Professors in the Biology department are currently conducting and developing research projects on a variety of topics.
Dr. Brian Greuel's current research centers around the regulation of a gene called the myelin proteolipid protein gene that is essential for the normal function of the myelin sheath in the central nervous system. Defects in the function or regulation of this gene lead to specific neurodegenerative disorders in humans and other mammals. This research is currently funded by a grant from the Arkansas Idea Network for Biomedical Research.
Students participate in the design of experiments and are actively involved in all phases of carrying out the experiments, analyzing and interpreting the results and presenting the findings at regional and national conferences. Students learn and perform basic techniques in recombinant DNA (cloning) technology, mammalian cell culture, nucleic acid purification, mutagenesis, gel electrophoresis, gene transfer, and other techniques in cellular/molecular biology.
This research has led to important findings that may someday be used to upregulate or downregulate expression of the gene in order to restore function to the central nervous system in individuals afflicted with various neurodegenerative disorders.
Students in the Biological Research course will work with Dr. Tim Wakefield. Dr. Wakefield is currently conducting research on stream ecology, assessing the health of the wadeable streams in the area around John Brown University.
Students will be heavily involved in this project, helping to determine the locations on the streams that will be tested, collecting and analyzing data, and selecting which streams will be used for future research.
Another project that is in development is a study that Dr. Wakefield will be involved in, studying the behavior of Orca whales. Currently, Dr. Wakefield will be working with other professionals to analyze collected data and produce writings on the findings. It is possible that students might join Wakefield next summer to continue work on this project.