Michele Schuster shares her journey from biologist to educator

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We asked biology professors what inspired them to become teachers. Here's what author and instructor Michele Schuster, co-author of Scientific American Biology for a Changing World with Physiology, had to say!

Michele Schuster’s journey began when she first encountered the captivating world of biology in high school. It was at that moment when she peered through a microscope and witnessed the intricate beauty of cells for the very first time. Since that awe-inspiring moment, her fascination with cells and chromosomes never waned.

Throughout her undergraduate studies, she delved deeper into the realms of cell biology, microbiology, genetics, and all things related to the world of chromosomes. During her time in graduate school, her focus shifted towards the study of chromosome segregation in yeast. Although her project didn't yield the desired results, it failed to dampen her unwavering passion for chromosomes.

Following her graduate studies, she embarked on a post-doctoral research position at the University of Pittsburgh, where she  immersed herself in the field of oral cancer cytogenetics. This involved meticulously examining and analyzing rearranged and altered chromosomes found in oral cancer. Her objective was to identify chromosomal alterations that served as indicators of poor outcomes, thus warranting more aggressive treatment approaches. Additionally, she sought to unravel the biological implications of these alterations for future research endeavors.

During an unexpected encounter at the Greek Food Festival, Michele’s life took an unforeseen turn. A conversation led to an invitation to teach a summer course in human genetics. Little did she know that this experience would prove to be transformative. Teaching ignited a newfound love within her that surpassed even her passion for chromosomes!

Since that pivotal moment, she  devoted herself to the art of teaching, while also delving into the realm of education research. Her current inspiration lies in instilling a sense of wonder and motivation in her students. She strives to help them forge connections between their own interests, emotions, and the captivating world of biology. Her ultimate aim is to demonstrate the profound impact that biology has on their everyday lives.

For Michele, success is not solely measured by her students' performance in her class, rather, it is when students’ effectively utilize the knowledge they have acquired to make informed decisions across various facets of their lives. Whether it be in matters of voting, healthcare, nutrition, exercise, or reproduction, she empowers students to apply their understanding, thereby leading fulfilling lives enriched by biological insights.

See what Michele had to say about her inspirational journey into the classroom, watch the video below.