The appointments were made by President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D. on recommendation from Provost Allan T. Weatherwax, Ph.D. and in collaboration with the Faculty Senate committee on appointment, rank and tenure.
Kevin Finn Promoted from Associate Professor to full Professor of Health Sciences
Kevin Finn, Ed.D. is the associate dean of the School of Health Sciences. He earned his B.S. in sports medicine from Merrimack College in 2002, master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Fairfield University and Ed.D. in curriculum and teaching from Boston University. Finn is also a Massachusetts-licensed athletic trainer, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and a fellow at the National Science Foundation’s Initiative Science Educations for New Civic Engagement and Responsibility.
He focuses much of his research on the promotion of physical activity and STEM learning in children, so he works closely with schools and their after-school programs in order to implement strategies for increasing physical activity while improving academic performances of students. He is the co-investigator for the national program Active Science being developed with funding by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which brings together physical activity, technology, and academic achievement in school children.
His research also includes the effects of pedagogical tools used in college classrooms to promote student learning and perceptions in science. As part of his research, Finn has had students use personal response systems and peer-led team-learning in science courses to improve student knowledge and attitudes. Joint-research has showed that students who take an integrated lecture and lab course earned better grades on average, and had fewer incidents of dropping the classes than those who take a lecture and lab on separate days. Results of the research were consistent for lower level and upper level courses.
Finn, who joined the college as an assistant athletic trainer in July 2002, is the internship coordinator for the Health and Science Department.
Christina Hardway from Associate Professor to full Professor of Psychology
Christina Hardway, Ph.D. is chair of the Psychology Department. She attended the University of Chicago as an undergraduate and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining Merrimack, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.
In addition to researching interventions that help individuals overcome anxiety, she has also researched practices that promote better learning and intellectual engagement. These aspects of her research include investigating contextual factors (such as the environments in the home, workplace, or the classroom) that help individuals approach knowledge acquisition in a positive and engaged fashion.
Her research and work in the classroom has led her to believe that learning is most enduring when students actively engage new material and find ways to make it relevant to their own lives. When students are challenged to integrate new knowledge with their existing ideas about the world, they retain that information in a more meaningful way.
She is devoted to improving pedagogical practices and committed to helping individuals develop a better understanding of their own intellectual endeavors and how these are related to their larger personal and professional goals. She has also served as a Faculty Fellow for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and examined ways to help students improve their metacognitive skills.
As part of her focus on engaged learning, she has earned qualification as a mindfulness teacher and seeks to integrate the practice of mindfulness in all aspects of her work. In 2015, she received Merrimack College’s George Roddy Outstanding Teacher of the Year award.
Janine M. LeBlanc-Straceski from Associate Professor to full Professor of Biology
Janine M. LeBlanc-Straceski, Ph.D. is chair of the Biology Department. She earned her undergraduate degree from Tufts University and her doctorate with a focus in developmental biology, molecular biology and biochemistry from Wesleyan. Before joining Merrimack, she worked as a research associate for Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Department of Cell Biology and Department of Genetics from 1991 to August 1994.
Her research is focused on the HHMI SEA PHAGES project, in which freshman biology majors assist by collecting soil samples and then isolating, characterizing and naming new and unique bacteriophages so that DNA can be sequenced before students in Genetics annotate. She is also researching left/right asymmetry in vertebrates and investigating the role of molecular motors in them; as well as creating polymorphic markers from microsatellites of Poecilia latipinna to use in paternity and other forensic testing.
LeBlanc-Straceski has designed her research laboratory to give undergraduate students quality research experiences during which they can make meaningful contributions to the scientific literature. Many of her students have gone on to complete their doctoral work, three are professors at major universities, and others work in the biotechnology industry or at medical schools.
LeBlanc-Straceski’s professional experience includes working as an instructor at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Education Alliance (SEA), serving as president of the Merrimack College chapter of scientific research society Sigma Xi, the past HPA for the Health Professions Advising Committee, and past director of the Center for Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences.