As Buchanan Endowed Chair of Biology, Professor Bruce Cahoon invites his students into the rich and fulfilling world of scientific inquiry. Whether he’s teaching Principles of Biology or partnering with students to conduct groundbreaking research in his field, Professor Cahoon sets his students up for success, both at UVA Wise and beyond.
How do you encourage and support your students?
I try to make it clear that I’m here to help them. I’m not here to be a roadblock. I try to accommodate as many learning styles as possible and make students aware of all the strategies they could employ and all of the support that’s available here. At UVA Wise, from the upper administration to the faculty and staff, everyone is so willing to work with students one-on-one. There’s a huge support system at the College.
I also make as many resources available as possible. We’ve all sat in lectures and zoned out and then find there’s a whole block of notes missing. So, I make recordings of all the relevant topics and students can watch the videos later.
How have you seen your students succeed and prepare themselves for careers?
Biology is an excellent foundation for many different career paths. To share two examples, I’ll tell you about Anna and Jason.
Anna was a quiet student in my Principles of Biology class. I wasn’t sure if she was that engaged, but one day, she came up to me and asked if she could join my lab. She was a nursing major and a first-generation college student, working 30 hours a week while studying full time. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after graduation, but something about my class piqued her interest.
We started researching algal genetics, looking at local algae, and Anna was able to isolate a sequence of genes from a pond and find all of these fascinating connections, suggesting an evolutionary relationship between two different species. She presented her findings at an algal meeting and published her work in the Journal of Phycology. Anna is now working on her Ph.D. in biology at Ohio University.
Jason was another student of mine, a non-traditional student who worked for a while after high school but then came to UVA Wise in search of better career opportunities. He put himself through college while majoring in chemistry and working in my lab. Before Jason graduated he had a job lined up at Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tenn.
Why should someone consider UVA Wise?
I often tell students on tours that they won’t get lost in the crowd here. Your time at UVA Wise will be a personalized experience. There’s plenty to do, and you’re going to be very busy. You won’t be bored. And we offer an extremely high-quality education. A degree from UVA Wise sets you up for future career opportunities; your job prospects will be brighter because of your time here.