Major Areas for Research at SJC

The two main areas of ongoing research at SJC are in Amphibian Ecology and Forensic Entomology, both of which are supervised by nationally recognized PhD professors. Other research projects may be organized in Biochemistry or in Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy.


Amphibian Ecology and Conservation

From Ponds to Paradise

Dr. Robert Brodman focuses on ecology, evolution, and zoology. His research focuses on the ecology and conservation of amphibians in the Midwest. Many students participate in this research. In preparation, students take a course on using field surveys and monitoring amphibian populations. Students then participate in one or several of the following areas of study:

  • Long-term studies monitoring population fluctuations in amphibian species in our five-county area
  • Studying the relationship between water & habitat quality of wetlands and amphibian abundance
  • Determining how behavioral ecology such as predator avoidance and shifts in habitat use allow species to coexist
  • Documenting the effect of predation by amphibians on pest control
  • Performing wetland delineation and habitat restoration

Several of our students have become coauthors of scientific papers that were published in state and national scientific journals. Learn more about Dr. Brodman’s amphibian research. 


Forensic Entomology

Dr. Neal Haskell has been doing ongoing research at his farm seven miles from SJC.

Dr. Haskell discovered that a pig carcass decomposes and has insect infestations at the same rate as a human body. He proved this in his work at the “Body Farm” at the University of Tennessee. There, Dr. Haskell placed pigs alongside human bodies to demonstrate the rate similarities. Here in Indiana, Dr. Haskell obtains pigs from Purdue University and then sets them out in his field in a variety of conditions and situations. If a murder victim is discovered in a car trunk in the summer, Dr. Haskell puts a pig in a car trunk in the summer and monitors the insect infestations, life cycle rates, and other decomposition data. The data is then used in the investigation to help determine the time of death or when the body was placed inside the car. Here is one article on such pig research. 

SJC undergraduate students participate in Dr. Haskell's research. They help in collecting and analyzing data, attending conferences, and accompanying him to sites in other parts of the US and the world. Students may become coauthors of scientific articles. The data is used in criminal investigations and trials throughout the United States.


Biochemistry & Genetics

Dr. Cheryl Wistrom often sponsors student research or independent studies in Biochemistry and Genetics. Most recently, several of her students extracted potential anti-tumor chemicals from the bark of the Paw-Paw tree. They then assayed the potency of these chemicals against plant tumors. Another of her students is studying tablet dissolution rates to better predict the rate at which tablets release medicines.

15% higher graduation rates are seen in students who do research or internships compared to students who do not.


Vertebrate Anatomy

Whitetail deer and red fox skeletons   

Under the guidance of Fr. Bill Stang, MD, several Saint Joseph's College students interested in animals have researched and then assembled vertebrate skeletons. The research includes visits to the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History. Students learn the characteristics of the various bones and how the bones come together in the integrated skeletal structure. They learn not only the names of the bones but also the names of the various tubercles, foramina, fossa, and other structures that provide joints, tendon and ligament attachment, nerve and neuro-vascular penetration points.

Study may include methods of cleaning, preserving, and mounting bones. The final project is the assembly of the full skeleton. With Father Stang, students have assembled the whitetail deer and red fox skeletons. One project was a group collaboration that produced an adult horse skeleton.  

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Explore the Core
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  • Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Like Elementary Education major Brittany Cooper ’12, you start your major as soon as you walk in the door, so you will have four years of knowledge and experience in your field.You can even change your mind about your major and still graduate on time with lots of experience.

    Core and the major work in harmony to develop the cognitive skills requisite for success in a competitive, global society. Students better understand the forces that shape the future by exploring the past. They discuss contemporary events; analyze the impact of science on our understanding of humanity and the universe; and investigate diverse cultures and world civilizations. 

  • Mentorship

    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors, such as Communication Professors Fred and Sally Berger, do more for you—they serve as mentors. Studies show that having a mentor leads to success in your field. Alumni often tell us how their professors not only played a major role in their success, but also became lifelong friends.  If you are undecided about what to major in, we help you decide.

  • High Quality Academics

    In the Core Program, you will be inspired to debate, analyze, and solve problems. Discussion of culture and society, the modern world, and Christian Humanism are just a few highlights of the Program. New perspectives will be gained, your worldview will expand, and you will graduate from SJC as a well rounded, highly marketable person.

  • Leadership

    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life. LaMichelle Sanders ’14, for example, has spent two summers helping Chinese study abroad students adapt to life in the U.S. and at SJC. If you want to start a club or activity that doesn’t exist, we encourage you to start one. At SJC, prepare yourself for what you want to do in life.

  • Real-life Skills

    Because of the skills you develop by having the Core Program interact with your major for four years in addition to internships, job shadowing, and service learning, you get hands-on experience in preparation for your career or graduate school. Students Hanna Kane ’14, Emily Baird ’15, and Alyssa Guarnaccia ’14 collect food in the SJC hoophouse to be distributed on campus. You will also get four years of analytical, writing, and speaking skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

  • Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Get a jump start on your career and have your resume ready to go at graduation.  

  • Mentorship

    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors do more for you—they serve as mentors.

  • High Quality Academics

    The Core Program is all about you and your role in the world.

     

  • Leadership

    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life.

  • Real-life Skills

    Get real-life experience and become an excellent communicator.