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If there is a common theme running through the science departments at Suffolk University, it is growth. More faculty, more equipment, more research—but, most of all, more students are filling the halls with excitement. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has seen a fourfold increase in the number of students over the past 5-6 years, due in large part to the addition of the forensic science major. Suffolk is one of only two universities in Massachusetts to offer a degree in forensic science, says Edward Bartick, program director. “What’s even better is, these students aren’t just going into forensics— they’re finding jobs in other areas of chemistry.” Waiting lists have been growing in the Department of Biology, which currently has 186 majors. Fortunately, the department was able to build a new anatomy laboratory last year, thanks to a grant from the Lynch Foundation. Biology also added a new faculty position last year, hiring Lauren Nolfo-Clements, who teaches zoology for majors.
An Overview OF SUFFOLK’S SCIENCE DEPARTMENTS
Environmental Programs, which include environmental science and engineering and environmental studies, are growing rapidly. “It’s finally gotten into the general consciousness that we’re at a tipping point in terms of environmental issues,” says Professor Pat Hogan. Hogan and her students have been examining culverts for the Neponset River Watershed Association, looking for areas where wildlife are impeded from following the stream. “Engineering is about building and doing, so I think that’s part of the driver of the upsurge in our program,” she says. Martha Richmond, director of environmental studies, is also getting her students into the field, where they have been sampling soil for lead and other industrial contaminants for the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Boston Nature Center. “The students were so enthusiastic about this,” says Richmond, who is also the chair of chemistry and biochemistry. Lisa Shatz, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, attributed the increase in majors in her department to the versatility of the degree. “Today’s electrical engineers are the innovators of tomorrow,” she says. Students have built soccer robots, optimized solar cells, and studied battery performance. Each year a student team designs a robotic mouse for the MicroMouse Competition sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). And undergraduates are encouraged to participate in the Technology and Science Initiative, teaming up on research with professors and professionals.