Engaging the Minds, Hands and Hearts of Future Scientists

Tyler Barnes,
Class of 2014

Professor Ben Huddle,
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

Professor Chris Lassiter,
Associate Professor of Biology

“Research means discovering something new, something no one knew before. That’s what scientists do. Undergraduate research gives students a peek at research,” says Professor of Chemistry Benjamin Huddle, who has been mentoring Roanoke students into successful medical and science careers for 44 years.

Through Roanoke’s Undergraduate Research Assistants Program, Tyler Barnes ’14 has gotten more than a peek. Since her freshman year, she has been working closely with Dr. Chris Lassiter, an associate professor in Roanoke’s biology department. Tyler, who plans to become a veterinarian, has presented her zebrafish research on estrogen contamination in the Roanoke River at several conferences.

Tyler’s first presentation was at an international genetics conference. “People were shocked to find out I was an undergraduate given the depth and detail of the work. That really boosted my confidence.” She says it’s also gratifying that people know Roanoke. “Its reputation in the sciences is really rising across
the country.”

“At Roanoke, we’re working to educate the whole scientist,” says Chris Lassiter, “the mind with scientific knowledge, the hands with scientific skills and the heart with a deep understanding of the role of science in society.”

In Roanoke’s endeavor to educate future doctors, researchers and policy makers who will be entrusted to make life better for all of us, the College recognizes that “science has changed,” as Ben Huddle says. “Today’s teaching requires students to simultaneously use a textbook, a laptop computer and a notebook for class notes. Those won’t fit on a student desk. In the entire science facility, we have only one classroom that has been renovated to make possible modern teaching technology.”

Ben says not only has teaching changed, but the sciences at Roanoke also have literally outgrown the present facility. “Our current facilities were built in 1969, when there were 1,000 students and 50 faculty members. We now have 2,200 students and nearly 170 faculty members.”

“Our students want careers in state-of-the-art industries,” says Chris. “They need to see that our facilities will prepare them for great graduate schools and careers. They need to see facilities that match the strength of our departments. The new science complex will keep attracting wonderful students like Tyler.”

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