Biology professor Omar Quintero-Carmona with a student in the lab

Spider faculty expand UR's web

May 28, 2024

Research & Innovation

Faculty at the University of Richmond are sought-after experts who are sharing their research and expertise to create connections between educators, support and advance democracy on college campuses, and champion mental health treatments.

Biology professor Omar Quintero-Carmona (pictured above) is spending part of his summer in Seattle at the Allen Institute, where he acts as senior education advisor.

The Allen Institute, a non-profit, bioscience research facility, is focused on research related to studying the brain, cells, and immune system. Quintero-Carmona, a cell biologist, is part of a team that manages education and outreach. 

“Currently, knowledge about the resources available through the Allen Institute is limited in the college biology education sphere,” Quintero-Carmona said. “Part of my role is to facilitate a broader understanding of the institute itself that will benefit students and make connections among educators.”

He also helped develop a summer workshop that will bring teachers to the Allen Institute for an immersive, hands-on experience on incorporating research resources into their classrooms.

“The Allen Institute has generated large sets of data that are critical to multiple fields of biology research,” he said. “One focus for the education and engagement team will be ensuring that data can find its way into more classrooms and labs.”

“Omar’s deep connections with the collegiate biology education community will help us foster a network of educators who are excited to partner with our program and develop resources that suit their classes and needs," said Kaitlyn Casimo, who leads the education and engagement program at the Allen Institute.

This summer and into the fall, Sylvia Gale, executive director for the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, will serve on a national Democracy Inventory Design Team. The group is developing collaborative tools and resources for colleges to better understand efforts on their campuses related to supporting and advancing democracy.

“We have a great model for many of these types of opportunities at UR, which we look forward to sharing, and we are also excited to learn from others how we might amplify these efforts.”

The team is part of the Higher Education Democracy Initiative, a joint effort between the American Association of Colleges & Universities and Campus Compact.

“Supporting and advancing democracy on college campuses is not only about helping students embrace and navigate the voting process,” Gale said. “It is also about asking how our campuses actually demonstrate the practice of democracy. This encompasses programs and courses aimed at students, but it goes much farther, requiring that we look also at how our institutions promote an environment in which faculty know their engagement and leadership matters, in which staff have agency, and in which a greater public — including the surrounding community, regional leaders, community partners — feel that their knowledge and expertise is valued.”

Professor of behavioral neuroscience Kelly Lambert was selected as a 2024–25 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar. The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest academic honor society in the U.S., and their visiting scholar program offers undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with top scholars in the liberal arts and sciences.

Throughout the fall and spring, Lambert, whose research explores the neurobiology of stress, resilience, depression, parenting, and natural enrichment, will visit various colleges with Phi Beta Kappa chapters and spend two days at each meeting informally with undergraduates, participating in classroom lectures and seminars, and giving one major lecture open to the campus and greater community. Lambert was one of 14 scholars, including faculty from Duke, Northwestern, and Princeton, selected as a visiting scholar.