As the Director of Scholarly Projects and Undergraduate Research, Dr. Heather Brown is no stranger to scientific inquiry. Her research experience (including post-doctoral work at Stanford University) include:
Dr. Brown's current teaching and research focuses on molecular and cellular Biology, Neurobiology, and Research Methods. She is also a leader of the Biology Education to Careers (BETC) program, which engages students in the North and Central Valley regions with science-based activities.
There can be something a little creepy about robots roaming down hospital corridors that are responsible for human lives. But they are already part of our medical world: While some service robots dispense medications and food, newer therapeutic models (such as Huggable) are designed to comfort sick children.
“We’re interacting with machines on a daily basis and they’re changing our understanding of ourselves,” according to CHS professor Dr. William Davis, “This is especially evident in the health sciences; for instance, elderly patients have carebots that they view as pets, while young patients are coaxed out of anxiety by bots that make them happy.”
It’s this philosophical distinction between humanist and post humanist perspectives that fuels Davis’ research agenda about artificial agents that interact with humans. He notes that our definitions of morality now include thinking of the environment and non-human animals as valuable beings.
Davis is currently including current issues of technology and culture in his teaching of PHLT 420, a Pre-Medical Post-Bac class about Biopsychosocial Framework for the Health Professions. His next course, Oral Communication, will also investigate how we are connected (writing, speaking, ways we organize facts) with technology as extensions of ourselves.
CHS faculty and staff frequently attend social justice events to better connect the field with the classroom, such as the recent “Art for Humanity” benefit for the International Rescue Committee. The refugee art exhibit, which included past refugees from Iraq, Iran, and Laos, ties into many goals of the undergraduate program.
“Service Learning is such a critical learning component at CHS that all undergraduate students spend at least one year with valuable community work,” said Moira Delgado, CHS Director of Community Service Learning. “It’s important for our students to explore not only scientific values but also moral values that play a role in health disparities and other current events.”
A new paradigm is growing in the field of student services; Strengths-based advising that helps people recognize their abilities rather than deficits. For Dr. Cheryl Herrera, CHS Director of Student Success and Career Services, this focus on strengths rather than shortcomings is greatly helping students in personal and academic development.
“To help our undergrads uncover their potential, they take a StrengthsFinder assessment to uncover their top five talents,” stated Dr. Herrera. “In fact, all faculty and staff have also identified their strengths, which allows our community to build upon talents and develop resilience within our roles.”
In addition to her student advising role, Dr. Herrera is also an Assistant Professor of Public Administration. While her research areas include legal and public policy issues, she primarily concentrates on best ways to foster a climate of excellence.
Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics
Research Interest: Mechanisms of DNA Damage Repair and Genome Maintenance
The maintenance of genome stability is critical for the faithful replication and segregation of chromosomes, which lowers the incidence of disease and cancer. However, damage to DNA from endogenous (eg. DNA replication failure) and exogenous (eg. UV) sources results in a wide array of events, such as loss of heterozygosity, chromosome loss, and translocation, which are common in many cancers.
Dr. Meyer's research employs the use of the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to understand the pathways in cells which repair various forms of DNA damage and maintain chromosome integrity using a combination of classical and molecular genetics, molecular biology and physical assays.
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences
Director of Accreditation and Assessment
Research Interest: Assessment of Teaching and Learning; Nutritional Effects on Neural Stem Cells
Dr. Corniola has a varied research career from food and nutrition science to neuroscience and assessment of teaching and learning.
Her research experiences (including post-doctoral work at Stanford University) include:
Dr. Corniola’s current basic science research interests focus on how nutrition affects molecular and cellular mechanisms in adult neuronal stem cells.
As Director of Assessment and Accreditation, Dr. Corniola is interested in the assessment of teaching and learning. Her goals are to help develop methodologies and tools that effectively measure student performance and thus help the continuous quality improvement of the educational programs. Faculty use assessment data to help hone their craft in teaching and students use assessment data to scale their performance and identify areas for improvement.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Research Interest: Computational Molecular Chemistry
Dr. Valley's research focuses on the use and advancement of computational theoretical modeling to more fully understand molecular interactions at soft matter interfaces. He seeks to understand fundamental processes of these chemical systems by use of quantum mechanical and molecular dynamics calculations to be able to improve applications in drug design, interfacial uptake and processing in environmental and biological systems, and combustion pollutant capture technologies.
Students working with Dr. Valley will learn to use computational chemistry software that will allow them to visualize the dynamics of and predict the properties and behavior of organic molecules, proteins, DNA, RNA, polymers, ionic liquids, and other chemical systems relevant to health and technology.
Dr. Katherine Whitcome studies how mothers in the human present and in the ancestral past carry their dependent offspring over long distances. Via a weighted doll and treadmill, she records maternal performance as it is captured by infrared cameras trained on reflective markers.
Body movements are later reconstructed in 3D space where stride lengths and energetic costs are measured.
The result: Fascinating links between anatomy and performance with diverse research methodologies including musculoskeletal models and primate field study.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Research Interest: Structure-Function Relationships of Biological Macromolecules
Dr. Wostenberg is interested in how the structural dynamics of biological macromolecules (like DNA, RNA and protein) influence function, especially as it relates to disease states. For example, how do these biological macromolecules maintain their function under external stresses like temperature change, pH change, and variations in salt concentration. He approaches these problems from a biochemical/biophysical approach.
Students doing research under the guidance of Dr. Wostenberg will learn to purify biological macromolecules and utilize various analytical biochemical/biophysical techniques (e.g. calorimetry, binding assays, and chemical probes) to determine their structure, dynamics, and function under environmental stress conditions. In addition, the experimental work will be complemented with computational techniques such as bioinformatics and molecular dynamic simulations to further explore various biochemical/biophysical aspects of the biomolecules as they relate to disease.