At RCC, our faculty and staff are committed to student success, inside and outside of the classroom. In this issue, we learn more about two of our esteemed STEM employees who work tirelessly to ensure that RCC students are receiving hands-on, practical training in our laboratories and classrooms.
At Roxbury Community College our STEM division is on the cusp of new technology and modernization thanks in part to Dr. Hillel Sims, director of science laboratories. Hillel Sims is a highly qualified scientist and educator with extensive experience in Molecular Biology and Genetics. Hillel has always had an interest in the sciences. A native of Long Island, his first research position was at the age of 16, working at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories.
Before joining the team at RCC, Hillel spent several years working for biotechnology companies in the Boston area as a senior scientist, as well as director of operations. After High School, Hillel attended Brandeis University and later the Tufts University Sackler School where he earned his PhD in Genetics. Hillel’s post-doctoral fellowship was done at Brandeis University as well.
Today, in his role as director, he balances his time between supervising the laboratory technicians and work study students, working directly with faculty on the laboratory renovation project, coordinating equipment purchases using funds from the department’s $1 million Massachusetts Life Sciences Center equipment grant, and functioning as the Science Department’s health & safety officer.
“I like the energy of RCC, the energy associated with a learning environment,” says Dr. Sims. “I specifically wanted to work at RCC because it presented the opportunity to teach in addition to managing the labs. When I was offered a section of Microbiology in the fall 2015 semester, I jumped at the chance. My students were great, and I think they really enjoyed taking my class.”
When asked for his opinion about STEM education, he said: “with all the new technology employed in our everyday lives, the growth of the healthcare industry, and the impact biotechnology has had on everything from food to fuel, STEM education is more important than ever.”
Stacey Olson is a revered science faculty member and department chair here at Roxbury Community College. She joined the Science Department in September 2009 as an adjunct professor and quickly become an asset to the department. The sciences are a lifelong interest for Stacey. She is excited to share advances in the field with students who are interested in STEM careers. Stacey has presented research at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), as well as served on various panels, including the MA STEM Summit.
Professor Olson comes to us from Detroit MI, where she was educated and began her professional career. She earned her BS in Biology and an MS in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Oakland University. After earning her MS, Professor Olson worked for Pfizer as a scientist and later Cayman Chemicals as a biochemistry research associate while teaching at Wayne County Community College. “What I enjoyed the most about research was that the work we were doing would help people—either help to diagnose, help to treat or just help to understand a problem,” says Professor Olson.
Since joining RCC, Professor Olson has enjoyed watching the growth in her students. “I had a student who came to RCC and took our foundational course in science, General Science. She worked hard and walked across the stage with her degree in Lab Animal Care. It was a wonderful accomplishment for her!”
Looking to get started on your STEM studies? Professor Olson encourages you to meet with your science advisor early to determine a curriculum that can be tailored to your career aspirations.