Biology News


Dr. Koo Attends ASM Microbe 2016 conference

Koo Conference 2016Dr.Koo attended the ASM Microbe 2016 conference, June 16-20 in Boston. It was a first joint meeting of the basic research branch of the ASM (American Society for Microbiology) and the clinical microbiology experts, which previously met at separate conferences. There were over 11,000 attendees and the Opening Session featured Bill Gates who addressed the issues of rising antimicrobial resistance and new emerging diseases, as well as the old infections that still need treatment. The topics presented at the conference ranged from most current understanding of Zika virus biology and possible vaccines, to influence of gut microbiota on  the health and immunity of infants, and many more. At the conference Dr. Koo had the privilege of connecting with the Biology department alum, Erik Swanson ’14, who is currently in his second year of a PhD program at the University of New Hampshire. Erik presented an excellent poster on his preliminary work on how Frankia sp. can degrade dioxin-like compounds.

Koo Conference 2016 Erik

Erik Swanson '14 (Biology Alum)


Biology Major, Anneliese Petersen '16, Traveled to India for HNGR

Anneliese India 2

"From June through November last year, I interned with Landour Community Hospital In Uttarakhand, India. LCH is a part of Emmanuel Hospital Association, a group of Indian-run missions hospitals located throughout northern India. LCH is located in a small city in the Himalayan foothills, and serves a patient population of local Garhwali villagers, tourists from Delhi and Punjab, immigrants from Tibet, and migrant laborers from the plains states and Nepal.

I lived with the hospital nurses, and was lovingly integrated into the lives of numerous staff families. My closest friends were young doctors, surgeons and dentists, who gave of their lives to serve the poor in their nations, and gave of their time and care to welcome me into their friendships.

Anneliese India

In the hospital, I was supervised by the OB/GYN, and also spent time in the Family Practice unit and the Community Health program. I did paperwork for the doctors, accompanied on rounds, assisted with patient care and support, and worked the floor in the Operation Theater. In the villages, I joined in on village visits, helped with the orchestration of mobile clinics, saw the construction of greenhouses and gravitational water filtration systems, and encountered the reality and destruction of flooding caused by environmental degradation. I also researched women’s perceptional barriers to healthcare with the help of Dr. Page.

It was a joy to integrate and apply my biology background, particularly A&P, biochemistry, parasitology and public health. I often spent my evenings pouring over medical textbooks from the hospital library so I could have a few answers for the post-call meeting the next morning. Through HNGR and anthropology classes, I also learned to recognize social, structural, and systemic injustices. The readings I did for HNGR during those months challenged me to analyze what was occurring around me, as well as provided wisdom and theory for what I was encountering in the hospital and the city.

Anneliese and Friends

Daily, I saw the truth of my wrongful preconceptions and was reminded again and again of my dependence on the Lord. Most of all, I learned the extent to which I had diminished God in my understanding of who God is and how God functions. The truth is, God is so much greater than we can ever understand! We serve a God who has a bias of love towards the poor and marginalized, a God who came and pitched his tent among us, a God who touched the unclean, ate with sinners, and raised the dead. We serve a God that is infinitely vaster than the categories we try to fit the Lord into. In India, God revealed God’s self to me each day, through the morning chapel worship, the compassion of the doctors and staff, the love of friends and families, the power of intercessory prayer, the miraculous healings, and the beauty of the creation around me. We serve a mighty and a loving God."


BIOL 341 Plant Physiology Travels to Garfield Park Conservatory!

Garfield ConservatoryStudents in the Plant Physiology course went to the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago on Tuesday, November 3 to observe a variety of plants. Dr. Ray Lewis, Associate Professor of Biology explained, "There are over 10,000 species of plants represented at the Conservatory, from liverworts to ferns to cycads to palms, orchids, aroids, cacti and many more. Students recorded details and took photographs of a variety of plants – some of commercial use (banana, papaya, sugar cane, and more), others with unique physiological adaptations (such insectivorous plants, desert plants, epiphytic plants). Afterwards, students presented their best pictures of three selected plants along with additional information they learned, to the rest of the class. The presentations focused on the features and adaptations of these plants. We all learned something new about a variety of plants, some of them very amazing in terms of their adaptations, structures, and beauty."


Debbie Myers, Senior Biology Major, Interns at a clinic in Ecuador

Debbie Myers

"This summer three other Wheaton students, (Caleb Luk '17, Sarah Denne '18, Natalie Oxley '16), and I interned at a clinic in Ecuador. In addition to giving us hands-on medical training, the staff taught us the importance of forming relationships with everyone you meet. The care and concern they showed for us every day was an incredible blessing. Their continual reminder to share the Gospel by caring for our patients changed how we viewed patient care, and I know the lessons they taught us will stick with us for many years to come."


Elisabeth Yan, Junior Biology Major, Participated in Summer Research at Stanford, at the Neuro-NICU!

Elisabeth YanYan Poster

“This summer I had the privilege of returning to Stanford University to continue research that I had started during the summer of 2014. Stanford University’s affiliate children’s hospital—the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital—opened a new unit in the spring of 2013. This new unit was called the Neuro-NICU and was a subsection of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that was specifically created to care for infants with neurologic concerns. The patients in this unit had access to specialized neuromonitoring, neuroassessment techniques, and neuroprotective therapies. This summer I conducted a retrospective study to examine the characteristics of the patients admitted, services delivered, and outcomes in order to better understand the role of this new unit. This was an amazing opportunity to experience the research process while simultaneously observing the integration of neurology and neonatology. The highlight of this experience was getting to travel to Ireland in the fall of 2015 to present my research, as I was able to meet people from across the world who have devoted their lives to neonatal neurology. God has been incredibly faithful to me in my pre-health journey and I am excited to see where He leads me next!”


Dr. Vanya Koo Chairs a Session at the 2015 ASMCUE

Dr. Koo at ASMCUE conference 2015Dr. Koo at ASMCUE conference 2015Dr. Koo attended the 2015 ASMCUE (America Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators) in Austin, TX May 26-29. She enjoyed reconnecting with old colleagues and meeting new ones. Dr. Koo chaired a session of Micro Brews, short presentations given by professors from a variety of higher education types, all related to either research ideas for undergraduates in microbiology or to pedagogic tools used in labs and classrooms. She also presented a Micro Brew on the “Space Lab”, a semester-long assignment currently part of Biol364, where students select and extraterrestrial environment and design a laboratory to study a microbe that they may expect to find in that environment. Several faculty members at other institutions are interested in possibly incorporating the “Space Lab” into their curricula.


Dr. Nadine Rorem, Corbin Renken '16, and Helen Harvey '16, Present at the Society of Freshwater Science Annual Meeting in Milwaukee

Rorem presentation 2Rorem presentation  Dr. Nadine Rorem co-presented a poster of recent research with 2 students, Corbin Renken ‘16 and Helen Harvey ‘16, in Milwaukee at the Society of Freshwater Science Annual Meeting in May. The title of their poster was, “The Effects of Salinity on Growth Rate and Hydranth Morphology in the Invasive Colonial Hydroid Cordylophora. They presented results of research involving several students from the past year. Corbin explained, “I had a great time attending the SFS 2015 Conference with Helen and Dr. Rorem. Presenting our research was a great experience, and I actually learned quite a bit. We got some really good feedback on our work from other scientists in our field, and through their questions and comments, I gained valuable insight into how we can move forward in our research! I am very thankful for the opportunity I had to attend.” Helen stated, “I was so lucky to attend this conference because it allowed me to see the greater collaboration that goes on in the scientific community. All the people we talked to wanted to learn about our project and help us further our research. It was really great to feel so supported.

“The Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) is an international scientific organization whose purpose is to promote further understanding of freshwater ecosystems (rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries) and ecosystems at the interface between aquatic and terrestrial habitats (wetlands, bogs, fens, riparian forests and grasslands).” This year’s theme was ‘Our Freshwater Futures.’ 


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