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Academics

Preparing Students for the Future

Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

Audrey Bonn ’16, a graduate of Butler’s Science, Technology, and Society (STS) program, puts her degree to use to its fullest every day. 

Bonn is currently the Patient Communications Coordinator for Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis. Her job responsibilities include managing outpatient communications and performing an analysis on the productivity of the messages that she sends. 

“I try to find a correlation between appointment reminder messages and whether or not a patient will show up for their appointment,” Bonn said. “Being an STS major helped to prepare me for this job because I was taught to look at situations critically, think outside the box, and not just assume that what appears on the surface gives the whole story.” 

Bonn says her favorite part of the STS curriculum was the opportunity she had to consistently study thought-provoking topics, which helped her broaden her worldview. The program allowed her to use the skills from her major and become a problem-solver in her field—a true critical thinker. 

“The vast majority of our assignments required us to analyze topics and propose educated solutions for issues that we studied,” she said. “I use this in my job not only when I am trying to find correlations between two things, but also when I am trying to brainstorm new campaigns that would help solve some of the hospital’s problems.” 

Students in STS are equipped with an understanding of how our world is transformed and challenged by science and technology. The program examines the interaction between science and technology and our health, families, communities, and environment. The curriculum builds on students’ problem-solving and communication skills.

It also places an emphasis on the STEM Disciplines— Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These academic disciplines are being taught in middle schools and high schools and have increased in prominence over the last eight to 10 years both nationally and globally. 

Carmen Salsbury is the Director of the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies program, which is the overarching program that the STS major falls under. Salsbury says the STS program has grown exponentially. The first 10 years of its existence saw only about 15 majors. The program now sees consistently around 50 majors. 

Now more than ever, Salsbury says that there is a need to understand science and society given the decline of our environment and the struggle to acquire resources globally, which could be why the STS major has become so popular. 

The major is also highly customizable to what students are interested in. Students are required to take 30 credit hours of coursework—12 hours of STS core courses and 18 hours of STS elective courses from across campus. This curriculum allows students to explore a wide variety of interests. 

Kellie Dominick ’17, an STS major, says she enjoys this aspect of the curriculum because she does not feel the pressure to commit to a single career path. “My current plan is to work in hospital administration, but the great thing about STS is that if I realize that it’s not for me, there are also different paths I can take,” she said. 

There is also an increasing demand for non-scientists who have some training with science and technology and who also have an understanding of the institutions of science and their place in modern society. This kind of background is at the core at the STS curriculum, which is why Butler students are finding success in careers and entrepreneurial opportunities outside of the traditional sciences employment tracts. 

Students in the program have gone on to pursue careers not only in science and technology, but also in health, education, law, public policy, and communications. 

Salsbury says that because the curriculum is interdisciplinary, it forces students to look at issues from many different directions, like Bonn does in her role at Eskenazi. She says it’s a skill that takes practice and experience, but is highly valued by employers. 

The major also stresses the importance of communication as an underlying skill needed for success across the board. “This major strongly emphasizes the ability to communicate, whether in writing or speaking, because to understand all of these issues is nothing if you can’t communicate effectively.” 

Salsbury is confident that this versatile set of tools acquired in the STS program will serve them well in postgraduate life. “In the end,” she said, “I think graduates of the STS program end up with a pretty powerful skill set.”

Academics

Preparing Students for the Future

There is a need to understand science and society given the decline of our environment and the struggle to acquire resources globally, which could be why the STS major has become so popular. 

by Kailey Eaton ’17

from Spring 2017

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It's In Her Nature

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

Marissa Byers ’18, the first Butler student to officially major in Environmental Studies, figures she now has the best of all worlds when it comes to career options. The junior from Springfield, Illinois, could use what she’s learning to work in public health. Or maybe on public policy issues. Or perhaps working for a non-profit or doing something in urban ecology. 

As someone with a broad range of interests who has considered majors in business, communication, and education, Environmental Studies plays to her strengths. 

“My passion has always been the environment, and in Environmental Studies I get to combine a lot of my skills,” she said. “If I go into non-profit work, I’m going to be using those communication skills and those business skills in outreach with communities. So I’ll be using my strengths for a purpose I’m passionate about. Environmental Studies is a nice combination of that.” 

Environmental Studies is a new major under the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies (STES) umbrella. Biology Professor Carmen Salsbury, who directs the STES program, said student interest in a broad range of disciplines is driving the new major, which allows for a career in the science arena without doing the classic biology-chemistry-physics track. 

“What’s great about STES is that these majors reflect how the world is,” Salsbury said. “These majors are very interdisciplinary and that’s how the world is as well. You have to know an awful lot about a lot of things. If we’re trying to train students who are going to contribute to society, we have to teach them to think broadly and critically and see how things interconnect.” 

Environmental Studies majors focus on the relationship between environment and society and those environmental issues that deserve attention, like: How do we institute environmental change or awareness? Students take some prescribed science courses to establish a basic understanding of chemistry, ecology, and evolutionary biology, as well as other courses that focus on the environment. They also delve into the sociological aspects, such as humanity’s relationship with the environment and what that means for the future. 

All Environmental Studies majors must complete a practicum experience—either taking the Environmental/Sustainability Practicum course or by completing an independent practicum/ internship experience in which they work with a community partner on an issue relevant to that partner. Byers, for example, is fulfilling her requirement by interning with the CUE Farm on campus. Some students might work with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, or even at the statehouse dealing with lobbying organizations on an issue like concentrated animal feeding operations or another factory farming-related cause. 

“We really want the students to get out into the community and engage the community in those issues that are environment-related,” Salsbury said. “I think students are recognizing that science and society is critically important to implement policy and change behaviors with regard to the environment, medical practices, and immunizing children, to name just a few areas. All of those things have major sociological, ethical, cultural, political, and economic components to them.” 

Byers said she figures she may end up in a job that doesn’t exist yet. That might mean something in the area of working with kids, since there’s a trend in schools to incorporate nature into the curriculum. That has a lot of benefits for child development education, she said, and also prepares the next generation to be more environmentally conscious. 

“I want to work in urban environments to change people’s perceptions of nature as something that’s out there that we’re not connected to,” Byers said. “I want to bring it into urban environments to help people understand what their daily actions do to the overall environment.”

AcademicsCommunity

It's In Her Nature

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Jeremy Johnson

Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

The World Health Organization still ranks tuberculosis as a leading cause of death worldwide. On the Butler campus, Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeremy Johnson is turning undergraduate research students into real scientists seeking new answers to halt the spread of TB. 

Johnson’s lifelong enthusiasm for research has helped reshape Butler. He oversees all student research opportunities as Programs for Undergraduate Research committee chair, and he headed up the Butler Summer Institute for a year, giving him the chance to set up independent research projects for 30 students involving all six colleges on campus. 

The Chemistry Department, his home base, has turned many of its lab courses into what he calls “classroom undergraduate research experiences” (emphasis on experience) and added chemistry courses taking new approaches to hands-on learning. In Chemistry and Community, for example, students design experiments for presentation to elementary and middle school students. In Study Abroad for Chemistry, students absorb the scientific background on energy, then explore a German city that operates solely on renewable energy. Jeremy Johnson

Though the hands-on approach requires extra time and effort for both students and faculty, Johnson is unequivocal about its advantages. 

“In research, you develop your own understanding of a problem, look at all the angles, then explain the outcome. It provides a picture of your intellectual ability that you can’t get from classroom opportunities alone,” he said. “We’ve seen significant strides in students’ development of critical reasoning skills. Plus, I find students become more invested. They can see the applicability of what they’ve learned in class, and they get excited to see the end results.” 

As with their TB research, their results can extend far beyond campus. 

“We have students who are looking for and making new derivatives of cholesterol medication for testing at a lab in Iowa. Our students are collaborating on projects with Dow Chemical and Eli Lilly. Next fall, we’re offering a new biochemistry major where we’ll be addressing such questions as whether cancer is curable. These are new ways we’ve built in for students to gain the research and other scientific skills they will need once they move beyond Butler.” 

Johnson not only loves creating research opportunities for students. He considers it his duty. Coming from a small liberal arts college, he sought out Butler for its opportunity to interact closely with students. 

“Part of being a faculty member is your service to the institution. I feel like I’m supporting the students and opportunities I want to see grow here,” he said. 

Dr. Jeremy Johnson was recently named the Hershel B. Whitney Professsor in Biochemistry as a result of a generous gift from the estate of Hershel B. and Ethel L. Whitney. 

The prestige and recognition of an endowed position helps the University attract superb scholars to campus and encourages exceptional educators like Dr. Johnson to remain at Butler.

Academics

Faculty Focus: Jeremy Johnson

“I feel like I’m supporting the students and opportunities I want to see grow here.”

by Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Tara Lineweaver

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

When she entered Butler University as a first-year voice major, Professor of Psychology Tara Lineweaver ’91 never would have imagined that she would graduate four years later with a Psychology degree as well. Nor would her first-year self believe she would head to graduate school in Georgia, finish an internship in Chicago, complete a doctoral program in California, and work at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, only to end up right back where she started—at Butler. 

“It’s funny because when I was a student at Butler, I always said I wanted to work at a place like Butler when I grew up, but I never really imagined I’d work at Butler,” Lineweaver said. “I worked in Admission as a student, so I thought if I did come back I was going to be an admission counselor. I had no idea I would return as a professor.” 

Since arriving back at Butler, Lineweaver has participated in numerous research projects with her students, and she also, along with a group of faculty, has played an integral role in helping create and teach Butler’s new Neuroscience minor. 

“Provost Kate Morris, who was the chair of the Psychology Department at the time, initiated the effort. We were excited to get the Neuroscience minor approved,” Lineweaver said. 

The new minor is interdisciplinary with coursework in Psychology, Biology, and Philosophy. Since its creation in 2013, 26 students have graduated with a Neuroscience minor and 62 students are currently pursuing it. 

“One thing that’s really cool about the minor is that it encourages students to think about the mind and brain from both a scientific and liberal arts perspective,” Lineweaver said. 

In addition to the coursework, students involved in the Neuroscience minor complete internships and research as well. 

For instance, last year one of Lineweaver’s students, Colleen Frank ’16, completed a project that looked at the recognition of emotion through both facial expressions and tone of voice in patients with Parkinson’s disease. She found that people with Parkinson’s disease are not as good at recognizing emotion as their healthy age-matched peers. 

Lineweaver’s passion for neuroscience and collaboration with students has allowed her to build up her own research portfolio and to keep pursuing the many areas of interest she developed prior to teaching at Butler, including Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, Dementia, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder research. Many times her students have guided which direction her research takes. 

“I’ve always been a dabbler. I tried many different types of research through my graduate training, and when I got to Butler I continued in all of those areas,” Lineweaver said. “That is one thing I really like about being at Butler, that I can do a lot of different things and not just focus on one question.” 

Lineweaver continued by saying, “Not too many people get the opportunity to go back and work at their alma mater. I am really fortunate that I had that opportunity. I love working at Butler.” 

 

Tara is also currently interested in researching healthy aging. If you are age 60 or over, live in or near Indianapolis, and want to participate in future studies, please email her at tlinewea@butler.edu

Academics

Faculty Focus: Tara Lineweaver

“It’s funny because when I was a student at Butler, I always said I wanted to work at a place like Butler when I grew up, but I never really imagined I’d work at Butler.”

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Jen Kowalski

Megan Ward MS ’13

from Spring 2017

Sure, there are collaborations with faculty here at Butler and other institutions, including the University of Massachusetts, but “students do the vast majority of the work,” said Kowalski. This work includes growing and maintaining the C. elegans worms, generating new strains of worms by performing mating crosses, doing molecular biology, fluorescence microscopy, and biochemical studies. They also do data analysis, help write and present their work at conferences here and around the country, and co-author all publications. 

So why C. elegans? Even though they only grow to about one-and-a-half millimeters in length and only have 302 neurons and 959 total cells, humans have surprisingly a lot in common with the worm. Yes, we have a lot more neurons (hundreds of billions) and quite a few more cells (around 60 trillion); but, we have a similar number of genes—around 20,000— and many of those genes are the same. As Kowalski states, “Although our nervous systems are much more complex, the basic organization of the circuitry is the same.” 

What are Kowalski and her students hoping to learn from their research? They’re interested in a family of proteins called ubiquitin system enzymes and the role these enzymes and their targets play in controlling neurons’ signals. “We use the C. elegans neuromuscular junction (the point of contact—or synapse—where motor neurons signal to muscle cells) as a model to investigate ubiquitin enzymes,” explained Kowalski. 

A cell biologist by training, Kowalski is interested in understanding how cells carry out their functions. She’s intrigued by the nervous system because it is a collection of cells that are working in both a “coordinated and tightly regulated fashion to allow information processing, storage, and transmission” (i.e., communication between neurons). This communication is disrupted in various neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer disease. 

The potential impact of their research is enormous. As Kowalski puts it, “Understanding how communication between neurons is regulated in a healthy nervous system is critical to understanding what goes wrong in these diseases—and how we might be able to effectively treat them.”

Academics

Faculty Focus: Jen Kowalski

The potential impact of their research is enormous.

by Megan Ward MS ’13

from Spring 2017

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Faculty Focus: Hala Fadda

Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

Although Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Hala Fadda did not start working at Butler University until 2011, she entered the University with a passion for learning, research, and collaboration. All qualities that embody what it means to be a Butler Bulldog. 

“I knew Butler was a great school with an excellent pharmacy program,” Fadda said. “I came here for the interview and was impressed with the dedication and passion of the students. I thought to myself, ‘I would like to be a part of this—part of educating the next generation of pharmacy students at Butler.” 

Upon starting at Butler, Fadda immediately reached out to gastroenterologist Dr. Monika Fischer at the IU School of Medicine to begin a variety of research projects to understand drug absorption in health and disease. 

The ongoing research focuses on drug absorption, transit times, and motility patterns of our gastrointestinal tract in different patient populations, utilizing tools such as a Capsule endoscopy (camera capsule). Capsule endoscopy is a powerful tool for imaging the gut which is used in the investigation of gastrointestinal disorders. 

“We came up with the idea to look at how this camera capsule transits through the gut—to see the path and examine how fast, or how slow it goes through. We are particularly interested in the small intestine as this is the part of our gut where most drug absorption takes place,” Fadda said. 

From these studies, Fadda and her collaborators were able to determine that transit times of tablets are highly variable between patients. 

“Transit times can range from 50 to 460 minutes. That is a huge variability,” Fadda said. “It was previously thought that small intestinal transit is uniform across patients. We also showed that patients with ulcerative colitis and active Crohn’s disease have longer small intestinal transit times compared to non-inflammatory bowel disease patients. This helps us understand the differences in drug absorption between different patient populations.” 

Fadda and her team of PharmD and graduate research students at Butler have utilized this new knowledge to set up a bench-top model in one of the labs at Butler to simulate the stomach and small intestine. 

“In this model we are mimicking pH transitions and fluid flow in our gut to understand how medicines behave in our body. All this research will help improve the testing and design of new medicines with improved therapeutic efficacy and reduced side effects,” Fadda said. “Ultimately, the goal is to develop better medicines for our patients.” 

Working with a multi-disciplinary research team comprised of both researchers and students, is enriching and allows one to gain new perspectives and ideas and share the latest research findings in the classroom. 

“I’m able to tell my students that there is no such thing as the average individual, and there is no such thing as the average patient. It is important for students to appreciate the variability between different patient populations. Eventually, they are going to apply this knowledge to enhance patient’s lives and make a difference.”

Academics

Faculty Focus: Hala Fadda

“I thought to myself, ‘I would like to be a part of this—part of educating the next generation of pharmacy students at Butler.’” 

by Krisy Force

from Spring 2017

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The Reflective Practitioner

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

When Robert Soltis ’87 returned to Butler in 2016 to serve as Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, he came in with a goal to deliver on the College’s mission of developing graduates who serve society as dedicated, competent health professionals and community leaders.

At the 2016 White Coat Ceremony, Soltis said the Pharmacy and Physician Assistant programs are committed to integrating the liberal arts with professional preparation. He described this in terms of creating graduates who are “reflective practitioners”—competent PAs and pharmacists who “think deeply about their professional responsibilities and their patients.” 

“They are, in the end, dedicated and caring individuals who work for the good of others,” he said.

To illustrate the point, Soltis told the story of an Indianapolis woman named Eileen, a diabetic. Eileen’s husband lost his job and subsequently their health insurance. With limited money for insulin, test supplies, and her other medications, Eileen stopped taking most of her drugs and cut her insulin doses in half to stretch her budget. She also cut back on food, thinking she could control her disease by eating less.

Eileen became malnourished, anemic, and experienced diabetic ketoacidosis. At that point, she had to be rushed to the ER and spent several days in the hospital. “I truly did not think I was putting my life in danger,” she said at the time.

In this case, Soltis said, a reflective practitioner would have considered several questions, including: How did Eileen’s situation come to be? Was there no one to help her understand her disease? Why did she not realize the consequences of her actions? 

Most importantly, a reflective practitioner would reflect inward and ask: Could there be an Eileen among my patients? And, do I treat my patients in a way that they know they are deserving of, and are entitled to, the best care possible?

Eileen became malnourished, anemic, and experienced diabetic ketoacidosis. At that point, she had to be rushed to the ER and spent several days in the hospital. “I truly did not think I was putting my life in danger,” she said at the time.

In this case, Soltis said, a reflective practitioner would have considered several questions, including: How did Eileen’s situation come to be? Was there no one to help her understand her disease? Why did she not realize the consequences of her actions? 

Most importantly, a reflective practitioner would reflect inward and ask: Could there be an Eileen among my patients? And, do I treat my patients in a way that they know they are deserving of, and are entitled to, the best care possible?

To be a reflective practitioner requires knowing the right questions to ask and being committed to your patients’ well-being, Soltis said.

“I ask that from now on, every time our students put their white coat on, that they think about how they are preparing for a life of professional service,” he said. “And they should know that it involves not just caring for patients but caring about them as people.”

Academics

The Reflective Practitioner

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

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From the President

James Danko

from Spring 2017

When North Western Christian University—later to be renamed Butler University—opened its doors in 1855 with only two professors, natural science was a foundational part of the curriculum. As courses of study evolved in later years, the science track was in high demand among students. And in the mid-1940s, as Eli Lilly and Company was achieving success with the production and distribution of penicillin, Butler took over the Indianapolis College of Pharmacy, becoming one of only two colleges in Indiana to confer pharmacy degrees.

Now, as then, Butler University is dedicated to providing world-class academic programs in pharmacy and in life, physical, and health sciences. Demand among students and employers for these programs, as well as for Butler’s engineering and technology programs, is high, and many—including the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies program featured in this magazine— prepare students for medical school and other graduate programs. Butler is dedicated to all these programs not only because they are central to its academic mission, but because the University has an important role in supporting economic development in the Hoosier state.

Over the past decade, Butler’s undergraduate enrollment in the sciences within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has increased by over 56 percent. As applications to the University reached an all-time high last year, 10 percent of those applications were for Biology. Applications to the Computer Science and Software Engineering major have jumped 67 percent over the past two years alone. Because science and technology are integral to economic and social progress locally and worldwide, they are central to Butler’s educational mission. As Butler prepares a diverse, socially responsible generation of students to excel in these fields, I hope you will join me in celebrating the success stories highlighted in this edition of Butler Magazine.

AcademicsCampus

From the President

Butler University is dedicated to providing world-class academic programs in pharmacy and in life, physical, and health sciences.

by James Danko

from Spring 2017

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A Flexible Foundation

Stuart Glennan

from Spring 2017

One Friday afternoon a month, you’ll find Butler faculty members from across the disciplines at the Bent Rail Brewery, discussing—often loudly, sometimes with a beer in hand—topics as varied as the “new conservation” movement and the biological and social causes of mental illness. We call this STS School, short for Science, Technology, and Society. It’s a place where scientists and non-scientists learn from each other about new developments at the intersections of our disciplines, and talk about how to bring these ideas into our classrooms. 

Our students learn about the state of the art, but our focus is on knowing how—how to observe; how to experiment; how to find and absorb new research; how to collaborate both within and beyond their disciplines to create and apply new knowledge. 

This know-how is important for our graduates who pursue professions in scientific research, but it is equally important for those in the many professions that rely upon and support scientific exploration and technological innovation. The flexible foundation our students get can take them in many directions. 

Science education at Butler starts in our core curriculum, where every student must take a course that includes a lab. This might mean anything from a neuroscience of music class, which gets non-science majors involved in research on how music affects dementia patients, to a course that uses the case of “HeLa” cells used in cancer research to explore genetics and molecular biology while examining questions about the commercialization of science and the ethics of research. 

Over 40 percent of Butler students study traditional STEM disciplines like physics, biology, mathematics and engineering that are located in our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as do all students in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS) and our interdisciplinary and cross-college majors in Science, Technology and Society, Environmental Studies, and Healthcare and Business. We also have students with a primary major in a non-STEM discipline who pursue pre-med or other pre-health courses in the sciences, and we have education majors who either pick up secondary STEM majors or do required course work to support their licenses. 

These programs have been led by scientists and non-scientists, and have drawn faculty from the sciences, social sciences, humanities and from Butler's professional schools. We talk together and teach together.

As a philosopher of science, I was welcomed by Butler’s scientists when I came here 25 years ago, and in my time I have collaborated with them in the founding of three popular interdisciplinary programs—the science, technology, and society major, the neuroscience minor, and most recently, our environmental studies major. These programs have been led by scientists and non-scientists, and have drawn faculty from the sciences, social sciences, humanities and from Butler’s professional schools. We talk together and teach together. 

The world is a big place, and none of us can know but the smallest bit of it. But we—faculty and students—can cultivate the skills and attitudes that will help us learn new things and do new things that will make a difference for ourselves and the world around us. And, if we have to argue with our colleagues over beer to do it properly, well, that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make. 

The keystone of our science education is getting students to apply science through undergraduate research.

  • The Chemistry and Mathematics programs have developed “research boot camps”—intensive week-long summer experiences where students learn the tools of the trade. 
  • Most students in Psychology choose to join a faculty-led research group. Over their career, it is not uncommon for Psychology students to present their research not only at Butler’s and other undergraduate research conferences, but also at national meetings where most presenters are graduate students, post-docs, and faculty. 
  • Astronomy students take advantage of a consortium that allows access to telescopes around the world to explore the stars. Students present their discoveries at national professional meetings and publish their work in scientific journals. 
  • While most student research is done at Butler, some of it is done afar—like the tropical field biology course in Belize or internships at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. (Visit butler.edu/magazine for a related story.) 

Another feature of butler’s STEM education is the push to take science education beyond the walls of science buildings—to have students learn from, and give back to, the communities to which we all belong. 

  • Computer Science and Software Engineering majors take a required Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) course, where the class collaborates on a software project in support of the mission of a non-profit organization. 
  • Students in Biology, STS, and Environmental Studies often enroll in the Environmental Practicum, where they take on a sustainability project in support of the Indianapolis community. 
  • Students from a number of STEM fields get true hands-on experience working on Butler’s farm—managing crops that are served on campus and in local restaurants while engaging in NSF funded research. 
  • The Chemistry department has begun a series of successful short-term study abroad trips in which students have traveled to Europe, integrating scientific and cultural learning as they explore the chemistry of sustainable energy production, food, and art. 
  • Students from a range of fields intern at local hospitals and research facilities, tech firms, museums, governmental agencies, and non-profits. There are the clinical rotations that are central to the training of health care professionals in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Academics

A Flexible Foundation

These programs have been led by scientists and non-scientists, and have drawn faculty from the sciences, social sciences, humanities and from Butler's professional schools.

by Stuart Glennan

from Spring 2017

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Technology is Shaping the Way PA Students are Learning

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

A virtual cadaver table, ultrasound systems, and fresh-tissue labs are just some of the new ways that Butler Physician Assistant (PA) students are learning their craft and gaining experience in the workings of the human body.

 “All three of these are really innovations in our curriculum and will help shape our understanding of the human body,” said College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Professor Jennifer Snyder, who runs the PA program.

The cadaver table, called an Anatomage, came to Butler thanks to a grant written by the University’s Information Technology department and co-funded by Dean Robert Soltis and the College. The Anatomage—think of a 7-foot-long iPad—allows users to explore 3D images of the human body, inside and out.

You can wipe away layers of skin. Remove muscle or take bone. Stand up the table or lay it flat.

“The students can see in a different dimension what they can’t get with models or a skeleton hanging on a post,” Snyder said. “It’s bringing technology to the classroom and professors can create lectures around the table to enhance learning.”

Previously, professors used plastic models to illustrate their points. “Never in the past have we been able to isolate individual systems within the body,” she said. “We could show every bone, but we couldn’t show bone, muscle, and vascular systems and how they interact together. Now we can peel away skin, peel away bone. They could never get this view from a model. It really makes it alive in a way we haven’t been able to do before.”

Snyder said the Anatomage is going to help students’ understanding of spatial relationships between parts of the body. And the technology suits today’s learners. The tables will be used in the College’s undergraduate and graduate anatomy courses.

“This really meets the students where they are,” she said. “They like technology, and if that’s what they like, they’re going to learn what they need to learn more quickly and easily.”

A standard way for medical students to learn anatomy is to look inside the body by working on cadavers. But working on embalmed, preserved bodies is different from working on fresh tissue. PA students at Butler University now go to the Medical Academic Center at the Indiana Spine Group north of Indianapolis to practice procedures on fresh tissue or cadavers that have not been embalmed.

Procedures such as suturing, lumbar punctures, intubation, and joint injections are performed.

Snyder said students may have an entire body to work on, but they also may have body parts—a back or shoulder, for instance.

“Before the students go out on rotations, before they practice on live people, they’re going to practice on a dead person,” she said. “They so appreciate getting to practice what they’ve learned without it being a live person first. We’re now taking it to where we’re applying what we’ve taught them in laboratory courses and they’re doing these procedures before they’re out suturing on you or me.”

She said this opportunity is uncommon in PA education. “You don’t see this application experience very often until you’re actually doing it for the first time. Experience counts.”

And because experience counts, Snyder said the College also has purchased four ultrasound systems that will be integrated across the PA curriculum in classes such as Anatomy and Physiology, History and Physical Examination, and Imaging.

“This is really cutting edge as far as PA education,” Snyder said. “A lot of people really learn this on the job. It hasn’t been embraced fully in PA programs across the United States. Our graduates will have a familiarity and a comfort level that students in other programs just won’t have.”

Academics

Technology is Shaping the Way PA Students are Learning

Innovative additions to the program give students new ways to view the human body.

AcademicsStudent Life

BU Well to Publish Its Third Volume

BY

PUBLISHED ON Apr 09 2018

BU Well, Butler University’s open-access, multimedia, student-run healthcare journal, will publish its third volume on April 20. The volume will feature eight articles on a variety of health-related topics ranging from low-carbohydrate diets to electroconvulsive therapy for mental illnesses to retail therapy and its emotional impact.

BU Well uses three formats to deliver information: print, an informational YouTube video, and an infographic highlighting key aspects of an article or other health topic. The open-access journal will be available on Butler University’s Digital Commons website, http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/buwell/.

“BU Well is a unique experience that unites students from diverse backgrounds to create a journal that promotes health and wellness to an audience of all ages," said Skyler Walker, a second-year pharmacy student and Editor-in-Chief of BU Well. "Students gain valuable skills through the research, writing, infographic, and video process while learning their leadership style and how to effectively communicate interprofessionally. It's a one-of-a-kind experience that I have been privileged to be a part of these past two years, and I'm very excited to publish Volume 3."

Nearly 25 students from four of the six colleges at Butler University participated in the publication of the journal. Two Assistant Professors of Pharmacy Practice, Dr. Annette McFarland and Dr. Sheel M. Patel, serve as faculty advisors.

The fourth volume will accept submissions beginning in the fall semester. BU Well invites students, faculty, healthcare professionals and others to submit original healthcare-related articles for publishing consideration.

More information is available at BU Well’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/BUWellJournal and on Twitter and Instagram @BUWellJournal.

 

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

AcademicsStudent Life

BU Well to Publish Its Third Volume

Student-Driven Multimedia Journal on Health, Wellness, and Life Sciences comes out April 20.

Apr 09 2018 Read more
AcademicsPeople

His Approach to Teaching: Learning Starts with Confusion

BY Krisy Force

PUBLISHED ON Apr 09 2018

When Professor of Chemistry Shannon Lieb was in high school, he remembers telling his geometry teacher after class that he didn’t fully understand that day’s lecture. His teacher’s response was, “Learning starts with confusion.”

That statement left an impact on Lieb, so much so that he used it as a foundation for his own teaching for the last 39 years at Butler.

“I’ve always kept that idea in mind, and I’ve added to it as well," said Lieb, who officially retired in December. "Now I tell my students: Learning starts with confusion; those who don’t make mistakes have never tried, and those who keep making mistakes haven’t learned.”

Lieb’s classes, like General Chemistry and Physical Chemistry, are filled with college-level mathematics and science concepts. It is easy to believe students would make mistakes and learn from their confusion. He said it's easy to get confused. For some students, simply turning a table sideways presents a whole new problem if they’ve only been focusing on memorization.

“My primary push is to get students to think about how to approach a problem, not simply fill in the boxes,” he said.

Lieb’s dedication to student learning and understanding has been demonstrated in more ways than just in his classes. He has mentored two Master’s thesis students and 30-plus undergraduate research projects, starting with the origin of the Butler Summer Institute program in the early 1990, and he was the first faculty member in the sciences to incorporate Writing Across the Curriculum in the Physical Chemistry laboratory.

“I found that students who don’t know how to write, their way of expressing mathematics isn’t all that great," he said. "I remember one of my first-year students said to me, ‘Well, sciences aren’t creative.’ She was thinking of writing music, writing plays, etc. But science is the same way. There’s obviously some place at which the path splits, but fundamentally it’s a creative process, whether it’s sciences, mathematics, English literature, or performance.”

Although he's officially retired, Lieb is still hard at work teaching two physics labs and working with a student doing research during the spring 2018 semester.

Lieb said he considers his greatest achievement to be the impact he's had on the education of many students during his years at Butler.

“I am most proud of the successes of students that I have had in class,” he said. “I’ve had the privilege of witnessing students succeed who had all odds stacked against them, and I’ve seen some truly remarkable stories.”

He shared a note from Annie Search ’95, one of his former students, who wrote: “Thanks so much for your never-ending patience, kindness, and sense of humor. I could not have gotten through college without you.” 

Lieb isn’t sure what he’ll do when the semester ends in April when he’s fully retired. Perhaps he’ll work on an old Volkswagen that he drove for a number of years. He's already rebuilt the engine twice. He’ll definitely watch movies with his wife, Sue, work on his carpentry, and continue to volunteer with animal rescue.

Being the continuous learner he is, he’ll find something to keep himself occupied. For now, Lieb is following Snoopy’s advice, which is also the signature line on his emails: “Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Look to tomorrow. Rest this afternoon.”

 

 

 

AcademicsPeople

His Approach to Teaching: Learning Starts with Confusion

Chemistry Professor Shannon Lieb officially retires.

Apr 09 2018 Read more

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