Dr. Steven Jakobi, associate professor, Physical and Health Sciences Department at Alfred State College, recently had two article published in refereed journals (scientific journals in which a committee of scientists review papers before they are published, checking for adequate experimental design and whether the experimental results support the conclusions reached): “Little Monkeys on the Grass…How People For and Against Evolution Fail to Understand the Theory of Evolution,” Journal of Evolution and Outreach, Vol 3, Number 3, 2010; and “An Inexpensive and Safe Experiment to Demonstrate Koch’s Postulates Using Citrus Fruit,” Journal of Biological Education, Vol 44, Number 4, 2010.
In the first, Jakobi details how he tested freshman students’ knowledge of evolution over a five-year time span. Much to his chagrin, most students harbored erroneous views, based, said Jakobi, only half-jokingly, “on Disney movies.”
Jakobi posits several possible reasons this may be true, among them, religious beliefs, misunderstanding of the theory itself, and/or failure of the educational system and/or parental teachings. Although, he also notes that because there is little (if any) academic freedom in public education (primary and secondary), it creates “obstacles to good science education, leaving students confused and left with some murky concepts of dinosaurs and ice ages that they acquired from watching Disney movies.”
Jakobi notes that after teaching evolution theory, his goal is only that students recognize and understand it; he does not expect them to change their beliefs—religious, cultural, or otherwise.
In the second article, Jakobi describes the inexpensive and safe lab procedures he uses with his classes to demonstrate Koch’s Postulates, a set of three steps to show that a particular microorganism may be the cause of a specific disease. Using moldy citrus fruits which can be easily and cheaply obtained as host, and the ubiquitous green mold, penicillium digitatum as the pathogen, Jakobi’s classes can demonstrate proof of pathgenicity in as little as four weeks.
Jakobi joined the ASC faculty in 1993, teaching courses in general biology and anatomy and physiology, conducting laboratories and lectures.
The Budapest, Hungary, native immigrated to the United States in 1967, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1973. Jakobi holds two degrees in biology: a bachelor of science from the University of Cincinnati, and a master of arts from West Chester (PA) University. He holds a doctorate from West Virginia University at Morgantown.