Biological Science Seminars begin with a bang

Assistant professor of biology Daniel Herman will be discussing his research “The Role of the Mbp 1 Protein in Regulating Morphogenesis in the Human Pathogen Candida albicans” at the kick-off of the Biological Sciences Seminar Series today.

This is the fifth year that the Biological Sciences Seminar has been held at UW-Eau Claire, associate professor of biology and coordinator Dan Janik said. The series is funded by Mayo Clinic this year. It was previously funded by Marshfield Clinic.

The Series requires funding because the university has no in-house funding for this type of activity, Janik said. It costs money to bring in speakers for the Series (for example, travel costs). Programs like the Series have to get private, non-state funding in order to be run, he said.

The Series is a way of exchanging new ideas and new information, Janik said.

“Seminars are really a traditional part of university life,” he added.

There are typically six to eight seminars per semester. Speakers for the Series can come from the university or outside, Janik said. He contacts faculty in order to find speakers.

“When a faculty member gets an idea for someone they’d like to bring in to talk about their research and ideas, we do our best to bring them in,” he said.

Janik said the requirement for the seminars is that the topic must be connected to biology.

Janik said Herman volunteered to speak at the kick-off seminar.

“I think it’s important among the biology faculty that we take a turn and let each other know what we’re working on,” Herman said.

While Herman has spoken about his research at other meetings, this is his first time presenting at the Series.

“I think it’ll be fun. I go to as many of these biology seminars as I can and it’ll be fun to take my turn and see what people think of what I’ve done,” he said.

Herman said he plans to encourage the students in his courses to come and hopes that students who are engaged in faculty-mentored research will come.

“Traditionally, it’s about a 50/50 mix of faculty and students,” he said.

Senior Matthew Smrz plans to attend the seminar today. He thinks it’s important for students to go because it’s a good way to see what faculty members are doing with their research.

“It’s really fascinating because a lot of what they’re doing pertains . to what’s going on outside this university,” Smrz said.

Smrz said he thinks that Herman does a good job making something as complicated as microorganisms easy.

“He does a good job of putting it into terms people can relate to,” Smrz said.

To encourage interest in the seminar, Janik said they send out reminders to all biology and microbiology majors.

“All these talks are free and open to everyone, students and anyone inside or outside the university community,” he said. “Everyone and anyone.”

Janik said he would like to encourage people to come because they can learn something from the seminar.

“We’re in the learning business.”