Dr. Josefa Steinhauer is an associate professor of biology at Yeshiva University. She received her BS from Case Western Reserve University in 1999, followed by a PhD from Columbia University in 2005. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Skirball Institute, NYU Langone Medical Center from 2005-2011. Her research focuses on the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, which has served as a model genetic organism for over 100 years, and last year (2017) earned the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine! Scientists have used the fly to gain insight into the fundamental genetic, cell biological, and molecular mechanisms at play during the development of an organism. Paradigms discovered in Drosophila have been found to be universally relevant. Although our current understanding is vast, there is still much to be discovered. Dr. Steinhauer’s lab uses Drosophila to understand phospholipid metabolism in the context of a whole animal. They have uncovered important roles for phospholipid metabolism in both male and female fertility, as well as in the biology of aging.

 

1. What profession did you think you would hold when you were a student?

Both of my parents have PhDs in scientific fields, and being their eldest child, I always assumed I would likewise pursue a PhD in science following college (which I did).  But I’ve also always had a strong interest in education.  Teaching science at a liberal arts college ended up being the right path for me.

 

2. How has your past work experience prepared you for your current position?

The training period for scientists seems to get longer and longer.  My PhD and postdoc took 6 years each, giving me 12 years of training before my current faculty position, which is pretty standard for my field.  That extensive training gave me the skills and confidence to pursue my own research in my lab here at YU.  It also allowed me to develop a strong network of mentors and collaborators in my research community, which is essential in today’s climate, especially for someone at a small institution like ours.  Throughout my research training, I also took the initiative to pursue extracurricular teaching opportunities, so I was prepared when I entered the classroom here.  Despite all my training, though, I still would describe the transition from postdoc to faculty member as a steep learning curve!  There are many aspects that I’ve had to learn as I go.

 

3. What aspect of your job with YU do you most enjoy?

The balance between research and teaching is right for me here.  I love mentoring students one-on-one in my research lab, but I also love having the chance to reach a larger number of students in the classroom setting.  I’m currently working on incorporating my research into the lab section of my Genetics course, to further integrate those two aspects of my job.

 

4. What are some of the goals you have for what students take out of your classes?

My main goals for my students are stronger analytical skills and sharper attention to detail.  I strongly believe that these traits build confident problem solvers and successful navigators of life’s challenges.

 

5. What would your colleagues be surprised to learn about you?

Although my college major was biology, I attained a double minor in theater and English.  One highlight was writing and directing a short film in my junior year.  Unfortunately, the film was made before the YouTube era and never digitized.

 

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