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Barbara Akum

Assistant ProfessorCoordinator of the Pre-med and Pre-pharmacy


Ph.D., Rutgers University
M.S., Kean University, Biotechnology
B.A., Kean University, Biology




School of Applied Sciences

As a scientist, researcher, a minority, a first-generation student, who has studied in the United States after coming from another country with another language, Professor Akum brings a unique perspective to both science and the classroom. “I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to so many countries and to have encountered individuals from diverse backgrounds. I am pleased that our classrooms today look so much like the diversity we find in the world. Being able to understand that and relate to that is priceless. ”

Professor Akum’s students also benefit from her ability to relate scientific principles to current issues in the world. “As a researcher, I can connect biotechnology and how it relates to the topics my students are studying. I believe it keeps their mind interested in the topics, if they can relate it to everyday topics. ”

Akum enjoys the ability to collaborate with others in science. “What I find most interesting about industry is the ability to work with individuals of different backgrounds. Industry today, especially biotechnology, is an interdisciplinary field. You have to work with a team of other scientists such as molecular biologists, chemists, statisticians, engineers, and even clinicians. ” That, she says is a key to progress. “The project can proceed very quickly with all these scientists working together. ”

Her enthusiasm for her field and teaching are evident. “I love understanding how things function. I’ve always been a very curious person, and I am always looking to understand the principles of life. Once I have gained an understanding, I am always eager to share it. I get very excited knowing that I will be able to help someone else gain knowledge. ” Akum counts among her achievements, the Performance Award from the National Institutes of Health 2012-2013 and a CGS/UMI (Council of Graduate Schools) Distinguished Dissertation Award in 2005.

Professor Akum completed postdoctoral training on transposable elements in a Malaria transmitting vectors at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and on Mechanisms of Spinal Muscular Atrophy in the Columbia University. She is a member of the American Society for Virology, Society for Neuroscience, American Society for Cell Biology and The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Professor Akum has taught Genetics, Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology, General Biology, Molecular Biology and Neurobiology. At Mount Ida, she teaches mainly Microbiology and Genetics  and is the coordinator of the Pre-medicine and Pre-pharmacy programs.