Las Vegas, N.M. – A Highlands University interim provost and vice president for academic affairs earned statewide recognition in New Mexico for her dedication to encouraging women to pursue science careers.
Carol Linder, who is a reproductive cell biologist and also a biology professor at Highlands, received the 2016 New Mexico Network of Women in Science and Engineering IMPACT award.
“Dr. Carol Linder is an amazing woman whose extraordinary efforts encourage women to enter and develop their careers in science, engineering and allied professions,” said Phyllis Baca, IMPACT award co-chair. “She is extremely passionate about helping women become successful in these careers. Dr. Linder also reaches out to young girls in the community to inspire their interest in becoming scientists. Sparking this early interest is critical.”
Linder, who joined the Highlands University faculty in 2004, teaches upper-division courses in genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, as well as biology courses for nonmajors.
“Nationally women, especially Hispanics and Native Americans, are underrepresented in the sciences,” Linder said. “In my lab, and in all the science research labs at Highlands, we are opening up new career paths for women in the sciences.”
During her tenure at Highlands, Linder has mentored 40 undergraduate students in her Reproductive Biology Laboratory including 20 women, 13 graduate students including seven women, and one postdoctoral fellow.
“My biology mentors from my undergraduate years through my postdoctoral research were all men, which motivated me to become a strong female role model for young women,” Linder said.
She said that whether she is teaching freshmen or graduate students, she wants them to discover the fascinating and complex nature of the cell.
“My biggest goal in teaching and my research lab is to get my students to think like scientists. It’s more than learning the specific molecular biology methods – it’s also interpreting and applying results in a larger context,” Linder said.
Linder established her Reproductive Biology Laboratory in 2005 with a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Her research focuses on male infertility.
“My lab uses genetic mouse models to identify genes and understand the mechanisms required for spermatogenesis – sperm development,” Linder said. “The ultimate goal is to provide insight into human male infertility.”
Analyssa García, B.S. biology 2015, Phylisia Dimas, B.S. biology 2016 and Chantel Rivera, a biology senior, were all undergraduate research assistants in Linder’s lab at Highlands. They wrote one of several letters nominating Linder for the IMPACT award.
“Dr. Linder is an extraordinary individual who is a great mentor, adviser and professor,” the students wrote. “She is creative in the classroom, and inspires students to want to learn more. Dr. Linder is also very inspiring in her research, providing many great opportunities for students in her lab. She has taught us many aspects of what it takes to be a scientist.”
Linder has served in the Office of Academic Affairs since January 2016, becoming the interim provost and vice president of academic affairs in June.
“While I’m still teaching one biology class this fall in a freshmen learning community, this new administrative role allows an even larger impact while continuing my passion for encouraging women to pursue science degrees at Highlands,” Linder said.
In 2013 when Linder completed a research sabbatical in cell biology in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins University, she was also lauded for her dedication to her students.
“Having another well-trained scientist like Carol was very advantageous for my research group, and I’m impressed with the complexity of her experiments,” said Carolyn Machamer, Johns Hopkins cell biology professor. “I’m also impressed with the success Carol has mentoring students who go on to do great things. You cannot underestimate the value of good mentors at the undergraduate and graduate levels.”
Linder said she brought new techniques and insights from her Johns Hopkins research sabbatical back to Highlands to share with her students and colleagues.
Since 2005, Linder’s research lab has received ongoing funding from the NIH, among other sources. She has also secured multiple grants to support student research such as the National Science Foundation’s Western Alliance for Expanding Student Opportunities.
Linder completed her Ph.D. in cell and reproductive biology from the University of Texas, Austin and her postdoctoral studies in spermatogenesis at Washington State University, Pullman.