolina, respectively.  Nick Dyson will be conducting research at the Nanotechnology Institute at the Univ. of Iowa. Kat Quigley, recently returned from a semester in Tanzania, will be working in conjunction with Northwestern Univ. professors in the badlands of Wyoming. They will sample ancient sediments for evidence of a 55 million year old global warming event. Two students have secured summer internships; Whitney Maher will be working at a veterinary clinic and Sahar Haghighat will be working at Abbott labs.

"Into the Wild" -- Students hike the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Death Valley
Dr. Cramer, Dr. Hannah Schell (Religious Studies) and 8 students returned from their spring break trip to the Mojave and Great Basin deserts of Nevada and Arizona. A 3-day backpacking excursion into the bowels of the Grand Canyon was the greatest physical challenge for everyone, but well worth the effort.  Day hiking in Death Valley and walks in the snow at Zion National Parks rounded out a stunning desert retreat. Among the critter encounters were a late night visit from a ringtail cat and a family group of bighorn sheep. See a slide show of a field trip to the Grand Canyon.

Godde publishes paper from his sabbatical
Dr. Godde, along with his collaborator in Japan, have published a review paper entitled "Cracking the enigmatic linker histone code" in March's issue of the Journal of Biochemistry.  The paper asserts the existence of an epigenetic code made up of covalent chemical modifications to histone H1, an important component of chromatin which binds to the "linker" DNA which connects nucleosomes.

Brown recluses will scavenge . . . if they have to!
Research in the spider lab on brown recluse feeding behavior has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Arachnology.  Spurred by a 2003 report in Nature, Dr. Cramer and students pursued the idea that brown recluses prefer scavenging over feeding on live prey.  They found that special conditions must be in play for recluses to prefer dead over live food.  Namely, if spiders are hungry, live prey are large and potentially dangerous, and dead prey are fresh, they're not above snacking on dead bugs.

Student publishes on brown recluse spiders with Dr. Cramer
Alex Maywright ('05) and Cramer have had their article on cold temperature tolerance and distribution of brown recluses in Illinois accepted for publication in the national Journal of Arachnology. Maywright also conducted research on feeding habits of recluses and did a study of burrow temperatures in an African wolf spider while off-campus for a semester in Tanzania. Currently, Alex is in graduate school at the Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis working on the social interactions of, you guessed it, brown recluse spiders.

2007 graduates looking ahead
As seniors look ahead to graduation less than three months from now, news of acceptance to post-graduate work is already trickling in.  Cassandra Mefford has been accepted to the University of Illinois and Iowa State veterinary medicine programs.  She's going to stay close to home at U of I following in the footsteps of Devon Townsend ('03) who recently visited campus to talk in Science Seminar.  Joni Nelson has been accepted to medical school at Des Moines University

Seniors 2006 -- off to new adventures
Careers in the field of human health were the dominant destination of most biology graduates last year. Stephanie Fitzsimons will be at Rush University in nursing while Crystal Corzatt and Chris Hebeler will move on to study physical therapy. Amber Ford and Janel Purlee are pursuing interests in pharmacy and Corey Sullivan will also be attending nursing school.

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 Copyright 2008 Monmouth College Department of Biology