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Marquette University Department of Biology

Nov. 30, 2011 | Issue 1, Volume 1


This newsletter is the first of what we hope will be a semi-annual publication aimed at connecting with alumni and current students. This is a pilot project for the department where the future and content of the newsletter will depend on feedback and interest shown. The plan is to highlight important events and accomplishments of our faculty, students, and alumni so that we can share in each others success stories. In each issue, we will feature one or two alumni, a retired and current faculty member, and selected undergraduate and graduate students. In this issue, we are excited to introduce a new faculty member to the department, share news about new "state-of-the-art" multi-user lab equipment, and give updates on some ongoing research.


New faculty member

Our department is pleased to announce the newest member of our faculty, Assistant Professor Krassimira Hristova.  She has developed a new course in Experimental Microbiology for upper division undergraduates (BIOL 3802), and established an extramurally funded research lab.  Her research is based on key concepts and emerging trends in molecular and environmental biology to support research and application development in biodegradation of pollutants, nanobiosensors, and biotechnology.

Summer undergraduate research

Sponsored by an NSF grant and under the direction of Dr. Gail Waring, the summer research program was held this summer from June 6th to August 11th. For research activities of the students and program highlights see Biological Sciences Summer Research Program. The NSF funded portion of the program is primarily restricted to supporting students who are members of minorities currently underrepresented in the sciences and students from colleges or universities with limited research opportunities. To fund Marquette students, we have established an endowment. To learn more about the endowment and support the program see Biology Student Research Endowment Fund.

Advisory Board

The first meeting of the Department of Biological Sciences Advisory Board was held June 27, 2011. The board will meet semi-annually to discuss and provide advice on current topics of importance to the department, and issues/ideas/programs raised by members of the board. It is envisioned that the board will be particularly important in strengthening our relationships with the wider scientific community in a variety of ways including educational, research, and promotional programs. A secondary goal is to develop programs to increase alumni awareness of and participation in activities of importance to biology at Marquette. The make-up of the board includes alumni with a wide variety of expertise in science and business, as well as others from biotech and science related backgrounds. Alumni interested in serving on the Advisory Board are asked to contact the Department Chair Dr. Fitts at robert.fitts@mu.edu.

Labs and Instruments

One departmental goal is to develop an endowed imaging facility that supports and facilitates our emerging research theme centered on structure-function relationships. In the past two years, this goal took a big step forward with two NSF grants totaling more than $850,000. The grants allowed the department to purchase a high speed and high resolution confocal microscope which allows the study of structures and protein-protein interactions from the surface to the core of the cell. Dr. Martin St. Maurice was the principal investigator on the second NSF grant which funded the purchase of a $601,079 X-ray diffractometer. The instrument allows researchers to develop a three-dimensional map of a molecule’s complete electron density.

New Graduate Curriculum

Last year after more than 12 months of discussions by an ad hoc curriculum committee chaired by Dr. Rosemary Stuart, the department approved a new graduate curriculum for the Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. The program has a requirement of 24 credit hours which includes in addition to 12 dissertation credits seven 2 credit courses in a variety of disciplines such as biochemistry, molecular biology, protein structure and function, genetics, cell signaling, development, and physiology. This course sequence insures that our graduates will be well versed in a variety of sub-disciplines within the field of biology. For details of this new curriculum see "Graduate Program" on department website.

Accelerated M.S. Degree in Applied Biology

We are in the process of developing a new accelerated masters program in Applied Biology where students in the program would receive a B.S. and M.S. in five years, participate in a sustained and meaningful research project in a faculty lab, take biology graduate courses, and gain real-world experiences by performing a summer-long internship in an industrial or corporate research setting. Only Marquette juniors majoring in Biological Sciences with a GPA above 3.0 would be eligible for admittance. Graduates of the program would be positioned to obtain leadership positions in biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries, and by virtue of their master-level coursework and internship experience would be more marketable than peers with only a B.S. degree. Alumni who work at research oriented science companies with interest in sponsoring high-quality undergraduates as summer interns are asked to fill out a Survey.

Oliver H. Smith Memorial Lecture

This year marked the 25 annual Oliver H. Smith Memorial Lecture honoring the memory of Dr. Oliver H. Smith, a faculty member in the department from 1963-1985. The seminar series was established by Oliver’s family who has continued to support this and other important departmental programs. The presenter at the 25th lecture was Dr. Joseph F. Lutkenhaus, University of Kansas Medical Center, Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics & Immunology who presented a talk entitled “Spatial Regulation of Bacterial Cell Division”. Previous Smith Lectures have included three Nobel Laureates: Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn (1993), Dr. Richard Roberts (2001), and Dr. Thomas Steitz (2002).


The department has a long history and multiple success stories. We thought it would be interesting to trace our roots. For this, a former faculty member Dr. Robert Thompson, developed a departmental history so for the events reviewed in Our History we can thank Dr. Thompson.


Our intent is to feature one current and one past faculty member in each newsletter. We start the series with Dr. James Courtright, a microbiologist who joined the faculty in September 1970, and Dr. John W. Saunders, an embryologist who joined the department in the 1940’s.


Dr. Robert Fitts was awarded the 2010 Way Klingler Fellowship in the sciences for his project investigating the role of endurance and high resistance exercise-training programs in the prevention of and rehabilitation from heart disease.

Dr. Rosemary Stuart is the 2011 recipient of the Lawrence G. Haggerty Award for Research Excellence.  Dr. Stuart is not only the first female faculty member to receive this award, but also the first faculty member to have received both the Haggerty and a Teaching Excellence Award (2008).

Biological Sciences faculty Drs. Martin St. Maurice, Michelle Mynlieff, and Thomas Eddinger are the recipients of the 2011 Way Klingler Teaching Enhancement Award. The $20,000 award will be used to determine the effectiveness of new student centered technologies employed in the freshman general biology course.

Dr. Martin St. Maurice
received the 2011 The Way Klingler Young Scholar Award given to promising young scholars in critical stages of their careers. Dr. St. Maurice will use the sabbatical to publish recent findings and pursue new breakthroughs related to his research on the molecular-level structure and function of enzymes.


The Biological Sciences Academic Achievement Award recognizes outstanding academic achievement by a senior majoring in Biological Sciences, Physiological Sciences, or Molecular Biology/Biochemistry. Recipients are chosen based on their overall GPA of at least 3.50, the student’s science GPA, and letters of recommendation from faculty. The award was presented in 2009-10 to Christopher Reding, and in 2010-11  to Kelsey Lynch.

The Catherine Welsch Smith Research Award recognizes a junior or senior student judged most exceptional in research. The award is based on an abstract of the research prepared by the student, and faculty letters of recommendation. The award was presented in 2009-10 to Jessica Beauchamp, and in 2010-11 to Tayler Sheahan. Last summer, Tayler conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Enno Klussmann, of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, in Berlin-Buch, Berlin, Germany. Her work was supported by the German government DAAD RISE Program, and centered on small molecule inhibitors of AQP-2 in the Medullary Collecting Duct of the kidney.

For 2009-10, the Research Award in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology was presented to Corey Nemec and in 2010-11 to Elise Pellmann. Elise is currently a senior with a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. In addition, she recently was named one of five finalists for the McKnight Research Award in Biochemistry. The finalists from around the country presented their research in November at UT Southwestern.

The Research Award in Physiological Sciences was presented in 2009-10 to Kristen Ruka, who was also awarded the Gunn Award for outstanding undergraduate presentation by the Cell and Molecular Physiology section of the American Physiology Society.


The department awards the Scholl Award annually to a graduate student who has performed outstanding research as demonstrated by the publication of a first-author manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal. The 2009-10 award was presented to Jasvinder Kaur and Jennifer Bray. In 2010-11, the award was once again presented to Jasvinder Kaur.

The Oliver H. Smith Academic Achievement Award is presented annually to a graduate student who has excelled academically. The award is based on grade point average, research activity and scholarly achievements. The 2009-10 award went to Christine Sansone, and the 2010-11 award to John Brenner.


Biological Sciences alumni have had terrific success both professionally and personally, and one goal of the newsletter is to share that success with our alumni and current students by featuring an alumnus in each issue. While we are aware of the accomplishments of many alumni, there are many we have not heard from. Please tell us your story with an email to the department chair (robert.fitts@mu.edu). Each issue of the newsletter will feature an alumnus highlighting their accomplishments. This issue, we feature Joan M. Bathon, M.D., a 1974 alumnus of our department and a recipient of the 2009 Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumna of the Year.



New faculty member

Summer undergraduate research

Advisory Board

Labs and Instruments

New Graduate Curriculum

Accelerated M.S. Degree in Applied Biology

Oliver H Smith Memorial Lecture

Our History

Faculty Current and Past

Faculty Highlights and Research

Undergraduate Student Highlights

Graduate Student Highlights

Biological Sciences Alumni

















Marquette University
Department of Biology
Wehr Life Sciences, 109
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-7355

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