Biology provides hands-on opportunities for students

Diversity is an important word, especially in biology. From biodiversity to diversity in fields of study, it’s an often overlooked aspect of what makes biology important. But at Jacksonville State, diversity isn’t just an idea, it’s a goal.

“We have a broadly trained group of people with a lot of different interests, and there’s enough overlap that what one person doesn’t quite cover, another person might pick up…And that wasn’t a conscious effort, but it’s worked out really well. So you’ll see a lot more collaboration amongst the faculty here than you’ll see at other schools,” said Dr. George Cline, Herpetologist and professor of biology.

“That’s the nice thing, we all have our own specializations…I don’t have to look the world over if I hit a brick wall. “It’s nice to know that all I have to do is walk down the hall and there’s going to be someone there that can collaborate on that project with me,” said Dr. Michael Burns, professor of anatomy and paleontology.

“Faculty being willing to work not just with other students, but with faculty, is great. You don’t oftentimes have that in other areas. When people see us at regional and national meetings, and when they see our students and what we’re doing, we stand out from that sample,” said Dr. James Rayburn, associate professor of biology.

The biology department is dedicated to giving its students the best education it can, through field work, collaboration, and through personal work with individual students.

It provides diverse facilities that allow a broad range of research topics, in the lab and in the field, along with the diverse array of specialties amongst the faculty.

“Compared to these big research schools, for undergraduates the experience is very, very different. You go to these kinds of places and start taking classes, you’re going to need a pair of binoculars to see your teacher who’s 300 feet away from you in a classroom full of hundreds of people. Here if you have a class of 80 or so people that’s a big class…For the undergraduates, you have a lot more close contact with the faculty, it’s a different experience,”said Dr. Roger Sauterer, cell biologist and professor of biology.

“The professors are always out there doing stuff with the students, it’s just how we work here,” Rayburn said.

“I’ll put our very best students against the very best from anywhere and they will do well. They will compete. Our kids sometimes don’t understand that. They feel ‘Oh, it’s only JSU’. No, it’s not only JSU. It’s what you bring to JSU, your unique talents, how can we make you better. And our faculty are committed to that,” Cline said.

“We’re slowly getting to the point where they’re starting to see that, they’re start-ing to see the recognition that ‘We can do that, you know, I’m as good as they are, I’m better than they are.’ We’re getting there,” Cline said.

John Sterling
Staff Reporter

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