Biology Department Hosts Seminar Series

Kailene Nye, Editor-in-Chief

The Biology department is hosting a seminar series during the fall 2019 semester, featuring monthly talks from department professors and experts as well as a film screening on topics concerning biology.

Dr. Grace Chen, assistant professor of Biology, organized the series because she said it has many benefits to students.

“When I first came to Misericordia, I was shocked that we don’t have a regular seminar series in any of the departments here,” Chen said. “In the current Biology curriculum, we require students who choose the B.S. option to conduct research in their junior and senior year. In reality, students may not be familiar with the research interests of each faculty member. Therefore, they may lose the opportunity to do research that is more exciting, more relevant to their interests, or more eye-opening. Considering all the potential benefits, I talked with all the faculty members in the Biology Department and got their support to run the series.”

The series will include a total of seven seminars and events. It began on September 5 with a talk called “Biological Assessment of Streams and Ponds” presented by Dr. Larry Corpus, assistant professor of Biology.

Chen said other events students and faculty can expect include “The Mystery of Mysteries: Link Adaptation and Speciation,” presented by Chen; “Role of Genetic Variation and Health and Disease,” presented by Dr. David J. Carey of the Weis Center for Research; and a screening of the film “Evolution: The Evolutionary Arms Race.”

Chen said this is not the first time the university has attempted to put on a seminar series, admitting the previous one ended due to organization and interest issues.

Chen said she plans to cover a larger variety of topics and collaborate with other disciplines in the future in order to combat these issues.

“I want to see the seminar series like this continue The more, the better,” she said. “The longer, the better. In terms of topics, I hope to see something in the humanities, in health sciences, and maybe in mass communications in the future. I know this can be a burden for certain departments or colleges to host events like this, but I believe the university should support such interactions and facilitate the conversation across disciplines.”

Megan Oldak, junior Occupational Therapy major, attended the talk on September 5 and said it was a great event to attend, despite not being in the biology major.

“Even though it doesn’t relate to my major, I was glad I was able to attend.”

Oldak said she learned a lot about water and its function during the seminar but her biggest takeaways were learning that insects can be used to test water quality and discovering the importance of testing water quality for humans.

“I think series like this are important because you can learn about what is happening in the world, specifically our environment. These seminars could also inspire people to start their own research on causes they care about or try to learn more about their environment,” she said.

Oldak said she would love to attend another seminar in the future.

“I wish I had heard about these types of seminars sooner because I would love to attend more, especially if Dr. Corpus holds a follow-up lecture to explain any new findings he has in his research,” she said.

Chen said the official goals of the series are to expose students to biological research outside of what they see in their courses, allow them to connect with biologists in varying fields, and to help them find excitement in biology.

She said her personal gain from participating in the series is getting the opportunity to learn more about areas of biology with which she is unfamiliary.

“To be honest, I, just like many of the students, have no idea what my colleagues are doing for their research,” Chen said. “Yes, I do know their research fields, but what exactly have they done? What results have they found? What technology do people use these days to solve the problems? I want to learn! I cannot wait to attend their presentations and see what some cool things they have done. Not to mention the outside speakers who will bring something completely innovative creative.”

She said she invites students and faculty from all departments to attend the seminars.

“Please come to join us. Learn something new, enjoy the food, and make some friends.”

All of the events will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays.

Light refreshments will be offered starting at 5:20 p.m. Eco-friendly napkins, plates, utensils, and cups will be provided, but those planning to attend are encouraged to bring their own reusable dishware.