Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest Blogger - Professor Mac Lippert

I've asked other members of our Biology Department to write some blog entries to help provide a broader view of our programs. This is from Mac Lippert:

Prof. Mac Lippert at the airport with former students Michelle Miaskiewicz, Jessica Mollmark, and Maggie Holmes as they prepare to fly to Orlando, Florida to present their research posters at the annual conference of the American Society of Microbiologists.

I've been a member of the Biology Department at Saint Mike's since 2000. My upper-level teaching responsibilities are Genetics and Microbiology. In addition, I teach another course: General Biology, Biological Reading & Writing, or Senior Seminar. Our department chair, Doug Facey, has asked me to contribute some guest blogs, so I decided to blog about research students that I've had the pleasure of mentoring in the past and currently. I will focus on students attending scientific conferences where they presented results from their summer and/or academic year research projects. Today, I'm introducing myself and this series of guest blogs that will show up here on Doug's blog site. I first performed research as an undergraduate researcher with Jim Gentile at Hope College. Jim inspired me to become a college professor. I explored the activation of non-mutagenic chemicals into mutagens by an algal species, Selenastrum capricornutum. I took over the project from a senior who graduated the year before, Tim Shafer; another student, Pete Johnson, took over the project when I graduated. Jim wrote a paper describing our work which was published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology in 1990, volume 44, pages 729-736. The article is titled, 'Activation of chemical promutagens by Selenastrum capricornutum in the plant cell/microbe coincubation assay'. I presented my research results at a national scientific conference, the Annual Meeting of the Environmental Mutagen Society, which was held in San Francisco in 1987. Now I mentor undergraduates performing independent research projects. Rather than algae, we use yeast as our experimental organism, but I'm still interested in mutations. In future blogs, I'll introduce you to some of my students who have had the opportunity to perform research and attend scientific conferences.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Advising...

Over the last week or so we’ve completed our fall academic advising sessions, during which we discuss with students their plans for the spring semester and beyond. We take our role as advisors quite seriously at St. Mike’s – it is officially considered an extension of our role as teachers, which is the most important aspect of our jobs. Advising isn’t just about keeping students on-track for graduation, although that certainly is part of our role. We take these opportunities to find out what students plans are for the future, and how we can help. The possibilities for the future are vast, but reaching them takes planning.

So we ask questions beyond the basics of meeting graduation requirement. Questions such as – Would you like to do an internship, study abroad, or fit in a research project during the next academic semester or year? How about applying for funding to stay and do research during the summer? What about doing a minor or second major in another field? What are the plans for after St. Mike’s? Grad school, med school, maybe physical therapy or pharmacy programs (just to name a few)? If more education is in the plan, then when to take the GRE, MCAT, DAT, or similar grad program entrance exams? How to find a good fit for a Master’s or PhD grad program? Or are you seeking immediate employment? What course selections will give you the skills needed to get that job after you graduate? What are your plans for the summer, and how will those help you toward your eventual goals? Where have you been looking for opportunities? Have you been working on your letter of application and resume? What have you done to boost your resume? Have you visited the Student Resources office for additional advice? ..... and the list goes on.

These are not questions that can typically be answered in only one session. It takes time for students to consider options, try some things out, come back to bounce off some more ideas. This is why advising is not just about keeping on-track for graduation. It’s about developing a relationship with students over time, based on many meetings and discussions, and focusing on what we can do to help our students reach their goals.