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Social media spotlight: Biology

We live in a big, beautiful world.

And in our Biology department, we give you the foundation to not just understand how it works. We teach you how to solve its problems. This curriculum isn’t obsolete. Far from it. This is how biology is supposed to be taught, with inquiry and applied research that happens as much in the classroom as out of it.

Come to Doane for biology and you’ll spend your first class experimenting in the lab – not memorizing terms and processes from a book. You didn’t choose this institution just to be a bookworm. You came to the College of fearless, bold learning because you knew that to understand the world, you have to go out and interact with it.

When you graduate with a degree in biology from Doane, you can talk the talk and walk the walk. Our faculty broke the traditional mold for biology curriculum because they are scientists, and when they saw a problem with how their discipline was taught, they set out to correct it. By redefining the way they teach biology, they empower our students with the kind of knowledge and preparedness it takes to break into the science industry.

We have classrooms. We have labs. But we want you to learn as much inside our walls as out.

"The Doane College biology department is a place where students learn how to think like scientists by doing science.  They don’t just memorize facts and regurgitate them.  From designing experiments in their first semester as freshmen to designing and carrying out an original senior research project, Doane biology students do biology.  No other college in Nebraska has taken such a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to teaching biology.  We want our students to know that biology - and science in general - is an ongoing process, not a static list of definitions that never change.  We offer classes ranging from the molecular to the anatomical to the ecological in order to show our students how interconnected all facets of biology are to each other and to our lives everyday." 

-Biology deparment chairman and assistant professor Ramesh Laungani

"The biology department expertly prepares students for careers in physical therapy, physician’s assistant, medicine (MD and DO), nursing, occupational therapy and more.  Guidance for students wishing to enter health-related professions starts with the academic advisor, with support from the Career Development office and cognate student groups such as the Health and Medical Occupations Club (HMOC).  The student-driven organization provides support and information for all class levels, facilitates networking, peer assistance with applications, opportunities for shadowing and volunteer activities, leadership opportunities and more.  The Pre-Med Advisory Committee, a faculty committee dedicated to assisting students specifically wanting to become physicians, provides guidance in preparing for the MCAT and applying to professional schools, experiencing mock interviews and writing committee letters to applicants.  Research experiences in biology in the third and fourth years give students practice in skills such as critical thinking, critical analysis, and experimental design."

-Professor of biology Barb Clement


#FacultyFriday profiles

Erin Doyle

Assistant professor of biology

From: Funk, Neb.

Degrees: B.S. in applied mathematics, University of Tulsa; Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and computational biology, Iowa State University.

Why I love #DoaneBio: “I love that biology students at Doane are doing real science, from day one as freshman in Bio 110 on up through their senior research projects! I had so much fun last semester with my Bio 110 students working on their virus experiments. It’s completely possible that some of them discovered new viruses, that no scientist had ever seen before. And these are freshman in their first college biology class who are doing these experiments. The opportunities that students have in the Doane Biology program to do real scientific research are just amazing.

“I’m also very excited to start introducing students to computational biology, which is my area of expertise.  Computational biology is the use of computers, mathematical modeling and statistics to try and make sense of all of the biological data that is out there.  Scientists are getting better and better at collecting large data sets, like genome sequences, but the tools to understand and analyze that data haven’t caught up.  My job is to try and think of new ways to make sense of these big data sets.  It’s very challenging, but it’s also rewarding, and I hope that I can share my enthusiasm for this kind of biology with my students.”

Ramesh Laungani

Assistant professor of biology, chairman of Doane’s biology department

From: Woodmere, N.Y.

Why I love #Doane Bio: “I recommend the program because you are going to learn to think like a biologist by doing experiments, not just memorize a bunch of facts.  If becoming a biologist meant fact memorization, we could all just sit at home and memorize Wikipedia.

“My favorite part of the biology program is working with students on experiments that I don’t know the outcome. This makes the student my colleague and they teach me just as much as I teach them.”

#tbt Throwback Thursday alumni profiles

Katie Maliszewski ’08  @katiedidwhat11

From: Doniphan, Neb.

Degrees: B.S. in biology, minored in chemistry.

“Currently, I’m a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Dr. Paul Fey’s laboratory at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. I have been a student at UNMC since 2008 as part of the M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Program.  I completed my first two years of medical school in 2010, and since then I have been working in a microbiology research lab. I am planning to complete my Ph.D. this summer, and then I will return to finish my last two years of medical school.”

Research: “My research focuses on the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, the cause of "staph infections" on your skin, and recently notorious for the spread of the drug-resistant strain MRSA in gyms and locker rooms.  Specifically, I’m interested in a process called transformation, which is one way the bacteria can evolve by taking up new genetic material from their environment.  I'm researching how transformation occurs in Staphylococcus aureus and how it's linked to other cellular processes.

Accomplishments: “Since graduating from Doane, I’ve presented at about a dozen local and national meetings and published a chapter in a textbook on Staphylococcus epidermidis genetics. I was also selected as a lecturer for a student-run Human Diseases course at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  My experiences with the great teachers at Doane and also at UNMC have spurred my interest in teaching others someday.”

Why I love #DoaneBio: “Doane's biology and chemistry departments introduced me to the process of doing research.  Prior to my sophomore year, when I became involved with the Nebraska INBRE program, I was completely unaware that groundbreaking biomedical research was being performed in this state. Dr. David Smith, Dr. Andrea Holmes, and others in the biology and chemistry departments supported my interest in research and provided opportunities for me to get involved.  I even got to travel around the country to national meetings to present my work. Without my solid research experience at Doane, I would not have been accepted to the M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Program at UNMC.”

Adrienne Bambach ’01

From: Crystal Lake, Ill.

Degrees: B.S. in biology (honors) and German, minored in mathematics and chemistry.

Research: “I worked on two research projects while at Doane. My project was detecting Helicobacter pylori from the feces of mice. Yes, it is exciting as it sounds. I also worked with Dr. Barbara Clement on her wetlands microbiology research. That was fun; traipsing all over western Nebraska to grab samples, getting stuck in the mud. Good times! My graduate research at Georgetown University involved characterizing a novel gene in Candida albicans. My (post-doctorate) work was in a clinical microbiology laboratory at (the) University of Rochester Medical Center. I conducted a variety of research projects there, including stability of Influenza and RSV samples and RNA and looking at neutralizing antibodies in recurrent Clostridium difficile patients.

“After my (post-doctorate work), I joined the ‘dark side’ – that's what the academics call (the) industry. For one more week I am a field application scientist with Focus Diagnostics. Then I will have a job change and be manager of Scientific Affairs (at) Nanosphere. And I do thoroughly enjoy telling people about my career path because it is very non-traditional at this point.”

Accomplishments: Post-Doane graduation awards: Fulbright scholar, Berlin, Germany; finalist, Experimental Biology in Medicine; student travel grant, American Society for Microbiology; Eukaryotic Cell Young Investigator Award, American Society for Microbiology; fellow, American Society of Microbiology Fellowship in Medical and Public Health Laboratory Microbiology; Edith Hsuing Award, Pan American Society for Clinical Microbiology; three-time winner of the Above and Beyond Award, Focus Diagnostics.

“I have also given many presentations both nationally and internationally – with Paris, France, being a highlight, of course! I’ve also had the opportunity to be a visiting scientist at a few institutions both nationally and internationally and have been accepted into a few scientific training programs.

“And in case you don't think I have a life, I did get married and I do have a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.”

Bailey Kremke ’13

From: Casper, Wyo.

Degrees: B.S. in biology and Spanish.

Research: “I am currently pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Eastern Washington University in Spokane, Wash.

Why I love #DoaneBio: “Doane Biology was integral in getting me to where I am today. The department, and primarily the professors, helped to mold me and prepare me for my time in graduate school. I learned the importance of having a ‘big picture’ view of why we study biology. Tessa Durham Brooks challenged me to look beyond a 4.0 (grade point average) and to become a lifetime learner, which has been key in studying for a profession that I love. There have been so many times that I have emailed Ramesh Laungani this year and said thanks for various learning strategies that he taught me and ways that he challenged me to think deeper about problems rather than just give me the answer. Doane biology helped me to become a well-rounded student and most importantly taught me how to be a life-long learner.”

#TigerCrushTuesday student profiles

Ali Jansen ’14

From: Omaha, Neb.

Major: Biology (Pre-Physical Therapy)

Research: Physiology-based research project focused on energy drink ingredients effects on rat aortas. Currently conducting testing on 12 rats and had 12 in the fall as well. 

Why I love #DoaneBio: “I love the availability and willingness-to-help of the faculty in the biology department. I have never felt intimidated to approach any of my professors, and they have continually challenged me to push myself and think in ways that I haven’t before. They provide a great learning environment and offer several different perspectives into the science field. I truly feel like I have been able to live up to my full potential as a biology major with the resources and teaching that Doane provides.” 

 

Emily Pracht ’14

From: Broken Bow, Neb.

Major: Biology

Research: “I am performing my senior research on antibiotic resistant gram negative bacteria.” Advisor is Barb Clement, professor of biology.

Why I love #DoaneBio: “I love biology because it is forever changing. There’s always new and exciting research happening. The biology program here has opened so many possibilities for me, including allowing me to travel to Peru with Dr. Heather York for two weeks (where we were) performing bat research.”

 

Kelsey Stark ’14  @StaRkyy_11

From: Gretna, Neb.

Major: Biology  Minor: Spanish

Research: “The research project I am involved with focuses on the expression status of the N-cadherin protein in prostate cancer cell lines. I am also looking into whether these same cell lines can create tumor spheres in low-attachment cell culture conditions. It is helping me learn more about the cancer stem cell model, which is a theory of tumor formation where the tumor begins with stem cells that can self-renew and produce differentiating cells that will divide a few times making up a majority of the tumors’ mass. There isn’t any definitive evidence that cancer stem cells (CSCs) exist in prostate cancer. That is what brought me to investigating prostate cancer’s tumor sphere-formation abilities because with the low-attachment culture conditions I may be able to select for prostate cancer stem cells. Also, by studying N-cadherin protein expression I can possibly correlate EMT-like behavior with CSC potential. This is all taking place in Dr. Kate Marley’s lab.”

Why I love #DoaneBio: “I love the biology program here at Doane because of many reasons, but a main reason is the close relationships that you can develop with the faculty in and out of the classroom. The biology faculty is extremely encouraging and helpful! I have gone up to a majority of them to ask for help in various classes or on my research and, if they have a moment, I have found they are more than willing to help as much as they can! I feel comfortable talking to any of them on a number of subjects, even some that are outside of the classroom such as future careers and life to name a few. I also appreciate the number of diverse opportunities they have available. It’s good to see undergraduates learn basic research skills early because of how applicable it can be in other areas of life.  It has helped me by opening my eyes to careers I would have never even considered had it not been for some of the opportunities they offered!” 

 

Glen Thomas ’15

From: Omaha, Neb.

Major: Biology  Minor: Chemistry

Research projects: “I am the TA (teacher’s assistant) for the Phage Hunter’s sections of the new ‘Biological Inquiry’ courses. I work closely with Dr. Clement, Dr. (Tessa Durham) Brooks, and Dr. Doyle to make sure that all of the materials are ready for laboratory use, and to help students learn about phage, biology and the use of the scientific method. I am also working with Dr. Clement on my senior research, which I am excited to be starting in the next couple of months. We are investigating the interactions between phage – possibly including ones isolated by the BIO110 students – and biofilms, and how those interactions compare to interactions between the same biofilms and antibiotics.” 

Why I love #DoaneBio: “What I enjoy most about the biology department here at Doane is the professors. The professors here really want students to understand how to go about learning about the world using science, as opposed to just learning what all of the scientific terms mean. When you take a biology course here at Doane, you are learning more than just words and definitions. You learn how to think and how to develop ways to approach questions that you yourself come up with. Students here, in all classes, are taught in an environment that equips them with the skills that they need to explore that vast world of science on their own.  Without the guidance of the professors in this department, I don’t think I would understand half of the concepts that I do now. For me, the professors – the way they teach, act, and the opportunities they provide – are what make our biology department stand out from others.”