Associate Professor of Biology Dave Roberts is a dynamic and inspiring educator with a singular goal of maximizing student learning in the classroom, the laboratory and the hallway, by imparting his knowledge, enthusiasm, and passion. Since joining the faculty in 2010, Professor Roberts has been dedicated to making scientific concepts understandable, applicable and memorable for F&M students, advancing their understanding of the biology of cancer and contributing to the culture of excellence across campus.
Professor Roberts is meticulous in planning all levels of detail for how he will present complicated content, actively engage students and accurately assess their learning. With detailed explanations, exquisite drawings and professional insights, students are drawn in as even the most advanced and complex concepts in biology become approachable.
Whether teaching Cell Biology or Multi-Drug Resistance, Cancer Biology or The Science of Health, Professor Roberts’ aim is for students to become informed, knowledgeable citizens, with science and non-science students alike learning to discern evidence-based arguments relating to science, medicine, health and the environment that impacts their lives.
Student-centered research is the primary goal of his research program that probes the signaling pathways corrupted in cancer cells, work that has earned two-thirds of a million dollars in federal funding. He has great aptitude for developing complex, yet elegant experimental studies to define critical aspects of the signaling pathways in both human and fruit fly systems. The fruit fly model organism Drosophila melanogaster, with the power of genetic manipulation and molecular tools, is an often-utilized choice among cell biologists. Professor Roberts masters this model system to maximize output from a small lab of undergraduates, thereby becoming a representative of the potential for success with top-notch research at an undergraduate liberal arts institution.
Students treasure the opportunity to work with Professor Roberts, as his reputation as a brilliant yet patient and humble scientist makes for a model of a personable, successful scientist. As they mature as scientists, students have opportunities to contribute to conference presentations and journal publications as full collaborators in experiences that set their paths for future careers.
His indelible impact is felt across campus and beyond. He contributed to successful institutional grant applications to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for Translational Medicine, NIH BRADD and NSF Major Research Instrumentation; a combined $2 million in funding. His enthusiasm for curricular enhancement and student-focused pedagogy motivated him to co-author a primer on fly genetics, give presentations on his student-driven research, as well as lead workshops on mentoring and career guidance at national conferences.
Professor Roberts’ selection to the Education Policy Committee and efforts to drive development of the F&M Biosafety Program illustrate his engagement with the critical ways the liberal arts education, especially quantitative skills and safety, place students first and educate the whole person.
His warmth and generosity are boundless, as he is an esteemed colleague and inspiring mentor to so many, and will undoubtedly continue to influence generations of F&M faculty and alumni.