MENDEL POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWS
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.
CURRENT MSE FELLOWS
Meghan Caulfield, PhD, '09 MS, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Meghan Caulfield, PhD, '09 MS joined the laboratory of Irene Kan, PhD, in August 2018. She completed a BA in Psychology at Lafayette College (2006), an MS in Experimental Psychology at Villanova University (2009), and a doctoral degree at Rutgers University in Behavioral Neuroscience (2014). Following graduate school, Dr. Caulfield completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Kessler Foundation using neuroimaging and clinical neuropsychological techniques to study spatial cognition after stroke (2014-2016) and taught in the Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience as a visiting assistant professor at Lafayette College (2016-2018). Dr. Caulfield's research uses human neuroscience methods (including computerized tasks, neuroimaging, functional near infrared spectroscopy, and electroencephalography) to study the brain regions underlying learning and cognition differences in risk for anxiety.
Brittany Coppinger, Biology
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.
Dylan Belton, PhD, Humanities
Dylan Belton, PhD, completed his BA in Philosophy and Theology, and his MTS and PhD in Systematic Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He has received research funding awards from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as well as the Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology in Heidelberg, Germany. As a Mendel Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Belton will join a team of scholars involved in the “Collaborative Inquiries in Christian Theological Anthropology” project funded by the John Templeton Foundation and by Villanova University. His research will concentrate on the notion of the “Umwelt” that is currently gaining attention from Anglo-American scholars within anthropology, biosemiotics, cognitive science, religious studies and philosophy of mind. The Umwelt is the world of meaning or significance that surrounds a living organism, and its species-specific form is tightly correlated with the organism’s sensorimotor and affective capacities. An analysis of an organism’s Umwelt is therefore simultaneously an analysis of its body. Dr. Belton will be exploring interdisciplinary research on the Umwelt as well as its significance for scholarship in theological anthropology focused on human embodiment.