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Guest Lecture - Lynne T. Bemis and Linda Burhansstipanov

Davynne Tealesa Atanasoff

The guest speakers Lynne T. Bemis and Linda Burhansstipanov were very informative speakers. They started the lecture by telling us about some of their accomplishments and what they were doing now. I was very impressed and right away I knew that I could learn a lot from these talented women. Next Linda explained what an energizer was ("a short, fun activity designed to help precipitants pay attention by getting their blood system pumping"). She explained that they were a great way to start off the lecture because then everyone's minds snap back into focus mode and they are a lot of fun. We were special and got to do three of these including: "That's me," "Warrior, Princess, Bear," and "Sweeping the Tepee." All three energizers were a lot of fun but differed in what they wanted to accomplish. For instance, you would use the energizer "That's Me" to learn more about the group your speaking to. On the other hand, you would use the energizer "Sweeping the Tepee" to make your group interact with each other. Linda also talked about what helps them be more creative such as working with someone they trusted and taking walks with a notepad in hand. Linda went on to discuss the different types of funding out there. I was really interested about this part of the lecture because I never knew about most of the funding options they were talking about. Linda stressed the importance of using hands on activities to help the groups they presenting to learn the information they were trying to present. We did breast cancer jeopardy, prostrate tick tack toe, and made marshmallow looking dogs following chromosome patterns just to name a few. Lastly, Lynne Bemis ended the lecture by talking about some of her research and how she got others to understand it. This was actually my favorite part of the whole lecture and not just because they gave us candy! Lynne Bemis talked about how genes play a role in how you should be treated for certain things. She explained why pain medications work for some people and not others. I have always been interested in genes, and in addition a lot of pain medications do not work on my mom. So Lynne's talk really got my attention. She concluded her lecture by having us do an activity in which we changed the amount of candy (each type representing something different) in our "body" and we had to tell her if the pain medication worked on us. This was my favorite activity of the day and it actually really helped me understand what she was talking about! I learned a lot during their lecture. Lynne Bemis especially made an impression on me even though she spoke the least amount. I wish I could have talked to her one on one or worked with her in a lab, but I am thankful that I at least got to hear her lecture!

Three questions I did not ask

  1. If a person metabolizing pain medications quickly do they also metabolize food quickly as well?
  2. How do you know if a person is not metabolizing a drug or has just built up a tolerance?
  3. Could genes directly tell the doctor what type of pain medication would work best for a given patient?

Future directions to take this:

  1. Since there are so many different Native American Tribes, I would genotype each tribe and compare their genes with each other as well as other cultures. This may help pinpoint why Native Americans are more susceptible to certain things or why they have a harder time fighting off cancers compared to other cultures.
  2. I wonder if genes could play a role in how an individual learns. I would genotype a group who identifies themselves as visual learners, another group who identifies themselves as audio learners, and so on and so forth.
  3. I think that the way they approached teaching their research was great and that a lot of kids, including myself, could have really benefitted from some of their approaches. I think that it would be great if there was a group whose sole job would be to teach the techniques and activities to teachers (especially middle school teachers) to do with their own students.