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Biology and Environmental Science News

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!

Summer in the School of the Sciences is just as busy as the academic year! BS/MS student Madison Vida and Biology major Delaney Patterson are working all summer with the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Sciences program. The two are laboratory assistants and have responsibility for ensuring that all of the supplies and equipment needed are ready for use by the high school teachers who come from across the country to receive hands-on training in this national STEM curriculum. Both Madison and Delaney are former PLTW students themselves, so they know the value of this curriculum in preparing students for STEM majors and careers.

Dr. Norris took students from his Forest Ecology and Management class on a camping field trip to the Savage River State Forest in western Maryland on the weekend of April 25 through the 26. The main purpose of the trip was to test student-derived hypotheses about forest development regarding the structure, composition, and ecosystem with respect to tree harvest history. While on this trip, the students were able to utilize a United States Forest Service technique to survey forested ecosystems.

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