Department of Biological Sciences - Lehigh University

Volume 10, 2014 - Biological Sciences Newsletter - Spring 2014

In this edition.....

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A tribute to a mentor and teacher

by Katherine Donigan, '05

Barry Bean, Ph.D.
Barry Bean, Ph.D.
November 2, 1942 - June 25, 2012

When I arrived at Lehigh as a freshman in 2002, I was fairly certain of two things - I wanted to major in biology and I wanted to do independent research. At the end of my freshman year, I started contacting faculty members in the Biology department to discuss opportunities for undergraduate research in their labs. Barry was the first to respond and was very enthusiastic about the possibility of working in his lab. When we met a few days later, we talked about his lab’s research interests and potential projects I could work on. Barry had a knack for describing complicated concepts in a way that conveyed his confidence that I could understand them, regardless of the fact that I was a freshman with no formal lab experience. He said I could start in the lab the very next semester and I accepted the position immediately.

Over the summer, Barry sent me numerous reviews and research articles to get me up to speed on the field of andrology. Initially, I wasn’t sure that I was quite up to the challenge of reading primary literature, but Barry encouraged me to press on and was happy to answer any question I had, no matter how basic or simple. After I started working in the lab, he would meet with me weekly to discuss my results and the literature I had been reading. He always made me feel comfortable asking questions and proposing my own ideas, and encouraged me to present my work at a national meeting. The thought of presenting to experts in the field was intimidating at first, but Barry guided me in preparing the abstract and the poster and assured me that it would be an invaluable experience. He was right, of course - presenting data at a national meeting was one of the highlights of my Lehigh education.

Looking back, it is clear that as a mentor, Barry knew how to strike the right balance between providing guidance and enabling independence. His expectations were always high, but I knew it was only because he was confident I could meet them. He provided support with both kindness and a sense of humor, and encouraged me to extend myself beyond what I thought was possible. I can only hope that future Lehigh students will be as fortunate as I was to have had such an exceptional mentor so early in my education.

Katherine Donigan, Class of 2005
Katherine Donigan, Class of 2005

Learn more about Kate Donigan


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John Nyby | Amber Rice | Jeffrey Sands | Jill Schneider | Neal Simon | Robert Skibbens | Jennifer Swann | Vassie Ware