November Faculty & Staff Profiles

Joseph Santin, Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences

Santin is one of four new faculty in the Division of Biological Sciences who started at Mizzou in the fall of 2022. He was hired through the MizzouForward recruitment initiative to expand his cellular neuroscience research. His lab looks at the effects of different types of stressors on brain function in frogs.

Santin said the facilities and cross-disciplinary collaboration attracted him to Mizzou.

“I have had great interactions with my bio colleagues but also with those from Biomedical Sciences across campus,” he said. “I look forward to building my networks with those doing similar types of work, as well as finding ‘less obvious’ connections with those working in other areas to see what cool research ideas come out of those interactions.”

In October, Santin delivered a lecture as part of the Biomedical Sciences Seminar Series called, “How Frogs Breathe After a Monthslong ‘Apnea’ (And Insights into Neuroplasticity).”

Another positive aspect of MizzouForward that Sanin mentioned is the recruitment process. Candidates are recruited in six high-priority areas: NextGen Precison Health; New Frontiers in Science, Engineering and Technologies; Innovations in Social Science, Humanities and the Arts; Infectious Disease; Interdisciplinary Materials Science; and School of Medicine. They interview with the committee members in their priority area, who make hiring recommendations. You can read more about this process in the Office of the Provost December 2021 newsletter.

“I felt everything was very transparent,” Santin said. “The goal was to help the candidate succeed (finding the best ‘home’ department), and in doing so, grow the research strength of Mizzou.”

Read more about the research already begun by MizzouForward faculty.

 Cecilia Olivares, Director of the Transfer Center and Discovery Center

MizzouForward also funds several student success initiatives, including more advising support for student development and success and undergraduate and graduate career student support services. The aim of these resources is to contribute to excellence in student academic success, increased graduation rates and increased placement outcomes. One valuable resource for Mizzou students is the Discovery Center, the academic home for 825 undergraduate students exploring majors or considering a change of majors.

“Our team includes four academic advisors who support students through the major exploration and decision-making process,” said Cecilia Olivares, the Discovery Center director. “We help students understand the undergraduate program options (majors, minors, and certificates) available at MU and the requirements for the programs they are considering.”

In addition, partnering with the MU Career Center, the center offers SSC 1150: Student Success Seminar, a two-credit course designed for new students.

“The class is designed to create a positive student experience by connecting students with the Mizzou campus community and the academic resources essential to their success,” said Olivares. “Guided by our instructors, students assess their strengths, values, interests, and skills to develop and implement an individualized and strategic approach to successfully navigate their way through college and life.” 

The Discovery Center can also work with faculty with referrals. “Outside of helping exploring students with coursework, Discovery Center advisers monitor student progress including early alert flags in MU Connect,” Olivares said. “Faculty can help by raising flags and including notes when possible, and they can reach out directly to us via email, phone, or in-person about individual students of concern.”

She said her team also encourages students to have conversations with faculty about introductory courses as part of the major exploration process. The Discovery Center uses different strategies to help students explore majors and careers that are captured in the “How to Explore Majors at MU” graphic.

Advising assistance, such as course registration support, is available for students already in the Discovery Center. For students not in the Discovery Center, they can help with exploring majors. Students can connect with the Discovery Center by scheduling an appointment from the MU Connect service profile page. Watch for more about the resources available at the Discovery Center in their YouTube video or learn about all of their services on their website.

Other resources Olivares would like people to be aware of include:

  • MU Career Center’s online resources under the “Major & Career” tab. In addition to exploratory academic advising, students can utilize career counseling services.
  • MU Majors website is a great resource for students to check out all 300+ majors, minors and certificates and read more about the courses in each program. They can review recommended semester-by-semester plans and learn more about potential career options.