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The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

BCMB 25th anniversary reunites former students, current faculty

BCMB alumni took a tour of the current facilities, including laboratories, lecture halls and study spaces. Many joked about the improvements. Photo by Lily Wasserman | Features Editor

On Saturday, April 27, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology faculty and alumni gathered on the third floor of the Science Connector Building to celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary. The celebration included time for the alumni to reconnect with each other and their former professors along with a guided tour of the new BCMB space. 

BCMB is a major at Drake combining chemistry and biology with flexibility to fit post-college career interests such as medical school.
“The core courses are taken from biology (cell, molecular, genetics), chemistry (organic, biochemistry), math (calculus/statistics), research and seminar,” reads the BCMB course description. “Advanced course requirements consist of a selection of advanced molecular courses from areas including virology, immunology, structural and informatics as well as career-specific electives that may be non-molecular in nature.”  

The celebration began with a speech by Marc Busch, director of the BCMB program. 

“It is a great moment for me to get to see all you guys,” Busch said. “Some of you hear from me every year via LinkedIn, but to get the chance to see you face-to-face and see what’s become of you and hear about the little ones — it’s great to see all of you.” 

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In an interview, Busch said one of his favorite parts about the program is that the students tend to move as a cohort and thus get to know each other and the professors well. One of the harder things about his job is losing touch with said students. 

“My favorite part is getting a chance to see them through the four years and see them go on to do other things,” Busch said. “I’m really excited today to see what they’ve been [up to] since they left.” 

Biology professor Charisse Buising gave Busch the idea to celebrate the accomplishment of 25 years, while Busch’s former students advised him to set the date over Relays. 

Buising helped start the BCMB program with former chemistry professor LaRhee Henderson. Buising and Henderson had worked at  Pioneer Hi-Bred International — a scientific organization that seeks to advance seed genetics — together and realized that Drake’s existing STEM majors didn’t reflect workplace environments. 

“[The BCMB major] highlights the laboratory-rich environment we have at Drake,” Buising said. “We have a research-rich environment — every student who goes through this program has gone through a semester of research. Many students go through multiple.” 

Buising loves hearing about student success in research at alumni gatherings. 

“[The BCMB major] has grown tremendously because we have more professors engaging students in research, so the projects have become very interesting,” Buising said. 

While teaching at Drake, Buising has organized other student gatherings.

“These types of events are always so much fun because we get to talk to students and see how they’ve done and what we can do to improve,” Buising said. “Their insights are invaluable.” 

At the celebration, alumni talked about where their careers had gone, their favorite memories from the program at Drake and how Drake had changed. Some BCMB students noted that while they were at Drake, the Science Connector Building — where many BCMB classes are held — hadn’t been built yet. It opened in fall 2017.

Rachel DuBose graduated with a degree in BCMB last year and is currently attending Des Moines Area Community College to become a respiratory therapist. DuBose plans to go into research after working as a respiratory therapist, where she thinks what she learned about cellular biology will be helpful. 

“I want to get into respiratory research and find a cure for asthma,” DuBose said. “It’d be mostly at the cellular level to find a cure.” 

Erin O’Keefe graduated with a BCMB degree in 2021 and is currently a second-year podiatric medical student at Des Moines University. O’Keefe said she had a great experience at Drake, especially working with faculty. 

“What I really liked about the BCMB major was the curriculum is set up where the classes required for the major also cover all of the prerequisites that are required for medical school, so I could just knock those out altogether,” O’Keefe said. 

Busch said in the speech that he hopes students look upon their time at Drake fondly, and that the faculty left a good impression on them. Busch added that what he loves most about his job was in the room — the students. 

“25 years ago, Charisse [Buising] and LaRhee [Henderson] started something pretty fantastic,” Busch said. 

Eve Loehrer contributed to reporting. 

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