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2012 STEM Symposium honors biology at Bethel

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The sixth annual STEM Symposium at Bethel College will feature three alumni presenters, all Kansas natives, honoring Professor Emeritus of Biology A. Wayne Wiens.

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Symposium begins Friday, Oct. 12, as part of Bethel’s 42nd Fall Festival, at 1 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center. It continues through Saturday morning’s keynote address in the Administration Building chapel, which will be followed by a reception for all STEM alumni and students (STEM covers biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, natural sciences, physics and psychology at Bethel).

Wayne Wiens taught at Bethel for almost 50 years before he retired in 2009. His scientific interests include genetics and cell and molecular biology, in which he continues to lecture occasionally. Another interest is the native plant garden he cultivates at his home in Newton.

Three of Wiens’s former students will be the featured STEM speakers this year, beginning Friday at 1 p.m. with Cheryl Stucky. She is a 1987 graduate and will speak on “Touch and pain: How we detect and protect.” She is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

The second lecturer is Bruce Buhr, a 1973 graduate, now an orthopedic surgeon in Wichita, who will present “There and back again – An orthopaedic odyssey.” His talk begins at 2 p.m. There will be time for questions and discussion following each of these lectures.

At 3 p.m., Buhr and Stucky, along with keynote speaker Kristi L. Neufeld, will participate in a panel discussion on career paths for students in the sciences, particularly those with interests in biology and medicine. Jon K. Piper, Bethel professor of biology, will be the moderator.

The lectures and panel take place in Krehbiel Auditorium. At 3:45 p.m., there is a reception in the Fine Arts Center Gallery area, outside the auditorium.

Neufeld will deliver the symposium’s keynote address Saturday morning, Oct. 13, at 9:30 a.m. in the Ad Building chapel. A 1987 Bethel graduate, Neufeld is associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Her lecture topic is “Exploring the function of colon tumor suppressor APC.”

All STEM Symposium events are free and open to the public, except the Friday evening dinner, which required advance reservations.

Cheryl Stucky, a native of rural Moundridge, graduated from Bethel with a major in biology and minor in psychology. She earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience, with a focus on pain mechanisms, from the University of Minnesota.

After four years in Germany to pursue postdoctoral research in the neurophysiology of pain, Stucky took a faculty position at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where her current research deals with understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive chronic pain during nerve injury, inflammation and sickle cell disease, as well as how humans sense touch stimuli in the environment.

Stucky has been awarded more than $6 million in research grants, mostly from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and has published more than 45 research articles. She directs the neuroscience doctoral graduate program at MCW and teaches both medical and graduate courses there.

Bruce Buhr is a Goessel native who became a Bethel College “campus kid” when his father, George Buhr, took the position of head basketball coach in 1955. Bruce graduated with a B.S. in biology, then served three years with Mennonite Central Committee in Belgium and Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) before returning to Bethel for more coursework. He earned a master’s degree in biology from Wichita State University and his M.D. degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Buhr’s residency in orthopedic surgery was at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center of the Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine, and he did a six-month orthopedic trauma fellowship in Paris. He has been practicing in orthopedics in Wichita since 1993, and is a clinical associate professor at the KU School of Medicine in Wichita.

Kristi Neufeld grew up in North Newton and graduated from Bethel with a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in biology. She earned her Ph.D. in cellular, viral and molecular biology from the University of Utah, with the last two years of her thesis research done at the University of California-Irvine. Her Ph.D. work focused on poliovirus replication. She returned to the University of Utah for post-doctoral work in human genetics.

Neufeld’s laboratory at KU studies the tumor suppressor protein adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) to understand how mutations in the APC gene lead to colon carcinogenesis. In more than a decade of APC research, Neufeld has demonstrated that nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling of APC is critical for its function. Her research now aims to further define both upstream triggers and downstream consequences of nuclear APC.

She has done research on multiple projects with funding from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NCI). She is the program leader in cancer biology at the KU Cancer Center, which recently received NCI designation.

For more information about the STEM Symposium, contact Jon Piper, coordinator of this year’s event, at 316-284-5215.

For a complete Fall Festival schedule, go to, where you can view and print a festival program.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthlyannual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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