In 2008, Cabrini was one of 12 colleges and universities nationwide accepted into the 2009 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Education Alliance (SEA).
Melinda Harrison, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, and David Dunbar, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, received an educational grant from HHMI, which will fund a research-based introductory biology course that debuted at Cabrini in the 2009-10 academic year.
Harrison and Dunbar are developing an honors biology course built around a national experiment in bacteriophage genomics. (A bacteriophage, or phage, is a virus that infects bacteria.)
Harrison was initially drawn to Cabrini upon visiting the Antoinette Iadarola Center for Science, Education, and Technology.
"The science building is a hidden gem, a completely modern facility," Harrison says.
"The students who take courses here get a cutting-edge feel for science, and faculty members take pride in teaching and conducting research projects here."
At the Center, she also saw firsthand meaningful educational interaction between professors and students, which she thinks is imperative to a student's well-rounded education.
"I believe that to teach effectively in the sciences, you need to have close, personal [faculty] attention," she says. "I saw this at Cabrini."
This philosophy of teaching is helping to bring real-world experience into the classroom. Harrison tries to instill in her students the concept that science is an essential part of life.
Her extracurricular research interests include wine chemistry, and studying how the chemicals in wood used in casks permeate the wine, lending distinct flavors and aromas; and investigating how selenium, a chemical element, is regulated in a normal cell and how much of the selenium is needed for survival.
In her free time, Harrison volunteers at local high schools promoting science awareness through demonstrations.
"Cabrini is a wonderful place to earn an education," Harrison says.
"There are so many places for a student to get involved and grow throughout his or her time here."