Bio Professor Brings Family to Chestertown

By Patrick Derrickson
Elm Staff Writer

- Photo Courtesy of Kyle Sepe


Professor Jennifer Rowsell has researched developmental biology and is furthering this research through her time as a new professor of biology at Washington College.

Professor Rowsell received her Bachelor of Sciences in biology at Susquehanna University and furthered her education as a graduate student studying cell biology at Georgetown.

As an undergraduate, she researched the development of Drosophila, or fruit fly, ovaries as part of her senior capstone experience.

She split the time between her undergraduate and graduate work researching the metabolism of fat cells and their regulation at the National Institute of Health, N.I.H., in Washington, D.C.

Through this research, she worked toward understanding fat cell metabolism to reduce obesity.

From there, she went to work on her postdoctoral research at Washington University in St. Louis.

As an undergraduate, Professor Rowsell grappled with the idea of working towards an M.D. or Ph.D, but through her work in her senior capstone experience found that she “preferred the laboratory environment more.”

She crystallized this preference through her work at N.I.H. and her postdoctoral research.

Professor Rowsell applied to several small liberal arts colleges after her postdoctoral research at Washington University.

She found the faculty and staff at WC to be family friendly, allowing her to stay invested in her home life. Professor Rowsell, her husband and their child live in Chestertown and enjoy the sense of community.

This semester, Professor Rowsell, as a first year professor, is teaching General Biology 1 with Laboratory and Developmental Biology with Laboratory.

She said, “[my students have a] good understanding of biology, but have difficulty processing the greater volume of information.”

Next semester, Professor Rowsell will be teaching General Biology II with Laboratory and Neurobiology with Laboratory.

She is also preparing for laboratory research on the development of chicken ears through examination of chicken embryos at successive points in their development. The chicken embryo provides an ideal model, as it can be safely examine in successive stages.

The examination of the development of neurons in the chicken embryo can be applied to human deafness and further development in the use of cochlear implants and reparative work on human ears that don’t work effectively. Professor Rowsell is in the preliminary stage of this research project.

“Biology is a part of everyday life,” she said. “Don’t be afraid of science.”

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