Biology Professor Honored with Bucknall Teaching Award


University of New Haven lecturer, Dr. Rosemary Whelan received an award for teaching excellence.

Whelan has been working at the University of New Haven for nine years, and is currently teaching in the fields of Biochemistry and Biotechnology. Sporting a Bachelor of Science and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from University College Dublin, Ireland, Dr.Whelan puts high emphasis on experiential learning in every class she teaches.

Upon taking one of her classes, a student can expect to meet people who are active members of the Biotech community, who will come into the class room to give unique presentations based upon real-life experiences.

“If I just stand and talk for 75 minutes, everyone’s asleep after the 1st hour,” Whelan said when asked about her teaching style.

Whelan collaborated with study abroad programs to bring 15 University of New Haven students to Ireland and England to get first-hand experience in the Biotech industry. In Dublin, Ireland students underwent a two-day intensive training course at the National Institute for Bioprocess Research and Training. There, students were kitted out in sterile gear and worked on massive fire reactors alongside specialists who “the new generation of drugs that are being produced all over the world right now.”

In her classes, Whelan hopes to help students figure things out for themselves and think critically through group teamwork. Both in and outside of class, students work with their classmates on assignments to simulate the working conditions they’ll experience while working in the industry.

“I can’t learn for them, but I can help and direct them,”Whelan said.

Initially, students were opposed to being forced to work with others but have since changed their opinion of it.

Graduate student Roberta Seldy is planning to go to medical school, but she took Dr.Whelan’s class in preparation for the Medical College Admission Test, or mcat.

“You’re learning it as you’re doing it,” Seldy said.

Dr.Whelan’s classes are involved and interactive, with students having to prepare for each class beforehand so that the classes themselves can be more interesting. Students sit in groups for most of the class time, and collaborate to solve problems. Conversations in the class are all focused on the task, though the tone between classmates and their instructor is light hearted- students aren’t afraid to ask questions like in similar classes.

Whelan is held in high regards by the university, and is fast to note all of the resources she gives to her students.

“[Whelan’s] classes incorporate POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) with lectures, case studies, Tegrity (recording of classes), peer tutoring and clickers,” Whelan’s page on the University of New Haven’s staff page states. With her experience from Genentech, and the Glaxo institute for Biology, she hopes to help guide students through the world of Biotechnology.