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Field Trip to William Paterson University Enhances Anatomy Honors Lesson

Valley Echo Banner Grace Rose '19
4 April 2019


Anatomy and Physiology Honors students visited William Paterson University for a tour of Dr. Kelley Healey's molecular biology research lab and Dr. Sonya Bierbower's neuroscience research lab on Friday March 29th. The field trip provided Passaic Valley students a further application on material discussed throughout the year, as well as insight on obtaining a research opportunity in their upcoming pursuits in the science field.

Anatomy Students Touring WPU Research Lab; photo credit: Grace Rose '19

Anatomy students were engaged in Dr. Healey's lesson on fungi. She discussed the involvement of fungi in everyday life, identification of different species, diagnosis of a fungal infection, and treatment options. "Our dialogue on fungal pathogens, immune deficiencies, and antifungal drugs was quite advanced," said Dr. Healey in reflection. "I was impressed with [the students'] scientific and medical knowledge."

Dr. Healey also set up a microscope activity for students to observe different slides under a microscope in order to successfully diagnose which fungus a "patient" had. Then students collaboratively chose the proper treatment for the infection.

A great takeaway of the field trip was that the students learned how great of an opportunity it is to be selected to work in a university research lab. Dr. Bierbower stressed that in order to be a competitive candidate to earn a spot in her lab, the student has to have a true desire to provide something to the team. Being selected to work in a research lab requires a large time commitment coupled with specific training and respect for the materials involved. Dr. Susanne Iobst, teacher of the PV anatomy class, echoed Dr. Bierbower's advice, "Research, especially during undergraduate studies, allows students to discover the discipline, hard work, and creativity it takes to make scientific discoveries."Dr. Kelley Healey's presentation; photo credit: Grace Rose '19

Dr. Bierbower's research lab is focused on using a mouse model to discover the effects of traumatic brain injury and possible treatments. Dr. Bierbower gave her current students an opportunity to share how they are trained to perform different neurological procedures on mice. One of the students compared and contrasted how the use of technology has improved in finding the exact location of a specific region of the brain while performing a craniotomy. 

"It was very interesting watching the student carefully perform the craniotomy on the mouse," said Jennan Alkhalaf '19. "It was important to hear from the current students because I will be in their position in just a couple months." 

The field trip was beneficial for all of PV's Anatomy and Physiology Honors students, who now have a better understanding of what is expected in the college lab setting.