The biology program at Hiram College provides students with the knowledge and experience to become professional biologists.
With our emphasis on experiential learning and hands-on applications, coupled with close faculty mentoring relationships, Hiram's biology students develop the expertise to succeed in graduate programs and professional work environments in the modern life sciences.
To enable our students to explore virtually limitless research areas, Hiram's biology department sustains a faculty with a broad scope of expertise, ranging from paleontology to ecology, marine biology to genetics, animal behavior to plant systematics.
Students present research at the
International Neuroscience Conference
Nick Hirsch, Cara Constance, Alisa Cario,’14 (Biochemistry major), Ken Belter, ’13 (Biology major), and Ashley Dillon, ’16 (Neuroscience major), all presented at the international Neuroscience conference held in San Diego, CA from Nov. 9-13, 2013. Nick and Cara presented in the Theme H poster session on Nov. 9: Professional Skills Development and Neuroscience Outreach, and the students presented at the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) poster symposium on Nov. 11. The research that was presented was supported by the Frohring Foundation, the Center for Deciphering Life's Languages, and the Center for Literature and Medicine.
The student posters were: Fetal toxicity (FETAX) assays in Xenopus tropicalis by Alisa Cario and Nicolas Hirsch; Homeobox gene mRNA expression during Xenopus tropicalis hindbrain development by Kenneth Belter and Nicolas Hirsch; and Monitoring behavioral rhythms in frog and toad species at the James H. Barrow Field Station by Ashley M. Dillon and Cara M. Constance.
The faculty poster titled Bridging the Gap Between Undergraduate Laboratory Coursework and Independent Research: Developmental Genetics of Hindbrain Development in Xenopus tropicalis was presented by Nicolas Hirsch, Cara Constance, Julie Maxson and Cristina Marques. The abstract, which follows, emphasizes why Hiram Biology courses incorporate research experience in the laboratory.
"One of the chief goals in any undergraduate laboratory course is to familiarize students with correct laboratory procedure, and in upper-level laboratory courses, to prepare them to begin a career of independent research. Generally, lab coursework does not give students an opportunity to engage in ongoing novel research. We find that many students fail to find a connection between the static, managed environment of most lab coursework and the continuous, often frustrating world of independent research until they contribute to research in faculty labs in their junior or senior year. For the last four years, in an effort to help make that connection early in their college career, we have been incorporating a faculty research project, gene expression studies in the Xenopus tropicalis hindbrain, into the labs of two courses. In the Molecular & Cellular Biology course, which is typically enrolled by sophomores in their fall semester, students have identified putative hindbrain X. tropicalis genes in a database, designed PCR primers to amplify conserved regions, and subcloned the resulting PCR products in order to create probes for in situ hybridization. The students enrolled in Developmental Biology then study gene expression by making probes by in vitro transcription and using whole-mount in situ hybridization to visualize gene expression in early X. tropicalis embryos. Many of the students who take these courses continue this work as part of their independent research experience, which results in their capstone. By continuing this involvement of undergraduates in research early in their college years, we hope to increase the number of undergraduates who become interested in, and actively pursue, a full-time research career."
Alisa Cario and Ken Belter presented their research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, a session at the International Neuroscience Conference in San Diego, CA, in November.
New Student Microscopes
A grant of $20,000 from the Sisler-McFawn Foundation was used to purchase 12 Olymus stero microscopes for use in student laboratories. The grant was prepared by Christine Kohls-Hunder of the Development Office and Professors Jenn Clark, Matt Hils, and Nick Hirsch of the Biology Department. The contrast between the new microscopes and the older ones is apparent in the photograph on the left. The clarity of the images that can be viewed is illustrated by the image seen on the computer monitor in the right-hand photograph..
Professors Tom Koehnle and Nick Hirsch compare the new scopes (to Nick's left) with the old ones (to Tom's right). Nick demonstrates the clarity of a projected image from the new stereo microscope.
Happy 206th Birthday Charles Darwin
AIBS President Matt Dimuzio and
AIBS Advisor Willa Schrlau
At the suggestion of Jenn Clark, Assistant Professor of Biology, students and faculty celebrated the birthday of Charles Darwin on Tuesday, February 12.
Students and faculty enjoyed a non-Darwinian lunch sponsored by the student chapter of AIBS. AIBS President Matt Dimuzio prepared a series of challenges for others – picking out Charles Darwin from a gallery of images of famous scientists, identifying early hominids, and correlating illustrations of birds with descriptions of their beak adaptations for feeding.
Faculty and families celebrated with a pot-luck supper and a birthday cake, baked by Jenn Clark, and carefully decorated by Ramsey and Rayana Goodner. Some people even arrived in costumes appropriate to the celebration.
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For more information
If you have specific questions about the Biology Program at Hiram College or if you would like more information, please contact:
- Vicki Kohn