HHMI postdoctoral teaching fellows
Brian Gibbens, Ph.D.
Hired in April, 2011, Brian Gibbens was the first of eight postdoctoral teaching fellows recruited for the HHMI science education program.
A Minnesota native, he earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the College of Biological Sciences. As an undergraduate he majored in genetics, cell biology and development. And as a graduate student, he completed the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDB&G) program. His thesis research, conducted in the laboratory of Laura Ranum, professor of genetics, cell biology and development, focused on a genetic mutation common to several inherited neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington’s Disease, Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 8, and Myotonic Dystrophy.
As a teaching fellow, he is responsible for designing modules and course curricula to get non-majors and transfer students involved in science and biology.
“I applied for this position because I have always wanted to be a teacher and was thrilled to find an opportunity to do research as well as teach.”
Brian’s first priority is to design modules and coursework for non-majors and transfer students to get them involved in hands-on, discovery-based science.
“My job is to give them a taste of what it is like to be a real scientist and to create experiences that will make learning about science fun,” Brian says.
Currently, he’s designing lab modules for Biol 1009 which relate to the Minnesota Mississippi Metagenomics Project (M3P).
“I'm trying to bring the new science of metagenomics into the classroom while it’s still new. Students will learn about metagenomics and its applications and get to experiment with some real samples. Because the samples have not previously been tested, students may make real discoveries about the Mississippi metagenome.
In addition to planning courses, Brian is analyzing antibiotic resistance of microbes from the Mississippi River in Professor Mike Sadowsky's lab. Sadowsky, professor of soil, water and climate, is director of the Minnesota Mississippi Metagenome Project and director of the Biotechnology Institute.
Brian’s ultimate career goal is to become a biology professor at a small community or liberal arts college that will allow him to teach as well as do some exciting research.
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