BIO 100 Class Visits Memphis Zoo

Each winter term Mark Bolyard, professor of biology, teaches a session of BIO 100, during which students have the opportunity to go on three field trips. The first trip is to the Memphis Zoo, where the class attends two sessions taught by a zoo employee.

This year, the Spineless Wonders and Endangered Species classes were led by Union University alumna, Lindsey Bock Stephens (’11). During the first class, students learned about different species of invertebrates and had the opportunity to see and touch some live critters.  The Endangered Species class provided even more opportunities to see live animals. Students were able to see and touch the rare Louisiana pinesnake, which is part of a new breeding program at the Memphis Zoo.

In addition to the two class sessions, students were each given a endangered species to research as they toured the zoo. The trip provided an up-close look at many of the animals discussed in the BIO 100 curriculum.

Story and photos by Kristi Woody

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Cell Biology Project Uses Bio-Rad qPCR

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Students in the department of biology have been working throughout the summer on research projects. Many of the projects, including Benton Hurt’s, are focused on the thyroid and thyroid irregularities.

Benton is a senior cell and molecular biology major, and his project is focused specifically on how cells regulate the thyroid under different types of stress.

“We’re looking to see if there is a marked difference in RNA expression in the macrophages, which are immune cells,” Benton said. “The goal ties into broader research going on in the department to better understand hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.”

William Thierfelder, associate professor of biology, has been working on the project with Benton. He said some of the things they are studying are possible because of new equipment provided by donors.

“This machine, the Bio-Rad qPCR, is a complex piece of machinery,” he said. “But it basically allows us to measure gene expression in these cells.”

Thierfelder said the research may help find ways of treating thyroid irregularities that cause metabolism issues and other symptoms. Benton said even though the project does not sound exciting to most people, he has enjoyed the process.

“It’s nice to be able to work on something like this and later be able to see how it ties into the bigger picture,” he said. “We’re not looking for a major discovery, but every part of the research is important.”

Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody

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