Scranton Welcomes New Biology Professor to Campus

If you’re a returning student, the start of a new school year is filled with familiar faces. Although we recognize first-years and transfer students, we don’t often don’t think about another group that is just settling in: newly hired faculty.

Dr. Galen performs research in Alaska on the study of birds and parasites.

Spencer Galen, Ph.D. is one of those new professors. He teaches General Biology and General Physiology Lab at Scranton. This is his first full-time job as a professor.

“It has been a dream of mine to become a professor for many years,” Dr. Galen said, “It is thrilling to finally be living that reality.”

This semester, Dr. Galen is teaching both of his classes with a hybrid method of some in-person meetings and some online. Dr. Galen said he wanted to have some in-person interaction while also reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission for both his students and himself.

“My thought was that hybrid teaching would be a good balance between these two goals, though it has not been without challenges,” Dr. Galen said.

The current situation has made Dr. Galen more aware of his students’ varying needs.

“Some people have been affected more than others by the pandemic,” Dr. Galen said, “I have tried to keep that in mind this semester.”

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Students Present at Conference

In November, a group of students found themselves at an Entomological Society of America conference in Vancouver, Canada.  Julia McKinney, Matthew Barrett, Dylan Valente and Mike Moran made the trip with Dr. Marc Seid to present research each of them has been working on.

The group flew to Seattle, Washington, and drove from there to Vancouver.  On the way, they did some sightseeing.  McKinney ’20 said, “We went to the top of Mt. Baker in Washington. It was so pretty!  That was definitely my favorite part of the trip because I had never been to the West Coast before.”

The convention itself was filled with presentations from students and professors.  “It was cool because not only did we present our posters, but different professors walked around and looked at our posters and talked to us about them,” McKinney said.   “We also got to attend their talks and they presented their research. It was really cool to see.”

McKinney started her research at the start of her sophomore year at Scranton.

“My research was on the effects of sleep deprivation on biogenic amines and learning in Camponotus Floridanus ants,” McKinney said.  “My research was seeing how sleep deprivation effects the biogenic amines in the brain- quantitatively, and then how good or bad the ants are at learning after it.”

The trip was a great experience, according to McKinney, who enjoyed discussing the posters.

“My most asked question was, ‘So, what was your inspiration for this because this is kind of weird?’ but that was still pretty cool.”