Herrington has helped many pre-med and nursing students reach their career goals

(06-19-2014)

dr. herrington with nursing students in a lab

Dr. Margery Herrington's contributions to science and students extend beyond Adams State University. In 1997, she not only started teaching in the Biology Department at Adams State but also began spending part of each summer at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, as a visiting researcher. Her work in Stockholm focused on the upper gastrointestinal tract, with an emphasis on pancreatic diseases such as cancer and pancreatitis.

This spring, Herrington, emeritus professor of biology, retired from Adams State. Alumnus Opeyemi Daramola '04 said: "I cannot believe Dr. Herrington is retiring. I doubt she will really 'retire' because she will probably be surreptitiously teaching and publishing. She was truly wonderful to me in college and provided guidance when I struggled. It will be tough to fill her shoes as she has worked hard to set great standards…and produce many doctors and nurses as well."

This summer, Daramola completed his residency training in rhinology and anterior skull base surgery at the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. "It is remarkable that the first time I met Herrington, it led to a three-day trip to a scientific meeting on pancreatic cancer at Northwestern University, but that was about 13 or 14 years ago. Now I am completing my training at Northwestern."

Daramola accompanied Herrington to the American Pancreatic Society meeting when he was an undergraduate. He said: "The experience opened my eyes to the value of research and dissemination of scientific information. It was an opportunity that spurred me to do my own research and publish relevant findings. My achievements in research have opened a lot of doors for me so I will be eternally grateful for that opportunity."

Research and teaching

In 1995, Herrington received a Fulbright Scholarship and worked in Stockholm, Sweden, for nine months under the direction of Dr. Johan Permert and Dr. Jörgen Larsson. Afterwards, she spent time each summer conducting research in Sweden and then taught at Adams State during the academic year.

Herrington said these important parts of her life, teaching and research, complemented each other. "In the summer, I had access to a very fine medical library for teaching materials, and I asked the surgeons questions from my students." Her teaching skills helped the research lab, too. "One of my contributions to the research team was teaching scientific writing to the surgeons pursuing their Ph.D. degrees."

Herrington earned her Ph.D. in physiology from Creighton University, her Master of Science from Cornell University, and her Bachelor of Science from the University of Oregon. After receiving her doctorate, she wanted to teach and do research. She found her niche at Adams State.

"I wanted to concentrate on teaching as my main activity for the school year," Herrington said. "In larger universities, professors are pulled in both directions – research and teaching. Adams State is small enough that I could know my students and teach labs for my classes, but it is large enough that I could teach in my field instead of being expected to cover a wide range of upper-division subjects."

Preparing future medical professionals

Another medical doctor alumnus, Crystal (Willis) Evig '02, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Colorado Springs Health Partners, accompanied Herrington to Stockholm, Sweden for a pancreatic conference her senior year of college. "Dr. Herrington contributed to the research in Stockholm and I saw how she continued to challenge herself to further science. I admired her for continuing her love of research and returning every fall to continue her love of teaching."

Herrington received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Research and Published Works in 2004 and 2008 and received Exemplary Teaching Status in 2004. The courses she has taught at ASU include Human Anatomy and Physiology, Endocrinology, Nutrition, and General Biology, and the laboratories that are part of these classes.

"Her style of teach is actually similar to some classes that I took in medical school," Daramola said. "A lot of professional school teaching is now offered in small groups because learning is more effective in an active environment."

According to Evig, Herrington was "very engaged" in her laboratories which made the dissections meaningful as well as efficient. "I had a wonderful education from Adams State that did not put me behind any of my classmates (at medical school) and I actually felt I had a better base than most of them."

Chair of the Biology and Earth Sciences Department, Dr. Benita Brink, said one of Herrington's strengths is her attention to detail. "This has been an asset for the department in a number of contexts, from helping her colleagues with editing documents to her advisement of students." In advising, Herrington was always very careful that accurate information was provided to students. "This degree of care and accuracy also extended to her classroom and laboratories; students could be assured that they would have well-prepared, interesting, and relevant experiences in Margery's courses."

Scientific and other interests

During her years at Adams State, Herrington has been a member of the Health Professions Advisory Committee, the Faculty Senate, and a number of other committees and councils. These include the Nursing Advisory Committee, which awarded Herrington the title of Honorary Registered Nurse this spring "for 17 years of commitment and service to pre-nursing student advising and academic guidance to the nursing department."

Herrington has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, has edited and contributed to published books, and has presented at numerous national and international scientific meetings and seminars.

It isn't all science and research for Herrington. She has been a member of the steel drum bands and the percussion ensemble at Adams State. She holds memberships in a number of professional, honorary, and conservation organizations. She is certified by the Library of Congress as a Braille transcriber and has assisted the Music Department at Adams State with music Braille.