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Biology and Environmental Science News

In August, Dr. Keith Johnson and Dr. Mark Norris took several students to the 100th Ecological Society of America meeting that was held here in Baltimore. The students presented posters of their research as part of the meeting and were able to attend talks by leading scientists and network with professionals in the field. Pictured here is one of the students, environmental science major Bethany Liberto, in front of her poster. Bethany worked with Dr. Norris to study "Oak forest characteristics and functioning along an urban-rural gradient."

Congratulations to biology major Neill Baker! He was named Volunteer of the Month for August at Irvine Nature Center. Neill has been completing his internship capstone as a naturalist at the center this summer and kept very busy with many educational and convservation projects. The staff at Irvine had wonderful things to say about Neill. Read the whole story here -

http://www.explorenature.org/latest-blog/volunteer-of-the-month-august-2015/...

Dr. Keith D. Johnson and his summer research students Blake Ford and Rojesh Shrestha beat out nine other teams including the University of Maryland, NOAA, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Smithsonian at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Annual Oyster Olympics. The event was held at the Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, MD on July 10, 2015. Teams competed in a number of events including cage-building, oyster shell bag filling, shell shaking, a scavenger hunt and a canoe race. It was a great opportunity to learn about restoration, network with others working in the field, and help get materials prepared for further restoration while having some fun. GO MUSTANGS!!

Biology major Isabelle Staab and Biotechnology BS/MS student Taranjit Athwal are spending their summer conducting research under the mentorship of biology faculty member Sam Obae as part of the Summer Science Scholar Program (S3RP). The students are studying the population genetics of American mayapple, an important medicinal plant with anticancer properties. Their goal is to assess, using molecular markers, the diversity within and among its wild populations in Maryland. Understanding the genetic diversity of this species is important in selecting plants with high bioactive chemicals for breeding purposes, and in guiding conservation efforts for its germplasm. Of her experience this summer, Taranjit says, "S3RP has been an enjoyable experience for me allowing me to utilize skills I have gained from my courses at Stevenson University and apply them in a laboratory setting. The program has given me the opportunity to work more independently, learn more skills and techniques, and helped me decide that working in a laboratory setting is something I enjoy and hope to pursue as a career after college."

The Department of Biological Sciences welcomes its newest faculty member - Dr. Rebecca Burgess! Dr. Burgess comes to SU from a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. She earned her Bachelors degree in Biology from Cornell University and went on to earn two Masters degrees and her doctorate from Columbia University's Department of Biological Sciences. Her research will focus on the molecular mechanisms that govern chromatin changes during cells' responses to DNA damage. Dr. Burgess arrived on July 1st and has already begun setting up her research program to be ready to welcome her first research students in the fall. Welcome!

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