Last semester Alma College gained a new professor in the science department: Professor Devin Camenares, PhD. Camenares moved to Alma at the end of last June, and this past fall was his first semester as an Alma professor.
Camenares first discovered his love for science in high school when he took a biotechnology class. “It really struck me at that time how it [biotechnology] is almost like a different programing language [and that] you can change the programing,” said Camenares.
Camenares came to Alma after teaching for four years at Kingsborough Community College in New York. At Alma, Camenares started up an iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) team. “I wanted to gain teaching experience and help promote awareness of biotechnology and synthetic biology across the campus,” said Camenares.
Once in Alma, Camenaresfelt that he had found the perfect place for his family, a small city that is not crowded and fast paced like New York, where he had been teaching before.
“The position at Alma, both as it was advertised and now as it has been realized, was a dream come true—a chance to not only teach and conduct research, but to develop an iGEM team with the full support of the college.
In his first semester of teaching, Camenares was given many opportunities to have some impactful memories. One of his favorites took place via email with one of his students. “It was great to see a student taking the material we were reading [in class] and going a step further [by doing his own research and asking questions],” Camenares said.
Camenares enjoys teaching the biotechnological sciences because of the coding and language they are written in. “I teach these courses because of how they relate to the ability to understand and reprogram living systems at a molecular level,” said Camenares.
When not in the classroom, Camenares can be found around the campus partaking in the hobbies he has rediscovered time for, such as chess tournaments. Camenares was also able to discover new hobbies he is considering once the weather is warmer, such as biking the trails.
One hobby that Camenares picked up once he came to Alma was tennis. He used to play some when he was living in New York, but thanks to Alma’s small campus and the short commute to work, Camenares is able to play the sport again, using the courts on South Campus and at the Rec Center.
Along with tennis, Camenares has strengthened his friendships with other faculty members by joining in on their games of Dungeons and Dragons (DND). Camenares has also acted in one of the local Gratiot County plays along with his wife.
“Alma is an improvement in almost every way!” said Camenares. “I particularly like how interconnected everything is: there seems to be more interdisciplinary connections among the faculty, and (in keeping with the tradition of a liberal arts college) a focus on a more holistic education and experience for the students.”
Camenares offered advice to future teachers, saying that they need to try to keep an open mind with their students, and to experiment with what teaching methods will work with those students.
“It is about taking full advantage of the experience not just to find a good position upon graduation, but to realize your potential for long term growth,” said Camenares. “It’s not about your first job upon graduation, but instead you’re last before retirement.”