Faculty Educator of the Month: June 2008

Dr. Stephanie S. Watowich

Dr. Stephanie S. Watowich, director of the Graduate Program in Immunology, associate professor in the Department of Immunology and member of the graduate faculty at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston (GSBS), has been named the June 2008 Faculty Educator of the Month.

Since 2004, Dr. Watowich has directed the Graduate Program in Immunology, in which trainees prepare for careers in immunology as well as other fields in the biomedical sciences. Students in the Graduate Program in Immunology receive training in introductory and advanced immunology courses and participate in 30-week laboratory-based tutorials with at least three different faculty members, seminars, journal clubs, retreats and scientific meetings.

As a faculty member at the GSBS since 1996, Dr. Watowich has had a great deal of direct interaction with students. Specifically, she has been the coordinator for the GSBS courses Seminars in Immunobiological Research (1996-2004) and Cytokines and the Immune Response (2000-present), and she serves as co-coordinator for the Immunology I course (2007-present). In addition, she has been an instructor for the Immunology I (1996-present), Cytokines and the Immune Response (1996-1998), Cancer Biology (2000-2005) and Cell Biology (2005-2006) courses.

Dr. Watowich has been involved in the direct supervision of graduate students during her career at MD Anderson, as she has chaired five advisory committees, three supervisory committees and eight Ph.D. candidacy examination committees. She has also served on 36 advisory committees, 31 supervisory committees and 35 Ph.D. candidacy examination committees. Furthermore, Dr. Watowich has directly supervised two undergraduate and allied health students, six graduate students, four postdoctoral research fellows and 14 tutorial student projects.

Dr. Watowich’s educational contributions extend outside MD Anderson, as she has been an external examiner for five Ph.D. theses in Australia and the United States and has given several lectures and presentations at meetings throughout both countries. She also recently served as co-chair with GSBS faculty member Dr. Theresa M. Koehler for West University Elementary School’s Science Night, which brought together elementary school students and graduate and medical students and faculty from throughout MD Anderson and the Texas Medical Center.

The GSBS has recognized Dr. Watowich’s educational efforts with the Dean’s Excellence Award (1999-2004) and a Reappointment with Highest Commendation (2005).

Dr. Watowich received her Ph.D. degree in biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology from Northwestern University in 1990 under the supervision of Dr. Richard I. Morimoto. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Harvey F. Lodish at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA, in 1995, Dr. Watowich came to MD Anderson as an assistant professor in the Department of Immunology and joined the graduate faculty at the GSBS. She was promoted to her current position of associate professor in 2001.

In addition to her duties described above, Dr. Watowich is the chair of the GSBS Program Coordinating Committee and a member of the GSBS Executive Committee. Furthermore, she is vice-chair of the MD Anderson Graduate Education Committee.

Since arriving at MD Anderson, Dr. Watowich has been the principal investigator for 12 funded research projects. In addition, she has served on American Heart Association Western Review Consortium Peer Review Committees (2002-2007).

Over her career as a researcher, Dr. Watowich has authored 38 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, six invited articles and two book chapters. She also has been a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research and an ad hoc reviewer for numerous other journals.