Jenifer Saldanha, Ph.D.

Jenifer  Saldanha
  • Assistant Professor
  • Biology
  • CREATE for STEM Institute, MSU
  • Holmes Hall, E-7
  • 919 E. Shaw Lane
  • East Lansing, MI 48825
  • (517) 355-4191


LB 145  Biology II: Cellular and Molecular Biology


I am an assistant professor at Lyman Briggs college and the Automated Analysis of Constructed Responses (AACR) research group at the CREATE for STEM Institute. My broad research interests include life science education research, student interest and retention in STEM disciplines, Caenorhabditis elegans biology, and Stress biology.

The emphasis of my biology research has been the study of stress responses and resistance in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. I am fascinated by the beauty and complexity of stress response networks that function in an organism to enable it to adapt, survive, and propagate. 

At LBC, I teach Cellular and Molecular Biology (LB 145), and use active learning strategies and case based learning in the classroom. As an instructor, I am interested in helping students explore scientific research and its implications on human health and society. My research focuses on developing strategies and innovations to promote student success in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) classrooms.


  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Iowa State University
  • Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Iowa State University


I have worked with collaborators to develop novel microfluidic technologies that describe the responses of C. elegans to stresses such as toxicants, and hypergravity with higher spatio-temporal resolution. Additionally, I am providing advice and expertise on C. elegans based interdisciplinary collaborative projects.

My education research interests focus on developing classroom based interventions to improve student learning and success, and using constructed response questions and lexical analyses to explore student thinking in STEM courses. My research expertise also includes learning communities for student success, strategies for student retention, and encouraging the exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) and related disciplines among undecided, undergraduate freshmen.

Grant activity Examples:

  • Catalyst Innovation Program Grant, Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, Michigan State University
  • Learning Communities Grants, Learning Communities Institute, Iowa State University
  • Teaching As Research (TAR) project grants, Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Scholars Program, Iowa State University


  • Knaub, Alexis, Jenifer N. Saldanha, Clark R. Coffman, and Charles Henderson. "Do learning communities encourage potential STEM majors?." Physics Education Research Conference 2017. Cincinnati, OH: 2017. 224-227 of PER Conference.
  • Saldanha J.N., Pandey S., Powell-Coffman J.A., ‘The effects of short-term hypergravity on Caenorhabditis elegans’, Life Science in Space Research, 2016 Aug;10:38-46. doi: 10.1016/j.lssr.2016.06.003. 
  • Saldanha, Jenifer and Haen, Karri, "Investigating the effectiveness of case studies in improving student learning in a 200-level Anatomy course" (2016). CIRTL Reports. Paper 3.
  • Saldanha J.N., Parashar A., Pandey S., Powell-Coffman J.A., ‘Multi-parameter behavioral analyses provide insights to mechanism of cyanide resistance in Caenorhabditis elegans.’ Toxicol. Sci. (2013) 135 (1): 156-16. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kft138.
  • Shao Z., Zhang Y., Ye Q., Saldanha J.N., Powell-Coffman J.A., ‘C. elegans SWAN-1 Binds to EGL-9 and Regulates HIF-1-Mediated Resistance to the Bacterial Pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1’, PLoS Pathog. 2010 Aug 26;6(8):e1001075. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001075.