Joanne Manaster

Faculty Lecturer/Online Course Developer at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Area
Higher Education
  1. WW Norton,
  2. Scientific American,
  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
  2. NSF GEM 4 Summer School on Cellular and Molecular Mechanics,
  3. Camera 2 Studios
  1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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I have over two decades of science instructional experience at the University level. My forte is making complex scientific topic easily accessible to non-technical and semi-technical audiences.

I taught cell biology and histology, cell culture and tissue engineering and currently teach online with in a Masters of Science in Teaching of Biological Science program.

I have a significant social media following for science topics.

I am/have been involved in numerous outreach projects including:

-Advisor for University of Illinois iGEM team
-Lead faculty member for Bioengineering GAMES camp with WIE at UIUC (Girls Adventures in Math and Engineering Sciences).
-Providing scientific learning modules, tours and tutorials to homeschool and public school groups of all ages
-Member of International Advisory Panel for Young Scientists Journal (
-Science fairs as a judge and mentor
-Involvement in the Illinois State Science Olympiad ( and the National Science Olympiad as Event Coordinator (Cell Biology, Designer Genes, Heredity and BioProcess)
-Outreach involving University of Illinois' Bugscope project.

I am former professional international fashion model (Guam, New York, Tokyo)

I intend to use my extensive and divergent experiences to work as a science host in new media. In addition to my my years of experience in science education to university level students, I have a youthful appearance and am highly telegenic.

Current outreach projects can be seen on my website and include video book reviews of popular science books and other tutorials of scientific concepts.

Specialties: Histology, Stem cells and tissue engineering. Cell and molecular biology. Hands on laboratory experience as well as explaining the field to university students. Performing outreach to the community, especially to young people.


Voiceover talent

WW Norton
– Present (3 years 1 month)

Voiceover talent for textbook animations.

Freelance Writer

Scientific American
– Present (3 years 3 months)

Freelancer for a blog about science in new media, TV and film called PsiVid.

Faculty Lecturer/Online course developer

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
– Present (4 years 2 months)

I am responsible for creating new graduate level online courses for the Masters in Science Teaching Program in the School of Integrative Biology. I am currently working on two courses: one in Bioinformatics and Genomics and the other in Evolution and Human Health.

Expert host for videos

Thermofisher Scientific
– Present (4 years 5 months)

Freelance expert host for internal videos on biotechnology and cell culture

Laboratory Teaching Specialist

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(19 years 9 months)

The position of Laboratory Teaching Specialist blends the best of teaching students with the best of running research laboratories. I design, write and execute laboratory exercises in both Mammalian Histology and Cell Culture and Tissue Engineering for undergraduate students in the departments of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Bioengineering.
Main responsibilities, other than the design and execution of the lab sessions include procuring all supplies needed and overseeing graduate teaching assistants, cell preparation staff as well as a maintenance staff.

Electron Microscope Technician

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(4 months)

I trained new users on both the Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope and the Transmission Electron Microscope in the Image Technology Group in the Beckman Institute under Scott J. Robinson.

Faculty Coordinator for Bioengineering Camp

Girls Adventures in Math and Engineering Science-Women in Engineering
(2 years 1 month)

Each year I coordinate the Bioengineering portion GAMES. It is a week long intensive camp where middle school girls are able to learn techniques and concepts required for tissue engineering and biomechanics. I provide oversight for the college aged girls who assist in the lab and coordinate activities. I supply the ideas and protocols for projects and create lectures for the assistants to present to the girls. I also present some of the lectures to the girls. Affiliated with Minosca Alcantara and Susan Lawson.

Lead Instructor for Cell Biology Lab Module

NSF GEM 4 Summer School on Cellular and Molecular Mechanics
(9 months)

During this short course, I was in charge of the Cell Biology Lab Module where I trained engineering graduate students and faculty from all over the world in basic cell culture techniques, molecular biology and fluorescent microscopy in affiliation with Dr. K. Jimmy Hsia


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(15 years 9 months)

In addition to the lectures I conduct for my laboratory courses, I have lectured/co-lectured for various courses in my tenure here at the University of Illinois, including:
CDB 213: Cells and Tissues Fall semesters from 1993-1998, 10 lectures/semester on histology
MCB 213: Cells and Tissues, Fall 2000, sole lecturer
BIOE 150: Introduction to Bioengineering, lectures on Tissue Engineering as a branch of Bioengineering 2004-2007
Chem 494 Safety course (practical Biosafety) 1 lecture 2006-2008
Bioen 399 Undergraduate Biomaterials lectures with Russell Jamison Fall 1999
MatSE 390 Graduate Biomaterials lectures with Russell Jamison Spring 2000

Consultant and Trainer

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(1 year 1 month)

Each December/January, I run an intensive 3 week crash course for interested lab technicians and graduate students in learning how to work with mammalian cell cultures.

Lab Technician and consultant

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(5 months)

Assistant to Rohit Bhargava and Michael Insana (Bioengineering Deparmtnent) to help design a 3D construct of both breast and prostate tissue using epithelia and connective tissue cells to replicate in vivo morphology in order to create phantoms for tissue imaging.


Camera 2 Studios
(3 years)

Print model

Honors & Awards

Mashable mention


Mashable has named my twitter feed as one of 25 twitter accounts that will make you smarter

Mashable mention II


One of 15 twitter accounts to follow for incredible science facts

Additional Honors & Awards

Faculty rated as excellent by students for the following courses over numerous semesters: Bioe 202, MCB 213, MCB 215, MCB 315, Bioe 399, MatSE 390


  1. French


  • Teaching
  • Expert video host
  • Public Speaking
  • Social Media
  • Television
  • Cell Culture
  • Blogging
  • Science
  • Lifesciences
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Scientific Writing
  • PCR
  • Microbiology
  • Science Journalism
  • Research
  • Microscopy
  • Electron Microscopy
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Science Communication
  • Cell Biology
  • Fluorescence Microscopy
  • Cell
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Genomics
  • Laboratory
  • Stem Cells
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • In Vivo
  • See 18+  See less


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Masters of Science, Biology

I had previously begun a PhD program at Loyola's Stritch School of Medicine, but left upon discovering that their changeover from Anatomy to Cell Biology was delayed. During that time I was able to take all first year medical school classes including full body human dissection.

Activities and Societies: Researched the morphological changes occurring during myogenesis of Manduca sexta with James B. Nardi using Transmission Electron Microscopy. Teaching assistant for upper level laboratory courses to train students in sample preparation and use of the Scanning Electron Microscopes and Transmission Electron Microscopes. Teaching Assistant for multiple semesters for Genetics and Development 213, a laboratory course in Mammalian Cells and Tissues

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Bachelors of Science, Biology

Assisted with research projects as follows:

-searching for polymorphisms in butterflies (Ellis G. MacLeod),

-understading the morphological effects of acid rain on the cuticle of pine needles (Charles Maurice and Richard Crang)

-attempting to formulate an appropriate growing media for Acinetobacter lwoffi from sewage (Alena Maurice and Richard Crang). for subsequent investigation into possible capabilities of the bacteria to clean up oil spills.

Activities and Societies: Employed as a student animal caretaker for research animals. (under Boonthan Sylavong) Employed as a dishwasher/general prep staff in the lab of Richard Crang, plant biologist Employed as an organizer for a histology lab course (Ellis G. MacLeod) Employed as a teaching assistant for histology lab course (G&D 213- Ellis G. MacLeod)

Academy of Our Lady of Guam

High school diploma

Additional Info

  1. Interests

    • All of science,
    • stem cells and tissue engineering,
    • biomedical advances,
    • science outreach,
    • making science accessible to non-technical and semi-technical audiences,
    • sewing,
    • studying french,
    • traveling.
  2. Personal Details

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