As I stood quietly in the animal housing facility in the Cellular and Molecular Research Center at Truett McConnell University (TMU), a few students from my research methodology course looked over my shoulder as I trained them on injection techniques for rodents. Their jaws were wide open, and their faces were roiled with a wonderful mix of fear and curiosity.
One of the students finally broke the silence, “Are they always this aggressive?”
I looked up from the mouse that had just masticated my gloved finger and calmly responded with a smile, “Welcome to research.”
We take the educational experience very seriously in the Pilgram Marpeck School of STEM and firmly believe the best way to learn science is to go beyond the classroom and beyond the textbook. The most effective way to do that is to engage in research and hands-on experiences that lead to the answering of real-world questions.
Over the last five years, we have actively built a nationally recognized research enterprise that allows our students access to the advantages of research.
The first step to bring the goal of active undergraduate research onto TMU’s campus was to build a space where research could be conducted. In 2014, Truett McConnell was awarded funds from the Georgia Healthcare Ministry Foundation for scientific and biological equipment procurement to support educational opportunities in science, medicine, and biology.
These funds were used to obtain major pieces of equipment that are commonly found in educational and research labs in biology and pre-health science programs. Along with a small amount of seed money to renovate a dusty old chemistry lab, the equipment purchased helped to birth the Cellular and Molecular Research Center. This 1,200 sq. ft. facility is now home to a thriving research program.
Cast of Characters
With the opening of the newly renovated research space, undergraduate scientific research was a reality at TMU. It also appealed to new faculty with a passion and desire to not only excel in science but to also glorify the Lord through research. Today, the research lab houses three faculty researchers and their teams of undergraduate and graduate scholars. Dr. Diby Paul came to the program in August 2018 and leads the Sociomicrobiology & Microbial Interactions Laboratory (SMIL). Dr. Paul’s lab currently studies quorum sensing and quenching in microorganisms. Dr. Andrew Fabich arrived at TMU in 2016 with the largest collection ofE. Coliin academia. Dr. Fabich currently leads the Laboratory of Intestinal Microbiology (LIM) that studies motility and colonization in microbes. I (Dr. Robert (Bob) Bowen) arrived at a scientifically desolate Truett-McConnell College campus in 2011 with a desire to change the face of the campus’s scientific pursuit and to pave the way for discovery and wonder to be commonplace. I currently lead the Laboratory of Applied and Exercise Endocrinology (LAEE) and study the biological regulation of physical activity patterns in rodents.
Opportunities to Discover
The Pilgram Marpeck School of STEM desires that all willing, excited, and motivated students gain first-hand experience by taking advantage of an undergraduate research rotation as they close out their undergraduate experience. TMU is a great place to engage one-on-one in research and to experience biology and science in vibrant living-color. I highly encourage you, whether you are a prospective student, new student, or experienced TMU undergraduate, to approach one of our faculty members about chasing a research question.
I think you will quickly discover that not only is it a fun ride, but you also will stand among many shining stars who have come before you; shining stars who have left their legacy in the scientific literature through peer-reviewed publications and are now succeeding in graduate schools and professional positions in biology and health science.
As Dr. Wallace Atwood, former president of Clarke University, once proclaimed, “The secret is to never lose the power of wonder. If you keep that alive, you stay young forever. If you don’t, you die.” Come join the TMU Pilgram Marpeck School of STEM, discover the power of wonder, and live out your call as a scientist!
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