Francine Essien, Professor of the Cell Biology and Neuroscience Department, and one of the founders and pillars of the very successful Rutgers Office for Diversity and Academic Success in the Sciences (ODASIS) program, passed away on March 4, 2022.
Dr. Francine B. Essien received her B.A. degree from Temple University and her Ph.D. in Genetics from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Yeshiva University). She completed post-doctoral study at the Univ. of Connecticut in Storrs. She then joined the faculty of Rutgers University (New Brunswick) in the Dept. of Biological Sciences, teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, such as comparative anatomy, develop mental biology and genetics. She established a research program, studying the effects of mutations which she discovered in mice, such as ones affecting skeletal muscle differentiation, cardiac development, and neural tube formation. Graduate students and undergraduates assisted her in conducting her research and published with her.
With regard to the sciences, health professions, engineering, and other areas of technology, Dr. Essien had a long standing concern about the under representation of minorities and individuals from backgrounds of economic disadvantage. She collaborated with committed colleagues at Rutgers and other institutions in developing programs to enhance greater participation of these groups in such fields. These cooperative efforts led to the establishment of the Office of Minority Undergraduate Science Programs, later called ODASIS, which offered the Biomedical Careers Program and the Success in the Sciences (S.I.S) and Access-Med programs.
Dr. Essien served as a Fulbright Professor in Nigeria, teaching at the University of Port Harcourt for one year. She has made presentations on her re search and educational initiatives at national and international meetings. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors from students, academic institutions, civic associations, churches, and scientific organizations. The Carnegie Foundation named her the 1994-95 U.S. Professor of the Year for Research and Doctoral Universities.