The North Park laboratory is where many students gain hands-on research experience, but Dr. Jeffrey Nelson also sees it as a place for students to get to know their classmates from different backgrounds through small group work as well as a chance to think about faith in relation to the wonders of biology. “Ten trillion cells shout at us each day in the anatomy lab!” he exclaims.
“After teaching introductory anatomy for many years, I now have assumed the role of coordinator of anatomical resources. This involves mentoring students in cadaver-based human anatomy. The laboratory was used by more than 800 students last year, including groups from classes in anatomy, psychology, art, embryology, athletic training, and high school students.”
A select group of students also work with Dr. Nelson and two of his colleagues—Dr. Drew Rholl and Dr. Matthew Schau— researching Lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses in the Chicago area. They may join their professors in the woods to collect ticks and isolate organisms or tissues to probe for DNA detection efforts.
“The collaborative effort with two faculty and three peers on a public health project is quite unique in science undergraduate experiences,” he says. “Most of the student’s work is in the lab. We try to get out in the field a bit to see the front end of the work.”