After having taught at large research-oriented universities, Lynn is a welcomed change for Gary Villa. Unlike research schools, Lynn's focus is education. Teaching is very well supported and respected as a professional endeavor. Villa believes that the faculty members at Lynn are also extremely diverse, but very collegial, which makes for a very stimulating and enjoyable working environment. These attributes are why Villa chose to make Lynn his professional home.
Gary Villa started his studies as a Russian linguist in military intelligence in the U.S. Army. He studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California. After leaving the Army, he worked for five years as a police officer. During that time, Villa also started his undergraduate education at the University of Missouri, earning a B.A. in Russian area studies and a B.S. in biological sciences. He was then accepted into a Ph.D. program in biological sciences at Stanford University. Dr. Villa completed his Ph.D. in marine biology and molecular evolution under Dennis Powers, Ph.D., at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA. During this time he was also heavily involved as a teaching assistant with the courses at Hopkins, particularly the subtidal communities and underwater research courses, for which he won Stanford's Excellence in Teaching Award.
Upon completing his Ph.D., Dr. Villa was hired at the University of California, Irvine, under an innovative program in which the students picked four areas in which the school did not offer courses, and hired faculty to design and teach upper-division courses in those areas. He was chosen to design and teach eight courses in marine biology a year and was there for two years. After leaving UCI, Villa taught at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton for two years, focusing primarily on the introductory majors' courses, but also teaching upper-division and graduate courses in genetics and evolutionary theory.
In 2002, Dr. Villa was offered a position at Lynn University as an associate professor of biology. Currently he teaches all biology courses not dealing with human biology, as well as forensic science courses. He is also the director of the Honors Program at Lynn.
B.A., University of Missouri
B.S., University of Missouri
Ph.D., Stanford University
Gary Villa's philosophy is that teaching is a collaboration between the student and the teacher. He believes that by engaging in dialogue, debate and cooperative exploration, both parties gain knowledge and understanding. Both learn to see a subject through new and different eyes. The student gains from the experience and scholarship of the teacher, while the teacher learns to see his/her field through the fresh eye of an outsider looking in, without the inbuilt biases of one deeply immersed in the dogma of the discipline. Effective teaching and learning only occur when both parties are engaged in the process.
Areas of scholarship
- Evolutionary theory
- Molecular evolution
- Marine biology
- Ecological and evolutionary relationships
- Forensic investigation marine ecology
Awards and honors
- Miller Scholar
- Ronald E. McNair Undergraduate Research Fellow
- Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Fellow
- Excellence in Teaching Award, Stanford University, Department of Biological Sciences
- Top Academic Performance Award, Law Enforcement Training Center
- Army Service Award