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Loras College Biology Newsletter | Vol 8 - September 2009












Hom ec om ing Chili Feed 2009 As announced in the latest Loras College 2009 Homecoming flyer, the Biology and Chemistry Programs will be holding their annual Homecoming Chili Feed on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 11 am to 1 pm before the football game on the lawn at the south end of the Science Building.

Many kinds of chili made by the faculty and staff will be available for alumni and their families to enjoy. We will have drinks, chips, and other food available along with all eating utensils. Stop by and say hi!




We We l c o m e P a t t i B u r g m e i e r, M S E D 7

CONTACT INFORMATION Kate Cooper, 563-588-7956 Tom Davis, 563-588-7767 Fred Schnee, 563-588-7247 Dave Shealer, 563-588-7678 Aditi Sinha, 563-588-7231

New to the Loras staff in August 2008, Patti serves as full-time Health Science Coordinator for all science majors interested in pre-professional programs. These programs include: Chiropractic, Dentistry, Medicine, Nuclear Medicine, Nursing, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Podiatry, and Veterinary Medicine. Patti advises prospective students interested in the Health Sciences, meets regularly with the Health Science Club, arranges guest speakers for campus visits, and assists current science majors interested in obtaining internships.

Loras College +Catholic | Liberal Arts | Dubuque, Iowa | Biology Newsletter | 563.588.7100 |

Loras College Biology Newsletter | Vol 8 - September 2009


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T he Biolog y Pr og r am is pr oud to welcom e two new faculty members to campus Dr. Kate Cooper started teaching here in August 2008. She replaced Dr. Eagleson who retired in May 2008. Dr. Cooper is a Luther College graduate and received her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2008. She is teaching Cell Biology, helping teach Principles of Biology I with Dr. Schnee, teaching a general education course titled The Biology of Women and will be offering a course in Immunology in the near future. Her research uses zebra fish to study cell movement during development but also in response to immune system challenges. She is a microscopy expert and has written several grants to get confocal and fluorescent microscopes in her lab. She has several undergrads doing several research projects currently. Dr. Cooper recently became a mom for the second time with the birth of a daughter, Lise in April, 2009. Kate is married to Will Hoyer and their first daughter, Claire, is almost three years old.

Left: Kate Cooper, Ph.D. Right: Aditi Sinha, Ph.D.

Dr. Aditi Sinha returned to Loras in 2007 as our Plant Biologist. She was here for a year in 2001. She received her Ph. D in Environmental Biology from the University of Massachussetts-Boston. Dr. Sinha teaches Plant Biology, Issues in Environmental Biology, helps teach Principles of Biology II with Dr. Shealer, and will offer a new course on the Biology of Invasive Species this spring 2010. Dr. Sinha recently became a mom for the first time in January, 2009 with the birth of a son, Sitanshu. She is married to Dr. Steve Rock, a sports medicine physician at Medical Associates in Dubuque. Dr. Sinha’s research focuses on plant invasive species and their effects on native plants. She is trained in use of GPS and GIS systems and has written some grants to obtain hardware and software to train our students in the use of these useful technologies. Loras College +Catholic | Liberal Arts | Dubuque, Iowa | Biology Newsletter | 563.588.7100 |

Loras College Biology Newsletter | Vol 8 - September 2009


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Update on other “older� yet still good look ing Biolog y f ac ult y: Dr. Tom Davis started off his 21st year at Loras as the new Division Chair of Molecular and Life Sciences (Biology and Chemistry!). He takes over for Dr. Speckhard who did a great job as division chair for 4 years. Yep, he still teaches Vertebrate Physiology and Human Anatomy with cadavers. But he was able to take 15 students to Costa Rica in January 2009 for a J term course! See more about that on page 4. He received a McElroy grant to continue his research on effects of soil water on turtle egg development. Two students worked with him during the spring and summer of 2008. See more details on page 7. He is also the Executive Secretary for the Association of College and University Biology Educators, a national group of 290 college biology teachers that have an annual meeting and publish Bioscene, the Journal of College Biology Teaching. He now has two kids in college, one at Iowa State and one at St. Ambrose, and the last one is a junior at Wahlert High School. His latest adventure is leading summer back packing trips with llamas into the mountains of western Wyoming.

Dr. Fred Schnee is as energetic as ever! He is still teaching Genetics and playing with fruit flies better than many people dream of! He also teaches a great Microbiology course, a very good Human Genetics course and is offering a new general education course this spring titled Microbes! He has been doing great work as our division Senator in the Faculty Senate and has also evolved into the assessment master of the group. His wife, Andrea Bixler, is in the Biology Department at Clarke College in Dubuque.

Dr. Dave Shealer keeps chasing black terns! He wrapped up 10 years of population biology, banding and blood and feather DNA analysis of black terns at Horicon Marsh in east central Wisconsin in 2008. He was hired by the Wisconsin DNR to do a state-wide population survey of Black Terns throughout Wisconsin in summer 2009. He has had many students work for him slogging around in chest waders in the muddy marshes of Wisconsin. But every one of them seems to have enjoyed themselves and learned a lot, too. Dave is recent past president of the Waterbird Society, an international group of waterbird researchers. He has attended meetings and presented his research in Brazil, South Texas, and Barcelona, Spain. Dave teaches Principles of Biology II, Experimental Design, Conservation Biology, Vertebrate Zoology and Animal Behavior. His 4 kids, who are now all in school (SIGH!), keep him and his wife, Cathi Cleary, very busy! Cathi joined us as a part time faculty member teaching Cell Biology last spring when Dr. Cooper was out on maternity leave. Loras College +Catholic | Liberal Arts | Dubuque, Iowa | Biology Newsletter | 563.588.7100 |

Loras College Biology Newsletter | Vol 8 - September 2009


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Second year of J-term has come and gone! Starting in 2008, students who started at Loras after 2007 are required to take two January term (J-term) courses to graduate. Courses in J-term are 3 weeks long and are supposed to have some kind of an off campus, “experiential”, hands-on learning component, more than a regular “classroom” course. A great variety of courses have been taught across the campus like Theory of Board Games, Caveman Chemistry and Sustainable Living. Many travel courses have taken Loras students to China, Greece, New Zealand and the concentration camps in Germany. Some students see it as a great opportunity to travel, get credit and not have to worry about being gone a whole |semester or summer. Others aren’t quite as happy because the cost of the travel courses can be a bit prohibitive. But the program pushes on. Dr Davis and Dr. Shealer are offering a travel course titled Bird Conservation in South Texas in 2009.

D r. D av i s t a k e s L o r a s s t u d e n t s t o s e e t h e Rainforest in Costa Rica! Dr. Davis took 15 Loras students on an adventure to Costa Rica during J-term 2009. The course was titled Environmental Issues in Costa Rica. The course examined deforestation, coffee and banana production, erosion, cattle farming, endangered and invasive plant and animal species in class for several days and then visited Costa Rica where students interviewed native Costa Ricans about their impressions and perspectives on these issues. The group visited a tropical dry forest at Palo Verde National Park where scorpions, fire ants, acacia ants, howler monkeys and white faced monkeys were abundant. They saw many brilliantly colored birds like motmots and toucans. They visited the internationally known biological reserves at the Monte Verde Cloud Forest and La Selva Tropical Rain Forest. They toured two very different coffee plantations and quizzed the guides about the process of coffee production and its effects on the local environment. The group spent the last few days on the Caribbean coast observing tide pools, more tropical birds, army ants and doing a 12 platform zip line through the jungle! Dr. Davis hopes to bring more students to Costa Rica in 2012.

Loras College +Catholic | Liberal Arts | Dubuque, Iowa | Biology Newsletter | 563.588.7100 |

Loras College Biology Newsletter | Vol 8 - September 2009


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Campus Updates Huge Entering Class Fall 2009 August 31 was the day the largest first year class in Loras history started classes! Four hundred twenty (420) new students swarmed the campus and all found a comfortable place to live! Also on that day the Biology Program enrolled the largest class ever in Bio. 115, Introductory Biology – 120! We have 6 lab sections and are discussing how the heck we are going to handle that many next semester! But it is a good problem to have and it tells us that there is interest in Biology out there and that many have heard about the success of our graduates like you!

 Unseen by many on campus, the Science Hall Prairie is now over 12 years old and is doing quite well. The diversity slowly continues to increase and includes Boneset, rattlesnake master, purple coneflowers, compass plant, cup plant, white tube beard tongue, big bluestem, Indian grass, wild white indigo, showy and tall goldenrod, common milkweed, several sunflower species, common evening primrose, blazing star, blue lobelia and blue vervain. It has not been burned for about 4 years. The next burn will occur in March 2010 with help from people from the Mines of Spain. Take a walk out to the north end of campus to see the prairie when you are here.

 Next to the Science Hall Prairie is a new Observatory Building supervised and used by Dr. McLaughlin in his Astronomy classes and undergraduate projects. The building has a larger, eastern, “cold” section that has 3 new large telescopes mounted inside. The roof of this section slowly moves away to reveal the night sky above. It also has a smaller western “warm” room that has at least 3 computers that are connected electronically to the telescopes to allow the viewers to sit in heated comfort and watch the night sky through the telescope via their laptop screen! Though not completely functional yet, some us are waiting anxiously to get a close up view of Saturn’s rings or the Horsehead nebula in Orion’s belt. Maybe it will be open for visitor use on Homecoming evenings! Loras College +Catholic | Liberal Arts | Dubuque, Iowa | Biology Newsletter | 563.588.7100 |

Loras College Biology Newsletter | Vol 8 - September 2009


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Health Science Club continues to prosper; Healt h Scienc e ac cept anc es c ont inue t o be str ong The Health Science Club meets once or sometimes twice each month to listen to health professionals or former students who are in school or representatives from various health science schools talk about the opportunities for our students. Many times we have over 30 students in attendance at meetings. If you are interested in coming to one of these meetings to answer questions, spread information about your field or want to have Loras undergrads shadow you in your workplace, please contact Dr. Davis or Patti Burgmeier. We would love to hear what you have to say and need to put our students in the workplace so they know what they are getting into. A summary of Health Science acceptances is shown below since 1999. We have had at least 10 people go on to receive their Ph.D.s in various biology and biochemistry related disciplines, too.

Health Science Acceptances 1999—present * Medical










Physical Therapy


Physicians Assistant


Nursing Accelerated Degree


Nuclear Medicine Technology




Veterinary Medicine


Entering Graduate School for MS or Ph.D.


* Note: About 70 % of these people were Biology or Biology Research majors and all took at least 4 classes in Biology during their tenure here.

D r. M a r k K n a b e l s p o n s o r s L o r a s u n d e r g r a d s w i t h Medical Mission trip to Mexico Dr. Mark Knabel a Loras grad who grew up right across the street from Loras and who now is a Dermatologist practicing in Kohler, Wisconsin, has donated funds to sponsor two Loras undergraduates on a medical mission trip to Cotija, Mexico each May. Eight Loras students have participated in this program and have gained valuable hands-on experience in helping the local needy people of this Mexican town. Many have gone on to medical school or other health science training programs. Thank you so much, Dr. Knabel, for your generosity and patience with our students. Loras College +Catholic | Liberal Arts | Dubuque, Iowa | Biology Newsletter | 563.588.7100 |

Loras College Biology Newsletter | Vol 8 - September 2009

ASw E Pa T ErMd B EsR 2a0 n 0 9d S c h o l a r s h i p s

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R e c i p i e n t s o f t h e E . T. C aw l e y Aw a r d f o r E xc e l l e n c e in Undergraduate Research for 2009 Maria Garcia and David Arens split the award this year. Biology faculty agreed that they both did very good research projects that showed determination, originality and self motivation. Maria’s research was titled “Examination of Extra Pair Paternity in Black Terns at Two Colony Sites in SE Wisconsin.” She used PCR and DNA fingerprinting techniques, the new DNA sequencer and blood samples from Black Terns to compare DNA loci of parents and offspring to check occurrence of single or extra mate pairing. Maria worked with Dr. Shealer. Dave’s project was titled “Atrazine Detection in Snapping Turtle Eggs”. Dave showed that atrazine injected into moist soil does enter the eggs of snapping turtles during incubation in the lab. Dave worked with Dr. Davis and Dr. Cooper on his project.

 Retir ed Biology F aculty r emain active Dr. Ed Cawley recently accepted an offer to help us out in Bio. 116 due to a maternity leave last spring 2009. He courageously taught some lectures and several lab sections. Students and faculty appreciated his time and expertise in the classroom again. Despite many of us pecking away at our PCs, Ed remains a Mac person through and through. Several times he was heard cussing at the IBM Thinkpad about why it decided to do THAT or why can’t you let me do THIS!! No blood was spilled nor were any computer monitors dented at the end of the semester, as far as we can tell. Dr. Joe Kapler pops in and out of the Science Building every now and then. He spends much of his time enjoying the peace and quiet and long list of projects at his “woods” acreage in Jackson County south of Dubuque. Congratulations to Joe and his wife Helen as they had a large family celebration for their 50 th wedding anniversary in August 2009. Dr. John Bamrick is now officially registered as a bionic man! He now has two metal knees, two hips and two shoulders! And he can still walk around and smile! He continues to keep one eye on the activities at Loras and has enjoyed several trips to Texas and Arizona with his longtime sweetie, Eunice!

 Thank you to our generous donors! Thank you to all the alumni who have donated some money to Loras or to the Biology Program specifically. We look forward to using your money to improve our college experience for our students. Many of them have been quite successful. Take a minute to go to our Alumni News section of our webpage and see what many of them have been up to. We get constant feedback each year from our graduated students about how they have been well prepared, many times better prepared than other students in their classes from similar sized and larger schools.

Always stop in and say hi if you are in Dubuque! Loras College +Catholic | Liberal Arts | Dubuque, Iowa | Biology Newsletter | 563.588.7100 |

Biology Newsletter Fall 2009  

Loras College Biology Dept Newsletter for fall of 2009

Biology Newsletter Fall 2009  

Loras College Biology Dept Newsletter for fall of 2009