Dr. Brenda Gustin

When Life is Golden

If Dr. Brenda Gustin could have lived at any other time in history, she would have picked the late 1800s … the Golden Age of Microbiology.

“This time marked an important transition from magical thinking to science,” said Dr. Gustin, who relies heavily on data in her personal and professional lives. “We came to understand Germ Theory and realized that diseases were not caused by evil thoughts or breathing bad air. We’re going through a similar revolution now – a second Golden Age – that is providing us with new tools to explore the power of genetics. These tools are eye-opening and will transform our thinking about many diseases.”

Dr. Gustin has been a professor at Corning Community College for 17 years.  Her fascination with living organisms began through exploring the woods behind her childhood home with her springer spaniel Misty. She spent her childhood looking for organisms in creeks, chronicling plants, and discovering the possibilities of a better life through a deeper understanding of science.

It’s an understanding she works hard to share.

“Science is more than memorizing facts,” said Dr. Gustin. “It is a feeling. I know my students have learned when they have internalized how each topic impacts their lives,” said Dr. Gustin. “When they live what they’ve learned, allowing science to influence, for example, what they eat, how they exercise, even the importance of washing hands. This is success for me in the classroom.”

A successful weekend, though, is spent using glass and other materials to create mosaic artwork at home.   Her love of science and nature is reflected in her choice of subjects for mosaics which include insects, especially butterflies, birds, and even a cell.  Currently, she is working on a mosaic skeleton. Her first commissioned piece was a fruit fly, which was influenced by research she conducted that explored the relationship between bacteria in a fly’s stomach and its behavior.