Sophomore Michael Uecker (left) and junior Hannah Wu have been researching axolotls in Lyon's biology lab this summer.
A Lyon student feels at home in the biology lab after his first undergraduate research experience.
Sophomore Michael Uecker, of Brockwell, has been working with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Maryline Jones to research osmoregulation in Ambystoma mexicanum, also known as the Mexican axolotl.
Uecker said osmoregulation is essentially the maintenance of an organism’s salt and water balance.
“For example, in humans, the kidney is the main osmoregulatory organ,” he said, “but organs like the skin and intestine are also utilized.”
Uecker and Jones are looking into proteins expressed in different osmoregulatory organs by sampling the axolotls’ kidneys, skin, gills, lungs and intestine. They use a device called a microtome to take very thin samples of an organism’s organs and put them on microscope slides to examine.
They are also doing immunostaining on the slides to determine whether certain proteins are expressed in different tissues and find out their exact localization, allowing them to get a better picture of the mechanisms of osmoregulation in these organs.
Uecker is thrilled to be working on his first undergraduate research project.
“Typically, most students don’t get to do research the summer after their freshman year, so I was very excited that Dr. Jones extended the invitation.”
He continued, “It feels great to be involved in the research and getting to come in every day and learn.”
His Biology 112 course with Jones prepared him for some of the dissections and general knowledge of anatomy and structure when researching axolotls.
“The research I am doing now will also help me tremendously in my courses moving forward,” Uecker said. “The project has many facets that I think have definitely given me an edge in my classes to come, like Cell Biology, Ecology and Organic Chemistry.”
While he was nervous the first day in the lab, the research experience has exceeded his expectations.
“Put simply, the lab is my happy place,” Uecker said. “I am constantly learning something new and having fun while I am doing it.”
He will stay on the project throughout the 2020-21 school year and plans to continue to do research.
Uecker hopes to one day enter a double Ph.D./M.D. program where he can combine medicine and research.
After teaching at Lyon College for six years, Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. John Herda has adopted the holistic worldview of a liberal arts education.
“I have become more aware of the student as a whole person.”
He continued, “I suppose this is due to advising, spending time with honor societies and assisting students with their professional endeavors.”
Herda attended state schools as a student, so he was always intrigued by the idea of a residential liberal arts college. He was initially drawn to Lyon because he wanted a tenure-track post and liked how close the College was to Texas, his home state.
He began teaching at Lyon in the fall of 2014 and was promoted to associate professor by the Board of Trustees in December 2019.
“I am honored by the promotion and could not have been granted it without the support of our students, the faculty and staff and the Board of Trustees,” Herda said. “I am grateful to all of them.”
One of his favorite parts about the Lyon community is the variety of Spanish classes he has been able to create.
“I have had the privilege of talking with students about poetry, history, philosophy and recently pedagogy,” Herda said. “Since our students are remarkably versatile, as faculty we can really change it up with course offerings.”
In the future, he would like to offer a Spanish special topics course on hospitality and tourism and see a tennis program established at Lyon if possible.
“What I look forward to the most is alumni returning to campus, particularly the class of 2020,” Herda said. “They are always welcome in my classroom.”
On July 16, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a statewide mask order, which will go into effect on July 20.
On July 14, the City of Batesville passed a resolution directing the wearing of face coverings, and effective July 13, Lyon required all faculty, staff, students and visitors to wear masks in campus buildings.
In addition to our ethical responsibility to both the Lyon and Batesville communities, we also have a legal responsibility to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Lyon community, when returning to campus this fall, please remember to wear your mask not only when you are on campus but also when you are off campus in the Batesville community and statewide.
The mask order requires mask-wearing in all indoor spaces where a person is exposed to non-household members and distancing of six feet or more is not possible. Mask-wearing is also required in all outdoor settings where there is exposure to non-household members and distancing of six feet or more is not possible.
The College’s policies, Governor Hutchinson’s executive order, and the Batesville mask resolution are all available under resources on lyon.edu/coronavirus.
The new COVID-19 safety protocols are an extension of the Lyon education and the College’s honor code. As students return to campus this August, they are expected to exemplify these behaviors.
These protocols involve regular testing of students, staff and faculty for COVID-19; wearing masks in most places on campus and limiting visitors in residence halls to only residential students for the Fall 2020 semester.
“This pandemic is the epitome of people having to behave in an honest and responsible way,” Dean of Students Patrick Mulick said, “because the actions they are taking have a significant impact on the rest of our community.”
He continued, “If you do your part, that protects other people’s health and protects the Lyon community to be able to do what we do: educate individuals.”
Provost Melissa Taverner said these protocols are essential for the safety and health of every member of the Lyon community.
“Some arguments I’ve heard is that our students, most of whom are 18 to 22, are robust and will bounce right back, but we don’t know that,” she said. “So we are trying to create a bubble around our community.”
Mulick said that every member of the Lyon community, from the president to himself and Taverner, have signed the Roll of Honor saying that they will uphold the integrity and honor of the College and be responsible community members.
“For the faculty and staff, we have to be the ones who are modeling this behavior and how important it is,” he said.
Taverner said this community responsibility embodies the College’s core curriculum perfectly. She said Lyon students don’t take ethics, religion and philosophy courses just to check off a list of requirements.
“We want you to think about your place in the world and the universe. We want you to think about what your responsibility is to the community and what the community’s responsibility is to you.”
Mulick has felt encouraged by seeing alumni’s social media posts about the pandemic. They are demonstrating skills like critical thinking, ethical responsibility and the consumption of empirical evidence: skills Lyon helps its students develop.
“We’re training our current students to be in that same position,” Taverner said.
Lyon College shared its holistic COVID-19 protocols for the 2020-21 academic school year with students, faculty and staff on Monday, July 13. Wearing masks is required in all campus buildings.
The policies represent the first in a series of plans that will address academics, residence life, and athletics. Emphasis is placed on ways the behavior of each Lyon College community member contributes to a safe, healthy living and learning environment for everyone.
“As members of the culture of honor at Lyon College, we each have an ethical duty to others to do all we can to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Provost Melissa Taverner.
The policies include the following requirements:
Plans are being made for quarantining students who test positive or who are presumptive-positive. Additionally, separate space is aside for residential students who may have pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable. Faculty will plan courses in such a way that wherever possible (laboratory and studio or performance-based courses being notable exceptions), students who are unable to attend class will still have access to the lectures (live or recorded) and materials necessary to continue learning effectively at the same level expected in all Lyon College courses.
Protocols for and frequency of COVID testing are being investigated and developed. Screening will be commonplace for persons entering Lyon College facilities.
Frequent and thorough hand washing and the availability of hand sanitizer remain very important. Classrooms and other common areas will be cleaned frequently.
It is essential that all members of and visitors to the Lyon community isolate themselves and contact a health care professional immediately if they develop symptoms such as fever, coughing, or shortness of breath or if they believe they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
When indoors in any building on campus, all persons must properly wear a face mask and maintain social distancing. Exceptions:
Faculty or other presenters who are speaking to a group (SI leaders, etc.) must either wear a face mask, or, if deemed preferable for effective communication in an educational setting, a full face shield, though face masks are preferred.
During a laboratory or studio experience, all parties present must maintain social distancing and wear either a face mask, a face shield, or both, as determined by the faculty member. Face masks and face shields are to be used in conjunction with, not in place of, necessary primary personal protective equipment.
Faculty and staff are not required to wear a face mask or face shield while working alone in their offices or regular workspaces (labs, studios, etc.). If a single guest visits them in their workspace neither is required to wear a mask if the workspace is large enough to allow them to remain 6 feet apart. However, faculty and staff may choose to require single guests who visit them in these areas to wear a face mask. But if three or more people are present in the same office or workspace all parties must wear face masks. Social distancing must be maintained between parties at all times.
Further procedures are being developed to support ongoing social distancing and community safety, and will be shared as they are completed.
All policies will continue to be updated as needed, and they are available on lyon.edu/coronavirus.
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