Featured Faculty: Meet Dr. Dawn Holliday, Associate Professor of Biology

Dr. Dawn Holliday, Associate Professor of Biology, powered through the pandemic last semester in her anatomy classes, outfitted next to her students in masks and full personal protective equipment in Westminster’s Cadaver Lab. Holliday will do the same during Spring Semester 2021 for Physiology.

But she is quick to refer to the state-of-the-art facility in Coulter Science Center simply as “the Anatomy Lab.”

Holliday explains, “I am really careful with our students not to use the term ‘cadaver,’ but rather ‘donor,’ which humanizes what we are doing more and is more respectful. These individuals have donated the greatest gift ―  themselves. ”

That courteous attitude toward others is what Holliday’s students love about the New York native, who joined the faculty at Westminster in 2011.

Read further to learn more about Holliday:

How did you become interested in teaching biology and other sciences at the college level?

As an undergraduate, I was a teaching assistant in a few labs. Then, when I was in graduate school, I had a teaching assistantship every year. I realized teaching was something that I enjoyed. Then, a few years ago, I also became a Missouri certified 9-12 biology teacher.

Where did you receive your degrees?

I received a BS in 1997 from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. I earned an MS in 1999 from Missouri State University, and I received my PhD in 2005 from Ohio University.

What courses do you typically teach?

I teach anatomy, gross anatomy, physiology, environmental toxicology, ecology, and conservation biology.

What do you like most about teaching at Westminster?

I like to get to know my students. The small class sizes and community atmosphere at Westminster really support building those relationships and networks.

What would you tell prospective students about the learning environment here?

The learning environment is very supportive. Students start to build academic cohorts and take classes together and study together. This then often grows into lifelong friendships by senior year. The faculty are genuinely interested in student growth and want to see students develop critical thought and push themselves to be the best version of themselves.

Can you tell us a little bit about your family?

I live in Columbia with my two awesome kids, a snake, a frog, and a beagle.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I swear I feel like all I do is work. But really, I enjoy hiking and riding my bike. And pre-COVID, I loved to travel and have offered a couple of travel courses at Westminster, including one absolutely amazing trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

What is one thing nobody else really knows about you?

If I tell you, then you’ll know. 😊


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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.