Biology News

Dr. Nate Thom and Wheaton College alumnus Colby Reyes attend the 2017 national Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, DC

Dr. Thom SfN 3

Dr. Nate Thom and Wheaton College alum, Colby Reyes, presented a poster at the 2017 national Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, DC from their work with the University of Limerick. This was Colby's first conference and first time in DC, so it was an exciting time in his young career as a scientist. This year's SfN was attended by over 30,000 neuroscientists from 80 different countries, presenting over 900 talks, and over 13,000 posters. Colby and two other undergrads (Physic's students Nick Varberg and Hudson Thomas) spent the better part of a year working on their data, so it was eye-opening and humbling for him to realize that almost 14,000 other groups had been working alongside him in parallel all over the world last year.

Plant Physiology Class Travels to Garfield Park Conservatory

plant phys

Dr. Ray Lewis and his Plant Physiology class visited the Garfield Park Conservatory to learn about plants and their adaptations. This provided an opportunity for the students to apply their hard-won knowledge about the ways various plants are adapted to their environments, as they grow in habitats with low to high light, low to high water availability, and with the need to obtain mineral nutrients and prevent herbivory.

Summer Experiences of a Few Biology Majors!

Buddy the Pit Bull needs a home

Charles Nystrom
Senior ‘18, Biology Major, Pre-Vet

"During this summer I worked part-time at a small vet practice in Arkansas run by a Christian vet and a single full-time vet tech. I came in a few mornings a week to do anything that needed to be done—walk dogs, prep vaccines, hold patients still, hold off the vein in the front paw during blood draws/IVs, laser therapy on dogs with arthritis, etc. I was responsible for making sure things in the kennel area were clean and running smoothly. Most fun job—bathing dogs; least fun job—prepping fecal samples. I would definitely recommend working with/shadowing someone in your field of interest. I found I love animals even more, but would probably prefer a clinic with more variety, whether that be large animals, exotics, or something else."


Mara Walters Au Sable

Mara Walters,
Junior ‘19, Biology Major

I attended classes at the Pacific Rim campus of Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies on Whidbey Island, WA. The classes I took were Marine Biology and Marine Mammals, and I learned a lot! We frequently explored tide pools in Marine Biology, watched for porpoises, seals, and orcas (killer whales) in Marine Mammals and saw all three! I learned about the biology and identification of all of these amazing marine organisms in lectures, with a focus on the Pacific Northwest. These classes have been a great experience.

Sarah Pope Univ. of Alabama

Sarah Pope,
'19, Biology Major Internship at the University of Alabama

Over the summer, I did a 10-week neurobiology REU internship at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. I worked full time in an electrophysiology lab, which is a lab that researches electrical properties of neurons. I was assigned to work with a graduate student who is researching how neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons) is regulated in the dentate gyrus, a brain region next to the hippocampus. Neurogenesis is controlled by inhibitory neurons called interneurons, and we studied a type of interneuron called ivy/neurogliaform cells. My daily tasks included performing brain surgeries on mice, slicing brain tissue, and staining brain tissue to look for certain proteins under a microscope. I have really enjoyed learning about brain function on a cellular level, along with seeing what it's like to work in a lab. This experience has been very valuable in exposing me to an interesting area of neurobiology, one that I am considering pursuing in graduate studies.

Kaiti Yarrington at Univ. Of Iowa

Kaiti Yarrington,
Senior ‘18 Summer Research at the University of Iowa

I worked in a lab at the University of Iowa this summer studying the interaction between the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum and human neutrophils. I studied the physicochemical characteristics of chemoattractant factors that are released by the parasite to draw neutrophils to the site of infection in the host. At the end of my internship I had the opportunity to present my findings at the University of Iowa Summer Undergraduate Research Conference.

Laura Pax HNGR in India

Laura Pax,
Senior ’18 Biology Major HNGR Internship in India

This summer through December, I am interning through Wheaton's Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) Program at Shalom Delhi, a project of Emmanuel Hospital Association in New Delhi, India. Shalom provides holistic and compassionate medical care to people with life-limiting illnesses, such as HIV and cancer, who have limited financial resources. During my time at Shalom, I am learning about and researching the medical treatment that patients receive, particularly for HIV and opportunistic infections, visiting patients at their homes with the Home Based Care team, and assisting at the Kiran livelihood project, which employs women to make hand-sewn goods in a supportive environment. (The picture is of my first day at the livelihood project.)

Sara Martin

Sara Martin,
Senior ’18 Internship at Clinic for Special Children

During the summer I had an internship at the Clinic for Special Children, a genetic research center that primarily works with Mennonite and Amish patients in the Lancaster County and surrounding areas. Mennonites and Amish are descended from a small number of ancestors, and so have a higher incidence of certain genetic diseases due to the Founder's effect. At this clinic, I helped with a few communication projects, such as creating a new patient welcome packet and writing articles for their newsletter. I also took Genetics at a college near my house.