Dr. Doris Withers, Ph.D.
Dr. Doris Withers is receiving Dean’s Distinguished Service Award 2010 from Mrs. Pollard. From L to R is Dr. William L. Pollard, President, CUNY Medgar Evers College, Mrs. Pollard, Dr. Withers, Dr. Movasseghi, Provost and senior Vice President Dr. Howard C. Johnson and the School of Science Dean Dr. Mohsin Patwary.
Dr. Withers is the recipient of 2010 Dean’s Distinguished Service Award. She is a Professor of Biology and Education. She joined the faculty 37 years ago and as such is one of the founding faculty members of Medgar Evers College. Throughout her tenure at the college she has actively contributed to the College as a faculty member and administrator. She is a microbiologist and science educator who actively worked as a member of the College for more than 30 years. She has worked at the College and CUNY Central. She teaches microbiology, genetics, and general biology for majors and non-majors, methods and issues in science, and science teacher education courses. She has designed courses and curricula and written and published articles about science teaching, scientific literacy, and science problem solving in adult college students.
Among the administrative positions Dr. Withers has held are Associate Provost; Assistant Dean of the School of Science, Health and Technology; and Director of Institutional Research. Her last position in 2005 was Vice President of Institutional Assessment, Planning and Accountability. She researched, assessed, published and presented papers at conferences about the characteristics and attitudes of non-traditional urban college students and the institutions that serve them. She has been Principal Investigator and/or (co) author of several funded grants totaling over 6 million dollars for institutional improvement and science instruction and curriculum. she chaired Middle States self-study committees. In August 2005, after 13 years in administration, she returned to faculty and happily to the “life of the mind”.
In August 2006, she completed a year-long Visiting Professorship at the Howard University’s National Human Genome Center located in Washington, D.C. At the NHGC, she worked with scientists studying the genetics of asthma and prostate cancer. She also collaborated with a nationally known geneticist whose work included public education about genetics and research on the concepts of identity among African Americans and people of the African Diaspora. In August 2006, she completed a year-long Visiting Professorship at the Howard University’s National Human Genome Center located in Washington, D.C. During the last two summers, as a recipient of several fellowships, she has attended seminars and laboratory workshops on current topics in genomics, molecular genetics, and bioinformatics sponsored by the National Human Genome Research Institute; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy New York; and Dolan DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York City, respectively and head of the Genomics Education and Outreach Project
Dr. Withers’ current academic interests and research are in genetics/genomics and education. She is committed to increasing the “genetics literacy” in minority communities by promoting the public’s knowledge about the human genome and genetic technologies and their relationship to health promotion and disease treatment and prevention. Another focus of her work is increasing student interest, knowledge, and preparation for advanced study and careers in genomic science.
Upon returning to Medgar Evers College in 2006, Dr. Withers initiated the Genomic Education and Outreach Project at Medgar Evers College (MECGenEOP) with support of the president of the College, Dr. Edison Jackson. The National Library of Medicine, NIH, Environmental Health Information Program, has also provided support for community activities of the Project.
Dr. Withers has developed a new course, “The Human Genome, Health & Society”, which she is teaching this semester. She has worked collaboratively with the Jackson Heart Study, a NHLBI funded longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease among African Americans in Jackson, MS. The project involves research and education of community research participants about their knowledge, attitudes and beliefs related to genome-wide association studies and heart disease research. She is a member of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Human Genome Project Community Conversations Committee. One of the upcoming activities is National DNA Day to be celebrated on April 25th at the Grand Army Plaza Central Library and this year at the Macon Library, Walt Whitman Library.
Dr. Withers began her career as a research assistant in virology at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, DC. After completing graduate studies at the University of Illinois, she worked as a research and development microbiologist in antibiotics at the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, DC. She holds a doctorate in College Teaching of Biology and masters in Science Education from Columbia University, Teachers College; masters in Microbiology from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; a B.S., cum laude, in Botany from Howard University. She has also successfully completed all course work and the qualifying examination for a doctorate in microbiology at Cornell University. She is a member of several science and educational professional organizations such as American Society of Microbiology, Genetic Alliance, American Society of Human Genetics, National Science Teachers Association, American Association of Biology Teachers, and American Educational Research Association.
One of Dr. Withers’ avocations is genealogy. Her interest in genealogy is the legacy from her mother who was a serious family historian and genealogist. Her mother traced her family in the United States back to the 1600s and the 1800s. Her mother also researched her husband’s, Dr. Withers’ father, ancestry back to the early 1800s in the United States. Dr. Withers is an African American from Washington, DC, with maternal roots in Washington, DC and Virginia and paternal roots in Tennessee and Mississippi. Dr. Withers’ vocation and avocation have come together with the new current interest in DNA ancestry and issues of identity or “race”. She is currently researching the maternal and paternal ancestry of people of the African Diaspora with special focus on the Brooklyn community. The African Americas Diaspora Diversity Project at Medgar Evers College, as part of the educational network of the Genographic Project an international scientific project to study the journey of humans.