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Marshall University - Biological Sciences Newsletter
Aug.-Sept. 2015

Welcome New BSC Faculty Member, Dr. Habiba Chirchir

    BSC is pleased to introduce our newest faculty member, Dr. Habiba Chirchir. In her own words:

    "I earned my PhD from the George Washington University's Hominid Paleobiology Doctoral Program, where my research used comparative and experimental methods to understand how bones change with an elevated exercise regime, how human skeletal anatomy has evolved over the last 3 million years, and skeletal adaptions to cursoriality. Prior to this, I obtained an MA in Skeletal Biology from New York University and a BA from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

    "I have spent the last two years as a Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow in the Human Origins Program of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. The conceptual focus of my research is to understand the link between the evolution of skeletal anatomy and behavior. Are certain anatomical traits associated with behavior and when did they evolve in the human lineage? Specifically, I research the evolution of modern human skeletal anatomy and how we evolved anatomical features that distinguish us from our ancestors, and our similarities in those features with other mammals with whom we share certain behavioral traits. I study skeletons of humans and other primates, as well as skeletons of felids and canids. I utilize CT technology and X-ray imaging to examine morphological traits of interest.

    "I also have experience working in paleanthropology and paleontological field sites in East Africa.

    "I would like to encourage students interested in working in my lab to visit me in Science 279B."

    Welcome, Dr. Chirchir!

Find BSC on Facebook: Join "Marshall University Biological Sciences"

    BSC has a Facebook group for sharing science news, departmental activities, research opportunities, job postings, alumni updates, and whatever else strikes (y)our fancy!

Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid Available

    The Sigma Xi research society sponsors research experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students by awarding grants of up to $1,000. Funding may be used to support travel expenses to a research site, or for the purchase of necessary research equipment. The annual deadlines for application are October 15, and March 15. For complete information on this opportunity, visit Sigma Xi's website.

Stuffed Cells by Zedmalia Wolfe (Happy 10th Anniversary!)
The scientifically-correct adventures of an archaean, a plant cell, and an animal cell.

Stuffed Cells cartoon

For Seniors Graduating in December

    The deadline to apply for December 2015 graduation is Friday, September 18. Applications can be picked up and returned to the College of Science office, S-270. A graduation fee of $50 must be paid at the bursar's office, and a copy of your receipt must accompany your completed application when you return it to the College of Science office. The ceremony will be Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Free Tutoring Available for BSC 104, 105, 120, 121, 227, 228, 322, and 324

    Take advantage of free tutoring offered for several BSC courses! Graduate students who are GAs in the courses listed above offer free tutoring during their office hours or by appointment. A list of GAs' office hours and contact information will be posted on the door of the BSC Tutoring Center and GA Office, Science 209, by the end of the first week of classes. Don't be afraid to get help early on so that you can keep up with classes as the semester heats up!

Brag Box An abbreviated list of recent BSC student and faculty accomplishments:
  • Dr. Jennifer Mosher was selected to join the ASM-Link Undergraduate Research Faculty Initiative (UFRI) Fellowship (supported by the American Society for Microbiology and the National Science Foundation). The goal is for students to benefit from bringing the research world to the classroom, and expanding classroom activities into research projects!
  • Dr. Elmer Price was awarded a 3-year NSF (National Science Foundation) grant of $350,000 for a research project titled "Biological Engineering of Neural Migratory Streams." This research aims to develop new therapies for Parkinson's disease. Much of the data that supported this grant was performed by undergraduate BSC majors Amanda Clark and Lydia Hager. The grant includes funding for additional undergraduate researchers in each year of funding. Congratulations!
  • Dr. Jagan Valluri and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio (MU's Med School) have been awarded a US Patent titled "Methods for Stem Cell Production and Therapy." Their invention relates to methods for rapidly expanding a stem cell population with or without culture supplements in simulated microgravity conditions, to produce tissue for use in transplantation and to promote enrichment of cancer stem cells under microgravity conditions. According to the MU Research Corporation, this is the first patent from the Department of Biological Sciences.
  • A new publication from the lab of Dr. Frank Gilliam, based on research done with capstone students Julia Galloway and Jacob Sarmiento: Gilliam, F.S., Galloway, J.E., and Sarmiento, J.S. 2015. Variation with slope aspect in effects of temperature on nitrogen mineralization of nitrification in mineral soil of mixed hardwood forests. Can. J. For. Res. 45:958-962.

Citizen Science: Help Cornell Ornithologists Improve Bird ID App

    The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is working on Merlin, an app developed to identify birds from photographs. You can help by uploading a clear photo of a bird, then labeling a few simple body parts so that the app becomes better at identifying birds. To learn more about the app and its development, visit here!

Welcome Back! We hope you've had an enjoyable summer!

Selected BSC Contact Information

Dr. David Mallory, BSC Chair S-350 (304) 696-2353
BSC Graduate Program Information   (304) 696-2427
BSC office, TA applications, various forms S-350 (304) 696-3148
Susan Weinstein, BSC News S-204 (304) 696-2428


Download pdfs of this or any past issue of the Biological Sciences Newsletter by clicking on the archive links to the right.

Department of Biological Sciences | One John Marshall Drive | Science Building 350 | Huntington, WV 25755 | (304) 696-3148