Cell biologist Brian Bayless Joins SCU Biology Dept.
New professor seeks to engage students in science and research
By Riley O’Connell ‘19
Cell biologist Dr. Brian Bayless joins Santa Clara University’s Department of Biology this fall. A first-generation college graduate with an M.S. from UC Irvine, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and a recent postdoc at UC Davis, Bayless is particularly interested in stem cell development and macromolecular structures.
Bayless has been long interested in how tiny hair-like cellular appendages called motile cilia withstand physical forces. His postdoctoral research focused on “identif[ying] two novel structural components of motile cilia that are essential for cilium stability.” He hopes to “identify and characterize the remaining proteins that are involved in this process” in his lab. Bayless hopes his research will bring a “better understanding complex and subtle disorders that arise when cilia beating is disrupted" in the lungs, spinal fluid, and Fallopian tubes.
At SCU, Bayless aims to help students engage with science and scientific inquiry differently than they may have experienced previously. “Historically, biology labs have been the bane of students’ existence, because it’s really cut and paste,” he observes, noting that rote memorization is contradictory to how the field works in practice. “Sometimes science doesn’t always work, but you’re actually doing something that might make an impact.”
Hoping to make an impact himself, Bayless says he most looks forward to this mentoring aspect of teaching because of the positive experiences he had with his own undergraduate professors. “They really helped show me that higher education is attainable and achievable.”
Bayless looks forward to joining the SCU community because of the balance of teaching and research it affords its tenure-track faculty. That balance, he observes, isn’t always available at bigger universities or community colleges, both of which he has attended.
During the 2018-2019 school year, Bayless will teach Information and Evolution Lab (BIOL 1B), Cell Biology (BIOL 174), and Project Lab (BIOL 191).