Teacher Spotlight: Wendy Roberts


Jeff Scher Photography, based in Portland Maine and available for assignments World-wide., 207-253-5066

University of New England and St Francais College Alumni Weekend held at UNE Biddeford Campus on Saturday 9.20.14

If you’ve taken Anatomy and Physiology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology, Autoimmunity, been to the Marcil building, or even work there, then you probably know Wendy Roberts. Having been a student of Wendy’s, I can say that she is a very brilliant person with a vast amount of knowledge and a passion for science and teaching.

This passion has always seemed to be a part of her life. Roberts recalls, “I knew I wanted to become a teacher when I was like, five or six actually. I used to take all the neighborhood kids and organize them and make them go to my school, well, playroom. So, I really knew early on.” Roberts further explained that when she became a little older she would mix shampoos and soaps she found in the bathroom and turn it into her lab, and that’s how she knew she also wanted to be a scientist. But she went through a lot of different things before fully committing to science and teaching.

When she first enrolled at Clark University in Worcester, MA, she did not know what major to choose. Like most of us, she flip-flopped around from being a Spanish major to wanting to be a music major and eventually becoming a Biochemistry major. “[Clark University] is an awesome school, I had a great experience there. I loved it.” Roberts took a lot of Spanish courses but still has yet to travel to a Spanish speaking country. She would have been more fluent had she been able to study abroad. Roberts loves how UNE allows students to study abroad while paying the same tuition and staying on track with their major. She hopes to one day finally make it to Spain after all those Spanish classes in undergrad.

Going to grad school at Cornell’s Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Manhattan, she pursued science and research. She described her life in the city as “sometimes it felt like I was living in an episode of Seinfeld.”  She informed me that one of the most interesting parts of what she was studying, the immune system, is how cells talk to each other. Although she did not like immunology in undergrad, after viewing the amazing way immune cells communicate under a microscope during lab rotations in graduate school, she was hooked, “I saw them having a conversation and trying to learn from each other, it was amazing.” She later found her love for cancer immunology while doing lab rotations. Roberts worked in the cancer immunology field and conducted research on mice and drug resistance. Eventually, her research team could help mice not develop lymphoma. Her team patented the vaccine and then it got bought and licensed, and the therapeutic vaccine was able to be altered to work for veterinary purposes. Further down the line, Roberts did a post-doc and taught an immunology class for a semester. She loved it so much that she eventually continued to follow the call from New York back to her home in Maine.

Outside of teaching, Roberts is a mom. She has a ten-year-old son that loves the beach just as much as his mom. They spend time playing tennis, biking, ice skating, and baking, mostly cookies. She is also a fan of karaoke, and as Roberts confesses, “I would have liked to have been a rock star, I guess.”. Roberts also loves to travel, she has been to Ireland, among other places, and hopes to continue exploring the world down the line. When I asked her what she loves most about the school she remarked, “I love getting out of my car in the mornings and you can just smell the ocean, you can’t get any better than that.” I am sure many of us can relate.

I think UNE is very lucky to have Professor Roberts, she brings her love and passion for teaching and research with her every day she comes to the school. She believes “Anybody can learn anything, they just have to be motivated to do it.” This is such an important idea in education and Roberts does a wonderful job conveying the message.  She is certainly worthy of the Nor’easter Spotlight.


To view some of Wendy’s work, click the link below: