Ecology and Environmental Science and Molecular Genetics
This is certainly an exciting time to study life sciences at Notre Dame. On September 14th, 2006, the University formally opened and dedicated the new Jordan Hall of Science, a state-of-the-art facility which features new undergraduate laboratory spaces, a Digital Visualization Theatre, an Observatory, and the Museum of Biodiversity. Students in the Summer Scholars Life Science track will use many of these facilities to engage in two major areas of study: Ecology and Environmental Science and the Molecular Genetics of Disease.
The topics covered within these areas will highlight both basic research conducted by Notre Dame faculty and the connection of this research to applied fields in industry, medicine, and environmental management. Students will investigate these topics using a variety of formats including interactive lectures, laboratory work, collaborative learning, computer and video material, group discussions, and field trips. Field trips include biodiversity and ecosystem management studies at Michigan’s Warren Dunes and Juday Creek as well as a visit to some of Chicago’s science-related museums.
Both content areas will foster collaborative problem solving skills and experiential understanding of science by actively involving students in the design, implementation and analysis of experiments in molecular biology (cancer biology and molecular genetics) and environmental science (stream environmental assessment/restoration and lake ecosystem management). Students will improve proficiency and confidence under laboratory conditions (molecular biology and ecology) and field situations (local stream, lake and dune ecosystem) and directly engage in accurate reading of scholarly journal articles; the structure/function of scientific research papers, posters and seminar presentations and the use of biostatistical analysis.
Ecology and Environmental Science
• Investigate unique local ecosystems: Warren Dunes, Michigan (ecological succession, geologic history and ecosystem management) and Warren Woods, Michigan (ecology of rare, old growth forest).
• Conduct projects that involve laboratory experiments and field assessments of environmental quality in stream and lake ecosystems.
• Discuss published scientific literature on lake management and stream restoration strategies during colloquia and on field trips with Notre Dame researchers.
• Initiate laboratory studies using numerous cutting edge molecular genetics techniques (PCR, electrophoresis, genetic transformation, bioinformatics and DNA sequencing). Projects include genetics of retinal degeneration in Drosophila and the molecular basis of colon cancer.
• Analyze DNA sequence data and identify molecular basis of disorder. Review and discuss relevant scientific literature with Notre Dame faculty members.
Mark Olsen, Introductory and Honors Biology Laboratory Program Coordinator, conducted his undergraduate studies at St. Michael’s College in Vermont (B.S. in biological sciences, 1981) and his graduate work at the University of Notre Dame (M.S., 1989; Ph.D., 1994). Dr. Olsen’s Master’s degree research explored the impact of an introduced crayfish on the community ecology of northern Wisconsin lakes and his doctoral work explored behavioral, physiological, and biochemical adaptations for natural sub-zero temperature tolerance in invertebrates. Since 1994, Mark has been a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences. In addition to his work with science major intents, he writes and review questions for the National Science Bowl and has served as a resource teacher in Place Based Education for elementary and high school instructors. He teaches an environmental science course at Notre Dame that engages non-majors in collaborative exploration of many of today’s environmental problems, causes and solutions via a lively mix of lectures, discussion, field-based environmental assessment, group research projects and seminar presentations. Before joining the Notre Dame faculty, Mark enjoyed serving as an interpretative naturalist for adults and children of all ages at an outdoor education center in upstate New York. Dr. Olsen received the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award from Notre Dame’s Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning, is currently a member of the Indiana Academy of Sciences, the National Science Teachers Association and the Association for Biology Laboratory Education.
David J. Veselik, Coordinator for the Cell Biology Laboratory, Biology Club Advisor, Biology Honors Program Co-Director, received his B.A. in Pre-Professional Studies in 1996 from the University of Notre Dame. He then conducted graduate studies at Georgetown University where he explored the role of environmental estrogens and the estrogen receptor in the etiology and progression of breast cancer (M.S. 1998, Ph.D. 2006, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology). Since 2006, David has taught upper level Cell Biology labs and lectures (BIOS 30341/31341). For the past several years, he has led the NSF-funded Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Molecular Biology Workshop at Notre Dame in an effort to make local high school Biology curriculums more inquiry-based and investigative. In addition to this David has been active in leading and coordinating numerous outreach projects in the Department of Biological Sciences.