Irwin Isquith

Professor of Biological Sciences

School of Natural Sciences


Interests, courses taught:

Interests: aquatic ecology, protists, evolution. Courses taught: Introductory biology (lecture and lab) for biology majors and non-majors, marine biology field experiences in  Dominican Republic and Hawaii, ecology (undergraduate and graduate), evolution.

Credentials, capsule biography:

B.S.; biology, Brooklyn College; M.S.; Ph.D.; biology, New York University


Short Abstract

In my many years at FDU, I have had many roles. On the academic side, I worked my way up through the professorial ranks to full professor of biology, was the last Dean (Acting) of the College of Science and Engineering, was Associate Dean of University College: Arts•Sciences•Professional Studies, was chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences (Teaneck Campus) for many years, chaired the combined Teaneck/Rutherford Biology Department, was Director of the School of Natural Sciences, and even chaired the Department of Engineering for one semester. On the administrative side, under numerous different titles, I worked on establishing the global mission of FDU. I worked to strengthen our study abroad program, established partnerships with other universities for exchanges of students, worked to build out Global Scholars Program and UN programs.

Although these activities seem diverse, they all share the common goals of improving student education and opportunities. Definitely, of all my diverse roles, the ones I prefer the most are those of professor – teaching and research.

My philosophy of teaching would probably be considered relatively traditional. I think that students must work hard, study, and meet deadlines. Having this attitude, however, must be couched in the technology of the 21st century. When information about virtually everything became available at a touch of a key, educators were challenged - what should students be required to memorize? Some thought that if so much information was available at a student’s fingertips, he or she would have more time to think about the information and develop their thinking skills. Within limits, this may be a good approach, but it can be taken too far. Students can’t rely strictly on external data banks; they need to have considerable information in their heads. Striking the proper balance between memorizing and thinking is the major achievement of a good educator. I strive to have my students learn facts, but more importantly be able to those facts and “play” with them: be able to synthesize them and/or relate them to a different circumstance. I somewhat seriously tell my students the first day of class that if they memorize my lecture notes, they should be able to get a “C” in my class; however, if they understand the facts and can use them to solve problems, then they may earn an “A”. This is most important in the two advanced courses I teach, Ecology and Field Biology and Evolution. I enjoy these two courses, because they both require students to bring together information from their other courses they have had. It is wonderful to see students have “aha moments”, when all of a sudden two plus two equals four.

When I was an undergraduate, biology was a very different science than it is today. Courses contained considerable amounts of descriptive material and subjects such as physiology, comparative anatomy, and embryology were mainstays of the curricula. Since that time, the science of biology has changed, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The breadth of the science has changed. At one end of the spectrum, the distinction between chemistry, physics, and biology has disappeared. Biophysics and biochemistry present new molecular approaches to biological subjects. At the other end of the spectrum, the development of ecology and environmental sciences offer additional areas in biology. This has resulted in the content of a general biology course today being extremely different from courses of even ten years ago.

University College
School of Natural Sciences
1000 River Road, (H-DH4-03)
Teaneck, NJ 07666