Westminster College Biology Student Presents Research at Conference

Thursday, February 6, 2014

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Westminster College senior biology major Michael Brooks Jr. and associate professors Dr. Marosh Furimsky and Dr. John Robertson presented their research at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) conference in Austin, Texas, in January.

The group presented "Early Growth and Development of the Rostrum in Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)," which included aspects of Brooks' biology capstone research project and grew out of a collaboration between the three biologists as part of the Van Vranken Summer Research Program sponsored by the College's  Department of Biology.

"It is difficult to highlight one aspect of the conference, but one would be the chance to present my research to such a large group of individuals in a professional environment," Brooks said. "There were a plethora of people interested in the actual work itself and what it meant for our understanding of paddlefish. It was an indescribable feeling to have my hard work validated."

Brooks is a son of Kenneth and Yolondra Gandy and a graduate of Campbell Memorial High School in Ohio. Brooks plans to go to dental school after graduating from Westminster, and then on to the U.S. Air Force.

Robertson also presented "Development and Growth of the Medullary Cavity in the Rostrum of Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)" and he chaired the Functional Morphology session.

"The SICB meeting is always great - you learn a great deal about what is going in a number of fields and get to interact with fellow researchers from many different institutions," Robertson said. "It was especially gratifying to be able to present work done in collaboration with a departmental colleague and one of our undergrads. It was a great opportunity for the three of us, and we appreciate the support of Westminster College in helping to make our presentation at the conference possible."

Robertson, who has been with Westminster since 2000, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts, a master's from the University of Rhode Island, and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University.

Furimsky, who has been with Westminster since 2006, earned an undergraduate degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa.

SICB is an international society for comparative physiology and comparative anatomy. Over 1,500 scientists and students attended the 2014 conference. Brooks' travel to the meeting was supported by an award from the Westminster Drinko Center for Experiential Learning.

Contact Robertson at 724-946-7044 or email for additional information.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top-tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 378 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.

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Michael Brooks presents at SICB.