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Dr. Jennifer Koehl receives Boniface Wimmer Faculty Award

Dr. Jennifer Koehl receives Boniface Wimmer Faculty Award

by Public Relations | May 10, 2023

LATROBE, PA – Dr. Jennifer Koehl, Associate Professor of Biology, was awarded the 2023 Boniface Wimmer Faculty Award at Saint Vincent College’s Honors Convocation, held on April 26 at 1:00 p.m. in the historic Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica.

Named in honor of the founder of Saint Vincent College and Archabbey and pioneer of Benedictine monasticism in the U.S., the Wimmer Faculty Award recognizes a senior faculty member who has demonstrated sustained excellence in teaching, service and scholarship.

“[Dr. Koehl] has been a generous mentor, based on the number of her students who have achieved substantial graduate school success,” said Dr. John Delaney, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean. “What I’ve noticed most about her is that she has maintained a positive attitude no matter what.”


Early in her teaching career, in 2005, Koehl also received the Quentin Schaut Faculty Award, which recognizes the contributions, leadership and achievements of a junior faculty member to the curriculum and life of the College. She also won the Thoburn Award in 2013, an award given by alumni of the previous five to seven years who nominate one faculty member who made a significant impact on students through their teaching and personal interactions.

“I think it’s an appropriate time to thank her for the time and effort that she has made through her entire career at Saint Vincent,” said Delaney.

Koehl expressed her gratitude and thanks for the many students and family members who impacted her teaching career and shared lessons learned along the way.

“Own and be proud of who you are,” said Koehl before sharing a laugh with the crowd over her competitiveness during the faculty Jeopardy game recently held between the Biology and Chemistry Departments. “Being proud of who you are helps build your community. That community is your support system throughout life, and that’s one of the best parts of Saint Vincent College.”

Sharing her own academic journey, Koehl gave the advice to “do what you love and persevere.” From aspiring to win a Nobel Prize in Genetics to finding the fascinating aspects of bacteria and immunology, Koehl eventually discovered her love for teaching. As of 2017, Koehl has served as the chairperson of the Biology and Health Sciences Department, now known as the Biological Sciences Department.

Koehl aided in the addition of several majors and minors under the new department title since her appointment as chair. “That is something that I am very proud of and has kept me moving forward,” said Koehl.


Koehl focuses her scholarly work on “anything that is involving bacteria, especially antibiotic resistance and biofilms.” She has involved students in her research and helped guide them through presentations at local microbiology conferences. Koehl received a grant worth over $600,000 from the National Science Foundation in 2016 to bring scholarship and advanced mentoring to Saint Vincent College biology students.

Through the three-semester capstone project that she teaches and for which she advises students, Koehl has mentored 112 students, with 82% of them continuing to work in the field of microbiology, 72% continuing their education in graduate or professional schools, and 10 receiving doctoral graduates from prestigious programs.

“Be kind and be a good mentor,” said Koehl as a final thought.

Koehl has been a member of the Saint Vincent College faculty since 2002 after earning her Ph.D. in biological sciences from Illinois State University. As a faculty member in the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing, she currently teaches General Biology I and Lab; Microbiology and Medical Microbiology and Lab; Killer Germs; Bacteria, Friend or Foe?; Junior Research Thesis, and Research Thesis.