Spring 2017 Newsletter
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We are proud of our accomplishments!
Professors Jennifer Swann and Vassie Ware were honored last Spring by the university’s Women’s Center in their celebration of 25 Women Who Are Changing Lehigh.
Jennifer Swann, Ph.D.
During Dr. Swann’s 25 years at Lehigh, she has worked hard to address the cultural climate. She was part of a small but strong ad hoc group at Lehigh that met to address the falling numbers of minority students in the early part of the century. That group prompted the administration to form the Student Diversity Task Force, which is a coalition of faculty, staff, and administrators. The SDTF became the Council for Equity and Community whose goal is to increase community through dialogue and engagement. Dr. Swann also served as co-chair and founding member of the Faculty and Staff of Color Network. The FSCN serves as an important focus for our faculty and staff and has been instrumental in building community for all of Lehigh’s members. By reaching out to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Dr. Swann has recruited students of color to our graduate program. She also works closely with undergraduate students from all backgrounds, giving them direct access to our research program to increase their critical thinking and understanding of biology. In her new role as Director of Student Success in the newly created CAS Advising Center, Dr. Swann has worked closely with students, faculty, and staff to increase student awareness about courses, majors and registration. The center has increased students’ satisfaction with advising in the CAS by supporting the Mentor Advisors – a group of faculty that advise and support first year students.
Vassie Ware, Ph.D.
Since the late 1980’s, Professor Ware has made significant contributions that have built an interdisciplinary life sciences curriculum and fostered interdisciplinary course-based and team-based research opportunities for Lehigh undergraduates. In the last decade, her achievements have included three multi-million dollar grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for Undergraduate Bioscience Education, as well as another HHMI award in 2009 that brought the SEA-PHAGES research program to Lehigh. New interdisciplinary courses include “Bioscience in the 21st century” - a web-accessible introductory course designed to introduce students to a survey of emerging bioscience-related problems and the importance of a systems-driven, multidisciplinary approach to create solutions for those problems. Recent initiatives undertaken by Professor Ware include programs that address the national need to improve retention of students in STEM fields. These include: introduction of a pre-admission-to-graduation science immersion program called RARE (Rapidly Accelerated Research Experience) that provides opportunities for students from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM fields to develop outstanding scientific and leadership skills to address complex problems in the life sciences; and the BioConnect Program that builds academic and research relationships with faculty and students at community colleges to improve STEM retention rates, with a focus on community college students who have an interest in transferring to Lehigh. The STEM Live Lehigh residential community is a recent outgrowth of initiatives by Professor Ware to integrate academic and residential life on campus.
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