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Lynn Diener
Assistant Professor
Biology Department
Mount Mary College
Katrina's Troubled Waters: The Rescue Worker's Dilemma

This case study explores some of the health issues brought to light during the flooding in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. The case encourages students to think about a variety of problems that can occur when humans are exposed to unsanitary flood waters, focusing specifically on exposure to the heavy metal, lead (Pb). The case explores the use of lead in gasoline and how that continues to impact the environment today. Students learn a little about the fate and transport of lead as well as its toxicity. The case is intended for a non-majors environmental issues course, but it could also be used in an introductory biology, toxicology, or ecology course.

My Dog is Broken!: A Case Study in Cell Signaling

Cell signaling is one of the more difficult concepts for students to understand in their study of cell biology. To help students better understand the process of cell signaling, from reception to cellular response, a fairly simple signal pathway is used as an example in this case study in which students read a series of instant messages and emails between two friends trying to determine what is causing erectile dysfunction in a prize winning dog. The case was developed for use in an introductory biology course, but could also be used in a cell biology course.

The Hunger Pains: Ghrelin, Weight Loss, and Maintenance

In this interrupted case study, good friends Sara and Mallory discuss Sara's recent healthy weight loss and her difficulty in maintaining her desired weight. Sara recently heard about a hormone, ghrelin, and wonders if that chemical may have something to do with her struggle. Biology major Mallory learns a little bit about ghrelin, an amine hormone released by the stomach, and shares what she's learned with Sara. The case is presented in a "Facebook" or online discussion type of format, something most students are familiar and comfortable with. In working through the case, students will develop their understanding of hormones, with a specific focus on ghrelin and growth hormone, and explore the effect of sleep and diet on ghrelin. Written for an introductory level physiology course, the case would also be appropriate for an introductory level biology class. It can also be used in any course in which teachers want their students to develop skills in graphing, interpreting, and analyzing data.