Department Feature: Biology

Critical Thought and Inquiry (CTI) classes allow students to learn subjects outside of their major and to know professors in other departments. However, you take only one class in each of the CTI categories, so there are some faculty you may not know. This is the first part of a reoccuring series highlighting different departments on campus.


Dr. Rose Reynolds

Reynolds attended University of Arizona and Arizona State University West for undergraduate school and went on to get her doctorate in evolution and ecology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying the evolution of aging and mortality rates using the model organism fruit flies. funded by the National Institutes of Health, Reynolds worked at the University of Oregon studying with Caenorhabditis remanei, a microscopic worm, to research genetics of healthy lifespan and helped assemble the genome C. remanei.

Reynolds’ area of specialty within biology is the genetic basis of aging.

“I ask why [human] individuals in some families get age-related diseases at younger ages while individuals in other families may not ever develop age related disease, or they may delay the onset of those diseases to well past 100 years of age,” said Reynolds.

After considering many career paths, including vocal performance and archaeology, Reynolds found that she loved teaching and research at the college level. She has been teaching at Jewell since the fall of 2012. Reynolds enjoys teaching here because of the small class size, being able to work one-on-one in the lab setting and helping students with original research ideas. Her favorite class to teach is molecular genetics because the class is full of juniors and seniors who have a good biology background, so they can discuss controversial genetics topics and do independent work in lab.

Dr. Paul Klawinski

Klawinski attended Stephan F. Austin State University in Texas for his Bachelors and Master of Science. He obtained his doctorate in quantitative biology from the University of Texas at Arlington. Before coming to Jewell 15 and half years ago, he taught for a year at Shippensburg University and did a two-year postdoctoral at the University of Puerto Rico. Klawinski is an animal ecologist and specializes in studying species interactions, behavior and responses to disturbances. He enjoys studying amphibians and reptiles and has also done research on spiders.

Klawinski originally thought about becoming a naturalist but started teaching as a lab assistant and was eventually pushed towards academia by one of his professors.

“I like the small class sizes and really being able to dig into things. I also like it when I can make things relatable,” said Klawinski.

His favorite course to teach is animal behavior because it covers animals and what they do in nature, which is directly applicable to humans.

Dr. Lilah Rahn-Lee

For her undergraduate education, Rahn-Lee attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. At that liberal arts college, she researched genomic imprinting in mice. Rahn-Lee attended Harvard University where she earned her doctorate in molecular and cellular biology. Her dissertation explored how DNA replication is regulated during the decision of Bacillus subtitlis, a type of bacteria, to form a spore. She did postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley working with magneto-tactic bacteria, which form internal magnets to navigate their aquatic environment. Her work specifically focused on how these magnets form.

Rahn-Lee’s interest and specialties within biology include molecular biology and microbiology. She enjoys topics that investigate molecular processes of abnormal bacteria, such as magnetotactic bacteria.

Rahn-Lee’s liberal arts education experience influenced her career path.

“As soon as I got to graduate school, I realized what a great time I had it back at my liberal arts college. I really loved my time at Harvard and UCB, but I missed the small community, working with people outside the sciences and one-on-one interactions between students and professors that form the liberal arts college environment,” said Rahn-Lee.

This is her second semester at Jewell. She has enjoyed teaching fundamental and upper level biology classes, particularly those within the Oxbridge program due to the upper-level conversations she has with students.

Dr. Bhupinder Vohra

Vohra attended Kurukshetra University in India for his bachelor and master of science as well as his doctorate. His postdoctoral research was on learning memory, neurophysiology and pharmacology at the Sun Yat Sun University in China. He has also researched neurodegeneration at the University of Minnesota, Washington University and Yale University.

Vohra’s favorite area of biology is neurobiology and has done extensive research on the topic.

“A career in research and teaching is a commitment to lifelong learning. Having trained in research, and due to my continuous research activities, I have been a student for nearly my whole life. I have learned to follow the philosophy ‘learn, teach, and you learn twice,’” said Vohra.

All biology, chemistry and biochemistry students must complete a two-year undergraduate research project working under a faculty member. This is one of Vohra’s favorite aspects of teaching at Jewell because he can be both a professor and researcher. Vohra has been a professor at Jewell for one and half years. Vohra has observed an eagerness to learn in many of his students.

Dr. Jenny Schafer

After completing her undergraduate education at Miami University in Ohio, Schafer got her doctorate at the University of Florida. She wrote her dissertation on the effect of fire nutrient availability and limitation in Florida scrub ecosystems. Schafer specializes in plant and ecosystem ecology. Although she does not have a favorite area of study, she loves working outside and has been able to do so with her research at Jewell in invasive species, prairie restoration, effects of disturbance and soil nutrient availability.

“The best thing about teaching at Jewell is the students. I enjoy teaching students that are excited about learning, ask thoughtful questions and are engaged in class. I have learned new things about topics that students are passionate about, which is great. I also like that Jewell is supportive of experiential learning and that I can teach through research and field experiences,” said Schafer.

Schafer started teaching at Jewell in the fall of 2014. Her favorite class to teach is biological diversity because of the wide variety of topics and the mixture of biology and non-biology majors.

A previous version of this article was published containing a mistake. 

Brianna Steiert

Brianna Steiert is a senior Oxbridge Molecular Biology major and mathematics minor. She serves as Features and Managing editors for the Hilltop Monitor.

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