Students Present Research

For Augsburg’s student researchers, Zyzzogeton is the culmination of months of hard work, trials, and discovery. This year, 23 Biology majors presented their work. Projects included: studying Ebola in chimpanzee populations, gene expression in Daphnia magna, studying the effects of host plant stress on flowering in Dodder, characterization of anti-bacterial protein found in human airway surface fluid, the effects of fungus on soybean physiology and productivity, and the role of NDMA receptors in neural communication.


Tri-Beta collects supplies for Augsburg Health Commons

Tri-Beta, the Biology student honor society, collected several boxes and bags of supplies (personal care items, diapers, socks, gloves, etc.) for the Augsburg Health Commons this past week.  In all, about 200 pairs of socks, 5 cases of diapers, hundreds of bottles of shampoo and bars of soap, numerous pairs of gloves, and more were donated.


Support Student Research on November 13!

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Save the date – Thursday, November 13 is Give to the Max Day, and this year, the Augsburg Biology Department is jumping on board with a project of our own. Your gift will help us reach our $10,000 goal that will fund student researchers and projects.


Over the past 5 years biology faculty have mentored over 50 undergraduate students in faculty directed research programs.  The students are vital to our research programs and the research experience is often transformative for them:


Being able to do research at Augsburg has provided me with an incredible experience to grow academically, professionally, and personally. Research has allowed me to understand more fully the topics I learn in my classes by applying those concepts in a hands-on way. Doing research also provided me with valuable skills to use in my future of continuing education and research. It afforded me an amazing opportunity to research biomedical ethics at the Mayo Clinic. I have been able to develop my presentation skills, as well, as I have presented my research several times and will be presenting it again at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington, D.C. in November. Doing research has helped me to realize my passion for genetics, my desire to become a physician, and my aspirations to study further the utilization of genetics in medical practice.

–        Michelle Grafelman ‘15, Sundquist Scholar, and Vann Fellow at The Mayo Clinic


Augsburg has demonstrated its commitment to undergraduate research by funding 40 research students each year, 10 of whom work with biology faculty.  Currently, more qualified students apply to do research than can be funded by college, and the Biology Department’s goal is to raise an additional $10,000 on Give to the Max Day on November 13 to allow more students to conduct undergraduate research in Biology. 100% of the faculty in the department have pledged to support this effort. Please join us and make your pledge today in advance of Give to the Max Day.


City Service Day 2014

Augsburg’s commitment to the city and to giving back is never more evident than on City Service Day. Each year, all of the first year students spend four hours working on a service project. As part of this annual event, nearly 60 Biology students and faculty worked to clean up Powderhorn Lake and weed, compost and transplant strawberries at Stone’s Throw Urban Farm.

Professor Emeritus Erwin Mickelberg

It is with great sadness that I send news that Professor Emeritus Erwin Mickelberg, passed away May 2. Professor Mickelberg was an Augsburg alumnus (class of 1954), a member of the Augsburg Faculty and the Department of Biology.

Professor Mickelberg began his teaching career at Augsburg College in 1956 and retired in 1994. He received his bachelor’s degree from Augsburg College and his master’s degree from the University of Minnesota.
An avid supporter for a new science building throughout his teaching career at Augsburg, a manuscript of Erwin’s was recently published, and all proceeds will be donated to the College’s campaign for the new Center for Science, Business and Religion.

A funeral is planned for this Friday, May 9, 11:00 a.m. (reviewal at 10:00) at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. An obituary will appear in the Star Tribune on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Erwin’s family has requested memorials be made directly to the CSBR campaign, where a fund will be established in his name.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Biology Student News

Tuesday, April 8 was a big day for Augsburg Biology Students.

David Fowler presented his research “Methods and tools for studying heart development and function in Daphnia magna” at the Minnesota State Capitol as part of Minnesota Private College Scholars Day at the Capitol. He is pictured with faculty mentor Matthew Beckman.


In addition, six Biology students had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Bonnie Bassler. Dr. Bassler, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Chair and Squibb Professor of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, was this year’s Sverdrup Visiting Scientist Lecturer.

Biology students rank nationally on standardized exam

As part of the college’s Assessment Day, 28 Biology seniors took the ETS Major Field Test in Biology. Nationwide, 488 colleges and universities use this exam. Among the Augsburg students, four scored in the top 8% in the country. Congratulations to David Fowler, Anna Herauf, Anna Weitz and Ian Wunder on your outstanding performance!

Biology Student Receives Vann Fellowship at The Mayo Clinic

MichelleAugsburg Presidential Scholar, Michelle Grafelman, was recently awarded the 2014 Vann Fellowship in Biomedical Ethics at The Mayo Clinic. As a summer fellow, she will work with physician and research mentors within Mayo’s Program in Professionalism and Ethics (Associate Director, Regent Paul Mueller) to examine issues such as end-of-life-care, genetic therapies, and patient consent, among others. The competitive applicant pool included students from five colleges in Minnesota, and the junior biology major and math minor was the sole in-state student selected.

Michelle plans to become a physician in the future and has built a solid academic foundation in her three years at Augsburg, earning a 4.0 GPA, participating in the Honors Program, and serving on the Pre-Med Club leadership team. Chosen last summer to be one of ten Sundquist Scholars to conduct STEM research on campus, Michelle is already an accomplished research assistant. Her work in biology, funded by the generous gift of Dean and Amy Sundquist and supervised by Professor Matt Beckman, has helped her develop important research skills within molecular biology and she is continuing this work through an academic-year research grant from Augsburg’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity. Michelle has taken advantage of the many opportunities a small campus provides, including leading the flute section in the Augsburg Concert Band and writing communion worship prayers for service each Wednesday. Please join us in congratulating Michelle on her fellowship!

Biology professor has paper published

Matt Beckman, an Assistant Professor in Biology, is first author on a paper entitled Stereoselective inhibition of serotonin transporters by antimalarial compounds that was recently published in Neurochemistry International, the journal of cellular and molecular neuroscience.  The work began when Dr. Beckman was a Grass Fellow at the Marine Biological Labs in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1999, and was completed this fall through a collaboration with Dr. Keith Henry and his colleagues at the University of North Dakota.  This paper provides the first detailed description of how antimalarial compounds interact with the serotonin transporter at the molecular level.