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Richard  Pollenz

Richard Pollenz

Richard Pollenz
Professor, Director USF-HHMI STEM Academy Program


Office: BSF 204
Lab: BSF 261, 263



Ph.D. - Cellular, Molecular and Structural Biology (Northwestern University)

BS - Toxicology (Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science)

STEM Education Research, Environmental Molecular Toxicology, Cell Biology


Richard S. Pollenz earned a BS degree in Toxicology from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science and a PhD in Cellular, Molecular and Structural Biology from Northwestern University. He was a tenured faculty member at the Medical University of South Carolina prior to taking a position within the Biology Department at the University of South Florida in 2000. Dr. Pollenz’s research program has been funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and focused on aspects of molecular toxicology. His research included studies of gene regulation and protein degradation mediated by environmental chemicals such as TCDD. His lab published over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts in many of the top journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Pharmacology, Journal of Biological Chemistry and Toxicological Sciences.

Richard Pollenz PhD teaching undergraduate research students at USF


He was named a Fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his contributions to the field of Molecular Pharmacology in 2013.Dr. Pollenz served USF as the Associate Dean in the USF Graduate School between 2008-2011 where he developed numerous professional development workshops for graduate students and used institutional data analysis to help inform practices and procedures. .  He rebuilt the USF Office for Undergraduate Research with innovative training and hands-on attention to students and served as its Director between 2011-2016.

Dr. Pollenz is the Director of the successful STEM Academy Program that is designed to empower first-year STEM majors entering the university for maximal engagement and success.  Since 2015, nearly 350 Scholars have participated in the program many of whom are now engaged in undergraduate research across multiple disciplinary areas.  STEM scholars have a 98% retention rate at the university and have high academic success due to the personal attention and community that the program creates.  Please see the STEM Academy website for additional information about the program and application eligibility.



Since 2012 my research focus is exclusively in the area of Discipline Based Education Research or DBER.  Several grants and publications in this area are pending. Specifically, I am engaged in big data analysis of >25,000 student records to determine true persistence rates for STEM and non STEM majors and to identify areas within the curriculum that may be modified to promote greater retention and achieve higher learning gains.  I am also very interested in innovative methods to teach the natural sciences (flipped classrooms, inquiry-based, high impact practices, etc.) and to measure learning outcomes such as the use of mobile applications and competency-based assessments. Finally, we endeavor to develop and evaluate innovative methods to increase institutional capacity for undergraduate research.  Although CMMB does not currently have a biology education track for the PhD, there are several DBER faculty in the SNSM departments and students interested in these or other STEM education research areas should contact me directly to discuss the possibility for graduate work.

Current Courses

RefCourseSecCourse TitleCRDayTimeLocation
18379BSC 4910030Undergraduate Research

TBA 100
24889IDS 4914092Adv UG Research Experience

25126IDS 4914105Adv UG Research Experience