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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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