Leslie Schiff




Scarsdale, NY

Education Background

  • ScB in Biology, Brown University
  • Ph.D. in Immunology, Tufts University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow in Virology, Harvard University Medical School

Research Interests/Areas/Accomplishments

A Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, I have served for many years as Director of Undergraduate Studies in Microbiology and as one of the founding faculty liaisons for the College of Biological Sciences Writing-Enriched Curriculum. I developed and teach an undergraduate course on the biology of viruses as well as a two-semester support course for undergraduate thesis-writers in biology. Teaching is a passion, and I have received University and national awards, including the Carski Award from the American Society for Microbiology, and the Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. As a faculty member, my disciplinary research focused on the cell entry of mammalian reoviruses, which are being developed as therapeutic agents to treat human cancers and I currently hold a multi-institution NSF grant to understand how writing-to-learn pedagogies can be implemented in large STEM classes to promote critical thinking.

My Advice for How to Get Involved in Research (and Why Research is Important!)

My experience in undergraduate research catalyzed my career.  I started research as a junior, studying the role of nerves in promoting the regeneration of fish fins. This somewhat smelly project taught me lots of things, but mostly it gave me a hands-on taste of the process of scientific discovery...the highs and lows. It introduced me to the culture of shared academic research. It made me want more, and each subsequent research experience was valuable as every laboratory and every mentor has been different. 

Research can be done by any student in any major (creative activities also count as research) and helps you become a better thinker. The analytic and communication skills you practice as an undergraduate researcher are actually more valuable than any individual result or outcome. So objective success is not as important as the experience itself. 

Think about topics that interest you.  Next, identify faculty who share those general interests. It doesn’t need to be a perfect match. Talk to your professors and TAs, browse department websites, go through the ‘Find a Mentor' page, or contact our office.  We are happy to help you every step of the way!