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Faculty Lectureship Award Series
John Wertz, Department of Biology
Professor Wertz
received his Bachelor’s degree from Calvin College and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He has taught at Calvin since 2007 and enjoys opening students minds to the beauty of creation through teaching Medical Microbiology, Microbiology, Biological Science and Bacteriophage Genomics. His research is focused on the role of bacteriophage in determining health vs. disease in complex bacteria-host systems such as the human gut. Other areas of scholarly interest include the history of science, how creation care is related to infectious disease, and the historical rise and evolution of infectious disease. Funding for his research has come from the NIH, NSF, HHMI, and Calvin College. His other passions include spending time hiking, boating, and swimming with family, genealogy, numismatics, and paleontology. Paradoxically, he is also a severe germophobe.

"Sixty nanometers wide,
200 million light-years long:
Infecting classrooms and research labs with Bacteriophage"

(vimeo of the lecture)

Lecture: Thursday, March 1, 2012
4 p.m., CFAC Recital Hall
(refreshments will be served)

About the lecture: Do you know what bacteriophage are? Do you know why they are important in global health and disease? What would be the best way for you to learn about this – a lecture from me or isolating one, “seeing” it grow, talking about it with your friends, extracting its DNA, and identifying all of its genes? Many of us, I believe, would say the latter. However, science education has historically placed a large emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge through lectures followed by its application in the laboratory. With funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute we are acting on the hypothesis that biological learning is enhanced and retained more effectively by using the research laboratory as the classroom. Incoming freshmen now have the opportunity to do hands-on, scientifically relevant, real-world research on bacteriophage as a vehicle for learning about the natural world – with surprising results. Equally surprising are the “ripple effects” this pedagogy has had on research and scholarship at Calvin, for both faculty and students. In particular, it rocked the world of this researcher to such a degree that I shifted the focus of my laboratory to study human diseases like Crohn’s Disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases to determine if they are caused by – you guessed it – bacteriophage.    

Other lectures in 2011-2012:

Lew Klatt, assistant professor, English
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, Covenant Fine Arts recital hall

Suzanne McDonald, assistant professor, Religion
Thursday, April 12, 2012, Meeter Center lecture hall