The DNALC's multi-disciplinary staff has experience in elementary, secondary, and collegiate instruction; biochemistry and molecular biological research; computer programming; design, photography, fine arts, and interior design; science journalism; public relations and development; and opinion research.

  • Administration
  • BioMedia
  • Education & Instruction

Sharon Pepenella, Ph.D.

High School Educator

I tossed the slides of insect parts that came with my brand new microscope, a Christmas gift from my parents when I was 8. I was determined to see an amoeba! Though my initial attempts proved unsuccessful with a toy microscope, I loved the idea of being able to study a world we couldn't see with the naked eye.

In high school, I became fascinated with the seemingly simplistic structure yet complex nature of DNA, which narrowed my focus to molecular biology. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology from SUNY Geneseo and pursued a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where I studied protein-DNA interactions and chromatin regulation. I continued my research there as a postdoctoral associate in the microbiology department, where I investigated the effects of post-translational modifications on the activity of DNA replication and repair proteins. During my time as a graduate student and postdoc, I had many opportunities to tutor, teach, and mentor students, as well as participate in a hands-on science education outreach program with students from surrounding elementary schools. I realized that I had a passion for teaching in addition to my love of laboratory bench science.  I was thrilled to discover the DNA Learning Center, whose interactive approach to science education for students reflected my own views and experiences, and knew that I had to be a part of the action!

By the way, I did eventually get to see my amoebas… and they did not disappoint!

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