Science at the Mount – Not just for majors

by · April 20, 2018

The Mount’s annual Family Science Night pairs Mount students with young children to teach the basics of science in a fun, approachable way.

As part of the requirement for the core curriculum found in the Mount’s liberal arts education, Mount students of every major end up taking at least one class within the Division of Natural Sciences.

Some students enjoy the experience so much, however, that they end up staying long past that one course.

For example, the Science of Viral Discovery course, taught by Evan Merkhofer, assistant professor of Biology, allows freshman non-science majors to discover previously undocumented viruses and examine the virus’s RNA. Using state-of-the-art technology, the students isolate and characterize viruses known as bacteriophages – viruses that infect bacteria.

The students “really have ownership of this project,” Merkhofer said. “It’s great to see non-science majors taking such an interest in this course and developing their skills.”

After being offered for the first time in the Fall 2016 semester, several students in the Viral Discovery course expressed interest in becoming Biology majors.

The Natural Science professors place an emphasis upon helping students learn how to communicate about science to everyone, no matter their background, explains senior Biology major Lily Goodman, because otherwise “there’s no point in understanding something or researching something…without being able to relay to other people why it’s applicable, why it’s important, or even how it works.”

“They really want us to be able to relay and understand scientific information in a way that’s able to be grasped by everyone,” she explained.

Even non-Science majors at the Mount enjoy the experiences the division allows them to participate in. Gina Welliever, a senior Business major with a concentration in Sports Management, took a chemistry class at the Mount that left her with one of the most memorable experiences of her college career.

“My chemistry class volunteered to teach young girls about science and the importance of education,” she reminisces. “It was an enlightening experience.”

Want to learn more about the Division of Natural Sciences at the Mount? Read more about the Biology and Chemistry majors here.