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Biology and Environmental Science News

Date: Feb 2015

Senior BS in Biotechnology/MS in Forensic Science student Nichole Young participated in rotations at the Baltimore County Police Department as part of her capstone experience last fall. As part of the experience, she rotated through three forensic units at BCPD: Firearms and Tool marks, Latent Prints, and Controlled Dangerous Substances. When asked about her favorite part of the rotations Nichole replied, “I really enjoyed going through the latent print lab and learning just how challenging it can be to be a latent print examiner.” This spring, she plans to evaluate several common and uncommon presumptive blood tests for her final capstone paper.

Dr. Kimberly Pause Tucker and three students, Mary Grace Moulsdale, Kate Krasnodemski, and Ava Schein, traveled to Florida to assist with manatee captures for a health assessment project lead by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Crystal River, Florida. The USGS has worked toward creating a substantial archive of samples with the successful capture, examination, and release of over 300 manatees in the past decade.  This unique opportunity allowed for valuable hands-on experience with large animals. Students were able to participate in the manatee capture and health assessment, snorkel with the manatees, kayak, as well as observe a Manatee necropsy at a Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab. Health assessments are important, as they aid in determination of the environmental and medical fitness for a population of wildlife. The health of manatees in particular can alert researchers to any emerging threats to the ocean environment and by extension human health.

SOS faculty and staff wore red on Friday, February 6, 2015 in support of heart disease awareness and the national “Go Red for Women” campaign. National Wear Red Day was started 12 years ago to bring attention to heart disease, which is the #1 killer of women.

Dr. Kim Pause Tucker and her research student/SU Junior Biology major, Kate Krasnodemski, recently had the opportunity to participate in the necropsy of a Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) with Dr. Cindy Driscoll (State Fish & Wildlife Veterinarian) and her team at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  "These opportunities are very special and rare, and we were very fortunate to be able to participate," Dr. Tucker stated, "I have been able to participate in a number of marine mammal necropsies throughout my career, but never a Common dolphin, so this was especially interesting to me."

"The necropsy was amazing because it gave me hands-on experience that put my anatomy skills into practice while assisting with government research on the animal,” Kate Krasnodemski recalled.  Kate has worked in a human tissue bank as well as a scribe in the emergency room, and is very interested in anatomy.  “Learning about anatomy using models in class is nothing compared to experiences like this!"

Agencies from coastal states complete necropsies on marine mammals and sea turtles in an effort to determine cause of death and collect valuable samples for numerous researchers.  For additional information about the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory in Oxford, Maryland, please visit DNR's webpage:


Biology and environmental science students recently travelled to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with Drs. Keith Johnson and Kim Tucker as part of a one-credit option course associated with the ENV 307 Marine Biology course. The group toured various places in Ecuador and on the Galapagos Islands, where they observed various ecosystems and observed the wildlife up close. Here are just a few pictures - keep watching this blog to see more as the semester goes on!

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