Redefining the Classroom


High school biology students go molecular

MINDING THEIR PCRs – Lake Superior State University biology professor Martha Hutchins critiques the laboratory technique of high school students (from left) Andrew VanSuneren, Casey Pepin, and Luke Terwilliger. Advanced-placement biology classes from Sault High worked with LSSU biology and chemistry faculty on April 19 in LSSU labs, doing stuff like pGLO bacterial transformation and preparing gels for electrophoresis. The trio pictured here was simulating ways to amplify or duplicate DNA strands, using a technique called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR. Run a Web search on "LSSU EAL" to explore some of the state-of-the-art research tools at Lake State. (LSSU/John Shibley)

BUDDING MOLECULAR BIOLOGISTS – Lake Superior State University biology student Ashley Denome (right) works with Sault High students Kati Dody (left) and Courtney Shier as they simulate ways to amplify or duplicate DNA strands, using a technique called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR. Forty-four advanced-placement biology students worked with LSSU biology and chemistry faculty on April 19 in LSSU labs, doing stuff like pGLO bacterial transformation and preparing gels for electrophoresis. Denome is a senior in biology with a minor in chemistry from Escanaba, Mich. Run a Web search on "LSSU biology" to read more about that area of study at Lake State. (LSSU/John Shibley)


Fish and Wildlife Club makes top-notch award a six-peat

SIX-PEAT – Lake Superior State University's Fisheries and Wildlife Club has garnered the 2012 Most Active Student Subunit Award from the north central division of the American Fisheries Society for the 6th consecutive year. Gary Whelan, president of the north central division and fish production manager for the Michigan DNR, personally presented the award during a club meeting on March 7. Whelan and club members are shown here with the citation in the Fisheries and Wildlife Club house, one of LSSU's Living, Learning Communities. The AFS north central division stretches from the Rockies to the Appalachians, and from the Arctic Circle to the Mason-Dixon line. It includes six provinces and 12 states. There are 21 student subunits that compete for the award, and all but two of them have graduate programs. These awards are given to student subunits that are very active in fisheries research, education, outreach, and professional development. Shown accepting the award from Whelan are, from left, James VanOrman, Michael Gordon, Nick O'Neil (club secretary), David Lombardi, presenter Gary Whelan, Tyler Jackson (president), Matt Elya (treasurer), Jason Gostiaux (vice president), Addie Dutton, and Jeff Salvin. (LSSU/John Shibley)



Fisheries student gets best academic poster award

BIG ACADEMIC CATCH – Lake Superior State University student Jimmy Osga poses with his research poster that bested other undergraduate and graduate student posters from across the state to take best-poster honors during an annual conference of the American Fisheries Society's Michigan chapter. Osga's work, in collaboration with the US Geological Survey's Hammond Bay office, is on sea lamprey movement in the St. Mary's River. Osga received an LSSU Undergraduate Research Committee grant to support his work, which is also a senior thesis project. Findings indicate that lamprey aggregate in areas not currently treated to trap and eliminate lamprey. Osga's study will contribute to new management techniques to control sea lamprey in the St. Mary's River. He will also be presenting his research at the International Association of Great Lakes Research at Purdue University in June. Osga is a junior in fisheries and wildlife management from Frederic, Mich. Run a Web search on "LSSU fisheries management" to read more about those programs of study at Lake State. (LSSU/John Shibley)


North hill of campus is eco-restoration test bed

A one-acre plot of land on the north side of Lake Superior State University's Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., campus is literally turning into a living, breathing laboratory. Carla Marcellus, a senior from Ontario's Mississauga First (Native American) Nation, is launching a pilot project to reintroduce wildflowers that were common to the area before invasive plants got a bridgehead.

"Most of the species in urban areas are a hodgepodge of plants — weeds — from all over the world," says Marcellus. "Over time, they have edged out native species like prairie grass. My goal is to reintroduce a biodiversity that supports the region's original ecosystems."

This includes, says Marcellus, a wide variety of native wildflowers, flowering bushes, and long-lived trees that provide habitat for everything from butterflies to migrating songbirds.

Her effort grows out of a course on human environments taught by LSSU biology professor Dennis Merkel. A report she prepared for class this past fall led her to develop a more ambitious plan that will carry into next year. Another biology professor, Gregory Zimmerman, is helping her with advice and drumming up more community involvement.

Marcellus is a certified forestry and fish and wildlife technician through Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. She is rolling her Canadian college coursework into an individualized studies baccalaureate degree from LSSU in ecological advocacy.

Marcellus's project dovetails with an initiative started four years ago by LSSU grounds director Steve Gregory. He saved the university thousands of maintenance dollars by letting a hill that overlooks the International Bridge, just north of the LSSU's Cisler Center, go feral. Marcellus's plan for this north slope plot takes the feral idea and refines it.

"I've researched what native plant species prefer an open, hilly slope, such as what we have on this section of campus, and settled on a mix of grass, trees, and shrubs that will grow relatively fast, provide for something that's pleasing to the eye, and still fit within LSSU's goal for low-cost sustainability," she says.

Her first step is to pull out or plow under invasive plants, section by section, and replace them as she goes along with indigenous flowering plants such as honeysuckle, milkweed (a favorite for Monarch butterflies), and Brown-Eyed Susans.

Marcellus transplants from Chippewa county grasslands and forests. She is also teaming up with Steve Gregory to find greenhouse sources. She hopes to enlist LSSU's Geographical Information Systems (GIS) faculty and students to model not only the north slope restoration project, but adjacent wooded areas on campus as well.