The Concordia College community is mourning the tragic loss of Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Francine Morris.
Dr. Morris earned her PhD in Chemical Biology at Johns Hopkins University. She also held a master’s degree in Chemistry from Emory University, and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, cum laude, from Bryn Mawr College. She held positions at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Lehman College, performed research at Albert Einstein and other institutions, received several fellowships and awards, and contributed work to various scientific publications and presentations. In 2019, Dr. Morris received a U.S. patent for Aromatic Acylphosphonates as Selective Inhibitors of DXP Synthase, a strategy for the design of a new class of synthetic antibiotics.
Recalling one of their first conversations, Rev. Dr. John A. Nunes, President of Concordia College said: “’How much does your Christian faith relate to what you will teach here?’ I asked. ‘Entirely,’ Dr Morris replied without hesitation. ‘My entire life is grounded in faith!’ Her interview response gave me comfort when she was hired and, because of the promises of Jesus Christ, continues to give me comfort even in her death.”
In Dr. Morris’s professional biography, she wrote that her goal in teaching was to make the sciences accessible to all her students, and perhaps inspire them to join the field. In this, she was an unqualified success - a gifted teacher and a favorite of students. Renowned for her kindness and laughter, she ended her classes by saying “Thanks for playing.”
The words of the many students who reached out with tributes affirm her meaningful and lasting impact.
“You made me proud to be a science nerd…cheers to your legacy and all the women in science you have inspired…we are going to make you so proud!”
“I was motivated to do well because of her passion for science and microbiology. She even called some kinds of bacteria pretty which was so funny to me. Beyond the science though, she taught me to not be afraid to ask questions and to not take yourself so seriously.”
“Professor Morris is honestly one of the main reasons why I love science. She would call me the phoenix or underdog because she saw the progress I had made during her class and honestly that gave me hope to continue my studies in biology.”
“Dr. Morris was one of the best people I have ever met. My first ever lab in college was her chem lab and the first thing I did was break a graduated cylinder. I thought she was going to be mad but she just laughed and helped me clean it up. We have even joked about it for the past three years. I will always miss her and remember the lessons she taught me.”
“I was able to make a bond with her over micro labs and we would geek out when experiments came out right!”
“She was an incredible professor, a kind and lovable human being.”
“She was always so motivating and she was helping me create a plan for applying to med school. I will miss seeing her in all the cute dresses she always wore and hearing her laugh every time we made jokes in lab.”
“Dr. Morris was one of my favorite professors simply because of her kind heart and constant effort. She was known for her passion to help her students. I was so excited to take another class with her next semester, she made learning simple and fun.”
“Professor Morris made it possible for me to truly believe in myself. She is the reason I feel belonging in a career path that was always a distant dream for me. She was always there to stop and talk and laugh. I hope you truly knew how much we loved you!”
“Her dedication and her kindness is something that makes her so unique, and made me love her as a professor and a person. I want to truly thank her from the bottom of my heart for making me a stronger person and encouraging me even when I had my doubts about myself.”
“Dr. Morris made me fall in love with chemistry and made it so easy to understand the material. She was my true mentor and I never got a chance to thank her for everything she has done for me and everyone else. We love you Dr. Morris. Thanks for playing.”