Fall 2003 Magazine Archive & SearchMuhlenberg Home


The Last Word
’Berg students advance their study of DNA
And for more on gene study...
There's a car in Trumbower?
Spotlight on Philanthropy: East Penn Bank
Professor emeritus pledges toward lab renovations
Gabriel Kane ’03 Scholarship
Familiar face, new place
For whom the bell tolls
For the birds


’Berg students advance
their study of DNA

This summer, the College received an exciting piece of laboratory equipment when LI-COR Biosciences, a leading biotechnology, plant biology and environmental research equipment manufacturer, named Muhlenberg the winner of the 2003 DNA Undergraduate Sequencer Award.

The DNA sequencer system includes a DNA Analyzer, analysis software and training and will be used to integrate the study of chemistry and biology to promote a community of experimental learning. Colleges in the United States and Canada competed for the $71,000 award by submitting essays on how a LI-COR system would improve existing courses of study.

The sequencer system will enhance Muhlenberg’s year-round undergraduate science curriculum, including a summer program with students working on their own research projects. Muhlenberg is one of only 67 colleges nationwide offering a biochemistry major certified by the American Chemical Society.

“Active participation in the process of science is one of the most effective methods of developing critical thinking and communication skills that last a lifetime,” says Dr. Marten Edwards, assistant professor of biology.

“We’ve taught the theory and the chemistry behind the process, and now we can let students actually experience sequencing DNA,” adds Dr. Steven Weiner, assistant professor of chemistry.

This fall, students are using the LI-COR system as part of an ongoing study of mosquitoes and human disease. Plans to integrate the instrument into two classes this fall and several more next semester are in the works; the departments of chemistry and biology will share the instrument.


And for more on gene study…

Dr. Bruce Wightman, associate professor of biology at Muhlenberg College, has received a $343,838 grant from the National Science Foundation. The research award will support his study of the function of the NR2E genes in the nematode worm Caenorhabitis elegans.

The project, “RUI: Function of NR2E Nuclear Receptors in C. elegans,” will aid in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the development of the nervous system. Wightman will continue his research of the role of the nuclear receptor gene class, which is responsible for controlling the expression of other genes in almost all animals. This project studies the genes at work in the nematode worm C. elegans. According to Wightman, these are the perfect specimens for this project, because their short generation time allows students to perform experiments in the period of an academic year. This project furthers the goals of the National Science Foundation by fostering an opportunity for students to pursue a passion for science.

Wightman joined the Muhlenberg faculty in 1996. He holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University.


There’s a car in Trumbower?

Not anymore! Math and science majors may recall the 1903 Model A Ford that spent many a year encased in glass on the second floor of Trumbower, in the stairwell. In July, as Trumbower underwent major renovations to lab spaces, the car was removed. A gift from the late Donald Miller, former editor of the Morning Call, the Model A is now on loan to Allentown’s new America on Wheels Museum.


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