I’ve been into biology since I was a kid. I grew up in Arizona and used to spend a lot of time exploring the desert around my home and enjoying nature. Later, I earned a B.S. in Biology at UC Irvine and then worked in various field biology positions with the UC, Forest Service, BLM, and California Department of Fish and Game in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I returned to school to earn an M.S. in Biology from Sonoma State University. For my Master’s thesis, I studied the physiological and genetic responses of a willow leaf beetle to temperature (and climate change) in the Sierra Nevada mountains. My work resulted in two publications (see below). I worked as a union organizer for a few years while finishing my degree and then I started teaching biology.
What I teach...
I have been teaching in the Peralta district since 2006. Currently, I teach biomanufacturing classes at Laney College: Bio 72 Scientific Instrumentation series, Bio 75 Fundamentals of Biotechnology Lab, Bio 76 Principles of Biomanufacturing lecture, and Bio 79 Bioreactor Cell Culture and Protein Recovery. I also teach the Bio 801 Biology of Growing Food, a fee-based class that takes place in the Laney Garden.
My teaching philosophy…
I consider myself a lifelong student of biology and teaching. I am thrilled to be in a discipline in which new advances and major breakthroughs happen daily. Also, I am constantly learning and trying to improve myself as an instructor. Since biomanufacturing is such a rapidly evolving field, I consider it a top priority to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques. I have trained at NC State’s Golden Leaf Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC), Madison Area Technical College’s stem cell center, Fresno State’s cell culture facility, and Ohlone College’s industry trainings. You can find more information about these on my blog. I also keep current by reading various industry publications, attending local industry organization meetings, and being a member of industry organizations like Bio-Link. The classes I teach have a very heavy emphasis on hands-on learning. I invest a considerable amount of time designing laboratory exercises that are engaging and convey the principles and techniques that industry considers most valuable like Good Documentation Practices (GDP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), aseptic technique, math skills, instrumentation, and so on. Outside of class, I help students in the program launch their careers in the industry. I invite recruiters from Kelly Scientific and Aerotek to speak to students. I am involved in organizing career fairs and resume workshops on campus.
When I’m not teaching, I enjoy traveling, hiking, and good food. I’m an avid gardener and you might find me out in Laney’s Edible Garden when I’m not in class. Or you might see me in the Laney Bistro eating some of the wonderful organic vegetables grown in the garden and prepared by Laney’s Culinary Arts students. I love living and working in the East Bay because it has so much to offer.
What I’m Thinking About Now…
Two industry advances I am keeping my eye on right now are clinical diagnostics and stem cells. Theranos, headquartered in Palo Alto with manufacturing in Newark, is a new company that is set to revolutionize the field of blood based diagnostics in medicine. This company is set to rapidly expand across the country and will be ramping up their manufacturing in 2015. With stem cells, there are several Bay Area companies that are in clinical trials for stem cell based therapies. In the not too distant future, these companies will be moving to large scale manufacturing and will need manufacturing technicians with stem cell experience. I plan to incorporate stem cell culture into our program in the future to meet this need.
The following papers are research articles that resulted from my graduate work in beetle physiology and genetics. Click on the titles below to get PDF versions of the articles.
- Dahlhoff, E.P., S.L. Fearnley, D.A. Bruce, A.G. Gibbs, R. Stoneking, D.M. McMillan, K.Deiner, J.T. Smiley and N.E. Rank. 2008.Effects of temperature on physiology and reproductive success of a montane leaf beetle: implications for persistence of native populations enduring climate change.Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 81: 718-732.
- Rank, N. E., D. A. Bruce, D. M. McMillan, C. Barclay and E. P. Dahlhoff. 2007. Phosphoglucose isomerase genotype affects running speed and heat shock protein expression after exposure to extreme temperatures in a montane willow beetle. Journal of Experimental Biology 210: 750-764.