The college recently announced that four members of the faculty have been awarded tenure by the Board of Trustees and will be promoted to the rank of associate professor. This is the last in a four-part series highlighting the faculty earning tenure this year: Brenda Boyle, English; HyeKyung Lee, music; Jonathan Walley, cinema; and Lina Yoo, biology.
While in high school in Rockville, Md., Lina Yoo already knew she was interested in biology. So during her four undergraduate years at Duke University, she enrolled in biology courses, conducted independent biology research, and spent a summer as a Carolinas-Ohio Science Education Network (COSEN) Scholar doing research at the College of Wooster. That summer experience gave her a newfound perspective on the appeal of teaching and learning at a residential liberal arts college.
Yoo graduated from Duke University with a B.S. biology in 1994, then continued her studies at Washington University in St. Louis, graduating with a Ph.D. in immunology in 2000. That led her to Harvard Medical School to pursue postdoctoral research in cell biology over the next five years. Her study focused largely on mouse genetics as it related to the biology of cancer.
She joined Denison’s biology faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor and has high praise for her departmental colleagues, as well as the students in her classes and labs. She says, “It quickly became clear that the students who come to Denison are well prepared, and they’re actively engaged in their scholarly work. They are truly interested in academic inquiry, and I love their energy in the classroom.”
During a typical school year, Yoo works with two or three students in her research lab, then she oversees a couple more on campus during the summer. Several have gone on to medical school; others have entered Ph.D. programs. “In the research environment, I get to know my students even better, and we’ll have coffee together sometimes and talk about life outside the classroom,” she explains.
Yoo has taught courses in molecular biology, immunology, and eukaryotic cell biology, but she confesses that her favorite classes to teach are in the field of immunology. She explains, “When one can come to understand how our immune systems are under siege by microbes all the time and how the body can fight them and adapt, it’s an amazing learning process. And nothing gives me greater pleasure than having a student who has been in one of my immunology courses tells me, ‘I’m going to apply for a master’s program in this.’”
In summary, Yoo says, “I believe in the value of a liberal arts education. It promotes intellectual curiosity across disciplines, allowing for important connections to be made in disparate fields. The liberal arts also expose students to a wide range of academic areas, giving them a perfect opportunity to find their passions and plan wise career choices.”