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Department News

Commencement 2012

Forty graduates in the life sciences were awarded their bachelor's degree on May 12th:

Commencement 2011

Thirty-six graduates in the life sciences were awarded their bachelor's degree on May 14th:

July 2010

The department is accepting applications for a tenure-track position in microbiology with a specific emphasis on immunology, virology, and/or parasitology. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2010.

Commencement 2010

Twenty-eight graduates in the life sciences were awarded their bachelor's degree on May 15th:

August 2009

The Lehigh Valley chapter of the Society for Neuroscience is open for business! Prof. Cecilia Fox is serving as president of the chapter, which includes 5 of the 6 LVAIC institutions.

June 2009

We welcome Dr. Frances Irish to the department. Dr. Irish, who will be a visiting assistant professor next fall and spring, has a long-standing interest in vertebrate anatomy, and has carried out her research in a variety of areas, countries, and institutions. At Moravian, she will be teaching Zoology and Mammalian Anatomy as well as an upper-level course for majors in the spring.

Commencement 2009

Thirty-four graduates in the life sciences were awarded the degree of Bachelor of Science on May 16th:

December 2008

At the end of this semester, Prof. Jim Mitchell will retire. The Department of Biological Sciences appreciates his decades of service to the College and department, his devotion to Moravian students and alumni, and his enthusiasm in recruiting new students to the College.

Commencement 2008

Thirty-two graduates in the life sciences were awarded the degree of Bachelor of Science on May 10th:

Commencement 2007

May 12th saw the degree of Bachelor of Science awarded to 29 graduates in the life sciences:

Spring 2007

Debra Evans (Biochemistry 2009), LeeAnna Roberts (2007), and Peter Slivka (Biochemistry 2007) presented the results of their research at the regional Tri-Beta convention held at Elizabethtown College on March 24th, where LeeAnna won the John C. Johnson Award for Excellence in Student Research for her Honors project, "Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) among Division III football players at Moravian College."

After decades of selfless service to the Moravian College community, the Department of Biological Sciences ceased to exist on Thursday, February 28th, 2007. We are now the Department of Biological Sciences, a title we think better reflects our involvement in our new interdisciplinary programs in Biochemistry, Environmental Science, and Neuroscience, as well as our long history of advising the pre-health professional programs. The new name also better reflects the changing nature of the field which has traditionally been called "biology"; as our chair, Diane Husic observed, "Biosciences now include work that is done at the molecular level and on the large-systems scale in our varied ecosystems on this planet and potentially beyond and at all levels in between. Many biological scientists work on the edges of traditional discipline boundaries including fields such as computational biology and bioinformatics, biophysics, astrobiology, etc. All of these go way beyond the classical 'biology' images of another era."

Fall 2006

Prof. Frank Kuserk and Christy Scholtes (2000) published a paper based on Christy's Honors research in the August issue of the Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. The paper, "Isolation and Identification of Proteolytic Bacteria from Leaves of the Northern Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia purpurea," examines the microbial community structure in leaves of these carnivorous plants and is one of the first studies to identify specific bacteria found in these pitcher plants to the species level. The research was conducted at the Tannersville Cranberry Bog where pitcher plants are common. While at Moravian, Christy's research was supported through a grant-in-aid from Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

The new Neuroscience major went live in the fall, with Prof. Cecilia Fox as the director of the program.

Spring 2006

Yi Li (2008), Sarah Mueller (2006), Rachel Siegfried (2006), and Paras Varvarelis (2006) presented the results of their research at the regional Tri-Beta convention held at York College in March; Sarah was runner-up for the John C. Johnson Award for Excellence in Student Research.

Prof. Frank Kuserk recently served on two advisory panels for the College Board. In the first project Frank served as a member of a team charged with establishing standards for the College's Board's Natural Science CLEP examination. The second project was conducted under the auspices of the Center for Educational Policy Research in Eugene, Oregon and focused on establishing criteria that will be used by the College Board in auditing courses and instructors in its Advanced Placement Program. Prof. Kuserk served on a panel of five charged with evaluating courses in the AP Environmental Science Program.

In this second semester of its existence, the Premed Club partnered with Colleges Against Cancer and organized its first Relay for Life, which had over 200 participants and raised over $10,000 for anti-cancer initiatives. They were awarded the Outstanding Service Program Award by the Moravian chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.

Prof. Cecilia Fox coordinated Brain Awareness Day, which took place at the Da Vinci Discovery Center of Science and Technology on March 18th. This annual event is designed to promote public awareness of the functions of the central nervous system as well as current advances in brain and spinal cord research. Students studying neuroscience from Moravian, Muhlenberg and Cedar Crest colleges assisted on the implementation of hands-on neuroscience activities for children (K-8th grade) and provided general neuroscience information for their families. Over 400 children came through our program. Elementary and middle school teachers in the Lehigh Valley also participated and were provided packets of information regarding the details of the activities to share in their science classroom experience.

At the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Atlanta, Prof. Diane Husic spoke about "Research Across Academic Department Boundaries: Professional Payoffs and Pitfalls" as part of a symposium entitled "Starting a Successful Research Program at a Predominantly Undergraduate Institution," sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research and the Younger Chemists Committee of the ACS. Prof. Husic also chaired a session of the symposium entitled "Designing a research-supportive undergraduate curriculum." As chair of the Chemistry Division of CUR, she also participated in meetings with CUR Councilors and the new director ACS-Petroleum Research Fund to discuss joint initiatives in funding sabbaticals for faculty at predominantly undergraduate institutions, the diminishing pipeline of young scientists interested in petroleum research, and enhancing diversity in science and with Research Corporation about their grant programs that support faculty-student research.

Jacqueline Jediny (2006) and Prof. Frank Kuserk presented a poster based on Jackie's research at the Third Annual Mid-Atlantic Ecology Conference held at Montclair State University's New Jersey School of Conservation in Branchville, NJ. The poster, "Benthic Macro-invertebrates as Bio-indicators of Stream Quality in a Rural/Urban Transition Zone in Monocacy Creek, Northampton County, Pennsylvania," examines the impact of external stresses on the structure of the aquatic invertebrate community as the Monocacy Creek transitions from a predominantly rural area into the city of Bethlehem. The conference was sponsored by the Ecological Society of America. Also participating in the conference was biology graduate Michael Peek (1996), currently an assistant professor of Biology at William Patterson University in Wayne, NJ.

Prof. Cecilia Fox accompanied two SOAR students, Rachel Siegfried (2006) and Paras Varvarelis (2006), to present research at the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science in Hershey on March 25. The title of their presentation was "Selenium as a Potential Neuroprotective Agent in the 6-OHDA Striatal Lesion Model." On April 8th, the group headed to the N.E.U.R.O.N. Conference at Hunter College in New York City to present this research. While there, Prof. Fox also co-led a workshop with Prof. Jennifer Swann from Lehigh University, entitled "Diversity in the Neurosciences." They discussed the present status of diversity at our institutions and nationwide, the challenges faced in enhancing diversity on campuses as well as potential initiatives to increase diversity in the future.

The department has established an Institutional Animal Care & Use committee in conjunction with our new, USDA-compliant animal facility.

Fall 2005

Prof. Diane Husic has a letter to the editor in the August 29 issue of The Scientist, in support of an article called "Scientific Knowledge as a Public Good" in the magazine's June 20 issue. In it, Prof. Husic outlines some of her strategies for faculty-student research collaborations.

In addition to being the department chair, Prof. Husic is also a faculty athletics representative (FAR) to the NCAA. Prof. Husic was cofacilitator for the inaugural Division II FAR Leadership Institute, October 7- 9 in Indianapolis. (She wrote the original proposal leading to a $100,000 grant from the NCAA to support the first institute.) The event drew 21 FAR Fellows nominated by their conferences and six other longtime FARs as its steering committee.

Prof. Cecilia Fox presented research done with Honors student Sarah Mueller (2006) at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, November 11-16 in Washington, D.C. The project, "Long-Term Selenium Administration as a Protective Agent in the 6-OHDA Lesion Model," is part of Prof. Fox's ongoing research into the causes of Parkinson's disease.

Two other student-researchers attended the conference: Rachel Siegfried (2006) described her summer SOAR research project on the neuroprotective effects of selenium in the 6-OHDA striatal lesion model, and Charlotte Bowsher (2007) assisted Prof. Fox and Sarah in a poster presentation on "Brain Awareness Day: A 'New and Improved' Service-Learning Project for the Community," first sponsored by the College and the Da Vinci Discovery Center of Science and Technology in the spring of 2004.