Jan Reichard-Brown, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology | Director of the Healthcare Studies Program
I love teaching. I like being able to explain things to my students, especially when they feel they’re never going to get it, and challenging them. It makes them better students.
I spend my time in the lab conducting research in developmental biology, studying birth defects in sea urchins. People are surprised at the connection, but a lot of the things that happen in sea urchins in the first stages of development are the same as in early human development!
Research experience is required for all biology majors and available to other majors. It’s an essential part of the Susquehanna University experience. Each year, I have three or four senior research students who pick their own project and choose their own direction. I don’t treat them as lab assistants—I teach them how to do their own research and learn to ask the right questions. They can continue using these skills throughout their careers.
But the process of becoming a scientist is more than learning how to work in a lab. At Susquehanna, we embrace the true liberal arts education. Our central curriculum encourages students to explore various philosophies so that in addition to learning to problem solve, they come to an understanding of how to approach the problem from different perspectives. This is critical for success in life as well as in graduate school, and essential for their careers beyond.
I continue to publish scientific research, including students as contribution authors when appropriate. My senior research students regularly present their work at the annual ASBC, Teratology Society, Pennsylvania Academy of Science and National Council for Undergraduate Research meetings. My involvement in numerous professional societies gives me the opportunity to network and keep abreast of changes in the graduate school and professional school admissions processes so our students can be prepared.
Applying to graduate and professional school is an emotional roller coaster. We want to make sure our students are prepared and competitive so they’re successful on the first try. I often spend hours helping a student polish his or her personal statement or essay because these are so important. I understand what it takes for them to make it into graduate school and what it takes to succeed in the health care field beyond the post-doctorate experience. We give them the tools they need to succeed.
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