June 15, 2024

Biology Professors Present at National Conference

Deborah O’Dell and April Wynn presented a poster titled “Transforming the Biology Major Through Course Based Research” at the AAC&U/PKAL meeting “Transforming Undergraduate STEM Education” held Nov. 4-5 in Boston. The poster was co-authored by O’Dell and Wynn and Biology Professors Andrew Dolby, Lynn Lewis, Alan Griffith and Deborah Zies. The presentation described changes in the biology major that ensure that every biology student participates in authentic research before they graduate.

Science Symposium Highlights Student Research

Ryan Barlow spent much of his free time this semester waiting for clear nights. When one finally arrived, he’d haul his equipment – including a telescope, camera, spectrograph, motorized mount and filters – outdoors and set up outside of the Jepson Science Center at the University of Mary Washington to take photos of nebulae and galaxies. Barlow, along with 27 other students, presented his findings at the annual Summer Science Institute Research Symposium on July 23. For many, this was the culmination of many hours of hard work and research, and an opportunity to share the fruits of their labor. More than 20 UMW STEM students came together to present research at the annual Summer Science Institute July 23. Ryan Barlow, middle, explains his research on astrophotography. From left: Ben Kisila, associate professor of earth and environmental science, works with Luci Coleman to conduct research on the Chesapeake Bay. “This is their first taste of what it’s like to be on a research team and to be with other people who are just doing research,” said Deborah Zies, associate professor of biology and co-director of the Summer Science Institute. “It’s a great opportunity for faculty and students to get started on a project and work.” The daylong event is one of the few to bring together biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science, math, computer science and physics students to present their original research projects to faculty, families and peers. Students presented on a wide-range of research, from chemical signals in crayfish interactions to astrophotography to the downfall of antibiotics. “It’s a high-impact learning experience,” said Nicole Crowder, assistant professor of chemistry and co-director of the Summer Science Institute. “I hope that this program exposes students to what it’s really like to be a scientist. Students take the knowledge that they’ve been gaining in the classroom and really apply it.” John Meadows restored a Mach-Zehnder to conduct research on slow light. Ruth Catlett, right, explains her research in parallel computing education. At the end of the symposium, the following students received awards for their research presentations: First-place Oral Presentation: Jerome Mueller, “Developing a Tetra Interpreter,” Faculty Advisor: Ian Finlayson, assistant professor, computer science Second-place Oral Presentation: Amy Jayas, “The Best Dam Project Ever,” Faculty Advisor: Alan B. Griffith, associate professor, biology First-place Poster Presentation: Kevin Speray, “Qualifying the Efficacy of Aeschynomene virginica as an Indicator Species for Sea-Level Rise,” Faculty Advisor: Alan B. Griffith, associate professor, biology Second-place Poster Presentation: Shehan Rajapakse, “Designing the Tetra IDE,” Faculty Advisor: Ian Finlayson, assistant professor, computer science

Faculty Members Represent UMW at Virginia Academy of Science

Werner Wieland, Professor of Biological Sciences at University of Mary Washington, has been elected a Fellow of Virginia Academy of Science.   Professor Wieland attended the Annual Meeting of VAS May 23-25, 2013 where his student Yoshi Takeda presented results from their work as part of the UMW Summer Science Institute entitled “Turtles of the Fredericksburg Canal: Introduced Species and Estimates of Population Sizes.

Professor Wieland has been an active member of VAS since 1984 and has held a variety of leadership positions in the Academy.   In May 2005, he was elected VAS Vice-President and served as Program Chair for the 84th Annual Meeting in 2006.  He was President of the Academy in 2007-2008 and has served as Editor of the Virginia Journal of Science since 2002.

At the same meeting Deborah O’Dell, Professor of Biological Sciences,  was elected President of the Virginia Academy of Science.  Professors O’Dell,  Rosemary Barra, Theresa Grana, Stephen Fuller, Lynn Lewis, and Deborah Zies of the Department of Biological Sciences also made presentations at the meeting.  Professor Stephen Gallik attended as Councilor for the Section on Biology.