Forensic Day to feature cadaver lab tours and more

March 03, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau  

Grand Canyon University nursing student Megan Ziegler is only a sophomore, but she knows her anatomy.

What is the weight of an adult liver? “Three to four pounds, on average,” she told a group of spellbound students from Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley during a recent tour.

How far can a stomach stretch? “To a football size.”

What is a brain like? “Sixty percent fat, with a tofu texture.”

Students from Poston Butte High School get a tour of one of GCU's five cadaver labs.

Students from Poston Butte High School get a tour of one of GCU’s five cadaver labs. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

Ziegler was not only spouting facts, she also was holding the organs in gloved hands during a recent Human Anatomy Workshop (HAWS) that GCU conducts for interested high school students.

In addition to the HAWS demonstration room, GCU has four other cadaver labs on campus, two in the Colangelo College of Business, left over from when it used to be a science building, and two besides HAWS in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Tours of GCU’s cadaver labs will be a popular agenda item Tuesday when GCU hosts hundreds of high school students and conducts STEM-oriented activities during Forensic Science Day 2016.

Visitors will be invited to learn about forensic science and other STEM fields and have the opportunity to participate in a crime scene competition, watch live police dog demonstrations, observe blood spatter reconstruction and more.

Michael Bodeen, GCU lead instructor for human dissection, discusses the lure of the labs.

Michael Bodeen, GCU lead instructor for human dissection, discusses the lure of the labs.

GCU’s cadaver labs, and the fact that undergraduates can dissect cadavers inside them, are among the most compelling of GCU’s STEM degree program draws.

“We are one of the only universities doing this at an undergraduate level,” said Michael Bodeen, CSET lead instructor for human dissection. “It gives students an experience that is the over-the-top good.”

The program sets GCU apart, Bodeen said. GCU’s philosophy is that students are never too young to perform dissections, which in fact promote self-confidence and provide an early glimpse into the medical professions, he said.

As Bodeen elaborated on the growing popularity of the GCU’s dissection programs, a sophomore was working on a cadaver nearby.

A skeleton is also a learning tool in GCU's cadaver labs.

A skeleton is also a learning tool in GCU’s cadaver labs. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

“She’s in here working on a cadaver on her own,” Bodeen said, something unheard of at many other Arizona colleges.

GCU has nearly 20 cadavers, more than any other Arizona university at the undergraduate level, including Arizona State, Bodeen said.

The body parts that nursing student Ziegler held for students to see came from an older cadaver whose organs were harvested, Bodeen said.

“The gallbladder holds bile,” Ziegler told the Poston Butte students during their HAWS visit. “The tongue has eight different muscles that are used together.”

Ziegler also sought to dispel the “myth” that humans only use 10 percent of their brains.

“We use 95 percent of the brain just to walk,” she said.

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or 


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