University of Evansville

Biology Alumni E-Newsletter

July 2013

In this edition

MESCON 2013

MESCON 2013, the UE hosted annual undergraduate Math, Science, and Engineering Conference was a great success. There were research presentations from 13 universities, and over 100 participants. Thanks to CIHOLAS, Inc. and Mead Johnson for sponsoring the event.

  • Senior biology major Ashley Rich received a first place award at MESCON 2013 for her presentation of "Optimizing As LOV2-based Optogenetic Systems".

  • Senior biology majors Taylor Schoenheit and Taylor Timbrook received a first place award at MESCON 2013 for their poster, co-authored with Dr. Joyce Stamm, of "Molecular Analysis of Candidate Targets of the Drosophila Insulator-binding Protein CTCF".

  • Junior biology major Emmy Ogawa received a first place award in the poster section of MESCON 2013 for her research and presentation of "Variation in Acoustic Properties of the Stress Calls of the Dune Gecko Stenodactylus sthenodactylus". Ogawa also presented her research at the 20th Animal Behavior Conference in Bloomington, IN. Her poster was co-authored by Dr. Noah Gordon.

Mescon 2013

Mescon 2013 Mescon 2013 Mescon 2013

Alumnus Profile: Dr. Mark Henderson

Dr. Mark Henderson is the medical director for radiation oncology at the Indiana University (IU) Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis and an assistant professor of clinical radiation oncology at the IU School of Medicine. When he came to the University of Evansville 18 years ago, however, he was just as nervous about big college campuses as most freshmen are today.

Mark Henderson

"I chose UE because the class size was smaller and the students seemed to be more close-knit," he said. "Coming from a smaller town, I did not think I would like a larger school with a student population as big as the population of my hometown."

Henderson soon came to find that the size and atmosphere of the campus was not the only thing about UE that he could appreciate. He came to love being among the entire UE community, professors included, and truly enjoyed his chemistry and biology double major.

"I enjoyed being a biology and chemistry major because I was learning about how things worked; that is, why chemical reactions worked and how biological systems operated. My favorite classroom memory involves my molecular biology class with Dr. Ernsting. To make up for asking us to come in for class on a snow day, he made us a white chocolate mousse pie and wrote the recipe up on the chalkboard for us. I still use that recipe...and baking is now one of my favorite hobbies."

Aside from academic work, Henderson had other interests as well. Among these were the fraternities Phi Kappa Tau and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, along with the Wind Ensemble, the Jazz Ensemble and saxophone lessons with Dr. Edwin Lacy, who retired from his distinguished teaching career in 2008 after having taught at UE for 41 years.

"I have the fondest memories of my time spent in the music department," he said. "Whenever I was stressed out, I could go to the music lounge and talk with my friends. It was a great way to de-stress."

After graduation, Henderson went on to attend the IU School of Medicine, from which he graduated in 2003. He then spent another five years at the IU School of Medicine to finish an Internal Medicine Internship and Radiation Oncology Residency. After 13 years of education and training, Henderson became the successful medical professional that he is today.

"I feel that my education at UE prepared me well for medical school, as well as my career in academic medicine," he said. "The skills I learned regarding performing a scientific experiment and writing a scientific paper were necessary both for medical school and for my career in academic medicine, where I not only treat patients, but educate medical students and residents, and perform and publish research."

When Henderson refers to his "education at UE," he is not merely referring to the time he spent in the classrooms and labs. Henderson says that his overall experience at UE, extracurricular activities included, has helped him to become a successful individual. "My time at UE, and especially my time at Harlaxton, helped me to grow as a person by exposing me to new points of view and ways of doing things," he said. "My time in Phi Mu Alpha and Phi Kappa Tau helped me to learn how to work within an organization to accomplish shared goals. This valuable leadership experience has helped me as I have served as a medical director at IU Health Methodist Hospital and as president of my practice group."

Although he is glad that some things at UE haven't changed, like academic standards, campus atmosphere, and the faculty's dedication to students, he is very pleased with those things that have changed.

"While I feel that I received an excellent education in biology and chemistry," he said. "I think that the new laboratory and classroom facilities that have been added since I graduated have really taken the sciences at UE to the next level. ... UE has made many positive changes."

Biology Awards

As always, competition was fierce for the Biology Department's annual student awards. In addition to food and fellowship, Dr. Edwards gave a moving tribute to retiring Departmental Chair Dr. Michael Cullen. Though his departure from UE will be prolonged, as he will continue to teach for the next few years, his service as chair will be missed. We thank him for his years of service and look forward to Dr. Edwards' leadership as he assumes the chair in Fall 2013.

Our 2012-13 student award winners were:

  • The James A. Brenneman Award for Service was awarded to Bethany Bonifield

  • The Patricia L. Akrabawi Teaching Assistant Award went to Taylor Schoenheit

  • The Jerry T. Seng Freshman Biology Award to Alexandra (Ali) Arguello

  • The David and Jennifer Pollock Sophomore Biology Award to Kelly Lamarche

  • The Paul "Louie" Winternheimer Junior Biology Award went to James Kohler

  • The Charles and Patricia Robertson Senior Award went to Zuzana Kocsisova and Ashley Rich

Bethany Bonifield

Taylor Schoenheit

Kelly Lamarche Ashley Rich Ali Arguello

Student Profile: Shemikah Colleton

Shemikah Colleton leads her life with orderly determination, and the future looks bright for this outstanding student. She is a fifth-year senior with a double major in pre-medical biology and psychology, and is best known within the biology department for her work at Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMS). BMS is a pharmaceutical company that has divisions specializing in research, for whom Colleton has been an intern since her sophomore year.

In her most recent internship, Colleton found herself working with a $25,000 microscope calibrated with a brand new computer program (NIS-Elements) designed to count and record the number of liver cells in an image. Although the company knew the microscope was an improvement to their current research technologies, BMS wasn't sure that NIS-Elements would work as well as their last program, Image ProPlus. It was Colleton's job to figure out if it did.

Shemikah Colleton

Like any good biology student, Colleton performed experiments to provide the company with solid evidence that supported her findings. "What I found was that [NIS-Elements] did just as well as the old one," she said. "Which means that [BMS] can actually stop using the old one and use the new one." She also created an instruction manual, complete with a troubleshooting section, on the use of the new program. Thanks to Colleton, Bristol-Meyers Squibb was not only able to upgrade to the latest technology in liver cell research, but was also well-informed on how to use it.

Colleton later presented her instruction manual on the use of NIS-Elements at the 2012 Society of Toxicological Pathology's Annual Symposium. Although Colleton was the only undergraduate of the 28 participants there, her work still garnered considerable recognition. In fact, she received fourth place for the Young Investigators Award and the Society thought her abstract so impressive that they declared it as the official template for their 2013 convention in Portland, Oregon.

"For me, just to stand there and to be in front of my poster was enough," she said. "But to be told that I was in fourth place, out of twenty-eight people and I was the only undergrad there, that kind of solidified [the importance of the accomplishment.]"

Inspired by her experiences at BMS, Colleton has now turned her focus toward understanding the development of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a condition that can cause mental retardation and other serious health problems. Using a zebrafish colony Colleton initiated at UE, rather than the traditional rat or mouse models, she exposes embryos to alcohol and then tests the ability of neutraceutical treatments such as Genistein, Resveratrol, Cholic Acid, and Retinoic Acid, among others, to combat the effects of FAS. For Colleton, it is imperative that all the treatments be found either in nature or in over-the-counter medications. In this way, Colleton hopes not only to find a cure, but to find one that would be accessible to all income levels.

More recently, Colleton was chosen as the keynote speaker at UE's first annual Professional Development Fall Symposium, which is designed to inform students of the opportunities provided by internships.

Given all her hard work and accomplishments, people might understand if Colleton were a little more pleased with herself than the average person. Yet she presents herself to others as approachable, personable, and fun. A favorite at the weekly Biology Tea events, Colleton brightens a room with her presence, and her cake-pop desserts.

Colleton is still debating what she'll do after graduation, but we are sure she'll be successful whatever path she chooses. "Basically what I've decided is that I'm just going to take it one step at a time, and whatever happens, happens," she said. "But whatever I do, I'm going to put my all into it."

Student News

  • Junior James Kohler was featured in the Crescent Magazine and AcesTV for his discovery of a new species of bacteria on cockroaches he found in the UE greenhouse. His work was done in conjunction with Dr. Mark Davis.

  • Senior biology majors Allison Young and Mackenzie Powell presented "Variations in testosterone levels and dispersal distance of male gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor)" at the 20th Animal Behavior Conference in Bloomington, IN on March 27-28. Their poster was co-authored by Dr. Noah Gordon. Biology major Anne Steele also attended the 20th Animal Behavior Conference.

  • Senior biology and psychology double major Shemikah Colleton's abstract, "Development and optimization of quantitative image analysis for hepatocyte BrdU labeling indices using NIS-Elements software," was chosen by the Society of Toxicological Pathologists as its official template for all submissions for its annual convention in Portland, Oregon. She was also chosen as the keynote speaker for the first annual Professional Development Fall Symposium, which was a great success.

  • Senior biology and education double major Mitch Mowrer was recognized by the Indiana Association for Colleges for Teacher Education on April 12 at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, IN. He was also named an Outstanding Future Educator by the UE School of Education.

  • Sophomore biology major Mackenzie Powell and sophomore environmental administration major Samantha Montgomery were named to the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete Team. Montgomery boasts a 3.60 GPA, while Powell, with a GPA of 3.96, tied for sixth place out of 52 other student-athletes.

  • Sophomore biology major Kelly Lamarche received the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Leadership and Service Award for her exceptional academic success and dedication to community. She holds a 4.0 GPA, has been named on the dean's list every semester thus far, and has given great amounts of time to Race for the Cure, Holly's House, and several other charities.

  • Freshman Kane Stratman received the Outstanding Award from the Foreign Language department for his proficiency in the Russian language.

Class of 2013

Dr. Michael Cullen to Step Down from Biology Chair

Dr. Michael Cullen

Dr. Michael Cullen has announced that he will be relinquishing the chair of Biology in the Summer of 2013. He has been chair of the department and a faculty member at UE for 17 years. He arrived at UE in 1996 from the University of Southern California where he served for more than 18 years as a faculty member at the Medical School. Dr. Cullen took over the chair after the sudden departure of former chair Karen Ott, and succeeded in quickly establishing a stabilizing presence.

Since then, Dr. Cullen has been an excellent chair and admired by all; so much so that some have called him the 'people's chair'. He has been a great mentor for the department, while serving as a wonderful ambassador and respected leader for the University as a whole. Faculty and students alike have enjoyed and appreciated Dr. Cullen over the years because he has given us the freedom to pursue our own ideas, but was always there with judicious suggestions when we wandered too far afield. He has always managed to run the department both smoothly and efficiently. He has been the consummate consensus builder. Most importantly, Dr. Cullen has also been a great teacher and mentor to his students, as we are sure many reading this newsletter would attest.

More than a mentor, Dr. Cullen has been a great visionary. He inherited a department facing many challenges and obstacles, but in the end managed to create one of the best programs on the UE campus. He can be proud to know that when he officially leaves the department, it will be in much better shape than when he first arrived some 17 years ago.

Dr. Cullen will continue to teach for the next two years to help ease the transition for our new chair (Dr. Dale Edwards has agreed to take over the reins). We truly appreciate all of Dr. Cullen's contributions and recognize that he will be sorely missed by the entire UE community.

Faculty News

  • Dr. Dale Edwards' paper, "Patterns of species richness among Unionicola spp. (Acari: Unionicolidae) inhabiting freshwater mussels of North America," will appear in the next issue of the Journal of Parasitology. Malcolm Vidrine at Lousiana State University co-authored the paper. While on sabbatical, Dr. Edwards began writing a book discussing the evolutionary ecology of Unionicola water mites. He was also elected president of the Indiana Academy of Science. He will begin serving in this capacity on June 1.

  • Dr. Ann Powell recently visited her fellow collaborator at the USDA Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Lab in Beltsville, MD and the Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension in Chatsworth, NJ. The purpose of her trip was to discuss ongoing research projects, plan data analysis and publication of results, and study morphological variation in blueberry species from section Cyanococcus. She also visited four field locations in Nova Scotia, Canada to collect blueberries and later extracted DNA from these samples at the Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, to use for her undergraduate research projects.

  • Dr. Noah Gordon published two articles in 2012: "Dip listening or modulation masking? Call recognition by green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) in temporally fluctuating noise" in the Journal of Comparative Physiology and "Leptodactylus albilabris (Caribbean White-Lipped Frog): calling site" in Herpetological Review. He also presented an invited seminar: "Is Juliet really listening? Are male acoustic signals influencing female reproduction in the gray treefrog?" at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, IN.

Dale Edwards

Ann Powell

  • Dr. Cris Hochwender recently published three articles: "How slug herbivory of hybrid willows alters chemistry, growth, and susceptibility to diverse plant enemies" in the Annals of Botany; "Leaf size in three generations of a dioecious tropical tree (Ocotea tenera, Lauracae): sexual dimorphism and changes with age" in the American Journal of Botany; and, "Protein storage and root:shoot reallocation strategies provide tolerance to damage in a hybrid willow system" in Oecologia. He also presented his research on plant tolerance to foliar damage by beetles at the 2013 International Gordon Research Conference on Plant-Herbivore Interactions at Ventura, CA.

Departmental and Alumni News

  • Professor Emeritus of Biology Jerry Seng joined the Newman Center during the Valentine's Day week to read passages from of his book about his late wife, Ann Seng.

  • Local osteopathic physician Dr. Terry Gehlhausen discussed careers in osteopathic medicine and shadowing opportunities with interested UE students in April. It was a great opportunity for professional biology majors to see an alternative form of medical practice, and was an enlightening experience for the whole audience. The UE Biological Sciences (Bi-Sci) club hosted the event.

  • Dr. David Pollock, UE alumnus and co-chair (with his wife Jennifer) of the UE Science Advisory Council has recently been elected president of the American Physiological Society. This is quite an honor and the entire UE Biology community congratulates Dr. Pollock for his service.

  • The UE Biology Department has a Facebook page! Like us at "Biology at UE," and stay current on the latest departmental news. Also be sure to visit "UE Biology Alum," our page dedicated to UE biology graduates.

    Facebook Biology at UE Facebook UE Biology Alum

Faculty Profile: Dr. Cris Hochwender

Dr. Cris Hochwender is an inspiring biologist who excels at mentoring students. Although he readily admits that he would like to take over the world, he is content for now with controlling a much smaller area, Vectren Conservation Park (VCP). VCP is a 1,100-acre ecological restoration and research site located next to the Wabash River. The natural state of the land had been disrupted for nearly 200 years by agriculture, but it is Hochwender's goal to restore this site to its former, natural glory.

"It's all a wetland, and wetlands are very rare habitat. In Indiana, less than 15 percent of the natural wetlands still exist in the state. Restoring wetlands allows for several valuable ecosystem services, including reducing the impact of flooding for urban areas and providing clean drinking water for areas that use well water."

Cris Hochwender

Thankfully, Dr. Hochwender is not alone in his efforts to restore VCP. The project is an inter-disciplinary effort, utilizing the knowledge and dedication of faculty and students from both the biology and chemistry departments. Dr. Arlen Kaufman, professor of chemistry, has been studying the extent and potential amelioration of harmful chemicals on VCP, while Dr. Donald Batema, chemistry, has focused on assessing the bird populations.

"Restoration ecology is a really valuable field of study considering the degree to which we have destroyed habitats and impacted both plant diversity and animal diversity," Dr. Hochwender said. "One of the critical things that exist in the future is reclaiming and re-establishing those habitats for native plants, and native species that can utilize the native plant habitat."

However, preserving the environment is not Hochwender's only reason for being so dedicated to VCP.

"The reason that we started to have this field site," he said "was to give students an opportunity to have research experiences in a field setting. The University of Evansville had no property for us to do ecological or environmental studies, and so this is a place to frame those kinds of projects for students. Mostly it centers around those kinds of opportunities."

It is because of these opportunities that students such as Zuzana Kocsisova (who studied song variation in Bell's Vireo), Abigail di Giorgi (who conducted research on the effects of soil moisture levels on native cane species), Nicole Kreuzman (who performed experiments to determine which native grass species could outcompete invasive Johnson grass), and others have gained experience in performing field research in ecology and environmental science.

Working with Dr. Hochwender on projects at VCP, Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, or in the classroom has impacted students in multiple ways.

"Dr. H is always there to help out," junior Nicole Kreuzman said. "If I have a question, he will try his best to answer it, whether it is about class or my future plans and career goals. He is always great for a laugh, and is truly inspirational with his commitment to research, [environmental] restoration and education. Ultimately, this helped me to rethink my future and my career choices."

Alumnus Profile: Mr. Bruce Baldwin

Bruce Baldwin

A consultant biologist at Eli Lilly, Mr. Bruce Baldwin (UE 1995) delivered a presentation to UE biology majors titled "Careers in Biotechnology." With a little humor in the mix, he was able to show students that being a doctor is only one of many options available to biology majors. "I liked [biology], but I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it," said Mr. Bruce Baldwin, a consultant biologist at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis. Mr. Baldwin returned to UE this spring to speak about his successful career to our undergraduate biology majors. He spoke about his own experiences in the 18 years since he graduated from UE and noted that the path to a successful career was not always a straight line. "I didn't have undergraduate research experience" he relates, and he was a bit unsure what to do after graduation: "so I went home and I was a bartender for a little bit." Baldwin went on to relate to students how he had eventually applied to Ball State University for graduate work. His Master's thesis helped him integrate his love for genetics and wildlife biology in a research project that involved determining parentage in crab spiders. From there, Baldwin went on to work with Dr. Robbins at the University of Pittsburgh on gene therapy vectors for rheumatoid arthritis. These experiences all helped to shape Baldwin's career as a biologist, which directly led to his working for Eli Lilly and Company. He encourages students to go as far as they can in graduate school because he has found that advanced degrees help you go farther in your career. Most importantly, he encourages students to stay encouraged. "It can be intimidating," he said. "(biology) is a foreign language, but once you learn that foreign language it's not that difficult. [UE students] are here because you're bright, and you can hack it with a lot of the people that are out there. I got to Lilly, and I thought, 'These are the big leagues. These are the tough scientists.' But trust me, you can hack it. If I can, you can."

A note from the Editor

Thanks for reading the University of Evansville Biology Alumni newsletter. Our communication intern (and Biology major) Chelsea Modglin and I are excited to get the word out to you about the great accomplishments of our alumni, faculty, and most importantly - students. We'd love to hear from you as well. Please keep in touch and feel free to contact us with news and notes, both personal and professional.

Sincerely,

Noah Gordon, PhD
ng62@evansville.edu

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