Keep Your Ion the Prize
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program receives full accreditation from ASBMB
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
a diptych shows environmental portraits of Casey McLeod and Raheed Sunesra

According to Casey McLeod ’21, her major “sounds like a mouthful.” The Castle Rock, Colorado native and captain for Trinity Swimming and Diving wasn’t drawn to the major because it presented as complex—though that had never scared her away. Rather, she reveled in the combination of the two subjects she loved most, biology and chemistry, in a curriculum taught by faculty who made the difficult material attainable, even when she struggled to understand. 

At Trinity University, biochemistry and molecular biology is a truly interdisciplinary degree program, co-chaired by chemistry professor Corina Maeder ’99, Ph.D., and biology professor Frank Healy, Ph.D. If the name is too much to swallow, shorten it to “BCMB”—an acronym heard frequently in the halls of the CSI.

“BCMB sits between chemistry and biology, and because of this, students really get to choose a major that fits their interests,” Maeder says. She lauds the departments’ “amazing resources, excellent curriculum, and great faculty, all who care deeply about student success.” And she’s not the only one doing so.

Chemistry professors Christina Cooley, Laura Hunsicker-Wang, and Corina Maeder '99 are faculty in Trinity's biochemistry and molecular biology (BCMB) program.

This spring, Trinity’s BCMB program was awarded a full, seven-year accreditation by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). An ASBMB accreditation recognizes excellence in BCMB degree programs and provides tools and resources for evaluating and strengthening academic offerings. For students, this means that Trinity’s BCMB curriculum will align with current, transformative concepts and critical reasoning skills needed in today’s BCMB careers; for faculty and academic support staff, it provides resources and funding for recruitment, curricular development, and assessment. The accreditation also signals to employers and graduate schools a level of confidence in the institution’s curriculum, instrumentation, faculty expertise, and commitment to developing communication skills on diverse teams.

Notably, the accreditation board cited the University’s BCMB program for the quality and availability of advanced instrumentation integrated into the curriculum, and the true interdisciplinary nature of the program. Trinity joins approximately 100 other schools, ranging from research institutions to primarily undergraduate institutions. “It is clear that Trinity’s BCMB program is doing well in the national landscape,” Maeder says. “It is really exciting to have external validation for what we already believed is an awesome program.”

With the accreditation, juniors and seniors who have declared a BCMB major have the opportunity to sit for a certification exam, designed to test students’ knowledge and understanding of the core competencies in biochemistry and molecular biology. 

Raheed Sunesra '21 is a chemistry peer tutor and an undergraduate researcher in the Hunsicker-Wang Laboratory.

Twelve students will be sitting for this exam this April, including McLeod and classmate Raheed Sunesra ’21. Sunesra, from Sugar Land, Texas, is the president of Trinity’s chapter of the ASBMB, an undergraduate researcher in the Hunsicker-Wang Laboratory, and a chemistry peer tutor. “In ASBMB, we talked about recent innovations in biochemistry, which showed me the power that biochemistry offered to understand the world around me and in human medicine,” Sunesra says. “As a future medical student, a degree certification would prove that I have a strong foundation of the biochemical and molecular biological sciences that I can build upon in medical school.”

“Having a degree certification from an academically challenging school that is certified under the ASBMB will be a huge honor,” McLeod echoes. She notes that while this certification is not required for her plans to attend graduate school to be a physician assistant—she is a mentor on the PA track for the American Medical Student Association at Trinity—she sees it as solid proof of what she’s learned during her four years as an undergrad. “As undergraduate students we get the unique privilege of working with advanced equipment alongside an incredible group of faculty. It is important to me that I show others how much they have taught me.”

In addition to being a BCMB major, Casey McLeod is the captain of Trinity Swimming & Diving, which took home a SCAC Championship title in 2021.

 

Jeanna Goodrich Balreira '08 is the director for content strategy for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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