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Patricia Singer

Professor of Biology
B.A. St. Olaf College, 1976
Ph.D. Kansas State University, 1981
When I started college at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to major in Music or Chemistry. In the end I chose neither and majored in Biology. After completing my B.A. at St. Olaf College, I went on to complete my Ph.D. in Biology at Kansas State University and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois in Biochemistry. Along the way, my growing interest in global issues occasionally distracted me from biology, but in the end my love of cells and molecules won out.

My primary, deep, and driving interest as a biologist continues to be cancer molecular biology.  With the help of my research students, I am examining how statins (like Lipitor or Zocor) stimulate cells to die.  In particular, I’m exploring changes in the expression of genes associated with cell death.  Because statins trigger cell death (apoptosis), cancer molecular biologists are asking whether statins might have value as cancer chemotherapies.

The nagging interest in global issues has never gone away. Fortunately at small colleges, like Simpson College, the pursuit of multiple interests is encouraged. I have had the privilege of traveling abroad with students during many May Terms to learn about global health issues and sustainability in such places as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Namibia, Peru, Denmark, Netherlands, Iceland, Spain, and Italy.  I spent spring semester 2011 in Thailand learning about Thai language, Thai culture, and health problems of a country in development.

In my spare time I like to run, bicycle, and mow the lawn.