Eva Sapi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Biology & Environmental Science
Sapi received her Ph.D. in Genetics from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. Her fields of interest include Lyme Disease, Novel Pathogens in Tick-Borne Diseases, Antibiotics Resistance, and Bacterial Biofilm Research. She is the co-author of many books and articles. We sat down with Eva Sapi and learned what she is doing inside and outside of the classroom.
What do you enjoy most about teaching here at the University of New Haven?
I teach mainly graduate students. The challenging aspect is incorporating the latest research in Biology into the courses I teach. Students want to hear the latest and greatest in updated information. I have fun providing it.
What teaching methods do you use that seem to excite the students the most?
Either I use exercises with students, like problem solving, in class or as homework assignments then I discuss them in class afterwards. You need more than a lecture to lighten up the structure of the class for the student. I am creating scientists and the most important ability is to solve problems and initiate new ideas into the field.
What technology applications have you utilized in the classroom?
In biology, we teach many techniques. Here at UNH, we are lucky to have the latest equipments such as Real Time PCR and Gene Analyzer and Sequencer, Atomic Force and Scanning Electron Microscopes. With these equipments, students are able to use cutting edge technology in their laboratory courses.
In your opinion, has technology enhanced your educational process? If so how?
Yes, technology based education is exciting and it can create interesting ideas. On the other hand, it could have a disadvantage because the thought process might not be used and the student might not know the theory and do not question it. The Socratic Method is still used to question the data. Without discussion and playing the devil’s advocate, the students might not ask the right questions. Students should work with the facts and ask the right questions.
What do you consider to be the newest areas of research within your field of study?
The newest areas of research are genomics/proteomics and bioinformatics fields. Genomics is using techniques that analyze the whole genome as one unit. Proteomics is the analysis of the protein expressed from the genome. Bioinformatics helps us to interpret the data using sophisticated computer programs. UNH has special classes to support this new type of research. For example, we offer genomics/proteomics and three bioinformatics classes that are very unique to UNH.
What are the strengths of your department?
The strength of the biology department is the faculty’s wide range of interests and backgrounds. Students are able to choose research projects from different research areas which is beneficial to their education.
What level of participation do you expect from your students?
I expect 110% full participation from my students, especially by asking questions. Students should not be afraid to ask questions because they might be missing information. I tell my students, do not be afraid to ask questions. You are a student, take advantage of the educational experience.
What occurs here that doesn’t occur in other schools?
Here at UNH, every student can get one-on-one attention from our faculty. I coordinate the graduate program and they come in all the time with questions and needing advisement. I feel we have better advisement because our faculty really cares about our students.
How do you balance theory and practice in your classes?
You always have to balance theory with practice. For example, you cannot teach Real Time PCR from a book you need to have the equipment and have students work with this technology in practice so they can fully understand the applications which can utilize this novel approach.
Do you see the future of teaching going in any special direction?
Absolutely, students are learning on their own at home with the computer. Teachers need to get ready for this. The classroom is different from ten to fifteen years ago because of Google web search and the amount of information that is out there. Positive information is so readily available to the student today. The negative side of it however is possible plagiarism so I need to provide problems that are not readily available off the Internet. There are definite changes coming.
What do you think are the most important attributes of a good instructor?
Patience is important. I am involved in the hiring of instructors for the biology department. I look for instructors who care about students who have a connection with their students. The key is to be available to the student if they need help with a problem. I look for an instructor who has significant background in research so they can share their real-life experiences with the students.
Do you have a certain field of interest?
Yes, Lyme disease. Through the analysis of ticks, the Lyme research group has made significant discoveries. There is a bacteria found in ticks that was also found in Lyme patients called mycoplasma. This bacterium creates the need for longer and different treatments because it is very slow growing and it could invade certain immune cells. These findings were presented at the UNH Annual Lyme Symposium and submitted the manuscript to Applied and Environmental Microbiology. This research was exclusively done by UNH students and supported only by our University.
What is the greatest challenge you face as an instructor?
Diversity, which is a good thing, but challenging because of the different backgrounds of students. This is especially noticeable during the first semester. Even though diversity is challenging, it creates a great atmosphere for discussion because of the different backgrounds.
What recommendations would you give to incoming freshman?
Think big and go for it! What is your passion, decide on it and then go in that direction.