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Departing | Dr. Barbara Bowman

DSC_0265Nurturing, particular, clear, focused, passionate, precise are all words that easily describe associate professor of Biology Dr. Barbara Bowman who, after 18 years at Mills, is retiring.

Beloved by students throughout the sciences, Bowman is known for her enthusiasm, hard classes, high expectations and fierce dedication to teaching.

Since coming to Mills in 1998, Bowman has advised hundreds of students, taught dozens of classes and influenced generations of students in the sciences.

“She is a fierce advocate for the scientific process and scientific thinking,” senior cell and molecular biology major, Emma Bolton said.

Bowman thinks of science as a liberal art which is one of the main reasons she has loved teaching at Mills.

“It [science] engages your mind to think critically and to be critical. As citizens operating in this society, people need to critically think about science which is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives. It is very important to understand how questions are asked,” Bowman said.

Bowman embodies an absolute love for her field, love of teaching and deep care for her students.

“As a professor she really wants to nurture your critical thinking skills and she wants you to learn how to write well in the scientific field. As an educator, she is dedicated to teaching science and you can easily see how teaching science is truly her passion,” junior biology major, Lee Rost said in an email.

Bowman says she adores teaching, but finds this job stressful because she is constantly worrying that her students are not doing well, grading and the inevitable paperwork that comes along with her job.

“If I didn’t love my students so much, it wouldn’t be so high stress,” Bowman said.

Though her loss will be deeply felt by students who have known Bowman, her legacy will live on in the Natural Sciences Building. Students may hear about Bowman from the “Bowmanisms,” as students call them, such as “structure dictates function,” or if they happen to ask why the dark room in NSB is called the “Darkenable Room.”

According to Bolton, Bowman has very high expectations for precise and concise language. It is no surprise that she changed the room’s name because it cannot just exist as a dark room, it can only be a darkenable room – a room that has the capacity to become dark. 

Bowman says that her field is changing every day. While that is exciting, she feels like it is her responsibility to step aside to let someone younger take over.

“I am teaching things that weren’t known when I was in school,” Bowman said.

Luckily she knows who is taking her position and is confident that he will do a fantastic job.

With her new found time she hopes to travel and to spend more time cooking. At one time in her life, she played the piano and spoke French, and she wants to relearn both of those.