Published: March 25, 2014

Prof. Robin DowellMost university faculty divide their time between research activities, teaching and service to their institutions, sometimes putting in hundreds of hours weekly to accomplish the job’s demands. Being able to shine in all of these areas is a rare accomplishment, especially for newer faculty. For BioFrontiers faculty member Robin Dowell, juggling these responsibilities is somewhat second nature.

“With respect to components of academia, I firmly believe that these are difficult to separate,” she says. “The best way to deeply understand scientific concepts is to get your hands dirty‐ actually perform an experiment, write a program, or solve a math problem ‐ or to teach the concepts to someone else. In the best‐case scenarios, you do both.”

Her ability to apply this philosophy recently earned Dowell the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for junior faculty, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant. Providing five years of support totaling more than $650,000, the grant recognizes emerging investigators who excel at combining teaching and research in ways that directly impact their institutions and the broader community. Dowell is one of only ten scientists nationwide in the field of molecular and cellular bioscience who have received the award so far this year.