By Esther Lee–
Professors who are intelligent, respected and acknowledged in their respective field are not hard to find within the University of Louisville. What may be difficult is finding a professor who carries all these qualities plus a love for teaching. Luckily, you won’t have to look far within the university’s biology department in the Life Science building. Cue in Dr. Mark Running!
Prior to his Cardinal commitment, Dr. Running attended Pomona College in Claremont, California and obtained his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology. He originally studied chemistry but as he learned that his interest geared towards the biology field, Dr. Running pursued the study of life and living organisms. “I have always been interested in science,” Dr. Running stated.
After schooling, Dr. Running worked at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis but eventually decided that a private research institute wasn’t what he was looking for. “I just missed being on campus and interacting with a lot of students,” Dr. Running explained.
It has been two years since Dr. Running joined the faculty of UofL. He teaches Biology 329, Cell and Molecular Biology, which highlights the important aspects of biology at a cellular and molecular level and Biology 348, Developmental Biology, which covers animal development. “Developmental Biology is the study of how cells become different from each other even though they have the same DNA,” Dr. Running clarified.
The career life of a professor is very demanding. Doing research. Finding funds for research. Writing papers for publications. Teaching courses. Advising students. And in many cases, some professors don’t exactly choose their career to teach. You know those professors I’m talking about. But the Developmental Biology enthusiast not only thoroughly enjoys research, but also his teaching and student-interaction. He is always welcoming you during office hours. The last two times I visited, there has been candy!
“If I am enjoying myself, the students enjoy themselves more,” Dr. Running mentioned. “In the way I enjoy myself, I try to convey my enthusiasm over the material.”
The research Dr. Running is involved in mostly relate to plant development. In the gist of things, the research revolves around plant stem cells and how stem cells acquire their cell identities and how stem cell differentiate to into other types of cells. Also on the practical side of research, Dr. Running is part of drought tolerance in plants and biofuels which include carbon accumulation and fermentation. Dr. Running hopes to commercialize drought tolerance or biofuel processes. But the main and more realistic goal he hopes to accomplish with his research is to contribute knowledge about plant stem cells.
Besides teaching and research, Dr. Running is the faculty advisor for Pennies for Peace, an organization that raises money for schools in Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East.
What I bet you didn’t know was that Dr. Running is a former disk jockey. He used to DJ during his college years, and although the last time he performed was a few years ago, he very much enjoys his techno music. “What I would like to mash up is a Rihanna song ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ and ‘Feel It’ by the Tamperer,” Dr. Running explained, while I was still in awe at the fact that my biology professor used to DJ. “I think they would make the perfect mash up.”
Dr. Running is an engaging professor who loves teaching to his students. It’s professors like him who truly improve the quality of the learning at the University of Louisville.
Photo: Nathan Gardner/The Louisville Cardinal