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RCC instructor strives for ‘light bulb’ moments

“During my years of teaching,” says Lisa Merritt, who has just attained full-time faculty status in the field of biology at Rappahannock Community College, “my most rewarding experiences have been linked to student success. I experience a lot of joy when students work hard and finally grasp the instructional concepts. This usually occurs during class instruction, or through personal or group study, when I see that ‘light bulb’ go off in a student’s mind, and they finally understand and can apply what they’ve learned. But most of all I enjoy the excitement and celebration when students successfully pass the class or announce their achievements, such as acceptance into a four-year institution, or a nursing or medical program. Those moments are by far the most rewarding, because I can share in their success, and I understand how important our role is as educators—we are helping to change people’s lives for the better!”

Merritt-LIn addition to General Biology classes, Merritt teaches both Microbiology, and Anatomy and Physiology. “In each course, I want students to achieve the learning outcomes for the course and apply what they learn,” she says. “This includes an appreciation and understanding of how the human body works, and how organisms function and interact in different environments, as well as current biomedical applications.” To help students achieve their academic and professional goals, she stresses academic integrity and academic excellence, and employs varied teaching methods to help students think critically, and to promote their development and success.

Merritt holds the degrees of bachelor of science in animal science from Virginia Tech, and master of science in pharmacology and toxicology from Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as several certificates covering teaching methods and resources. She has also taken graduate training from Old Dominion University in plant physiology, biological microscopy, microbial pathogenesis, animal behavior, gerontology, and human cadaver dissection, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in biomedical sciences.

Her work experience includes a position with a pharmaceutical contract research organization in northern Virginia, where she received hands-on training, qualifying her as a certified animal laboratory technician, from the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science. Later, while enrolled at VCU, she served as a laboratory manager in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department. There she was able to complete pharmacological research involving genetics, drug addictions, and neuroscience; she presented the results of her research in pharmacology seminars at VCU, as well as at the Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego, California, in 2006. Her findings were later published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Merritt’s goal at RCC is “to continually improve and strengthen our biology discipline, and collaborate with faculty to promote the college’s mission for high-quality education and student success. I also hope to collaborate with a few of the universities in our region to help engage students in research-based learning activities”—so as to motivate them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, or math.

Surrounded by “many supportive family members,” Merritt lives in her home town of Gloucester with her two school-aged sons, whom she describes as “intelligent, athletic, and gifted.” She attends the Church of Abraham in nearby White Marsh, and in her spare time enjoys “reading, singing, dancing, acting, teaching, and participating in community service and youth activities in my church and community. I like to encourage others in their faith in God,” she says, “and give people confidence and skills to succeed in whatever they pursue. So don’t give up . . . you can do it!”

One Response to “RCC instructor strives for ‘light bulb’ moments”

  1. Lisa,

    You are a “Beacon, Shining Light & An Inspiration”.

    Emily Sue Jones

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