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Dr. Elizabeth Crouch: A new leader committed to biomedical science education

Posted February 27, 2015

Dr. Elizabeth CrouchDr. Elizabeth Crouch was recently named the new assistant dean for undergraduate education at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), which means she is responsible for the undergraduate Biomedical Sciences Program (BIMS) within the college. Crouch is hardly new to Texas A&M University, however. She earned her bachelor’s degree in BIMS and her Ph.D. in genetics from Texas A&M before completing her postdoctoral fellowship in immunogenetics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Crouch’s family first sparked her interest in biology and how it relates to health and disease. Her mother was a speech pathologist and her grandfather, Dr. Dan Roberts, and an uncle, Dr. Clifford Roberts, both earned their DVM degrees from Texas A&M. Consequently, Crouch became familiar with the Texas A&M campus and developed a strong interest in the university’s BIMS program. While taking electives such as advanced human genetics, molecular genetics, and immunology, coupled with some courses from the now-defunct biotechnology option in the BIMS degree program, Crouch developed a passion for studying molecular genetics. “What fascinated me the most was the genetic component of disease process,” said Crouch.

Crouch’s research has ranged from molecular biology—where she studied the changes of a protein involved in DNA synthesis between cancer transformed and aged cells—and the development and relationship between various cell types in the thymus. “The studies of normal development could then be applied to processes that lead to benign tumor growth,” Crouch said. “By defining the normal processes of cell division cycles and organogenesis, we can then look at abnormalities and learn about aging and cancer.” The ultimate goal of such research is to provide ways of therapeutic intervention.

Currently, Crouch spends all of her time as assistant dean of BIMS. Her main duties include keeping in touch with undergraduate students and informing them of their progress in the program. She also arranges meetings with faculty, staff, or other deans on the campus regarding issues within the BIMS program. Dr. Skip Landis, who retired from the assistant dean position in May 2014, originally hired Crouch as an academic advisor in 2001. Under his mentorship, Crouch progressed through the ranks to the position of director before assuming her new position. “She was a top BIMS graduate, a good administrator, and a quick study, which made it an easy choice to select her for this position,” Landis said. “In all, the transition from an academic to an administrative position felt fairly seamless.”

The experience of teaching helps Crouch navigate her administrative position. In the past, Crouch has taught several classes in the BIMS program and elsewhere such as at Boise State University, from introductory biomedical science to advanced biomedical genetics. She currently teaches an elective course called Introduction to Phenotypic Expression in the Context of Human Medicine. “I love being in a classroom with students,” Crouch said, “and I think that passion translates very nicely in running a program all about learning.”

Students can easily see Crouch’s passion in helping them in the BIMS program. Jonathan Bravo, a student who has taken one of Crouch’s BIMS introductory classes, notes her excellence as a teacher. “She is able to relate to the students on a comfortable level and is always very prepared and willing to take the time to help a student research options,” Bravo said.

“My one piece of advice that I give students is this: Take your college career one step at a time,” said Crouch. “Enjoy the learning as much as the end goal, be stubborn in your pursuits, and—above all—follow your gifts, and you will always be happy.”

One of Crouch’s main goals for BIMS is to increase its 2+2 Articulation Agreements. These agreements help more students from various Texas community colleges successfully transfer to the BIMS program at Texas A&M. “We are adding to our numbers of schools interested in the 2+2 Articulation Agreement between local community colleges and Texas A&M, and we have a record freshman class of BIMS students,” said Crouch. “The challenge associated with such successes is primarily managing such a large BIMS student body.” Through the 2+2 Articulation Agreement, the BIMS program reviews courses a student can take for an associate degree at a community college and suggests certain courses from the community college that fall within the curriculum for the BIMS program. This coordination makes it easier for students to transition into the BIMS program. “We want to maintain a challenging, engaging curriculum that successfully prepares students for professional and graduate school,” said Crouch.

Crouch’s experiences at Texas A&M led her to achieve many of her professional goals. She had a strong undergraduate degree on which to build her graduate studies. Her graduate program committee consisted of strong faculty mentors, such as her now-supervisor Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni, associate dean for undergraduate education, professor, and head of the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS). Other members of her committee were her chair, Dr. David Busbee, a now-retired professor in VIBS; Dr. Jane Welsh, professor in VIBS and assistant dean for graduate studies; and Dr. Van Wilson, professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine and vice dean for research and graduate studies. “Each of them is also a strong teacher, and therefore I gained a passion for teaching as well,” said Crouch. Texas A&M has also significantly impacted Crouch’s personal life. She met her husband, Dr. Wayne Crouch, who earned his DVM degree from the CVM in 2000.

Crouch considers it a privilege to run the BIMS program for Texas A&M and gives it her full effort and commitment. “Dr. Crouch’s character, personal qualities, knowledge, and dedication make her an ideal assistant dean for undergraduate education,” said Tiffany-Castiglioni. “She makes it clear that her main responsibility and passion is helping students in their education.”

Dr. Elizabeth Crouch lecturing to students.

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Contact Information: Megan Palsa, mpalsa@cvm.tamu.edu, Office: 979-862-421, Cell: 979-421-3121



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