Reflections – My Semester in BIOL 140

When I started this course I was really unsure of how I would connect with it; however, I now know my previous prediction was completely wrong! 

I may not fully understand every detail of every system we learned, but I definitely know more than I knew before. I really enjoyed my professor’s teaching tactics and interactive assignments. It’s so refreshing to have a professor who is excited about the course material and proudly executes her love for Biology! Her excitement and willingness to break the material down in ways that was understandable really helped me to grasp an understanding of most of the terms. 

I enjoyed working on the public service announcement activity and surprisingly the research paper as well! It caused me to look up information that I never would have known. The quizzes also helped me to review the information over and over so that it would have a lasting impact! 

It excites me to have the opportunity to say “Hey! I know about that” I can recall instances in which my roommate (a Biology major) and mutual friend (a Nursing major) would have conversations in our dorm room about functions of the body, trying to settle on various solutions or understanding functions and I would say “Dr. V mentioned that in class today!” 

I never thought I would gain an interest in biology, but I am glad that I do. 

Thank you Dr. V for this great opportunity and broadening my knowledge about the human body and its many, many important functions. I hope to continue to share the information I’ve learned and tell everyone to take this class! 🙂 


Investigation of Beets


Last week for lab, we were instructed to ingest either beets or corn in order to examine the digestionand excretion processes. As we were discussing the assignment, I can recall someone explaining that beets are a diuretic. In other words, it quickly promotes the production of urination. (It even changes the color of urine and stool.) 

This made me wonder what other benefits are associated with beets.

Here’s some great information that I found:

Beets may serve as a blood cleanser.

Some people use it for weight loss.

Beets can protect against heart disease and colon cleanser. The pigment that creates the purple-red color of beets is a cancer-fighting agent called betacyanin (The Nutrition of Beet Juice).

They also help to cure diseases of the circulatory system, large intestine, and digestive system.

How could it possibly serve all of these functions? Maybe because of all the vitamins and nutrients in it. Beets are full of “phytonutrients that provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification qualities” (Evans).

Beets contain: folate, manganese, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B, iron, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. Navazio, author of the article “Sweet Beets” says beets are “better than a multi-vitamin”.

So, how can we increase our beet intake?

Use it as a substitute for sugar.

Drink beet juice once a day (Mix with apple or carrot juice for better taste).

Make a colorful beet salad.

Use beets in a vinaigrette dressing.


I’ve never thought of it before, but maybe now I’ll look into ways to increase beets in my diet in order to improve my daily nutrition!


Website: http://www.naturalnews.com/027884_beet_juice_blood.html

Website: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-nutrition-of-beet-juice.html#b

Article: http://my.wau.edu:2202/ehost/detail?vid=3&sid=2ada0cee-a2e7-460a-8c9a-c4a1ef7fc46d%40sessionmgr112&hid=118&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=f5h&AN=12531649

Article: http://my.wau.edu:2202/ehost/detail?vid=3&sid=2ada0cee-a2e7-460a-8c9a-c4a1ef7fc46d%40sessionmgr112&hid=118&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ulh&AN=76109986


Investigation – Gallstones


I’ve always heard the word “gallstones” tossed around, but I never knew the true definition until recently in class. Reviewing chapter 11 on the digestive system and completing the case study has helped me to gain a better understanding; however, I am interested in learning more.

According to a New York Times article, there are two types of gallstones

1) gallstones made up cholesterol

2) pigment stones – made of bilirubin, a substance found in bile; this type may occur when red blood cells are being destroyed (hemolysis)

They may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.

Causes/Risk factors: Gallstones may form if the gallbladder does not empty the way it should or if people are overweight or trying to lose weight quickly. Other risk factors include association with bone marrow, diabetes, or liver cirrhosis. It is more common in women, Native Americans, Hispanics, and people over the age of 40.

Symptoms: Symptoms of gallstones are not likely but may include mild pain in the pit of the stomach or upper right part of the belly, fever and chills, or jaundice. When gallstones are blocking a bile duct, not only does is increase chances of high fever and chills, but it also increases one’s chances of obtaining a swollen pancreas.

Diagnosis: Similar to the process of questioning in the case study, a doctor may ask the following questions: “When did the pain start?” “Where is the pain?” “Is the pain sporadic or constant?” The doctor may also make use of an imaging test or request an ultrasound of the belly or gallbladder scan.

In most cases, gallstones cannot be prevented, but it is important to maintain a healthy weight and diet.


The New York Times article: http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/gallstones/

WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/gallstones-topic-overview


Encounter: The Movie “Contagion”

Last week, we watched the movie “Contagion” for our BIOL 140 lab, and it is still heavily influencing me up to this very day. 

It seems as if I am much more cautious around others. Flu season is coming up, and just like the disease in “Contagion”, it is highly contagious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people with the flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet way. Wow! If any classmate sitting next to me catches the flu virus, I am most likely bound to catching it next!

The flu virus may be transmitted through respiratory transmission. This means if a person with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks others may inhale the germs and contract the virus. Although less often, people may also catch the flu virus through fomites, transmission by touching an germ-infested surface.  

Thankfully, unlike “Contagion”, there is already a vaccine made. We do not have to wait in lines or wait to sit through the “lottery system” they developed. I cannot recall ever getting the vaccine more than once; however, I think it is time to make sure I get the flu vaccine as soon as possible this season. 


Investigation – Did you know there are several types of tuberculosis?

As I am spending time researching on my topic for my disease paper, I am discovering the various types of tuberculosis – of which I never knew existed. With tuberculosis’s many effects on the body, its variations are given specific names, which are broken into two groups: pulmonary (of the lungs) and extrapulmonary (outside of the lungs).


AAFP’s American Family Physician presents a study by Dr. Marjorie Golden and Dr. Vikram that gives a detailed list and description of these variations. The most common form of extrapulmonary tuberculosis is tuberculous lymphadenitis, which affects the nodes and includes symptoms like night sweats and weight loss.

Central nervous system tuberculosis includes tuberculosis meningitis, intracranial tuberculomas, and spinal tuberculosis arachnoiditis. These forms may lead to cranial nerve palsies, focal neurologic deficits, and cerebral edema (swelling, as we learned in Chapter 9).

There is also gastrointestinal tuberculosis (aka tuberculous enteritis) which results from swallowing infected sputum, ingestion of contaminated food, or direct extension from adjacent organs. Its symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and rectal bleeding.

The Live Strong website also gives a list of types of tuberculosis. One type that has not been mentioned yet is tuberculosis of the bones. It occurs at the ends of long bones and vertebrae and attacks the spine and other weight-bearing joints. Spinal tuberculosis affects what is known as the thoracic part of the spine, which causes severe back pain.

Adrenal tuberculosis affects the adrenal gland and the production of the adrenal hormone. Symptoms include a weak and/or faint feeling. The site gives an extensive list, which also includes types like osteal tuberculosis, tuberculosis peritonitis, and tuberculosis pericarditis.

My research so far has been very helpful in explaining this infectious disease, and  am excited to continue researching these sites to find out more specifics about the types of tuberculosis.

Franco , V. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/71451-types-tuberculosis/

Golden, M., & Vikram, M. (2005). Extrapulmonary tuberculosis: an overview. American Family Physician, 72(9), 1761-1768. Retrieved from http://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1101/p1761.html


Investigation – Treatment for Tuberculosis

For my disease paper, I have decided to execute further research on Tuberculosis, including the vaccine, its causes, its effects, and treatments. Since I have a basic understanding of the definition of tuberculosis, I thought it would be interesting to see how the infectious disease may be treated.

According to research, there is a rather significant number of physicians who are not fully educated on tuberculosis treatment. “Can Physicians Treat Tuberculosis? Report on a National Survey of Physician Practices” describes an experiment in which a group of doctors assessed whether the general population of physicians would follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for tuberculosis treatment.

Based on their research, several physicians described a treatment regimen that was inappropriate. There were specialists who more likely understood appropriate treatment; however, regimens were often too long of a duration or could lead to further transmission and drug resistance (Sumartojo, Geiter, Miller & Hale, 1997).

The results states that “physicians who treat tuberculosis require training and support.” Information should be available in various formats so physicians may access and understand it (Sumartojo, Geiter, Miller & Hale, 1997).

Treating tuberculosis seems like it may take longer than other bacterial infections, so what are the appropriate treatment options according to CDC?

There are ten drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating tuberculosis. Of the ten, there are four that are most common: isoniazid, rifampin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide, which are typically taken for an average of 6-9 months for full treatment (CDC). It is extremely important to complete the full course of treatment; if not, bacteria that are still alive may resist drugs and become more dangerous and difficult to treat.

How can we ensure that physicians are more aware of treatment options? Maybe there could be required courses or online orientations with examination questions to complete. Researchers could provide more presentations on the disease. Healthcare companies and agencies could send more information to offices. If it will help prevent the spread and placing individuals’ lives in danger, it is important to ensure the necessary information is widespread.

Citation Information:

CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tb/topic/treatment/default.htm

Sumartojo, E. M., Geiter, L. J., Miller, B., & Hale, B. E. (1997). Can physicians treat tuberculosis? report on a national survey of physican practices . Public Health Briefs, 87(12), 2008-2011.

Evaluation of Sources

Is the article from a peer-reviewed journal? Yes

Who wrote it? Individuals with advanced degrees

Who published the site? American Journal of Public Health

Does the article state both sides? It seemed as if it may have been biased, but research and numbers verify that both sides were taken into account.


Reflections After Mid-Term

Things have definitely improved since I’ve last reflected on my progress in this course. As I previously mentioned, I’ve never been quite keen to biology, or any “hard science” for that matter. However, I have realized that I am finding the course material much more interesting than I was before. 

I am enjoying the visual and hands-on approach that we have been implementing. It is definitely helping me to remember the sequence of processes. Although it seemed as if we did not initially replicate the process of muscle contraction and blood flow in the heart correctly, the mistakes that we made helped me to learn and gain a better understanding. I also enjoyed the labeling of the skeletons; beyond the act of labeling, the interactions with my classmates help me to better recall information as well. 

I have also found the use of youtube videos while studying helps to break things down step by step for me, and I like the option of replaying the scene until I fully understand it. 

In addition to these new ways of studying, I have realized that applying the course terms to real life situations through blogs and various assignments have led to my increase in enjoying the course! I’m excited about this improvement and to continue learning new things!