As a professor of molecular biology, Vicki Corbin is trained and skilled at focusing on the small things. But as a University Honors Program faculty fellow and adviser, she guides students to look at the bigger picture of their potential careers.
“One of my roles is to help them see all the possibilities. There are lots of other things to do besides being a doctor or a researcher. I try to help them realize that,” she says.
Dr. Corbin and her husband, fellow biology professor Bob Cohen, came to KU in 1993. A couple years later, Dr. Corbin started teaching Honors Introduction to Biology, and it quickly became her favorite class to teach. In fact, before she went on her first sabbatical, her biggest worry was keeping her spot teaching that class.
“I was really excited to teach that – who wouldn’t be excited to teach Honors students? Most Honors students have good work ethics and a better idea of what they want to do. Some change their minds, and that’s OK too. Because they have some goal in mind, they’re more motivated,” she says.
Dr. Corbin likes that the Honors Program urges students to do research. She says that many students meet with her to investigate research opportunities, both on campus and away.
“I tell them what all the resources are, to look and explore what area they might be interested in, then we narrow it down,” she says. “I try to make certain the students are as well prepared as possible. The students are super-coachable.”
Besides teaching Honors courses and advising, Dr. Corbin participates on committees to select students for undergraduate research awards and national scholarships such as the Goldwater Awards.
“I get to see the best of the best. I am doing advising and teaching, but it is a lot more rewarding because you get to know the students better in the Honors Program,” she says. “I feel like a mother hen, I’m just so proud of them sometimes.”
When she is not researching how cells talk to each other to form organs and muscles, Dr. Corbin likes to garden, swim, cook and “drag” her husband on walks. She and Dr. Cohen have two sons who attend Grinnell College in Iowa.