Know Your Professor: Jenna Canfield

November 18, 2015

Jenna Canfield

We caught up with Professor Canfield about teaching at Simmons -- and her work advancing women in STEM!

What do you teach at Simmons?

I am Chair of the Chemistry Department and the Physics Department. I teach biochemistry, immunobiology, HIV/AIDS: At the interface of science and society -- and an Honors learning community about the human microbiome

What's your favorite class to teach?

My favorite class to teach is immunobiology because it's the one most related to my research and we spend a lot of time on case studies.

Fill in the blank: When I was in college I…

...thought I was going to go to medical school and become a pediatrician. My plans changed after the first time I got into a laboratory and was able to do real research.

I love my students because…

...they are so outspoken and really stand up for their beliefs.

When I'm not teaching I'm…

...speaking around the country about the status of Women in STEM or I'm watching my 3 boys play hockey.

What's your favorite book?

Way to many to choose from -- but probably any of the 762 books on my Kindle.

Tell us about why STEM education is important.

Because the critical thinking and problem solving skills one can learn in a science class are applicable to any career path you choose.

What kind of work are you doing to further advance STEM education?

I serve on a number of national committees that are dedicated to the recruitment and retention of women in STEM, including the Women in Cell Biology Committee and the National Girls Collaborative Project.

Tell us about the recent conference you attended to discuss STEM education.

I recently attended the Massachusetts STEM Summit. I presented a workshop on the impact of mentoring on keeping young girls and women in STEM and we showcased the Million Women Mentors Initiative. This movement is working towards recruiting a million mentors across the United States to help mentor young girls and women interested in science.

How are we working to advance STEM education at Simmons?

We are constantly updating and revising our curriculum to be the most cutting edge in terms of STEM pedagogy. We are providing our students with opportunities to do hands on laboratory research starting in their first year. They speak about their work at conferences across the country. We are creating a learning environment that fosters real world understanding of what it takes to be successful in science in today's world.

What's your Simmons moment?

The year I took 9 students to the American Chemical Society Meeting in New Orleans and watched them all present their work to the chemistry community at large. Seeing my students knowledgeably and confidently talking with scientists from all over the world about the research they performed at Simmons was a magical moment.

Professor Canfield pictured at graduation with her former biochemistry student, Maureen Corrielus '13