Eastern Mennonite University’s biochemistry program has joined the ranks of a select group accredited by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).
The program received notification of its full seven-year term of accreditation in January.
Nationally, fewer than 75 colleges and universities have programs accredited by ASBMB, including only five others in Virginia.
The program was praised for its “extensive active learning and inquiry-based” and “strong quantitative” components, plus its opportunities for students to develop written and oral communication skills, according to Adele J. Wolfson, a member of the accreditation subcommittee and a chemistry professor at Wellesley College.
“Accreditation is a testament to and external validation of the excellence of this program, from the design of major at the broad curriculum level to the concern for what goes into each and every class,” said Professor Stephen Cessna. “Potential employers and graduate and medical school admissions committees will take note of the nationally recognized rigor of our program.”
Biochemistry majors can now take the ASBMB standardized exam. A successful passing score results in the awarding of an ASBMB-certified degree, which is recognized upon graduation with a certificate and special cord and documents students’ skills and knowledge base.
Accreditation also affirms the closeness with which professors work with students outside of the classroom to help them find and apply for research and internship possibilities as well as post-graduate and professional training, he said.
Exit interviews: What graduating majors have said
Students with a biochemistry major take a combination of chemistry and biology courses culminating in a two-semester advanced biochemistry series that includes a research laboratory experience.
In exit interviews, graduating majors have repeatedly indicated to Cessna appreciation for authentic research opportunities early in the normal laboratory curriculum, for which they take “measurement of real substances in real environments, in experiments of their own design.”
They have also pointed to reading requirements about recent biochemistry research as well as original articles by DNA researchers Watson and Crick – and to the ability to form small-college relationships with professors.
“They can get to know a PhD chemist or biochemist and work with them on cutting-edge science during the day and play board games with them in the evening,” Cessna said.
Graduates in the field
- Diego Barahona ‘17 is now a graduate student at the University of Virginia. In 2016, he worked with then-junior Kat Lehman and and Professor Matthew Siderhurst on research related to the Coconut rhinoceros beetle in Guam, which was published in Environmental Entomology and covered on the news site of the Entomological Society of America. Read more here.
- Jonathan Nofziger ‘11 manages a lab that is researching the effects of Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia.
- Niclette Kibibi ‘10 recently finished a master’s degree in public health and works in refugee health management in the Chicago area, where she is a member of the RefugeeOne planning committee.
- Christopher Longenecker, MD ‘01 is an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Read about his HIV/AIDS research in the US and Africa.