Meet the Faculty
Douglas Hirzel (Professor)Science and Technology - Biology
Doug’s grew up hiking and camping with his family, watching nature documentaries on television and visiting natural history museums. It was during a third grade field trip to the tide pools in Half Moon Bay that Doug’s dream of becoming a biologist was first sparked. During high school his most beloved class was Field Biology and he was more intent on becoming a certified scuba diver than getting his driver’s license. In college, he studied marine biology, volunteered with peregrine falcon conservation/recovery efforts and with research projects studying cognition in sea lions. He earned his bachelor’s degree from U.C. Santa Cruz and then worked in the aquaculture industry, the U.S. Forest Service, and in Environment, Health & Safety for an petroleum research company. Ultimately Doug realized that teaching biology would be the best use his passion and talents and so he earned a M.S. in zoology at the University of Idaho where he published research related to reproductive physiology.
After completing teaching and research stints in Washington and Nevada, Doug returned to his California roots and joined the faculty at Cañada in 2000. He loves teaching, learning how to teach more effectively, and sharing the amazing design and function of the human body with his anatomy and physiology students. He hopes they will all become passionate and outstanding healthcare providers and advocates for their patients, friends, and families.
Dr. Rhodes became interested in biology from an early age, and decided to pursue this interest at UC Davis. There are plenty of new discoveries with plants that are made at Davis and that inspired her to continue learning in graduate school. Her advisor said, “Go elsewhere to broaden your views”, and she ended up in Minnesota, earning a M.S. in Plant Physiology and a Ph.D. in Plant Genetics.
Five winters later, she moved back to California and a research position at a startup company doing genetic research with crops. Ultimately, she switched to teaching and now teaches Organismal Biology and Human Biology. Genetics is still her favorite topic. Prof. Rhodes also leads several grants within the Science & Technology Division, all aimed at improving student success in STEM fields.
Nathan Staples (Professor)Science and Technology - Biology
Nathan was born and raised in Pomona, California, the youngest of 5 children born over a 25-year range (4 boys and 1 girl). Nathan graduated as valedictorian and a varsity wrestler from Damien High School in La Verne, CA, and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Biology from Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles California. He has been an enthusiastic artist since childhood, and also earned Minor emphases in Studio Art and Biochemistry from LMU. Nathan always has had a desire to teach, and as his interests grew in molecular biology and microbiology, he decided to pursue a Doctoral degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara to be able to teach at the college level. He earned his Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from UCSB in 2002, studying modifications of the host plant cell wall in legumes (namely alfalfa) during invasion and colonization of plant tissues by the beneficial symbiotic bacteria, rhizobium (Sinorhizobium meliloti). His Doctoral dissertation is entitled Symbiosis-Induced Modification of Legume Cell Walls in Response to Nitrogen-fixing Rhizobia. Nathan has continuing interests in bacterial interactions with plant and animal hosts, resulting in either beneficial or pathogenic relationships.
In his free time, Nathan loves to play with his family (wife, Michelle and grade-schoolers Sarah and Matthew), play and watch basketball (BIG Lakers and LMU Lions fan!), go bicycling, sing barbershop quartet harmony, practice wrestling and Judo, enjoy the outdoors, play softball, and draw, sculpt or paint - particularly the human figure.
Ellen Young (Associate Professor)Science and Technology - Biology
Ellen was born in Walnut Creek California, and grew up in a small suburb in Ventura County. Ellen earned a B.A.in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley where she spent a lot of time volunteering at the botanical garden and performing improv comedy. After college, Ellen developed a passion for teaching as as an environmental educator at San Mateo Outdoor Education. She earned her M.S. in Biology as a member of the Science Education Partnership and Education Lab (SEPAL) at San Francisco State University. As a SEPAL grad student she was trained in evidence-based teaching, and conducted research on student verbal participation in STEM Classes.
Ellen has been teaching for SMCCD since 2015 and has been full time at Cañada College since Fall 2018. In her classroom she emphasizes developing learning for deep understanding and pushes students to learn how they learn best. Her teaching style pushes students to actively participate in learning activities such as discussions, case studies, and group work. Outside of teaching, Ellen loves spending time crafting, foraging for wild foods, and cooking meals with friends.
Julie Luu (Associate Professor)
Starting in January 2020.