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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Faculty Awards: Prof. Melissa Kosinski-Collins (BIO)

Every year the university gives awards to faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in teaching. Here are three professors recognized for their undergraduate teaching.

Published: April 16, 2010
Section: Features

Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Award: Kosinski-Collins is the 24th recipient of the prize.

Biography: Kosinski-Collins earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, graduating summa cum laude with Phi Beta Kappa honors. After earning her Ph.D. in Protein Biochemistry from MIT, she received an HHMI Postdoctoral Biological Education Fellowship to continue at MIT, where she focused primarily on biological education research and the importance of concept-based teaching and learning in biology. She has also served as the Program Academic Director; Faculty Mentor; and professor of genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry for the United States Biology Olympiad, and is involved in counseling area high school biology teachers in methods incorporating college level molecular biology labs into their classrooms.

Joining the Brandeis faculty in 2006, Kosinski-Collins has completely redesigned the curriculum for BIOL 18a and b, the lab courses in cell and molecular biology, and in genetics and bioinformatics, which now consist of a series of cohesive project-based interconnected experiments with real research components. She also teaches advanced undergraduate/graduate level courses in Molecular Biotechnology and Structural Molecular Biology, and a science course for non-majors which explores the molecular and psychological basis for neurodegenerative diseases. She annually supervises more than 30 graduate and undergraduate student TAs for the BIO labs, in addition to serving as a first year adviser, Undergraduate Research Advisor, and member of the Science Posse Selection Committee and the Biology Curriculum Committee.

Students comments: “Proof of her deserving such an award is apparent in the rate of attendance to one of her classes; even though the class meets three days a week at 8 a.m. and she does not take attendance formally, students still choose to consistently attend because of the value of her teaching.”

“Melissa is without exception the best teacher I have ever had. She not only cares about her students, but cares about her teaching. For example, she successfully campaigned for a brand new 3-dimensional classroom in the new Shapiro Science Complex–a novel teaching aid not found in New England. Melissa is not only an incredible educator, but an amazing person; she has undoubtedly touched the lives of hundreds of students she has taught here.”

“Although she [was my teacher] two years ago, she is still the professor I go to normally with my everyday questions. Besides being a great person to talk to, she is also a great mentor. Dr. KC is always there for her present and past students. Anyone who has the opportunity to know her is truly blessed.”