WCSU’s Monette wins research award
Board of Regents recognizes outstanding faculty
DANBURY, CONN. — Newtown resident Dr. Michelle Monette, assistant professor of animal physiology at Western Connecticut State University’s Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, is the recipient of the Board of Regents 2017 Research Award for Western Connecticut State University. The award recognizes faculty members who are doing exceptional research and creative work at their Connecticut State Colleges and Universities home institutions.
“My research is focused on understanding how animals regulate physiological function in order to respond to changes in their environment,” Monette said. “My current program uses a multi-level approach — from molecule to organism to population — to understand the mechanisms of internal salt balance in vertebrates from fish to humans.”
Monette teaches human and animal physiology courses at WCSU. Last summer, she took six students to conduct research at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine, and she will do this again this summer as part of her Group Senior Research course. Monette’s current research projects include the physiological, cellular and molecular mechanisms of osmoregulation in migratory Atlantic salmon;the evolutionary adaptation to environmental salinity in the Threespine stickleback; and the structure, function and regulation of cation chloride cotransporters.
“I am interested in ion (or salt) transport proteins, how these proteins function in an organism, and how evolution may have shaped the characteristics of these proteins over time,” Monette explained. “The importance of my research is two-fold: First, my investigations address fundamental questions relevant to highly conserved mechanisms of salt balance in vertebrates, and the understanding of these processes in comparative systems may aid in the treatment of human diseases. Second, determining how natural and human-driven changes in our environment affect physiological function of aquatic vertebrates is critical to the proper management and
conservation of endangered or economically important species.”
Monette’s publications in peer-reviewed professional journals include the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Aquaculture, the American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology, Aquatic Toxicology, the Journal of Experimental Biology and the American Fisheries Society Symposium, among others.
In his nomination of Monette to the BOR, Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Patrice Boily noted, “Dr. Monette’s research activities are of great benefit to the scientific community and have a significant impact on our students’ educational experience and professional development. She is an exceptionally talented scholar who consistently publishes works that contribute substantially to her field of study and that are highly valued by peers outside of the university. Dr. Monette has authored and co-authored six papers in highly respected journals and delivered four presentations at professional meetings of national and international stature. During this same time period, she obtained six grants to directly support her research and another to reduce the cost for students to enroll in a research course that included a field experience at a prestigious laboratory in Maine. She mentors many undergraduates in her projects, providing them with meaningful research experience.”
“As a member of the BOR Awards Committee,” Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Ann J. Atkinson said, “it’s rewarding to learn about our faculty’s innovative teaching methods and impressive research projects. Since 2007, eight WCSU professors have been recognized by our campus and gone on to win the system award as well. It’s clear that we are achieving our mission to ‘change lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society.’”
The awardees were introduced and recognized at the BOR Faculty Advisory Committee's Annual Conference at Central Connecticut State University on April 7. The awards presentation was led by Regent Merle Harris, chair of the Academic & Student Affairs Committee, accompanied by other regents and CSCU President Mark Ojakian.
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.