Eastern Mennonite University

Summer 2008

Suter's Successors Creating Their Own Legacies

Debra Boese '07 with professor Jim Yoder
Debra Boese '07 with professor Jim Yoder.

EMU's current science faculty may not have museums, planetariums or campus buildings bearing their names. Yet they are racking up significant accomplishments, much like their professorial forebears.

Dr. Doug Graber Neufeld works primarily on environmental science matters. With a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in environmental physiology, he recently spent two years with Mennonite Central Committee in Cambodia addressing water issues.

At EMU in 2008, Graber Neufeld joined with Dr. Jim Yoder to offer a "green design" course. Students researched ways to modernize and expand the 40-year-old Suter Science Center in a manner that promotes "sustainability." (Read more...) They presented findings to EMU's board of trustees and architects for consideration in building design.

Yoder advises the environmental science majors and teaches ecology, zoology, and conservation biology. His primary research interests include conservation biology, landscape ecology, behavioral ecology and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Currently he and his students do field research in Shenandoah National Park.

In the summer of 2007, two undergraduate students got intensive, practical experience in molecular biological research under a National Science Foundation grant administered by Dr. Greta Ann Herin, assistant professor of biology, working collaboratively with colleagues from Bridgewater College and James Madison University. The students spent 10 weeks in laboratories in the Suter Science Center studying "electrophysical investigations in glutamate receptor function."

Advised by Dr. Roman Miller, Rebecca J. Drooger '07 spent two years at EMU studying the responses of the young adult mouse prostate to neonatal phytoestrogen exposure. Drooger described it as studying the effect on young mice of "chemicals produced by plants that are similar in structure to human estrogen," such as that found in soy-based products.

The results could have implications for cancer studies that consider whether a diet high in such products has an impact on prostate cancer.

Organic chemistry expert Dr. Tara Kishbaugh has studied, with students, the water quality of the local Blacks Run. She also studies food issues, starting with what kind of food is consumed in EMU's dining hall and how much goes to waste.

Other natural science professors at EMU have recently joined the faculty, or are returning from sabbatical, and thus are just starting local research projects: Drs. Shelly Thomas, Steven Cessna, and Matthew Siderhurst.

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