Western Connecticut State University Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Kristin Giamanco recently received the Provost’s Award for Teaching during the Opening Meeting for the university’s fall 2021 semester. Giamanco was nominated by Assistant Dean of the Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences Dr. Pat Boily.
In his nomination letter, Boily stated, “In my previous role as [Biological and Environmental Sciences] department chairperson and member of the Department Evaluation Committee, I directly observed Dr. Giamanco multiple times in the classroom. I was extremely impressed by the quality of her teaching, in lecture and in lab. She is very engaging, knows all the students by name, and fosters an environment that is inclusive and conducive to active learning. The students in her classes always appear to be very comfortable asking questions and engaging in discussions. Her lectures incorporate a variety of assessments that encourage active learning, such as oral presentations, discussion boards, and written assignments. In labs, she provides clear and easy-to-follow instructions, ample feedback to the students, and plenty of support and encouragement when difficult tasks are to be performed (for example, complex dissections).”
Boily went on to note that Giamanco’s student evaluations “have been extraordinarily positive, with almost 100% of students responding ‘very good’ or ‘good’ in the evaluation categories … which is especially remarkable considering that she teaches very difficult and highly demanding classes.
“Her commitment to providing a high-quality education is demonstrated by the smooth transition that she was able to implement when we had to abruptly switch to online teaching last spring,” Boily said. “She created online virtual labs to ensure that students had an educational experience that was as close as possible as if the classes had remained in-person.”
Giamanco joined WCSU’s Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences in 2016. Her major teaching assignments include upper-level courses such as Developmental Biology and Cell Biology. In her scholarly work, Giamanco seeks to understand how a particular cell cycle gene, cyclin D2, modulates progenitor proliferation in the embryonic mouse brain. In addition, her laboratory is developing cell culture models to better understand the structure and assembly of the perineuronal net, a specialized substructure of the neuronal extracellular matrix. Giamanco recently received tenure and was promoted to associate professor.
Giamanco received a B.A. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Mathematics from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate, she received fellowships to conduct research at Stony Brook University in Geochemistry and SUNY Upstate
Medical University through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program in Neuroscience. She went on to complete her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, where her work focused on elucidating the molecular composition and structure of the neuronal extracellular matrix.
Giamanco joined the Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, New York, to complete her post-doctoral training, where she studied the molecular factors regulating cell division in the developing mammalian brain. Giamanco’s work was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institute of Health. During this time, she was also an adjunct professor at Marymount Manhattan College, where she taught the laboratory portion of General Chemistry as well as biology courses for non-science majors.