Associate Professor & Associate Chair, Education
Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Caitlin Mullarkey is an Associate Professor and the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Education in the department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences. Her expertise is in viral immunology having received her doctorate from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar under the supervision of Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert and Dr. Teresa Lambe. She subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York City) under the mentorship of Dr. Peter Palese. Her doctoral and postdoctoral work centered on developing improved influenza virus vaccines and understanding mechanisms through which broadly neutralizing antibodies achieve protection.
Strongly influenced by her education experience in the setting of a small liberal arts college and subsequently in the Oxford tutorial system, Dr. Mullarkey transitioned from a research-intensive postdoctoral fellowship to her current role as a teaching track professor. She is focused on providing undergraduates with a rigorous and cutting-edge scientific education that will allow them to excel in diverse careers and graduate/professional school. At the heart of her approach to teaching is student-centered active learning, which encourages cooperation between students and facilitates a collaborative approach to the learning process. With extensive training and expertise in infectious disease and vaccine development, she teaches virology, cell biology, biochemistry, and immunology to undergraduates at all levels. She is the 2019-2020 recipient of the McMaster Student Union Teaching Award for the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Dr. Mullarkey’s research activities in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) focus on the design and creation of open education resources (OERs), evaluating the impact of technology-enhanced learning, and exploring novel methods to bridge the gap between scientific theory and practice. Working alongside Dr. Felicia Vulcu, she designed and launched a massive open online course (MOOC) called DNA Decoded. The overarching aim of this MOOC is to demystify the complex topic of DNA to a lay audience. To date, over 30,000 global learners have enrolled in this online course. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Mullarkey and Dr. Vulcu received funding from the MacPherson Institute to create an open-education laboratory resource which teaches basic biochemistry techniques in the context of a drug discovery project. The interactive lab manual contains state-of-the-art custom videos, interactive quizzes, slides, and an annotation plugin that allows for editing and refinement by students and faculty alike. It is freely available on the eCampus Ontario platform.
As Associate Chair of Undergraduate Education, Dr. Mullarkey guides and promotes the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences reputation for excellence in education, mentorship, and research through the implementation of evidence-based practices. Most recently, she spearheaded the development of a new summer program to engage, encourage, and assist students from equity-deserving groups to pursue biomedical research and careers in biomedical sciences. The program’s inaugural cohort was welcomed to campus in May 2022 and applications will soon be open for Summer 2023.