To enhance research training in the Wheaton College biology department, the biology club Symbiosis has initiated a research seminar and journal clubs for spring 2013.
Biology students who have engaged in research over the summer identified the need for more research training at Wheaton.
“Students have come back to campus with the recognition that there is a deficit in the training they are receiving, and they are trying to fill that need by establishing a journal club,” said professor of biology Gregory B. Vanden Heuvel in an email.
The Symbiosis journal club is student-led and organized, and it will venture into research by hosting weekly meetings and inviting the authors of the journal articles studied to come and speak on campus.
“A couple of great things about the Symbiosis journal club is that it is achieving this in a setting that is student-led, and the research papers being explored will lead up to a lead author of the papers coming to present a lecture on that topic,” said professor of biology Raymond Lewis in an email.
At the journal club meetings, students will come prepared to engage in discussion, having read a specified journal article prior to the meeting. The discussions will be mediated by a Wheaton College faculty member.
The reading and discussion of the journal articles then prepares students for the series of speakers that will be visiting campus.
“Students who participate in the journal club before the lecture will be so much better able to understand the details in the lecture, and it should be exciting for them to hear the author firsthand, meet this person and be able to talk with understanding about this person’s research,” Lewis said.
Senior Bruce Larkin, president of Symbiosis, was impacted by his summer research and wanted to bring what he learned to Wheaton’s campus. Forming the journal article club became the outlet for doing so.
“My viewpoint going into this was (that) reading journal articles and having someone to talk to about the journal articles and … really being pushed not only made me a better scientist, but it gave me a deeper appreciation for science,” Larkin said.
Larkin listed five ways the journal club will be a benefit to students: “It will help you develop scientific research skills, it will prepare you for the presentations given by the guest speakers, expand your understanding of what a researcher does, teach you the latest advances in biomedical research — which will be useful if you want to enter health care vocationally (and it) ... will expose you to the amazing aspects and possibilities of doing research as an undergraduate.”
The Symbiosis journal club has three speakers currently lined up to visit campus in February, March and April.
The first speaker is Dr. Donald Vander Griend, director of urological stem-cell research and the assistant professor of surgery and urology at the University of Chicago.
Griend’s research focuses on “understanding the function of prostate stem cells and their role in the development of prostate diseases such as prostate cancer and BPH,” according to a biography on the University of Chicago Medical Center’s website.
Griend will deliver his lecture on Monday, Feb. 11, at 4 p.m.
Dr. David Geenen, assistant professor of physiology in medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is expected to present on Monday, March 25. Geenen’s research centers on combatting cardiac dysfunction by researching regenerative medicine and stem cell biology.
The last lecture will be delivered by a former Wheaton adjunct professor on Tuesday, April 16. Dr. Gerald Rau will present on his new book, entitled “Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything.”
All three researchers are Christians, and each will be asked to talk about being a person of faith in a secular lab as part of the lecture time.
“We are hoping also to have a little bit of an aspect in there of trying to talk about medicine and research from a Christian perspective because these are all very secular labs that these guys are working in,” Larkin said.
Vanden Heuvel applauds the journal club for meeting two needs of the biology department: more research training and a seminar program.
“I think this is a very creative way to address two important needs in the biology department, and it is exciting that it is being spearheaded by the students,” Vanden Heuvel said.
The journal clubs will meet on Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in room 129 of the science building. Students are encouraged to come even if they need to leave early to make an 11:15 a.m. class.
Photo Credit: Brooke Greene
Printed in the February 1, 2013 issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to email@example.com.