PRCC biology instructor is 2017 Outstanding College Science Teacher

Instructor Melinda Miller watches as students in her biology lab put finger nail polish on azalea leaves as part of an experiment.
Instructor Melinda Miller watches as students in her biology lab put finger nail polish on azalea leaves as part of an experiment.

Pearl River Community College biology instructor Melinda Miller has been named 2017 Outstanding College Science Teacher by the Mississippi Science Teachers Association.

Miller will receive the award Tuesday during a luncheon at the association’s annual convention in Biloxi.

Miller, a PRCC instructor since August 2007, teaches anatomy and physiology and introduction to forensic science, in addition to biology. She is co-sponsor of the PRCC Stem Club, a member of the Honors Advisory Council and the general education and Science Olympiad committees. She helped coordinate and teach the science Kids Camps, which began at PRCC two years ago.

“Ms. Miller’s students are held to a very high standard,” Dr. Martha Lou Smith, vice president for Poplarville campus and instruction, wrote in a letter of recommendation to the association. “Many of her students have dreams of working in the medical profession — specifically nursing or allied health related fields. She works diligently to see students improve and be prepared for future biology related classes.”

Miller holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and general science education from Mississippi State University, master’s degrees in science education from the University of Southern Mississippi and in pharmaceutical sciences with specialization in forensics from the University of Florida and a graduate certification in forensic death investigation from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida.

Before becoming a full-time PRCC instructor, she was an adjunct instructor while teaching full-time at Hancock High School.

“I have always told my students that one of the most exciting aspects of biology was that it is constantly changing,” she said, in a PRCC press release. “This is one of the reasons that I began my journey to pursue my second master’s in pharmaceutical sciences specializing in forensic DNA and serology. This field was still very young at the time I was in college. My students have always had a fascination with the ‘CSI effect’ and that was one way I could get them interested in my lecture and lab material.”

The second degree allowed her to add a forensics class to the PRCC curriculum. She hopes to do additional post-graduate work in the field and further expand the PRCC curriculum.