Jennifer Bankers-Fulbright

Associate Professor

CB 37

Biology Courses Taught at Augsburg

  • BIO150: Introductory Biology Workshop
  • BIO151: Introductory Biology
  • BIO476: Microbiology
  • BIO486: Immunology

Teaching Interests and Philosophy

My approach to teaching is quite student-centered, and I see teaching as a mentoring or “coaching” relationship with my students. I strive to be a catalyst that encourages students to take what they learn in my classes out into the real world and make a difference. In order to do this effectively, I make my expectations clear to students on the first day of the course and then guide them through the knowledge and skills required to meet (and ideally exceed) those expectations. My evaluation of student knowledge is never based on simple recitation of learned facts; it always includes a demonstration of scientific application, analysis, or evaluation. In addition, in lectures and labs I intentionally convey my enthusiasm for biology (and learning in general), encourage students’ own exploration of things that academically inspire them, and, more broadly, challenge them to identify and intentionally pursue their own passion/vocation.

Research Interests

My primary goal in doing scientific research at Augsburg is to provide our undergraduates the opportunity do health-related research that allows them to make real contributions to the biomedical literature while learning basic (and often advanced) skills that facilitate their continued success in their chosen field. In the Airway Inflammation Research (AIR) lab at Augsburg, I mentor students in researching the relationship between airway complications of cystic fibrosis (CF) and the common – but usually innocuous — bacterial species Pseudomonas aeruginosa. P. aeruginosa ultimately colonizes the lungs of most people with CF and is the most common cause of death for these patients. Although there are many characteristics that have been reported to make the CF lung more susceptible to P. aeruginosa colonization, one of the least studied is the role of airway secretions in promoting or preventing colonization. Students in my lab use a human airway epithelial cell line – Calu-3 – and several strains of P. aeruginosa to test the hypothesis that airway secretions from normal, but not CF, airway epithelial cells inhibit P. aeruginosa functions. The goal of this research is to identify key proteins (or other components) of airway secretions that prevent P. aeruginosa colonization. Ultimately, these findings could serve as the basis for new types of airway treatments for patients with CF.

Educational Background

  • Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences – Immunology; Mayo Graduate School – 1995
  • B.A. in Biology; College of St. Benedict — 1989