Retired Professor John C. Makemson, a pioneer in the study of bioluminescence, was renowned for his passion for providing research and training opportunities for students. In addition to serving more than eight years as the Biological Sciences undergraduate program director, for which he received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Advising in 2012, Dr. Makemson also set up the first 100 percent research-based laboratory for first-year biology students at FIU. In collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Science Education Alliance, he provided research training for undergraduate students in the SEA-PHAGE program, where students in General Biology labs conduct original research, discovering and describing the genomes of new species of marine viruses.
A scholarship fund has been established in Dr. Makemson's name for undergraduate students conducting research in the biological sciences. Students majoring in Biology or Biochemistry who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and have taken BCH 3033 Biochemistry will be eligible for the scholarship. Funds may be used to create an endowment.
Faculty and staff may give through payroll deducations via Ignite. Donors wishing to give by wire transfer may contact Stephany Alvarez-Ventura. Checks payable to FIU Foundation with “Makemson Scholarship Fund” in the memo may be mailed to Florida International University, College of Arts, Sciences & Education Attn: Stephany Alvarez-Ventura, 11200 SW 8th Street, CASE 450, Miami, FL 33199.
Celebrating Dr. Makemson
Biological Sciences Chair Steve Oberbauer: "Dr. Makemson was the mainstay of teaching Biochemistry in the Department of Biological Sciences, with a reputation of being fair but extremely demanding in what is considered one of the most difficult undergraduate courses in the department. After decades of teaching in the traditional face-to-face format, he was one of the first faculty in the department to flip his courses so that students watched the lectures online before class and did active learning exercises during the class period. Suddenly, Biochemistry students were doing much better and were no longer anxious to take the course. He loved teaching in the new format because the students were more engaged in the class and student learning was increased. After that, he was often the point person in the department for testing new active learning approaches."
Associate Professor Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty: "Since the moment I met Dr. Makemson when I arrived at FIU in 2012, he became for me a mentor model as a new faculty member. He was always thinking and looking for ways to improve his teaching so that he could reach out as many students as possible. He was an active participant in the Center for Advanced Teaching and one of the first colleagues in our department to implement flipped courses. The students knew he was tough and demanding, but they loved to take his classes. I had the pleasure to work with Dr. Makemson in an initiative to bring and implement a research original general biology lab course (SEA-PHAGES) to freshman students back in 2014. Over the six years that followed - even after his retirement - he enjoyed exciting students in the classroom about the passion of doing research, something he expanded from the laboratory setting by taking students to present their original research findings at local and national SEA-PHAGES conferences. He was an influential researcher and teacher model for our students, including us, his colleagues."