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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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Faculty Profile: Dr. Tricia Van Laar

Dr.+Tricia+Van+Laar
Dr. Tricia Van Laar

Tricia Van Laar, a CSU Stan Alumni, returns to the university joining the Biology department as a professor of microbiology. Her extensive research and experiences are sure to enrich her student’s learning involvement and her bubbly attitude demonstrates her enthusiasm to help her students. 

Here is what Van Laar had to say to the Signal about those experiences and what she hopes to offer to the students at Stanislaus State. 
Q: Will you tell me a little bit about your teaching background? 

A: I started teaching as a teacher’s aide and I did that as a graduate student at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. I was a teaching assistant for classes like genetics and microbiology and I really liked it. So when I became a Ph.D. student I did a little less teaching because I did a lot more research, but I still did some teaching as a doctoral student. My research advisor would let me cover his classes, so that was really fun. At that point, I knew that I wanted to teach in the CSU system. 

Q: What would you like students to know about your teaching style? 

A: The thing about being in one of my classes is that you have to understand that I’m super super excited to just teach biology. You’re gonna have to be excited to be in my class. I always want to be fair and I just want everybody to learn. You don’t have to remember me, but if you remember something you learned in my class, then I did my job. 

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your research background? 

A: My research experience was at Stanislaus State and I worked with Dr. Jim Youngblom. He, at the time, was working with this endangered species recovery program and we were doing genetic typing of brush rabbits. I thought that was so cool as a biology major who was interested in genetics. He gave me this opportunity to do research which was just awesome and I continued doing genetic research as a master’s student. When I took bacteriology as an undergrad at Stanislaus I really fell in love with bacteria. After receiving my Ph.D.,  I went and did a postdoc with the Army, and we were working on antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause infections in soldiers that have been wounded in combat. I also continued as a faculty member at Fresno State working on antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

Q: What do you want Stan State students to know about your research? 

A: Just that bacteria is all around us. Sometimes we think of them as germs that are here to make us sick, but bacteria have a lot of really important functions in our bodies, in the ecosystems. They can be our friends too. They’re these tiny little organisms that are just really really interesting and contribute to the life that we do see on the planet. 

Q: Where did your passion for biology stem from? 
A: I’ve always loved animals. Growing up, my grandparents had four cats and four dogs. I always wanted to play with the animals and be with the animals and I thought I wanted to be a vet, but I realized how hard that would be and I couldn’t stand to see an animal sick or in pain. I thought I could study animals in biology and as I learned more and more about biology I got interested in different areas of it. Genetics and bacteria ended up kind of sticking and being the areas I got most interested in. 
By, Simeon Zaragoza

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Faculty Profile: Dr. Tricia Van Laar