Profile for Jennifer Klein

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Jennifer Klein

Professor
Biology
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Specialty area(s)

molecular biophysics, cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, mathematical biology, molecular ecology

 

Brief biography

On a summer afternoon, I wade down a Driftless stream, gripped by tiny muddy fingers, collecting insects to bring back to a row of microscopes in a barn shared by horses and eager elementary school learners. In my research lab, students press in around me as I point out muscle sarcomeres glowing green under a fluorescent microscope; we imagine ways that we could use molecular tools to prevent muscle cells from experiencing the weakness that accompanies aging. While leading a molecular ecology sailing expedition, I help a research student ease a panic attack that gripped her upon losing sight of land and find comfort in this shared adventure. At the onslaught of the COVID pandemic, in a Zoom session with 120 General Biology students sequestered in their dorms, 30 of them with active COVID infections, I stop lecture to create space to share symptoms and fears. These are moments of fulfillment in my 10-year career as a biomedical researcher, professor, and public health leader. 

I've added some descriptions of my teaching and research projects in the hyperlinks below.

In Fall 2022, I will be taking a leave to attend medical school at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. 

 

Current courses at UWL

Bio 105 General Biology

Bio 315 Cell Biology

Bio 435/535 Molecular Biology

BIO 449/549 Advanced Microscopy and Biological Imaging

Bio 460/560 Modern Genomics

Bio 460/560 Biophysics

Bio 491 Biology Capstone

Link to all Courses

Education

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (2022-2026)

National Institutes of Health NRSA Postdoctoral Training in the Biology of Aging (2010)

      University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics (2008)

       University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

       Dissertation Title: Myosin Structural Dynamics

Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry (2002)

       College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minnesota

Career

Teaching history

After nine years teaching at UWL, my core understanding of teaching and learning hasn’t changed, but the expression of that philosophy has expanded into reaches I didn’t think possible. My own education grounded in the liberal arts has strongly shaped how I approach science education, including how I motivate students. There are many reasons a student chooses to pursue science, but one of the most compelling is the pursuit of science in service to others. Science can be timely, relevant, and captivating, as we’ve seen with COVID, but we rarely teach science through this lens. I build and revise science courses with clear intent to engage students in authentic problems that I hope will fascinate and even obsess them in a drive toward success. Coupled with best practices in science education, such as learning communities, active learning, problem-solving, and guided inquiry, I have witnessed students achieve outcomes I didn’t think 20-year-olds capable of. What I’ve learned is that my role as an instructor is to create curiosity-provoking worlds for students to enter into—as the guide, I describe the scenery, the dangers, and the riddles, and this is what ultimately compels students to learn. I provide the right tools at the right time, demonstrate how to use them effectively, and then get out of the way so that students have the intellectual space they need to plan, pursue, fail… pursue again, and eventually succeed, developing self-confidence and self-efficacy.

Professional history

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (2012-Present)

St. Olaf College, Minnesota (2010-2012, Visiting Professor)

University of St. Thomas, Minnesota (2008-2010, Visiting Professor)

Minnesota Supercomputing Institute Fellow (2002)

Kudos

published

Scott Cooper, Jennifer Klein, Todd Osmundson, Anton Sanderfoot, Jaclyn Wisinski and Alder Yu, all Biology, co-authored the article "Instructional Innovations in College-Level Molecular Bioscience Labs during the Pandemic-Induced Shift to Online Learning" in Education Sciences published on Wednesday, March 23 by MDPI. Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(4), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12040230

Submitted on: Mar. 23

 

published

Daniel Walgenbach, Cade Armstrong, College of Science & Health and Jacob Kailing, College of Science & Health, all Biochemistry (ASBMB Cert) BS; Alex Steil, Biology (Cell and Molecular Concentration); and Jennifer Klein, Biology, Biology; co-authored the article "The calmodulin redox sensor controls myogenesis" in PLOS ONE published on Sept. 17 by Public Library of Science (PLOS). Muscle aging is accompanied by blunted muscle regeneration in response to injury and disuse. Oxidative stress likely underlies this diminished response, but muscle redox sensors that act in regeneration have not yet been characterized. Students in Molecular Biology Lab (Bio 436) contributed to using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system to introduce a single amino acid substitution M109Q that mimics oxidation of methionine to methionine sulfoxide in one or both alleles of the CALM1 gene, one of three genes encoding the muscle regulatory protein calmodulin, in C2C12 mouse myoblasts. When signaled to undergo myogenesis, mutated myoblasts failed to differentiate into myotubes. Students in Advanced Microscopy (Bio 449/549) found that although early myogenic regulatory factors were present, cells with the CALM1 M109Q mutation in one or both alleles were unable to withdraw from the cell cycle and failed to express late myogenic factors. We have shown that a single oxidative modification to a redox-sensitive muscle regulatory protein can halt myogenesis, suggesting a molecular target for mitigating the impact of oxidative stress in age-related muscle degeneration. Research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Aging). Over 100 UWL students contributed to this publication! Thank you to all of those students who braved the waters of course-embedded research and found success.

Submitted on: Sept. 19, 2020

 

interviewed

Jennifer Klein, Biology, was interviewed by IBM news on Thursday, June 18. Jennifer Klein describes her use of High Performance Computing to help design drugs to treat Covid 19.

Submitted on: June 18, 2020