Department of Biology

Melissa Kosinski-Collins

Melissa Kosinski-Collins, Professor of BiologyProfessor of Biology

Research Description

Biology Education, STEM Education Policy, Protein Folding and Aggregation

Although, I received my Ph.D from MIT in 2004 for studying protein folding and aggregation, my true passion has always been in biology teaching and education and I have always recognized the importance of mentoring and inspiring young scientists. I was an education research post doc for two years in the HHMI Education Group at MIT and focused primarily on biological education research and the importance of concept-based teaching and learning in biology. To continue to meet this end, I currently serve as the Editor-in-chief of the Atlas Journal of Science Education.

I recognized the need for better biological preparation at the high school level and am actively involved in several secondary education efforts. I was a faculty advisor to the United States Biology Olympiad Team involved in exam preparation, student advising and instruction. I have also worked as the MRSEC Director for Outreach, Education and Diversity here at Brandeis.  In this position, I counseled area high school biology teachers in methods to incorporate college level molecular biology, biophysics, and chemical biology labs into their classrooms, led high school field trips to Brandeis research facilities and coordinated outreach activities at the Discovery Museum in Acton.

In light of my interest in protein structure, I am studying the importance of learning and manipulation of biological macromolecules in 3-dimensions. I am part of a collaboration with the Biology, Physics, and Academic Computing Departments at MIT to create a free, scalable 3D visualization software engine that may easily be manipulated by students, but has the flexibility and functionality to be used by advance protein biochemists. This program is currently used by undergraduates in introductory biology and I hope to further incorporate it into our K12 outreach effort in connection to the Robbins Family 3D classroom here on campus.

I am currently the academic coordinator for the Brandeis Science POSSE program and summer bootcamp.  Each year, 10 talented graduating seniors from New York City intending on pursing science degrees are selected to attend Brandeis as a cohort.  In advance of their matriculation to campus, they spend two weeks of the summer in an intense training program experiencing labs, lectures, and assignments that model Brandeis coursework.  I facilitate this program and work with the Science Posse students throughout their academic careers here at Brandeis.

On campus, I am teaching the introductory biology lab course and a graduate level molecular biology course. I have renovated the undergraduate laboratory curriculum into a project-based series of experiments encompassing such topics as Huntington’s treatment, cataract stability, and fly models of colon cancer.  I have also developed a teaching internship, Ed92a, which provides a forum for interested students to read about, discuss and critique new pedagogical develops in biology education.

Selected Publications

  • Kinetic stability of long-lived human gD and gS lens crystallins, derived in part from their domain interfaces, may protect against cataract. Mills-Henry, I. Kosinski-Collins, M.S., Thol, S.L., Serebryany, E., and King, J.A. Biophysical Journal (2019). (forthcoming)
  • Leaders discuss the Flint water crisis. Felder, P., Patrick, L., Kosinski-Collins, M.S., Schreiber, C. and Barlow, J.. Pardee RAND Faculty  Pardee RAND: 2017.
  • The Brandeis Science Posse: Using the group model to retain students in the sciences. Kosinski-Collins, M.S., Godsoe, K., and Epstein, I. Diversity in the Scientific Community. ACS Books, 2017. 46-58.
  • A liberal arts approach to the integration of introductory biology and organic chemistry laboratories though a Huntington’s disease research practicum. Boltax, A., Pontrello, J. and Kosinski-Collins, M.S.  Journal of College Science Teaching 45. (2016): 50-57.
  • Integration of the Biology and Organic Chemistry laboratories through a Huntington’s disease research practicum. Boltax, A., Armanious, S. Pontrello, J.K., and Kosinski-Collins, M.S. Association of Biology Laboratory Educators, Eugene, Oregon. June 17-20, 2014.
  • Connecting Biology and introductory Organic Chemistry introductory laboratory courses through a collaborative research project. Boltax, A., Armanious, S., Kosinski-Collins, M.S. and Pontrello, J.K. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 43. (2015): 233-244.
  • The Brandeis Science Posse: Using the group model to retain students in the sciences. Epstein, I., Godsoe, K., and Kosinski-Collins, M.S.  Athens J. Educ 2. (2015): 9-22.
  • Using the group model to retain students in the sciences. Epstein, I.E., Godsoe, K., and Kosinski-Collins, M.S. Athens: ATINER'S Conference Paper Series (2015): No: EDU2014-1133.
  • Dissecting Huntington’s Disease: Introducing Primary Literature Analysis and Collaborative Work via a Gross Anatomy and Histology Laboratory Associated with a Drosophila Inquiry-based Module. Mehrmanesh, L., Piasta, K., and Kosinski-Collins, M. Proc. of ABLE (2015).
  • Screening for enhancers and suppressors of Ptpmeg: a model genetics experiment for introductory biology students. Setty, S. and Kosinski-Collins, M.S. American Biology Teacher 77. (2014): 41-47.
  • Huntington’s as an Interdisciplinary Lab for Intro Biology. Proc. of Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology: Chronicling the Changes. Kosinski-Collins, M.S. and Pontrello, J.K.  Washington D.C.: AAAS, 2013.
  • Using news and views articles, lab reports, and wiki entries to teach students how to read and write for diverse scientific audiences in an introductory biology laboratory course. Jacobson, A. and Kosinski-Collins, M.S. Journal of Studies in Education 2. (2012): 1-1.
  • The Harry Potter Box: Demonstrating the Importance of Challenging Assumptions during the Scientific Process. Setty, S. and Kosinski-Collins, M.S. American Biology Teacher 74. (2012): 587-588.
  • Using the writing and revising of journal article-style lab reports to increase science literacy and understanding in a large introductory biology laboratory course. Treacy, D. & Kosinski-Collins, M.S. Atlas Journal of Science Education 1. 3 (2011): 29-3.
  • The implementation of a project–based molecular biology laboratory emphasizing protein structure-function relationships into a large introductory biology laboratory course. Treacy, D., Sankaran, S., Gordon-Messer, S., Saly, D., Miller, R., Isaac, R.S., & Kosinski-Collins, M.S.  C.B.E. Life Science Education 10. 18-24 (2011).
  • Using scientific purposes to improve student writing and understanding in undergraduate biology project-based laboratories. Gordon-Messer, Susannah and Kosinski-Collins, Melissa. American Biology Teacher 9. Nov/Dec (2010): 578-579.
  • Atlas Journal of Science Education. Kosinski-Collins, Melissa, ed.  Atlas Publishing, 2010.
  • Journal of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Kosinski-Collins, Melissa, ed. KBM Scientific, 1 2010.
  • Educating young educators: a pedagogical internship for undergraduate teaching assistants. Romm, I., Gordon-Messer, S. and Kosinski-Collins, M. S.  CBE: Life Science Education 9. (2010): 80-86.
  • Integrating protein visualization in the classroom with StarBiochem. I. Ceraj, L. M. Alemán, J. T. Riley, M. Kosinski-Collins, M. E. Rokop, K. Vandiver, and C. Shubert. Proc. of MIPRO. Opatija, Croatia: 2009.