The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences supports three postdoctoral fellows who contribute to developing and teaching Mendel Science Experience (MSE)—specialized courses designed for non-science majors as part of the College's core curriculum.

MSE postdoctoral fellows are appointed for two years, with an option to renew for a third year, and are mentored by a tenured or tenure-track Villanova faculty member. Half of their time during the academic year is dedicated to supporting faculty in teaching the MSE courses. These core science courses are thematic (i.e., not traditional survey courses) and are associated with a complementary thematic lab that is linked directly to the lecture section. Although MSE courses are topically diverse, they share a common approach—incorporating four critical components in a meaningful way: problem solving, laboratory/field experience, technology and quantitative tools, and interdisciplinary understanding.

MSE postdoctoral fellows also conduct research in their faculty mentor's lab. Our faculty expect them to demonstrate research productivity, which, when coupled with their teaching experience, will prepare them for academic careers at institutions that value undergraduate education.


Brittany Coppinger, PhD, Biology

Meghan Caulfield

Brittany Coppinger joined the laboratory of Robert Curry, PhD, in January 2021. She completed a BS in Biology and Animal Behavior, Ecology and Conservation at Canisius College (2014), followed by a doctoral degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2021) in Psychology. For her thesis research, Coppinger studied the social influences on communicative complexity using Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice. In general, Coppinger is interested in the social and environmental factors that influence social group structure and the ways individuals communicate in groups. At Villanova, Coppinger will work to assess how hybridization of two species of chickadee influences social and communicative behavior in groups. 


Nikole Giovannone, PhD, Psychological and Brain Sciences

Brittany Coppinger

Nikole Giovannone joined the laboratory of Joseph Toscano, PhD, in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in August of 2023. She completed her BA in Psychology and Linguistics at Mount Holyoke College, followed by her PhD in Speech, Language and Hearing Science at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Giovannone’s research assesses individual differences in speech perception and spoken word recognition processes. Her dissertation research assessed early auditory processing in listeners with weaker versus stronger language ability using. At Villanova, she will continue to use methodologies including behavioral psychophysics and electroencephalography to answer questions about how listeners of all kinds transform sound into meaning.


Anita Prapotnik Brdnik, PhD, Astrophysics and Planetary Science

Dylan Belton

Anita Prapotnik Brdnik received her PhD in Physics from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 2005 with a thesis on weak three-body decays of heavy mesons. After graduation, she worked at the University of Maribor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Transport Engineering and Architecture. She conducted research in the field of building physics (sustainability of buildings) and on the prospects for a 19-seat aircraft powered by fuel cells, and lectured in various subjects of physics and building physics. In the fall of 2023, she joined the astronomical research group of Andrej Prša, PhD, at Villanova University as a postdoctoral researcher, where she works on binary stars.

Kevin Minbiole, PhD, Associate Dean for Research

St Augustine Center, room 105