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Faculty Bios

Gisele Giorgi, Ph.D.
Biosciences Department Chair
Microscopy Program Director
(510) 436-2618

Professor Theresa Halula is an experienced mycologist, landscape architect and permaculture expert, who also teaches fungal cultivation at Merritt in addition to Microscopy and Genomics courses. She has a BFA in fine arts, decades of experience in project management at Oracle, experience with a wide variety of community based organizations, including ones that address climate change, social justice, and geriatric issues. She is an active participant on some exciting citizen science projects at Counter Culture labs, a graduate of the Merritt Microscopy Program, and an officer of the San Francisco Microscopy Society. She is passionate about combatting climate change, economic injustice, and innovative inclusive approaches to science. As an instructor she is known for her warmth, her sense of joy and delight in the wonders of science, her broad knowledge of a multitude of fields, her commitment to student success, and her enthusiasm for teaching.

Professor Angela Lane is graduate of UC Berkeley and of the Merritt Microscopy Program. She co-developed and teaches an innovative, successful dual enrollment program in genomics in collaboration with a local High School. She also teaches in the microscopy program and is active in our outreach programs, including Merritt Mentors (which works with students in High School classrooms in Oakland). As an Oakland native who was the only African American student in a class of 300 students in the department of Molecular and Cell biology at UC Berkeley, she has a deep understanding of the challenges and profound need to diversify science. She is currently obtaining her MS in Cell Biology at SFSU and plans to continue to obtain a Ph.D. in biology. She is passionate about the excitement of working in science and the profound impact science has on our world, and the pressing need for diversity in science. As an instructor she is known for her ability to reach and connect with all her students, to nurture their talent, to support their dreams, and for her organization, clarity, fairness, depth of knowledge and inspiring excitement for science.

Derek Leong
Part-time Instructor

Dr. Candy Mintz started her career at Stanford as one of the few women, not to mention one of the few latina jewish students, in engineering, then obtained a PhD in bioengineering and founded and ran her own company. She was captivated by the advances in cell biology and returned to school to further her knowledge in the field with the goal of innovating the cutting edge, breakthrough field of 3D cell matrices. In her quest for knowledge she completed the CCSF stem cell program, the Merritt Microscopy Program and is currently working on a Masters at SFSU. She is working on science that will revolutionize tissue engineering and thus our understanding of biology, not to mention our ability to more effectively find cures for a multitude of diseases. She is a beloved microscopy instructor, known for her enthusiasm, boundless energy, riotous laugh, dedication to nurturing each student individually, organization, fairness, thoroughness, supportive cheerleading of student’s career goals, mentoring and guidance of her students. She is passionate about helping students reach their full potential and breaking barriers in science. She has been crucial to the Histotech Program by taking on the most difficult task of obtaining and maintaining the official clinical rotations that are necessary for certification in the field. She successfully obtained the full number of rotations necessary for accreditation, even creating ongoing rotation openings (which are unheard of in the field) by developing strong connections with Bay Area employers. She also has worked tirelessly to prepare and support students during their rotations and has helped many students obtain their dream jobs.

Professor Shirley Pan, Ed.D., is a very accomplished, experienced and highly regarded Histotech and Cytologist. She has 2 decades of experience in the field, a degree in cytology and has managed large clinical labs and currently runs six histotech labs for Dignity Health. She is passionate about developing the next generation of histotechs, she deeply loves the clinical work she does which is vital to saving lives, and she is committed to our wonderful, diverse, talented students. As an instructor she is known for her tireless attention to each student and each detail of the class and labs, her clarity, organization, fairness, her depth of both practical and theoretical knowledge in her fields, her instinctive guidance of each student in the class and in their career journeys. She has served as the Education Coordinator of the Histotech Program and is currently also the Histotech Program Director. As such she is in charge of maintaining our accreditation and also of placing, preparing and supporting students in their clinical rotations and of certifying students for the ASCP National Board Exams. span(at)


Emertius Faculty

Dr. Bob Macey is an accomplished herpetologist and genomics expert who co-founded and developed the Merritt Genomics Program. He designed state of the art genomics facilities, purchased and installed cutting edge equipment, developed and taught key curriculum. He also guided students in the establishment of a profitable student led contract service organization, Profile Genomics. He established a variety of strong connections with industry leaders including the opportunity to be one of the first labs in the world to beta test the breakthrough minION sequencer. He traveled the world to obtain reptilian specimen samples, many from countries no longer accessible to scientists, and shares this valuable collection with students, guiding them in novel scientific experiments that has resulted in published work. He is passionate about scientific inquiry and providing our diverse, non traditional students with opportunities to participate in cutting edge science. As an instructor he is known for his warmth, enthusiasm, energy, and approachability.

Dr. Hank Fabian is the creative genius who co-founded all three bioscience programs is also an extraordinary teacher and passionate herpetologist. After an interesting, zig zag career that included acting, running a seed company, and working on a Hopi reservation, he started at Merritt in the biology department as an anatomy instructor. He has multiple advanced academic degrees despite having a tough start as a child due to severe learning differences, including dyslexia. As chair of the biology department, he grew it to be one of the largest and most successful Community College biology departments in the Bay Area. He also expanded and managed a phenomenal Natural History Program. He saw the need for expanded opportunities for our students and co-founded, developed, managed, fundraised and taught in the microscopy, genomics and histotech programs, and the study abroad programs in Costa Rica and Mexico. He is passionate about providing opportunities to our diverse students, fighting against injustice, and innovating education. As an instructor he his known for his energetic and entertaining classroom delivery, his extraordinary clarity, his deep commitment to the success of each of his students, his ability to inspire and encourage students, his ability to identify every specimen or organism he encounters in any country, his extraordinary field classes and educational trips, plus his millions of viewers on his educational youtube channel. He is currently retired and enjoying the chance to travel the world.

Dr. Brian Rowning is a rock star in the world of developmental biology, having done some seminal research into key aspects of early embryonic development. He is a remarkably versatile instructor, having taught microbiology, anatomy, physiology, general biology, and all of the biosciences courses. He was key to launching the histotech program and served as it’s first director and one of the main, very beloved instructors. Under his leadership the first several cohorts obtained excellent jobs and a 100% pass rate on the national board certification exam. He comes from a working class background, yet obtained a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley. He is passionate about providing support and opportunities to diverse students with unusual, non traditional career journeys. As an instructor he is known for his passion for science, his deep care for each of his students, his clarity, organization, fairness, patience, kindness and endless font of knowledge.