The College Today: A Sampler

Life Sciences Student Council
LIFE SCIENCES STUDENT COUNCIL STANDING (L-R) Gable Moffi tt; Mark Goodman; Gordon Bean; Daniel Tandberg, President Winter 2008; Jason Hansen; Stephen Takasaki, Student Advisory Council rep.; Enos Heinzen
SEATED (L-R) Tori Harris, Secretary Winter 2008, and President for 2008-2009 Council; Kelli Boulter; Janae Richey, Student Advisory Council rep; Erin Cox; Allison Ko, V.P. for 2008-2009 Council

Life Sciences Student Council

A well-defined mission is central to any organization's success. The student council feels its mission is to create a Zion atmosphere free of enmity and guided by principles of unity and charity. "This council is different from any student organization I've ever participated in," says council president Daniel Tandberg.

Student Council with a llama
The Student Council rented llamas to draw attention to the Choose to Give campaign, an effort to raise scholarship money.
In fact, the council is about more than just activities and more than just a way to pad a student's resume. Instead, Life Sciences Student Council actually influences attitudes in the College and is a force for good in students' lives. "I'd heard about student councils in high school, and that wasn't something I was interested in participating in," Tandberg continues. He has changed his mind.

Under the direction of Dean Rodney Brown and advisor Gale Larson, the council is organized into four committees that work to improve student life. One committee focuses on social life, another works to facilitate mentored learning. A third committee ensures that the College "fosters Zion-like learning," and a fourth promotes what is going on in the College. Finally, a member of the council represents the College on the University-wide Student Advisory Council.

The 13 to 15 council members keep busy. For example, they worked to ensure that the proposed Life Sciences building will have adequate study space, something lacking in the Widstoe building. "Part of our mission is to use our leadership to discover and solve problems in the college," says Becca Smith, council vice president.

Nichelle Winters

Nichelle WintersAs a second year M.D./Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine, Nichelle Winters gets to do two things she loves: research and learn how to be a doctor. Winters does research in Vanderbilt's Cell and Developmental Biology Department even as she pursues her medical studies. She looks forward to becoming a doctor. "It's hard to explain the interaction between physician and patient," says Winters. "I am contemplating specializing in critical care and pulmonology, working with the sickest patients."
Nichelle Winters with Dr. Michael Stark
Nichelle Winters prepares cultures for growing bacteria under the supervision of her mentor, Dr. Michael Stark.

Winters' interest in medicine and research began years ago, but she feels BYU gave her the boost she needed to reach her dreams. A recipient of a Heritage Scholarship, Winters majored in physiology and developmental biology, graduating Magna Cum Laude in April 2006. "I can't say enough about how helpful a scholarship is," she says. "It removes a lot of stress and perpetuates success; it helps you succeed in college, which helps you succeed in life."

Winters is grateful for the mentoring program in PDBio. "Mentoring at BYU is fantastic," she says. "I decided after a Bio 240 course that I wanted to pursue a joint M.D./Ph.D. program, so I looked into doing research." Her search led to Dr. Michael Stark's lab where she spent the next two years researching in developmental biology. "The PDBio program was a great way to prepare for medical school," she continues. "The strong science foundation you leave with gives you a leg up."

Ben and Emily Werner

Benjamin WernerEmily Werner

Benjamin and Emily Werner are one of the outstanding couples in Life Sciences. Ben, a pre-dental student majoring in biology, was once a high school dropout. Now he is an exemplary student and president of BYU's Operation Smile club, a club which promotes corrective facial surgeries for children in developing nations.

Emily is a landscape management major involved with the Professional Landcare Network or PLANET's Student Career Days, a national career fair that features landscape-themed competitions. As a result of her involvement, she has been a student ambassador and a member of the 2006 National Championship Team, and she won 1st place for Pest Management and 2nd place for Turf and Turf Pest Identification in 2007.
Emily Werner in the largest White Fir
The largest White Fir in North America stands south of Payson, Utah, and Emily has been to the top of it in a tree harness.

Both attribute much of their success to the college's mentoring and internship programs. "I've conducted mentored research in ecology, marine biology, and cancer biology," Ben says. "Those mentored experiences strengthened my leadership and organizational skills. I also learned how to analyze data more effectively."

Emily feels the same. "I hear so much in class about plant species, landscape design, and proper landscape installation, but until my internships under Peter Lassig (head gardener at Temple Square) and with the Landscape Technology Group, I had a hard time remembering facts from class. Real-life experiences solidified in-class learning, so I don't forget it easily."

Ben feels his education will be an advantage when he applies to dental school. "The mentoring program allows students to get involved with professors and their research." The Werners agree that being in the same college has been a fun experience. "We discuss similarities between animal and plant physiology," Emily says. "It's a lot of fun."

Brandt Nichols

Brandt Nichols
Brandt Nichols graduated in April with Honors. Originally from Gilbert, Arizona, Nichols stands out because he earned his degree in less than four years and before he turned 19. "I enjoyed majoring in biology," he says. "It gave me a wide view of everything. It helps that I had some amazing professors. They were enthusiastic and came down to my level. That's important in the sciences where topics can be difficult to understand."
Brandt Nichols examines hydroponic potatoes
Brandt Nichols examines some hydroponic potatoes and maize in Professors Bryan Hopkins’ and Von Jolley’s lab, as Megan Rouche looks on.

His experience was enhanced when he received a William Hebard Scholarship. "I didn't know the college offered scholarships until this past year when I picked up a brochure in the hall," he says. "I applied in my discipline and was excited when I got one."

Mentored research is another opportunity Nichols has taken advantage of. "I started research in Dr. Von Jolley's lab in fall 2006. We grow hydroponic plants in liquid nutrient solution instead of soil and look at nutrient reactions," he says. "Research is different than being in a classroom and just listening. You actually do it! Then you have to take a mess of data and present it so that people understand." Nichols presented his research last semester in New Orleans at a national conference, an opportunity he appreciated. "Science is a big field," he says.

"Conferences let other people know what you have done, and you learn from them in turn."

Borel Djouedjong

 Borel DjouedjongA native of Cameroon, Africa, Borel Djouedjong double majors in biochemistry and in physiology and develo
Borel with Professor Jacqueline Lees
As an intern, Borel did research with Professor Jacqueline Lees at the Center for Cancer Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
pmental biology. Adding a second major was a big decision, but she had help from Life Sciences Student Services. "They were so supportive and encouraging when I decided to add a second major," she says. "I love that office."

BYU has been an interesting experience for Borel, a native French speaker who transferred from a college with small classes. "BYU is another world. Even though our science classes are huge, there are ways to get to know faculty, and they're always willing to help," she says.

Currently, she is doing research on the recently discovered nuclear variant of bone morphogenic protein or nBMP in Dr. Laura Bridgewater's lab. "It's fascinating," Borel says. Her research has taken her all over the country. "I had the opportunity to do an internship last summer at the Center for Cancer Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and just last week I was in New Orleans, presenting on my Cambridge research."

Presenting her research has been one of Borel's most memorable experiences at BYU. She hopes to do more. "I am impatiently waiting for the undergraduate conferences next year where I might get to present on the research I am doing on nBMP."

Mark Ebbert

Mark EbbertA native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Mark Ebbert has published and presented papers on his research around the country. Now he is working at one of the top cancer research centers in the nation. "We are working on a new test to predict breast cancer, the best treatment, and the likelihood of relapse," he says.

Mark Ebbert with Dr. Phil Bernard
Mark Ebbert (RIGHT) looks at microarray data with Dr. Phil Bernard, a clinical and research pathologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, as part of a genetic assay that will help predict breast cancer type.
Ebbert works at Associated Regional and University Pathologists and collaborates with the Huntsman Cancer Institute. "It was both my research experience and the skill set I obtained from bioinformatics that got me the job," he says. He began his research as an undergraduate bioinformatics major, working closely with Professors David Mc-Clellan (Bioinformatics) and Mark Clement (Computer Science). "They convinced me that it's better to get experience than to rush through school," Ebbert says. "Dr. McClellan told us that ‘anyone who wants to do it can do it.'" Though McClellan's words challenged him, Ebbert realized they were true. With the help of his professors, he went to the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, published a paper, and landed several internships, including one at Harvard.

His summer internship with Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology focused on asthma research. "Using genetics," he says, "we were able to predict the likelihood of a child getting asthma." Ebbert attributes his success at Harvard to his classes at BYU and the professors he worked with. "Mentoring was a huge part of why I got my internships."

Allan Broadbent

Allan BroadbentAllan Broadbent graduated from the landscape management program in April 2006 and promptly stepped into a prominent position with LaurelRock in Connecticut as a Landscape Designer/ Project Director. He was well prepared for his career, he says. "The link between our department and the industry was  extremely valuable. It was easy to transition from student to career."

Allan Broadbent
Allan Broadbent at March 2006 Professional Landcare Network or PLANET Student Career Days, an event that led to a rewarding internship at KoKobo Plantscapes in New York.
Mentoring was key to his preparation. Broadbent was involved with two mentored projects on campus: redesigning the Maeser Quad and part of the terraced gardens. "The mentored projects were very beneficial, providing a hands-on approach that allowed me to explore aspects of my major that were not covered in the courses," Broadbent says.

He also completed a 3-month internship after his junior year, a critical step in his education. At the suggestion of Professor Phil Allen, he attended Student Career Days and arranged an internship with KoKobo Plantscapes in New York City where he worked on designs, met with clients, and worked on both installation and maintenance crews. He managed several projects from conceptual design though construction. "The experience gave me a foot in the door when it came time to find a fulltime employer in the area."

"Graduates from BYU's landscape management major are highly regarded in the Green Industry. Mentoring prepared me for my career as a Landscape Designer/Project Director with a distinguished Connecticut firm," Broadbent says. "BYU is well connected to industry leaders and associations that consistently provide students with rewarding internships and full-time employment opportunities."

Janette Smith

Janette SmithJanette Smith completed her master's degree in nutritional sciences in 2007 and is now an instructor of dietetics at Utah State University. While at BYU, she conducted research to identify the prevalence of anemia in school children in the remote mountain villages of northern Ecuador and to determine how intestinal parasites and diet affected it.

Janette Smith with Zuleta Indian mother and her two girls in Topo, Ecuador
Jeanette Smith interviews a Zuleta Indian mother and her two girls in Topo, Ecuador, about their dietary intake and basic health indicators.
To collect data, Smith lived in Ecuador for five months at the Benson Agriculture Center. Several times a week she and local students made the arduous climb to high-mountain villages. There she spent her days meeting with village leaders, interviewing mothers to assess family dietary intake, and checking children for anemia and parasites.

"We delivered medications to anemic children as well as parasite medicines for those in need," Smith says. "We also educated mothers on the prevention and treatment of these diseases and gave a letter to each community president, explaining what could be done to help the community."

Smith and the local students helped over 360 children and their mothers. "Her study was extremely well done and will be of much value in Ecuador and Andean nations with similar problems," says her mentor, Professor N. Paul Johnston.

According to Smith, the opportunity to work at the Benson Institute was a gift. "It has opened doors for me."