Innovation in Education Award Goes to Nathan S. Reyna

Nathan S. Reyna, an associate professor and the principal investigator of the Cell Biology Education Consortium (CBEC) at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR, has won the 2021 Innovation in Education Award.

This new honorific designation from the ASCB is given to an individual who has demonstrated innovation in education, defined as a novel educational accomplishment that significantly impacts progress in improving education, promoting professional development, and increasing diversity in the scientific workforce. As the former PI of Arkansas-CURE (2016–2020) and the current PI of the CBEC (2018–2023), both NSF-funded groups, Reyna’s work aims to fulfill ASCB’s mission to improve education, create professional development opportunities, and improve diversity in STEM.

“In five years, I went from working alone on projects to working with faculty at tribal colleges, large state schools, small undergraduate institutions, community colleges, and minority-serving institutions,” Reyna explained. “My teaching philosophy of incorporating authentic research and undergraduates into all aspects of a project is ingrained in everything that I do. It is this combination of education and research that has allowed the CBEC (www.cellbioed.com) to form true collaborations with so many faculty. The CBEC has grown into a national project that incorporates a diverse group of faculty and students throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Research in the Reyna Laboratory focuses on the role exosomes play in the tumor microenvironment.

“Undergraduates in my lab use RNA sequencing data and cancer cell-culture to address these questions,” he said. “In addition, we have begun to sequence patient circulating tumor DNA as a means for early detection of breast cancer reoccurrence. All projects are incorporated into the classroom.”

Reyna will receive a plaque and present a talk during the Education Minsymposium at Cell Bio Virtual 2021.

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Mary Spiro is ASCB's Science Writer and Social Media Manager.