Dr. Ruth Wrightsman joined the Flathead Valley Community College faculty in 2009 and has since transformed the college’s biology department. A four-time National Science Foundation (NSF) awardee, Dr. Wrightsman created FVCC’s first biotechnology program and has inspired several students to persist in their biotechnology studies and transfer to four-year university programs.
Dr. Wrightsman has worked with fellow STEM educators at FVCC to challenge the traditional two-year college model that focuses solely on lectures and controlled laboratory experiments. Benefitting from Dr. Wrightsman’s leadership, many of FVCC’s STEM programs now include opportunities for students to engage in original research projects under the guidance of individual instructors. Three of Dr. Wrightsman’s students have been selected to present their research at the NSF’s Advanced Technology Education meeting in Washington, D.C. Another one of her students received the outstanding undergraduate research project award at the Montana Space Grant Consortium conference at Montana State University in 2015.
Above all else, Dr. Wrightsman is committed to the success of her students. She demonstrates excellence in teaching in a number of ways, but first and foremost is through the personal investment she makes in each of her students. She takes the time to provide one-on-one assistance to each student and adjusts her teaching methods as necessary in order to ensure that no one is left behind. As one of her former students stated, “She inspires people to love biology and other sciences that they once thought to be tasteless or boring.”
Dr. Wrightsman’s most recent NSF grant, which began in July of 2016, is focused on developing a network of high school teachers who will incorporate biotechnology and DNA-technology methods in their curriculum. The project provides continuing education opportunities for these teachers so they can work “hands on” with the latest techniques involving DNA.
For more information about FVCC’s biotechnology program, visit www.fvcc.edu/biotechnology.