Once a Student, Now an Expert

June 11, 2014
Communications Staff
As a Fulbright recipient, Professor of Biology Yolanda Cruz is lending her expertise in developmental genetics and epigenetics at the University of the Philippines. Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones

Yolanda Cruz, Danforth Professor of Biology, has received an award from the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board to extend her teaching and research experience in molecular, cell, and developmental biology to help educate and train graduate students in the Molecular and Biotechnology Program at the Los Baños campus of the University of the Philippines (UPLB).

With her Fulbright award, Cruz is spending the summer on the UPLB campus during the first semester of the school’s 2014-2015 academic year. The arrangement will enable her to teach two new graduate-level courses in developmental genetics and epigenetics—which is the study of hereditary changes in cells that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence—during the first half of the same 16-week semester. She will also assist in relevant lab exercises.

At Oberlin, Cruz also teaches courses in developmental biology and epigenetics, and supervises a practicum in health careers each semester. Her primary research interest is marsupial reproduction and development.

Cruz regards her Fulbright scholarship as an opportunity to repay a debt of gratitude to the institution where she got her start as a research developmental biologist. Born and raised in the Philippines, Cruz attended a private grade school located on the university campus; she received her high school diploma from UPLB’s science-teaching lab; and she received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from UPLB’s College of Agriculture.

Her work during the Fulbright period is intended to update and expand the interdisciplinary Molecular and Biotechnology curriculum, foster ongoing collaboration with UPLB faculty, and develop a long-term mentoring relationship with students as they transition to become researchers and teachers.

With her award Cruz is also aiming to make a modest contribution to the effort to harness biotechnological advances that can improve human lives: Much of humanity remains untouched or underserved by biotechnological advances, and scholars have found that this is due in large part to the dearth of educational opportunities in science and technology in the developing world.

In addition to teaching at UPLB, Cruz will assist with the university’s participation in an effort led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to enhance collaboration among higher education institutions in Southeast Asia. The objective is for universities and ASEAN member countries to join the global effort to improve people’s lives through education and modernization.

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