North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College alumnus shares tales of neuroscience research with students

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Contact: Ted Slowik, Director of PR and Media Relations, 630-637-5307,

Nov. 1, 2010—A North Central College alumnus being recognized for his accomplishments as a student-athlete took time during Homecoming 2010 to talk to biology students about his neuroscience research.

Derron Bishop, an associate professor of neurophysiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine-Muncie on the campus of Ball State University, asked to guest lecture a class of biology students while he was on campus for his induction in North Central’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

“This is where is all started for me,” Bishop said. “I wanted to give something back.”

Bishop gave an hour-long presentation about his research, which involves locating, observing and photographing connections among nerve cells. His study with others about synapse loss during development of neurodegenerative diseases could lead to improved treatments for people with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.

In his work, Bishop and his colleagues use high-powered confocal and electron microscopes to look at nerve cells. His team has developed a technique using fluorescent proteins in mice, and then photographing the progression of neurological diseases. One of the challenges of his research, he told North Central students, is manipulating the tiny biological samples he studies. He explained how he developed a tool made from an eyelash to find exactly what he’s looking for on a sample.

“You can see a lot just by observing. Was there an experiment? Was there a hypothesis? We just watched it,” he told the class of students taught by Stephen Johnston, Roger and Nadeane Hruby Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences and associate professor of biology.

Bishop credits his interest in science to his studies under John Zenchak, professor of biology at North Central. “I learned physiology from him,” Bishop said.

Bishop graduated from North Central in 1993 with a degree in biology. He earned eight All-America certificates and an NCAA Division III National Cross Country Championship as a Cardinal. He is one of three four-time All-Americans in cross country at North Central and one of 14 in the history of Division III. He was part of three national runner-up teams before leading North Central to the national title as a senior. After graduating from North Central, Bishop received his M.S. degree from Ball State University and a Ph.D. in neurosciences from Washington University in St. Louis.

Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois—rated by Money magazine as among the nation’s “Best Places to Live”—North Central College is just 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes.