Spring 2013 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University

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Benita Brink, Ph.D.

Marquette University, Ph.D. 1989

 

Amy Leiliart
Benita Brink, Ph.D.

Of all the diligent and enthusiastic teachers to grace the halls of our nation’s universities, few have had a greater impact on her students than Dr. Benita Brink.

 

Upon earning her bachelor’s degree in biology from Aquinas College in 1984, she entered the graduate program at Marquette University. Working in Dr. Dale Noel’s lab, she received her PhD in Biology in 1989.  While at Marquette, she held a graduate teaching assistantship for four years and the William M. Scholl research fellowship for one year.

 

Dr. Brink’s first teaching position was at Mundelein College in Chicago, where she taught a variety of biology courses as an Assistant Professor of Biology. When Mundelein became affiliated with Loyola University Chicago in 1991, Dr. Brink was given a joint position with the Department of Biology and the Department of Natural Sciences.  She was also recognized as a Clare Booth Luce Professor of Biology from 1989 to 1994.

 

Because Dr. Brink missed the small-school atmosphere and personal student interaction that she had experienced as a student at Aquinas and as a professor at Mundelein, she accepted a position at Adams State College (now Adams State University) located in Alamosa, Colorado. There, in 1994, she became an Assistant Professor of Biology. Adams State University is a small, rural institution that is well known in Southern Colorado as a Hispanic-serving institution; over 30% of Adams State students classify themselves as Hispanic.

 

 Because of her excellent educational abilities, she was awarded tenure and an Associate Professorship in 1999. She became Chair of the Biology and Earth Sciences Department in 2010 and was recently approved for promotion to full professor. She was also the first female faculty senate president at Adams State, serving in this capacity for two years.  Dr. Brink was honored by her students with an Excellence in Academic Advising award in 2010.

 

Dr. Brink has loved her time at Adams State. She has been fortunate to have small classes in which she has gotten to know her students very well. She is active in pre-medical advising and served as the faculty advisor for the Phi-Eta chapter of Beta Beta Beta (Biological Honor Society) for six years. She is very glad that she has been able to work with her students in and out of class and have a significant impact on their lives.  To this affect, Dr. Brink worked with a small team from Adams State on a successful application for a Title V HSI-STEM grant totaling 3.6 million dollars. This grant has provided opportunities for outreach to K-12 students to encourage them to pursue STEM-based careers and to provide the faculty with opportunities to learn new pedagogical approaches to be incorporated in their classes. While the grant specifically targets Hispanic and other minority students, as well as first generation students, the benefits of the grant have been wide reaching.  To help accomplish the goals of the grant, Dr. Brink has incorporated Peer-Led Team Learning in her genetics class, which has increased student engagement.

 

Dr. Brink has focused her career on helping undergraduates. She has made it her mission to help the students of Adams State to know that they are capable of accomplishing their goals and having high academic standards.  “I’m in my 19th year of teaching at Adams State. I feel it’s where I can have the greatest impact on students and where I can do the most to help them, especially those who are under-represented in STEM fields.”

 

Dr. Brink lives in Alamosa, Colorado with her husband John Sucharski, and their two children, Michael and Rachel. She is an avid reader and enjoys playing tennis and spending time outdoors with her family.


 

 


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