Published: Aug 24, 2023
Professor Joanna Vondrasek is looking forward to returning to the Biology Department as a visiting professor nearly 20 years after her initial time as a postdoctoral associate and lecturer. She has been teaching introductory biology, genetics, and supervising capstone research students for 16 years at Piedmont Virginia Community College. In that time, she has created several authentic inquiry-based lab activities and helped to build a robust, required sophomore-level independent research experience for A.S in Science degree students. During her sabbatical with the Bergland Lab, Prof. Vondrasek plans to update her laboratory skills and knowledge base in genomics. Her specific goal is to establish a population of locally derived Daphnia that could be maintained with relative ease in PVCC’s labs and then to develop a multi-week investigative lab using Daphnia as a model organism. Daphnia will also provide an additional platform for independent research students to investigate a wide range of novel research questions, from eco-toxicology to life history. For the last several years, Prof. Vondrasek, her PVCC colleagues and the Bergland lab have coordinated capstone projects for PVCC Biology students that rely on fruit fly collections at Carter Mountain Orchard. These collections have been incorporated into a broader Citizen Science project led by the Bergland lab and have facilitated outreach between students at UVA and PVCC, ultimately leading to research opportunities in the Bergland lab at UVA for transfer students. Prof. Vondrasek and the Bergland lab look forward to growing this partnership through her time as a Visiting Professor in the Biology Dept at UVA.